Monthly Archives: August 2008

Can You Be An Olympian?

Two average guys, Dennis and Christian decided as part of the 5 in 5 Challenge that they would see how they fared against Olympic athletes in 5 different events. You can read more about it at the 5in5.com blog.

The 5 events were:

  1. 100m freestyle,
  2. 100m dash,
  3. 110m hurdles,
  4. long jump and
  5. the rings (in gymnastics)

It is a pretty neat video, so be sure to watch it.  I won’t spoil the fun, but I bet you can guess the outcome!

Finally, there is some bonus footage at their blog entry.

HT: Get Fit Slowly

[tags] Olympics, Video [/tags]

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Athletes for Darfur

The Olympics are officially over now, so this post may be a little outdated. However, the topic is still worth talking about, at least in my opinion.  China had a long list of reasons why it maybe should not have been the host for the Olympics this year, most surrounding human rights issues.  The one issue that I really know about the most is their support for African governments.

You see China has this desperate need for a substance called OIL. Some African countries are rich with oil resources. Unlike the United States, China has a very hands off approach to getting the natural resources it needs to survive.  China doesn’t really care how you get the oil to them as long as you do.  Exploit children in forced labor setting – that’s fine.  Murder thousands of children because they are a little different than you – here’s some extra money – just make sure we get our oil.

Have you heard of the Darfur region of Sudan? It is ok if you haven’t, despite massive media efforts and national and international campaigns a lot of people still have never heard of the genocide occurring in Darfur.  Groups like Save Darfur, Dream for Darfur, Genocide Intervention Network, Investors Against Genocide, and many more have been working for years to end this horrible conflict.  Some people urged the world to boycott the Olympics all together, while others were saying boycott this or boycott that part.

More recently a group of athletes competing in Beijing, formed an organization called Team Darfur.

The mission of Team Darfur is to raise awareness about the humanitarian crisis in Darfur through the voice of professional and Olympic athletes.

The Team Darfur athletes are speaking out on the Olympic stage, showing incredible courage by advocating for the people of Darfur from the heart of China. Driven by the same determination that made them Olympians, these incredible athletes know that it is our resilience and resolve that will end this genocide.

You may have heard about Team Darfur, becasue China revoked the entry visa for the organization’s co-founder and 2006 Olympic Gold Medalist Joey Cheek. While this was very frustrating and disappointing for Cheek, it brought a lot of media attention to the organization and their efforts. You can visit their site and send a note of encouragement to the almost 100 athletes who stepped up and said something must be done to end the senseless killing of innocent women and children.  Here is the most recent news story about Darfur.

Two great stories out of Sudan and this year’s Olympics are the story of Lopez Lamong carrying the US Flag during the opening ceremony and Ismail Ahmed Ismail winning the silver medal in the 800m.  Ismail is a Darfuri who ran for Sudan, winning the country’s first ever Olympic medal.

How does all of this relate to World Vision and my goal of raising $2,000 in honor of my friends in Africa? Well Darfur is located in central Africa and World Vision is doing work with Darfuri refugees in the region.  But more importantly, it is through World Vision that I first learned about the genocide in 2004.

If you have some free time I would encourage you to check out some of the various links listed above.  But if your time is short I would recommend these two actions:

1. Visit Save Darfur and take action.

2. Make a donation to World Vision in support of my goal to raise $2,000 for 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, Darfur, Team Darfur [/tags]

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Race Review: Rochester Half Marathon

A picture perfect day for running led to a great performance by almost everyone on my team, including myself.  I’ll break the news early, now middle of the morning text messages here: I set a new PR, but about a minute and a half.  Finally, after 3 years of trying I had a record setting half-marathon race! I almost didn’t go down but I am glad I did.  My time for the 13.1 mile distance was 1:33:22 or 7:08 pace, good enough for 65th overall and 7th in my age group.  All of this took place at the Rochester Half Marathon, in Rochester MN (home of the Mayo Clinic).

Now for all (that I can remember) the details.

Pre-Race I had been up late the 2 nights prior thanks to something called the Olympics, so having to wake up at 4:30am wasn’t easy.  We were carpooling down so I couldn’t be too late.  We arrived in plenty of time and actually by being so early we were able to get registered and use the restrooms before the large crowd came rushing in.  Four of us rode down together and only one had pre-registered.  They didn’t have any t-shirts for race day registrants, but the total fee was only $20 so that is a pretty sweet deal.  We lounged around at the Holiday Inn Express which hosted the race and waited for the other cars to arrive before warming up.  The temperature was maybe 60 degrees at the start with no clouds in the sky and no noticable wind at the start.

Race Time We lined up in the middle of Broadway Ave in  downtown Rochester. I started a little farther forward than I should have, but I also know that sometimes in these smaller races (only 602 finished) that if you get to far back you’ll get stuck in the opening miles.  I also kept telling myself to take it easy at the start and go out slow.  After the race announcements off we went.  We turned down 4th Ave and then turned again into a residential area before hitting the first mile mark.  I felt comfortable and relaxed even as I tried to stay at the back of a small back, then I realized a teammate, Chris Taylor, was running in the pack and his goal was several minutes faster than mine.  So I let the pack go.  We hit the first mile mark in 4:41.  Oh wait that was a marathon later in the evening.  Seriously though I hit the first mile in 6:48.  A little faster than I had hoped but nothing to panic about.  My goal is to break 1:30 which is 6:54 pace.  We continued through the residential area and jumped onto the Bear Creek Trail, a paved bike path which aptly runs along Bear Creek. The trail meanders along the river bank at this point in an open park but soon gets into a great woodsy area.  This shade helps keep the pace moving and I went through mile 2 in 6:53.  Still feeling pretty good I wasn’t worried about the pace.  As we continued to twist through the woods we came to the first water stop around 2.5 miles.  A local Boy Scout Troop did an excellent job with the water and Gatorade.  They had a ton of cups lined up on the ground which would have made a great picture! As we came into the water stop I was at the back of a pack of 6 people, after the stop I was at the front of the pack.  As we continued to meander I made sure to cut the straightest line possible between the turns so as not to add any distance to the run that didn’t need to be there. We continued on the trail through mile 3 in 6:54. Our first 5K was in 21:33. My plan for the marathon is to take at least on Clif Shot Blok every 5K so I did that during this race as well.

In the 4th mile we sadly (?) left the bike path and turned onto Pinewood Rd, a large country road.  I said sadly, because the road had very little shade on it.  There was also very little traffic which was nice, especially considering the fact that we weaved across the road several times.  It seemed everyone was doing this as they were trying to “cut the tangents” but it was a little ridiculous. I lost track of how many times we actually criss-crossed the road. I doubt we saved much time and we came through mile 4 in 6:59. Along this long mostly straight stretch I was passed by several runners who were obviously starting out slow and picking people off.  It also started to feel a little lonely as I was kind of stuck between two groups of runners. The sun was also starting to warm up, though it never really felt hot.  I came through mile 5 in 6:59. The 5 mile mark was at the beginning of the next water stop so I almost missed it.  The group was doing a great job of passing out water and Gatorade and I continued moving along.  This was a pretty lonely stretch of road that was marked by a local radio station’s van blaring both country and rock songs and a lone porta-potty under a highway overpass. Around the porta-pot I started hearing footsteps and a guy caught up to me, we didn’t really chat – but did talk back and forth a little bit.  We were a little suprised we hadn’t seen the leaders yet, but soon enough they started coming back to us.  Right before mile 6 we turned onto a gravel road and started really enjoying the better parts of rural America (read: sweet smells of home – or pig farms!).  The mile marker was on the wrong side of the road and I almost missed it and hit the lap button a few seconds after we passed it.  Mile 6: 7:14.  I ran with this black shirted guy for a little while longer, but he kept a strong pace and I let him go.  I came through this 5K in 21:46 or 43:19 for the 10K.

The race continued on the dirt road and I was now seeing lots of runners who had turned around already.  The turn around was marked by 3 orange cones and a guy saying something like, “slow down and turn around.” I came through the half-way point around 46:44. This also marked the highest point on the course, but it wasn’t all downhill from there.  Now I was seeing large groups of people running towards me as I ran back out of the dirt road. Immediately after the turn around I was hit by a head-wind.  Nothing too hard, but enough to be noticable in your race pace.  I tried not to worry about it and to stay focused.  Two other guys caught up to me and we ran together for awhile. I start to cramp a little bit in here.  It felt like it went across my whole diaphram. I tried not to let it slow me down too much as we ran through mile 7 in 7:07.  As soon as we turned back onto the paved road it seemed to go away – weird.  Our small group continued running together, pushing each other along through mile 8 in 7:14. I think they guys were local because they were getting lots of cheers from the oncoming runners.  We went through the 3rd water stop, this time I took some Gatorade and tried grabbing a water.  The girl wasn’t looking at me and so we weren’t able to make the exchange, but that was fine. As we started heading West again the headwind picked back up and I tucked in behind guy #1 and guy #2 tucked in behind me.  This proved quite fruitful, I know the more proper etiquette would have been to arrange some type of sharing agreement where we’d trade back and forth for the wind breaking duties, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it – so I said nothing.  Meanwhile guy #1 broke wind in more than one sense of the word! Yes, he loudly farted not once, but 2x’s and they both reeked almost making puke.  At the first whiff I quickly pulled out from behind him for a few strides then tucked back in. I guess in some ways, that is justice for drafting! We came through mile 9 in 7:02! This 5K was 22:08 while the overall 15K was 1:05:27.

We continued along Pinewood Rd, this time not switching sides of the road very many times.  To point out how ridiculous it was, right before the turn back onto the bike trail a group in front of us crossed the road and almost immediately crossed back over to our side.  A little silly. I some how missed the 10 mile mark, but according the the mile splits that Garmin is able to reproduce we came through the 10th mile in 6:57. Almost as soon as we turned back onto the bike trail and I no longer needed the wind blocked – but maybe also due to have just run 2 miles at sub-7 min pace I couldn’t stay with guy #1 or #2 anymore and off they went. Now I was alone again meandering through the woods.  The winding trail also made it hard to see where people were in front of me to see how close I was.  I occasionaly caught a glimpse of someone up there.  At the final water stop I again took some Gatorade.  I came through mile 11 in 14:26 WHAT??? Oh yea I missed mile 10! I felt pretty good that I just ran 2 miles under 7:15 pace – not so good according to Garmin because mile 11 was 7:31. I guess I fell off pace quite a bit after the guys left me. At this point it was more of the same from the start, except now in reverse.  I don’t think anyone passed me, nor did I pass anyone during this stretch.  I tried to dig deep for motivation, not really sure where I was at overall pace-wise (I could have just looked at my Garmin and realized where I was, duh!). I came through mile 12 in 7:41. This 5K was 23:08 and through 20K in 1:28:36.

Ok, only a mile to go, suck it up.  You can do this.  We stayed on the bike trail instead of going back on the streets through the residential area.  This made for a few short ups and downs as we went from river level to street level a couple of times – nothing major at all but I felt them a little bit.  I got passed by a group of 3-5 runners which was a little frustrating, especially since I didn’t have enough energy to even try to go with them.  I did pass a guy who was stretching out his leg on the side of the trail.  I felt like I was picking up the pace, but in reality, I was probably just maintaing it. I was finally able to see the finish area! Wait, I started hearing footsteps.  This was the motivation I needed and I picked up the pace a little bit. We came up to the street level and crossed a bridge – there was the crowd and lots of balloons. I hit mile 13 in 7:33. A quick turn and a wide turn and there was the clock.  It said 1:31 something, I got excited and took off.  When I crossed it said 1:32:24, then I looked at my watch and saw 1:33:22.  A little disappointed but knowing either way it was a PR I was excited.  It turns out the clock had stopped earlier and they must have reset it wrong.  My Garmin time ended up being the same as my official chip time (full results).

Post Race As I caught my breath – got the chip removed – and received my finisher’s medal I made my way towards the food and drink.  I took a Gatorade, Water, Orange, and Banana. I would have taken some of the rolls, but my hands were already full.  I caught up with some of my teammates and we chatted and waited for everyone else to come in.  After eating some of the food and stretching I hit up the Kemps Ice Cream truck.  Nothing like a free Orange Cream Bar to help with recovery!  We waited and waited quite awhile for the awards ceremony as several of my teammates got awards.  I also finally met Chad Austin having read his blog for awhile.

Team Round-up: (If I screw this up guys, just remember I’m the New Guy)

  • Kirk Walztoni – 1:15:45 3rd overall and 2nd in his age group plus a PR
  • Paul Lamere – 1:27:06 1st in his age group
  • Chris Taylor – 1:28:11
  • Marty Humphrey – 1:34:31
  • Anne Walztoni – 1:34:43 2nd in her age group (8th overall woman)
  • Deb Humphrey – 1:36:44 3rd in her age group
  • Carolyn Fletcher – 1:42:40 3rd in her age group
  • Ann Choiroloff – 1:43:12

Race pictures are available here.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Marathon Training: Week 12

What a roller coaster of a week.  After a terrible run on Tuesday I was able to come back and PR in the half-marathon distance on Saturday.  I’m glad this week is over and looking forward to more good weeks of training.

Monday: 4-6 easy miles. I extended my downtown-Park Ave 4 mile loop to make it close to 5 miles and ended up running 4.83 miles in 40:21.  It was 66 which felt great even with the higher humidity.  I took it nice and easy for my first run after 20+ miles on Saturday!  I was a little tired and sore but felt pretty good.

Tuesday: 8-10 mile threshold workout. This ended up being a downright brutal workout due to the heat and humidity. I think it was in the mid-80’s with near 100% humidity. It was raining north and south of us but not on us.  They gave us a progression workout for a 10 mile run.  The plan was 2.5 easy, hydrate, then 2.5 at Marathon Pace, turning around and running 2.5 at Half-Marathon pace, water stop and then recover for awhile do a mile at 10K pace and recover to the start.  No one in my pace group did the 10K pace section.  We ran along the East River Parkway, next to the Mississippi River, but the scenery didn’t help the run any.  Also the East side of the river is significantly hillier than the west, so our downhills out made for some tough uphills towards the end of the half-marathon pace.  I should note that I was outside most of the afternoon, but tried to stay hydrated.  We ran the first section in 20:21 (8:01 pace) and completed the marathon pace section in 17:46 (7:12 pace).  So far so good –  MP for me is 7:15. I ran the half-marathon pace section in 17:21 (7:03 pace Goal Pace would be 6:54), during this section our group of 5 got strung out pretty good.  We stopped for water and I hit the porta-pot.  When I came out the group had a small lead, but I was never able to catch back up – which I think hurt mentally for me.  I finished the last leg in 20:05 (8:13 pace) and was glad to be finished.  We commiserated about how bad we felt and went our separate ways.  I got home, showered, ate a quick dinner, and was asleep by 9pm.

Wednesday: 5-7 easy miles. I didn’t wake up until 7:30am which is really sleeping in for me.  I still felt really drained and all around terrible.  I finally managed to drag myself to work, thankful I was going in late due to working later than normal yesterday. I drank a lot of water and by the evening felt like I should give running a try.  I wanted a little motivation so I went to Pike Island and ran on the scenic dirt trails around the island that marks the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers.  I wanted to take it easy and just run how I felt. I ended up running 4.3 miles in 34:10 and felt really good.  I picked up the pace for a little bit when a group of college runners went by, but kept reminding myself to slow down! I’m glad I motivated myself to go and it was nice to just run and enjoy the scenery.

Thursday: Rest Day. A much needed rest day, even though I bike commuted it felt good.

Friday: 6 miles at marathon pace. An unscheduled (kinda) rest day.  I was still back and forth about racing over the weekend so I knew that if I ran it wouldn’t be the scheduled workout.  I had to go to work earlier than normal and thought I’d be able to run in the early afternoon.  That ended up not working out, but taking the day off shouldn’t hurt too much since it is a stepback week.

Saturday: 10-12 miles In his notes Hal Higdon says this would be a good week for racing a half-marathon.  A group of people from my team were racing a half-marathon so I went with them.  Am I glad I did. If you read the introduction then you know that I set a new PR.  Breaking my 3 year old PR by about a minute and a half! Quite an exciting race.  I felt terrible for the middle – last part of the race so I was delighted to see the clock showing a PR!! It was a perfect day to race – temps in the mid-60’s, low humidity, a fairly shady and flat course.  My watch had me at 1:33:22, which was also my official chip time.

Sunday: Cross-Train. We rode our bikes to church and the Minnesota State Fair for a total of 13.3 miles on the bike and several miles wandering around with the hoards of people at the fair.

Weekly Mileage

Running – 32.1 miles

Biking – 53.4 miles

Hal’s Tip of the Week: There is no such thing as “bad food,” only bad choices. There’s even a place for burgers, fries and shakes in your diet. You just need to balance everything you eat. If you eat a well-balanced diet, that includes ample fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains, you can avoid expensive supplements. Tape these words to your refrigerator: “Eat a wide variety of lightly processed foods.”

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

Week 12

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Twitter Tagging

Last week I wrote about the great tool, Twitter. I mentioned it was great for building friendships and community with runners and other people.  One of the great ways to build discussion around a specific topic or event on the web is by using tags.  I use tags all the time on this blog to make sure others looking for something about running can find it easily.

With Twitter you are able to tag your tweets as part of a broader discussion using something called a hashtag. One of the popular uses of Twitter is during conferences or meetings to help broadcast what is going on or for possible meetups. To help facilitate this happening someone decided to start using hashtags to make searching for related tweets easier. A hastag is simply using the hashmark or pound symbol (#) before a series of letters. It was made really popular during the San Diego fire and was being used for the Iowa flooding. If you go to a Twitter search engine such as Summize (now Twitter Search) and searched for the hashtag #IowaFlood you’ll get hundreds of Tweets about the flooding.

Why is this important? Every major group, organization, conferences, etc has a hashtag. As of today I haven’t seen any for running. I think it would be nice to find other Twittering runners and see how their workout went. Most of the runners I follow on Twitter tweet a summary of their daily run or race report.

I was going to propose the already famous ORN be used for a hashtag, but a quick search pulled up some unsavory content – add a “p” to the beginning. So, let’s scratch that idea! Back to the drawing boards, I did some more research and found that some people had already started using #run, but that is a little simplistic and maybe boring! Then I came along a tweet from @runnershigh that #runlog is being used by Twemes to create Twitter Running Meme. Twemes also allows you to get an RSS feed of tweets posted with the hashtag.

Therefore, I propose that from here on out we all use #runlog to tag running posts.

Anyone else have thoughts on a better hashtag?

Used appropriately I think this would be a great addition to our running community.
Step One: For it to work properly you should follow @hashtags on your Twitter account. This will help facilitate the hashtags bot to find your tweet and index it in their service.
Step Two: Start using #runlog.
Step Three: Use the Twitter search engine of your choice to find out how other runners ran today. I recommend Summize (now Twitter Search) or Tweetscan. You can also use the RSS feed from Tweme.

Can you do it? I’ve been using it for awhile now and a few others have picked up on it. You can follow my Twitter Running Log here at Hashtags, or via Summize, or at Twemes.

Note: According to hashtags.org their service has been broken since July 10, due to a Twitter-side error.  You can continue using the #runlog though and it will make it easier to search for.  And the service should resume normal processing eventually!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]