I need to learn to see

Before I get into this week’s blunder, otherwise known as the Not the Smartest Thing I have ever done (I really ought to trademark that phrase), I need to explain something.  For those of you who have been keeping up, I am 52 years old and weigh 305 lbs., and have for some time.  I currently (currently meaning for the last 25 years) have back issues, something not to be gotten in to here, because let’s face it, these stories run too long any way. Since October I have really been hitting the exercises hard.  I swim 4-5 times a week, and I bike 3-4 times a week, which means on some days I have two a day workouts.  Here’s the problem, today I weighed 305, back in October I weighed 310.  So for all that exercise and training I have dropped 5 lbs.  I have done the calorie counting thing, I have even tried Nutrisystem.  Nutrisystem, by the way, is great for people who aren’t doing the amount of training I was doing.  There just was not enough food to keep me going.  I lost weight but was really weak and listless.  In other words I haven’t lost weight for lack of trying.  My fitness right now is phenomenal.  Blood pressure, 120/80, resting pulse 52, I can swim a mile or more without stopping, and have done some 45 mile bike rides in the mountains so far this Spring.  Fitness really is not an issue.  Weight is.  It really bothers my back.

One of the guys I swim with at the YMCA, near downtown Greenville, SC, Lukas, suggested I try this guy Rick Kattouf who he had been using since September.  Long story short, Lukas is a pretty fit guy, and did his first triathlon last weekend and placed 2nd in his category.  Needless to say this is the kind of results I look for in a trainer before I drop any money.  So I call Rick, he seems like he knows what he’s doing, and I sign up and send the check.  Rick sends me his nutrition plan and workout plan for the 1st week of 12 that I signed up for.  You know what he’s got me doing?  I am exercising less, with less intensity, and eating more!!  I know!!  Sign me up for another 12 weeks!!  Brother this is something I was born for.  More eating and less exercise!!  That’s how I roll!!  YEE HAWWW!!

My guess however is that this won’t last for long.  You see, last week was my first week on Rick’s plan, and being on Team Kattouf.  At the end of my first week I did my first sprint triathlon, well at least the first two legs.  300 yard swim, and 9 mile bike.  Doesn’t sound too hard, but when I was finished I was fried, and wondering who in the world would turn around and run a 5K after that!  I’ll save the triathlon story for another time, and I’ll include how in the pool I ran over a 12 year old girl.  Yeah, I know.  I feel bad.  What’s worse, on the way to the bike transition area I dropped my swimming goggles and since she was behind me she picked them up and handed them to me. “Here mister, you dropped your goggles.”  I cringe as I write.  That’s a whole other story.  Moving on.

The reason I doubt this “easy” workout probably won’t last long, is that I met a bunch of other people from Team Kattouf, after the triathlon while we were waiting for the award ceremony. There pretty much was not a category where there was not a member of Team Kattouf getting an award.  I even got one.  I finished 3rd in the aqua bike category.  My first event and I finished 3rd!  Got a medal, got to stand on the podium, people took my picture, the works!  Did I mention there were only 3 people entered in my category?  Fortunately I am really not into awards, which is why I wore the medal the rest of the day.  To me it’s all about the weight.  Because when I lose the weight hopefully I won’t have to walk with a cane if I need to go somewhere for more than 5 minutes.  Sounds weird right?  I can swim forever and bike all day, but I can barely walk to the mailbox.  Anyway with all these Team Kattoufers that I met, you couldn’t have put them all together in a pot, boiled them down and had enough fat rendered to deep fry a Paula Deen’s peanut butter and banana sandwich.  And that’s what I’m talking about.  Please remember all of this because you will need it later on.

So I am looking at today’s workout.  1 hour real easy.  Rick explains that real easy in the zone 2 heart rate column burns fat.  I am down with that.  Let’s do easy for 4 or 5 hours and burn more fat!!  Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way, but hey, I get to go easy. This is Rick’s plan and from what I saw last weekend the people that work his plan have achieved some remarkable results, so who am I to deviate.  I liken it to reading the Bible.  God wrote the thing so who am I to pick and choose which pieces I am going to believe and follow.  I’ve seen people who do that, pick and choose, and they are usually a mess.  The only guy that was able to follow all of it, He didn’t pick and choose what He was going to follow, He just did it.  He turned out pretty good and is now sitting at the right hand of God, and His name in case you haven’t guessed, is Jesus.  So when I meet people that know more than I do, like Rick Kattouf, I follow their plans.  So that’s what I’m doing.  Rick’s and God’s in case you needed further clarification of my pontification.

Meanwhile I am all a tingle with excitement.  I have got my Garmin bike computer that tracks enough of my workout information to make the NSA jealous.  I am ready to do some “easy” exercising.  What I need to do is ride a flat surface, no significant hills, for 60 minutes and to keep my heart rate between 105 and 115 and by no means go higher than 115.

We have a great place in Greenville to do just that.  They call it the Swamp Rabbit Trail it’s an abandoned railroad track.  It runs for 33 miles from downtown Greenville, up to Traveler’s Rest, and almost to Marietta. It’s flatter than a quarter that’s been run over by a train.  So I’m all set up.  Computer programmed and recording.  Got my supplement drink I’m supposed to drink during the ride.  Got on the Lycra, helmet, cool shades, air in the tires, I’m a happening dude.  I even did my prescribed stretching beforehand, which I hate.  I would gladly take on a harder workout if I could cut out the stretching.  But as I have explained, the plan is the plan, and we you have a plan, we do the plan.

I get going and my heart rate is at 75.  I pedal for another 3 minutes thinking that the old heart rate is going to go up soon.  3 minutes later and the heart rate is now at 72.  Okay, not a surprise, there aren’t any hills here and that is what usually jacks up my heart rate and gets it going.  So, I just start pedaling faster and the heart rate goes up to 80.  Okay here we go.  Once the heart gets going I can just set it on cruise and do this “easy” workout.   A couple minutes later we’re still stuck on 78 and I’m pedaling pretty good, so I kick up to a bigger gear, with more resistance, and step up the cadence.  Okay heart rate at 80 to 85 now, but I’m pedaling pretty hard and starting to get winded.  The last time I checked “easy” does not mean winded. But I don’t panic…yet; I just kick up to a lot bigger gear and maintain my cadence.  By now I am flying down the Trail.  Fortunately at that time of day there weren’t many people so I’m not running over any little 12 year old girls.  But the heart rate is not moving out of the 75-80 range.  I’m starting to pour sweat, which is not really saying much since I sweat when I get up out of a chair.  My legs are tightening up, I’m sucking air, and I’m only 10 minutes into this “easy” 60 minute workout.  Still 75-80 heart rate.

I’m now on a mission.  Legs are pedaling furiously.  I feel like the hamster on the wheel that thinks if he just runs faster he’ll catch that cheese dangling in front of him.  Or, I’m Wile Coyote chasing the Road Runner as he runs off the cliff, and just before he drops you see him spinning his legs real fast and going nowhere.  Pedal faster, get the heart rate up.  Pedal harder and faster, get the heart rate up so you can enjoy this “easy” ride, but make sure you don’t pass out.  That just won’t do.  15 minutes gone and heart rate is still 75-80.  Cadence is still consistent and gears are getting harder and now heart rate has dropped to 72.  Omigosh!!  Rick is able to get all this data that my computer downloads, what is he going to think?  The scenario that now begins to ooze through my mind is that Rick is going to drop me as a client and recommend that I go see a Cardiologist.  My dreams of being a skinny, fit member of Team Kattouf are gone!   Because if I am this tired with a heart rate of only 75-80 there is a major issue going on.  Forget about the back and the weight, we now have a cardiac emergency on our hands!  Thoughts of angiograms and stints are dancing in my head.

Then I started getting really worried.  With this amount of exertion my heart rate is usually in the 140’s to 160’s.  For crying out loud, I am going 25 mph on a flat surface and this is supposed to be “easy”!!  What’s going on?  Do I stop and call 911?  I look down to see what my cadence is, and it’s 165.  165!!  Nobody rides a cadence at 165!!  Not even Lance Armstrong at his peak when he was on the juice!

Oops.  Instead of the heart rate display I was looking at the cadence display.  My cadence was 75-80 and the heart rate was 165.  Needless to say I slowed down. Maybe nobody was paying attention, so shhhh.  Don’t tell anyone.

That was the hardest “easy” workout I have ever had.

Maybe I need to learn to see.