Tummy like a Banana

Me and my vertical sleeve


by susanne

24 hours of my life

Hey there, fancy seeing you here! You come here often? No? Well, yeah – not much going on here, I get that! Well, I thought this is a good day to write something.

I have said it in the past, there isn’t too much weightloss related stuff going on in my life. I am happy to say that I pretty much live a normal life – the life of a woman who watches what she eats, but within a normal boundary and not the obsessive, compulsive dieter that I used to be. So the things I can write about are less about weightloss and more of the things that I can do after I have lost weight. Here is one of these things…

In February this year, I made a commitment to challenge myself, truly challenge myself. I decided to sign up for a bike event. This was not the only bike event I signed up for, nor was it the first. But it was the hardest. It required training, planning and working towards a goal. I signed up for the National 24 Hour Challenge, a “personal best” event where you ride your bike for 24 hours – Saturday 8am to Sunday 8am (or however long you make it) – and you see how far you get. The event took place last weekend, June 16/17

24 hours on a bike is a long time. I started to prepare for it and joined several longer rides coming up for this event. There was the “Ride Around Kent County” (148 miles), “Bag Balm” (2 day event, about 100 miles each day), “100 Grand” (140 miles but I stopped after 107 miles because of knee problems) and several regular rides ranging from 40 to 80 miles. I had raked up a total of 1685.19 miles before this event and felt that I was prepared…as prepared as I’d ever get for something like this.

So, approaching Saturday, I made sure my bike was in ship shape, tires pumped, chain and everything else lubed, 3 bike kits to change if shorts or jersey get just too filthy. There is one thing that everyone deals with on these rides and of course I have to pay special attention – and that is nutrition. It’s June and it is hot, so you need to drink a lot, but when you drink a lot, there isn’t much room to eat. I had planned it out well I think, good drinks with electrolytes and some calories, rice cakes (no, not the crappy diet cardboard version), and snack items that I usually don’t allow myself to eat, for example pound cake. And I have to say, my nutrition was working out, I didn’t bonk or dehydrate – at least not to a degree where it affected me, even though I basically had about 100 oz. of liquid every 2 hours during the day time – less at night.

The whole thing is separated in 3 loops, and you have to finish each loop before you can get to the next. Loop 1 is 121 miles, loop 2 is 24 miles and loop 3, the so called “night loop” is 7.5 miles and you just go around and around until you are done. Throughout there are checkpoint where you need to get your card punch, where you can replenish food and drinks (either provided or from your “crew”) and where you can just sit and rest for a bit.

I made the loop 1 once (I think that can only be done once, even by the fast people), loop 2 once (which I had hoped to do twice but mechanical stuff prevented that) and then loop 3 10 times for a grand total of 220.3 miles (counted), 225 miles for real because we got lost once. I made it until 4.30am, at which point my body was exhausted, but worse of all I simply couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore. I kept wondering if you can fall asleep while your legs are spinning but even if not, I was simply not safe anymore. My eyes couldn’t focus, the few lights out there were getting blurring and I felt I could simply ride off the road if I don’t stop.

I am very happy with my result. My minimum goal was 200 miles which I exceeded. I was a little bummed that mechanical failure and fatigue kept me from getting to 250 miles, but it is a very respectable result for a first time participant and a newbie rider who basically took up serious cycling in October. I owe a lot of this to the crew which mainly consisted of friends from the bike club and my dear husband, but especially to my best riding buddy Randy. It is so important to have someone out there who rides at your pace, who understands what you are going through, who has the right words at the right time and even better if you can offer the same to him.

And guess what – I’ll do it again next year, that’s for sure! I’ll see if I can improve with the knowledge I have gathered this year :-)

I don’t have too many pictures, I am hoping to find more

Right at the start, still fresh and chipper

At the second check point, getting my card punched

by susanne

What to eat and how much weight to lose?

My work was closed on Good Friday and because hubby had to work, I decided to go on a long bike ride. And since you have gotten to know me a little over the last posts – when I say long, I mean long — so I went 88.6 miles and managed an average of just below 15 mph. We went down a fairly new trail that I had gone down before once (in my first century ride).

Anyway, this was not what I wanted to write about. I am down 1 pound from what the ticker says, but since my weight has been fluctuating a lot recently, I have decided to only clock in a lower weight if I see it a few days in a row. This is the first weightloss since November which has been a little upsetting but I kept telling myself that usually I would have probably gained 10 pounds over the winter months so stalling was probably the accomplishment of my surgery.

I am going over how much I want to lose, how much I should lose and how much I can safely lose without living in this diet choke hold that I am trying to escape. There are a few things that I am not sure about right now. One of the big issues is nutrition before/during/after exercise. First of all, how much do I really burn during an almost 6 hour bike ride like mentioned above. Silly me forgot her heart rate monitor strap which pissed me off, but what can I do. Looking at past rides with heart rate monitor, I see that I maybe burn between 280 and 300 calories in an hour of riding so this would mean about 1,800 calories for this type of exercise. Unfortunately, if you are out and about, you can’t ride for 6 hours and have an 1,800 calorie meal afterwards because you’d never make it through the whole ride. I tend to not eat enough during the ride because in most cases you can only have Clif bars or come caloric drink — and we all know, that we should never drink our calories (or at least make it worth my while and have a cocktail). That is so engraved in my brain, that I am using Crystal Lite in my bottle which usually means that my energy level crashes hard and early.

So I take Clif bars, maybe some trail mix and some GU gels. At the same time, I hate wasting calories so I try to eat as little as possible. It is a stupid spiral, and I would probably be able to ride harder, work my metabolism harder, if I ate more. People from the bike club – first and foremost the road race team captain – has been calling me out on this not knowing my background and my story. I know he means well, tries to help me find better nutrition to increase performance but most of those things don’t apply to me. Anyway, between this and running (which I still don’t enjoy), I am often either over eating or under eating or eating the wrong stuff.

Now about the second part of the subject of this post. How much weight to lose? Well, whenever we go on rides, I am complaining at every single hill. My favorite saying is “The bigger the ass, the harder the hill”. I got one good answer back, “The bigger the hill, the small the ass will be soon”. Other than that, most cyclists are rail thin and tiny, so they don’t really know the difference. I usually tell them to strap a 30 pound backpack on and try again. So, one evening I was complaining and saying that I should lose some more weight and one guy looked at me and said “Why? So you can ride up the hills better?” I almost fell over. I don’t think ever in my whole life (after the age of 14 or so) has anyone ever asked WHY I want to lose weight.  Usually, it was just blatantly obvious to everyone that I should lose weight simply because I looked overweight. Now this guy asks me why I want to lose weight — please note that they see me in snug shirts, tight little spandex pants and sometimes have their eyes on “ass level” about 3-4 feet away. I guess that was one of my biggest NSV so far :-)

Anyway, next Sunday I’ll have my first road event – Fisk Knob – a 17 mile time trial starting from the highest point of Kent County

by susanne

Barry-Roubaix 2012 Recap

So I did it, I race my mountain bike and I did it well! I ended up 13th out of 33 in my age group and 112th out of 224 overall on my 24 mile loop and it took me 1:51 hours. It was absolutely awesome and I am very happy with this result.

The event was amazing, I was nervous as hell and thought I’d make a fool of myself, but I didn’t. I fell 3 times, though falling is too strong a word, two of those were in the sand. I did so awesome, peddling like crazy and doing good…and then the chick in front of me fell and like a domino, so did I. I just couldn’t swerve around her. That happened twice. The third time was embarrassing – after the race I rode to the car and packed my snacks and some clothes into a bag and hung that over my shoulder. I am going through the grass when I heard someone holler “Hey Susanne, how did it go?” – my two nephews had spotted me. I took my hand off the handle bar to wave at them, yelled “Great!” and then fell over like a wet sack, LOL. OK, it was hilarious and people around were chuckling. I rode by the next guy and said “You didn’t see that, right?” and he replied “Oh, it wasn’t half as funny as the guy who fell over there” while pointing to a huge mud puddle.

Other memorable things:

  • coming in strong:the route starts on pavement, then loops into the woods and finishes up on 6 miles of pavement. I was rolling down a hill and started thinking “Ah, just rolling, just sitting and rolling” and then I realized that this is stupid, and I can rest my legs when I am AFTER the finish line so I kicked it up and actually managed to get my heart rate back up into the 90% range for the last 20 minutes
  • water bottles all over the place: seems like people were launching their bottles all over the place when going downhill fast through gravel
  • losing to Judy: I had a little bet going with Judy from my bike club who is 62. She was convinced I’d win but I was convinced she would. Her argument was that I was 20 years younger and my argument was that she was 40 pounds lighter and had been riding for 40 years. She won, I had to pay up $5
  • my butt crack: according to my husband, my spirited discussion about the club bike shorts with Judy, where we argued whether you can see butt crack or not turned a lot of heads
  • best bike club ever: the support I got from my fellow club members, helping with my bike, adjusting cable routing and tire pressure, encouraging words and high fives when I made it through the finish line
  • other cyclists cheering me on: I was in the shorter loop – 24 miles, other options were 36 and 62 – and in the end the loops came together again. While riding the last part, I kept hearing guys saying “Your doing great” and “Awesome job” and I knew I did and it wasn’t just some empty words. I also passed Cal, a fellow dude from the Wheelmen who cheered “You are doing awesome, kiddo!” which made me very proud. And he is 67, he can call me kiddo any day
  • seeing people I want to be like: see above, Judy (62), Cal (67), John (64), Gary (59), Alison (66) who are just an inspiration and giving me hope to have an active and exciting life when approaching my 60s
  • looking cool in pictures: I think that’s what all of us are experiencing these days. There are a lot of pictures of me, unbeknownst and in action, and I don’t feel like I have to throw up. Before, any picture that I didn’t really pose for made me cringe, and yes – disgusted me. Double to triple chin, fat roles everywhere. It is such an amazing feeling to have people take pictures and be comfortable with it

The race was sponsored by the local brewery, so we had a few beer afterwards and talked shop with everyone before we headed back home. And now for the aforementioned pictures:


by susanne
1 Comment

Race tomorrow

So, today is my wedding anniversary and that is great. But tomorrow is my first bike race ever and I am so nervous!

I have nothing to lose, I have no previous times to beat for this race, I have no “rivals” to beat either.  It’s gonna be my first official race for the Rapid Wheelman race team, so I’ll have to show I am worthy! I can just enjoy it and as it looks, I’ll end up caked in dirt and mud :-)

Don’t gimme the pep talk that “at least I am doing something”…I want to be good and kick ass….in the “Women 40+” category :-)

I’ll keep you posted!

by susanne
1 Comment

Survey – Please Participate!

I have been really REALLY busy at work, so I am just posting a quick request that I received from someone via email. It seems legit to me, so please feel free to participate if this applies to you:

I’ve only tried mountain biking once, but I really liked it.  You’ve inspired me to give it another go (I’ll start with a rental though).  I found your blog through a Google search on fitness bloggers.  I’m a clinical psychology doctoral student interested in learning more about the experiences of those whose partners (at least sometimes) interfere with their weight loss efforts.  I’m writing to ask for your help recruiting the last few volunteers I need to finish my PhD.

I’m sure that many of your readers probably experience partner undermining at some time.  With your help, I’d like to ask them to share their insight with me.  Many people who have taken the survey have written to thank me for bringing this topic to light.  My long term aim is to develop a couples-level intervention to address partner undermining directly through building acceptance and deeper understanding.
You might have seen these posts on my research study by obesity physician, Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, http://www.weightymatters.ca/2012/01/help-with-research-plea-spousal.html, or the Survival Guide for Mom’s post:  http://guideformoms.blogspot.com/2012/03/is-your-partner-sabotaging-your-weight.html

Would you please post about my study on your blog?  All the information about the anonymous, online survey is hosted here at my university’s website:  http://surveys.clarku.edu/Survey.aspx?s=aab073a40aa64a55a2ad7a0f72c7ea0a

This survey is designed for those who can answer yes to the following questions:

  • Have you been participating in a weight loss program for the last 5 consecutive weeks?
  • Have you been in a committed, cohabitating relationship for the last two years?
  • Do you ever feel like your current partner/spouse gets in the way of your weight loss?

Besides helping to advance scientific inquiry on this topic, each participant who completes the survey may also select to have $1 donated by the researcher to the participant’s choice of 1 of these 5 charities:  Playworks, The Carter Center, Teach for America, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, or MAP International. Additionally, participants may opt to enter a drawing for 1 of 10 gift cards (one $100 card and nine $25 cards).

Her identity can be verified through Clark University’s website: http://www.clarku.edu/departments/psychology/people/gradstudents.cfm or here: http://www.clarku.edu/research/coupleslab/whop.htm

I do believe this is a major problem. I know a friend of mine who always wanted to lose weight. At one point, he had a girlfriend who brought him a pecan pie while he was on a diet for actually no reason at all. It seem to me like a case of “As long as you are fat, you can’t find anyone else – so you have to stay with me”. Anyway, participate here, will ya?


by susanne

On the Road Again

So, after my trail experience on Saturday, I went on a casual group ride Sunday. – maybe 8 people, all road bikes.

The weather in Michigan has decided to do a 180° turn and went from shit to sunshine in no time and I am so happy. While I was in shorts yesterday, I decided to get all out and do short sleeves. My road bike (which I named Brownie) was so happy, it had felt a little neglected since I started training for Barry-Roubaix. It was absolutely beautiful — and I realized why I am a roadie and not a dirtbag. Riding a road bike is so quiet, the slick skinny tires basically make no noise at all versus the constant whirling sound of the knobbie mountain bike tires. In most cases I can go faster even if it is just downhill. Sunday’s top speed was 35.7 mph (57.5 kmh) with an average of 14.9 mph (24 kmh) and this was on a route with little elevation. I knocked out about 33 miles, and I could feel them – especially after Saturday with a 4.5 mile run and a 26 mile ride.

Anyway, while I am usually not to fearful, mountain biking is just more dangerous and you are much more prone to breaking something. Hey, I am 42 – osteoporosis is knocking at my door any day now and I don’t wanna break a hip falling of my bike in the sand.

Specialized S3 Bike HelmetIt also reminded me that when I bought my bike helmet, I bought it under the assumption that I will be riding the recreational trail at a max of 20 mph (which seemed incredibly fast) so my white helmet with baby blue accents is just not appropriate for competitive cycling and road racing. Lucky me, I had received an email that members of the race team (ie. yours truly) can get team helmets (ie. red/white/black) from our sponsoring local bike shop (LBS) for half price. They offered three price levels, I took the middle one and will soon protect my valuable brain with this beautiful Specialized S3 on the right.

Yesterday was running day again, hills – ugh. That came out to around 4 miles, good enough. I wish we’d go farther, and while I prefer hills over speed work, I would prefer to just run. Yes, I know those serve a purpose to get you stronger, but blargh. The good thing was, since I officially declared it summer, I was running in shorts and a t-shirt which always makes running so much more pleasant.

For today, the weather is amazing again. They project a high of 77°F (25°C)!!! That’s right – Michigan in mid March! I went into work a little early so I can cut out early and I am planning a nice long ride through the lovely afternoon sun, about 35 miles. I guess I am back to loving Michigan, though I shouldn’t complain because we had the best winter ever!

And for you all, keep moving! It’s good for your body and for your soul.

Dirty Mountain Bike Shoes

by susanne
1 Comment

Double Track

So, what’s a double track or two track? Well it is a trail or path that is basically the width of a car and has two tracks, one for each wheel side. Worse than gravel or dirt road, better than single track – but a possible whole big mess :-)

Yesterday, we went out to Yankee Springs State Park. We are Brian, Nancy and Laura (mother and daughter)! I only signed up for the 23 mile loop, but some of my bike buddies signed up for the 36 mile loop. They aren’t fully up to that so we cut out a 26 mile loop out of the 36 miler. Yeah…am I glad I didn’t sign up for that. First of all, there are some hills that are simply not funny anymore. I had to get down to my lowest gear and was barely able to make it. That was one problem.

Much worse is that it includes a few parts that are double track. I had never heard that term so while I knew it was coming, I was lost. Close to the end, I was about to ask where that dreaded track is. Needles to say, one more turn and I didn’t have to ask anymore. The dirt road turned into…sand. My brain is screaming “You can’t ride a bike through the sand” but people in front of me were doing it. Oh well, how bad can it be?

Well, it actually wasn’t all that bad, but at one point I had to get up because I couldn’t move. Laura, who was waiting at the end of the sand portion looked at me and told me to try again, but to sit back on my seat to put more weight down, and to go up one gear because my wheel was spinning out. Nancy just started to push it up, and I am standing there weighing my options. So I did what she said and I actually made it though the rest of the sand.

Next up, mud. See, these are the trails where you have huge holes. They look like a car got stuck and started spinning wheels digging big holes…and now I had to get around those hole. They were filled with water and mud, some of them seem to span the whole path so I had to find the place that looked like it didn’t drown me.

And then it went up the hill again, and you know if you go up a steep hill, you have to go down again. And down it went. Down through sand, mud, slush and big holes. I had to muster up everything I had, and I went down. This is probably the scariest thing I have done since I am a grown up. I would estimate we went around 15-18 mph flying down a hill that I wouldn’t even want to WALK down. My heart was racing and pumping out of my chest. All I thought was “don’t crash, don’t crash, don’t crash”. And I didn’t, I made it.Dirty Mountain Bike Shoes

This was the ride of my life, 26 miles through dirt with minimal connecting paved roads and loads of hills (1,965 ft climb). Dirty and happy!

The Iceman Cometh Challenge

by susanne
1 Comment

Down and Dirty

So, the last week has been the same old, running on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Last Tuesday was pretty good, we did speed work and while I usually despise speed work when running, this worked out well. We ran a good mile out to a residential area. There was a loop around a little lake with houses all around. They just tell us to run fast, but it was almost a mile around the lake and I can’t run fast that long. So I made a little game with myself: along the street there were the mailboxes and I alternated between those going fast and slow. They didn’t have the same distance from each other, so sometimes you had to run fast longer and sometimes the slow stretch was longer. It worked out really well for me and I liked picking up the speed in between. This year, there really isn’t anyone in my group that I have warmed up to, so I am mostly running alone which is fine. In the end, this was the furthest distance with about 4.2 miles and the 10:20 pace was nice. The weather was beautiful, which probably contributed to the better speed – first time running without a jacket! So, but that is still same old, on a different note…


I went for my first real “down and dirty” gravel ride! As I mentioned in a previous post, I am signed up for my first ever official, timed and registered bike race on March 24th, Barry-Roubaix. This is a mountain bike race, even though I would generally consider myself a road cyclist. It just happens that the mountain bike races start early than road races, most probably because you can actually ride the MTB fairly well on less than perfect conditions while most wouldn’t even touch a road bike if there is a chance of ice. As for mountain bike races, there are different types. I am not all that clear about the categories myself. Most people think of single track (going on a narrow foot path through the thicket) or downhill (racing down a steep hill with some obstacles). I am doing neither of those… come on, I am a 42 year old overweight woman, what are you thinking???? I am doing Cross Country rides (XC) – Wikipedia explains that “Cross-country cycling is defined by the terrain on which it is performed. XC courses and trails consist of a mix of rough forest paths and singletrack (also referred to as doubletrack depending on width), smooth fireroads, and even paved paths connecting other trails.” I am staying away from the singletrack and Barry-Roubaix is a mix of paved, unpaved, gravel, and other rougher roads. So, someone posted earlier this week that they’d go for a training ride in and around Seidman Park on Wednesday so I joined in.

Wow, that was my first real gravel ride, with some hills that almost made me cry going up but felt like a roller coaster ride going down! I went through my first mud puddles with dirt splashing into my face and while I didn’t have a full mud coat, I was nicely spreckled with dirt and slush – including a nice dirt line going up my butt and back and down my front. I was doing fine, and it was a great ride and I am not that worried anymore for my first race.

The Iceman Cometh ChallengeNow, since my last post, I have actually signed up for another mountain bike race. I got caught up in the excitement of others (yet AGAIN) – there is a fairly large MTB race in November in Traverse City. It is called “The Iceman Cometh Challenge” – very appropriate name for a Michigan race in November. Some of these races sell out very quickly after they open for registration. The Iceman was full within a couple of hours after opening, and it only took so long because the server crashed when everyone and they brother wanted to sign up – for a grand total of 3,700 racers. I will be one of them. Anyway, when I was looking up some additional information, I looked at the Wikipedia section Mountain Bike Racing and in a list of races by country, the Iceman is the first listed for the USA. For real – a race I am signed up for and will participate in is listed on Wikipedia. Not as a race in Michigan, not as a local race that I thought it was – NO! It is listed as a mountain bike race for the USA. There, how’s that? I just really impressed myself — and scared myself at the same time!

Oh, and since this is a weight loss blog – my weight hasn’t changed since November. Boohoo! So, what’s new with you?

by susanne
1 Comment

Ride and Run and Ride and Run

The title says it all, last week has been all about that again!

Monday: The weather was beautiful! It was in the low 40s, and I lucked out because I had to pick up my sun glasses from the eye doctor. I didn’t get them at a “mall optometrist” so my place is only open until 5pm which means I had to get out of work early….Awwww. And they were superfast, so I was out at 4.10pm, raced home, threw on my bike clothes and met my bike buddy Randy at 4.30pm at the trail. We took off for a wonderful 32 mile ride and since I was ride captain (of the group of two), we took my route. I like this one because it’s up the hill and usually into the wind on the way out which makes it much easier to get home.

Tuesday: It’s run training again at 6pm. We met at the Southeast YMCA in Ada and did a little bit of hill work. It was a short run, 1 mile out, up and down the hills a few times and 1 mile back. It only comes down to 3 miles and about 40 minutes of running, but at least I am not slacking.

Wednesday: My bike club has a scheduled ride on Wednesday nights – since it goes from Challenger Elementary School in Kentwood, it is usually referred to as Challenger and in the fall/winter it is called FOBID (Fools on Bikes in the Dark) – in the winter it’s a little iffy because you never know what the weather is like. You definitely need lights, good lights and those little $40  kits with a head and a tail light do absolutely nothing for you if you are riding down a country road without streetlights at 20 mph. The first time I nearly rode into a deer carcass. Anyway, last Wednesday it was nice enough to go – bike rack on my beetle, bike on the rack and off I go.
Since everyone else is just a bunch of pussies, it was just me and my bike buddy Mike. I asked him to not go too hard because I was already starting to feel fatigued after the weekend and the workout the previous days. As we rode along, I was constantly behind and had to work hard to keep up. At one point, we stopped at a light and I was about to apologize for my lack when I realized that we were riding at a 16.2 mph AVERAGE. Really, I don’t need to apologize for that…actually, he should apologize to me because for me, that is riding hard :-)
Since they had projected rain at around 8pm we cut it shorter and only did 18 miles, but still not bad.

Saturday: And Saturday was running again. We did an easy 3.5 mile run. I hope we are picking that up soon in distance because I have been running this distance for a while now. It was pretty hard this time though because it had been snowing again. Seems like they weren’t too eager to clean up the side walks, so for the most part we were running through the snow. That means you really have to control your step, run a little slower and make sure you don’t hit the puddles. I am lucky though, last year my favorite sport’s shop Gazelle had a tent sale and I bought myself a pair of trail running shoes on super sale – the La Sportive Crosslite (link goes to newer model). I bought those less for trail running but more for bad weather running. They are actually fairly waterproof and surprisingly comfortable.

Since we are still under a solid snow cover, there won’t be a ride today, but I will be running Tuesday. Saturday, I may have a really exciting ride – one bike club member invited people out to Edmore, his place way out in the boondocks (population: 1,244) for a gravel ride. Since I signed up for Barry-Roubaix (btw, event is sold out with 1,500 rider), I still need to get a  lot more gravel/off-road in my the end of next month so I’ll try and get to that event. It seems frivolous to me to drive 70 miles each way to go for a bike ride but I believe I may be able to carpool with someone else, which makes it a little more bearable.

It’ll most likely be a sausage fest — I am looking forward to warmer temperatures hoping that all the female cyclists will crawl out of their winter holes and join in on the fun. I have never been one to have that big “us women” bond, and I am actually quiet comfortable in a group of men – most of my friends all through school were guys – but I sometimes feel like the guys are uncomfortable and feel like they can’t be “themselves” with a woman around.

by susanne

Lazy Days of Winter are OVER

So, as I mentioned before, I have been a bad girl over the winter. I have been riding my bike, but not as much as I want to – though I believe I have been out more than most considering the weather. It seems like almost all people have put the bike away for the winter, especially women. Like I said, I haven’t lost any weight since 10/15 which is since 4 months.The first 2 months were clearly related to cycling. In September I rode 69 miles, in October 300 miles, in November 352 miles – I could almost watch the muscles on my legs grow! My calves have actual definition, I can only imagine what they’d look like if there wasn’t all that loose skin covering them up. But I really have no excuse for December and January but giving in to the temptation of Christmas candy, dinners and get-togethers with friends and family. It kinda sucks, but I am not too bothered. In previous years, this is the time where I would have gained a ton of weight, now this year I didn’t lose weight.

Now it’s February. It’s time to get my act together. As I mentioned, run raining started yesterday. Like last year, I am running with the Gazelle training group, this year I am in the 10k group. They have changed the schedule and I think this works better. We used to train Mondays/Wednesdays at 6pm and now it is Tuesdays at 6pm and Saturdays at 8am. I am not a morning person but I do feel that I run better in the morning than after a full day of work.

While the run starts at 8am, they have it set up at the YMCA and we will have a variety of clinics before, for example injury prevention, nutrition, info about cross training etc. and those start at 7.15am. I am not sure how many times I will make it out that early. We are rotating between the 4 YMCA locations in the area – one is fairly close so I may make it to those.

So, the first training was yesterday, leaving from the YMCA in Belmont. I did well, even though I hadn’t been running in a month or so. The ground was snowy and it was really icy so I had to be careful. I still came out 3rd in the 10k group – it wasn’t a race, but I still keep count and actually managed to break out of the running trot that I often fall into and tackled the runner ahead of me actually managing to pass him and pull ahead, but the 2 in front of me were too far ahead. After the run we got together in the lobby of the YMCA and they provided some snacks from the Great Harvest Bread Co. and recovery drinks.

But guess what? Your’s truly did not stop after the run! The day before, Kim Thomas – a girl I had met a couple of weeks before on a group ride – had sent me a message asking if I’d like to go for a ride on Saturday morning on the White Pine Trail (WPT). I initially declined telling her that I was starting my run training, but then I realized that the Belmont YMCA location is super close to the White Pine Trail so I told her if she wants to ride at 10am or so, I could probably make it, and I sent her my phone number. I didn’t hear back from her in time but I decided that I’d just throw the mountain bike into my car and see what happens. Worst case scenario, I could actually do a little ride by myself, but it wasn’t necessary. She called after my run and we met at the trail.

I knew from the run that the trail was icy but at the same time I didn’t want to be too slow. She is a much better rider than I am and has been racing for 3 years. Well, we were the only two crazy enough to ride the bike on the trail, which was otherwise littered with runners. At one point I sped up to pass two runners, and I was just past them when I hit a patch of ice and totally wiped out. It was amazing, one second I am on the bike, the next second I am under. Every one stopped to see how I was doing, the runners commented that they were surprised that I wiped out because I had fat mountain bike tires while Kim had skinnier cross bike tires. Well, I dusted myself off, checked if I broke something and if bike and clothes are OK. Thank God the bike was alright – some scratches on the handle bar, pedal and the back skewer, but the frame was A-OK. We picked it up again, and continued to ride, albeit it a little slower, and when we passed the runners again, the one guy hollered something like  “Great job, right back on the bike”. I did bruise my knee a bit and I have a big raspberry on my back hip – Chuck called it a third ass cheek :-)

Anyway, we did about 17 miles and I had a great time chatting with Kim. I have to say, I have met the most awesome people since I started riding. I hadn’t found a lot of people to connect with in West Michigan – I just don’t really fit in here. But it seems like everyone who is into cycling is awesome!



by susanne
1 Comment

Alive and Kicking

Has it been that long? 3 months? I can hardly believe it!

Let’s start with a quick resume:

  • Weight: unchanged
  • Fitness: stalled
  • Mood: OK (it’s winter in Michigan, in previous years I would have been curled up in a ball crying, so ‘OK’ is a vast improvement)

Now for some more details. I am riding the bike, and I love it. My Dad is living vicariously through me since he had a stroke and largely sponsors my cycling addiction. Since the last update I have been riding every chance I get, which included 2.5 hours in pouring rain, riding in temperatures below freezing, riding in temperatures below freezing in the dark.

I finished the year with 1,089 miles (1,753 kilometer) on my computer which started in July. My max was November with 352 miles, no 0 miles in August though because I was traveling. January had 122 miles, February 75 miles because the weather went bad and has been this year.
I have joined the race team and purchased my road racing license from USA Cycling. I am now officially a CAT4 racer with a UCI number and eligible to participate in races. I signed up for my first races, which are Barry-Roubaix (3/24) and the Fisk Knob Time Trial (4/15). I’ll add a few more official races, not sure which but I am thinking of  Tour de Mont Pleasant (6/8-10), Cherry-Roubaix (8/12-13) and a few time trials like Grattan Race Series.

I signed up for a few tours, Ride Around Kent County or RAKC (5/19 – 150 miles!!!), Bag Balm (5/26-27 – 2 days, 110 miles each day), 100 Grand (6/2, 105 miles, or 141 miles if I can hack it), Apple Cider Century (9/30) and more to come!

One of my biggest adventures will be the National 24hr Challenge (6/16-17) which is a 24 hour race and you go for as long as you can. You have to pass certain check points within a given time or you are out. It starts at 8am. Loop 1 is 121.6 miles and needs to be finished by 6.33pm, that shouldn’t be a problem at all. Then Loop 2 is 23.7 miles and needs to done at least once by 9pm. The last is Loop 3 with only 7.5 miles and you’ll go around and around until it’s either 8am on Sunday or you give up. Sounds great, doesn’t it? RAKC, Bag Balm and 100 Grand are usually used to build up the endurance.

As for running, I managed to continue and run at least one event each month. I signed up again for the running group, this time I am opting for the 10k and my training group starts Saturday. I just want to keep this up for cross training, and I will try to keep up with “one event a month”, but I may substitute some running events with cycling.

Chuck is a good sport and supports me furiously but I believe he may change his mind if I am spending all this time on the bike instead of in the hot tub relaxing!
So, that’s it for me…how have you been?

by susanne

But I would ride 100 miles…

Have you seen the movie Benny & Joon? It is one of my favorite movies and I recently rewatched it with my husband. The title of this post is based on the title song by The Proclaimers.

Now why would I choose this title? Well, because I the Saturday before last, I actually did a bike ride which was supposed to be 85 miles starting in Greenville taking the Flat River Trail, then switching over to the Heartland Trail up to Alma. In Alma we were having lunch and then go back. Both trails are Fred Meijer trails – not sure what that exactly means but I assume Greenville local Fred Meijer has contributed a large amount of money for it.

At first I was freaked out. ColorBurst with its 62 miles had taken everything out of me – can I even go 23 miles further? Of course my fellow Wheelmen were all saying “Oh yeah, no problem at all for you”, but then they always say that to encourage me. But since we had a longer lunch break in between and they all swore that it would be super flat (since it’s an old railroad system) I committed to going on the trip. What I hadn’t considered in the beginning was that this was an all day committment, and the ride started at 10am. The bare ride time for this distance at maybe 15 mph would take 5.7 hours. With lunch, possible pitstops etc. it would be more like 7 hours. Well, I signed up anyway.

The ride started out wonderfully. I didn’t have gloves but Randy, a fellow rider who I had only once met at the member meeting offered me his gloves…which I later used to wipe off snot from my cold nose, LOL (he said he has a washing machine). The weather was cold, close to freezing but supposed to pick up during the day. There were a lot of new faces, mostly very friendly. I was surprised that I was actually the youngest there and that out of the 13, 3 or 4 were actually over 60 years old.

This time I made sure I was better prepared with nutritional bars, trail mix, GU energy gel, water with cranberry juice. At lunch I had a hard time deciding what to eat. I am sometimes uncomfortable in these occasions because there is no way that I could go home if I am not feeling well but I would have to ride all the way back. I chose a chicken quesadilla and managed to eat a little more than half of it.

After lunch I was riding along side Dave, the ride captain (RC) and talked to him about the route. He was actually the one who kept me going through ColorBurst a few weeks before. He said that we’ll actually come out with a little over 90 miles. So, that got my mind to race. A little over 90 miles, that is almost 100 miles. How can I go 90 and then not do the last 10 to fill up my first “Century”. I told him about this and asked if he would be willing to take me the extra miles so I can put that notch on my belt and he agreed. I asked the “glove owner” who I had also been riding with and he was in too. The rest wasn’t much into riding extra. For them, it was not such a big deal because they had all done plenty of centuries before.

We arrived back at the parking lot, and it was late. It was getting cold and dark. Dave tried to figure out where to go to get sufficient milage onto his GPS and off we went. Man, 10 minutes in I thought I am a total idiot. I was so cold, it was so dark and I really don’t have sufficient headlights because the ones with which you can see instead of just be seen cost $100 and up. Of course I didn’t say a word and just kept kicking. I was getting tired and a little cranky because Dave had to check out that hill, which was super steep and took us through deep dark woods. I almost wiped out on a patch of sand – enough that Randy behind me got a little worried.

But don’t get me wrong, inside I was so happy – 100 miles! We arrived back at the parking lot but had to circle it a few times until the GPS showed exactly 100 miles at 7pm. I thanked those super nice guys but in all honesty, at that point all I wanted was to go home, eat, be warm! Naturally, there was no cell phone reception so I had to wait a bit before I could call Chuck with “instructions”: get the hot tub started, make coffee (and have whiskey handy), heat up the pot of chili. I arrived back home about 40 minutes later, I was shivering because the ride had chilled me to the core and even though I had the heater in the car on full blast, was wearing long pants and a wool sweater and actually had a blanket wrapped around me, I could not shake the cold. Fortunately, it took 10 minutes in the hot tub and I was good!

I was worried that I would be totally wiped the next morning, but I wasn’t. I got up just fine, went about my business, decided to do the Sunday Ramble (another group ride) and actually had plans to go to 25 Kitchen & Bar with my niece. Yeah now, that didn’t happen as planned. I am out with the Ramble and after 10 miles I am not so fresh anymore. In addition, clouds are coming up and the weather looks miserable so I cut out and went home. At home it totally hit me. I was so fatigued, so exhausted, so tired that I could hardly move. Muscles were still not sore but my whole body was basically waving the white flag and needed some rest. Well deserved I say, well deserved.
And thus ends the story of my first century!

by susanne

One Year Physical (and Annual to Boot)

Since my surgery was on November 2nd, I recently had my one year physical with Grand Health Partners. I don’t know how other places handle this, but I usually get to see three people at once. This time it was first the dietitian, then the behaviorist and last but not least the physician’s assistant. The first two are group sessions with 3 other 1-year-patients and the last is of course an individual examination.

First up, we have a new dietitian – and I don’t think she is all that great. She was going through the regular stuff – they have those printouts/check lists and she really didn’t have to contribute much. Then she asked if we have any questions. Well, I did because when I exercise really hard, like a 62 mile bike rid, I never really know what to eat. So, we are supposed to eat 60 grams of protein considering a 1000 to 1200 calorie diet. Now if I exercise that much, I need to eat more – do I have to proportionally increase my protein or is 60 grams it?

And here is where it went downhill with her, I don’t think she had a clue. The biggest bullshit she said was that for 50 miles on the bike (which takes me maybe 2.5 to 3 hours of fairly fast riding) I get to eat an extra 100 calories. Yes, I did not forget a 0, she said 100 calories. That’s just crap. I think a lot of calculators and web sites seem overestimate the amount of calories burned. I am using My Fitness Pal to track food and exercise and RunKeeper to map my routes. Both also calculate calories and they are usually fairly high and I wouldn’t dare to eat that much. But I do admit that after a 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 hour bike ride, I do eat more (and more junk). I checked a couple of times with her, asking if she was sure and yes – she insisted. At one point she said she’d check with the exercise dude Andi, but when she came back she didn’t really say what he explained and told me that she will talk about it after the scheduled stuff (but she never did). After she left the room, I checked with the others and while they have never exercised that hard, they all said that 100 calories is way not enough.

I actually went to see Andi myself afterwards and asked him and he kinda defended her saying that maybe she didn’t know how fast I go or so. In all honesty, even if I ride 50 miles at snail’s speed I still burn more than 100 calories. Heck, if I stand in a corner for 3 hours I probably burn more than 100 calories. MFP tells me that for 227 minutes of Bicycling at a speed of 14-16 mph I burn 3092. That seems extremely high. RunKeeper tells me I burned 2607 calories, and since they are based on GPS, it can include the climbs which IMHO should burn a hell of a lot more calories.

Anyway, back to my annual – the other three patients were gastric bypass patients, and they all had lost more weight than me. I don’t know their starting weight but they had both lost around 100 pounds since their surgery. We were all very happy with our surgery – one lady had to be hospitalized several times but said she’d still do it again because pretty much everything else was better. She had some kidney problems which probably contributed to the hospitalization..

The behaviorists – well, what can I say? I think he’s not that well suited for me. He also had his spiel and kept saying how important it is to log food and exercise and at one point I said the we all are logging anyway – I knew that from the dietitian session. He was talking about Addiction Transfer which I found interesting, but have not seen in me. I don’t believe my eating was that much of an addiction to start with, so nothing to transfer. So, all my bad habits are the same as before sans eating.

Last but not least I saw the PA Randy and I really like him. I had a different one before who in my opinion was a real dud. Randy is nice and went with me through a few things. He was fine with my weight loss and said that if I exercise at this level, my more athletic build will rank higher on the BMI chart vs. a person who doesn’t exercise. Just a side note, at the peak of his body building career, Arnold Schwarzenegger would have been classified as “obese” so really, if you are more muscular and fit, the BMI classifications don’t work that well anymore.

Randy also had all my lab results and I saw them for the first time and asked for a printout. So, everything is perfect – for the first time, my cholesterol values are ALL perfect (Cholesterol 168, Triglyceride 91, HDL 63, LDL 87). I am great on all vitamins and liver and kidney function is great. But he scolded me for my protein. The good range is 6 – 8 and I clocked in at a 5.9. Shame on me, but I knew I was getting sloppy so I am taking to the protein shake again, just to make sure.

That was it for the visit at the surgery place. Now, I was also due for an annual physical exam. My PA there had not seen me since before the surgery and was floored. She is really nice and I like her a lot. Everything there checked out fine too, BP was 115/75, urine sample was clean and for the male readers I’ll spare you the rest but those results come later.

So, everyone was happy, I am happy, and while I was bummed out because I would have liked to lose 100 pounds. Recap after a year: Surgery was the best thing I ever did.

by susanne
1 Comment

The Love Continues…

OK, after my little obsession with running, I am now more or less completely switched to the bike. I am still sticking with trying to get to one run every month and I have done that since April.

But right now, it’s the bike. Oh how I love riding my bike – I can’t even believe how this happened to me. Last time I wrote about it was in September when we did another family ride, me and my nieces and nephews. Since then, a lot of things have happened, and I have really upped my game. I even bought a bike rack for my little beetle so I don’t need to borrow hubby’s car to go somewhere to ride.

My “Ride with the Girls” group rides  had come to an end of scheduled Wednesday rides but I felt I wasn’t done yet. I wanted to keep riding and I needed to find another group to take me. After searching around a little bit, I found the Rapid Wheelmen. The Rapid Wheelmen are a local bike club who have a lot of group rides scheduled, but that is some serious business. They classify all activities by pace (Ride paces: Easy: 9-11mph, Casual: 11-13mph, Moderate: 13-15mph, Good: 15-17mph, Fast: 17-19mph, Fast+ : 19+). Since I track all my rides, I know that door to door I usually average 14.5 to 15mph so I consider myself a moderate rider. They are using YahooGroups to communicate, so I signed up for their group on October 4th. I was a little anxious, because again: that is serious business with a race team, time trials, club jerseys and what not.

On October 8th, I set out to a big ride – this was a “Ride with the Girls” event and 4 of us went down and around the White Pine Trail. It was an amazing trip and even though I was worried that I would not make it, it was not a problem at all and we went 52 miles. It took 3 hours and 49 minutes, and I loved every minute of it.

All pumped up, I started to look around the RW schedule to see what rides would allow a moderate rider, and I found a Wednesday evening ride going from 6.30 to 9pm which included my pace. I sent a message to the list asking how “Newbie friendly” they are and if it is a suitable ride for a moderate rider. They were very nice and welcomed me to join. They said there are usually two parts, a faster group and a moderate group. Well, I showed up and saw 4 fit dudes on road bikes all clad in fancy bike gear. Oy, now what? Well, they were nice enough, actually asked if I was Susanne and took me under their wings. Now, what was supposed to be the moderate ride ended up as a 31 mile ride at an average speed of 15.5mph. They clearly were trying to test me, and I have no problem with that – I would do the same, and I believe I earned their approval because I was never last but some other guy…HA! While this was not the longest distance, it was a really fast pace for me.

Next up, my “Ride with the Girls” group had posted another event, on October 15th there was the ColorBurst, which was hosted by – surprise – the Rapid Wheelmen. I signed up and after some encouragement by my Girls leader I chose to go for the 62 mile route. Yeah, you read that right, I went 62 miles/100 kilometers on my bike. We decided to meet at the park – since it was a hosted event they offered a pancake breakfast and stops with food and refreshments. I showed up there fairly early – the weather sucked pretty much. Very windy – actually windy enough so they issued a wind advisory – and it was fairly cold. I saw my Girls leader in line but wanted to pick up my shirt. Once I returned, I couldn’t find anyone anymore. I have no idea what happened, but we must have walked by each other “silent movie style” without meeting. So, now I was standing there, me and my bike and no one to go with when all of a sudden someone next to me said Hey. It was Dave, one of the guys from the Wednesday ride. I don’t know if I looked that lost but he asked if I want to go with them and I sure as hell wanted that! He had a buddy with him who dropped fairly fast so it was just Dave and me. He was really watching out for me, it was amazing to ride with him. He was a quiet guy, who had done a big tour from Michigan to Oregon this summer – wow! He gave me great advise for hills and wind, he waited at the top of every hill and told me that I need to eat something. This is really not that easy for a sleeved person – 62 miles in these weather conditions take a long time. I am burning a ton of calories but cannot eat all that quickly at a rest stop so I just tried my best and put some cookies in my bike box for the ride. In the end, I came out at 4 hours and 45 minutes with an average speed of 12.81mph and a total climb of almost 3,500ft.
After the ride, everyone met back at a shelter in the park for soup and hot beverages, and we sat down at a fire place where I slowly started to collect myself. I felt my vision was blurry, I felt a little dizzy and was a little shaken all over. Several of the Wheelmen talked to me, all very impressed that I did the 62 miles especially being such a new rider and under these conditions and at a very acceptable time with very little proper bike gear. I felt amazing and couldn’t believe it myself. I did need almost an hour in front of the fire trying to collect myself before I felt safe to drive back home.

Now, after all these October rides I did the math and had already done 200 miles in October so I set myself a goal to make it to 300 miles. I knew I would spend 4 days at a conference (more about that later), so I couldn’t get too far out. I made it – I ended on October 31st with 301 miles!

Did I mention I love my bike?

by susanne
1 Comment

One of Those People

Yesterday, I was one of those people. Remember, when you walked into your surgeon’s office for the first time, and you saw all the big people and in between you saw all the normal or close to normal people?

Well, yesterday was my 1 year surgerversary, I didn’t have an appointment, but I needed to get my blood drawn for my appointment on Friday. So, there I was – a fairly normal sized person among a lot of big people. I was wondering if they were thinking the same – if I was a dream to become true to them soon.

I remember when I walked in there the first time and there was a normal size woman. I looked and at first though “What is she doing here?” and then I realized, she is just post-surgery and has lost a lot of weight. And that could be me, will be me soon!

So, Happy Surgerversary to me – and once I have a little more time, I’ll have some more sucess stories to tell!

by susanne
1 Comment

That Weird Weightloss of Mine

I am not sure if it is because I am almost a year down the road from surgery or if I am generally just accepting my own weirdness, but I believe I have come to terms with long stalls. I am not longer fretting the weeks without weightloss because I really have to come to realize that it will happen sooner or later. It always has and it’ll be fine.

Now, just because I am not hysterical about my stalls doesn’t mean that I am not trying to figure out what my dumb body is doing all day long.

If you watch my ticker, you have seen that I just had a nice drop again. Over the last months, here is what happened to my weight:

10/01/2011    185.4
09/30/2011    186.2
09/29/2011    187.4
09/28/2011    188.2
09/06/2011    189.6
09/02/2011    190.0
09/01/2011    190.8
08/31/2011    191.0
08/30/2011    192.0
06/30/2011    192.6

The days without weight means I maintained, went up or didn’t weigh myself. I had a huge plateau right before we went on vacation in August…about 2 months without any weightloss. Then I lose 2.6 pounds in 4 days. The nothing for almost another month, then 4.2 pounds within 4 days.

Now, if I look at my period tracker app, it seems like I lose weight a couple of days after ovulation. I have also noticed that if there is “something” during that time which includes possible bad eating, ie. a wedding weekend, that window closes and no weightloss happens. I’ll look into it a little closer, but for now, this seems like a pattern to me.

I am not sure if this pattern applies to anyone else, but if you too are struggling with weird weightloss, check you calendar and see if this is what happens to you. I’d love to hear if anyone else can confirm!

PS: I am less than 4 pounds away from overweight!!!

by susanne

Nervous before every race

I don’t know what it is – I am still nervous before every race. I have been to 6 races now, varying from 5k to 8k and the tri but the day before and the morning, I am always anxious. I have knots in my stomach and I don’t even know why.

So, tomorrow is the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5k. It’s right around the corner, I’d say less than 2 miles away from my home. My company was nice enough to start a team and they paid our fees. Something I never really know or considered is that those runs usually cost between $20 and $40 and the tri was over $50 if I recall correctly. Yeah, you get a shirt and yeah, it’s a lot of fun – but I am at a point where I am running the 5k in about 30 minutes (still trying to finish under 30!!!) so that’s kind of a steep price. I understand that there are a lot of things to consider, organizers, payment processing, shirts, advertisement, water, and of course time keeping using D-Tags. but it still seems a little steep. I believe this race would have cost me $30 – I do get a long sleeved t-shirt and I won’t be buying casual t-shirts any time soon since I got several now.

Altogether our group is 38 people strong, which is more than I thought and we will meet at 7.15am, team picture taken at 7.30am and the race starts at 8.30am. So, I’ll be done at around 9am to enjoy the entertainment and hopefully a snack or so. I am trying to hydrate now – drinking water is not my strong suit but I know that before a race you have hydrate well. Not like a 5k is anything big by all means, but I did one run without proper hydration and I basically sucked.

The other problem I have is that I haven’t been running much since I am back from vacation. I had a couple of longer bike rides (23 and 18 miles), but the bike uses very different muscles from running. I do know that I am fit and that I shouldn’t have a problem running the 5k, but somehow I am expecting a sub-30 time from myself, and I am worried that I will be disappointed if I can’t deliver. And no, just participating or “Dabei sein ist alles” doesn’t work for me and never did. I like to take pride in my accomplishments :-)

by susanne

Family Time…on the Bike

We had a family get-together on Saturday. My family likes to celebrate combined birthdays so this Saturday it was a foursome – me, my husband, my nephew and another nephew’s fiancee.

Since I had been complaining on Facebook about the lame Wednesday bike ride, my niece had teased me about a faster ride, and I picked up that idea and suggested a bike ride before the family birthday party. So we met at 3pm at the “party house” and took off from there. It was just 5 of us, basically me and nieces and nephews. My sister in law and her husband wanted to go too, but they didn’t want to ride to the path so they drove there and we basically only saw them for a short time, once on our way out where we stopped to chant and then on the way back in close to their parking spot.

Family Bike Ride

Now, this was quite the ride. My niece and her husband are the ones who went with my for my first run and they are both in a bike group owning an actual jersey with ads and matching shorts, caps and he even has the socks! My one nephew is a lanky 6’5″ kid in his early twenties, also a bike dude with the full get up. Then there was me, and I have at least my little bike shorts onesie but no jersey and no clickety-clack bike shoes. Thank God my other nephew had to take his Dad’s mountain bike and while he is active, he isn’t as fit as the other 3 – I would have been dead last without him but this way we shared the pain.

We went for 90 minutes and rode close to 23 miles. I was pretty wiped – it definitely is a difference if you go out with a mixed group including people in their 50s or if you go out with a group of bike pros where the oldest is 33. I took a dip in the pool afterwards just because I didn’t want to be sweaty and hot all evening long and while it is too cool for the pool in Michigan now, it was really great and I am sure it helped me sooth my muscles!

And of course, I had burned a lot of calories so I was able to eat some nice party food!