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!

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!


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.


Thursday, September 11, 2008


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 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!


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?


Saturday, September 6, 2008


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!


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!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


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,