Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Becoming Timberman... The beginning

My name is Ben.

I'm what you'd call.... fat.

I am 6'2" and as of this morning weigh in at 326.6 pounds. To make it clear, I'm built like an offensive lineman, minus most of the muscle from days spent at the gym.

Now that's not to say I'm your average super-sized couch potato, either. In august of 2006 I was in eastern Ohio when after dinner I noticed had trouble getting my seatbelt to fit. I went into the Walmart (to get McDonalds, ironically), and stopped in the bathroom to wash my hands first. They had a scale there, so for a quarter, I hopped on thinking it might say 300.

It read 386.8 pounds.

I was floored. I hadn't owned a scale in a few years. I knew I had a sedentary job, had recently been divorced, and my favorite hobby was eating pizza while I played video games. But I played hockey once a week, and was at least a little bit active. I couldn't believe where I had wound up. I was skinny as a kid, all the way into college. I decided that day to start changing my life. I went to a nutritionist and worked out with a personal trainer. I did this for a couple months and lost 20 lbs. I kept that off for most of a year, and decided to take the next step.

I wasn't sure what that was until late August of 2007 when I saw an announcement for a race in my neighborhood. The race was the New Albany Walking Classic, which turned out to be the premier walking race in the US. The race was less than a month away, but I figured "It's walking, how bad can it be?". My apartment complex at the time was surrounded by a 1 mile walking path, which I decided to use for training. The first week, I could barely make it all the way around. but before long, I was completing 2 and then 3 laps.

Race day came and I knew I wasn't ready, but I did it anyways. I wasn't fast; in fact, I was SLOOOOOOW. 16:54 a mile, finish 1522/2056. It didn't help that I'd only trained for half the distance of the race. But, truth be told, I LOVED it. I was hooked! So hooked, that I did six more races before the end of the year. And then 17 more in 2008; including returning to the New Albany race where I finished over 1000 places higher at 349/2000.

Between September 2007 and November 2008 , through a combination of the exercise and educating myself about food, I managed to get my weight down to 315.

By February of 2009, I'd done walking races of all distances from 5k to half-marathon (twice). I'd won the walking division in several races, and podiumed in even more. But my weight had essentially stabilized around 325, and I knew I needed to find a way to improve it. I had decided I needed another challenge. I started cycling to work during the big gas price spike in fall of 2008, and found I loved that too. And as a kid, I loved swimming and swam daily all summer long up through my teens. So, somewhere in the winter of 2008, I made a decision that I wanted to do a triathlon. I don't remember a defining moment when it happened, but it did.

And I did a triathlon. And not just one, I wound up doing 4 sprint distance triathlons (.25 - .5 mile swim, 10-14 mile bike, and 5k run) between April and September of 2009. When I was first starting I was even slower at triathlons than I had been in my road races. I actually came in "dead last" in my second tri, which I had managed to avoid through all of the road races I'd done to that point. But I didn't give up, and I improved through both of my next two races. I even started running prior to my first Triathlon after we moved to Massachusetts, and was able to run the last two miles of that race.

During all of this, I met and married the most wonderful super active and athletic woman in the world. She wanted to join me on the Tri scene, but she dreams big; so we talked through all our options, and decided the best "big goal race" for our season is to finish the TimberMan 70.3 Half-IronMan distance triathlon.

To do that, I'm going to have to make some major changes in my body. I need to become TimberMan. This blog will be how I chronicle that process.


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  2. Hi Ben, Found your site while reading a thread about bigtuna over on MTBR.

    I too was skinny--150 in my youth, 175 most of my Army career, but now in my late 40s, last I checked I was 213 but believe I'm closer to 225--and feel awful.

    Having a stressful contract management job on Ft Hood that entails food service in all of the troop dining facilities doesn't help my appetite. And like you the job is stress filled.

    I cycle--road and mtb for fun, and on occasion complete a XC MTB race, but there are times when I don't ride but once or twice a week if that.

    I seem to want to work, eat and spend unhealthy amounts of time on the computer.

    Anyway I wanted to say best of luck to you in your endeavors, and I really need a kick in the pants to get myself on track to get down to at least 200 again, then maybe 185.