Friday, September 15, 2006

What am I doing???

A classic Ironman commercial featuring Chris Legh....


Im writing this for those who are unfamiliar with my favorite hobby. For those who dont know, since its first appearance in the Olympics in 2000, triathlons have become one of the fastest growing sports in the world. Ive noticed that evertime I do a triathlon people tell me "good luck on your marathon, or how was your marathon?". Understand the confusion, but Ive only done one marathon by itself, so I'll explain a little about triathlons and the different distance types here:


Origins of triathlon:

The first known trithlon was in San Diego, 1974 in Mission Bay. It was a 5.3 mile run, 5 mile bike, and 600 yard swim in this order. It started at 5:45 p.m. and ended with the aid of car lights shining out over the Bay. Then, the triathlon concept was brought to Hawaii in 1978. To make a long story short, several Navy Seals, stationed in Hawaii, were arguing, over some beers, of course, as to who was the best athlete - the swimmer, cyclist or runner. One member of the group, a John Collins, suggested they combine the longest endurance events on Oahu into one race and called an 'Ironman' which consisted of a 2,4mile swim, 112 mile cycle and 26.2 mile run.

What is it?:

Basically to be called a "triathlon" it has to be a race consisting of swimming, biking and running. There can be many distances though.

4 main distances, shortest to longest:

Sprint:
¼ - ½ mile swim, 8 to 15 mile bike and 3 mile run
Olympic: 9/10 mile swim, 25 mile bike, 6.2 mile run
Half ironman (70.3): 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run
Ironman: 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run.

With my race sept 10th, Ive now completed all of these distances. Im most proud of the Ironman (see my other blog). My time for that was 12hrs and 48 minutes. Ive now done 2 half ironmans, with my best time being 5 hours and 58 minutes.

Did you win?

Unless you train professionally it is extremely hard to win these events. The pro Ironmen will train 8 hours a day, 6 days a week. Putting in at least 300 miles on the bike, and about 70 miles on the run, EVERY WEEK! So I have a job and a life, making my time a little more limited. Divisions are seperated by gender and age group. Im in the Male, 25-29 division, which is pretty competitive. Ive found I do best, the longer the race is. My highest ranking in my division so far has been at Ironman Arizona where I was 61st of 148 in my division and 15th of 148 on the run by itself. So I still have a ways to go. Most like myself go for PRs(personal records). Just try to push yourself to a better time with each race. I also do more weight training than I should, and extra muscle can actually slow me down, but Im ok with that. Swimming is my weakest. Ive found I can swim virtually non-stop but my pace is roughly 40min a mile, so not very fast there. In the past few months my bike has improved the most, my run is up to an avg of about 8min per mile if Im feeling good.

Equipment & fees:

Is triathlon expensive? Definitely. Is it a sport of the affluent? Not necessarily. In this way I equate it to golf. You can have the best equipment or a cheap pair of clubs. You can go to the public course or the country club. For me, I started off with a couple sprints last fall, where I rented a road bike, and the race cost was small, about $90 each. these events always have road closures, and numerous other cost, which is why we pay. Just like golfers pay to use a course. This year Ive invested more, just because I enjoy it so much. A QR tri bike ($1500), Stealth wetsuit($400), plus uniforms, running shoes, goggles, etc. The bike I bought is where the tri bikes start, they can go as high as 12k, if your professional you'll usually have a bike like this. Bike and equipment upkeep is another cost. Then theres the hotels, which Ive had to get for most of these, except the Long Beach races. Because who wants to drive 3 hours at 4am? The race cost are higher, the longer the race. The Ironman I did was $500 to participate. What really sucks is for the people who drop out during the swim, or dont make that first time cutoff. Theres no refunds!

Why dont I see it on TV?

Of course it will be on in the next Olympics, but this sport is long, and since it doesnt allow drafting on the bike portion, it's harder to televise. For the officially sanctioned ironman events, theyll usually televise an hour recap on Fox sports for the region its in. As of now California has no official Ironman evens, just half-ironmans. The closest one, is the one I did in Tempe, Arizona which takes place every April. That one will be re-broadcast this Oct 8th and 9th at 12pm. I hope to see myself on this getting passed by the pros, since it was a 3 loop bike course. The Hawaii world championship is shown on NBC.

My race schedule:

So this is what Ive done and what I'll be doing this year. I really love this sport because it keeps me in great shape and its fun to try to beat my old times. the italicized ones are the ones completed at the time Im writing this.

2006 Race Schedule

2/05 Pacific Shoreline Marathon - Huntington Beach
3/18 California Half Ironman - Oceanside
4/09 Ironman Arizona - Tempe, AZ
7/30 Vineman Half Ironman, Sonoma County, CA
9/10 LA Triathlon - Olympic

9/24 Long Beach Triathlon - Sprint
9/30/06 Rosarito to Ensenada 50 mile "fun" ride
10/15/06 ' Tri Club National Championships - Olympic, Las Vegas
11/04/06 Catalina Island Triathlon - Sprint

December through February, no races )-: but Ill still be training for the Oceanside half Ironman in March. Ive met a lot of cool people from this, especially through the LA tri club. And it's a great hobby to keep yourself active and in great shape, so I recomend it to anyone whos up for it.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Race training, Miami anticipation...

After my 2 story blogs, now comes my pouring my thoughts out, not quite as inspiring (-: but I guess thats whats blogs are about. Im new to this so Im givin it a try

Well, its 2 weeks til the Breath of Life triathlon in Ventura, CA. I havn’t even registered yet, I’m waiting til the last possible moment in case my runnings not up to par. For those who don’t know up till yesterday I hadn’t ran for 3 weeks! I’ve been doing nothing but biking, swimming and weight training. The reason is I was injured on my last run. I did a 9 mile run in 71 minutes which was a new personal record for me, 8 minute miles! I was feeling great till the side schin on my left leg started throbbing. Not enough stretching I guess. Ive never been into the stretching. So yesterday I did a 4 mile jog just to get back into things, I was soooo slow, 10 minute miles. I was hoping to work back up to my 8 min mile pace by the Ventura triathlon but it looks like Ill be lucky to do 9 minutes. Im not too concerned how I do at that race because im really just using it as training for the Vineman half-ironman on July 30th

Heres the link to the site with some cool pics:
Vineman 70.3
That will be my last big race of the year. Its in Sonoma County, Northern California, with a 1.2 mile swim in the Russian river, a 56 mile bike through the vineyards, and a 13 mile run. There are 100 qualifying spots for the world championship, which would mean a top 10 finish in my age group gets me there. The problem is to have a chance at that finish time, I’d have to do less weight lifting to increase my running speed and get faster on my swim. Too much muscle actually slows you down on the run, I’m just not ready to sacrifice that yet, maybe next year. I actually paced faster in the IM Ariona, then I did in the Oceanside half-IM, so I think I actually do better, the longer the race is.

I copied my race schedule here from the LA tri club website

02/05/06 Pacific Shoreline Marathon
03/18/06 Ca Half Ironman
04/09/06 Ironman Arizona
06/25/06 Breath Of Life Olympic
07/30/06 Vineman Half Ironman
09/10/06 LA Triathlon - Olympic
09/17/06 Nautica Malibu Tri
09/24/06 Long Beach Triathlon
10/15/06 Long Beach Marathon

So I have to get out more, but these workouts are holding me back a little. To be honest, its by choice. I enjoy this stuff a lot more than partying all night. My friend is having a birthday party in Alhambra this Friday night but Im signed up to do a 70 mile bike ride saturday morning at 6:30. I found out about the party just this week so have to keep the ride plans. Hes having it at a night club and that scene is starting to get old for me anyways. Ill save my fun time for my trip to South beach, Miami in 3 weeks. Heres a pic of the hotel were stayin at, right on the beach!

We'll probably check out the night scene a little, but Im more just looking forward to the beach. Being able to run out there, and swim in an ocean that isnt freezing cold like the Pacific. I plan on running 3 miles a day, and swimming a mile in the water. Layin out on the beach will be nice. I figure, that if I do drink and eat some bad stuff there, that will work me back into shape(-: Just hope theres no hurricanes! (knock on wood)
Quick movie reviews:
Da Vinci code, saw it a couple weeks ago with my Dad. It was good, but liked the book better. I think if you see it for the first time youll enjoy it more because you wont know what going to happen. So reccommend if you havnt read the book.
The Breakup, saw it last weekend with some friends. I can relate to Vince Vaugns charachter, at least the way I was before. I didnt play that many video games though(-: The movie is hilarious, definitely reccommend. Shows the maturing process he goes through, but in a really funny way. I also liked the ending but I wont give it away. Thats it for now!

Friday, June 09, 2006

My journey to and through an Ironman Triathlon

This blog is about my first Ironman on April 9th in Tempe, Ariona. I wrote it a week after the race and am reposting it here on blogger-



Im one of the swimming white dots down there..

So here's my story from my first Ironman triathlon:
INTRO:
A year ago this April if you had told me, Cody you're going to do an Ironman! well, it didnt seem at all within reach. I mean Id never ran more than 3 miles in my life, swam more than a few laps, and even a 10 mile bike ride to Huntington Beach would wear me out. So from my other blog you kind of know that story. So how in the world would I swim 2.4, bike 112 miles, and then run a marathon all in 1 day? The triathlon thing came to me as another motivation to stay in shape, another means to a better me. It was the most healthy outlet I could find, fortunately it stuck with me. A couple short distance races last fall got me hooked. But for triathlons all Ive ever heard about was the Ironman, the pinnacle of the sport. When I was just a 6 year old kid, I remember watching them in Kona, Hawaii, where I lived for 2 years. Just last October I saw the Hawaii Ironman on the live web cast still not thinking I could go that full distance. 22 years later I was contemplating a half-ironman, and even that seemed a stretch. As the name implies thats half the distance - 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, followed by a 13 mile run. Well, if I trained I could do it! I decided on the Oceanside half-ironman on March 18th but only if I was able to finish a marathon first. I figured if I can run for 5 hours my endurance would be almost there. I barely made it through that, but enough so that I decided Id go for it. The half-ironman went good, I did a comfortable pace not pushing myself as hard as I could of, only cuz I didnt know what to expect. I finished, and I felt like I wanted a real challenge, the full Ironman. But to go from a 6 and a half hour race to one thats at least twice that seemed like a big step, I mean why couldnt they have a three/fourths Ironman?? The only official Ironman that still had slots open was in Arizona, just 3 weeks after the half I just did. It was either that or wait till next years races. I decided to go for it, no guts, no glory. Ive heard the horror stories but when you feel it you feel it. My training was up to par with the programs Id read about, just needed one more long bike and run before the race. So 115 mile bike on a Saturday, then a 19 mile run on a Sunday, then 2 weeks of tapering. I took the plunge, my family got tickets to fly out to Tempe, hotel rooms were booked. I had committed, so there was just a little pressure to finish.

THE RACE:
It was a great reason to bring my family together and it was really nice to have their support. I dont know if I could have done it without them. After a couple days in Arizona, I woke up at 5AM on Sunday morning ready for the day ahead of me. Just doing a race 3 weeks ago was good, because I was calm and focused. 6:50AM and Im jumping in the water, ready to start the longest day of my life. 7AM and the gun goes off I had heard about the human blender of 2000 people swimming at once, but once I found my rhythm it was ok. Its normal to occasionally hit people in the face while you swim. Well I managed to do that a few times, every time Id say a quick sorry. I had the arm strength to swim all day, but I didnt have the perfect form of the great swimmers, so when I finally got out of the water there was only about a hundred people behind me, out of a field of 1,943.

I was in the back! My strengths were the bike and run so with that to look forward to, I got on my bike and took off.
Over the course of the next 60 miles I was passing someone it seemed like every 10 seconds, it seemed a lot of swimmers who had beat me were not the best cyclists. There was 3 loops of 37 miles, a total of 112. I was feeling pretty good about myself, then a motorcycle with the flashing lights and the cameras rides by, "pros coming up!" he shouts so we'd move to the side, and before I knew it I was being passed by the likes of Lavato, Spencer Smith and Tim Deboom. These were big names in the triathlon world, these guys are on the cover of all the magazines and big names in the Hawaii Ironman. So as they sped by me, a full lap ahead of me, I was put in my place. I managed to give them a shout as they rode by, it was very cool.

Around mile 35 I caught up with my friend Nick from the LA tri club. He had done 3 Ironmans before. After riding with him for a while I decided to keep going, my pace was around 18mph at the time and I was in a groove so I didnt want to lose that. I kept my rhythm up, drinking plenty of water and Gatorade, eating an energy bar every half hour. We rode out into the desert near Scottsdale where it was fairly hot, about 90 degrees that day, then we looped back into the town through the grandstands. That was nice cuz each time around the crowd would cheer and that would give me an extra boost. On my first loop the loudspeaker even announced "Cody from Long beach", so that was cool.
The last loop was the hardest part of the race. Around miles 70-80 I had stopped passing people and fell in line with other cyclists. After mile 80 it hit me! I was feeling lightheaded and I didnt want to eat my energy bars. I knew I had to cuz I needed the nutrition. In this picture, Im definitely feelin the heat!

This was a pivotal part, because I was really on the edge. My pace slowed to about 15mph and I started taking in more Gatorade, and forced myself to eat. I didnt want to let myself dehydrate and I knew that could happen on a hot day like this. If youve seen the commercial where that guy collapses you know what I mean. After taking in fluids, I recovered slowly but surely and picked up the pace again. Fortunately I hadnt dehydrated beyond that point of no return. I pushed through the last 32 miles, one by one, but I couldnt wait to get off that bike! I finally got back with a decent time of 6 hours and 29 minutes for the bike portion. That put me in the middle of the pack for my age division (males 25-29). This was my first Ironman so I wasnt expecting to beat these people most of whom were much more experienced.
I came in from the bike and saw my brother Kent, who yelled out to me "How do you feel?!". At this time, not so good! But I told him "all-right!". After cycling that long, my legs felt like sponges as I ran my bike into the transition area.
10 minutes later I was out on the run course and changed into my running shoes. It was 3:30pm and I had a full marathon ahead of me. I had ran one before but not after all this! So I was in uncharted territory. I started out at a 10 minute mile pace and after about 5 miles, found I could run a little faster. The aid stations were placed every mile and a half so I took full advantage of that. I had 3 long loops around the river, that I had swam in 7 hours earlier. Strange but the more I ran, the better I felt. Most of the people were running at a slow pace, so every time I passed someone it kind of gave me a boost. Thats one of the advantages of being a slow swimmer, if your good at the other parts you can spend most of the rest of the race passing people , so that was cool. Its also cool having your name under your running number, cuz people you dont even know are constantly yelling, "great job Cody!". The volunteers were very helpful at the aid stations, bending over backwards to get us water, Gatorade, bananas, fig newtons, chicken broth, all sorts of things! In an Ironman nutrition is one of the key factory right up there with your fitness training. Your body has to be used to being well hydrated and fed, and I had spent the previous weeks doing just that. As the race progressed I saw my target time within reach, under 13 hours. Really Id have just been happy under the 17 hour time limit cuz wether you finish there or in 9 hours they're all Ironmen, some just get there faster. I just thought it sounded better to say 12 something, but didnt think Id really get there on the first try. From my previous marathon I knew the wall is usually hit around miles 18-20. I kept waiting for it but somehow it never came. I later found out my run time was 15th in my age division out of 161!

My best portion of the race. No medals or anything but ya, this was my first try. I didnt expect it, but somehow all that training, sacrifice of alcohol, and nutrition all peaked on this day. After 3 loops, you have a choice to go to the left towards the grandstands of spectators, the arrow pointing with the words "FINISH". Its funny cuz I later found out from my dad that he saw a few people come in, then turn around when they realize they had gone the wrong way and still had another 8 mile loop ahead. One guy he saw, came in waving to everyone, acknowledging all the applause, probably thinking what a great part of the course he was on. He then stopped right before the finish line, looked up seeing the sign, realizing he had made a wrong turn, he turned around and ran back. If you cross the mat, the computer chip you wear would disqualify you because you run across these points all over the course which register where youre at. But when I entered, I knew I was almost there, it felt like I was running through an arena full of people. Darkness had just fallen, and people were cheering, very supportive. I ran through realizing that everything I had worked through the past year was finally paying off. It may not seem like a big deal to some, and many may not get it, thats ok. Kind of hard to unless your there. But for me it was more than just training and fitness. It was a personal journey that brought me here. It reflected a life change that brought me from the pitfalls of a year ago to realizing that who I wanted to be, and what I want to achieve was within reach if I truly wanted it. Not just from a fitness perspective. We all have regrets in life, and Ive had my share....we can only learn from the past and strive to become better people, inside and out..however long that takes. So, ya, it is a life long journey. As I came closer, approaching the finish line, I heard my family cheering and the announcer shout my name on the loudspeaker, as I "snapped the tape" I could now say I was an IRONMAN!

After the race:
I then reunited with my family who had been great supporters. My Mom, Dad and brother were great fans. My Dad was very happy I finished. And probably even happier that it was at 7:48pm, as opposed to midnight when the last few came through. He made a joke saying hed write a book about how to survive watching an Ironman, even taking some breaks at the sports bar, its a long event to watch! He said he trained for a while by adding extra dog walks to his daily routine. The next 20 minutes saw the adrenaline leave me and the light headedness hit me. I needed to relax and take a seat! So I looked for the free massage tent they provided for the athletes. I stumbled into the medical tent by mistake and there I realized how fortunate I was... There were people hooked up to I-Vs curled up in the fetal position, most didnt look so good, it was almost like an ER. I later found out my friend Nick dropped out of the race during the run, due to dehydration. I know I was almost there on the bike, so I considered myself lucky. Well, I did find that massage tent and milked it for all I could. It was time to relax. Dont know if this is my only Ironman. I know if I wanted to make a life of this hobby there's plenty of room for improvement, but for now Ill let this one soak in and take a nice break
Here's a link to my tri-club results for Ironman Arizona. I was 10th out of 38 of us that went, my run time was 3rd.
IRONMAN ARIZONA:LA TRI-CLUB RESULTS

Thursday, June 08, 2006

How I got in shape...

I originally wrote this blog in early February, 2006 and Im reposting it here:

Over the past few months quite a few people have asked me what I do, what I eat, etc., to lose the gut I had and change my body so quickly. So I thought I'd post this blog in hopes that it might motivate or encourage someone who was in my position, so heres my story and my method.
In order to tell my story I have to start with the psychological motivation behind it. Everybody needs a motivation. Some people will work out to look good for summer, for others its a personal outlet, or just a desire to be healthy.
For me, it all started back in June of 2005. The door had finally been shut on a 4 year relationship. I allowed that person to get me down, I was eating bad and drinking a little too much. At the time I couldnt see it, but without the constant negativity I was able to improve myself dramatically. Why did I choose a positive outlet of fitness rather than the negative outlet of alcoholism? Im not completely sure, but I went with what made me feel better. I was always someone enjoyed a jog on the beach but I was only running a few miles every month or two, nothing that would change my physique. Being right next to it, I should have gone a lot more. I had just got back from an office trip to Laughlin, Nevada where I was kind of embarrassed at how I looked on the beach (see the first pic below of me on the beach). I mean, I used to be skinny in my early 20s and now I had put on some pounds, not good! So when I got back I was a little more motivated knowing we'd have another trip to Laughlin September. I remember one day I just decided to go for a run. It felt really good and allowed me to clear my thoughts. I came back after a few miles (at a sluggish pace!) and I felt really refreshed. After that I was hooked, running every day, listening to my mp3....felt good! But I still was eating bad and drinking so I decided to make a substantial change.

First I started eating healthier, cooking daily and drinking lots of water. At this time I was still overweight about 20 pounds (195). A lot of guys in my office were going to the gym, so I thought I should look into it. Driving home one day I stopped at the 24hr fitness on Ocean ave and decided Id stop in and check it out. I left with a membership and a new determination. When I got home I dusted off some of the books my brother Kent had given me in the past a couple years but I had barely opened. After reading these books thoroughly and researching sites on the net I formed a new plan. Most of my weight lifting and nutrition methods came from the "body sculpting bible for men" and "body for life" books. So I set the wheels in motion. I went to the Vitamin World store and bought some multi-vitamins, some whey protein, glutamine, and fish oils.
I started taking all this stuff religiously and I hit the gym hard. I was following the routines Id learned and soon I was hitting the gym about 5-6 days a week. About a month later I was feeling in shape, although I had improved, I still wasnt where I should be. In the 2nd picture above(July in Vegas) I really felt good, but I still had a long ways to go. Looking at that now, I was still very out of shape! Knowing our office was going back to Laughlin in a couple months, I came back from that trip with even more determination to make an improvement.
The problem with many of us, and me in the past, is we'll go to the gym and eat right for a month or two, then slack off a little, and before we know it we're back in the same rut with little to show for it. In August I went to Europe for a week and didnt really excercise much (except for walking & dancing!). My week in London & Paris was the longest time I hadnt worked out in a while, nor did I eat really healthy...plus all the drinks. But it was vacation, so its justified! Taking my ex as a "friend", it was the final chapter in that long story & a nice goodbye. (I know I said the door was shut before, well now it was locked :)
After that trip I wasn't going to allow myself to slack off. I came back and got right back into the swing of things eating right and exercising consistently again. I don't know if the week off helped, but suddenly the improvements came quicker. But I was still looking for that extra motivation, summer was almost over so I needed another inspiration. I was having lunch with my co-worker, Kevan at the Yard House in Long beach and he was talking about how he did the Long Beach Triathlon last year. It sounded really fun, and a great way to drive my fitness goals. So I went back to the office and looked it up...the triathlon was in 3 weeks, perfect! So I was already running, and also biking in the spin classes, all I had to do was add the swim. So I included swimming to my training regime and swam about half a mile 3 times a week, and Kevan gave me a couple refresher lessons, including one in the ocean. When I went back to Laughlin in mid September I was looking and feeling much better! (first pic on boat, below)

I didnt have as much muscle as I do now, but I had definitely had some definition now...and a tan! Kevan helped me swim train in the river there and By the time Sept 25th came around I was ready for my first triathlon. I ended up finishing in 1hr 24min, in the middle of the pack for my group (Males 25-29, link to results at http://www.y-events.com/05lbtrim.htm), so I was happy with the results. From that I did another triathlon in Catalina a month later and my first half-marathon in Long Beach(13 miles) a couple weeks after that. After that a couple 10ks, one on Thanksgiving. So the races were giving me an extra motivation and I had already formed a steady habit of exercising. The second pic is a month and a half later, more muscle, but this time I have a spray on tan, looks a little orange, haha! I definitely prefer the natural now.
Since then Ive continued to cross train, with more weight lifting. I somehow made it though the holidays without gaining fat. At the time Im writing this Im supposed to do my first marathon on Feb 5th in Huntington Beach, thats Superbowl Sunday! Im not sure yet if Ill finish since Ive never ran that far(26 miles) but I figure Ill give it a shot. As long as Im done before the game! If I can do that Ill sign up for the half-ironman triathlon this March down in Oceanside. I enjoy the triathlons more.

UPDATE - 2/8/06: So I ran the marathon Sunday and Im still alive! I managed to run the first 20 miles at a great pace without stopping. Around mile 18 I started really hurting. My dad was there at mile 18 to pass me off a carbo drink and a great energy boost. Then my legs started stiffening up as Id been running for 3 and a half hours at that point. I forced myself go to 20. I walked fast for half a mile, then did a "run with a limp" for the next 5 until I finished. The pain really hit me when I crossed the line....and Im still feeling it bad the next day. Now I have to recover for a while. No more marathons! it was a rewarding and fulfilling experience we all should do once, but once is enough. Ill stick to triathlons and half-marathons! The pic below is me after the race wearing the medal, Im still grimacing in pain there. After the Superbowl I knocked out for about 10 hours.

Another update 6/7/06 - Since I wrote this the marathon has become much easier (see the Ironman blog)

Heres some basic info on what I do...if you need more details feel free to ask me-

Goals:
The first thing you should do is set a goal. For me it depends on what Im doing. Over the Holidays it was to gain more muscle. With the triathlon season approaching I want to improve my endurance and train harder and longer. Its better to have a specific goal, for instance I would like to lower my body fat percentage and gain another 5-10 pounds of muscle in the next 2 months. Increase my times, maximum lift on my bench sets, etc. Originally I just wanted to lose all the fat I had gained but once I had done that I had to get more specific. You may also want to set dieting goals, like if you drink a lot, cut it down to once a week.

Training and Working Out:
I train muscle groups with 3 days of rest in between, for instance biceps and triceps would be Mon, Fri, Tuesday, and chest, back and shoulders on Wednesday, Sunday, Thursday. This way Im weight training at least every other day with cardio in between as well as on weight days. Abs I work out about 6 days a week for half an hour, with 1 day of rest. I end up doing about 700 to 800 crunches a day in various positions, working the obliques as well. I realize this is a lot more than most do, but I really love it. And keep in mind theres no point in doing that much unless you get rid of the fat first. In a typical week Ill take a spin class at least 3 times, swim at least 3 times, and run about 10 miles. Its important to change the type of lifting you do every 2 weeks. For instance heavier sets, supersets, and compound supersets,

Diet:
It doesnt matter how hard we work out, without a healthy diet, your results will be minimal. That was always the problem for me before, too many pizzas and beer. But once you get in the habit of eating good food its almost addictive. You still have to have discipline, but it gets easier once its a habit. I eat at a lot of healthy sandwich places for lunch, no sauces or mayo. Occasionally Ill go home and have a grilled chicken sandwich. When I eat out, as many of my friends can confirm, I love a good steak! Lots of veggies and fruit(in the am) are a must. Its also a must to buy a good multi vitamin. Lately Ive been using GNC's mega men sport cuz it also has a lot of amino acids for lifting. Fish oils are great for the joints, and are good if your not a fish lover like myself. Ive also been taking juice-plus vitamin and fruit pills(suggested by my mom, and it helps). For guys its definitely a must to have plenty of protien shakes. For building muscle they say you should have as much per pound of weight daily, minus your percentage of body fat, to build muscle. But since I also do triathlon training I have to eat a lot of complex-carbs. heres my daily diet:
Breakfast: Oatmeal, protien bar, mixed shake
mid morn: protien/energy bar
lunch: Quiznos, Subway, or home for my own sandwich & mixed shake
mid aft: protien/energy bar
Dinner: Chicken, or steak. Along with veggies & wheat bread.
Before bed: Another mixed shake. My mixed shakes usually have whey protien, juice plus choc mix, bananas,strawberries, and eggs, with water or skim milk.

Pic update: SUmmer 2006!

Well thats my story and some of the methods Ive learned. I had to leave a lot of stuff out so it didn't turn into a book. I hope it helps encourage or motivate someone to change or continue their healthy lifestyle. You'll be glad you did!