An Initial Workout


I had planned for a bike ride early this morning.  A step in rebuilding after tearing down. I did a bit of research last night and decided to check out part of the Medina River Greenway starting at the Pleasanton Road Trailhead.  A nice easy, meandering ride along the Medina River near the Toyota Tundra plant in south San Antonio.

All the best made plans and aspirations tend to fail at times.  With a restless night, a few trips to the  bathroom and finally being awaken by the cat at 9am, I could feel the bike slip away as my feet hit the floor this morning.  Groggy, tired, and perhaps a bit dehydrated, I really wanted a small breakfast and a good cup of coffee. Then we will re-evaluate.

Re-Evaluating the Best Plans

Upon re-evaluating, the oldest trick in the book became my block.  I waited too late and the heat of the day was upon us.  San Antonio quickly gets warm, shooting up into the 90’s and low 100’s by mid-day.  Today was no different.  It was warm and that is my block. I worry about getting dehydrated, sun-burned, and doing more damage than good. On the plus side, the heat sends the rattlesnakes to their rock covered dens.

Finding My Workout Gear

fitness gear for successWhile I wavered on my plans, after walking by the duffel bag, I was inspired to see what was inside.  I had set the duffel bag out next to the bike because I knew my Cookie Monster Jersey was in it.  Upon leaving Colorado, I threw all of my workout clothes, bike stuff, and other related into my workout duffel.  My initial reaction was the clothes wouldn’t fit.  Good thing I looked!!  I found a pair of shorts I forgot I bought, I found some lovely REI workout shirts that fit, and my package of Under Armor super duper workout boxer briefs.  I had everything I needed for a gym workout!

Well, everything but a heart rate monitor.  My Garmin GPS HR device was nowhere to be found.  I think it ended up in one of my electronics boxes during the move.  Finding it would be difficult.  So, I decided to run the risk of using my Amazon Fit Bip.  When it comes to heart rate monitors, this thing sucks.  It only refreshes once per minute (I know I could change that), and it is highly inaccurate.  Typically when my HR is high, it shows me resting.  Would it work this time?

Let’s Do This!

I got dressed and headed down to the “fitness room” of my apartments.  It is more of a fitness closet than a room, but with three machines (treadmill, recumbent bike, and elliptical) and a weight machine, it is really only big enough for one, maybe two in a pinch.

So, here I am, in my tiny little gym.  You know what happened?  I got excited.  I got inspiration.  My inner kid said, “bring it on!”.

And bring it on we did.  But we played it safe.  We initially started with a goal of one mile on the elliptical.  Then the goal increased to 15min.  My quads were feeling it, my lungs were surprised, and my head was on cloud 9.  The Amazon Bip was useless.  It did not record many “steps” and the heart rate said I was sleeping, not working out.  Using the HR function of the machine, the heart seemed to stay around 170 bpm.  That felt accurate.

After the elliptical, I couldn’t help myself, I had to use the weights machine.  I had visions of my workouts from 10-years ago.  I started with a split squat press.  Morphed into an anti-rotation twist, and then ended with one my most favorite exercise, squat and row.

A Corner Stone Established

OMG…  life is good again.  I did it.  My first official workout of my new journey is in the book.  While total time was only 25 minutes, it is a start.  I remember when 25 minutes would just be a warmup.  But then I cannot compare myself today to the person I became 10-years ago, a triathlete.  I can use those visions for inspiration, but not for personal shame. The reprogramming will go on.

And so the workouts with go on.  An initial workout has been checked off the to do list. This is the foundation for greatness ahead.  Or at least until the “runner’s high” wears off.

A Sunday Quote and Weekly Exercise


One of the things I do everyday as I plan my day ahead is find a quote that draws me in on a random topic.  I write this quote at the top of my bullet journal daily planner page for that day. It is part of my morning routine and sets a wonderful feeling for the rest of the day.

While I would love to publish a daily quote video, or at least a daily quote post, I thought I’d start off with a Sunday Quote.  A quick and easy video with a quote, commentary on why it sings to me and even a small exercise for you to do during the week which relates to the quote.

So, here we go, my first quote video, nicely interrupted by the cat.

You can purchase “Relaxation on the Run” by Jay Winner, MD at the following link: https://amzn.to/33JX2G7

Today’s quote:

“For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.” – Alfred D’Souza, clergy

This week, when you feel like you can’t action on something, STOP and get your daily journal or a sheet of paper.  Write down what action it is you can’t take.  Then spend a few minutes writing down what obstacle is in your way.   Review the obstacles and determine which ones are real and then make a plan to overcome.  Better yet, forget the obstacles altogether and just do the action you feel you can’t take.

Please share your responses here, on YouTube, and Twitter.

Check back next Sunday for a new quote.

 

 

New Video – Kicking Off a New Chapter


After spilling the beans on my life over that last number of years, let’s reboot Aric In Training and start a new chapter of my life journey.

A New Video, A New Chapter

The 10-min video below is from the heart, candid, and the first step to getting back into the swing of life.  Please subscribe, like, and/or comment on my YouTube channel, Aric In Training.

 

A Significant Detour


I look back at my triathlon experience of ten years ago with great admiration.  All the pain, every cheer, every milestone and every race brought a perspective to life that I would never have thought I would experience as a kid who hated PE class.  But, it didn’t last.

The Great February Illness

In February 2012, I got sick.  I was at my prime and the lowest weight of my adult life, under 200 pounds.   As it turned out triathlon had become an addiction.  The months leading up my sickness, I was desperate for a PR and was trying to keep up with the more “professional” athletes. My body said “no more races.”

And so, began a steady and slow return to life as an obese adult.  The weight came back on over a few years.  I still managed to ride the bike and get some runs in, but I was not seriously training on a regular basis, nor was I working with a trainer.

The Workaholic is Back!

In late 2013, the workaholic returned.  I joined a local company as a sales analytics and operations guru and this role turned out to be far from a 9 to 5 role.  The CEO had an extra special personality and required some baby-sitting, as did the Sales VP.  I remember the day I walked into the office and said “F*ck it!” to self care and working out. It was simply too hard to protect your lunch for a nice ride.  It was difficult to ride in the evenings as you got stuck on deliverables and winter brought darkness at 4:30pm.  With an occasional ride on the weekend, my attempts to stick with an intensive workout schedule went out the door. That was a mistake.

Seattle or Bust

I moved to the greater Seattle area.  I had family in the area and needed a reset. But after AricInTraining - Skagit Classic Map17 years of life in Santa Barbara, CA, moving anywhere else was rough, especially a place with at least 5-months of rain and no sun.  I have to say, Washington state is a gorgeous place to live.  I see why everyone wants to live up there.  But with all of these people, traffic, cost of living, and jobs became more and more of an issue.  Seattle’s I5 is a freeway that going one mile can easily take 30+minutes, on a good day.  Riding the bike was a rare event here, as was hiking and even going for a walk after work.  The best moment is that I did finish the Skagit Spring Classic. The 27 mile ride through some exquisite, but soggy country side was proof I still had it in me. Of course, I didn’t walk for a few days after that.  But as time went on, my remote job drove me into isolation and my diet started seriously south in terms providing nutrients over junk.  After two years, I had to make a change and save my life.  The miserable me left rather quickly for Boulder County, Colorado.

The Gorgeous Front Range

Boulder County, Colorado is a gorgeous place.  It is also in the Front Range of the eastern slope of Rocky Mountains.  Boulder is where Mork and Mindy (Wikipedia) lived. Boulder is also where very serious cyclists can be seen cycling in a blizzard, further proof you can do anything when you are prepared!  What drew me to the area is not only the beauty, but the cycling culture.  Boulder County has hundreds of miles of recreational paths.  From the apartment I was living in Louisville, I could access that network from my door.

AricInTraining with Cookie Monster JerseySo why didn’t I ride? Yes, after two years of Colorado living, I only managed to get a handful of rides in, the longest of which was about 10-miles.  As it turns out, my head was bigger than my muscles.  That 10-mile ride did me in.  My legs screamed, “give us a break”, while my head said, “let’s go 100!” Now, keep in mind, Denver is the mile high city and I was living at 5,360 ft above sea level.  I was not used to the altitude.  I was also not used to the extreme dry air and the pounding sun.  Dehydration is too easy.  I was living in one of the most gorgeous areas of Colorado and found myself stuck in my 400 sq ft community garden plot rather than on the bike.

Horribly Sick

Then came January 2019 and my health went south very quickly.  I returned from a friend’s visit in Santa Fe, New Mexico over the holidays to Louisville and became very sick with severe cough, fever, stomach issues, lack of energy, tight chest, inability to focus, and extreme pain in my left calf.  After a week of not getting better, I went to urgent care.  Well, they were quick to diagnose it as bronchitis and sent me home with an inhaler and some antibiotics.  I got better, better then I didn’t.  The chest tightness wouldn’t go away and neither would the cough.  Life as a coughing zombie was the new normal, which was tragic as I just started my dream job in analytics.   After a second visit to the urgent care, I was diagnosed with asthma, given more inhalers, more allergy meds, and a word of caution to get out of town after an allergy test.  The doctor suggested there might be something in my apartment trying to kill me, including my cat.

Allergy Meets GERD

After following the treatment for a few weeks, I got better.  I was learning about asthma and its triggers and inspecting my apartment for what might be killing me.  What I kept finding was a fine grey dust all over the place, almost like lint when you wiped it up.  Then spring came and I turned off the heater.  Then I started to get much better.  The tightness in the chest and the cough subsided.  Long story short, the allergy test revealed a severe allergy to ragweed and dust mites.  I was also diagnosed with moderate sleep apnea and GERD (severe acid reflux). The first key to understanding what happened became the allergy to dust mites as the sleep test revealed a large amount of dust in the air and the air quality really started coming in to question. The second became my own eating habits with too much coffee, too much refined food, and just too much food.   At this point, I had had enough of Colorado and decided to head for lower altitude and better air.

I ended up in San Antonio, Texas where I am typing this today.  Not the prettiest city, but it does have a lot to offer.  The cyclist isn’t the best, nor are the “bike routes”.  But the people, the food, the accessibility, and the cost of living are easy to handle.

I have eliminated coffee and sugars for the last seven days and am feeling really good. My energy is coming back and my stomach feels more like it should. I am also monitoring the amount of food I eat in one sitting and am learning when to stop.

What’s the Point?

So, what’s the point of all of this?  I wrote a really, really long blog post about my significant detour from the wonderful life of triathlon. If you’ve read this far, I congratulate you.  For me, the point of all of this is to make sense of the last few years as I come to another fork in the road along my journey of life.  It makes me realize that I never gave up.  I may have digressed, I may have had some bad times, I may have been living in an apartment trying to kill me, but I persisted through it all.  I didn’t let the negativity win.  The voices in my head certainly challenged my resolve many times, but at least I pushed through it.  I realize a change in attitude and a return to regular training is in order.  Where it goes from there, we’ll see.  Stay tuned and see where Aric ends up.

 

 

A New Beginning


Life.  It happens.

We get pushed, pulled, twisted, and stretched as we conquer our fears, chase our dreams, accept our limitations, and diligently execute on our responsibilities.

Sometimes we make a change seeking something different and better, only to fall down and wish we had never made a change.  It takes us longer to get back up and moving again with another change to change course on the original change.

After moving to Seattle from Santa Barbara, I fell.  My heart was still in paradise and my inspirations were swept away with the grey, dreary rain and cold of a Seattle winter.  Not only did I learn about my allergy to high humidity and barometric pressure changes, but I learned how much being true to yourself and your values is far more important than making any new life work.  There is much more to this story which will be revealed as I move into this new beginning.

This fall, I am relocating to Colorado.  The area of Boulder and Louisville at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.  I was born in Englewood, so I feel like I am coming home.  Unlike Seattle, Colorado has a lot more sun during the winter even though it is significantly colder with periodic snow.

You can tell a lot about whether you are in the right place by how you feel. We humans have an instinct which helps protect us.  From the start, I never felt great about living in the Puget Sound area.  By contrast, I am happy in Colorado with a collected, calm head.

This is a new beginning.  A restart of my love for fitness, cycling, and triathlon.  I have 25 “Seattle” pounds to shed and a training program to rebuild.  But I’ve done this before and have fond memories of my triathlon journey.  I am looking forward to not only meeting a bunch of new people, but also feeling great again.

You know, life happens.  But now it will happen a bit differently.

February Cycling Challenge Results


February Cycling Challenge Results

Fitness challenges serve an important purpose.  First they help the athlete focus on a specific part of their training.  Second, they provide a measurable milestone which provide feedback.  Third, if the athlete has taken the challenge seriously, it will result in improvements, regardless of whether the ultimate challenge was met.

The Challenge

A month ago I created a personal cycling challenge to help get myself moving more consistently and lose a bit of weight.  The challenge was to cycle every other day, increasing mileage as I went and cover 230 miles by March 1st, culminating with a 20 mile ride. This seemed challenging, but I knew if I could stick to it and put in the mileage, I could get close.

Reality Sets In

The first three rides were fairly easy, but aggressive.  I didn’t stick to the planned mileage, riding a mile or more than planned for the first two rides.  The third ride was a bit of a stretch and fell just short of the planned goal.  Then I started missing rides.  Two days passed before I rode again. The body was realizing and feeling how aggressive it was to go from riding 8 miles to 11+ miles in no time flat.

This was the start of riding whenever I could while not pushing my body too far. It was also difficult to get rides in during the week of the 18th when an important client was in town for a project.  While catching up to the plan was nearly impossible, I kept riding, trying to get a decent amount of miles in.  It is more important to listen to your body and skip a ride for recovery than to push too hard and injure myself.

The Results

I completed the challenge with 144.4 miles compared with the 230 planned challenge miles.  While this is only 63% of the distance, I still feel great about the challenge.  Yes, I missed the ultimate goal, but my average ride went from 8 miles to 12 miles.  I feel great and am quite happy to be spending more time on the saddle.  Time in the saddle is a spiritual place where I spend the miles brainstorming and solving problems.  The challenge was a success.

Cycling Challenge Actual vs Plan
blue bars represent actual rides with green being planned. Actual falls a bit short

Did I lose weight?  No.  Starting weight was 229.8 with the final weight at 230.6.  The change is statistically insignificant was the deviation across the month was 2+ pounds.  After all of those miles sure would have been nice to be slipping into a smaller sized short.  But at the end of the day, body weight ins’t necessarily an indicator of fitness.  I feel and look more muscular than when I started the challenge.  As an athlete works out, they build muscle, which is heavier than fat. So, a change in weight can be delayed as the body burns more fat than the muscle in builds.  A better measure would be waist and wrist size.

The Next Challenge

With March 1st nearly here, I am thinking about my next challenge.  I like the idea of doing another cycling challenge, but would also like to incorporate a dietary challenge.  Cutting flour and sugar from my diet completely worked extremely well in 2008 and 2009 during my racing best. So stay tuned…  a new challenge is coming.

Getting Back onto the Triathlon Start Line: The Interval Run


Being outside of true triathlon performance for so long is a heart wrenching thought.  From my prime in 2009, I have seriously degraded in my ability to run, bike, and swim.  It makes me sad, but the thought of recapturing my prime drives me on.

Getting Back Into Running

I recently restarted my run workouts after focusing solely on bike workouts.  After cycling religiously three times a week for the past few weeks, it felt great this week to get off the bike and back on my own two feet.

The Interval Workout

This week focused on three run workouts.  While they were short, they are the beginning of a new chapter.  The first two runs were really walks, two miles long and at roughly 18:00 pace each.  Not blistering speed by any means, but even the Road Runner started slow…  I hope.

The third run was the most interesting.  While the SmartCoach app suggested a slightly faster pace, I decided to shake it up with a much faster paced, interval run.  I ran quarter mile (0.25mi) segments, alternating running and walking.  The first interval felt great.  The second, a little worse, and the final two challenging.

Running Form is Important

During the last two intervals, I focused not on run pace but run technique.  I remember an old coach who told me to run from the hip.  Run the hip???  Yep.  Running from the hip means you straighten your back and lean forward to the point you have to take a step or fall forward. You basically let gravity help move you forward as you step and push off the pavement with the ball of the foot.   Once you lean forward and get your feet in sync, the speed comes on fast and you really feel more like gliding as opposed to doing squats every time you step.

Even Slow Can Feel Awesome

At the end of the two mile workout, I managed to shave about three minutes off my pace, down to about 15:00 pace for the combined workout.  It felt great to get the blood moving along with the knees and feet.  While few people would every brag about a 15:00 pace run at two miles, when you have been away for so long, even slow feels awesome.