Monday, March 24, 2014

Track And Field Competition

Saturday was the day.  It was the track and field competition for the Corporate Challenge her e in Las Vegas.  I was signed up for several events and was determined to earn some points for our team as we tried to win an overall medal. I did what I could but not as well as I had hoped.

To get ready I actually went out with my Grandson's on Friday evening to throw the softball around and try to work on my form.  I knew that if I could get the ball up more, I could greatly increase my distance.  We headed out to a local park and found an open ball field.  I started at the pitcher's mound, throwing at the backstop.  The first few throws were line drives that hit the plate then went crashing into the backstop.  They were great if I was throwing out a runner sliding into home, but horrible for distance throwing.

I took my time on the next throw, not throwing as hard, but concentrated on getting the ball up.  Marked improvement.  A few more throws and I was hitting the back stop about 4 or 5 feet in the air.  Now, I only had 4 balls to work with so after every 4 throws the grandsons were playing ball retrievers and then taking their turns to throw.  At 6 and 8 years old they were getting pretty good.

I then decided to move out to second base, again throwing towards the plate.  The first throw from here I was back to a line drive because I was throwing too hard.  It barely made the plate.  The next couple of throws I eased off and got good altitude on the throws and eventually hit the backstop about 3 feet up.  At this point my shoulder was getting sore so I knew better than to keep throwing with the competition the next day.  I felt I was ready.

Saturday morning we were up early and out for a decent breakfast before the event.  I had the ham bacon, sausage and cheddar omelet.  It was good and I was ready to go.  We had the 2 youngest Grandsons with us again and headed to Rancho High School, the site of the competition.  I was amazed at how many people were there.

Now, I was never an athlete in high school so I never went to any of our athletic competitions. I had no idea what to expect.  It was impressive to me how they were able to handle so many athletes in so many events and keep it all straight.  There was an army of volunteers doing everything from check in to measuring and officiating on the various events.

There were 3 divisions of companies competing in each of 7 events - 4 running, the softball throw, the shot put and the long jump.  Fortunately for me the Division A softball throw was one of the first events and the shot put one of the second..  After checking in at the registration table, I met up with several of my team mates and we started reviewing where we were at and organizing ourselves for the competition.  I found out that the Captains had actually signed me up for 4 events just in case I could compete.  Besides the Softball Throw and Shot put I was listed for the Long Jump and the 100 yard dash.

There was no way I was doing either of those events, but it was nice to have the option.  I had actually toyed with the idea of trying the long jump but thought better of it once I saw them competing.

I had brought the softballs and did a few warm up throws with the grandsons to keep them occupied and to loosen up a bit. We then headed up to the grandstands to wait.

At 8:00 they called the teams to line up for the first events.  I didn't realize how many people would be competing in the Division A softball throw.  Fortunately some teammates got in line not too far back and were holding our place.  I sat with my wife and the grandsons for a bit watching some of the competitors. There were a few who really launched the ball.  It was very impressive.

After the first few throwers I got in line with my teams and it was a bunch of standing and waiting.  The line was moving quite slowly.  I felt my calves and back tightening up and knew i should go sit down for a bit.  I can't stand just standing and waiting.  I headed back to the stands to watch some more just as they were calling the first of the running events - the women's 1600 meter.  I thought it was interesting that we were doing the softball throw in the center of the track while they were running races on the track.  It made getting to and from the events a bit tricky if you weren't watching what was going on on the track.

After about 10 minutes I headed back to the line with my team, bringing one of the softballs with me.  I figured a few throws to warm up while waiting would help to pass the time and keep my back from getting too tight.  We threw about 20 balls back and forth and I got back in line.  I was fairly loose and ready.  10 minutes later our team started their throws.  We were doing pretty good it seemed, but we really had no idea where we were in relation to other throwers in our age group.

It was finally my turn and I got to the table, showed my id and got ready to throw.  I hoped i could get a decent loft on the ball and not throw it in the dirt.  I should have been focusing on what I should do and not what I shouldn't as I threw pretty much a line drive for my first throw.  I was kicking myself as I knew it wasn't very long.  I tried to regroup for the second throw.  I did get a bit more loft but it was still fairly short.  My official distance was 74' 9".  I did what I could do for the day. I would have liked more distance, but it is what it is.

As I walked off the field Nick and Dillon said 'Good job grandpa.  You did your best."  I was feeling distinctly better having heard that.  We decided to head towards the shot put which was away from the track over by the soccer field.  As we headed that way it seemed like we were heading the wrong way so we headed back towards the stands and had a seat for a couple of minutes to rest my back.  As we were sitting we heard another competitor inquire how to get to the shot put and confirmed we had been heading in the right direction.

We headed toward the shot put about 9:15 and were waiting as the C division athletes were finishing their throws.  They were doing pretty well.  There had been a lady following us over towards the shot put and come to find out she was a C division competitor.  I overheard her checking in at the event and she is 70 years old.  I was impressed that she was even attempting the shot put.  She did her 3 attempts and ended up with a 13' 9" as her best.  I complimented her on how well she did and she commented that in college she had done 22'.  I was still impressed that she was able to do what she did at her age.

They finished up any C athletes that were around and closed the C competition at 9:30.  They took a couple of minutes to get organized and then started the A division 20 minutes early.  Fortunately I was second in line when they started.

When it was my turn I got to the circle and got ready to compete.  Not having measured our distances last week, I had no idea how far it was going to go.  I tried to concentrate on form for the first attempt and it seemed to go pretty well, but I knew I hadn't gotten the proper elevation.  On my second attempt I did manage to get it higher, but my follow through wasn't there.  It did go further than the first, though.  I decided to put everything I had into my third attempt and it was the farthest of the 3 but I knew it could have been better.  I ended up with a distance of 23' 9" which I thought was pretty good.

I had a good cheering section and Michele and the boys were cheering me on with each throw and the volunteers said I had the best cheering section for the day.  Thanks Michele Dillon and Nicholas!

Of course being second up for the entire division I had no idea how anyone else in my age group had done.  I was tired.  We were hot as it was a nice sunny day.  The boys were complaining they were hot, my back was getting very tight and I needed to sit down and enjoy some A/C so we headed on out not knowing how I had done in my events nor how we were doing as a company.

As of this morning they haven't posted the results online.  When they do, I will update this post.

UPDATE:  Results have been posted and I placed 5th of 5 in both events.  I'm happy with that.  I earned points for our team and helped us to take 3rd 2nd place overall! (There was a missing score on the worksheet)  Yay team!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Weight loss and dieting

So, since the first of the year I have been mainly trying to count my calories and basically eat healthier than I had been.  I've been trying to also increase my weekly step count which means an increase in my daily physical activity. I've been using MyFitnessPal ( to track my food intake and my FitBit ( to track my daily steps.  This combination has been working as I have gone from 470 lbs on January 1st to 429 lbs on 2/28. Now the majority of this loss was the fluids from when I was in the hospital.

Unfortunately as I got into March, I wasn't quite as disciplined as I should be and the Biggest Winner competition, part of the Corporate Challenge 2014 appeared.  Because I wanted to do my best in the competition, I was a bit liberal with the food and drink leading up to the initial weigh in on March 4th. My starting weight per the official scale was 440 lbs as detailed here. Since then I've lost some weight, but the results have not been as good as I would like seeing as this is a competition.

With that in mind, I have changed my eating.  Instead of simply limiting my caloric intake to 2000 calories per day, I have changed my diet back to a low carb one.  I started this only 4 days ago and I am already seeing very nice results.  I made this decision because this is a weight loss competition.  Am I going to eat like this for the long term, probably not.  I enjoy too many fruits and vegetables which are high in carbohydrates.

This is a short term adjustment to push for rapid weight loss. I know this is not a permanent change and once the competition is over, I will go back to a slow and steady, sustainable eating plan, but for now I am doing what I can in order to lose weight quickly.

Saturday is the track and field competition and I hope to do well in the softball throw and shot put but we will have to see.

The other thing I really need to do is to get on my bike and ride!!!!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Technique is important

On Saturday we had a practice session for the upcoming track and field event I signed up for as part of this year's Corporate Challenge.  We are lucky to have someone who has many years of shot put under his belt and is a patient teacher - Thanks Luke!.  4 of us met at a local park which actually had a ring and toe block so we could learn a little something about how to put the shot.

In my mind I figured - "no problem!"  I'm a big guy so I should be able to do this.  No big deal.  Well, this is where the mind outstrips the body's abilities.  Luke showed up proper form and in my mind I was doing it exactly as he was, but obviously that wasn't the case.  My throws were much shorter and I just couldn't get any rotation to go with the throw.  After about 30 throws I realized that with all of the time it was taking I wasn't improving much, if any plus my shoulder was starting to feel it.

At that point I stopped practicing as I realized the amount of time available between now and Saturday was insufficient for any real improvement.  How far did I throw?  I don't know as we didn't have a tape measure there.  If I had to guess I would say in the 20 to 24 ft range.  I hope to do better on Saturday, but not holding my breath.

What was really bad was attempting to throw the softball after the shot put.  I was terribly uncoordinated.  I was throwing line drives and sinkers like I was throwing out a runner sliding in to home plate as opposed to getting loft on the ball for distance.  The softball was too light after the shot put.  I was expecting more resistance and just couldn't get it right.  Add to that my back was tightening up and after 10 throws I was done.

The good news is that the softball throw is first on Saturday so I am going lighter to heavier and I hope that will improve the situation. I have to focus on form and technique and worry a bit less about power.

So I am practicing the motions without the shot - Elbow up, thumb down.  Shot tight to the face.  Use the opposite arm to pull your through to open up and then push the shot up and out with a finish flick of the fingers. Reset. Repeat.  I have no idea if this will help but figure it can't hurt.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

My 200th Post

I realized this morning as I was looking at the blog that I had written 199 posts since I started the blog almost 4 years ago.  For some 200 posts is no big deal, but I actually find it a bit amazing that I've found enough things to write about that I've written that many posts.  I like to try and keep things interesting here by not posting the same things over and over again.  Sure I could post daily about what I ate, how many steps I've taken, how far I've ridden and daily weigh ins, but I want this blog to be more than that.

I want to highlight the more human side of what I'm doing and since I have a relatively quiet life and have periods where very little exciting is happening, I tend to not write for a while.  Today, though I'd like to reflect on what I've done and been through over the last 199 posts.

I've ridden in various bicycle related events from the Viva Bike Vegas to the Tour De Cure to the Bike:MS Vegas Challenge and even a Corporate Challenge race.  Heck, I've even completed the Pumpkinman Sprint Triathlon.  Beyond that I've eaten right and lost weight only to fall off the wagon and gain it all back several times.  I've explored various tools for watching and tracking both my weight and calories, I have a Strava account as well as post all my rides to Daily Mile.

I have found friends through this medium of the Weblog and I appreciate all of you.  Thank all of you for reading, it does mean a lot to me to know you are out there even if you aren't commenting!

I am planning on continuing to share my adventures and I may give a bit more of the mundane details as I successfully conquer my weight and make a permanent lifestyle change.

Get on you bikes and RIDE!!!!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A short spin is better than no spin

Over the weekend I had planned on getting out on 2 wheels and starting to put in some decent mileage, at least for me right now.  Our 2nd oldest grandson was with us for the weekend and I had plans to get him out for a few rides to tire him out.  Unfortunately one ride is all we managed in the 4 days we had available.  There is no good reason why either, really.

We did get out and took a few laps around the block.  He was complaining after the first that his legs were tired, but he did manage 2 more before throwing in the towel.  After we were done and things put away he mentioned that he hadn't been ready to quit, that he just wanted a rest.  I must have misunderstood him then since i heard him say he was done.  Oh well.  That was on day 2 and I figured it was no big deal and we would get out a couple of more times before the weekend was over.

Alas other things came up and took up the time.  The next thing we knew the weekend was over and we had only managed the one 3 mile ride.

I need to change my riding habits and quickly as the Tour De Cure is quickly approaching on May 3rd and I need to get  some miles under my belt before it arrives.

I hope Winter relinquishes its hold and everyone is able to get out and ride!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

2014 Biggest Winner Challenge

This year I am once again the captain of my company's Biggest Winner team as part of the Corporate Challenge here in the City of Las Vegas.  Basically we have a 5 member team and the goal is to lose the highest total percentage of weight over the next 10 weeks.  Our final weigh in is on May 12.  Having participated in this challenge in the past I understood how easy it might be to "stack the deck" a bit in our favor by gaining a bit of easily loseable weight.  One of the easiest things to do is to drink as much water as possible the day of the initial weigh in to increase your starting weight.  Eating like a pig for a couple of days before and the day of prior to weighing in helps too.

I'm here to let you know I was very successful in this regard.  My Friday weight was 429 lbs. and my official weigh in weight was 440 lbs.  I got on the scale this morning at home and it showed 436.4 lbs.  My goal over the next 10 weeks is to lose one percentage of my starting weight each week for a total of 10 % for the competition.  Do I know this is faster than recommended as a good, steady amount to lose?  Sure I do, but it is a competition and not a lifestyle.  I do hope that the change will carry forward, though.

So, 4.4 lbs per week between now and May 12.  I know I can do it by staying focused, eating right and getting my butt moving!