Thursday, January 21, 2016

Body Transformation Update: 50 Days

That's right I'm still pounding away at the weights. It has been 50 days since I started to build the body I always wanted and the gains have come slow but steady. As you can see from the picture above I am the biggest I have ever been in my life and it feels great. For those who don't know, I have an eating disorder and spent most my years far below an ideal bodyweight. Despite being physically active, this nutritional deficiency caused all kinds of pain and problems.

Fast forward to Dec 6th, 2015 I decided to build the body I always dreamed about. Now I'm roughly 50 days in and here are the results so far.

Bodyweight increase +5 = 187.2pds

Arms increase +.25 = 15"

Thighs increase +.50 = 23.50"

Calves +.50 = 14.50"

The rest of my physical measurements stayed the same.

Now let's get to the personal records. I did not attempt to go after any individual records but rather focused on volume training using Arnold's Blueprint Program on's BodySpace community. When I first started my typical total pounds lifted in a workout was around 5,000. In the past two weeks using Arnold's system with proper nutrition and supplementation I have climbed the ladder.

January 12th = 7,316pds

January 15th = 13,272pds

January 21st = 15,042pds 

BodySpace sends members a weekly e-mail that recaps their training from the previous week. This way you learn your strengths and weaknesses. Here are a couple motivational quotes from that first e-mail.

"You put in another solid shoulder effort, doing six exercises for a total of 50 sets. They were only a small piece of your weekly regimen, making up 36% of your workouts. Your top shoulder lift this week was front dumbbell raise."

"Through the week, you lifted a total of 300 lbs. with your calves. Sweet!"

"You may not be in the mood for a melody, but you've got to feel all right. In the past week, your total weight lifted per workout is near in mass to that of a grand piano."

BodySpace is a community network for weightlifters so if you want to join in feel free to friend me. Members encourage each other and share information. In fact, my wife Terri has signed up and completed her first 7 day beginners program. Did I mention that it's free?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Splashdown at Piggy's Revenge 2016

It was a day for the bold and daring as 240 mountain bikers took to the trails of the T. Mabry Carlton Reserve in Venice, Florida for the annual Piggy's Revenge Off Road Challenge. The park had received two inches of rain in the three days preceding the event turning otherwise pristine singletrack into mud rutted splash zones. Outsiders to the sport might watch the music video and think to themselves: Why would any one want to do that? Part of the reward of mountain biking is the journey through suffering. That is why we call it an Off Road Challenge, it's not for couch potatoes. You've got to have grit. This was truly a Pigtacular Mudfest!

Let's see what the riders had to say.

"Another Piggy's Revenge in the books! This course was about as mean as a junk yard dog. I don't think I have ever ridden in so much water! Glad I survived to talk about it but it's going to be a while before I remember it fondly." - Scott Pfaff, 60 Miler

"40 muddy miles of oinking "fun." - Sierra Stafford, 40 Miler

"Should have used the mountain bike. Way too wet for CX." - Jesse Rutherford, 60 Miler

"First mountain bike ride ever, and oh what fun. 20 miles of mostly mud. Thanks to my fab friends for showing me how to do it without too much pain." - Tina Sujana, 20 Miler

"This was one of the toughest 20 mile bike rides I ever done. My bike, shoes and socks were caked in mud, I went to a car wash to clean them. Will I do it again next year? Most likely yes!" - Randy Cobb, 20 Miler

Aside from the crazy terrain and suffering, mountain biking is really all about friends. The hoots and hollers of riders with the biggest smiles often came from groups who did their best to stay together on the trail. Even if they did separate there was always the mid-race round-up known as the SAG stop. Run by Tom, Jeff and Walter this year's oasis was the social pub where the tired and weary became fueled and blurry. Their delightful cantina served as a reminder that this is "fun" race, not meant to be taken too seriously.

If you were one of the few who found themselves overwhelmed by the terrain there were convenient bailout routes on the way back. These shortcuts returned the riders to home base where Fat Point Beer, Bratwurst, homemade pasta and cookies filled their bellies. This year's event had seventeen sponsors who showered the crowd with raffle prizes and random gifts for goofy categories like who can hold the longest handstand. Then finally the coveted Pig trophies were given to the victors.

Winner, Winner, Piggy Dinner!

Who were the winners? Everyone who signed up and toughed it out was a winner. This year's race was a genuine experience that none will soon forget. However if you want to know where you placed we have that too (Mostly). Check out the links below.

The 20 Mile Race (Top 40)

The 40 Mile Race (Top 40)

The 60 Mile Race (Top 10)

There were 400+ photos taken of the event. All of them can be found by scrolling through the
SCORR Riders Facebook page.
Be sure to 'Like' the page and stay in touch to find out about upcoming events.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

My Top 7 Favorite Rides/Races of 2015

As you learned last year, I love favorites lists. They help me clarify what I enjoy doing, they help race promoters adjust their offerings and they spread the word about events you might not have heard of. This was a unique year because I actually had sponsors. Help from Bicycles International, Luksha Reconstruction and SixSixOne products motivated me to hit a few more stops around the state. These included several places I had never been before. This year's list includes some personal victories and a couple unique locations. Here are my top seven favorite rides/races of 2015.

Autumn is the busiest time of year in Florida for many reasons. The snowbirds return, businesses get busy and both CX and XC kick off their seasons often pairing races on the same weekends. This forces all of us racers to choose one or the other. For the last two years I chose CX. However, my piggy bank only allowed for a couple forays. They were run by Zach Fout of Cycology Solutions so I was able to enjoy a high level of quality in both the course and the competitors. My personal performance was crippled by illness but you can bet that I took notes for next year - Edinburgh CX Challenge.

I always wanted to race a Regional Championship. The austere title alone gets my blood pumping. Gone Riding is the premiere MTB racing organization in Florida and SERC is one of their many events. The turnout was nominal and my bike decided to fall apart but the trails did not disappoint. Hailes is private property that contains some of the most beautiful inland features in the entire state. It's a place you must visit at least once. That is why this is - A MTB Race for those who Don't Race.

Adverse weather sometimes makes for perfect racing conditions. This was the case as Tim Reifschneider did whatever it took to put together an off road time trial. As it happened we braced ourselves for a rain storm at the Carlton Reserve. It looked like lightning was going to cause a second cancellation but a few brave souls decided to go for it. The result was a sloppy fun race on BoldlyGo that was made all the better as it got wetter - Timmy's Lightning Swamp Time Trial.

The Withlacoochee forest is probably the second most comfortable chunk of woods in the Sunshine State. There were several sections where I almost forgot I was in Florida. I will return to this event someday, in better health I hope. As it was I suffered a little more than needed and came up short on the ride but it was still worth the effort, after all - How do you Measure Progress?

If you have never been to Santos then you simply must go! People told me that for a long time and this year I finally listened. Not only did I get to race on their well crafted trails but I also camped right near the trailhead. The Hump Day Hustle was set up by the Santos Bike Shop and they really did a great job. The best woods in Florida plus an awards ceremony at a local eatery. We even had dinner with National Champ Ryan Woodall. Had I done better in the race this might have topped the list. Who knows, maybe next year - The Hump Day Hustle.

This will take some explaining. Last Year Piggy's was my Number 1 pick. That year I completed the 40 and broke through to a new level of confidence. In 2015 I complete the 60 mile route and as the online promoter put together an aggressive outreach program that doubled the number of riders who attended. However, it me took 6 distracted hours to complete the course. I was a success as a promoter but a failure as a rider. This year Piggy's Revenge will be even bigger but I will be volunteering - Redemption in the Ruts.

At the Tour de Picayune my roles were reversed. They asked me to help promote this race as well but I blew it. It drew only 40 riders. However, racing 50 miles on a singlespeed fat bike over seven hours through scorching singletrack and deep sand was my greatest accomplishment as a mountain biker. Due to the small turnout the Tour is no more. They might replace it with a gravel grinder (Which should be more successful). Still, I will never forget the pain and suffering I overcame to complete that course and finish in the top ten. It was amazing! - Tour de Picayune.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Contemplating Crossfit Competitions

On Saturday, December 12th, 2015 North Port Crossfit held their first local competition: The Jingle Bell Throwdown. This involved an entire day of WODs starting at 9am and carrying through to 3pm. The participants were broke up into four categories: Scaled for men, scaled for women, RX for men and RX for women, For the uninitiated Scaled is a scaled down version of a listed WOD where as RX is the actual WOD (Weight and reps) as prescribed. There was an even mix among the genders with seventeen men and seventeen women taking part.

For those who follow my humble little blog you are aware that I have been studying up on Crossfit since last summer. Why the study? Because I can't afford to sign up. Instead I have been hitting the weights at home and learning what I can to improve my form and function. Visiting a Box and watching a live competition seemed like the next best step.

As a spectator there were a few things I noticed right away. First was that the range of people doing this contest is not what you might imagine. The Crossfit Games on ESPN gives you a spectacle of beautiful, muscle bound men and women lifting enormous weights. That is not the case at a local box. Some had big muscles but not like you see on TV. Most of the guys had Dad bodies whereas the ladies ranged from skinny to curvy. It was refreshing to see people of all types giving their best against the clock.

The second observation was that it was hard to follow the action. When watching on TV you get to see real time graphics of who is leading. When watching live you kinda have to wait until the end of each WOD for the scores to be added up and updated on the electronic score board. 

My best guess is that competitors scored a point for each correct rep and those were added up over the course of the day. The more proper reps they completed, the higher they moved up the ladder. I didn't actually know anyone at the event but I did recognize a few names from the many running races I have attended in the area. These same people must be all around good athletes because a couple of them (Chris Beers & Jamie Ramos) landed on the podium.

So this begs the next question: Do I want to compete? Apparently you can sign up for events like this without belonging to a box. Being unaffiliated is a big plus for me because I prefer to train alone. The second question to grapple with is: When will I be ready? I think I can break down this competition by workouts and points to determine what it would take to participate without embarrassing myself.

Having seen it with my own eyes I do still have a few hesitations. One is that these small competitions are basically open class. You are up against other athletes of any age. That can be a huge disadvantage for those of us over 40. It's not that I have to do well in order to enjoy myself but who wants to come in last to a bunch of college age athletes? The other worry is that of endurance. Doing one WOD is awesome, two is a serious workout but doing four in one day might be too much for me. I got tired just taking pictures of these people.

Granted you don't have to compete in order to enjoy the benefits of this new sport but I am a competitor. I love competition and need to do something. Now I just have to decide if Crossfit is the right fit.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Before Pictures/Stats

I always forget to do the before/after pictures but not this time. These were taken on Dec 6th, 2015. As I said in the previous post, my goals are both physical and performance based but here I will list some of the stats that are most relevant. I hope to share encouragement with others who are going through the same process. I'm excited by the prospect of great change.

Height 5'9"  Weight 182pds

Chest: 41in
Arms: 14.75in
Legs: 23in

Overhead Max: 130pds
Deadlift Max: 160pds
Snatch Max: 60pds

Pull-ups (Non-stop): 15reps
Push-ups (Non-stop): 40reps

Current 5K race: 32min

Crossfit Cindy (20min): 8 rds + 5 reps
Crossfit Fran (21-15-9): Unable to complete

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Time to Stack the Weights

In 1987 I bought my first Muscle & Fitness Magazine (Pictured above). I loved lifting weights and wanted more than anything to strengthen myself and perhaps become a bodybuilder. The problem was that I was a very skinny kid with many problems. These included an eating disorder, emotional issues and a volatile home life. By age 16 I was 5'6" tall but only 116 pounds and I wasn't getting any bigger. It wasn't until I hit 38 that my life truly started to stabilize. I began to gain weight (And Muscle) reaching my current condition of 5'9" and 180 pds.

At 42 I have the opportunity to fulfill that lifelong dream. Stability has allowed for the growth of self-discipline. I have just enough equipment, food, supplements and time to work on this worthy goal. I have to put some of my other hobbies aside but I believe it will be worth it. Many of my past endeavors have been hampered by my desire to do this. For the next ten months or so I will be writing a new book and I will be lifting weights. Other interests like running or biking will be done on occasion but mostly for social reasons.

Rest assured, I will be back in some manner. In the meantime I will be using this blog to record the slow and steady steps towards physical and performance based goals. So, wish me luck!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Making Memories at the Edaville Rail Run

There are many races where you have that signature moment when you ask: What the hell am I doing? That moment came in the very first mile of the 2015 Edaville Rail Run. A freezing twenty mile an hour wind barreled across the cranberry bogs and slammed into hundreds of runners who tucked deep into their sweat clothes. The wind was a constant obstacle at what was otherwise a flat, 5 mile trail run. But I must back up a little because the race itself was only one part of the journey.

I grew up in Massachusetts (25 years). My wife Terri and I lived there together for about three and a half years (Two years in Carver). We had good jobs and an active social life despite the weather. Terri competed in Dressage while my brother Kevin and I competed in mountain bike racing. Living with my parents was difficult, cramped into a single wide mobile home. We looked into getting a place of our own but the cost of living was just outrageous. We moved back to Florida in 2010.

Five years passed before my mother convinced me to visit. Terri couldn't make the trip so I went up alone but she insisted that I do certain things while I was there. 1. Look through my photo albums, to be reminded of where I came from. 2. Take a walk in the woods, enjoy the intoxicating scent of pine trees in Autumn. 3. Eat at Cosi. It was our favorite lunch stop. Their Turkey Stuffing Sandwich is to die for. It's funny how strongly food is connected to memories.

Number four was a big ask: Spend some quality time with the family. I've got a huge family and can't possibly see them all in one weekend. What I could do amounted to hours of coffee talk with Mom & Dad plus dinner with my sister Ginger and her husband Tim. I also got to hang out with my nephew Tyler and my niece Natalie, both great kids. That list also included hugging a bunch of animals. I followed Terri's instructions as best I could but there was one last thing to do.

Alex and his Mom
On Saturday morning it was time to race. Edaville is the oldest heritage railroad in the United States. Situated on a Cranberry plantation it was an active for decades before becoming a small theme park that is well known for its seasonal festivals. My first memory of Edaville was as a little kid climbing aboard the steam train during the Christmas themed Festival of Lights. Edaville can be a magical place for a kid and even more so in the future as they are rebuilding the park to include more rides. These changes will include Dino-World, a full section dedicated to Thomas the Tank Engine plus the requisite shopping village and archway entrance.

In November of 2000 Edaville created the first rail run to benefit the long standing Dorine Merritt Memorial Fund which gives money to various youth causes in the town of Carver. The route is like no other (Route Map). It is a pure trail run on flat bog roads that circle the beautiful Atwood Resevoir. This would be the very first running race for my brother Kevin who bought brand new, watermelon colored running shoes the night before. He took on the 2 mile course while I huddled my way into the 5 mile race.


The last time I tackled a race of this distance was the 2013 Shark's Tooth 10K so my expectation here was merely to finish. While 46 degrees is not so bad, it was the wind that chilled us to the bone. At the start runners hopped in place and shook their limbs to stay nimble until the blare of the horn. Unable to warm-up before the start I merely had to shuffle my way through slow miles before my muscles agreed to kick in. People stood by the sides of the bog playing Eye of the Tiger on their stereos while holding up signs. The water stops were also friendly and encouraging. The first was worked by a particularly beautiful girl with long dark hair and a great smile, that will always get the heart beating a little faster.

I was probably passed by a hundred competitors and while motivation was difficult to maintain, it gave me time to develop a plan. At the 3 mile marker it was my turn to push. I widened my strides and started counting the people I passed on the way to the finish. Twenty-five runners later I charged up the ending hill and crossed the line. My brother, mother and niece were there to greet me.

You can't beat New England in the fall. This weekend was well worth the travel. If I have two tips for anyone wishing to go they are: 1. Use T.F. Green Airport (Avoid Logan) and 2. Involve your family. These events are so much more fun when you can share them with the ones you love.

Kevin Hutchinson (2 mile) Time: 23:51 - 15th in 36+ age group, Overall 82 of 161

Alex Hutchinson (5 mile) Time: 53:28 - 28th in 40-49 age group, Overall 280 of 352