Tuesday, 3 June 2008

There's a hole in my blog...

It struck me yesterday that I have been lax in my blogging. During April and May I only did a couple of entries. I used the excuse that not much was happening that was worth recording, while in fact all the dramatic stuff was going on. Here are a few highlights.
Big Climb
After my horrifyingly bad first attempt at climbing, I did, in fact manage a surprising and very pleasing jaunt up the Campie Hills a couple of weeks later. On that fine Saturday in April, I only meant to go a few miles up the hill, but in fact, more through stupidity and not knowing where I was going, ended up doing a lot more climbing than that I thought I was capable of.
On that same ride, I also clocked up a total of 38 miles. I was truly goosed at the end of this 2 hour 50 minute ride, but I was well pleased, because for the first time, actually started to believe that I could complete the Etape Caledonia, and stopped worrying so much about how many miles I’d have to spend in the ‘broom wagon’ (which sweeps up the casualties – get it). In fact, I even managed to get out on the Sunday also and clock up a further 25 miles. That was a good weekend.
The flu
– not man flu. I was ill. No sooner had I convinced myself that my training was going perfectly, than I came down with a virus. I wasn’t depressed or upset about this at first, I was too busy feeling sorry for myself to be depressed. That set me back 2 weeks in total, and left my training plan in ruins. For 12 days I did no cycling, and lost no weight (it’s not sensible to diet when you’re ill, I know than much). On May 2nd I tried to ride to work as I (mistakenly) thought I was mostly better. It did not go well. I got there, but it was a painful and tiring 9 miles. Oh dear, I thought, I’m screwed.
Thankfully, over the next week my fitness came back quickly and I got back into the swing of things. I didn’t have much time left, my weight was higher than I wanted and I still hadn’t ridden half the distance I needed to.
New friends.
On Thursday 8th May, while out on a fast short ride, I met up with Falkirk Cycling Club. There were about 50 of them. I met a guy, Brian I think his name was, and was riding along chatting. It turned out that he was just heading to the start of the clubs training run. I knew they trained on these roads, but I was hoping to avoid direct contact for the moment (they are very fast and very serious about their cycling) Once I get slimmer/fitter and faster, I fully intend joining these guys, but there’s work to be done first. Anyway, he said I should have a go, and me being me, I said way not. Idiot.
I managed to stay with the slowest group for about 5 miles, but they got the better of me no a hill, and my inexperience in groups was a real killer. Anyway, this brief group ride gave me a taste for company, so I decided to have another go on their ‘Sunday run’, which is supposed to be a slower, more social affair. Since the meeting point for this is at the bottom of my street, I thought ‘what’s the harm?’ Unfortunately there were only 6 of them on the Sunday, and they all looks fit; everyone else was away racing or something! I introduced myself, got my apologies in early and waited for the torture to begin. Surprisingly, other than the hills, we clipped along at steady 18 mph. It is a wonderful thing to sit at the back of a group of cyclists as the effort is very much reduced. It’s a great feeling.
I stayed with them for about 25 miles before deciding to head off myself back in the direction of home. I got the feeling I was beginning to hold them back a little, and that was only going to get worse. It was exactly a week to the big day, and I wanted to stretch myself, but not kill myself. One of the guys suggested a route back to the Kincardine Bridge, which I took. I wasn’t worried about getting a little lost, I wanted to do about 60 miles, so there was certainly some scope for detours. Anyway, I had a great time riding along quiet roads and through cracking little quiet villages. The Forth estuary was always on my left, so that kept me right. The scenery was spectacular, with the calm water, the two bridges and the beautiful countryside. The ride had a sense of adventure about it.
In total I rode 65 miles, which although not particularly mountainous, was hilly enough for me to feel it. WhenI finished I realised I could do no more, the training was essentially over, bar a couple of shorter rides during the week it was time to let the legs recover and wait for Sunday to come.
Anyway, I didn’t blog about this stuff at the time for several reasons; laziness, illness, tiredness and being pretty busy. I regret it now and am going to make an effort to not let it happen again. Sometimes you think things are pretty static and unchanging, but it never really is, time roles on, and things are always changing.
Today’s weight is 16 Stone 2 lb (102.5 kilos)

Sunday, 1 June 2008


OK, time for a rethink and some re-focusing.

I feel a bit out at sea at sea moment. From January, I had the shock of being the size of a whale motivate me. With this motivation I made some radical changes to my diet and exercise levels. Thankfully my weight fell quickly, adding to my motivation. As the following couple of months passed, the weight was falling almost despite what I did (or so I thought, but in reality I think I had just changed my habits enough to make the difference).

Into March my focus started to shift onto the goal of the 81 mile Etape Caledonia cycle on May 18th. There was just no way I was going to miss that, so I had to start training in earnest. My thoughts turned from solely being focused on my weight, to more and more obsess about how I was going to do such a long distance on a bike.

Training and weight loss are two balls that are harder to juggle than I thought. The harder I worked at the cycling, the hungrier I was, and the more slack I gave myself as to what I could eat. So while I managed to ditch over a stone in the first six weeks, I only lost a further eight pounds from the middle of March to the Etape on 18th May, even though I was cycling my ass off, literally. When I rolled up to the start line on May18th I weighed in at a still hefty 16 stone 4lb. I had mixed feelings about this, as my target was a good 10 to 12 lb lighter than that. Weight makes a huge difference to cycling; people pay hundreds or even thousands on bikes that are lighter than the average by onto a kilogram or so. I was carrying maybe 16 kilos extra than a normal person would, or 20 kilos more (44 lb) than a serious cyclist would. That made me nervous. But my training had gone well; I had completed a 65 mile training ride, and could easily do 25 the 30 miles on an evening, so I wasn't too worried (maybe 5 out of 10 on the panicometer). I think I am as fit or fitter now than I have been at any time in my life, so I had that to balance out with falling short on the weight target. On the whole, I’m well pleased.

But the thing is, the Etape is now in the past, but the job has not been completed. The weight loss has to continue. This is a war in which I have won a significant battle, but there is no point in stopping now. I need to have a healthy lifestyle; I want to be cyclist, not a ‘fat cyclist’, or a fat runner or a fat swimmer. I need to loose another 2 stone to loose the ‘fat’ prefix, 3 stone to replace it with ‘fit’.

So I need to reboot my training program. I need another goal far enough away that I can start again, focus on my weight again for a couple of months; but with a goal looming in the future to add the glue that will keep me motivated. So I’m looking at a few things which I’ll write about later, something in September or October would be best I think.

Meanwhile, its time to get serious again about loosing weight. I’ve got a new powerfu weapon, fitness. But is it a weapon for good or evil? On the bike, I feel compelled to try and improve my times (average speed mostly; it used to be 14 mph, now its 17mph). So when I go out I tend to try hard, and not surprising, afterwards my legs hurt. I was out yesterday and despite planning to take it easy and enjoy the weather, I ended up blasting (well, kinda) up the hills, and soon enough I was working pretty hard. All well and good, you may think, but because of that, I didn’t go out today because my legs were sore and tired; not productive at all really. Weight must be my priority, and consequently, speed must take a back seat for a while.

But how the hell do I stop myself from trying so hard? Answers on a postcard please.

Anyway, tomorrow is reboot day. Excel comes back out, the scales come back out, the soup comes back out. Let the obsession re-commence.