Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Balding men

Blog fan,
     I'm so sorry. I've been working my way back to you, babe. Both physically and creatively, I have been coming back from the hard hit of the shingles virus. With one of my favorite and most dreaded races coming up this week, I'll be riding the motivational wave and will hopefully keep the blog fresh.

First, I will discuss one of the progressively less deniable aspects of aging; male pattern baldness. In my adult life, I have scripted a hand-full of jokes to suggest that this loss of tresses is ok with me, but lately, it has been giving me a little grief. My best joke involves me putting four fingers on my forehead and exclaiming that I actually have a five-head.

To make me feel better, here are some kick-ass heroes who keep it fresh, even when they are a little thin on top.

I know that i'm not an action hero, or a tennis star, or breaking any gender barriers, but it does make me feel  just that much more potent to see folks like this in my pop culture periodicals.

This offers a perfect segway to a little race report. About three weeks back, I took the day off work and headed back to the Lewie Duie, or Lewiston Duathlon, an event at which I was bested by this fellow:
 He is also bald, and his name is Ed Hirsch. Most importantly, he knows volumes about cabbage production, and also about being YOUR future city/county/twp. attorney. I bequeathed him my Grizzly elite heat slot for his courage and magnificence in the month of March, which means that for the first time in 11 years, I will be racing with the age-groupers. 

Lewie Don'tie
Since being punched by a middle-aged woman earlier this year for my circle-swimming etiquette, I am attempting to pull every string that I can to ensure a sympathetic lane come Saturday. (This was my second time being assaulted by a woman at the pool).     

For a return to the topic of my glorious hair, I was watching some sweet online videos made by a band called Fun, and decided I'd like to emulate their lead singer. He looks like this: 
After arriving home from work, I explained to my wonderful life and training partner that I was after a more "moppish" look. After 10 minutes of her laughter, it began to feel a little insulting. Fortunately, she had the tact to lock herself in the bathroom to finish her chuckle-fest.

This was the end result:

On to my pre-Grizzly training binge: with my recovery from geriatric herpes, I have been back on the warpath. I figured out the secret of running home from the group home where I work, which has done wonders for my metabolism and consistency.  Since the latter of these two has been absent from my other sports, I have tried the indirect approach supplied by an out-of-context recommendation by one of my favorite exercise prescribers, Dr. Steve Gaskill. I have been hitting my private weight room on a regular basis, and doubt that a few months of muscle pain will actually result in a satisfactory bike split.

As for the pool, which I avoided pretty intently while marked with grown-up chicken pox, I must admit that weights are working out. I have experienced a few short weeks of training there and have seen some great results as I raced people at the pool who didn't know they were even in a race.

In this last phase of training, I have been appreciative mostly of my awesome training companion. She has endured quite a few miles riding next to me whilst I ran. Her tolerance and hospitality earned her a reference as "mini Tana Seeley," which is pretty much the ultimate distinction in multi-sport spousehood. Here she is on an early Saturday morning next to the famed Missoula bear cages.

Look forward to a Grizzly tri steamer in the next few days.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Oops I did it again

I have a confession to make. After a late night home improvement pow-wow with my buddies Adam and Matt, I broke a 90-day streak of no fast food and succumbed to the deliciousness that is Taco Bell.  In my defense, it was a perfect storm, including a day of working out, manual labor, no food in the house, TB being on my way home and a sleeping wife. In an ideal situation, however, I might not have hidden the wrappers and then downplayed my gastrointestinal distress the following day. I'm a grown man, who was I hiding it from? (Betsy saw the charge on the debit card anyway #foiled).

Aside from this single setback, I have experienced mixed results in this monumental pursuit which has included countless other issues that were slightly less my fault. 

The first to report is a big achievement. Over the past few years, I had been systematically cutting the legs and then retiring all of my underwear as my thighs grew unmanageable by common textiles, and had substituted them with knit boxers. As I resisted laundry last week, I found that my old underoos, albeit slitted, are once again comfortable to wear. This may be attributed to my new, 166 lb mass, which is nearing the 20 lb loss mark.
With my weight-loss progressing on track, it was about time that I hone all of this man into something that can actually go fast. With Triathlon as my goal, I bid farewell to all of my tri buddies as they departed for Tucson to train and saddled up to my trainer for some late-night training binges.  The best part about rising the trainer while it snows outside is that Betsy usually sleeps in a bed next to me for encouragement.
Biking consistency has been a challenge with adverse outdoor riding. After a few weeks of falling short, I can report that I am now on top of my bike training goal of 7-9 hours a week and my booty have been sufficiently hardened to the cause. With a subtle base, I am ready to work on my 20K TT fitness which includes a lot of time at half-ironman pace and sets of 3 minute intervals somewhere called zone 4. I have rarely been to Zone 4 before, so I just define it as "painful and uncontrollably sweaty."

My favorite bike workout is actually led by crappy internet provider BridgeMaxx and Netflix. I just   ride towards sweatytown whenever the movie is interrupted to reload. I've passed out once during this specific interval session. 

Running, on the other foot, has progressed a little too well for this guy. Unfortunately, most 170 lb runners find the muscular fitness that they are seeking before their joints, bones and connective tissues are ready for the challenge. With the IT pain and PMTSS(shin splints), enter another of my custom solutions.
My homemade foam roller has served me well and I have been able to maintain some consistency in weekly mileage, though have not yet mastered the restraint needed to keep myself under control for the long runs.

My swimming has gone as well as my twice-a-week plan allows, with some quick timed efforts showing above average fitness for me at this time of year. (Fat does help you float and reduce resistance).  I have been off for a week now due to the shingles virus which is only slightly related to my first time home buyer attempts. My understanding is that this single-sided (left) disease is caused by my compromised immune system and is expressed by rash and nerve pain. It feels something like someone taking a blowtorch to my side and I'm hoping that this expensive herpes antiviral makes it go away fast. 



Tuesday, February 7, 2012

One of these things is not like the others

And a big welcome back to myself, about whom I will now talk briefly, before I get to the more intriguing people with whom I associate.

First, things are really going well for me. MyFitnessPal has been dropped by the wayside due to the smashing success of my workout routine. When you have days like this:

 -diet sorta becomes a moot point. From my start at 182 lbs I have fallen impressively, dropping 3.5 inches from my waist, which means that the tight, sexy pants have returned. This marks a bonus with the lady as well, who I never see because I'm working out all of the time (thusly, a net loss).

Check out this picture taken while I was naked.

The iphone must weigh like 2 lbs, so I'm saying that I lost 13 lbs. As of late, I've been running about Missoula minus one custom bowling ball which I purchased for $1.00.

Honestly, last week marked the first time in about a decade that I craved a workout in every moment of down time. My work schedule and workout binges have occurred perfectly in rhythm so as to create a Bobo Anderson-esque period of hammering and recovery of four days on/three days off, which seems against the recommendation of nearly all worthwhile coaches.

That last reference lends nearly perfect transition to the actual point of this blog post, which is to highlight the shimmering quality of athletes living in Missoula, also lending context to my mission.  Bobo Anderson was a former pro who moved to Msla from the "bayou" in 2002 and lived here for a few seasons of his fictional pro career.

FACT: Missoula, per capita, produces more pro triathletes than any other city in the world with which I am familiar. I believe that Boulder, Colo.has similar mecca status, but when factoring a 300,000 population value vs. the 107,000 here, Missoula wins hands down.  An important note is that Missoula, by comparison, actually produces its own pro triathletes, while the competition merely attracts one of those hornet traps.

Following will be a highlight of several, yet not all, Missoula-bred pro triathletes and how I know them intimately enough to name-drop whenever I feel insecure. 

So the first one is a biggie. Not the biggest, granted, but a wad-o-props to the ol' Miss-oo-la. That would be the dude on the far right of this picture taken following UM's second national title in 2006. He's just Ben Hoffman, who is regarded as one of the top US male pros at the Ironman and 70.3 distance at present.
Ben was only one of many stars to come out of the UM program betwixt 2001 and 2007.  My count is eight athletes earning pro cards from that era. 

This next dude, Adams "Cupcake" Jensen, is the current hot item on the local scene. His victory last year at Grizzly far eclipsed multiple top-10 Ironman finishes in the last five years.

Here is a photo of me pretending to shave my legs in Adam's new bathroom, which I helped him to build for dozens of minutes this winter.   

So this here is the big kahuna. She's my personal friend, also the fastest American lady of all time at the Ironman distance, gracing the podium last season at IM 70.3 Worlds with a killer bike split that was likely a result of the ride pictured at left.

In this photo, I'm just drafting her with my huge self and probably bleeding out of my eyes. Lets just call her MooSox and say that she's truly "Montana Made."

The love kitty above is another great friend and one of my bestest sources of competition. With 70.3 swim victories under her belt from 2011, Jen Luebke is most inspirational in her transformation from a crybaby to a legit female Pro.

Who dat? I'm not sure that I know him, but he looks fast. Matty Ice, as I remember, has brought some serious talent to the scene since I fed his bonkified booty a banana to get him through his first ride with the team circa 2004. I remember describing it as a "man fruit" to sweeten the deal. 

Huckleberry Halpin, pictured below, has been a testament to the principle of persistence and has been doing work around the 'zoo since 2003. His 6th place at Ironman Wisconsin this year marked one of my finest days of cheering.

Pictured below (I think) is my H.M. and a photo of what may come to be Missoula's next Pro athlete. Photographed in-action at my bachelor party is my decade-long best friend Elliot J Bassett. This dude would have been there long ago if not for getting so swole around 2007. With the right amount of confidence in 2012, this founder of Mountain Endurance Coaching should pull down a pro card to match all of his cherry-picked race wins.

So all these bitches have and will continue to tenderize this grade-D meat into the glory of hippodom in my 30th year. If this decade is anything like the last, Missoula will be the right place to be for the up-and-coming.

Special shout-outs go to Matt Seeley, Todd Struckman, Michael Gordon and Brandon Fuller, who are all too old to know about the internets. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Budget body

This blog post, I am sharing with you now, more from a certain pressure to perform, than from a full-on inspired state. I have been feeling the guilt as my own fav. blog, myhappyhive, has blown out three potty-mouthed posts in the last week, shaming me to action with her crappy crafting.

In my exuberance to re-enter the competitive class, I have found that there is a little housekeeping to be done beyond the simple shave-and-tickle. To prevent serious injury and therefore setback, I have implemented a plan of core and strength exercise so that I can walk after working out.  Since I cannot justify the green involved in a trip over to Momentum Fitness, I have instead elected a "Rocky" approach that is both manlier and low budget.

I kicked off this new tangent toward in-home honing with a stop off at Helena Industries thrift store. I may have made the trip in order to solve one of the problems that has been plaguing me as of late (see top photo).
This is seriously my entire glove collection
So I didn't find any righties, but I did stumble across two low-budget pieces of fitness equipment that have got me rolling right. The first deals primarily with an incredible weakness of the groin-ish area that has rendered me unable to do a number of not-so-important activities, the breaststroke for example, and also walking and moving downhill.  My solution was a knock-off model of the Thighmaster, made so famous by aging Threes'-Company starlet Suzanne summers in the 1990s. This one feels like a real treasure, though after a week of use, I fear that it may be a little too much due to ridiculous spring strength. 
The main problem is not the actual squeezing, but issues surrounding the uncontrolled action of  flinging your knees apart upon recoil. If only I hadn't passed up the real deal those 1,857 times as I watched the commercial as a pre-teen.

My second purchase was a far superior investment, being a $1.00 bowling ball with bag. I'm predicting its weight at about 13 lbs. and am pleased to report that my new medicine ball is drilled custom for someone with hands identical to my own.

Though I have been doing well with my diet and exercise, having dropped from 180+ to 174 pounds as measured this week, the only thing making me feel somewhat Rocky-esque are the new mittens thrifted by my very own Adriane at the same locale.
Just 14 weeks until my first bout with Apollo, the 30th annual Grizzly Triathlon. After an atypical 13th place last year, I'm to need some impressive early-season fitness to impress race officials by raceday. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

I do special maths

I hate this scale!
According to my online Myers-Briggs assessment, my personally-described personality constellation deems me "the champion." Thus far in this blog, I have shared that my only champion qualifications of late are those regarding self deception. So, taking this veritable block of salt and hitting the ground running, I have decided to describe the process of my transformation in quantifiable absolutes. Granted, these absolutes will be subjected to my full arsenal of subjective (and therefore erroneous) analysis.

My first fixation in this endeavor is upon my own weight. The reasons for this are twofold. First, my good friend and occasional running buddy, Jen Luebke, told me once that with equal fitness, one stands to be able to run four seconds per mile FASTER with each pound lost. Maybe it was only two seconds. I'm not sure who created this wondrous equation, but I do feel like I can securely state that dropping about thirty pounds will allow me to drop about 11.6 minutes from my 42 minute 10k without much actual running. (30 lbs x 4 sec x 6 mi).

So the other reason for the new weight fixation is more figurative. In 2006, just following the Seattle Marathon, I weighed a measly 142 lbs on my in-laws' bathroom scale. This Christmas, I weighed myself on a scale in the very same spot reading 185 lbs.

Quantifying this weight in my head has become somewhat of an hobby for me. Following are a few things that weigh roughly 43 lbs, none of which I'd like to bring along on my next marathon.

Death Star Pumpkin
Child-sized "atlas stone"
This canoe
Is this a Llama?
Diving helmet
Confiscated by the Portland P.D.
European Ostrich
Dog-fighter for a dog? 

Profound, no?

So in reality, 2006 was not a great year for me physically. I did manage to attract my wickedly-awesome wife around that time, but I was otherwise sorta wimpy and sick until I gained my pre-Ironman weight in 2007. In light of this, I have decided to aim for 159 lbs as a mid-April goal. MyFitnessPal, who was introduced in my first post, is doubting that I will meet this goal. In light of this, I have been stonewalling the SOB, and am hoping that his tune changes when I come around next week.

Expect some more great calculations in my next post, as well as some serious name-dropping of more famous pro athletes.

Oh, I can't forget to give a shout-out to my mother-in law, mayor of Ryegate, MT, for giving me the sweet used bathroom scale, and to Betsy, for tricking me into eating all of those Christmas cookies.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

This is not a good look for me

Certified for resale by FW&P
In my adult life, I have enjoyed defining myself as an athlete scraping the     ceiling of sub-elite status. For the past several years, this has been somewhat of a fib. Relative to satisfactory beginnings in the active realm, I have lately been described more often as having "performed well beyond my fitness level."

In 2012, I will turn 30. I have vowed to make an honest push to test my actual potential in this year, rather than to pray for a miracle every time I toe the line as I have for the majority of my 20s.

This blog will be a story of my struggle with accountability and undoubtedly frequent points of failure as well. I will attempt to speak to the every-man, including all of those who wage a silent war against their own failures of self-discipline. Rather than sharing vegan recipes, my readers (wife and mother), will find in-stead, peanut-gallery-esque ruminations upon the world working against me and the people from whom I draw inspiration.

In regard to the title of this blog, I might have named my quest after my self-selected spirit animal, the polar bear, but found hippopotamus descriptions to be more accurate. They usually follow the line of "encumbered by their substantial girth on land, the surprisingly graceful in the water, and can be quite dangerous to..."
My first white-hot jewel of planification has been to cast off the weight which holds me back. This will be an endeavor both physical and figurative in my case.  In the coming months, I will need to release my long time goal of being the first elite athlete sponsored by a fast food chain. Also missing this specific cut will be my reputation for eating fat-laden burritos and fried chicken on long rides, and a well-known affinity for buffet-style recovery meals.

Just a few weeks ago, I made a deal with my wife, Betsy, to terminate my long affair with fast food in exchange for an iphone. This was a good start.

The thing that I am best at is justification, specifically self-justification. I have grown to explain a midnight binge at Taco Bell as "helping me to recover." Since these binges frequently follow a lapse in working out, I may have taken this a bit too far. To aid in my self-accountability, I have acquired a new friend:

I'd like to introduce you, reader, to My Fitness Pal app.

This bad boy keeps track of my exercise and dietary doings with a million-food catalog which does include the Denny's Grand Slamwich, which packs in over 1,000 calories a pop. At the end of each day, My..Pal lets me know exactly how I am progressing toward my goal weight with a little shaming tool that looks like this: 

I have been at the Pal  for two weeks and it has probably done more educating than anything else. It has been my mode in life to believe that if a little of something is good, then a lot of it will have to be proportionately better. In light of this, I now have a more realistic grasp of the direct effect of my binge/purge personality.

I'm satisfied with this start. In my next post, you can look forward to some special maths and a "hippo by the numbers" feature.