Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The hills are alive with the sound of screaming

Oh my god. Hardest ride ever. Legs were hurting so bad. I ran out of food, I almost ran out of water, and I only have an added 35 miles to my cyclo-computer, and a reduced average speed to show for it.

But, I am getting ahead of myself. Everything started on Friday. I received my Fat Cyclist jersey and bib shorts in the mail, and I was excited to ride with them and show everyone, but I'd have to wait for the group ride. Later in the day, I got a call from Manny about Saturday morning's bike ride. Considering that I had 3 weeks of training until my century ride in Las Vegas on October 15th, I asked him what ride I should do.

Long story short, he convinced me to do a number 3 ride.

Ride grading works like this: 1 is easiest, 5 is not the easiest. In fact, some would go so far to say that it is difficult. Very difficult, even.

Anyway, a 3 ride is right in the middle. I figured I could easily get it done in 4 hours, and get home in time for lunch with the Mrs. I agreed. And I don't know if I regret that decision.

Saturday morning rolls around, and after inspecting my bike and putting on my new kit, I head out. And I'm late. I never caught up to them, but I just kept riding.

Manny was running late too, but unlike me, he is fast. He caught up to me pretty easily. We rode together, Manny pushing the speed and me trying to stay upright. And round. I succeeded on both counts. Hooray fat jokes!

Anyway.

Once we started climbing, I REALLY started falling behind. Manny had to stop a couple of times going up Little Tujunga Canyon to allow me to catch up. He'd straddle his bike, have some water and maybe an energy gel, take a quick nap, learn a new language, and invent 3 new uses for old tire tubes by the time I caught up to him.

Ok, maybe he didn't take a nap. But the rest is true.

Maybe.

Anyway.

The point I am trying to make here is that either the hills were very steep, he is really fast, I am really slow, or a sad, sad mixture of all three.

After climbing, and climbing, and climbing some more, it was 10:00 and Manny had to turn around and go home so he could go to work. By this point in time, I didn't think I was going to finish the ride, and Manny encouraged me (under penalty of death) to finish the ride. Not wanting to miss out on the great things life has to offer, I continued on.

And climbed. And climbed. And climbed.

I took an occasional break, you know, every now and then.

Alright, who am I kidding, it was more than occasional. I still have trouble eating/drinking while riding on flats, let alone uphill, so I would stop for water and food. Along the way, other cyclists would pass me and have a chat, then they would happily continue on their way after complimenting my kit.

Finally, after what seemed like hours of climbing, I made it to the first descent. OH HAPPY DAY!!!!

Oh hell. Like the climbs, the descents were steep. Meaning, rather than risking FALLING OFF THE SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN, I was clenching my brakes, trying desperately to get below 30 MPH before the next switchback.

After being thoroughly scared out of my wits enjoying the descent, the road suddenly turned up. And then it went upside down. And through croc-infested waters. Yup, I wasn't finished.

And so, I reluctantly continued, punishing my legs by turning the cranks over and over, their only respite being the granny gear that was still part of my bike.

I still stopped every now and then, to give my legs a break and have some water and food.

Then I ran out of food.

Then I got really low on water.

Then I couldn't move my legs.

And for a while, there was nothing. Just me in the shade, alone with my thoughts.

I tried to get my feet back in the pedals to turn the cranks, but I couldn't.

I stood there, then made the decision to call for a ride.

But I was in the middle of nowhere. Surrounded by rocks and hills. No reception.

What choice did I have? I pressed on.

I pushed myself up to Bear Divide (I think thats the name), where the ranger's station was. A couple was picnicking and enjoying the view. I asked if they had any water to spare. They didn't.

But there was a water fountain.

But then I found the water fountain wasn't working.

I pressed on. Another descent.

The turns seemed easier than the first time, so I eased up on the brakes and enjoyed the cool wind in my face. It certainly helped to cool me down after all the climbing.

I made it to Placerita Canyon, and turned left. Then had more climbing.

I met a couple of cyclists who complimented me on my kit, and we chatted for a bit. When they found out I was low on water, they gave me some of theirs. I never got their names, but whoever they were: Thanks.

Placerita Canyon eventually met up with Sierra Highway, and I made another left turn. And then had more climbing.

And then another descent! And, it descended all the way to the rest stop, a Carl's Jr. on Newhall.

I had no idea how I was able to make it that far. My legs were cooked. I parked my bike in the shade, called for a ride, and waited.

While I waited, I was alone with my thoughts. How did I make it?

I don't know exactly where or what the mileage was, but I know I hit the wall. I bonked. No food and low on water, I almost gave up. But I didn't.

Somehow, I found it within me to keep going. Maybe it was a sense of survival, that I would be stuck there as food for whatever wild animals wandered the hilly roads I rode unless I went somewhere else. Maybe it was a sense of pride, knowing that I would hate myself if I didn't go any further. I don't know.

I can't forget that. If I hit the wall in Las Vegas, I can't quit. Even though it would be easier to quit, I can't. I have to push through.

I rode 35 miles on September 24th, 2011. I plan to ride at least 60 miles on October 1st. Then 100 miles on October 15th.

After that, who knows?

Questions? Comments? Cheap shots? Lemme know.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

I'm so ronery....

With October 15th a month and a half away, I really need to start upping my miles. And so, I did.

Normally, during the weekdays, I ride an 8 mile loop with the second half being pure climbing. Since 8 miles is 92 less than my goal, I upped it. I rode 16 today, and while it was quite uneventful (other than a car honking and throttling his engine from behind me while we waited for a red light to turn green) it allowed me time to think.

I have great ideas.

I thought up a t-shirt design with "WWJD?" but the "J" would stand for Jens. As in Jens Voigt. I'm sure the idea's been done before, but still: Ideas!

That's the kind of guy I am. Lots of ideas. Lots of thoughts, too.

I started to wonder why road cycling was such a lonely sport.

I know that the Tour De France and other major tours have teams, but I'm talking about your average, run of the mill cyclist trying to lose a few (or hundred) pounds. Other than the occasional "wave" or "head nod" as someone rides the opposite direction, we are pretty much always riding alone. Other than the weekend (when the cycling clubs come out to play) I never see groups of riders together. We are always riding alone.

Forever alone.

And it doesn't have to be that way. I treasure my rides with the San Fernando Valley Bike Club, partly due to the camaraderie, partly due to the fact that it helps me gauge my abilities, partly due to that it is fun talking to other people while riding your bike. I ride with my friends as often as I can. And with them, I don't ride to train, I ride just to ride. For the sheer joy of cycling. It's hard to do that when you are by yourself. Don't get me wrong, I still have fun, but not as much as I could be having. I think I could probably put in more miles if I was doing training rides with my friends during the week.

Riding alone all the time also makes me think of who would be the perfect training partner. Would it be a pro like Cadel Evans or Jens Voigt? Probably not. They would just drop you immediately. What about a retired pro like Lance Armstrong? Nope, still a great cyclist (he won the Leadville 100, an epic mountain bike race, a few years ago, AFTER he retired).

Then, you may ask, who would be the perfect training partner for your average, run of the mill cyclist?

Easy answer. Someone slightly better than you.

Think about it: The carrot is always dangling in front of you, showing you what you could be if you trained a little harder, lost a little more weight, were just a little faster. And that is what the effect would be, because you would want to be able to keep up. As he/she improved, you would improve. Constantly competing with each other.

I'd like to meet a carrot.

PS: My buddy Manny is not a carrot. He is levels, echelons, above me. He placed 7th in his age group at the Hansen Dam Tri. I placed last. That speaks volumes.

PPS: But still, I do strive to reach that level of athleticism someday.

PPPS: Ok, maybe he is a carrot.

Friday, August 26, 2011

I missed you, Amelia...

3 days. 3 days I was away.

Away from you.

My precious Amelia.

But no more. We had to be reunited. I had to be with you, Amelia.

The ride we shared yesterday was wonderful. I couldn't think of anyone else I would rather have been with.

And I love the way you look. All those curves. All those angles. I love the way you feel. Your Colnago carbon fork and Shimano R500 wheels absorbing the road and allowing me to enjoy the feel of the wind rather than the bumps in the asphalt.

Oh, I didn't mention my bike's name is Amelia?

Anyway.

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday were tough. I was resting a sprained foot (doctor's orders) and I can't go running for a few weeks (also doctor's orders). He said cycling might be ok, though, as long as it didn't hurt. After resting for 3 days, I really couldn't take it anymore. I wanted my legs to hurt (in a good way), I wanted my lungs to burn (in a good way), I wanted to go for a bike ride (in a bad way).

My foot wasn't hurting (as bad as before), and so I went. I didn't push very hard, considering I hadn't ridden for the past 3 days, but even taking it easy was great. Actually, I didn't take it easy for the whole ride. During an early part of the ride I managed to hit a new top speed of 36.3 mph. As a proud member of Team "Slow as F**k" it was quite the accomplishment. (Note: Not an actual team. Yet.)

I took my time, practicing staying in aero and standing on the pedals during climbs. I still need to work on pedaling while in aero, and I couldn't stand on the pedals during the climb for long, but it was still good practice.

Right now, I really just need to start putting in the miles to get ready for October. My Las Vegas Century is going to be the last major thing I really train for all year. Do I plan on still swimming/riding/running? Yes/HELL YES/maybe. I wanted to try endurance running again, but my foot may prevent that from happening anytime soon. I figure, I won't do any running until October, and then I will start running again. Until then, I will continue to stretch/massage/ice my foot.

And, of course, keep riding Amelia.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Faster, thinner people have prettier bikes (Race Report!!!)

Oh man, am I tired. And sore. Oh, and I sprained my foot.

But the Hansen Dam Triathlon was way too much fun. Of course, I don't know if I was thinking that during the swim. Or the run. I wouldn't have minded another bike loop, though.

Anyway.

I had a bit of trouble getting to sleep the night before. Then again, I think everyone does the day before a big race. So I stayed up for a bit, wasting time on the internet, and once midnight hit, I wished my brother a happy birthday on facebook. Then I went to bed.

The day started well. I woke up at 4:45 AM, had breakfast (a Mint Chocolate Chip Clif Bar and an Orange FRS), got dressed, woke up my lovely fiancee (Thanks, Love!) and off we went. She dropped me off at the transition area, and she went back home and back to bed. I was the first one in my wave to show up, so I picked a prime spot and set up my area. Bike racked? Check. Water bottles filled? Helmet and sunglasses sitting on the bike? Check. Clif shot blocks taped to the bike? Tires pumped to proper PSI? Check. Shoes set up and ready? Check.

Groovy. I was ready. I just chilled near my stuff, waiting for the event to start. I looked at the other competitors in my age group, and realized I really was going to get last place. Not so good for my self esteem or confidence going into competition. I chatted for a bit, and eventually Manny showed up. We greeted each other, and I helped him figure out where he needed to go so he could set up his stuff. At 6:45, 15 minutes before the event started, I downed another Clif Bar with some water, put on my swim cap and goggles, and headed down to the lake.

While I was there, I started looking at the spectators, hoping to see my parents or my fiancee. Time was short. I wanted to say a quick hello before the start. Right before the National Anthem, I saw my dad, looking for me. I walked behind him and waited. Then the National Anthem started. After the anthem, he noticed I was right behind him. We hugged, and he took a picture of my mother and me. After we departed, I walked back to my wave, and waited for the start.

As they counted down the seconds before my wave went into the water, I started concentrating on technique, and hoping that the turtles wouldn't bite me (I was told there are turtles in the lake at Hansen Dam, and considering that I was seriously concerned about piranhas in Redondo Beach, its no surprise this popped into my head, too). And then we all ran/hopped into the water. It was so nice and warm! I wasn't in my wetsuit, since that would slow me down significantly during T1, and I seriously wanted to beat 2 hours (but I really wanted to beat 1:45, and the night before, I decided I was going to try to beat my Redondo Beach Tri time of 1:39). I got kicked a couple of times, and somewhere in between everything, my stopwatch stopped. Once again, I had trouble swimming in a straight line, and the lifeguards had to yell at me every now and then to swim TOWARDS the buoy, instead of away from it. Taking their advice to heart, I eventually made it out of the water. Thinking I had had a great swim time, I ran into the transition area. Helmet first, then shoes. My fiancee was waiting for me in the spectator area of the transition area (she was within 3 ft of me and my bike, I told you it was a prime spot!) and she was asking me brief, one answer questions like "How did the swim go?" (Nice) and "How are you feeling?" (Good). I grabbed my bike, and clopped out of transition (I completely forgot my slow pwny strategy). I then mounted my trusty steed and headed off. I immediately passed someone who I think was wearing an LA Tri Club shirt, but I could be wrong. Either way, he looked like he hit the wall. HARD. I shouted words of encouragement as I passed him. I then arrived at the first hill. As I climbed, I started passing people on REALLY nice bikes. And then different people on REALLY REALLY nice bikes started passing me. I tried not to think about it too hard when that happened.

Anyway.

During the course, every time someone would pass me, I would shout "Keep it up!" or other such words of encouragement. I knew I had no chance of winning the thing, so I may as well be a nice guy about it, right? Eventually, they started replying with their own words of encouragement. Which I thought was pretty cool.

As I arrived at the hill before the really awesome downhill, I downshifted, and started climbing. When I noticed my cadence slowing, I downshifted again.

And then my chain dropped.

Meaning, it fell off the chainring.

$@#^!!

I dismounted, reset the chain, and then struggled to get enough momentum to keep turning the cranks. It took me about 3 tries (I kept stalling out) but eventually I was able to finish the climb. On the downhill, I shifted to a harder gear, and as my cadence went up, I went to harder gears. I was flying. Descending is the best thing about hills. I started passing people on the fancier, more expensive bikes (some were wearing aero helmets, too) and I tried to just enjoy the descent as much as possible (upon further consideration, I feel it is safe to say that my cycling specialty is descending, since people kept passing me on the climbs and the flats but I was the one doing the passing on the downhills). Throughout the ride I was chomping on Orange Clif Shot Blocks, and drinking water from the Aerodrink I had attached to my aero bars. Before I knew it, I was coming back towards the transition area, and I saw my fiancee shouting words of encouragement at me (At least I thought they were words of encouragement, she may have been mad at me for having had to wake up at 5 to drive me to the event). I rolled to the stop point, dismounted, and trotted back to the transition area where I parked my bike, took off my helmet, changed shoes, and ran off.

After a few short minutes on the run course, I realized I should have worn my trail running shoes instead of my Newtons. Or at least some socks. The mesh was allowing pebbles and dust to get into the shoe, which was started to get annoying (obviously). I eventually ran into a mud puddle too (yuck, wet running shoe and no socks). After the halfway point, I was feeling beat. This was the hardest I had ever gone in a race. I resigned myself to start doing 2 minute runs, 1 minute walks. Further along into the run, I saw a familiar figure running towards me. It was Manny! Surprised and happy to see him (I knew he had come to keep me going strong), I just kept running (by this point it looked more like a trot again). He started running next to me, slowly speeding me up, coaching me on my form and my breathing. He didn't let me stop to walk. I am so grateful to him for that. I would not have had the time I did without his help.

He got me through the hills, and eventually, we approached the finish line. With instructions to sprint once I turned the final corner, he let me go off on my own. With the finish line right in front of me, I sprinted as hard as my already exhausted body could.

I never saw the time.

The officials took my timing chip, gave me a finisher's medal, and let me on my way.

I gave my fiancee and big hug, told her I was exhausted, and walked towards the pull to soak my feet. Manny came by with some food and chocolate milk-flavored coconut water (seriously, it tasted like chocolate milk) and we stood in line to have our picture taken together. Manny left shortly after that since he was having breakfast with his family. After packing up my stuff, I was walking out of transition when I saw another cyclist running his bike into transition. Was someone still running the race? I then overheard one of the race officials asking where the final cyclist was. I told him someone had just run in to transition. He then advised me that the last cyclist has an LA County Lifeguard escort so they know who the last person on the road is. Damn, there was still someone out there. I never found out what happened to that person, either.

My fiancee and I stayed for the awards presentation and the raffle (I didn't win anything). On our way out, we chatted for a bit with someone in my age group who ABSOLUTELY DOMINATED the event. He dominated at the Redondo Tri, too. We then walked to the car, and went to her house, where her mother made us omelettes with bacon and hash browns. BEST MEAL EVER. I was so hungry. But excited. My fiancee had told me my times. And she had a huge smile on her face when she told me my completion time. I had beaten my Redondo Beach Tri time! I had a new PR!

For the record, both races had different conditions. Redondo had an ocean swim that was half a mile. Hansen Dam had a 500yd swim in a lake. But, the bike leg of Hansen Dam was 5 miles longer and the run leg was a mile longer.

After breakfast, I started making mental notes of what I needed to do to improve my times for next year.

Swim: I need to practice more. I need to learn bilateral breathing. I need do to more ocean swimming and drag training. And I need to lose weight.

Bike: I need to learn more bike maintenance stuff. I need to become a stronger climber. And I need to lose weight.

Run: I need to improve my endurance. I need to be able to push myself when I think I don't have anything else in the tank. And I need to lose weight.

Figured out the pattern?

Anyway, it was another great learning experience. Another great event. I am done with triathlons for the rest of year, which is definitely a good thing, since I sprained my foot. I went to the doctor yesterday, and bam, sprained plantar fascia. No running for a few weeks.

And he said cycling might be ok, as long as it didn't hurt. I certainly hope it doesn't, considering I am riding a century in October.

Oh well.

In summary, good times were had. Great event, gonna do it again next year.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pre-race post. The keys to faster triathlons!

Sunday August 21, 2011 is my brother's 27th birthday. I love the guy. He's been my best friend (and worst enemy, sibling rivalry and all that) for as long as I can remember, and I hope he has a great day. And here's the thing. I already gave him his birthday present (stuff from comic-con). On Sunday, I am giving something to myself instead: another triathlon (I enjoy suffering, apparently, and have chosen to give myself the gift of being sore for a week).

The Hansen Dam Triathlon is located at Hansen Dam (duh) in beautiful, scenic (pffft) Lakeview Terrace, CA. It consists of a 500yd swim, followed by an 11 mi bike leg, ending with a 3 mi run. Me being me, I am totally confident that I will win this thing with flying colors.

Who am I kidding, I'll be lucky not to get last place. Just like Redondo Beach, I will probably be Mr. 2nd to last. Which is only slightly better than last. To make things worse, they do not offer the "Clydesdale" category. Meaning I have to race against people the same age as me instead of the same weight as me. But still! I wanna win! And knowing that I won't, I will just have to settle for doing pretty good, or even just ok. Which I don't mind, by the way. You see, I have a tendency to overestimate my abilities. For example, I wanted to finish the Redondo Beach Triathlon in 90 minutes. Didn't happen. Almost happened, but not quite (99 minutes, so close!).

Anyway, I hope to finish the Hansen Dam Tri in 2 hours (But I REALLY wanna finish it in 1 hour 45 minutes). Do I think I can do it? I hope so. If I take 20 minutes on the swim (hoping for 15), 40 minutes on the bike (hoping for 35), and 45 minutes on the run (hoping for 40), then that leaves me with 15 minutes for transition time and any mechanical issues or flats I may encounter during the bike leg (or 0 minutes if I REALLY wanna finish in 1:45). I plan on finishing under 400th place (Really. No joke). I compared my estimated time to last year's results. Out of 424 finishers, those who finished with a time of 1 Hour 45 minutes (1:45) placed 394th-396th in the overall. Finishing at 2 hours would land me at 419th place. Which was 5 spots away from last place, 424th. This year they hope to have 700 athletes compete. So, I hope for a "middle of the pack" kind of day. But if the times are any indication, I will probably be 2nd slowest man again (yay me, writing does wonders for my self esteem).

The good thing about having done a triathlon before is the new things I learned about triathlons and tricks to reduce time. For example, don't wear a wetsuit. The water shouldn't be cold this time of year in the middle of the valley. Besides, even if the water is a bit chilly, I am sure all the sweat and spit from the other athletes (I'm in wave#4) will warm the water a couple of degrees, right?

That's the issue with non-ocean swim legs. You're gonna be swimming in saltwater anyway. But hey, as long as everyone took a shower the morning of, it shouldn't be too bad, right? And I shouldn't worry about cramping in the middle of the swim, since I would be taking in a lot of salt (ok, that's just gross).

So there. Time saving tip for the swim to bike transition. No wetsuit.

Now, what about saving time during the swim? The only thing I can think of is actually getting better at swimming. At least my fat makes me buoyant.

OK, saving time during the bike ride?

Many triathletes (at least the good ones) leave their bike shoes clipped into the pedals, and they don't put on the shoes until later during the ride. That helps reduce the transition time since they don't need to put on the shoes, then clop like a pony with new horseshoes out of transition. As for me, I'm not a good triathlete, so I'm going pony-style. BUT!!! I thought of a way to get in between the "shoes already clipped" method and the "slow pony" style. I will simply have to carry my bike shoes with my bike, then once I step out of transition I will put on the shoes and be on my way. I call it, "Slow Pwny." Catchy, no? Also, I put aero bars and new tires (the tires were an early birthday gift from the my fiance. Thanks, love!) onto my bike, which should help reduce rolling friction and help with being more aerodynamic. That should shave a few minutes off my time, right?

To summarize, reduce weight and improve aerodynamics to save time on the bike.

Now, for the run. What have I learned?

Absolutely nothing. No tricks. Park your bike, change shoes, and go (and I guess remove your helmet, if you don't want to look like an idiot).

You can't learn to run fast. It comes from training. It comes from being more efficient. It comes from (gasp!) losing weight. The only real strategy I have for the run is to do just that. Keep running. No run/walk like I've always done. Just keep running. And don't stop until I cross the finish line (immediately afterwards I will find the nearest soft looking patch of asphalt and proceed to crumple onto it).

So, to recap: Less clothes, less weight, more moving. Bam. I got this triathlon thing down.

Race report next week.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

I feel the need...the need for speed...(and nachos)

So in my last post, I talked about how I ran once in San Diego at the hotel, and then during the convention my friends totally abandoned me, allowing me to show off my massive and powerful (or powerfully massive, you choose) quads in a sprint to catch up to them. Which I did. Because I have massive and powerful (or powerfully massive, you choose) quads. Massive and powerful (powerfully massive) quads equals speed and strength.

Now, you may be asking, how can I, someone with tiny and weak (weakly tiny?) quads develop my quads into becoming massive and powerful (powerfully massive)?

The answer is simple. YOU CAN'T.

You must start at an early age! If you can read this post, then that means you can read, and are therefore too young to start this revolutionary new training program to help develop massive and powerful (powerfully massive) quads (apparently, I've also developed delusions of grandeur).

You see, I was lucky. I was always tubby, so my legs naturally had to carry more weight than everyone else, allowing for them to grow more massive and powerful (ok, this joke's getting old, I'll stop now) year after year.

I now submit to you, a true story: Back in high school, when I was a part of the football team, we were all stretching before practice. A friend of mine was going to help me stretch out my legs. Upon lifting one (just one!) of my legs, he let out an audible "huffghghfh" and angrily yelled, Damn, your legs must weight like 100 million lbs!" And he was pretty close. You see, having the naturally developed quads (and delusions of grandeur) that I have, they will naturally be heavier, due to the density of the muscles (and the delusions of grandeur).

And so, having these naturally massive and powerful quads (and by quads, I mean delusions of grandeur) allowed me to close a near impossible gap (it was about 2 city blocks) and reach my friends in time so that I too could get a gold bar (it was cardboard, and a promo for Cowboys and Aliens).

So in conclusion, I'm totally sure that all the cycling, running, and swimming I've been doing this year and the weight loss have had zero impact on my speed and strength. Because my quads are naturally like this.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hooray! I didn't bite off more than I could chew! (at least until October)

I didn't post at all last week after the race report because I was in San Diego for Comic Con. I am a huge nerd. Fortunately, the hotel I was staying at had a treadmill, which I used once. And during the Con, I was able to sprint and catch up to a group of friends who had tried to ditch me for some gold bars (buts thats a different story for a different time). Anyway, now to today's scheduled post.

Bike riding is fun. Plain and simple. I don't think I've ever gotten as much joy out of any exercise as I do riding my bike.

Saying that, I've been doing weekly rides with the San Fernando Valley Bicycle Club, chatting it up with the members (I plan on joining soon) and having a good time on two wheels. Its pretty cool. A weekly ride, with a bunch of people who also enjoy riding bikes (Albeit their bikes are much, MUCH nicer and they have full pro team kits, while I have a Chinese mail-order bike and a jersey and bibs I got from the clearance rack from Performance Bike and Helen's Cycles, so they don't even have the same logos on them) This past weekend was a bit different, though.

It started simply enough. The night before, I decided to go on the 25 mile ride, which is the easiest one they were offering. I had considered the 41 mile ride, but since I was helping my friend move right afterwards and had only ridden once that week (lots of mechanical and tire issues, but thats a different story for a different time) I went with the safer option.

Oh, how wrong I was.

I meet up with the club, and before everyone heads out, they do a (kinda-sorta) roll call where people raise their hands to show which ride they will go on. When they ask who will go on the easy ride, I raise my hand. While the leaders of the club were talking aloud, I heard someone behind me call my name.

"Chris!"

I figure they must be talking to another Chris. It IS a common name, after all.

"Chris!!"

I turn around, and its someone I had met on a previous ride.

He smiled and made eye contact. "Do the 40 mile ride with us!"

"I dunno, I have to help a friend move later today," was my response.

Not feeling discouraged at all by my valid and reasonable excuse, he exclaims, "But Jill's doing the 40 miler too!"

I look over at Jill, a thin woman with gray hair who rides a bike with toe clips. She's a super-nice and awesome person, but not exactly the world's strongest rider. She had even come up to me earlier, with doubts of riding the 40 miler.

Dammit, if she's doing it, I'm doing it.

I turn to my friend and say, "Alright, fine."

Satisfied with my answer, he clips in and rides off, expecting me to follow.

Unfortunately, I lose him in the crowd. And then the crowd splits into 3 main groups.

Oh hell. Where do I go now?

You see, I had printed out the directions for the 25 mile ride, not the 40.

I follow one group, and someone rides by me, asking "which ride you going on?"

I reply, "Number 2."

He responds, "Oh. I'm going on the number 3 ride."

Crap, I'm with the wrong group.

So I turn around a follow a different group. And then I realize I was in the right group in the first place.

By now, I've gone too far to try to retrace my steps (figuratively speaking) so I keep riding with the group I was with. Then, using my knowledge of intersections and the neighborhood, I make a left and see the group I am supposed to be riding with. I start to chase.

By then, the 40 miler group had split into two groups. The lead group had all the stronger riders, my buddy included. I never caught up to them. I didn't have the turn list, and I lost sight of them.

I caught up to the slower, easier group. Which I didn't mind, by the way. Since everyone was super nice.

And I was the only dude.

Since I didn't have the turn list, I just followed them, but I used this time to practice one handed riding, standing on the pedals, and reaching for my water bottle. All of which, I was able to do. Yay me.

During the ride, I felt something strange when I used my rear brake. I thought nothing of it, figuring it would go away eventually, or I would check it out once we got to the rest stop. More on this later.

As we neared the halfway point, we went past Lake Balboa, and rather than riding on the bike lane (separated from Burbank Blvd by trees and dirt and a lack of concrete) we road on Burbank Blvd. I rode as far away from cars as possible while staying on road, meaning I was as far right as possible. Meaning that the little seeds pebbles or whatever was falling off of trees and onto the roads, I was riding in.

You see where I'm going with this?

As we approach a park away from the trees and further down the road, I feel/see something weird from/on my bike. I yell out to the person ahead of me, "Go on ahead, I think something is wrong with my front wheel."

She stops, and walks back to me as I get my bike onto the sidewalk. I prop it up against a fire hydrant, and immediately notice a white seed/pebble looking thing stuck on my front tire. It was rubbing against my front brake, so I decide to pull it out.

Then I heard the hissing.

Dammit.

At least I have a spare tube and patch kit.

Then I look at my rear tire and see many more of the white seed/pebble thingies.

Dammit.

Then I look at my rear tire again. Or rather, the rear brake. It would seem that during the ride, one of the brake pads fell off. All of it. The rubber, the plastic part that holds it, and the screw that was supposed to keep it in place.

Lose/Lose/Lose situation. The minute I pull out the seed pebbles, I will have more holes in my tire. But if I try to remove the tire without pulling the seed pebbles out, they will deflate anyway. AND I DON'T HAVE A REAR BRAKE.

Then, acting as a guardian angel, one of the riders comes up to me with HER spare tube. I try to decline, but she insisted. I accepted her tube, and told her that I owed her one at the next ride (its already been purchased and it sits in my garage, anxiously anticipating meeting its new owner on Saturday).

A few members tried to stay behind while I changed the tubes, but I insisted they go on ahead to the rest stop. They went on ahead once they realized I knew what I was doing (Me knowing what I was doing is directly related to the mechanical/tire issues I had during the week, but thats a different story for a different time).Ugh, 4 tubes in 2 days. (Different story as mentioned above, yadda yadda yadda)

After I got to the rest stop and met up with the group I was riding with, I refilled my water bottle and sat down to eat a Clif Bar. As I got there, though, a few people from the group went on ahead, without me and three others who chose to stay with me and keep me company. Seriously, after they tried to wait for me to change my tubes (I gave them the OK to head off without me, remember?) they decided to wait for me to finish eating. I wolfed it down. I wasn't starving, but I felt bad that their muscles would get cold waiting for me. After that, we headed off.

And that's when things started going downhill (and uphill).

As I exited the parking lot, I was braking as a car was speeding past me. While I was mid-brake, I was mid-turn. While I was mid-turn, I went over some water. Low speed + turn + water + a fat mass = my front tire sliding out from under me and I fall to my side.

Don't worry, the bike was fine.

I get up, dust off the bike, and continue on with the ride. Flat for a bit, then we start climbing.

I would just like to say a giant THANK YOU to my friend Manny. After only having ONE ride/coaching session my climbing has significantly improved. So much so that I never dropped down to my granny gear (except for one time, but more on that later).

So yeah, I'm climbing, and feeling good. Well, I was hurting, but feeling good that I was climbing. And, we eventually caught up to the people who went on ahead.

As we rode on, one of the ladies, Fran, had asked if I had gone on the ride before. I told her I had not. She then advised me to prepare for some climbing.

Which I did. By going into a smaller gear on the rear cassette while staying in the middle ring on the chainring.

Clearly, I was trying to channel Jens Voigt.

As we climbed, we started coming up to a stoplight. It was still green. I immediately started pedaling harder, trying to beat the light.

I didn't.

As I realized I wasn't going to make it, I started trying to clip out from the pedals.

I couldn't.

As I flailed on my bike, trying to avoid the inevitable, I started thinking maybe I should just have kept riding. I mean, cyclists have the right of way, right? (Only a joke, don't run red lights or you will end up as a hood ornament)

Once I accepted my fate, I said aloud so all the ladies could hear, "This won't end well."

If memory serves me right, a few of them were laughing while they tried to help me up.

I was bleeding a bit, but fortunately, none of it got on the bike!

I got off to the side of the road, making sure my bike was ok. After I was sure it was, I waited for the light to turn green again. Since we were still uphill, I had to drop down to the granny gear (I"M SO ASHAMED) to get rolling again. Once I started rolling again, I went back up to the middle ring, and finished the ride.

There were more climbs, sure. But all of that is boring compared to my amazing uncontrollable superpower of fusing my shoes to the pedals and falling.

I was able to finish my first 40 mile bike ride. I didn't bite of more than I could chew. I don't think I WILL bite off more than I can chew.

At least until October, because I signed up for a century ride in Las Vegas. http://www.rtcsnv.com/vivabikevegas/

OH GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE

Monday, July 18, 2011

Its been a while (Race Report!!!)

Phew! Almost 2 months since my last post. I've been meaning to write about how my triathlon went, but lets face it, I'm lazy.

Anyway, before we could leave for the hotel, the Mrs. and I had to wait for the mail truck to come. You see, I had ordered a tri-top and tri-shorts 2 weeks prior, and they still hadn't come in the mail. And so, patiently, we waited. We figured, it was early Saturday morning, we would double check our bags at my house and once we saw the truck pull up, we would head out. We never saw the truck. We waited, more impatiently rather than patiently, for the mail. When my parents got home, they were surprised to see us. I calmly explained the situation, and so my father went out to the mailbox.

Yup, it was already there. It was a real "FACEPALM" moment for me.

I ran upstairs, new outfit in tow, and tried it on. And it actually fit. And I didn't look half bad. I was quite pleased with myself.

With peace of mind, we set out for Redondo Beach.

We first stopped to pick up my race packet. Having never done a triathlon, I also stayed for the tri-clinic, being put on by the race sponsors. Very informative and helpful. Excellent tips on setting up the transition area and putting on/taking off the wetsuit.

After that, we went back to the hotel to wait for our friends (hooray support group!!!)

Once they arrived, we went out to dinner with my buddy, Tim (couldn't think up any clever nicknames, sorry Tim!)

Carboloading was fun, and Tim and I hung out and got caught up while the Mrs. and friends got fro-yo.We all chatted for a bit, joking around and the like, and then we said goodbye to Tim and headed back to the hotel.

Back at the hotel room, I started practicing putting on and taking off the wetsuit. Then it was bedtime.

But I couldn't sleep. It took me a while, and I don't really know how much I slept. I was kinda freaking out. Would I get a flat? Would I get two flats? What if I couldn't make it through the surf? What if the water was too cold? What if I got attacked by piranhas?

Well, 5:00AM came around, and without any hesitation, I shut off the alarm clock and started getting ready. I put on my top and shorts, then some sweats (it was 5AM, obviously it was gonna be cold), double checked my transition bag, and sat around doing nothing. Then I realized I was should probably eat something, so I downed a Clif bar and some water. The Mrs. (God bless her soul, I love that woman) got up and drove me to the event so I could set up my transition area early. She went back and got more sleep. While I set up my transition area, I met and became acquainted with my neighbors, who were all in the same wave. Some were clydesdales, and some were old, but all were nice. One guy put a balloon in our area, saying that once we got into the transition area to look for the balloon so we would know where we were. Smart guy! I downed another clif bar and some FRS, got marked with my bib number, put on my wetsuit, and before I knew it, we all were corralled towards the beach. It was time.

My wave was 5th to go, I think. Very glad about that. In the first wave, a guy wearing only swim trunks jumped into the water and then immediately jumped out, dropping out from the race. That was a bit worrysome, but I had a wetsuit on. When it came time for my wave, I felt I was ready. I would dive under the waves, get into my cadence, and do the swim in 30 minutes. Ok, great. I was ready, I can do this.

The gun goes off! Fattys and oldies and dudes with mountain bikes ran/hopped/dove into the water, working furiously to get past the fearsome (3ft) waves and out into open water.

I was not ready. When the water hit my face for the first time, I freaked out.

Oh my god, I can't do this. Why am I here? F***, I can't do this.

Seeing me freak out, a lifeguard came over and asked if I needed help. At this, the turning point as I like to call it, a few thoughts ran through my mind:

1) I can't go back to work and face my co-workers without having done the damn thing.
2) I can't go back to my fiance and see her disappointment in me not having done the damn thing.
3) I can't go back to my friends and family and see their disappointment (a few would have an "I knew he couldn't do it" look in their face) in me not having done the damn thing.
4) I can't go back and think about all the money I spent on gear and entry fees without me having done the damn thing.

I was doing the damn thing.

I pressed on, telling the lifeguard I was fine, and dove under the water, touched the sand, and pulled myself foward.

Eventually, I did make it past break point. I passed the first buoy, and turned right. I was on my way.

I was still stopped a few times by a few more lifeguards who wanted to be sure I was ok, but I knew I wasn't going to stop.

And then my leg started cramping.

Once more, the "Damn Thing" conversation took place in my head, and in the back of my mind, I saw his holiness, Jens Voigt, smiling down on me. I knew what I had to do.

I started swimming with only my arms, while I stretched my calves and used the cycling mantra "Shut up, legs." Sweet, I can keep going. I eventually made it through the water, but coming back to shore was just as hard as leaving it. The waves kept pulling me back. Realizing I wasn't going anywhere, I started trying to body surf, dolphin kicking when I had lost momentum. It worked, and I stumbled out of the water. I eventually made it back to the transition area, where I really started worrying. I was feeling dizzy. Almost sick. Salty, even. I took a swig of some water, trying to get the salt out of my mouth and nose. I had some Clif shot blocks, and some FRS, and immediately felt better. I got out of my wetsuit, into my bike shoes and helmet, grabbed my bike and headed out of the transition area.

The bike leg of the triathlon was uneventful. Doing a 3mi loop twice was very restful, and very fun. I hit a new top speed going down a hill (32.4) and I never dismounted to walk up a hill. I finished the miles, got back to the transition area, got out of my bike gear and into my run gear, then headed out for the final leg of the triathlon.

I was pretty beat by that point. The shot blocks and FRS helped, and I knew I could finish it as long as I didn't get hurt. I started doing a run/walk pace, and eventually I decided to just go for it and keep running (it felt to me like running, to anyone else, it looked like a fat man trudging along, dizzy after getting up from his seat too fast). Once I saw the finish line, all the "tired" went away. I saw my dad and my fiancee, waiting for me at the finish line. I sprinted. The announcer and the crowd were cheering me on.

Strong sprint through the finish line!

I slowed but still ran into the arms of my father and future wife. I'll be honest, I cried a bit. I never would have thought I could ever do a triathlon. I am so happy I was wrong.

After the adrenaline wore off, I realized just how tired I was. I got some food, sat down with my fiancee, dad, and support group (yay friends!) and ate. I was, to put it lightly, cooked. I finished 2nd to last in the clydesdale division. I was exhausted, and my legs felt like jello.

But, in the end, I finished the damn thing.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Bike instead of work day

Sorry I haven't posted in a while, been working 8 to 5 this past week.

Anyway.

So last Friday my employers decided to give my department the day off. It was pretty awesome. I got to sleep in, and I decided to take my car in for some routine maintenance. Rather than take the courtesy shuttle home, I decided to take my bike and ride it home. I figured it would be a nice, easy, 5 mile ride from the dealer to my house. So I loaded my bike onto the trunk mount and left.

After checking my car in, I changed into my cycling gear and headed home.

I should probably also mention that this was only my second time using my cleated bike shoes. Making that comment, you can probably tell where this story is headed.

Anyway.

Things are going pretty well for me until I try to make a left turn. There I am, waiting for the light to turn green. And I wait. And wait. Wait.

Eventually I realize the light isn't going to change, so I walk over and press the cross walk button to change the light. Bam, problem solved. From there, it was pretty much a straight shot to my house. I was ok for a few stoplights, until, well, I had to stop.

Yup, clip stop fall.

I landed on my back, and fortunately I had my backpack with all my clothes, so the fall was nicely cushioned.

I fell again at a later stoplight. Ugh.

As I got to the hill to get home, I got into an easier gear, and started climbing.

Then an easier gear. And an easier one after that. Notice a pattern?

Eventually I ran out of easier gears, and I slowly rolled to a stall. I tried to get going again, but it wasn't happening. I put on my sandals, put my shoes away, and walked my bike home with my tail between my legs.

Getting home, I cleaned up my cuts and scrapes, and then got changed into some shorts and a shirt because I was going hiking with my family.

Yes, I am a glutton for punishment, why do you ask?

PS- Weight as of 5/21/11 is 255.8 lbs.
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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Clip. Stop. Fall.

Part of being a cyclist is fitting the part, meaning you have to have the right clothes and equipment. So, to help me be a better cyclist, I purchased a pair of road shoes and clipless pedals. The road shoes have a special cleat that attaches to the pedal, allowing for a more efficient pedal stroke and cadence. The perks of wearing these special bike shoes is clear, but I was given a warning when I first started cycling: You will fall the first time you wear these shoes.

Lets talk about the first time I wore the shoes. Really, the real meat and potatoes of this story only occurred in the first 5 minutes of my ride time. Everything after that went swimmingly.

Monday I met up with a buddy of mine, let's call him Drummer. We met at Lake Balboa, bicycles in tow. I had warned him that his cycling partner that day would be a fat man wearing lycra, and fortunately for me, he didn't mind. As we were getting ready, I put on my new shoes, and decided to take them for a test ride in the parking lot, before we started on the 5 miles (nice, easy ride) we had planned to do. Drummer was on an old, tiny mountain bike, so I'm not really sure how easy it was for him. We talked about road bikes and proper fitting, and I sent him a link so he could do his own measurements and find out what size road bike he needs.

Real quick, I just wanna say that it feels really good saying that a 5 mile bike ride is now an "easy" ride. It wasn't like that when I first got her (Yes, I've given my bike a gender. Deal with it.)

Anyway, I started pedaling around the parking lot, taking my time and slowly making my way back to the car, when I start thinking about stopping.

OK. I was warned about falling. I am not going to fall. Dammit, I am not going to fall.

I unclip my left shoe early, and roll to a stop. I plant my left foot down, nice and easy.

Woohoo! I didn't fall!

Feeling easier about the whole "clipless pedal" thing, I relax and decide to put my right foot down.

Oh crap.

As I teeter to the right, and struggle to move my right foot, I realize I FORGOT TO UNCLIP MY RIGHT FOOT.

Monday, May 16th, 2011, at approximately 1:05 PM, I joined the "I forgot to un-clip and ate asphalt" club.

PS- Thanks to Manny for the title idea and name of the club.

PSS- My weight as of Saturday May 14, 2011 is 258.6 lbs.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Depression and Redemption

I wanted to write this post yesterday, but I didn't have the time.

Oh well.

Depression

So yesterday, I received some excellent news. One of my best friends, who is finishing his Master's degree this year, received word that he will be working for a university in Central California. I was excited and super happy for him, but once the rush of my best friend's good news ended, I started thinking about my own life.

My Checklist:
1) Been in college 7 years and I still haven't earned a degree.

2) Never completed a marathon (I had planned on doing one in 2008) and I'm still obese.

3) Don't have my private pilot's license (I started training in 2007)

4) I work at a job where I am fairly confident that I would not be considered for a promotion.

5) I am in debt.

I dwelled on my failings for a good while. I was not in a happy place. Unfortunately, this happens every now and then. It's like an evil epiphany. I suddenly realize, "WOW. I've let a lot of people down."

I then go through a list of the people I've let down. Once again, not in a happy place.

Redemption

Fortunately for me, the Mrs. knows when something is wrong. However, I, being the insecure schmuck that I am, denied everything.

Once again, fortunately for me, she knows when I am lying too.

Eventually, I told her. I wasn't depressed about my friend moving onto bigger/better things, I was depressed about my own indecisiveness and inability to do what I needed to get done.

She then proceeded to give me her checklist.

Her Checklist:
1) In the past 7 years, my personality has changed from that of mean jerk to that of someone she feels comfortable bringing to her friends and introducing to her co-workers. I've matured into someone she is proud to call her fiancee.

2) She pointed out that I've finally taken steps to ensure that when I lose the weight, it stays off. She is proud of me, and my weight loss encourages her to re-examine her own lifestyle choices so that she can enjoy successful weight loss and increased fitness.

3) I've passed the written test, and all I need to do is study for the practical exam and call my instructor to finish up. She is proud that I've passed the written test and knows that once I start seriously working on finishing up, I will do it.

4) I have a job. And it pays well. Very well. We have many friends who have college degrees, but don't have jobs.

5) I've made a plan so that everything will be paid off sooner rather than later.

She always knows how to make me feel better about myself.  Despite all my faults, she loves me anyway.

Another Form of Redemption

Since today I was going to go hiking again, I needed to get my clothes ready last night. Since it was recommended to me to wear long-sleeve shirts when ticks are out and about, I had decided to wear one. Problem was, the only long-sleeve shirts I had were thick and warm, intended for the colder months. Damn.

Then, it hit me: jerseys.

A few years ago, my parents had given me a XXL soccer jersey of the Ecuadorian national team. I tried it on then, and it didn't fit. Feeling defeated by a piece of cloth, it stayed in my closet ever since. Last night, I took it out, thought thin thoughts, and tried it on.

Jeebus, it actually fit. And it felt GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD.

Yeah, I was going to be okay.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The post in which Fatboy talks about the Gladiator Rock'n Run

Before I talk about the Gladiator Rock'n Run, I would like to offer my condolences to the family of Wouter Weylandt, who passed away today after a fatal crash suffered during Stage 3 of the Giro d'Italia. May he rest in peace.

If you checked the blog during the weekend, you noticed some odd pictures being published, like this one. On Saturday, armed with a very silly costume, I did the Gladiator Rock'n Run with the Mrs, her bestie, her bestie's hubby, and our friend Taun-Taun (using fake names to protect those who could really give a hoot whether I write a blog or not). Another of our friends came along to fill the ever important role of "Pack Mule."

So much fun. The costume was awkward, and afterwards my neck was killing me, but the roar of the crowd was unforgettable.

The Gladiator Rock'n Run is a 5k + muddy obstacle course. I ran it last year, when proceeds went to fight Epilepsy. This time around, the proceeds went to TACA, Talk About Curing Autism.

But anyway, back to the race report. As soon as we parked, I had to get into costume, so I stood still while the Mrs. and her bestie duct-taped my costume to me. C'mon, it was a cardboard cutout of the Rock when he did that tooth fairy movie, it was the best we could do. Walking to the registration desk and the starting line, people were complimenting my costume and even asking if they could take pictures with me. Being the attention-loving anonymous spectacle that I was, I happily obliged them. People also wanted pictures with bestie's hubby, since he was shirtless, wearing bows in his mohawk, a tiara, a speedo and a tutu.

At the start of the race, Nitro (from American Gladiators) was hitting on the bestie. I don't think her hubby was too happy about that.

During one of the obstacles, we had to climb a cargo net to reach the top of one of those cargo hold thingys you see on ships and on trains. That was not easy when you have cardboard strapped to every inch of the front of your body. Oh, and I was holding my giant toothbrush scepter wand while climbing. As I got to the top, the crowd erupted with cheers and applause. Hearing this, I turned to my captive audience, raised my toothbrush up high and let out a "YEAH!" to the crowd. The cheers and applause grew louder. I loved every minute of it.

In the end, we finished in a little more than 90 minutes. When I ran it last year, by myself, I did it in 45 minutes. I blame the cardboard. And my giant toothbrush scepter wand.

After crossing the finish line, I tore off the costume, rinsed off as much mud from my clothes as i could (they were kind enough to provide showers and and an area with lots of hoses, I just used the hoses), changed into a dry shirt, and we hung up for a bit, waiting for others who were rinsing off. When everyone was done, we headed home.

It was a great day; a great event put on for a great cause shared with great friends. Pack Mule decided to join us next time, and if you want to join our team next year, let me know! We would love to have you.

Weight as of Sunday, 5/8/11 - 261.0 lbs.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Finisher's Medal

Good times.
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Ready to rock

In the parking lot at the Gladiator Rock'n Run. There is no after picture because the costume was destroyed.
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Gladiator Rock'n Run

Preparations. We are on the freeway making haste to Irvine for the Gladiator Rock'n Run. This pic was taken last night while getting our costumes ready. More pics later during the day.
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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The post in which Fatboy rests

Ah man. So tired. Lots of riding over the weekend. Lots of walking recently too.

My calves are killing me.

I was supposed to take yesterday as a rest day. Unfortunately, I decided to listen to what my body wanted and I ate.

And ate.

And ate some more.

I was a bad panda. But my calorie deficit was still within reach.

And so, ignoring my calves' request to not do anything, I did something.

Another 3 miles of something. My cycling mantra of "shut up legs" certainly came in handy during the 3 mile walk.

Afterwards the Mrs. took a water bottle to my legs and rolled the hell out of them.

Today they are still sore. And with my appetite under control and my calorie deficit achieved, I deemed today a rest day.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna veg and watch some tv.
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Monday, May 2, 2011

The post in which Fatboy talks about the weekend and today

Saturday morning came along and I groggily hit the snooze. Then the Mrs. reminded me I had planned on riding with the San Fernando Valley Bicycle Club today, and I'd better wake up if I wanted to make it. I got up, weighed myself (weight will be at the bottom of the post, SPOILERS: its good), and started gearing up and loading the car with my bike.

I made it to the meeting point (parking lot B1 at CSUN) and got there just as the groups were splitting up. I had planned on riding with the 25 mi group, and I wasn't sure who was in it, so I just blindly followed the person in front of me. This was clearly a mistake.

Jeff was a really nice guy. And when I realized that he was way out of my league I knew I had joined the wrong group. They were doing 65 miles. I was not prepared.

I was able to stay with the group for the first 3 miles, but eventually Jeff (nice guy) slowed down to talk to me and said me riding with the group "wasn't working out" and that the group was going to take off at their usual pace. I told him not to worry and to go about their usual ways, and they sped off.

I kept going, telling myself I would do 25 miles before I went home. Unfortunately, in keeping up with the 65 mile group, my legs were almost done. Around the 5 mile mark, I realized I needed to head home.

After a grand total of 8 miles, I made it to my car, where I had a brief discussion with a homeless man about bikes and cars, and then headed home. Once home I changed, and then loaded up my other bike (a mountain bike with road tires on it so the Mrs could ride too) and headed to the Mrs' house.

Then we went shopping and did a bunch of stuff.

Sunday morning comes along and the three of us (the Mrs, her mother, and myself) go for a bike ride. At .5 miles her mother goes home. The Mrs and I go on to do about 3 miles, but she has to walk the hills while I practice climbing by using the mantra, "Shut up, Legs." Works like a charm.

Today really kicked my ass though. It wasn't because my legs didn't have sufficient time to replenish their glycogen stores, or that I didn't get much sleep. It was because my buddy (gonna call him Ninja, because he's training for Ninja Warrior) and I went hiking.

Met up with him at his place after work, and then we drove to the bottom of the trail. The trail went into the Santa Monica mountains.As we walked further up and into the trail a mountain biker rode downhill with a greeting and a warning about ticks. Duly noted. We stopped occasionally for a sip of water and to check for ticks (found a few, too) and at the 45 minute mark I thought I was done. Ninja encouraged me to at least get to the top of the hill and then we'd go back. At the top of the hill, I had more water and thought, "meh, I can keep going." So we did.

At the hour mark I had a Clif Bar, and a took in a beautiful view of the San Fernando Valley. We made it all the way to Mullholland Dr., which was pretty impressive considering we had no real idea of where we were.

At the 90 minute mark we ran out of water. Later we also ran into an old lady who was hiking too, and she was super friendly.

At the 90 minute mark we ran out of water. We actually did get lost a few times, too.

Eventually we made it back to the park, and we made a beeline for the nearest water fountain. After 2 hours and 17 minutes of hiking, we were pretty thirsty. After drinking our fill, we sat in the park, and while I enjoyed another Clif Bar we talked about possibly setting up a tournament for something completely unrelated to Ninja Warrior or triathlon. I'd write about the idea, but its not mine.

I plugged the activity (hiking) and the time (137 minutes) into the MyFitnessPal app on my phone, and it calculated that I burned 1800 calories. Jesus. 

Finally I made it home, and after downing a rice krispy treat and some strawberry soda (my body needed the calories, dammit) I made some muscle recovery food: chocolate milk and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Both an 8 oz. glass of chocolate milk and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich have a 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio, which helps with muscle recovery.

I then promptly went to watch tv.

And then the Mrs came home.

And then we walked 3 miles.

My legs and feet hate me.

Oh yeah, my weight as of Saturday: 262.8 lbs.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The post in which Fatboy talks about food.

While at the local Whole Foods, shopping for veggies and a grape jelly with no high fructose corn syrup (or corn sugar, as the geniuses at the local Corn Union started to call it), I couldn't help but think of how much has changed in the past 25 lbs.

The best change is probably the actual 25 lbs. But what led to this reduction of unnecessary fat?

For one thing, I stopped drinking sodas and other sugary, mass-produced drinks. Other than one time during Lent (the Mrs. bought me some Inca Cola when we went to her grandfather's beach house as a treat), I can't remember the last time I had soda. When we go out to restaurants, I will order iced tea (unsweetened) or settle for a glass of water. It was hard at first, sure, but it got easier as time went on.

Certainly, another contributor to my improved health is my reduced caloric intake. Having a smartphone, I decided to download the MyFitnessPal app from the android marketplace. Should be on apple app store too. I plugged in my info, and it tells me how many calories I should take in a day and helps me keep track of how many calories I take in and how many I burn. Its super easy to use, and in addition to typing, it lets you scan bar codes to make things easier on your thumbs. Watching calories helps you get fuller too. For example, I can eat a pack of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups for 200 calories, or I can have 3 oz of chicken breast, 1 cup of chopped orange bell pepper, and 140g of steamed broccoli for UNDER 200 calories. More food, and its healthier.

I also noticed that as you eat better, the healthier food starts tasting better. Example: During high school and my freshman year of college, I hated vegetables. Never ate my salad, never asked for seconds of broccoli, never tried anything new. Now? I love broccoli (steamed is best). Bell peppers are frickin' delicious. I still don't like most salad dressings, but I don't mind eating the salad plain.

The hell happened to me?

Monday, April 25, 2011

The post in which Fatboy talks about shoes.

A curious thought: Why do quality shoes cost so much?

I remember growing up and getting a pair $125 shoes that I wore once or twice and then outgrew. Is it the style, or the look? Or does a celebrity endorsement automatically add $100 to the price of a pair of ordinary, run of the mill shoes.

For basketball shoes, maybe. The latest pair of Jordan's, or Kobe's, or whoever can easily fetch $250/pair. Do they make you play better? No, because if they did then every white boy and fat wannabe (i.e., me) would own a pair. Its all in the name. Which makes me think about how multisport athletes are much luckier than those for basketball, or soccer, or any other really mainstream sport.

We get quality for our money.

On Friday, I went out to play basketball with my father, brother, and my cousin. When we got home, I realized I had blisters on my right foot. I hadn't had blisters on my feet since I used to wear Nike shoes for running (I think maybe 3-4 years ago). The shoes I wore on Friday were Adidas.

Saturday, I went out for a run wearing my pair of Newton running shoes. My feet felt great. The blisters I had acquired the previous day didn't bother me in the least. Very happy about that.

This begs the question: why is there such a difference in quality between one of America's largest shoe manufacturers and tiny shoe company with extra rubber on the soles?

My opinion is that Adidas or Nike, or most other major brands are only looking for profit. All their shoes are meant for the same type of feet; no special insoles for flat-footed individuals, or for those who over-pronate. Their running shoes are not very good, either.

Newton, or Brooks, or Asics, or other specialty shoemakers, on the other hand, build different shoes for different feet, with varying levels of cushioning and support. They offer quality shoes at the same price, and are sometimes even lower.

Its amazing what a jumpman logo can do to a shoe's price.

Some will probably argue that because my feet aren't used to playing basketball that I got blisters.Or that I should drop some weight before trying to play. Or that I'm a stupidhead who shouldn't show his ugly mug around a basketball court again if he knows whats good for him.

Whatever, I'll stick my Newtons, Brooks, and Asics, thanks.

PS: Yesterday's weight is 265.6 lbs.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The post in which Fatboy gives an opening statement.

I have been overweight all my life. I've always been involved in sports, but I just eat too much.

I'm sick of it. And if I don't do anything to change it, I'm gonna get worse.

I've been asthmatic since I was 6. A few years ago, I was diagnosed as pre-diabetic. After changing up my diet and exercising more for a few months, I went back to my old ways. In 2010, I maxed my weight at 291 lbs. Not very healthy for a 23 year old male, now is it?

Last year I started to make the change. I changed my diet (somewhat) and started exercising more. I had always liked running (started training for a marathon in 2007 but a knee injury and overall laziness stopped me from ever finishing) so I started doing 5k's for fun. For 2011, at age 24, I decided I was going to do a triathlon.The Redondo Beach Triathlon will be held on June 12, 2011 and will consist of a 1/2 mile swim, 6 mile bike ride, and 2 mile run.

Triathlons are multisport events, which consist of swim, bike, and run legs (in that order). My fiancee is a swimmer, so I can learn from her. My running may not be fast, but I can go for miles if I just pace myself. As for biking? I'm still working on it. The whole "ride in a straight line" thing and "not falling" technique are kinda tricky.

I started training this year, and as of 4/22/11, I weight 267 lbs. Being very proud of my accomplishment, I went online to check what the optimum weight for a person my height (5'10") is.

167 lbs, maximum.

I am still 100 lbs short of being healthy. I have a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 39. I am obese. So I started this blog as a way to keep track of how I'm doing, and to make public my efforts. If I am able to drop down to a healthy weight (God willing), and if I can stick with the blogging aspect of having a blog (also God willing), then hopefully I can be an example to someone else who is in my situation.

If anyone is reading this, welcome to my journey.

Questions? Comments? Cheap shots?

Lemme know.