triathlon

Ask and you shall receive

I have been commuting to work on bike this summer.  I wear these bike shorts every day that I commute, they are awesome.  I love the inside leg hem detail…it is a great little feature and reminder of the designer.   The colleague that I ride in with asked me if I was going to continue this adventure through the winter.  I was completely dumbfounded because….hello….I live in Chicago, so the rides in will be quite chilly.  I started to think about how I am going to dress myself for the cold ass weather.  I started to do some reasearch online and remembered the folks from Aero Tech Designs.  I wondered if they might be willing to help a big girl out.  So, I posed a question to the owner to see how she feels about cold weather tights for plus size bikers.  Lo and behold, I get a message back from her, almost immediately asking if I would be willing to sample some clothes, give her feedback and by winter, she’ll have some plus size winter wear.  Gals, guys, I am here to tell you that we need to start asking for things.  This just took a simple e-mail.  I am going to blog about this in the coming weeks to let you know how the experience has been.  In the meantime, if you want some bike wear gear, check them out.

September 2, 2009

Received a great little package from Aerotech to take a look at their tights and try them out.  What fantastic material.  Just as strong and flexible as the shorts that I own.  I love them.  The padding is great and made my hilly weekend ride very comfortable.  Each pair of tights is hemmable so that people like me (shorties) can have them hemmed or hem them on their own.  I gave Cathy some other suggestions for improvement, we’ll see which, if any, were helpful.  I thought the sizing was a tad off, but that could just be that my butt has been getting bigger over the past year.  I couldn’t tell if they were true to the 2X sizing they said they were.  LOVED them though, and loved the idea that there may be some winter wear coming from aerotech for the big girls.  Can’t wait to hear what she says!!

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Fat girl blues….

Since the tri a few weeks ago, my mind is filled with sludge or Lake Michigan water or perhaps the web of summer is being cleared out.  Who knows which, but I have struggled to put together any cohesive thoughts.  What I am left with is a lot of random thoughts in my head. 

What things are bouncing around in here are not necessarily positive.  The coolness of fall can either make me excited as the seasons change, or depressed that the summer is gone.  Lately, the later is more prominent.

I am sad that I can’t run….okay, I never could actually RUN, but I could jog.  I love Fall evenings to decompress and go for a jog.  But, injury is prohibiting that. 

I am also dreading the change of clothing.  I believe I tossed most of my fall and winter wear last year because nothing seemed to really fit right.  Now I am reluctant to open the boxes of ill fitted and random clothes from last year.  Why do I struggle so much with my wardrobe?  I need the fat version of Clinton and Stacy on a budget to help me out here.

So, my apologies for not having any witty or insightful banter these days. 

I am off to island biking in Virginia with my dad for a week of cycling which should be fun.  I can’t believe that last year, he was in the hospital recovering from a heart attack and bypass surgery and this year we are off on a cycling adventure.  Hopefully a little sun, sand and spin will shew away the blues I’m feeling.  Here’s to hopes of a renewed spirit. 

What we hope to see at Assateague Island National Seashore

What we hope to see at Assateague Island National Seashore

Slow ass tri girl finishes triathlon at a snail’s pace

So, did I tell you that Accenture was this weekend?  Yeah, big race, the golden one for many a triathlete. For me this was supposed to be the year for the Olympic distance, or the “Oly” as some would call it. I, on the other hand, just couldn’t muster the strength, dedication, interest or stamina to really drive it all home. So, I decided to go ahead and do the sprint instead. I can’t tell you how liberating this was. Perhaps a little too liberating, because my fitness level the day of the event left a tad to be desired. However, I was determined to have a great time.

Woke up at the same before the crack of the crack of the butt of dawn and loaded up the ford blue van with 3 of my closest friends. We convoyed downtown to meet the packs and droves of insane people on bikes carrying large backpacks and wearing alien helmets. Transition was fun. I was next to this lady named Sandy who I swear, had more makeup on than I have seen on most models. I even mentioned I trained in less time than it took her to apply her mascara. Regardless, friends were made, laughs had. I had dilemma though. My start time was about 7:15 a.m. and I had to put on the wetsuit. See my previous explanations and adventures of trying on the wetsuit to understand why I may not want to do this in public let alone in a port-o-potty. At around 6:30 though, I had no choice. I put it on and immediately began to dehydrate because of the vast pools of sweat dripping from my face.

Swim start….I am chatting away to anyone who will listen so that I am taken aback when the actual horn goes off. I had no idea it would be that fast. I begin to try to develop some sort of rhythm to no avail because I am being kicked, pulled, yanked and otherwise beaten in the water. I also believe I ran over someone doing backstroke (sorry). Finally though, I am out of the water which is great for me. I search for my shoes which are under the crunch sign and see my girlfriend Kitty who I begin to have a conversation with…right there. We chat for a couple of minutes before I remember that this is a RACE. I proceed to hobble to the bike transition.

No amount of strength or flexibility will get me out of the wetsuit. I am like a turtle on my back, feet raised trying to get the sucker off of my ankles. Finally people stop to ask if I need help. I must have looked like I needed some medical attention. But, I prevail and walk (can I say that again WALK to the bike exit) I take my time getting on the bike and take off. The bike itself was uneventful. I couldn’t really get any speed worth mentioning, but there were some nice looking bikes along the way. Once off the bike I walk….yes, walk to the rack and change shoes, take off helmet, put on hat, do my hair (wait, I have none) Finally, I am off again. I get out on the run course and realize I still have my bike gloves on. Silly me, so I have to carry them with me.

I hated the run, every bit of it. I walked a lot of it and just smiled when I remembered I wasn’t doing the “Oly”!! Toward the end of the race I see a woman in front of me, she is struggling to get through this, but is giving it her all. I follow her for quite some time until we are within a 1/4 mile of the finish line. At that point I see her start to walk. I shout “Don’t you dare start walking now woman…I have followed you this far, you had better pick it up!!” So she starts running again. We sort of laugh together, the crowd starts to cheer us on because I am cheering her on Man oh Man what a RUSH!! We cross the finish line arm in arm in the actual victory pose. Hip Hip Hooray!!!!! All of the sudden a voice comes over the loudspeaker “Ladies, you have not crossed the finish line yet!!!!” We burst out laughing finish the race with a hop and smile.

She told me I made her race, that she wouldn’t have been able to do it without me. Now, I know that isn’t true, but it really was a nice thing to hear.

I had my slowest times ever in this race. I am not going to deny that in the negative area of my brain, that horrible place, I can feel bad about it. But mostly, I had a great time. I laughed and cried when two of my closest friends crossed the “Oly” finish line. I am so proud of them.

And you know what, even if I was the slowest of the slow….I am proud of me too!!

Great Job Terry from Naperville….whoever you are. 

p.s.  If you’d like to see a 30 second video of this finish….let me know….it is priceless.

 UPDATE TO ORIGINAL POST

En route to the lake for a morning swim today, my girls commented about how they couldn’t believe I put on my wetsuit in the port-o- potty.  I apologize for not being clearer.  In no way did I change in the poop chamber.  I  stood on a grassy knoll in front of thousands of people and wiggled and stretched my way into the wetsuit I lovingly call Michelin. 

p.s. we found no parking at the lake so in dedicated athlete fashion, we went to breakfast instead.

Fat girl buys wetsuit

I call the dressing room the Satan’s Den of Despair.  I asked for a barf bag because my nerves were shot.  After about 15 minutes of pain, I got it on.  It is a Mens XL …but it fit….I feel a little like something shrink wrapped, but….I got it.  I told the owner how difficult it is for someone my short fat size to come into a store like his and see nothing obvious that fits except a sweatband.  He seemed to “hear” what I was talking about.  He also assured me that EVERYONE feels uncomfortable trying to put on a wetsuit.

I guess the lesson learned here for me is not to jump to conclusions.  Sometimes, even in the most unimaginable places, things might actually fit. 

The intended owner had a penis, but I have BALLS!!!

 

Lake Michigan is friggin cold

So, fellow triathletes and more specifically, any of you who are larger than a supermodel, or just plain large like myself…..today, in mere hours, I will attempt to (drum-roll) TRY ON A WETSUIT.  Shoot, if you thought fat girls shouldn’t wear pumps, wait till people get a load of this.  

Here is the dilemma.  I am doing a long triathlon this summer.  In the friggin frigid waters of Lake Michigan.  I have avoided and avoided going to any store to shop for a wet suit because….wait, I don’t need to tell YOU why….you already know.  So, I have been on forums, on triathlon web sites, athena/clydesdale websites all looking for a wetsuit.  What I have found is this.  There are some companies out there who make wetsuits for plus size gals.  I am a short 5 ‘ 3″ size  anywhere from 18 – 22.  They make them.  They’ll send you one, have you take some measurements, you send it back, they alter it.  This may be the way I go.  There are, in fact, some on-line merchants that you send your measurements to them and they whip up a wetsuit for you. 

I decided, before I shop online, I need to find out if there is anything here in Chicago.   Here is how my conversation with Mission Bay went:

“Hi, Steve, Um….I’d like to know if you have any plus size wet suits.”

“Um, yes, we do”

“What sizes do those run in?

“Well, I actually need to ask you something that no one feels comfortable asking….how tall are you and what do you weigh”

“5’3″ and 230 POUNDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” (Edvard Munch screamer)

He checked downstairs and in the lockers and tells me….well, we have some men’s suits that might work for you, but really, you are going to need to come into the store to try some on.

So folks, I am on my way there in a few minutes.  I may have to drink heavily afterward, but can you believe it?  I am actually challenging myself to do something that I REALLY DON’T WANT TO DO, but I must.

I figure, even if they don’t have a wetsuit for me, I’ll be able to educate them on the importance of focusing on  the big girls too…….wish me luck…….send me good thoughts……please.

 

I’m fat, I tri, and I’m mad

As I said in an earlier post.  I am a triathlete.  I’ve never felt entirely comfortable calling myself that, for some reason I picture an ironman/woman with cut arms in the victory-over-the-head pose crossing the finish line when I picture a triathlete.  Nope, I don’t look like that when I cross it.  I tend to look red faced, sweaty and bloated.  But the point is….I cross it.  Or at least hope to cross it.  I am thinking about the differences in myself from last year to this year.  What has changed about me since last summer when I ventured into my first race?  Last year, I was nervous and excited to start.  Scared about the start and the swim, more scared about the run.  This year, I was more nervous about the overall time.  I secretly wishedI that last year I hadn’t worked so hard so that this year I had a shot at being faster.  My biggest fear was that I would be slower than last year. 

And guess what folks….I was.  

By a whopping 4 minutes.  It really hasn’t affected me that much.  What has affected me and pissed me off entirely is this….the following ditty.

I was excited to attend the expo, find some fun tanks, tees, shorts, suits…all of the stuff that helps us identify that we are triathletes.  The “I TRI therefore I am” stuff, you all know what I am talking about.

I see women in all shapes and sizes at this all female event.   I would venture a guess that 10% of the gals are size 16 and bigger.  Some even (gasp) are the same size as me 18 – 22 (depending on the maker)

I go from booth to booth, feeling more and more dejected each castaway bin I tear through.  There is NOTHING that fits my frame, let alone my breasts.  Nothing for my top or bottom.  Even the technical T’s that are free giveaways, I can’t get a tank top because they don’t have it in my size.  I settle for the short sleeve version.  I am surprised at this point that there isn’t a sign on the back of the tee that says something like “we were forced to give this fat girl a t-shirt” 

I am not the size that you imagine a triathlete should be.  I don’t look like the rest of my tri team either, but we can go head to head in an event.  I want to wear the t-shirts, the skorts.  I want a wet suit to swim in lake Michigan in August. 

Where are the manufacturers who understand that curvey women (and men?) have money too.   

I came home with a bumpersticker and a pair of socks and a crappy attitude resigned to the fact that 2 years into this, I still can’t find a “fit” in this sport.

Fast forward a few days.  I decide to venture into a running store.  I had the need for a running cap.  I figure, surely my head isn’t fat too, maybe I can squeeze into one of their caps.  As I am checking out, the cashier and owner are standing there.  They asked if I had shopped at the store before.  I indicated, that given my size and their selection of clothing….no, I hadn’t EVER purchased anything at their store.  I then take it upon myself to tell this guy what a HUGE market he is missing out on.  How, just because I am a big girl, doesn’t mean I don’t want to go out there and sweat it up, stink it up with the rest of them.  I also told him about the vendors at the event.  I honestly think he was embarrassed.  What does he do, pull out a catalogue, we start going through it item by plus size wicking wear item.  He promises to have some stuff on the shelves for us in the next two months.  In the future when I type in plus size running clothes will his page pop up?  In the meantime, I’ll go ahead and share his info….let’s hope that he doesn’t let us down.

http://www.runchicago.com/home/index.php

Letter to my size friendly doctor

I sat down with my counselor a few weeks ago struggling with the idea that I really need to get into my doctor’s office for a physical.  The last time I was there I was down 15 pounds from the previous visit, but still had higher than desired blood pressure.  On top of that, I believe I have actually put some weight on since then.  My counselor sort of put me in check by stating the obvious contradiction….I need to get to the office to check on the status of my health, but I won’t go to the office because I am afraid I am not healthy enough.  Of course after thinking about this, I realize the absurdity of it all.  So, armed with some encouragement from her and a damn good sample of a letter to a doctor from Hanne Blank I was armed with tools to write the following letter:

I have been doing a lot of personal growth work lately…not to sound too Oprahish. I continue to work out 5 – 6 times a week, I completed 2 triathlons last summer, this summer I am registered for two more and perhaps a mini marathon by the years end. However, I am about 4 months overdue on my annual physical. It is baggage that I have been carrying with me for a while now. The reason I have delayed the appointment month after month is my concern that I have not lost enough weight to actually put a dent in my blood pressure levels. In fact, the reason I can’t muster the courage to come into your office is because I am still fat and I don’t want to discuss my weight.

In February I decided I needed to talk to someone about my issues with eating. I have been seeing a counselor at the Family Institute for a few months now who has me questioning a lot about health, weight and food. She has introduced me to a movement called Health at Every Size. It is an approach to health that focuses on intuitive eating and physical activity rather than dieting or weight loss. That said, I need to come in for an appointment, to get a general check up and to get some blood work done for sugars, cholesterol, blood pressure, etc. Before I make my appointment though, I wanted to say that I prefer NOT to be weighed when I come into the office. I spent most of my childhood and teenaged years completely focused on my weight. I had to be weighed weekly and was punished when I didn’t lose enough weight in a given timeframe. The whole weigh in experience is traumatic, very depressing and I feel like crap for weeks afterward. If there is a pressing medical reason that I should be weighed, please talk to me about it….

I‘d like to hear what you think about this. You motivated me to quit smoking…now I’d like to have you as partner in my quest for self acceptance, increased physical activity and normalized eating (without dieting).

So, stay tuned for the response from the doctor….

How would you have handled this?

Do you have any resources with lists of doctors who are size friendly??

 

Man oh man can I relate to that

I’m embarrassed that I didn’t say more than before.  Mara D brought up so many good points and questions that really ping my heart.  I am humbled.  I do know the drills you refer to, I remember being “grounded” as a child if I didn’t lose enough weight by the end of the week.  It is a brutal brutal world that complicates clouds.

I am new to HAES, perhaps still in the honeymoon phase, but I am LOVING it.  The day I was told I could stop counting calories, getting on the scale and limiting what I was eating has been HUGELY liberating.  I struggle with the self acceptance piece, which is the cornerstone of the whole process.  Not even sure though, if one can actually feel that way all of the time (perhaps another discussion at another time.)  I am a part time resident of the negative spiral.

I have also used the opportunity to respond to comments by saying “I am focusing on getting my health back in order at the moment. I’d prefer not to discuss dieting/weight loss, please.” I find it shocks people a little and they tend to get defensive.  The challenge is to get to a place where I can tailor my message enough to not offend them while telling to step the heck off the bus.  It isn’t their business what i am doing to my body.  This is my body, my life and while I hope to treat it well, it is not their business.  It think the place that re-frames the vision of beauty, health and a joyful life sounds wonderful. 

In terms of the eating choices, piece, I am not there yet, I am eating what I want and loving it.  I do work out nearly every day.  I do this simply out of pleasure, but what got me here is a journey outside of HAES.  I had to find a passion in sport.  Something I really enjoyed….and a group of women I love to do it with.  More to come.  I love this dialogue.

My Health Mantra

This is about me (and maybe you?) 

It is about my struggles with self loathing.  It is about the struggle to be better, but never defining better so consistently “failing”.  

It is about the revolution of not doubting my own worth based on how much weight I lose. 

I started to struggle to come up with phrases that would help me when challenged about my reversal of dieting culture.  I often came up speechless when someone would comment on another person’s weight, what they ate and how much of it in a day, how many pants sizes they had dropped.  I had to come up with some one liners to lead me through the responses.  This became my mantra.

  • I am not how much I weigh or how much I’ve gained or how much I’ve lost.
  • I am not what I eat…I’m what I do and what I say.
  • Changing my shape and size isn’t going to make me happy
  • Changing the way I feel about my body/myself will.
  • I respectfully decline to discuss your size, my size, her size or his size in any way.
  • I will eat what I want, and move on.
  • I swim, bike, or run every day…being healthy doesn’t mean being thin.
  • I embrace my body as a part of me.

How do you respond comments about your weight or other’s weight?  Why do people think it is acceptable?