Monday, March 28, 2011

31 Miles in Three Days: A Successful Failure

I didn't run 12 miles this week and did not cycle 25 miles.  I worked out only four days this week, not six.  Officially, I failed this week's goal.  But I feel like a winner tonight.

On Saturday, I convinced Mrs. Clyde and our three kids to go on a roaming bike ride with me.  We split up a few times, when some of us went to the bank, Subway, Blockbuster while the others pedalled straight to the park.  We re-grouped and picnicked at the park, then went a few miles further and finally headed home.  12.4 miles in all.   Not an aggressive pace for me, but a fantastic use of time on the bikes with the family.

My son, Cuppa Joe, is not really new to cycling, but does not ride much.  He moved up to his older brother's bigger bike last summer, which felt a little intimidating to him at the time.  Saturday's ride started a bit bumpy for Joe, when he fell about one mile from the house.  Lots of grease on the leg and a decent bloody cut on the ankle was the result.  After some venting on his part and coaching on my part, he got back on the bike...and fell again 15 feet later.

This 9-year old had two bike falls within the first 10 minutes of our ride and he still kept going.  Love that kid. 

I won't lie to you...he wasn't all guts and glory as he picked himself up after each fall.  There was blood, sweat and tears and he knew that home was very close.  But he was willing to ride away from the comfort of home, in order to push himself to what new experience might be ahead.

After many miles later, he actually fell one more time, skinning his knee.  No tears this time.  By now, he knew that he would achieve a personal distance record of 12 miles and that he had already achieved a lot more than playing it safe at home.

As for my goal, it was only 12 bike miles, but a major win in terms of spending time with the family and I will give myself bonus points for getting the family out on the bikes.

Sunday was already a busy day for my other son, wife and daughter.  So, Cuppa Joe and I played basketball for about an hour, played on the playground equipment and got some frozen yogurt.  Good times, but no mileage.  Prior commitments and church occupied much of the rest of the day.

So, I chose to not to complete my own goal.  That's not something I would have done 6 months ago, but it seemed the right decision for me this weekend.

Today is Monday...back to my new weekly goal of steady exercise.

Big Clyde

Friday, March 25, 2011

31 Miles in Three Days: Day 1 Update

Not much to say other than I am so glad that this tough (work) week is over and I can be with family, friends and get caught up on some mileage.

I did a quick run tonight after work, but before a card game at TIG's* house.   I did 2.04 miles in 22:31.  That is a pace of 11:02.  Not fast, but faster than I have been doing lately. 

I really need to learn about intervals or working on speed.  I know nothing about it and should probably learn. 

I am also hoping to get a Garmin 305 or something similar in the future to track my pace on my runs.  Any ideas?

Back with a mileage update tomorrow!

Big Clyde

(We call him TIG because his wife admiringly reminds us "...because he's a TIG welder".  A wife who is proud of her husband is a beautiful thing to see!)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

31 Miles in Three Days Challenge!

Just a quick post to check in.  Last week was a great week for me:  13 miles of running and 25 miles on the bike.  6 workout days in a row.  My speed is increasing (especially on the bike) and I feel healthier.  Goals achieved.

This week however has been a bit more challenging.  I took Monday off and Tuesday off...and had a massive work emergency project on Wednesday.  I have fallen far behind on my mileage goals this week so far.

The bike miles can be made up easily.  I did just 6 quick miles tonight after work.  Crazy Jim is on his way over to watch the UofA vs. Duke game.   Go Arizona!

I know that I can do a longer bike ride this weekend to get to 25 cycling miles, maybe more.  But I have no running miles in yet this week.  Doing 12 by Sunday night (and the cycling miles) seems like more of a challenge, but I am committing here to do it.

12 Running Miles,
19 Bike Miles,
By Sunday night.

I'll post my results nightly. 

See you out there!

Big Clyde

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The March Experiment

I guess I will call this The March Experiment (yeah, it took me 1 second to develop that catchy name). 

For the month of March, I have focused simply on working out (cycling or running) at least six days a week.   After this month, I'll evaluate what's next for me.

Some initial observations:
  • This marks my most consistent exercise pattern that I have had since 1987, when I was on a tennis team in college in Japan.  We worked out constantly.  We played tennis at times.  Weird.
  • My goals are 12 running miles per week and 25 cycling miles per week.  Pretty light on the cycling, but remember, I am focused this month on six days of activity per week.  That means fitting in a daily workout schedule that varies between 30 and 60 minutes.  That is 50 running miles per month and 100 cycling miles, give or take a few.  Seems pretty good for a guy like me.
  • Though the primary goal is consistency, I am working on intensity for the bike rides.  I am noticing that I am going faster on the bike.  I feel stronger on the hills.and faster on the flats. 
  • I dropped two pounds last week, but have not changed my diet much at all. 
  • It seems that this activity alone won't drop the weight.  I have to combine it with good choices.
  • But, the activity is great for my legs, my heart and my overall fitness level.
  • One interesting run was last Tuesday.  I had plenty of time for the run, but I just felt horrible when I started.  I wondered if I would quit early.  There was no particular pain, just an overall achey, plodding feeling to the run.  That feeling lasted for the first 10 minutes.  Then, I felt better...and then, awesome!  I felt like I had hit a rhythm and could just keep going.  I ran for 65 minutes, with no walking or stopping.  5.4 miles.  If I didn't have family duties back home, I could have kept going.
A year ago, I did almost no exercise but was diligent on eating no more than 1,700 calories per day.  The weight dropped off, which was imperative, given that I was at 325 pounds. 

For now, I am enjoying the routine that I am developing. 

Big Clyde

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Boring or Awesome ?!?

If the question is "how is March going" for me, then the answer is:  Both!  March is boring AND awesome for me.

For the past two weeks, I have been on either my bike or a run on twelve of those days. 

So, is that boring?  Sure, a little.  Sometimes I am doing a 2-mile run, sometimes a 4 or 5-mile run.  Sometimes an 8-mile quick bike ride.  Boring.

Is it AWESOME  Yeah, it totally is awesome, because that means that I am developing a habit of cardio work on a regular basis.

It's not as exciting as a huge milestone race (which has been a motivator in the past).

It's not necessarily resulting in weight loss (I'm intentionally not tracking my weight right now).

But I can feel that I am getting stronger and getting used to the routine of exercising.

It's turning out to be a great month.

Big Clyde

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tragedy in Japan

We are all seeing the coverage.  I feel like I am in shock.  It is difficult to get my head around the devastation affecting the people and the nation as a whole.  Entire towns have disappeared, washed away by the tsunami.  4.4 million houses are without electricity.  1.4 million houses without water.  Humans cannot survive longer than 3-4 days without water.

I encourage you to consider a donation to the American Red Cross or Samaritan's Purse to give some much needed aid.  Both of these organizations have been helping on the ground in Japan since last weekend.

Forgive me for some personal reflections here.  I know that some people hate it when people add their personal experiences to external tragedies, but I am going to do it anyway.

I lived in Japan for about 6 months in 1987.  I was an exchange student in college and majored in Japanese.  Then, between 1990 and 1998, I travelled extensively throughout Japan for business by train and even private plane.  I really had a good time in Japan, making many close friendships there during my college days.  Over time, I have lost contact with those friends and now I wish I knew if they were okay.

I remember being in Sendai, the largest city hit by the earthquake and tsunami.  It is a beautiful area with an easy-going vibe.  It felt to me like a cross between Seattle and the dairylands of Wisconsin.  I wonder if it will ever be the same.

One of the characteristics of the Japanese people is customer service, service to others.  They are an island-nation, accustomed to taking care of each other.  I keep thinking of how all Japanese people, even those living in the far southern regions are going to be devasted by this tragedy in the northern half.

Finally, I just wanted to share a haunting image that is likely the most famous piece of Japanese art.   It is called Hokusai's Great Wave Off Kanagawa, published sometime between 1830 and 1833.  I had a poster of this in my house when I lived in Japan.  It depicts a huge wave, overcoming boats of Japanese people with Mt. Fuji in the distance.

Hokusai's Great Wave off Kanagawa
An art critic described it this way:

The drawing of the wave is a deification of the sea made by a painter who lived with the religious terror of the overwhelming ocean completely surrounding his country; He is impressed by the sudden fury of the ocean's leap toward the sky, by the deep blue of the inner side of the curve, by the splash of its claw-like crest as it sprays forth droplets.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Week(end) Recap

My last post hit Friday morning.  Busy time since then...

Friday (day) - Drive two hours to Phoenix (and back home) to grab some product from my awesome factory, who made three samples overnight for prep for a huge presentation on Monday.  Wife and I rallied our friends for a last-minute dinner gathering.

Friday, 5pm - After work, headed out for a quick run.  Did 2.2 miles, with a steep hill.  Short run, but was glad to get it in. 

Friday night - Got together with 9 other friends at a local brewery.  Good times.
Big Clyde likes a can of beer.

Saturday - Spent the day around the University of Arizona with the fam, while my daughter did volunteer work at the Ben's Bells Project

Saturday night - Did a 8 mile ride on the bike at an average speed of 14 mph.  Pretty fast for me.  My friend Jay suggests that my commuter bike, knobby tires and heavy tubes are slowing me down a bit.  My tires are nearly worn out.  When that happens, I'll upgrade to some quicker "road" tires.   Watched "School of Rock" with the fam.

Sunday morning - Church.  Sermon was on loving my enemies.  I am working on it, God.

Sunday mid-day - Did some work reports, got ready for big Monday meeting, then made a fruit salad for dinner party at Crazy Jim's house.

Sunday evening - Ran 3.8 miles before the dinner party.  Again, glad to get in some mileage on an otherwise busy day.

Sunday night - College Group meets at our house.  We kicked them out at 10pm.

Great weekend.

Mileage for the week: 
Running:  12 miles
Cycling:  17 miles
Worked-out 9 out of the last 11 days.  A definite improvement for me.  

There was no epic workout period, but I am trying to make something happen about 6 days a week.  Mission accomplished.

Big Clyde

Friday, March 11, 2011

Defying Expectations

Thank you for your feedback on my previous post.  You helped me answer a few questions that were bouncing around in my head.

My basic question was...are short rides of 9-12 miles (or runs of 3 miles) long enough to bring improved fitness and weight loss?  Those distances seem so minimal, compared to typical mileage amounts for endurance athletes.  As I type it again, I realize it was a pretty stupid question.  The answer is "of course...any exercise is good".

A co-worker and I met up yesterday afternoon. He is a field tech for our company, doing physical labor everyday, and he told me he is concerned about his high blood pressure. The doctor is giving him pills. I said "do you exercise?" He said "no, but I won't have to now, because I'll have the pills."

He went to say how fit and healthy I look (I've never had high blood pressure and we are the same age). I was surprised because I still feel so heavy. But he could tell that I am different now. He had heard about my cycling and asked what else I am doing. I mentioned that I am running as well. He said he "could never do that".

As I drove away, I realized that he was right about the changes I have made in the past year or two. My progress has been slow, but it has been steady. I am becoming an athlete for the first time in my life.

I have never been an athlete...not in high school, college, etc.  I don't have a burning competitiveness toward sports and that is fine with me.  I started this cycling (and running) thing just to develop some new improve my quality of life and prevent the illnesses that accompany that middle-age, sedentary, high-calorie lifestyle.

But I do like to defy expectations.  Throughout my life, I have taken on challenges (work, hobbies, skill sets, etc.) that others around me wouldn't dare try to do.   

This Clydesdale Project of mine defies some expectations, at least my expectations for myself.

Because among the people that I work with, and my customers, and many of my friends (most in their mid-40's),
  • very few of them have run over 100 miles in the past few months. 
  • very few of them have ridden their bikes over 1,500 miles in the past 18 months.
  • very few do cardio workouts 5-6 days per week.
If you are an endurance athlete out there, these might seem like small numbers to you.  But, considering that I am a "lifelong non-athlete" who is still close to 300 pounds, I am in a pretty elite group these days.  I can name only a handful of people in my life (outside of you, my blogging pals) that do what I do.

My pace is improving.
My monthly miles are increasing.
The fact that I am still exercising multiple times a week, month after month, is life-changing.

I will take breaks.  I will have setbacks.  I will likely be a middle-of-the-pack racer. 

But I am defying expectations and I won't quit.

Monday, March 7, 2011

March Rides in Like a Lion

Just a short post here to say that I have had fun on my bike over the past few days.  Nothing too dramatic, but I did some errands on the bike on Saturday, getting in about 12 miles, then Crazy Jim and I went for a short ride on Sunday afternoon for another 9 miles.  With Thursday's longer ride, that totals 43 miles so far this month and I am pretty happy with that.

I have written a longer post that I'll publish soon, where I am trying to sort out my goals for 2011 (I know, I am a bit behind).   I am trying to decide what my goals should be and what type of training I will need to achieve them.

My quick questions are as follows: 

1.  Will these short rides of 9-12 miles, done 5-6 times per week result in some weight loss and increased fitness?

2.  Or, do the rides have to be much longer in mileage or time?

3.  If the shorter, more frequent rides are sufficient, then why do so many cyclists focus on distances of 20-40 mile rides?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Biking Season Begins!

At least, it began for me this week.  I felt like a bear, climbing out of his winter cave into the daylight. 

Things this week went just as I figured they would.  My cold is pretty much gone now and Thursday morning, Crazy Jim and I went for our first decent bike ride of the year.  Crazy Jim is an awesome friend who started cycling with me last year and did the El Tour ride with me and my son.

So, we rode 22 miles (which included some strong hills) and it felt great to be back out there.

My eating was decent, but not great.  During my sickness and business trip, I was not very focused on eating well.  Consequently, I lost no weight this week. 

This week marked a new chapter in our family life.  My wife started a new job this week, which brings a new and great schedule to our family.  Other good things happened as well, and I feel like we can finally exhale and settle into a new phase of our lives.  (For the past year, we have been going through some turmoil in a few areas and it all finally seemed to move forward in a positive direction this week).  It feels really good.

I'll be riding or running today and tomorrow.  Mileage will be posted on and on the sidebar on the right. 

Big Clyde

Thursday, March 3, 2011

We Are All Lab Rats

Consider the common labratory rat, also known as  Rattus Norvegicus*.

That's me, on the left.

Lab rats are not volunteers.  God or fate caused them to be born or placed into a particular lab, where they would undergo certain experiments on their bodies or behavior.   Not all rats in the Rattus Norvegicus species are alike.

Some are bred for obesity. 
Others for hypertension. 
Others for calm demeanor,
or hyperactivity,
or strength,
or size,
or intelligence.

Still with me? 

All of these rats, though they are of the same species, are bred for different purposes.  Before they are a day old, they already have preferences and limitations that separate them from the other rats.

You know what I'm talking about if you've ever been to a pet store.  Take a look at the rats.  Some of them are running on that spinning wheel, literally going nowhere (and probably loving it), while other rats are just laying there, watching the spazz-rat on the wheel. 

I am the spectator rat, watching that spinning spazz-rat...wondering WHY he is running on that stupid wheel.

My point is this:  I did not choose my breeding or my dna.  My ancestry is a mish-mash of Northern European countries but the most dominant heritage seems to be Norwegian.  Ever see a skinny Norwegian?  This is a country that is known for their pastries (because their entrees are no delicacy, trust me). 

I didn't choose my dna and neither did any of you.

I have friends who struggle with alcohol.  They can't have just one drink.  One drink turns into 6 or 12.    I don't happen to have that affliction with drink, but I have it with food.

Yet, I have other friends who eat garbage, never exercise and weigh about 165 (yes, Crazy Jim, I am talking about you).  As a lab rat, maybe they were bred for different experiments that are unknown to me. 

Other rats seem to be super-rats.  Be honest now...some of you lab-rats out there have a natural appetite for speed, healthy foods or activity.  Some of you have always LOVED running on that wheel, right?

As a rat, what is in my dna?  Decent intelligence, a sense of humor, above-average height and an appetite like Winnie-the-Pooh.  I like to be with my friends, eat sweets and exercise as little as possible (which is why I tend to look like Pooh bear). 

And yet, I know that my brain is much larger than a rat's brain and we, unlike the lab rats, are able to make choices of what we eat and how we move.  We have freedom...we can unlock the rat cage and make our own choices. 

So, what's the problem? 

Here it is:  Some of us rats forget that we have that power of choice.  We have short memories and we forget that we can get out of the cage.  So, we wake up each morning, see that we are still in our cage and get ready for a full day of overeating and a comfortable chair.  We just follow along with dna and overeat or overdrink, or live that no-exercise lifestyle.

I am a rat, who is slowly and ploddingly trying to overcome my dna.

Anyone out there feel me?

Big Clyde

 *  By the way, it is a weird coincidence that the common lab rat is called Rattus Norvegicus.  Me and lab rats, both seem to come from Norway. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Quick Update

Still sick...but my energy is returning.  I just still have the hacking cough.  If it is still here on Thursday, I may break down and see the doc and get a Z-Pack.  (Thanks for the idea, J!)

No mileage or workouts since...2/16.  My gosh.  Feb totals were 7 miles on the bike and 6 miles on foot.  That might be my lowest in a year.  I think that I was so elated from my 10K race at the end of January and wanted to nurse a slightly sore knee and then, I just fell out of the habit.  Then, being sick for the past 10 days or so, I just haven't felt like getting out there.  I am ready to at least start riding the bike and if the lungs clear up, start running again.

Weight is up but still below where I started a few weeks ago...I have not been horrible, but not at all counting calories or trying to "eat healthy".    So, it's been easier to have a big bowl of cereal vs. making a healthy egg white omelette with veggies.  Combine those food choices with um, no mileage last month...and yet get some weight gain (at least, I end up with weight gain).

So, the iPod Touch...has now been turned over to my wife.  I have a new goal for this Saturday's weigh-in.  If I hit it, then I get it back.  See this post for some background.  By the way, Alan, I think that your comment about loss aversion is correct.  We value what we HAVE, more than what we don't have.   Ever see the look on a baby's face when you take away that favorite blanket??  That will be me for the rest of the week.  Got to drop some poundage quickly!

Work...has been busy.  I worked last weekend, finished my huge project yesterday and now I'm off for a quick business trip through tomorrow night.  Hopefully, I'll grab a long weekend starting Thursday (or Friday) and can get back to a decent schedule and some mileage.

Thanks for the encouragement everyone.

Big Clyde