North Shore Sprint Triathlon

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Overcoming Obstacles - Daily Schedule

Today is one week since I began training for the Chicago Sprint Triathlon, and here's an update on what I completed as part of the program:

Run: 10 miles
Bike: 10 miles
Swim: 200 yards

Starting weight: 155.6
Current weight: 150.4

The first week of the program was admittedly pretty easy, other than the swimming portion. I even exceeded the running goal, so it wasn't a ton of overall work. Even that, combined with a healthy diet, was enough for me to drop five pounds, though, which shows that I wasn't working out consistently enough in the past couple of months.

What I'm most proud of after the first week is my ability to push through my unusual schedule and complete my workouts. I am currently working a 6pm-2am shift, meaning I sleep and relax most of the day and go to the gym after work - sometimes not getting home until about 3:30am. It's not easy driving home on empty roads from Northbrook to Chicago while thinking about just skipping the gym and going to bed. But I know that if I want to complete this training and get in the shape necessary for the triathlon that I have to overcome the mental aspect that could hold me back if I allow it to.

Last night, for instance, all I wanted to do was go home, watch some TV and cash out after work. That thought lasted all the way until I parked my car outside the gym. Once I got on the treadmill, I ran the three miles in a decent time and felt great afterward. I would have regretted not going this morning. It's always easiest to just say, "I'll just skip tonight and work harder tomorrow." More often than not, you don't. This training isn't going to be easy all the way through, so why try to cut corners at all? If I'm in this, I'm in it all the way.

There are plenty more obstacles to overcome in the coming weeks. I have plans to watch some hockey with some buddies tonight, and then my dad comes to visit tomorrow night on my two off days from work. Though today is a scheduled day off from training, I'm going to have to wake up earlier than normal tomorrow to get in my workout, and I plan to do so.

Next week, I have a bachelor party to attend in Indianapolis, so I'm going to have to rework the training schedule for the entire week to be able to skip two days over the weekend while I'm out of town. Then, when I return from Indy, my entire work schedule shifts to 10am-6pm. My entire workout schedule will need to change along with it, and it's going to take a lot of planning to do so.

The point is, there is always going to be an excuse or an obstacle that can drag you down if you let it. Something will come up every day. Even driving past a fast-food restaurant can make you say, "Well, I'll just grab a couple of cheeseburgers today and then work them off tomorrow." Unfortunately, it doesn't work as well as you think, and more often than not you'll enjoy those cheeseburgers and then regret the hell out of it later when you're sitting on the couch and skipping your workout.

This is only the first week of training, and I've already encountered plenty of challenges that I have to fight through. It's only going to get more difficult, but I have to push through it.

115 days.

Monday, April 28, 2014

And Here... We... Go

I remember the shock I felt when I stepped on the scale and read the impossible truth.

"No way. I absolutely do not weigh 174 pounds. No. It just can't be."

That was in April of 2012, when I knew I had gained some extra inches but did not feel I was overweight, per se. And while 174 pounds may not seem like much to you, it felt like a piano strapped to the belly of a then 31-year-old who is barely 5-foot-6 and tipped the scales at around 110 pounds his senior year in high school.

I had intended before that day to get myself back in some sort of shape, drop some pounds and become an overall more healthy person. That number just put the turbo thrusters onto the whole process. The 7-Eleven in Wicker Park rang up thousands of dollars in frozen pizzas, sodium-packed sandwiches, bags of every chip you can imagine - mainly Funyuns; I love Funyuns - and whatever else I could find for an easy fix in the four years I lived in the area. Luckily I had decided to quit smoking on my 30th birthday, or my overall bill might've looked like the national deficit.

Finally, I had grown tired of being tired. I was sluggish at best throughout my days, and the nights were short on the occasions I didn't go out drinking. Looking back, all I gained were unnecessary pounds and an acceptance of being fat and lazy. And when I was going out with friends to the bar, all I really was doing was finding a reason to stay awake and not fall asleep on the couch.

Fast forward to November 9, 2013 - the day I was lucky enough to marry my beautiful wife, Nichole. I weighed 146 pounds. My best 5k time was 23:49 out of the many I had run in a year and a half. I was going on 8-mile runs for fun and got mad at myself when I didn't. I was eating much better, keeping out the fast food and toning down on my beer drinking. 

There were lulls - the main reason why it took me so long to drop the 28 pounds - plus a stay in the hospital for a bleeding ulcer that kept me inactive for roughly two months following, but I consistently would lose any of the little amounts of weight I gained back. I wasn't a fitness buff by any means of the imagination - and I'm still not - but the dedication I made to being a healthier individual worked for how I needed/wanted it to work. I wasn't looking to get ripped or bulk up. I just wanted to feel better and get some energy back while dropping some weight. I did that.

Between the wedding, Thanksgiving, Christmas, moving from the suburbs back to the city, New Year's, our honeymoon to Hawaii and the 75 inches of snow that hit the Chicago area throughout winter - and into "spring" - I lost my edge again.

Now, it's time to get it back.

I have been talking for a year about completing a sprint triathlon. And even though my wife thinks I'm going to drown during the swimming portion, I've made it a goal of mine and I'm taking it seriously. On Wednesday, April 23, I began an 11-week training program that combines swimming, biking and running portions tailored to build my endurance in all three categories. There was no diet plan, so it's on me to make smart choices when eating and control my portions and calories.

I've printed out the daily plan and put it on my refrigerator, and I'm crossing off the days as I complete them. I'm motivated, and even though it's been less than a week into the program, I'm feeling accomplished with each requirement I complete.

Yes, even the swimming portion. It's much more difficult when you're not standing in water three feet deep shooting at a poolside basketball hoop. Essentially, I have to learn how to swim all over again.

I won't have a bike until later this week, so I've been doing the biking portions at the gym. With the weather being nice, I've gotten back to my outdoor runs. The program calls for some short ones, but I've been able to exceed those times - which the program encourages to do.

I've been eating variations of baked chicken along with brown rice and steamed vegetables for dinner, eggs and a bagel for breakfast/lunch, salads on occasion and low-calorie snacks. I was forced to eat out once, but I got a grilled chicken sandwich with low-fat honey mustard and a side salad. I've been really, really good with my diet, and I can notice the change in my energy in my workouts.

The countdown at the top of this page is for the Chicago Sprint Triathlon on Aug. 24. I'm going to be there. No questions asked. I'm doing this, and I can't wait. Here are the distances for each portion, which are to be completed in succession:

Swim: 750m (0.46 miles)
Bike: 22k (13.67 miles)
Run: 5k (3.1 miles)

The total distance for the race is roughly 17.3 miles.  The training program takes me through July 7, and then it's on my own to put a training plan together to get me prepared over the final month and a half. And I'll be ready.

I hope to post about every other day with updates on my progress and what I'm doing to get myself in shape for the race. A main reason I'm starting this blog is to keep myself accountable, but I'm also hoping to inspire some of you along the way.

And here... we .... go.