Monday, April 30, 2012

Wheels for Meals 2012

Originally I had set myself some rather meager goals for this year, mostly in preparation for the Stars and Stripes Challenge over Memorial Day and in general being able to hang with the Donaldson Tuesday night Country Loop.  After having such a spectacular time going through Rob's Big Losers, when Rob invited me to ride on the Wheels for Meals charity ride I couldn't say no.  I was honored that he'd think of me and invite me to come out!  That said, he helped me get my registration information in, and I was all set for last weekend.  I decided to challenge myself and make this trip my first Metric Century (100km or ~62 miles) as well.  I knew that this would be rough, but I also had a few friends that were planning on taking on the course and said they would ride with me.

It was a nice cool morning as we headed out from Furman University heading towards the base of Ceaser's Head Mountain, which was very much a blessing.  This course was extremely challenging for me as a less experienced rider.  The terrain was non-stop for the entire 100 kilometers.  Unlike several courses I've personally done already where you get some longer stretches of flat or near flat and enough downhill to recover for the next push uphill, this was true rolling hills, where each downhill was greeted with more climbing.  The event was extremely well organized and well planned out, so the water stops were really when you needed them, and the snacks they had on hand made me regret packing a bit heavy for the trip.  I had packed snacks, extra electrolytes and an extra water bottle not knowing for sure what to expect.  I also made a mistake in having both my main water bottles be full of my electrolyte powder, which was way too strong and too much for my body to handle while at speed.  Until the first water station, where I refilled one of my main bottles with just water and sipped the electrolyte drink when I felt I really needed the extra, I was really hurting to keep up. Once I made that adjustment it was good.

The "main event" for the day though was really going up Callahan Mountain right by "Camp Old Indian".  This one mile stretch of road is 400 feet of elevation at an average of 7% incline.  There are sections of it that are over 10% at times.  It was also the midpoint of the ride, so I had to ride what was typically a "full" ride for me, then climb this gruntastic beast, then ride another 30 miles.  The water break was about 2 miles before the start of the climb made a huge difference, too.  When we got to the base of the climb, we were able to scale it efficiently and had reserves to keep on going.  As we got to the 50 mile mark, I was really ready for that last water stop, though.  Just the time with our feet down to let my legs rest was a much needed break for me, even if I didn't need much more than a water refresh to keep on going.

The most difficult part of the trip was the last 4 miles, though.  When we got back into Traveler's Rest, I was very prepared for the route to push us onto the Swamp Rabbit and a nice easy spin back to Furman.  Instead we went beyond the entrance to SRT and into the neighborhoods to the west.  We got to go by the TR YMCA (which looked to be a really nice facility from what I saw of it) and around to a little golf community on the side of a hill.  There were some very challenging climbs in here, not as long as anything like Callahan, but steep for the little bit of time you were climbing them.  That plus the 60 miles that were already on my legs made the end extremely challenging for me.  At the end we paced over 15mph through the course including stops, and got back just in time for lunch (which was Pork with Rice and Beans!) and a nice cold beer.  I am definitely looking forward to going on this ride again next year, as it was a lot of fun and benefits a great organization.

At the After Ride luncheon!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Pirate Looks (down) 40

As I blogged on Feb 24, I promised myself that I would write an entry that was in reference to the Jimmy Buffett album when I got to a total of 40 lbs of weight lost in this journey.  Since I do not have an accurate starting point from before January, I'm using what I have as reference.  That is to say, I started at approximately 255 lbs when I started in January, and I was chosen to be a part of the Rob's Big Losers.  It is now April, and I am weighing in around 215 lbs, which marks a whopping 40 lbs that I lost during the 12-week journey!  It was not "easy", and honestly I would be disappointed if it had been.  The hard work that I put into just fuels me to keep going further, to enjoy the new lifestyle, and to want to give back to others to help inspire them to do more.

My Before and After photos from the Rob's Big Loser journey!

When I look at photos like this, I cannot believe that I am this different person now.  I don't see myself in the mirror and say "wow, I've changed a lot", but if the camera adds 10 lbs, it adds it equally.  I don't see the 5 INCHES I have removed from my waistline, but I have the measurements to know it's gone.  I have now completed my first 5k, I have my first Metric Century (100km) ride scheduled for Saturday, and another 5k planned for next week.  These are things that the old me would have found awesome, but would have been physically impossible for me.  Now I know that "all things are possible through Christ who gives me strength".

I look at my current body makeup and I realize just how far of a journey I had from the start, and the limits that I was putting on myself.  I mean, I've lost 40 pounds off of my frame.  In January I hoped to get down into the 220's for the first time in about 20 years, and I had the artificial barrier of having "plateaus" and I didn't fully understand my goal weight at all.  For years I've believed that I couldn't get down under 200 pounds, as the one time I was close it was because I was sick.  Now that I'm at 215, I realize that the end result on the scale isn't really the imporant thing, but that I can trim a LOT more off of my frame than I realized.  I love that my body is responding to the challenges that I put it up to, and that both mentally and physically God has gifted me with the ability to create new challenges for myself.  What I realize is that I am a continual work in progress, and while I still struggle with artificial barriers to what I can accomplish I don't need to let them limit me.  I may not be able to run a marathon today,  but I can set goals to do it, and work towards my goals.

I cannot wait to blog about completing my first 100km ride on Saturday.  It should be a fantastic trip!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Graduation (but not the end!)

I kept wanting to figure out how to title this entry.  I had several different titles come through my head, but honestly today has felt more like Graduation than any day in my life.  I missed out on my High School Graduation as a kid, but in many ways I have many of the same feelings right now that I had right before then.  I've made so many new friends in the past 12 weeks, and I hope that we can continue to help motivate and encourage each other as we start the next legs of our journeys.  It's not the end of my Journey, but it's the end of this 12-week challenge.

And if it's the end of the 12-week challenge, that means it's time for the 5th Annual Eastside YMCA Run 4 Fun 5k!  Today we got a chance to see just how far we've come, weigh in, and put all the effort into one event to launch us into the next stages of our lives.

The day started at 7am when we had to report in early to get weighed in and get our run packets.  I got number 112 and I tallied my final totals for the contest.  While I lost more weight in the final 6 weeks of the challenge, my total body fat % change leveled off at right under 25%.  I am not upset over this total, as it shows that I am in the "normal" range.  Later I found out that I came in 2nd for the contest, which I'm proud of.

At 8am the fun run started, and my two younger kids got to participate.  On the way to the run I ended up giving my middle daughter some advice on how to run for distance, sharing tips that Rob Dempsey had given me as a part of the Rob's Big Losers.  I was so impressed when she took the advice and I saw her chugging along on the track for the fun run, keeping an awesometastic pace.  Being able to be a Dad that gives advice on how to be more active and be able to extend yourself to my daughters was just a complete blessing.  Both of them crossed the finish line strong!

Once the fun run was finished, it was time for the 5k to start.  We got down to the starting area, and I ended up deciding to start near the back with Amber, Lisa and Nina (our wellness coach).  George went up near the front, and we could tell that he was ready for a strong run.

The gunshot went off, and I started at a steady pace trying to make sure I saved something for the return trip.  As we moved out, I slowly started moving up in the pack, going through some of the slower people.  Trying to wade through people was a bit challenging, but in the end it helped me to figure out the strategy on how to get through the race.  What I ended up having to do was pick up the pace in between packs, and then slow down when I reached them until there was a way to get beyond.  It ended up being a lot like interval training, and allowed me to push a little harder and set my goals 1 pack at a time.  We made the first turn, and as I came up to the water station I was disappointed, as my time was over 11 minutes.  Just after the water station we reached the 1 mile mark, and I had a time of 11:55.  Not bad, and definitely a strong first mile.

The second mile went by easier.  At this point the packs were less and less, and I was focusing on catching the people in front of me one at a time.  I had gotten into a rhythm at this point, watching my heart rate as a way to determine my intervals.  I'd let my heart rate come down to approximately 148, and then pick up the pace until I was in the 170's.  Rinse and Repeat.  As we reached the end of the 2nd mile, I noticed that my time had improved, but I really didn't pay much attention to the segment time at this point, I was looking at the people in front of me and setting my sights for who I could catch and when.  By the time I reached the water station on the return trip, I could see Jenna (one of the other big losers) in front of me.  I didn't think I could manage to catch up to her, but I kept going through the intervals and doing my best.

The third mile seemed like it was the easiest and the hardest at the same time.  I ended up catching Jenna before the turn home, and slowed down to run with her some.  I am social in the fact that I like to keep with folks that I know and keep company, especially on rides and runs.  It definitely makes it more "fun" for me than just the pure competition.  Jenna was concerned about getting in under her previous record, which was somewhere in the 34 minute mark.  I just wanted to finish strong at this point.  About this time Rob came jogging up to run with us back in to the finish line.  I started to up my pace, and he kept encouraging me to keep it going, knowing that we were close.  I knew my heartrate strategy at this point would probably be out the window, and I just wanted to keep under my max for the final sprint.  Even before I started the race, I knew that I wanted to put everything I had into the final stretch, and run my heart out to the finish line.  As we turned the final corner, I took off.  I ended up passing a bulk of folks that were trotting in at the end, and just bared down to the finish line.  I crossed the line at full steam, and had to find a way to stop as several folks were stopped in the middle of the corral at the end to turn in their tags.  I got my tags turned in, and got a water and started to cool down.  I ended up being the 2nd of the Big Losers to cross the finish line.

the gentleman right behind me ended up in 3rd place in my age category.
 I was just blessed to finish in under 34 minutes!
After finishing I went back up to see if I could find George and then look for the rest of the GHS folks.  After a bit Terra came through, and we ran for a bit with her down the last tenth of a mile, and I went back up again.  Lisa and Nina came up a little while later, and I went up to meet them and run the last 1/4 of a mile with them back in.  After that I stayed at the end and didn't try to go back up, as I started to really feel sore!  I did some stretches, and I got a snack to help refuel, and I rested.

Later on I found out that George got 3rd place in his division.  There were several other Big Losers that won medals, and even though I'm sure that I finished ahead of the guy that won the 3rd place for my division, I realized the medal wasn't the important thing for me today.  Last year if I had attempted anything of this level, I would have walked it at best (if I could have completed it at all).  Today I ran a 5k and finished in under 34 minutes!  Regardless of anything else, the biggest thing I could have won today was the confidence to go out and put in that level of effort, and the Ability to be a witness to the Love and Power of Jesus when you trust him with everything, including your wellness.

At the end of the day all of the other Rob's Big Losers were the biggest winners for what we had done together.  I hope that we can continue to encourage and inspire each other, and maybe even convince each other to show up to events and keep in touch.  It's been a complete blessing for me on this Journey, and I look forward to being able to give back to help inspire even more folks to take the first step and see where God really and truly wants to take you!

 I've uploaded all of my pictures from the day to Picasa.  Check them out!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Making an Impression on a Group Ride

Reminder - I'm still hoping to find folks willing to sponsor me for the Palmetto Peloton Project's Stars and Stripes challenge.   I need approximately 10 people to donate $25 each to help Cancer Research and Support in order to reach my goal.  The money that is raised is given to the organizations helping current cancer patients as well as funding research here locally in the Upstate.  If you can help support me, please go to the donation page and select "Brian Lube" from the drop down list.  If you have already donated to support me, please drop me a line and let me know so I can make sure that your donation is properly documented.  Thanks again for all the support during this journey!

This week I found out about a group ride that was being sponsored by one of the local racing groups in support of one of their sponsors:  Proaxis Therapy.  The purpose of this ride was to gain awareness for the services that Proaxis has and provide knowledge to the riders that may be beneficial.  It sounded like a really good time, thus I signed up to attend.  After church on Sunday I suited up with a brand new Jersey (my favorite Star Wars one is just too big now at XXXL, the new UCF one I'm wearing is a nice L with a little room in it at this point.  I'm calling it "club fit") and headed to the meet point.

I got there and met up with a bunch of the Brookwood Church folks that usually are on the Sunday ride that I attend, and we all had a chance to chat and such.  One of the guys that I knew even won the door prize of new water bottles from Greenville Cycling Center!  After the door prizes were handed out, we headed out on the ride.  We took off through Heritage park, and I made note that they have Train Rides for $2 over there, and enjoyed the scenery.  Through much of the first part of the ride I was mostly aware of the area that we were riding in, and with the large number of people in the "B" ride (there had to be 25+ of us in the group) I wasn't having to put out a large effort.  I did get separated from Joel at the beginning, so I was looking to drop back some, but I was happy overall with my position in the group.

Then, about 30 minutes into the ride, it happened.   I was attempted to signal that the right shoulder wasn't clean, and I ended up instead hitting some of the "not clean" section of the right shoulder!  The next part is a blur in memory, but I remember knowing that I just had to hang on and not do anything drastic.  I knew that oversteering or overbraking at this point would mean disaster, and would more than likely hurt someone else more than it would hurt myself.  I felt myself heading deeper into the shoulder, and saw brush (and wasn't sure if it was a fence, too) on my right side.  All of the sudden my handlebars touched the brush, and the rest became history.

I got up rather quickly to proclaim "I'm alright", with the response of "no you're not!" coming back and me rather quickly.  I took a quick survey of the bike and myself, and I didn't feel anything that was out of place or broken.  I found both of my water bottles, and I checked my front tire which was still round and in fact still inflated.  I then tended to a few of the cuts that were deeper, and the SAG vehicle came over and helped me clean up a bit more and bandage up my finger which had the worst of the cuts.  A few ants, mostly scrapse and one decent cut.  Not too bad.  I gathered up the rest of the stuff that fell off, fixed my front light (which was now pointing to the ground) and started testing everything out.  Next I figured out that my front Derailuer was turned, such that I couldn't move the chain.   A quick adjustment to move it back to in line with the crank, and I thought I was good to go.  I got about 200' up the road and something didn't feel right. Come to find out, my rear tube was completely flat!  A couple of folks had stayed back with me (thanks Jerry and Ken!) and quickly Jerry had the rear tire off and was switching out the tube.  The "C" group goes flying past, and we're still putting the bike back together.  After a grand total of about 15 minutes, I was finally able to get back up and rolling.

Now the fun started.

We gave the "B" group a 15 minute head start, and the "C" group had passed us before we started moving, but I just got onto Jerry's wheel and we took off.  We went through just some amazing countryside, and a part of me is wondering how I was able to admire it as we went into Spartenburg county, and I learned about the estates out there with vineyards that had grapes that started with S (Jerry couldn't remember the name off hand) and we kept on moving.  I wasn't really paying attention to the speed, except to see that the average speed on my bike computer kept increasing.  Then we started seeing other riders.  We found the C group!  We found them, and proceeded to go right through them on our way to see if we could catch up with the B's.  About 10 minutes later while climbing one of the tougher hills of the afternoon we see Dan jumping into the back of the SAG truck to change a flat.  We rolled up and had to exclaim "we didn't know we could change the flat on the back of the truck" as we went through.  It had only taken us approximately 40 minutes to close a 15 minute gap that had been created by the crash!

After we got caught up, we stayed with the group for a bit, until we got back to 101.  At this point there is a sharp right turn, and then a steep hill.  We came to a stop, and I didn't manage to get into the proper gear in time.  It became an epic struggle to get up the hill, and at this point Joel had a pretty decent gap between himself and the back of the group.  I dropped back with him, and the two of us ended up just teaming up the rest of the way home.  For all the times that Joel has stayed back with me when I was off the back, I felt honored and priveledged to spend the time back there with him yesterday.  To me that was better than any time trial or any personal goal out there on the road.  We made it back without any additional incidents.  When we got back, I had plenty of folks that were commenting on the ride, and how surprised they were that I wasn't more seriously injured.  To that I give all the credit to God, as he was the one in control of that situation.  I know I sure wasn't, and I know luck has nothing to do with situations.

The most interesting part, though, is the comments that I have gotten since last night:

Epic wipeout indeed! Didn't even miss a beat...tried to jump right back on the bike like nothing happened!
epic wipeout indeed! I heard something behind me and turned my head to see your bike flying upside down into the the brush. I rode back thinking I would see someone badly injured, but you seemed to only have picked up a bunch of leaves and grass and a few ants.
I can't wait to read your blog about the ride today!
Were you doing full spandex cycle jousting? 

I will say that I definitely made an impression with a large number of people yesterday, although honestly I'm not sure if I can say if it was a positive or negative overall impact.  I would suggest that if you are looking to meet new people and cycling is your thing, areal acrobatics will definitely get you attention (although you may require medical attention as well!).  After my experiences, I think any career in "full spandex cycle jousting" will have to wait, though.

I do count myself as absolutely blessed that not only was I not injured as a part of this ride, but that after the crash I was able to get back on the bike and complete it.  Not only does it remove any lingering fear that I may have had regarding riding again, as I got back up and got back on the bike immediately, but it showed me that I'm not invincible on the bike without causing myself a lot of damage.  As it is I think this week is going to be a "resting" week for me as I prepare for the 5k on Saturday, and the upcoming Wheels for Meals ride on April 28th.  Letting my body mend and having good fresh legs for the weekend I think are going to be key this week.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Paris Mountain Repeats

Over Easter weekend I didn't get a chance to really push myself riding, so today I decided I would attempt to do an up-over-back on Paris Mountain.  I knew it would be rough, and I knew that the temptation to not go back was going to be rough.  My original hopes was that I'd go through the neighborhoods around the base of Paris Mountain, depending on how my legs felt after the repeats.  The ride up was speedy and a nice warm up, and I felt strong as I started up the Furman side.  What I didn't expect until I hit the lap button is that I managed to get to the top in under 20 minutes.

The ride down was good, and I didn't press myself to get to the bottom so I had a little time to recover before the trip back up.  Once at the bottom I turned right back around and started back up.  At this point my legs were tired, and at the wall I realized that my legs weren't as fresh on this side as they were on the Furman side. I really wanted to power up the segment and have a strong finish, but instead I had to gear down and just spin up it.  Again, what I didn't realize is that I actually did power up it.  By the time I got to the top the second time, my legs were monstrously tired, but still had enough energy to finish the ascent.

I can tell that the bike fitting as well as the work I've been doing afterwards are really starting to pay off.  I'm starting to feel when I'm driving my knees right, it's like I can feel the power transfer right to the pedals.  It's hard to explain the feeling, but it feels right.  I'm still noticing times when I'm pointing my toes as well as times where I'm overcompensating and pressing my heel down.  It just shows I have work to do, but when it's all moving I can tell the improvements.

Monday, April 2, 2012


As a reminder - I'm riding in the Palmetto Peloton Project's Stars and Stripes Challenge this memorial day to help raise money for Cancer Research and support.  If you can, I'd love it if you would help sponsor me.  The majority of the money stays in the Greenville Area locally to help with Cancer Research, the rest is donated to Amgen to help Cancer patients and survivors.  You can support me by making a donation on their website ( and selecting "Brian Lube" in the drop down list of riders.

I've found it more and more difficult to blog after every workout.  It's not that I'm not going out and riding, in fact last week I managed to not only do one of my best runs ever, but I was on the bike for almost 100 miles as well!  It's more that I don't want to just post up "went for yet another 31 mile ride today" or something minor.  I feel like I need to write about more than just what I did, but how this journey is changing and how I feel.  That said, I had a fantastic run/walk last week, where Rob Dempsey from HISRadio really pushed my limits.

It was interesting, because I didn't intend to work as hard as I did there, and I really didn't expect to be running with Rob that evening at all.  I had emailed out to our Big Losers group that I was planning on doing a run/walk that evening, as I knew that I spent too much time on the bike and that the 5k was about 3 weeks away.  I got there, and Rob was just running up, and I saw a few others already out walking.  I let Rob know that the others were out on the course, and I set off to catch them.  A few minutes later Rob caught up with me, and it ended up that only two of us were really able to run that evening (a few of the others have had foot/knee issues that make them unable to run at this time).  Thus the two of us take off around the outside loop of Brookwood church.  Rob gave me some awesome advice on how to work on my pace, and he was encouraging me to push a little longer than I thought I could go.  The end result was a 1 mile lap that was faster than I've ever run, and a renewed sense of heightened expectations for myself.

Listen to my conversation with Rob and Kristen on their highlights page!

Expectations are always a weird thing to me.  Typically they are pressure that I feel from outside forces, but I am always my own worst critic.  I feel like I can do more, be faster, work harder, be stronger.  Although it seems strange, I also tend to put artificial limits on what I can do, or should be able to do for longer term goals. At this point in my journey, I see that there is nothing beyond my scope of vision that I cannot accomplish if I put my heart into it and let God determine the pace.  I may not compete in an Ironman tomorrow, but if I keep working at it I know I can.  Right now my focus is on SCTAC tomorrow night, and experiencing that level of group ride for the first time.  After that is the 5k at Eastside YMCA to cap off the end of this 12-week warm up to the rest of my life. In May is the Stars and Stripes Challenge by P3group and Amgen to help raise money for Cancer Research.  There will be new events and new challenges that I will be training for, but as long as my focus is on my journey and I let Christ be the focus and the glory, I know that all things are possible.