Wednesday, March 31, 2010

"Rest" Day

WARNING: This post has almost nothing to do with fitness or weight loss, but you might find it enjoyable anyway.

So I completed my first full week of the new program, and I have to tell you I feel...just about the same. I had a few down days, and though I had been committed to not going to the fridge in my weakened mental state, alas I still found my way there for a couple of late night treats. I am still maintaining my weight, which is pretty cool, but I would really like to knock off a few more pounds before race day. Only 7 more weeks to go!

So again, Wednesdays are my rest days, and I was really hoping to get some extra sack time this morning before rolling out of bed. Katie got out of bed at 4:45am, and I thought for sure that I would be able to go right back to sleep. Unfortunately, that was not the case. I immediately began to think about my employment situation. I had an interview for a position yesterday, and I really did not perform that well in the interview. It's okay,because I could have never taken the position for what they were offering for a salary, but none the less I was more than a little disappointed with my performance. As I was answering some of the employer's questions I found I was struggling to find the answers I thought they wanted to hear rather than honestly telling the people how I felt. Essentially, I had a serious lack of confidence during the interview.

And I what I realized as I lay in bed this morning is that what I have to say is important. I am a customer service professional; I was put on this Earth to "service" people. That is not to say that I have been dealt with a life in servitude. What it means to me is that I care! I care about the experience of the people around me. If I am in a restuarant, I care about the experience that the diners are having. If I am coordinating a person's wedding, I care that it is the most important day of that person's life (at least up to that point), and I want it to be the greatest experience for them. I care about the people I work with. I care what people think about the job that I am doing; I care what people think about the company that I work for.

And this caring motivates me outside of my professional endeavors. I care if people are having a good time. I care about the people of Haiti, Darfur, and many other regions of the world. I care about the soldiers in combat theaters. I care about the homeless in my own communities. I care about what people are eating. I care if kids are being active enough to avoid becoming obese. I care about my family. I care to be around them for a long time to come. I care about my fitness, and I care about my run and bike times.

I have also come to the realization that I care enough to do something about these things. If I care about the homeless, I need to doing something about it (I do on occasion volunteer at the local shelter). If I really care to live a long life with my family, to get fit and lose some weight, I need to constantly be conscious of what I am doing and eating. And when you care, there are no "rest" days, there are only "do" days. Now, I am going to go out and do something. Tomorrow, I am going to do some more.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Redd Foxx and Licking Skillets

Friday was a biking day. I originally had thought I was scheduled for a 15 mile ride, but I was wrong; I was supposed to do a 25 mile ride. So I jumped on and mapped out my ride. If you do not know if this website, I highly recommend you check it out. It has completely revolutionized how I map/measure my runs and rides.

So I prepped up Roxanne (yah, the name really suits her), grabbed some water and nourishment(frosted strawberry Pop Tarts; they are my favorite), and hit the road. It was windy as hell, again! I am really not liking the biking in the wind stuff. About five miles into the ride I took a turn to the north for a nice long stretch down a country road. I passed a few farm houses, rolled up and down a few hills, and as I came to the top of one hill I looked ahead and there was red fox. Unfortunately, this one was not holding a Colt 45, but there were times during my ride I said to myself, "This is the big one! You hear that, Elizabeth? I'm coming to join ya, honey!"

This was the red fox I saw:

Now, I have mentioned that in central Illinois one gets to see a lot of wildlife, and for a second this one was just as scary as the skunk incident. Mr. Fox was standing right in the middle of the road. I was still a hundred yards away from him, but the idea that he was rabid and would like my pasty white legs for lunch did cross my mind. But the old adage held true; he was more afraid of me than I was of him, and he ran off across the fields for quite awhile until eventually, I passed him and he was able to go on with his day. It is amazing the things you see when riding a bike.

I continued on my ride, passed over the interstate, and eventually came to the next subject of this post, Lick Skillet Rd. I once lived near a road named Possum Trot in NC, and the rumor was that some pioneer had seen an opossum "trotting" across a trail and the name stuck. So I began to debate with myself about how this particular name of Lick Skillet came about. Was some pioneer so hungry that he was licking the last morsel beans from his skillet? Did he burn his tongue? If so, why not Swollen Tongue Road or Things-not-to-do-while-camping Road (that would be a long sign). I continued on my ride thanking God for modern conveniences and the debate of road names continued in my head. About mile 20 I thought about breaking out the Pop Tarts and thought, "Fat Guy Munching on Processed Pastry Road" would be a great name. I held off on the Pop Tarts until I got home, but the ride was awesome. 26 miles in 90 minutes, that's an average speed on 17.3 mph, not bad.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thursdays SUCK!

So, yesterday I told everyone about my workout schedule for the next 8 weeks. And I told you about my concerns for Thursdays because they include a short, hard run and strength workout.

Well, I must say my concerns were validated. I was very worried about the timing of everything, so I got up a little earlier than usual, 4:30am. Oddly enough, it took me a little longer than usual to get moving at that time, but I was on the road by 4:50am. I ran my 2 mile route and I was really trying to push it. A couple of times, usually on gentle uphills, my heart really started to pound, but I was still feeling pretty good. I did my first mile in 7:05. Not bad, but I had thought I would be a sub-7 minutes with as hard as I was working. When I turned into the second mile, the wind was in my face and the rain had started coming down pretty steady. It is very difficult to concentrate when you have rain and wind beating you in the face, and I struggled to keep my pace and form. I finished the run in 14:30. I am more than a little disappointed with my time on the second mile, but I am trying no to be too hard on myself. After finishing, I cooled down for a couple of minutes, went inside, and stretched.

Next I was on to abs. Katie and I are still doing the Ab Ripper X, and my performance was really starting to improve. I was able to complete quite a few of the exercises, and I may be a bit delusional but I thought I was noticing a difference in my appearance. This morning was not a good showing. I don't know if my legs were gassed from the run, but keeping my legs in the air for some of those moves was impossible. My reps were way down from where I was last Sunday, and I was having to take quite a few more breaks. When I was done with this workout I was soaked with sweat.

Finally, I moved on to my back/bicep workout. I have not officially transitioned shoulder work into these 2 strength days so I was improvising some sets into the routine. I was having enough trouble that I dropped some of the weight before I even got started. Overall, the workout went well, and when it was done I could not have been happier to have it over with.

As far as time goes, I was finished at almost 6:00am (Top Plays was just finishing up); just about 15 minutes later than usual, but I was able to make up the time getting ready.

And I have to tell you I am gassed. I don't know if it was getting up early, the workout, or most likely, a combination of both, but I am tired. And hungry, my stomach is really growling; I'll have to have my morning snack a little early. This being the first week of the new training, I am sure that my body will take some time getting used to the new normal, but until then I think I am going to struggle with some of this stuff.

A good note to all of this: Yesterday was my first day back to work since receiving my notice of non-reappointment, and I had a really down day. I know that leaving this place will really be a loss in my life. However, as Wednesdays are my rest days I also did not work out. And today after a nice hard workout, my attitude is far more positive, and I am happier overall. I know all the docs say "endorphins, blah, blah, blah" but maybe those crazy guys have a good point. Working out makes you physically and mentally healthier. Whodda thunk it?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

8 weeks

Update: A couple of weeks ago I had a post about the crazy March I was going to have (click_here ). I am happy to report that after 5 different birthday celebrations and a trip to Chicago, I actually lost a pound or two. That's right, all of that fear and drama was for nothing. I am an invincible weight loss machine, I will never be defeated. Actually, that is a complete lie; I was very conscious of what I was eating. I still indulged myself (i.e. beer, appetizers, and pizza at Giordano's), but I did not over indulge. I watched what I ate at other meals, and I worked out everyday. Thank you to everyone who offered advice on my situation, it was definitely helpful.

Eight weeks? The gestation period of the Arctic_fox or the amount of time until I have to run a 10k in the Kirby Derby followed the next day by a 46 mile bike ride for the Lions Club. Spoiler Alert: both answers are correct. (Warning: typical guy statement) Life is a miracle and all, but I think I will be the one working harder.

So, I have been pretty comfortable with the workout schedule that I have been using for about the past year and a half. I always run on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, strength on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and rest on Sunday (remind you of anyone?). I would bike when I could, but almost never on a set schedule. This schedule has worked well for me, but like any work out I have started to plateau on my weight loss and I might need a change of scenery.

The new plan started this last Sunday with a strength workout, then on Monday I biked in the hotel fitness center, and yesterday I ran 3 miles when we got home from Chicago. Most of that was just maintenance, to be sure that I wasn't gaining too much weight while I was out of town. Plus, it was really strange to be working out in the afternoon on Monday and Tuesday. Oddly enough, I think I enjoy working out in the early morning versus the afternoon, but I don't think I am alone on that.

Anyway, to the plan, I will still be running on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday with increasing distances throughout the 8 weeks. I had to stick with running on these day, as it fits best into the family's schedule. Saturdays are still my long run, while Tuesdays and Thursdays will beshorter distances with faster pace, hopefully. On Mondays and Fridays, I will be biking, also increasing the distance throughout the 8 weeks. Having regularly scheduled bike rides is a new thing for me, but I think I will enjoy it. I have decided not to count any rides to/from work as workouts. I don't really know why except that I feel like a ride to work is strictly commuting and a workout ride should include a little more sweat and effort. I have not decided how I will handle inclimate weather on the biking days. I still have strength workouts, but only two, on Sundays (Sorry God.) and Thurdays. Two concerns, 1.) this is one less strength workout per week. I am going to have to modify what I do now a little to get some shoulder work in with my chest and back work. I am going to drop legs altogether, but I think the runs and biking will more than make up for it. 2.) Right now, Thursdays are a run and strength day. The runs on Thursdays never get over 2.5 miles, but I am still concerned a little about the timing in the mornings.

Anyway, if I can't lose some weight on this workout schedule, something is seriously wrong. It should make for a nice long Spring. And as soon as this stretch is over with I will start focusing more on the bike in preparation for my 175 in June.

By the way, I am getting dangerously close to the 50lb loss mark. This will be my first time below 200 in like 7 years. Expect some long diatribe for this spectacular event.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Takin' this show on the road

So since my last post, things have been crazy. I, of course, struggle with my normal ups and downs of emotions while thinking about my employment situation. Plus, we have been trying to get ready for our son's 4th birthday party. While a child's birthday party may be a simple affair for many families, in our family it is quite an extravaganza. Plus, we have a trip to Chicago on Sunday. It should have been difficult to fit in all the working out, but with a little planning it worked out just fine.

Thursday after I got the news, I did go out to the local gyms looking for a heavy bag to beat on. Can you believe that neither gym had a punching bag? I was shocked and disappointed. But I did get on my bike (I am pretty sure her name is Roxanne, but I am still feeling that out) and go for about a 15 mile ride. It was nice. I took a new route through a couple of small towns nearby. The scenery was good, the ride was great, and I managed to push myself pretty good. It was something that I really needed. That night we met my parents at Steak n' Shake. I ordered my usual patty melt, fries, and chocolate malt, but I was good. I only ate half of the sandwich and fries. I finished the malt, but asking me to stop halfway on that is futile. Still, when I weighed in the next morning I was down 2 pounds.

On Friday, I still got up at 4:45am and did my strength workout. I had also planned to get a bike ride in, but I had a lead on a couple of jobs that I wanted to get a jump on. Between that and preparing for Alaric's party, it just never got done.

So this morning I got up at 4:00am (I didn't get home at 4; I got up at 4. I feel 80 years old) ran my 4.1 miles (A little slower today, 30:49, but still good), showered and made Alaric his breakfast in bed all by 6:30am. Then we had set-up, the party, clean-up, packing, and on and on. I had to ask permission just to come down here and tell everybody what is going on.

Now tomorrow starts my training program the 10k and 46 mile ride. I have 8 weeks to get ready and I am excited. I am going to get up early and do my strength before we have to finish packing and hit the road. I have a 10 mile hard bike ride scheduled for Monday. We will be in Chicago and I will not have my bike. So for what I believe is the first time in my life I will be using a hotel fitness center. I am sure that a lot of people use these things, but I usually am in a hotel to relax, maybe swim a little, and mostly stay as far away from the fitness center as possible. But their is a first time for everything.

I will have an update for everybody on how my March Madness finished out (I think I might actually finish the stretch having lost some weight, Yeah!) when we get back.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

You take the good, you take the bad...

... you take them both and there you have the fact that I was given notice today that I would no longer have my job as of August 15.
After my post yesterday, I had decided that I would stop with the fluff pieces about inspiration and my inability to swim. I was going to get down to the nitty gritty, and start talking more about my workouts.
I had known about the meeting to discuss my future employment and I knew that being dismissed was a possibility. I had decided I was actually going to use that as fuel for my morning run. It took me a little longer than usual to get out the door, but once I hit the pavement I was feeling pretty good. According to my normal workout schedule I was going to do a hard 2 miles. Before I even left the house I said to myself that I was going to do a hard 3 miles. But as I was going I thought about my fitness goals and the fact that I was running 4 miles by late last fall. I was also thinking about work. I was thinking how unfair it would be to let me go. I thought that it really wasn't a strong possibility because they needed me too much. And I thought about what on Earth I was going to do,if I was let go.
I was flying; I finished my first mile in 7min and 20 secs. In the next 50 yards is the split between my 2, 3, or 4 mile runs. I debated all the way up to the turn, and decided "F#$%, I am going to run 4 miles!" I continued to really pound out the miles, 15:07 at mile 2. I was feeling good, and I was still going over the upcoming meeting in my mind. I am rarely caught off guard in these situations because I usually have thought of every scenario I can be presented with, and already know my response to those scenarios. And this situation was no different. What I was really going over was what I wanted to say versus what I was going to say. I would love to tell these people off, but the fact is I need them as references, and I am responsible for my whole family. The ground was flying underneath my feet, 22:31 mile 3. For the last mile I started focusing on my form and pace. I focused on how my chest hurt on the uphills, but I could recover on the downhills. I wanted a good number.
When I was finally finished, 4.1 miles in 29:57, I felt accomplished. That was the fastest I had ever run, nothing could take that away.
I went to work prepared some notes for my meeting and a couple of hours later was told I was not needed after the summer. Talk about taking the wind out of my sails. Even for all of my preparation, I still was not fully prepared for the shock. I will not go into the details of the meeting, but I can assure everyone that I remained professional, and hopefully can count on them for good references in my upcoming job search.
When you are faced with any difficult situations, there are a flood of emotions. After reassuring my wife and my staff that everything would be okay, the emotion that I have focused on is resolve.

I will not allow this to define me.
I will continue to be a good and professional employee.
I will not go to the fridge every time I feel sorrow.
After all is said and done, I will be better off.

The really good thing, I am not going to allow this job get in the way of the runs and rides that I have planned for this summer. Now, I am going to see if the local gym will let me pound on their punching bag for an hour.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Besides being one of the best celebrity cameo appearances in any movie, this clip gives a glimpse into why I find Lance Armstrong to be a great inspiration. All the divorce/girlfriend/Us Weekly BS aside, you have to be a cold-hearted SOB to not find Lance's story to be inspirational. The man was literally lying on his death bed, his body wracked with cancer. He almost literally rose from the dead to the pinnacle of his sport, winning the Tour de France seven times. In the meantime, he managed to wage a personal, and global assault on cancer, raising more than $9,000,000 for cancer research and prevention. It is these kind attributes that I would love to emulate in my own life.

But I find a lot of inspiration in my life and on a few of the blogs I follow. I have already named my mom and my wife in previous blogs, but I would like to take a moment to recognize a few more.

Mira (friend and blog follower)

In the past year, Mira has been faced with tremendous obstacles in her personal and professional life, and like any of us Mira has had some extremely difficult days. She has faced the kind of things that would have sent me to the fridge 10 times a day, but instead Mira chose to deal with her problems in some wonderfully constructive ways. Mira writes one of the best blogs I have ever read. If I was the kind of guy that cried (and I do regularly), her wisdom while facing such daunting perils would have me in tears (and usually they do). Mira is not only an excellent writer, she is one hell of an athlete. Since being faced with these personal demons, she has completed a half marathon, a triathlon, and captained a 175 mile bike ride for MS. Her grace, perseverance, and determination are a daily inspiration to me.

Dan Malinski (a.k.a. cubicle dad)

Dan read a post about running the Chicago marathon on the Chicago Now website, and from that post has ventured into a life changing program for himself and his family. Dan, like me, was overweight. He also had a family history of heart disease, and with a wife and 2 kids at home, he decided it was high time to start taking better care of himself. With the help of Dave Wallach,, and Coach Jennifer Harrison, Dan has been working towards running in the Chicago Marathon 2010. The guy has lost almost 70 lbs in 23 weeks, and in his spare time writes a great blog about his journey, Dan is a tremendous inspiration as an athlete and a blogger.

Elden Nelson (a.k.a. Fat Cyclist, or just Fatty, my muse)

What started out as being a simple blog,, about a fat guy getting back into cycling, has exploded over the last 5-plus years into an international sensation, and one of the biggest contributors to the LiveStrong Foundation, ever. Elden's wife, Susan, battled cancer on and off for many years. Elden took the fight to the streets (and trails, and mountains, and seas), and began a multitude of rides, events, and contests to support cancer research and treatment. Sadly, Susan lost her battle with cancer, but Fatty fights on. And in doing so writes one of funniest blogs, or anything, that I have ever read. And I am not the only guy who thinks so. Fatty has won the best sports blog three years in a row (he is now a self-proclaimed hall of famer); the guy takes self-flagellation to a whole new level. When I am writing my blog, I try to, as much as possible, channel Fatty. If I can be half as funny as him, I think I am doing alright. Oh yeah, and the guy rides a bike like it's his job (it's not, but he does ride to work like every day).

This is a very short list of my sources of inspiration. I find inspiration all the time, on the radio or tv, walking down the street, or just thumbing through the internet. These inspirations are a driving force for me to get out of bed six days a week and get my butt moving. I think about these people when I am debating giving up on a run or a wind-laden bike ride. My life is not filled nearly as much as with obstacles and difficulties, and if these people can get out and get moving, so can I.

I am going to stop before I get too preachy, but I want to assure anybody who is reading this, while I may not have said it in this post, you are all an inspiration to me in one way or another.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Happy Birthday, Katie!

As many of you know already, Tuesday is Katie's birthday, and to celebrate such a momentous occasion, I am taking a moment to recognize her amazing presence in my life.

I have always, from the moment I met her, loved my wife. And throughout our 5+ years together as husband and wife, I have found so many more reasons to love her. But one of the biggest reasons (and it makes the most sense for my particular blog) is that Katie supports me and often times participates along side of me, on this journey of health and fitness.

Katie and I share many similarities. (Don't hate me, Honey) Katie and I were both overweight kids, and at times we have struggled with our weight as adults. Both of us were at our lightest when we met, and as our relationship grew more comfortable and joyous, we gained weight together. Katie and I share a love of food and some of the same "food issues". And I can tell you for sure, that I would not want to go through this journey with anybody else.

When I started on this idea of working out and eating right, Katie was right there with me. We chose a diet that we thought would work well for both of us. We started running on the treadmill in the mornings together (not at the same time, but you get the point), and when I decided to start running out of doors, Katie was the first one to follow me. We have both worked very hard to continue our weight loss and fitness goals. Katie was so proud of me when I said I would be running in a 5k, and when I announced that she would be running it with me (without her having any prior knowledge), she did not even bat an eye.

This is a picture of her on the last leg of her first 5K. You'll notice her left hand. The kids and I had been cheering her on and as she passed she is flashing us the sign for "I love you." (Or is that the middle finger; sometimes it is difficult to tell)

Katie has continued to be my rock during my workouts and struggles. She is always the first one out of the bed at 4:45am, and she almost never misses a workout. I cannot tell you how much easier it makes it on me to have a companion like this. She will claim to not be a runner, but every other day she is out there doing it. Not only is she up early, she watches our kids everyday. I do not care what you do for a living, there is no harder job in the world than being a stay at home mom. And she does it with gusto every single day. Man, I love her.


Thank you for being on this journey with me. Thank you for being my support and my companion. I love you with all of my heart. I hope you have a wonderful birthday.

All my love,


Sunday, March 14, 2010

I can't swim

As much as I complain about running and biking and working out, it seems amazing that I would even consider doing a triathlon. But the fact remains that I am considering entering a triathlon in the next year or two.

Now, I would never (let me repeat that), NEVER consider doing an Ironman event. The idea of running a marathon after swimming 2 1/2 miles and biking 112 miles seems more like punishment than achievement. However, there are much more reasonable distances for triathlons, and there are several that take place close to home.

I am intrigued by the Olympic distance (swim 1500m, bike 26mi, run 10k). See if you can follow my reasoning. I would not have any problem biking 26 miles. I started out the season with a 21.63 mile ride with heavy winds and little preparation. I really think this leg would be the easy part for me. With the the ride being as easy as it would be, the run might be a little less taxing, plus if you consider the training involved, I think I could be fully prepared to tackle the final leg of the race.

The real crux of the issue is the fact that I cannot swim. And I am not even for sure that is accurate. I do not know if I can swim. When I was like 5 years old, I swam a few lengths of the swimming pool in order to qualify to swim in the deep end. I remember it being challenging back then, and since that time most of my childhood/young adult years at the pool were spent chasing girls. I never participated on swim teams and I remember working out for a couple of football practices in the pool, but there was no real swimming involved. As parents, we take our children to the pool, but I spend the entire time either in the baby pool or in the bigger pool with a kid latched onto my neck. Every so often I get the chance to swim a few strokes, but with no formal training and no goggles it never really lasts that long. I never seem to figure out how to breathe. My eyes burn from the chlorine. And wrapping my brain around the whole coordination of arm and leg movements seems impossible.

I do consider myself athletic enough to be able to figure it all out, but that would require some practice. That is going to be something that is tough to come by. We have exactly one functioning pool in town right now, and that pool is in a local hotel. You can pay $5 to swim for some predetermined amount of time. However, can I get into the pool at 5am? Who else would be there? And it would require investment in some goggles and new swim trunks. I have heard that a wetsuit certainly levels the playing field because it gives a certain amount of buoyancy in the water, but talk about an investment, those things look like they start at $120.

After all of this investment, how long would it take me to train for a 1500m swim. That is almost a mile! A few months ago, I couldn't walk a mile without getting winded, and now I am talking about swimming one. It just all seems so delusional.

I may be getting ahead of myself. Maybe I should just concentrate on the races and rides I would like to do this year. If I really get amped up about it, maybe I can sign up for the Capital City Biathlon, (all the fun, none of the swimming). It would feel little bit like cheating, and the distances aren't quite what I would like, but at least it is a starting point.

I will have to keep you updated as the story develops.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Adventures in Clipless Pedals

So, as I stated in my previous blogs I got a new road bike and I was fortunate enough to get to ride it on Wednesday.

The weather here in central Illinois has been pretty horrendous this winter, but spring is starting to arrive and the temps have started to climb out of the cellar. Honestly I felt like that guy on the Kingsford ad,

On Wednesday, the temps got into the 60's, it was a bit windy, but I thought "why not?" I put on some of my new biking gear(bib shorts and jersey), got the bike prepped and ready, and I put on my new cycling shoes. Katie managed to snap a picture of me before I started

(Unfortunately ladies, that fat guy in the tight clothes and the pasty legs is spoken for; eat your hearts out.)

Now, I had stated in my previous post that my new bike has a few technological advances over my old bike, one of which is clipless pedals. I was a bit nervous about how I would do with this innovation. I had practiced a bit at the bike shop on the trainer, and felt relatively confident that I would eat it at some point. However, I successfully clipped in at the start of my ride and was off. I tested out a few more of the new functions on my bike, the computer, the integrated shift/brake levers, and I evaluated the weight to speed ratio of the aluminum frame. In my professional estimation, these accoutrement were far superior to their predicessors. Seriously, all of the bells and whistles are pretty cool and an aluminum frame is much faster than my old steel one. I quickly sped through town, past my adoring fans, and turned south on Airport Road (you heard me correctly; we have an airport) Earlier I stated that it was a bit windy. Turns out it was a bit windy in town, with gale force winds out in the country. I turned dead into the wind at Airport Road and thought, "@#%*, it is windy!" I knew I would be turning east in a quarter of a mile and figured, the wind wouldn't be much of a problem. For the next 9 miles I fought to keep a straight line as the wind pushed me off the road. Funny thing about being a fat guy, you present a very broad surface for the wind to beat against. I imagine it being very similar to driving a semi trailer in a crosswind on the interstate. Next came the gravy, I turned north for a 3 mile stretch and had the wind at my back. It was awesome. With out even trying I was going 24 mph, so I decided to really push it to see how fast I could go. The computer had my top speed at 31 mph; I felt like I was flying. It was by far the fastest I had ever gone on a bicycle. But the fun ended all too quickly and as I turned back towards home the wind felt like it would just throw me around like a rag doll. Now I had chosen to go for a 20 mile ride thinking that it would not be a problem (I was doing 35 miles last fall with little concern). Turned out it was starting to be a problem. I had quite a few stretches where I was going against the wind and uphill. My speeds were dropping down to 8 mph and I was getting gassed. I finally hit the home stretch, turned the corner on my street, and realized , "Hell, I still have these darn shoes on."

Now throughout the ride I had practiced with the shoes, using them on the upstroke, etc., and I certainly noticed a difference in speed and ability, but now I had to get out of these clips. I had the plan formulated in my brain: unclip the right shoe, slowly come to a stop, put my right foot down and unclip my left foot. Sounded easy enough and at the beginning off my ride I was sure I could do it. So I was slowing down as I approached my driveway, eased my right foot out of the clip, and immediately fell over on my left side. In a situation like this a few things run through your mind:
1. Did anybody see me? No, we are good/Yes, avoid eye contact
2. Am I hurt? No, good/Yes (and nobody saw you), start crying/ Yes (and somebody saw you), get up and act like you are fine, ignore any blood (It's just a scratch!) and cry when you get indoors
3. Is my bike hurt? No, great!/Yes, start crying whether anybody has seen you or not

Fortunately, no one saw me fall, I was not hurt except for some minor scrapes and a severely bruised ego, and best of all the bike is still in mint condition. I have a couple of days off and I hope to get out for another ride soon, but I will obviously need some more work on the dismount.

March Madness affectionate term for the flurry basketball tournaments leading up to and including the NCAA championship. While I enjoy this sports themed time of year, March includes a whole different kind of madness for me.

Between March 10 and March 20, we have 4 birthdays in my family(me 3/10, mother-in-law 3/15, Katie 3/16, and Alaric 3/20). I don't know what all of you do with your families on b-days, but we eat.

Yesterday was my birthday (If you have not sent a gift, late arrivals will be accepted) and after a healthy breakfast-in-bed of eggs, turkey sausage, and a banana, I still did my ab and strength workout. Then I was given such a wonderful treat, I went for an hour and a half bike ride on the new Felt Z85 (it was so incredible, but I will have more about this in a later post). When I got back home my mom had arrived and she brought a huge pan of homemade, from-scratch brownies. She used to make these for almost every birthday when I was a kid. They are to die for, so I had two. I could have eaten quite a few more, but I was trying to be conscious of how much I was eating. After we picked Alaric up from pre-school, Katie took me out to eat for lunch, and it is my birthday so I decided to indulge and I had a burger and fries. I didn't eat all of it, but I ate most of it (and it was gooood!). We then went to Bloomington and went to a museum and wine shop; they were incredibly enjoyable. Then for a finale, Katie took me to Destihl, We got a personal tour of the brewery from the assistant brewmaster, sampled about 6 different beers, and then we sat down for dinner. We had an appetizer, sampled 5 more beers plus another pint, had entrees (the sea bass special was amazing)and a free dessert, because again it was my birthday.

In all I probably consumed about 5000 calories. Thank God I went for that bike ride, but we have 3 more birthday celebrations in the next 9 days. On Sunday we have a brunch to celebrate all 4 birthdays in March, then Katie has her birthday on Tuesday, and Alaric's is next Saturday. To top it all off, next Sunday we are all going to Chicago to celebrate with some friends and more family. How is one supposed to lose any weight when one has so much to celebrate? Sure, I can try and limit my indulgences, but I do not want to be disrespectful either. I would love to work out a little more, but who has the time when you are so preoccupied with eating? Do I just throw in the towel and pick up the pieces after the celebrations are all over? I am reaching out to anyone reading this post, please tell me how to make it through this gauntlet of food.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The long run

I have been talking an awful lot about biking, especially for someone who chose the domain "run4it-illinois". But running is probably the physical activity that I do most. I run 2-3.1 miles three times a week. Even in the dead of winter I was pulling this off nearly every week (if it was below 15 degrees I ran inside on the treadmill; this winter I did that a lot). Starting on March 21, I have a workout program to start getting me ready for a 10k run and 46 mile bike ride over a single weekend in May. With the exception of a recovery week, my runs will get progressively longer, I will have a lot more cross training with the bike, and every Saturday I will go for my recommended "long" run.
With all of this running, I have come to realize something: I don't like running very much. I mean it, when I am out there, I am usually trying to convince myself not to quit for probably 50% of the run. Sometimes if I am really pushing it, my heart feels like it is going to explode, my shins hurt, and my quads start to burn. I never feel like this when I am on my bike or in the gym.
Now there are 2 things I can discern from this: 1. I need to work harder on my bike and in the gym. OR 2. Running is a hell of a lot harder than lifting weights or biking.
I am going to stick with the latter, and that is why I run. I figure if it feels that much harder, running has got to be way better of a weight loss solution. Therefore, three days a week I roll my hind end out of bed at 4:45am, gear up for the cooler weather, strap on the shoes, and hit the pavement for a little punishment.
However, since I started really checking out some other fitness blogs, I feel like my attitude is changing a little bit. I have entertained the idea of doing a half or full marathon (I am not there yet; nobody get excited), I researched more specific training, and I have certainly checked out the proper apparel and gear (If you can't do it, at least look like you can). Shoot, I even went for a run on vacation (on VACATION people!).
And another thing has been happening through all of this: I don't dislike running quite as much. Sure, I still have the little aches and pains, but I only have to talk myself out of quitting maybe 49% of the time. When I am getting done, occasionally, I feel a sense of accomplishment. Today I even did my long run just because I felt up to it. Plus, I wore a stopwatch for the first time in months, and you know what happened...I had my personal best, non-race time on a 5k (23:33.94). That is only 14 seconds slower than my last 5k race, and I didn't even have anybody to chase.
Who knows if my attitude will change again, but I am going with my gut for now (it's bigger than my brain, so it must know more)and see what happens in the long run.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Reasons I love my Mom

There are thousands of reasons I love my Mom. She gave birth to me, fed me, taught me to love numbers (she's was a math teacher, and the reason I calculate to the hundreths place how fast I am running), and she always, always helps me to feel better about myself. After reading my very first blog post (check it out if you haven't already,, Mom sent me the following email.

Your blogs are awesome!

Remember, Brian, up through
kindergarten you were very slender. I bought you jeans in slim size


Thanks Mom. So there you have it, I guess I wasn't always fat; I had to learn about in school. Seriously though, this is the kind of woman Mom is. Always looking out for her kids, making people feel better, and loving them no matter what.

There is another reason I love my Mom. She is one of the strongest women I have ever met. My mom has Type 1 diabetes. She learned she had the disease when she was 18 years old. She lost her first child because of complications with the disease. She has had 2 retinal detachments, and she lives with the constant fear that diabetes may one day take her eyesight, or tragically even her life. It is difficult for me to even write about it. But my mom doesn't let it bring her down. Sure she has really bad days, just like any of us, but mostly she is determined to make the best of what she has been given. She is constantly researching the newest treatments for diabetes, even attempting a pancreatic transplant in the hopes of curing the disease (Sadly, the organ was rejected). She is very disciplined about what she eats, she exercises to ensure that her blood sugars are easier to control, and she is using her retirement years to see all of the things and places that she can. She has gone to Europe, DC, NYC, and Hawaii. She has convinced Dad start working out (he's already lost 5 lbs), giving him the chance to live a healthier life. And my mom loves my children fully and unconditionally. She even drives down to my home twice a month to watch the kids while Katie goes to work.

My mom and her strength are reasons why I am considering riding in one of the Rides to Cure Diabetes, , that and every fitness blog has to have some sort of charity they are working to support. I do not currently have diabetes, but there is nothing saying I still couldn't develop it. My kids, God forbid, could one day develop the disease. I think this just might be the kind of fight I have been looking for. If I do decide to jump off that bridge, I hope you all will be there to support me.

Lastly, I love you, Mom!

P.S. Another reason I love my Mom: I am fairly certain that she is going back and checking my grammar and punctuation. Sorry Mom, I definitely did not learn that in school.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Dr. Doolittle

I have never ridden a bicycle in the city, but I imagine it to be dangerous, noisy, smelly, and for all its effort, not really very scenic. How much can you see, really? Mostly you have your eyes straight ahead hoping to not be run over at the next intersection and every building looks the same for the first 4 floors. So, unless you are stopping every couple of miles, I don't know if you really get to see that much.

Riding in the farmland of Illinois offers a completely different experience. I almost never see another car on my rides. The rides I have mapped out are on quiet, little country roads. However, if I do see another car they are usually going Mach 1, but because they quite literally have a country mile to see me, they usually slow down by the time they pass me. It is true that most of my scenery is corn and beans, but there can be amazing beauty in the "carpet" of green in a soybean field or tunnel of golden corn as you ride down a long straightaway. Every now and again you pass a magnificent farm property with a bright red barn and a wrap-around porch (I find this to be beautiful). But the most amazing thing about riding a bicycle in the farmland of Illinois is the wildlife.

I don't even notice so much, except for the occasional deer, while I am driving a car, but this area is teeming with life. I notice it especially on my rides to work. My place of business,, is located inside a 1500 acre National Natural Landmark. It is nothing for me to be riding in and see a raccoon or squirrel. I remember one day I was riding in and a blue bird (an indigo bunting, to be exact) swooped in and raced alongside me for about 100 yards. I felt like the bird actually looked at me (maybe even winked) and took off ahead of me, as if to give me a little jab about my speed, or lack thereof. As I continued down the road, I came across a family of ground hogs slowly making their way. I saw almost no surprise in their faces; I literally had to slow down so they could finish crossing. Just a few more yards ahead there is a clearing in one of the formal gardens along the road and there in the middle of it were 4 deer. All four of them took off down the road, not away from me, but right next to me. It was awesome. I eventually made it to work, got off my bike, and said, "I feel like freakin' Dr. Doolittle." Or at least like Ace Ventura, near the end of that second movie, when he breaks thought the consulate wall and all of those animals coming pouring in to stampede the bad guys. But I digress.

The wildlife certainly does not only exist near my work. I remember another time I was riding in the countryside, turned the corner at a wooded intersection, and up out of the ditch came this huge owl. I don't what kind it was, but I had obviously interrupted a midday snack of his. That owl was the first one I had ever seen not in captivity. But the best animal story was actually a little nerve wracking. I was way outside of town, pumping hard on a north-south road with the wind at my back, when out from the cornfield comes a SKUNK. The little guy was very cute and obviously had not seen me yet, but we were on a collision course for sure. I didn't really know what to do, so I stood up on the pedals and really started to pound, hoping to pass in front of him. He only noticed me as I was just about to pass him. He screeched to a halt, turned around, and put his back side in the air. I literally closed my eyes (not usually recommended while operating any vehicle) and prayed not to get sprayed. When I opened my eyes back up, I had made it passed the little fella with out getting hit. I tried to turn my head to see what he was doing (probably checking his shorts, if he had any), but there was no way I was going to turn around to see if he was alright. I was just thankful for dodging a bullet. I have seen Mythbusters; you can't get that smell off with anything.

So, no offense to you city folk, I am sure a ride along the lake is wonderful, but for me, a ride out in nature and amongst the wildlife is just the thing to refuel and recharge.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Baby Announcement

Katie and I (or probably just me) are so very proud to announce the arrival of a new bundle of joy to our home. My new bike:

It's a Felt Z85 and it is so sweet. Over the past year, I have really gotten into road biking. I had been a novice mountain biker when I lived in North Carolina, but the closest, decent mountain biking trail is about an hour away. With a road bike, I just strap on the gear and go. When the weather cooperates, I try to ride a bike to work. It really isn't that far (5.37 miles according to g-maps-pedometer, but who is counting). I have been taking the kids on a ride in their little trailer after work. And whenever time allows, and Katie is really good about giving me the time (I love you, Katie. Thank you!) I go for a good 15-30 mile bike ride. For the past year, I had been doing this on a mid-80's Peugout (Black Beauty) that Matt Brooks had given to me in NC, when he was moving to Hawaii. The bike was old, but still functioned alright. But with greater use, the bike really started to develop some nagging problems: broken derailleur, cable problems, and this terrible creaking noise in the stem when I really started pushing hard. All of these are repairable problems, but at what cost (definitely more than the bike is worth). I was also more than little envious of some of the new technology that has come about in biking in the 25 years since my bike was made. The Peugout has a steel frame, the shifters are located on the down tube and it has just regular old pedals. So I started doing some research (I will spare you the details and grandeur of some of the bikes I was looking at) and came up with the Z85. Felt is far from the best known bike maker, but in the end I believe that is to my benefit. On this particular bike, I have an aluminum frame with carbon fork and stays, it comes with Shimano 105 drivetrain (compared to the Sora or Tiagra of similarly priced bikes), and I was able to purchase a cateye computer, speedplay pedals, and road shoes, for less than some people pay for an inferior product. (To Felt representatives: royalties can be sent yours truly. You're welcome.) Now all of this did require a significant investment on my part. I decided to forgo any Christmas gifts in favor of cashola and, sadly, I was forced to trade-in my mountain bike (Altogether now, "Aaaahh.), but I had not ridden it in 2 years except for when the Peugout was on the mend. But look look at what I got for it (seriously scroll back up the page and look at my bike!). Full disclosure: I haven't even been able to ride this bike outside of the shop yet, but the weather is improving and one day soon, it will be ridden, oh yes, it will be ridden.
I have been planning on a 46 mile ride for the local Lions club chapter in May (this ride is preceeded by a 10K the day before)and in June, if all works out with work, I will be riding 175 miles in a single weekend. I am still keeping the Peugout for rides to work (who would bring their new baby to work?) and rides with a trailer attached, plus I never know if Matt Brooks will show up wanting his bike back.
Now, I know all of you would enjoy showering our new baby with gifts and I would encourage you to do so. Good gift ideas include: cloth diapers for wiping her down after a good ride, chain lube (it's like diaper cream for bikes), and maybe a nice soft blankie in case she gets cold.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Get up you loser!

I almost didn't get up today for my workout. I had all the excuses. "I was up late." "I didn't sleep well." "It's just the strength workout; it doesn't really matter." In the end the good angel won out, and I rolled out of bed at 5:15am (I usually am up at 4:45am)

I went downstairs, Katie was already out for her run (She claims to not being a runner, but she never misses a run. I think she is starting to like it.) I stretched slowly and before I was done, Katie was home. We went upstairs and did our ab workout together.

For our ab workout, we do the Ab Ripper X from the P90X program. Our neighbor gave us a copy of the workout, and overall I think it does just fine. There are 2 things about it that one day will get to me. First, nearly every workout is done with your legs in the air. I am not talking a couple of sets; almost every movement of the 349 moves is done with one's legs in the air. I get that this is probably a great way to work your abs. But as a beginner, I feel extremely uncoordinated, and darn it, it is really freakin' hard. After my first day, I thought my legs would fall off at the hips. It seems to be getting a little better, but I still feel like an uncoordinated slob while I am doing the work. Hopefully all this pain is working those sex...I muscles.

Second, I don't mean to be judgemental, but this trainer on the program is a complete dork. Before we even start the workout he says to an interviewer, "Ab Ripper X...I hate it, but I love it." What? Then he goes on to say during the workout, "We're halfway done (which we are not); what a bummer." Huh? Seriously, it's annoying. And apparently, P90X has this tag line, "Bring It!" Bring what? All you said was that I needed a bottle of water and a workout mat (Which I do not have, nor do I need). What exactly am I supposed to bring? I have also noticed in the infomercial for the Insanity workout, their tag line is "You gotta dig deep!" I don't think I really appreciate these tag lines. At most I find them entertaining and at the least I find them to be terribly annoying.

What I require is a little humiliation. I remember in grade school a girl was teasing me about my rotundness. She was so creative that she was able to use my last name in the humiliation. "Heh, heh. You're a 'Full Ton'" I probably went home and cried back then, but today I believe I would really use that humiliation as motivation to get off my ass and get moving (after first sitting on the little wench until she passed out). I remember the first A I got in a college course was a class that the teacher graded my first exam, a C, and wrote on it, "I just thought you were smarter than this." I thought, "You asshole; I am smart." I put down my beer, started studying, and aced the rest of the class and as I said got an an A in the course. The teacher later said that he would not have normally wrote that on a paper, but he thought that it would actually motivate me, and he was right.

So, I have come to realize what I need for a tag line is different then what most of these packaged workouts are giving me. I need the little angel on my shoulder while I lay in bed telling me to "Get up you loser!" " Move it, Fatty McFatterson!" I need somebody telling me on my iPod while I am thinking about giving up on that last mile, "Run harder you pansy! You're not dead, yet." Maybe its just the sadist in me, but that is the kind of motivation I need.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

What the hell...

I have to admit, I never considered myself to be the blogging type, but through the wonders of the Internet and peer pressure, I thought I would give it a shot.

I don't really know if I have anything really that interesting to say, nor do I think anyone will really pay attention to this one blog among the millions that are out there(it took me like 10 different domain names to find one that wasn't already in use), but I figured I had a good story and maybe at least I would enjoy reading it.

You see I have always been a fat person. When I was young I was a fat kid and as an adult I have been a fat man. I may not always have been the fattest because of not being able to afford luxuries such as Lunch, or maybe I was a little more active than usual, but inside every "not-so-fat" me was a fat kid just waiting to get out. In August of 2008, I was looking over the shoulder of a doctor who just told me I had to have my gall bladder removed, and I noticed a diagnostic description of me on the computer that said that I was obese. What did that inanimate object just say? Obese? Hey, I might be a little husky (I will forever love this description of the jeans my mom used to have to buy me), but I am not obese. Obese is one of those shows on TLC (Come see the Amazing 3000lb. man). I say to the doc, "Am I really obese?"

(Doc)"No, your not REALLY obese, but you are more than 30lbs. overweight, technically, classifying you as obese."

(Me)"Well, how much does my gall bladder weigh?"

(Doc)"That is not going to help."

I proceeded to have my gall bladder removed a couple of weeks later and voila!...I was still obese. Rather than do something about it immediately, I began a championship binge for the holidays. Mashed potatoes with butter and gravy, an extra helping of stuffing, and more pie than I care to remember (or do I?). By the end of the holiday season, I think I was pushing the envelope of morbidly obese. I went to a New Year's party and was going to wow everyone with my fashion sense. I planned on wearing a new pair of jeans my sister got me, because the old ones no longer fit, and a button down shirt (GQ ain't got nothing on me!). When I went to change into the shirt that night, guess what? It didn't really fit either. I looked like too much sausage stuffed in an undersized casing (mmm...sausage). At least my jeans looked good! When I went home from the party, I stepped on the scale...249lbs. The fattest I had ever been in my entire life of fatness, and nearly clinically defined as morbidly obese for a man who is 5'10". I knew it was time for a change.

The plan had actually begun to formulate while I was with my family for the holidays. We decided to participate in a "Biggest Loser" challenge amongst like 10 of us in the family. Any of you who really know me, know I love a challenge (i.e. chasing a woman who is days away from moving in with and eventually marrying her boyfriend of 4 1/2 years), and I flourished. I actually lost 9 pounds in one week. The plan was simple: get off my ass and get moving and eat right. Since that Jan. '09 I have lost 40lbs. I have pledged to lose more weight. I have promised to participate in more runs and bike rides. And I hope to add to my repertoire of healthy culinary adventures.

None of this I could have done without the help of my beautiful wife, who has also lost weight and is actually the lightest she has been in her entire adult life (Woo hoo!).

All of this is the basis of my blog. I will talk about my workouts, my runs, rides, and races. I will share with you the recipes I find exciting. and I will share with you some of the challenges we face as a RACING HOME.