The goal of training is to make yourself better, but more importantly proper training. I decided it was time to get some professional training advice to help me along in my journey on becoming a competitive age group triathlete. I went with Tridot since I found them by an accidental click on Facebook and it’s panned out very good. I’m feeling a lot more comfortable in the saddle and I’m starting to see all around improvements although I need to get some solid time trials this coming week before my coach yells at me. I also joined the Tri Club of San Diego which was without a doubt the smartest move I made and I should have joined years ago but I can’t look back I have to look forward.
The Swim! I used to swim back in high school so I have a small background in swimming. I wasn’t the best but I wasn’t the worst either. I was one of the few guys who could do butterfly with the proper form so I was always stuck doing the butterfly in all the IM’s and individual events. But I also was never really focused back then I just went through the motions. I can still recall the coach yelling all the laps we had to do which helps me to this day to keep on track a bit. Enough of the past on with the future. I’ve always been a deep catch swimmer with a lot of core twist and I generated a lot of power with a smooth glide. It’s all I knew and didn’t know there where different types of freestyle catches. Well once I got into Tridot I learned about the High Elbow Catch and how you go faster with using less power. This was completely foreign to me and I struggled at first with how awkward it felt (It still feels awkward). But I’m paying more attention to it and low and behold my 100M times are improving slowly at an easy pay I sit around 1:28 to 1:30 compared to my 1:39 with the deep catch. I have 8 weeks till the Tri-Rock so lots of room to get my 1:30 average down to 1:15 (Goal).
The Bike! I was never an efficient cyclist but I had fun and I used a lot of power in the top gear so I just assumed I was good at it, I was wrong. I learned really fast that I was awful at the bike I used way too much energy with very little return and that in fact hurt my run since my legs were toast after the bike. Tridot immediately bumped my cadence up to 90-100 average which means that I had to use lower gears to keep my HR down so I wasn’t using so much energy. I was skeptical of this at first cause I wasn’t going very fast according to the bike computer but I pressed on. Low and behold keeping a cadence has become easier and I’m in higher gears to where going slower than a 90 cadence feels awkward. Because I’m on the indoor trainer I’m in a little protected area from cars, tourist, and external factors so I’m not able to readily hit my weaker spot of hills but thankfully there aren’t any in the Tri-Rock course so I won’t have to really worry about it till I train for Oceanside 70.3. I should also note that my quads don’t hurt as much anymore which means I’m using less power to go faster. Of course my junk is still getting used to the saddle for so long.
The Run! My weakest more dreaded part of the triathlon. Yeah I’ve done several 5K’s and 13.1’s and recently had a new PR of 2:27:53. I thought I was doing really good and working my way to a good time for my half marathons. Then came Tridot and the workouts had a high cadence of approximate 90 SPM. Now I still have issues hitting that count while keeping my HR in the 130 range. In fact my average cadence was 70 if I was lucky and my HR was at 160BPM, now I can keep an 80 cadence with my HR around 140-150. But there is a sacrifice here, my time per mile at that pace is back to 12 minute miles. Sure before at the 70 cadence at 160 BPM I was averaging 11 minute miles at a half marathon pace. So what does that mean in English? What it means is that my foot is spending less time on the ground and I’m using less energy. So that is an improvement and I need to focus on my mechanics to where I can really get my 10K pace down to 8-9 minute miles.
So over all I am seeing vast improvements on my energy use and my output. My weight has gone down to around 250lbs and will be dropping even more as I keep training. The mental aspect is the biggest hurdle for me throughout the entire process. I seem to be holding back and second guessing my ability to do it during training, maybe it’s in fear of getting hurt or not being able to do it. When the reality is that I can do it and the numbers prove I can do it. I just need to believe in myself that I can do it.
Those of us who have raced have all heard the announcer say if you need a swim buddy they can be found over by here or there or out in the water wearing a particular color swim cap. For most people the swim is the hardest part of the triathlon especially in open water. But for those of us who live in California we have the pleasure of surf entries along with swimming along the coast with some swell. For most first time people it’s a lot to handle mentally and they aren’t sure they can even do it. What goes through your mind when you move from swimming countless laps in a swimming pool to having to swim 200-250 meters off shore through the surf? That’s where Swim Buddies come in. They are the one’s who are there if you need it and to help keep you focused at the task at hand and so that you don’t feel as alone out there.
I took the chance to volunteer at as a Swim Buddy at the Carlsbad Triathlon this past July 14th. I was a little nervous at first I didn’t really have a lot of surf entries under my belt as a triathlete. Now I had tons of surf entries as a kid and as an avid body boarder and I was curious if they would be the same. Well I signed up and decided that it was giving back to the tri community and I’d learn from it. I had volunteered for the Tri Club of San Diego at the SDIT Expo and got a lot out of it and really felt good about it and I got to meet some great people. Being a Swim Buddy was nothing short of the same and super rewarding.
I started the day really excited, it was almost as if I was racing that day I felt really good about the weather and conditions. Once I got there and signed the typical waiver paperwork those of us from Tri Club that volunteered made our way down to the beach and kind of went over everything. I was really shocked at how many people had come out, took all the nervousness of being a first timer right away. I was asked to be a floater in the surf (Yeah the guy getting beat on by the waves) and just be there to encourage people trying to get out and they could do it. There were a few people that I swam out with to the turn buoy and they thanked me as they made the turn. It was a really rewarding day even if that was all the help I could give, but I wasn’t done. As the other waves had started I noticed a swimmer without a cap and without goggles and she was struggling just to make it to the first turn buoy. I swam over to her and offered to swim with her along the way, and she said that would be great. As we swam I had to call life guards over to her so that she could rest on the boards we had some conversations. This was her first triathlon and she was extremely nervous about the swim and wasn’t sure if she could do it. Her older brother had talked her into it but she didn’t want to give up so we kept swimming and stopping at the lifeguard boards to rest. As we reached the last turn and swam up to the beach she was so excited to have finished it that even I got excited to watch her finish the swim and be a part of her first triathlon experience. As we finally reached shore she walked over to me and gave me a hug and said that she would not have been able to do it without me being right there helping her through. As I swam back out to help the last of the stragglers swim in the overwhelming gratitude from the swimmers towards us was just undeniable. That is what being a swim buddy is all about and now I am totally hooked! If I am not racing or tied to work, you can bet that I’ll be volunteering as a swim buddy when I can.
June has been a huge month of personal achievement for me. I first broke my 13.1 personal record with a 2:38 minute run and I was able to run the entire thing. Then 6 days later I broke my old record with a 2:27 minute run in Utah Valley. Then to close out the month I took 3rd in the Clydesdale Division in the San Diego International Triathlon, that I didn’t even train for at all. SO it really is possible to achieve something “iF” you make it your priority you really need to believe in yourself. Because you really can do it! Now for my race report.
So as I said I didn’t train for this race. It was more of a break in for my new wetsuit and my tri-bike that I got. I really wanted to see how each felt and how my transitions would be. I am actually a bit disgusted with my transition times they could have been better, but that’s coming later. I know you’re not supposed to break in new gear on race days but I did it anyways.
The X-terra Vortex 4 full suit I got a while ago is just awesome. Coming from not using one I was really amazed at how I was able to move easily through the water with very minimum effort. The buoyancy alone with the coating on the outside really makes it fly through the water. The choice to join the Tri Club of San Diego was worth it for the member discount alone just for that suit. I’m very happy with it and can’t wait to use it more.
I bought a Quintana Roo Lucero Tri-Bike to replace my craigslist road bike. Now I will say after spending the entire bike ride in the aero position I was finally starting to get comfortable with it but I really felt like I need more gears for downhill. I think my GPS clocked me at almost 40 MPH as my fastest. Climbing, the bike did most of the work as my quads screamed at me for not training ANY uphill but that’s not the bikes fault it’s my fault for not training legs and hills.
My transitions where really time consuming after looking at the rest of the field and I thought what could possibly make them go faster. Well in T1 I had a hard time getting the wetsuit off and my transition was in the dirt so I had rocks everywhere on my feet and then I realized I was going out the wrong way and I forgot my sun glasses. T2 I had to rinse off the dirt again and get on my socks and running shoes because if I run barefoot in these shoes they cut into the backs of my ankles. I also forgot to put on my race bib heading out of T2 so I had a lot of mental mistakes. I was actually a mental midget in the transition zones. I really need to practice more and get tri shoes that don’t cut into my ankles.
The swim was a bit chaotic at first with all the people and I really climbed on some people as I have such a long stroke but and I accidently swam over a poor woman in a silver cap in 1 stroke. I am really sorry by the way I didn’t even see you. By the time I got out of the water I wasn’t really dizzy like at Tri Rock and ITU but I also kicked harder towards the end and stayed low which really helped. The bike went a little slow at the start as I missed a shoe and hit a cone… YIKES!!! I started out strong trying to get my HR and breathing back on track but my Timex kept saying 160BMP for most of every time I looked so it couldn’t have been right. Finally got into my groove of breathing and feeling comfortable when the hill up to Cabrillo Monument which basically fried my quads for most of the ride but I still came out with a 41 minute ride the 2nd place guy had a 41 minute ride as well but the 1st place guy had a 35 minute ride. So he really killed the climbs which I lacked. Coming into T2 I dismounted the bike in true Tri form with my body standing on the left with my right leg ready to dismount. I think I got off too early but the guy said good job. Going into the run my legs burned and my socks and shoes were socked. That first mile off the bike is always hard for me as the muscle use changes from quads to hamstrings but once I got warmed up I started to pick up the pace. But at about 500-700 feet I went to take some Gatorade and my stomach wanted no part of it, so I had to ditch it. I kept a steady pace at least it felt like that but I’ll take a 38 minute 6K. That’s 3.7 miles for those of you who didn’t know. I didn’t really push it during my run either like I could have. Looking back I wish I should have but I didn’t want to push it too hard since it was only a C type race. I actually spent more time looking around at things cause running in wet socks and shoes SUCKS!
I signed up for my first ever Half Ironman also known as a 70.3 this month. I have been wanting to and the best way was to sign up when registration opened. I’ve found that when you don’t register for something it really doesn’t become a priority and then you back out of it. I remember growing up I saw Kona televised 1 time and thought man those guys are absolutely nuts and to a degree I’m sure they are. In the back of my head though I wondered what it would be like to finish. So why a Half Ironman (70.3), am I crazy?
I did my first triathlon back in September 2010 as a sprint triathlon. The first ever Tri-Rock San Diego. The excitement, the nervousness of not knowing if I could finish it since I couldn’t run 3 miles back then. I had a LOT of fun and enjoyed it and said I wanted to do one every year there on out. I didn’t think of doing anything but a sprint distance, it was short and fast. I had to skip the 2011 Tri-Rock because the Minnesota Vikings played the Chargers in San Diego and I chose football. I kind of regret it a little bit now but I ‘m not dwelling on it. I made the choice to watch my favorite team get spanked by the Chargers. The Tri-Rock 2012 came around and I thought it would be fun to do a relay. I did the swim, Josh did the bike, and Jojo did the run. I knew I could do the bike and the swim but I still dreaded that run. I was 310lbs and running just was not fun (it still isn’t). So I swam the 500 (No wetsuit) in around 10 minutes and I felt really good like I could have gone more. It set the seed of a possible Olympic distance triathlon in the future, I didn’t know when.
ITU – International Triathlon Union happened in April. That race changed me, and I didn’t plan on even signing up. My friend Diane sent me a message about the race in mid March cause of a buddy signup package she wanted. Once I found out that we didn’t have to do the same distance I was in. She was doing the Olympic distance with her husband Dave who signed up before she did (Diane is an animal she puts me to shame when it comes to races). So I decided to do the sprint distance. 750M swim, 12.5 mile bike, and what seemed like a 4-5 mile run instead of the a 5K. It was late April, I didn’t have a wetsuit, my bike was not tuned up, and I wasn’t sure I could run the whole thing. I prepped everything the night before but forgot my 1 thing that no athlete should ever forget… the timing chip. So come race time I just had my arm watch going. I completed it in 1:32 minutes. I did have to walk some of the run because I wasn’t really confident in my running as I am now. I felt really confident on the bike as I was passing people the entire way. But overall for no training I felt that I could really do an Olympic distance with the right training. That is when I finally felt confident that if I trained for an Olympic distance and got the right gear i.e. Tri-bike, actual wetsuit, and such I can do it. So I changed my Tri-Rock distance from the Sprint to the Olympic distance. I am actually more nervous for that race than I was for the Rock N Roll 13.1 and the Utah Valley 13.1. I’m hoping to place in the Top 5 at the Tri-Rock.
So now comes the 70.3, I set my goal high and still attainable. My swimming has improved and my running has improved by beating my PR’s on back to back 13.1’s in June. I just need to keep it up, and shed some more chub! The bike though is going to be the roughest for me now so I really need to focus on that a bit more. 56 miles is a long way and there is killer hill starting at mile 31 and going through mile 36 that lots of athletes have had to walk up. Maybe this might be a stepping stone to attempting a full Ironman 140.6 before I turn 40. Only time will tell.
I’m asked the question all the time what do I do for training? Well quite frankly I do a lot cause I’ve got a lot of goals on my plate. I’m training for weight loss, triathlons, half marathons, and a good physique. But it wasn’t always that way, it started with losing weight as my main goal. So what did I do to lose weight? How do you stay focused and not get bored? There are always questions regarding what I have been up to regarding training.
So, when I started out years ago with my sole goal being weight loss I knew cardio was going to be the focus. Being an athlete back in high school I had vague background with working out and what types of cardio so I stuck to what I knew. Treadmill, stair mill, and your basic weight training exercises. I woke up in the morning and went to the gym and hit the stair mill for 20 minutes then did a full body workout consisting of squats, bench press, arm curls, triceps press downs, and wide grip pull downs. I didn’t really know much but that wasn’t my goal to know much or be a meat head. I was already the fat guy in the gym and it was really hard to stay focused when I tend to worry about other people in the gym talking about the fat guy on the stair mill on level 3 leaving a sweat pond at the base. I’ve learned that you cannot go to the gym with that mentality cause you only defeat the purpose of going there. The gym is your time, you’re the one sweating and trying to get your body into a healthy working order and no one should ever poke fun of you for doing that. I will cheer on and support anyone that goes into the gym and actually works out towards a goal over someone who goes to the gym to suck up space on a piece of equipment talking on a cell phone or flexing in the mirror admiring the fact that they just bench pressed 330lbs and moved the bar 3 inches before moving it back on the rack.
As I shed weight my goals for training also shifted to less weight loss and more weight lifting to fill out my physique a bit more and I do much more running and swimming for my half marathons and triathlons. I’ve had to do more homework on increasing my knowledge on what to do for what muscle groups, what distances of swimming and running, how to breath properly, the list goes on and I’m still learning! But during this shift so many people have asked me about how can they better their workout or can I help them out with losing weight, or can I make a workout program for them cause I inspired them to lose weight. Which then sparked a change in myself, and working towards becoming a Certified Personal Trainer. I found out that I truly enjoy helping people better themselves.
Now my mentality in the gym when I’m training stays focused on the prize and that’s a better body. Do my workouts get boring at times, sure. Am I a victim of over training at times, you bet! But you have to step back and look at the big picture. All those years of neglect and this is what I have to do to get myself on track again. This is what I have to do and it’s hard work but you know what happens when you do hard work? You’re proud of your accomplishment you’re proud of the finished product. That’s why we workout hard in the gym, we are proud!
We have all seen the infomercials of a miracle pill to weight loss which then makes the velvet ropes part and champagne falls from the heavens. Just pop a pill and it all magically goes away. Well this happens to be the American lifestyle to EVERYTHING. Just look at the amount of pills people take for every little thing in their life. Anxiety, Depression, Blood Pressure, and just about every other symptom out there. I got news for everyone, there is not a magic pill for any of it if you don’t treat the root of the problem. In America there is no money in doing that. If you could take a magic pill for weight loss and magically keep the weight off the company would eventually cease to exist and everyone would then be thin. Weight loss is done through diet, exercise, and happiness.
I’ve tried the pills at one point, I wanted an easy way out, I bought into it. At one point I even looked at gastric bypass surgery. It wasn’t till the realization hit that it’s going to take hard work and change for me to get where I wanted to be. I knew there was going to be ups and down and frankly I wasn’t looking forward to any of it. The first 30-60 days where horrible and I wanted to quit and give up. That is where faith in myself came in and I had to constantly remind me that only I have the strength within me to change. Some people say god gives them strength to overcome their obstacles, but that isn’t true for me. Faith will have to be another blog post at some point.
Starting out I was up at 4:30AM so that I could make it to the gym before the mass of people flocked to 24 Hour Fitness now just so that I could get a workout in but I really didn’t want to be seen there. I was always so critical on myself in that I didn’t want people in there looking at the fat guy trying to workout. I always had the mental picture of me wearing a clown suit with that song that stupid circus music on in the background. It was a hard hurdle to get over mentally. Now getting up that early had the upside of getting tired and sleepy around 8PM at night. It was like I was a child again with my parents having the bed time of 8PM! Oh did my body hurt, in fact it hadn’t hurt this bad since football practice during two-a-days. I would start asking myself was I crazy, maybe I’m going about this the wrong way, or maybe I was just stupid. It seems like it is a daily struggle even at this point. I wake up in the morning and I look at myself in the mirror for any change and I notice that these days I look slimmer but mentally I still see that fat guy. I’ve asked myself why and the answer is simple yet I can’t grasp my mind around it yet. It’s cause I have not reached my body fat % goal yet and as long as I have love handles I will always consider myself as fat. Sure it is no way to think about yourself but lets be honest here. I didn’t get to almost 380lbs by caring about my body right? If I’m going to get down to 6-7% body fat I had to start caring I had to keep an ongoing mental picture. I must maintain focus through it all. Now I weight myself weekly and I check my body fat percentage on a weekly basis. There are some weeks where I gain or lose a tenth of a percentage point of body fat and a couple of pounds here and there. Yes it’s frustrating when you’re trying to lose weight and it doesn’t agree with you. It’s OK for you to feel frustrated it’s part of being human, it sparks change.
The upside to all the hard work is that I wasn’t ashamed of being in the gym anymore. I didn’t feel like I was putting on a clown suit with circus music playing in the background. Recognizing my achievements helped me build confidence and faith in myself that I can do thing. I found myself wanting to do more races, more active stuff on the weekends. I had more energy and desire to do new things. I wanted to do another triathlon but I really didn’t want to do the run. I hate running, I still hate running now I find it incredibly boring and mind numbing. So I talked to Josh and Joanne about getting a relay team together to do the sprint distance. They agreed so we did it and I did the swim. Then before I knew it Joanne talked me into doing the Rock N Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon. I was having fun not just training but I was having fun doing the events. I found myself wanting to be around people who were excited about fitness and wanting to be healthy. Then at some point I saw a friend from high school (Kristen) doing NPC Figure Competitions which helped inspire me. She was a class above me and we began to talk more and more about fitness and competing which was great to have someone that I could not just go to for advice but also bounce idea’s off. One day I let her talk me into doing a Tough Mudder which to this day has been the hardest thing physically and mentally do prepare for and finish. I tried to get a team together of friends that would join the 2 of us but I was only able to get Josh to do it with me. Then a few weeks before the start Kristen had to pull out because she couldn’t get out here from Utah. But at this point I was committed to doing it. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to run the whole thing and I wanted to do all of the obstacles. I had to skip some cause my body just couldn’t do it. It was disheartening but I stayed positive and I’m looking to do one in 2014. I was building a great immediate support system which was great for me. Because I always felt like I was alone with doing this, maybe because I was afraid to reach out or had to much pride to ask for help?
Now during the entire course of ups and downs that are never ending you realize that everyone goes through them. it’s a part of life and there isn’t any way around it. You are going to fall, you are going to fail, and you are going to endure. Your character is built on how you get up, how you learn from failure and how much you can endure before your mind and/or body can no longer take it. So to sum things up there is no magic pill for change because what works for one person will not work for you.
I’ve had several friends tell me I should start a blog based on my lifestyle change from a local drinker and socialite among San Diego’s Pacific Beach to someone who’s passionate about fitness and pushing yourself to achieve what you want. I get asked all the time what happened, what caused you to change your life? The answer is simple, yet complicated and emotional. You always hear the word “Transformation” and most people immediately think it’s your weight loss because that’s what everyone “See’s”. Well this is a story of not just someone who has lost over 60lbs and dropping but someone who has changed their very lifestyle. I am an inspiration and this is my story!
March 2008 to April 2013
It all started back in 2007 now that I think about it. I was in love with a woman and I didn’t really make my feelings known to her when we were out. We had fun together but inside I didn’t feel that I was good enough. I didn’t feel that I looked good enough and I wasn’t confident in myself. I was pushing 320lbs my waist was 50” and I didn’t feel that she found me attractive no matter what she said. Well one day came where she found someone else and we stopped our budding relationship as I call it. After that I ballooned up to almost 380lbs with a waist of almost 60” my body fat was over 40% and I just didn’t care. Now do I blame losing her to my weight gain? Not at all I was already on the way up anyways with my drinking every weekend lifestyle and partying lifestyle. Finally, one day I woke up and I really didn’t like myself in the mirror. I’ve always had a gym membership to 24 hour and I just never used it. Well I finally started going and started seeing some results which always motivates people and myself. I joined nutrisystem cause I couldn’t cook and I didn’t know a thing about eating healthy. I told myself I was going to do a half marathon and I promptly signed up for the Carlsbad Half Marathon that January. Over the course of the next few months I would slim all the way down to 246lbs with a waist of 40” and a body fat was down to 23%. I completed the half marathon in 3:21:00 Minutes. But it’s like they all say that losing weight is the easiest part. I lost the weight to feel better about myself and gain confidence but I didn’t stop the drinking and partying it only increased it. So the next couple of years was a roller coaster of weight loss and gain. I did my first sprint triathlon in 2010 and had a blast.
In the summer of 2011 I was up at 330lbs with a waist of 48” and I don’t even know what my body fat % was I didn’t want to know. I had made a physical transformation but the mental transformation was never there. I was still out drinking every weekend just to feel good about myself and I knew why. I had failed, I had gotten fat again and I had lost my confidence in myself. Drinking washed that away and I was always a pretty happy drunk to be around. Even after 2 DUI’s I was still doing it, I knew it was the wrong thing to do but I did it anyways and I don’t blame anyone else but myself. I made those choices no one forced me to do any of it. Everyone knew me as “Big Chris” cause I was huge. So I started getting back into the gym again casually to help balance things out cause I knew I was getting bigger. Then after coming back from a trip to Japan I decided to make the transformation. I had gone out one Sunday and I woke up Monday not knowing how I got home (thankfully I didn’t drive since I live close to the bars around Pacific Beach) not knowing how I spent almost 300 bucks a weekend and how did I end up with all these scrapes on the arms and legs. That week I stopped going out drinking looked at getting into the gym on a more active level like every day Monday through Sunday. I had ordered my meals from Bistro MD since my friend had recommended them. They were pretty tasty and I still hadn’t learned a thing about cooking or eating healthy. During that time I happened to start dating again and I had signed up for another triathlon but this time it was a relay where I did the swim and my friends did the bike and the run. It felt good to be competing in something again. Then that December I did the Rock N Roll Half Marathon in Las Vegas with my friend Joanne. We trained every week for it and I felt really good about it. I finished it in 3:07:00 which was still a personal best for me but at mile 9 I started to cramp up and I couldn’t really recover so the last 3 miles was walked. Now in December my waist was down to a 40” I weight 285lbs and my body fat was 23% but yet I still felt fat in fact I feel fat while I write this blog for the first time. I was still getting the Bistro MD meals, I had stopped drinking over the weekends people are telling me how great I look and how proud of me they are. I’ve started my transformation path. Currently on April 26th, 2013 I’m 268lbs my waist is 38” and my body fat is 20%
I’m going to try to update this blog once a week with the highs and the lows of this change cause it’s not as easy as it might appear.