Even more less fat

You look at a label for food these days and everything says “Less Fat!” There are always caveats like “less fat than the regular brand”, or “less fat than a pound of bacon inside 2 pounds of ground beef”, or “Less fat than Fat Albert”. They can legally say less fat, because those caveats are true.

Well here’s my caveat of the day; I am now 3 1/2 pounds less fat than the Ben of just two days ago. That’s right, another run and swim even followed by proper refueling (G2 and a tasty Odwalla bar), and I lost 1 1/2 pounds last night. Wouldn’t it be great if it just worked like this every day? I know it can’t continue like this forever, but I’m certainly going to keep watching my portions and eating the right foods to do whatever I can to support it.

One of the things I’ve been doing is properly refueling within 30 minutes of the end of my workout, though I have been reading that eating within 15 minutes following a workout is even better. It’s been mostly a lack of preparation on my part that has been getting in the way of that. Usually, I’m doing something right up until the minute it’s time to leave to workout and we wind up leaving 5 minutes late as Rach waits for me to get my stuff together.

Because of this we’re usually racing to get home so I can get my refuel in within 30 minutes. I’ve been using the products from the GU/Fluid sample pack I won at World Multisport Expo. In particular I’ve been working my way through the Fluid samples. I had the chocolate and tropical so far, and I have to say i liked them quite a bit. The Chocolate I put in milk, because chocolate water has never appealed to me. The tropical was in water, and it was not quite as good as the chocolate, but I “choco” that up to personal taste. I haven’t tried the berry yet, but if it’s got any raspberry qualities, I will probably respond negatively to it. We’ll have to see.


- Tonight is a 1 hour ride in zones 1 and 2. I don’t have the Garmin piece I need to track speed on my bike while indoors right now, but I can at least do RPM and heart rate for the period. I’m hoping to get the speed and cadence sensor before the season starts.

- I’m pretty much in love with Training Peaks. I just need to find the financial wherewithall to upgrade to a premium membership in order to be able to modify my training plan so that the workouts all fall on the days I want in a given week for weeks I need to make a change.

Eat less, lose weight, who knew?

This post will be short and to the point; I lost 2 pounds yesterday. And I didn’t work out. I simply counted my points, consumed healthy foods, and most importantly ate healthy potions of those foods. I was supposed to have a recovery day on Monday, but I really wanted to ride, so I switched it to yesterday.

I recognize that the weight loss is a combination of my body recovering and burning some fat to recover glycogen stores, but I know too that the portion control is really where the weight loss I am desperate to achieve will come from. While all of those meal plans talk about feeling full, I know that going to bed feeling a little bit hungry is what’s going to help me with my weight loss. Because if there isn’t food there to digest, my body will find the nourishment it needs in the fat I have been carrying around. 
Because I messed around with my schedule and I don’t want to miss any workouts, tonight I’m swimming and running, and depending on how I feel, maybe getting in a bike ride as well. I’d love to be riding outside today, but it doesn’t seem to fit with our schedule as currently planned.

This is EXACTLY why I do it…

There are some things in life that it can be difficult to figure out what the return on investment is. My favorite example: Making the bed; what exactly is the point of this when you’re 100% guaranteed to mess it up in about 12-14 hours? Others though, have an obvious and immediate benefit. This blog falls directly under that category.

If you have read yesterdays post, you’ll have seen that I did a pretty good job with my training all weekend, but I also did a “great job” of eating too much during at least 2 meals this weekend. The value the blog gave me there is that it let me expose honestly that I ate like crap to more than just my wife who at that singular instance wasn’t going to fault me because it was her birthday dinner. One of the regular readers of this site, Edie, responded with the following terrific comment:

It sounds like Benny B is rebelling against Benny A.
To put it bluntly, I also find it a little unsettling that you can even justify that any kind of caloric burn will make up for eating so much crap. It isn’t like you over-indulged in anything super healthy.
You know I’m cheering you on Benny, but it sure sounds like you need to find a way to take care of yourself a little more. It would be an awesome present to give your wife.

I have to admit this cut me to the core, and is 100% a correct vision of where I often stand in my weight loss struggle. I didn’t see it the comment until after we got back from the Cheesecake Factory, where I had the small victory of eating no cheesecake, even on Rachelle’s birthday. Rach and I had a fairly long talk on the subject of portion control and why I have such a problem with it. I don’t have an answer yet on how to solve it, but the fact that I don’t has lead me to leave all options open at this point on how to resolve it. It’s not a problem 100% of the time, but it’s clearly what has stopped me from losing weight in accordance with the training I have been doing.

With just about 6 weeks left until the first race of the year, I really need to find a way to solve this problem. I have been successful in the past when I have a single plan for eating. Eating the same thing every day, even to the point of the same meals, makes it easy for me to avoid temptation.

That’s a very simple thing to implement when you’re single, but less so when you’re married, and your spouse really enjoys variety to the point where she often doesnt know what she wants for dinner until literally dinner time, and often not even then. So as at least a first step I’m going to try to find ways to marry our food needs (variety vs healthy, portion controlled foods) without having us have to spend an hour a night in the kitchen. I’m still looking into other items, and I’m looking for a good way to make my food journal public without having to post it in each days blog (because who wants to read what I’m eating each day?)

Lastly, on a far happier note, Rach has blogged about her experience with the NCAA championship game. While she didn’t win, it was certainly a memorable experience, and I was just in the stands. It’s a good read.

The Tale of Two Bennys

In Chales Dickens famous “A Tale of Two Cities”, we see parallels drawn between the French revolution and life in London during the same period of time. Today’s post will make a similar comparison in A Tale of Two Bennys (it both kind of rhymes with cities and happens to be Rach’s nickname for me).

Benny A: Benny A had the kind of weekend he could only have imagined a scant 4 years ago: Friday night he swam for 40 minutes getting in nearly 1 miles worth of distance in the pool. Saturday he did a nice hard 45 minute effort on the trainer with medium resistance. Sunday, he really got after it; a hard 30 minute trainer ride followed by a moderate 25 minute run. Then following a couple hours of time spent in compression socks, he headed out for his first mountain bike ride of the year. 30 minutes in the saddle split between easy single track and the paved bike trail.

Benny B: Benny B made sure he didn’t go hungry this weekend. Saturday night he had a big plate of spagetti. Sunday, he took his wife out for her birthday lunch, where he had 3 glasses of coke, 3 fairly large potato skins, some fried crabmeat ravioli, and about 10 chicken wings. Sunday night after the lunch wore off, he had a half peanut butter sandwich and a few chips.

Clearly Benny A and Benny B are the same person; and I think the above illustrates succinctly why my weight loss has been so slow to come. Based on the info I have, my calories out were still greater than my calories in. Further, this doesn’t take into account any digestive delays (if you catch my meaning). But with just 6 weeks until the season opener, I really can’t afford to continue to eat like this basically every weekend. With the Men’s Frozen Four and the trip to Foxwoods coming up, I have some challenges yet to overcome. I broke even on weight from friday until monday AM, which considering the amount of work was a letdown, but considering the food choices is probably a blessing.

While there are some negatives to take from this weekend, there were also some huge positives: Just look at all the work Benny A did. And while the legs were pretty tired after 90 total minutes of work on Sunday, the fact that I’m raring to go today shows real promise for my increased fitness. Sadly, today is a recovery day, so I not only have to watch what I eat, but I can’t go work out either. I guess I better enjoy my rest days when I have them, because they are pretty few and far between from here on out.


- Today is Rachelle’s birthday, so if you follow her on her blog, on twitter, or on facebook, take a moment to wish her a happy birthday if you would be so kind. Also, she’s written her feelings about being a part of a national championship game, and coming out on the wrong side of it. Once she gets the pictures in place, she’ll post it and I’ll link it.

- I am really hungry today.

- lastly, I still owe my almost $100 to match your donations to the fundraising project, which I assure you will occur this week. Just got a bit behind with all of the travel and such.

It’s Friday, and I’m going to stop being a wanker

I hope everyone is having the awesome day that I am. Last friday, my group at work finally moved out of the basement and into new digs on the first floor of the building. I get to see daylight out my bosses window every day now, and that’s never a bad thing. Plus, Rach had to get up early today so I was first one in the office. Reminds me how much I enjoy getting up early.

So, last night I had a run and swim scheduled, which gave me a chance to try out the integration between Training Peaks and my Garmin 305 as well as the brand new integration with my Finis Swimsense. I don’t always like training, but I do love gadgets. Gadgets plus new technical/statistical things to think about make training pass quickly.

The run was Week 3, Day 1 of my Couch to 5k Training. I’m re-starting week 3 because I never finished it last week because of the trip to Erie. I didn’t go all out because I figured this would be a good recovery run after Wednesday nights hard ride. I felt pretty good, but had an issue with my Garmin that I need to look into. (Link to run in Training Peaks: http://www.trainingpeaks.com/sw/TMXDMVLXEY35QANG7TQRJEJJ7Y)

Following the run I did 1000 yards in the pool: a 400 yd warmup, 8×25 (25 easy, 25 hard), then 4×100. My total time was 32 minutes, which is pretty good considering I did a lot of sprinting in those last 600 yards, and took several minutes of breaks. My swimming is coming around already and I’m really happy with that. (link to swim in Training Peaks: http://www.trainingpeaks.com/sw/R4JVYM26GJFNOQTQ7G3WFATASQ)

I got home and downloaded the workouts to Training Peaks, and it was super easy to get my run and swim not only into the system, but they automatically synced up with the workouts on my plan for that day. The Swimsense one is so automatic, you don’t even have to select which workout you want, it just ports right over whenever you upload a workout from the watch to the Finish website. The Garmin one is slightly more work as you have to select which workouts you want to move, via the Training Peaks device manager, but even that is a piece of cake.

The other thing I want to talk about was yesterdays post, which if you read it early enough you would have seen me making smart ass remarks about how if I could only average 10.9 MPH while pulling 100 watts and being exhausted that “it was time for me to consider another sport, maybe shuffleboard”. A reader mentioned it jokingly, but after re-reading it, I pulled the comment and looking back I’m glad I did. 
I’ve come a long way in 2 years of racing, but that doesn’t give me the excuse to be myopic about my performance. Just 2 years ago next month, it took me 2 1/2 hours to finish a sprint triathlon. a 12 mile bike with hills was 90 minutes of suffering for me. I’ve always thought that if I ever got any good at this sport (which I’m still not, and that does not appear to be in jeopardy anytime soon), that I would not be one of those douches who says things that belittles people slower than them.
While I didn’t mean it that way yesterday, it sounded like I did, even when I read it knowing what I meant. I meant merely that I was proud of my progress and I didn’t like that the computer was telling me I was slow and weak when I clearly wasn’t. I need to remember I’m not that far off in time, or performance for that matter, from 90 minute 12 mile rides. Some people out there are just where I was 2 years ago and while I want them to see training will get them faster, they dont need to see it like that.
- Tonight, another long swim, and then tomorrow a longer ride. Its probably going to still be too cold to ride outside, but I want to at least try. I’m going to put my aero bars on in the morning either way.

Broken lab equipment and heat == suffering and results

As I mentioned yesterday, I went out to Springfield College last night to take a lactate threshold test. This test is used to give you guidance on how to train within certain heart rate zones; basically giving you a metric for determining how hard your training was that day for your body and not just basing it on how you felt during that particular workout.

I was really excited to participate in this test for a few reasons; It was being run by a twitter buddy ShaunaSmash, who is using the test as part of her graduation project for school. Aside from being better able to match my training guidelines, it also gives me guidance as to where my current “redline” is as for what I can sustain. I want to avoid going too anaerobic for too long, especially as I’m building up my training base.

The test itself is pretty simple; the person administering the test draws a drop of blood to measure the lactic acid in your blood. Then you warm up on the bike (or treadmill if you’re testing your run threshold) for 5 minutes. At the end of the warmup, you go as hard as you can sustain for 20 minutes. Or at least it’s supposed to be about 20 minutes (6 miles).

Unfortunately, the computrainer system being used for the lab was not recording information properly; the MPH was wildly inaccurate, the wattage output was at least 30% low (and possibly more), and even the RPMs were probably in doubt. So, a lot of the information I would have expected to have learned yesterday was mostly useless.

However, because I brought my own heart monitor and because the lactate measuring device was working, I was able to get heart rate results and blood lactate measurements. Because Shauna was performing the test with a different goal in mind, I didn’t get the ramped blood results every few minutes to base zones on, but based on the pace i set early in the ride, the lactate buildup i could feel in my legs, my heart rate, and the blood readings, my lactate threshold would appear to be around 3.8mM and most importantly 165 BPM while cycling.

Using this information I can set my zones properly for my training, and understand how far I can push myself and still stay on the safe side. The cost of this information was a good bit of pain, as the computer was recording speed so slowly that it took me 34:30 to ride 6 miles basically going close to as hard as I could go, and in a room with no fan so I was super hot. Thankfully, the prior participant and Shauna’s testing bore out that there’s no way that was accurate. (edited because the sentence that used to be here was rude): I’m glad the machine was wrong, because it made me feel like I wasn’t even close to what I have done in the past.

I’m going to learn something about myself tonight

With 86 days left until Patriot Half, It’s time to start ramping up the training volume. I’ve been reading a lot recently in both cycling and triathlon magazines about athletes using short, high-intensity workouts can take the place of some % of slower high volume workouts. I’ve been following this approach as of late as Rach and I have both had a lot of demands on our time in the previous couple weeks.

My new plan, which I signed up for the other night through Training Peaks, is a 13 week plan that was the perfect fit for the time remaining until Patriot. I used the USAT membership discount and saved 10% on my subscription. The plan doesn’t detail every workout, but gives you a guideline as to what to build into the workout, focusing on heart rate zones. While there are some fairly basic field tests to roughly setup your heart rate training zones, the most accurate way is to use your lactate threshold.

Using the heart rate monitor from my Garmin and the results of the blood tests taken tonight, I should be fairly accurately be able to pinpoint my heart rate zones, which should allow me to more accurately follow my training plan. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous; the bike I’ll be on will measure wattage, so I’ll finally have an accurate measure of how strong/weak of a cyclist I am at this point. I’m also excited to see exactly what I have right now going all out on the bike for 6 miles. Just a month and a half til season opener sprint, and I want to see what kind of speed I can put out on the bike.


- I’ve started thinking about my next fundraiser incentive. So far I’m drawing a blank. May be that I’ll just have to rely on human kindness for a while.

- I put those gift certificates from the local bike shop to good use already. I gave Rachelle my aerobars after last season, so I picked up a new set for me last night. Went with these from Profile Design. Similar to my old ones in that they aren’t connected to each other so they can be more properly spaced for my wide shoulders, and are long enough to accommodate my long torso and arms, especially on a frame that might be a bit short in length for me due to my short inseam.

Yes, come to think of it, you actually can buy speed.

Back from the dead (actually, the comatose), this post is kind of Erie

Good morning!

Sorry for my unscheduled absence yesterday. I spent the day recuperating from a long weekend spent driving. It was a weekend I know I’ll never forget, and I’d like to share a bit of it with you today.

Friday Night – Rachelle and BU Women’s hockey were in Pennsylvania at the site of the Women’s frozen Four, taking on Cornell. After a balanced first period, BU took command and won 4-1. Much celebration ensued, which included me jumping around and screaming in my living room. It also meant I would be making the long trek out to Erie, PA to watch BU take on Wisconsin in the National Championship game.

Saturday Morning - The reason I wasn’t in Erie for the whole weekend, is that the World Multisport Expo was in Boston on Saturday AM. Wheelworks had a booth, and the Multisport team helps staff the booth to get the word out about the team, and to recruit members. My shift was from 11-12:30, which gave me time to explore the show, and to help setup. The show was an unmitigated success, from both a personal and a team perspective.

Personally, I found some nice stuff for really cheap prices including some training gear for Rach and I that were just $5 each for high quality tops and bottoms. Plus, I found a pair of the shoes Ive been wearing recently for $50. And I won a couple prizes in a raffle put on by the regional collegiate triathlon association, including a nutrition sample pack from GU and Fluid and 2 gift cards for $25 each to a bike shop right down the road from my house.

From a team perspective, we had quite a few new members who are looking to sign up, and who attended the social held following the Multisport Expo. I missed that because at that point I was somewhere near Albany, New York on my way to Erie. But I heard it was well attended, and we’ll probably be adding new members.

Saturday Night - When I finally got to Erie, I got to see Rach and my father-in-law who was my roommate-in-law for the night, and also an old friend. My friend Leigh is a women’s/girls hockey coach and came to town to help with coaching a couple of seminars. I haven’t seen her in a few years, and it was really great to get to spend an hour or so catching up. Plus, whenever I see my wife after a few days, things are always made better. All that and a couple beers made the 8 hour drive ok.

Sunday - I could talk about how I got up in the morning and did a 10 minute ultra hard effort on the exercise bike at the hotel, or that Rach’s dad and I went on an adventure and broke the law to take a look at some train engines at the GE Transportation plant in Erie, or that for a $4 buffet, breakfast at the hotel was really good. Instead, I just want to say how proud I was of the BU women for their outstanding season. I am so fortunate to be married to Rachelle, and the wonderful women of BU Women’s hockey.

All of these girls, their families and the coaches really took us in and made us feel welcome and part of the family. While they fell just short of a national championship, losing 4-1 to Wisconsin on Sunday afternoon, they had a tremendous season with a very young team. They played hard, and did things the right way along the way, and can hold their heads high. Where ever we wind up after Rachelle graduates in the spring, I know that this is a chapter in our life that we will always be thankful for. Plus, we now have a very cool trophy on our mantle that each member of the second place team received. I’m sure Rach will blog more in depth about this weekend, and I’ll link to it when sher does.

Sunday Night/Monday Morning - After the game, I joined the team for dinner, and then headed out for what wound up being a 12 hour drive back to Boston. It took me 3 1/2 hours longer to get back even though I was driving in the middle of the night. There are a lot more construction areas, and what I can only assume was an accident as I waiting on I-90 for 2 hours. yech. I got home at 6:30 AM, having left at 7:15 PM the night before. Not fun.

Monday Night -  After a lot of sleep and a little walking around to get some of that sitting out, I finally signed up for a training plan. I picked a 13 week half-ironman plan from Training Peaks, because with their Swimsense integration now complete, I can import every workout I do into Training Peaks, and have data and metrics afterwards to track my progress.

Tonight we run and swim.

And your winner is…

Two things we can be absolutely certain about in this post are:

1. I have the most kind, generous, and supportive friends, readers, and family around.
2. I will never win a blogging award for best video work. (There are some great shots of my nostrils though).

Also, please excuse the rambling, I still have to work on my on-camera presence. So without further ado, please watch this video to see the actual raffle take place.

I’ve already contacted Derek H., and he is very excited to have won. I’ll be sending out his package on Friday, and putting him in contact tonight with the vendors who will be shipping prizes directly to him.

Also, I did the math and with my current donations, I owe another $100 to match your donations at 50% during the raffle period. I’ll be making that donation on Friday, with hopefully a little more if I lose some weight this week.

Finally, hanks again to all of you for your donations, and to the wonderful sponsors listed at the top of the page. Because of you, I’m now 1/3rd of the way to my fundraising goal, and I still have several months to get there. Please support them if you’re so inclined, as they make fine products and are also good corporate citizens.

Cross-training, sort of…

This morning, I dropped Rach off at work, after which the team flies to Erie, PA for the Women’s NCAA Frozen Four. Last night, before she packed and prepped we made use of our BuyWithMe deal for admission to the Frog Pond at Boston Common for outdoor ice skating.

Being that it’s March, and we’ve seen temperatures in the mid-50′s, the ice wasn’t in the best condition. In fact, I think it’s safe to say ice skating shouldn’t be held on a surface with 1 to 2 inches of rise and fall across much of the surface. Sort of like “skating the river” in Mystery, Alaska; except with 100 people around you who skate for crap.

We chose last night because the deal was going to expire, and Rach wouldn’t be here when it did, so that means we’ll be joining the group run next week.


- The drawing for the raffle will be held as soon as I get home, and I’ll contact the winner via email. I’ll record the drawing process and post the video tomorrow. I was simply too tired to do it at midnight last night.