Wednesday, December 22, 2010


This is a challenging time of year when it comes to weight loss and fitness.  Especially this year for me as the weather has been extremely uncooperative!  Now, I know its only a little rain, but its been 6 days straight of wet weather and frankly I'm not equipped or prepared to deal with this type of weather.  I do live in a desert and its not supposed to rain for days on end!

Add to that all of the holiday celebrations and treats and goodies floating around and I have to say I'm not where I should be right now in terms of my weight loss or fitness level.  This is changing.  I am resisting temptation more than I'm giving in, but when I do give in its wholeheartedly.  Instead of only one or two bites or just a small piece I use the in for a penny in for a pound philosophy and just jump in with both feet.

To try and fend off the worst of this I have been eating more fruit and more fat free yogurt so I'm not nearly as inclined to continuously partake of the goodies, but it is tough.  So many of the holiday traditions are built around food and goodies that its hard to be in the holiday spirit without partaking.

Added to the temptation is the fact that I love to eat when stressed and the stress level has increased with all of the grand kids in the house for the holidays.  I do love them to death but the quiet times are few and far between at the moment and that also sends me to the kitchen in search of "something."

The new year is a typical place for us to reflect on our lives and look forward to what changes we are planning on making going forward.  I am looking at my fitness and weight loss goals and have come to the conclusion that in 2011 I will loss at least 100 pounds and I will run, yes run at least one 5k race.  Beyond that completing my first century ride since the mid 70's MDA bikeathon and 2 triathlons will be a full year of accomplishments.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Just do it!

Here I am, sitting and reading blogs and posts and facebook updates by a bunch of totally awesome individuals like Cyn, Robin, Gene, Fatty, etc. and realizing that there is a lot to be said for the Nike slogan. It sums up the entire philosophy that most active people have is just 3 little words.  Sure we can plan and think about and fret over work outs and gear and conditions and time, but it all boils down to one thing - to have fun, to be active doesn't take all of that, all it takes is to "Just DO It!"

That's what I need to do. put all excuses away and get out and do it.  No more waiting for this or"I'll do that once I..."  I just need to get out there and do it.

Sure having goals and dreams and things I want to strive for are very important to me, but I know I can set all the goals and write all the plans I want, but unless I actually get out there and work on it and have fun, then I'll never get there.

I tend to worry about too many details.  I tend to allow myself to take the easy path.  As I was catching up on Gene's awesome blog, I ran across this post and I am taking it to heart.  I know he in uncomfortable with the whole being an inspiration thing, but he truly is.

So, from now on, I am going to just do it.

You might ask, just exactly what "it" is, and I can't tell you exactly, other than it is to be more active than I currently am.  It is to ride my bike at least 5 days per week.  It is to concentrate on eating the right foods in the right portions.  It is to complete at least one century ride before June 1, 2011.  It is to complete both the RAGE and Pumpkinman Triathlons this coming year.

Now I have to start planning on how to work this into the rest of my life.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Losing 10 Lbs by Christmas

Was reading the Fat Cyclist blog and Fatty (Elden) posted a contest for some cool swag he's had laying around his office:  To fight the tendency of most of us to gain weight heading into the holidays, he proposed a challenge to LOSE 10 pounds by Christmas (post is here: ).  Since I have decided to get back into the swing of things and really haven't, I'm using this as the perfect motivation to get my ass in gear and do what I need to do.

Fatty has been an inspiration with his wit and story telling allowing me to not only accompany him vicariously on his rides, but to believe I can do them myself.  Thanks Fatty!

Along the same lines I've also decided to rejoin Weight Watchers, actually strictly follow the plan and track EVERYTHING I eat and do to make it work.

Off to the trails!

Monday, November 29, 2010


OK, I have to admit it, I am definitely addicted to food. No I don’t mean that to be funny, I mean I am really addicted. Sure I need food to survive just like everyone else, but I just have to have more and more of it. I can’t help myself sometimes when there is a food I really like, I can’t stop eating it until its gone. This does not bode well for someone who has a sluggish metabolism and has gained a lot of weight which they are trying to lose.

This is where the Weight Watcher’s approach to eating fails me. It allows me to eat anything, literally, but I have to stay within a certain point total for the day. When it comes to those foods I truly love, this becomes problematic as my idea of a portion and theirs definitely do not agree. Their idea is usually somewhere around a cup to cup and a half of any particular food. My idea on the otherhand tends to be 2 or 3 times that for foods I like.

Let’s take cereal as an example. A perfectly reasonable amount for a serving is a cup of cereal and a half cup of milk. For most “healthy” cereals this tends to be between 130 and 180 calories and usually about 3 or 4 points for weight Watchers. Now, when I pour a bowl of cereal, I tend to p0ur between 3 and 4 cups and add 2 cups of milk. The simple math puts this way over 500 calories and likely 12 or 15 points. Obviously not a healthy amount to be eating at any given time.

Now, I normally try to stay sane with what I eat and have a decent amount of success staying within my daily allotment of points, but then there are days that I just go overboard and eat way more than I should, eat - food full of empty calories and just blow my plan out of the water. I find this happens more often on WW than it did when I was eating low carb. I also lost more weight on a low carb diet than I have even come close to on WW. So I’ve decided I need to go back to what works best for me and that is low carb.

My reasoning for moving away from low carb was that I thought I needed the carbs to be able to sustain exercise and compete in the triathlon. At least that is what I told myself and used as a justification. I have been doing some research on the subject and found that its just not true. A proper low carb diet can easily sustain me on long work outs and while competing in an event. So its back to low-carb for me.

Now I will be following the new Atkins low carb plan which stresses 10 to 15 net carbs of foundation vegetables a day. This is a bit different from the traditional low carb plan that everyone usually thinks of which is focused primarily on protein and meat with very few vegetables. I know this will work for me. I have to get in shape. The RAGE triathlon is coming on April 16 so I have 6 months to prepare. This time I will run during the run and break 20 minutes on the swim – just wait and see!

Monday, November 15, 2010


I’m beginning to understand the value of setting goals when it comes to my weight, exercise and getting healthy. My big goal for the past 6 months was to finish the triathlon. Achieved! Now I need to set another goal, look at where I am vs where I need to be and create a plan to achieve it. I also need to set smaller goals to help me reach my next big goal.

I have to admit that I never really thought past the Pumpkinman as far as what I wanted to do next. Sure I have these vague, general thoughts of riding my bike, losing more weight, getting healthier, but those aren’t concrete enough to allow me to measure my progress nor give me a target to shoot for. So, I’m debating what my next goals should be. Part of me Is leaning towards running 2 triathlons this coming year, both sprint distance. The first would be the RAGE in April and the second would be to do the Pumpkinman again in October. I have to admit that Pumpkinman is practically a given so I can see how I’ve improved year over year.

Using these goals I can set some additional parameters like being able to complete the various parts of the triathlons in better times than I ran at Pumpkinman this year. I would love to be able to shave an hour off my 3:30 time. I know this is a very aggressive goal, but with hard work I think I can definitely achieve it.

One area that is ripe for improvement is the run. I know that if I can at least jog part of the course I can shave 10 to 15 minutes off my 55+ minute time.

The swim is another area where a significant improvement can be made. By learning proper technique and practicing more than I did, I know I can do better than 27 minutes. I should be able to shave at least 7 minutes off my swim time.

The bike is the longest portion and therefore the area with the most room for improvement. I was fairly happy with my performance on the bike since it was almost 15 minutes faster than I had ridden the course just a few weeks prior to the event. Another 30 to 40 minutes improvement here would be doable as well.

Taken together, 15 + 7 + 40 = 62 minutes less time overall. This would give me an overall time of around 2:28. Definitely not the fastest, but a significant improvement from this last race.

Of course I look at what I did and how I prepared for the race and I realize that I could have trained harder and maybe hit these times for Pumpkinman. But no, no regrets, no second guessing myself. I finished the event. That is an accomplishment and something to be proud of.

Now it’s time to look ahead and set goals, large and small for the next event(s).

Monday, November 8, 2010

Back in the Saddle

Finally got back on my bike yesterday. First real ride since the triathlon and moving to the new house. I enjoyed it immensely. I only did about 10 miles, but I remembered again why I was getting up at 4:00 in the morning for a large part of the summer. Its fun!

I had thoughts of doing early morning rides up Blue Diamond Road to Charleston and then either taking Charleston to Blue Diamond or staying on Blue Diamond to Mountain Springs, until I rode out to Charleston yesterday in the daylight. The speed limit on Blue Diamond very quickly increases to 65 mph and there is a decent shoulder, but I don't think I trust the early morning drivers on that road. Too many in a hurry and not paying as much attention as they should. No, for my early morning rides, I'll be sticking to the approximately one mile loop through the neighborhood I mapped as well yesterday.

Weekends, when I can ride in daylight, are going to be for attacking the climb up to Blue Diamond or to Mountain Springs. I know Mountain Springs will be a challenge as its close to a 2600 ft elevation change from the house. Blue Diamond is only about a quarter of that. I look forward to the challenge of it, not to mention the downhill ride back home! :-)

One other thing I noticed is how desolate it is heading out in that direction. Ours is basically the last real subdivision on Blue Diamond. Once you are past Fort Apache, there are a few scattered houses, but not much else. this certainly allows the wind to blow with very little obstruction, not to mention some channeling down the canyons. It will be interesting to see how much the wind will be blowing here in the fall and into the spring next year.

I'm now planning on getting up at 4:00 at least twice a week and riding before work, just for the sheer joy of doing it!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Now What?

Now that I’ve reached my goal which pushed me to train for the last 6 months – completing the Pumpkinman Sprint Triathlon, what do I do?

Leading up to the triathlon, I had a goal, a sense of urgency that got me out there and training. I was counting down the time until I had to perform and it helped to motivate me – getting me up at 4:00 in the morning to ride and walk. Now that it’s over, I’m finding some of the urgency is lacking. Add to that the unknown of the new area since we’ve moved over the weekend and my motivation is almost nil. Sure I still want to ride, still want to walk, still want to lose weight, but the urgency is gone.

I had planned on taking the week following the triathlon off anyway so it’s not that I wasn’t planning on taking a break, I’m just finding it harder to convince myself to get up and ride in the morning. I read Elizabeth Waterstraat’s column today on No Excuses (read it here) and I have to decide to remove the mental excuses and get back at it. I still have a very long ways to go to get anywhere near healthy. Sure I finished the triathlon and that is a great achievement, but there is so much more to be done.

I need to learn to swim properly, I need to work on actually being able to run, I need to work on my riding so that I can conquer the climbs without stopping to rest. I would love to be able to handle a decent century ride without being the slowest person out there. These are all things I have to work on and it’s time to start.

Part of what I need to do is to look at myself critically and decide which area to address first. I know I can work on the running, but from many of the articles I’ve read it would be a good idea to shed some more of this weight before I do that so as to help avoid injury. The convenience of a close pool was something I took for granted now that I don’t have one. I should have spent more time in the water leading up to the event than I did. This is something I’ll need to work out logistically speaking so I am going to delay it for a bit as well.

That actually leaves my favorite activity, riding. Maybe the other reasons are just excuses for me to stay with the bike rather than swimming or running, but right now I’ll let them stand. My goal for the next month is to ride at least 3 times a week. I need to identify a fairly safe route near the new house to accomplish this. If nothing else I do have Saturday and Sunday when I can ride in the daylight hours, and now that I’m living near Blue Diamond and For Apache, riding towards or even to Pahrump seems like a very doable goal.

So, now what? – Get riding, that’s what!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I finished my first triathlon! It took me 3:30:39 according to the official timing, but I made it!

Now for the race report. This should be interesting as its my first race and therefore my first report.

I had planned on going to bed early on Friday evening to be well rested for the event on Saturday. My plan was to get up about 5:00 and head off to Boulder City. Well, I didn’t get to bed until midnight and was up by 4:30. I was nervous and excited and sleep just didn’t seem to be an option at this point. So I got up and got dressed and triple checked that I had everything ready.

Camelbak – Check!
Jersey – Check!
GUU – Check!
Towel – Check!
Shoes and Socks – Check!
Race numbers – Check!
Swim Goggles – Check!
Swim Cap – Check!

I had dropped off my hat, another GUU and some Powerade for T2 the day before at packet pick-up.

I figured I was ready to go. I just needed to throw my bike in the van and head out. Ok, one more trip to the bathroom before heading out.

As it was I got to Boulder Beach at Lake Mead at 5:35, just 5 minutes after transition opened. I knew I still had a few details to attend to. I had to mount my race number on my bike, affix my bib number to my jersey and make sure my tires were properly inflated. I accomplished all of these tasks and them took everything over to the transition area.

It was a very long and narrow transition area as it extended up the boat launch ramp for a good 150 yards. I was number 873 so I was over half way up the transition area. Once I found the correct rack, I racked my bike, set out my shoes, towel and Camelbak in preparation for the transition from the swim.
It was now 6:02 and I wasn’t scheduled to hit the water until 7:35.

I walked back to the van and decided I should have something to eat before the race. In the goodie bag from packet pickup was a Cliff Bar and some all natural chocolate granola. I ate about half the granola and the cliff bar but decided I definitely didn’t want to eat too much before the race.

While I was waiting they took the official water temperature and announced that it was 66 degrees. That was a significant change as the temperature the week before had been 78 degrees. It was interesting how many cell phone conversations I heard shortly after the announcement with athletes trying to get people to bring them their wetsuits. No wet suit for me. I knew how cold the water was as I had taken a practice swim just 2 days ago in this very water. I had thought it a little cool, but didn’t realize it was that cool!

My parents drove all the way from Michigan to support me in the race. My brother and his wife flew in the night before as well. I was waiting for all of them plus my wife and daughter to arrive to cheer me on. It was getting close to 7:00 which was the starting time for the long course athletes. I headed down towards the water to watch the start.

At 7:00 the race was on with the long course men heading out on their swim. At 7:05 the long course women started their race. Now it was only 30 minutes to go and it was going to be my turn. I was in the second wave for the sprint distance, the first wave being the men 39 & under.

Michele, Ilana, Mom, Dad, Bryon and Debbie arrived and I was glad to see they made it. There I was in my tri shorts, crocs, a Tigger t-shirt and my swim cap. Quite the fashion Icon.

The wind kicked up a bit and everyone else was cold, but I wasn’t feeling it. I have to believe it was the adrenaline flowing as I was just a bit nervous. Not nearly as nervous as I thought I was going to be though.

It was getting close to time and I thought one more trip to the porta potty was in order just to make sure. As I was waiting in line there was a mini crisis as several of them ran out of toilet paper. I was fortunate enough to find one with a limited supply left on the roll.

It was now almost 7:30 and the first wave of men was in the water preparing for the start. I knew I needed to start heading that way as my turn was next.

As the starter told the first wave to go, I started heading out into the water. The starting area was horrible. The bottom was uneven with rocks up to 8 or 10 inches in diameter hiding under one to two feet of soft muck and silt. It was almost impossible to walk out to a swimming depth. Most people got out to about 2 feet of water and sort of crawled or pulled themselves along with their hands until it got deep enough to swim.

As we waited they gave us our instructions – swim out to the first green buoy make a left swim over to the last orange buoy and then head back into shore. I stayed in the back of the field and a bit to the outside not wanting to get in anyone else’s way. I knew I wasn’t going to be fast and didn’t want to cause anyone else grief.

And then the countdown 5…4…3…2…1…GO!

There was a great thrashing and splashing and the swim was on. I started with a nice and easy freestyle for about 6 or 7 strokes and then popped me head out of the water as I still had no coordination when it came to breathing and swimming. I decided that no matter what I was doing I was going to keep moving forward. Weather it was a modified breast stroke, a back stroke, or swimming the freestyle with my head out of the water, I was just going to keep moving. I noticed that there were others near me in the water taking their time, resting not swimming nearly as fast as most so I took heart from the fact.

As I was concentrating on my own race I was a little surprised to hear the next wave start behind me. It was the Sprint distance women under 40. This meant I was already 5 minutes into my swim. I was pleasantly surprised that I appeared to be about halfway to the green buoy when they started. The first strong swimmers from the women reached me in short order and most of them were by me by the time the last of the Sprint distance waves started. There was a good deal of traffic around the buoy as I made the first turn and I made sure to swim out away from the buoy so as not to impede anyone else with my slow pace.

I was actually enjoying the swim. It wasn’t nearly as chaotic in the water as I had feared or heard, I think largely due to my choice of starting position and line around the course. Sure, there were a few times when I bumped into people or they bumped into me, but it wasn’t the free for all I’d read about.

I did notice a few people needing to stop and rest by holding onto the support kayaks and a couple of the kayakers asked if I was OK. I assured them I was and kept my slow pace forward.
I started looking ahead and noticing that I was getting closer to shore and it seemed like it was faster than it should have been. Then I could see and feel the bottom and I tried walking in through the very rocky and mucky shallows.

I almost fell a few times, but them I was out and on shore and there were people cheering for me and congratulating me on finishing the swim. I realized I hadn’t done as bad as I had feared I would because the Olympic distance swimmers hadn’t stated yet. I worked hard on the swim but wasn’t as tired as I thought I would be. That’s a good thing with what was yet to come. My official time for the swim was 27:01. This was the fastest I’d ever swum this distance.

I moved up the transition area to find my bike and was surprised to note that mine was the only one left on that rack section. Apparently everyone else around me had already transitioned and was riding along. I took my time drying off my feet and putting on my shoes and socks, putting on my jersey and my Camelbak and making sure everything was ready to go. I put my towel, goggles and swim cap into the gear bag provided by the organizers and started to leave.

I had forgotten to pull the drinking tube out of the elastic on the front of my Camelbak and so I started struggling trying to get it without taking it off. A woman coming along behind me saw me and stopped to help me with it. She commented that it wasn’t like her time mattered, but she embodied what I started to really notice during the bike and especially on the run – the vast majority of triathletes are really nice people!

I finally got everything sorted out, ate a packet of GUU and headed up the hill walking my bike until the exit from T1. My transition time was 9:54 for T1.

The bike course tend to be challenging right from the start as there is a pretty good uphill from the beach to Lakeshore Drive. I had ridden this myself just the week before so I was prepared for it this time. I had the bike in a low gear and was determined not to stop before the road. I made it onto the road without stopping and with some Support from my family as they drove by on their way up to T2 and the finish line. Here I am at the turn from the boat ramp road onto Lakeshore Drive.

I rode along lakeshore drive on the way to the turn around. Following the maps on the website the week before I figured the turnaround for the Sprint distance should be just after the entrance road to the Alfred Merrit Smith Water Treatment Facility. In fact they had us turn around at the top of the hill before that. I had a feeling this meant there was a change in the course. I had actually passed 2 women on this opening stretch of the bike leg.

It was pleasant going back down the short hill from the turnaround. There were lots of people on the course. As I headed towards the toll booth some of the other distance athletes started passing me. I was really quite amazed at how supportive and encouraging most of them were. Almost every person who passed me, and there were many, gave me at least a good job, or looking good or you can do it. It really did help me through the race.

As I cleared the toll booth and headed for the dreaded 8% climb up to US 93, I noticed there was a woman just ahead of me that we had been trading positions back and forth. At this point she was ahead of me as I had stopped for a quick breather and another GUU.

There was a volunteer in the road at the entrance to the trailhead for the Historic Railroad Trail. The Volunteer stopped traffic and had her go across the street into the trailhead to pick up the trail from this point. I was both relieved and annoyed.

I was relieved because that meant that we were able to avoid the 8% grade for a much more gentle one, but annoyed because I had written to the organizers questioning the accuracy fo the published race maps and was assured that the published maps were correct. They apparently weren’t, as we were picking up the trail much sooner than the map showed. This was a slightly longer route than up the side of US 93 and therefore why the turnaround was sooner than expected.

There were 3 women whom I more or less kept pace with the entire way up the trail from Lakeshore drive until Nevada Way.

I walked my bike up the trail from the underpass to the parking lot at the trailhead where we picked up Nevada Way. Ihad tried riding up it the week before and realized there was just no way I was going to make it. I used this as an opportunity for another GUU and to take a little breather. I then remounted and rode out onto Nevada way.

Heading up the last big hill was very tough. I had to stop several times on the way to catch my breath and again was amazed at how encouraging all of the other athletes were. As they rode by me they kept encouraging me. They didn’t know me but they really wanted to see me succeed. I refused to walk my bike up the hill and the women I had been pacing walked away from me as I stopped to rest going up the hill.

I did it, though. I rode all the way up the hill! There were a number of spectators near the top who were very encouraging as well.

Once I crested the hill there was a short downhill run into the second transition. Here I am coasting down the hill.

Family and friends were there to cheer me on. It felt great.
My time for the Bike was 1:58:20. The week before, it took me 2:20 for a slightly longer route, so I did very well.

I walked my bike into the transition and looked for my bag with my hat, another GUU and some Powerade I had staged the day before. I know it had been on the left side of transition but the numbers on the racks weren’t right. They had apparently rearranged things overnight and my spot was now on the right.

Once I found it and racked the bike, I took off my helmet and gloves, ate a GUU, took a long drink from the Powerade, put on my hat and was off to conquer the run.

One of the women I had been chasing up the hill was leaving transition just in front of me. I had thought I could pace her along the run as I did on the bike, but she had more run in her than I had in me. In fact I had no run at all. I literally walked the whole run course.

As I left the transition area there were my wife, daughter, parents, brother and sister in law cheering me on to the left and there was Mary who had urged me to do this on the right supporting me.

It was on the run that it really hit home how supportive and nice triathletes really are as a group. If I heard great job once, I heard it 200 times on the run portion of the race. There were high fives. There was encouragement. One of the runners even said I was his inspiration as he ran by. There was no way I wasn’t going to finish this with so much good will and support.

I have to admit the run certainly seemed longer and harder that I thought it would be. The course wasn’t quite as flat as it seemed on the maps. I had though the elevation change was under 100 feet when in reality it was about 100 METERS with the largest uphill on the way to the finish line.

With the course being an out and back, I saw the women I had been pacing on the bike after they made the turn around on the run. We gave each other encouragement and support. I know they all finished as they were ahead of me.

As I turned the corner and headed into the final stretch of the run, there were many many people clapping and cheering and yelling their encouragement. I neared the finish line and saw all my supporters cheering me on. I wasn’t paying attention to where I was walking and actually tripped on the timing mat on the road.

Down I went just 20 yards from the finish line. I wasn’t hurt physically except for a bit of road rash on my knee and shoulder. It was my pride that was hurt. I figure it gave everyone something to talk about. In fact, it was just as the announcer mentioned my name that I tripped, so everyone knew who I was.

I picked myself up, put my hat back on and headed towards the finish.

2 of the volunteers from the finish came out to encourage me and tried to get me to run it in, but there was really nothing left in the tank at that point. I did make it across the line. My walk is timed at 55:25, but I think that might also include the second transition as there isn’t a separate time for that.

I did it! I completed the triathlon. Everyone came running over and was hugging me and congratulating me. It was an awesome accomplishment.

My finishing time, as I said before, was 3:30:39.

I do have to say this was the first time in my life I had competed in this type of an activity, let alone exert myself for this amount of time.

I am a triathlete.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Getting Nervous

OK, its time to admit it, I'm starting to get excited and nervous about Saturday. In just 3 days I am going to put myself out there and let everyone see what I can do. This is a very new experience for me. I have never competed in sports. I was never on the football or baseball teams. I never did anything like track and field. I never put myself and my abilities on display for others to see and, yes, to judge.

I think that is the one thing that truly scares me the most is that I am allowing others to judge me based upon my performance on these specific tasks alone. I want to believe that most people won't be judging me harshly, that they will give me credit for the attempt (and completion), but there is that little part of my brain that says that may not be entirely true. That is the part I have to conquer and put aside. I know what I am doing and why I am doing it.

I know I am not going to be the fastest by a long shot. I know that its going to be a struggle to finish the entire event at all, let alone in any kind of competitive time. Would I love to be faster and actually be competitive - maybe. I'm just not sure that winning this event would be worth the increased level of training and anxiety and commitment it would take to get there.

For me, now, the triumph will be to finish the event and not quit along the way. If I can do it with out being DFL - so much the better, but even if I am DFL I know that I will have accomplished something that others have not and I will be proud of that accomplishment.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


There is training and there is preparation. Training is something you do to improve and gain skills. Prepapration is getting ready. Until now most of what I have been doing is training. I have been working to gain skills and improve riding the bike, walking longer distances, swimming. Now, though, its crunch time and time to prepare for the actual event.

To try and prepare and know exactly what I am getting myself into I have been doing several things:

I have been reviewing the event materials to know what the course is, where I need to be and when, not to mention any requirements I need to fulfill (like having my ID at packet pickup on Friday to prove its really me!).

I have been reading blogs and forums written by first time triathletes as well as seasoned veterans to glean as much information as possible as to what I will be experiencing.

I have attempted (and will do it again) riding the actual bike course to know what torture I face.

I have picked up a Camelbak and new bike gloves to stay hydrated and hopefully alleviate some of the pain and numbness I get in my hands when riding more than a few miles.

I picked up some shotbloks and GUU to try and see how my system tolerates them and if they actually help my energy level over a long workout.

As you can imagine, many of these preparations are flowing from the reading and discussing I've been doing about completing my first triathlon. While I believe all of this preparation will help on race day, its truly crunch time and I am beginning to feel nervous and excited. I am beginning to second guess myself and wonder if I can truly complete this monumental task. I have underestimated the difficulty of tasks in the past and I hope to not do this here. I would rather think this will be harder than it turns out to be, but I'm not holding my breath. Its the invincible optimist in me that is saying "don't worry about it, you'll be fine!" I just need that to be relayed to the rest of my being and make it come true.

As more preparation/training I am planning a brick workout tomorrow with a 12 mile ride and 3 mile walk. This will be a flat course, but it will still be good to have the experience under my belt. I am also planning on biking the actual course on Sunday and this time I have researched the entire route and will make it to the top.

All of my training and preparation will be tested in a mere 9 days time and frankly I'm getting just a little scared. I figure that's a good thing!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Resilience (noun) speedy recovery from problems; the ability to spring back quickly into shape after being bent, stretched or deformed.

Its interesting. I’ve been reading various articles and blogs on a variety of topics - from triathlons and training to childbirth to Detroit's current economic woes, and there is one word that seems to be coming up more than any other and that word is resilience.

Resilience is what is needed to recover from a tough work out and improve your body.

Resilience is what it takes to bounce back from a miscue or misstep and continue on in a race.

Resilience is what a mother displays when she is able to start caring for a newborn after having just gone through childbirth.

Resilience is what has made and is remaking Detroit.

Resilience. A fairly simple word but its overall meaning and what it allows us to achieve are monumental.

Resilience. I hope I have it as I'm going to need it on October 23rd.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Its time to test myself. The Pumkinman triathlon is 4 weeks away and I have to be able to gauge, if remotely, if I think I can do this. My goal is simple, to complete the entire distance. For this, my first race, time really doesn't matter. So my thought is that I could run my own trio of events, all on the same day, more or less back to back, to see how I do. I figure with 4 weeks I can really try to address any issues I see coming from this test. Here are my thoughts the day before:

I have planned out exactly what I am going to do. I am going to drive to the Whitney Ranch Aquatic Center (approximately 10 minutes from home depending on the timing of the lights) and swim my 800 yards (32 laps). Immediately following that I would drive back home and transition to the bike. This is where some planning still needed to be done as I'm unsure as to whether or not I should wear my tri shorts in the pool (they recommend against training with them in the pool as the chemicals can have a detrimental effect on the fabric). My initial thought was to go ahead and wear them anyway, but that was subject to change.

On the bike I am going to follow my 6.15 mile loop through the neighborhood and beyond. I would do this twice to reach my required distance of about 12.3 miles. Tracking my time on this and the next part should be easy with my Garmin as long as I hit the right buttons. The second loop of this course takes me back to T1 which is also T2 (my house).

I would immediately take off my riding gear (helmet and gloves), put on my hat and start the run. This would be 3 laps around the one mile route in my neighborhood. I would stop my time when I finished the third lap back at the house. My thinking is that while this is basically a much easier course than the pumpkinman, it should begin to give me an idea what I need to work on over the next 4 weeks.

Now I hesitate to put this into writing because I am laying expectations for a specific outcome and making myself accountable for those expectations. Simple because I need to objectively see how I am doing and if I am progressing, I am going to put times to what I think I can do in these events. These are very rough estimates based upon individual event performance and not combining any of the events.

My estimation is to complete the swim in 32 minutes.It should then take 15 minutes to transition back to the house and get on my bike. My two loops around the longer course whould be completed in about 65 minutes. Give me a one minute transition back at the house and the run will be about 55 minutes. All together then I am looking at a total of 168 minutes or 2 hours and 48 minutes.

I am padding the times of the individual events from my best times I have completed them. If I matched those times, I would shave 9 minutes off the total giving me 2 hours and 39 minutes including 16 minutes in transition. Of course I currently don't expect to accomplish that because of the fatigue factor which is why I have padded the times. Tomorrow will tell...

Friday Morning

OK, for those who don't like to wait, I did complete all 3 events as planned in 2 hours and 56 minutes including my transitions. If I remove the long transitions, the times are 30:30 for the swim, 54:35 for the bike and 56:29 for the run(walk) for a total time of 2:21:34. As can be seen the transitions were longer than normal for a variety of reasons.

I hit the water at 6:44 am and swam my 32 laps of the pool. I was feeling pretty good about my pace and stamina. Of course then a real swimmer jumped into the next lane and was completing 2 lengths for every one of mine. This showed my how much work I really do need with my swimming technique. I was out of the water and headed to the locker room at 7:14.

It took longer than anticipated to get home, get changed and get on my bike. I had thought the transition would be 15 minutes, but was in truth 28 minutes. As I got rolling on the bike I realized that there were a lot of people out and about just before 8:00 on a Friday morning. Individuals heading to work, kids heading to school. There was certainly a lot more traffic than I was used to when I did my 4:00 am rides. I made a conscious effort to ride strong, but not overly fast when I started the bike remembering the biggest part of the test was to come. Overall the bike felt good. I thought I had kept a decent pace and wasn't killing myself. I had taken the time to put a PowerAde Zero in my water bottle and was grateful for that as I did the ride. Completing the 2 laps - about 12.3 miles in 54:35 was good since the last ride I did for this route was in 57 minutes.

I then rolled into the garage and readied for the run. this was to be a 30 second transition but turned into about 7 minutes. I stopped to get some fluids in me as well as took time to watch the grandkids before heading out. Even though I didn't get enough fluids, what I did get was vital. The first lap went well, but the second became very hard. My back started getting tight about 1.2 miles in, At the 2 mile mark I was just losing all energy and it was getting very difficult to keep going. I realized that I need to pay much more attention to both hydration and nutrition before and during an event. My lap times showed that I was in fact fading fast. Lap 1 - 17:05, lap 2 - 18:00 and lap 3 - 21:23. I did finish. It took 56:29, but I did finish.

I'm very glad I decided I needed to do this as it did give me a glimpse of what I'm going to be going through during the Pumpkinman. Sure I didn't do near the climbing on the bike that I will be doing on that day. This has given me things to look at and train for that I hadn't really comprehended. Having done the 3 stages of my personal triathlon individually, I really had in my mind the thought that it should be a piece of cake to do all 3. Sure I realized that it would be harder, but I didn't realize how hard. I know that I need more training on climbing and on the run and on proper nutrition so that I can be successful on race day.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Technology is a wonderful thing as long as we don't become totally dependant on it. A great example is my new Garmin Forerunner 305. Its a GPS tracking training tool which also comes with a heart rate monitor. What I am basically using it for right now is to track how far I've gone and how long it took and where my route took me. The advantage to this is I can therefore concentrate on the actual event (riding/walking) and not worry about having to figure out my pace or distance or time.

This is all great! Of course there is always the human element involved. I have to be outside and not moving when I turn it on so it can acquire the satellite signals. I have to hit the correct button(s) to start or stop the time or to mark the end of a lap. Its not a good idea, for example, to hit the stop button at the end of a lap instead of a lap button. This completely ignores the rest of the ride/walk and then no longer accomplishes the functions for which its used.

It is also unadvised to turn the unit on, just prior to getting on your bicycle and starting to ride, thinking it will only be a few seconds for the signal acquisition. This can take upwards of 3 minutes especially while moving! Again this then negates the unit’s usefulness in tracking distance, time and route.

Once the human element is performing the functions as designed, the unit is great, though! I've used it on my ride around Long Lake in Hale, Michigan, Riding from My brother's house along the bike trail to Lake Erie and back in Flat Rock, Michigan as well as to map my short loop through the neighborhood by my house and my new longer loop along Boulder Highway, Tropicana and Broadbent. (Click on the links to view the maps).

I am already thinking of many more exciting places/routes I want to ride to see how the unit performs. For example riding the Railroad Tunnels trail from the trail head all the way to the Hoover Dam visitors Center would be interesting. I wonder how it would handle going through the tunnels. I guess there is only one way to find out!

One thing this technology has shown me is exactly how I am doing in terms of riding and walking/jogging. I certainly can't call it running by any stretch of the imagination when I only do it in short intervals and the speed is very slow. The positive with the technology is that there is no fudge factor. It shows me exactly where I'm at and what I'm doing which is very encouraging as it also shows the progress being made. Too bad its not totally waterproof or I'd wear it while swimming. Of course that would be a very boring map with 32+ lengths of the pool all one on top of the other.

So, technology is wonderful as long as one learns how to use it and then pay attention to the results!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Swim

The alarm on my phone went off at 4:45. I didn’t need it as I was already up, but that’s an entirely different story. Today was the day I had decided to retry the distance for the swim for the Pumpkinman Sprint Triathlon, coming up in less than 9 weeks. The swim is only .75 Km which is 750 Meters which is about 820 yards. Since I now know that the pool at the Whitney Ranch Aquatic Complex is 25 yards long, that translates to doing 33 lengths of the pool to go the distance.

I wasn’t in a hurry to get going. I took my time making sure I had everything I needed to shower and head straight to work after my swim. Its great that the pool opens at 5:00 on weekdays so that I can get my swim in in the morning. By the time I double checked that I had everything and made it out the door, the clock said 5:00.

It’s a short 3.1 mile drive to the center and for some reason I actually made all 4 of the lights with perfect timing – not having to stop at all. I grabbed my bag and headed into the building. The parking lot had 5 or 6 vehicles and it was still very dark outside.

I checked in at the desk and the person stationed there marked off 2 spots on my punch card. I have to say the use of the pools and the recreation facility next door are true bargains. I went into the locker room and put my bag, with my clothes in locker 430 and deposited my quarter and took out the key, knowing my belongings were secure.

I then walked out through the doors to the actual pool area and say that there were 7 people in the pool. 4 older individuals in the shallower end of the main pool and 3 swimmers in lanes farther down towards the deep end. I headed towards the deep end intending to simulate the environment of the open water swim as closely as possible by selecting a lane with a depth preventing me from standing on the bottom. I found a lane at the 6’6” mark, and put my towel and glasses on the chair near the open door, looking out towards the activity pool. I took off my watch and started the timer.

Knowing the timer was running I wasted no time. I turned towards the water, took the 3 steps to the edge and dove in. The water was plenty warm and no shock to my system. It welcomed me and I came up and started swimming towards the far end. It felt good to be in the water. I tried not to swim too fast and get winded. One thing I know is that I have terrible technique when it comes to swimming. I am not coordinated enough to do 3 things at once. I did my version of freestyle down the pool, trying to work on exhaling into the water and turning with my strokes to take in a breath.

As I said I am not coordinated and I have to consciously think about what I’m doing with my breathing as I’m moving through the water. As such I tend to forget to kick as well. I can usually manage 2 of the 3 required actions for swimming, but not all 3 at once. I can stroke and breathe (sort of) or I can stroke and kick with my head sown in the water. Its all 3 – stroke, kick and breathe that I have trouble with.

When I got to the far end of the pool I taped the wall and turned. I made it a point to not push off the wall nor hang on the wall at all in order to feel like I was in the middle of a lake. I swam back to the other end and had completed 2 lengths of the pool. I took a quick rest (only 5 seconds or so) and turned to swim to the other end of the pool. I continued struggle with my rhythm and coordination and I’m sure it was not a pretty sight! I was quickly getting winded as I wasn’t breathing properly and I know my water position was horrible with my feet dragging very low behind me in the water.

One thing I did discover is that I was much faster and felt better swimming on my back. It eliminated having to concentrate so much on my breathing and actually allowed me to catch my breath while making progress because I could kick and stroke at the same time. Of the 825 yard I did, I would say that at least 200 were done on my back. I got to the 16th length of the pool and I know I was actually significantly better than my last attempt (where I thought the 16 lengths were 800 not 400 yards) and I kept going. My rests were getting longer and I was spending more time swimming on my back, but I was determined to finish the needed distance.

20, 24, 28…I kept swimming. As I took my quick rest breaks, I noticed the sky was getting lighter out the windows. I continued until I hit the magic number of 32. I knew I just needed one more length of the pool. Determined to finish strong I turned and swam for the other end, putting my head down and actually kicking some. Of course this didn’t last long as I ran out of breath and had to go back to my horrible heads up style as I gasped for air. I did make it to the other end in a decent amount of time. I touched and then moved towards the ladder 3 lanes away. The others who had been swimming in those lanes had finished and gotten out during my swim.

I climbed up the ladder feeling the weight return to my body. That is one reason that I think I like swimming so much – I feel lighter movement is easier in many ways. I walked over to the chair with my towel, picked up my watch and pushed the stop button on the timer. I wondered how I had done and I struggled to focus on the numbers on its face: 42:25.

I had completed the required distance in just over 42 minutes. I was tired. My muscles had definitely felt the swim, but the majority of the effort had been done with my arms and not my legs. I realized that my legs felt almost nothing from the swim as I had used them so little during it.

I considered this a very successful swim. Sure I found out exactly how terrible of a swimmer I am technically speaking, I was pretty slow for the distance when looking at the times from the last Pumpkinman, and my eyes were really burning, but I had actually improved over my last effort. I had done the 400 yards in about 24 minutes. Realizing now that it was half the distance and if I double it I get 48 minutes for the required 800 yards. I had beat that time by over 5 minutes. It also gives me a true baseline for where my swimming skills are so I can measure my progress as I swim more and more.

Feeling pretty good I took my towel and glasses and headed into the locker room to get showered and dressed for work. I approached the locker and went to take the key out of the little insdie pocket of my suit that was supposed to keep it safe. I pulled the pocket out and there was no key in it. Thinking I might have mistaken where I put it, I checked the other 2 pockets on the outside of the suit to no avail. I no longer had the key to locker 430 and all of my clothes, phone, keys, etc were locked inside.

I went back out to the pool area and mentioned to the lifeguard that I was going to look for the key to my locker as I had lost it in the pool. He recommended I go talk to his boss who had a master key for all of the lockers. I tracked him down and explained the situation. He said he had to head over to the rec center next door where the master set of keys were and would be back in a few minutes. Not wanting to waste any time, I decided to head toward the lane I had been swimming in to see if I could see the key. I wondered aloud to the lifeguard if the key would float seeing as it had the orange plastic at one end. He said he didn’t know. As he was walking to the station at the far end of the pool (they were rotating positions as they tend to do every 15 minutes or so) he looked down and found a key on the floor.

Apparently my key hadn’t fallen out in the water, but when I was out of the water and walking over to the chair. I hadn’t noticed and no one else had walked through there since. Fortunately a potential disaster was avoided. I was also able to intercept the manager before he left the building as he was assisting an elderly lady into the pool before he left.

I then showered, dressed and was on my way to work by 6:20. The sun had just come up and it was a beautiful morning.

All in all it was a great swim with several lessons learned:

1) I need to really work on my swim technique
2) I can swim the required distance in a reasonable (for me) amount of time
3) Never trust the inner pocket
4) Goggles – I NEED GOGGLES

The last is due to the fact that my eyes have been bothering me for most of the day having swum without them this morning.

Monday, August 16, 2010


I finally got a taste of some climbing on my bike. It was both harder and easier than I expected. It was harder in that I ended up in my granny gear much sooner and for much longer than I had hoped ofr. It was easier in that having the granny gear to use didn’t absolutely kill my legs. I was thinking that after the ride I would be absolutely worn out, but that wasn’t the case. Sure I was tired and my legs were a little sore (and my “saddle area” even more sore) but I wasn’t the basket case I had feared I would be.

The ride itself ended up being an out and back of about 12.6 miles. I had created an event on Facebook hoping to attract several people to the ride. It ended up being just Mary and I, but that’s OK. I realized quickly after we started that I was much slower than she was and I know that would also have been the case with anyone else who might have joined us. I do thank you Mary for your patience and encouragement to make it to the top of the hill.

We started just about right at 6:00 and the sun came up shortly thereafter. The first part of the trail was along the old railroad line to the boulder dam so it was gentle curves and an easy slope heading up hill. I stated a bit fast and soon paid for the quick start when some of the steeper grades arrived. About 2 miles into the ride was a short downhill section with some wicked, tight turns. Had to be hard on the brakes, but it was fun. That’s when gravity stopped being my nemesis and was briefly my friend. Of course just after the short downhill the climb really started.

The downhill took us from the old railroad path to the drainage along US 93. The next few miles followed the drainage path uphill along the road. It was nice and paved, but there was actually a little water in a stretch and it wasn’t nearly as smooth as I would have thought. Whether from the water eroding it slightly, or maybe it was designed this way to disrupt the rushing water, there were like ripples in the concrete. It was through here that my granny gear became my only gear.

We stopped for a momentary rest and to get a drink a few times on the way up. I needed to catch my breath and get feeling back into my hands. Seems the bar across my palms without gloves isn’t a good idea since I tend to lean on them so much. It was a lot of work, but we eventually made it to the River Mountains/Historic Railroad trailhead and then up to the Bootleg Canyon trailhead. Just after this, making the turn up the hill I was feeling it. I voiced my opinion that I was about done. Mary encouraged me and said we were close to the top and it would be a shame to turn back now. I agreed and I put my head down and just keep my legs pumping, turning the crank. We passed several cyclists heading down and I couldn’t wait.

I once again caught up to Mary who was waiting by a bench at the top and she informed me that we had made it within 50 yards or so of the top. Silly me thinking it was going to be a lot of work on the way back suggested we turn around and head down. Obviously it was the doubt and the hill talking as I only pedaled on one short stretch the whole way back to the car. What had taken an hour and 20 minutes on the way up, took only 23 minutes on the way down. Looking back on it after the fact, I realized that I could have gone on and made it all the way to the Railroad pass casino as I had originally planned. You know what they say about hindsight being 20/20!

I truly expected to be hurting from the relatively long climb. It was by far the longest, hardest climb I had ever done. Surprisingly I wasn’t. Not Saturday evening. Not Sunday. Not even this morning when I got up and rode. I do have to say my climb on Saturday has given me a new appreciation for the flats. I even managed to ride my fastest average this morning - completing 10 miles in 42:27 which equates to 14.17 mph.

My plan is to complete the ride I had mapped out at least 4 times between now and Pumpkinman. Every other Saturday you’ll find me at 6:00 in the morning, getting on my bike and heading up the hill from the trailhead near the visitor center. As they say – the only way to get better at climbing is to climb, so that’s what I’m planning on doing.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Too Easy

I decided it was time to assess my current swimming ability, so I got up early last Friday and headed over to the Whitney Ranch Indoor Pool at 6:00 am. My thinking was I would jump in and start swimming to see how long it took me to do the 800 yards I would need for the Pumpkinman Sprint Triathlon. I took my watch (with its stop watch feature), got ready, hit the start button and started swimming. I did the first two lengths with no real problem and decided to take it easy. I rested after any length I felt I needed to and completed what I thought were the required number of lengths (16), got out, hit stop on the watch.

I then looked at the time and was amazed that it showed a shade under 24 minutes. Now, I had been looking at the results from last year's Pumpkinman, at the C4097 division in particular. For those who, like me until I looked it up, don't know what that means, it’s the Clydesdale (men over 200 lbs) division for men aged 40 to 97. In last year's sprint there were 11 competitors in this category. Their average time for the swim was 18:19, with the slowest swimmer coming in at 24:19. I thought to myself, boy, this is not bad at all! Here, I hadn't trained for the swim, took several rests and I still beat the slowest time from last year's event for my division.

I was feeling rather positive about my achievement and things were really looking up for the Triathlon if I could do that without training, I should be pretty competitive with it. There was still a nagging doubt, though that I was that fast.

To make a long story short, I finally called the pool, after searching futilely on-line for the length of the indoor pool and my fears were confirmed. I hadn't swum 800 yards in 24 minutes; I had swum 400 yards in 24 minutes! Seems the pool is only 25 yards long and not 50.

Very mixed emotions. I was truly thinking that I had a chance to be competitive in my division until that bit of information came my way. Of course, now I know that I do have a lot of training to do in the pool and lake to get where I want to be.

I do have a race “pace” in my mind, without actually completing the various parts of the course in "race mode." My pre-race thinking is that I hope to finish the swim in 30 minutes or less, finish the bike in around 1:30 or less, and cap it off with the run (ok more of a walk with some intermittent trotting) in about 50 minutes. Throw in around 10 minutes for transitions and I'm hoping to finish the event in less than 3 hours. Seems very reasonable to me, but I have been wrong before!

I have been focusing mostly on the biking portion since it’s the longest and right now, the most fun! From my short rides of late that included a bit of climbing, I feel that I’m in good enough shape right now to complete the bike within the 1:30 target I’ve set for myself. The swim is my current nemesis based upon my results from the pool. Right now I’m thinking its at least 50 minutes based upon my performance. This is where I need to focus over the next few weeks to see if I can’t make a huge improvement. So biking is going to take a bit of a backseat while I work on the swimming and the walking/jogging to see what improvements I can make.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Losing Weight

From the title of my blog, as well as just by looking at me, you would assume that this is something I’m doing. I joined Weight Watchers. I’m riding my bike and walking. You’d think I was, in fact losing weight right now. Well, to be quite brutally honest I'm not. In fact I’m betting I’ve gained 5 or 10 pounds in the last month or so.

I could come up with several excuses. I could try to lay the blame elsewhere, but it really does sit squarely upon my shoulders. I have made the choices in terms of what and how much I’ve been eating. I’m the one who hasn’t been doing all of the exercising I should be doing. I’m the one who gets home from work and sits on the couch like a lump and doesn’t get up and do anything.

Sure, I could blame it on the heat. I could say that I didn’t mean to overeat. I could blame it on the stress at home and my automatic response to the stress (which is to eat). Of course going to the various buffets in town 3 or 4 times a week doesn’t help. Neither does the fact that I have no idea how to control my portion size. Beyond all that, though the fact remains that I haven’t been doing what I need to do to continue the journey to a new, smaller and healthier me.

I have not gotten on a scale in 3 weeks now because I know what it will show. I’ve even stopped tracking things on the weight watchers website. I stopped when I started realizing I was going over my very generous points allowance on a daily basis. I started using up the weekly points and the activity points. I don’t think I ever totally blew my points, but I didn’t want to see that after having been so good about staying within my points, I wasn’t doing so good. I started thinking about “cheating” by not listing everything or as smaller portions. Then I realized that this wouldn’t be of any benefit. Sure the numbers on the site would look good, but I would be only cheating myself and that was pointless.

Part of my loss of focus is the fact the 2 weight loss competitions that I was competing in ended. The company’s Lose to Win and the corporate challenge Biggest Winner competitions did help to motivate me because it gave me that added accountability an dangled a “carrot” in front of me. Since they have ended I have lost some of my focus in that I have been looking more at the triathlon and not at weight loss. Of course if I were working harder at my triathlon training, the weight loss would probably follow.

There again is part of the issue – “probably follow.” I know if I am very conscious of what I eat, limit myself to what I know I should have on a daily basis, the weight loss will happen. All it takes it work and accounting for everything!

So I am here to let the world know that I am going to restart the weight loss and start to really focus on my eating as well as my activity so that I can shed more of the excess baggage I’ve been carrying around for a very long time.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Great ride!

OK, I finally rode outside my subdivision on Saturday morning and it was a great ride. Thank you Cyn for organizing a ride and remembering us newbies!

I synched up with Robin at the Equestrian access to the River Mountain Loop Trail in Henderson. I was a bit early and was amazed at all of the people up before 6:00 AM heading out to ride. We rode an out and back counterclockwise on the trail. It took us past the Railroad Pass Casino and all the way to the Veteran's home. We stopped there and used that as our landmark for later mapping to figure out how far we'd gone as neither of us had a GPS or bike computer.

I later put it into and here is what I got:

It was an great time for 3 reasons. First it was great seeing new scenery and spreading my wings beyond the confines of my neighborhood training loop. Second it was awesome riding with someone else as it helped distract you with conversation. Third it was feeling connected to a larger community through the other riders.

I enjoyed it so much, I am planning a ride in my head which goes from the same starting point at equestrian, through Boulder City and down to the visitor center at Lake Mead where it intersects the Railroad Tunnels Trail. Then turn around and head back. I haven't mapped it yet to figure out the distance, but I know it will be a challenge. One great thing will be that the climb up from the visitor's center will be part of the route for Pumpkinman in October.

Hmm... a Labor day weekend ride sounds really good! Anyone want to do it?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Twelve and a half weeks...

and counting. I just realized, looking at the calendar that I only have 12 and a half weeks until the Pumpkinman Triathlon on October 23.

Twelve and a half weeks.

On one hand it seems like a long time to wait to find out something. On the other it certainly doesn't seem long enough to prepare.

Twelve and a half weeks.

Its funny. When I first thought about, and then decided, to complete this triathlon I went looking for information on how I should train. I found 8 week training plans. I found 10 week training plans. I even found a 12 week training plan. At that point I told myself, I can do this on my own. I don't need anyone else's training plans because I've got all the time I could possibly need to get ready. Sure it was easy to say that then as I had over 24 weeks until the event. it would be no problem to slowly ramp up my training and be ready in time.

Twelve and a half weeks.

I now realize that my time is starting to slip away and I'm not quite where I had hoped to be in my preparations at this point. Between mechanical issues, the heat and my carefully constructed plan meeting the realities of life, I'm not in the shape I had planned to be in by now. I had planned to be riding 12 miles 4 days a week, walking/running 5 miles 3 days a week and swimming at least 500 yards 2 or 3 times a week.

Twelve and a half weeks.

Its now time to seriously reevaluate the training and put some realistic numbers in place to achieve my goal of completing the Pumpkinman Sprint Triathlon. Now, I have said that my main goal is to simply finish it, but I do have a certain number in mind that I would like to beat time-wise. Would I be disappointed to finish, but be beyond that time? A little. Would I be ecstatic to finish and beat that time? Definitely! Without a doubt.

Twelve and a half weeks.

I have started getting serious as I purchased a new (used) bike this week. Its a Univega Alpina Trail. Its a late 90's model, but it has lots of life left in it. I also love the additional gearing and flexibility it offers. I am planning on swapping out the mountain bike tires for street tires and getting it tuned up at JT's bike shop this coming weekend to make sure its good to go and will serve me faithfully. I rode it a couple of times over the weekend and find that instead of averaging 12.5 mph, I was averaging 13.6. A definite improvement which I think will increase by changing out the tires.

Twelve and a half weeks.

Its time to get in the pool. Its time to seriously start to increase my speed and distances on the bike and on foot. Its time to rewrite the plan and then stick with it.

Twelve and a half weeks.

That's how long before I will know if I did enough to prepare and conquer my first race.

Twelve and a half weeks.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Summer Heat...

Summer heat...
OK, its summer here in Las Vegas and its HOT! In fact the last 2 weeks have been the hottest stretch for the year. On top of that we've been very busy with heading to Michigan for the wedding, then watching the grandsons when Ilana was gone. what is all amounts to is a lack of training on my part. Unfortunately I've only ridden 3 times in the last 2 weeks.

I really think it has to do more with the heat than anything else. I mean when its 95 degrees at 4 o'clock in the morning as you head out to ride, it tends to discourage one from expending too much energy. Forget about doing any training in the heat of the day. I sweat just walking from the building to my car!

Now, I don't know if its a result of having been born and grown up in Michigan where 90's in the summer are rare and single digits in the winter are common, but I'm not well adapted to the heat. I would so much rather add a layer or two and ride in 30 degree weather than I would in 100 degree weather. I've been known to not wear a coat all winter in Michigan so you can see how my body is better suited for cold than hot temps.

Swimming isn't much better when the water is like bath water. I'm planning on heading to Lake mead over the weekend and doing some open water swimming (or flailing as the case may be) but I heard the water temp is 83 degrees at Boulder Beach. How is that supposed to be refreshing? Of course if the air temp is in the 112 degree range it is 30 degrees cooler...

Suffice it to say I am struggling to get my training in with the temps over 100 adn I'm trying to re-motivate and dedicate myself to getting out there and getting it done. I have just realized that the Pumpkinman Triathlon is a mere 13 weeks away and I have a lot of work to do between now and then.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Mobile again

The part has come in and my bike is back together and rolling along. Its amazing to me how much I missed riding when I didn’t have a working bike. I was without 2 wheeled transport for a total of 16 days. I had worried that I would be really starting to lose what fitness I had previously built up on the bike, but I’m happy to say that doesn’t appear to be the case. I rode 10 miles this morning in 48:06. That’s an average of 12.5 mph which is right where I was over 2 weeks ago. The great thing is I was able to increase my daily distance from 8 miles to the 10 miles as well.

When I got home I got Michele and we rode another mile together. This is only her 4th mile in many years but she is out there doing it! I am so proud of her for getting up extra early and going for a ride with me.

I’m starting to think that I might be becoming a cyclist as not only do I enjoy riding, but also reading about riding. I follow other blogs about riding like the Fat Cyclist and Cynz Adventures. Some day I hope to be completing rides like they do. Cyn just got back from a relay ride from Las Vegas to Huntington Beach! Amazing and awesome! When I grow up I want to be able to do that too.

The other thing about riding is that I love it just for itself and not just as a means to exercise and get healthy. It reminds me of back in my Boy Scout days when I would go on our annual canoe trips. You could feel a sense of accomplishment when you put your paddle in the water and pulled it back to make yourself go forward. I feel that same thing when I’m cranking on my bike – the direct benefit of my action. Its what makes me want to keep doing it because I can see that it gives an immediate return. Sure you get a return when you walk, but its just not the same feeling as riding.

I missed the wind in my hair, but now I’ve got it back and life is good!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Waiting on parts...

I didn't realize how much I enjoy riding my bike. I mean I hadn't really been on one for so many years that it can't be that important to me. Well it is and having mechanical problems requiring me to wait on parts from the manufacturer has shown me that. I truly prefer riding to walking, that is 100% certain.

Since my bike has been down, I have been walking in the mornings to keep the exercise and training moving forward. I'm definitely walking a lot more than I had planned at this stage of my training for Pumpkinman, but it has to all be good. I don't think a week or two without my bike will really hurt me in the long run as far as training goes, but I sure do miss riding.

My problem with walking is that it just feels so slow! I'm walking at a decent clip - 3.3 to 3.4 miles an hour, but compared to 12+ on my bike, its crawling! OK, sure I could start running, but I'm not quite there yet. I do throw in a few short stretches of jogging during my walk, but even that feels like plodding along.

I'm trying to figure out if the problem with my bike is a single defective part, or a symptom of abuse due to my size riding the bike. Maybe it wasn't made for the daily riding with 400 lbs on its saddle. Time will tell. The problem is that the retaining ring for the rear gears on the axle has split allowing play in the gears because they are no longer tight on the axle. I can see the part and even tried tightening it, but since its split its a no go.

The warranty department at Pacific Cycle (they bought Schwinn) was great. once I had the serial number and date number from my bike, Dawn decided to ship me not just the broken part, but a brand new entire rear wheel and gear assembly just in case something else got trashed in there. That was much more than I was expecting. Let's just hope this was a singular defect in the one part and not a symptom of larger issues looming.

Now, this lull in the riding has caused me to start looking at Craig's List at the used bikes section to see if there might be something for me to ride as an alternate. I have found a few interesting listings in a reasonable (cheap) price range. The problem is the timing of things and not really knowing if what I'm looking at is a reliable bike. So I have been afraid to pull the trigger on getting one. Add to that the fact that I don't know which type to get - should I get a road bike? a mountain bike? A hybrid? Do I want suspension or not? How many gears? What size frame? So many questions that I just don't have the answers to right now.

I am going to wait until the weekend to make a decision. If I haven't received the parts by then, I'm going to seriously look at what's available for little money and probably buy myself a second bike.

Oh how I miss the wind in my hair....

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A call to action

One of my inspirations for starting to ride my bike is the blog written by Elden aka the Fat Cyclist. He has teamed up with the Livestrong Foundation in their fight against cancer on several rides this year. I have become a virtual team member for the ride in Austin and am doing what I can to try and raise funds in support of this fight.

It’s funny, I tend to normally donate a few dollars to most of the fundraising requests that come my way, but I never really went looking for donations myself. I always figured that if I ever did put out the call, then those around me who heard would immediately answer and donate, even just a dollar or two. I have to say that I’ve found that hasn’t been the case so far.

I know there are lots of very good people out there and I know that we are all bombarded with requests on a daily basis, but I hope this is one that those who read this blog will respond to.

My wife’s mother passed away from lung cancer which spread to her brain. This happened before I even met my wife, but I was touched by it as it touched my wife and daughter so deeply having lost her.

My mother is a cancer survivor having had colon cancer and beat it.

My favorite Aunt who is a bladder cancer survivor.

A family friend recently had breast cancer and had a mastectomy and chemo and so far is cancer free.

These are all reasons that I ask you to please follow this url ( and make a donation to the Livestrong foundation to help those who have been touched by this dreadful disease.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Proud of my wife...

I am so proud of my wife. She got up early this morning and rode a mile with me on her bike. She started strong and was working hard by the end, but she made it! It was amazing having her out there with me. So far I've been basically doing my training by myself. Its been good and I am definitely getting stronger, but to have her along with me was really amazing.

Having someone share the experience definitely makes it easier to do. Its like sharing a burden where you don't have to carry it alone. Never having competed in sports, I never really understood the boost a person can get from the crowd and from their teammates. I can now see why having a personal trainer when working out in the gym is a big deal - they help motivate you and keep you going to in the right direction instead of giving in to your mental limitations.

I just want to say I Love You dear, and I look forward to sharing many more mornings with you in pursuit of our healthier, fitter lives!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

It doesn't get easier...

OK, I'm starting to understand the saying it doesn't get easier, you can just do it faster and for a longer time. When I first heard that I thought it was ridiculous. If you keep exercising it has to get easier, is what I thought. Now that I've been actually doing the exercising in the form of riding my bike, I'm starting to understand. Its not exactly getting easier to ride my bike, I can just do it longer and at a faster pace. It still takes motivation and a mental effort to get myself up and out and start riding.

The good news is that I've lost 6 lbs in the last week. I also managed to ride 40 miles and walk 2. I've adjusted my training schedule so that I'm planning on riding and walking on alternate days to build up my stamina in both. I still have to get my butt in the pool and start swiming laps. I had hoped to do that over the weekend, but everytime we got to the pool, it was too crowded to swim laps. I concentrated on doing some kicks and other leg work in the water just to make sure I was doing something!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Mental Image meets reality

This morning I decided I was going to switch it up and give my backside a rest for a day, so I chose to walk. Now the longest I have walked in the last 20 years might have been a mile. This morning I decided 2 miles was going to be no problem. My mental image had me cruising around my little one mile route and maybe even occasionally breaking into a jog just for fun. The reality is my body isn't ready for that yet.

I started out good and decided after the first 1/8 mile or so that I may have been a bit optimistic to think that I could throw in some jogging, but I felt strong and was confident I could do the 2 miles and maybe even 3. This feeling pretty much persisted until I approached the 1 and a half mile mark. At that point I started realizing that a good pair of correctly fitting shoes was definitely required. I also realized that It was going to be considerably more of a challenge to complete the 2 miles than I had ever dreamed.

The good news is that I did in fact finish the 2 miles. I actually didn't have much of a choice as I was a half mile from home when I was really starting to feel it. The bad news is how weak my legs felt after the last few steps into the house! I was also sweating much more profusely than I have been on the bike. I realize now that I really did start off with a much more aggressive distance for the walk than I had for the bike. The other thing that hit me was how slow it felt completing the 2 miles in just over 37 minutes which equates to better than 3 miles an hour, but still since its the same course I ride, it seemed very slow.

I have now realized that I can't be as casual with my training for the run/walk portion of the triathlon as I was thinking. I had this mental image that said 3.1 miles is no problem. I can just wait until much closer to the race to work o nit and I'm realizing now that I need to start working on it right away.

I am going to have to adjust my training plan accordingly. I need to be walking and then walking/jogging at least 3 miles a day, 3 days per week in the near future. I'll need to analyze the plan and see how I can make my adjustments. The other thing I need to get working on is my swimming, but that's a whole other post.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The training continues...

Last week I only rode 4 out of 7 days. My goal had been to ride 5 of 7 as I have been doing each week now, but with the days off and staying at the hotel for our mini-vacation I didn't make all 5 days last week. The wind didn't help either.

Starting Sunday I stepped it up again on the distance for the bike rides. My original training plan had me increasing from 6 to 7 miles per ride this week, but I was feeling good and actually increased it to 8. I did 8 miles yesterday and today as well. I really believe I could go farther except my butt is really hurting after 5 and 8 is about as far as I want to go right now.

I am going to have to explore some o[possible options like a new gel seat cover or changing the seat or angle as that is my main problem at the moment. My legs are feeling the work, but its not bad.

I've been tracking my training on Its a great site with lots of information for the reading. They have articles and forums which allow a beginner to ask the questions about their training and what to do/expect to get them into the sport of triathlons.

The one thing I'm noticing is that I really do look forward to my morning rides. the days I don't ride I miss it and feel guilty about not riding. Now I have never been an athlete nor trained for ANY sport in my life. That is one thing that is making this quite an eye opening experience. I've never really tried to push myself physically to do things and to increase my fitness - EVER.

I am hoping my current love of riding will continue for many, many years. I remember way back when I was riding in the March of Dimes Bike-A-Thons in my youth there was always one old gentleman who was in his 70's and he rode in every event. I want to be that person at that age.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

How can I say this?

Last Saturday my wife and I volunteered at the Aflac Irongirl Triathlon here in Las Vegas. It was an inspiring, tiring, slightly confusing experience.

It was inspiring watch so many athletes put their heart and soul into an event and complete it. The two 70+ women who completed the entire triathlon were inspiring. The 15 year old, whose bike was parked under our watch eyes, completed the race in good time and was inspiring that she did it so young. The woman who was 9 months pregnant and still completed the swim and the run was inspiring. (She chose not to do the bike for fear of falling). Seeing all of these women doing something that I probably couldn't do right now, was very inspiring.

It was tiring in that we were course marshalls stationed at the transition area and were responsible for directing the athletes the correct way out of the transition depending on what they were going to next - the bike or the run. Because of our stationing in this area we ended up standing there for over 4 hours. Now I have to admit it has been a while since I have stood ANYWHERE for over 2 hours at a time.

It was confusing in that as we directed the athletes in the right direction and clapped and gave them encouragement, a large number of them thanked us! It was something I just hadn't expected to happen. This is what I'm doing a horrible job of expressing: the emotions I felt for being thanked for doing something I thought was simple a small piece in a much bigger picture.

The good news is that Michele has said she might do this event next year. There is a lot of work to be done to get ready for it, but I would be very excited, proud and happy for her if she really did do it!

On a side note, I have been reading many articles and other online information for beginning triathletes and I have decided to change my diet due to the needed carbs for sustained activities. I have been doing a very low carb diet since last September and I have to say there has been a good deal of success on the weight loss front (this morning I got on the scale and it showed 409), but I realize that if I am going to start training harder and for longer periods then my body is in need of more complex carbohydrates. Therefore I am going to start following the weight watchers point system and guidelines.

Friday, May 14, 2010

All it takes is a good plan...

OK, I have been thinking all week about how I am going to get from where I am now in my fitness level, to where I need to be in October and I've come up with a plan. I've sat down with my computer and an Excel spreadsheet and laid out exactly what I hope to accomplish in the weeks leading up to the Pumpkinman.

Right now I am in week P minus 23 and my goals for this week were to bike 5 days going 5 miles each day. Check. Walk 3 days going one mile each day. Only one mile so far, but 2 days left. And to swim at least 100 yards. I did swim a few laps in the small pool in my complex the other night, but I'm not counting those. So this evening we are swimming again and I'm planning on doing many laps (I think one lap is only 13 yards).

At week P minus 18, my goal is to ride 5 days, 10 miles each day; walk/jog 3 days, 2 miles each day and to swim 300 yards one day.

At week P minus 12, my goal is to ride 5 days, 12 miles each day; walk/jog 3 days 4 miles each day and to swim 500 yards one day.

As you can see, I'm definitely not trying to rush things. My goal is to gradually and consistently increase my training distances and work on my times as well. I've looked ahead to the bike coourse for pumpkinman and realized that there is over 1200 feet of elevation change from the lowest to highest point with one grade at over 8%. I am planning on riding th ecourse from Boulder Beach up, into Boulder city at least twice before the event.

I would be glad to share the excel spreadsheet for those who might want to take a peek.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Another decision made…Pumpkinman!!!

OK, I’ve gone and done it now. I’ve actually told a couple of people that I am thinking about trying to complete a Triathlon in October. Specifically the Pumpkinman. Of course I will want to keep it short for my first one, so I would do the Sprint distance which is a 750 meter swim, followed by a 12.4 mile bike ride and last, but by no means least, the 3.1 mile run OK, in my case this is likely going to be more of a walk).

I’ve even taken it a step further and challenged my daughter to do it with me. She has said yes and has actually been to the gym twice in the last 4 days, but I’m not sure if her commitment will last. I hope it does as I think it would be awesome to complete this with her. Only time will tell though.

So, to make it official, and so there is no equivocating on my part – I am going to complete the Pumpkinman Sprint Triathlon this coming October.

I have to say that this Is truly a new thing for me – a public declaration of my intention. I typically like to do things much more quietly so if it becomes too much of an obstacle, I can quietly back out. This is different. I will complete this and you are along for the journey.
Being the geek/nerd that I am, I started doing some online research to find out what I should be doing in preparation for this event. I have found several training guides or plans, but most of them are for fairly “normal” people to get into shape to complete a triathlon, not someone of my, er…stature!

The good news is that I have 24 weeks between now and the triathlon to get myself into shape. It sounds like a long time, but I have a feeling it is going to fly by. I am thinking that I need to work first and foremost on my biking and endurance (according to Mary a large part of the bike leg is uphill from Lake Mead to Boulder City), then my swimming and lastly my running. I list running last because right now, knowing almost nothing, I figure at the very least I can walk the 3.1 miles to the finish.

This is somewhat reinforced by what the Fat Cyclist ( has said about his first Triathlon he recent completed (Ironman, no less!). Essentially his position is that a good cyclist who is a mediocre swimmer and average runner can in fact more easily complete a triathlon than a great runner or swimmer who is not good on the bike. It makes sense to me logically so that is where I will focus the majority of my effort – developing my cycling.

At this point, then I need to put together a plan that will get me from my current ability (or lack thereof) to where I need to be in 24 weeks.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The good and the bad...

The good news is that I rode over the weekend and actually increased my distance by 1/3 this morning to 4 miles. The bad news is that a childhood friend of mine had a massive heart attack over the weekend. Talk about a dose of reality jumping up and smacking you in the face. It was very close for him but they did get him help in time and he should, with work and dedication, recover. On top of a 90% blockage in an artery, they are telling him he is diabetic as well. Before this journey was mainly intellectual - I know I need to lose weight and get in shape for better health. This has made it an emotional journey as well.

Let's face it - that could have been me! This is a very sobering and life changing thought. I know that I need to make the changes I am to get into a more healthy body and lifestyle and I am now willing to truly invest in making that happen.

More updates soon...

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A conscious decsion...

This morning I got up at my new early hour for riding my bike before work, looked out at the wind and threatening skies and consciously made the decision that I didn't want to ride today. I ran through several justifications in my mind - "it's not good to work hard everyday as your body does need time to recover."; "With the coldness and the wind I might get blown off the bike," and other thoughts along those lines. Then I came to realize that it just didn't seem like it would be any fun at all. That is the real reason I didn't ride this morning. I know that's not a very good reason, but there it is.

Now I know that exercising and eventually training for an event are not always going to be fun. There are going to be times when I am going to have to fight through adversity of many types and just keep going. This is a fact that I know intellectually, but right now I guess I don't have the drive and determination to get beyond these small adversities. I am working on it. I do feel very guilty about not riding this morning because I let something as small as cooler temperatures and a bit of wind keep me from doing what I really should be doing.

You, good readers, are my sounding board and my tool for getting to the real heart of the matter. By putting down the words in this space it forces me to look at myself and cut through the BS and get to the real heart of the matter. Before I got my new bike and started riding again, I would read about these rides others are doing and think I was still that much younger, more fit version of myself and say to myself I can do that no problem. I think back to the late 70's and early 80's when we did all of those bike-a-thons for the March of Dimes of 50 miles and even the 100 mile ride from the State Fair Grounds in Detroit up to Flint and back and I still think I can do those types of things no problem! I envisioned myself getting the new bike and immediately jumping on and going for a 20 or 30 mile ride without a care in the world.

Well, reality has hit me square in the face! I'm not that same semi-fit person I was back then. I am a 420 lb out of shape 47 year old who when I got the new bike struggled to ride a single mile. This I will change. I know intellectually that it will take time and it will take lots of effort, but emotionally I am very impatient. I want to skip the work and get to the part where I can have a fun 30 or 40 mile ride and not even think about it.

Part of my inspiration is Robin Riding in the 100 miles to nowhere in just over a week. She is riding in support of Livestrong and I admire her for taking on that challenge. Before my reality check, in my mind I could be riding right along with her for the entire 100 miles No Problem! - not true! I will have to work hard to get myself back into shape to be able to take on that type of a challenge.

I know we must crawl before we can walk and walk before we can run, I just want to get there faster!