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Monthly Archives: February 2017

Fit Recovery’s Recovery Dictionary:  The Definition of Terror.

Have you seen the movie Clean and Sober?  Michael Keaton starred in that one.  How about Leaving Las Vegas?  Nicholas Cage did that one.  Less than Zero?  Robert Downey Jr.  And thanks to the Unironedman for reminding me about Flight with Denzel Washington…

I just started watching Everything Must Go.  Will Ferrell’s new twist on an old theme.   I could only take the first 30 minutes and had to shut it down.  I’ll have to recharge and give it a go at a later date.

Fit Recovery’s Definition of Terror is the jumping off place.  It’s that wonderful spot where you’re afraid to drink because it’s killing you and you know it, and you’re terrified to not drink because you need it.

I am not an emotional person.  I don’t let life happening get in the way of my enjoyment of my sobriety.  I drank a lifetime’s worth in a very short time.  I’ve been sober multiple times longer that I drank – like four or five times longer….

I still feel the terror of being at the jumping off place though, like it was yesterday, and a good drunk movie takes me back instantly.

Without getting into spoilers, I can relate to Ferrell’s character in that every decision I made, viewed in hindsight, was one of two things:

  • The opposite of the right thing to do at any given moment.
  • The dumbest thing a person could do at any given moment.

The movie starts there, where no stupid decision goes unpunished, and that’s where my pain started.  The first beer consumed in the movie, and I could feel the twinge between my cheeks and gums that accompanies the first sip of the first beer of the day.

And that’s where I started getting squeamish.  Less than five minutes into the movie.

Now most normal people would think that twinge between the cheeks is the Pavlov’s dog response.  You’d be wrong.  The Pavlov’s dog response is the terror that comes immediately after.

Twenty-four years of sobriety, I’m only one stupid decision away from flushing all of the good in my life down the toilet, because I know me.  If I start, I will not quit until quitting is the only option left.  The terror is true powerlessness.

I watched until I couldn’t take it anymore.  30 minites, if that.

I shut it off and prayed.  I asked God to take away my defects of character so I can remain happily sober.  I asked for five seconds of sanity before I did anything stupid.

Then relief washed over me.

And I thanked God for showing me compassion and answering the call.

Then I wrote this post to share my experience.

It never ends, you know?  The drinking dreams, the temptation, the terror…  Thankfully it only takes a movie to show me how fragile the ground underneath can be – and I know exactly which steps to take to reinforce the foundation.  It starts with One.

I am powerless over alcohol.  I am sane and in tune with my emotions and my surroundings (the five seconds prayer works – try it, you’ll like it).  I can give my will over to the care of my Higher Power.  Take a small inventory of the situation, call my sponsor… a little six and seven… then ten, eleven and twelve.

Now I’m thankful for having had the experience.  For seeing the weakness, for recognizing it, for feeling the powerlessness, for feeling the terror.  My disease may be in the background doing push-ups but I practice karate, and my karate is good.

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…Because Cycling in Bad Weather is Automatically Bad@$$ or Alternately, How to Make Sure You’re Riding in the Rain.

There was no way we were riding this morning.  It was 36 degrees (2C I think) and it had rained earlier.  In fact, the internets said it would continue, on and off, all day long.  I was certain I would be putting in my 45 minutes on the trainer.

Then my wife called Mike on a fluke.  Not only was he riding, he was just a mile from my house.  I threw on my cold weather gear and out the door I went.

Starting out it wasn’t too bad but thankfully I’d made a last minute decision to throw on my Sugoi Zap jacket.  Four miles in the mist that had been collecting on our glasses turned to rain.  Slow at first, but it did crescendo.  

Then nothing.  The glasses went back to misting, the water collected and dripped off our helmets.  I used my forefinger like a windshield wiper so I could see.  Now my legs were cold and wet.  My upper body was toasty though so it was tolerable.

We talked about taking our toys and going home but I said something uncharacteristically badass.  “Well, we’re already out here in it anyway, let’s just do it.  If it opens up, we can head back post haste.”

Fast forward ten miles and we’ve only got three to go.  I’m snug as a bug up top but my legs are chilly.  We turn the corner – only two miles to go and my buddy Mike, I swear to God, says, “Well, it looks like we’ve got this one in the bag”.  Dude.

A quarter mile later it opened up again.  Seriously.  Who says that before you hit the driveway!?

I pulled into the driveway with 17-1/2 miles at a 14 mph pace on the mountain bikes.  And I chuckled as Mike got out of the saddle to pull away…. He still had two miles to go, on dirt roads.

Ah well, it sucked but it was better than the trainer.  Besides, riding outside in crappy weather is automatically badass – and we actually managed a good pace.  No drafting.  I’m calling it double badass.

Cycling and Simple Upper Body Workouts – Why I choose to “Pump Me Up”…

After five years of cycling I had developed, at least somewhat, that classic cyclist body.  Legs like tree trunks and an upper body that didn’t exactly impress.  Not that it was bad, let’s just say I lacked that classic V-shaped upper body.

I want to be very clear:  I am not looking to be a perfectly proportioned, perfect-body human specimen.  At 47 years-old, I simply don’t care to put in the effort and give up the pizza.  Better, I don’t care if anyone else likes it or even agrees.  I spent the first half of my life trying to be someone that was pleasing to others, in one way or another.  I’m going to spend the second half having fun.  Counting calories down to the last one, meticulous workouts designed to perfect my body…  There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just not for me.  At the same time, I embrace a very simple concept:  If you want to make your gut look smaller, build up your shoulders and pecs!

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That out of the way, I am always looking for free speed on the bike.  I also look for ways to be as comfortable as possible on mile 90.  Finally, while I’m not interested in perfection, I am interested in “much better than average”.   It’s well known that studies suggest non-weight bearing activities can lead to weak bones.  While the case can be made that cycling, at least in the real world, isn’t as non-weight bearing as some like to make it out to be, I’d rather be safe than sorry.  Capisce?

Now, being a bit of a realist, I’m not going to blow my money on some kind of ridiculous contraption to aid me in attaining my goal – especially when I know that what I need is quite simple;  Push-ups.  Hands and toes, push on the ground, repeat.

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I started a little more than a month ago.  Unfortunately it’s worked a little too well and I’ve put on a few pounds as a result.  Thinking as a lopsided cyclist, those few extra pounds will hurt on the hills.  Thinking as a balanced cyclist, those few extra pounds will help on the flats and downhill sections – and that’s what is really important.  My back is stronger, my shoulders are stronger, my chest and arms are stronger as a result of doing push-ups for a little more than a month.  We all know about the extra weight, but consider; I don’t ride a road bike like most people ride mountain bikes or hybrids.  I ride low on the handlebars.  The extra strength allows me to ride a little lower in the drops and it allows me to ride comfortably, longer.  This is all good.

And let’s face it, Chris Froome may very well be an awesome cyclist but his spaghetti arms make him look like a living caricature.  I have no desire to look like that.  Of course, if I was making half of what Froome does to ride a bike, well you can call me spaghetti man.

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So after a month of doing daily push-ups (all five weekdays, weekends off), I couldn’t be happier.  I feel good, I look better and I ride more comfortably.  Yes, I might be a little slower going up a hill on a bicycle, but I can work through that.  What really matters is having a decent balance and being happy anyway – and I can’t be happy with spaghetti arms.

How to Draft Like a Pro from GCN – One of the More Important Lessons a New Cyclist can Learn…

I’ll embed the video toward the end of the post, but a few words first.  If there’s anything that can screw up a group ride it’s a cyclist who lacks skill and forethought on a ride.  I’ve gotten into the math before but when you consider that in a fast group you’re traveling at 30′ to 40′ per second, there isn’t much room for error.

Enter the GCN video “How to Draft Like a Pro”.  At 4:06 into the clip they get into how to ride when you have someone on your wheel.  The best bit starts around 4:15 when they illustrate how to, and how not to get out of the saddle when you have someone on your wheel.

All too often I see cycling rookies pull their bike back to pedal whilst out of the saddle.  This is bad.  Don’t do it.  Stop IT! 

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The idea is not to make the person riding behind you have a heart attack whilst you’re out for a fun afternoon in the saddle!  Anyway, rather than me blathering on about it, give the video a watch and you’ll be able to see the right way and the wrong way – and you’ll be able to see, clearly, how dangerous the wrong way is.

Making Some Calm After the Storm:  What Comes After that First, Fast, Hard Weekend on the Bike in a New Season.

We, my friends and I, typically ease into the new cycling season after a winter on the trainers.

Not this year, we dove right in because we had a few days of stellar weather, virtually unheard of in February.  Fear not, we’re right back into the cold later this week.  I rode 110-ish miles over Friday, Saturday and Sunday (more than 50 on Sunday alone) in about seven hours total.  Not fast either, except that 20 were done on the mountain bikes and more than 37 were cranked out at 21 mph, which is pretty good considering my max is 22 unless I’m in a large group (40+), in which case I’m good up to 24 mph (all on open roads, not closed).

When I woke up Monday morning, I was feeling pretty old.  My back was sore (from the effort, it was a good pain), my legs were tight and my shoulders and neck felt like they needed some work.

After years of trying different combinations of rest and nutrition, I know what the best thing is for me, and it isn’t a day off:  Slow and easy, either on the road or on the trainer.

The issue is my Tuesday night club ride.  That is my fastest day of the week.  A few years ago I would ride all weekend long, as many as 150 miles over Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  I’d take Monday off to rest and hit it again on Tuesday.

The warmup before the ride, always easy between 15 & 16 mph, would feel a little rough.  The start of the actual club ride was rough too, but that starts out at 20 and gets ramped up to 25 pretty quick and it still takes a few miles before I can carry on comfortably.

Last year I did things differently.  I rode with my wife on Monday evenings, just 16 miles in a little less than an hour.  Nice and easy, spinning the whole way.  Tuesday nights were much more enjoyable, to the extent that everything from the warmup to those first few miles were no longer uncomfortable.

To put a bow on this post, there is a flip side.  Those slow days after several intense days in a row have to be slow.  If I try to maintain too intense a pace, I’ll do more damage than good.  I have to maintain a balance, of hard efforts and easy, to keep my body injury free – as I have been for four years now.

You read that right, four years there hasn’t been a pain that amounted to a need for time off the bike and as long as I keep a good balance, I don’t have a need for a day off unless it’s raining.

I do this for a reason;  Stressors don’t take a day off either.

Just stop it…

Definitely good for a laugh… Check this post out…  Rather than like this post, please click over and give the original author the props.  Fair warning – I was out in public when I watched the clip and literally burst into laughter.  I was a little embarrassed.  Newhart will do that to you though.

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I come from a family where tolerance wouldn’t be the strong point. In other words low tolerance of bullshit. Once I rang my sister to tell her I was tormenting myself with over thinking. She directed me to this video…it can be used for other behaviours too. Take your pick. Two posts in one day, I need to go lie down now.

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That First Big Ride of the Season.  Better Eat Your Wheaties!

Our first big ride of the year was Friday.  Nothing too ridiculous, 36 miles, but that’ll go a long way to knocking the rust off… and it’ll definitely let you know how diligent you were with the training over the winter.

If this is an indicator, it’s going to be a good year for me.  Mrs. Bgddy too.

My friends spent my first four years of my cycling taking a lot of time up front, pulling me around various courses.  Two three years ago I started doing my fair share.  Last year I started paying that back.  Well let’s just say I’m excited to continue on that path, doing more than my fair share this year.  It was a productive winter for me.

Saturday was 20 on the mountain bikes and back roads with Mrs. Bgddy in perfect weather!  A little windy, yes, but 63 sunny degrees.  It was my first ride in months without tights.  In fact, it was so nice we actually pulled off our arm warmers within a mile.  Glorious.

Then came Sunday.

Sunday’s group was awesome – fourteen there, plus Mike, who took the picture.  It was beautiful.  A little on the chilly side (I think it was 45 when we rolled out but it made it up to 55 before we were done).  We quickly worked up to 21 mph and pretty much kept it there for the first half of the “into the wind” part of the ride.  There was an upside and a downside to that, though.  The upside was that four bikes back, it was fairly easy going.  The downside was that there were more than a few guys hiding at the back.  I settled, early on, to stay in the front rotation and just take quick turns up front so I didn’t burn myself up too soon and I didn’t have to mess around with the fracas at the back, with five guys trying like hell not to go to the front (it’s always a little choppier when you have a quarter of the group trying to hide at the back).

Twice I had no choice – I had to get to the back for a rest.  I’d tried to spend too much time at the front.  I don’t know if this is just me, but I feel there’s a time where I feel I should go to the back and rest.  If I push through that though, I can last quite a bit longer before I actually have to head back for a rest.  This could, of course, just be middle of the season phenomena, I don’t know.  Either way, it didn’t work on Sunday.

Once we started heading back with a decent the pace really picked up.  With a crosswind we managed to keep it around 23 but with the tailwind we were often up to 25 or 26 mph and there were a few times when it got ugly for me.  I almost thought I didn’t have enough… and then Greg headed for home and the pace moderated a little.

Before I knew it we were on the home stretch.  I didn’t bother sprinting for the last sign, I’d had enough.  I was done.  We rolled into the parking lot with 37-1/2 miles and a 21 mph average.  An awesome way to start the season.

Of course, I wasn’t done…  When I got home, Mrs. Bgddy asked me to go back out with her so she could get a ride in.  I put in another 16-1/2 miles but those were markedly slower.  It took us a whole hour to get those done, and I needed every second.  I ended up with a little over 110 miles for Friday, Saturday and Sunday and 164 total miles for the week.