An Improvement Reality Check

When the numbers seem to start hitting a wall in improvement it is time to take stock in where you were when you started and compare it to where you are now. This works both ways, as I will show, because you may think you have not improved much at all but when comparing numbers the difference is shocking, but it also can work the other way in that you think you’ve done pretty well in some area and when you look at it overall and dissect the numbers a bit the improvement is really very slow.

It is constantly pointed out to me when I start to get down on myself over a split time, a bad run, or just that malaise that gets you once in awhile, I have come a long way since I started this thing. For example (I don’t use this in the numbers below) I started cycling on a borrowed LaMonde around August of last year. I remember going to Flatwoods with Jennifer and Pam and Dawn and struggling to maintain 12mph, and having to stop at EVERY water stop (that’s two miles) to get my breath. In November I rode the Cure on Wheels 25 Miles and made it through 15 of them at a BLISTERING pace of 7.5 mph. I think I weighed somewhere in the region of 270 pounds by that point, a 30 pound loss from May 2010, but looking at the pictures from that day I looked VERY heavy and VERY slow.

November 2010 …. Yikes …. I had not brought sexy back yet…

 So, anyway, to go through each point one by one:

WEIGHT
I started, as I have said, in May 2010 weighing 302 pounds. I knew Jennifer at this point but we were not “friends” yet even though her office was right next to mine at Moffitt. I weighed myself one morning and was disgusted. Even when I was gaining I never though I would reach 300 pounds ever in my life. I was soft, I felt like crap most of the time …. to sum it all up I felt OLD at 46. The story has been told a few times on here so I won’t go back over everything, but to make it short I found a doctor that understood the issues I was having since having cancer in 1994, knew how to test my blood, and fixed it. As soon as I started following his suggestions the weight started coming off, a little at first, but steady over time (not steady enough as you will see). I mentioned to Jennifer during a conversation about this and she started going to see him too. She also started talking to me about cycling and eventually coaxed me out to Flatwoods on the borrowed LaMonde (she was riding “Betsy” at this time, a Trek starter road bike) and got me hooked.

So when I started tracking this it was around September and the full tracking chart is below:

I was around 276 pounds. Yesterday I was at 242. You can see there were steady losses and some bumps along the way, but overall a steady loss. The past week looks like this:

A steady GAIN of one pound per day for the past three days.

To break down the numbers fully ….

From May 2010 to yesterday there is a weight loss of 60 pounds. This is 416 days, and is equal to 1.01 pounds per week. So overall a loss of 60 pounds is GREAT, and nothing to be scoffed at, but 1 pound/week is NOT enough and should be more. To look more currently, since September of 2010 (294 days) I have lost 33.6 pounds, which is .82 pounds per week, so meaning I lost more in the beginning than more recently, and that is evident in the graph.

More work needs to be done in this area.

THE BIKE
My first entry in Training Peaks (the best data I have at this point) was on 2/19/2011. The ride was 18.28 miles in 1:15:58. This is a 4:11 min/mile, or a little above 15 mph. A BIG improvement over Cure on Wheels (almost doubling the pace).

My most recent entry at that distance was 7/17/2011 (about 5 months exactly). The ride was 18.06 miles in 56:34. This is 3:09 min/mile, or just under 18 mph.

I need to eventually get that consistently over 20 mph if I want to start doing Half Ironman distance.

THE RUN
My first entry in Training Peaks for a 4 mile run was on 2/19/2011. Time was 1:07:12 and pace was 16:27 (this included multiple walks at 20:00 pace I am certain). When I started I had many issues with shins, gait, etc. and was in pain a lot of the time, to the point during some “runs” that I was hobbling though most of them.

Most recent entry for 4 miles was on 7/19/2011 (again … 5 months). Time was 48:57 and pace was 12:14. That’s over a 4 minute improvement per mile. I still walk some of it, but the pace during the run and the walk have both increased. I can run some one minute splits in the 8:00 range, and usually run splits between 10:30 and 11:00. Shins still hurt occasionally (I actually suspect I have stress fractures because there are some serious sore spots on them) but can get through runs a lot more easily now than before, and don’t dread them like I used to (though the HEAT is awful at times).

THE SWIM (cue up the Theme from Jaws here) …. 
This started out as a problem for me. In the pool I was barging but corrected quickly in that area, but getting my face in the water, breathing, etc. was a problem. The first Open Water Swim in March killed my confidence. The cold water seized my lungs up quickly, so breathing was even harder for me. I barely made it through Escape from Fort DeSoto by back-stroking the whole swim, which effected the entire race for me (I ended up finishing as the LAST race completer … so far in the rear that water stations on the run had been broken down by the time I got to them).

To deal with the breathing I started using a race snorkel, which saved me to be honest. It’s a challenge siting with it in Open Water, but the fact I can breathe went a long way to building my confidence, and I have seen LARGE improvements in my times here. Madeira Beach and two Crystal River Sprints have gone very well and have improved each time.

My first entry on Training Peaks for a Swim workout was on 2/21/2011. I went 825 meters (about half mile) in 21:07. This was around 2:30 for 100m and 1:15 for 50m.

My most recent entry was on 7/20/2011 for 3250 meters (2 miles … improvement in itself). This took me 1:14:36 and paces were 2:06 for 100m and 53s for 50m. What also needs to be taken in these numbers is that it includes 500m of KB (Kick Board) which is a MUCH slower pace and effects the overall. If I take that 500m out and re-do the numbers I was doing 50m sprint under 50s.

OVERALL
So I think I have made large gains in the 7 months since seriously training for triathlon’s. Not just in my times but in my overall sense of well being. There are still days that I don’t want to swim, or to bike, or to run, but I usually can get myself out the door and I have ALWAYS, wit very few exceptions, felt better afterwards.

There are a lot of people who have helped me along the way that I should mention ….

Pam Humble for loaning me the LaMonde so I could bike at all in the beginning
Gene Smith for coaching me in the initial foray into triathlons as part of LLS’s Team in Training
Jon Leito at Ironman 360 for constant support and guidance when we see him in the store and on race site
Ironman Store entirely, especially the staff of Hunter, Dave, Jon et. al.
Kristine Mondello-Concepcion (aka KC) for her constant inspiration and support. Defines the true Triathlete. Have only briefly met her once in person but has been a HUGE help to me and my training partners.
Jen B. is another Daily Mile contact along with KC that constantly supports and reaffirms

and most of all ….

Jennifer Cultrera for being much more than just a friend to me. She has been my lifeline in tough times recently and has kept me on track by her words, her actions, and her caring and nurturing nature. She is much stronger than she gives herself credit for, and I shudder to think where I would be without her daily reaffirmations.

There are MANY more I have not mentioned that have affected me, and continue to affect me. Some are older friends (Dawn, Ernesto) and some are new (Teresa, Cindy, Grace, Genna). I am sure that in the future your affect will be there as well ….

2 thoughts on “An Improvement Reality Check

  • July 30, 2011 at 11:37 am
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    I think you are doing awesome. Just the fact that you started this at 46 and overweight says a lot about your motivation and drive to become healthy. And…Thank God you were able to beat the cancer! Many people give up, and we lose them. You are a motivation to me to become more active and more healthy. Besides right now I have an extrinsic motivation….we have a 30 year reunion to attend and I don't want to look like a Marshmellow!! I want to rock a dress!!

  • July 23, 2011 at 1:19 am
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    The numbers tell a very positive story. You have come a long way and I'm so glad we met (once, if just briefly). I can't wait to see you toe the line at a 70.3 and a 140.6.

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