Legging it

Today I went to the gym with my buddy Dave. While I was in training for my ride up Mt. Washington, we went to the gym together probably 3 or 4 times a week. But then my membership expired at the end of August, and I didn’t rejoin the gym until this month, so it’s been a while. This was only the second time we worked out together this year.

Usually our workouts start out with 15 minutes of cardio, then we do some muscle work. In the past, I’ve done either a stationary bike, or an elliptical machine. Today, though, I decided to try running on a treadmill. Even though I haven’t run since Carter Administration, even though I don’t have my running leg yet, and even though I’m using used shoes, I figured ‘Hey–I’m still in pretty good shape, what with all the bicycling. This should be no problem!’

This was a problem.

I managed to run about 6 out of the 15 minutes I was on the thing. I started out at a walk, and over a 3 minute period, increased the speed until I had to run. I kept that pace for 2 minutes, then I had to slow down again to a walk. I walked for 2 minutes, then ran for a minute. I alternated walking and running a minute until the end. I never stopped, and when I walked, I did it at 4 mph or higher (and increased the angle of the treadmill), but I was gassed at the end. Also, my knee hurt a bit when I ran–similar to the way it felt when I was running on the shoes I didn’t like from the running store. I’m hoping that when I get the new shoes, and when I get the running leg, things will be better. But I would have rather had things be better now.

When I came home tonight and told my kids what I did over dinner, my daughter (who ran her first 5k this fall) looked at me like I was a moron. This is not unusual in and of itself. After all, she is a teenager.

“When was the last time you ran?” she said.

“1979,” was my reply.

“You ran too much,” she said. “You’ve got to work your way up to this.”

Oh. Nothing like getting schooled by a kid who’s never seen a rotary-dial phone.

So, once again, I’m reminded that:

  • Things Take Time.
  • Slow Growth is Good Growth.
  • Everything Seems Important When You Start Each Word With a Capital Letter.

Speaking of taking time…

Getting my running leg is a lesson in patience. I’m trying to get the leg approved through Worker’s Compensation, and it’s a long process. I think next week I’m going to call them and see where we stand with this.

The leg I’m asking for is a Flex Run. It’s made by a company called Össur, who also have a large online training video library, catered to amps. It’s one of those spring-loaded jobbers that you’ve probably seen on TV. I need it because if I continue to run on the leg I have, I’ll pretty much destroy it. Hopefully the folks who approve these sorts of things will see it that way, too. Here’s a video of two guys running a half-marathon in France using the leg I’ll be using. Of course, if I use this foot, I’ll only need the one running shoe. I wonder if I’ll get them for half off? 


Sunday, May 22

This morning’s ride: 1:44:42 Distance: 27.44 miles

Wow. I can’t believe it’s been over a week since I’ve been on my bike. Well, actually, it hasn’t. I’ve done a couple of short trips, but nothing of substance. The weather has not been agreeable to riding here in the past week–especially in the early morning hours.

I haven’t been shirking, though. I have been spending a lot of time at the Y. Spin classes seem to have a bad reputation as a rather sissy way to work out. I can tell you that this is not the case. They’re freakin’ hard. At least, they are at the Y. Well, the 5:30 am ones are hard, at least. As well as the 9:15 am Sunday class. In addition, I’m going on my lunch hour 3-4 times a week with Dave. This past week I’ve been spending some time working on my upstroke. Rather than pushing down on the pedals, I’ve been pulling up on the cages. I’ve gotten so I can go 15 solid minutes at the same pace and resistance as my downstrokes. The difference, of course, is that on the downstroke, I can continue that pace for a couple hours. On the upstroke, I can’t go much more than 15 minutes. Otherwise my hamstrings will curl back up on themselves, and no one wants that to happen. Well, at least I don’t.

May 22. Less than three months to go. I’m a little bit freaked by that, to tell you the truth. Although I’m in better shape than I have been in my adult life–hell, my entire life–right now, I’m not certain I’m in good enough shape, or that I’ll be in good enough shape when the time comes. Right now, I’m hovering at around 194, which is the least I’ve weighed since probably 10th grade. I still have 14 pounds to lose. And a lot more stamina to gain.

Actually, today’s ride showed me how much I’ve gained in that department. I did the ‘Three Parks’ ride I tried the last time I got on the bike. I started by taking a couple of trips up and down Cobb’s Hill–which has lost a lot of height, apparently, in the past couple of years. At least, that’s the way it feels to me. Then I went down to Ellison Park, where I rode up a rather long incline to get to the southern entrance. It was one of those gradients that was too long to get up out of the saddle to climb, so it was just a long hard sitting slog to the top, followed by a nail-biting ride down a pothole-filled road with a blind curve into a steep river basin, and then straight up out of that basin on the north side. I managed to take that hill at a very respectable pace, out of the saddle most of the way. It’s my goal to make it up standing up before the month’s out.

From there, it was a slightly hilly ride down to the canal, where I did a 10-mile sprint that took me through Genesee Valley Park, and up the river to downtown. For most of this part I was going 20 mph. That’s a serious bit of cranking, and I was pleasantly surprised that I could keep it up.

I got a bit of a late start this morning. I left about 20 minutes later than I had hoped I would. I wanted to make the spin class–the one where the instructor gave me the look. Remember? That was almost exactly three months ago. If I rode home to change out of my riding stuff into a more conservative t-shirt and sweats, I wouldn’t be able to make it to that class on time. So, I rode straight there instead, and took the class in my riding gear. Then I rode home. The time and distance include the ride home, but not the hour spent in spin class.

This is interesting. The class that kicked my ass three months ago, I take almost as an afterthought, after a pretty difficult ride, and I’m scared I’m not making progress.

My friend Mike tells me I have a tendency to make molehills out of mountains, but only after I climb the mountain. Maybe that’s the case here. I hope so…

Saturday, March 12

Five months, 8 days til I ask myself “what the hell was I thinking?

I’m still here. Sorry about the lack of posting. Been busy.

I worked out on Thursday (I noticed I wrote the wrong day but right date on the previous posting) with Dave. We worked chest and abdomen. It’s good to work out the other parts of my body. That way, I get a nice, even body ache, rather than a specific thigh-and-hamstring pain.

This food plan is working. I am feeling lighter. Unfortunately it’s mostly in my wallet. In addition to buying a lot of meat and vegetables, I also purchased a portable dishwasher today. I need it. There’s just too much to do with this plan to not have a dishwasher. I spend almost as much time washing as I do preparing. It’s full-sized, which is good. I did a full load today and still had some stuff left over to have washed tomorrow. Boy, I like not having to wash. Plus, it’s got a nice big square of space on top that’s just perfect for more work space. I purchased it used, which was good, but there’s a bit of a problem with where it connects to the faucet. It doesn’t seal properly. Hopefully, require little more than a few small parts to fix this issue.

Tomorrow is spin class. Tonight I set my clocks ahead. Great. Just what I need: one less hour of sleep.

Tuesday, March 8

Five months and 12 days til I go upditty-up-up.

I just got a little scared there, thinking about it. What if I don’t make it up? Well, then I don’t make it, and at least I tried, and I got myself in the best shape of my life to do it.

Things could be worse.

Hit the gym again today with Dave. This time we really did do a light cardio workout. I did 10 minutes on a bike–I put the resistance up until it was difficult to maintain a pace of 90 RPM, and then kept it there. Sort of like an extended sprint. Then we worked shoulders, back, biceps and triceps. I had been under the impression that I wouldn’t have to work those muscles much because all the work would be done by my legs. Spinning class has taught me otherwise.

Speaking of spinning class–that’s in 6 hours, so I need to get to bed. Yesterday I woke up 20 minutes late. Today I woke up 40 minutes late. I can’t do that tomorrow.

Saturday and Sunday, March 5 & 6

Five months and two weeks (I think–still not sure) til the rubber hits the extremely-sloped road.

I didn’t work out yesterday. I did get my bike back, though. I had dreams of actually getting on the road this week. Then I woke up Sunday to 2″ of snow on the ground and more in the sky coming down, and I figure I’ll probably have to wait a while longer.

The rest of Saturday was filled. I went to a meeting in the morning, then spent most of the early afternoon shopping. We got new shoes for my daughter, a second digital scale (to help weigh the food), and then we bought food.

Here’s what we bought:

9 heads of green leaf lettuce

6 12 oz bags of spinach

6 10 oz bags of baby carrots

1.5 lb of green peppers

.5 lb of assorted hot peppers

2 lb of sweet onions

6 oz of scallions

4.5 lb of black beans

5 lb of steak

3 lb of chicken

3 lb of pork loin

2 lb of ground beef

2 lb of ground turkey

2.5 lb of oat bran

1.5 dozen eggs

5 lb of frozen blueberries

3 lb of frozen blackberries

3 lb of frozen raspberries

1 qt of balsamic vinegar

2 lb of packaged string cheese

1 lb of shredded cheddar cheese

That’s for one week. And it’s probably not enough. For instance: we’re already out of pork loin and peppers. We do love our grilled peppers.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in food prep. cleaning and chopping, bagging and storing. The refrigerator was so full you could barely see the light. Then we grilled the pork loin, set up the steak and chicken in marinades (balsamic vinegar, garlic, dried onion flakes, crushed black pepper, sage, and bay leaves for the steak, low-sodium soy sauce, garlic and ginger for the chicken), ate dinner, then went to a movie. We smuggled in water and sugar-free gum for snacks. Movies are much cheaper (and faster to get to your seats) when you don’t stop at the concession stand.

Sunday started out with spinning at the Y. That’s not true. Sunday started out with breakfast, then shoveling, then spinning at the Y. I pushed myself harder this time than at any previous class. I’ve gotten used to the idea that I’m not going to collapse, exhausted, before class is over, so I’m more comfortable pushing myself.

Two things bothered me today: when I started, my right hamstring was a little twingy. I didn’t hurt enough to make me consider stoping, but it was noticeable. The second problem happened about 45 minutes into class–my calf started to cramp. It’s the same single strand deep inside the muscle that’s been bothering me for the last couple of years. I knew from experience that if I used my calf muscle at all, it would cramp painfully, so I spent the last 15 minutes pedaling while consciously relaxing my calf–no simple feat. I managed to gut it out. By the end, I was swearing and cajoling my calf. I was loud enough that Dave, who was riding next to me, thought I was talking to him. But I finished the ride, and then spent a few glorious minutes stretching that muscle out.

Usually I try to do some sort of ending–either snarky, pithy, or poignant, but I don’t have it in me tonight.

Thurs-Fri March 3 & 4

Five months, sixteen days until I can stop blogging.

I guess. I haven’t really thought about it. Will I continue this blog once I’ve done the ride? I dunno.

Thursday was hellishly long…I worked all day, rushed home and made dinner for the kids and myself, then went and worked a basketball game, then came home and washed dishes, then made the food for Friday, then washed those dishes, then went to bed. Hope that excuses me from blogging.

I did manage to do an hours’ worth of workout during the lunch hour with Dave. Cardio, then we worked abs and chest-specifically lower chest by doing inverted presses, which would be similar to the muscles I would use while getting off the saddle and riding.

Changing topic: A few years ago, I remember reading about a guy with an unusually strong digestive system. How strong? Well, the dude ate an airplane. That’s rather interesting, but what interested me more when I heard about this guy was something not many are inclined to mention:

He also had to shit an airplane. I feel sorry for his plumber.

I bring this up because my digestive tract has been a rather large part of the conversation on this blog for the past couple of days. I’m no longer consuming flour, sugar, alcohol or caffeine. I’m eating a lot of vegetables, a good amount of meat, and a little bit of fat.  This rather radical change in my diet has affected me in one rather noticeable way. It’s a rather delicate subject. How best to put it?

I started the program on Sunday. I didn’t make a boom-boom until Thursday.

I don’t mean ‘I had to go for four days but couldn’t,’ either. There just wasn’t a need. I don’t know if this is a reaction by my body to the change in diet, or just the fact that very little of what I’m consuming isn’t consumable.  Or maybe a little of both. We’ll see what happens. Or doesn’t happen, as the case may be.

Hey–there’s only so much I can write about when I’m not really riding, ya know?

Maybe this blog should end before I hit that mountain.

Sunday, February 27

Five months, 24 days or so til I ride up Mount Washington.

First day on the food plan was good. There’s going to be a learning curve to getting the food prepared. I spent a large part of today prepping food. And I’m surprised at how much is gone from the food I purchased on Saturday. I’m going to have to make another run to the grocery store on Tuesday or Wednesday.

After breakfast I went to the YMCA with Dave, and we did the spinning class again. This time I was much more successful at it.

Man, am I tired. Going to go to bed now. I expect to have more energy tomorrow.


Saturday, February 26

Five months and 25-ish days ’til my legs turn to Jell-O on the side of a mountain.

I got an email today from one of the organizers of the ride, telling me that registration was open for a training ride up Mount Washington in July. Yeah. Like I’m gonna ride my bike up that thing twice. Then I got another email from  her stating there was a problem with the site and someone was working on it. She then thanked me for my patients.

Oh, doctor.

She may be able to ride circles around me,* but at least I can still be a word snob.

No exercise today. I’ve been on the go with commitments for 17 straight hours. What little time I had to work out I used to prepare myself for my upcoming food regimen. Which starts tomorrow.

Here’s my food:

Breakfast: I cup oat bran, cooked. 4 oz frozen blueberries. 1 hard-boiled egg.

Lunch: 4 oz chicken. 6 oz grilled scallions, peppers, and spinach. 8 oz salad (mixture of iceberg and green-leaf lettuce, carrots, scallions, and cucumbers), with 1 tbsp. blue-cheese dressing.

Dinner: 4 oz grilled hamburger, 6 oz mixture of steamed broccoli and asparagus, 8 oz salad (mixture of iceberg and green-leaf lettuce, carrots, scallions, and cucumbers), with 1 tbsp. blue-cheese dressing.

This is an approximation of the food plan from the program I’m going to be using, but I have yet to be able to get to one of the meetings, and I won’t be able to get to one tomorrow. In fact, the earliest I see myself getting to the meeting would be Tuesday evening, and I don’t want to wait that long to start changing the way I eat. I’m fairly certain that there will be changes to that plan once I get into the meetings and get a sponsor–a person who’s already successful in the program, who will tell me how to structure my food going forward. But what I’m eating tomorrow will be close. It will certainly be closer than what I’ve been eating lately.

After breakfast tomorrow, I’ll be going back to spin class with my friend Dave, which is good. Then after that, I’ll be going to a meeting, and that meeting will be filled with sugary, floury foods, and caffeine-laden drinks. Which will be less good. We’ll see how well I can handle it. I’ll just have to remind myself that it’s not my food.

Somebody might be getting a phone call. You know who you are.


*I lie. There’s no ‘may be’ about it.

Tuesday, February 22

Five months and 28(ish) days until the big climb.

Went to the gym with my friend Dave and did a short but intense bike workout, and then worked biceps and triceps. Dave, by the way, is not only a very good friend, but also the guy who took the pictures of me on my bike. That’s why whenever I mention Dave‘s name, it will be in red, because it will always be linked to Dave’s website. Which will now appear on the sidebar. Which you should go and visit. Especially if you need someone like Dave to do some work for you.

Dave. Dave. Dave.

Dave was also the guy I went to spin class with on Sunday. It was Dave who told the instructor that I was planning on climbing up Mt. Washington, after which the instructor gave me The Look. In case you’re wondering, I do not hold this against Dave. Actually, it’s cool to have someone else this excited about my ride. Especially someone as cool as Dave. And it’s great working out with Dave, because he’s really good at working out the upper body. And I was surprised at how much upper body work was done in the spin class on Sunday. Surprised and disappointed. I have some work to do.

Dave will not be going with me to spin class tomorrow, though, because it’s at 5:30 in the morning and Dave needs his beauty rest.