Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Holiday Hellhole

I'm dreading tonight. After the office closes I'm going up to my grandma's place in the Bronx, and I'm meeting up with all my family there. With my living in Brooklyn, my grandma and uncle in the Bronx, and my parents upstate, the Bronx is by far the most convenient and central place for us to get together for the holidays.

My problems with my weight stem from a childhood of being told that I was overweight. My grandma would harp on me about how I've gained weight. Whenever we saw her, one of her first comments would always be, "You've gained weight", or "You're looking good". More often than not it was the former.

This led to two things. Firstly, I learned to base my image of myself on what my grandmother would say. If she said something nice, I felt good about myself. But if she said something negative, even if I knew that I had been working hard and working out and eating right, my self-confidence would plummet. Second, I came to RELY on her (unwanted) opinions to determine my self-worth and body image.

I remember once, when I was about 9 and my grandpa was in the hospital, we went to visit him. My grandma got on the scale in his room, weighed herself, and said "Oh good! I'm happy with that!". Then she motioned to me, and said "Get on the scale. I want to see how much you weigh". I froze. I was always a heavy kid, but I was always an ACTIVE kid, too. I Irish Step Danced for twelve years. I played softball and soccer. I ran around and played with the kids in my friends neighborhoods. But I was always a big kid. I blame genetics - I got the short end of the stick on everything - height, thunder thighs, weight (overweightness tends to run on both sides of my family), psoriasis, early graying of the hair. But regardless, I've always been an athlete. But my grandma never saw that - all she saw was that I wasn't skinny.

Luckily, in my grandpa's hospital room, my mom stepped in. She was furious at my grandma for trying to get me to get on the scale - a weight obsession is not something that a 9-year old needs to be subjected to. Unfortunately, by that point it was too late.

To this day, whenever I see my grandma I brace myself for a comment about my weight. Only now it's expanded to comments about my hair (too short), my clothes (too masculine), my watches (is that a man's watch? why yes, nana, it is), the neighborhood I live in (too Jewish. Whatever, nanny). I was training for a marathon, running 40 miles a week, and she would comment about my weight (You're running so much. Why aren't you losing weight? Because, nanny, I eat like a horse to get the energy I NEED to run that much. Gross amounts of running DO NOT necessarily equal gross amounts of weight lost).

While I realize that I am 24 years old, completely independent and capable of living and suriving and succeeding on my own, I revert back to an insecure pre-teen whenever I see my grandmother. And even though I know I am never going to live up to her expectations ("Are there any special men in your life?" "No, nana. I'm GAY." My god, I wish I could just tell her. Another entry, another time). Intellectually I know that I should just ignore everything she says, and not let it ruin the self-image I've built for myself. But I can't. I've been worrying about this for the past three days. I went out and bought new clothes yesterday to wear to dinner tonight, so that maybe that'll be one less thing she has to comment about. Even though I know I'll get comments about what I'm wearing from my mother. Suit pants and a dark red button down aren't festive enough, I'm sure. But hey, I'm PMSing and I'm bloated as hell, and I really don't feel like wearing a tight sweater that shows off said bloat.

Next week: How my family PAID me to lose weight on Weight Watchers when I was 13. 4 bucks a pound? Hell yes I'll starve myself!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Holy hills, Batman!

I joined the Brooklyn Triathlon Club a few weeks ago, and this week did my first group thing with them. There is an indoor triathlon coaching gym-esque thing in my neighborhood, and the club had reserved workout time. You bring in your own bike and hook it up to a trainer, which in turn is hooked to a computer that determines the resistence that you pedal against. There are eight trainers/computers/slots in total. And the computer has a virtual representation of a TON of bike portions of triathlons from across the country. They've got Ironmans (I don't think the plural of that is Ironmen, because it's not the men thats plural, it's the event itself. Right? It sounds weird), half Iron-mans, sprints and Olympic distances, time-trials, mountain stages, a few stages from the Tour de France, and more.

On Saturday, we did a mountain course. Mt. Wachusett, to be exact, which is actually a mountain in Massachusetts that my ex-girlfriend lives right by, so I've actually been to/seen this mountain before. I was like, "ooh! Mt. Wachusett! I know you! Be nice to me!"

Nice it was not. For those of you unfamiliar with the terrain in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and South Jersey, you would know that there are pretty much NO hills in this area. I was in trouble.

And ohmygod was I in pain. My body is not used to hills. While I maintained a solid 20mph on the bike course during my last triathlon, and am a pretty solid cyclist, these hills brought my average mph down to a measly 11.6. On the flats and downhills I kept myself between 19 and 26.5 (my max). But on one hill...a two mile climb with an incline up to 6.4%, I was down around 5mph. I think that, had I not been hooked up to a trainer, I would have fallen over. It was that bad.

So we rode for an hour, and I covered about 12 miles. HORRIBLE.

But, I did it. I went, I kicked my butt. My heartrate was around 177 the whole time, which is right in my cardio-building range. I burned 700 calories, according to my heartrate moniter, which I actually started 12 minutes late. So it was probably close to 750 or 775.

And then I went and drank a bunch of beer that night. Holiday party at my friends house. I'm not upset about it, and as long as I get to the gym tonight and tomorrow, and bring my bike and stuff home with me for the holiday, I think I'll be ok.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Ok, so I guess I disappeared for a while. I haven't stopped training, but I did stop blogging about it. But a new year is approaching, my goals for 2009 have been set, and I need to get back on the proverbial horse. So here I am.

This is the plan for 2009. I'm running a Half-Ironman. That would be a 1.2 mile swim, a 58 mile bike, and a 13.1 mile run. In one day. Actually, in about six hours.

I'm aiming to run the Patriot Half-Ironman ( Yes, I am crazy. Yes, I am a sucker for pain. And yes, I am really seriously actually going to do it.

A friend of mine from Connecticut is thinking of doing it as well. He signed up for it last year but ended up not being able to. And I know enough people in Massachusetts that I probably wouldn't need a hotel.

But anyway. I bought a brand-spanking new bike (Trek Madone 4.5 ohsopretty), joined a triathlon club, and will be joining a new gym that has an indoor pool (because we all remember my swim saga from the last triathlon). I also took up rock climbing again, and found some awesome people to climb with once or twice a week, so that will definitely take care of any weight training I need to do. I've been riding outside every Saturday (even though it's been as cold as a witches tit, and tomorrow will probably be cancelled because of this snowstorm), and taking spin classes two or three times a week.

In all, I'm very excited. Kind of nervous, but very excited. I've got some nagging injuries that act up every now and then, but pretty much only when running, so I've been saving my running for after the spin classes. I hope that the triathlon club is fun and accepting of a nOOb like myself.

So anyway. Weight is at 173, hoping to get that down to about 150 by the 70.3 in June. I'd be perfectly content with 150, especially on my wicked muscular frame (reference: my calves are 12 inches around, solid muscle, that's not going anywhere. I am a muscular BEAST (with midsectional layers of fat)).

So thats that. I'm back, I'm running a half-ironman.

Oh yeah, another reason for running the half (which, from now on, will be referred to as 70.3 (as in, total miles of the race)) - Lindsay and I broke up, and we had planned on training for one together. Now that we're not together, I want to prove to myself (and, in a way, to her) that I am capable of committing to this on my own. Because I never would have run my first, or gotten into cycling, or fallen in love with mutli-sport events, if I hadn't been with her. So, while she completely broke my heart and made me even more cynical of lasting relationships, she introduced me to cycling and triathlons, for which I will always be thankful. And I always want to be faster than her, too. HA!