Archive for the ‘ people ’ Category

Renewing Run

This is tough. But I think it’s also needed. Some friends will want to read, others will pass on. This last year has been a roller coaster for me personally. I’ve had lots of people ask if things are ok, where have I been, etc. I don’t talk about it a lot because there’s still lots of stigma attached. I have been battling with clinical depression and anxiety for the better part of a year. There have been other major personal challenges that I care not to get into as well. I had no longer felt the drive or desire to work out and compete in triathlons; which in hindsight probably contributed to my condition. With the help of friends I was able to seek medical advice and have been working on managing things.

I don’t mean to write this as a “woe is me” post. I’ve had plenty of those moments over the past few months, and appreciate those who stood by my side and helped me through. It’s amazing how life is full of challenges, we know there will be troubles, yet it always seems to blind side us. Well at least me anyway, your mileage may vary. Someone posted today about how in order for star to be born, a nebula has to collapse.star And it’s ok to crumble and collapse. It’s the sign of our birth, not our destruction. It got me thinking about where I currently am. Dissatisfied and out-of-order. I looked through some pictures of last year and remembered how things were and how I was in the best shape of my life. But then I let things go. Some voluntarily, others forced. But it’s time to move on. It’s time to let the collapse birth me into something new.

My commitment is to get back to where things were, and living a healthy lifestyle again. I know how to be there, but I forgot the path along the way. So I have to start somewhere, begin again. Breath, eat, walk. Live. I went for a run again this afternoon. It was sluggish, slow and sometimes painful. But it was the first step. I have to start again. I know the potential I have, and it’s far from where I currently am. Healthy living is not just a designation, but a journey. So I take these next steps knowing the pain, knowing it won’t be given to me freely. But I have to do it. It’s a challenge, and I will rise to the occasion.

Some friends have been beside me the entire journey and never left. Others have been pushed out inadvertently. It’s tough. It’s embarrassing. I don’t like the shell that I’ve slipped into. So I seek others to join me on the journey. Committing to living healthy lifestyles. Physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I hope to see you along the journey. The road traveled solo is lonely. So when you see the tubby guy trotting down the street, or riding his bike. Just give a friendly wave. And know he’s out there trying. It’s not just about running and cycling, but living. And I intend to do it all.

To pretend to be better than you are is a hypocrite. To try to be better than you are is to be a hero.

Fit and Fat?

Fit versus Fat. Or is it? Is it possible to be fit AND fat? Unfortunately yes. Many experienced scholars have written on the subject (a few articles linked below), but I wanted to briefly touch on it. Why? Triathlon racing season is right around the corner for me and I’m a little fluffy. It’s common (and healthy) for athletes to gain a little weight in the off season. This fact was also multiplied for me post Houston Marathon.

Several members of Big Pistachio Racing Team were lamenting our off season weight. After finally stepping back on the scale, I knew it was time to get back to work. We quickly worked up a scheme to get our team ready for race and bikini season… “The Big Crackdown Challenge.” Everyone would begin by using a Bod Pod analysis from our friends at Castle Hill Fitness. Teams would be split male vs. female, based on total weight, lean muscle mass, and body fat mass percentages from start to end. A two month challenge and a way to support each other and meet our goals.

The odd phenomenon of fit and fat is perplexing.andrew bod pod For instance last week I logged 10 solid hours of training via swimming, cycling, running and weights. Today I went for my Bod Pod session at Castle Hill. It’s a pretty simple machine and a very quick test. It confirmed my fears, I’m fit and fat. I’m rocking a 22.4% body fat and it is the heaviest I’ve been in over a year.

I don’t want anyone to take my thoughts as demeaning to those who are trying to lose a lot of weight. That’s not my intent. In fact, when I was at my lowest (& will be soon) I have lost over 50 pounds. I have several friends right now who are mid-way through an incredible weight loss journey. It’s inspiring to watch them as well as look back on where I started several years ago.

Now that the numbers are in front of me I can’t shy away,bodpod data it’s time to get to work. Seriously. So back to the fat/fit thing… If I’m already logging close to my ‘max’ training hours right now, how then am I able to lose some additional fat? Simply put, this shows how important diet is versus exercise. There are quite a few little tweaks that I need to make to my diet in order to prepare myself for racing season. Staying closer to leaner proteins, more veggies, more controlled carb intake, less eating out and less beer. There are also no healthy shortcuts, I don’t need to skip meals or overestimate how many calories I’m burning. I’m excited to get it done as my fitness over the winter months has really taken off and I have some nice goals laid out for this year. I know a lot of you are on the journey with me, so what’s your story?

By the Numbers:

Fat-         22.5% 38.8 lbs
Lean-      77.5% 133.6 lbs
Weight- 172.4 lbs
Calf 14.5”, Thigh 23”, Hips 37”, Waist 36.5” (right around the handles), Chest 39”, Shoulders 46”, Bicep Relaxed 12.5”, Bicep Flexed 13.5”

Goals:

Weight- 155 lbs (-17 lbs)
Fat-         15.5% (-7%) as a side note I realize this is probably not likely unless I lose beyond 17 pounds. It would be virtually impossible to ensure all of my weight loss at this point is purely fat. But it’s a goal nonetheless to see what 15% would look like.

http://blog.trainingpeaks.com/posts/2013/2/21/how-important-is-a-low-body-fat-percentage.html
http://www.runnersworld.com/running-tips/can-you-be-fit-and-fat?page=single
http://triathlon.competitor.com/2012/06/nutrition/healthy-habits-of-fit-triathletes_56290

TrainingPeaks Ambassador

I am a brand loyal kinda guy. When I find something that works, I stick with it and love to tell people about it. Hence the product reviews that I like to do on this blog. A while back TrainingPeaks posted information about opening up applications for their 2013 TrainingPeaks Ambassadors. I use their web based software and iPhone app daily. It’s where I track my workouts, trends, reporting, can enter my nutrition information, etc. Basically it’s a one stop repository for cycling, triathlon, running type people. So I entered.

Yesterday morning when I opened my email, I got word that I was in! TrainingPeaks AmbassadorI was one of 40 international Ambassadors who were selected from over 600 applicants to help spread the word about TrainingPeaks! After getting the chance to virtually meet some of the other ambassadors online yesterday, I can’t wait for 2013. It’s going to be a great opportunity to help educate others and learn a lot from some seasoned athletes and coaches that I’m joining. This is a unique opportunity and I’m humbled that I was part of the group selected.

You can read more about the team here. Look for bios from all the athletes to be posted over the coming weeks.

Bump, Set, Spike: A Recap of Day 1

Well, that was interesting. There is a lot of hype & lore surrounding the Ride the Rockies, and day one lived up to all of it. It was a challenge the night before to get some solid sleep in the inside gym, I was truly amazed at how many riders were up at 4 a.m. to get an early start. Especially considering we were greeted (albeit unwelcome) with sub-freezing temperatures. I waited around a bit until the sub came out & began my ride at 7 a.m. It was a very chilly downhill ride for the first 45 minutes or so until we reached the first rest stop. Much ado had been made about the breakfast that greeted riders each morning at the first rest stop. There were delicious breakfast tacos & coffee from a guy & his son all the way from Texas! Then the industrial pancake line. They were turning more flapjacks than IHOP.
We began a gradual ascent after the stop for about 20 miles. Not too painful & some beautiful scenery along the Taylor river & reservoir. One we hit the rest stop at mile 40, I knew it was game on. And by game on, I mean a legit Cat 1 climb up 14 miles of dirt road to the top of Cottonwood Pass (12,126 feet). I felt great for the first 10 miles. Some of my friends like to give me crap about my triple chain-ring on my bike. But it was made for days like today. I rocked that little ring happily all the way up. Which brings me to my only gripes of the day. There was a LOT of vehicular traffic on the dirt road. Apparently there are a lot of riders who thought themselves too important for their “personal sag wagons” to take an alternate route like instructed. The scariest part of the day was on a steep climb, and I came up to a group that was riding 4 abreast. I called out on the left, but not before the final rider almost forced me off the cliff. I gently scolded their riding 4 in the interest of safety, but they could care less. Another rider behind me saw it all & was amazed.
The final 6 miles up the mountain were a grueling ascent. There were a few times when I stopped to regroup my heart rate & questioned my sanity. The dirt on the last couple of miles was loose & the winds had started to pick up. I finally made it! I was ecstatic & relieved. I completed the hardest, longest & highest climb of my life. We were greeted with much fanfare, music & awesome food at the top. Being a Texan I gladly partook of a fajita taco. I took a few obligatory pictures at the conte rental divide sign & headed out for the 20 mile descent. Wow. Let’s just say I’ve never done anything quite like that either. What a rush coming down the mountain to locals cheering us on as we made our way downtown Buena Vista. So far I have been very impressed with the local & state support for the ride. Kudos Colorado, a job well done. I’ll see you in Edwards tomorrow.

Going back to Cali

My company hosts an Annual User Conference for customers at our corporate office in Bakersfield California every year. So two weeks ago I headed out and I spent the week there. The unfortunate part was the week was right before the Lake Pflugerville Tri. The fortunate part is I have lots of co-workers who like to ride & run. So I made the best of it and was out at 6am most mornings continuing my workouts. The first day really freaked me out because it was 6 in the morning and it was broad daylight outside! I blogged back in January about the cool bike trail that runs from end to end in Bakersfield and our hotel was pretty close to it, so this was my choice to ride. My buddy Jim loaned me his classic Richey which was fully loaded with Dura-Ace and a carbon steerer. A boy sure can get spoiled with equipment like that! Monday morning’s ride was a nice easy pace for an hour on the trail. Amazing.

Tuesday was different. Jim told me they do a Tuesday morning group ride at 6am. I said ok, I’m in. Then I heard some of my other co-workers start to talk about that ride. “Oh yeah, those guys are hammerheads.” “You’re going to do Round Mountain? That’s a good climb.” Meh, in my opinion pain is temporary and that’s the only way to get stronger. So we meet up with the group and rolled 30+ strong. It began on the trail for about 6 miles then into some great rollers. The pace was anything but slow. I had finally gotten Jim to tell me the route the night before, so I knew I was in for a challenge once the actual climb started. I felt I did a pretty good job of grabbing a wheel and hanging with the group.

Then we hit Round Mountain Road. In Austin we have lots of climbs. However they’re short, steep and painful. Nothing beyond a half mile in length (this is not a technical assessment, just my personal opinion. I’m sure some of my ATX riders will correct me!) The route we were doing would take us on about a 4 mile section of climbing up the road. I was nervous, but excited because I haven’t done a sustained climb before. It was epic, painful, fun, and a learning experience. All of the reasons why I love cycling. About 1/4 mile into the climb the group kept pushing up the pace, and all I could do was keep pedaling. Jim was kind enough to stay back with me. I stopped twice to regain composure. Jim said, “we can turn back anytime you want, or keep going.” I sat there with my head on the handlebars and said to myself, you know what self, you’re here, you’re on a bike, do the freakin’ climb. So we did, slowly. But I made it to the top. It was beautiful from up there. My GPS data showed about 1,400 feet of climbing. Not too shabby. The way down was interesting. Anyone that rides with me knows I’m chicken. And I’m ok with that. Jim however spent half of the descent with his hands in the air! Ended up being a great morning ride with a total of 35 miles.

The next day our co-worker Karen from Wisconsin wanted to ride as well. Seeing as she’s a short stack, she was able to ride Jim’s daughter’s bike. Karen has recently gotten into road cycling so she was excited to ride with us. We headed out southwest on the trail and Jim spent the first several miles giving Karen lots of good cycling tips. We kept a good easy pace and enjoyed the morning. About 6 miles in, Jim got a flat. So he was able to use that for more instructional time with Karen as well. We carried on and turned around the 10 mile mark. Jim had to turn off as his flat repair had gone awry and his house wasn’t too far away, so he was going to air up at home. Karen and I pedaled on. It was a smooth ride as we exited the bike path near Beach Park and headed for the streets to cut over to the hotel. I gave Karen instructions about the street & how we would make our way back over to avoid a lot of traffic. We turned the corner after a stop light and Karen found the black hole that exists between pavement and concrete curbs. She went down fast, and I being right behind her landed on top. There was literally no reaction time, but on my way down I remember yelling “I’m sorry Karen!” We got up, dusted off, pulled the bikes on the sidewalk and assessed the damage. Karen picked up a fair amount of road rash on her knee, elbow and hand. Her jersey looked like she had been through a street fight! I ended up with a couple of cuts on my shins. Karen’s bike seemed ok, minus the chain being off. I had a nice flat front tire. So I changed it, but in the process didn’t find the gaping hole in the sidewall and blew the new tube. So we begin the walk of shame. It was fortunately less than a mile to the hotel. We were running pretty late by that point, so it was a quick shower, Jim got Karen’s wounds dressed and off to training we were.

On Friday Jim & I talked about how it would be fun to ride part of the Amgen Tour of California when they came into Bakersfield the month before. It’s a pretty cool finish climbing up China Grade Loop and the around Panorama Drive. During the tour, this was the finish of stage 5, after over 100 miles then doing the loop 3 times! One of the conference attendees from Sacramento mentioned he had his bike (rockin’ a fixie) & would like to ride with us, as well as another co-worker said he wanted to ride. So 6am sharp the 4 of us rolled out NE on the trail up towards China Grade Loop. It was a good roll and the climb was very nice, reminded me of a lot of the climbs we have in Austin. Short(ish), steep and to the point! We carried on to the decent which was super fast and back to the trail to return home. It was another great ride to cap off a week of riding out in California. Minus 3 flats that day. Oh Yeah did I mention the flats? I’ve had 2 in a year at home and had 4 this week. Goat heads is what I think they call them…

Why Even Wear a Helmet?

…if you’re not going to wear it the right way? I’m not really sure. But this has been bothering me lately. I’m seeing more and more cyclists out wearing helmets that aren’t on properly. I guess I just don’t get it. To err in their credit maybe they just haven’t been taught how to wear it properly. So shame on whoever sold them the helmet, or those who ride with them. So many people I see out just slap on the helmet and let it slip to the back of their heads. In the event they were in a rear end accident and landed on the back of their head they would be VERY well protected. But if they were projected forward (think about the momentum of the device they’re riding) it could be catastrophic because there would be zero to minimal protection.

This winter I had the privilege of joining ACA, Social Cycling and other groups out at a local elementary school to kick off their Freiker program. As part of it ACA donated helmets for all the kids. Not only that, but we properly fitted them, and taught them the correct way to wear them. So I thought I’d recap on my blog here to help the folks out I keep seeing. So for you, guy who commutes everyday around Round Rock with it improperly on your head and to the whole family of 4 I saw this weekend all with helmets on incorrectly, this is for you-

  1. Wear the helmet flat on the top of your head. You should be able to look up and see the brim of the helmet. Make sure the helmet covers the top of your forehead without tilting forward or backward.
  2. The straps form a V shape under each ear. You can easily check this by making a ‘peace’ sign with your hand.
  3. Fasten the chin strap below your chin — not to the side or along your jaw. There should be room for a couple of fingers, but you DO want it snug. Take a big yawn, the helmet should pull down on your head, if not, repeat step 2.
  4. If the bicycle helmet rocks from side to side or front to back, use the sizing pads that came with the helmet to get a better fit. Some of the newer helmets have an adjustable back which makes it easy to get the helmet snug without additional padding.

There are lots of great resources online that go into greater detail if needed, but that’s the gist. I really hope that the cycling community will continue to rally together and encourage cycling education, one part of which is safety. And especially if you’re a parent or older sibling please pass this information on and set a good example by wearing a helmet yourself. A well-designed and properly fitting bike helmet can prevent up to 88 percent of bicycle-related brain injuries, according to an industry estimate. I won’t go into the ins & outs of buying a helmet, there’s a lot to choose from. Just look for the certification sticker from ASTM, Snell, or ANSI. You don’t have to spend more to be protected more, all have to adhere to the safety standards. The more $$ you spend the lighter it can be, more aerodynamic, more airflow, warranty etc. My final thought is this, if you’re in an accident replace your helmet ASAP. Stay safe out there peeps, there’s a lot at stake.

Metro Dash Austin Recap

Sometimes we get ourselves into trouble. Well maybe not trouble per se, but let ourselves be opened up to punishment. Last week while watching my twitter feed over lunch I saw Austin Fit Magazine launch a contest for an entry into Metro Dash Austin. Being the savvy internets user I am, I found the answer to their question and won! Well crap, that meant I had to actually go and do the Metro Dash. What is the Metro Dash you ask? According to their website it’s the ultimate test of athleticism. Competitors run city streets in search of scattered physical challenge points, power through intense interval workouts, and conquer “The Gauntlet,” an extreme urban obstacle course.

Knowing that a lot of the challenges were Tabata drills, I quickly ramped up my training midweek so I wouldn’t be embarrassed. Then I found this video on youtube and could feel my thighs screaming in agony… what the heck was I getting into? Oh and the course itself is pretty straightforward. They give you 5 points around the city at which the challenges are located, you decide the route you RUN and the order you complete them. Then make it back. Did I mention they had a Navy Seal design this stuff? Probably the most odd component to this race was its high noon start time. In Austin. Texas. In May.

I picked up my packet Friday evening at Lululemon Athletica which gave me time to plan out my route that I would run. On Saturday I arrive at Zilker Park with plenty of time to warm up and get my bearings before the race started. I chatted with a few other runners, some of who were first timers like me and others who had done this race before. Five minutes till the start they announced the final challenge location. Fortunately for my planning it worked out great. The horn sounded and we were off. It was the craziest looking race start I’ve ever seen. A swarm of people heading over to the right down Barton Springs, and another swarm to the left down to the trails. My route was down the trails over to the challenge point at auditorium shores. I arrived to a small group already working on the challenge which was Tabata Star Jumpers. Ouch. I finished, grabbed a cup of water and jogged down the trail to cross over on the 1st street bridge. I started to head up Guadalupe St. when I saw another competitor running the other way. I signaled to him to follow me. He got turned around and thought Guadalupe was another block up. We ran up to 9th where another challenge point awaited us at Wooldridge park, Tabata Push-ups. I started strong, and although there are no pictures to prove it, had to finish in good form, but doing them on my knees. I grabbed some water, ate some sport beans and cruised DOWN 9th to Duncan park where the Gauntlet was punishing competitors. Unlike the other challenges, it was a series of pain. Rope swings, tractor tire flips, slam ball, TRX rows, sled drag, kettle bell swings, box jumps, bear crawl and finally a wall jump. There were several moments where I literally sat on the ground wondering if I would be able to finish. I finally completed and was on my way, slowly. Up on Lamar I headed to Pease Park on 15th. I caught up to a couple of guys and we steadily jogged, walked our way up still recovering from the Gauntlet. At Pease Park our challenge was Tabata Sit-ups. This was one of the few challenges I felt prepared for, minus sitting in the Austin sun at 1pm in the afternoon. We could feel the sun baking our skin as we moved through the eight stations. After finishing there I knew I was on the home stretch. I started running back down Lamar to 6th street where the final challenge was at Lululemon. And yes, it was the Tabata Squats. I was glad the squats were last for me, but they still hurt. I finally finished, hydrated and continued down Lamar. I made it across Lamar and back to the trails on which I started. It was a very slow last mile. When I was walking I couldn’t get my resting heart rate below 160. I exited the trail at Zilker and worked my way towards the finish. I had been watching my time and knew I was close to 1:45. As I was running up the hill I saw the clock and began to sprint and crossed the finish line right on 1:45. Then I wanted to pass out. I found the water jug and a banana quickly. I stumbled over to the recovery area where some blessed souls were operating massage tables. After a few minutes I felt human again and could bask in the fact I finished the race, and with a decent time. I mulled around with the other finishers for a while and ate a Clif Bar. After the final results were posted I placed 6th in the individual ranks and added with the team times, 15th overall. This was a great event and I highly recommend it to my athletic friends when they return to Austin next year. They’ll be in Houston this fall and I’m contemplating going through the pain with a friend 🙂

You can check out some of the pictures from the event here.