Working out, as many of us have learned, is more than a physical activity. It takes mental energy, too, so we asked four Richmond-area residents to keep weeklong diaries of their workouts. One completed her first triathlon at the end of May; another doesn't belong to a gym but still keeps in shape; a third athlete contends with a busy travel schedule; and our fourth subject has lost more than 100 pounds by dieting and hitting the gym. By coincidence, mountain-biker Wil Loy and jet-setter Julian Keevil marked birthdays during their diary weeks — they each celebrated by getting in a good workout.
Swim, Bike, Run
Combining forces, Cindy Blanton and her siblings make a fine triathlete.
"I do mostly running, Steve does mostly biking, and Bronwen does mostly swimming," says the 48-year-old Blanton, a marketing manager at Capital One. Blanton, her brother and sister took the leap in late May, completing the HHHunt Power Sprint Triathlon, all placing in the top five in their age groups.
Blanton has run four marathons since 2006, but with her goal to complete a triathlon, she had to fit two new sports into her workout schedule. "Typically in a week I swim two different days, I bike two different days and I run three days." She also takes a BodyShape class at the YMCA. A 12-week triathlon training team at the Shady Grove Y has helped her learn some of the finer points of the tri, including the tricky transitions from swimming to biking to running.
Cycling, which Blanton considers her worst sport, has become more comfortable, as she's worked with her brother, her Y instructor and folks at 3Sport, an athletic-wear store in the West End, to improve her technique. Swimming has become more interesting, too, since her teacher introduced her to drills and other workouts — a switch from monotonous laps.
Blanton has signed up for another triathlon at the end of June, and she plans a return to footraces as well.
Losing to Win
After he was rejected from getting on a water ride at Busch Gardens because he weighed more than 300 pounds, Willie Smith knew things had to change. A truck driver for Virginia Correctional Enterprises, Smith, 27, joined the Goochland Family YMCA and altered his diet for six months. It didn't work.
"I gave up," he says. "I have been a big guy my whole life … so I thought maybe this is how I am supposed to be."
But a little research on life expectancy — and how obesity lowers it — forced him back to the gym a year and a half ago. This time, it worked. Thanks to sustained dieting and exercise, the 5-foot-8 Smith has lost an amazing 106 pounds.
He goes to the YMCA after his shift ends at 2 p.m.; his four-times-a-week routine includes 40 minutes on an elliptical machine and 15 to 20 minutes on the StairMaster. For muscle toning, Smith regularly attends a one-hour weight-training class.
On the diet end, Smith has replaced fast food with salads for lunch, and he's cut out his favorite snack on the road, muffins.
As a result of his new-found healthiness, he completed the Ukrop's Monument Avenue 10K in March, a goal he never considered when he was heavy. Smith says he is still in weight-loss mode, and he hopes to surpass his 10K time next spring.
Wil Loy doesn't belong to a gym, but he gets a fine workout riding the James River Park System trails several days a week.
His story as a cyclist began 12 years ago in the mountains of Japan, where he taught English and rode his first mountain bike. Loy returned to the states, where a friend educated him about off-road cycling — showing him little-known trails outside Baltimore, and setting an athletic standard on biking technique, fitness and confidence.
He now lives in Richmond with his wife, Mandy, and most days Loy, 39, heads to the Reedy Creek trail and pushes himself during rides so he feels completely spent. He also incorporates dog walks, pull-ups and push-ups into his workout, as well as occasional rides on a road bike.
Loy's goal is to bike nearly every day and log about 100 trail miles per month, 1,200 this year. If the weather doesn't permit, Loy gets as close to nature as he can by completing a variety of spinervals (stationary cycling workouts) on a trainer indoors.
One of the most challenging aspects of trail riding, Loy says, is constantly scanning the terrain. "You never know if there will be a squirrel, another rider, a dog or a hole that wasn't there before. You are concentrating on everything."
Julian Keevil, a Londoner-turned-Goochlander, travels between Richmond and London once a month, but still finds ways to stay in shape.
His fitness trick? "When I am over there, I always try to schedule an event," he says. "I will do a triathlon or a 10K or a half-marathon."
Keevil, 61, says he started participating in athletic events only 10 years ago, when his football-playing son challenged him to a push-up competition.
"My son asked me how many push-ups I could do, and I told him I could go all day — but of course I couldn't. So, I started training," Keevil says. He joined Maramarc Fitness and the Country Club of Virginia, and in 2001, he participated in his first triathlon.
Keevil retired a year ago from Universal Leaf Tobacco Co. but holds a leadership role in a London charity guild, requiring his presence there five or six days a month.
In London, Keevil runs in Hyde Park when the weather is mild, or he dodges the rain by swimming and lifting weights at the Naval & Military Club, the Commonwealth Club's London affiliate.
This month, Keevil plans to complete the British
10K London Run and then head to the Netherlands for
a half-marathon in Rotterdam. "I am not the world's greatest athlete," Keevil says. "I am slow and steady, but
I will finish."