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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Trek Vs. Trek

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Every Once In A While You Read The Perfect Post…

Every once in a while you read the perfect post, one that can change your outlook on a day instantly.  Katharyne over at Fab Fitness wrote one that changed mine, entitled “What Makes YOU Happy“?

Please check it out, it’s excellent and inspiring.

 

Turning The Frown Upside Down

I was all prepped for my big debut with the advanced club at Assenmacher’s yesterday evening.  Bike, H2O, snack and anything else I could possibly need packed neatly in my transition bag and in the back of the Escape.  I pulled into the shop about 20 minutes early and went in to wait for everyone else to show.  After about five minutes, Matt completed his business and asked how the riding was going, to which I responded, “fabulously”…  I was just there waiting on everybody to show up.  That’s about the time he let the wind out of my sail by informing me that the ride didn’t actually start at the shop but 3 towns north and west of where I was.  He gave me some quick directions and said I should be able to make it in the 15 minutes I had remaining and that there would probably be some stragglers that would wait for me to set up.  I ran out the door, but stopped before I even hit the parking lot.  I don’t show up late – and right on time in my world is late, so I did an about face and went back into the store to let him know I wasn’t going to try to make it, that I’d ride from home and make the ride in a couple of weeks.  He gave me a map with the location of the meeting place marked and we talked for a few minutes about riding and his hopes of getting over a serious leg injury quickly so he can get back on his bike.  With that, I headed home, a little dejected, but it was still early enough that I’d be able to get in a decent ride.

While driving home, I started to think about different possible routes that would keep me from the downtown roads because the last thing I wanted to do was battle traffic and the wind that would be in my face on the way back rather than out.  I surprised myself and came up with a route a couple of miles longer than my normal 16 mile route that would keep me on rural roads, pulled in the driveway and commenced to getting ready.  I clipped in just before 6:00 and proceeded to pound out one of my most satisfying rides since I started riding last spring.  The weather was glorious, 82 degrees with a hazy sunshine so it was warm, but not hot and I was able to ditch the sunglasses for clear lenses.  I’ll skip most of the technical stuff and simply say that I had as much fun as a man can have with his clothes on.  I owned that ride – right on the edge for the entire 18.16 miles, I left nothing on the road and it was absolutely awesome.  On the miles into the wind I was down in the drops, cranking away and I attacked every hill like it was the last one I’d ride.  When I had the wind at my back I turned the big ring  just as fast as my legs would take me…  I had a grin on my face for the better part of that entire ride because I was entirely free.  No worries, just me kicking the road’s @$$.  I took a screen shot of my Endomondo workout to illustrate what I was referring to about attacking the hills.  That’s 23 mph, with a cross wind on the way up…  If you look just to the right of that, at the major elevation change, I slowed at first but jumped out of my saddle and pushed past the top – that was at 23/24 mph as well (though I did have the wind at my back for that one).  The dips in speed, by the way, are all stop signs which probably cost me at least a minute or two in slowing down and speeding back up (I now have automatic pause, so I’m no longer fully penalized for having to stop, though it’s sensitive – I have to stay statue still or the time starts back up but it doesn’t show on the speed).

In the end, I completed 18.16 miles in 55.25 minutes which works out to an average speed of 19.66 mph and I couldn’t be happier with that.  It’s amazing what making a proper decision did for my attitude – something I talked over with Matt when I was at the bike shop – with all of the pressure of the .5 IM off, I’ve got my love of the ride back and I’m absolutely digging it.

Finally, on my cool down mile I saw and unbelievable recumbent.  Hand built in a garage, with the excellent tutelage of none other than our LBS owner, Matt Assenmacher – it was so cool I asked the owners if I could snap a picture real quick so I could post it here.  The people who built it (pictured) wanted something that they could ride together, without having to be single file so they came up with this:

Note the small back wheel, that’s the steering and brake wheel, the handle sits between the two riders.  If you look closely under the guy’s seat you can make out his derailleur – it’s a five speed.

Now that’s some kind of awesome.

 

Well That Depends On Your Definition Of “Is”

Oh how I miss the good old days of Slick Willy (not the politics, that we ended up with a balanced budget out of Congress (a monumental task in and of itself considering today’s Senate), signed by the President.  In any event, President Clinton notwithstanding, a new blog friend of mine wrote a post entitled “You Can NOT Out Exercise A Bad Diet“.  I was going to disagree, because I did to an extent, but he’s actually quite right, depending on your definition of “not”.  He then wrote yet another post, just today entitled “Fitness Breeds Fitness” in which he (wittingly or not), supplied the definition of “not” when he wrote:

“That just made me realize, fitness breeds fitness. I guess that is just the law of attraction”.

Now I don’t get into the “law” of attraction idea – I’m a really nice, decent guy and I’ve “attracted” some class A jerks in my life and it certainly didn’t have anything to do with me – but fitness absolutely breeds fitness.  My friend went in a completely different direction with it though, so please allow me the opportunity to fill in a few blanks.

My diet, while decent enough, has it’s fair amount of grilled fat burgers with bacon and barbeque sauce, fattening pasta and even some fast food.  My BMI is 21.2 (right smack dab in the middle of perfect), my body fat is somewhere around 12% (maybe less) and I’m fit as an ox.  I didn’t get this way by cutting out all bad food – but I did cut out a four 2-liter a week cola habit shortly after I added cycling to my normal running routine (the timeline will be self evidently important in about 2 paragraphs).

At 171 lbs I cut out cola and dropped to 165, about 7 lbs north of where I wanted to be, but then I burned 162,000 calories through running, cycling and swimming over the last nine months or so and didn’t replace all of them because my weight dropped from 165 to 156 where I’m maintaining right now – and I have to eat like a horse to do it because now that we’re into nice weather I’m burning an extra 6,000 calories a week in cardio alone…

Here’s where the definition of “not” enters:  “…and I have to eat like a horse to do it”.  My definition of eating like a horse is static – it changes from person to person.  What seems like a lot to me could seem like a crash diet to the next guy (or gal, girl or woman – take your pick).  The same idea can be applied to fitness and then again to the size or shape of one’s body, and to really make this difficult, through time.  To illustrate, I had an idea of what I wanted to look like when I quit cola and picked up my mileage.  I’ve actually surpassed that ideal but as that came about, my muscles gained definition, my chest widened and my love handles shrank, what I wanted became obsolete and morphed into something else.  Now that I’ve exceeded my goals, I want to do better.  My definition of “not” is changing.  When I started this all-out cardio blitz last summer, I’d have been pleased as punch with how I look right now, and now that I’m here, I am pretty happy – but I can do better.  Here’s how the thought process goes:

[Looking in the mirror]  “Brother, you’ve done a great job – you look awesome”!

“But I’d bet if I cut out some sweets and some trips through the drive-thru, that 1/4″ of belly would become a 6 pack again (it’s currently a 4 pack with a little laundry)”.

Before I know it, I’ve moved the goal line farther down the field – and once you do that, it becomes absolutely impossible to out run a bad diet – I’ve tried.  That last little bit is always diet if you’re putting in the miles and because fitness begets fitness, if I want to progress from here I have to change that which will produce the final result that I’m looking for – because at this point, I just can’t out run that last 1/4″.

Is this all that important to me to change my diet?  Meh, it is and it isn’t.  Maybe I change, maybe I’ll just be happy with where I’m at – it’s still awesome after all.  That’s another post for another time.

Oh, the timeline – I almost forgot…  I quit cola after I started riding and Tri training – because the goal line, my definition of “not”, changed.  It’s constantly changing and as long as I’m happy and in balance with my wife, life and girls, a little change never hurts…  Until it does, then it’s time to back off and re-evaluate.  See also:  Bgddy Jim’s Self Evident Truth #3.

 

Balance – Not The Inner Ear Kind

I’ve come up on a rock and a hard place in my training for my Rev3 Half Ironman in September and I’ve got some serious thinking to work through over the next week or two.  I started out with the goal this winter because it seemed like the next right step in the progression of my fitness.  I did a couple of Olympic Triathlons last year and they were really fun but rather easy – the bike leg wasn’t long enough for my liking and the run was easier than anticipated.  The swim was never much of a worry and we ended up doing that and then some after the second Olympic just for fun when Steve, Pete and I took the kids out swimming from the pontoon boat (we were in the lake for easy another hour and a half horsing around with the kids).  I’ve never had a desire to place on a podium so double the distance seemed like it would be double the fun.

Well, I’ve come upon a few unexpected struggles that have me rethinking the goal, strategy and more important, the upset in balance the training is causing in my every day life.

The Training

First of all, I’ve been having a tough time enjoying the training like I did last year.  This year it’s real training, I’m not just going out for a ride or a run (or both).  I have to run so far, in such and such a time so I can make sure that I’m ready when I start adding the serious biking in next month.  That requires a few very tough choices.  First, to stick to my training plan, I can’t ride my bike down to the running club until mid April so I can get my legs in shape for the half marathon – and Saturday’s weather made that a tough choice, it was beautiful but I just wasn’t ready for that yet.  Second, I’ll have to slow my pace down on my rides so I’m not burnt for my long run on Saturday – this really reared its head this last week when I had to cut my run from a scheduled 12.5 to a 9 because I went out on two excellent, but fast, rides on Wednesday and Friday and my legs knotted up about 4 miles into my run (I also went out a bit too fast).  I get the most from cycling – I really love going as fast as I can as often as is humanly possible and I’m finding it difficult to temper that excitement which is causing me to constantly train on the edge of injury.  In short, in order to reach my goal, I have to slow down my rides (the fun part) so that I can build up my running miles (the not so fun part) and I’m finding that it’s really sapping my ability to love the training.  Add to that a constant nagging in the back of my head that’s always saying, “You should be doing more, right now, to get prepped” and my life is turning into something that I don’t want it to be.

The Family Life

Mrs. BgddyJim and I are in a really nice place in our relationship right now.  It isn’t without its challenges, marriage is no place for a nervous person (to steal a quote from Mickey Redmond), but we’re getting into a nice little groove and I like it.  I’m only in the first few weeks of real training and that training is only going to demand more time from here.  The more time I put into training, the more I have to take from my wife and kids – and that’s not appealing right now.  In fact, I went for a walk with the wife and kids yesterday evening after dinner and my daughters wanted me to chase them around a bit.  My legs still felt like cinder blocks from Saturday and I was just too nervous to put the strain on them from running around so I let the girls run around with my wife while I lagged behind.  That’s a half an hour of laughing and playing with my girls that I’ll never get back and it’s not setting very well.  There isn’t any finish line worth that.

The Diet

More than any other time in my life (including after quitting cigarettes 13 years ago), I am hungry all the time.  I’ve been maintaining my weight well but it’s getting hard to stuff enough food down my gullet to feel satisfied for more than 25 minutes and that’s causing me to feel “off”.  After doing the math on my normal caloric intake, I will say that it’s nice to have to fit a few Big Mac extra value meals in just to make my weekly calories, but I’d get that just sticking with the Olympic length Tri’s.

In The End

After speaking at length with both my mentor and with English Pete, I believe it will best suit my recovery and my family to forgo the Rev3 Half Ironman in September.  I just don’t want to sacrifice what I will have to in order to cross the finish in that race.  All of my other goals will remain as is.


Manscaping

Ah, manscaping, the one topic so delicate that it’s almost impossible to not give too much information.  Well, I’m here to give it a go.

First of all, there are a few rules here that start at the neck and don’t apply to cycling specifically:

1.  Trim the neck beard – once a week whether you like it or not.  Nothing is nastier than a fella whose neck hair is two inches longer than the hair on his melon.  Have your wife knock that jungle down with a weed whacker if you must.  If you don’t have a wife who will do you the favor of shaving your neck, a large handheld mirror will allow you to see what you’re doing without cutting yourself bad enough to bleed out.

2.  Trim the nose hairs once a week.  Don’t use sharp pointed scissors, and be careful.  Also hit the uni-brow while you’re at it (and have your hair stylist trim your eyebrows every time you get your hair cut).

3.  Use clippers to knock down the ear hair once every other week.

These must be done on a regular basis, period.  If you’re ok with random, long, curly hair flailing about your face, that’s all good.  You’re the one that has to live with it…unless you’re married, in which case try this one time and see what she says.

Ok, that’s good for the rated G.  Moving on to PG:

1.  Unless you happen to be a relative of Chewbacca, while your wife is working on your neck, ask her to kindly hit the tufts of hair below your shoulder blades (once every two or three weeks).

2.  Arms and chest are optional.  I hate having long arm and chest hair but I’m not vain enough to shave my arms and chest on a regular basis.  A simple 10 minutes every other week (during winter, fall and spring – once a week in the summer) with trimmers and a guard (I use a #1 or #2) will get you looking sharp and tidy – and not like the big fella to the left.

3.  Legs – now this is where it gets controversial.  If you are a racer, it isn’t.  You shave.  We all get it.  Of course, long arm hair and bald legs look silly, but I’ll leave well enough alone.  Now I’m in a middle zone, between a real athlete and a fitness rider.  Smooth legs will help me in the water, there’s no doubt, but really, do I gotta?  Thankfully, I have the answer:  Maybe.   I have it on good authority that anyone at the State or Regional level will shave their legs – it helps with road rash and with a wet suit (I’m assuming – I’ve never worn one)/bare legged swim.  On the other hand, depending on location, most sport or fitness riders won’t.  Well that doesn’t exactly help either.  There is a compromise thankfully, go to the trimmers and tame that jungle – you’ll be comfortably right smack dab in the middle, where your significant other won’t complain about stubble and you won’t have to hide the fact that you’re using her razor in the shower.  Truth be told, I’ve read countless articles that suggest even noobs should be shaving their legs to go on a club ride lest they be derided for… uh, actually being a noob. (?)  In any event, I’ve gotta be honest, I’ve been thinking many writers post this misinformation just to catch the noobs up, so they show up to their first club ride, legs glistening, while their more experienced counterparts laugh like Wookies that another noob fell for the shaving the legs bit.  This will be a matter for the proprietor of your local bike shop – think of him as your Ben Kenobi, guiding you to the exhaust ports at the end of the trench as you’re about to blow up the Death Star.  If you need your legs shaved to avoid being derided by the fellas he’ll let you know.  How do I know this?

I asked.  I just wish I’d thought of that before I shaved my legs.  Figures.  Sorry honey, I used your old razor.

As for the R and NC-17 stuff…  You’ll have to go elsewhere for that.

So Now What? How To STAY Active And Beat What Defeats You

After my post on the distinctive victory of Exercise over Type 2 Diabetes, I was a little disheartened after having to quote an article that stated most of the sufferers would not stick to an exercise and diet plan that would beat the disease into submission.  That lack of whatever it is, is really heartbreaking to me because it’s so – unnecessary.  I’ve run into posts before where overweight people worry about going to a gym to hit the treadmill, weights or the pool because they feel people look down on them.  This line of thinking is almost entirely self-inflicted because the reality is, for the vast majority of us that already exercise regularly, exactly the opposite is true.

There is no doubt that there are some arrogant losers who scoff at people who are not physically perfect and who are out trying to get fit, but those people are few and far between.  The important question is; who would live their life based on the opinions of a handful of jerks anyway?  Unfortunately, it’s a lot.  It is possible that the arrogant jerk excuse is simply that, an excuse, but I’m not buying that totally.  I was extremely skinny through college (6′ and 130 lbs) and I always felt a little awkward when my buddy Scott and I went to the campus gym to work out.  Scott was a built fella and he really took me under his wing to try to get me bulked up – I should have felt fine, if I just knew then what I know now, but I didn’t…  And that’s the reason for this post.

Now, this is going to take a bit, so if your interest is piqued, grab a cup of coffee and read on. (more…)

Hooky Ride!

I went out on my first ever hooky ride today – technically I didn’t play hooky too much, I worked up until 2:00 and I’d planned on going out a lot sooner than that.

Before I get into the particulars, I apologize, Laura, for not stopping to say hi instead of hollering as I rode by.  As you read on, you’ll see:  I was on a mission.

It was a superb day for a ride, if a little windy.  Sunny, 72 F, 13 mph wind from the south with gusts to 21.  I’ve had a route picked out since last year but I never had the gumption to ride it, well today was the day.  Of course, when I set out, all I could feel was the sun beating down…I didn’t exactly pay attention to the wind.  I headed north for a mile, then two east, before turning south into one of those sustained 21 mph gusts.  Uh, that sucked, for a mile, then a mile east, then five more miles, dead south into that wind.  Maybe that’s what they mean by suffering, because fun it wasn’t.  It was another ten miles before I even caught a whiff of a tail wind…  But then, joy of joys, about 1/3 of the way into mile 17 I turned north for twelve glorious miles – and only two stop signs that whole stretch.  I rode the big ring for all twelve miles, uphill and down every mile between 2:18 and 3:00.  I finally got to see what I could do with a long stretch of decent road with no stops (and a nice tailwind).  Now that was fun!

In the end I was stopped by another flipping train (Whiskey – Tango – Foxtrot, what gives with the trains lately), three stop lights, a handful of stop signs and still managed to beat every long distance personal best time that I set last year.  35.5 miles in just under 2 hours and an average pace of 17.9 mph – and I haven’t put on my aero bars yet.  Not to shabby if I do say so myself.

Oh, I’ve got some good news:  I found my bonk zone.   The bad news is that my bonk zone is right around 33 miles and I didn’t bother to bring any food with me.  That last two and a half were rough but I was right as rain after a banana and an apple (and another two bottles of water).

Personal Bests:

1 Hour (19.97 miles – previous 18.09 miles).  50km by 1h:25min (this was the birthday ride, we were taking the scenic route and I never bothered to ride that far because I was training for an Olympic).  26.2 miles by 10min:03sec.  20k by 3min:42sec.  And 15k by 2min:53sec.

Exercise Vs. Type 2 Diabetes… Another Malady In The Series

95% of all Type 2 Diabetes cases are caused by an obese and/or sedentary lifestyle.  95%!  It goes without saying, that living a fit life and keeping one’s weight reasonable through proper nutrition is the best way to keep from getting it in the first place, and I don’t need to link the tidal wave of articles and studies that show this to be true.

Diabetes is tricky once you’ve got it though.  At least in the beginning.  While weight must come down and fitness must go up, too much of a good thing can cause trouble so any exercise regimen should be begun only with the help of a doctor.  One item that I found interesting is that the intensity of the exercise shouldn’t be too strenuous, lest serious blood sugar issues arrive – again, one should absolutely consult their doctor and establish a routine:

“During exercise, the muscles absorb glucose for energy. This causes a lowering of the blood glucose (sugar) levels. The reduction of glucose levels creates a natural treatment for diabetes. It is important to note that exercise that is too strenuous may have the opposite affect of increasing blood glucose levels, which can be harmful to diabetics. The key is to find the type of exercise that will work best for the patient and to do this exercise at levels that are not harmful”.

In addition to the cardio that I love so much, strength training holds significant benefits for diabetics:

“The latest findings show that exercise such as strength training has a profound impact on helping people manage their diabetes. In a recent study of Hispanic men and women, 16 weeks of strength training produced dramatic improvements in sugar control that are comparable to taking diabetes medication. Additionally, the study volunteers were stronger, gained muscle, lost body fat, had less depression, and felt much more self-confident”.

While exercise won’t “cure” diabetes, it absolutely will help to get blood sugar under control.  Alas, this isn’t all good news:  “The majority of diabetics, however, are unable to religiously follow strict rules on what to eat and what not to eat, or to start and maintain a good exercise program. For many people it is just too much to do all at once. Another recent study found that instead of exercise plus diet being the best plan for diabetes control, it could be broken down to one or the other with equal results: exercise or diet”.

The quoted statement above is pretty language.  Let me break the important statement down for reality’s sake:  For many people who are resigned to a lazy, or sedentary lifestyle, switching to a healthy lifestyle of exercise and eating right is more difficult than taking medication (I imagine the lines of bikes on the road if we could tell kids with leukemia that they’d get better if they rode a bike and ate right).  It’s a crying shame.

Here’s a list of complications from Diabetes:

Kidney failure, stroke, Peripheral Arterial Disease, Neuropathy (nerve damage), Ketoacidosis, Gastroparesis, hearing loss, high blood pressure, heart disease,  circulatory problems (which eventually result in amputation of the extremities), glaucoma, cataracts and other eye problems.

All of that can be avoided, in most cases, with a reduction in weight, a little exercise and eating right.

 

 

 

 

Against My Better Judgment Pt. 2 – Here We Go Again

It was nasty out all day today, in fact it started raining shortly after I left for a meeting down at the south end of the state.  Meeting done, I headed back to the office to get caught up on some small items that needed it.  At about three it started clearing up so I checked the weather channel real quick, saw that we had a clearing before some thunderstorms roll in tonight and headed out the door.  The minute I got home, I changed and headed out the door.

As is usual on days like this, after a couple days of hard effort, I had every intention of taking it easy – and as usual that lasted roughly until I got my second foot clipped into my pedal.  After seven miles in twenty minutes I got a call work call that required my attention (I always wear my phone and blue-tooth ear set when I’m out on work evenings).  So I slowed down and pulled into a neighborhood and took my call and then took it easy for the rest of the ride.  What an awesome day – and no jacket or foot warmers.

Legs are responding well too.  I feel a lot better than I did a couple of hours ago.