RI Blog #4: I’m On The Clear!

I’m On The Clear!

March 6, 2008

Yup. I finally did it. I got tired of my lifetime average weight of 148 lbs, around which I have not fluctuated more than a few pounds either way since I was 18. This summer I turn 48, so that would be three decades of some pretty serious weight stability.

Let’s just say I’m tired of being skinny and weak. I’ve been skinny and weak my entire life. When I was a kid, I got teased for being skinny and weak when I played Little League football. I played for the “Golden Buffalos” (named for the CU Buffalos in Boulder) in Denver, my hometown. My position was Left Out. Or Benchwarmer. Whichever you prefer. But all my buddies played, so I wanted to also. Besides, we always had games going in our yards, and I loved watching the Broncos, my favorite team, on TV. The coach would let me play guard or tackle when the game wasn’t on the line, which was a few plays a game. Offense or defense – it didn’t matter as long as I didn’t hurt the team. I liked crashing into people – when you’re a kid and have pads on, you really can’t get hurt that bad. It was fun. Practice was fun too, but I sure got teased. “Tracey – why don’t you gain some weight?” “Hey Tracey, what’s your last name?” Stuff like that. At the end of 7th grade, one of the star running backs wrote in my Yearbook, “Tracey – you’re a nice guy, but you’re too weak.” Gee thanks.

It wasn’t all bad. It helped me develop a thick skin and an attitude that would come in handy in adulthood, when I took up a sport where being skinny was actually helpful. See, in rowing, if you don’t weigh much, it’s less weight to pull through the water. Eureka! And, even better, you don’t have to be coordinated! I was in heaven. After many years of trying to figure out how to row, I finally found myself being able to beat the big clumsy oafs who used to beat me up on the playground (not the actual oafs, just similar oaf-types). Talk about redemption and vindication! Except for the big dudes who actually knew how to row – I couldn’t do much against them. But hey, life is about progress, not perfection.

So I had a few good years, as mentioned in previous blogs. But now, I find myself older, slower, and in serious need of some race-driven ego gratification. This winter, after dropping a lot of weight due to some unforeseen life issues (sorry, not gonna get all personal on you, but let’s just say it’s part of getting older), I have renewed my attention to….THE WEIGHT ROOM. And I’m happy to say that in two months, I gained back what I lost and then some. By lifting twice a week, I’m stronger and my joints feel better. Who knew? I just have to avoid what happened a few years ago: overdoing it and injuring my lower back. Hey, I CAN learn from experience. That’s one thing that getting older can do for you – provide wisdom.

So I’m talking to one of the trainers at my gym, a great guy named Jay. I asked him what he would suggest to bulk up, given that “bulking up” is all relative for me. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t want to give up my “light as a feather” advantage. But I would like to cease always having to pray for a tailwind. It would be nice to look at a headwind and say, “Hey, no problem.” Or at least, “Hey, maybe I won’t finish DFL.” Jay knows I’m lifting, and he knows a lot about gaining weight by increasing muscle mass. So he suggests this powder stuff to help my muscles heal faster – some protein/carb concoction. Muscles are all protein anyway! Hell, I never knew that. Well, my friends, today I have spooned some of this magic powder into my coffee, and…I’m hoping for the best.

In my event in last year’s Head of the Charles, this masters phenom named Greg Benning absolutely crushed the field, posting a new record time for the event of 18:19 (and change). He beat the legendary Tom Bohrer by 18 seconds! That’s some kind of margin. Only 10 guys finished within 5% of the winning time. I came in 11th, of course. But hey, it was a “comeback year.” I started 55th. But enough about me, for once (for a few sentences). Looking at the results, my friend Dino said, “Is he on the clear? I think he’s on the clear!” I cracked up. I knew Dino was joking (he was), but it was amusing. No, Greg was not on the clear, that I know of. He just trained like crazy, and he earned it fair & square. I am in great admiration of any achievement like that, especially at mid-life. So bravo, Greg. One guy grumbled something to the effect of, “Well, if I had all that time to train, I’d be faster too.” Well, if I had $5 million in the bank, I probably wouldn’t be sitting here typing these words right now. Everyone has excuses after a race. I just go with “I’m skinny and weak.” It works for me. But…not this year…WA HA HA HA. I got myself some “clear.” Ok not really – it’s just over the counter muscle stuff. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll be a little less skinny and weak this year.

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