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What Mark Elrod Said: Week 5

With the spectacular opening ceremony Friday night, Olympic fever hit Mark Elrod’s blog with the force of Lee Oksung’s left jab. Elrod began fitness blogging the next day, and he hasn’t looked back.

But perhaps some backstory is in order. In the spring of 2007, Mark Elrod took up the Huckabee weight-loss challenge. But rather than run like Huckabee, Elrod hopped on his bicycle and, over the next year, dropped weight like Natalie Woolfolk. In September, Elrod raced in the “Petit Jean Pedal the Peak” 150-miler and the Syllamo Mountain Bike Trail. What started as a fitness hobby has become a passion, carrying him to Missouri to ride the Katy Trail and to Delaware to ride Route 9. Elrod’s was a brave attempt to counter the natural sedentariness of his profession. Even better, he succeeded!

Yeah!

But an important question lingered. Like so many weight watchers before him, would Elrod burn out?

Before the barrage of fitness blogging, it was unclear exactly how much Elrod was feeding his passion. Indeed, ever since he took his blog private, he hadn’t written about it beyond a passing reference here, a silly anecdote there. Rather, his blogging was of the usual sort: the Searcy Police Log, Caption This Friday Another Sign of the Impending Apocalypse. Some of us noted that he was posting fewer images of himself on the blog, and one of his friends on Facebook observed that he was uploading old photographs. Some of us wondered: Was Elrod backsliding?

Last week, Elrod answered our question with a booming “NO!” Elrod had instead given his workouts over to a higher power.

As soon as the spring semester ended in May, Elrod hired a personal trainer. “I felt good,” he explained, “but I had a few pounds of extra flab around my gut, and I wanted to be rid of it. So I hired Rick.” Rick is a Christian personal trainer from Little Rock who came with very high recommendations. After explaining that any body could become putty in God’s hands, “Rick told me that, with faith and work, my body could become a symbol of God’s love for healthiness, like Michaelangelo’s David.” However, Rick would have to push him hard.

An exhausted Mark Elrod being prodded by his personal trainer, Rick. Reportedly, Rick is fond of yelling, “Get up, sinner!”

Every morning Elrod and Rick ride fifty miles; every afternoon they swim and lift weights for an hour. Rick has changed Elrod’s diet, too. Before, Elrod would collude with Jack Shock over fried chicken and buttered mashed potatoes every Tuesday and on Thursdays, over hamburgers and milkshakes, he would meet representatives of the Obama campaign. But those days are over. Now, Elrod eats with Rick twice a day for “fish and beans and lots and lots of greens.” His daily Calorie total is still less than 2,550 Calories a day. The regimen is so hard, it’s a wonder Elrod has had time to keep up his family or to maintain his blog. But it is clear the work has paid off. This photo, which Elrod posted Saturday, was taken during Elrod’s recent vacation. “Everywhere I went,” he said, “I knew what it would have been like to be King David, both admired and feared.” He noted that other men, lumpy and pale like he had recently been, would avoid his gaze. But he looked upon them with compassion: “If I could change, so could they!”

Time will tell whether Elrod’s newfound discipline and the body that he has worked so hard for will persist into the fall semester and the drudgery of classes and long office hours. He has already said that his contract with Rick expires on Labor Day. But Elrod believes he has found new motivation in the Olympics. He knows he cannot become an Olympian at his age, but he can try to be the best athlete he can. Already he is training for next year’s Ragbrai, but, he says, the Iowa-long ride is only a warm-up for something bigger. What exactly he has up his sleeve, however, he won’t say. But if it’s anything like this year’s surprise, I bet it will be amazing.

Update: Link to Rick’s personal training video.

 

Comments

You have got to stop telling tales outside of school.

Don’t be so modest, ME!