Monthly Archives: June 2008

Triathlon Volunteer Opportunity

ACES (Athletes Committed to Educating Students), an after-school tutoring/mentoring program for urban youth in the Twin Cities, is looking for volunteers to help along the bike course of the Life Time Fitness Triathlon. This nationally televised event is taking place on Saturday July 12th at Lake Nokomis in South Minneapolis. As a
nonprofit partner for this event, ACES will receive financial and in-kind contributions from Life Time Fitness in return for providing 50+ volunteers. These contributions will go a long way in helping ACES provide quality after-school programs for over 400 Twin Cities youth!

This is a very enjoyable, low-stress, laid back event. In fact, volunteers are encouraged to bring lawn chairs to sit on, and wear comfortable, weather appropriate clothes. All volunteers will receive a t-shirt, goodie bag (snacks, water, etc.), and a Twins ticket voucher (2 tickets for $1).

Volunteer duties include:

  1. Cheering on the athletes
  2. Warning bike riders of upcoming turns
  3. Notifying race officials of any injuries
  4. Warning pedestrians of oncoming racers

Volunteers are welcome to sign-up in groups and volunteer together.   Children can volunteer as well, but anyone under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

Volunteers will be in groups of 2-4 (or more) and will be placed at intersections along beautiful West River Parkway in South Minneapolis.  Volunteer check-in is 6:00am and volunteers will need to be at their
assigned intersection from approximately 7am-12:30pm. The check-in station will be in the Dairy Queen parking lot, located at 4740 Minnehaha Ave. Minneapolis, MN 55406. For a map of the meeting
location, click here.

If you are interested, please contact, Tom Basquill or call 612-331-3454.

Marathon Training: Week 4

The week started out pretty bad but the weekend running was excellent.  I think the heat and humidity at the beginning of the week didn’t help too much and it was a perfect weather weekend!

Monday: Cross train today. I went to the YWCA again and swam.  This week I swam 350 yards – each lap is 50 yards so that would be 7 laps.  I started out by swimming 2 laps without stopping and did almost the whole thing freestyle and then did a few more laps with lots of rest and plenty of backstroke thrown in.  It is amazing how quickly swimming can elevate your heart rate!

Tuesday: Three miles at a comfortable pace. This was a horrible run! I felt horrible when I rolled out of bed – tired and stuffy nose – and then my legs felt very sluggish.  I did the downtown loop which is 3 miles and ran it in 24:34.  I guess that is a comfortable pace so I shouldn’t complain but I’m a little disappointed.  It was 67 degrees during the run with lots of sunshine and about 60% humidity – so a decent running day.  Hopefully its just a blip on the screen because I felt really good yesterday…

Wednesday: 6 miles. This felt pretty sluggish along the Greenway towards the river. It was 60 and sunny so a pretty nice morning for running, a little humid but not bad in comparison.  Nothing spectacular I ran it in 47:45 so just under 8 minute pace.  It felt pretty bad and I never really felt good along the whole run.  I came home and rehydrated, etc. Not sure what my problem is… but hope it ends soon!

Thursday: Three miles, comfortable pace. I decided to try getting out of the slump by running naked today.  Well ok not actually naked – like without clothes on, but the other naked – without a watch, GPS, or even a mp3 player.  I did a 3 mile loop that I already knew (the Powderhorn Loop) and just went out for an easy 3 miles.  No idea how fast or slow it was but it did feel a little better.  It was a nice morning about 66 but pretty humid and a little overcast.  I followed the run with strides and core work.  I felt decent afterwards.

Friday: Take the day off. Enjoyed the rainy relaxing morning.

Saturday: Run 6 miles at marathon race pace. A beautiful morning for a run.  I think the temp was right around 60 for the entire run and it was a mixture of overcast and sunny throughout.  This was my first run with the fall marathon class produced by the MDRA. We met at Marathon Sports were they gave a short talk about shoes and later a 30% discount on the entire store.  From there we ran 10.5 miles around the chain of lakes – hitting Lake Harriet, Lake Calhoun, and Lake of the Isles.  There was a group of 5 of us who ran at the same pace for pretty much the entire distance.  It started raining on us (mostly a drizzle) with about 2 miles or so to go and that felt good.  The trails were a little crowded but not as bad as I’ve seen them before. It was a pretty uneventful run – I had turned my Garmin on, but it lost the signal while inside the store and I told it to stop searching and never told it to find a signal again so about a 1/4 of the way through I looked and realized it was only keeping the time.  A little disappointing but they are pretty sure the distance is accurate.  Oh well, the saddest thing is that I would like to know what some of our paces were throughout the run, we were definintely moving at a decent clip before slowing down a little in the second half.

Sunday: Run 13 miles today. Ok so I’m having to completely reconsider my training schedule and revamp it to fit in with the marathon training class that I’m taking. I’ve started the process and will update you next week, but I couldn’t decide what to do this weekend if I should stick to the 13 miler or do more of what my body felt.  Yesterday’s run was the long run for the training class so it made sense to just do this one a little easier.  So I chose a place that would give me trails and the opportunity to run longer if I felt like it or just run 6-8 miles if I didn’t.  I started the run at the Minnehaha Depot heading towards Fort Snelling – there is a paved bike path between the two but I was planning to hit the trails in the area on the way.  There isn’t a single dirt trail that spans the distance and there are no trail markings nor a map that I know of.  So I got lost a lot but saw some really cool things and ran on a nice variety of rocky trails, sand, dirt, wide track, and single track.  Some decent ups and downs and even a place where I almost had to slide down! So yes it was a fun run towards Fort Snelling.  When I got there I was planning on some water at the Visitor’s Center/Gift Shop, but it was closed, ugh.  I was able to get a little water out of a spigot on the side of the building.  On the return trip I pretty much stayed on the paved trail – taking one detour that was pretty easy to follow.  I tried to pick up the pace a little bit – hitting goal pace for the last 1/4 mile or so.  It was a fun run on a beautiful morning (62 degrees).  I ran the 7 miles (+) in 1:05:30.  I added the + sign because the Garmin isn’t 100% accurate while running trails.

Weekly Totals:

Running: 29.5 miles

Biking: 58 miles

Swimming: 350 yds

Hal’s Tip of the Week: If you are training through the summer, one way to avoid hot weather is to run early in the morning. The days are longer. Use these extra hours of daylight to get out before the sun rises too high. Temperatures are cooler, the air cleaner and the scenery prettier in the hours around dawn. If work schedules force you to run midday, be sure to wear a cap to protect against the sun–and drink plenty of water! If you are training through the winter, midday may be the best time for you to run.

Week 4

[tags] Marathon, Training, Hal Higdon [/tags]

Foto Friday – Olympic Trials Edition

In honor of the Olympic Trials which are this weekend here is a race number from a college race I did. We ran some races that got leftover supplies from the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, which is where this number came from. I’ve shown other Olympic numbers before.

[tags] Foto [/tags]

Re-Thinking Post-Run Nutrition

Image provided by stock.xchng.

After a work-out most runners tend to eat a lot (maybe even overeat) to try to replenish a variety of nutrients including: sugar, carbohydrates, protein, electrolytes, and regular old fluids. New research reported in the NY Times seems to indicate for most of us – that it is overkill.

The Researchers

Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, a muscle physiology researcher at McMaster University in Canada and a physician and a 45-year-old trail runner and adventure racer.

Stuart Phillips, a 41-year-old associate professor of kinesiology at McMaster who played rugby for Canada’s national team and now plays it for fun. He also runs, lifts weights and studies nutrition and performance.

Dr. Michael Rennie, a 61-year-old who was a competitive swimmer and also used to play water polo and rugby and is a physiologist at the University of Nottingham in England who studies muscle metabolism.

Asker Jeukendrup, a 38-year-old 14-time Ironman-distance finisher is an exercise physiologist and nutritionist at the University of Birmingham in England.

Their Refueling Strategy

They just drink water, and eat real food. Dr. Tarnopolsky drinks fruit juice; Dr. Phillips eats fruit. And neither one feels a need to ingest a special combination of protein and carbohydrates within a short window of time, a few hours after exercising.

Their Thoughts

There are grains of truth to the nutrition advice, they and other experts say. But, as so often happens in sports, those grains of truth have been expanded into dictums and have formed the basis for an entire industry in “recovery” products.

The idea that what you eat and when you eat it will make a big difference in your performance and recovery “is wishful thinking,” said Dr. Rennie, a 61-year-old who was a competitive swimmer and also used to play water polo and rugby.

Image provided by stock.xchng.

The Technical Facts

During exercise, muscles stop the biochemical reactions used to maintain themselves such as replacing and resynthesizing the proteins needed for day to day activities. It’s not that exercise is damaging your muscles; it’s that they halt the maintenance process until exercise is over.

To do this maintenance, muscles must make protein, and to do so they need to absorb amino acids, the constituent parts of proteins, from the blood. Just after exercise, perhaps for a period no longer than a couple of hours, the protein-building processes of muscle cells are especially receptive to amino acids. That means that if you consume protein, your muscles will use it to quickly replenish proteins that were not made during exercise.

But muscles don’t need much protein, researchers say. Twenty grams is as much as a 176-pound man’s muscles can take. Women, who are smaller and have smaller muscles even compared to their body sizes, need less.

Dr. Rennie said that 10 to 15 grams of protein is probably adequate for any adult. And you don’t need a special drink or energy bar to get it. One egg has 6 grams of protein. Two ounces of chicken has more than 12 grams.

Muscles also need to replenish glycogen, their fuel supply, after a long exercise session — two hours of running, for example. For that they need carbohydrates. Muscle cells are especially efficient in absorbing carbohydrates from the blood just after exercise.

Once again, muscles don’t need much; about one gram of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight is plenty, Dr. Tarnopolsky said. He weighs 70 kilograms, or 154 pounds, which means he would need 70 grams of carbohydrates, or say, 27 ounces of fruit juice, he said.

The Conclusions

Jeukendrup said the fastest glycogen replacement takes place in the four hours after exercise. Even so, most athletes need not worry.

“Most athletes will have at least 24 hours to recover,” Dr. Jeukendrup said. “We really are talking about a group of extremely elite sports people who train twice a day.” For them, he said, it can be necessary to rapidly replenish muscle glycogen.

As for the special four-to-one ratio of carbohydrates to protein, that, too, is not well established, researchers said. The idea was that you need both carbohydrates and protein consumed together because carbohydrates not only help muscles restore their glycogen but they also elicit the release of insulin. Insulin, the theory goes, helps muscles absorb amino acids.

My Thoughts

Who am I to argue with these guys? I’ve always thought moderation is key to anything that we do. It is important to eat a healthy meal after a workout. I do find that sometimes eating protein (eggs) after a workout I feel a lot better than just eating cereal. I also think that even though most of us aren’t doing two-a-days we still tap into a lot of energy reserves throughout the day for our daily routine. For instance I’ve been bike commuting so I’ll ride 4 miles within two hours of running. I need to make sure I replenish my body in between and after both workouts.

Their point is well taken and I think most of us would agree that the best way to do this is through natural methods. I’d prefer a large glass of orange juice any day over a bottle of Gatorade.

Your Thoughts?

Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Other’s Thoughts

Here are a couple highlights from readers’ comments on the NYTimes site:

  • Lowfat chocolate milk. — Charles, London
  • I never train hungry, and like to eat a balanced protein, carb, non-saturated fat meal @45 minutes before any heavy workout. After the w/o-skim milk, a lot of whey protein, at least 3 tablespoons of sugar, and a nap. During the workout I drink water or unsweetened tea. — George, Tucson
  • Before a workout, i hard boiled egg white, 1/2 banana, some nuts and aa date, few ounces of oj and I am good good good to go. Waiting for me in the car every day after my workout at the Y is a hardboiled eggwhite, sourdough rye with peanut butter and jam, 1/2 banana and, coffee, and maybe a date and some nuts. Takes the ‘edge’ off, prevents the sugar treats, like the accelerater pedal is still on.Two hours or so later maybe some steel cut oatmeal with yogurt, nuts, raisons.Somehow it all works, I think its the protein hit in segments. Whatever, at 63 I am in better shape than I was at 43.— rob, seattle

[tags] Nutrition, Protein, Running Nutrition [/tags]

Team Cross Meets Team World Vision

World Vision flickr page

Several years ago while waiting to start at the Indianapolis Mini Marathon I noticed a guy in the corral wearing a bright orange jersey with the World Vision logo on it.  I didn’t get a chance to talk with him before the race started so I went home and did some research.  I found out that he was a part of Team World Vision.

I have been a long time supporter of World Vision, but before I tell you why – let me talk about the organization a little bit. World Vision is one of the most respected international development organizations in the world. They are distinctly Christian, but a Muslim professor from Bangladesh during grad school had nothing but great things to say about the organization and their work in developing countries.  I’ll try not to bog you down in details and jargon but here is their mission:

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.

They are known as a child sponsorship organization and Team Cross sponsors a girl in Ghana. Because of our sponsorship she has been able to continue going to school, is current on all of her shots, and receives preventative medical care. Also her entire community benefits through new wells being built, schools repaired, and much more.

Why Do I Care?

The Bible tells me too: Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. James 1:27 (NLT) is one of many places that says we should take care of those around us.  I always felt that if I helped the neighbor down the street or worked in the inner-city that would be good enough.  All of that changed for me in January 2002 when I went to South Africa on missions trip/internship.

My first experience in Africa was genuinely life changing and life altering.  I left after 4 short weeks knowing that Africa would forever be a part of who I am.  It was amazing to see the conditions that people lived in and through, but more importantly to also see the great hope that many of them had.  For example, the house pictured at left was inhabited by a family of I think 8 kids, the oldest of which was 18.  There entire family had been wiped out by HIV/AIDS, but the young pre-teen we met that day was very excited to show us her house and was proud of it even.  She was full of hope and pride that many of us lack in our 3 story houses and nice cars.

It is stories like that one that stole my heart.  Since that trip I spent 8 weeks in rural Ghana doing research to finish my Masters of Social Work – focused on International & Community Development and have devoted my life to the cause of peace and justice across Africa.  Throughout the coming weeks I will share more with you about my experiences, World Vision, and the hope of Africa.

Team World Vision

Team World Vision is a fund raising arm of  the organization which uses ordinary people like me, to get ordinary people like you involved in ending poverty and injustice across the world. I have decided to commit the 26.2 miles of my first marathon to the memory of and in honor of the children I have met during my international travels.  I can’t remember all of their names, but I have many pictures and stories.

On the right side of my blog there is a widget that will allow you to support me during this race or you can visit this secure page.  I have set a goal of raising $2,000 which will help children have a chance at living to become adults across Africa.

[tags] World Vision, Team World Vision, Africa [/tags]

Note: Wednesday’s Number will return after marathon training has ended or I run out of Team World Vision Posts!

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I’ve Been Tagged

I was tagged by Lori (aka Toughnoodles). When you get tagged you are supposed to answer the questions and then tag 5 other people.  I’m going to be one of those weirdo’s who just says if you are reading this and want to get tagged – you are it!

So on to the questions.  This is a running tag so that’s good!

1) How would you describe your running 10 years ago?

Yikes, well 10 years ago I would have been 16 so I was still running high school track.  We didn’t have a cross-country team until my senior year and 10 years ago from today would be the summer between sophomore and junior year in high school.  I was on the distance crew running a little bit of everything – 800, 1600, and 3200.  I know that my high school 800 PR was 2:12 but don’t remember the others.

2) What is your best and worst race/run experience?

Wow this is really a tough question. Nothing jumps out at me either way distinctively as being one or the other. 

Both Good and Bad – my senior year in college the 4×800 team I was on was just a few seconds away from getting a national qualifying standard for the NAIA. Our next to last chance to qualify was at the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) national meet.  The 4×800 is run on Friday night under the lights – so it is a pretty big deal.  I was running the second leg and got the baton in second place behind a rival school that included 2 Kenyans.  I took off like a rocket and passed the other guy on the backstretch – everyone kept yelling at me to slow down and take it easy, but I had decided to leave nothing on the track.  I came through the first 400 in 53 seconds (a new 400 PR for me) and in first place.  As I rounded the track and hit the 300 to go mark I hit the wall hard.  Coach said it was like a herd of Gorillas jumped on my back.  So I struggled through the rest of the race and got passed by 3 or 4 guys with a 72 second last lap.  I collapsed and after recovering got really upset.  It took 3 or 4 days for me to stop replaying that race over and over again in my head.  I don’t remember how we placed but we still didn’t qualify and the head coach decided not to give us another chance.  That first 400 was glorious and the last was hellish.

I can think of other races and runs that I enjoyed or hated but nothing ever felt like those 400’s on either extreme.

3) Why do you run?

This is a simple question, but one I often dread. Maybe I dread it because I am an addict and don’t want to admit it.  So there I said it, I’m addicted to running.  I think if I look back deep into the archives I joined the track team in middle school because it was a sport that they couldn’t cut you from! I started running in 8th grade, taking a season off in high school and a track season off in college.  I’m not really sure why I ran in college – maybe I wanted to be a part of a team or something.  I joined the team and became the 15th man – usually by a long shot but I enjoyed the people and had already dedicated so much blood and sweat that I couldn’t stop.  Even during the spring I didn’t run track I still hung out with the team ALL the time, lunch, dinner, chapel, breakfast, track meets, cross-training days, etc.  I guess it became a part of who I was.  So when I graduated college it was still a part of me.  It became something I could do – somewhat well – anywhere I was and I could always meet people with similar interests.  I ran through grad school and post college all the time. I’d do road races and really enjoy winning and placing in my age group (something I struggle with not doing now).  But there are also the other benefits – clearing my mind, letting go of the stress, being free and enjoying the outdoors.  Those are all reasons I run.  I enjoy pushing my body and draining it.  I enjoy the thrill of the final kick – even when its rather pathetic.  I enjoy exploring new trails and getting muddy while running through swamps.  I enjoy the camraderie that is gained by slugging through some hard miles with a friend – or just a random runner.  I enjoy the shared interest and collegiality of another runner who you happen to meet after a run at the parking lot.  I enjoy the challenge that it takes to get out of bed some mornings and the sheer challenge of a long run after a hard week.  Those are many of the reasons I run!

4) What is the best/worst advice you’ve been given about running?

Best: Stay on your toes – this was for cross-country where speed was important and being on the toes keeps your momentum going forward – not so important now. A second piece of advice and more applicable today is that if you have a problem and you make a change but nothing happens you need to look at other causes and factors.  This was given to me when I wasn’t recovering from plantar facitis.  Part of the problem was that the shoes I wore to work everyday were making the injury worse!

Worst: I’m really struggling on this one.  I’ve had some really good coaches and running buddies throughout the years so I guess I don’t really have any worst advice!

5) Tell us something suprising about yourself that not many people would know.

Well I guess depending on when I post this you might already know this.  I have run on 3 different continents and in 4 countries – South Africa, Ghana, Great Britain (England), and the US.

Official Rules of the game: I am now supposed to tag 5 more people and get them to answer the questions. I’m not going to name anyone but tag you are it.  Leave a comment below and link back here if you play so that we’ll all know to check out your running story!

If you have been tagged, you will find your name at the end of this post. You should then, copy the rules (or your version of them), and the set of questions onto your blog post, provide your own answers, and then tag 5 new people.

Just to be sure that everyone tagged knows they have been invited to play, go to their blogs and leave them a special comment letting them know, and refer them to your blog for details. One more thing, once they’ve answered the questions on their own blog, they should come back to yours to tell you.

Marathon Training: Week 3

This is the first of several stepback weeks. Stepback weeks are relatively easier weeks that allow your body to recover a little more than normal and help prevent injury and burnout.  It is good to through them into training every now and then, especially as mileage ramps up.  I do feel a little fresher at the end of the week, but having my bike mileage ramp up during the week made me a little sluggish during the middle.

Monday: Cross-training day I started the week off with 300 yards of swimming at the YWCA.  It felt a little easier than last week but I still get tired out pretty quickly by swimming.  This is also not a continuous swim of 300 yards but I was able to swim longer without stopping this time! I again  alternated between freestyle and back stroke.

Tuesday: Run 3 miles. I am typically a morning runner, but I had an early morning conference to attend so that made it a little harder to fit in the run.  So I opted to run in the evening and took my wife along too! We rode our bikes 2.5 miles to Lake of the Isles and then I ran 3 miles around it and she ran for 15 minutes (this was her first run in a long time).  It was a gorgeous evening about 78 degrees.  I felt really good and ran 21:27 which felt comfortable.  Isles is a lot less crowded than its neighboring Calhoun so it was an enjoyable run.  We then tried feeding the ducks and rode our bikes home.  Don’t worry no matter what it seems like I’m not training for a triathlon!

Wednesday: Six miles at a comfortable pace. Back to a morning run I ran 6 along the Greenway towards the river.  It was an excellent morning with temps in the low 60’s and the sun was out. I ran this in 47:45 and felt pretty comfortable the entire way.

Thursday: Another easy 3-miler. This was a very sluggish 3 mile run around Powderhorn Park.  I think the combination of Tuesday’s run and all the extra bike miles made this tougher than it needed to be.  But I finished the 3 miles in 25:32 and called it a day.

Friday: Day of rest. A glorious day of resting! It was also a good excuse to take the car to work today!

Saturday: Run 6 miles at marathon race pace. My marathon goal is 3:10 which is a 7:15 pace.  So 6 miles at race pace would be 43:28.  This is actually my first run at race pace since I did an actual race for the first one.  It is pretty hard to keep at a certain pace over time.  I thought I did a pretty good job of it but looking at my splits I didn’t do as well as I’d thought. I drove to Fort Snelling Park and ran around Pike Island, which is a pretty much flat loop just over 3 miles long.  I set off and ran the first 2 miles right over the 7:15 pace (7:21 and 7:14 respectively).  Shortly after the 2 mile mark the trail was flooded over and either side was pretty swampy.  I tried to carefully go around it but gave up and just cut right through back to the trail.  During this section I also saw a fawn (baby deer) but didn’t see any of its relatives. When I got back to the beginning I took the trail that cuts through the center of the island and had to run through another swampy area.  This time it was impossible to go around and I just ran straight through it.  I ran miles 3 and 4 in 7:26 and 7:27.  I then cut back out to the main trail at the next opportunity and started heading back, I went through mile 5 in 7:23.  The last mile took me back off the island and for fun I decided to run up the bluff trail to Fort Snelling which my Garmin say is a 40 ft elevation gain at a 10% grade over a 1/4 mile, so its short and steep. I finished the last mile in 7:45.   I went through the first 5 miles at 7:20 pace so I think that was a pretty good showing for the day. There weren’t a lot of runners out but a few dedicated soles on a gorgeous 63 degree morning.

Sunday: Run 8 miles today at a comfortable pace. It was gorgeous this morning when I woke up.  It was 59 and sunny at the start with a slight headwind while I ran down the Greenway.  I ran towards and around the Lake of the Isles which is a perfect 8 mile course.  I ran the 8 miles in 63:04 which felt pretty comfortable all the way through.  Pretty much each mile was faster than the last one, starting with a 8:17 mile and finishing with a 7:32.  I started off feeling a little sluggish maybe through the first half of the run but then everything loosened up and the last half felt really good.  I enjoyed the early morning run around the lake.  The sun was already up but it looked neat coming off the water.

Weekly Totals:

Running – 26 miles

Biking – 50 miles

Swimming – 300 yds

Hal’s Tip of the Week: Be flexible with your training, particularly while traveling. Don’t be afraid to modify workouts occasionally when it seems appropriate. The general pattern of the program–the steady buildup–is more important than what you do on any one day. Don’t get so hung up on your training schedule that you are unwilling to make adjustments when an opportunity for an interesting run develops.

Week 3

[tags] Marathon, Training, Hal Higdon [/tags]