Monday, November 1, 2010

I love Cookie Dough too much...

Urgh. My wife asked me if she needed to do an intervention due to my cookie dough consumption. Seriously, I have really been pouring in the sweets the last month. So much so that I got on the scale for the first time in a month (I usually weigh everyday) and I have ballooned to 251.7 lbs!! I was down at 235-237 in late September. As I said, Urgh. That means I have gained about 15lbs of weight in a month. That can not be healthy. I went from burning a ton of calories and tracking what I ate to sitting at my computer all day everyday, not exercising and eating as much food as I could get my hands on.

This shall now stop.

By the inspiration of Carolina John over at Smoke Training I too am getting into the Racing Weight mentality. Thanks for the inspiration John! I purchased racing weight a few months ago, and followed it for a couple of weeks and saw tremendous results. So I am now doing that again.

However, there is a bigger issue here. My lack of balance has gone on unchecked and that is the real culprit. If I swing from cookie and sweets eating couch potato to uber veggie marathon man, I think I will loose weight, but not solve my long term issue.

Maintaining balance between recovery, family, work, training, rest and fun has been impossible for me the last few weeks. As I return my activity level and calorie consumption to it's normal amounts, I will seek methods to find and maintain the balance I so desire. If any of you have any suggestions, please share.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

New Venture Ends My Triathlon Season Early

Wow, so much has occurred since my last post. As you may have noticed, I have been really busy the last several weeks and have not had a chance to post. Recently I have started a new business venture with a colleague and that has consumed almost all of my "free" time. So much so that for the last two weeks leading up to the Hickory Knob sprint (and key build weeks for the Beach2Battleship Half Ironman) I have only gotten in 2 workouts. I got in a short 5 mile run and an 18 mile ride.

So I have had to alter my plans for the remainder of this year. I have decided to drop the Half Ironman from my calendar this year, and let Hickory Knob 2010 be the wrap up to my 2010 season. I actually feel better now that I have made that decision since I don't have to feel pulled in so many directions and feel like I am not putting in the effort required of each of my endeavors.

For the next week or so I will continue to take it easy on training, and then start to prepare for my first full marathon in January. Hopefully I continue to find a balance betwen family time, training, and the increased workload. Currently the plan is that in 3-6 months this new endeavor become a full time opportunity and I will no longer have to balance it with another full time job. We will see.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Weekly Weigh-in and Training Report

Week of August 29th - September 4th, 2010
This week has been draining, but in a good way. My body is tired, and I am hungry. I got in another long ride of 49 miles on Saturday with better fueling, that was a big improvement. I will be concentrating more on my nutrition during long work outs, especially bikes in the weeks to come so I can determine how to get the calories I need in preparation for the half marathon I will be running off the bike.

The numbers:
Average weight: 236.3 (down 2.6 lbs)
Swimming: 1 hour 55 minutes 33 seconds - 3800 meters
Biking: 4 hours 50 minutes 35 seconds - 82.62 Miles
Running: 3 hours 54 minutes 2 seconds - 22.65 Mi
Strength: 1 core session of 10 minutes

I think I may be running too much of a calorie deficit this week. According to my Garmin I burned 4200 calories during my long ride and I only had 2 Accel Gels (100 calories each) during the ride, and I only consumed about 2300 calories that day. Today I burned over 1800 calories on my run and I have consumed over 3000 calories, but I am still hungry. I am definitely losing weight, but I do not want to run too much of a deficit because it may be counter productive.

This upcoming week is a bike focus week, so there should be alot of big numbers for the bike. I am also going to start running at least 10 - 15 minutes off the bike every time I ride, to start acclimating my legs to it again. Bricks, how fun does that sound? I think I hear cheese cake calling my name, so that is all for now.

Friday, September 3, 2010

August 2010 in review

So, August is over. Most of the super hot days are behind us here in the South so training outside will be a little more tolerable for the new few weeks. I am getting into the meat of my training now as I have four races coming in the next few months, 2 runs and 2 triathlons. I am exited because 2 of the races will be my first races at the given distances and another, as I have mentioned previously, is the first race that I ever did, and it my first triathlon.

Here are the numbers...
August's totals:
Bike:14h 22m 01s - 238.28 Mi
Run:13h 21m 32s - 73.62 Mi
Swim:4h 26m 51s - 9250 M
Strength:1h 21m
Weight change:
-4 lbs (241lbs to 237lbs)

I ran less in August than I did in July, 73.6 miles in August versus 116.1 in July, but the paces for the runs in August were considerably faster. Most of July was running longer miles in the 11-12 minute per mile range. Where as in August I adopted the training plan for the Spinx Runfest half marathon and it is actually less miles per week than I ran before, but more structured and actually includes speed work.

I biked more in August than I did in July, 238.3 miles in August versus 133.8 in July. This is due to more consistent training in August than in July.

The same holds true for the swim, I swam more in August, though still not much overall, than in July with 9250 meters in August versus 1000 meters in July.

So the overall triathlon sport numbers definitely improved from July to August even though I took the first 4 days of August completely off. Besides those first four days of the month though, I only have three other days in the whole month that I did not do any triathlon training. Like I said August was much more consistent that July. In September I should see an improvement in performance compared to any other month this year as I am heading into the build portion of my triathlon season which has higher intensity training. This also means that I have a better chance of weight loss this month as I have also started tracking my caloric intake again meaning that I end up taking in fewer calories.

Well, we will see how September plays out, and soon I will write a post about my upcoming races and my goals for each race. So stay tuned...

Monday, August 30, 2010

Weekly Weigh-in and Report

Week of August 22nd - August 28th
It has been an eventful week. I decided to add a couple of races to my end of the year schedule. I hit all of my new higher running targets and made a new milestone distance on the bike. However, my swim slacking continues.

The Numbers:
Average Weight: 238.97 lbs (down 0.2 lbs)
Swimming: 1 hour 2 minutes 23 seconds for 2250 meters
Biking: 5 hours 14 minutes 42 seconds for 89.52 miles
Running: 2 hours 7 minutes 41 seconds for 13.01 miles
Strength: 2 core workouts 10 and 15 minutes
Total: about 8 and 1/2 hours

This is not a stellar week according to the numbers. My hope is that by tracking my progress, my overall effort level will increase and my gains will improve. I plan to track weekly and monthly, in an attempt to quantify improvements.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

My first 50 mile ride

Urgh. That pretty much sums up how I feel right now. I just got back from my first 50 mile bike ride. I whipped up a smoothie, settled into my favorite chair, and uploaded my workout data from my Garmin 305. Now I can share my pain with all of you, my faithful blog followers, and yes I know who both of you are.

I rode over 40 miles once, a couple of weeks ago. It was nice, but I rode on the Swamp Rabbit trail and the trail is flat, well as flat as you can find in upstate South Carolina. Even then, I could tell my bike endurance significantly weakened after about 35 miles. Well today's ride was more challenging. I have a 20-25 mile loop that I have been riding for the last year. When I used to do the Saturday morning group rides from the Carolina Triathlon Shop on Woodruff road, this was basically the loop we took. I like it as it is scenic and mostly on rural, low-traffic roads.

So my brilliant idea was to simply do two of those loops or some derivation thereof to get in my mileage goal for today. I knew that it would be tougher than the Swamp Rabbit trail ride because this loop is all rolling hills with some short steep climbs. Nothing that a seasoned rider would have any trouble with, but still tough for this 240lb newbie.

So I knew it was going to be challenging going into it, but I made it more challenging than it needed to be. First I did not eat anything this morning before going for the ride. I usually don't eat before my morning workouts, unless they are over an hour and a half, and since this was a 3 hour ride, I should have eaten something before starting. Also, I have been pushing my legs harder this week than normal, so they legs were already tired.

Well I must have looked pretty rough around mile 46 because a bicyclist going the opposite direction asked me if I was going to be OK, with a serious look of concern on his face. I said yeah, and that I was just tired. I think he wasn't used to seeing someone on a road bike riding up a hill at 5 mph, but at that point in the ride that was what I was doing. I tried to not push too hard on the first loop, because I wanted to ensure that I would finish the ride, and not decide to cut it short. I was determined to get in 50 miles today. I have planned on getting that mile stone for some weeks now, but I kept cutting the previous rides short. I did not really care how slow I was today, as long as I got in all of the miles, not stopping at 33, or 47, but to do a full 50. Now I can work on making that 50 faster.

Well, my wife is heading to the mall to get more maternity clothes, and my daughter just laid down for her daily nap. I think it is the perfect time for me to take a nice recovery nap as well.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I am in for the Spinx Runfest

Well, I decided to race the 2010 Spinx Runfest Half Marathon. My early season plan was to run the Spinx Runfest Full Marathon with my wife, Karina. It was going the first full marathon for each of us. Alas, we were also trying to get pregnant, and the full marathon was a backup plan in case we had not gotten pregnant by then. Well, she is due to have our second baby in early February, so us racing the full will have to wait. I plan on doing a full marathon, but I think it is best if I wait until I can run one with Karina.

After last week's break through race I have been reevaluating my race schedule for the fall. I still have the Beach2Battleship HIM race as my 'A' race, but I also want to see how well I can do in the half marathon. The Half Ironman is on November 13th, and the Half Marathon is on October 30th. So I don't think the events are too close together or that the Runfest race will hurt my performance in the HIM.

I found a nice training plan in Runner's World, and it fits perfectly with the time I have left before Runfest. The plan was a 10 week plan and the first workout was the day I decided to use that plan. So basically I replaced all of the run workouts in my half Ironman training plan with the run workouts from the Runner's world plan.

The runner's world plan is to help a runner finish the half in less than 2 hours, but my goal for the race is to finish in less than 2 hours and 10 minutes. I am trying to do the workouts, and so far (three workouts) I have been able to do the work. The Runners World plan has 2-3 days of rest or cross training each week. I don't think the plan writer envisioned the plan to be used as the run portion of a triathlon training plan, but who cares. I think it will work. I enjoy the running most of all three sports anyway.

The work outs I have done so far have been an "easy" 4 miles at 10:30 pace on Monday, a 5 mile tempo run on Wednesday, and another "easy" 4 miles at 10:30 pace today. Monday and Wednesday workouts were done on the treadmill, where as today's run was done outside. Fortunately I already have a 4 mile out and back route from work, so that was easy. I struggle to maintain a consistent pace on the road, especially with hills. I guess as I loose weight the hills will become less of an issue. I think I will use the treadmill for the speed work though because it is easier to set targeted pace on the treadmill.

I am enjoying the running for time now. Though my legs were significantly tired after my tempo run, this perspective will help me to get faster and make me run harder, and the running harder will help me to lose weight. I will keep everyone informed as the training plan progresses as to how well the 240lb triathlete can keep up with the sub-2-hour-half-marathon training plan.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

New PR for 5K Road Race!!!

This morning I ran the Michelin 5K road race.

Previous Personal Record for the 5K distance: 32 minutes 31 seconds (10 minutes 18 seconds per mile)

The time goal of this race: 31 minutes 00 seconds (9 minutes 58 seconds per mile)

The actual results of this race: 26 minutes 44 seconds (8 minutes 36 seconds per mile)

I could not believe it. If I had not been wearing my Garmin 305, I would have thought that the course was short, but the GPS doesn't lie. I am surprised and very happy. This race was not even planned or anything, Karina just asked if I wanted to run it because it was cheap ($5 entry) and it was part of the corporate shield race series, so her company gets some kind of points or something for the people that run for the company. I did think anything about it, but it just so happens that this week was a recovery week in my half Ironman training plan, so I had a lot of short easy sessions this week to give my body a chance to recover. I did a couple of short (30 minute) runs on the treadmill this week, instead of knocking out the mileage on the road. I wanted to take a break from all of the hills. I was fun to turn up the speed and run "fast" on the treadmill. All week I had been thinking about this morning's race. I knew that I had a chance to set a PR, and I had been thinking about running hard for this race. Hard running is not something that I have been doing at all. So I knew that I would have to be prepared to experience more effort than I am used to during this race.

I woke up this morning, took a shower, and had an Accel Gel as my breakfast. It is 90 calories with simple sugars, protein and caffeine. I like to have them on race morning because it is light and easy to digest and it gets the blood loaded and ready to rock. I was in the zone this morning, just focusing on the race. I have not been that intense about a race yet. Not sense high school, have I taken an athletic event that seriously. On the way to the race, Karina kept asking if I was ok, and if I was grumpy. I told her know, and later I explained that I was just really focusing on the task of running this race as hard as I could. I did not know what the experience was going to be like, but I knew that I was going to push it as hard as I could.

During the race I kept checking my Garmin, and I was really surprised to see the pace! When I passed the first mile marker, the time person yelled out 8:05 and my garmin said 8:06 pace for the first mile. I could not believe it. I was not hurting like I assumed I would be running a pace that is 2 minutes per mile faster than what I am used to (and 4 minutes faster per mile than I did at last weeks trail run). There were some hills on the run, but since I had not been running the hills I normally do all week, my legs were fresh and the hills were not that big of a deal.

The temperature was great this morning as well. I was 83 degrees and the humidity was 78%. It was overcast and looked like it might rain on us during the race. The weather was a welcome reprieve from the recent killer heat we have all had to run in sometimes. Over all I think that the conditions were favorable for me this morning, and I had a great race! The rest of the day involves a 50-60 mile bike ride and rest. You can check out the details of my race here.

This is me pushing hard (trying to run fast, not trying to poop) for a strong finish:

Monday, August 16, 2010

Paris Mountain 7K Trail Run

Saturday morning was the Xterra Trail Run Series - Paris Mountain 7k Trail Run. It started at 8am, and the temperature was not that bad. The humidity was 100% though because it was raining all night. The trail was a little muddy and had some standing water in places, but hey this is a trail run. There was only 357 feet of elevation gain according to my Garmin, but this was a tough run. My weight for this race was 238lbs. I did not "train" for this race though; instead, I have been working on my Half IM training instead. I have added in a Friday Night Trail Run on this trail though, so that counts as race specific training I guess. I wanted to try to hit 50" on this race, and I barely missed it, finishing with 50 minutes and 30 seconds. This gave me a average pace of 12 minutes per mile.

Later that day, my 1/2 IM training plan called for a 2 hour ride. My legs were pretty shot after the race, so I only did 1 hour 37 minutes of easy riding for a total of about 25 miles.

Here are a few photos of me from the race:

and one of me finishing:

Friday, August 13, 2010

Lions, and Cows, and Bears. Oh my!

Here is today's lunch time ride. I stayed in easy gear most of the ride per my training plan, but still got in about 18 miles. I am pleased with that distance for a lunch ride.

During the ride I saw some of the biggest cows I have ever seen. I mean they were huge! I see cows all of the time on my rides and runs, but these were really impressive. Since Karina and Sophie both love cows I wanted to take them to see the creatures this evening. After we had our good luck, night-before-a-race dinner at Chic-fil-a, we drove over to the farm where I saw the cows. My plan was to drive up to the farm house and ask the man if he minded if I let my daughter look at his cattle, as she was really fond of cows. I was counting on my daughters adorableness to help minimize the freak factor that I was really showing by knocking on this strangers door asking if I could look at his cattle. As we drove down the long driveway to the farm house I thought that this was a little strange, but I just knew it would be ok. I park the car and Karina tells me that her and Sophie will wait in the car while I go ask for visitation time with the bovine giants, so much for playing off Sophies cuteness. As I walk toward the front door, I see large dog chew toys laying around near the porch, and I realize there could be a grumpy 200lbs Rottweiler somewhere nearby that would not be happy about a strange man approaching the front door. I then wished that I thought things through a little more before I acted sometimes. Well, if I was going to be Cujo's evening snack, at least Sophie would get to see the Kings of Cattle. I rang the bell, and I heard dogs barking, and a man yelling "Watch out! Watch out!" from inside the house, and I could tell the yelling man was getting closer to the door quickly. I then was sure that I was going to turn around to see a frothy toothed canine preparing for a fat boy sandwich. I spin around to find no trace of my feared carnivorous companion. I then turn around to an opening door to see a hefty golden retriever, and a small schnauzer pushing past the resistance of their owner to get to the front porch and deliver sniffs and licks to their surprise visitor. I explained to the farmer, Larry, that my wife and daughter share a fascination with cows and I asked if he would mind if I let my daughter look at his cattle. I explained that I had seen his cattle during my lunch time bicycle ride and that his cows were the largest that I had ever seen. Larry beamed with the satisfaction that comes with unsolicited admiration for one's hard work. He said that he didn't mind at all if we looked at his cattle. I thanked him and went to fetch the girls from the car. As I walked back to the Kia, the schnauzer ran up to me and almost jumped into my arms. Both of the dogs were as kind and gentle as one could ever hope for, and Sophie seemed to really enjoy walking with the affection canine crew along the fence where the bovine giants were grazing. As we walked along the fence, Larry called to us to come back down the end of the fenced pasture nearest his house. As he did he opened a new bag of sweet feed and emptied it just inside the fence. He then called to the bovine giants and the they came running like stampeding titans to the area of the pasture that Karina, Sophie, and I had now moved to, near the fresh pile of sweet feed. Larry explained that they were Limousin cows originally bread in France, and that his biggest was just over 1700lbs. He stated that the bull he had just put into the freezer weighed in at over 2500lbs before slaughter. These impressive creatures devoured the pile of feed while Karina and Sophie delighted in their up close encounter with their favorite species.

It turns out Larry is quite the hunter and he was eager to show off his trophy room, and I can't blame him for a second. Even though I am not a hunter, his collection of taxidermal trophies is amazing - elk and moose from Saskatchewan, oryx, kudus, and buffalo from Tanzania. Even a black bear and a full-bodied lion were on beautiful display in the two large adjoining rooms made floor to ceiling of hand finished hardwood. As we marveled at his Hemmingway-like decoration, Larry graciously entertained us with stories ranging from African safaris to gun safety classes with his grandchildren. Eventually Sophie got naked as she often does and that was our signal it was time to get home, but the evening with the Titans of Tenderloins and the Great White Hunter was memorable to say the least.

Tomorrow is the Xterra 7K Trail Run at Paris Mountain State Park. This will be my first trail race, and based on what I saw at the previous events in this series, it should be a blast. Though as I right this I hear thunderclaps outside which could mean that tomorrows race could turn into an uphill mud run. Let's hope for the best.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

July's Totals and Hickory Knob 2010

Bike: 7h 28m 49s - 133.84 Mi
Run: 22h 22m 30s - 116.07 Mi
Swim: 22m 26s - 1000 M

I really skipped out on swimming in July. I only went to the pool once.

I just signed up for the Hickory Knob Sprint Triathlon today! I am very excited about that. Last year the Hickory Knob Sprint was my first triathlon, my first race of any kind. Thought we are attempting to minimize expenses in preparation for the upcoming baby, we found the funds to cover the expenses of participating in this race. This really helps focus my training. I want to see how much of an improvement I can make over last years time. You can find my full race report from last years race here.

Summary of last years race:
Race day weight: about 252 lbs
Swim: 546.81 yards (500 Meters) in 20 minutes 37 seconds (pace = 03m 46s / 100yards)
Transistion 1: 3 minutes 59 seconds
Bike: 10 miles in 38 minutes and 36 seconds (speed = 15.54 mile/hr)
Transistion 2: 1 minute 26 seconds
Run: 3.11 miles (5Km) in 33 minutes and 58 seconds (pace = 10m 55s min/mile)

Today's Hot Tempo Run

Here is a link to today's 2 mile tempo run followed by a jog back to the office. It was so hot today but not as hot as it has been. It is currently 91 degrees with a heat index of 98. Almost all of this run is not shaded, so it gets a little brutal this time of year.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Out with the old

As has been clearly demonstrated thus far in this blog, October of 2008 was an eventful time in the life of Family Bowles. I knew the accident and the charges were a signal of needed changes in my life, but I was not sure of what those changes were exactly or how to go about the action of change.

I had always wondered if I had a drinking problem, especially since my father was an active alcoholic until his death in 2005. The night I was arrested I stood in the holding cell and I knew that I could no longer drink alcohol. It was no longer a question. It was easy to see the progression of harm that had come to my life because of my choice to continue to imbibe. I had previously attended AA for a couple of years before and during graduate school, but I left the fellowship after grad school. It was not long before I began drinking again. A couple of beers with buddies after work would eventually turn into occasional late night bar hopping and then daily use of alcohol and pot. The warning signs of needed change were present, but I did not want to acknowledge them. I rationalized that I since I had a good job, and I was not getting into any trouble, that I must be fine. The funny thing about the truth is that it does not stay hidden for long, no matter how hard you attempt to ignore it.

Though I did not want to admit it, my marijuana usage had become my main priority, and probably the most important thing in my life. Though I had quit drinking several times in my life, once I started smoking pot at the age of 23, I had not really ever stopped using for more than a few days at any time, even during my membership in Alcoholics Anonymous. I convinced myself that I had a problem with alcohol, not pot, and since the only requirement for membership in AA was a desire to stop drinking, I considered my use of pot as an outside issue and therefore irrelevant to my membership in AA. Oh, how easy it is to convince the willing! So once we found an attorney to handle the legal issues I was facing, I decided to look for help with my personal issues. I decided I would find an AA meeting.

I attended my first AA meeting in several years on a Wednesday night, less than one week after the accident. I sat in the meeting as a newcomer to the program again, and listened to the familiar readings and the familiar stories. One of the comforting things about AA is that no matter where you are, you can find a meeting, and even though the people in the meeting may be different, the stories, problems and - most importantly - the solution, are always the same. I hung around after the meeting and got a few phone numbers, and even asked a guy to be my temporary sponsor. Two nights later my wife had plans with friends and took Sophie with her, leaving me home alone on a Friday night, exactly one week since my arrest. It had been a long and stressful week, and I wanted a break. I still had my stash of pot in the garage, and I decided that no harm would come from a couple of bong hits. That smoking session was probably the worst high I had ever had. I could not enjoy it at all, instead all I could experience was the guilt of the accident, and self hatred at the fact that I was getting high even after all that had transpired. It was awful, there was no longer any escape. I couldn't get away from my feelings. What was I going to do now? The illusions that I had built for myself were starting to fade, the truth was not going to stay hidden from view any longer. During the worst crisis I had ever faced, I was realizing that I was going to have to face it. I was realizing that for me, there was no more escaping. I found myself at what I would later would later call the F.E.A.R. cross roads. F.E.A.R. is an acronym highlighting the ultimate choice that every addict or alcoholic has to make: I could either face everything and recover, or f*** everything and run. Well it looked like my running days were over, and I was going to have to face up to my decisions, face up to my feelings, and face up to myself. How the hell was I going to do that? I sat on my couch experiencing the worst high I had ever had, and I felt more alone than I ever had. I could not even reach the God of my understanding. At that moment it was me and my disease, and I fully experienced complete powerlessness for possibly the first time in my life. Alone and scared, I did not know what I was going to do. Little did I know the wonderful universe had already been putting things in place that would help me.

It was time to try something new.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fear and Family

I awoke the next morning feeling refreshed and free. Then I moved and the pain in my body from the wreck brought the fear and anxiety racing back. Just for an instant I had forgotten the wreck, the arrest, the charges, the uncertainty. For a moment life had returned to normal before the gripping fear squeeze me until I felt as if I could not move - pulse racing, stomach swirling, tears welling up. Anxiety had quickly become my constant companion, and I could not be still.

We found an attorney specializing in DUIs and met with his lead investigator that day. As the information came in, the severity of our situation became more evident, and I became more unsettled.

Later that afternoon Karina and I were standing in our tiny kitchen and I broke down in her arms. Weeping, I could not express to her the depth of my remorse, guilt and shame. She and Sophie did not deserve to be in this situation; their only crime was loving me. I shook as I wept into Karina's chest, barely able to get the words of sorrow out. As I was reeling in my own head with guilt, Karina looked into my eyes and said that we, the entire Bowles family, were going to be ok, no matter what happened. She reminded me of the two fools who got married with no jobs and no money. She reminded me how we started with nothing and we can regain anything we could loose because of these charges. She reminded me that what really matters could not be taken away from us. As her strength held us both up, Sophie began laughing at absolutely nothing. We both turned to see her sitting in her high chair squealing with delight. She was only 4 months old, and totally oblivious to the dire circumstances the family found itself in presently. Karina and I both laughed with Sophie and for another brief moment, the fear was lifted. I was reminded in my darkest moment that I was not in this alone, that I never had been. I knew at that moment that our family would be ok, that we would withstand the tribulations to come, and that our strength lived within each other.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Coming home

The hug was what I needed. I needed to feel her love, her compassion. After a few moments, Karina stepped back from me, still holding my arms in her hands and looking softly at me.

"I love you, and we can talk about everything later, but right now I am just glad you are ok. Are you ok? Do you need to go to the doctor?"

As she spoke with care she turned and walked with me to the car. We drove to the emergency room and she filled me in on what had been going on while I was in jail. That night, I slowly laid in my own bed, and though I was bruised and sore, the comfort of my bed and the safety of my house where deeply settling. Holding Sophie and snuggling with Karina, tears of sorrow for my actions and joy for my family rolled down my face as I drifted off to sleep. It was the first night in years I had fallen asleep in my own bed without being under the influence of any drugs.

Friday, March 5, 2010

A long dark night

Riddled with guilt and shame I laid on a cold metal bunk bed in the late night darkness of the Greenville County jail facing a terrifying future. I wondered how I was going to look my daughter in the eye again, how I was going to face my wife. I looked out into the darkness searching for hope, for anything to hold on to, for anything to protect me from the fearful reality that sunk in deeper with each passing moment. I had let my wife down. I had let my child down. I had let myself down. I had carelessly and selfishly tossed aside the sole responsibility with which I had been entrusted. I closed my eyes hoping to wake up and find this all to be a bad dream, to find myself comfortably snuggled in my bed next to Karina with the dogs laying at my feet. Instead, I opened my eyes to again find the bleak reality of the situation still hanging in the air.

I was able to arrange bail and was released at 4pm the next day. As I was being processed for release I tried to determine how I was going to get home. I had not be able to contact Karina because the phones in jail can not call cell phones and we did not maintain a traditional land line at the house. My wallet and cell phone were still in the truck leaving me with only the clothes I was wearing the night before. I assumed that I would simply walk home from jail after I stopped by the bail bondsman's office to sign the bail paper work. I slowly made my way through the never ending labyrinth of heavy locking doors and sealed rooms leading to the lobby and eventually outside. With each guard area and automatically locking door I passed through the anticipation for release grew. Even though I didn't know how I was going to contact Karina, or even how I was going to get into the house once I walked the 15 miles home, I could not wait to be outside of the jail again. I felt that once I was out of jail I could begin moving forward again, begin to deal with this mess I had made. As I walked across the lobby towards the exit, I began to deeply fear Karina's reaction to this situation. Would she leave? would she even be home when I finally got there? How could she forgive me, what was I going to say? What could I say?

I walked out the front door of the jail and into the smell of cigarette smoke and late afternoon sun. Two of the guys I had shared a holding cell with while waiting for release were standing just outside the door enjoying the cigarette they had been discussing for the previous hour while we awaited our return to freedom. I didn't have time for a cigarette. I had to get to the bondsman's office and then on my way home. It was going to be a long walk home. I thought that maybe I could call Karina from the bail bondsman's office and see if she could pick me up. Just as I was deriving my plan I looked up and saw Karina walking toward me. How was this possible? How did she know I was getting released? How is she not going to kill me? Fortunately for my well being all I saw on her beautiful face at that moment was love and caring. She walked up to me and wrapped her arms around me and squeezed me tightly. A hug has never felt so good.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

How the journey began

This blog is to chronicle my evolution from a 300 lb chain-smoking beer guzzler to an Ironman finisher, noting as many obstacles and achievements as possible along the way. The journey has been fairly slow thus far, and I don't see the pace quickening any time soon. This, however, is fine by me as it has been my experience that lasting change comes slowly and these lifestyle changes I hope and pray are lasting.

After leaving graduate school in late 2004, I weighed about 215 lbs and smoked at least a pack of Marlboro Methol Lights each and every day. I also smoke other things which did not come with any sort of filter, and drank beer quite heavily given the chance. The combination of a desk job, endless movie rentals, pizza delivery and absolutely no desire to exercise caused my weight to increase to 295lbs by December 2007.

In the summer of 2008, when gasoline prices were reaching the highest levels in my lifetime, I decided that riding a bike to work a few days a week would be a good way to both save a few dollars and maybe shed a few pounds. I found a used mountain bike on Craigslist and started riding it around my neighborhood building up to the 5 mile ride to work. After two weeks I rode my bike to work. I felt like I had accomplished something wonderful and environmentally conscientious. I am fortunate that my job has a private shower in the men's room and I have a private office in which I can change clothes. Soon I was riding my bike to work up to 4 times per week, and upgraded to a new Trek 7.3 FX hybrid bike. Man, that thing was so much faster than the MTB! By October 2008 my weight was down to abut 280lbs and things were looking better, except I still had several really bad habits that needed to be addressed.

On the night of October 9th 2008, I was involved in an accident after leaving a bar where my company's softball team had gathered to watch the Clemson vs. Duke football game. That night proved to be one of the biggest turning points in my life. As the arresting officer informed me and the Judge that my charges were changed to felony DUI due to the injuries suffered by the other driver, my knees buckled and I hit the floor sobbing. All I could picture was my 4 month old daughter growing up without a father because I was in prison, and my wife struggling to provide for the family without my earnings. It was at that exact moment my life changed.