No, that's not testimony from a soon-to-be-filed-against-me sexual harassment suit. It's a plain statement of fact. I've outgrown, or maybe outshrunk is a better word, a nice belt I've had for several years.
I tried to make it last. I punched an extra hole in it. I've been pulling my pants up to love-handle height to try to get a bit more life out of the belt, and some suits that were first purchased when I was a bit more calorically endowed than I am now.
Just like the belt, we're reaching the end of the road with those suits. They are clownishly large, and I've started being able to fit into suits that I have not worn since I was on active duty with the Army. Yep, I saved a couple of the nicer suits I owned then, in a lame, pathetic, sniveling, hopeless dream that one day I would fit into them again.
That day arrived about 10 days ago.
I actually look pretty damn good in the skinny suits.
The big suits? I look like an enormously fat dude in them. They sort of hang off me, are tailored big in all the wrong places. They look like sacks. Yet still I wear them. I do this for a couple reasons.
First of all, I'm cheap. Well, not exactly cheap. But I spend a lot of my somewhat discretionary income on our house, which needs a lot of work. I also spend a good deal of my actually discretionary income on bike stuff. The old suits will last a bit longer.
Second, I kind of enjoy being in those suits. It's a hassle, they don't look great, but I can live with that right now. What I really enjoy is the constant reminder that I am succeeding, hitting the goal, taking the weight off, getting fitter. No, I'm not getting better in every way, every day. I'm still the same old f***up I've always been. But I am improving in a couple ways and I like to be reminded of that every time I straighten my tie and have to re-tuck my billowing shirt in front of the men's room mirror. I've had most of them re-tailored two or three times, and now the pants have been take in so far, that one more trip to the tailor would result in me having just a single pants pocket right in the middle of my ass. These are all positive reminders.
Third, I'll get around to getting some new suits toward the end of winter, going into the spring. I am sort of in a middle phase right now where I know there's another 30-35 pounds I can take off without too much trouble. (You skinny classic cyclists just choked at that. Better put down the rice cakes for this next one). Thing is, if I get to 215 or 210, I'll be lean looking, given my definitely mesomorphic, brick s***house build. That's sort of a magic weight for me though. I have gotten thinner than that a couple times in my adult life, once during a brief triathlon phase, a couple other times thanks to dysentery or some unknown subtropical gut parasite. (I hit 183 once after a really bad bout of dysentery... I looked like a concentration camp survivor. It was grim, my Army bodyfat test at that time had me at under 4%.
[Edited for content: Sorry, I managed to botch the final edit last night when I saved. I've tried to straighten out the goofed paragraphs and recover the text I lost. Mea maxima Culpa.
Still, Gen. Reginald, FatMarc , Kyle did something similar, and I bet there's a hundred other guys (and women) racing in MABRA who have done so. Having people to imitate (and honestly, I admire you guys too for making it stick) definitely helps; some of them have told me how they did it, and their tips are useful too. The pants - they remind me I'm walking in others' footsteps, and if they did it, I can do it too.
It also helps that I walked into a staff meeting and had to keep my hands in my pockets to keep my pants from falling down. A lot of people would find that sort of an embarrassing situation or a hassle. Not me, not right now... all I can see is the silver lining - the one that's on the inside of my too-damn-big Ralph Lauren pinstripe pants. There I was giggling, and unable to explain it to my colleagues. Sometimes inside jokes are the best, and this joke was very inside, in the now-ample space between me and my pants.
The cool thing about all this is that Bike Love is what is helping me keep up the momentum. It all comes back to that damn bike.
I love the way riding drains the stress after a tough day and gets me to my desk ready to attack the work in the morning. I love riding with my kid and wife, my teammates and random people you bump into on the road. I love the hard training and the racing - it's just a highly distilled version of regular riding. I love recovery and base rides, eating like peeg on bike while pedaling along pretty country lanes. And I love the damn stupid bikes because of what they do for me.
Churchill said that "There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man." Bikes are similar - no offense to Mr. Ed, but a blingy Pinarello is intensely pleasing, giving me more joy than any old nag. There is a symbiotic relationship between the bike and rider if you are willing to let yourself get attached to the machine. The symbiosis doesn't just involve developing fitter lungs and legs, but it includes the way the bike pulls you when you haven't ridden for a day or two. I miss two days, and my personality goes all volcanic, and I know that I need to feed the monkey. Riding the bike, talking bikes with friends, and tinkering with the bike and making it work better... these things draw you in and place you on the saddle over and over again, if you let them.
In short I feel really good about where I am going with the general fitness side of riding because once I'm on the bike and moving, it's hard to stop. Yep, I have to make some more strides to become a passable journeyman amateur racer. There's more to figure out with diet and training and racing. But it's coming (bad ankle be damned).
Yeah, we'll see how frickin' cocky I am after I've made my annual Thanksgiving assault on the nation's turkey flock, mounted a Christmas Offensive on the Strategic Ham Reserves, and attempted to drain the National EggNog Reservoir. Anything could happen, for sure, but right now if I was betting, I'd be betting on me. I hope you're feeling the same sense of momentum, either in your cross season, or now that you can focus on the fun part of training, the off season riding. Tony Little is right - he's an irritating buffoon but he's right: you *can* do it.