Saturday, December 12, 2009
I remember thinking about that game when I was running out of energy at the 25th mile of my first (and only) El Tour de Tucson race. I was getting pretty tired, riding alone and I heard that song "Bicycle Race" by Queen. It had been played a few times at the starting line and I had heard it along the route from car stereos cheering us on.
But this time, I looked up and saw that the song was coming out of an old brown Chevy Van with all of the doors open wide, parked under a tree. There was a guy sitting on a lawn chair by himself, drinking a beer, with a cooler sitting next to him. I am guessing he had more beers on ice in the cooler and some crushed empties lying on the floor in that van.
I instantly played my own game of "Would You Rather...?" and quickly decided that yes, I would rather be that guy drinking beers listening to Queen, than the new Clydesdale huffing and puffing with 10 more miles to go. I would have paid $100 just to trade places with him for 10 minutes. But I lumbered along, got some encouragement from Cory, then Neighbor Ted who came along and I ended up beating my personal time goal.
This is on my mind because I know that many triathletes out there (and many of my long-distance cycling friends) are just hooked on cycling. They are basically endurance athletes that love the work, love the challenge of greater distances, and maybe even love the "suffering" that cyclists so often speak about. I think that I am headed there, but I still get intimidated with the challenges of big hills and longer distances. I have now twice ridden more than 30 miles...I need to get to a point where that is more of a constant distance and not some milestone rarity.
I have not ridden much in the past three weeks, since El Tour. I have been taking it easy, enjoying the achievement of a major goal for me. A few short rides with the kids (which is ALWAYS awesome), a few rides with Crazy Jim and his new bike, a few solo short rides and a good medium ride with Neighbor Ted. Sounds pretty frequent, but it really hasn't been much.
Work has been busy, just finishing up a project that should help our company to hit a major year-end goal...that makes the rest of the month pretty light for work. Nice.
So...now what should I do? My old lifestyle (no exercise) sure seems the easier road, but I worked pretty hard for El Tour and I don't want to go backwards. I need to declare and find a new carrot to be chasing. My health is good, muscles are stronger and weight has decreased. Time to keep moving. Yesterday, Crazy Jim and I agreed to do the 27-miler Tour of the Tucson Mountains in April and I will likely commit to the 66-miler for El Tour next November.
But first up, I think I will do the Casa Grande Century, a 35-miler on January 10th. I have less than a month to get used to some longer distance so I don't start playing that "Would You Rather...?" game again.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Okay, I lost 0 pounds this past week, but it is my birthday so I am going to try to look forward. There's a line in The Incredibles movie that goes something like this: "Don't look back...it distracts from the NOW!"
I remember leaving someone a blog comment recently where I said it felt strange that I was starting a short-burst weight loss challenge without a plan...I was just going to, you know, kind of make um, choices...so yeah and try to lose some weight. Well, that was stupid and worked as well as planned.
So, here is the new plan starting today:
- Eat nothing but fruit, yogurt or sorbet after 7pm.
- Proteins, fruits and/or veggies will be the main foods, less of everything else.
- If I have any sweets at all (before 7pm), nothing more than two bites.
- Some prunes every day (What? Why is that funny?)
- Sweaty exercise at least 4x/week...something lighter on the other days.
- Weigh daily to stay aware of progress.
P.S. Oh, and yes, plenty of water...always a part of my day, given our life here in the desert. But it is good for any climate. (Thanks, Tricia!).
I'll start...with a big fat ZERO. No excuses, I just didn't have a loss, so I'll have to make up for it next week.
How did everyone else do? Please let us know by posting a comment. If anyone else wants to join in now, you are more than welcome!
By the way, here are the year-end goals for the group:
Me (Big Clyde): 10 pounds
Neighbor Ted: 12 pounds
Jude: 6 pounds
Bundy: 10 pounds
Lucy: 5 pounds
Big Wind: 6 pounds
Bookreader28: 5 sets of 45 min "steps"
Little Doll: 4 pounds
Jester: 3 pounds
Monday, November 30, 2009
And yet, when he gets a chance to ride, which is not too often, he considers 40 miles to be his minimal distance, but really feels good about getting in 60 to 70 miles...in one ride...on a bicycle. I try to avoid driving somewhere in my truck that distance. He just completed the 109 miler of El Tour, beating his previous year's time! In short, he is an endurance monster on two wheels and I am envious and inspired at the same time!
If you have been following this blog, you have read where I describe any ride above 20 miles to be a "long ride". So, given that Neighbor Ted and I seem similar in so many other ways, I wondered how he could regularly handle rides 2-3 times as long as a challenging "long ride" for me, at a much higher speed?
So, after our ride today, I was asking him about his "normal speed" and "normal distances", just to try to understand why, after my months of frequent riding and ever-growing "long rides", I am nowhere near his mph or distance.
His response was patient, reassuring and simple: there is no "normal". Among us amatuers, factors such as weight, bike, history, workout routine, nutrition and psychology are going to be so different from everyone else's, so it is foolish to try to compare or calibrate between two different cyclists' abilities. There is no normal.
The only comparison that really matters, is to our own previous results. This month, I have ridden 158 miles! That is more than I rode in October, or any other month ever in my life. So, my November mileage is above "my normal"...and I will be content with that for now.
But someday, I want to be like Neighbor Ted.
Friday, November 27, 2009
I have joined the guys at cyclingphun.blogspot.com in an end-of-the-year weight loss challenge. I follow that blog and Phun challenged any readers to commit to some goal for year-end. I hope that Phun is cool with me sharing the idea to those of you following here. He has been very encouraging and welcoming to me.
I am in to lose 10 pounds by 1/1/10 (most are doing this goal). So, I would like to widen the circle and see if any of you would like to join in on this. You can check in on this blog, or go over to the link above and leave a comment with your goal.
So, if you want to join in, just leave a comment with your goal of weight loss, mileage, fitness activity, etc. (no need to disclose your weight, etc.). Then, once a week (on Fridays), I'll mention my progress, struggles, etc. and you can comment with your progress. This could be a fun way to set a goal, have some semi-anonymous accountability and make some progress around the holidays.
I'll change it out today and get in about 13 miles today and a longer ride sometime this weekend. My son, Sammo, and I are going to jump on the bikes sometime as well. He has a cool Trek bike that is ready for mileage!
Also, I went for a nice short ride with Crazy Jim on Wednesday to break in his new Trek FX 7.2 bike. It was fun and now that he just moved into the neigborhood, we should be riding alot together. Good times.
Next up, I'll plan out some goals for mileage in December and by the end of the year, I will commit to some new races and goals for early next year. There are some in races in April that I am looking at that should be similar in mileage to my El Tour route, but I will work on improving my speed.
Keep riding everyone!
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
I received exactly one: Most Improved Player for my junior varsity tennis team in 1983. I kept it until about two years ago. It was my only trophy and I was proud of it, though I never achieved greatness at tennis. In fact, I realized that I would never be one of our top players, so I didn't even turn out for the varsity team the next year. What a mistake, but that was what I did.
Now that I have kids of my own, I have disliked this "feel-good" practice of handing out "participation trophies". The seem less shiny and valuable, given that every kid gets one, just for being on the team. I don't share those thoughts with my kids, but I still wonder about the message that is sent when everyone gets celebrated, regardless of their performance! Seems like a step backwards to me...
And yet, I now am re-thinking all of that. Because when I crossed the finish line in my first bicycle race this past weekend, someone gave me a medal...just for completing the race, regardless of my performance. Of course, I wore it home (just for convenience, really). Then, put it back on after I showered and changed my clothes for the rest of the night (and in the car to the restaurant...and back on after we left the restaurant). Wore it around the house on Sunday morning...then, put it back on after church. You get the idea.
I didn't wear it today (decided to give it a home on my bathroom mirror), but now it serves as a reminder that I actually did something significant, despite finishing middle of the pack. And that means, I can do it again someday soon...only this time, I bet I can do even better. Now, I am even more motivated.
Maybe, the medals and trophies (and race numbers, etc.) that are handed out so frequently today are meant to motivate aspiring athletes for future seasons and better performances ahead. Maybe the whole idea of that shiny metal object is not to signify that the recipient is somehow better than the rest...maybe it is just to inspire each of us to keep going and do better next time. Seems to be working that way for me.
By the way, a few posts back, I mentioned that my doctor and co-worker are now interested in cycling because they have seen me make some progress. Now, my friend Crazy Jim is buying a bike. Good times.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
- I was so grateful to my family for encouraging me throughout this long process. Yes, I have been a bit obsessive (in thinking and talking and fussing) with this. I love them all very much.
- I completed the 35-mile race in 2 hrs 27 mins, which was faster than my 3 hour goal. For a new Clydesdale cyclist, this was a great achievement and I am very pleased with it.
- According to race stats, out of the 1,111 cyclists in my route, I ranked #555! Yes, I am the last person to be in the top half of my race. That is funny to me. Mom and Dad always said I was above average...barely, but still.
- I was happy to see so many people on race day, though I pretty much rode by myself, which was the plan. I didn't want to slow anyone down, or be slowed by anyone.
- It was great to see Alex and Jay at the start, my family with our "Mighty" family t-shirts cheering me on (cowbells are really loud when hit with a drumstick!), Cory rode with me for awhile, Neighbor Ted came along just at the right time to encourage me to finish strong, and then I saw Jay, Lynn and Laura at the finishing line. Ted, Cory, Lynn and Alex all beat their previous times and Jay ranked #25!!!
- Though I lost steam somewhere along mile 25, I rallied back during the last couple of miles. Felt great energy last night, long after the race. WHY?
- A highlight for me was seeing Alicia, wife of my friend Jim who died this past summer. She was looking for me at the starting line of our race and thanked me for thinking of her family and of Jim. I was surprised to hear that Jim had ridden a 110 mile race in Ohio some years back. That was inspiring to me and I thought of him often during my race. God is with her as she bravely faces each day without Jim. Jim would be so proud of her.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Big Wind - The handsome follower with the glasses was my first and will support me no matter what...and not just because he is my father...he also married a wonderful lady 49 years ago, who has posted many times here. Thanks, Mom and Dad!
SusieTri - My first non-relative (!) and a tri-athlete, competed in IronMan Arizona last week. Thanks for the encouragement and insight. How'd you do in Tempe, Susie? Looking forward to reading all about it.
Snod66 - My best friend from grade school (who lives several states away). Or could it be his much better half? Either way, the lack of any comments and the lack of an avatar image, somehow looks creepy coming from a close friend. The image somehow reminds me of the quiet kid in the back of the classroom that eventually winds up being interviewed by Chris Hansen on NBC's "To Catch a Predator". Don't just sit on the stool in the kitchen eating cookies and drinking sweet tea! Make a comment or something. At least, submit a picture of yourself, so that you aren't looking so shadowy.
And Dan just dropped in today. Looks like he just completed his first marathon! Very cool. Seems so daunting...I will likely stick to cycling. They say the "century" (a 100-mile cycling race) is the cousin to the runner's marathon. Maybe someday. Thanks for following along, Dan. Please pass on any advice...I'll put it to good use.
My thanks also to Duane and Cody who have jumped in with comments. And finally, my sweet Bookreader28, thanks for the fun and encouraging comments. I can't believe you really like Bon Jovi (but their Christmas song is pretty sweet!).
I was that old husband in May (and through most of the summer)...but after almost 19 years of marriage, she is seeing me become increasingly obsessed with cycling. I don't think I am, because I know that my performance is still so very limited compared to even the casual cyclist. But I find that it is all that I think about...I find myself noticing the incline grade of roads as I am driving. I am now paying attention to which streets have bike lanes or wide shoulders, good smooth pavement, hills that I could climb (and the very steep hills that laugh at me).
For the record, I still don't think I have lost much weight. My doctor recently noted a 6 lb drop since I started cycling, but the bathroom scale hasn't really budged. But I do know that my quads are bigger and more muscular and the belly has less "jelly" to it now.
I will join 9,000 other cyclists this weekend in the El Tour de Tucson race and will ride 36 miles. Then, I will find the next race and sign up for it (so that I don't cuddle up on the coach with my El Tour participation medal for the rest of my life).
So, is it an obsession? It's an odd thing for me to describe...I wouldn't say that I love riding (it is hard, my progress seems slow and at such a low level compared to virtually everyone in the real world and blogger world)...and yet, I do love that I can see some progress each month, some weight is shifting (and burning away) and I love the feeling that I am actually doing something. Maybe a year from now, I will do the 66 or 81 (or 110) mile route of El Tour and will be a very different person. I am hopeful.
Which is why I guess I am obsessed. Hope is not found on the couch.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
I did ride twice since my last post. I rode for about 13 miles on Thursday, going at a faster pace than normal, then went for a fun ride with my boy Joe on Saturday.
Back to today, my pace was slower than I would have liked, but I was trying to conserve energy for the longer distance and was battling some wind. Given that it is almost never windy here, a 7-10 mph wind can mess with me. Nonetheless, I did it (took me three hours, but I did it). Good times.
Monday, November 9, 2009
By the way, on yesterday's tiresome ride, I kept remembering that youtube video David After the Dentist. "Is this going to be forever?"
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Secondly, after my longest ride of 28.3 miles last weekend, I did not ride again until a week later (this past weekend). I rode 6.5 on Saturday and 18.5 on Sunday. I focused on some speed intervals for the short ride and some hills on the second. However...
There are a few things that this new budding Clydesdale has just learned about activity and food choices.
1. If you ride your largest distance, you will likely feel tired for the next several days...this is normal, ride soon anyway. After my long Saturday ride, I didn't get back on the bike until a week later. When I did, my legs felt heavy and tired. I am thinking that I should have ridden a few times throughout the week (even short rides)...just to keep the muscles moving, etc.
2. If you decide to make up for that lethargic week, by putting alot of your miles into a Sunday afternoon, then avoid the big Sunday lunch at Macayo's Mexican Restaurant. The fam and I had a blast with our friends (14 of us!), but after some carnitas, chips & salsa, and a "Baja Pizza", we drove home asap and I jumped on the bike. I did not hurl, or even have a belly ache, but I (again) just felt like I had no fuel in the tank. No energy + long ride with hills = lackluster performance.
I guess I have to remember basic guidelines about using food as fuel, if you are going to exercise. I lost a great training opportunity this weekend and I haven't much time left before the race. Less than two weeks away. Need to make better choices in training and food.
Still, I am grateful for 25 miles this past weekend and I'll be out again early tomorrow morning.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
I could not stop crying at his funeral. He was too good to lose and we all knew it. I cry when I think of him now. I started this blog because I know that I am not very disciplined, not athletic and would need encouragement, even from strangers. Thankfully, I have received that already. I know that if Jim is able to watch from Heaven, he is encouraging me now.
Recently, I learned that his four boys are benefitting from Tu Nidito, a Tucson-based organization that helps children who have lost a parent. So, now I am raising funds for Tu Nidito, which is affiliated with El Tour.
As I train and race in El Tour, I will think of Jimmy, his wife and boys and dedicate my efforts to him.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
I worked on pacing myself on the first big hill (which isn't too daunting anymore) and tried to conserve energy during the first hour. That must have helped. At the end of my ride, I determined that I certainly could have finished another 8 miles, which would equal the distance of my route in El Tour this year. 36 miles will be a challenge, but I am told that the ride itself has a lot more flat miles (or even downhill) than what I just rode. Three weeks away and I will ride many miles before the race.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Later in the day, we celebrated my girl's 14th birthday. She is sitting next to me now while I type, so I am debating if I should blather on about the usual flood of memories that come to mind from our life together. She is a wonderful young lady, but I confess that I miss the early days as well when we would play games like "Hey, that's my chair!" and we would do the "10 second tidy" when we cleaned up her room. My wife and I are so blessed to have her (and her two tweeb brothers, as well!). Our friends still wonder how we could have ended up with such great kids. They are the joy of our lives.
I just sold my big boy bike (the Trek 4500), so I am moving into an exclusive relationship with The Grey Goose (the new bike). Not fully used to it yet, but I'll give it a good breaking-in this weekend! Looking for a good, long ride, regardless of speed...need to get used to being on the bike for longer rides in prep for the big upcoming race.
Question: have you started listening to Christmas music yet? I broke it out a few days ago. I am embarrassed to say that Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas" is in my top 10 (okay, top 5).
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
But I am going to ride in that. During my Monday ride, I learned that I have to train in all kinds of weather, because El Tour may bring heavy winds on 11/21 and I can't wimp out on race day. So, I will be out there tomorrow.
By the way, in the past two days, a co-worker and my doctor (!) have been somehow inspired by my efforts and are taking up cycling. They might be thinking "if he can do it...", but it makes me feel good to think that others are getting inspired.
Oh, and my new bike comes with a bike seat that feels like I am riding a 2x4. Oh, the humanity.
Monday, October 26, 2009
I realize that I need to work on my inner demons that keep feeding me negative thoughts...my attitude was so bad during parts of the ride, because of the difficulty. My friend J, who is an experienced cyclist, says that I am just not used to "suffering physically". I've never really been an athlete, so I somehow missed the lessons of suffering through some tough training periods in order to gain improvement. So, now when I am challenged while riding, I find myself doubting if I can keep going onward. But that is just a mentality that I can work on and replace with a more positive outlook during a challenging ride. I have to.
I went to my doctor for a routine check-up. I've lost 6 lbs since I was in last April and my blood pressure was great (it had been creeping upward).
Next up: a shorter, but intense ride on Wednesday, then a longer Saturday ride. El Tour is 26 days away!
Saturday, October 24, 2009
This is a great season to buy bikes because the dealers are closing out '09 models to make room for the '10 models. The dealer recommended a Scott Sportster. It is light grey and some of my friends have said that I will "fly" on future rides, if I get off the mountain bike and switch to more of a street bike. So, I am calling this bike the "Grey Goose (it is grey, I hope to "fly" on it...and I really like Grey Goose!).
I went out for a ride this morning, but kept it only to an hour, because I need to adjust the seat and bar for a better fit. I'll tinker and head out again tonight or tomorrow morning.
...And yes, I know it is kind of stupid to name the bike...but it amuses me, so I am going with it.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Anyway, at least I got my ride in this morning, which will help me prepare for longer rides this weekend.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Wish I knew...anyway, I must have burned some calories and at least got back to exercising. I will do this more throughout the week, then bigger rides on Friday and Saturday mornings. Looking to ride at least 25 miles in two hours on one of these rides!
By the way, my ipod has been rolling The Fratellis (the Costello Music album). Why aren't they famous?! Try them...you will enjoy.
We traveled to Prescott and Verde Canyon, AZ to see the fall colors, take a long train ride and walk around a town that was not littered with Circle K's, Subways, and strip malls. On the train ride, we even saw 6 bald eagles (or the same two eagles three times...the debate continues on that one). We finished the week by going to a Tim Hawkins comedy concert at Radiant Church in Surprise, AZ. It was a great night and seems like a fast-growing church. It had three jumbo screens, impressive a/v equipment, a cafe in the lobby and a drive through espresso hut in the parking lot (I'm not kidding)...I just wondered why there was no cross in the sanctuary/concert hall/studio. If I understand John 2: 13-23 correctly, Jesus might have been angry with this commerce in his Father's House and might have started flipping over tables and scattering the money-changers. Seriously, no cross in a church?!?
Anyway, busyness crept in and I have been off my bike for a week. The time with my wife and the kids was great! I have to keep reminding myself "don't look back at missed goals with regret...just keep riding". I will post again soon with my progress.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Granted, I would be happy to just relax for awhile and bask in the glory of it, but cycling is not really a crowd pleaser and even my internal applause meter is settling down. Certainly, I can't give in to my previous mentality. For whatever reason, I think that I reached my current weight level by following logic and common sense:
1) if something makes you happy (like yummy food), then have some! and then, have some more!
2) if something makes you tired, sweaty and sore, then stop it...asap.
This thinking still makes sense to me...but if we followed this logic, then would we really have ever gotten off the couch to build bridges, grow food, invent cars and ipods, and help other people? In fact, by following my instincts, I could see us all ending up like the "advanced society" in "Wall-E", where everyone is morbidly obese and just sits around in these mobile recliners eating Taco Bell and watching tv. Sounds like a decent weekend when you have the house to yourself, but it is no way to go through life.
No, if I can become more fit through cycling, then I think just about anyone can. (Your mileage may vary.) I'm not ready to disclose my current weight, just realize that I am the largest person that I personally know (and have ever known) and have never been an athlete. Yet, after a few months of sporadic bike riding, I just rode my bike for 23 miles.
And in 32 hours, I guess I'll go do it again. Ugh.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
The bad news is that while I was on my ride, I missed a nice waffle breakfast at home with the family. I love waffles...and I will now think of them all day.
The good news is that I did accomplish my goal of riding for two hours today (my normal ride is about 1 hour & 13 miles). During those two hours, I rode up some good hills and covered 23 miles. The time and mileage are far beyond what I have done before, so I am very happy (but still somewhat upset about missing the waffles...mmmm, so warm and syrupy). After all, while my family was stuffing their cute faces with waffles, I got to squeeze some disgusting energy gels from a foil packet into my mouth. (Note to self...next time, don't let the foil packet touch the fillings in your teeth. Hard to explain the sensation, but trust me.)
Miraculously, still no weight loss since I started all of this in May...likely has to do with not altering my eating habits much, which are not great, and my inconsistency in riding. I am in a nice pattern now though and am going greater distances, so maybe weight will start coming off. Can't get sloppy now...the El Tour de Tucson now haunts me.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
1. I rode the cyclops for about 20 minutes, just wanting to do something today. Certainly a short workout, but it fits with my new mantra: keep riding.
2. I honestly just came to the realization that El Tour is a month and a half away. Granted, I am only doing the 35-mile route, but that is about three times farther than I have ever ridden at one time and I thought I would be much further along by now. I should have ridden more consistently in Aug and Sept. Got to try to make good progress now.
Next rides: an easy hour-long ride tomorrow before work. Then, a two-hour ride on Saturday, my longest time in the saddle. Um, yeah. Good times.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Got it hooked up to my big boy bike and rode pretty aggressively for about 25 minutes. Not my actual goal for the day, but it was better than nothing. I wish I knew my cadence or speed...was I going 7 mph or 17?? I'll work on that one later.
I also found out today that my company had an all-employees mtg today (I didn't show) and they announced that several of us will be riding in El Tour de Tucson. I was not really ready for much publicity about my goal here...don't want to be the new side bet around the office. But I guess it is official now, so I have to make it happen.
Looks like I'll be riding the Cyclops more often now.
Monday, October 5, 2009
I don't know if such a short ride is at all helpful to me, but it was better than laying on the couch, so I'm glad I went. I know that if I continue to go frequently, my strength will build and I can push it harder.
Will ride again on Wednesday for at least an hour, then a longer ride on Saturday.
Secondly, I am likely too big to even classify as a Clydesdale rider. I don't think Clydesdales wimp out as often as I want to...I have read some blogs or comments from "Clydes" where they talk about riding in competitive races, doing 3-hour rides, etc. I'm not there yet.
My typical rides are only about 13 miles in a one hour period. This weekend, I will ride 90 minutes and will record the distance (18 miles?). That would be my longest ride to date.
All of this is in preparation for my big goal for this year: to ride the 35-mile route of El Tour de Tucson on 11.21.09. This will be my first race, EVER. Easy for many people, but it will be a major event for me.
So, why do the blog? I am new to blogging as well, but I really want to improve my health by bicycling and thought that the blog could be an interesting way to document the process. Sadly, I have started other exercise programs before and quit, which is why I need to lose the weight! But for many reasons, cycling could be so great for me and I have a great family and a lot of friends who are encouraging me along the way.
To all of you, I hope this is interesting to you in some way. If you have advice, encouragement or questions, I welcome them. Should be a good ride.