Sunday, April 30, 2006

East side agony

After yesterday’s encouraging 7 mile run along the trails on the west side of the Reach 11 Recreational area, I thought I’d check out the east side today. I learned a couple of things this morning. First, summer is just around the corner … the temperature was approaching 80 at 10 AM this morning and second, I am not in good enough shape to run 7 miles on two consecutive days.

The east side of the Reach 11 Recreational area runs from Tatum Blvd to Scottsdale road, hugging the north side of the Central Arizona Project canal. Total distance along the southern trail is just a hair over 4 miles one-way. After slathering on SPF 30 sun block, I took off from the trail-head at Tatum Blvd at a leisurely 9:00/m pace. My thought was to get a in a few miles, work on overall endurance, enjoy the scenery and hold off on any speed work until after I get back from the Grand Canyon on May 19th.

That was the plan. Reality was a bit different. After 3 miles, my hip flexors started to feel sore, so I slowed down a bit more. I finally gave up altogether at 3.5 miles and walked for a few minutes before picking up the pace again. Unlike yesterday, my heart rate was up over 140 even though my pace was at a crawl. After 4 or 5 minutes of walking, I ran the short distance to the trail-head at Princess Drive and Scottsdale Road. The 4 miles on the return didn’t go that well. I ran for a mile or so and walked for 5 minutes and repeated the process back to my car parked at the trail head on Tatum Blvd. I didn’t keep track of the total time for the return, but according to Mr. Garmin, I only ran 6.7 of the 8 mile course. That is a lot of walking. My mile splits were: 8:48, 8:54, 8:55, 9:10, 9:07 and 9:24 (yikes!),

Tomorrow I’ll back off and run a simple 3 mile loop in my neighborhood. I’ll see if I can extend my distance later in the week and perhaps do another long run this weekend. We’ll see.

Keep running

Saturday, April 29, 2006

A stroll in the park

Phoenix is littered with great parks; unfortunately, many of these parks sit virtually unused. Phoenix’s largest parks aren’t parks in the usual sense of the work. While most people imagine a city parks as cool, relaxing places with lots of grass and trees and perhaps a few picnic tables, our parks are, for the most part, desert sanctuaries that have been saved from the land developers. They have few amenities other than miles of great trails, no cars and fantastic scenery.

One of my favorite parks for running is the little used Reach 11 Recreational area. This park is a tiny strip of land about a ½ mile wide running along the North side of the Central Arizona Project. The park runs from Cave Creek road on the west to Scottsdale road on the east with Tatum Blvd dividing the park into two parts.

I’ve decided to forgo any speed work and simply work on endurance in preparation for my Grand Canyon hike on May 19th. With this strategy in mind, today’s run was a leisurely 7 mile jog along the main trail from Tatum to Cave Creek and back. I didn’t pay much attention to my pace, but did stop to take my pulse at the 4 mile mark. Evidently, I wasn’t pushing myself very hard since my pulse rate was only 114. Picking up the pace, I quickly hit a lactic acid wall and walked for a ½ mile. After starting up again at a slower pace I finished up the 7.25 mile run with an average pace of 8:47. My splits were 9:04, 8:50, 8:55, 9:03, 8:42, 8:38, and 8:29.

All in all, not a bad run. I sure had a great time.

This week's training: 30.4 miles at 8:41/m

Keep running

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Rain drops keep falling on my head

Another cool evening in Phoenix; and out of nowhere RAIN! Not much rain, just a few drops, but rain none-the-less. With 20 miles in the bank this week, I ran an easy 3 miles tonight with decent splits: 8:26, 8:31, 8:01. I was trying to get under 8:00 on the last mile but had a slow up a bit to avoid stopping at the last light on the loop (good excuse).

Keep running.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

First night run

I ran 7 miles on the bike trails running north and south along the Squaw Peak Freeway (State route 51) this evening. The trail is behind a 12 foot wall which blocks out most of the freeway noise. Tonight, I ran from Roadrunner Park north past Bell Road and back. My splits weren't too bad, although somewhat erratic: 8:48, 8:44, 8:48, 8:31, 8:42, 8:12, 8:31. Overall average pace was 8:36/m.

My right foot started to feel numb shortly after passing the 4 mile mark and got worse as I approached 5 miles. Fortunately, whatever caused the problem went away and full feeling was restored before I hit the 6 mile mark.

This was my fist night run. The temperature was about 90 when I started (just before sun set). Other than the numbness in my right foot, everything worked fine.

Total miles for the week so far - 20.2

Keep running

Monday, April 24, 2006

Recovery Day

I ran a simple 3 mile recovery run this morning. Didn't push anything, just enjoyed the run. Splits: 8:59, 8:58, 8:58

Sunday, April 23, 2006

9 Miler

This morning was my morning. As I had done on Saturday, I again sat out on my driveway waiting for my Garmin to align and wondered which course would be best to try for a 9 mile run. After failing to reach my goal of 9 miles yesterday, I needed to select a course that would increase my probability of success. Suddenly, in a “eureka” moment, I decided to throw out all the usual runs and try something completely different.

I live about 4 miles from the Reach 11 Recreation area in north Phoenix. This little used park runs for seven miles along the north side of the Central Arizona Project Canal (The CAP Canal is a 340 mile straw connecting Tucson and Phoenix with the Colorado River. It is the CAP Canal that allows those of us in Phoenix to ignore the fact that we get less than 10 inches of rain a year). Most of the park is a riparian area, which means it is relatively lush by Sonora Desert standards (see picture to the left). Most of the trails are wide and hard packed. Although the park runs under two freeways, the dense vegetation (again, dense by Sonora Desert standards) allows you to forget that you are running in a big city park. This would make an ideal destination.

The reason I hadn’t considered running to this park is the fact that I need to cross three major streets to get there. This means three sets of street lights with cars / trucks / SUVs making turns without looking for pedestrians / runners. However, this was Sunday morning, how much traffic could they be? It was worth a shot.

I set my “running buddy” on my Garmin for a 8:45/m pace for 9 miles and took off. Heading east with the sun in my face, I was immediately challanged with climbing a short hill. I slowed down a bit and settled into a 9:00/m pace and just enjoyed the run. The first 3 miles were uneventful, although I had to stop at 2 of the major intersections as well as one of the minor streets that also has a street light.

On the 4th mile, I turned north on a paved trail that runs along the Squaw Peak Freeway. The trail rises as it approaches the bridge crossing the CAP canal. I think I was doing something close to a 9:30 pace over the bridge. Although my pace was no where near 8:45, I felt great and was enjoying the run. I hit the 4 mile point in the park, disappointed that I only had ½ mile to go before I needed to turn around. The park was beautiful this morning, and aside from 2 women riding mountain bikes, I had this section to myself. As I approached the 4.5 mile mark, I flirted with the idea of extending this run out to 10 miles; however, better judgment prevailed. At 4.5 miles, I stopped briefly to take care of business and started back.

At this point, I was 460 feet behind my running buddy. This is a lot of ground to make up over 4 miles. A easy rule of thumb at my slow pace is 1 second per 10 feet, so I needed to run the return at an average pace of roughly 8:30/m to get the overall run under 8:45. I quickly hit 5 miles and started south again along the freeway. At the 6 mile point, I still hadn’t made up any of the deficit. My splits for the first 6 miles were: 8:49, 8:50, 8:43, 9:06, 8:59, and 8:45. Although I didn’t know the exact number, I knew I need to make up more than 40 seconds over 3 miles to get the total run in under an 8:45 average.

I clocked the 7th mile at 8:31, so there was hope. I had just picked up nearly 15 seconds and the gods would be with me the rest of the way. As I approached each intersection, the lights turned green and the intersection cleared of cars … no need to slow down. ¾ of the way through the 8th mile, I crested a small hill and could see the last hill of the run a little over a mile ahead, but it would be slightly down hill for the next mile. My 9th mile split was 8:16; 30 seconds faster than plan. I also crossed over into positive territory. At this point, I knew I only needed to hold an 8:45 pace up the last hill and I would have the run in the bank. For the first half of the 9th mile, I was averaging 7:50/m pace and steadily adding distance on my running buddy. I hit the last hill and slowed down to 9:00/m, but I soon crested the hill and cruised down the back side. I completed the 9th mile in 8:12.

Now that I have two 9 miles runs under my belt, I feel comfortable pushing my long run up to 10 miles next week. We’ll see how that goes.

Keep running

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Low visability

The wind is back. For the most part, living on the northern reaches of the Sonoran dessert is simply wonderful this time of year. The skies are almost always clear, the mornings are cool and the highs are usually in the mid 80s. The air is unbelievably dry with humidity readings often in the single digits. This is just perfect weather for an early morning run, taking a ride my Mustang with the top down or enjoying dinner on the patio in the evening.. The one thing that brings this idyllic life a wheezing halt is the wind. Simply put, strong winds and the desert don’t mix, for with the wind, comes the dust. Lots and lots of dust. Dust is everywhere. It burns your lungs and stings your eyes. It is in your car, it’s in your cloths, it’s in your house. The air is full of the stuff. When you become accustom to living in a town where you expect to be able to see 50 miles in any direction, this crap in the air cuts the visibility down to 5 miles. Everything around you is a dull hazy shade of brownish gray. It can be very depressing and today was very dusty.

All this is part of my rationalization as to why I had a bad run today. At 7:30 this morning, I sat out in front of my house waiting for my Garmin to align with the GPS constellation and contemplated the 9 miles I had planned to run. I had plenty of options. I could run the 3 mile loop course as I did last Sunday. I could extend my 6 mile loop to the north that has a steady 2 mile climb 3 miles into the run with my 3 mile loop; or I could run south towards one of the many parks in the Phoenix area and get in a bit of trail running. In the end, I decided to try the 3 mile loop course again and focus on keeping a nice steady pace for 80+ minutes.

Within the first quarter mile however, I knew this would be a struggle. Ironically, I had just listened to Steve Walker’s Podcast of his experience with the Boston Marathon the night before. Steve got into serious trouble early in the race with severe stomach problems, but gutted it out and finished in 5+ hours. My plan for the day wasn’t anything near marathon distance, but I readily new that 9 miles in me this morning. My legs weren’t moving with any fluidity and my arms and shoulders felt stiff. My heart rate immediately jumped to 144 and slowly climbed to 155 by the end of the first mile. I clocked the first mile at 8:30; faster than my anticipated 8:45 pace, but not so fast that I should be feeling as exhausted as I did.

On the 2nd mile, I started to feel a bit better. I relaxed my shoulders and tried to get my arms swinging with some sense of rhythm. I finished the second mile in 8:39 and the heart rate had backed off a few points, but was still very high considering my pace was at least 1 minute under my usual 10k pace.

The 3rd mile on this short loop is my favorite. The first part rises 15+ feet over a 10th of a mile and then slowly descends for 3/4 of a mile. The road is a straight shot, so I can see the final hill at the end coming closer and closer and can anticipate the final push to get up the hill while holding pace. There is a traffic light half way up the hill, so my pace usually increases during the accent to beat the light. If the light in my direction turns RED, I need to stop; I hate to stop. Most of us in Phoenix drive around as if we were perpetually qualifying for the next Busch League Stock Car race. Nothing or no one, especially a runner, is going to slow us down. Hence, I tend to speed up as I start the climb and break out into my best Carl Lewis imitation when I see the flashing red “ DON’T WALK” signal warning me of a potential break in the run.

Fortunately, I had no problem with the light this morning. I hit the bottom of the hill, held my 8:30/m pace, crested the top of the hill and relaxed at a 8:00/m pace down the backside. My split for the third mile was 8:32. Not bad, but my heart rate had top 160.

The 4th mile was a struggle. My legs were getting tired, shoulders were getting tight again and my feet felt as if they were just slamming into the payment. My heart rate was still in the 150s and this run just wasn’t fun anymore. As my watch announced my arrival at the 4 mile mark. I stopped running, stopped the watch, turned around and walked home. I hadn’t realized how slow I was walking until a lady passed me WALKING her dog. Every now and again, I need to slow down and smell the roses. I guess this was my morning to get a good whiff.

Tomorrow is an other day. As I write this, the wind has calmed down and with any luck, the dust may be settling back on the ground where it belongs. My Sunday Running plan had called for a short 30 to 40 minute recovery run but I might try another 9 to 10 miler. I haven’t had a long run this week and these short 3 to 4 mile sequences aren’t helping me any. I need to get in some distance. Perhaps tomorrow will be the day.

Keep running

Friday, April 21, 2006

The heart is still beating

Woke up to another nice day this morning (it's tough living on a desert during the spring time :)). Decided to take it easy and repeat the 4 mile run I did yesterday. Only today, I actually remembered to make the turn to do a bit of hill work on the 4th mile. I also decided it was time to check my heart rate. I managed to keep a nice steady pace during the entire run, setting slits at 8:35, 8:31, 8:35, and 8:34. My heart rate stayed steady at 144, 152, 151, 157. The uptick on the 4th mile was due to the 100 meter "sprint" up the last hill.

My legs felt good throughout the run and I resisted the urge to check out the heart-rate monitor every 3 seconds. The cool morning air felt really nice and since I decided to stay off the main roads to avoid traffic, I didn't have any nasty run-ins with either pick-up trucks, SUVs, or autos.

I was really happy with the steady pace. 4 months ago, I was pushing it to keep up with a 9:00/m pace. Running a steady 8:35 pace for 4 miles is a great improvement for me. Still not as good as my peak performance in 2003, but all in all not too bad for a 51 year old slug.

Total mileage for the week is sitting at 14.7. I plan to run another 9 mile loop on Saturady morning to bring the total for the week up to 23+. This is about average for the past 6 months, so it shouldn't be too stressful. We'll see how the following Sunday goes.

Keep Running

Thursday, April 20, 2006

And you thought marathons were fun

If you think you've had problems during a race, you need to listen to Steve Walker's PodCast of the 110th Boston Marathon. You'll never complain again.

Day dreaming

Wow, what a nice morning. The morning lows are back down to the high 50s, the smog and dust has cleared out of the sky and there isn’t a cloud to be seen anywhere.

This morning I got up before sun rise and ran a 4 mile out and back course trying to hold a 8:45/m pace. I had intended to vary the return trip to provide a little hill work on the 4th mile. Unfortunately, I was day dreaming on the 4th mile and not really paying attention to where I was and missed the turn. This left me with a relatively flat course with a single steep hill over the last 0.11 mile. Mile splits this morning were: 8:45, 8:41, 8:32, 8:30..

I still haven’t decided on a next race and hence I don’t have any focus to my training. Since the temperature is heating up quickly, there aren’t any 10ks scheduled here in central Arizona desert until September. The Arizona Road Racers club has a series of 5 5ks scheduled through out the summer, starting in May and running through August. They schedule the start of these races very early in the morning before the sun gets too high over the horizon, although it is still insanely hot for the races in July and August. The YMCA in Prescott is sponsoring the Whiskey Row ½ marathon next, but I don’t think I’ll be ready for another ½ marathon at this time. I just haven’t put in the miles as of late. This ½ marathon (and full marathon) starts out in the town of Prescott on Whiskey Row and heads south into the mountains. It is very a challenging race for a flat-lander like me. There also might be several 10k races in Flagstaff this summer. Running in Flagstaff is always fun. The city is at 7000 feet so you need really big lungs to do well. If anyone has any suggestions for this summer, I’m all ears.

Keep running

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Starting Speed Work

My all time best 10k time is 45:20. I ran this time in a small local race in February 2003. This was only 5 months after I had started running seriously, but 10 pounds lighter than I am now. I haven’t come close since. Since 2003, I’ve consistently run 10ks in the high 47s to low 48s, always staying below that 50 minute mark, but certainly not improving.

Besides the weight, the other is significant difference between then and now is my training. The problem is that I don’t really train anymore. Sure, I put in the miles (no snickering … I still can’t believe I run 20 to 30 miles a week) and vary the distance from 3 to 9 miles, but everything is at the same pace. I’m totally lacking any speed work.

Back in 2003 I used a running program I found at This program is a simple 21 day program leading up to a 5k or 10k every 3 weeks. It includes long runs, easy days, interval training and rest days.

Day Program
01 60 to 70min easy distance
02 30min easy run
03 start with 4x2k R90-2min 8min 50 (4.25 per k) T
04 Rest
05 longest run - 'time on feet' up to 1Hr 30min
06 easy day of 30min running
07 easy day of 30min running
08 start with 6x1k R60 - 90 4min 10 to 4min20 L
09 easy day of 30min running
10 easy day of 1Hr running
11 Rest
12 5K paced run - aim sub 22:30 5k
13 1Hr easy run
14 easy day of 30min running
15 start with 3 x 5min @ 10k pace with 1min easy F
16 easy day of 40min running
17 easy day of 30min running
18 Rest
19 Race day up to 15K
20 Easy recovery after race. 20 - 30min
21 2nd easy day after race - 30min

Letter codes: T = 10K pace development; L = 5K pace development; R = Rest; F = Fartlek.

I started this program as soon as I managed to complete my first sub 50 min 10k in December 2003. I got thinking about this program again yesterday while I was in Tucson enjoying my leisurely jog around the U of A campus. This regimented program forced me to do speed work; something I’ve clearly been unable to do on my own over the past several years.

With this in mind, I jumped directly to day 8

Run 6 x 1k with 90 second rest between intervals. Set 1k pace between 4:10/km and 4:20/km

Not wanting to blow out my knees or set my heart racing to 200 bpm, I modified this plan a bit:

1k warm up; Run 3 x 1k with 90 second rest between intervals. Set 1k pace at 4:30/km (7:15/m) ; 1k cool down.

I figured that 3 attempts to run 1km at at 7:15/m pace was about all I could handle my first time out.

I set out on my standard 3.1 mile (5k) course at an easy jog for the first km just to get warmed up. The air temperature this morning was in the high 60s, so warming up wasn’t a problem. After 90 seconds of waiting around at the 1km mark, my watch finally timed out and I took off like there was no tomorrow. Jim Ryan would have been proud. Looking down at my watch I realized that I had started a bit fast, running at a sub 6:30/m pace. This didn’t last long. My lungs gave out after a few hundred yards and I was forced to slow down a bit. I backed off until I got down to a 7:35/m pace and tried to hold this pace for the rest of the 1km distance. My watch signaled the end of the first 1k and reported an average pace of 7:22/m. Not exactly the 7:15 I had hoped for, but much better than the 8:30 to 9:00/m pace I’ve been doing for the past few years. I also kept my heart rate under control, finishing somewhere around 130 bpm.

After 90 seconds, it was time to take off on the second leg. Having abandoned any hope of holding 7:15, I took off at a more comfortable pace of 7:22/m. I wasn’t able to hold this as pace and slowed down over the 1k distance. I finished the second 1k at average pace of 7:37/m. Heart rate was a bit elevate up to 140 bpm.

The 3rd attempt felt a lot like the second, although I had that hill to contend with for the last 200 meters. I ran most of the 3rd km at a 8:00/m pace and powered up the hill to ensure I beat the traffic light half way up the hill. In the end, I averaged a 7:44/m pace on the 3rd leg.


Distance Pace Heart Rate
1k 9:07
1k 7:22 130
1k 7:37 140
1k 7:44 144
1k 9:22

It felt good to finally get some speed work in, even if it was only 30 minutes and only covered 3 km.

Easter in Tucson

I spent Easter Sunday in Tucson and couldn’t miss the chance to run through the campus of the University of Arizona. The campus stands in stark contrast to the rest of Tucson. The U of A is filled with shaded paths and majestic red brick buildings. Most days, there is very little traffic and at 7 AM on Sunday morning there was no traffic, either pedestrian or vehicular. After my 9 mile run on Friday, I had planned to take an easy 40 minute jog through the campus. Two steps after leaving the hotel near campus, I realized that I wasn’t going anywhere fast. Evidently, my body didn’t understand that we weren’t racing on Saturday. I felt about the same as day after my first (and only) ½ marathon. My legs felt leaden, thighs were sore, hips hurt, blah, blah, blah. In short, I was a mess. I immediately gave up on a paced run and reduced my pace from 8:30/mile to around 9:30/mile and forged ahead. Once I hit the campus, I forgot about my pace all together and simply enjoyed the run. I zig-zagged across the campus - up and down various paths and roads, not really worrying about where I was going, what pace I was maintaining (or not maintaining) or how far I would eventually run. In the end, I completed 3.7 miles in just over 34 minutes. A great start to a beautiful Easter day. Sometimes I just need to unplug and run.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

A beautiful Arizona morning

From 15 April 06

Success on two fronts. First, I gained a bit of distance on the fat man. My weight was down to 185 this morning. Not where I need to be, not the lowest it’s been since I started running away from the fat man, but much better than the 188 pounds I found myself at a week ago. Second, I completed my 9 mile run as planned. This was certainly a big moral booster. It’s hard to describe how I felt last week when I gave up on a run after less than 4 miles; I felt lousy. Saturday morning was different. Instead of hot and humid, I awoke to a beautiful morning in central Arizona with the temperature just above 65 degrees at 6 AM. The skies were clear with only a hint of dust left over from the 40 MPH winds the night before. Instead of trying an out and back course, I decided to run 3 loops over my usual 3 mile course. This course has a fun hill at the 2.5 mile mark with a gentle decent on the other side (less stressful on the knees). I set my watch for an 8:45 /m pace and took off. I completed the first loop in 26:12, the second in 26:00 and the third loop in 26:09. Overall average pace worked out to 8:42.

The first 2 miles were the toughest. I was having a hard time warming up in the cool morning air. My legs felt heavy and my running sluggish, but I was able to pick up the pace on the third mile (clocked at 8:37) and started feeling much more comfortable. 5 miles into the run, my right foot started to feel numb, which is another problem I’ve had of late. Fortunately, the feeling passed after a few more minutes and the body continued to function as it should.

I’m not ready for another ½ marathon, but at least I know I can stay on my feet for an hour and a half.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Another decent day

Continued success this morning. My weight is down to 186 ... slowly inching down from last weekend's high of 188. I ran a simple 3.1 mile course this morning with decent splits - 8:36, 8:39, 8:07. Now that I have my weight heading south again, the fat man is yelling very load for me to eat between meals. I was able to turn the volume down a bit and resited the temptation throughout the day. I know it isn't good weight management practice, but I better see continued results this weekend.

I have another 9-10 mile run on my training calendar scheduled for tomorrow. I'm a bit apprehensive after my poor performance last Sunday; however, the weather should cooperate. The forecast calls for clear skys and 62 degrees at sun up. Should be a very nice morning.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Weight moving back down

Today was much better. First, I weighed in at 186.5. This is a right direction! Second, it was a beautiful morning. Clear skies, no smog, temperature a very dry 75. … hard to beat. Since I got up late again, I adjusted my route a bit to avoid the significant traffic on the streets near my house. This extended my usual 3.1 mile run out to 4.1 miles with two significant hills in the last mile. The first hill is a low 40 foot hill climbing steadily over a ¼ mile and the second is a 70 foot climb over the last 3/10 miles. The 2nd hill becomes steeper as you approach the top, which means I have to keep pushing harder and harder at the end of the run to maintain my pace. My average pace for the morning was 8:25/mile. This was so much better than last Sunday when I crapped out after only 3.5 miles. Maybe I’m not a total slug after all.

No doubt about it, it is heating up in the Valley of the Sun. Today was the first day this year I had to close the windows in my office and turn on the air conditioning. I guess my comfort limit is somewhere between 91 (Wednesday's high) and 95 (today’s high temperature). It won’t be too long before I’ll need to complete my morning runs before the sun breaks over the McDowell Mountains. I better get to bed earlier tonight … just as soon as I finish my taxes.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The first day above 90

Well, it was bound to happen. After a very mild "spring" in central Arizona, the temperature finally hit 90 degrees this afternoon. Fortunately, it was only in the mid-60s this morning when I took an easy run on my standard short course. I set my watch to a 8:45 m/m pace and managed to stay under this mark for the entire 3.1 miles. Since I didn't get out until 6:30 AM, the traffic was a bit heavier than I'd like, but overall, it was a good run.

I still need to figure out my next goal. I ran in a 1/2 marathon this past February (1:49:52) and but I've been drifting without direction since. My weekly mileage has dropped from the high 20s to the 15 to 20 miles per week. Actually, that is a bit of a stretch. I ran less than 10 miles last week.

To make up for this deficit, I decided to take a 10 mile run on Sunday afternoon. Around 3.5 miles into the run, my body told me it was time to shut down and walk ... WALK. I turned off my watch, walked for a 1/2 mile, turned the watch on and sort of ran/walked the rest of the way back to my car. The average pace for the 6.3 miles that the watch was on was a blistering 9:28.

As I said, I need to get focused on something. My weight is drifting up (hit 188 on Monday) and my mileage is dropping. I'd like to blame it on the heat. Every year as the tempurature rises, my motivation drops, weight goes up and I loose what ever I've gained over the past 8 months. This year could be different. I can't let myself fall into the same pattern.