The "eating clean" part wasn't super extreme, but it was an adjustment. Basically, I started being very regular about what and when I ate - a bowl of granola in the morning, raw spinach with some deli smoked turkey and a small yogurt for lunch, and then some chicken or turkey breast with some beans or rice for dinner. And absolutely no snacks between meals. I drank only water and one glass of chocolate milk per day and gave up alcohol entirely for the first month. To keep it sustainable, I had one cheat meal per week (usually, Joanna and I would hit Chipotle for dinner on Friday) and if I was burned out on the same dinner night after night, I substituted a small panini and some sushi from Wegman's. In all, I was probably eating about 1300 calories per day. That was a pretty big reduction in calories, but it was actually surprisingly easy to do. To be fair, the first week was very easy because I was still recovering from my weekend in Chicago, and maybe after that I had adapted enough to be in a zone or something. Whatever the reason, I really never felt like I was all that hungry, which was kind of surprising considering that I was also increasing my miles on the bike significantly at the same time.
The first week and a half, I saw very little weight loss. When I started, I weighed 174, and I was only five pounds lighter after the first two weeks. But I knew that could be deceiving and that the key was to stay the course. By the end of May, I had started to gain some momentum and I was at about 160. And a week later, I was at 155. At that point, I "relaxed" my efforts in the sense that I allowed myself an occasional beer and ate "normally" for special occasions (like my brother's wedding in the middle of July), but other than that, I stayed with my plan. By the end of June, I was maintaining my weight between 150 and 154.
At the same time, I had not only increased my mileage but I was pushing my effort more.
My singular focus for the year remained the SM100, but I started to see general improvement in performance in just about every other event I lined up for as well. In May, I took the win the 4 hour endurance class for the inaugural Woodstock Wrecker in Patapsco Valley Park outside of Baltimore. Then I had a pretty good ride at the Stoopid 50. (I went off course by four miles, but still finished in under 6 hours and felt good on a tough course all day.) Then in July, I won the SS division of the Stewart Super Six Pack, and followed that up with a win in the SS division of the half-marathon at Rattling Creek.
Despite the successes, it wasn't all smooth. The diet never caused me problems, but over the course of the summer, I definitely hit a few pitfalls. In fact, I got injured the first ride I did when I got home from Chicago in early May when I end over the bars and landed chest-firt on a thin tree stump. That was a tough hit and it took me a few weeks to really feel better. But by far the most disruptive thing I dealt with all summer was work.
In June, I got involved in a project that had a lot of very tight deadlines and required huge amounts of data. Over the course of the summer, and especially as I got closer to the end of August, I was working a lot of very long hours, including one particularly nasty 48 hours straight the two days before the Rattling Creek Marathon (which was why I ultimately decided to do the half-marathon instead of the full 50 miler.) I had been on a pretty nice schedule of riding every day, and the long hours at work threatened to derail it all. I decided that I wasn't going to let that happen no matter what, but I have to admit that it got pretty tough a few times. I was lucky that I could sneak in a few rides before work - other than that, I probably would have fallen off my plan. Ordinarily, I'm pretty lucky as work-life balance goes. But I was on an understandably short timeline with what I was working on, and that meant I had to fit a lot of work into a few weeks. It was just unfortunate that it happened to fall at the same time as the run-up to Shenandoah. The last day I was at work before leaving for Virginia, I worked 13 hours.
And there was one other issue that arose that same week. A week ago, I made the decision to race the Fair Hill Endurance race in Maryland and when I went to clean my bike up the night before, I discovered a crack in the non-driveside chain stay.
|Not exactly what you want to see the week before your biggest event of the year ...|
And so a week before the race I'd focused on all year, I was spending all my time at work and was now without the bike I planned to ride. Not the best way to close out a training block …
To be continued.