Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Welcome to the Smoke Training blog. I am a former smoker - a pack a day for 15 years - who is now in training for a marathon. I just ran my first triathlon last month, a sprint that I finished in 2:02:30 and was happy about that.

If I can abuse my body with cigarettes and alcohol for so many years and turn things around with endurance training, you can too. Anybody can do it. I was making myself miserable being overweight, unable to walk up a flight of stairs without running out of breath. Then grabbing a beer and a cig to finish off my trek.

I actually blame my kids for this new endurance push. My youngest girl was born in May 2007 and it created a real turnaround point for me. Seeing how much our older girl has grown really put things in perspective. I couldn't keep the same lifestyle I was used to and still be there for my girls the way my folks are there for me now.

But the real push came from my grandfather. My dad's dad turned 60, and about a week later had a massive heart attack and died in his office. Sure that was almost 30 years ago, but I've got his same body style, attitude, cholesterol, work habits, lifestyle, you name it. My dad is 62 now and healthy as a horse. But he's still scared that what happened to his dad is in our genetic makeup (and it is, family history is very important) and can catch up with him at any time. I'm 33 years old now, and I made the decision in December 2007 that if my life was more than half over, I was not going to live the second half as a repeat of the first. I was going to do anything I could to help fight the genetics that came from my grandfather's side.

Smoking a pack of cigs every day, plus a cigar or two when I could enjoy a nice glass of single malt Scotch (again every day) was not going to help my genetic overcomingness problem. And the post work beers didn't help either. I'm 6' 1", and my weight was up over 235 lbs. Just like my grandfather. Actually, I don't think he smoked. So he even had an advantage.

My mom's dad died of lung cancer about 10 years ago. He was a heavy smoker, but had been off the leaf for about 17 years when his cancer developed. The doctors still blamed cigarettes. He smoked a pack a day (or more) for about 20 years, I'm told. So really for the last 10 years (at least in my mind) heart disease and cancer were having some kind of cage match to see which one could kill me first. I like to think heart disease was winning. Now I'm trying to beat them both. It's really very empowering!

Smoking is an incredibly difficult addiction to overcome. I have tried to put down the cigs maybe half a dozen times. I end up picking them up again about 6 months later. Something comes up, maybe a stressful situation, or I get to play golf again, anything... and I fall right back into the old habits. I started smoking at age 15 and it's been a struggle ever since.

I have to set really high goals to not forget about them. Most people who smoked as much as I did would try to run a 5k as a goal. and take 6 months to train for it. Smoking owns me, and I have to fight hard (really really hard) to battle my addiction. So I knew a 5k wasn't going to cut it. So I set my goal as a sprint triathlon (the Greenville Triathlon in SC) and started a training plan. People begged me not to sign up for it until I was well into training in case I wanted to back out. Forget that. I signed up in January for a race in August and started looking for training plans.

Sprint tri's vary in length. Mine was a 400m swim (8 laps in the pool), a 15 mile bike ride, and a 5k run. See, I got the 5k run in anyway. My goal was to finish, just complete the race. After talking to some other racers and some friends, i reset the goal to 2 hours. Then I missed it by 2 1/2 minutes. crap. now i've got to run this race again next year to break my 2 hour mark.

Tri's are really addictive. I am hooked. If you were ever looking for a "bucket list" item that was extremely challenging and rewarding a sprint tri is the way to go. But they are like Lay's potato chips. Only Chuck Norris can eat just one. I'm drooling over my next tri, and I haven't even signed up for one yet.

What I have signed up for next is the Myrtle Beach Marathon. My wife came up with the idea. One of her friends was already signed up and she's been running in the gym for a while now. She's really a fantastic runner, but I'm not going to mention her name or any of her accomplishments to protect her privacy. Just say I'm really proud of her. So she came to me wanting to run the MB Marathon on valentines day, and I figured it was a good way to get out of having to buy her a card and chocolates.

So the purpose of this blog is to log all the training events of a former heavy smoker. I want to run an olympic (or international) distance triathlon in the spring, a half ironman in the fall, and kick things off with a marathon in february 2009. I'll post training plans and updates, and encourage you to grill me if I miss a run or a training day.

HOW can a man go from smoking 26.2 cigs a day to running 26.2 miles? I have no idea. I might be crazy. I might be a giant. Check back daily to find out.

1 comment:

Hope you guess my name said...

You still have to get your wife a valentine's gift!!

Your wife