Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Another year, another dang hobby...or two

Last year around this time, I'd just bought a bike. We were living in temporary housing while our house was being rebuilt from the fire, and I was riding to work. What I didn't realize was that I was just about at my heaviest, having just recently crossed the 170lb mark.

In spite of the fact that I put 99 miles on that bicycle in April of last year, by June I was at 175lbs, and my size 34 pants were starting to feel a little snug. Given that I'd ironically worn size 36 jeans in college, I did not find this the least bit amusing.

Clearly something needed to change, and the impending World Cup gave me the opportunity I didn't know I was looking for. On April 10 I happened to find a German training jersey at Dick's Sporting Goods. I picked it up to show my support for the country, along with a couple pairs of soccer shorts. The thought was that I would be coaching the kids' team again, so why not look the part?

But the shorts felt like they were cutting me in half, and every time I looked down I just saw a bulge of belly. Twas gross.

So I went through the Spring riding my bike, running with the kids on the soccer field, all the while gaining more and more weight. But by the end of their season I knew I wanted to play some actual soccer, and watching Germany DESTROY the competition solidified it.

In July, one month after I started logging every piece of food I ate (in MapMyFitness), I put my name out on the regional soccer league's web site. I wanted in.

I got radio silence for a few weeks, but in August the phone rang, and I was on a team. We were a bit of a mess, with most of us returning to the sport after many years away, but over the course of the season we started to figure it out, and by the end of the season I had dropped 20lbs and could almost stay on the field for 30 minutes without feeling like my lungs were coming out.

The team ended up with a losing season, overall, but it was good enough to convince us to take on an indoor league over the Winter. By the time that season started, I'd lost another 5lbs and was starting to think about turning my treadmill training into something productive.

I signed up for the Monument Avenue 10K for the 3rd time (after swearing I'd never do it again in 2010) and got serious about running, both for stamina on the soccer field and for its own sake.

In March I convinced Alastair to sign up for a .5 mile run, benefiting his school. On the day of the race, I weighed myself at 145.9 and decided, on a lark, to join the 5K happening at the same event. I ended up coming in 3rd place overall, my first ever competitive running podium. What's more, Alastair came in 3rd place in his run, absolutely tearing it up out there.

With 2 weeks left until the 10K, I felt pretty good about my chances to improve on a PR of 52:11.

The soccer season started around the same time, and I was astonished to realize how much faster I was on the field, and how much longer I could stay in the action.

Race day, though, was below freezing and windy. Lots of self-doubt crept in during the mile+ walk to the starting line. Once the race started, though, I found a pretty steady rhythm (thanks to my Garmin watch) and a couple of rabbits to chase, and ended up blowing my old PR out of the water by over 5 minutes with a 46:44. That's a solid minute off the pace I wanted to keep, so now I already have a goal for next year. Sigh...

And to make it worse, I just signed up for another 5K this morning: the Hanover County Pooch Pursuit. I keep telling myself that I hate running, and that I only do it for stamina on the soccer field, but I'm kind of addicted to competition.

The good news is that, barring injury, I can now go a full 45 minutes on the field before old age gets the better of me, and my weight is a full 30lbs down from last Summer.

Now to just find the time and space to take that fancy bike out for a ride...

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