Time for a Reality Check

As of today, I’ve got 44 days — just about 1.5 months — ’til the Leadville 100. Time for me to assess where I’ve been, where I am, and what I think is possible for me to do.
Where I’ve been
When I started this blog back in May, I weighed 188.8 pounds — the heaviest I’ve ever been. Based on this weight, I was confronting the possibility that for the first time in nine years, I would not be able to complete this race. I decided it was at least theoretically possible for me to do the following by race day:
  1. Get down to 160 pounds — a 28.8lb loss in ~3 months
  2. Come up with a training schedule that wouldn’t turn me into a Bad Father and Husband. Ie, a couple of major illnesses and so forth have tweaked my priorities; if I have to choose between being fat and absent, I’ll be fat.
  3. Start writing on a daily basis, to see whether I still have a sense of humor.
  4. Finish the Leadville 100 in under 10 hours. This would be an hour improvement over the previous year, though by no means my fastest time ever. (That’s my goal for next year.)

Where I am

Half the time’s gone. Where do I stand?

  • I’ve lost half the weight — I’m right around 173. I keep congratulating myself. Then I remind myself that the second half of a weight loss effort is always much more difficult. I’ve only lost the easy weight so far.
  • I’ve got a semi-chaotic training program. Basically, I try to go on a longish ride (40 miles) each morning, eventually winding up at work, then ride the shortest route home (10 miles) at the end of the day. In reality, though, I only get out on that longish ride once or twice per week. The twins are potty training right now, and so our nights are usually interrupted a couple of times with bedsheet changes and/or pre-emptive wake-ups to get the girls to use the bathroom. One of the girls is totally done with training and never makes mistakes anymore; the other has a ways to go. So by morning, sometimes I’d rather have another 1.5 hours of sleep than go for a long ride, or sometimes my wife needs me to take care of the kids so she can catch up on her sleep. And that’s fine. No matter what, I’m getting at least 20 miles (shortest possible commute) on the bike each day.
  • I’ve written at least 5 blog entries I’m proud of. That’s 5 good things I wouldn’t have otherwise written. Also, this has confirmed to me that I need to get my career back onto a text-based track sometime this year.

What will August 13 be like for me?

Now it’s time to prognosticate.

  • Projected starting line weight: I still think it’s possible for me to get to 160. I’m sticking to that.
  • Projected finishing time. This is where it gets interesting to me, and probably really boring for everyone else. Here’s what I project, and why.
  • I started the race last year weighing 173lbs (which is what I weigh right now, but that’s not relevant).
  • I finished the race last year in 10:56.
  • I’ve reliably demonstrated that there’s a tight correlation between my weight and my finishing time at this race — which makes sense, since there’s around 12,000 feet of climbing involved. That correlation is: for every 1 non-contributing pound (eg, fat) shed, you can subtract 5 minutes from your finishing time.
  • 13 pounds lighter * 5 minutes/lb = 65 minutes faster = 9:49 finishing time.
  • I’m going to set a stretch goal of 9:40. See if I can find another nine minutes in there.

And how about next year?

Lose another ten pounds and actually train — as opposed to just ride a bunch — then finish in under 9 hours. Hey, a man can dream, can’t he?


Today’s weight: 172.4. I’ve found that if I eat a grapefruit around 10pm I’m better able to withstand the “grazing craving.” I don’t know why grapefruit is working so well for me — maybe it’s because it takes a while to prepare and eat, which helps me avoid the Cascading Snarf effect. And if you don’t know what I mean by a Cascading Snarf effect, you probably don’t have any weight issues in the first place, in which case I hate you.

Bonus Cool Butterfly Effect:  Back in the 90’s, I worked at Novell, where I wrote the company newsletter and worked on the website — I was pretty decent at HTML and JavaScript. On a whim, I decided to learn a “serious” language, and picked up Laura Lemay’s book on Java. I discovered that real programming languages aren’t a lot harder to learn than scripting languages and decided to apply to Fawcette Technical Publications for the Editor in Chief position at Java Pro magazine. I didn’t get that position, but they did hire me to be Editor in Chief of Visual C++ Developer Journal. Years passed, and I went from one programmer’s magazine to another, ’til I eventually wound up here at Microsoft Learning — the Developer Audience Product Manager. I’ve thought a number of times that I wish I could pay back Lemay for writing a book that helped me make a career jump. Then yesterday, I notice that she blogged my “Open Letter to…” posts, mentioning that it’s “funny stuff.” So have I karmically paid her back? Hardly, but I’m glad she enjoyed them. 

Bonus Horrible Roadkill: I saw an owl roadkill today. Somehow, that was more awful than seeing a regular bird.

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