Friday, August 31, 2007

How Do You Get Air In There?

I couldn't wait to get back out on the bike yesterday. Went out to the garage, took the bike down and got out the trusty air pump. Guy at the bike store said to fill to 120 lbs. before every ride. OK, no problem.

I unscrewed the cap on the stem and looked at it. What the hell is that? This doesn't look like the stem on my old bike. Way thinner. This won't work.

I figured that the little red thing on my pump latch was some kind of fitting to allow me to fill these tires. I played around with the stem and the pump and managed to figure out how to get all the air OUT of the tire. Where's the phone? I call my brother at work. He's on the phone. But, it's an emergency!

Okay, I get a hold of my dad. "Oh, you have the European stems." (I really didn't care if they were from Ethiopia, I just needed to know how to fill the damn tires!) After a few minutes, dad helps me get the fitting on the stem and the air into the tire. Whew!

I get out on the bike and around about 2 miles, just a few blocks from the house, as I'm trying to change the front gear, the chain comes off the gear. This also happened on my Wednesday ride, so I know what to do, I'm now an "expert". I got off the bike and tried to put the chain back on. No go. The chain was completely lodged between the gear and the frame of the bike. It ain't moving. Waaaaaah!

So, dejectedly I start to walk home. My house sits at the bottom of a 1/4 mile hill along a curvy street. From where I was, the ride home is the best. I usually break 30 mph and keep going another 1/4 mile or so without pedaling before I turn back. Having to walk that route really sucked!

This morning, I took the bike back to the shop where they'll fix the chain and give me a remedial lesson in changing gears. The tech told me that gears on new bikes can be a little finicky. I guess so. Can't wait to pick it back up!


Thursday, August 30, 2007

First Ride

As soon as the kids got home from school yesterday, I took off on my new Trek -- alone.

I only had about an hour so I went out on nearby roads that I had ridden before on the hybrid. What a difference. Much smoother ride, except, of course, when you ride over anything. Then, not so smooth. Used just about every gear on the machine. Hills were tough, but I could get past them. One hill slayed me -- just couldn't get up the short 15% incline (I'm guessing). Tried twice, then walked it up 30 yds or so. I'll keep trying.

I noticed that drivers can be oblivious to bikers. They just don't pay attention. Almost got hit by a woman in my own hood. She made a left turn into my lane of traffic and I don't think she ever saw me. (Believe me, I'm still pretty hard to miss!)

Pretty much residential suburbia, but I'm sure I'll find more scenic terrain. My Garmin tracking is below. (Mike, thanks for the posting hint.)

I think I'll head out again tonight!

Hey, jobrotha, where are we riding this weekend?


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

And now, I have something to ride with Lance. . .

2007 Trek Pilot 1.0

Major Announcement!

Lance Armstrong is coming to Columbia, Maryland in October to benefit the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults in 10 The Event.

Doug Ulman is a Howard County, Maryland native who is a three time cancer survivor. He was first diagnosed with cancer ten years ago, at age 19. Today he is President of the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

Ulman is bringing Lance to Columbia for a fund raising effort. There are a number of associated events that include 20 mile and 100k rides, as well as a 5k run.

I am joining Lance for the 20 mile ride. I couldn't be more excited as this will be my first organized ride.

Anybody want to join me?

Please consider making a donation to the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. Click here.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Monday Update

Happy Monday! Unfortunately, I'm off traveling again (Deb hate's when I go away right after vacation. It particularly sucks when I have to leave on a Sunday night. It triple sucks when I miss the kids first day of school.) I did weigh in yesterday and managed to erase the vacation pounds that I had added.

I've done some resetting of the bar on the scale. What? Let me explain: When I first weighed in on day 1, I was dressed in work out clothes. In oder to keep everything even, I've had to adjust for those clothes ever since. I've now adjusted off the clothes weight from day one and since. With the bar reset, my starting naked weight is now 414.0 and my Sunday weight was 259.0 -- a total loss of 155.0. (Somewhere I picked up a pound in the translation. )

As for exercise, I did get in a session at the gym on vacation and a good gym session on Sunday on the elliptical and weights.

Stay tuned for a MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT!


Friday, August 24, 2007

Belated. . .

I missed a couple of Mazel Tov's (congratulations) while I was gone:


My Uncle Rog (UR) turned 60 last Saturday. Holy crap, how could he be sixty. I mean SIXTY! UR is my dad's younger brother by six years, but he always seemed closer in age to me than my dad. He's also a product of the 60's, which probably explains that (and a lot of other things!) Hanging out with Uncle Rog and Aunt Debbie (not my Deby) is always a blast. Happy Big B-Day, Unc, and many many more.

Triathelete Jill

Our friend Jill raced her first tri last weekend -- the Columbia Iron Girl. It was fun to see Jill when we'd cross paths a few times at a local park when she was training for the tri and I was training for the 10 miler in May. It was her first and, I'm betting, not last tri. She beat her goal time and when we spoke on Sunday sounded euphoric. Congrats, Jill. Deb and I are proud of you!


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Home from Vacation

Take me out to the board walk;
Take me out to the crowd.
Buy me some Thrasher's and Fisher's, too;
Maybe some ice cream and a hot dog or two.

Deb did a bit of song writing on vacation. I came back to the room with the kids and she had the whole Take Me Out to the Ballgame song rewritten as a tribute to Ocean City.

Before I get to the food part, I'll tell you that this summer has been one of the hottest and driest I can remember in a long long time. So, of course, we had awful weather. It rained EVERY DAY but today, the day we headed home. The thermometer never broke 75. I swear the wind chill on the beach, when we did get out there, was in the mid 60's. To top it off, Deb and I both came down with summer colds just about the time we arrived on Saturday. So, we had that going for us.

Sunday afternoon was temptation central. I pretty much knew that I was going to give in to the fries, but in moderation. As we walked down the boards, we let the kids pick one of their favorites.

Our first stop was at Kohr Bros. Frozen Custard. My youngest picked this. Little did I know that frozen custard is a low calorie treat. Just 130 calories for a small serving. I was all in. That's less than my fat free/sugar free Jell-O pudding treat at home! I had the coffee/dulce de leche swirl. Needless to say, it was not our only visit to Kohr Bros.

My eldest selected Fisher's caramel corn. You can smell Fisher's from two blocks away. As you approach their stand, you see the machines cooking up the hot popcorn with gooey caramel. The sweet smell just pulling you in. We all had a few kernel's of that corn, but just a few.

Next stop: Thrasher's French Fries, aka mecca. You could feel the heat of the fryers as we walked near and smell the hot peanut oil (correction from the earlier post). Not a bad line, just 20-25 folks to be serviced first. Deb bought the medium size order -- about a 32 oz cup. She secured two additional cups to share -- one for me, with vinegar, of course, and one for the kids. How were they? Well, unfortunately, they didn't suck! They were absolutely everything I remembered. Maybe better. Hot, juicy, salty, vinegary, perfect!

From there, we walked the mile and a half back to our hotel. We all felt quite sated, even though had history repeated itself, we would have all had the custard, shared a large popcorn, then shared the bucket size (think large movie theater popcorn) fries. Although it all felt glutinous, it was truly a diet victory, being able to taste all of those great foods without going crazy.

Sunday night, we had a healthy visit to the Phillips buffet. I concentrated on the steamed shrimp, veggies and salad.

We did do some snacking, certainly more than normal, but we were on vacation. Monday night we drove to Kohr Bros. after our dinner out and my youngest insisted that we walk home. Deal!

Wednesday was another visit down the boardwalk. This was not quite as successful as I got my custard fill, my own small Fisher's and some of Deb's fries. We realized as we walked back that it would be our last visit to the boardwalk as old habits were rearing their ugly heads.

In the end, we all had a good time. We didn't have nearly enough beach time, but the kids enjoyed themselves and Deb and I have now both kicked our colds, just in time to return to real life! And, the food was good. It's part of the vacation experience, but just a part.

Tomorrow, I'll nervously step on the scale knowing I'll kick any unwanted change in a few days.


Friday, August 17, 2007

Ode to the Fry

My life long weakness has been french fries. I love them. Give me a gallon of Heinz ketchup (I always wondered why anybody else even bothers to make ketchup) and a super sized fries and let me go to town.

As for preference, the thicker the cut the better. Steak fries or country fries are the best. When I was in seventh grade, I'd occasionally walk home from school, about 2 miles, and stop at this dark dingy restaurant/bar and order up a large country fries and a full bottle of ketchup. Man, were those good! Mmmm mmm.

Fast food fries have to give the nod to Wendy's. Ever dip those babies into a Frosty? To die for.

And then, there's the beach. As we pack for our beach trip, my mind wanders to the mecca known as Thrasher's. Thrasher's is an Ocean City, Maryland institution. It's been at the end of the boardwalk forever. Thrasher's fries are fresh cut, about 1/4" sides and maybe 3-4" long. I believe they're fried in vegetable oil until they're crispy brown. It's an unassuming stand right next to some carnival games and the serve fries and Cokes. That's it. (Kinda like the old Saturday Night Live skit about the Cheeburgers and Pepsi's.) I'm not sure when this picture was taken, but on a normal afternoon or evening, the line will stretch out to 100+ hungry beach goers.

You can't see it in the picture, but there is one sign of note on the left wall. In big black letters it says: NO KETCHUP.

What, no ketchup? That's what I said on my first visit when I was about four years old when dad brought me to mecca for the first time.

Nope, the Thrasher's way is to eat them doused in apple cider vinegar. Admittedly, it's an acquired taste, but once you get used it, you learn to enjoy the flavor of the bitter sweet vinegar mixed in with the just-out-of-the-fryer ocean fries. I learned to love them as a kid and now my kids are learning. (No hope for Deb, though, we've always had to have two tubs. One with vinegar, one without.)

I'm preparing myself for our first trip down the boardwalk, probably tomorrow night. As we get to within a block of mecca, and the smell begins to waft over the concrete part of the board walk, what will I do?

Fit Day says one cup of french fries is just 154 calories but Wendy's puts a large fry at 540 calories. I'm sure that a small order of Thrasher's is at least an order and a half of a Wendy's large.

I'm thinking that if we walk the 20 blocks from our hotel to Thrasher's, I'll burn a couple hundred calories on the round trip. (I won't even mention the cost of walking by every crappy t-shirt story along the way and my kids getting a bad case of the I-wanna's.) That doesn't even include all the calorie burning playing in the ocean and in the pool. Logic seems to point to take the plunge.

The problem is the mental part. Over the past 13 months, I've avoided french fries. It was the one item, before South Beach, that I was cutting out. It's not that I've had none in the past year, but maybe just a couple. Certainly no full orders. Certainly none from mecca. So this will be a challenge. I can just about smell them now!

Have a great week all!


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The New Diet Plan

About a week or ten days ago, I began a new low fat, higher carb diet. It's kind of a hybrid of many of the things that I've read and done. Kinda scary to be going it alone for the first time (well, unless you include the old diet. . . you know, eat until you explode.)

Features of the new plan:
  • Low fat -- stick to leaner meats and fish, less beef
  • Keep fats to "good" fats as much as possible: olive oil, canola oil, etc.
  • Increase carbs significantly -- whole wheat grains, brown rice are good
  • Lots more fruit
  • About 1600-2000 calories a day

I have definitely noticed that I have more energy than I did, which is one reason I looked to move on. I'm not less tired, just have more energy. (Sadly, I fear the only solution for the tired problem is more sleep or more hours in the day.)

It's been nice to have some new variety, too. The fruit has been great: bananas, cantaloupe, oranges. I've missed them all. Still feels kinda weird to bite into a sandwich. For dinner last night, Deb sauteed a whole pan of veggies: squash, onions, mushrooms and tomatoes, and put it over whole wheat pasta. Still do the salad bar at lunch, just cut out the tuna salad.

I'm also tracking my calories using I thought it would be a pain in the butt to do this, but it's really not as bad as I though it would be. This has worked out really well and has kept me on track, not wanting to put any big numbers up on there. Eating out creates the biggest challenge, but most restaurants have nutritional info on their web sites.

Two surprises so far: the bowl of chicken chili at a local rotisserie place was more than 500 calories. Was supposed to be a snack, not a meal. Then there was the martini at dinner Saturday night -- almost 300 calories with the olives, but it was goooooooood!


Monday, August 13, 2007

Monday Stats and Training Update

A good week last week as the scale showed a 2 pound improvement. It's been slow going, but I'm happy with three pounds in the past two weeks, especially as my diet changes have firmed up and so has the new exercise regime.

In the last nine days, I've visited the gym four times. Definitely a lifetime record for me. Actually enjoying the changes in activity and the weights as well. (Okay, no I told you so's necessary.) Still miss the running, but the workouts have been good, especially combined with a bike ride here and there. It'll get me through.


Sunday, August 12, 2007

A Great Ride

The plan yesterday was to get up early and head out to the gym. Deb had gone outside and came running to tell me how nice it was outside, that I should go for a bike ride.

The weather here has been truly miserable for the last three weeks or so. Really hot (90's to low hundreds) and really really humid (80% plus). I don't think my kids have been in the back yard for the entire three weeks and my straw (formerly known as my grass) gets browner by the day. So it took me about a minute to get my bike shorts on, grab my lonely Garmin and get outside.

It truly was glorious. A perfect day. Maybe 70 degrees, low humidity. Off I went.

This was my first real ride alone -- no kids, no schedule. I had a chance to see how I could do. I wound up riding to my old neighborhood. (Secretly, I was hoping to run into some of my old neighbors to show them the new me. Alas, nobody home.) The ride was pretty hilly, certainly more so that any rides that I had done before. The Garmin was ticking along, showing my HR mostly in the 140-150's with a few ticks over 160 -- perfect! Early on, I got passed by a couple of riders who wished me good morning, then later by another equally polite cyclist. As I was heading back home, a friend passed me in his car and pulled over to say hey.

About 18 miles in 90 minutes. Okay, so I'm not Lance Armstrong. . . yet, but it was a GREAT ride! It set the tone for an awesome day.

So, what did I learn?
  1. Gotta think outside the box. If Deb hadn't said anything, I'd have been in my car on my way to the gym. Thanks, Deb!
  2. Biking is freedom. On foot, you can only go so far and it takes a long time. On a bike, you can really go some place!
  3. When I run, I feel like I'm constantly thinking about stuff, like work. Yeah, there's traffic, but it's different on a bike. You really gotta pay attention and there's nothing like the wind in your face on a steep downhill.
  4. When I was riding, I didn't feel jealous of the runners that I was passing like I had been since the ankle injury.
  5. I need to buy a bike.

Looking forward to my next two wheel adventure!


Thursday, August 9, 2007

I Love Rock and Roll

I was driving home from work just thinking abou the day when I Love Rock and Roll came on the radio. I turned up the volume. Louder. No, LOUDER!
When I was in college, one of my buddies, Dave D., was a major Joan Jett fan. Dave had every album and knew every song. I knew I Love Rock and Roll and had heard a few others. I would hear Joan coming out of Dave's room at all hours.

During our senior year, 1987, Joan was in a move with Michael J. Fox, The Light of Day that took place in Cleveland. The weekend of the release, Joan was appearing in a free concert . . . in Cleveland. Dave talked me into going.

As I said, the concert was free and we weren't locals, so we made this eight hour drive without tickets, with pretty much no way to know if we'd be able to score any. I had called the sponsoring radio station to find out if they had any tickets put aside, but no luck.

We left early and got to the concert hall at 3 pm for the 8 pm show. Within half an hour, we were able to score two tickets for 25 bucks. Seemed like a lot at the time, but by today's standards, that was nothing. We waited until the doors opened and were able to get seats in the 5th row.

The show was great. Played all of the songs that I had heard. Crimson and Clover, Good Music, Bad Reputation, Touch. The highlight of the night was the finale when Michael J Fox joined her on stage to sing the theme from the movie.

After the show, Dave and I got back into his truck and headed back to school. We spent 8 hours in Cleveland and 16 hours traveling there and back. Not a bad day!

Dave and I saw Joan ten or eleven times that year. (Did that make us groupies?) (Yeah, I guess so.) We drove to Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Boston and Baton Rouge to see her. We ran into her band all over the place and saw her after a show at U of Delaware in a Howard Johnson's Restaurant where she graciously gave us autographs. She definitely recognized us and we recognized a bunch of other Jett heads that we'd see at different shows.

Dave (left) and me (right) with Ricky Byrd, lead guitar in Pittsburgh.

That year, Dave and I saw about 60 concerts. We saw just about every rock show within a three hour drive of Baltimore from the Dead to Aerosmith to Bon Jovi. Billy Joel, Eddie Money and Bruce Hornsby. Rush, Yes, Boston, Bowie and Pink Floyd. We saw shows in Baltimore, DC, Richmond, Philly, E. Rutherford, NJ, Hershey, PA, Norfolk, VA and more.

I was young and had nothing keeping me home. Ahh to be young again!


Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Tag -- I'm It

I've been tagged by Big Mike, so if I follow his lead, I've gotta tell you a bunch of stuff about me.

Job's I've Held:

High School:

  • Dishwasher
  • Game Room Attendant

College Years:

  • Rent-A-Cop (security guard)
  • Public Information Assistant
  • Security Dispatcher
  • Pizza Delivery Guy

Real Life:

  • Controller
  • Office Manager
  • Collector
  • Finance Manager
  • Finance Director

Movies I can watch over and over:

  • Field of Dreams
  • Blues Brothers
  • Caddyshack
  • Trading Places
  • Beverly Hills Cop
  • Hoosiers

My Guilty Pleasures:

  • Dinner out with Deb
  • Watching my kids play ball
  • Family vacations
  • Sitting in the stands at a ballpark, just about anywhere
  • Jell-O fat free sugar free pudding with way too much Cool Whip at about 10pm nightly
  • Vegas

Places I Have Lived:

  • Baltimore
  • Randallstown, MD
  • Owings Mills, MD
  • Reisterstown, MD
  • Somerset, NJ
  • Piscataway, NJ
  • Ellicott City, MD
  • Columbia, MD

Shows I Enjoy:

  • M*A*S*H -- it never get's old
  • Homicide: Life on the Street -- love to see the Baltimore sights, but it's not on much any more
  • L A Law -- can't find this on any more either
  • Iron Chef -- the original Japanese version
  • Survivor
  • Gray's Anatomy
  • Top Chef
  • Hell's Kitchen
  • The Biggest Loser -- okay, I'm addicted to reality tv
  • Vegas

Places I've Been on Vacation (longer than a weekend):

  • Ocean City, MD
  • Phoenix, AZ/Grand Canyon
  • Myrtle Beach, SC
  • Seattle/Vancouver
  • Montego Bay, Jamaica
  • California -- SF to LA
  • South Florida -- Miami, Ft. Lauderdale
  • The Big Island of Hawaii
  • Melrose, Minnesota (Hi Gayle and Randy!)
  • Gatlinburg, Tennessee
  • Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
  • Puerto Rico
  • Disney World
  • San Diego
  • Vegas

Favorite Foods:

  • French Fries -- love 'em but don't eat 'em any more
  • Cheesy Squash
  • Onions
  • Grilled Anything
  • Cauliflower
  • Roasted Red Peppers
  • Crab Soup
  • Deb's Chicken Corn Chowder

Websites I Visit Daily:

Awards I Have Won:

  • Company "Shareholder Value" Award
  • Lifetime Jaycee International Senator
  • Lifetime Maryland Jaycee Major


  • Marsh B. Mellow
  • That's all you're getting out of me!

Tag: You're It -- Your public awaits:

Kim from WA

Dan from NJ

Katie from Baltimore

Deb and Dave, you're welcome to post right here!


Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Monday Stats and Training Update (on Tuesday!)

Sorry to be a day late, but I was down a pound last week. Not bad considering only one day of exercise -- on Saturday.

Just got back from the gym this morning. I might be liking this gym stuff! 45 minutes of elliptical and upper body weight.

Hoping for a bigger number next week as vacation at the beach looms a couple of weeks down the road.

All for now.


Sunday, August 5, 2007

A Hard Day's Work

I had joined a gym almost a year ago and went once. The nice part about this gym is the price, ten bucks a month. For that price, it hits my credit card and I don't even notice it. (I'm sure that this fact is figured into their business plan!) There is plenty of new equipment -- 20-25 treadmills, 10-12 bikes and ellipticals, Cybex weight systems and free weights.

As I've been loafing around for the past couple of weeks since my ankle injury, I finally got off my butt and did something. At Deb's encouragement, I made my second visit to the gym.

After the workout, Deb asked how it was. "Fantastic" was my response.

I had never quite been able to figure out the elliptical, but I did, I suppose out of necessity. 45 minutes there. I was surprised that it only added up to about a mile and a half, but I guess that's about right since my heart rate was consistently around 150.

On to the weights -- did about half of the Cybex machines.

Then 30 minutes on a bike. 11 miles seemed like a lot, but I struggled to get my HR up above 130. I suspect I should have increased the tension. It's not about the miles.

Then, finished the rest of the Cybex machines.

In all, about 2 1/4 hours of workout. Without a doubt, the longest, most intense workout. . . of my life! I felt great!

I spent the rest of the day truly looking forward to the pain I knew I'd feel today and tomorrow. And feel it I do. Woo Hoo! Just about every muscle in my body hurts. Even my little toes! The best part is that my ankle doesn't feel any worse than it did yesterday.

Just so happens, Race Pace Bicycles is just across the street from the gym. What the heck, I'm feeling good and in the neighborhood, I'll check 'em out. I looked at the Trek 1500. Didn't ride it, but it sounded good from what the expert at the store said. Found out later that this is the bike that Jill bought last year. She loves it and is riding it in the Iron Girl in a couple of weeks. No commitment here, but you never know. I'm sure I'll be back!

Off to nurse my pain.


Saturday, August 4, 2007

May I see your ID, please?

In 2002, my company began to issue employee ID's. With the digital age, the pictures are the same from year to year. Below is my old ID picture from 2002, issued in March, 2007.

A couple of weeks ago, I visited the corporate office and ran into one of the HR reps. She couldn't believe how I looked. I asked her to take a new picture and send me a new ID. No problem. Received the ID yesterday with the picture below.


Friday, August 3, 2007

The Low Carb Lifestyle

As I discussed in one of my early posts, I have been successful, and unsuccessful on several of the low carb diet plans. I've tried Atkins several times and now I'm on my second pass thorough on South Beach. On each occasion, I have lost a lot of weight. Prior to this time around, an average of about 80 lbs. each time.

Last night, I picked up a book in the library called Carbophobia: The Scary Truth About America's Low-carb Craze, by Michael Greger. It doesn't take long to figure out that this guy's goal is to discredit Atkins -- both the diet and the doctor. He also takes aim, though on a much smaller scale, at other low carb diets, including South Beach and Weight Watchers.

Although the book reads like a hatchet job, it is convincing.

He essentially accuses Atkins of ripping off the public with unsubstantiated claims of healthy living while ignoring all scientific facts that may prove otherwise. While Atkins makes many claims in his book, they are broad and unsubstantiated. Greger takes a much different approach -- the 162 pages are comprised of 104 pages of text followed by 58 pages of footnotes.

In short, Greger argues that:
  • Low Carb diets are unhealthy and can be dangerous;
  • Although many lose weight in the short term, long term results are poor;
  • Atkins followers lose weight because they ultimately eat less calories than they burn;
  • Atkins recommendation of high numbers of supplements (several dozen pills per day) leads him to the conclusion that the diet itself does not provide nearly enough vitamins and minerals therefore making it unhealthy by itself.

I have certainly seen some periodic reports of questionable healthiness of the low carb plans, but never presented in such a concise format with overwhelming data.

Gerger accuses Atkins of being a snake oil salesman by not acknowledging any conflicting data and writing it all off as uninformed hogwash.

After reading this book and reading some more on the corresponding web site, I can't help but to feel duped from my three visits to the Atkins plan. Yes, it's true that many millions have tried this diet and many others, but so too have many failed. I failed three times out of three on Atkins.

As for South Beach, I believe that my keys to success have been exercise first, diet second. I also believe that South Beach is far better than Atkins, as it does not encourage high fat proteins such as bacon and sausage, but rather lean meats. In addition, it encourages some vegetable consumption while Atkins encourages almost none.

I had been thinking for a while about moving on from South Beach, but now I'm convinced. No more low carb for me. With that said, I don't think a new plan will be that far from what I'm doing now. More fruit, more whole wheat products, more brown rice. Less red meat. Still lots of veggies and no simple carbs. That's a plan I can live with and continue down my weight loss path.