Testing his mettle with a pedal

Terry Tomalin, Times Staff Writer

Published Friday, January 9, 2009

Chris Lauber received a wake-up call when he went in for his annual physical.
"The doctor handed me a slip of paper that read 315," said Lauber, who turned 50 last week. "I knew he wasn't talking about my cholesterol because he hadn't taken a blood test.
So naturally, Lauber asked the doctor what the number stood for.
"I knew it wasn't my weight," he said. "I weighed 265."
But the doctor corrected him.
"He told me it was my weight . . . in five years," Lauber recalled. "I knew right then and there that I had to do something."
Jet Skis to road races
Lauber was always an athlete, playing soccer in high school and college, and later, riding water scooters in a variety of competitions during the 1980s and early '90s. Still later, he earned a living promoting personal-watercraft events and footraces.
"I have been heavy my whole life," Lauber explained. "When I was little, clothing salesmen would describe me as husky."
That didn't stop him from earning a spot on the Boston College varsity soccer squad his freshman year.
"When I reported to preseason training, I weighed 205, but within a week, I dropped down to 190," he said. "At 18, I was in tip-top condition."
After college, Lauber raced Jet Skis professionally for a while then began a career in sports marketing and promotion. In January 2000, he started the Florida Gulf Beaches Marathon and two years later, added the Florida Gulf Beaches Holiday Halfathon.
"On one hand I was promoting a healthy, active lifestyle, but I was not living one," he said. "I spent way too many hours at the desk, and had way too many late nights fueled with 32-ounce cups of Coke. It really packed the pounds on my midsection."
As a race promoter, Lauber had to work with many elite athletes.
"But I was always embarrassed by my weight," he said. "I wanted to hide."
Lauber knew many world class runners. One day, he received a call asking whether he would "host" ultramarathoner Dean Karnazes, who was in the middle of his quest to run 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days.
"I had read his book," he said. "It was just amazing. So I thought, if he could do it, why not me."
So Lauber decided to change his lifestyle. He knew the road to weight loss was simple: Eat less and exercise more.
"But I refused to give up the things I loved," he said. "I am addicted to chocolate and Coke, but I wasn't going to feel guilty about it. So instead of stop them altogether, I just cut back on the portions."
But Lauber knew he had to start exercising every day.
"I was never much of a long-distance runner," he said, "so I settled on cycling."
Fifty before 50
Lauber started riding short distances, 5 to 10 miles at a time. Slowly, he started doing 20, 30, even 40 miles at a time. Within four months, 20 pounds had melted away.
"The key was consistency," he said.
Eventually he increased his miles until he worked his way up to 175 to 250 miles a week. Then in January 2008, on his 49th birthday, he rode his first "century," a 100-mile ride, which is the equivalent of running a 26.2-mile marathon.
"After I got one under my belt, I decided to keep going and try to log 50 before I turned 50," he said.
Last Sunday, he completed his 50th century of his 50th year. His total mileage for 2008 was more than 10,000 miles.
In the end, Lauber lost more than 50 pounds. He isn't quite back to his college playing weight, but he's getting close.
"The hard part is taking that first step," he said. "But once you do, the rest is easy. Nike made it a cliché, but you gotta 'Just do it.' "

Fast facts
Join Chris Lauber at the Clearwater Halfathon on Jan. 18. For information, go online to

www.clearwaterhalf.info or call (727) 347-4440.