Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Swimming’ Category


Yep, I’m back.  No, I didn’t go anywhere.  I’ve just been busy.

Since the first of this year, my family’s budget has been much more strict.  That can be problematic when you’re a triathlete, clydesdale or otherwise.  It’s kind of normal that in the 21st century, everything is an industry these days.  So, yes, there is the running industry, the triathlon industry, and I even work in the healthcare industry.  Side note: In my own personal opinion and belief, healthcare of any kind should never be considered an “industry” in any sense.  It should always and only be considered ministry, regardless of your religion.  We should be working ourselves out of a job, not creating permanence and profit. That being said, industries have one primary goal in mind: setting their followers free from the green stuff in their pocketbooks and making them feel good about it.

That’s not cynical, people, it’s just true.  Industries are in it for making money.  They exist because they have constituencies; followers.  Runners need shoes, shorts, shirts, gels, sleeves, compression gear…and the list goes on and on.  Get it–runners NEED this stuff (feel free to substitute cyclist, triathlete, etc.).  And, it’s true that there are times when we do need the stuff, or it may help us in one way or another.  However, many times, we just want it.  Of course, for many triathletes, what we  most want is the next race, or ride, or whatever event there is down the pike.

Previously, during most of the year, I was budgeted to one event per month (except for special instances). One race or one ride.  Now, even those will be hard to come by, so I am doing with less of them.  I attended one ride this Spring, primarily because it was inexpensive and we didn’t have to travel far (and there was something for sweetie to do while I rode).  I was able recently to sign up for the Dallas Half Marathon in December because of a birthday gift.  No, I am not complaining, but I am learning a lot more about what it means to be a runner or a cyclist this way.

I’ve learned I can do without Clif bars.  I’ve learned I can do with just Gatorade.  I already reported that while funds were available, I pre-bought two pair of running shoes so they would last.  I’m keeping my 400 mile pair in service for short runs to make them last even longer.  I’ve also learned to get more out of my workouts than just a notch up for the next race or event.

Usually, by now, I am into full swing cycle mode for the Summer.  That hasn’t happened this year.  I have switched to doing long runs on Saturdays instead of going out and riding.  Mainly because I can’t get any medium length ones during the weekdays.  I was finding that if I got up at 4AM and did 6 to 8 miles, I was wasted for working that day.  Also, by waiting until Saturday, I can run longer and get into better condition, all while seeing the sun come up.  Much better, I think.

But, I’ve gotten some riding time in as well.  I’ve just had to be creative.  I’ve loaded up the bike on the car and driven out to a large trail where I can ride safely on Sunday afternoons sometimes.  Yes, that may be anathema to some, but it is better than nothing.  A friend recently started up his Sunday morning group ride around town.  Since I don’t have to be at church at 7AM any more, I can now ride.  Also, much better.

I’ve been working on a better running workout that is doing me some good right now.  My weekday runs are limited to about 3 and no more than 5K at a time.  Then on Saturdays, I’ve been working from 8 to 14 miles.  I just finished the first cycle a couple of weeks ago and now I’m going from 9 to 14, then 10 to 14, then 12 to 14.  After I finish that cycle, I’ll go back to 8 and start over again.  I’ll let you know how it goes, but so far it has felt very good to get out and do the longer runs like I was doing for the marathon.

I’m trying to hold 1,000 yds. in swimming, but I waffle some.  I’m down to just one day as Mondays are seniors only at my pool.  It’s a lot less busy that way and I can swim better.  An Ironman friend of mine had been doing a workout where he ran to the pool, did his swim, then ran home.  I’ve started doing that some.  It’s a killer workout, to borrow a cliche, but well worth the effort.

I hadn’t really been a running clothes horse.  My only few important things I’ve had for a while; a couple pairs of compression shorts, and some really good socks, plus a pair of winter woolies and running pants for Winter.  Almost all of my shirts are race shirts or were bought at Wal Mart or Target.  You can get decent stuff there.  I haven’t need any clothes this  year, but if I did, I know where to look.

It’s been different not racing or going to rides as much.  I’ve been blessed with more great runs this way than usual.  I am still getting to do new things.  I’ve noticed I am running much faster than I used to run.  It’s decently exciting to finish a long run on Saturday and discover you didn’t take as long as you thought.  It’s also good to be able to run by the grocery store on your run and see folks you know.

Running and working out is about a lot more than just the events.  You really don’t have to have a lot of money to do it.  You do need to have really good shoes though.  There you cannot scrimp.  That just requires planning and budgeting to make it work.  I’ve been reminded a lot more lately of just what it means to be an athlete (or “late onset athleticism as John Bingham calls it).  At my new job, I have been able to put into practice all those things I believe in about being a craftsman such as doing a good job just because it’s the way you do a job.  Now, I’ve been able to apply those lessons to running, biking, and swimming.  Doing them well just because you should and because  you can.  Triathlon training on a budget does work.  Happy running, ya’ll!

Read Full Post »


I hadn’t done any serious cycling since last Summer.  Though I had gotten out on the bike a few times this Spring, it’s been difficult trying to find time and place to do everything.  I was concerned whether or not I was ready to ride 60 miles at the Head for the Hills rally this past weekend. But, I was anxious to get out on a really long ride.

This ride is in Cedar Hill, TX; very near where I live.  I think this was my fifth year to ride it, but I’m not sure. It has always been a fun ride that is not too challenging.  I even got lost year before last and ended up in Mansfield, TX and had to make my way down a major highway just to get back to Midlothian.

I checked the weather the night before because wind can be a major factor on this ride.  My Weather Channel app said that the wind would be out of the north-northeast at 10 to 15 mph.  That didn’t sound bad.  However, the weather man ( or my weather app) lied about the wind speed.

I actually ran into a couple of folks I knew and lined up with them for the start.  They were talking about riding together, but when the start happened, there was too much waiting, so I took off.  Times a wastin’, ya’ll.

The whole first 35 miles or so was not only good, it was scary great.  We were moving fast.  I knew we had the wind at our backs, but it was only 10-15 mph, right?  We must just be moving well.  NOT.  The wind was at least 20 mph, and probably gusting higher. On some descents, it made it white-nuckle scary.

The back roads around Cedar Hill and northern Ellis County can get pretty narrow.  Many of these are chosen for the Head for the Hills ride and they are chosen well.  The twists and turns make the ride fun.  However, when you are dropping into a tight downhill turn on what is really only a one lane road at about 24 mph, the fun dies back somewhat.  I was fortunate in that I was in a large group of riders and could depend on them hollering back if any cars were coming.

I ran across one lady rider that was down just after a curve.  She had a lot of help around her, but I still thought it appropriate to ask if she was alright as she was being helped to the side. “Nope, not really.  Everything’s not quite alright,” was her answer as I peddled away.  I saw another guy go down in front of me.  I still don’t know what happened to him.  He was about 100 yards in front of me with his partner when he just flipped out and went down; on a straight road.  He was OK too, so I rode on.

When we made the turn back to the north, all the fun stopped.  Facing a 20 mph wind on a bike is a chore.  But, I’ve done it before and the ride still had to be finished, so I dropped the gears and the speed and just kept it up.  We made it up to the 40 mile rest stop fairly soon after the turn.  I decided it was time for a good rest before tackling the wind and the hills back to Cedar Hill.  This is a good rest stop because it is at a glider airport.  This time I got to see a glider get pulled up into the air.  It was a good day for gliding.  Lots of wind.

The last 20 miles or so were uneventful.  Just slow gutting it out against the wind.  Did I mention it’s all uphill back to Cedar Hill?  But, near the finish of the ride, things picked up. One guy near the finish that said he was going to draft off of me for a while.  I thought that was funny.  I’m not usually fast enough to draft from.  I also got a crack out of the two ladies that had just decided to stop at the Dairy Queen at the highway and have some ice cream before finishing.  Then there was the group of guys that turned back into the ride about a quarter mile from the race.  They had stopped to have lunch at Babe’s Fried Chicken before they finished.

I finished up in 5 hours even.  Certainly decent and typical for me at 60 miles.  However, we took off at 8AM and I was at 20 miles at 9:12 and 40 miles at 10:40, so you can get an idea of how much the wind slowed me down.  Five hours put me back in exactly at 1 PM.  You can see that it took from 10:40 to 1 PM just to get the last 25 or so miles done. Whew!

Cedar Hill is always a good ride.  I’ve hardly ever had any rain beyond just a few sprinkles.  It is often windy in one way or another.  A north wind in May is unusual and its a little better on this ride to have a south wind.  In addition, this ride helps a lot of folks in their area with the proceeds.  I’d recommend this one to anyone in the DFW area, especially because it’s close to us.  Most rides are much further out.

I’m probably going to be writing less for a while.  I’ve got several things I would like to work on besides just this blog.  I’d like to get a tech blog going and see how that works.  I’ve lost some of the motivation I used to have for writing, but thankfully, people keep actually reading what I write.  That always helps me remember that there is a good reason for what I’m doing.

I think I’ve finally gotten together a workout plan that works for my new schedule.  I run on Monday and Thursday mornings before work.  I spin on Tuesdays and Wednesdays to take off a little of the pressure from running.  I am doing my long runs on Saturday mornings (unless I have a ride).  That has helped in getting the longer miles in without getting up at 4 AM.  Now, I ride on Sunday afternoons when I can by taking the bike to Campion Trail.  I’d rather ride out myself, but the traffic just doesn’t work well.  I round this off with one or two evening swims, if I can.  That schedule should keep me fit and ready for whatever I want to do.

That should be enough for now.  My next ride is the Tour de Pepper in Dublin, TX in early June.  I’ll probably write again after that ride.  Happy running and cycling!

Read Full Post »


The past week or so has been good for running, though in a weird sort of way.  I thought I’d relate my week to you all because as I reflect on it, I realize it’s time to take down my shingle as a “newbie“.  I write this to encourage anyone that can still safely and proudly display their shingle as a “newbie” runner, cyclist, or triathlete.

It’s February in North Texas and that means I am completely ready for Spring to be sprung, but the weather just doesn’t cooperate.  We go from warm humid days to freezing and raining overnight, it seems.  It can make one’s planning for morning run preparations quite difficult.  In addition, I usually try to ride early on Saturday mornings right now, but have found that below about 40 degreesF is just too cold. So, what to do?

Last week, I got in a full four days of running as is my usual bent.  On Thursday, it was the coolest of the week, I think.  I had to run a four miler to finish out the week and thought I’d run an old route I used to run.  It has a few hills and I discovered via an achilles problem that it’s not good to run hills every day.  But, my usual route is so flat and boring I just needed the change.

Being a cool morning, I could take out fairly quickly but figured I’d lose it pretty soon.  I’ve been working on pacing since last Fall during marathon training.  I’ve always tried to run by feel, but have found out that I can get lazy.  If my fitness, distance, and time is going to improve, I need to keep my pace in a range that keeps my body challenged.  So, I’ve been working on finding a pace that is comfortable, but at the edge.  It’s a bit like threshold running, but without going quite that far.  I am doing this so that I keep my pace improving as my fitness improves, and that I don’t get lazy.

This was a good morning for that.  I know that if I feel myself speeding up during a run and that it’s not correspondingly hard, then I am doing well.  On that morning, despite the cold and the hills, I was speeding up.  During the last mile, I was wondering if I would break a goal of mine, 4 miles in under 45 minutes.  For the longest time, I’ve been a 50 minute 4-miler.  During the last half-mile, I did my best to run nearly as fast as I could.  My final time was a little over 44 minutes.  Just a little over an 11-minute mile average.

This week, I was hopeful for a full week of running, but the weatherman wasn’t.  After two good days, I had to stay home on the trainer for Wednesday and Thursday because of cold and rain.  Although, the weatherman’s doom and gloom forecast for Thursday morning was behind schedule and I could have run.  Since Saturday was forecast to be sunny but cold in the morning, I thought I would console my missed runs with a real long run.  Cycling down near freezing is just uncomfortable to me and running is doable. I planned an 8-miler, longest run since December.

The first three or four miles seemed normal for this distance, but that was probably the hills.  At about 3.5 miles, I hit a flat spot that holds for a while.  I felt that same increasing pace again.  I was able to hold it and it was doing fine.  I was expecting to see another 11-minute or so average.  Imaging my surprise when I finished out and looked at the Strava reading: 1:30:29 and a 10:30-ish AVERAGE pace.  I cannot ever remember or believe I could have run this distance that quickly.

No it’s not real fast, relatively.  Yet, for me it’s speedy.  It hasn’t been that long since I was just doing 13 minute miles and if I had a really good day, it might be a 12:30. So, 11’s and 10’s of any sort seem like I’m burning rubber.  I guess after four and a half years of running, I might better quit considering myself a beginning runner.

Someone I know that just started a fitness regimen recently asked me, “How do you run for 26.2 miles?”  They couldn’t imagine running that far because it hurt so much to run just a little.  Well, when I started, it hurt then too.  But, I didn’t quit.  I adjusted and my body adjusted also.  If we keep going our body will continue to improve and prepare itself to improve even further.  But, we also have to watch out for plateaus where we become content with what we have done and forget to continue to improve.  If you’re a beginner or a “newbie”, then be proud you are.  Carry that title with honor and just keep going.  Tell yourself that one day, you will have to take that title down and put up a new one.  But, until then, even though it’s just a cliche’, you’re lapping everyone still on the couch.  You’re a runner.  You’re a cyclist.  You’re a triathlete.  Those are much better titles and having beginner beside them is no problem.  Happy running or cycling!  Remember, Spring will be here soon.

Read Full Post »


It has been a good two weeks since my last post.  I have had a lot to do in that space of time.  I started my new job and am getting comfortable and working on that task.  I just finished my final exam today for College Algebra (Whew!). I survived a DNS outage and got ready for a presentation on the web site I’ve been working on. And, I’m still running mostly, sort of, kind of, regularly.

I began work at the new hospital two weeks ago.  I’m doing HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) work for them, plus refrigeration.  We’ve both been getting used to each other, though I think I probably have more adjustment to do than they do.  I came from a “one person doing it all” kind of opportunity via a huge mega-hospital experience and have now stepped into small-town-cozy-but-very-energetic hospital experience.  It’s a challenge sometimes, but I am adjusting and getting to learn everyone and our new systems.

I just finished up two days of working evening shift, which I have never officially done before.  It’s quite different, but it went well.  I’ve managed to keep up my work and still get a few things done that we couldn’t during the day.

I have a good crew of people to work with.  Two other guys doing HVAC with me and a host of folks that handle lots of other things.  They’ve been very helpful and friendly.  I learned quickly after starting work there that this really is where I am supposed to be for right now.  It’s a good place.

Because of the new job, I managed to purchase my first pair of Nikes this weekend.  I tried wearing some regular hard working shoes for two weeks, but they have been killer.  I think I’ve become too accustomed to living in running shoes.  I managed to find a pair of Nike Alvord 10 trail runners for work.  Their main feature that I wanted–they were all black.  Hopefully, they won’t get noticed and I’ll get to keep wearing them.  They were certainly comfortable last evening.

Our city’s bike lane task force is getting going again for the year.  We had the first meeting this last Wednesday.  I was on the agenda to show off the work we’ve done on getting a web site ready for bike advocacy in town, but it’s been quiet for a month or so.  I happened to get a weird e-mail error from my server early this week and thought to check on it.  I discovered my Internet provider had changed my home’s IP address and all of my DNS settings were now useless.  Since the web site is based on WordPress, if the domain name isn’t right, the site doesn’t work.  I still haven’t gotten the problem fixed, but I got a work-around done so that at least I could to the presentation.  The web site was well received by the members and we’ll hope to have it up live soon.  I have a few changes to work on and then get the ‘go ahead’ from our fearless leader.

Speaking of our bike lane task force’s fearless leader.  Our city is blessed by a lady that really knows her stuff on getting things like this done.  She has been leading the charge for bicycle advocacy in our town for a few years now and we are seeing some of the rewards of her work.  Things never move as fast as we would like, but things are looking up. We are getting more interested folks in what we are doing; though gas prices aren’t hurting our efforts either.

Also, yours truly got an e-mail recently from a site called Pocket Change.  It seems they liked my blog and sent me an Editor’s Pick award for the site.  You can see it posted in the column on the right.  It’s always good to get noticed for your work.  Though, at this stage in my writing, I do it just for the fun and to get to know others out there.  In addition, WordPress sent word a while ago that I’ve kept the blog up and running for three years.  That’s probably not long unless you count it in World Wide Web years.

I’ve just finished up my first semester back in college with my Algebra final exam this morning.  I think I passed, maybe.  With all the other stuff going on, I think I’ll let that be enough for now.  It was much harder that I expected, especially getting used to all the new technology of classwork on the Internet.  I learned a lot though and much of it may be useful on the new job.  We’ll see.

Running has been doing alright.  Back working in a hospital means lots of walking every day.  Not wearing decent shoes hasn’t helped how my legs and feet feel in the morning when I get up to run.  I’ve kept close to my weekly quotas that I set, but I am a bit behind.  I had hoped to be further along towards my 20 mile weeks by now, but I will have to be happy where I am at, not where I wish I were.  I am hoping for milder weather for a bit.  Twenty-something to thirty-something degree mornings get old in a hurry.

However, the quality of my runs is doing quite well.  I’m running a little slower than in October/November, but it is still going well.  It’s just been harder in the first mile or so to get going.  I should be able to adjust as I get used to the walking.  It’s side benefits are good though.  I was able to record a five pound loss for last week.  So, I am back down to my pre-Holiday weight (yippee!).

I am also starting to move my swim lengths back up.  I’ve kept them down to 600 yards each time so as not to interfere with my marathon training.  Now, with that over, I can start to edge back up to 1000 yards soon and hopefully get to a mile by about Summer (I hope).

Lots of new changes and adjustments.  Which is often disconcerting to a guy like myself.  I am a creature of habit and ritual.  I like for those things that I do to be somewhat in a rut at times.  When I can depend upon something being the same, I believe I am able to adapt to the changes that come my way.  Notice I said believe.  That may or may not be true.  Lately, there have been many changes that seem to happen all at once (though probably not really).  But, as Mark Lowry said once “this too shall pass,” which is from the Bible, but it was funnier the way Mark put it.  Regardless of whether it suits me or not, I have to adapt to the change.  Just like I do when the city road crews mess up one of my favorite running routes–detour through the neighbor’s yard and keep on going.  Happy Running!

Read Full Post »


OK, let’s see if I can do this. My gift from Santa this year is a Kindle Fire.  I am seeing if I can write my New Year post on it instead of on my laptop.  If you manage to read this, you’ll know I didn’t give up.

I tried it when I got my Android-based smartphone, but the itty bitty screen was frustrating to say the least. I’ve been using my keyboard’s Swype feature with better success on the Fire.  I am also trying out the WordPress app but it remains to be seen whether I like that or not.

It’s New Year’s eve again. Time to talk about where we’ve been and where we might go in 2013.  It has been a traumatic but decent year here. I opened the year thinking my running would take off after finishing my first marathon in December 2011. But, my overconfidence and incorrect recovery led up to an injury in late January. I ran my first 15K race that month with little training followed by a swimming injury.

That problem put me out of commission for nearly two months and kept my workouts down through April.  I did more riding in that period and got in several good 100K rides.  By Summer, my running picked back up and I gradually increased to 20 mile weeks. I ended the Summer with a decent ride at Hotter-n-Hell and without a job.

Since I had signed up for my second marathon during the Summer, it was best to keep up the training while job searching.  My running had improved even with the injury outage because I had added strength training. A PR at a Fall 10K and a really good marathon finished my year on a decent note.

Hopefully, my job search will also soon be over.  I go this week for an interview for a really good job.  I have a good chance and I hope to do well on the interview.

So, for now, I am not making any plans for 2013.  I have some wishes about what I’d like to do.  I would like to maintain my 20 mile weeks all year.  I would like to run a few half marathons and try some trail running.  I am hoping to keep my riding up and maybe add some mountain biking to the mix.

Well, that’s probably enough for now. It seems I have managed to write a full blog post on the Fire.  I like this tablet.  It frees me from the laptop. 

I will probably need a nap today so I can stay awake tonight.  I wish all of you a wonderful, happy, safe, and prosperous New Year.  May the Lord bless you and keep you.  May he make His face to shine upon you.  Happy swimming, riding, and running!

Read Full Post »


2012 MetroPCS Dallas Marathon Finisher's medal

2012 MetroPCS Dallas Marathon Finisher’s medal

Yep, here it is folks.  Another runner that I follow on Twitter posted this pic of the finisher’s medal for this year’s MetroPCS Dallas Marathon.  I finished my last long run yesterday for my training plan and only have a few short easy runs and some rest days before race day on December 9th.

In addition to getting ready for this race and thinking back over all the training I’ve done, I thought some this week about my cross-training.  After having several injuries mostly relating to over-used or inflamed muscles and tendons, I learned about cross-training.  Of course, as a cyclist, I was cross-training already, but since then, I’ve added in swimming as well.

My cross-training with running really helps with my muscles.  I can always tell after riding, spinning, or swimming how much looser my muscles feel.  This has to be good for my running and I think it has helped.  Along with remembering to stretch after long or hard runs, I haven’t (knock on wood) had any issues this year after my swimming injury healed.

I’m getting just a little bit excited to run come Sunday.  Now the really obsessive part of racing takes hold.  Checking on the weather every five minutes.  Pouring over the race map to visualize the race neighborhoods and where I’ll be at about what time.  Figuring out six days in advance what I’ll wear and need, then changing it several times. Fretting over meals and calorie counts.  If I forget anything to be obsessive about, please send me a comment and remind me.  I don’t want to miss even the smallest obsessive detail you know.

I pulled the marathon card on my algebra teacher this week.  I signed up to take college algebra this semester as I need more discipline hours in order to be able to teach on the college level someday.  Wouldn’t you know I’d pick math, right.  I have this saying, “Dave always has to do it the hard way.”  And, I’ve proven it with math.  I’ve really struggled this semester with this course, which shouldn’t be all that hard.  I took algebra in high school, right; thirty something years ago.  Mostly, I seem to have some kind of numerical dyslexia.  My difficulties are often in getting all the numbers written down without transposing something.  In any case, I spent all day yesterday doing two tests, and I do mean all day.  I’ve been close to giving up and withdrawing.  Instead, I sent my teacher an e-mail and told her I was a marathoner.  We don’t give up.  And, I wont’.  Might go down in flames, but I wont’ give up.

If you already have a follow for me on Twitter, I’ve set up tweets while I’m running next Sunday.  If you haven’t and if you’re really that bored for tweets on Sunday, I’m @abigmanrunning over there.  Strangely enough I do have followers on Twitter as well as here on WordPress.  I thank you for that.  I started writing this for practice, but I realize it’s writing and we do like for folks to actually read what we’ve written.  I found out how important that was this week when I helped out another writer.

Discovered a new app to use this week.  Another friend messaged me about using Strava for cycling and running.  My garmin has been broken for all of this Fall.  I just haven’t wanted to spend the money on a new one nor mess with it while training.  Mostly, I just need an easy way to record my miles, times, and paces.  I’ve been using another app on my android phone, but it’s really a power hog.  Strava so far doesn’t seem to be.  I’ve only gotten to use it once, but it’s really simple.  It works while my phone is in airport mode.  The GPS signal still receives during that mode, but it really lowers power usage.  I’ll keep everyone posted on it.

Well, I told you it was going to be a bit random.  It happens every now and then.  I just heard today there are chances of rain showers for next Sunday.  I don’t need to hear that after last year’s race.  I sure hope that goes away.  I’ll be updating on the post race recap next week, after I rest up a bit.  Remember, the first 20 miles is a training run.  The last 6.2 miles is the race.  I think I said that somewhere before.  Merry Christmas, and Happy Running!

Read Full Post »


Hello all.  As I sit in my easy chair late on a Sunday afternoon, I am reminded I haven’t written a thing all week.  Usually, that would bring a fit of guilt and my mind going into overdrive trying to come up with a decent topic.  Well, today, I think I have one that while old, is still relevant to many big-ger athletes like me…counting calories.

When I began cycling and even when I first began running, I didn’t do anything about my diet.  I was seeing results in the weight department just by continuing my workouts and adding in more of them over time.  I started over 300 and made it down to 270 with just this method.

Yet, after a couple of years running, I realized that I was going to have to do more than just work out.  With a busy schedule and a real life outside of cycling and running, I couldn’t add in enough extra workouts to overcome my eating.  Additionally, I had been on a plateau for at least six months.  I still weighed 270.  I needed to lose more weight because I wanted my running to improve, and I still needed to be lighter in general.  I was at a crucial point and the one thing I didn’t like changing was going to have to change.

Can I say right here how much I hate dieting of any kind?  I do.  It’s horrible to me.  It’s not because I haven’t dieted.  I’ve used a few different methods and they do work.  I’ve used Weight Watchers.  It worked.  I’ve done a faith-based program that also worked.  Though, it worked mostly because I included regular weekly and monthly fasting periods.  They all work in a sense.  If you limit calories at the right levels (less calories in than you burn each day), you will lose weight.  What I dislike about dieting is that it requires actual thought about eating.  I don’t like to think about eating.  It also requires you actually being hungry sometimes.  After spending a year fasting a lot, I don’t really like being hungry that much.

So, I was going to try something that didn’t require too much thought and that didn’t require me to be hungry all the time.  I was just going to count calories.  With the new technology of the Internet, it should be pretty easy, right?  Well, sort of easy.  I started using my workout tracking site, mapmyride.com.  They had recently added a calorie tracker section and it was linked up with my workout tracker.  So, as I worked out, it would automatically update my daily calorie limit with extra calories.  And, I’m all up for extra calories.

I set up a daily allowance of 1,800 calories by plugging in the weight I wanted to be at, 200 pounds.  That’s how the site worked.  You put in your height and weight, and it figures your daily regular calorie allowance.  At six feet, and where I wanted to be, it gave me the 1,800 calories.  I elected not to use the feature of ‘how active are you’ because it added in workout calories and didn’t turn off the ones you earned doing workouts.

For example, if my daily allowance is 1,800 calories and I chose the setting for ‘moderately active’, it would set my daily allowance at something like 2,500 calories.  If I then went and did a 3 mile run, it would give me another 300 or so calories for the run.  That would skew my daily intake too high because the activity setting actually took care of that already.  In addition, you couldn’t turn off adding calories from workouts if you chose an activity level.  Therefore, I set it at ‘not active’ and stuck with just the daily allowance plus workouts.

For several months, this actually worked.  I dropped slowly and steadily from 270 down to 245-ish.  And, there I have been for probably close to a year now.  It may go up a pound or two for a bit, but I haven’t had any drops below 244.  Once again, I am back to having to think about eating again.  How much does that cost?  Can I have the extra taquito with my breakfast?  One bowl of pad thai is how many servings?  Really?

Though my chosen web site did a good job of making it easy for me, I needed to do something different.  I had noticed, through the average daily calories that were counted at the end of each week, that I did better on weight control as long as I stayed near 2,200 calories.  The difficulty with mapmyride.com was that if I did a really long run or ride, it gave me a huge extra amount of calories that I wanted to use.  But, their site didn’t let me set a daily allowance and turn off the calorie bonus from workouts.  Time for something different.

A few weeks ago, I switched to the My Calorie Counter on everydayhealth.com.  I don’t know if I’ll stay here for good, but for now it’s working, sort of.  I haven’t lost any weight yet, but it allows me to set a daily allowance with an activity level, and even adjust from there.  It said that with my current weight and moderate activity level that I should be able to have 2,500 calories per day.  I didn’t really trust that number and set it at 2,300 calories.  I got to override the settings!  Yippee!  That is really important in these things because none of us are the same.

At the end of a week, I had zero change.  That didn’t bother me too much.  It just means I need to adjust.  I am now on a week with 2,200 calories.  After a week, if I still see no change, I’ll lower it again.  Eventually, I should find the magic number.  Then I can maintain with that level until I see a drop off in weight loss again.

That is kind of the point with weight loss.  It varies.  As I lose weight, I will have to lower my calorie intake even more.  Lighter people need less calories.  In addition, I’m not perfect all the time with daily intakes.  There are some days that I have really good control and choices and I come in under the goal.  There are other days, that I can’t.  The benefit of something like an online counter is that if I can get everything entered during the day, it tells me how much is left for the day.  I know that if I have made it to dinner and still have 100 calories left, then snacks are out.  If by chance I’ve got 300 left, maybe I can have a small snack.

Losing weight is a job in itself.  It’s not easy for anyone.  Trying to balance your meals and your activity takes thought, effort, and discipline just like in your running or cycling.  I do have to remember at the end of the day that my weight loss is not the only thing I have to work on.  I’ve lost a lot already and I am healthier now than previously.  Not that I am allowed to rest upon those laurels, just to not stress over when things don’t go right.  The consistency of working on it each week is the important part of the battle with the scale.

Read Full Post »


Every other Sunday, I participate on #runchat on Twitter.  Now, if that doesn’t sound bizarre coming from me, it should.  Even more bizarre is that through #runchat I managed to find a very good company making a great product for runners and other athletes to use.

Before I start blathering about the review, allow me to explain #runchat for those that may not know.  Every other Sunday (actually tomorrow is the next), at 8PM EDT, two runners organize and moderate #runchat.  By using the hashtag #runchat on your Twitter feed, (there’s the bizarreness again) you can answer the questions posed and talk with a lot of other runners about something important to most of us, running of course.  In addition, there is always a sponsor along for the ride as well.

One of those evenings, it was Premier Nutrition.  They make a line of protein shakes and bars for active athletes.  They were quite responsive to most of the runners present and offered many folks a sample of their wares.  So, I signed on.  Free is always good and you never know what you might find.

Most companies offer samples of a little bit, like one bite, or a really tiny try out size.  I was surprised when my box (yep, a box) arrived from Premier Protein soon after the #runchat.  They sent a good selection of shakes and bars to try out.  There were chocolate and vanilla shakes and several flavors of protein bars.

I don’t know much about the benefits of using a protein supplement.  I wouldn’t ever try those big can types with the muscle guys on the front.  Somehow I think there is more than just protein in those cans.  However, I do know that one of the best things a runner can do after a run is to drink a glass of chocolate milk.  It helps put back a good quantity of protein in your system and it tastes good after a run.

As I understand it, running tears down muscle a little.  When you rest, the body goes to work trying to repair that muscle.  It needs protein in your system to do so.  Therefore, the reason for a glass of chocolate milk after a run.  But, a good glass of chocolate milk can be 300 calories!  Only on my long run days could I afford to take in that many extra calories.  I still have weight to lose so I have to be careful how I use them.

That’s one reason why I like Premier Protein shakes.  It puts protein back in your body, but does it with only 160 calories.  They also taste good and the price and availability are not bad either.  I found mine later at Sam’s Club, but they are also at Wal-Mart.  Yes, when my samples ran out, I actually bought some.  I’m partial to the vanilla myself.

So, did they make me run faster, jump higher, bike longer?  I don’t know.  It would take a really well controlled experiment to find that out.  I just liked them because they had a good flavor, lower calories than chocolate milk, and a decent price.

I don’t do a lot of reviews, but these guys were worth it.  Not only were they willing to stick their necks out with a bunch of runners, but they do social media pretty well.  I’ve talked to them since the first time and I’ve noticed many of my friends doing the same.  They involve themselves with their consumers and that leads to trust between us, which is a good sign of a quality company to me.  And, nope, except for the samples, I don’t get paid for doing this.

OK, yeah so there were protein bars in the box too.  I did try them out.  But, it’s fair warning that there is another energy bar I’ve used for a long time and you would have to be really, really exceptional to beat them.  The protein bars were alright, but they didn’t beat out my other bar.  That’s still a win-win to me as I now have an added tool in the nutrition tool box that helps to fuel my runs, and bikes, and swims.

I’m giving Premier Protein shakes an ‘A’.  They are a lower calorie alternative to chocolate milk for getting some protein back in your body after a workout.  Their price is acceptable and availability is good.  Anything I don’t have to special order on line is a plus. They keep well too.  I only refrigerate them so they are cold when I want one.  Well worth trying out.

Read Full Post »


Gray.  Cool.  Wet.  Three apt adjectives to describe Saturday morning of the 2012 Rose City Triathlon.  This was to be my second tri and it was at the same event as my first.  I did the 2011 Rose City Tri last September.  However, last September was sunny and warm.  The two different weather events would have a lot to do with how my triathlon turned out.

I felt fairly confident with my training as I set up my transition area.  Once again, I had drawn a small number (19) and would set up on the main line in and out of transition.  I had done my work and was hoping for a good improvement over last year’s first one.  But, as I stood there in a hoodie waiting for time to go up to the dam, I didn’t feel as confident.

Swimming first in cool weather could mean a very cold swim followed by a cold bike.  Add in that I really don’t like biking in the rain and it wasn’t making me ready to go.  However, the light rain didn’t last too long and when the water temp was called, it sounded better.  No wetsuits allowed today because the water temp was 80 degreesF.  Whew!  Somewhat better.

However, I was a little too confident on the swim part.  Last year, I had only gotten off course a little and then got back on and did fine.  However, with overcast skies, my poor vision and blue swim goggles, I should have done something different to prepare.  As the siren went off, I put my head down and took off.  However, when I first looked up, I was way off course to the left of the buoys.  I corrected and got it back on path but was then going too far right.  I finally switched to breast stroke just so I could aim in on the buoys and get around the corner, but that is slow.

I thought once I got round the turn that I would be alright on the line to the shore.  However, I couldn’t see any markers on the shore.  Nothing was standing out except the big white pavilion.  If I had been smarter and gone down to the swim exit and looked around, I might have had a better line, but no, I didn’t do that.  So, since it was the biggest thing around and should have marked the left of the exit (or so I thought) I aimed for it.  At least I could see it.

Nope, that wasn’t right either.  The swim exit was way to the LEFT of the big white pavilion.  The lifeguards on the kayaks kept trying to get my attention and move me back to the left and finally I could stand and see the shore.  Sure enough, I was way off.  When I finally got in line and got to the exit, I was certain I had been in the water longer than 30 minutes.  Way too long.

I changed in the first transition well, but with the rain, I knew I needed to put on my shirt.  It would be too cool to comfortably bike without it.  That takes extra time.  My choice of using my older shoes was a good idea, though.  I was worried the Speedplay cleats would fill up with sand and make it hard to mount.  My older road shoes use a different cleat and didn’t fill up with dirt.  I mounted well and took off for the highway.

The race director made note of the crappy highway with the monster sized rocks in the chip seal.  He wasn’t joking.  I don’t think I have ever seen one as bad as this.  We were extremely fortunate to only be on it for a mile and a half, and that was plenty enough.

The main portion of the bike course runs north up the side of Lake Tyler.  It is a quite typical hilly East Texas ride.  Rollers most of the way and you are also gradually climbing on the out portion.  I supposed it must be 6 to 6.5 miles on this section, but it will use your legs.  The Fuji isn’t my best bike for hills, but it was riding well.  I’ve had good practice with hilly routes in the past and know how to tackle them; lower gears, and higher revs.  No reason to set any high gears on even the more flat portions as it just uses up your legs too much.  I was pushing harder on the out portion hoping to make up my crappy swim time.  It was working as I passed several riders.

I backed off a bit on the return to save up my legs, but since you are in a general downward direction, it lends itself to easing up.  Coming back, there was only one or two major hills and I found them easier to tackle by just getting out of the saddle and grawnching it out.  Got them over with quicker.  Then another mile and half on the chip seal and into transition.

I changed quickly into my shoes and picked up my hat.  I brought a hat this time because I thought it would help on the sun, then I thought I would need it for the rain, but there was neither.  One rider asked while I was putting on my running shoes, “Now where is the run out?”  Huh?  It’s over there, and by the way, didn’t you check when you set up?  But then again, I hadn’t checked on the swim exit either.

My legs felt good on the run out and I set an easy but quick pace to start.  I would plan to hold this pace for the first mile and see what I could do afterward.  I passed a couple of slower runners early on and that made me feel good.  I was setting a good pace and I wasn’t hurting.  The run course is a 5K sort of out and back.  You start at the center between transition and the food tent (where the finish line is), run out to the highway where the bike course is then u-turn back to the center.  You turn right away from center and run down and back again, then turn right and go across the dam.  After a right turn and about 100 yards of trail running (yes, off the road), it’s back across the dam and into the finish.

You have to give it to the run course designer.  If you’re a spectator or family member, this is the best viewing spot of all.  Three times each runner comes to the center of this ‘T’ configured course.  The runners are only out of view for a slight bit across the dam.  Pretty spectator friendly, I think.

I turned into the T with a good pace and started to pick it up as I saw the 1-mile sign.  Each time I passed someone, I could pick out the person in front and gauge if I could pass another.  Strangely enough, the run was getting enjoyable.  I knew I needed to run well to make up for the swim, and I was doing just that.  After I finished the second time back to center, it was out across the dam.  I began to pick up my pace some more.

After the run through the woods a bit, I took a drink from the aid station and set off for the finish.  Runners come out of the woods and look across the dam and can just barely see the finish.  There were still quite a few out running.  I felt good so I went for a good ending.  My only worry, and the only place on this course I don’t like is coming off the dam road into the grass for the final 100 yards or so.  It’s steep and it was wet.  I slowed way down and was careful.  I didn’t want to fall here in front of everyone and waste my excellent run.  Yes, it was an excellent run, I just didn’t know by how much.

Made it back into transition and cooled off and got everything together.  The volunteers at the Rose City Tri are really cool.  They put roses on our bikes while we are out on the run course.  Tyler is known for its roses and rose gardens.  I still have to applaud these guys.  They put on an excellent competition, but are always willing to help out first timers, and even second timers that get lost.  If you’re looking for a triathlon to start on, this is the one.  Nobody makes you feel bad or inept.  They work to help everyone have a great time.

I loaded up my gear and wanted to see how it had turned out.  However, they hadn’t posted any times.  The East Texas Triathletes that put on the event really do a good job of rolling out the party for the athletes.  There is great food, but after getting up really early, I just didn’t want to wait.  I had to leave not knowing how well or not well I had done.  Regardless of the time, I felt like it was a success because the bike and run portions felt like they worked just fine.

After getting some great BBQ at Duke’s Plaza on I-20 (yes, I didn’t miss any good food, just went down the road) and getting home, I cleaned up and waited for the results to post.  2:03:28 was my total.  About six minutes faster than the previous year.  I was shocked when I noticed my swim time was only 25:21, only four minutes longer than my first.  Somehow, I hadn’t done too poorly, though I know I need to work on some things.  However, my bike time was 59:08 and the 5K was 31:01 (a 13 second PR!).  A 14.7mph average on the bike is a good improvement from the previous year, but the run was outstanding.  To PR my 5K time after the swim and the bike really felt good.  Success, thank the LORD!

I was 10th out of 12 in the Clydesdale division.  Ironically, that is about where I end up usually.  I was 12th on swimming (of course), 10th on bike, but 9th on running.  I have to know that at my weight and level, it’s unlikely that I will move up easily.  I am competing against a lot of guys that weigh in at 203 to 220 (I weigh 247) and some are much younger.  However, it’s not about really trying to win, but about succeeding at what I planned to do.  I wanted to improve this year and I did that.  My biking and running have improved a lot over last year’s work and that carried the day.

I still have to realize that the glory of the event goes away quickly.  Monday morning, I’m just plain old Dave back to work.  But when things look a little tough, these are the kinds of things we look back upon and realize that it’s not so tough and we are tougher.  We cannot control the weather.  Instead, we can control ourselves to overcome what the weather dishes out.  I still have some work to do on swimming.  I’ll have to start working on sight lines and figuring out why I pull to the side so much.  But, for now, I am glad that my training has paid off for the most part.  Now, with Summer events over, I can concentrate on my running for the Dallas marathon in December. Happy Running!

Read Full Post »


You will be lucky today as I’ll get two posts out on the same day.  Actually, since I’ve already posted a short update on my tech blog, I think I might be setting some kind of record on productivity.  In any case, I wanted to jot down some of the important things from the past week and I also wanted to do a review on Premier Protein’s shakes and snack bars.  I didn’t think the two would go together, so I’ll just write up two for the day.

I’ve been getting busy this week on the job search front.  I have a good friend that is helping me with that process.  He and I talked this past Saturday and now I have a good bit of resources on what to do next.  I’ve spent the week going through a process guide he gave me and it has helped.  I’m trying to get my resume done up correctly.  You wouldn’t think it would be that hard, but I happen to be trying to switch careers.  I’ve done a lot of IT work over the last four years, and a lot of similar type of work in the years before that.  I’d really like to keep it going.  I have some disadvantages in that I don’t have all the little alphabet soup certifications after my name.  I just happen to know how to do the work.  I’m kind of weird in that respect that actual experience and merit count for more than just tests, exams, and paper.  Not that I haven’t done those either.

However, today, I thought I’d spend a little time just doing things I like.  I have a web site of my own that I run and it needs some work.  It’s kind of the “cobblers children never have any shoes” syndrome.  If you sit on a PC all day doing coding and IT work, you don’t often wish to do it when you get home.  Therefore, my little site is kind of drab and needs some sprucing up.  It doesn’t do much and unless you’re a serious geek it may not mean much.  However, if you just want to see what happens, look at it every now and then and you’ll see it start changing as I work on it.  You can find it here, it’s called the T.A.R.D.I.S. Server Project II; mostly just an information type page.

Running has gone well this week.  My foot’s tendonitis is still acting up a little, but I’m trying to take good care of it.  It hasn’t cost me any days yet.  I have almost finished my second week of marathon training and I guess this week is the week of forgetfulness and loss.  Twice this week, I’ve forgotten to plug in the garmin and had to use my smartphone’s abilities instead.  One of those was my tempo day, so no HR controls.  And, my SmartCoach plan on Runnersworld.com got messed up again.  I got it back, but it’s off a little so I am adjusting as I go.  I’ll run my 12-miler on Saturday and that will finish out a good week of running.

Next week will be triathlon week.  Yeah!  I only go round to setting up and planning for just one triathlon this year, so it’s kind of a big deal for me.  It’s the same sprint tri I did last  year in September.  This will make my second tri and I’m hoping to see improvement over last year (which wasn’t bad at all BTW).  I will once again take the Fuji out for the bike portion (do not fix what ain’t broke).  I’m also making some last minute decisions on how to handle some other issues with transition.

The transition area at the Rose City Tri is very sandy, so I’m concerned about my bike shoes.  I wear Speedplay pedals and I know I won’t have time to put on or take off the covers in the bike out area.  I also haven’t learned how to lean over and do my shoes up on the bike (I don’t balance well).  The reason it’s of a concern is that the cleats on the Speedplays are big open holes that can easily clog up.  We’ll have to wait and see on that point.

I am also taking a hat with a bill this year for the run.  Last year, I just turned my cycling hat around and wore it on the run.  But, the run portion has a lot of east-west running and it’s right in the face of the sun.  I’m not a fan of that on or off the bike, so a hat will be a help.  It doesn’t take long to put on in transition.  Finally, swimming should be better since I can do the whole distance with freestyle strokes now.

I started with “where to go from here”, but I think I have a good idea where that will be, or at least I have an inkling.  I will say, as I did earlier on Twitter, that it feels very odd not going to work every day.  Yes, it’s only the first week.  However, in thirty years or so of work, I’ve not had very long between jobs.  It feels as if I’m breaking some kind of rule.  As if there is some rule encoded in the Universe that says we are supposed to be at work every weekday.  There is one like that isn’t there?

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

janice writes fiction

Come into my mind with me!