Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Graduation Day

Just a few quick updates today:

  • I've finally broken the 150 mark on total pounds of weight lost. That's a goal I've had for some time, because I've wanted to say that I've lost as much as the average professional cyclist weighs. Looking back, I'm not sure why that was important to me. Oh well, I'm here.
  • I've officially graduated from the Couch 2 5k Plan. I can run, very slowly, for 30 minutes without stopping. That's pretty cool.
  • Also running related, I was hoping to break 11 minute miles by Jan 1, but it didn't happen. Missing a goal sucks. I hope to not make a habit of it. The important thing is that I put out every bit of effort I could have on that last run. In the end, it averaged out to about 11:06/mile. On thanksgiving day I ran/walked a 5k at a 12:37/mile pace, so I've seen alot of improvement in the last month anyway. Of course, after my run I heard two guys discussing their 19 minute 5Ks, because karma must have felt I needed some salt in that wound. :)
That's all for this year.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Put That Away!

Attention Male Gym Members:

While I understand that some nakedness is required in the locker room of a gym, I would very much appreciate it if that could be kept to a minimum as required by the situation. Additionally, it is so NOT OKAY to attempt to converse with me about Seinfeldian topics whilst standing there completely naked. It's also not ok to stand in front of the mirror slowly combing your hair while complete naked. It is especially not okay to sit your naked ass on a bench, cross your legs guy style, and talk politics, even if said conversation is not directed at me. This behavior is both disturbing, and really freaking common. In fact it has lead me to believe that most males have no sense of modesty at all. Seriously, put it away!

While being very fat for a very long time (as opposed to current state: being a normal amount of fat for a short amount of time) has probably done irreperable harm to my self esteem, I am very happy that it has instilled in me a sense of modesty. Sure, I may be incredibly self concious while wearing my swim attire, but at least I'm not rejoicing in my middle+ aged nakedness like every other neoprimate in the locker room. I don't come from an athletics background, so I don't know if this is the norm, but I personally find it extremely weird.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


People often ask me where I find the motivation to exercise so frequently. The thing is, motivation doesn't have much to do with it. Exercise is something I have to do. It's not optional, and it isn't something that I can negotiate on with myself.

It's snowy, icy, and 14 degrees out. It would have been easy to stay home and be warm tonight. Instead, I threw my running shoes on and went to the gym and got my run in. Cold isn't really part of the equation, neither is comfort, or the inevitable pain that comes after a run for a big guy.

Some days it's hard though. I'll always do it, but sometimes I just want to phone it in and not push as hard as I should. For those days I remember where I've come from, and how easily I could fall back into those habits if I give myself the smallest chance. I remember my friends and their unending support, encouragement, and inspiration. I remember all the people that for some reason find me inspiring. Lastly, I remember the people that are waiting for me to fail.

So here is my advice on motivation. If your thinking about exercise is correct, then you don't need motivation to do it. You already know it's something you have to do. It isn't negotiable. Since you're doing it already, you might as well push as hard as you can. Remember all the people counting on you, and push even harder. Then remember all the people counting on you to fail, and push harder still.

Or, more succinctly said:

"Unless you feint, puke, or die...keep walking" --Jillian Michaels

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

All I Want for Christmas Is...

  • A taser for the woman at the gym making me wait for a treadmill while she walks 2mph and talks to her friend on her cellphone.
  • A new set of Zipp wheels, because the Dr. says I'm good to go for triathlons next year!!!
  • A good home for my snow blower, because snow blowers are for old Mike. New Mike doesn't pass up free opportunities to exercise.
  • Dry roads, because running on the treadmill (even after tasering the woman in the first bullet) is crazy boring.
Sorry for the lack of posts, but there isn't anything real exciting going on right now beyond my previous Doctor news. Oh yeah...and current weight is 234, so that make it -146 pounds. Base building, riding indoors, running indoors, swimming indoors...everything ends in indoors right now.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Triathlon Schedule

Pending doctor approval, I'm planning on moving beyond club rides this next summer and I'm going to try to compete in a few triathlons.

Currently the situation is like this: Biking = good, swimming = fun but not so good, running = bad.

I'm working on the running now (11:20 minute miles). I'm hiring a coach for swimming. Lastly, I'm trying to keep my biking at least where it is, but biking a tri sprint is a lot different than riding a club ride. It's a shorter distance, but much faster paced, which is a different type of training all together.

My current triathlon plans look like this:

4/26 Sullivan Triathlon Priority A
6/6 Tri-Shark Triathlon Priority A
6/13 Rockman Sprint Tri Priority C
6/21 Metlife Duathlon Priority C
7/18 Evergreen Lake Tri Priority B
8/9 Naperville Sprint Triathlon Priority C
8/30 Chicago Triathlon (Sprint) Priority A

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Why BMI Doesn't Always Work...

For most of the world's population, BMI is a fairly reliable estimate of body fat. That being said, BMI is not a direct measurement of fatness. It's a mathematical model that closely correlates to body fatness for most people.

But there are outliers that don't fit within the model. I'm one of them.

For my 70 inches of heigh, according to BMI tables if I were to have a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9, which is a normal healthy adult BMI, I'd weigh between 132 and 174 lbs.

At the moment I'm 250 pounds. According to three seperate and relatively high end devices estimating my body fat percentage using Bio-Impedance (BIA) my body fat percentage is measured to be between 25 and 26%.

Assuming a worst case of 26% body fat at my current weight, I am carrying around 65 pounds of fat. That would make my lean body mass 185 pounds.

But, if my lean body mass is 185 pounds, how can my ideal weight top out on the BMI chart at 174? The results of these two seperate measurement systems are incongruent. Either a) all three BIA analyses were grossly incorrect or b) I am some sort of outlyer to the BMI model.

Given the likelyhood of a and b, I have to make the assumption that b is true and that BMI doesn't apply to my body type. This isn't exceedingly surprising. I'm a big guy. With only casual weight training, I can bench press about 300 pounds, which is something many serious body builders strive for. BMI doesn't account for body composition completely.

So then, should BMI be gotten rid of as a measurement of fatness? Probably not, but I think it may be time to reconsider how BMI is used.

For large groups of people it is an excellent tool for measuring fatness, as it is for most of the population accurate, at least according to the CDC. For an individual, trying to measure his or her individual fitness there are better tools readily available.

For an individual, estimating body fat by BIA is likely a superior method. The BIA method is at least very strongly correlated to actual body fat, and in most studys I've read is shown to agree within 5% with more accurate methods like DXA analysis. Additionally, it should be a much more inclusive method, which fits large people as well as smaller people (studies suggest that for some asian people obesity begins at BMI 26 instead of 30 for caucasians) better than BMI can.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Pumpkin Pie Ride -- Ottawa, Illinois Oct 5th, 2008

When I started cycling this year, I never imagined I would be finishing the season with a a metric century, in fact I didn't even know what a metric century was. Of course, I'm not very good at doing anything just a little bit... After 3 months of training I completed my first metric century at the 19th Annual Pumpkin Pie Ride. In fact it ended up being just a bit further at 108.8 Km /68 Miles.

The morning started off rainy, and it was only about 43 degrees.

The route took me from Ottawa, IL to Utica, Streator, Marseilles, and finally back to Ottawa. It was a great ride, but those Illinois Valley cyclists sure do like to climb. There were some brutal climbs by Starved Rock and again in Marseilles on what I think is called blueberry hill, but would be more aptly named hillbilly hill. Both climbs were over a half a mile, which is a big hill for a midwesterner. This is the approximate route:

View Larger Map

Coasting in after a very long ride...

The final odometer reading:

So what's next? Well next year I plan on doing a full century (100 miles) and attempting a triathlon, but at this point I think my biggest challenge will be maintaining what I've achieved through a long cold Illinois winter. For the next several months my biking will be done on a trainer, with the occasional outdoor ride if weather permits.

Ride Like An Egyptian 9/27/08

Ride Like An Egyptian was a benefit for the Egyptian theater in Dekalb Illinois. I rode the 50 mile option, which turned into a 55 mile ride due to a road construction related detour. In addition to being a great ride, they have the coolest ride t-shirt ever.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Before And "In Progress"

It's not easy to share this, or even look at myself at my old weight, but I'm going to be brave and share a before and "In Progress" picture. Not after, not yet, I have a long way to go. I've come pretty far though, 115 lbs to be precise.

Route 66

So, first of all, no post about Route 66 would be complete without at least one Kerouac quote...
“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes "Awww!” -- Jack Kerouac, now that that's out of the way. I wanted to post a few pictures of my journey training for the metric century I have coming up on Oct 4th. Just this summer I started cycling. My first ride was just 5 miles. I thought I was going to die the first time I rode 20 miles. Now I'm getting ready to ride 64 miles for the first time.

Part of my training routine has been a long ride every weekend, gradually increasing to 40 miles, which used to be a very long distance for me, but now it's just another Sunday ride! Here is a recent picture of me before my last trip. I know of at least a few people that will enjoy pointing and laughing at my cycling helmet, but that's ok, I can take it. :)

And here is the famous Route 66, about 10 miles south of Bloomington, Illinois near funks grove. Much of the ride borders Interstate 55 South, but when you can get far enough away from the highway the scenery really is something.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Evergreen Lake - August 16 2008

This was the maiden voyage of my new Perception Carolina 145! After some frustrating adjustments to my brand new Seals spray skirt I was off and paddling. The new boat has great primary stability without being a tank. Then again, after the hassle I went through getting it legal for Illinois waters I was just glad it didn't sink!

Evergreen Lake was really nice and the weather was perfect.

Indian Independence Day was being celebrated nearby and the park was filled with rather exotic music for Central Illinois.

After I got into open water a little bit I did have some weather-cocking issues that surprised me, but it wasn't anything that required a rudder at this point. If I ever find myself on big water in this boat, that might be an issue. I haven't tried out the rudder yet though, I've always been a skeg snob, but I'll have to get over that now.

Being several feet smaller than the full sized boats I'm used to, the Carolina seemed to turn on a dime. I appreciate the stability the multi-chined hull gives, and could immediately feel a strong secondary stability as I did some quick low braces. I'm sure at some point I'll outgrow this, but for now it's great!

This is a surprising look for me. I'm done after a day of kayaking, and I'm perfectly dry. Did I mention how stable this boat was? I'm going to have to dump it on purpose next time so I can do some rescues with it, but for now I'll enjoy the dry landing.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Kayaking Break - Cisco Live June 08

This was Cisco Live 2008... If you work in telecommunications, it's the place to be every summer.

In addition to a great conference, I was lucky enough to find a place to kayak. In addition to normal conference activities, on this particular day I managed to kayak, peddle this strange bike/car thing, spin 30 minutes, get my normal weight routine in, and drag myself up 40 flights of stairs while being motivated "Biggest Loser" style by my friend CJ. It was the only formal exercise I got in during that trip, but that was a very active day!

While not exactly "big" water, this was a pretty cool kayaking trip! We were lucky enough to discover the Disney Frontier Resort while attending Cisco Live 08 and managed to find an hour to paddle around the Frontier Resort's man made lake, while taking a break from "The Power of Collaboration."

Sit on Tops aren't really my thing, and I'm pretty sure Disney kayak paddles are made of a steel fence post with blades on either side, but there is no bad kayaking trip. This goes double for a kayaking trip that was just a happy extra on a business trip.