Friday, December 26, 2008

2009 Tri-ing to Du and Other Stuff

Finally getting around to firming up the 2009 event calendar.

Three major events are already on the calendar -- the American Odyssey Relay in April and the Seagull Century and Marine Corps Marathon in October. I'll likely do one of the two latter with Team in Training again. Frederick was such a great experience last year and it is such a worthy cause. (Don't worry, you'll be hearing from me again on this, no doubt!)

I've never been interested in the whole triathlon thing, but there's one that looks intriguing -- an indoor tri -- 10 minutes of swimming, 30 minutes of stationary biking and 20 minutes running on a treadmill with preset transition. So what if I can only do a few laps in the pool. No stress on transition, either. Looks like a great way to get my feet wet. Pun intended!

A duathlon -- run, bike, run -- is more up my alley. Hope to get one in. Not sure when, though there are a few options. Will add later.

The big winter event will be the Gasparilla Tampa Half Marathon. Just so happens, we have a long weekend planned in Tampa while the kids are off of school. Just so happens this is going on while we're there. Score! (But, shh, kids won't know we're going until we pick them up from school to head to the airport!)

The rest of the schuedule is filled in with plans for a few other running events.

So, here goes:

1/1 -- New Year's Prediction Run 8k
2/21 -- Tri to Help -- Indoor Triathlon
3/1 -- Gasparilla Tampa Half Marathon
4/19 -- Clyde's 10k
4/24-25 -- American Odyssey Relay
4/26 -- Pike's Peek 10k
5/3 -- Frederick Half Marathon
5/31 -- Inaugural Maryland Half Marathon
6/14 -- Survivor Harbor 7 Miler
8/30 -- Annapolis 10 Miler
10/10 -- Seagull Century Bike Ride
10/25 -- Marine Corps Marathon
12/6 -- Columbia Metric Marathon -- 26.2k

Looks like a busy year. Hopefully, my feet will hold out for a change.

L'Chaim!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Hanumas!





Wishing all our friends in blogland a Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!

L'Chaim!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Too Many Fours

So much has gone on since I last posted. Where oh where to start.

There was the unplanned day trip to the Corporate Office. Then a planned two-day trip to Corporate that expanded to three. The work crunch has been relentless and stressful, and it's not been positive to the exercise and healthy eating regimen.

This week's trip really threw me. In the middle of the week was my 44th birthday. I knew there was a chance that my Wednesday meetings would keep me late or even over to the next day, but the kids couldn't wait for me to get home. Gut wrenching, really. As the day wore on, I realized that I would not make it home on Wednesday and my mood truly soured. I didn't want to talk to anyone on the day my phone and email never stopped with best wishes for the big day. I got home a full day late and met the family for a belated birthday crab cake dinner, finally starting to feel the numb of the prior few days wearing off.

I diligently packed a couple sets of workout duds for the trip, unfortunately, leaving the office after 8 pm and back in at 6 am doesn't bode well for that which would have cleared my head. I brought home two sets of clean gym wear.

A bigger issue this week was at meal time. Some of that old fat Jeff was out and about. Looking back, it seems like every meal had me full half way through. I know I finished every meal -- good to the last drop. There was the awesome too big, too good Greek salad that I shoulda taken half back for a late afternoon snack. Birthday lunch included half a loaf of onion bread, dipped in goo -- olive oil, Parmesan cheese and spices. Birthday dinner started with two nice glasses of red wine, an order of my favorite roasted red peppers and mozzarella, bathed in olive oil, followed by a big bowl of seafood pasta -- worked to completion of course. At the family crab cake dinner, after I finished mine, I finished Matty's cake and then Zach's. Friday was a day of grazing on everything in sight.

I started to feel like I was in a competitive eating contest, with me as the only contestant. Four days of feasting. Four days without exercise. Happy 44th to me!

I got on the scale this morning knowing that the news would be bad. It was. But I was off to the gym for my Saturday double -- Body Pump followed by spin. While I was spinning, I was thinking -- when I start the day with exercise, it sets the tone for my eating. Yeah, sometimes I compensate with a little extra food on the big days, but nothing like this. I was totally out of control. Part of me enjoyed it, but most of me hated it.

Live and learn -- one of my toughest four day periods in the past 2 1/2 years and I failed in the diet and exercise departments, but if I learn how to deal with the next one, I'll bump that grade to a C.

L'Chaim!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

White Out


What a weekend so far, I expected more
The forecast was dry, but cold for sure

On Saturday we hiked to Frederick you'll see
Going to meet Aaron, a guy much like me

5k was the plan, jingling all the way
Check out Aaron's blog for news of the day

Yes it was chilly, and we weren't quite fast
It was Zach, me, Paul and Aaron -- but at least we weren't LAST!

Late afternoon it started to snow
Didn't expect it, this could really blow

Not quite cold enough to stick to the streets
My buddy Dave suggested running in cleats

Easy for him to say, he thinks I'm a fool
Cause today he ran the Vegas full

The dining room table was covered with my crap
There was so much stuff, looked like a death trap

Three layers on top and two on my seat
Just two on my head and three for my feet

Didn't sleep well from about four
Before six I gave up might as well start the tour


Ate a bit, got dressed, head to my toes
Turned on the computer -- why who knows

Ann Marie's Facebook note said it all
Roads are icy, too easy to fall


I looked outside and what did I see?
A complete layer of white -- how could it be?

Maybe just a quarter inch was enough to do it
A slip and a slide was guaranteed to screw it

Despite my efforts to train quick and fast
I was so ready to go, the disappointment won't last

So what did I do with my unexpected day of leisure?
Not a damned thing (does anything rhyme here other than siezure?)

Time to start thinking about 2009
And finish this rhyme, it's mighty fine

Thanks for hanging through it I do appreciate
Your support and a kind word or two, four, six or eight

L'Chaim!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Cool Runnings

No, this isn't a post about the Jamaican Bobsled Team. It's a look forward to this weekend's running events.

Temps around these parts have been hovering mostly around freezing. This weekend will be more of the same.

Tomorrow's event is the Jingle Bell Run 5k in Frederick, MD. This was not an event I had planned to do, but a local soon-to-be-formerly-fat blogger, Aaron, picked this as his first 5k and it's too close to home not to join in for the fun.

This brings back memories as my first 5k was the Jingle Bell Run just 2 years ago. Will be heading west with the family early. Looking forward to temps in the upper 20's at the start. BRRR! I'm thinking those temps outta get Aaron to the finish a couple of minutes quicker than he's thinking.

I had a great 8 miler on Saturday with the Team in Training crew. Ran the full distance other than water stops. Even better, I was able to run the uphill mile or so back to the start -- a first for me. This was a great final long run leading up to this Sunday's Columbia Metric Marathon. With my times still consistently running between 10 and 10:30/mile, my concern about finishing in under the 3:30 time limit is all but a distant memory. Now I'm more concerned about being able to start out slow. The goal is an 11 minute pace -- just enough to break 3 hours.

For the first time, I'm excited about a race in a very different way -- there is no worry about times or IF I can finish. Baring injury, I KNOW I will finish. It just feels different. I can hardly wait!

(Oh yeah, forecast for the 8:15 start -- 32 degrees, windy and dry!)

Looking forward to sitting on my couch Sunday night watching the Ravens kick the Redskins butts writing my race reports.

Have a great weekend everyone!

L'Chaim!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Milestones

I've always been amazed by how weight loss and speed seem to come when I least expect it.

In the past month, I've averaged 5-6 workouts a week, some even double ups. In that time, the scale has been pretty flat. I've worked to control the intake, but for the most part, there has been little movement. Yesterday morning, I hopped out of bed and did my daily check in with the scale expecting more of the same. Happily, the same was not to be. For the first time, the scale showed the reward I've been looking for -- the first two digits were black jack -- "21". Black jack was not followed by the nine point eight that would have been good enough for me but rather eight point zero.

Although I don't need numbers to define my success, I'm a numbers guy and they are a good benchmark to measure progress objectively. One of those measures is body mass index, or BMI. The BMI takes a person's height and weight and calculates a number that is defines them on a scale from underweight to morbidly obese. My new BMI of 29.6 is in the overweight column, which is a good thing. For the first time in probably 35 years or more, I am no longer obese.

After doing a little "Hey, I'm not Obese Anymore" song and dance next to the scale, I quickly gathered my cold weather gear for the Green Valley North Turkey Trot. In stark contrast to
last year's run with temps around 70, this year the forecast called for low to mid 30's: running tights, two pair of socks, three layers on top, gloves and hand warmers were the order of the day.

I arrived at the site about 15 minutes before the scheduled 9 am start with a Starbucks Venti already warming my blood. Checking in, I picked up my t -- a very nice technical t, rather than the all cotton version that they handed out last year -- and one extra since I had registered the whole family, even though they decided to stay warm instead. Since I parked a good 10 minute walk from the start line, I put one t on and another in my pocket. I was feeling a bit like Santa with my four layers and bulging pockets -- extra t in one, gloves in another.

A bit after 9, the race was a go. I had no idea how my recent speed surge would translate to the course's rolling hills, but I'd soon find out.

The first mile, more downhill than up, was in at 9:44. Holy crap that's fast. I mean WAY faster than anything I've ever recorded. Okay, just one mile and downhill at that. Let's see if I can average that out to stay at 10 for 2 miles.

Sure enough, 10:16 -- dead nuts on for a two mile average of 10 minutes.

Mile 3 was another down-more-than-up mile and another sub 10 minute mile at 9:45. At this point, I'm thinking out loud about a sub-50 minute run. (Yeah, and you should've seen the looks I was getting, too!)

Shortly into mile 4, I was feeling the three miles before. No way can I keep up this pace. I'm tired. Want to walk. Can't walk. No walking. Less than two to go. Almost there. Uphill mile 4 in at 10:09. Holy crap, 4 done in under 40. Just a mile to go!

Mile five was slow. More uphill, damn! By 4.5, I was 20 seconds off the pace. I've lost it, but I will still blow away anything I've ever done. Mile 5 in 10:11, but the run isn't over. The last piece is straight down hill! 1/20 of a mile in 22 seconds, 8:19 pace -- I was sure this body wouldn't go that fast!

Final: 5.05 miles -- 50:29 -- average of 9:59.8/mile! Better than a minute and a half faster per mile than a year ago.

Honestly, I wouldn't have thought that possible. I felt great!

Back to the car and a quick stop for some Dunkin Donuts coffee for me and the Mrs. and then home to enjoy the day.

Without a doubt, I did a bit too much celebrating over Deb's fabulous dinner last night. I couldn't move after two plates of turkey, roasted sweet potatoes, squash casserole, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, cranberry sauce, a cookie bar and a fat free/sugar free pudding with cool whip to top it off. Waaay over indulged. I certainly felt fat. Thinking back, I used to enjoy that feeling of too full. Not any more. Yuck.

Hope you all had a great and Thankful day!

L'Chaim!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Icicles

Where the hell did fall go? It's been frickin cold here. Like unseasonably cold. Not that I'm doing a lot outside, but . . . the cold really sucks. Last week we even had some snow flurries. Brrrr.

The Metric Marathon is just 13 days away and my training plan is in full swing. Last week was two thumbs up on that account. Almost 25 miles of running last week, all on the treadmill, of course. Somewhere along the line I seemed to have found some speed (at least for me) and consistency. Each of my four runs averaged between 10:41 and 10:47 and my long run was my fastest time. Talk about a negative split!

As for consistency, these have been my steadiest times ever. My last 6 runs, 41 miles, have all been between 10:59 and 10:41 average. I feel like I can finally predict how fast I will be. Maybe this is temporary, but I finally feel like speed work might actually work. Of course, this is all well and good in a controlled environment. What about outside?

For sure, this coming weekend I'm planning to get my long run in on the neighborhood streets. Will see how it all translates. I'll be pulling out all of the cold weather gear, no doubt.

Hard to believe Thanksgiving is just two days away. Happy turkey day, everyone!

L'Chaim!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Slacker

I am a slacker. That's what one of my biking buddies called me on Sunday, so I'm sure he's right.
Saturday, I hit the gym for the Saturday Double -- Body Pump followed by a spin class. Great start to the day. At 9, Deb dropped the boys off for kids Zoomba. Sounded like fun if I could get them into it. It was tough going, but they did get out there and dance. I joined them in the back row with a few other parents (moms) and the kid's were more comfortable. They did plenty of whining, but by the time they told Deb about it, they were ready to go back next week. Guess the double will become a triple. Throw in the post Zoomba swim and that makes a quadruple. Yee Haa!

Sunday was long run day. My buddy Dave was heading to Lifetime Fitness early to hit the treadmill for a 14 miler. I invited myself to use one of his guest passes and met him there at 5:45 with a goal of 8-10 miles. This would pretty much determine if I would register for the Columbia Metric Marathon. Need to be relatively comfortable that I could meet the Metric time cutoff of 3.5 hours -- a pace just under 13 minutes per mile.

We were off and running by 6 and I felt really good. For the first 2-3 miles, Dave and I were conversing comfortably. My first walk break was at 3.5 and I was a keeping a pace better than 10:30. By 5, I knew I would go for 10. As the miles ticked by, I was keeping to just under 11 minute mile average with walking occasionally. At 9.2, I was 30 second off the pace for sub 11, but I had enough in the tank to push myself to pick up those lost seconds. At 10 miles, the ticker showed 1:49:58 -- a pace of 10:59, by far my fastest run of any distance beyond 4 miles. I was feeling pretty jazzed. This run pretty much sealed the deal for the Metric. I signed up Monday night.

When I saw one of my biking buddies at 9 and he saw me sans cycle, the first word out of his mouth was "slacker!" Well deserved, no doubt.

With just three week's to the run, I'm pioneering Jeff's 3 Week Slug to 26.2k Training Plan.
  • Week 1 -- Tue - 3, Wed - 6, Thu - 3, Sun - 12
  • Week 2 -- Tue - 3, Wed - 4, Thu - 3, Sun - 8
  • Week 3 -- Tue - 3, Thu - 2, Fri - 2, Sun 26.2k/16.2 mi

And there you have it. If it work's out, I'll publish! In the mean time, I'll just be a slacker.

L'Chaim!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Finally, Just a Run

It's been a while since I just ran. All this other stuff has been getting in my way, which I have enjoyed, but other than the 2 miles I credit myself with at boot camp, I haven't had a single longer run since the Baltimore Half almost 6 weeks ago.

Like every time I think about running, I have a backup plan. I sign up for spin or Body Pump as a backup, but the backup always seems to become the plan.

Yesterday, I signed up for spin for this morning as my "backup." Unlike the last 6 or 8 times, today I went the direction of the treadmill instead of the spin studio.

And I ran.

And it felt good.

And I realized that I missed it.

It was a good run. A bit over 4 miles in 45 minutes -- a sub 11 minute average. That's a great time considering my lack of running.

What next?

I've been waffling on whether to run the Columbia Metric Marathon on 12/7 -- 16.2 miles with a 3 1/2 hour time limit. Registered last year, but didn't run due to injury. Today's little 4 miler has me thinking seriously about training for it. (There must be a 16 miles in 4 weeks or less training plan out there somewhere, right?)

So I think the bug is back. Stay tuned for the plan on this one.

L'Chaim!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

20 Years!

When I tell people about my conversion from fat to fit, they usually say something like "Wow, think about how many years you've added to your life! Of course, that's pretty tough to know, right?

Well, I found this cool life expectancy calculator and now I know the truth (because I sincerely believe EVERYTHING I read or get from the internet.)

After answering 40 questions about my life, health, family history, etc, I know with absolute certainty that I will live to 91. Then, I went back and plugged in the fat me information -- 71 years.

Just think -- that's an extra 20 years to drive my kids crazy. Something to look forward to!

L'Chaim! -- and a very long one at that!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Where Have You Been, Joe DiMaggio?

Well, not Joe, but me. Yes, it's been two weeks. Sorry about that. Life in the way, once again.

So let's see, when I last left you, I was enjoying the buffet at the gym. During the past two weeks, I've continued to enjoy.
  • 4 Body Pumps

  • 2 Boot Camps

  • 4 Spin Classes

  • 2 21 mile bike rides

Food wise, I feel like I'm eating pretty well. Not a lot of changes from the South Beach plan. A few strays, but nothing noteworth.

With all of that activity and the eating going well, the pounds are just falling off. They must be, right? Not so fast, bucko. Stagnation is more like it. Much to my surprise, I've been in a groove between 222 and 224 pretty much every day for the past two weeks. Not a bad place to be, but not exactly where I thought I'd be, considering. No doubt I can tighten the plan down a bit. My goals are still in sight and achievable for year end, but the clock is ticking.

So that's all I've got. More to come when the mood hits me!

L'Chaim!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ass Kicking Update

It's been a long time since I did a Monday Update where I report my successes, or lack thereof, from the prior week. Seems that these updates are a lot easier to write when the news is good.

If variety is the spice of life, last week was close to a habanero pepper with nothing less than a buffet of activities: boot camp, two Body Pump's, two spin classes and a 21 mile ride yesterday.

As for South Beach -- I was able to maintain the plan with one intentional variation -- Kashi Go Lean. A couple of months ago I was reading one of Lance's posts about the virtues of the stuff. I tried it and now, I'm hooked. It's not on Phase I of South Beach but it is on Phase II, so there's my exception. Bowl of Kashi, skim milk and a banana (also Phase II). Aside from all the good stuff in it, it sure keeps the body plumbing moving -- one thing that South Beach has a tendency not do.

For the most part, I had no issue with the reduced carbs and exercise. One notable exception was yesterday's bike ride. By 70 minutes in, I was hurting and started to trail the group I was riding with. Even though I had the cereal and included a bottle of G2 on the ride. Only question is whether that was a function of the reduced carbs or the exercise for the week. Guess time will tell on this front.

With all of this good stuff going on, the numbers on the scale have been shrinking. Since my request for ass kicking two weeks ago, I'm down 14 pounds, from 237 to 223, a new 30+ year low and a far better result that I thought that I would see. It's only two weeks, but it definitely feels like the first couple of weeks on a new plan.

Next up is to plan out the activities for the next six months. With no major runs or rides on the calendar until April, time to make some plans.

L'Chaim!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Prophet

It's really pretty amazing all of the response that I've received on my need for help getting back on the wagon. I've received some great advice and a number of private emails from some folks looking for help or looking to share their similar frustrations. I appreciate them all.

When I checked my mail this morning, what awaited me was a five start comment from a guy that found this blog by accident.

Hi Jeff, By accident, I stumbled upon your blog and immediately was sucked into your story. A very inspiring read.

I too am turning my life around and I can very much relate to your experience of running the 10 miles when you realized you would never be the same Jeff again. I had that same experience a few weeks back when I completed my first sprint triathlon after training for several months.

After that experience, never will I be the same unfit, depressed and overweight David again. While my weight problem was not close to what yours was, I could feel myself heading that direction fast.

Let me say this, One of the best gifts you can give yourself is the gift of health. In giving that gift to yourself, you will inspire others to also give the same gift to themselves and the domino effect goes on.

You have no good excuse not to give yourself this gift. You owe it to your future, your family and your loved ones. I assume you have no illness or disability. You have everything you need to become the person you want to be. No excuses. I hope I didn't just waste the last 20 minutes reading your story because when I found out you were back to 237 I was kinda
disappointed. It was like I was watching Rocky and I just knew you were going to win...and now...237.

So you let the old Jeff...the old unmotivated coward that gives in at the first hint of something tasty, you let him kick you down. That behind you now. Its time to "kill the coward" Jeff. You have everything you need to get it done. What you've done so far is incredible. Congratulations. But guess what, your not done yet.

Its time to make some bigger sacrifices with your diet and your exercise. Its time to feel a little more pain.

Getting and staying healthy is a lifestyle. A LIFESTYLE. So get it out of your mind that someday you will "arrive" and you will get to go back to eating lots of ice cream and late night snacks. Those days are over Jeff. Say goodbye. Its a lifestyle not a diet. It will be hard but you will thank yourself for having the determination someday.

Here are some quotes that have inspired me...

"Genetics might load the gun but lifestyle pulls the trigger"

"Hunger is ugly leaving the body"

"There is a certain joy in the pain of exhaustion"

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."

'I become a happier man each time I suffer.'-LA

"There are two times to train - when you want to, and when you don't."

"Stop saying 'I'm going to exercise' and start saying 'I'm going to train'...it makes you more bad ass"

"Ride like you stole something"LA to F Landis

"Without pain, there's no adversity. Without adversity, no challenge. Without challenge, no improvement. No improvement, no sense of accomplishment and no deep-down joy. Might as well be playing Tiddly-Winks."Scott Martin

"Don't look away, it's the life that you choose, now believe it."

Posted by David S.

I read this and then reread it. It pretty well stopped me in my tracks. This really sums up so many things that I needed to hear.

"So get it out of your mind that someday you will "arrive" and you will get to go back to eating lots of ice cream and late night snacks. Those days are over Jeff. Say goodbye. Its a lifestyle not a diet." Long ago in this journey, I had wondered what happens when I get "there". You know, that place where dreams are made -- the goal weight. That magical, mystical, subjective weight that is really little more than digits on a screen. David points out that realizing that number is not then a license pig out. The goal should not be a number, but a level of health. Unfortunately, there aren't a whole lot of easy measurements to figure out a part of this. Nobody is going to have blood drawn to check their cholesterol every day. Besides, I'm a numbers guy, so it's easy. I just need to put it all in perspective. I've said it to people hundreds of times -- I'll be dealing with my weight for the rest of my life. Now, I just need to understand and accept what that means.

Since this was a late post, I know a lot of my friends are also struggling with weight that they're having to lose again. I hope that David's words will help you too.

David -- thank you for taking the time and effort to write. I can't help but wonder if your accident wasn't the product of something unworldly. I'm grateful that it happened. Please stop by again.

On another note. . . I had planned to write about something totally different today.

This is Bryan. We've ridden together a few times and we both belong to the same gym. About a month ago, I got Bryan to try out Body Pump at the gym and now he's a regular. In return, he told me of all the virtues of Basic Training class. There was one excuse and then another why I didn't go. Yesterday he reminded me again and it was all about the weather. I don't do sub-40 degrees outside. (Okay, yeah, wimp, fine, I can live with that.) Monday was in the mid-30's at the 6 am start.

So last night I checked the weather and we're looking at low 40's. What could I do. No more excuses.

I met the instructor (drill sergeant, actually, right?) and he looked me up and down. I could read his mind -- "this guy's in no shape to handle my class." Just then, Pat, one of the Body Pump instructors walks by -- "Hey, Jeff, how was the Baltimore Marathon?" Sarge looked at me again -- "You ran the Baltimore Marathon?" Well, half, but yeah. The change in his demeanor was instantaneous. Timing was perfect.

Anyway, at 6, a group of 60 or so gathered outside. Start with 15 - 4-count jumping jacks. Okay, 20 push ups. Alright everyone, we're running to the college, about a mile and a half away. At the college, it was time for 20 minutes of intense calisthenics. More more push ups, 100 full range sit-ups (I didn't think anyone did those any more!), crunches, more crunches, squat thrusts -- oh man, it's been 30 years since I've done a squat thrust -- jr. high gym class -- they still suck. OK, now, run back. Then more jumping jacks, still more push ups, finally some stretches. Thankfully, form doesn't count, cause I didn't have any for most of this.

The hour was about as intense as anything I've ever done. The chill in the air was refreshing, for sure. I figure I'm good now to about 38 degrees! It will be nice to work this into the weekly repertoire.

I told Bryan that I hated him, but, of course, I don't. (He told me the same thing after the first Body Pump, too.) I'm thankful that he kept "reminding" me. Not sure how I'll feel in a couple of days when the soreness from the morning's activities set in, but I'll be back!

L'Chaim!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Back to the Beach

Thanks to all for the kick in the ass. It was exactly what I needed and really helped me get some focus.

Today I headed back to the beach. . . South Beach that is. I had great success with South Beach from July 06 through early 08, but as my marathon training heated up, I found the need for more carbs. Since then, my weight has essentially been stable. Now I have nothing of significance on the calendar and workouts should be mostly an hour or so, so it's back to what worked before.

Last night I skimmed through the new "Supercharged" South Beach book. Best I could tell, the big difference is the section on exercise. The diet is the same -- lean meats and non-starchy veggies, especially during Phase I -- the first 2 weeks. No fruits at all. Gets more generous during Phase II after that with the addition of some fruits and more veggies.

I'm looking forward to some positive, ass kicking results in the near future.

L'Chaim!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Wait Loss

I was truly looking forward to the summer running and biking season. With Frederick over and lots of miles to ride, I expected the pounds would just fall off. Looking at my Garmin uploads and seeing thousands of calories worked out of my system, I was SURE I'd be hitting my long term goal any day.

Well, my friends, that was then and this is now. Seems like all of those "free" calories took their toll. I haven't seen the 220's in almost 2 months. Yesterday, two days after the half and just 9 days removed from the Seagull (and the 8000 calories burned that day), the scale showed an eye popping 237. (Point Four!) The last time I weighed in at this heft? March 17, nearly 7 months ago!

Unlimited carbs for all of that exercise, right? Um, yeah, right. Ice cream before bed is cool, right? Hey, it was all low fat. I admit, it might not have been exactly the serving size on the container, but who eats those paltry servings, anyway. OY! Okay, I understand why. I did it to myself.

Now, before you start to comment with "It's okay, you'll get back on track" and "Hey, Jeff, you did it before, you can do it again" or "Dude, look where you came from, this is just a small blip, you'll be right back," wouldya just save it! Look, I'm just pissed at myself. I did it to myself and I missed an opportunity to drop those last 25 pounds, which are now the last 38 pounds.

Problem is, I started to enjoy food again. For two years, I got myself into a position where food was just subsistence. Now, I look forward to food again. I have my favorite places to eat and things to eat. For a long time, there was the boring old salad bar at the local Weis market for lunch. Now I crave Panera. Crave may not do my feelings for Panera justice -- when I die, I want to be baked into one of their multi grain baguettes and dipped into vegetable soup. I'm telling you, I'm in love. After Saturday's half, we hit my favorite Mexican spot -- chips, salsa, my clean plate, then I finished my kid's plate. There's the old Jeff in fine form.

What I need is a kick in the ass. Some serious tough love. Gotta get outta my friggin' food loving ways or I'll be playing Santa this Christmas without added padding!

No nice comments, please. Nothing peppy or I swear I'll delete it. I'm tellin' 'ya, I need the pain.

L'Chaim!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Baltimore Race Report

The weather for Saturday would be perfect -- lows in the upper 50's, highs in the low 70's. Dry. Not much more you can ask from the stuff you can't control.

My neighbor Brian was also running the half. This would be his first "major" race. He'd done the Annapolis 10 miler a few times, but this would be his first half marathon. He was already stoked about the expo. We decided to leave at 7 to find parking and watch the start of the full marathon. As we headed in town, his enthusiasm and excitement was obvious. It felt kinda strange being the "expert" for a change.

The starts to the Baltimore events are staggered. The marathon kicks off at 8, then a 5k at 8:30, then the half at 9:45. The full course runs adjacent to the half at the start, then split for three miles, then the two merge at mile 3/16 through the finish. The delayed start is so that the leaders of the full have an opportunity to pass before there is a merge.

We arrived by 7:30 and headed to the start of the marathon. The place was all abuzz with tons of spectators. The Mayor of Baltimore gave a speech followed by one of the Under Armor commercial guys. Finally, Georgia Cleland, daughter of the founder of Team In Training and subject of the initial fundraising activities, along with her dad Bruce counted down. As the runners headed out, I got chills knowing what they were all in for. I can certainly appreciate their efforts, especially those in the back of the pack, now that I have completed one.

Once they were off, the 5k runners toed the line and they were off. On our way to the half starting area, we stopped by the finish line to watch the 5k runners finish. 13:53 later. WOW, amazing how fast these guys are.

Off we were, with a quick stop at the bathroom we headed over to Light Street where the start of the half would be. What was cool about the location is on the southbound side of the road, there were marathoners at about mile 7. Cordoned off from the half route on the northbound side of the street were runners at mile 13. Lots of spectators and cheering all around.

Brian and I hung around for a bit, and then I headed back to wave 3 to look for some of my running friends. I quickly found Katie and Tawanda, the other members of the Blue Crab Running Club. Then I ran into the TNT group, including Ann Marie who I met and ran with when we were training for our spring marathon's. We chatted for a couple of minutes, wished each other well and I headed back to start with Katie, Tawanda and their friends from disneyrunning.com.

FINALLY, the start was here, but not for us. Us wave 3'ers wouldn't cross the starting line for 15 minutes. I must say, by this point in nearly any other event, we'd be looking for the finish line. Frederick's 6:30 start would have us on our second beer by now (at least for the half!) At this point by the time we've started, I've been at the event site for more than 3 hours, my throw away sweatshirt is long gone and the place is heating up. Let's go already!

At about 10:00, we were officially off. The word on the street was that the course was "challenging." After Frederick's nastiness, I decided once again to ignore the elevation maps and just enjoy the run. It didn't take long to hit the first of the hills followed by what seemed to be a constant barrage of hills -- more ups than flat or down. Good news for me was that despite the hills, I was feeling pretty good. No foot or ankle pain. Plantar fascia in check. All good.

After about 2 miles, the hills got the better of Katie and I kept on going. Quickly, though, I realized that 2:30 wasn't going to happen and a PR was well in doubt. With 12 minute running miles, I'd need to go non-stop to the finish. Never one to say never, I was pretty sure it wasn't to be on this day. At 4 miles, I took my first walk break as one more hill was one more too many. Still, though, I was enjoying the sights of the city, and what sights there were.

There was the chicken guy. Yes, a guy dressed up in a chicken suit. Kinda reminds me of this guy:


(This is Steve Stenzel, one of the funniest bloggers out there. I've shamelessly stolen this picture of him right off his blog. Steve wore this costume during the Twin Cities Marathon a few weeks ago. I'm using this picture without permission just to give you an idea what a guy in a chicken suit might look like. In fact the guy in Baltimore wore a white suit and his face was not covered, so just close your eyes and imagine Steve and a costume like that.)

I much appreciated the Baltimore Department of Public Works leaving all of the roadkill in place. I counted two on my part of the course. Only explanation I can think of is that some of those super elite runners weren't paying attention and squashed some poor unsuspecting predators. Damn them!

The street people were great. NO, I don't mean people hanging out on the street. It was awesome that all of Baltimore's finest street people came out to watch and cheer us on. Seriously. I'm sure that provided hours and hours of entertainment that was more than the norm.

From mile four, plenty more uphill to about mile 7, where we went down hill to Lake Montebello. This is by far the most scenic part of the run. Nice, wide open paved running path with tons of spectators. It's where I realized that sunglasses and sunscreen would have been a good idea.

I was able to run the lake and out 33rd street past the senior housing development on the site of the former Memorial Stadium. More walking and running on some more hills until I came upon Ann Marie again. I was quite surprised to see her, but it was a welcome sight to see a familiar face. Soon, we were on the slow downhill portion of the course as we pushed each other running, then short walking spurts. At one point, with Oriole Park in view, Ann Marie dropped back and I ran the rest of the way.

There is something to be said about running into the chute with lots of cheering people. I got chills as I cleared the desolate Eutaw Street promenade of Oriole Park and went into the wide open area leading the way to Ravens Stadium. As I finished, I turned to see Ann Marie just 100 yards behind.

Official time: 2:49:24.

Considering that I ran less than 25 miles in the four months leading up to the race, about 10% of any training plan worth it's weight, this is pretty good. Considering the hills and the hills on the hills, my goals would have bee a stretch even if I had trained properly. Considering the starting temp at about 68 and finishing at 72, that's the hottest I've run this distance. Considering the couple of miles of walking we did before the run and the three hours from home to the start line, it was a long day. All things considered, I'm thrilled with my time and my finish.

After the race I hooked up with Brian sporting a big smile to go with his 1:55 time. Then it was time to find the Maryland Double award. This is the award for completing either the half or full at both Frederick and Baltimore. With 39 miles in the books, I wasn't leaving without it, despite the 20 minute wait in line.

The Corrigan Sports promoters do a great job and having Under Armor as the lead sponsor, there are no cheapie premiums. Back of the shirt and the two medals are below.


Looks like next year's Baltimore is out -- I'll be trading the flat Seagull Century ride for the Baltimore hills on the same day.

Thanks to all of my friends and Deb who encouraged me to stick this one out. It was well worth it.

L'Chaim!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Baltimore Half

Just got back home -- Garmin shows time of 2:48. Official results not yet posted.

Despite my goals, I'm very pleased with the result.

More to come.

L'Chaim!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Ready for Baltimore

Seems like almost forever since my last significant non-"hey, I'm injured AGAIN, no running for me" report so this should be something fresh and new.

With tomorrow being the UnderArmor Baltimore Running Festival and, for me, the Carefirst/Blue Cross Blue Shield Baltimore Half Marathon (shameless promotion here, hoping for some free UA gear or maybe a comp doctor visit) and all of the big biking events in the rear view mirror, it's time to run.

The plan for Tuesday was a long run of 6 miles. Not exactly setting the world on fire, but it would be my longest run since June and with little consistency, I was hoping for some kind of barometer for the big one tomorrow.

When I woke up Tuesday, everything inside of me said to turn over and go back to sleep. I didn't. For some reason, my mind was intent on me not getting out of the house. I crapped around for a good hour and a half. Can't even tell you what I did, but it wasn't run. Finally, I headed to the gym with just enough time to get in six, I hoped. What happened then was totally unexpected. It was a great run. I mean like one of those (seemingly very rare) runs that reminded me that I actually liked to run. I was able to run non-stop for more than three miles. As four and five ticked off, I was trying to figure out if the clock (the job, really) would let me do seven. Unfortunately, my screwing off at home came back to haunt me, it would only be six, but I left the gym totally stoked and psyched for the race ahead. My 11:23 average pace won't set the world on fire, but it's pretty good for me considering my lack of preparation.

Wednesday was another story. Hoping for some more magic, I think I pushed it a bit. Almost 2 1/2 miserable miles, but I'm chalking that up to needing recovery.

So tomorrow is the day. The blogger get together will just be Katie and me after some other friends bagged us (not that I'm taking it personally or anything.) Hoping for another run like Tuesday. As for goals, much as I'd like to break 2:30, a pace of 11:26 is probably out of reach. Would love to hit a PR of 2:36:02 or better. The course is challenging, though, with some early hills (up). At the end of the day, it's all about finishing.

Race report to come!

L'Chaim!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

100 Miles Is a Long Long Way to Go

To start from the beginning. . . well, not exactly the beginning, but the genesis of this century ride, after my latest "can't run, gotta ride" incident this summer, Deb asked what was the big, "marathon type" riding event. A century ride, of course. Well, one thing led to another and I was soon signed up for the Seagull, along with another 6000 riders.

Before yesterday, my last ride was a full three weeks before. That was a bit concerning, but between travel and weather, there was little I could do other than pick up every spin class I could find. On the positive side, there was no opportunity to break me or my bike in that time, so I had that going for me.

Before each event, I most definitely get stressed. More so for this one. There's just so much crap to schlep. Aside from the obvious, the bike, there's the clothes, the helmet, the gloves (full finger or half), tire pump, water bottles, etc., etc., etc. I started writing a list around Tuesday. When Deb spotted the list she remarked that it wouldn't keep me from forgetting anything. (Yeah, thanks for the positive thoughts, love.) Anyway, there was plenty of stress leading up to our departure. Thankfully, my family stands by me, knowing that next time around, it'll be easier (I swear!)

On Thursday, I pulled something in my right shoulder. I think it was something I lifted, but by Thursday eventing, I could not lift my right arm above my shoulder. This is not good. Not good at all. Deb massaged the area and that helped. Friday morning I was at the chiropractor for more relief. All helping, but still pretty scary.

The plan was to pick up the kids from school on Friday and head 2 1/2 hours east to Salisbury on Maryland's Eastern Shore. We loaded up the CRV with enough stuff to to last us a week. (Well, at least 3 or 4 days.) We were on the road at 3:30 with plans to be in Salisbury by dinner time. Unfortunately, we hit far more traffic that we should have due to construction and a couple of accidents. We spend about an hour getting through the town of Cambridge, otherwise, 5 minutes max.

We got to the hotel just after 7, dumped my bike in the room, and headed to the expo at Salisbury University. The kids, who had been fairly well snacked on the ride, spotted the pre-race party (food!), so the cries to get out of the expo started pretty much immediately. The one thing that I was concerned about for the ride was the temps. Looked like low to mid 50's at the start, but 70's by mid-day. I figured a pair of arm warmers would do the trick. I picked up a pair of US Postal Service removable arm warmers and it was time to enjoy the party. Chicken wings, home made potato chips, corn on the cob (drowned in butter) and ice cream. Not bad for an appetizer.

We headed from the University to get some dinner, then back to the hotel for a quick visit to the pool and whirlpool. I laid all of my stuff out for the next morning (and I had it all, thanks for the confidence boost, Deb.) Then to bed.


Morning arrived much earlier than necessary. No, not the alarm, set for 5:50, the little ones, who went to bed with no problem, but seemed to dislike sharing the queen size bed beginning just before 5 am. After a few dozen shhhhhh's and "get back to bed's", there was no point to further sleep. I was up and had a few helpers getting things organized for the day's event.

After a trip to the Hampton Inn breakfast bar, with my invited little ones, Deb joined me out front for last minute preparations and requisite pictures and I was biking off to the start, a short ride from our hotel.

At about 7:15, I was at the starting line for the "show and go" start. It was really hard to judge just how many people and bikes were actually there at that point. Seemed like there were bikes everywhere. Hundreds, at least. I quickly got in line and off I went.

The route was set up nicely with rest stops every 20 miles or so. The first two stops were pretty run-of-the mill. The third was at Assateague Island National Seashore. A great locale with water surrounding the stop as well as some home made breads baked in the University's kitchens. The last stop included various pies and vanilla ice cream. Not bad rewards after 62 and 82 miles done.

Being alone in an ride where it seemed that everyone was with a group or with friends, the goal was to find pace lines and grab on to the back. The first 20 miles I found a few loosely organized pace lines, but nothing lasting more than a mile or two before they fell apart. On the way, it was obvious that everyone had out their bike jersey finery.

I was totally impressed with many of the groups out there. Most outstanding were the Team In Training riders. They had 150 riders in the event and seemed to be everywhere. Each group had their locale printed on the back pockets that showed home areas from as far as South Texas. Always impressive at any athletic events in the area is the Naval Academy team. Being passed by their perfectly cadenced team in white was a site to see. That's teamwork. There were also "Guys who Get Fat in Winter" and "Big Fat Bastards" of note. Not to mention jerseys from just about every major college and university in America.

The good news for me was how I felt. After struggling through the metric just three weeks before with some pretty bad back pain, I put myself on a pretty strict stretching regime. Just about every night, I stretched for 10-15 minutes, mostly concentrating on my back. Then, of course, there was the panic from Thursday. I added some stretches at each rest stop as well. For the first 30-40 miles, I had no back pain whatsoever. Even then, the pain was pretty mild relative to a few weeks before.

As for the ride, I was able to hop a few pace lines along the way, but at about 70 miles, I hit a wall and struggled to push to even 15 mph. A few periods along the way, I was able to get up enough power to speed up, but for relatively short distances. This was very reminiscent of the wall at the full marathon at 20 miles. Timing made sense as my longest previous ride was just 64 miles. Regardless, I was able to make it through and did not once think I wouldn't finish. If I had to, I could have gone further.



While I was riding, Deb and the boys headed to Ocean City, Maryland for a little time at the beach. Even though the water was getting chilly, it didn't stop the kids from taking a dip. After a few hours on the beach, it was off to the boardwalk for junk food -- fries at Thrasher's, ice cream at Dumser's and caramel corn at Fisher's. (Amazing how long the lines are at Thrasher's, even off season, pictured left.) When I talked to Deb at the last stop and she told me of their stops, I asked if there was any caramel corn for me. "Of course, my love." Mmmmm, can't wait!

At 2:30, as I approached the final turn, there were Deb and the boys with camera in hand. It was a great sight! I turned the corner and headed for the home stretch. Shortly after I crossed the finish line, Deb and the boys arrived from their corner and I hit the showers.

Deb and I celebrated with a beverage at the beer garden. (Quite a sight from everyone dumping their equipment to grab a brew. Mine is out there somewhere. Can you find it?) Then we hit the road for an awesome seafood dinner and ride home. (And some Fisher's popcorn, too!)
So, what did I learn from my seven plus hours on the road? Well, a few things:

  • This was fun, but would've been a lot more fun with friends. I've got four or five volunteers for next year already.

  • Training matters. No surprise here. I had hoped to get in a 70-75 miler before yesterday, but I ran out of time. This woulda pushed the wall back another 10-15 miles, at least.

  • It's easier to train for a biking event than a running event. Don't know why, but it was. The marathon was 16, grueling at times, weeks of training. This was less than 10 and I took the last 3 off.

  • Biking events are VERY different from running events. Biking is much more social and there's a lot less stress. Not that one thing is better than another, just my observation.

  • My wife has more confidence in me than I have in myself. . . and thank goodness for that. Woulda been a pretty boring weekend if she didn't tell me that I could do it. (I just hope she doesn't mention Ironman or anything stupid like that.)

Time to go. Gotta START training for the Baltimore Half. Just six days away!

L'Chaim!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

100 Done!

Today was the Segull Century ride.

The weather was just about perfect, probably upper 50's at the start, low 70's at the finish.

Did the ride in just about 6 hours riding time, 7:15 with stops.

It was a great day for a ride.

All for now. More tomorrow, with pictures, too.

L'Chaim!

P.S. Thanks for all of the positive comments on the blog redo, too.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

L'Chaim!

A few weeks ago, I talked about changing my blog name. Formerly Fat Running Guy just didn't seem to meet the bill any longer, especially since I've broadened my activities way beyond running and being Formerly Fat seems less relevant every day that I move away from that guy, in body at least.

Thank you all for your suggestions. Seems that the right name was right in front of me -- L'Chaim! (Thanks to Pat for pointing that out.)

L'Chaim is how I end each post and it really is the essence of the new and hopefully much much longer life that I've given my family, friends and myself.

The picture on the new masthead on the left is from 2004 at Mt. Kilauea, HI. The middle is from the St. Michael's Metric Century in September. The one on the right is from this past weekend.

L'Chaim!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

136 to Home

What a week. We moved from Louisiana to Texas on Tuesday. Hotels in Houston were tough to come by, but we found a Hilton in Clear Lake, right near the entrance to NASA, southeast of Houston, near some of the worst that Ike had to offer. When I spoke to the manager of the hotel, he told me that the only issue is that they didn't have an elevator and wouldn't have one until at least the weekend. There are 14 floors. At this point, you can certainly guess what floor I wound up on. 136 steps from the lobby to my floor. Twice a day on average. Made it into a contest even, 79 seconds best, with laptop bag on shoulder. Not bad, huh?



I had a beautiful lake view from the ninth floor.


Would kinda suck to have that nice first floor lake front condo with a big ass boat blocking your view.
No intention to make light of the disaster, just not used to a view like this outside my hotel window.

While I was in Houston, I hit the 24 hour Fitness near the office. Same fine folks that sponsor The Biggest Loser. Nice place, too.

Made it home late Friday and decided to take the day off. Time to hang with the the family.

Today, I hit the gym when the kids were in Hebrew School, thanks to the third consecutive day of rain. Did 4.5 on the treadmill for my longest run since June. Really a slow run, but I'm feeling more confident about the Baltimore half in less than 2 weeks.

This afternoon we went to the Orioles game. The end of a crappy season, at last! My youngest was determined to win the "Fan of the Game" -- you know, they pan the crowd for the most outrageously dressed fan. Well, whaddya think?


Can't believe he didn't win, but he was our fan of the game! We could believe that the O's tanked again. There's always next year.
It's good to be home!
L'Chaim!

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Date with Gigi

I feel like I start every post with "It's been a while" along with some lame-o excuse as to why. Well, I'm not going to insult you with any of that.

Last Friday, I headed to Western Louisiana for work. (My company does some disaster clean-up and a little rainstorm called Ike has sent me to the gulf region.) This wreaks havoc with the last few weeks of training for the Seagull Century ride in just a few weeks. I also haven't gotten a ride in since the metric, 10 days ago. Working through the weekend also wiped out any chance of exercising. Quite the opposite, actually, eating crap. Then more crap. Drinking too much coffee and diet coke, not enough water. And a few beers watching football at Buffalo Wild Wings (and wings, too, of course.)

I had tracked down a gym in Lake Charles, Louisiana, but hadn't made the call to see how they treat guests. Today, I brought my stuff to the office and around mid day, I made the call. Spin class at 5:15, $10 fee. Not bad. Tough part is getting out early enough to get there.

Getting back on track was worth the looks and comments that I got as I "snuck out" at 4:45. (When we're working on this type of project, it's generally 12-16 hour days for days on end. I put in a short 10 hour day.) I got to the gym, paid my fee, changed and was on the bike with time to spare.

After class, I hit the treadmill for my longest run in 3 months. 3.2 miles at just under a 12 minute pace. I was able to run 2 miles non stop. It felt really really good. One of my best workouts in a while.

So who's Gigi? That would be the name of the gym! GiGi Fitness Center. And we have another date for Body Pump in the morning!

L'Chaim!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

St. Michael's Metric Century Ride Report

Kind of a boring title, but it's been a long day. Long couple of days, to be honest.

Yesterday went not at all as planned. It started when I dropped my 2000 Nissan Maxima off at Meineke to have the recently illuminated brake light looked at. I though it might just be the emergency brake, which was feeling loose. A quick and cheap repair.

But when is a visit to the car repair place ever quick or cheap. Seems the brakes and most of the adjoining appendages require replacement. Oh, and by the way, there's something awry with the rear axle. That'll be $2,000.

Not so fast, Mr. Meineke guy. I had decided about six months ago that the next big repair would result in a trade in for something new. (Well, newer.) This was it.

I spent part of the rest of the day looking on line at options and headed out to a couple of dealers right after work. After visiting six dealerships and coming up empty, I headed home.

I know what you're thinking -- what the hell does this have to do with today's ride. Well, I'm gonna tell ya. I was supposed to drive to the the ride today. Not gonna chance the 80-mile drive in a car with no brakes. So, last night, on my way home from Carmax, I called Bryan to see if he could drive. "Ummm, sure, but I don't have a bike rack." No problemo, mi amigo, we'll put mine on your car. "Ummm, not sure if it will fit on my car. " Of course it will. What kind of car do you drive. "One of these:



Okay, we'll give it a shot. I'll be at your house extra early. See you at 5:15 am.

The day just didn't go as planned. With the car shopping exercise, I finally got home around 8. Dinner close to 9. Bed after 11. Wake up at 4. Not exactly the ideal schedule for the night before a 4 or 5 hour bike ride.

This morning, the alarm went off at 4 and I was up and at em. Got to Bryan's right at 5:15 and by 5:30, I had convinced him that our bikes would be fine on the back of his well kept sports car. We were on our way.

St. Michael's is a quaint little town best known for having a couple of incredible resorts as well as being the home of one former major leaguer, Harold Baines.

The town is on Maryland's eastern shore, which is essentially as flat as the Kansas plains.

After a 90 minute ride where at each bump and turn, we were checking on the stability of the bikes, we arrived at Harold's alma matter to check in and pick up our packets just after 7. This seemed to be a pretty small ride. One of the organizers said about 130 total for the three distances -- full century, metric and a shorter 30 mile cruise. The metric seemed to be the most popular. Our "packets" consisted of a cue sheet and an unremarkable t-shirt. Well, it's a small event, what do you expect?

Just about 8, we were off. We started off cruising. I mean really cruising. From the start to the first rest stop, we average 17.8 mph, which is smokin' for us (especially me.) We did do some drafting off of each other and that really helped. We both felt strong and we enjoyed the ride out to Tilghman Island. #1 item learned about riding on flat roads -- speed doesn't suck.

After that first portion of the ride, we headed back along the same stretch of road we originally headed out. Well, now it's not so exciting. the corn fields look kinda the same on the port side of the road as they do on the starboard side. We even muse about missing our home hills. #2 item learned about riding on flat roads -- boar-ing!


Lot's of road looking just like this.

At about 30 miles, my back starts to ache and I'm trying to stretch on the bike. Another 10 miles or so until the next rest stop. Our pace is definitely slower, but we're still moving okay. Bryan is ahead most of this portion of the ride and I'm trying to de-kink myself.

We get to the second rest stop at 39 miles and I'm working out the pain, while tossing down some ibuprofen. We grab some snacks, fill our water bottles and we're about to head off again when my cell phone rings. I look at the phone and it's Uncle Rog. That would be eye-of-Hurricane-Ike-just-passed-over-his-house Uncle Rog. They made it through alive and well.

Now, we're back on the road.

Within a few minutes, a group of four strong guys ride past and I quickly speed up to jump on their pace line. These guys are sizzling at almost 19 mph, and we're just enjoying the ride. After one guy drops back, he gets in front of me, so we're not moving up to take a turn to lead. I'm not sure what the protocol is, but honestly, right now I don't care. This is cutting big minutes off of the south side corn field view. The next guy is not quite as strong, but pretty close. We're hanging on pretty easily, but not for long. As soon as the next switch happens, we're toast. This guy must be at least 20 mph and I can't hold on. We spent about 6 glorious miles hanging on and now we're down to less than 20 miles to go.

The pace is definitely slower now and I'm struggling with my back aches. As we pass the start at about mile 50, I momentarily entertain the notion of pulling in and letting Bryan finish on his own. That thought went away and we trudged on.

Our final rest stop is at mile 56, where the full century riders take a ferry ride to continue on. (I wonder if the mile or two on the ferry count towards their hundred?) Another opportunity to stretch and we're back off toward the finish.

We pull into the school at about 12:30. Glad it's over but proud of our ride. This was the longest ride for either Bryan or myself by at least a dozen miles.

Final tally is 64.5 miles. Average riding speed is 16.4 mph.

This was a really good opportunity to experience a very different type of riding than we're used to. Not really about the speed, but when you're riding hills, you've got to move around a lot. You get your hear rate up going up and going down is an opportunity to relax. #3 item learned about riding on flat roads -- you've got to pedal all the time, and it's hard in a very different way than hills.

We got back home at about 2:30 and I was off to Zach's football game followed by reward for the family, especially me!


This ride really gave me a lot to think about for the upcoming Seagull Century. Very similar terrain, just another 36 miles of it. I need to work on my back stretches. This is my biggest concern. Seagull is just 3 weeks away.

Thanks for hanging in for this long post.

L'Chaim!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

100k

Got my bike back. New fork and all. I keep thinking I'm gonna be done spending money on athletic stuff, but that doesn't appear to be happening any time soon.

Glad to have it back -- I've really missed not having it for the past week.

I was tooling around on the Internet a few days ago and came upon some web site with bike rides on it. Looks kinda like a competitor to
active, the site where you sign up for most running events, and some biking events, too. It's called bikereg.com. I was surprised to see so many bike events out there.

One in particular caught my eye. This Saturday, there is a
century in St. Michael's, MD. They also have a metric century ride. Hmmm, this would be a nice tune up for the Seagull Century next month.

Before I continue, can I just say that I am married to the most amazing, supportive, incredible, awesome, fantastic woman in the world? Can I say that? Well, there, I just did. Now, back to our regularly scheduled post.

So, I mentioned to Deb that there was this ride in St. Michael's. What do you think she said? "No problem." She also said "Oh, I meant to tell you that I'm going out with a girlfriend Saturday night and you're buying!" Hmm, did I walk into that or what? That's okay, great deal.

I got a hold of Bryan, one of my riding friends, and he's in, too!

Keep an eye open for my ride report and hopefully some pictures (yeah, I know, I'm not so good with the pictures.) Oh, and thanks, Deb!

L'Chaim!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

New Wheels

Okay, I've really had enough of this falling down. At some point, I know I'm REALLY gonna hurt myself.

I did some checking and I'm thinking of adding something to help keep me upright. I found this cool gadget. It's a helluva lot cheaper than another trip to the bike shop.

Whaddya think?

L'Chaim!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Forked!

Or How to Take a Dump and Live to Talk About It

I wasn't even gonna talk about my Thursday ride, but now I have to. Just have to. Why? Well, read on, my friends.

I headed out early, about 6 am. This was my first pre-dawn ride -- testing out my new headlight. Quickly, I found that the light was perfectly fine for others to see me. As far as me seeing anything, not gonna happen. Since I was in familiar territory, I pressed on as dawn was near and the ride was familiar.

One of my goals was to work on my out of the saddle riding and I'd have plenty of hills to work on that.

All was well. Traffic was getting heavier, but I was doing fine in and out of the saddle, feeling more and more comfortable. About 2/3 into the 20 miler, I decided to climb Homewood Road. Homewood is known as one of the steeper climbs around. I've hit 40 mph heading down Homewood.

As I headed up, I dropped down to my big gears to work up the short but steep section of the road. It didn't take long for me to run out of power and I was stuck. I knew I'd run out of power in my legs and I was pretty sure I shouldn't downshift while standing. As I slowed to a crawl, there was no way to get my feet out of the clips to keep myself from falling. So, I did. I took a big old dump on a big old hill.

I got up quickly. Just a little blood, not too bad. As for the bike, a different story. My front wheel was locked up. Musta done something to the brakes. I was able to pry them apart, but decided against continuing up Homewood and headed out a bit longer, but flatter route. Every couple of miles I stopped to pull the brakes apart, but made it home safely.

The front wheel was clearly out of alignment, plus I had had the brake issue. I knew one of my neighbors had the tool to be able to align the wheel.

Today, George came over and aligned my wheel. No biggie. He asked me what the abrasion on the fork of the bike was. Looks like just scratch in the paint covering the fork. Hmm, seems to go all the way around the fork. Not sure how a scratch could go all the way around. George suggested I take it to the bike shop to have it checked out. Sure. As I was leaning on the wheel less bike, suddenly, the bottom of the right fork bent. I'm pretty sure carbon isn't supposed to bend like that. Seems it's not EXACTLY a scratch.

SHIT! I've been forked!

Off to the bike shop. . . again!

L'Chaim!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

This is Jeopardy!

Only seemed right that since I left unanswered questions yesterday, I should pay homage to America's premier question-and-answer game show and host, Alex Trebek. (Yes, my Canadian friends, I'm well aware he was yours first, but he's ours now!)

Although, looking back, I kinda screwed it all up, since I gave the questions yesterday. This really isn't Jeopardy! at all. Well, screw it, I'm a Trebekkie and it's gonna have to stay. Now, on with the show. . .

As for the foot, it has been feeling better of late. After a couple of months feeling like nothing was going to work to get it better, I started to feel relief just early last week. So for now, I've got the Baltimore half and MCM on the schedule.

When I checked over the weekend, I noticed that Baltimore had a 5 1/2 hour time limit for the half. Now, by no means do I have any desire to spend 330 minutes doing a half marathon. That's a 25 minute per mile average. I'm relative certain that I could finish that on my worst day, on my knees, regardless of how my ankle felt. Besides that, and much more importantly, since I completed the Frederick Marathon, finishing the half entitles me to a medal for the half PLUS the all important third medal, the MARYLAND DOUBLE. At the end of the day, it's really all about the swag, isn't it?
I figure that my fitness level is pretty good with a solid summer in the books, but am I in for 3 plus hours of pain? Yesterday I hit the treadmill at the gym to see how a mile felt. I must say, I struggled a bit more than I had expected. Not so much in the ankle, which really felt fine, but more in the breathing department. I was able to run the mile with a couple minute walk break in the middle. Really, though, the good news is that the ankle didn't hurt. My plan now is to treadmill run a 3-4 times a week, gradually working up to about 8 miles. That should be enough to get me to a sub 3 hour half. If not, I've still got another 2 1/2 hours to play with.
As for Marine Corps, I'm really thinking this one is out of the question. Too far to go, too soon. Unless I feel terrific running in the next couple of weeks, I'll check into the deferral options for that.
Now on to important business -- the need for a change in the blog title. I've had this name since the beginning of my blog life, about 16 months. Up until this spring, the title was fair, even through the injuries, but now, not so much. Formerly Fat Running and Biking Guy just doesn't flow. Formerly Fat Guy, well, maybe some possibilities there. Something totally unrelated? That'd work too. I'm open to suggestions, so let the commenting begin!
L'Chaim!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Upright

The good news is that I've been able to maintain my balance over the past week. That's right, after barely being able to stand or ride without falling, this week, I'm back to my old stand-up self.

Got my bike back Friday repaired as promised. I was pretty sure it would be since I had made a pest of myself during the week making sure I'd have it for the weekend.

Saturday, I headed out with the group that was with me a week ago when my bike broke, plus one of the pedal and paddle guys. The goal was to stay on the bike with no mechanical problems. At my request, we did the ride from the week before that I didn't get to finish. Along the route, there were three milestone pointed out by one of the guys -- the spot that I got "pedaled", at about mile 6 -- CHECK! Then there was the spot at 10.7 where I made some derailleur soup -- CHECK! Finally, and I had forgotten about this one, we passed the spot from two weeks before when I dropped my chain followed by a seemingly uneventful fall, which I believe led to the derailleur problems in the first place -- CHECK! At the end of the day, 34+ miles, one dropped chain (less than a mile from the finish, damn it!) and no falls.

On Sunday, after sleeping in past my scheduled ride, my neighbor Kirk called and we headed out for another 34 miles. Beyond enjoying the ride, Kirk has been pushing me to get out of the saddle more. I take that back, let's say get out of the saddle at all, since I'm pretty timid there and would sooner spend 10 minutes climbing a hill on the easiest gear rather than power up out of the saddle on a hard gear. I'm also gun shy about falling (hard to believe, I know.) Well, on the way home, Kirk had me up. Not for long, but it was not nearly as hard as I thought it would be. I'm feeling the power!

After two hilly rides, I was desperate for some flat land. On Monday, I met my dad out at the Baltimore & Annapolis trail -- a 13-mile paved, relatively flat pathway. We did one round trip together, then I did a second on my own. 52 miles for the day. All upright, too.

So what's with all this biking? Well, I'm glad you asked.


Mrs. FFRG has been pushing me to do a century ride before the year is out and I've been training just to see if I could build up the mileage to do it. She even bought me a book -- this one!

So I've been reading and riding and riding and reading. The book finds it's way all over the house. I also did some searching and, there just happens to be a century ride on October 4 in Salisbury, MD -- the Seagull Century. Yesterday just happened to be the early registration deadline. I had hoped that the 52 miler would be 60 or more, but by the end of the second loop, my back was killing me and I was pretty cooked. When I got home, I checked out my trusty book and there are stretches in there for the back -- go figure! I also figure 120 miles over three days is pretty good prep, too. So, I'm all in! Now it's just a matter of doing the miles to build up to the big ride. Looking forward to that.

But that does leave a couple of unanswered questions that I'm sure have been driving you crazy:
  1. What's up with those other foot type events on your schedule?
  2. You know, the Baltimore Half and the Marine Corps Marathon?
  3. How are the foot and ankle?
  4. Ya know, FFRG, you've talked an awful lot about biking lately, aren't you the Formerly Fat RUNNING Guy?
  5. Do you need a new name?
  6. What's up with that?

Well, my friends, stay tuned. I hope to answer at least a few of those questions very soon but for now,

L'Chaim!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Saturday, Ugly Saturday. Sunday, Bloody Sunday.

This past week has kinda sucked in the staying upright department. I hate even admitting this all, cause I'm a grown man and there is no reason I shouldn't be able to keep myself off of the ground, but the admissions are coming.

On Saturday, I went out with a couple of the HoCo cyclists for what was anticipated to be a 30 miler. I figured that I wouldn't even talk about this ride, but I guess I must. Before I left the house, I finagled with the front derailleur to get it to shift onto the small chain ring. After 10 minutes of playing with it, it seemed that all was good and my nine easy gears would be rejoining me on my rides.

We set out a bit after 9 and I never got a good feel about my gearing. About 6 miles in, heading uphill (what else?) I was nervous about using the small chain ring and wound up with another clip less fall. Same basic fall, as Wednesday night, same elbow and left knee spot. Pretty soon I figure I'll be down to the bone.

Back on the bike and all was well until we headed up the biggest hill so far and that's when it happened. What seemed like a dropped chain and I quickly disengaged from the pedals and kept myself upright. YEAH! Then, the bad news. Matthew rides by, asks me if I'm okay and then says "that doesn't look good." What? My chain just dropped. "No, your rear derailleur is on the ground." WHAT? I get off the bike and there it is. The whole damn chain and derailleur are on the ground. Crap! Not going anywhere now.

We're 10 miles from our start in very rural part of town. I call Deb, to no avail. Too bad I didn't have Verizon service! I try her on Matthew's phone and get through.

At that point in time, a guy that Matthew knows pulls up. Seems this guy was in a spin class that Matthew used to teach. "Do you need help?" Yeah, can you get me back to Columbia? "Sure -- I live a mile from here, let me drop my stuff and I'll be back in 5 minutes." Could this be some kind of divine intervention? Crazy, really. Matthew hadn't seen this guy in some time and had no clue that he lived near where we were. Before long, I was on my way to the bike shop. Hope to have it back in a week, good as new. So much for 30 miles, but I was safe and sound.

Sunday's original plan was to hit the B&A trail for a couple of loops -- ideally 50 relatively flat miles. That wasn't happening, so I hit the gym for an 8 am spin class followed by a kids last-day-before-school fun day. Lunch with dad at Subway followed by putt putt golf and the batting range. Matty had a mid-afternoon play date so I told Zach I'd go for a ride with him on my hybrid bike.

We hit the road and, as we were approaching our pool, he asked if he could do a lap for his own little pedal and paddle. Absolutely!

After Zach's lap, we headed out to the bikes and just before we got there, SPLAT! No, let me make it SPLAT! Who splatted? Well, that would be the coordinated one, ME! There was a section of concrete askew and I didn't see it. I went down, hard. Where did I hit? The same left elbow and the same left knee. Of the little falls of the past week, this was by far the worst. The most blood. The most pain.

The lifeguards could care less. After a minute or so, "are you okay? do you need anything?" No, you ding-a-ling, I have blood pouring out of me, but I'll be fine. We were just a couple of miles into our ride and we'd have to turn back. Zach was a real trooper. He got me a gauze pad from the lifeguard. He understood about going back home. We had no choice but to ride. The worst for me was the wind generated by the ride. It felt like sandpaper on my open elbow.

We got home and I explained to Deb what had happened. She missed the part about this me being on foot. I think she assumed I once again fell off of my bike. No, I explained, not so. The sidewalk just jumped up and tripped me. She didn't work very hard to conceal her amusement. It is a pretty nasty sight, though.

Still living though. I made it through Monday without shedding a drop of blood, so that's a good thing. Now trying for two days in a row!

L'Chaim!

Monday, August 25, 2008

We Like Mike!

It's hard to really understand Baltimore unless you're from Baltimore. Sitting in the shadows of DC and probably the least known city of the I-95 corridor Megalopolis -- DC to Boston -- we've always had a bit of an inferiority complex to DC.

Baltimoreans are brought up to hate DC sports teams. Before the Washington Wizards were the Washington Bullets, they were the Baltimore Bullets until the evil Abe Pollin relocated the team to the rich DC market. When the Colts fled Baltimore (thanks to the devil himself, Robert Irsay), we wanted nothing to do with the Redskins. We'd cheer for whoever was playing the Colts first, then whoever was playing the 'Skins. It's not personal, really, it's just in our blood.


When Edward Bennett Williams, a Washington lawyer, bought the Orioles in the late 70's, we feared the worst -- a move to the nations capital.

Our sports heroes have been good guys. Johnny Unitas, a Pittsburgh transplant who adopted Baltimore and became a favorite son. Brooks Robinson, a Little Rock native and my sports hero growing up, owned the town and still commands serious bucks at autograph sessions here. Cal Ripken, from just a few miles up I-95 calls the Baltimore area home. The people of Baltimore and the country loved them and we call them ours. But it's been a little dry in the six or so years since Cal hung up his cleats.

Now there's 23-year old Michael Phelps. When word came out just a few weeks before the Olympics that Michael had bought a place and would return to Baltimore after the Olympics, the city cheered. When Michael rang up one gold after another, we cheered louder. When Michael talked about life after the Olympics, he starts by talking about his return to Baltimore. (I'm sure I wasn't alone looking for the slightest hint of an "O" from his lips during one of the eight Star Spangled Banner played in his honor, just like you'd see at any Orioles home game.)

He talked about how he missed the city after his years in Michigan, so what's he gonna do? He's gonna buy that North Baltimore Aquatic Club with all of his new gold-medal-laden dough and make his coach the president. Now we've got a good four years to cheer for him until London in 2012, but from the sounds of it, he'll be around a lot longer. I'm pretty sure he won't have to buy a meal in this town for at least 20 or 30 years.

With the Olympics now finally over, we're looking forward to welcoming Michael back home. Local boy done good. Welcome home, Michael, the town is yours!

L'Chaim!