Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Invitation


Round about December 31, I got an email from a co-worker about doing a triathlon relay.  Val is a swimmer and he thought he would put together a relay team so I was the designated cyclist.  He also invited Terry to run.  The half iron distance (1.1 mile swim, 56 bike, 13.1 run) Gulf Coast Tri in Panama City Beach, FL (where I work) would be in May.

Yeah, right.  I was in terrible shape on 12/31 having eaten my way through the holidays and tipping the scale at 286, my highest weight since 2007.  No worries, I was sure that Boston based Terry would decline . . . until he accepted 10 minutes later.  Shit! 

After consulting with my chief cheerleader and reality checker Deb, I was in.  I've always risen to the occasion when an event was on the line.  This one spooked me a bit . . .  not about my own performance, but with the knowledge that if I didn't make the estimated 4 hour cutoff, Terry couldn't run. 


I joined a gym in Panama City Beach as I knew I had to drop the pounds.  I also knew I had to get training.

My first ride in January scared the crap out of me.  22 miles at a 13.7 average.  Not a good start. My riding buddy Brian was also a great cheerleader but I was far from pleased. Very far from where I was.  I had a long way to go to be able to get the mileage in and the speed up.  Absolute minimum would need to average 14 mph running time (including stops.) 

Over the months, I dropped about 16 pounds.  Not quite my goal, but at least a (slightly) more comfortable weight. It took quite a while to get the mileage in, but when I finally rode 60 in April, I knew I could do the 56 and I felt pretty good about the time.


Deb and I had big plans for the week.  She was to come down Friday along with Terry's wife and our boss and his wife were going to be there to cheer us on.  I drove down with my bike and rode a couple of times during the week.  Work was particularly hellacious, with three days of all-day meetings with out of towners, meaning that my day job would have to wait until after hours -- after the heavy meals, too.  On Thursday, the news of Zach being sick put a damper on the excitement.  Deb had to cancel all of the plans for the weekend.  We were both terribly disappointed, but you can't send your kid to a friend's house sick. 

The three of us headed over to packet pickup around 2 on Friday.  There is something about the packet pickup experience.  You get the vibe, everyone is serious and excitement abounds.  The big difference between the tri and a running event is the apparent level of athleticism.  At a marathon or half marathon, there are a fair number of people that don't look like runners.  (That's a nice way of saying that they look like me!)  Not so much at the tri.  These folks are heavily trained and serious.  Not a lot of fat guys (or girls for that matter.)

The Gorey Details

Saturday finally came.  After a week of watching the weather, it looked like we were in the clear.  70 at the start, humid, but just 10% chance of rain until mid day.  I told Terry that I figured I would stop once and be back in 4 hours or so.  He should be read for me at 11:30, but be there by 11, just to be sure.

We all arrived very early to get numbered and wait for the start.  Relays were the last wave, so Val hit the water just past 7.  I went to transition to wait.  Val arrived at about 7:40, right on time.  I got my shoes and helmet on and was out of transition at 7:45.  The course runs 8 miles along the Gulf then heads north into never-never land.  Nothing but trees and asphalt and more trees.  Out of the gate I was flying.  After the first hour, average was just about 20mph.  Whoa!  If I keep this up, I'm gonna be like an hour early. 

I had told Terry I would text him when I stopped, but "rest stops" on the map were something very different than what I knew from the t-shirt rides.  There really is no rest . . . there are 30 people handing out bottled water and Gatorade with sport caps.  You keep riding.  So wait, I'm supposed to ride 56 miles WITHOUT STOPPING?  No traffic lights, not even a stop sign.  I don't think I've ever done more than an hour, and that's in spin class!  (Nobody told me about this.)  Alright, well I'll hit a portapotty if I have to to text Terry.

Things slowed down from there.  As the course turned into West, the wind picked up and I slowed.  For the next hour or so, my average dropped into the 15-16 range.  Still okay, but not worried about Terry's arrival any more.  20 miles out the forecast changed.  Yup, a nice steady rain.  Great.  But still gotta go. 

The course is flat.  I mean pancake flat.  There are two climbs, a bridge that you cross at mile 13 and again at 43.  At 13, no big deal, but at 43, that was a different story.  After 30 miles of flat, you're hit with this 5-6% climb and you haven't used your climbing muscles in almost 2 hours.  Ouch!  I passed 6 people (that had all passed me within the past couple of miles) on the bridge.  People were going 4 mph, so my 10 was pretty good.

That was what I needed to get back in gear.  My speed picked up and for the last miles back along the Gulf, I flew, passing people the whole way, rain and all. 

I pulled into transition at 11 on the button. . . soaked and elated.  Not sure if you can see the smile on my face.

Bike done -- into T-2

What I didn't know was that Terry had arrived in transition just minutes before.  He took the chip and flew out of the gate.

An hour forty later, our speedster Terry arrived back and we were done.  Yeah!
Victory!  Terry, Jeff and Val


This was a great experience.  My only disappointment was not having Deb there.  I really missed her smiling, encouraging cheering, but I knew she was back home sending positive vibes.

The four months leading up to the tri were a roller coaster.  I went back and forth eating good and crappy.  The scale went up and down around a 6 pound range that was very frustrating.  I just couldn't get in a groove for longer than a week. 

So what now . . . there is nothing on the schedule until August with a planned 4th attempt at the Hotter 'n Hell Hundred.  I do need to plan something to keep myself in check.  I must admit, the thought has crossed my mind of trying this tri thing, not just the bike part.  On the other hand, that swim looks dreadful. 

Time to start figuring . . .


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Happy Anniversary!

No, not a fat-a-versary.  It's really been a year since I last wrote.  Hard to believe.

I'd love to talk about everything that has gone on since last August, but there just isn't time.  Or maybe, truth be told, there's too much time cause not much has happened.

Let me start from why most of you are here -- to check on my weight success . . . or lack thereof.

It has truly been a year of frustration.  I've been up and down more than the see-saw at the neighborhood pre-school.  For the most part between 260 and 280.  Not at all where I want to be.

I mostly feel fat.  Now, that's a good thing, really.  When I get that feeling, I look at Mr 414 Tub-Of-Lard and remember where I came from.  So, not fat like that, but it's all relative.  It's been six years since I've been that guy.  The memories fade.  So it's a good thing that I'm not thinking like "hey, I'm the guy that's lost 130 pounds!  Good for me!"  It's more like "remember how good I felt when I was in the 220's?"  OY! 

Really nothing has gone according to plan in the last year -- at least weight wise and athletic wise.

It's been mostly a year on the bike, but it started out poorly. 
  • Last August I made another attempt at the Hotter'N Hell Hundred and failed at mile 69.  Okay, one of the hottest HHH's ever, but still, I had a plan and just pooped out.  I felt failed and dejected.  I decided that one way or another, I'd do my own century.  Four loops around DFW airport would do it.  Even had a willing accomplice until . . .
  • A couple of weeks later, walking around the bike shop, I slipped and fell in my bike cletes.  I have no doubt it was a funny sight, but it put me in a boot for four weeks.  I was pissed.  And devastated. 
  • So I ate.
My buddy Dave from MD had planned to come out to TX to run the Cowtown Marathon.  I have a boot on my leg but, sure, I could be ready to run a half marathon by February.  Around January 1, I thought it would be a good idea to start training.  Not so fast, bucko, that ankle isn't feeling so good.  Visit to the podiatrist, not much he can do.  Just keep working it.  So in February I ran walked mostly walked the Cowtown.  How could I not break three hours . . . easy -- train little, eat much, go slow. 

Along the way, my heft was taking a toll on my bike, too.  I'm on my thrid set of wheels, hoping that these do the trick. 

I've probably had six failed attempts at getting back on the wagon, each time lasting anywhere from a day to two weeks.  Each time winding up somewhere close to 280.

Much like my 414 days when 58 pants and 5x shirts were pushing the bounds of comfort, at 280, my 44s and 2x's would push those similar bounds.  So I'd try again. 

In July, we went on vaction to California.  Reality hit once again when I returned and got on the scale.  The results were depressing, so I spent the next week pigging out again.  Deb even commented that she hadn't seen me eat like I did on vacation in all the post-loss days since 2006. 

It's time . . .again.

With Hotter'N Hell looming at the end of August, it's time to make it stick.  If I could lose 30 pounds I'd ride.

Back to the (South) Beach.  I knew that the issues would be with energy.  I can go an hour without carbs, but not much longer.  And I was suffering.  Three rides I would just die at an hour with an hour to go.  Suddenly 16 mph dropped to 12.  Holding back my group.  Had to do something.  With some tweaking, (helped by the Paleo Diet for Athletes -- Thanks Ann Marie), I could ride longer.

Simultaneous to this, my son Zach had his own challenge.  In order for marching band to satisfy his high school PE credit, he had to be able run a 10 minute mile.  No small feat for the boy that takes after dad in some good ways, and not so good.  Zach started running our the block and then we started going to the gym.  Kinda cool to treadmill next to your kid!  A few weeks later, Zach ran his 10 minute mile, but he wants to keep running.  Who am I to say no.  We have a 5 mile run scheduled in October.  From there?  Who knows.

I've waffled a hundred times on Hotter'N Hell.  I can tell I'm riding better and faster, but I'm not down 30.  I also haven't ridden more than 40 miles since May.  Finally , this week I decided, down about 22 pounds, my lowest Texas weight, I'll do the 100k -- about 65 miles.  I've got friends to ride with and feel as good as I have in a long time.

I'm not where I want to be, but at least I'm turned in the right direction.

I hope you hear from me again before the year ends, but no guarantees.  For now, I'm looking forward to riding on Saturday and running with Zach. 

To Life!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Lost Summer

The kids start school tomorrow.  Where did the summer go? 

The summer started out with Zach's bar mitzvah in June.  Year's in the making, our boy did us proud.  There was so much build up, including almost three weeks away from home traveling to and from Maryland, what followed was sure to be a let down.

We had plans to spend lots of time getting the most out of our passes for Six Flags and Hurricane Harbor, but the Texas heat was just too much.  Only a couple of sub 100 degree days since July 1 kept us home in the cool comfort of the air conditioned house.  (Anybody wanna swap electric bills?)

I'm disappointed that we didn't do more.  Where did the time go?

Summer is supposed to be peak riding season.  There should be a direct correlation between warm riding months with lots of miles on the bike and overall general fitness, and weight loss, too.  For me, I feel like I've been on a treadmill, though not literally.  Back and forth in the 260's for the most part:  I've been unable to break below of the 260's since we got to Texas.  I have good times, but any emotional change has been met with a break in activity or at least in healthy eating.  It's been very frustrating.

There are some positives.  Last week, I was traveling with a co worker who has gotten into fitness over the last six months or so.  We spent almost as much time talking about biking, running, activity, etc. as we did about work.  There is a definite kinship developing in a good way.  It was great to have those conversations and it most definitely helped ensure that my running shoes didn't just earn frequent flier miles.  They made it to the gym and the parking (for an impromptu boot camp -- from what I could remember from years ago.)  Since then, we've emailed about activity since.  It's been great to have another level of accountability.

Next Saturday is the Hotter 'N Hell 100 bike ride.  It's the culmination of the summer riding season.  Yesterday I rode 55 miles of hilly terrain.  Deb thought a heat-of-the-day ride would be in order for today, so who am I to argue.  I went out for what was supposed to be 25 miles of relatively flat and fast miles.  The result was something less.  Much less.  I knocked off just 21 miles and the pace was slower than yesterday's 55.  Despite the fact that I had yesterday's miles in my legs and the temps were pushing 110, I am still pretty bummed about the result.  Without a doubt, I'm considering this another kick in the pants that I need.

My plan for Saturday is to ride and, unlike last year, to finish 100 miles.

I've said it before, but it's all about the intake.  I know what I need to do.  Just got to put those feelings into action.  I did it before.

So, that's all for now.  Gotta go make sure the 8th and 6th grader's are asleep.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Black Eye

There you have it in all of it's splendor -- a tough bar fight, if I've ever been in one.  You should see the other guy!

Well, not exactly. 

Three weeks ago tomorrow, I was six miles into an evening ride with my group from the bike shop and a the concrete jumped up and wrestled me to the ground. 

Well, not exactly.

I rode right into an uneven pavement joint.  Three back in the group, I never saw it until it was too late.  Went down -- hard.  Surprisingly, concrete is pretty unforgiving.  I was sure my left shoulder or collar bone were broken. 

In addition to the six other riders along who stopped, one cardiologist and two nurses also stopped to help.  One nurse lived near by, went home to get her triage kit and came back to bandage me up.

The damage:  No broke bones!  The black eye you see, six inches of torn up elbow, jammed middle finger, a very sore shoulder, some rib pain, and a nasty hematoma on my hip.  (Best guess is that the middle knuckle went into my eyebrow, turning it purple.)  I knew I'd be okay when I started worrying about my bike ten minutes after the fall.  As for the bike: a bent front rim and torn bar tape.  All in all, could have been much worse!

As of today, I'm dealing with the shoulder and the hip.  Waiting for the MRI results to come in.  The hip will just take time.

I spent a week off of the bike, then took it slowly.  Back riding now.

Thanks to my old buddy Aaron for reminding me about this old blog.  Aaron is another formerly fat guy with an incredible weght loss journey.  Check out his blog by clicking his name above. 


Monday, February 28, 2011


I got a lot of good feedback from last week's post.  Enough so that I thought I'd do it again. 

It's been a good week in many ways.  Last week's travels took me back to Florida and my running shoes again came along for the ride.  Nothing new, except this time, they actually made it out of my hotel room.  I got in two runs on the trip, which is two more than the last few trips before that.  Nothing to get too excited about except that I could see immediate improvement.  Not quite ready for prime time, but at least I didn't forget how to put one foot in front of the other.

Saturday was the bike ride with the bike shop crew.  There would be a 25 mile group and 45 mile group.  I wanted long, but since I hadn't broken 30 since late fall, I wasn't sure I could do 45 (besides, last week's 45 came in at 50.)  I decided to go with the long group and hang on as long as I could.  I felt very good at 20 and 25 miles.  Though I wasn't leading the pack, I was in the pack.  Unlike other rides where I died off between 20 and 25, I held strong to 30, when the pack went up a short climb and left me in the dust.  I worked my way back to the shop and finished at 40.  Feeling stronger every ride.

With travels this week, I knew my number one challenge would be eating.  On Tuesday, I started to track my food and activity with Livestrong's My Plate.  I know that tracking food can provide huge benefits, but I've often avoided it for the exact reason that I should have done it:  I'll know what I don't want to know.

The tracker recommends for me to eat about 1800 calories per day to generate a two pound per week loss.  Add to that any calories generated from exercise -- for example, 3 miles at 5 mph burns almost 700 calories.  The total calorie budget for the day is then about 2500 calories. 

After plenty of exercise and healthy eating this past week, I find myself lighter by about 8 pounds.  That doesn't even include the mental plusses.  Getting back on track for a week isn't a long time, but it's been a long time in coming.  As I sit here gnawing through a grapefruit, I look forward to staying back on track.


Monday, February 21, 2011

A Thousand Words

No point in apologizing for almost three months without a post.  It is what it is. 

The last few months have followed a cycle:  activity, eat well, inactivity, eat poorly, repeat.  There have been at least five failed attempts to get back on track since January, even with more than 600 combined miles of biking and power cycling.  Today, things are back in the good, hopefully for more than until tomorrow.

Yesterday, I participated in my first true multi-sport event, the Texas Motor Speedway Duathlon.  (A duathlon is similar to a triathlon, just without the water.  It's a run/bike/run event.)  I was psyched to get back into an event after quite a hiatus.  I had been doing lots of biking, including an intensive power cycling class and I could begin to see the results.  On the running front, not so much.

A group of friends from the local bike shop all signed up for the event.  I knew the run would be an issue since I had done so very little actual running, but what's a couple of miles, twice.

A fine looking crew:  (l to r) Robert, Amy, Dave, Debbie, me and Josh
 I finished the first run in a reasonable time, 21 minutes and change.  Did some walking along the way, but not too much.

On to the bike.  I had ridden the course twice over the past week, both times with stiff 20 mph winds on the course.  The winds work great on one part of the course, but not so great on another.  Yesterday was the same.  Overall, I was pleased relative to my training rides, about a mile per hour faster.  Then off the bike.

Run number two was tough.  In fact, my calf's were screaming and I was relegated to walking the first half mile until I loosened up.  Then run-walk the rest of the way.  (Well, in all honesty, it was more walk-run than run-walk.) 

It's really nice that the multi-sport guru's have a category for fat folks -- for men it's Clydesdale's, women are Athena's.  Gives us a shot at some bling (I guess, maybe some day I'll find out.)  I finished 8th out of 14 Clyde's over 40 years old.  Not bad for a first effort.  Looking at the results, there is plenty of room for improvement on both the run and the bike. 

Then there are the pictures. 

One look at these and I'm instantly reminded of how far I've gone. . . the wrong way.  Have to wonder how that 15 pounds of carbon on rubber holds me upright.  Not a pretty sight, but it's the reality check that I need.  I'm certain now that the bike shop folks are friends, allowing me to grace their jersey in all of my blubbery splendor.  (Notice how I conveniently hid my lower 80% behind the studs and studettes in the group picture above?)  (Photo credits to Tori -- thanks for the reality check!)

Alas, I'm back to where I've been since I moved to Texas, needing to get back from where I came, size wise, at least.  These pictures came with a wagon and I'm officially on it. 

Debbie found another du just six weeks hence and I'm in.  It's longer -- 5k/19m/5k -- and I plan to run the runs and do them 15 pounds lighter than I am today.  I'll still be a Clyde, but a slightly smaller version.