2/12/16

17 and counting since my year end blubber peak...

Progress continues!

Today marks the point where I have dropped 17 pounds from my 189 weight peak at the end of last year. I have shed 17 pounds down to 172 with some good progress the past month...

1:14 - 2:12

Wow, that's nearly 9% of my body weight and it was all blubber! You know, the stuff we don't need to be carrying around. Visceral fat that is ever so dangerous for health reasons. And is just an unwanted passenger coming along for the ride.

That leaves me with a bit more to go before I can switch my calories back to maintenance mode.

As expected, my FTP test last weekend did not show any progress due to losing weight during the training. In fact, it showed a degradation of about 3 watts. Once the weight loss has subsided, I expect that to turn around and start to show improvement. I did manage to power through the FTP test even though I wanted to pull the plug during warm-ups, then again at 10 minutes, and even more so at 15 minutes. Luckily, I dropped the feeling sorry for my buttercup self status at 15 minutes and just finished the test to record the data and move on.

Throw in working 10-12 hour days with the late night rehearsals and I'm surprised I am still standing. Knock on wood, I have not caught any bug, cold, flu, virus, infection, etc. this Fall/Winter up to this point. My energy and stamina feels good as well as productivity at work. I could use another waking hour or two each day to finish all I want and need to do, but that never happens.

In terms of the weight loss, it closely mirrors what I went through back in 2014, so I'm not in uncharted waters. I hit my target weight in early June of that year, but this year I am 3 months ahead of where I was at this time in 2014. I am on track to hit it in March just as I begin my 12 week structured program to tune me up for racing where I can be eating at maintenance levels as the intensity ramps up. Who knows what that will mean? In theory, especially after reading cited studies in Matt Fitzgerald's Racing Weight book, it should mean I will see improvement once I enter the intensity interval training period. At least it is worth a try in my quest to seek improvement over last season.

Exhausted

2/6/16

Back to parity...

After just a bit too much of my self-indulged seasonal Fall hibernation - and most likely grief due to Dad's passing - eating, as well as spending a good chunk of time on this machine the past 2 months...

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...the train is finally pulling back into the Station Parity.

What goes up, must come down!

BackDown

The yo-yo went up, and now at the completion of 10 weeks and 12 pounds shed, it is back down to at least what I had maintained in 2015 until October had me jump into hibernation mode. Just a bit more to go for my 2014 ideal racing weight and I can put this detour behind me. Goals that were most important for me to meet by getting back to parity: lower my cholesterol numbers, trim off the dangerous visceral fat, make sure my suits and dress pants would all fit again, and boost my energy levels.

Anyway, it's all just in time as I have my annual heart check up on tap, and the structured training continues to bump up heading into the second half of the 12 week base period.

RAGBRAI linked one of those articles dispelling 10 common stereotypes of Iowa that the article claims need to be put to rest.  Speaking of RAGBRAI, after taking last year off we have decided to ride again this year. However, we won't be riding the entire week this time, but will do the first few days.

My weekend includes a Power and HR test this morning (which will most likely show no improvement due to the weight loss); a 5 hour opera rehearsal this afternoon, a dinner/movie date, a bike ride outside Sunday mid-day, attending a recital tomorrow afternoon, and the 50th Super Bowl. Enjoy the warmer weather this weekend before the next cold spell arrives.

2/3/16

Democracy in process? Iowa Caucus...

Tara and I attended another Iowa Caucus on Monday night. The process has been eye opening and interesting after moving here in 2003. Months of television ads including a negative slant for the majority of them, months - nay years - of candidate visits in our state including stops on the Simpson College campus where I work all led up to Monday night's Caucus.

We met Deb Hade in the parking lot on our way to check-in and the parking lot at the high school was full. The line was long for our precinct, but we all got checked in...

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Our precinct chair was a "temporary" and due to that, she unfortunately didn't really know what to say and failed to take the opportunity to give us clear, concrete instructions compared to prior times where the chair would clearly state the instructions and guide us through the evening. So the first 30 minutes from 7 - 7:30 was a lot of "nothing" and was wasting precious time. You seriously would think that if you had agreed to be the temporary chair, you would have prepared some remarks, a clear list of action and telegraphed that to an auditorium full of voters. Nope. No preparation. Which is really too bad, because it watered down the experience which included many youth and observers who were also in the room to watch the process, but not to vote.

WTF? There were no speeches made to encourage support of any candidate, we were simply told to sit in the section of the candidate we were supporting. Our group, which was large, never even actually appointed a spokesperson. Previous caucuses that I have attended have been very well organized, energetic, and much discussion was had in the room. In contrast, the disorganization in our room was unfortunate compared to what it could have been.

Several had Apps on their smart phones and were counting. No numbers were ever shared to the entire group. Except the chair did say that based on our total number in the room, a candidate needed 34 to be viable. One candidate had less than the required 34 - and without much explanation or guidance from the chair, eventually the small group were spoken to by certain people and moved over into other sections when the chair announced the end of a time limit. Again, even though many of us had been before, there was very little instruction, guidance or announcements being made. So we all just sat. About 90 minutes later, the number of delegates were announced for each candidate and a call for volunteers to be one of those delegates was made. My wife signed up as one, and I signed up as her alternate.

As we were all putting on our coats and leaving, the chair finally started speaking into the microphone saying they needed volunteers for this and that here in our town and county, but by then after sitting for 2 hours it was too little, too late. We all left.

I got home and watched the news of other caucuses that were still going on which were quite exciting with the process. Dang! Why couldn't I have been at one of those!!!! In fact, in our building which had several precincts, news was that many of the other rooms were rather exciting as they were well organized, and the respective chairs guided them through the process. Oh well, so much for our precinct this time around! At least we got the job done.

So the Iowa Caucus process was what it was this year for our precinct. Some precincts had great experiences. Some did not. Our group sent 7 delegates on for Clinton, and 4 for Sanders. O'Malley was not viable, and he suspended his campaign not long after the caucus was over on Monday night.

2/1/16

Structured training vs. The Marriage of Figaro...

January is in the books!

February kicks off big tonight with the Iowa Caucus which Tara and I will attend. Sounds like some snow and wind will come in after that and create some blizzard like conditions on Tuesday/Wednesday. Just when all the snow has about melted, in comes a fresh round. The dogs will love it and I'm glad I didn't wash my car this weekend...

My structured training went pretty well in January. In addition to all the weight lifting, core work, foam roller, and walks, I figured out my on the bike time. Due to the trip to NYC in early January, I missed out on a few scheduled things. I also was unable to do my scheduled 3 hour ride yesterday due to opera rehearsal. In spite of that, I got most everything else that what was supposed to take place in January completed. I think I was about 8-10 hours short in terms of total planned hours on the bike, so I substituted the intensity level along the way to hopefully make up for it. I was also in pretty good form going into it with December time on the bike being a bit more than usual for me.

January 1: 6.24 Miles -- Duration 00:40:23
January 2: 23.3 Miles -- Duration 1:24:58
January 3: 28.19 Miles -- Duration 2:16:15
January 10: 32.1 MIles -- Duration 2:00:00
January 12: 19.1 Miles -- Duration 1:00:00
January 14: 18.6 Miles -- Duration 1:00:00
January 17: 38.0 Miles -- Duration 2:00:00
January 19: 28.8 Miles -- Duration 1:30:00
January 21: 20.9 Miles -- Duration of 1:10:00
January 24: 45.8 Miles -- Duration of 2:30:00
January 26: 19.2 Miles -- Duration of 1:00:00
January 27: 8.3 Miles -- Duration of 0:30:00
January 28: 27.8 Miles -- Duration of 1:30:58
January 29: 10.1 Miles -- Duration of 0:30:00
January 30: 22.8 Miles -- Duration of 1:10:00

January Total Miles: 349.23
January Total Duration: 20:12:34




Today begins Week #6 of my 12 week base plan...


February 1: 27.3 Miles -- Duration 01:25:00

February Total Miles: 27.3
February Total Duration: 01:25:00


Things could end up being a bit hit or miss during February as I have rehearsals for The Marriage of Figaro every day for the entire month. So I will have to force myself to get up early in the morning and get my time in during M-F. A couple of weekends will be lacking for time due to the rehearsal schedule, but I should be able to log a few long weekend rides. I feel pretty good in terms of form for this time of year, and am happy where my weight is. I've whittled down to the 175 mark which resets my daily caloric intake needs a bit lower. I will keep chipping away at the next 5 pounds with the goal of hitting 170 at the end of the first week in March. Certainly need to be there before I start the next 12 week training block at the end of March.

Bring it on February!!!


1/22/16

Dropping back "in the zone"....

The furnace is lit (calorie burning) with the training and proper calorie counting - or at least more honest counting that is.

I'm just about back to the 175 mark before my off-season FALL/WINTER bulge happened.

ClawingBack

The spike up happened a bit more gradually than the above chart shows due to me now plugging in my weight on a daily/weekly basis. In addition, it actually spiked up all the way to 189 which I refused to plug into the calculator as it shocked me enough to turn the tide. Nevertheless, the above chart shows the progress coming back down the mountain.

Iowa Bike Expo tomorrow. I've got a couple of presentations and meetings to attend, as well as enjoy the showroom floor. If you are at all into cycling in any capacity, come see what has become the Midwest's largest Bike Expo - right here in Des Moines.

Now, outside for some shoveling and off to two meetings to begin my Friday...

1/17/16

Empty Nesters again...

It was great having our son and daughter home for the holiday break, but as of today they are both back at their respective schools to start the 2nd Semester. We drove down on Friday with Zack to the University of Oklahoma and came back Saturday which made for 2 eight hour days on I-35 to pull off the there and back journey. Alexa packed up and headed back to the University of Iowa this afternoon. This means the adjustment period begins for us to a more quiet household as we slip back into our routine this evening as empty nesters.

Tomorrow is Tara's birthday. Our plans have been made to celebrate in the manner she has requested with a quiet dinner at home. This means a post work exercise date in the basement, followed by my skills as Chef to cook up a special birthday meal.

Today ended the 3rd Week of my base training plan. It has been going rather well this year - including working around a trip to NYC, and the 2 day trip down to Norman and back. I can really feel everything firming up and the zip in my legs returning after I felt that zip being gone for so many months due to not being able to train like I needed to in 2015. With the training and watching calories, I have managed to whittle this much off from the peak of my off season yo-yo weight gain so far...

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I've got another one of those to lose from here to make weight, so I'll keep chipping away at it one day, and one week at at time.

I have a busy week ahead for me that includes a long "to do" list. I started in on that list this afternoon, but have miles to go on it along with several meetings spread throughout the week. At least the Broncos have started the week off right for me!!!

1/13/16

Those little town blues...and back to Iowa!

Our visit to NYC included trying to make use of each and every day as best we could.

Live Performances

La Boheme with the 35 year old production by Franco Zeffirelli.
Die Fledermaus in the 2nd year production by Robert Jones.
Les Pêcheurs de Perles in a new production by Dick Bird and 59 Productions, directed by Penny Woolcock - it is a MUST see!
Les Miserables in the latest revival (3rd revival I believe) at the Imperial Theatre.

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Movies

Son of Saul by László Nemes - Film won the Cannes International Film Festival and the Golden Globe Awards
Concussion by Peter Landesmann

Museums & Attractions

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Metropolitan Museum of Art
9/11 Memorial and Museum
Museum of Modern of Art
Statue of Liberty National Monument
Brooklyn Bridge
Strawberry Fields in Central Park
Belvedere Castle in Central Park
Wall Street and Broad Street
Federal Hall of New York City (where George Washington was inaugurated)
Rockefeller Center
Carnegie Hall
Times Square
St. John the Divine
St. Patrick's Cathedral

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Dining

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Pappardella
Katz's Deli
Porter House
Sushi Damo
The Flame Diner
Dallas BBQ
LeMonde
Starbucks
Balducci's

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As expected, the pastrami at Katz's won my vote in a side by side comparison test with their brisket. Damn good sandwich for sure! The plate of pickles, New York Seltzer water, and some deli fries rounded out the Katz's experience. We were so stuffed from that lunch that we decided to skip dinner that evening and shared a snack during intermission at the opera instead.

I would run, not walk, to see the HD Broadcast of Les Pêcheurs de Perles this Saturday or next Wednesday for the replay if you cannot make it to NYC to see this absolutely wonderful production at the MET. It's been called the sleeper hit of the season at the MET and for good reasons. Go see it if you can. Live is best. But the HD Broadcast at Jordan Creek for Des Moines area folks - check your local theaters for the HD Metropolitan broadcast for this Saturday in other areas - will do.

Son of Saul was a movie I really wanted to see. It's about a Sonderkommando in Auschwitz-Birkenau. I figured this movie might not make it to the Fleur Cinema in Des Moines, so I talked my son into going with me while we were in New York warning him that it would be a rather depressing film. I'm really glad I got to see it. Now that it has won the Cannes International Film Festival, NY Film Critics Circle Award, the Golden Globe Award and has been nominated for The American Society of Cinematographers Spotlight Award - maybe the Fleur will consider bringing it here to Des Moines.

I had not been to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum before, and it certainly took me back to that day and the following days of the unfolding stories involving those tragic terrorist attacks and massive loss of life. The museum was built with utter care and is very well done.

The Museum of Modern Art had a special Picasso Sculpture Exhibit on display which was fun for me to see since he is best known for his paintings (and for obvious reasons). And of course, seeing all of the famous paintings that I always love to see in person at that museum remains a treat. Namely, Van Gogh's The Starry Night always tops my list when I go there for a visit even though you have to fight the crowds to get a good view. Dal, Rousseau, Czanne (love The Bather), Lichtenstein, Matisse, Warhol, Picasso, and on and on for a really joyous walk to view and study the paintings makes for a fun afternoon when in NYC.

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It was interesting to be back in New York this time around as I haven't been there in a few years. Last time I was there, the flip-phone was the more the norm. Now the entire city walks around with a Smart Phone glued to their hands while staring at the screen as they walk down the street, cross in intersections, ride on the bus, ride the train, sit in restaurants - it's actually really rather a sad commentary what everyone has become with the stinking tethered device we call a phone.

At least New York did not disappoint me with this graffiti commentary on the current state:

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That might just be a really good motto worthy of graffiti in most of our lives these days...