Gritty’s Triple

Well, today was the day.  The G3 ride. Something I have been looking forward to, yet dreading, for the past few months.

Looking forward to because I knew I was in better shape then when I rode it last and I was pumped to do a long ride.

Dreading because…well, it’s a long ride.

To most, 75 miles may not seem like much. Heck, to serious cyclists, it is just another weekly ride. For me though, I am still not at the stage in my cycling where I can do that every weekend. And today’s ride helped prove why. It is a lot easier to motivate when you have someone pushing you/ you can chase the whole time.

Before I continue, I figure I’ll post the stats:

75.31 miles, 3,538 feet climbed, 20.1 mph average in 3 hours and 45 minutes.

I had thought that once upon a time I would bike in from my house. That would have added another 30 miles to the loop. (15 miles each way) In the end, I am glad I took my car in.

The initial registration ran from 6:30 – 7:30. The idea is, you check in, you depart whenever.  Part of the whole biking thing that I am not comfortable with yet is meeting people and making friends. It’s the social wallflower in me.  I know that I have nothing much to offer.  I can’t really talk the talk and I can barely walk the walk.  (or is it bike the bike?)

I feared riding alone.

Not because I would be lonely. I had my music with me. That usually helps keep me going. More because I didn’t know the route and I wasn’t overly familiar with the re-routes from last year.  As we took off, I met up with a few familiar faces from my Wednesday night rides. We decided to leave together.  Not more than 3 pedal strokes in, I was ahead as he had some kind of minor technical malfunction. (I found this out later…I didn’t leave him intentionally)

When I reached the first stop light, I was alone.

Much to my relief, two riders caught up to me. We exchanged pleasantries and I decided to join their group.

It was the three of us all the way until our first rest stop 20 miles in.

I was in rider bliss. The pace was perfect. Right in my wheelhouse. Was it because it was mostly flat? Maybe. Was it because I was in good physical shape? Perhaps. Was it the speed? Probably.  23+ mph for the first leg and I felt strong. Once we arrived at Gritty’s #1 (Portland), we decided to join a slightly larger group. With a newly formed pace line, we headed for the next stop.  Portland to North Pownal via Yarmouth.  A bunch of climbing by Bradbury mountain but not much other than that. Once we made it through Portland, the road pedaled smooth and fast. Our larger group, however, broke up before we reached the second rest stop.

After a quick banana and bathroom break, the original three headed off with three new riders.

This leg was the one I was dreading the most. Pownal to Auburn. A lot of climbing and very little rest. I would say 90% of the climbs occurred on this leg.  The three new guys were fast. Real fast. The 6 of us motored along at a good clip, never dropping below 20 mph save one or two climbs but that was brief.

After reaching the third (and final stop), the original three of us met up with two familiar faces and departed. For whatever reason, I ended up at the front of the pack and just started to pedal.  After a few short minutes, I was alone. Again.  Averaging 23 mph for quite some time, my riding buddies caught me.  We shared the rest of the ride together and pulled into the parking lot after riding for 3 hours and 45 minutes. You can imagine my surprise when I found out that we were the first group in.

When I decided to do the ride, I set 3 goals for myself; 1) Finish, 2) Finish in under 4 hours, 3) Finish with an average pace over 20.

The last goal was, in my mind, unattainable. I wasn’t going to make it happen unless I really pushed. And push I did. Thanks to the help of my two riding friends.

There is something overly gratifying when a rider says, “Nice Pull”.  It’s essentially the bike equivalent of, “nice shot”, or “nice hit”. Getting one or two of these per ride is a badge of honor for me. It says that I am doing something right in my riding. I received a bunch throughout the day. It was totally self gratifying but, on the same hand, it was hard-earned.

One of the things that I wanted to make sure happened today was for Mary to take a picture of me in the same position I was in last year. I wanted to do a side by side photo so I could see the change in my physical appearance.  (because, believe it or not, I still don’t see it)

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Last year, left. This year, right.

There is still so much to do but I am pleased. I feel a sense of accomplishment. I also know that none of this would have been possible without the love, support, and encouragement from so many people. You know who you are. Thank you.

My only regret to the whole day is that, following the ride, I didn’t take advantage of the free beer and burgers. There were several factors that played into my decision to take off. Yes, one of them was motivated by my points for the day. True, I had earned 42 activity points but I had consumed 7 extra on the ride by eating a cliff bar.  I also was feeling like I needed a shower and, as previously mentioned, I felt like a wallflower. Yes, Mary was there to keep me company but, when at a table with other riders, I didn’t know what to say. In the end, we departed and I got a much needed shower and lunch.

It was a monumental day. I am blessed to have been able to participate in it and am already looking forward to next year. In the meantime, I need to keep riding and training. Who knows…maybe I can ride in the Dempsey Challenge in October.

 

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A Long Time

It has been a while since my last update.  Almost 2 weeks I think. Being away from my laptop makes it hard to update the blog and the WordPress iPhone app is awful and clunky.

More reason for an iPad I guess.

Since my last post, I have been through 2 complete weeks of maintenance.  The first week was a little rough as I wasn’t sure where I should be calorically.  I ended up gaining a pound.  However, after some consultation, I settled on a new number and stuck with it for the whole week.  End result: Down 3.  3 More weeks to go. The 3 lb loss wasn’t all diet. There were multiple days I was fortunate enough to get a second workout in.  I would use my lunch time to either run or hit the gym, grab a small lunch after, then mountain bike for an hour and change at night.  It felt pretty great. I liked that routine for the most part.

Speaking of my mountain bike, she and I have become quite close over the last few weeks. To be honest, in 16 days I have only been on my road bike three times. I think it is starting to miss me.  I have, however, been logging serious hours on the Blur. Part of it I know has to do with where I was staying.  The roads are impossibly bad for riding. No shoulder to speak of, logging trucks moving a million miles and hour, and low bicycle advocacy.  In all, the perfect recipe for dangerous riding.

The other part of it is, the Mountain Biking in that area is spot on.

The University of Maine has some of the most technically difficult riding I have ever done mixed in with some pretty sweet flow.  On top of it all, there are hundreds of miles of trail.  We must have put on at least a hundred miles over the 8 days we rode and we rarely repeated a section. (save one or two spots that are just so much fun to ride)  The Penobscot Region Chapter of NEMBA (New England Mountain Bike Association) has put in a lot of time making the trails sustainable and unique. The students of UMaine and the residents of the Orono/ Old Town area are fortunate to have such a strong organization in their town.

I tried to take some video of a ride I did up there by my GoPro was aimed a little funny. You basically only see handlebar, stem, and hands. The trail gets lost.  This coming week I will be up there riding a ton and will try to shoot some video that makes some damned sense.

I made it back from my usual Wednesday appointments this week in time to catch our club ride in town.

Joining the Wheelers was one of the best decisions I have made in the past few years.

They are such a supportive group and really do an outstanding job promoting the sport and making sure you are aware of the rights and responsibilities of riding.

This week’s ride was a pretty straight-forward loop through Durham, a loop that I had not had the chance to ever do.  We started with about 11 guys in the Advanced group and it was pretty clear after mile 10 how the pack was going to split. Somehow I was pushed forward and ended up riding with 5 or 6 of the “fast” riders. It’s truly remarkable what you can be capable of when you have someone either in front or behind you who is a better rider.  In this case, there was an ex-collegiate racer from Florida leading the group and man, can this guy ride.  Despite having no idea where he was headed, he helped us keep a 21 + mph pace for the duration of the evening.

Lately, I have taken a “never say die” attitude toward riding with the group.  Sometimes, the pack breaks into an all out sprint and I have all I can do to keep up but I do. The last thing I want is to be dropped. This has lead to some vomit inducing moments in the past.  Wednesday was no exception. All in all, It was one of the better rides this season. Just about 34 miles in just over an hour and a half. A beautiful evening with no humidity and no bugs to speak of. It is moments like that where I realize just how fortunate I am.

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Goal

I have been meaning to write this for the past two days but for whatever reason, I haven’t been able to figure out the wording.  I think it mostly has to do with how I feel like it is some form of self-gratification or bragging by talking about my weight loss.  As I told a friend yesterday, I hate being in the spotlight and, moreover, I hate talking about me. (which seems almost contradictory coming from someone who writes about about their weight loss)

I wasn’t expecting huge results at Chub Club this week. I was up 3 last week and pretty unsure why. I had earned a ton of activity point (100) the week before and this week I had gone even further. (122) A lot of it had to do with going for long bike rides and just enjoying being out there.

Weighing in is a stressful time. For those of you on the program, you know this.  Even if you have been faithful to the guidelines and meticulous in your tracking, there is still that margin for error. Perhaps you are retaining water this week. Maybe you have gained muscle mass. The point is, you are never at ease   I am never at ease until after the numbers come in.

The past 11 months have been a roller coaster for me. Most of the time, it was great news. Down a pound, down 4 pounds, up .25, etc. Once in a while, it was up. My largest up was 5 pounds. In case you don’t know the math, approximately 1 lb = 3500 calories. I would have to have consumed 17,500 EXTRA calories to gain 5 pounds. At this point, I largely attribute that spike to water and body balancing. My activity level has always remained high. During a non-skiing week in the winter, I would average 60 points earned through the gym. (12 points/hour x 5 days a week)

Wednesday of this week I knew that if I didn’t at least lose a pound, there was a problem. And of course, me being ever pessimistic, I started thinking about what else I could do if the program didn’t work this week. Should I see a sports nutritionist? Should I accept the weight that I am at?

I raced into the parking lot of our meeting spot just at 5 p.m.  Usually the meetings have ended and the leader would be packing up. They did and she was. I politely asked if she had time for me and of course she replied with, “yup”.

I am superstitious. I have worn the same outfit to weigh in with since week 1. I also had the same routine before I went to “the club”. No lunch or liquid after 11. I would also hit up Salvation Army for a deal or two. It seemed to follow a pattern; if I found something to buy at Salvation Army, I was going to have a good weigh in week. The logic was sound. The weeks I walked away empty handed, I was up.

This week, and almost every week since summer began, I haven’t been able to hit S.A.  I am usually high-tailing it into town from my summer job that is 2 hours away. Come to think of it, maybe that is why I gained last week…

I got changed into my normal shorts and headed into the room. God love Janice, the nice lady who has weighed me in every week since this has started. (she is part of my superstition as well)  I hopped on the scale and she didn’t say anything. I watched her write in her book 165.2 (Down 3 pounds) She said, “Have gone to the bathroom yet?”

“Yes”, I replied

“Take your glasses off. And your shirt”

“Uh, No. Neither you nor Tammy need to see that”

“I promise…we won’t look. I will just take your weight”

“Fine”.

The next thing I knew, she was letting out an enthusiastic “Yippee”. She and Tammy raced up and each hugged me. 165. 67 lbs lost since the beginning of the program but, more importantly to me, 150 lbs since my heaviest. Almost 24″ off my waist, 5″ off my neck, down 4 shirt sizes.

What is really messed up about this whole thing is, I feel like I should keep going.

The plan now calls for me to be on “maintenance”. It’s a 6-week period where you ADD points to your consumption and make your body level out.

To be honest, this scares the shit out of me.

I couldn’t eat that many points Wednesday. I felt guilty. And I actually MADE myself do it yesterday. (I accidentally went over by 1) I felt sick. Awful. I wasn’t happy about it. I consulted the literature that they give you. It says right in it, “Trust the program”. Janice and Tammy both said it would happen. The extra points were necessary.

When I went on to myfitnesspal.com and changed my weight, it asked me if I wanted to maintain, gain, or lose. I put maintain.  It ADDED almost 800 calories to my daily requirement.

I get the math. Really, I do. But it doesn’t make it less scary.

I never want to be heavy again. I have passed that time in my life. It has made me very introspective and I can’t imagine going back there. Buying shirts in a small feels too good. Having enough energy to ride for 2 hours and then get on my mountain bike and do it again is something else. I can’t go back.

And this is probably a topic for another post but I eluded to it earlier; I feel like I should keep losing weight. I feel like if I don’t, I am not making progress.  Maybe I could hit 150? Would that be “that” bad? But, like I said, another post for another day.

Everyone I know has said to celebrate this moment. I told myself that when I hit goal, I would buy myself something I really wanted. Either; 1) New Skis or, 2) Parts to build my own gaming computer. (because I am just nerdy enough to want to do that)

I haven’t made up my mind yet. All I know is that I still haven’t really made it into celebration mode. I am sure eventually that will come. I am just thankful for my supportive fiancee and friends without whom, I never would have made it this far.

 

 

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Understanding

I went to a wedding this weekend of a good friend of mine. He’s a pretty chill dude who likes to bike, drink, and have a good time.  We have been biking together for the past couple of years although we haven’t done much this summer. In fact, I can only recall one ride together.

He is one of my friends who knew me in my fatter stage. You know, the kind where I would eat or drink anything I really wanted and would chalk it up to, “It’s ok, I worked out today”.  There are a lot of people who fall in this category. In reality, most people.

It’s hard for people who are not on a strick program to understand your frame of mind. And hell, the program doesn’t even need to be that strict; your resolve however, does.

There were a myriad of parties to attend this weekend. If you go as far back as the bachelor party, you can see a lot of instances of the lack of understanding there.  Mostly, it revolves around food and beverage.  Chub Club allows you to eat or drink anything as long as you account for it.  I choose not to waste my daily allotment on things like beer because it is damned expensive. (for instance, I am a sucker for a good IPA. 16 oz however are going to cost you 7 points. That is 1/5 of my daily point total.) I prefer to drink my diet coke and just be happy socializing.  Food is particularly challenging as, when you hang with people who aren’t putting tons of thought into the overall calorie count, you tend to find high fat, high calorie foods. Chips, dips, pizza, cheese, crackers, etc.  Now please don’t misunderstand, I love those things. I love them with all of my heart. But man, you can rack up a pretty high “point” bill if you just go to town.

Most people who read this will know what I am talking about. Ok, so why mention it?

My friends and colleagues who are used to me in another time of my life don’t get why I am so rigid about my consumption. They know why I am trying to lose weight. They understand. They don’t, however, understand what food does to me.

Weight Watchers talks a lot about “triggers”.  I am sure you have heard of them before, things that make you eat. It can be something simple like a social situation or something more deep seeded.

For me, I know one of my triggers is drinking.

It’s an interesting thing, I can’t drink while I eat a meal but whenever I start drinking (ESPECIALLY BEER), I get “snacky”.  I start eating whatever I can find. It has always been this way. I can remember countless times where a good high school friend of mine and I would go out for a night on the town and, come 2 a.m after the bars had called last call, we would head out for food. Now luckily, I was still working out so the calories didn’t have the devastating results as they could have.

Regardless of triggers and all the psychological mumbo-jumbo, the real issue is the understanding of your circle of friends. I am fortunate enough to have a great support circle. I have a fiancee who understands what I am doing and is supportive. (even though I am certain she gets frustrated) I have several friends out of town who, while they would like nothing more than to drink and eat wings with me, are not inclined to push me into it. I have coworkers who have gone (or are going) through the program and talk recipes with me and ask how my weekly weigh-in was.

They “get it”.

Sadly, however, it is not universal.  I have an equally large contingent who don’t understand. Or, if they do, they would rather rib me for not drinking or make a big stink out of the fact that I don’t need to eat an entire bag of Dorito’s. (even though I’d love to)  Most of the harassment comes at social gatherings where I will not drink but I will hang out and have a great time. I must have had 10 people talk to me about drinking this weekend and each time I respectfully declined, they acted as if I had told them they had hobbit feet and bad breath.

What makes the situation more confusing is that I don’t mention that it is because of the program. Not once. (unless asked and usually it isn’t in my initial response) I try not to mention Weight Watchers at all at parties, mostly because I don’t want to be “that guy”. You know, the one who counts everything in front of their friends and makes it a point to mention how many calories are in each item.

I hate those people. In fact, if I ever become one, someone please tell me. Honestly. I won’t be mad.

I just want to be the guy who is conscientious about what he eats without being loud about it. Discrete.

The more I thought about it this weekend, the more I had to revert back to my mindset that I am training. I want to do so many great things this summer and fall and, once I slip into my old ways, it becomes a VERY slippery slope.  One beer quickly becomes beer + nachos which, of course, becomes beer+nachos+burger, etc, etc. which brings us full circle to the Fat Person Math post from last week.

More evidence as to the success of my navigation through calorie infested waters will be revealed in two days. Until then, all I can do is ride and try to improve day to day.

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I am hot.

It has been one of those truly memorable summer days where the heat gets up there (car thermometer was reading 100 at one point) and the humidity is almost oppressive.

Normally I work on Mondays but I took today off due to an out of town wedding. We decided to come back a bit early to save some money and I made plans to get together with my younger brother and do some mountain biking.

The thought occurred to me that it could get too hot to ride. There are those time when it is just downright dangerous to be on a bike.  In case we weren’t going to be able to ride, I hopped on my road bike and set out for what I thought was going to be a quick ride.

2 hours and 38 miles later, I returned. It was damend hot.  My average pace was 1 mph slower than usual. The hills felt never-ending and sometimes it felt like I was breathing in steam. I had tons of water and plenty of food so I wasn’t worried about it’s effect on my health, just my performance.  I thought about abbreviating the ride a bit but I had already committed myself to riding 2/3 of the long loop. I figured, “what could another 7 or so miles hurt?”

My brother arrived at 1 and we made plans to depart.  We arrived at the trail head and had wheels down by 2:30.

One thing is for damned sure, I may not be svelte but I am in fairly good shape. We did 9 miles in 90 degree heat and I probably could have done another 3 or 4. The pace was not grueling for me. I wish I could have said the same for Adam. I called it after he took a pretty interesting spill off a long log ride. (which, in all honesty, he knew he should NOT have attempted)

The calorie burn was in the mid 2k’s today. (according to myfitnesspal and runkeeper) I am interested to see Wednesdays results. I have earned 100 activity points for the week and I know that I will be in the saddle for at least 2 hours tomorrow.

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Fat Person Math

The logistics of the “chub club” confuse me. I mean, the premise is simple enough: Eat your points (yes, ALL of them) and get some exercise…you lose weight. Seems straight ahead. Heck, the even encourage you to go into the 49 allotted weekly bonus points.  I don’t make it a habit of doing so since I figure that is what made me fat in the first place.

I digress.

On any given week, I earn about 80 – 100 exercise points. Theoretically, I can eat those as well, thus giving me a grand total of anywhere from 129 – 149 EXTRA points. For reference, a single slice of cheese pizza is 4 or 5 points. That’s right…you did the math right in your head. According the program, I COULD eat 25ish slices of pizza a week ON TOP of what I am already eating.

Now, I don’t. I don’t come anywhere close. I think the most I have ever borrowed from the weekly points is 12. (for reference, I think I only gained .8 or so that week)

This week, I am up 3!!!!!  I was totally beside myself tonight. I rode a ton of miles this week, hit the gym 3 days, did a 2 mile run on top of my work out…exercise is NOT the problem.  I look back at my diet and I didn’t over indulge. I took into account everything that I ate and never went over my points. So I ask…why the gain? Some speculate muscle. Probably not since I don’t lift.  Water weight? Possibly but I cut down my salt intake over the past few days which should have let me burn the water off.

Regardless, I was so close to getting my goal. 1 damned pound from hitting the mark. Not, I am back to almost 5. No one can give me a solid answer as to why.

As for the riding, my opportunities have been quite limited. I was able to get out tonight and ride with the club. What a fantastic support network that is. The guys in the Advanced group are just all around super people. Supportive and encouraging.  I ride alone so much I tend to forget what it is like to be with other people riding. People who pull you up climbs and push you to pedal harder, nay, faster on the flats. There were a couple of times tonight where I was looking to hit an all out sprint. We averaged 19.1 miles but I think it was more around 20. (my GPS takes into account the first and last leg where I can’t really push)  Being able to hit 20 consecutively has been nice.  I feel like I am starting to get somewhere with my endurance as well. 30 miles isn’t nearly as grueling  as it could be.  I still don’t feel like I am at the point where I can ride a full century. The next step I believe is to push my nightly rides to 40 miles. If I can do that in under 2 hours, I will be in good shape.

Until tomorrow…

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Scary

I won’t get in to too much of a discussion on this but I thought I would share my experience today as to help others with their goals.

Having a nice Sunday off coupled with good weather made for a great ride plan; do a long loop and just go where my pedals took me.  I planned on the heat by filling two-24 oz water bottles and bringing along a luna bar. Unfortunately, I was about to get a lesson in sports nutrition the hard way.

About an hour or so into the ride, I decided to grab a few bites of the bar, some water, and keep riding. After 47.3 miles and 2 hours, 35 minutes I made it home. I was safe but I could tell I was spent.  As I got off the bike, my legs were shaky and I wasn’t feeling quite right. I came in the house and grabbed a shower. The feeling was getting worse and I knew something was wrong. I got out instantly, grabbed a towel, and sat on the sofa. I was clearly starving.  In cycling terms, I had bonked. The good news was, I was at least at home where I could do something about it.

I quickly grabbed a cup of cheerios, some strawberries, blueberries, an apple, and a banana. I was still hungry but I felt instantly better. As I ate, I did some research. Luckily, I came across another blog that provided a ton of info that I wasn’t aware of. (see the “Bonked” link above) It talks about Carbohydrates while you cycle as well as so many other great topics.

For me, I was so concerned with my “points” that I forgot to fuel my body correctly. Sure, I could have consumed the rest of the luna bar but I felt that the 5 points was going to put me over, never once thinking, “hey…numbnuts….you are pushing yourself on an 80 degree day with high humidity. Eat something”.

It was a hard lesson to learn.  Balancing my exercise with caloric intake so as not to upset the balance is damned hard. I still haven’t figured out the proper ratio so I can still lose weight in a week but not allow my body to enter shut down mode. If I am going to compete in longer rides, I need to figure this out.

In the meantime, I had enough points for a ton of pizza and frozen yogurt….points that should have been spent during the ride.

I am ridiculous.

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The Payoff

Normally I don’t think I will do the whole “post a day” thing but while on my ride tonight, I thought I would mention a few things.

For those of you on “the program” (or, “the club” as my friend Heidi and I call it), I tried a pretty friendly recipe tonight that was fairly low in the whole points plus realm:

1. Spinach Pasta

2. 2 Jars (we only had 1.25) of GOOD marinara sauce

** A quick word on “good” marinara sauce – I can make my own. I’m Italian. It’s what we do. I still haven’t perfected it but the flavor is better than a lot of store bought sauces. That being said, it takes a ton of time to do correctly. When looking for good sauces, I am a big fan of either Boves or Classico Tomato and Basil.  Everyone has their favorite. If I find out you are using Prego or Ragu I will hunt you down. This also goes for “Store Brand X Marinara”. **

3. 4 cloves garlic, minced

4. 1/2 an onion, finely diced

5. 1 package 93% lean ground turkey

The pasta was the hardest part of the recipe.  Note – if you follow the instructions, you SHOULD get 12 or 13 1-cup servings. Each 1 cup = 5 points plus.  He was right about draining the hell out of the spinach too.

For the sauce, sauté the garlic, onions, and brown the turkey at once.  Drain the fat. Add sauce. Cook SLOWLY. I added oregano and dried basil to it. (also salt and pepper)

The points plus value for the sauce will vary depending on how much meat you like.

I hadn’t had much to eat today due to our crazy schedule so I had enough points left over for some frozen yogurt.

At around 5:30, the skies slowly started to clear and as dinner was finishing, I knew I wanted to get out for a spin. Belly full of pasta, I threw on my riding clothes and was out the door by 7.  It was a perfect ride. Clear skies, temps in the 60’s, and I was moving pretty well for a full guy. I regret that I didn’t try to do the bonus mileage and hit a major climb. I was a bit worried for time and, since I don’t have my lights installed, I didn’t want to get stuck in the dark.

I am still way under my goal for the year. Only 600 miles in so far. Most people accomplish this in a month. Here we are, two months into the riding season…

I saw this on facebook earlier today and it made me think of my post yesterday:

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A pretty true statement.  I think that for me, that is what this whole process is about. Every day, every week  I want to be a little better than I was before. Faster, thinner, more nimble…really, just better. Me version 2.0

An endorsement, for those of you who are into the road riding thing, I HIGHLY recommend the Giordana Formared Carbon Flex Short Sleeve Jersey. I picked a couple of them up on clearance and really dig the cut and feel. They are well worth the investment if you can find them on the cheap.

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Training

I am not usually one to complain about the weather. Hell, there are only two times when the weather brings me down:

1) LONG stretches of rain

2) LONG stretches of heat and humidity

I can deal with snow. After all, snow means skiing.

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I can deal with heat and no humidity. It just means I sweat a little more. Heat and humidity make it tough to ride. (and in some cases, just plain dangerous) Last year I did a 2 hour mountain bike ride in 95 degree weather with a heat index of 109. Unsmart. In retrospect, I probably should have taken the day off. Luckily, I was fine and the shade helped to cut the intensity of the heat.

The past week, it has been rain. I think Monday (5 days ago) was the last day I was able to get out on my bike.

Why does this matter? Suck it up and hit the gym.

I do but…

My riding buddy and I were chatting the other day and he said something I had never considered, “You are now in training mode. You are riding not only for fitness but also to do long distance rides and races”.  I hadn’t ever contemplated that it was “training”. I just figured it was another day in the saddle.  Looking at it from this angle gives a whole new perspective to my rides. They will still continue to be fun, no doubt. It just means that every day that I CAN be on my bike, I should be. The last 4 days have not proven to be the case. (and it isn’t looking like the next 5 are going to be much better)

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One thing I have been thinking a lot about is charity riding.  Last year, I signed up for a 75-mile ride to raise money for the Dempsey Center.  This year, I wanted to do more. Not only because the rides push me to go further , but also because each ride raises money for an organization. Whether it be the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, The Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope and Healing, or The American Lung Association it seems like most major charitable organizations have a benefit ride associated with it.  I am particularly drawn to the Dempsey Challenge and another ride in New Hampshire that raises  money for Adaptive Sports.

The problem becomes raising the money.  I can train to ride 100 miles. That’s the easy part. Convincing people to part with $5 or $10…that becomes the challenge. If you don’t raise the money, the funds come directly out of your pocket. Depending on the size of the ride, these fees can be upwards of a few thousand dollars. (A personal goal is to hit the $1,000 fundraising mark so I can earn the Jersey) I hope that by reaching out to family and friends (via this blog and other places) that I will be able to get to my mark.

If you had told me 4 years ago that I would be training for multiple century rides, I probably would have punched you in the face.

And then went to grab a cookie.

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The First Post…

I have been wrestling with the idea of doing a blog for a while. A long while, actually. Ever since I started my weight loss journey.  For whatever reason (probably because of work), I never felt like making the time to do it. Recently, however, I have felt the need to share/ solicit. Well, I’ll get back to that in a few.

Before I continue, I do need to preface with a couple of things:

1) Grammer – mine sucks. Sorry. Ask my students.

2) Punctuation – see above

3) Thank you – To my family, friends, and colleagues who have made this journey bearable. It is far from over and I am so lucky to have you to support me.

Now:

I should probably start at the beginning…

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This was me 10 years ago. I was at my heaviest then. 315 pounds, give or take a few. 54″ waist, 20″ neck, 3x shirt.  I always have struggled with my weight. Ever since I was little I have always been big. No, not just “husky”. Fat. Real fat.  Eat a “double quarter pounder with cheese meal super-sized and still have room for one of those amazing apple pies” fat. (that’s no joke. It happened. A lot)  I remember recently asking my mother, who is near and dear to my heart, “Mom, why did you let me do that? Why would you let me order whatever I wanted?”.  “Because I love you and it was hard saying no”.  I don’t blame her. I don’t blame anyone except myself. This is my cross and I will shoulder the burden.

Looking back on high school, it is amazing I did some of the things I did without dropping dead of a heart attack. I did a 357 mile bike ride over 5 days with a group from school. I did Boy Scouts camping trips and played rec basketball. By all accounts, I should have been at least on the road to a healthy lifestyle. But, dropping a 20-piece nugget and a large fry…well…you know.

Fast forward to 10 years ago.

2 of my very close friends who battled their own issues with weight began their journey. I watched as they transformed themselves over the course of a year. They changed their eating habits and began living a more healthy way of life. The gym was a normal part of their routine and they made it a priority.  I don’t know what it was about it that gave me the first push, but something did. It could have been that I respected them so much on a professional level that, when I saw them taking control of their personal lives, it inspired me. (just as their teaching helped to shape the educator that I am today)

I began with a simple routine, just like everyone who starts a program does: Add Gym, cut calories.  Simple.

The program worked well for a time. I dropped to about 237 lbs over a few years. I was wearing an XL, 17″ neck, 40/42″ waist.  I maintained this for a few years but, despite a high level of activity, I was never able to drop any more weight. (later I would find out that I was taking in just as much as I was burning…what an idiot)

4 Years ago, I met my fiancee.  She is a wonderful woman who actually helped get me in to biking. (don’t tell her I ever admitted to that…I still say that it was my idea)  Shortly after we met, I bought my first bike. A Gary Fisher Cobia.  This is us early on. (awwwww)

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This bike helped me realize how much I liked riding. It wasn’t long until I upgraded my hard-tail 29er to a full suspension. Though I was riding a ton, the calorie consumption continued.

Back in May (actually, May 5th, 2012) I decided I wanted to purchase a road bike. The prior summer had been full of rain and I wasn’t out on my bike nearly enough.  I headed to the local bike shop and, after almost no time, was talked into my first real road ride.  In a matter of months, I logged roughly 1,000 miles on it and, between that and my mountain bike, I was almost always out pedaling in some form or fashion.  My weight loss, however, was still at a stand still. I thought that I had been doing a solid job of monitoring my consumption but it didn’t appear to be enough. While I would easily go and do a 2 hour mountain bike ride with my friend, I would have no problem eating a dozen wings immediately after. (again, consuming more than I was burning…or at least breaking even)

In August of that year, I decided to join Weight Watchers.

I will never, ever, as long as I live forget my first weigh in.  I was in line amongst the rest of the crowd. It consisted of older women, most of whom were in their late 50’s to mid 60’s. I don’t remember seeing a single other male there.  I started to cry, all the while texting my good friend Jeff. I was embarrassed that it had come to this. Here I am, a grown man in his 30’s, and I can’t even get my weight under control. I stood there, eyes red and nearly ready to leave, when my turn came.

I walked to the scale, exchanged pleasantries with the nice lady (who is now someone I have come to appreciate very much), and stepped up.

237lbs.

In talking with the leader, I set small goals for myself. Goal 1: 227lbs. A meager 10 pound loss.

It worked.

I could go on and on telling you about the weekly weigh ins but the purpose of this blog isn’t to relive the past. It is to talk about my daily (or weekly) up’s, down’s, and side-to-side’s.

The short version of the already too long story: I am down to 169 pounds. 4 more to go until I hit my goal.

“Uh, Mike, if you are so damned close, why are you writing this blog?”

Because it has been hard. The past month has seen little change. Up a pound, down a pound. Days on end without riding.

I want to share my story with the people out there (especially guys) who are struggling with their weight and who might find some of my riding stories either funny or just plain stupid. My money is on the latter.

Today was one of those days that you write about. Sadly, it is going to have to wait. If I don’t get to bed soon, the morning gym session will never happen.

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