Friday, May 7, 2010

On the relativity of fatness and the perks of my job

Like so many other cyclists, I obsess over my weight. I think about every bit of food I put in my mouth and most of the time eat just enough to ensure adequate energy to train and race and sufficient recovery from workouts. Sometimes I err on the side of too little.

Take last night, for instance. I was racing at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele after having raced the night before at DMV. I wasn’t racing to win at DMV and didn’t do much besides a short, hopeless, one-lap flyer off the front to take the pressure off of Steve and force the nine Canyon guys who were sitting his wheel to actually do some work*.

*The tactic worked, by the way, as they had to chase me down, allowing Steve to get behind their best guy and pip him at the line to take the win. It was a thing of beauty to watch. Which is not to say I deserve any credit—it really was all Steve. I made a tiny contribution, but he was the strongest guy in the field. Team Revolution Cafe Rio has now won the B flight every time the DMV race has been held this season, with Cam P. and Mike H. winning previously.

Unlike DMV, I was hoping to have a bit of success at Miller after finishing 2nd last time I was there. Teammate Adam C. went out on a break. Jon S., Karsten from Spin, and Jason from RMCC bridged, and the break was four. Since we had a man up, we didn’t chase, even though we probably should have. We had six guys back, including four sprinters.

The only other teams present were RMCC and Spin, and since they had men in the break, they weren’t chasing either. The riders without teammates made a few efforts to chase but never really got organized, so the breakaway soon had a gap that would not be closed.

I was hoping to do well in the bunch sprint for fifth place and should have with Cam, Steve, and Scott leading the train. But when I came around Scott after the final turn and tried to go, I had nothing. OK, not nothing. But very little. It seemed like several racers just flew past me, and try as I might, I couldn’t stay with them. I crossed the finish line and felt shaky and weak. Not making excuses, but I realized that morning’s new low weight for the season had probably come at a price, and I should have backed off on the diet this week.

The good news is that the guys who passed me in the sprint were teammates Mike H. and Alex K., along with a couple of A flight racers (they combined A and B flights but scored separately). Adam ended up third out of the breakaway racers, with Jason and Jon S. ahead of him, so we got third, fifth, sixth, and seventh as a team. Unfortunately, those fifth, sixth, and seventh places may very well have been first, second, and third had we chased down the break, which Adam had even suggested we do if we only had one guy in it. Oh well.

Here’s where the relativity comes into play: even at my lightest, I’m an absolute fatty for a bike racer*. And yet compared to the population at large, I would guess that fewer than ten percent of adult males are under 160 pounds. But the absurd thing is that even a competitively-sized bike racer, for instance reigning world champion Cadel Evans, who weighs 140 pounds, would be a giant among distance runners.

*Wednesday night while waiting for the DMV race to begin, I complained of being cold. Mark T. grabbed me by the shoulders and said “Really? With all this to keep you warm?”

Which is why the running world is all abuzz at Chris Solinsky, who just set what is being called the “fatty world record” in the 10,000 meters. Chris Solinsky is 6’1” and weighs 160 pounds. In other words, he’s pretty much the same size as Rick. Last I checked, nobody was calling Rick fat. Solinsky is the first person over six feet tall and over 141 pounds to break the 27 minute barrier in the 10,000 meters. A more typical-in-stature distance runner is current marathon world record holder Haile Gebrselassie, who is 5’5” and 123 pounds. Just think, If I lost another 37 pounds (~25% of my mass), he and I would be the same size.

Graph (borrowed from Science of Sport) of mass in kilograms of sub-27 minute 10,000 meter runners. Notice the outlier (in red)? That’s Chris Solinsky.

Tangent: one might be tempted to think that between my apparent obsession with other men’s bodies and my own shaved legs that I’m gay. My wife is happy to report that I’m not. And though I’m perfectly happy to live and let live and marry and let marry as far as all that’s concerned, others are not. One in particular who’s not is George Alan Rekers, who allegedly hired a male prostitute from for a recent ten-day trip to Europe.

Mr. Rekers claims that he hired the help because “I had surgery, I can’t lift luggage. That’s why I hired him.” I jokingly mentioned this bit of news during an otherwise boring meeting at work, and a very senior executive ran with it. “Sure he needed help with the ‘luggage,’” he said, “and it had to have been a tough decision whether to stow it in the overhead bin or under the seat.”

OK, enough of my weight obsession. I’m starting to sound like a style-obsessed teenage girl watching runway models during fashion week. And while I’m not taking diuretics or purging after meals, I can say that I would see a bright side to contracting a stomach virus, provided the timing were convenient inasmuch as it can be where those sorts of things are concerned.


  1. I could leave the meat out on the counter for a couple of days before cooking it for you. Let me know when would be a convenient time.

  2. OOoooohhh - just experienced a parasitic flashback. Trust me! IT'S NOT WORTH IT! Not that I thought you were serious. Are you serious?!

    Calorie cutting = bonk. It's Murphy's law. And a drag.

  3. Rabid: if I had a parasite in the fall, when I'm not training and racing, then yes, I would be serious. And it might be worth it. Otherwise, no thank you.

    As for the bonk, well it was weird. Because it wasn't like a normal bonk. I felt fine leading into the sprint, but when it was time to go, it was like that scene in Star Wars when Han Solo tries to take the Millenium Falcon to light speed, but when they flip the switch, the power just fades. Never had it happen like that before.

  4. 160 pounds. OMG that would be a dream come true. At 5'9 and 190lbs, I am a football player in spandex. I don't think my body could actually be less than 180 and remain healthy. But I never stop obsessing about it.

    *running to to remove my profile*

  5. 360: "Like a football player in spandex" sounds like an *awesome* profile description for I think you should leave it.

  6. I gained 5 lbs at the 12 hours of Mesa Verde. I think I need a kidney transplant.

    The guy was a versatile with a nice A$$. I am surprised he was not going with the research excuse.

  7. Since I'm not known as the sensitive type, you probably won't believe I replayed and regretted my remark at the DMV. Nor the follow-up "eat less, move more" bit. But I did. The better answer would have been: no alcohol, no gluten, no sugar except during and post training and racing, as much (good) fat as you want as long as you respect caloric density, no late dinners, and a bunch of other rules that are really hard to abide when you've just destroyed yourself on the road and find yourself next to Five Guys (the burger joint, not the rentaboy place).

    Nice work on Wednesday and Saturday.