Friday, April 27, 2012

Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon Preview

The very first road race that I ever ran was the 1998 Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon. It also happened to be the 25th running of the race. I think back about how I trained for that race 14 years ago and what I did and didn't do. I wore a crappy pair of Reebok tennis shoes (not even running shoes) that I had bought at a sporting goods store. At the time, I lived at home with my parents, just south of Iroquois Park. The park was part of the 13.1 mile course then, so I had done a lot of my training runs on those wonderful hills.

As much as I hate to admit it, I have no idea why I decided to run this race. I wasn't eating healthy back then, but I wasn't really overweight or out of shape. At the time, I was a Sophomore in college and was lifting weights 5-6 days a week. I was probably carrying about 20 pounds more muscle than I have now. 

I remember having a stopwatch, but I know that I didn't really track my training in any way. I had no idea what pace I was running or how many miles I was logging per week. I just went out and ran. To those that know me now, this seems ridiculous. I'm totally geeked out these days and I very rarely do a run or ride without knowing my instantaneous pace and heart rate. I sometimes wish I could go back to know caring about all the data.

It wasn't about how fast I was running in 1998, it was just about being physically able to run 13.1 miles. It took me over 2 hours to finish, but I remember being excited and proud. I remember my parents and several friends being out on the course cheering me on. It was an awesome feeling to have people cheering for me, and knowing that I was accomplishing something special.

I didn't run the race again until 2000. I did it again in 2001 and then took 8 years completely off from running...something that I can't envision myself ever doing again.

I've run this race more than any other. This year will be my 7th time toeing the start line. Here are my past results:

1998 - 2:13:59
2000 - 1:46:50
2001 - 1:50:51
2009 - 2:09:22
2010 - 1:46:30
2011 - 1:37:27

My goal tomorrow morning is to set a PR. With all of the triathlon's that I have been doing and have coming up over the next few weeks, I haven't been specifically training for this race. I've only done one run over 10 miles. So while I'm not really sure what to expect tomorrow, I've already decided that as long as I come out injury free, I'll be happy. With three triathlons on tap, the next two weekends are going to be pretty demanding. Doing well in those is higher on my list of priorities than the miniMarathon. With that said, I'll give nothing less than my best effort come 7:30 tomorrow morning!

Good luck to all my the members of Team Ability that will be running in the morning. It's been very fulfilling to help all of you reach your goal of running this race. For those of you that are first timers, enjoy every minute of it! For those veteran's, go out and set a PR!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Top 10 Ways To Live Longer

People in today's society are always looking for a "magic bullet" or an easy way to lose weight, be healthy and live longer. Unfortunately, this does not exist. But there are several things that you can do that promote good overall health and will in turn, extend your life expectancy!

Courteously of Ben Greenfield, here are the Top 10 Ways to Live Longer:

10. Avoid Hospitals (they are one of the most dangerous places on the planet -  full of bacteria and medial errors)

9. Be Grateful (finding things to be grateful for, and vocalizing them has been shown to reduce stress)

8. Do Mental Exercises (challenge your brain by learning new things or working mental puzzles)

7. Take Care Of Your Gut (keep yourself regular ~ go #2 one or two times a day. Eat probiotics & fiber)

6. Sleep More/Less (7-8 hours a night is ideal...too much is just as harmful as not enough)

5. Exercise (mix it up - do aerobics, intervals, weights, and long slow distance)

4. Lower Your Calorie Consumption (figure out how many calories you need in a day to maintain a healthy weight and do not deviate from this amount. Avoid snacking and even do intermittent fasting ~ 12-14 hrs)

3. Have Sex Regularly (hormones released during sex have been shown to have tons of health benefits)

2. Avoid Heavy Drinking (don't binge drink on the weekends or have a beer/glass of wine with dinner more than once or twice a week)

1. Don't Smoke / Avoid Second Hand Smoke (this may be obvious, but even if you don't smoke yourself, try and limit the amount of time you are around second hand smoke at home, in casino's, bars, etc.)

So there you have it...the secret to a long life!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Shelbyville Triathlon Race #4 Report

No, this wasn't my first triathlon...but I did two things that would have made it seem that way anyone watching me. 

I woke up Sunday morning and had my customary race morning sweet potato. I was feeling pretty good considering the 12 straight hours of digging, planting and mulching I had done on Saturday. I packed up my gear and headed out around 6:30am.

As I pulled into the Clear Creek Park parking lot I was a little confused. The transition area has been in the same place for every single race I've ever done here (now 7 and counting). My first thought was that things were running a little behind and the bike racks just weren't set up yet. Once I went inside the building, I saw signs indicating that the transition area had been moved due to other events going on at the park that day. Kudos to the race organizers, Todd and Cynthia Heady for moving the transition area with less than 24 hours notice!

I got my transition area all set up and was ready to go. Since every second matters in these sprint races, I decided that I would race without socks. It takes me about 5-6 seconds to put on a pair of socks in T1 and I wanted to get my transitions even faster. I was racing in my new Asics Gel Noosa Tri 7 shoes (see picture to the left) for the first time. They are made for running with no socks. They have a liner and are very breathable. I had run some short distances in them without socks, so I knew that there wouldn't be any uncomfortable rubbing. I slipped them on for a quick warm-up jog before the race just to make sure I didn't need to grab those socks out of my bag. Everything felt good - I was ready to go.

A few laps in the pool to get loose and then it was time to line up. Just like the last race, we lined up for a single-file time trial start. I was 17th in line, and right behind two very fast swimmers...including my swim coach Manny and friend Scott Panella. I knew that I wouldn't have to worry about passing these two guys in the tight lanes.

The race started and I was still feeling good. I was concentrating on my form and as predicted, I had no traffic in front of me. I was passed at about the 300 yard mark by someone, still not sure who it was...but he flew by me pretty quick. I exited the pool and glanced at my watch. I was shooting for 6 minutes, and I came out just a few seconds I was happy with the start of my race. This was my fastest swim in the 7 races I've done in this pool. The weekly practices and drills are paying off!

Official 400 yard swim time = 6:05.5 (1:31 per 100yd)
2nd out of 8 in my Age Group
20th out of 112 Overall

With the transition area moved, the run from the pool to T1 was now quite a bit longer. It involved running down a grassy hill to a parking lot. I ran into transition, threw on my helmet and sunglasses and grabbed my bike. I was in and out as fast as possible. Good T1.

Official T1 time = 1:06.1
2nd out of 8 in my Age Group
9th out of 112 Overall

I slipped my bare feet into my shoes as I started down the road. I immediately started to push the pace. I saw some other riders once I got onto a straight-away and began to chase down the "rabbits". I did this same race last year and had a pretty good idea what the course looked like. I knew not to veer left at a "Y" in the road and I knew that it was an out and back with a loop on the end (kind of like a lollipop). My quads were burning almost right away. I knew that the constant squatting and shoveling of mulch the day before was taking it's toll on my legs. I continued to push through, passing people that had started before me on the swim. I had a single gel taped to my frame, so I decided to go ahead and take it hoping for a quick energy boost. As I was looking down at the gel pack, making sure I had squeezed every drop out, I saw a yellow arrow in my peripheral vision. I jerked my head back only to realize that I had missed my turn. With the road only being two lanes wide, I had to slow to almost a stop in order to turn around and go back. This was rookie mistake #1. I thought that I knew the course well enough to not study it or drive it before hand. I should have taken the time to make sure I knew where I was going. The missed turn cost me no less than 10-15 seconds. I tried not to be aggravated with myself, and no sooner than I made the turn...the wind showed up! We fought the wind the rest of the way. It went from a headwind to a crosswind - neither of which are much fun to ride in. I came up on "Mr. Kona", Scott Panella with just a few miles to go. I passed him, then he returned to favor. I used this as motivation to hammer past Scott again and go hard the rest of the way back. I managed to catch three other guys before reaching T2. The move in transition area added a little over half a mile to the course (in comparison to last year). So even though my time was a minute slower this year, I'm still happy with the bike.

Official 16 mile bike time = 44:45.1 (21.5 mph)
3rd out of 8 in my Age Group
12th out of 112 Overall

I got my feet out of my bike shoes and coasted into T2. I hopped off my bike and ran it over to the rack. Everything was going great...until I tried to "slip" my feet into my shoes. My feet were sweaty from the bike and I didn't have a towel. Getting my dry feet into my shoes had been easy, and I didn't think that they might get wet on the bike. Rookie mistake #2! Trying something for the first time in a race is a big no-no. I knew better and in an effort to save 5-6 seconds by going without socks, I cost myself around 40 seconds! I just couldn't get my feet to go in the damn shoes! I was using bungee lases, so I couldn't even loosen them up easily. I finally got the left one in and then I felt myself panicking. So I just sat on the ground, loosened up the laces on my right shoe and got my foot in. A grabbed my race belt and headed out of T2 - in what seemed like an hour. I had watched everyone that I passed on the bike come into transition and leave while I was struggling with my shoes. Needless to say, I was pissed.

Official T2 time = 1:00.0
7th out of 8 in my Age Group
67th out of 112 Overall

I left T2 right behind David Hsu, a guy that I knew was a good runner. He finished 3rd Overall in the first race of the series, so if I could hang with him on the run, I would be doing ok. We headed up the paved path and I never let him get more than 15-20 feet in front of me. I don't wear my GPS watch during races because it's not waterproof and I don't want to take the time to put it on in I had no idea what pace I was running. I just knew that it hurt! I was trying to shorten my stride and increase my cadence to hold on to the pace. David stopped to walk for a few seconds when we got to the aid station at the turn around. This allowed me to catch up with him. We ran together for a little while, then I felt like I had some gas left, so I pulled ahead. We came to a very steep hill and I gave it all I had left. My legs were toast once I reached the top and David passed me again. I tried to hang with him over the last mile, but he pulled away. It was all I could do to keep running at that point. My quad and calves were on fire and I was breathing like I was running 400 repeats! I crossed the finish line with my slowest 5K in years...but I was happy to be done. 

Official 5K run time = 21:21.1 (6:53 min/mile pace)
3rd out of 8 in my Age Group
15th out of 112 Overall

As soon as I stopped running, both quads locked up and I couldn't move. I attempted to walk around, but it was painful. I was still angry about the problems I had in T2 and as we all stood around catching our breathing and talking about the race, I told anyone that would listen about how stupid I had been. Turns out that baby powder in the bike and run shoes help with getting them on. I might try that during one of my brick workouts, but more than likely, my adventure with sock-less racing is over!

Overall race time = 1:14:17.8
4th out of 8 in my Age Group
12th out of 112 Overall

So I figure that I lost around 45-50 seconds to what I'll call rookie mistakes. What really hurt is that 2nd place in my age group (10th overall) was only 37 seconds faster than me. This is my 4th year of racing triathlons, I shouldn't be learning lessons the hard way anymore!

My legs are still a mess. After another 6 hours of work in the yard after the race on Sunday, I woke up Monday morning and could barely walk.  I did some swimming yesterday (Monday) and about 50 minutes of easy riding this morning followed by a 30 minute session with the foam roller to try and break things up...but my calves and quads are sore and tight. Small price to pay for the beautiful oasis that is now our yard!

I finished 1st in my Age Group and 2nd Overall for the 4 race series with a total time of 3:54:48...not too bad of a start to the 2012 season!

Friday, April 13, 2012

5 Races in 28 Days...

This weekend starts a crazy month of racing for me. Here's what my race calendar looks like for the next month:

April 15th - Shelbyville Sprint Triathlon
12 days
April 28th - Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon
7 days
May 6th - Rev3 Knoxville Triathlon (Olympic)
5 days
May 12th - TriFest Triathlons (Sprint & Olympic)

While I'm really excited to have all this racing going on, I know that I will need to be careful about over training and put more emphasis on recovery after each race and workout. With only 5 days between my first Olympic distance race of the year in Knoxville and TriFest, where I will do a Sprint Tri at 7:30am and then an Olypmic Tri at 10:00am, I'm going to have to focus on recovering quickly . That means lots more cold showers, compression gear and foam roller action for me!

Good news is that I've had some good workouts this week and I've been blessed with no injuries so far this season. So I'm feeling healthy and fit heading into this barrage of races.

As for the race this weekend, it marks the fourth and final race of the Shelbyville Sprint Triathlon Series. I've enjoyed the first three and have fared pretty well overall. I've placed 2nd, 2nd & 3rd in my Age Group and 6th, 6th & 11th Overall. 

This fourth race was the only one that I did last year. I finished in 1:13:04, which was good enough for 1st in my Age Group and 7th Overall. I'd like to beat this time and based on my improved swim, it shouldn't be a problem. If I can shave some seconds off of my bike and run as well, I will be thrilled.

Hopefully a day full of hauling mulch and planting shrubs and trees tomorrow won't have me too worn out come Sunday morning!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Politics and Food

Two topics that I love to talk about - politics and food, have a lot more in common than most people realize. I recently listened to a podcast that talked about how the two are intertwined. Author and nutrition professor Marion Nestle was interviewed in the podcast and had a lot of interesting things to say.

Believe it or not, our food intake and food choices are affected by lobbyists. They influence the Federal Government regarding dietary advice that the federal government produces. I get so angry when I see the food pyramid/My Plate or see commercials for the "foods" and drugs that the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approves regardless of the known risks and side effects. You can thank lobbying for what seems to be ignorance on the part of the government when it comes to health. Lobbying and it's influences have made it so the Federal Government will never come out and tell the public to stay away from junk food, hormone laced meat or something like diet soda. If you notice, the government never talks about cutting back or eliminating certain foods or even food groups. It's always something more broad, like a specific nutrient or ingredient (i.e. saturated fat or salt).

So how does this happen? If you know politics, you understand how lobbying works. A lobbyist is a paid individual (or group) that is hired by corporations or organizations to urge politicians to change laws or recommendations in a manor than favors them. Lobbyists are often very well connected in Washington and know how to influence decision makers in a way that is protected by the constitution. They convince the politician that there is nothing wrong or harmful about their product/company.

Using food as an example, a lobbyist for a company that makes food full or lab-created additives might convince a lawmaker that their product is harmless to the public and that the obesity epidemic in this country is due to lack of exercise and that the lab tests showing increases in cancer when these additives are consumed are the result of faulty science. They will basically do whatever they can to convince the right people that consuming their product is not harmful to the general public.

Whatever the Federal Government says, regardless of if it's a law, affects how and what large food companies make. For instance, the government came out several years ago and recommended that people cut back their sugar intake. Within a few months you began to see "sugar free" or "low sugar" on food labels everywhere. The problem is that when the "sugar" was eliminated, in order to keep the taste the same, companies added artificial sweeteners...all of which are very, very bad for you. So by coming out and saying to lower your sugar consumption, the government actually did the public a disservice. People are still eating the same crap, but now it has cancer-causing chemicals added to it!

The Federal Government also has a hand in how safe our food is. The food industry is very competitive here in the United States. Because there are so many more food choices available here than in the rest of the world, companies have to cut corners to stay competitive and appeal to the latest fad while still keeping production costs low. One of the most common corners to cut is in the safety department, and I'm not talking about worker safety.

The FDA is in charge of inspecting the food industry and keeping an eye on food processing procedures. The problem is that the FDA is underfunded (because health is very low on the list of priorities) and does not have the man-power to inspect like they most companies handle their own safety and inspections. That's why we hear of food being recalled all the time. Just think about all the issues that are found that stay in-house! Companies have been busted recalling a product and actually repackaging it. 

So what's the solution? 

There's not an easy one, but like most political issues, it starts at the grassroots level. Do your talking with your wallet. People need to make better choices regarding food. Buying things that are better for you and trying to buy locally is a great way to avoid many of these safety concerns. Farmer's Markets will be starting back up next month, find one close to you and try to buy all or most of your meats and produce there. It's better for you and your family.
As for the lobbying issue, this can be helped by trying to elect people that are interested in health and won't be easily swayed by a slick-talking hired gun.

I know that these issues will not go away, but by educating our children on healthy eating, the next generation will not have to rely on the government to tell them what is a healthy diet!!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Papa John's 10 Miler Race Report

 Official Results:


 Avg Pace Per Mile: 7:39
Division (M 30-34) Place: 76th out of 430
Gender Place: 377 out of 3121
Overall Place: 445th out of 6914

As I indicated in my race preview post, I wasn't feeling very confident about this race. Jessica and I made it down there in plenty of time (thanks to my awesome driving and navigational skills). So I was able to warm-up and was ready for the race to start. 

The first few miles were tight, but I've come to expect this. It's usually about 3-4 miles into any run that I finally feel loose and good. I planned on doing the first 3 miles leading up to the park somewhere between 7:15 and 7:20 pace. I did the first two in 7:13 and 7:17, so I was right on track...but I could tell that I was having to push it a little too much to maintain this pace. With the hills coming up, I decided to slow it down for mile 3, which I did in 7:30

I haven't run more than 9 miles since Ironman Louisville (7 months ago). I have done very little hill work in my training so far this season. Both of these things became painfully obvious once I hit the first hill in the park. My breathing was off and my level of exertion was way too high. I instantly knew that I was in for a rough race. I pushed it as much as I could up the hills, but felt like I didn't even have the energy to speed it up coming back down each one. I was just letting gravity do the work. By the time I got to the top off the last hill, I was exhausted. I wanted to keep my pace between 7:30 and 7:45 through the park. Miles 4, 5 & 6 were 7:40, 7:44 & 7:47. 

The big difference was that once I was out of the hills, I had nothing left for the last 4 miles. Even though they are flat, I felt as if I was running up hill. It's very disheartening to see people constantly passing you...but I had only enough energy left to maintain. I slowly lost my pace over the last few miles and didn't even have anything left in the tank to sprint to the finish. Miles 7-10 were 7:33, 7:50, 7:46 & 7:42.

Check out the chart below, comparing last year's race to this years. Big difference in the heart rate...shows you how much difference training for endurance versus speed makes in these longer runs! I was running faster last year with a HR around 10 beats per minute lower...

I'm going to try and get in a 11-12 mile run next weekend. I have another sprint triathlon two weeks before the mini Marathon and I'd like to get in a long run. Even though I'm not training for long distances this year, I'd like to have a decent showing on the 28th.

Congrats to all the Kids Center Team ABILITY members that ran Saturday. We had a great showing! Big props to my wife Jessica, who ran 10 miles for the first time in her life and even had enough energy left to go out and watch the UofL basketball game with me and then rock it out at a Daughtry concert that night...crazy long day! I was totally exhausted by the time we got to the concert, but she was still going strong - she's and inspiration!

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