Becoming a runner, losing weight, and the challenges of a busy life

I regret not being more active with my blog lately, but I’ve just been plain busy.

- Training has been going pretty well. We’ve had some weather challenges (highs near 100, with thunderstorms a couple/few days a week) and a pool schedule less than conducive to timing out workouts (closed every day at 4 for almost the entire evening). That said, I’ve been getting in most of my workouts, and the few I’ve missed over the past several weeks were some runs (I’ll get to that in a minute) and a swim. Dr. Pain pushed my long distance rides to 40 miles Saturday before last, and this Saturday I’ll be doing 45. I just got my overview of the plan for my 2 months leading up to Cedar Point Rev 3 70.3 and it looks like I’ll be working pretty hard, but it’ll mean I’ll be ready in September.

- I entered the MapMyRide Le Tour challenge again this year. I’ll be riding my bike every day the guys in the tour do, and wind up doing about 15% of the total distance they do. I probably won’t wind up doing more than 1% of the total climbing, but it’s a fun way to really push my bike fitness ahead of my big race. Plus there are awesome prizes. They changed the format this year, so the drawings are weekly instead of daily, but still, it’s great motivation. Last year I won a HRM watch bundle that I put away to use for charity and wound up giving away during my earlier summer fundraising. Hopefully I’ll win something this year!

- The one real challenge I’ve had is motivation for running. Running is when I suffer the most, and apparently, I haven’t built up the mental toughness I normally do during a training season when it comes to getting out and suffering in the heat for 45 minutes or an hour. I didn’t have time to wait for reward based training to work, so I went with the pampered training route. I bought new shoes and a basic iPod to use on my runs, and figured I’d coax myself out with new stuff to try. So far it’s been working. I’ve done 3 consecutive runs without any motivation issues, and while I’m still getting comfortable in the new shoes, the iPod definitely takes the edge off the monotony of running around the cemetery all the time.

- Weight loss has gone well, I’ve lost 9 pounds in the past 3 weeks. I’m still making a few poor food choices a week, such as fried rice with chicken the night before a weigh in, but in general I’ve been doing very well with this. I was hoping to be over 10 pounds lost this week, but we do what we can, and then we do some more the next day.

- The blog needs some updates that I’ll get to this weekend. Our next race is currently planned for the end of July at Giant Eagle in Columbus, unless something changes before then.

- The realtor comes to look at the house tomorrow. I’m so not ready to have this place looked at by other people, and I have some stuff I need to do before tomorrow. It’s going to be a busy day.

- Work has been exceptionally busy as I continue to learn more every day about the project I’m on and the systems it entails. I’m trying to condense a lot of learning into a short period of time and it’s very challenging, which has added to my stress level a bit. Good thing I get to be on the bike a lot this coming month.

hit and miss

The weather this week has been downright brutal, with temperatures in the high 80s to mid nineties. This would of course make for perfect swim training at the pool, but swim school camps this week for both adults and children have seriously hampered our swim abilities. we’ve had to rearrange our whole schedule just to fit everything in and even that has been a challenge. The temperature is coming down next week, so hopefully lunch runs will be less uncomfortable and biking for 2 hours won’t feel like every bit of salt has left my body when I’m done.

This weeks big news is that I lost 2.6 pounds over the last week, taking me to 7.6 pounds lost. pretty excited about that.

40 miles of thoughts

40 miles, 2:47:37, pretty good for my first 40 miler in 2012 (thanks to @bikepedler for catching that this said 20102)

- Just as dogs will always try to chase you when you’re on a bike, kids on their bikes will immediately increase their speed to attempt to ride with you for the 5 seconds as you pass their yard. This is universal and it doesn’t matter what type of bike the child is on, from a tricycle to a teenager on his BMX.

- When I look at a hill now, the first thing I think is “can I climb that?” and regardless of the answer, my second thought is always “I wonder if there’s a KOM out on Strava for it?”. When the answer to if I can climb it is “maybe” or “no”, I still give it a try, especially when I think there might be a KOM out there, or that around here maybe no one has ridden a bike on that hill recently.

- I rode by a prison on my bike, one I later learned was a medium-security facility with 854 men in it. Seeing the barbed wire topped fences and manned guard posts certainly made me extra appreciative of the utter freedom I was feeling.

- When people say “it’s not the heat that gets you, it’s the humidity”, it’s never truer than on the bike. i don’t mind running in humidity, I sweat more and cool down a bit that way. But 40 miles with 80 degree heat and low humidity isn’t bad at all.

- Cresting a hill bigger than any I’d see on the Rev 3 Cedar Point I realized that I’m getting to the point where a half-ironman is no longer a “just get through it” race. It’s time for me to set goals and make myself live up to them.

- Worse than a flat tire is running out of fluids. I forgot to bring cash; thankfully the mini-mart 5 miles from home hooked me up with ice and tap water til I could get a refill out of the house. 2 bottles is 2 too few for that distance.

- There are very few truly flat roads new our house, but I managed to find about 5 miles of pancake-like asphalt goodness, on which I opened it up a bit. My cardio still isn’t where I want to be, as I can’t just hammer continuously still, but I did manage to enjoy a few minutes of strong pedalling.

-  I thought about my dad a lot (My ride was on Father’s Day), how much I’ve learned from him; how he’s still providing for my mom, and helping my sister and her kids when it’s long past his responsibility to do so. I hope I’m half the dad he is when the time comes for me.

- Since I stopped home for a bottle refill I got to come home twice on this ride, and I vowed that no matter what, every place I every live will be uphill from all directions on the way home. No way to avoid climbing if the climb is home.

The Lance Armstrong USADA Charges FAQ

Note: The most important news of the day is that I LOST 5 POUNDS THIS WEEK! Evidently, following weight watchers eatting guidelines, tracking what I eat and working out every day works! Who Knew?!?! Next week I’m shooting for the same, as I had a day this week where I went over my points limit.

As I mentioned in one of my previous posts on this subject, most of us who have been following the Armstrong case from before the Department of Justice was involved were aware that the far more likely outcome was that the USADA would bring charges against Lance and that his sporting past, present, and future, and potentially his finances were in far more jeopardy than his actual freedom. Yesterday, the USADA sent letters to 6 people involved in what they indicate is a “USPS Conspiracy”. I’ve gotten a lot of questions on this subject and here are my answers to those questions:

1. Isn’t this double jeopardy? How can the feds charge him with this again?

It’s not double jeopardy for a couple of important reasons. First, he was never actually tried anywhere for the offenses the US DOJ and as no verdict was rendered, the DOJ could at some point still decided to bring charges and try him for them. Second, while the USADA receives about 65% of it’s funding from a US federal grant, they are a completely separate agency with different powers and different jurisdictions. Lance is at no risk of criminal charges directly from the USADA, though it is possible if more compelling information comes to light as a result of the USADA case, the DOJ could decide to file their own criminal charges.

2. Why are we wasting taxpayer dollars on this when the DOJ just wasted a bunch of money on it without anything coming of it?

As I mentioned above, the USADA is funding by a grant, that whether or not the investigation had been launched against Mr. Armstrong, that money would still have been given to the USADA for the policing of clean US sport. So while Lance may claim the case is a “witch hunt”, claiming it is a waste of taxpayer money doesn’t hold water. This money is specifically earmarked for clean sports, and it’s being used for just that purpose.

3. If the Feds weren’t able to convict, why would the USADA think they’ll be able to?

First, let me say that all the USADA has done so far is let Lance and Co. know that they are proceeding with the process of moving forward with charging them. There is still an anti-doping review board that these charges need to go to for approval before they can proceed with putting the charges before an independent arbitration panel for a hearing. In the time that the charges are in front of the review board, the 6 people who got letters get to decide if they are going to fight the charges or not (Lance recently said in an issue of Men’s Journal that he’s “done fighting” the doping claims, so it will be interesting to see if he sticks with that approach). If they decide not to fight the charges, the USADA can simply make a ruling. If they do fight, there are hearings in front of the arbitrator that Lance and Co can decide are public or not.

Now that we know how things would work, here’s why the USADA thinks they have a case; by participating in the witness questioning done by the DOJ, the USADA has access to more witness testimony that it has ever had access to before. By piggybacking on the criminal investigation where some riders likely took telling the truth far more seriously they were able to get results they might never have previously gotten without the threat of criminal charges. This, along with blood numbers in 2009 and 2010 that seem to clearly indicate EPO use during the tour even when he said he was coming back “clean, to prove to his kids he could”.  Finally, by charging the group with the conspiracy, they can bring in older information that would fall outside the normal statute of limitations on a case like this.

4. What happens next? Is this going to drag out forever like the last one or the Alberto Contador hearing?

Lance and Co have just over a week to respond to the charge letter with their responses going to the review board along with the charges, and then a decision is made. If they’re charged, the hearing will happen no later than November, but based on the fact that it’s stopping Lance from racing in WTC for the time being (WTC has a policy that no athletes under investigation by a WADA signatory may race with them) I would expect Lance will press to have it over with as soon as possible

MAJOR CHANGES

As if Sunday’s fun with motorists wasn’t enough stress in my life for the week, we’ve learned we’re going to be moving. Our landlord, who we love, has decided to list her house on the market. This means that at some point we’re moving. We don’t know when, but because it could come essentially any time, it means I need to be smarter financially, saving more in preparation that we may have to move in a 30-60 day timeframe. We’ve got a lot planned for this summer and with a little belt tightening we can make those trips fun and enjoyable without overextending ourselves.

- The biggest impact is that I’m going to do the half-iron distance at Rev3 Cedar Point instead of the full. It will save us half the registration fee plus another night in the hotel. Thats $350 that can go to being prepared for a more sudden move. I’m disappointed, but it also allows me to focus more on getting healthier/skinnier for finishing a full iron distance next year. Also, it will let me focus on getting stronger and faster and not just on building distance for the rest of the summer. I talked a little bit with Dr. Pain about making the switch to the shorter distance before the asthma got diagnosed, but now sadly it’s been taken out of my hands.

- Also, we’re having to drop the Jamestown Olympic from our schedule, but for a different reason. Rachelle is attending the National Athletic Training Association annual conference, and she won’t get back until very late the night before the race. It’s a few hours from home, and we simply won’t be able to get there and be ready for the race early the next morning, because we can’t just go straight from the airport, we’ll be the ride home for a few of her co-workers. It stinks, but this was just another training race for me anyways. I’ll look to supplement my schedule with another race once we have a better idea of what’s going on.

Now it’s not to say that everything is bad; in fact a lot of really good things are happening:

- My niece is having a baby and it’s due in the fall.

- My cousin is getting married in August, the weekend after Giant Eagle, so I’m going to work from my parents in the week between the race and the wedding and go to the wedding.

- The week after the wedding, my family is having a get together at a cabin in Michigan where boating, fishing, swimming, golf, cards, a little drinking, and other shenanigans will ensue. Plus it will be a perfect week to get in some big training during the run down to Rev 3. No better place that I can think of to get in some good open water swims, and I’m sure there’s plenty of open roads for bikes and runs.

- Training is almost back to where it was prior to asthma/allergy season starting. I did 27 miles on the bike sunday, hit decent swim times on monday, walked 30 minutes on tuesday morning, and did 15 hilly miles tuesday night at over 15 MPH. Some of that felt harder than it did a couple months ago, but it’s also 15 degrees hotter with 85% humidity every day right now. The important thing is that I’m headed the right direction.

- Plus, we had a really nice time cooking out for Rachelle’s co-workers this past Saturday night and picked up our new couch, which we needed thanks to Stanley thinking the old one was a chew toy when he was little.

It’s going to be an interesting summer, but a fun one for sure!

My first run in with a motorist (warning: offensive language)

If you’re a cyclist or triathlete, you undoubtedly know the feeling; a driver decides he’s not going to give you any part of the lane, and buzzes right by you, inches from your bike. This has happened to me before as well, but never like last night. The car not only came about 3 inches from my body going WAY too fast, but the driver laid on the horn as he was directly next to me. I was so startled, I almost rode off the road. This happened on a nice road with wide lanes, and no traffic in either direction for quite a while. I was lucky that I didn’t lose further control of the bike. I was riding about 6 inches from the white line and with a small shoulder and deep ditches alongside the road I could have been in real trouble.

Now I’m not an angry guy by any means, but I didn’t respond well to this drivers reckless disregard for my safety. It was 22 miles into my first 30 mile ride in about 2 months, and I was feeling it pretty good, so that may have contributed to my reaction. As he drove away, I gave him the international hand signal for “have a nice day” (I flipped him the bird). So of course, the driver slammed on his brakes, turned around in a driveway and pulled into the oncoming lane while rolling down his window and stopping his car clearly to wait for me. I was still riding forward and coming up a small hill so I wasn’t going fast. I didn’t want to stop my workout, and I knew I hadn’t been in the wrong when the driver buzzed me, but I probably should have kept my thoughts on his attitude to myself seeing as he clearly had no concern for my well being, and there are more guns than people in this rural part of NC. As I rode slowly by his stopped car, I said “What is your problem? You could have killed me!” He responded “Move over, Fat goddamn faggot! Get off the road!” I just shook my head and said “you broke the law, not me” and kept suffering up the hill.

Climbing the hill I figured he’d had his say and I had mine, and it was done, but nope, not for him, he preceded to pass me yet again as I crested the hill, and came just as close to hitting me, though this time with no horn. I didn’t expect it, but at least without the horn I didn’t lose control of the bike this time. I kept my finger gestures to myself and let him speed off thinking “who knows what he’d do next if I responded in kind to his douchebaggery”. With fading light and rattled nerves, I didn’t quite finish the 30, but I got 27.5 done. I had just recovered from being a bit lost riding new roads a couple miles before the jerk decided to give me a good scare, and had to change my route home. I had the legs to do all 30, but not the nerve, riding on the busiest local street at dusk.

What really bothered me wasn’t that he called me fat. I am fat, and I am sure seeing someone my size on a road bike in spandex was a prime target for someone like the driver in question. What bothered me was his use of the term “faggot” when he looked up and down at me as I rode by his car. With homophobia rampant in these parts (nearly 75% of the county voted for the constitutional amendment outlawing gay marriage), and me in purple and pink shorts and a tri top that had most of the rest of the colors of the rainbow in it, I can imagine he saw exactly what he said: some fat faggot who was taking up part of his precious roadway. I’m not the least bit offended at being called something Im not (gay); as a kid I was often teased by being called “Ben Gay” (after the famous muscle rub) to the point where that type of mockery doesn’t bother me at all anymore. But the fact that he chose that particular word said a lot about him as a person, and why I made sure to keep any further thoughts to myself.

It seems daily these days we read about cyclists are hit by cars, and I know a few folks in this area recently have been. I was lucky my situation wasn’t worse, that I didn’t lose control of the bike and that the driver decided not to pursue his issues with my being on the road further. But it had an effect on my ride (I would have normally done that last 2 1/2 miles, even if I didn’t have much left in the tank), and it’s left me thinking about avoiding some roads I previously had ridden without incident.

For my birthday, let’s give money to babies!

Well hello there, long time no see! I’ve been away for a bit, but I’m back now and will be around every day for a while. I have a lot to say, but I’m going to start simple.

Last Monday was my birthday. I’ve now traveled around the sun 38 times (well technically 38.75 times, but I couldn’t do much that first .75 time around). My birthday gifts were my bike (which I was happily riding around until this weekend when the tire and tube got a nasty gash during travel and I need to fix or replace today), my Weight Watchers subscription, and my folks gave me $5o to blow at the new casino in Toledo (I spent only $20, the rest went to dinner in Columbus with friends).

Yes, I know I’m blessed in what I already have and I don’t really need anything more, so that’s why what I’m asking for from everyone else who hasn’t already bought me something (I mean, everyone was planning on getting me something, right?) I have a simple idea: For every donation up to a total of $350 made in June on my fundraising page, I’ll match it dollar for dollar in July. I want us to be able to donate a couple of chairs before the end of July, and we’re SO CLOSE to the first one already!

As to what I’ve been doing while I’ve been gone, here’s the most important part:

Trine, me, Abby, Brooke (my sister), and Rachelle

My oldest niece Abby graduated high school this past weekend. Trine, on the left, is the foreign exchange student who lived with my family this school year and has become my unofficial sister! She “graduated” as well, though she has to go back for another year of school in Norway because they go to school for longer over there I guess. I spent my week away enjoying time with these kids and the rest of my family along with a day away with a couple of my friends in Columbus.  I’m hoping to see more of them when I get back to CBus for racing later this summer.