The Clicker, My Ticker, and a Gold Star Sticker

For anyone not familiar with my writing style, please be advised this post will be long.  And full of personal denouement.  And long.  We will start with some backstory, charge into some current issues in my life, and then forge on to goals and expectations for the coming year.  Did I mention “Long”?

First of all, lets start with boring “new years resolution” stuff and just get that right out of the way.

I am, without a doubt, in the worst shape I’ve been in for the last half-a-decade.  While I’m not at my “high-water” mark from 2002, I’m not exactly moving in the right direction either.

I’ve never been much of an “exercise guy” by self-definition.  More of a “food lover/great chef/eats everything on his plate” kind of dude.  I have been since I was 12 years old.  Conversely, I was skinny as a rail as a kid.  I looked like a stick figure in my wedding photos.  I ran track in high school and set records that stood for years.  I played Soccer in college.  I could eat Taco Bell out of bean burritos and mexican pizzas on any given day, drink a gallon of soda and still look like Don Knotts’ skinnier kid nephew.

I remember eating hostess chocolate covered mini-doughnuts BY THE BOX every morning in high school.  One day, a classmate of mine looked at me and she said “someday you’re gonna regret eating those.  They will catch up to you.” and I laughed her off.

I am here today to say, “Holly McCutcheon, you were SO right.”

I used to be a serious couch potato.  Like, 50 hours a week or more level couch potato.  And video games.  And computer games.  And then we invented the DVD player!  And THEN we invented Everquest!!!  Aww…what memories.  Ah, what a monumental spread to my ass!

Between sedentary jobs, no desire to exercise, and a poor fitness example at home growing up (no blame, one parent had a debilitating illness, and one was a bit busy with, like, WORK and stuff) I didn’t really have the tools to do better.

I had a couple of health scares, some massive life changes and some opportunities to learn new habits, and eventually dropped back down to about 205 lbs.  That might not sound like much when I was 168 lbs the day I got married, but for a guy with my build, 205 was pretty good.  I was trim, in good health and looked ok with my shirt off.  pretty much all I could ask for.

That was 2007.

This, is 2010.

If you multiplied the time difference in years by 20, you’d have a pretty good guess at the number of lbs I’ve gained since then.

I’ve discovered some things about myself recently.  I suck with generalized goals.  I don’t track them well, and I don’t have a good history of sticking to them.  Life gets in the way (which is what life is, the stuff you have to do before you get to do the stuff you want to do) and eventually the hills obscure the road forward and my momentum simply tapers away into “laters” and “next times” and “when I cans”.

What I need is a giant grandfather clock with an extra hour on the face between midnight and one that reads “later” so I can finally get around to all the things I’ve put off until then.

Or perhaps I should try goals that don’t suck.  That might help too.

Of course, I tend to use really REALLY crappy goals like “lose X amount of weight” or “wear pants whose waist is less than my inseam” with numbers and sizes so impractical I can’t possibly hope to reach them anytime soon, and then I get discouraged when I don’t get there in three weeks.

So this year, I’m going to try a different approach.  Basically, I’m going to take a page from my wife and try a slightly more unorthodox approach.

A couple of years ago, my cousin ran his first triathlon.  He didn’t win, but he did finish.  He also found himself in significantly better shape than he was before he started training.

Going from couch potato to triathlete sounds insane just on the face of it, I get that.  So the challenge is a part of the allure.  I don’t have a regular access to a swimming facility.  I don’t own a road bike to ride.  I haven’t run distance since Bill Clinton was in his first term.  The whole thing sounds outlandish.  But I think I can do it.

Not all at once.  Not tomorrow, not even any time soon; but I think I can finish a standard Olympic Triathlon by the end of the year.  By the end of next year I could finish a 70.3 (half-ironman), and before I turn 40 I could try to qualify for the Ironman in Kona.  Now THAT would be great reason to vacation in Hawaii.

There are several triathlons here in the Portland area every year, and several more if you include Bend and Seattle as well; so I should have plenty of options to chose from this fall for my first triathlon.

So, as part of my motivation, I will start posting my training log here on this blog.  Five times a week.  I’ll start with the running and the exercise bike, and hopefully later this spring or early summer I’ll buy an economical road bike and start posting times and pictures from my training route around my neighborhood.

I’m sure I’ll lose some weight in the process, heck, I’d LOVE to drop out of the “Clydesdale” bracket before I try a 70.3 (that’s a year and a half to lose 70 lbs or so) and I think that’s doable.  But training for a triathlon is about getting in shape, and being healthy.  Losing the weight is a side affect, not the goal.  I think that will help.  Training five times a week is a goal that I can make.  Even if I miss some days, there’s a direct, reachable goal right in front of me when I try again.

It’s just five days.

2 thoughts on “The Clicker, My Ticker, and a Gold Star Sticker

  1. Holy hell, man, there are goals and there are Goals, and a triathlon is a GOAL. One that I put right up there with “win Nobel Prize” and “sleep with three Playmates of the Month at once.”

    When I started college, I weighed about 140 or so – which isn’t a lot when you sling 60-pound bundles of shingles and 80-pound bags of concrete all day long for your summer job in Virginia. I started lifting weights because I was tired of being nerdy AND skinny, and because I had roommates who did it already to act as inspiration.

    I got into it fairly heavily. I’d never be immediately pegged as a bodybuilder, but I did a LOT of lifting. And a lot of protein-powders and weight gainers and even a two-month cycle of something called “Cybergenics” which required a strict diet and “take two of these pills an hour before your workout, four of these immediately after, two of these an hour after…” By my senior year, I was lifting three days a week, practicing karate for three hours a day four days a week – on weight days that I DIDN’T have karate, I ran a mile. On karate days, only a half mile.

    Then I graduated, went to grad school, and had neither time nor access to a gym. But cutting down all that eating that I was doing while burning through calories like a battleship? Bah, why bother? Then I had Dys move in and start cooking for me. Ye gods.

    I wear a 30″ inseam, and I will never, ever, ever wear a 30″ waist again. Period. If I get to 34 it will be a miracle. But I’m gradually trying to work my way back to a comfortable 36. Maybe even a slightly loose 36. That’s possible by the summer.

    My plan consists of basically two things: First, invite lots of people to watch me try, so I will be too embarrassed to back out; and second, I don’t have to win, I just have to finish.

    Is it a tad stupid? Yeah. But I’m starting with a sprint distance and working up from there. Before I turn 40, I want to qualify for the Ironman in Kona. I have a few years…so we’ll see how it goes.

    I ran in high school, and skied almost every weekend for years. Then I got a desk job and expanded like someone inflated the Michelin Man. It’s been better, it’s been worse, but now it’s time to get healthy. Not so much about weight as about whether or not I can survive intense exertion for a couple of hours. Right now, I’d be lucky to go ten minutes. That has to change.

    A little deflation wouldn’t be bad either.

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