Last Day of the Year – Could Be Better

I was supposed to go on a ride with Tim this morning.  The weather is beautiful.  I overslept, ditched the ride, and now I’m sitting at my computer.

I could still go for a ride, but everything I think of has me riding to go spend money on food I don’t need.  So, I’m going to stay home and eat responsibly.

I’m not drinking tonight.  I don’t feel a strong urge to celebrate the new year.  I’ll probably be asleep at midnight.

I’m hoping tomorrow will be better.  The weather may not be as nice, but a nice long ride to clear the head, and fewer drunks on the road may make for a nice day.

2011 Goals

It’s almost a new year.  Here are my goals for the next year.  This is not a “resolution”.  These are goals I can re-visit, track progress, and modify if I need to.  🙂

  • Train for and complete an Olympic Triathlon on 7/31/2011
  • Weight lifting for upper-body strength (I’m pretty pathetic above the waist now)
  • Get to my goal weight of 175lbs by 7/1/2011, and never go above 180 again (at about 216 today)
  • Ride at least 5000 miles for the year
  • Drive fewer miles than I ride (this could be hard due to most driving being longer trips)
  • Do at least three overnight bike camping trips
  • Start riding with the local club – on my single-speed (I’ve done that once this year)

Old Goals

Let’s look at some goals I posted on 2/28/2009

  • Goal weight will remain at 175 lbs (for now).  I hope to reach that goal by the end of August.
    Didn’t happen.
  • Ride a century this year (100 miles in one day).
    Didn’t happen until 2010.
  • Raise $3200 for The Ride to Conquer Cancer, and complete the entire ride under my own power.
    I raised over $2500 and completed the ride.  I’ll call that success.  I did not participate in 2010.  The fundraising part really is the hardest.
  • Learn to ride my new unicycle, and complete a ten-mile ride on it by June 2010.
    I gave up the unicycle.
  • Juggling?
    Didn’t bother.  Without the unicycle it wouldn’t be as cool.  🙂
  • Ride to work more often.  I had hoped to average 3 days per week, but I’m not even managing that right now.
    This was up and down for a while, but I moved to Louisville, and I ride (almost) every day.
  • Ride to work five days a week at least 3 weeks per year.
    See above.
  • Increase my average speed on the bicycle a little bit.
    Hasn’t really happened, although the triathlon training should help that.
  • Learn to kayak this year.
    I still haven’t touched a kayak, but I did take a canoe trip.
  • Get a rod, reel, and fishing license, and spend some time relaxing and fishing.
    I didn’t do this either.  Most of my free time is gone.  I have been reading a lot though.
  • Find new fitness activities.
    I guess training for a triathlon counts.  I’m also starting weight lifting.
  • I had made a goal to live-car free.  I think I’m giving that up.  I do want to drive less, but realities of the modern world make this a very unpopular choice.
    I wrote this when I had an old car that was paid for.  Then it died.  Then I bought a truck.  I seldom drive now, but I’m now married, and have a car payment.  It’ll be a while before I can become car-free.
  • Ride 5000 miles this year.  I’m way behind on this so far.  I’m two months into the year, and I’ve only ridden 541 miles.
    I did not make 5000 miles in 2009.  I did in 2010, and hope to in 2011.
  • Get better about riding in cold rain.  I often use this as an excuse not to ride to work, but I have the gear to do so.
    I ride in cold rain.  I still don’t care for it, other than the “crazy factor”.
  • I had planned to try to drive less than 3500 miles per year.  I’m giving up on this also.
    I’ve modified this to simply ride more than I drive.
  • Ride in a roller coaster this year.  I’ll actually fit now.
    I didn’t get a chance for a real roller coaster, but I did ride in a number of other amusement park rides.  Yes, I fit.
  • Go skydiving in the summer of 2010.
    Didn’t happen.  I still want to do it someday, but I’ve got too much else going on financially and time-wise.
  • I want to be a better cook.
    I may be slightly better, but only slightly.  I still don’t cook often enough.
  • I want to find a wonderful woman to enjoy these activities with.
    I did.  I met her shortly after writing that blog post.

    The Bad and The Good

    Bad:
    My weight now is about the same as it was two years ago.
    Good:
    I’m 50-some odd pounds lighter than I was three years ago.

    Bad:
    At the Y today, I did three laps in the pool before needing to stop.  I’m training for an event that will require swimming the distance equivalent to 35 laps in the pool.
    Good:
    When I first started riding a bike, a mile seemed like forever, but I quickly built up to riding 60 miles.

    Bad:
    I was completely unable to do a single pull-up.
    Good:
    I’m now using a weight machine to strengthen those same muscles.  I expect to be able to do pull-ups in a month or so.

    Bad:
    The scale hasn’t budged recently.
    Good:
    My pants feel a little looser.  I may be gaining some muscle mass.

    Bad:
    I still suffer periods of depression.
    Good:
    I can muddle through until I feel better.  Muddling through is what I’m doing today.  🙂

    Merry Christmas!

    Okay, I spent most of the day alone, but I read, puttered around the house, and played with my new toy.

    My wife bought me a Garmin eTrex Vista HCx GPS for my bike.  I’m happy with the device, but not with Garmin.

    The device comes with a very basic map, no problem, I’ll spend $80 for a detailed map.  I chose the download option for instant gratification (my favorite type of gratification), and the website was so slow as to be unusable.  They already had my money, and the customer service department won’t be open until Monday.

    In any case, the site seems to working now, and I’m attempting to download the map.  It’ll take a while, if it ever finishes….

    I didn’t eat much today.  I didn’t see a point in a Christmas dinner when I’m the only one home.  I mostly just grazed on sandwiches, leftovers, and two snacks from the coffee shop.

    Tim and I got out for a little ride this afternoon/evening.  We met at Heine Brothers at the loop, as that location was open most of the day.  Good for business, not so good for those poor souls that had to work on Christmas.

    The picture to the right was taken on my way home after the ride.  No, that’s not my house.  I was just passing through the neighborhood.

    Although my new GPS didn’t have a suitable map loaded, I had it mounted on the handlebars, and it tracked my route through town.  I’m able to export the data as a GPX file, as seen below.

    Download

    I drove to work on Wednesday and Thursday.  I was mad at myself for that.  I’m not gaining weight, but I’m not losing it either.  I didn’t work yesterday (Friday), nor did I get out on the bike.

    I did pick up my daughter who had taken a bus from Michigan to Louisville.  I only spent a few hours with her before she headed off to spend time with her boyfriend.  I’ll see her briefly tomorrow before dropping her off at the bus station.

    I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas.  My day was peaceful, if a bit lonely.

    Achieving This Goal…

    … was almost a let-down.

    On my way home from work, I hit 5000 bicycle miles for the year.  I’m glad I did, but it does seems a little bit of a let-down.  There isn’t enough time left in the year to add serious miles, just commuting and a little riding around town.

    I know my mileage for 2011 will be down some.  I live a lot closer to work now.  I’ll be spending a lot of time training for the triathlon, most of that time won’t involve the bike.

    I still have other goals to work for.  I want to complete the triathlon in 2011.  I intend to reach my goal weight in 2011 (about time, I started all this in 2007).

    Walking, Raw-Food, and Getting Up Early

    Walking

    Candy is unsure
    Candy is unsure

    After riding my bike to work and back home, I needed to go to the grocery store.  I didn’t feel like riding, so I intended to drive.  Once I was standing next to my truck, keys in hand, I realized it was silly to drive.  The local Kroger is less than a mile away.  I didn’t need much, so I walked.

    The sidewalks had been ice-covered a few days ago, but they seem to be clear now.  I bought what I needed and headed home just as it began snowing.  By the time I arrived home it was sleeting.

    Raw-Food

    While researching paleo-diet stuff (which I’m not doing right now), I came across raw-meat diet for pets.  Dogs and cats are carnivores, so I did a little reading and decided to give it a shot.

    My finicky cat is not taking to it at all so far.  The dogs however, love it.  They’ve eaten pork ribs, eggs, and chicken legs.  I need to buy some organ meat to round out the diet.

    I was buying some fairly expensive dog food before, so I may actually save money doing this.  You don’t have to buy expensive meat.  The cheap stuff is fine.  Watching a dog eat an egg can be funny.  Both of my dogs eventually eat the whole thing, shell and all.

    The downside to this plan is that I’ll have to mop the kitchen floor much more often.

    Sandy is being protective
    Sandy is being protective

    Getting Up Early

    I hate mornings.  Even if I go to bed early, I still really dislike getting up.

    I need to start getting up earlier so I can train for the triathlon.  I’ve got a couple of weeks before I really start training, but I need to get up tomorrow and get down to the Y before work and work on my swimming.

    Will Ride For Pizza

    Winter Blah!
    Winter Blah!
    (and beer!)

    Nobody showed for up this morning’s RCCS ride.  I had a feeling that might happen, so I brought some reading material with me.  I sat at Sunergos enjoying good coffee and a book.  I eventually wandered home, and read a while longer.

    Not riding was starting to get to me.  I really wanted pizza, but riding three miles over to Za’s and overeating isn’t going to do my weight-loss effort any good, so I decided to ride to Charlestown Pizza Company.  I still overate, and had an excellent beer.  I then rode over to the old house and took care of a few things before riding home.

    I got 41.6 miles in for the day, enjoyed what I ate, and I feel good.

    Stepping It Up

    I’m going to participate in a triathlon in 2011.  I’m starting training in the next couple of weeks.

    The joke has been made that triathletes are not cyclists.  I’ll be a cyclist who isn’t really a triathlete.

    That’s why I started a Y membership yesterday.  My swimming needs a lot of work.  I need to learn to run without hurting myself.  I need to get faster on a bike.

    This came about because I got an email from Debbie, a former co-worker, from my pre-weight loss days.  She had found out about my blog.  She wants to participate in a triathlon, and has asked me to join her.

    My gut reaction was to decline, but that is the “fat-person mentality” that I mentioned yesterday.  After rolling the idea around in my head for a while I decided to go for it.  It could very well be what I need to make it to the next level of fitness.

    I don’t expect to do well, I just expect to finish.  That’s my goal.  Hopefully I’ll attain my goal weight along the way.

    I have a friend willing to loan me a bike that is a bit better for a race than my current bikes.  If that doesn’t work out, I’ll strip my LHT down, and use that.

    I still have a lot to learn, but I’m commited.  I signed up for the Y membership and agreed to do this.  The next step is to buy some shoes I can run in.  I’ll probably go to the Y for some swimming and running very soon.  The real training starts in early January.

    The Organization Formerly Known As YMCA

    … is re-branding themselves as “The Y”.

    Why?  I don’t know.  How do I know?  I was at the downtown location today becoming a member.

    Why am I becoming a member?  Well, I will write more about that later.  I have a new goal, a new obsession, and a good way to lose weight and get more fit.

    I will tell you why I’m doing what I’m doing, even if I’m not telling you what I’m doing, yet…. Confused yet?

    I was involved in an online discussion about the “fat person mentality” that tends to hang around people like me, even after shedding the pounds.  It becomes an excuse to not do things.  You tell yourself “I can’t do that, I’m just a fat guy”.  The name of this blog really shows the issue.  Yes, I was a fat guy when I started it, but am I still?  Even if I am a little, is it enough to prevent me from doing things anymore?

    No.  It’s not.  I can do anything that any other normal person can do.

    So, I’m taking a challenge.  I’m going to push myself.  The Y membership will help me.

    More tomorrow.

    5000 Miles?

    I rode to work and back today.  Yes it was cold.  I met another commuter on the way home.  George lives near my home, and I ran into him in the Old Louisville neighborhood.  He was riding a fixed-gear, and knows one of my co-workers.  Not as many of us are out in the bitter cold.

    I’m up to 4900 miles on the bike so far this year.  I’ll easily hit 5000 for the year.  Getting 5000 next year will be the real challenge with my shorter commute.

    I still don’t seem to be losing weight.  I am eating better now.  There was a company potluck yesterday, but I skipped dinner after I got home.

    I ate much better at work today, but don’t feel like cooking tonight, so I’ll probably just microwave some frozen vegetables.  I’ve been ignoring my food diary.  I still need to start using my dumbbells, or doing push-ups, or something.  Writing blog posts, sleeping, and reading are taking up my time though.

    Slush In The City

    I rolled out of bed at the last possible moment and still make it to work on time.  It was cold nasty weather.  Many schools and businesses were closed.  I considered driving until I looked out the window and saw my truck sitting there covered in snow and ice.

    I loaded the bike, and headed out.  The roads along my commute were a little slushy, but not too bad.  There was a little ice, but not enough to be an issue for my studded tires.  The commute really was a non-event.

    After I got home, I needed to exchange some defective boots that I bought on Saturday.  The shoe store is about five miles away, but down on Preston Highway.  It’s not  stretch of road I’d ridden before and I have the impression it’s not very bike-friendly.  When I headed out it was dark, cold, and windy.

    I took the lane riding down Preston Highway.  I had no issues with rude drivers.  Maybe they like my Christmas lights.

    I exchanged the boots, got a few weird looks from the cashier, and pedaled home, again with no issues.

    17.4 miles for the day.  I’ll take it.  🙂

    Tomorrow is supposed to be bitter cold.  My morning commute will be somewhere around 7 degrees.  I’m digging out the extra layers.

    Sunday’s Ride

    Tim wrote about yesterday’s ride.  Michael’s write-up is here.

    How Did You Spend Your Sunday?

    I rode my bike in the snow.

    Michael planned a 42-mile route in Hoosier National Forest near Norman.  Tim, Dave, and I joined him for the fun.  The weather was in the low to mid-20s with blowing snow.  Perfect!  🙂

    The other three riders were on mountain bikes with knobby tires.  I was on my LHT with studded tires.  It worked out well.

    Michael did have a mishap on ice, but it doesn’t appear to have done any permanent damage.

    The restaurant we had planned to have a late lunch/early dinner at was closed when we finished the ride.  I assume due to weather conditions.

    Something I haven’t run into before today, but I definitely made the decision: I yield to snow plows!  When I spotted the plow coming up behind me, I pulled off of the road and jumped over the guard rail to give him plenty of room.

    Social Life?

    Before bicycling I didn’t have a social life at all.  I did have a marriage and a family, so it worked out.

    My previous marriage ended before the bicycling started, and I met a bunch of great people while bicycling.  I’ve often made the comment that bicycling is my social life.

    It’s still true, In fact Tim, Michael, and another David (who I haven’t met yet), are getting together for a ride tomorrow.  The weather should make it interesting.

    Nearly all of my recent riding has been commuting or running errands.  My wife has been out of town for work a lot recently.  I feel like I have no social life.  I don’t make friends easily.  I keep to myself most of the time.  I did go out for beer and pizza tonight, but it felt a little pathetic sitting there by myself watching others.

    I left the house this evening (in the rain on the bike) to try to improve my mood.  I ended up at Za’s Pizza, which has great pizza and good beer, but I don’t know anyone there.  It was really kind of sad.

    I shouldn’t be eating out anyway, but I couldn’t sit in the house any longer.  Blah.

    Quick and Easy

    I’ve been told that phrase describes me, but I’m referring to my dinner.

    I threw three cage-free brown eggs into a bowl and whipped with some milk.  I put a pat of real butter in a pan on the stove.  After the butter melted I dumped the egg-milk mixture into the pan and covered with fresh baby spinach.

    When the eggs were nearly done I tossed some shredded cheese on top.  I had a glass of vegetable juice with it.

    Now it’s time to drink a quart of water.

    Christmas Lights!

    Festive Bikes
    Festive Bikes

    I have three sets of Christmas lights adorning two of my bikes.  The single-speed has a blue set of lights, and the LHT has two multicolor sets.  The other two bikes haven’t been ridden recently.

    There are three bikes in the picture to the right.  The undecorated recumbent is sitting behind the other two.

    The single-speed will be getting fenders soon, and is becoming my primary commuter bike.  The LHT will be my ice and snow commuter, grocery hauler, and epic-ride bike.

    I rode the single-speed to work today.  It was quite cold on the way in, but at least I wasn’t standing around waiting for a bus.  The ride home was warmer.

    I need to buy some boots.  I was going to go after work, but I really didn’t want to ride down Preston Highway during rush hour after dark.  I guess I’ll go Saturday.  I’ll drive, as I will already be running errands in the truck that day.

    My eating is much improved.  I’ve updated my daily weigh-in page.  What I haven’t been doing is keeping my food diary.  It’s just another thing to do, and I’m short on time as it is.

    Oh, and I got an email today:

    Thursday, December 16th @ 5:30pm – Smoketown USA – 1153 Logan St.

    I’ll be there.  You?

    Doing Better

    I’ve been eating better all week.  I need to keep the trend going.

    I’ve been more productive in getting things done around the house.  I cooked, cleaned, and even updated this blog.  🙂

    I’m feeling better.  It may be temporary, it may not, I don’t really know.  I do know that being lazy makes me feel worse about myself later.

    I woke up late this morning, and it was cold, so I really didn’t want to ride.  I refused to drive to work though.  I took the bus, which was probably a mistake.  The bus was busting-at-the-seams crowded.  Nobody wants to walk when it’s 15 degrees.

    Tomorrow morning is supposed to be cold also (although it’ll be warmer in the afternoon), but I’ve already packed my bike.  That will keep me motivated to get on the bike.

    I decorated the single-speed with Christmas lights tonight also.  Now that I have two bikes decorated, I really need to take some pictures.

    I Hate Driving

    Cars are too big.  You can’t go around obstacles.  You can’t park in your office.  You can’t pick them up and carry them when you need to.  The only benefit to the size of the car is that it’s easy to secure.  Lock the doors, and it’ll take a tow truck to move it (or a broken window, but you get the idea).

    I drove to work on Thursday and Friday of last week.  I paid $8.75 per day to park my car downtown.  I didn’t use much gas, but I used some.  I moved to Louisville so that I wouldn’t have to drive.  That was the whole point.  Yet, I did anyway.  I did it as my December bike mileage was looking pretty sad.

    Monday I had a doctor appointment in New Albany, which is about 12 miles from home.  After last week’s crap, I wasn’t going to drive.  I headed out the door in the morning in 15 degree temperatures.

    Before I go further, let’s discuss footwear.  If I were riding th 3.5 miles to work, I would have just thrown on a pair of wool socks and my shoes.  I knew I’d be out in the weather a while, so I put on two pair a wool socks, then a plastic grocery bag over each foot, then a third pair of wool socks.  Then my shoes wouldn’t fit over the mess.  I don’t own any boots currently, so I put my open-toed sandals over it all and hoped for the best.  It worked okay.  My feet were warmer than my hands.

    I stopped to use an ATM and had to pull my glove off, which caused the inner liner to come inside-out.  That was fun trying to get it fixed so I wouldn’t have frostbite.

    The whole ride there seemed to be into a brutally cold headwind.  Then I made a wrong turn in Clarksville, and had to backtrack.

    I barely made it there in time, yet still had to wait 30 minutes.  Due to my health insurance, I had to bike another three miles to get blood drawn for lab work.  After finishing up there, I realized I didn’t know that part of town very well, as wasn’t sure how to bike back over to Louisville.  I knew the best way by car, but some of the roads would be sketchy on a bike.

    Rather than waste time in the cold thinking about it, I just went.  I rode on Brown’s Station Way, which looks like a freeway, but isn’t.  The speed limit varies between 35 and 45, but you’d think it was 65 based upon traffic speed.

    After a while I found the neighborhood streets that took me to South Clark Blvd, then to the bridge.

    After work, I needed to go to the drug store.  This whole time I’m riding my LHT with studded tires and Christmas lights.  I stopped at a local Walgreens.  Several people commented on my lights as I was locking up outside.

    By the time I got home, I was cold, tired, and had racked up 30 miles for the day.  It may not sound like it in this post, but it actually was a good day, especially in retrospect.  🙂

    Today, was straight to work in the morning, with shoes and one pair of socks.  After work I had a stop to make to get my every-two-weeks massage, but my total mileage for the day was less than 10.

    I haven’t looked at the weather forecast for tomorrow yet, but I know I’m riding.  I also know I’m not making any detours.

    A Delicate Subject

    Early this year I started having a physical problem that I was too ashamed to talk about publicly.  It was painful, embarrassing (it was on my ass), and scary (I didn’t know what it was).  It basically was a horribly itchy painful rash near my anus that spread up to my lower back.  It wasn’t your average rash.  At times it would weep liquid (at one time soaking through my pants at work).  Other times everything was dry and cracked and the skin would bleed.

    I did see a doctor.  A lot of ideas were bandied about.  Some of the ideas were scary, others were not.  Here were some of the early guesses:

    • Yeast (would have easy to treat)
    • Herpes (how?!)
    • Cancer (eek!)
    • Fungal infection with secondary bacterial infection (ugh)

    Most of these were eliminated with testing.  One, herpes, there isn’t a sure-fire test for.  That bothered me.  Then the nature of the rash changed a bit, and wasn’t herpes-like at all.

    My doctor suggested a visit to a dermatologist.  I made the appointment.  About a week before the appointment the rash went away completely, other than two small dry patches on my upper buttocks area.  So, I cancelled the appointment.

    A few weeks later it was back with a vengeance.  It had spread around to the front too <<shudder>>.

    I’ve mentioned that I have depression issues.  Unknown, seemingly chronic, health issues, especially painful, embarrassing ones, really add to depression.  I really hated life for a while.

    The strange thing is, this really didn’t cause a huge problem with cycling.  Cycling was no more uncomfortable than sitting at my desk at work.

    Sleeping at night was miserable.

    Eventually it cleared up, back to the two small patches of dry skin.  Apparently those are the key.  I had another doctor appointment yesterday.

    It’s either contact dermatitis, basically an allergic reaction to something, or eczema, which I had as a kid.  There is no test to easily verify this.  It’s basically ruling out everything else.

    Why would this pop up this year?  I have a few ideas.  I got married last year.  Things changed in the household.

    • Soap
    • Laundry soap
    • Fabric softener
    • New lotions
    • Diet

    I believe that one or more of those things are responsible.

    Yesterday, I bought “free & clear” type laundry soap.  I used to buy it before because my youngest daughter has sensitive skin.  Well, maybe that’s why I was able to avoid the problem before.

    I also bought some unscented skin creme (Eucerin, same as my mother used on my brother and I due to eczema).

    I re-washed all of my underwear, since that appears to be the “hot spot”.  I’m not (yet) switching soaps, but I did read that using as little soap as possible is a good thing, because it dries the skin out, exacerbating the problem.  Strangely enough, water itself is an issue, but using the creme directly after a shower should help prevent drying the skin worse.

    I’ve also started taking Vitamin D-3 supplements.  Vitamin D-3 isn’t for the skin specifically, but it has a host of benefits including boosting the immune system.  One of the issues with my scaly skin is that it sometimes cracks and bleeds, and could lead to infection.  A stronger immune system can help prevent that.

    I’m at a good point with it now, so if I can prevent it from occurring, that would be great.  Right now, nothing is cracked or bleeding.  There is no real itching, just two small dry, scaly spots.

    Having a plan to heal this makes me a lot better.  Now here’s to hoping it works.

    Sorry if this was TMI for any of you.  I did promise to write more about it after my last post.  🙂

    I’m Still Here!

    Life’s been busy, and I haven’t been posting.  I have a few things I want to mention that I’ll write more about later.

    • A health issue I haven’t said much about, but now I know what it is, and what to do.
    • I’ve been horrible about eating out, and drinking beer.  Today, I broke the trend, cooked, and ate better.
    • I drove to work two days last week.   I even paid $8.75/day to park *eek!*
    • I had an appointment with my doctor in New Albany this morning, so I rode in the bitter cold to the appointment, then to the lab for blood work, then to work.  After work I rode to the drugstore before heading home.  30 miles in 15-20 degree temperatures was a testament to my dedication, or insanity, you choose.
    • I’m still gaining weight.  I am weighing, but haven’t caught up on posting it here.
    • After more diet & health research, I’ve started taking 5000 IU of Vitamin D per day.
    • I put Christmas lights on my bike again this year.  I’m sorry I don’t have pictures yet.  I’ve gotten a lot of positive comments from random strangers.
    • I put the studded tires on my LHT.  It seems I was a bit premature, as the roads have been fine, but I really don’t want to change tires again already.
    • I still haven’t started my upper-body exercises in earnest.
    • My moods have been up and down.  I feel great today, but last week had some hellish days.

    Anyway, I’ll have more to say later.  I’ve got things to do, then I’m going to bed.