Saturday, December 26, 2009

Running, Cycling, and Omelets

It's been way too long since my last blog post. Sorry about that. Just had blogblock for a while. Been getting parts of 2010 race schedule worked out and some tough decisions about what I am going to be doing. Also, changing some training plans to reflect the 2010 schedule. So far this is what I have. It's not 100% in stone but close to it. One major decision is whether or not to do an Ultra before the Boston Marathon the week after. Hummm. What to do?

January: Chevron Houston Marathon
February: Austin Marathon
April: Brew to Brew Ultra (44 miles) April 11th
Boston Marathon April 19th
Big Sur International Marathon April 25th
(This is part of the Boston to Big Sur Clallenge)
June:Ironman 70.3 Kansas June 6th (This would be my first Ironman)
July: RAGBRAI Bike Tour across Iowa
August: Lean Horse Trail 100 miles

That's what I have for now. Lots of training ahead in the new few months and a change in routine to do the Ultra and the Ironman.Will keep you posted on what is going on. I will really try to post more often now.

Just for fun...Had this for Christmas moring brunch with the family. We had a great time making it. Give it a try. It's an adventure.

Ziploc Omelet

Have guests write their name on a quart-size Ziploc freezer bag with permanent marker.

Crack two large eggs(large or extra-large) into the bag (not more than 2) shake to combine them.

Put out a variety of ingredients such as :cheeses, ham (whatever you want here, we used turkey sausage)onion, peppers,tomato,salsa, etc.

Each guest adds prepared ingredients of choice to their bag and shake. Make sure to get the air out of the bag and zip it up.

Place the bags into rolling boiling water for 13 minutes. you can usually cook 6-8 omelets in a large pot. For more, amke another pot of boiling water.

Open the bags and the omelet will roll out nicely. Be prepared for everyone to be amazed.

So there you have it. Give it a try and let me know how you like it.

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!


Sunday, September 13, 2009

50 Miles!

One of my goals this summer was to run 50 miles in a race. I accomplished that goal last Friday September 11th at the Patriots' Run. The Patriots' Run is an event to commemorate the events of September 11, 2001. The run is held not only to honor those that died, but also the soldiers, police, fire fighters, and medical personnel that were involved in that tragic event that day but also continue to serve our country each day. The run is a 9 hour 11 minute run that begins at noon and goes until 9:11PM in the evening. It is a great opportunity to run whatever distance that you choose and run for however long you want to run. It is a certified marathon course but several people ran many different distances. Now the fun part. It was run on a .73 mile loop course. It can also be an ultra-marathon which I chose to do.

What a day it was. After a very aggressive training schedule, I felt that I was ready for the challenge of a 50 miler. My training combined running and cycling that on several weeks totaled close to or over 200 total miles. Nutrition was a very big factor in the success of this adventure. Weeks of pre-race preparation were very important. I worked hard to develop menus and daily training plans that would get me to my goal of 50 miles. Energy levels were very important and also the recovery portion after each training session. Looking back, I am very satisfied with how I arranged my training. Especially helpful was the cycling that I did that on some days that totaled 30-50 miles. My legs were just stronger for this race. I did my riding on Monday and Friday with shorter runs on Tuesday, Thursday; Wednesday was a combination of both running and riding (6 run, 30 ride), and on Saturday and Sunday I did my long runs with the peak training runs consisting of back to back 26 milers. Once again my Hammer Nutrition products were amazing. This time during this training I added GU Chomps. They are fantastic! Great fuel that settles well in your stomach.

The night before the race I had salmon, two small baked potatos, and some cornbread. Bedtime snack was a protein shake. Pre-race meal was oatmeal with soy milk and Hammer Soy Protein. I also drank Hammer Heed before the race. Temperatures were to be in the high 80's with the heat index up there too. We had some good cloud cover during parts of the day that really helped. During the race I had Hammer Heed, Hammer Perpetuem, GU Chomps, peanut buter/banana/honey sandwiches, water, tonic water, and one time had a frozen push-up pop that tasted like gold! I kept my hydration levels high due to the heat and had good energy throughout the 9 hours of running. I took 1-2 minute walk breaks as I refueled almost every two to three laps. An interesting thig happened at this distance though. The longer I ran the less hungry I became. I would try and change that next time (Yes, there will be a next time!) I would like to have eaten more. My stomach was a little hungry at times. After the race, I had a Hammer Recoverite Shake. Then about two hours later, a trip to Sonic for a hamburger and cherry limeade. Nice! Then I ate about every hour on the hour the rest of the night.

Race strateggy was to keep my head in the run, pace myself, stretch regularly, stay hydrated, keep legs fresh, and keep moving, but also let my thoughts go a little bit and try to relax. Being a loop course, it was easy to get to know other runners and run with different people every so often. I kept an even pace throughout much of the run, averaging 10.33 minutes per mile.

The highlight for me aside from accomplishing the goal of 50 miles was to be able to run with my son Andy who came out and paced me for the last 3 hours. What a blessing that was. He is a great marathoner, ultra-runner, and cyclist himself and to have him there was a big help!! I can still remember the moment I got to the top of an incline and saw him standing there waiting to run with me. Believe me after 6 hours of running, it was a total vision of relief for me. He did a masterful job of getting me in the right frame of mind to get the 50. His encouragement and our great talks those last 3 hours are a great memory to me. Thanks Andy!

The volunteers were amazing and very helpful. The run was well staffed and the food came in waves during the day. It was one of the best stocked runs I have done. I also want to give my wife a huge thank you! She had her station all set up right before the start/finish line where all of my food and drink was ready at the times we had planned. I had all of the stops planned as far as what I was going to eat and drink. She did a fantastic job of making sure I was doing what I had planned on doing as far as food and hydration were concerned. She also spent many of her weekends before the race following me around supporting my training runs each Saturday and Sunday. She is an absolute pro at this. She was there the whole nine hours with encouraging signs and help.

Gear for the run consisted my usual Brooks Running things. My Infiniti shoes did a fantastic job of supporting my feet and keeping me feeling light footed. Smart Wool socks again came through with a no blister day. That makes a huge difference.

I got to meet some great people and to name them all is a little hard since during the course of 50 miles, you sometimes just don't remember everything. But it was great to meet Dailymilers and Marathon Maniacs Rob and Chris. It was also good to meet Jonathan. And to you others whose names have escaped me, I apologize, it was great to meet you too.

Took Saturday and today off but will ride 30 miles Monday and get back into my regular training this week. Yes, I am a little sore in places but getting back out there as well as a massage this week will help. A total surprise was that I placed in this run. I left Friday night thinking I was in third place and tied with another individual and took home a great plaque. However today, when the official results came out I was in 2nd place for overall male in the ultra category based on laps and miles run.

Run Stats:
8:57:40 chip time
10:33 per mile pace
50.960 miles
70 laps

New goals are already set. More on those another day. Pictures to follow soon.

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pictures from a Ride


Thought I would post a few pictures of the area I ride to out and back. The countryside is beautiful and it makes the miles go by so fast.

This is a view of the lake that I pass by on my way to the turnaround.

This horse keeps watch at the corner almost every night. Oh the stories it could tell. I still can't figure out why it has a full mask on its head though.


Another view of the lake on the way back.



Not a great picture, but it is a tree growing out of a silo. I don't know much about silos, but I bet this is not the real purpose for them.


I'm sure there will be more pictures later too since I just figured out how to take them with my cell phone. I know. Technology on a bike is dangerous. Lately I have been running on Tues., Wed., Thurs., Sat., and Sun. The long runs being on the weekend. Then I have added the rides to Mon., Wed., and Fri. It's been a good plan leading up to my ultra on Sept.11th.

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Running, Riding, and Critters

It happened again tonight on my 43 mile ride. Bugs. Not just a few, but at least millions. What's up with that?

I've been running for about eight years. Distances of 5K,10K, Half-Marathons, Marathons, and Ultras. No bugs. Then I started cycling again about six weeks ago. Now bugs. Does speed attract bugs? I'm not really sure, but I think there is a difference between being a runner and a cyclist that I never thought of. Critters. Bugs, and all sorts of things.

Just tonight I saw two raccoons (roadkill I'm afraid), 10 goats, several cows, piles of stuff in the road that cows make, a lizard-like creature that was running across the road, ducks, geese, turkey vultures (at least that's what people tell me they are), and bugs. I mean stick in the teeth bugs. A couple of them had an express lane trip right down my throat.

I consumed at least a dozen mouthfuls of a variety of these protein Man vs. Wild gourmet delights. Who needed to bring a protein drink along when all you have to do is open your mouth and say, "Look I'm speeding past you, jump in for a ride".

Then it got serious. They got all over my Hammer Nutrition clothes. Commonly referred to as a "kit". Not cool. I was covered with bugs from helmet to toe. I love my kits. I really don't like to get them dirty at all. A little or even a lot of sweat is ok. But bugjuice. No!

Now, it's not the first time this has happened. I have been riding this course for several weeks now and no bugs. Why now? Did the Bug Bus just happen to let off a billion bugs along my route just to attack me? The little ones, hey, I can handle them maybe. But the large ones hat hit the helmet and various parts of the my body with a thud and a splat need to go somewhere else. This is just not working for me. When I finished tonight I looked like the front end of a Ford Pick-Up truck.

Not that my 15-25 MPH pace will stagger the Tour de France people, but it is definitely attractive to the bugs of the Midwest. As a runner, I have had no bug worries and don't anticipate any. I have some foot speed too. Qualified for and ran Boston and am scheduled to run it again in 2010. Am a member of the Marathon Maniacs. Have put down some pretty good PR's now and then as well as some clunkers. But in all of those races, I have been bug free. Is it the speed that attracts bugs? Or is it just that I am running into them and they are totally surprised too?

Think about that. As a bug, you're just flying along minding your own business and then Wham! You're a helmet decal. I guess it goes both ways. Anyway, any advice you can add would be appreciated. I have a long run tomorrow and will ride in a Livestrong event on Sunday. We'll see about the bugs.

On a more serious note, my son Andy just loaned me his copy of the George Hincapi DVD. Wow! That is a must watch DVD. Very inspirational and very well done. What an amazing individual.

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Running and Riding Shorts

Some random thoughts and comments from the past week:

RAGBRAI Celebration
A huge congratulations to Team Awesomeness (Andy,Joel, Adam,Andy,Rag,Ryan, and others) for completing the RAGBRAI ride across Iowa that finished up last weekend! Wow! What an accomplishment. Was able to get up to see them for the night before the finish and also the finish. I am amazed at the distances they rode and the conditions they faced a few of the days. And the food they were able to consume while riding sounded pretty good too. Sounds like the towns they rode through were unbelievable in terms of hospitality! What an adventure! It will be on my calendar for 2010 for sure. Hope Team Awesomeness will let me ride along with them!

Austin Half-Marathon
Join me in Austin, TX on October 11, 2009 for a great half-marathon. I have a team forming in conjunction with FCA Team Endurance. We'll have agreat time. More on this in a few weeks. Registration instructions and website information will be coming soon. We'll run together or you can do your own thing. Austin is a great place to run!

Next Race
My next race will be on September 11th in Olathe,KS. It is called the Patriots Run. The race starts at 12:00 noon and runs for the next 9 hours and 11 minutes. Runners can run as far as they can/want to in that time. My plans are to do 50 miles or more that day. It's a race run on a loop course. I am really excited to get a 50 accomplished.

On the Road...With Wheels Now Too!
Yes, it's happened. I am now cycling and loving every minute of it. Three days a week doing between 25-50 miles have become a weekly routine. Good cross training and so far feeling my running is benefitting from the additon of the riding. I have several great routes and the scenary is fantastic.

Training Schedule Changing
Next week it will be time to start back with my teaching responsibilities. It's been great to be able to run/ride, eat, and nap each day and then just get up and do more of the same the next day. However, all good things must change...so now it will be back to late afternoon/evening training and weekend morning long runs. I could do this for a long time!

Chomps
In my opinion Hammer Nutrition products are without a doubt the best supplements on the market right now. I have had fantastic results with them. But I will tell you that I have supplemented my Hammer Nutrition plan with a product called GU Chomps. They are fantastic for either your runs or your rides. Chomps have amino acids for great energy and rapid recovery, vitamins C & E for the antioxidents, a good electrolyte balance of sodium and potassium, and a blend of simple and complex carbohydrates. Great flavors and I think they are much easier on the stomach than gels. Just sayin...

Well, hope this week has been good to you and that the upcoming week will be a great one! Make sure you take time this week to let somebody know you care.

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Training Change

Spending a few days in Boston going to professional meetings and doing some early morning runs along the St.Charles River, allowed me to have some time to rethink some of my future training plans and race plans. I'm about 7 weeks away from my next ultra-marathon of 50 miles (Still need to find an August marathon.), and several weeks before my first cycling race in October of 40 to 80 miles. Have not decided yet on the distance. Therefore the training plan needs to be in place that will carry me across the finish line in a strong way. There are several components of a good training plan.

First of all, Nutrition and Hydration. I can't emphasize this enough. A good Hydration and Nutrition plan is a must. These are not things that you wait a few days before a race to start. It is a continuous process that involves organization and careful calculations of your own body needs. What you are training for does make a difference. The Hammer Nutrition Products that I use are a fantastic benefit to get me on the road or trail for running and cycling at my top performance levels. You have heard me talk about Hammer often. Hammer has very knowledgeable people to help you set up a program that will work best for your needs. I am also available to assist you with any questions in this area. Hydration is something that needs to have attention each day. Consumption of the right combination of liquids is a real art. There is so much junk out on the market right now it is unbelievable. Be careful what you buy and do not over hydrate or under hydrate. Again, Hammer leads the way in this area.

Second. Gear. Brooks Running is my gear of choice. I am a Brooks ID runner and really strongly advocate that they have the best products on the market right now. Some very advanced technology that is not wasted on bells and whistles like some of the other companies. Fancy does not make you a better runner. Research into product development does. That's the Brooks focus.

Third. The Training Plan. There are so many plans out there right now. Please be careful and choose one that fits you and not someone else. Training plans are very personal and quite frankly are not always found in the stacks of running and cycling magazines we all pour over each month. Find someone you can trust to help you with a plan that will focus on your goal and get you there in a way the insures success. Again, I would be more than happy to help you with a training plan for any distance. Simply leave a comment on this blog and your email address and I will be more than glad to help you!

My training plan for the next 7 weeks involves combinations of running and cycling that will provide a good balance of miles involving different sets of muscle groups. My training plan calls for me to do my longest runs on Saturday and Sunday of distances from 15-25 miles each day. These back to back runs strengthen me in a way that prepares me for the ultra. During the week I will be dong 8 mile runs on Tuesday and Thursday. Then on Monday and Friday I will be doing 25-40 mile rides. Wednesday will include a 6 mile run and a 20 mile ride. It puts me at between 90 and 150+ total miles a week. It's an agressive training plan. I am finding that including cycling as a major part of my training the past 2 weeks has really given me new strength. Therefore, the change to include more cycling.

I will keep you posted on how things are going. You can follow me each day on Twitter or Dailymile. I hope you will find the updates meaningful and helpful. Let me know if I can be of help to you. Best of luck to all of you that are running or riding in races the next few weeks!

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Conclusions from Man vs. Fast Food

It was great to be able to have a few days to take a look at the fast food industry. The Man vs. Fast Food event last week was one of information gathering and food tasting. The opportunity to present an option to what you can eat at fast food establishments was a challenging one for me. The goal was easy. What can active people that want food that is not high in fat, calories, carbs, and sodium do when the are "stuck" with fast food options? I found out that there are menu choices that can work and also some items that need to be avoided completely. Was there a fast food establishment that outdid another? Yes. Am I going to recommend a place for you to go for your meals? No. The visits to McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Taco Bell, and Sonic were very informative. You need to make your own choices.

Conclusions that I could make from my 5 day trip into the fast food world would be:

Look carefully at the menu options before you order. Many fast food places have their menus online so do your homework on several so that you know what to order when you are presented with the problem of ordering fast food. Look at the key things that are very important in our active diet. Check out the sodium content, fat amounts, calories, carbs , and portions. It was amazing that the more the protein increased the size of the menu item did too. Want high protein? Order the super size of anything and of course there will be more protein. Come on, that's not rocket science. there will also be more sodium, calories, and fat. There were menu combinations that were ok. A small hamburger and a salad with low fat dressing was a good option. some salads alone had more negatives than other items on the menu. Dressing? Not good.

There were several things that impressed me though. There is an effort out there in fast food land to make us aware of just what we are eating. They don't order the meals, we do. It's a two way street. Yes, they could improve their menus. In some cases they are. But it is our responsibility too. A couple of places had the Allergens listed for each menu item. That is way cool! There are also different portion sizes for things. Take advantage of that.

Think before you order. What we take in as food needs to be fuel that we can burn in a positive way for our active needs. High fats, carbs, calories, and sodium only add to a savings account of trouble.

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Man vs. Fast Food....Friday is Sonic




Man vs. Fast Food went to Sonic today. It was a great trip and one that provided some very good options for those of us on the go in these summer months. It was interesting, as I looked at the menu, to see some similar things at Sonic that we saw at other places during the week. However, Sonic's presentation of these items and the drive-up atmosphere sets them a part from other fast food places. I really enjoy going to sonic for that reason.

Today I ordered the #1 Sonic Burger and it was low in calories (310), carbs(30g), and sodium (610mg). It had a great taste and has always been one of my favorite burgers. I also order the Crispy Chicken Bacon Ranch Sandwich that had the highest sodium numbers (1,780mg) and got the Sodium King Award for the day. Both sandwiches had great taste but the nutrition numbers on them really make a difference. Remember that portion size and sodium are the main things that we have been talking about this week so these sandwiches were at opposite ends of the menu there.

Other items of interest:
* Jalapeno Burger- Low in Sodium (510mg)
* Burrito- Low in sodium (480mg)
* Taco- Low in sodium (360mg)
* Corn Dog- Low in Carbs(23g)
* Thousand Island Jr. Cheeseburger- Low in Carbs (30g)
* Grilled Chicken Wrap- Low in Fat (11g)
Then On the high side of things:
* Super Sonic Cheeseburger- High in Calories (980), Protein (48g), and Fat (64g)
* FRITOS Chili Pie- High in Carbs (72g), and FAt (64g)
* Fish Sandwich- High in Carbs (71g)

There were several items that were high in protein that were on the Super Sonic Sandwich llist but were Fairly high in other areas.

The Salads provided even more options. The Grilled Chicken Salad was Low in Calories (310), Fat (13g), and Carbs (19g). The Santa Fe Chicken Salad was high in Protein (30g). But please note that the more things that you add onto your salad the higher some of these numbers go.

Also, a reminder to look at Sonic's Allergen listings online. They have a chart that lets you know what foods might contain the following allergens: milk, egg, fish, shellfish, soy, peanuts, treenuts, wheat, and gluten. Thank you sonic for doing this!

Another reminder is that Sonic does have those Powerade Drinks and Slushes for you to choose from if you are on the go and need to pick up something for hydration purposes or just to go with your meal.

Hope you have a great Friday and enjoy your walk, run, or ride today!

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Man vs. Fast Food....Thursday is Wendy's



As we continue our Man vs. Food week, I went to Wendy's today. What a surprise they had for me. I went online and looked at their menu and was impressed with all of the possibilities that you could order.I ordered the Grilled Chicken Go Wrap which had low carbs (24g) and fairly low calories (250) and Fat (10g) but had nearly twice the sodium (730mg) as one of the Jr. Hamburgers (490mg). That was a little disappointing. Oh sodium, what are we going to do with you? I also ordered the Triple Burger with Everything plus cheese. It was the Sodium King for the day (2,010mg), but also had the most protein due to the large portion of meat and cheese. You know, you can create a lot of protein the higher you stack it, but also create other nutritional problems along the way.

I really liked the "Build Your Own" sandwich or wrap or really just about anything. Very good idea on Wendy's part to do this. If you look at the menu online or go to the individual restaurants, you can really become knowledgeable about what can be added to things and still stay in the boundaries that you are trying to have for your focus. I know it was an awakening for me. If you want two Jr. Hamburger patties on a sandwich, you can do that. It allows you to do just about anything with your order. Impressive!

Here are some other food items that were reviewed for their nutritional value:
* Jr. Hamburger- Low Calorie (230), Low Sodium (490mg)
* Ultimate Chicken Grill Sandwich- Low Fat (7g)
* Spicy Chicken Fillet- High Carbs (49g)

Wendy's also has selections of Salads and Baked Potato items as well as Chili.

*Special Note*
One of the most important things that Wendy's does is that it lists the allergens on their online menu. I don't think that I have seen that at any of the places that we have gone so far. They have a list that shows if the food item you are interested in has eggs, milk, soy, wheat, or peanuts/treenuts in them. WOW! What a great idea! That is a big plus for many people right now.

It was a great trip to Wendy's today. Keep in mind, as we have all week long, that our goal is to look for foods that we can eat if we are "stuck" at a fast food restaurant. I don't think I feel "stuck" at Wendy's at all. Continue to check for high numbers in calories, sodium, fat, and carbs. at the places that you go. Remember we are fueling our bodies to work at their best. It's just not a "fill it up attitude".

I hope your day is good and that you can get out and run, bike, or walk and have a great Thursday! Tomorrow I go to Sonic!

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Man vs. Fast Food....Wednesday is Taco Bell



Today is Wednesday so that meant our Man vs. Fast Food travels took us to Taco Bell. Taco Bell has some options for you to choose from if you are "stuck" at a fast food place due to your schedule or that fact that your family might like to eat there. They have a Fresco side of the menu that has 9g or less of fat for the items on that portion of the menu. That's where our first taste tested item came from. It was the Fresco Crunchy Taco. It was low in calories, carbs, and sodium. Yea! This was one of the first items this week that met several of the criteria. It had good taste and was lightenough so that it was not too filling. Remember, the key here is to only order 1 and not 5 lor 6 because that is what gets us into trouble. Portion sizes and also quantities.

The next item that I ordered was the Grilled Stufft Chicken Burrito. Wow! It was the Sodium Kung for sure today. It had 2,180mg of sodium in it and it tasted like it. It was very heavy and just wasn't something that appealed to me as someone who wants food that is good on the go and something that is light. With these high outside temperatures right now it even had less appeal. The first thing I did was to reach for some water. Really couldn't get more than a couple of bites down.

As I cautioned in the video, just because it is low fat doesn't mean all is good. One selection, the Fresco Ranchero Chicken Soft Taco is low fat (4g) but has twice the sodium (740mg) as did the Fresco Crunchy Taco. That is where menu selection becomes difficult. I encourage all of you to check online to see what the menus have to offer before you go to any of these fast food places. You can be surprised.

Some other items of interest:
* Chciken Ranch Fully Loaded Taco Salad- High Calorie 960 and High Protein 36g
* Chipolte Steak Fully Loaded Taco Salad- High in Fat 59g (Special note here. This item had double the sodium of the Fresco Crunchy Taco. Interesting.)
* Volcano Burrito- High Carbs 81g
* Fiesta Taco Salad- Also had High Carbs 81g

The conclusion from today is that it is a good thing that Taco Bell is trying to provide items on the menu that are better for you than others. However, they are inconsistant with the message that they are sending by complicating the menu with options that are way above sodium and fat levels that I think that we should be having as walker, runners, and cyclists. Yes, there will always be those that say they can tolerate these high levels of sodium because they excercise and are active. But how long will that be true? Remember, take in only what your body can use for fuel and to maintain a good healthy balance in your nutrition needs.

Some of the menus that we have looked at this week so far are making attempts at balancing nutritional needs, but are a ways from getting us as consumers to move away from the options that are not especially healthy for us to choose from. When there is choice, sometimes we make the wrong one if it is available. Do some research and think about what you eat. Your body will thank you as you venture out for your run, ride, or walk!

Tomorrow is Thursday which means we will head out to Wendy's. See you tomorrow!

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Man vs. Fast Food....Tuesday is Burger King




My visit today to Burger King was interesting to say the least. As you saw in the video, there are several options that you can choose from. But we also need to keep in mind some very important points about nutrition. The Whopper Jr. Hamburger was the lowest in calories plus the lowest in sodium. The BK Quad Stacker got the Sodium King award for the day because it had 1,800mg of sodium in it as well as 1,000 calories. Whew, that is a sandwich to avoid if you are on the go and needing a meal before or after an activity.

Some other menu items that I looked at were ones that need to carefully be considered if you are on the go and need something before or after walking, running, or cycling. Here are some interesting comparisons:
*Triple Whopper with Cheese- high in calories, high fat, but high in protein
*Tender Grill Chicken w/o mayo- low fat
*Tendercrisp Chicken- high carbs
*BK Quad Stacker- high sodium, high calories. The sodium King for Today!
*Regular hamburger- low calories and low carbs

The Side Garden Salad with low fat dressing is a great choice and as was the case yesterday you could eat several of those to equal one of the large sandwiches that Burger King has to offer. A Side Garden Salad with a Whopper Jr. or Hamburger would would be a good combination to order if you also included low fat dressing for the salad. Other salad options were not as positive. The Tendergrill Chicken Salad had good protein but was high in other categories. The Tendercrisp Chicken Garden Salad was high in calories, high in fat, high in sodium, and high in carb. I think that this is one to stay away from.

So for today. The focus is still on portion size and trying to find combinations like the Whopper Jr. and Side Garden Salad that would be just right for you. Avoiding the high calorie, high fat and high carb menu selections is a must. Also, watch the sodium and sugar content of what you are eating. That is so important.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Man Vs. Fast Food..Monday is McDonald's



Our first stop this week of Man vs. Fast Food was at McDonald's where I made selections from the sandwich menu. I selected two sandwiches that seemed to be the best choices if you were "stuck" ordering fast food for lunch or dinner. I did check with the Fast Food Peson (FFP) about what they would consider good nutritional items to order and I also did do some prior research on their website, which by the way props to them for listing everything under the sun nutritionally about each item, to see just what the possibilities might be. Given the needs of runners, cyclists, and walkers, I looked at several areas of nutrition to choose what I ordered today.

The criteria for selection is taking a look at the following things when deciding what to order:
Highest protein, low calories, high calories, high sodium, low sodium, high carbs, low carbs, low total fat, and high total fat.

The items selected today were the good old hamburger and the Honey Mustard Snack Wrap. The hamburger lead in several categories. It was low in fat, lowest calories, and lowest sodium. The Honey Mustard Snack wrap measured up evenly with the hamburger until it got to the sodium where the wrap had about twice as much. Ah, sodium. That's where some of the items on the menu really skyrocket. They might look low in calories and low in fat, but behind the scenes lurks the sodium monster. Please be careful in this area.

Other items on the menu that brought out some interesting facts that you should know about are the Double Quarter Pounder with cheese that had the highest protein but the highest total fat. The Angus Bacon Cheese had the highest calories, highest sodium, and the highest carbs. Whoa! So the Angus Bacon Cheese sandwich wins the Sodium King Award for the day.

In the salad category, there were a few surprises too. The side salad was a winner as something that you could have with the hamburger and do pretty well. The side salad had the lowest fat, calories, sodium, and carbs. Using the low fat dressing of course. The Premium Bacon Ranch Salad had the highest protein but also the highest sodium. The Premium Bacon Ranch Salad with crispy chicken had the highest total fat and carbs.

Some interesting facts:
*All of the wraps seemed good until you got to the sodium. They were right there with the hamburger until you looked at the sodium.
*You could order 2 hamburgers and there would be less calories than if you ordered 1 Premium Southwest with Crispy Chicken Salad with dressing.
*You could also order 7 Side Salads with low fat dressing which would equal 1 of many of the sandwiches.

Conclusion: We have to acknowledge that McDonald's has made an effort to disclose the nutritional information about their products. However, as consumers we need to be very aware of the high sodium content and high calories in most of their selections. So when at McDonald's, choose a hamburger or two over the highly touted wraps and loaded salads to keep the sodium, calories and fat to a minimum.

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Tuesday:Man vs. Fast Food....Burger King

Friday, June 19, 2009

Man Vs. Fast Food.....Coming Monday June 22nd

Look out, here I come fast food establishments! Can't remember the last time I was in one, but Monday through Friday of next week I will select one fast food establishment in town and seek out a runner/cyclist friendly meal for that day. I will then review it via video clips and tell you what I ordered and about the nutritional value of the meal, and if I survived. Will I need to be rescued before Friday? Will I meet my match of Man vs. Fast Food?

I will take the advice of one of the workers at the FFP (Fast Food Place) as to what I should order. I will ask them what they think is the most nutritional meal item that they have. Then dive into it.

Now I know there are those of you out there that after you run/bike a race or training session, your mind gives you endless permission to leap into the giant pool of fast food and order what you want. Not talking about that. This is just an everyday leap into the world of fast food. Many people have to eat fast food for a variety of reasons. This challenge will help guide you through the goods and bads of that world.

This weekend, I will prepare myself both mentally and physically for this event.

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

The Great Urban Race/OK Let's Do This!

The Great Urban Race. What a fantastic idea. Did I just stumble on this and no one told me about it? This is a must do! The Great Urban Race is, and I quote: "A wacky urban adventure. Teams of 2 solve 12 clues, while having a wild city adventure completing fun challenges". Shape Magazine says,"Think of it as a one day Amazing Race." The race series started in February. I guess that's why I missed it. I was on the roads of Texas running the Texas Quad Marathons October through February.

The races are held in major cities or ones close to major cities. And like I said they started in February in Tampa Bay then went to: Phoenix, Los Angeles, Austin, Atlanta, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Boston, Portland, Madison, and Denver. Upcoming cities include: Chicago, New York City, Seattle, Charlotte, Philadelphia, Dallas, Normal,IL., San Diego, and then New Orleans for the Championships.

This group also has another version called the Warrior Dash which was this past week and was sold out. More difficult and perhaps more challenging depending on what you are looking for.

This is such a great break from the traditional races that it would be great to get a team up and head for one of these cities. It's not too late for this year, but there will be more races in 2010 to look forward to. More later on these races I'm sure.

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009

Ironman 70.3 Kansas

Today I was at the Ironman 70.3 Kansas Expo and race site. Very well organized by the way. The vendors were setting things up and race volunteers were staffing their posts and packet pick-up was just beginning. As I stood there, I just smiled at the anticipation and excitement and enjoyed it. No, I have not entered the ironman arena as a particpant yet but it might happpen someday. All kinds of equipment and nutrition products were displayed. There was a buzz in the air that was fantastic. The race isn't until Sunday so the mood was different than it will be as the race nears . But the talk among competitors was friendly and engaging. Laughs and stories were flying around like the warm Kansas breeze. Underneath all of that, the participants were getting ready.

You could tell they were getting ready by the few that were out for a test ride on Friday. There were ones that had already selected their campsite and were getting their gear organized. Some pretty nice campsites! Not my thing, but hey, they looked good. There were small groups of people and then there were individuals that were sitting under a tree near the lake contimplating what was to come. Planning, thinking, reflecting on past race strategies, checking equipment, and how they felt after the trip getting here.

What an atmosphere! Few people even know the hours of training and preparation that go into being a participant, a race director and their staff of volunteers, a vendor, or a member of the particpants family that came along for support. It takes dedication, teamwork, planning, and many more things to make things work. The excitement will build over the next few hours to a high pitch come Sunday morning. You can just feel it!

As a member of FCA Team Endurance, I will be helping with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Iron Prayer meeting Saturday afternoon. It will be a great time for fellowship, inspiration, worship, and prayer. For several marathons the past few months, I coordinated the marathon version of Iron Prayer called Endurance Prayer. We held meetings prior to marathons in Marathon,TX, Dallas, Houston, Austin, and Eugene. I will keep you posted on future events associated with FCA Team Endurance.

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Be an Encourager!

The longer that I run the more I appreciate encouragement from others. It is incredible what encouragement can do for you. It motivates you, energizes you, and causes you to just feel like someone cares.

There are several avenues that can make that happen. When family and friends are at races with their signs and cheering you on during the race, that can be a great lift for you. Phone calls, text messages, emails, websites, also Twitter and Facebook messages within the new "social networking" craze can be very uplifting and fun. What it boils down to is that we all like encouragement. It does not matter what race distance, what event or location, we all like it. Whether we run, ride, or walk, we are all in the same frame of mind when we step up to our training plan for those many weeks or a race that we are competing in. Encouragement gets us going. It's food for the soul.

The other day when I was out running, I ran up behind this man that was walking. I said, "Hi!", to him and as I passed I heard him say, "Everyone is passing me today.". I stopped and turned around and ask him what he meant by that and he said that because he was walking everyone was just going by so fast. No one paid any attention to him, No one said anything to him and no one cared. I reflect back on several Runner's World polls and articles that talk about whether it is "cool" to greet another runner as you pass them. Most polls say that people don't. Personal experience in that area notes that on my runs I greet people as I meet them and many of them just don't respond. What's up with that. Too good? So I would have to agree with this man.

As we walked I asked him how far he was going and that it sure was a great day to be out. He smiled and agreed. He asked me the same distance question and I just responed that I was out for a training run. We talked about how important it was to just be out. Enjoying the nice day and getting some exercise. We finished our conversation because he headed another direction than I did. We said our goodbyes. He turned back and said,"Thanks! Thanks for stopping and talking to me. You have a great day!" I told him to do the same and we just both smiled. He was encouraged. I was encouraged. My stride was a little lighter. The run was more fun that day.

Be an encourager. It makes people feel good! You will feel good too because it will come back to you too!

On a personal note. I had the wonderful opportunity the other day to talk to a group of middle school athletes at a running camp at a town near where I live. I have a great friend that was one of the coaches at this camp and he asked me to say a few words to the group. I kept asking what it was that I should talk about and he said I could talk about anything running related. Well, several things came to mind as I talked to them that day. A few personal experiences were shared. Some nutrition ideas and training ideas also. Most of all I asked them to have fun and to run with a passion and to run with heart. To run with heart and passion is to run with a true undestanding of what it takes day in and day out to be a runner. It was a great experience and my hope is that I gave them something that they can pass on to others someday. Encouragement!

Forward we go! May your roads and trail be happy and safe!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Andy and Monk

Today our son Andy's dog Monk lost his battle with cancer. Monk was an amazing dog. He and Andy were a great team. It is a sad and heartbreaking day in our family. Andy and Monk shared so many happy things in life as well as the trials and difficulties of the human and animal worlds. Monk was always there for Andy. Day and night. They ran together, played together, wrestled together, talked together about all subjects, walked together, listened to NPR together, listened to the latest tunes that Andy had found, watched endless episodes of West Wing and The Office on television, and was able to join in when the guys would come over on Monday nights. Monk was a part of every celebration and event that Andy was ever a part of. Be it birthday parties or just a gathering of friends, Monk was always there to add some happiness and fun.

Monk had the eyes of a knowing, caring, full of love and life dog. He fought the cancers that he had with courage and strength that I have never seen an animal do. Monk had you by the heart the minute you met him. He was a part of so many people's lives, too many to name. They will all miss him so much. From the peanut butter kongs to the rawhide chews, Monk was always ready for anything that you wanted to do. He made you happy the minute you walked into the room. From his drool to his large wagging tail, he was your friend and loved being with you.

When he was a puppy, his legs were so long and feet so big, he looked like a deer that was just waiting to grow into his body. Monk was a big dog. He was a beautiful Yellow Lab. He had the look of a champion show dog and was extremely smart. He knew Andy so well. He knew what Andy needed every minute he was with Andy. But Monk also had a very playful side that was fun. He would do so many things that you knew he was just testing you to see if you would play along or see that he had invented a new game that he thought was cool. Dragging things around Andy's house like clothes, his doggie bed, getting up on pieces of furniture when no one was there were things that I know he did just to see what everyone would do. Monk also enjoyed his meals. Andy always watched his diet so well.

When Monk stayed with us (me, Andy's mom, and sister Kelsey), we always treasured those times. He was always great and we called him our "Granddog". Somehow, when he would stay with us and then go back to Andy's, he seemed a bit spoiled. Andy would always laugh about that. Not that Andy didn't spoil Monk or anything.

Our family will miss Monk. There is no way to ease the hurt and pain right now. Monk gave you unconditional love. He was there for you no matter what. He seemed to know what everyone needed. I will miss Monk's head on my lap. His paws on me as if to say, "hey everything is going to be ok". I will miss the talks we had. The advice that his eyes gave me. The licks.

But I can't imagine the loss Andy feels right now. The hurt and heartbreaking pain that is ripping at him. Monk was his everyday buddy. To Andy, I say that I hope you know that you gave Monk a great and loving life. You were so much a part of him and all that he needed. He loved you and always will. You have many memories that will never go away. Keep them tucked in your heart and know that Monk is doing the same. To Monk, I say thank you. Thank you for loving us with all of your heart. Thank you for making your years in our family amazing and fun. Thank you for being Monk. We love you and will miss you.

With Monk in our hearts, Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day Thoughts

As the Memorial Day weekend here in the United States gets into full swing, my thoughts today turned to my Dad who passed away 10 years ago. He was a Veteran of the United States Army and was very proud of that. And this weekend as we honor the many Veterans of the past that have died, as well as loved ones, friends, and people that we identified with, it is good to pause and reflect on what each of them gave to us. Many Veterans made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and served to give us the freedom that we so enjoy today. Our loved ones, friends, and others also had huge impacts on our lives in some way or another. Sometimes these days are painful I know. The memories come flooding back so quickly. But it is good to not wait for a special day. It should be any day that we think about those that meant so much to us.

My Dad was a great father, grandfather, teacher, and coach. He so loved his grandkids, our son and daughter Andy and Kelsey. He retired as one of the most successful high school football coaches in the United States. He coached many All-Americans and also was the football coach of Yankee Great Mickey Mantle in Commerce, Oklahoma. But with all the records and honors, he really never talked that much about that part of his life. He loved people. He loved teaching his high school students in American Government. He loved coaching. He loved to fish. Anytime, anywhere.

I remember many things about him but some of the most prominent things about him were that he was tuned into people. He was not a "Me" person. He was a good listener and he cared about those he came in contact with. He respected you. He valued whatever walk of life that you came from. A lesson that I value a great deal.

I felt safe with him. Safe in terms that I knew that he had high expectations and values. I knew he was there if I needed him. He wanted me to do my best and if at the end of an activity I could say that, he was happy and proud. (That is unless I was caught looking at a called third strike in baseball. Then we would have "the talk".) He made me want to try harder at everything. And that's not a bad thing. I have talked many times in my blogs about reaching for the stars and setting and working and reaching your goals. He always had goals. He always had a plan. Today we call them training plans. His teams won games because they were prepared. His teams were prepared both physically and mentally. Therefore, I grew up knowing that to be successful I needed to have a plan or a vision of what I wanted to accomplish. Preparation. Training.

I know as I train and run in my marathons and ultras, he has the best seat in the house. I know that he has cheered me on and given me an extra push when I needed it most. During the worst weather as I train, I remember his teams were still out there practicing. I train in all types of conditions because I want to be prepared the best that I can. I remember asking him why he practiced in the rain and he said, "because you play like you practice and someday there will be rain at a game and we want to have had that experience".

I also remember him staying up with me all night. Holding my head up so that I could breathe and sleep because I had asthma. I remember the countless pitches that he threw to me to teach me to hit and catch. I remember the many times he taught me the "special" things about fishing. His fishing secrets. Where to cast for the big ones. I remember his arm around my shoulders when I needed a hug both in good times and bad. I remember his tears when a relative or friend passed away. But I also remember the twinkle in his eyes and the smile on his face when he was happy about something.

So watch me run Dad. But most of all Dad, watch me be the kind of person you wanted me to be. A great Dad to my own kids, A loving person. Respectful of others. Not boastful. Humble, but proud of my efforts. A friend to all. An encourager to many. Thank you for all that you gave to me and others!

A quote that he always used, and I don't know if it was his or borrowed from somewhere else, but I have always remembered it: "What you have is God's gift to you. What you do is your gift to God".

May we honor all on this Memorial Day!

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Running Message for the Week

Sometimes we just have to stop and listen to what is going on around us. We have to reverse our thoughts to a more positive theme. We have to turn things around from within our own minds so that we can influence others to do the same. It is not a given that happiness is automatic. What is automatic is that we have a chance to make each day happy. Each day. Today. Tomorrow. And the next day. And the next and the next....

This clip from YouTube says many things. It may say something to you that motivates you to go out and make a difference today and the next and the next.

What does this have to do with running? Everything!




Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Why Do You Run?

It seems that question is asked of me almost daily. I was at the grocery store today and a person that I didn't even know came up to me and said that she had seen me running all over town. Wondered how far I ran each day. Today another person said that she passed me in her car each day0n her way home and it inspired her to get out and start walking with hopes of running someday. I was stopped at a stop light the other day and a group of high school runners ended up at the same light with me (I would like to say caught up with me but that's not the case.) and asked when and where my next race was. A man stopped me as I was running through downtown the other evening and wanted to know how I got started running and that he would really like to start running.

Knowing what to say can sometimes be difficult. I don't want to respond that I am on my second day of 20 mile plus long runs. Or that I am running 30 miles training for my next ultra. I also don't want to say that I have just been running a hill route workout that is really kicking me. So many times I just say I am out for a run because I really like to just get out and run, do some thinking, and enjoy the world around us.

I tell most people that I started out with a walking program. Then did some cycling, and then decided that I really liked to just run. That I really liked the training plans and nutrition plans I developed and how I felt each day.Then I lost all sense of reality and started running endurance races. Whoa, wait a minute! To some people an endurance race just might be a mile so I have to be careful with that statement. Some people get it and some people just don't. That's ok. There are some days when I feel like an 18 wheeler and I don't get it either.

Do we run because:
*We like doing something that we can really see benefits in our efforts.
*At a race we like all of the pre and post race things (Food?) that are associated with running.
*We can eat right and make good nutrition choices. Or not. And eat everything in sight.
*Love to hear the roar of the crowds at the start and finish lines of big races.
*We like the preparation and training that go into running.
*We like the lonely think time that we have when we run alone.
*We like the times we have with our running group that gets us out there even when we don't want too run.
*We have found new emotions down deep inside us that we never knew we had.
* We like the great playlists for the music that we listen to as we run and know that we never would have done that if we hadn't started running.
*We have developed endurance that carries us through our everyday challenges.
*The joy that we feel when we accomplish a distance or time for a training run or race that we never thought we could do.
*We run because we can.
*We run for somebody, a special cause, a personal reason.

We are all different in may ways. But we are the same in knowing that we still put one foot in front of the other each time we step out the door. Some days are easy and some days are hard. Some days we laugh and some days we cry. Some days we feel like we could run forever and maybe wish that we could and others we feel like the first mile was just as hard as our last marathon or 5K. We inspire each other and also those that have never run before.

So on your next run, ask yourself "Why do I run?". And on the day after a difficult run when you get out of bed sore and wonder why you run, or when you get that race medal and race shirt, remember this: You like to run because.......

The next time someone asks me why I run I'll say, "Do you have a couple of minutes...?"

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Eugene Marathon Race Report

Beautiful! That's one word that can describe the Eugene Marathon experience. What a great city and what a great marathon. I would highly recommend it to everyone. It is basically a "flat as a pancake" course with minor hills and exceptional surroundings. At least that's what they tell me. I really didn't look around very much during the race.

We flew into Portland and then rented a car and drove to Eugene. We stayed at the Valley River Inn. It was just a short distance from the race start and was very nice with a fine restaurant. The restaurant provided a pasta dinner the night before the race which was fantastic. I don't know, but the only real problem we had was all of the one way streets in Eugene and Portland. Are there really that many or were we just going in circles? The room we had was huge. Great for all of my running stuff and Hammer Nutrition Products. Yes, I did have an extra suitcase for all of my supplements. My Hammer supplements are an extremely important part of my race preparation. More on that later.

Took a light and easy run Saturday morning before the race on Sunday. It was raining but I ran along the bike path that ran in front of the hotel which the next day was to be part of the marathon course. Little did I know that the next day it would be raining too. Had a great run but felt a little tight both mentally and physically. After hearing about the course I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to PR. It was the course made to do it at I thought. After a snack, I took a nap and then got the race gear ready for the next day. Dinner was pasta, chicken breast, steamed vegetables, and bread. Of course, lots of bread. Had a good night's sleep and woke up at 4:00AM to get ready and have my pre-race meal. This time I had oatmeal with soy milk and soy protein. Didn't eat it all, but felt great at the start of the race and really had no trouble with hydration or nutrition during the race at all.

The race started at 7:00AM and we were greeted with a steady light rain and cool temperatures. I don't know but the rain seemed to be a dry rain if that makes sense. It was already so humid the rain didn't make that much difference. Some of the streets were a little slick but the route was ok. It rained or misted most of the race which was fine because it really kept us cool. Temperatures seemed to stay in the upper 40's to mid 50"s. It was wonderful. The air was so clean to breathe. WOW! I carried Perpetuem and Heed in powdered form on my waist belt in small plastic containers and took a hand-held bottle to mix them with water at the aid stations. I was faster in my transitions this time and it really paid off. I am getting better at doing everything on the run and just stopping to have the volunteers add water to my
hand-held. Also had plain water three times. Did 4 gels and felt very good energy all of the way! I also took Endurolytes and Endurance Amino capsules every hour. I also carried a Hammer Bar, ginger chews, and peppermints(This time I didn't need them.) Also, I have a before and after race supplement plan that I follow too. My Brooks Infiniti 2's were outstanding! It is a great shoe that really kept my foot strike light and the entire foot supported very well. It is a great shoe as was it's last year's version the Infiniti. Both shoes are amazing and really give you excellent support that allows your foot to do what it needs to do to get you to the finish line. After the finish, they had lots of food and booths for runners as well as a results tent right there where you could get your results and splits right after you finished. That was a big plus!

I had a very good pace the entire way and was pleased that I did because I did not wear my glasses because of the rain and the humidity. So I never really could see my watch or my pace band. Talk about listen to your body and foot strike. It was an amazing experience. I had been training at certain pace levels and really knew my pace but it ended up faster than I thought.

So here are the stats: 5K-24:29, 10K-49:13, Half-1:43:45, 30K-2:28:10, 40K-3:15:35. My finishing time was 3:26:29 which was a PR for me and another Boston qualifying time. I am really excited and blessed. I know now that all of the evenings that I spend on my training runs, 3 nights a week with my personal trainer, and once a week with my massage/stretching trainer are a good training plan for me. But remember, what works for me might not work for you. We are all different in terms of how much time we have to spend on our training and the resources that we have to work with. And even with all of that, without my strong faith and support of family and friends, it just would not be complete.

Next up is the Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon in Deadwood, SD. on June 7th. I am really looking forward to that race!

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Boston

That's all that really needs to be said. Boston. Today was the day of one of the most amazing races in the world. It was great to watch the battles that the elite men and women waged against each other. The pace was incredible. The emotion was sky high. The effort was out of this world. Congratulations to all participants whether you were in the elite group or one of the runners that qualified to run in the most famous marathon in the world. It is a memory that you will always have.

When I ran the 111th edition of the marathon in 2007, there were a few interesting twists. The weather being one. But now as I look back, the weather becomes less important and the actual experience becomes the most vivid. And yes, the hills are that steep. They mean what they say about the Newton Hills and Heartbreak Hill.

Today as runners lined up at the start. I could feel the tension, anticipation, eagerness, race strategies running through each head, eyes focused on the road ahead, and the thought that you had finally made it to Boston. It was exciting!

Yes, I know there are some that qualify each year and to you I say congratulations. But there are still some of us that hold the marathon as one of the most important running events that we can ever do. I have been fortunate this year to run two qualifying time races and will run it for the second time in 2010. I got goosebumps today when the race started. My emotions were strong and my eyes were focused on the computer screen. It was time for Boston. The marathon. The tradition. The epic running battles. We saw tears of sadness, and tears of joy and accomplishment.

I look forward to meeting the challenge again. This time, the hills are mine!

Forward we go! may your roads and trail be happy and safe!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Running Here and There

Thought I would talk about a few things in this post that are product related.

Ran today in the new Brooks Infiniti 2 shoe (Check out the website). It was an amazing feel and really had a great response. One of the things that I like about Brooks shoes is that they are ready to go right out of the box. Not the "break in time" that some other brands would require. Many times I have thought that I would feel ok running a race in a new, right out of the box pair of Brooks. They just get it right! The Infiniti 2 gives you a firm comfortable feel with just enough support to let your feet and legs do the work they are meant to do. It is so important when "shopping" for shoes that we consider not only how the shoe feels on our feet but how it supports all of the bones and muscles that lead to the feet. Can't wait to get the second pair out Saturday for the run.

Hammer Nutrition has introduced a couple of new products in the supplement area that I have been taking the past few weeks and I wanted to share with you a little about them. The first one is the Endurance Amino caps. The Endurance Amino caps help build, maintain, and repair lean muscle mass. They also are a powerful support to the immune system. I take them before, during, and after training runs. The other new supplement product that Hammer has is called AO Booster. AO Booster provides an arsenal of powerful fat-soluble antioxidants to help the immune system even more. It helps reduce muscle soreness and inflammation, and enhances
fats-for-fuels utilization. Two great new products! I have really noticed their effectiveness.

The Eugene Marathon is next up for me on May 3rd. Looking forward to the trip out to one of the most significant running cities in the world. I plan on taking in all of he history that surrounds the legendary city and also run in a great marathon on a fairly flat course. Not planning on tapering much up to the race and will plan on getting the training started right after the race for the next marathon on June 7, The Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon in Deadwood, SD.

I have been communicating with many of you about your upcoming races. It's great to hear from you and please know that I wish you all the best and hope you achieve the goals for the race that you have set. I'd like to hear from you about your race schedules and your running plans in general. Just drop me an email at mileswithmickey@yahoo.com.

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Brew to Brew Ultra Race Report

Last Sunday (4/5) I ran in the Brew to Race from Kansas City, MO. to Lawrence, KS. Wow! What a day! Race day for the 44 mile Ultra-Marathon started with a 3:00AM wake-up alarm (actually we set 4) and lots of anticipation. With the support vehicle already packed and ready to go, I dressed for the race and around 4:00AM ate my pre-race meal of oatmeal and soy milk with Hammer Soy Protein, and Hammer Heed Drink. Berta, Kelsey, and I left shortly after that to make the short drive to Kansas City. We met Andy,Katiy, and Monk (Andy's dog) at the race starting area and as they discussed the different mile stops they were going to meet me at for food and drink I did my stretching and made a quick porta-potty stop. Starting areas before an ultra are just different than other races. It's hard to explain but as you stand there ready to toe the line with others that will be running a race of that distance, stories and strategies are shared in a matter of minutes with others that you might know or have never met. Everyone forms a common bond of friend and competitor.

The race started at 6:00AM and the weather for the day was going to be a challenge. Temperatures started out around 44 degrees but the forecast called for falling temperatures and rain, sleet, and snow as the day progressed. The forecast was exactly right. It was almost perfect for the fist few miles as far as the weather was concerned. The rest of the race was run in constant rain, sleet or snow. Also, very high winds out of the North and Northwest were constant.


This picture is early into the start of the race after it got light and before the weather hit.

The race is run on a combination of river levee trails, highways and gravel country roads. It really puts you through a test of running surfaces. There are several major hills but also some rolling hills and some great flat stretches. Aid stations are set up for solo runners and they are supplied with basic needs, but I think that it is always important to bring along your own food and drink that you have been using in your training. Not a good time to switch. The volunteers on this incredibly harsh weather day were fantastic. They were out there longer than many of the runners. Spirits ran high as you approached each stop. They really made an effort to make sure you were doing ok. A big thank you to them.

I had fantastic support crew. Berta, Kelsey, Andy, Katiy, and Monk took very good care of me and made sure that I had everything that I needed to run the race. The support vehicle was loaded with clothing (Brooks clothing and Brooks Infiniti shoes) and food choices that even the most elite runner would marvel at. Berta worked so hard to organize everything and I really appreciate that!


Here I am at one of the stops getting refill on my Hammer Perpetuem or Heed. Berta used a cleaning tote to keep all of the things we had planned for at each stop. One of the most important parts of my race strategy is to carefully plan what I want at each stop but also have a plan for back-up items that I might want to change to. At many of the stops, the whole crew was standing out in the wind, rain and/or sleet waiting to help. Throughout the race I drank Perpetuem, Heed, Hammer Supplements, and water. I ate peanut butter, honey, and sliced banana on whole wheat bread sandwiches. I also had ginger chews which taste very good during a race. My energy level was outstanding and again I really feel that my Hammer products really made a huge difference.

As I neared the last few stops and asked what time it was I started to notice that my time was quite a bit faster than it was a year ago. I really dug deep to have a strong finish and was very happy with the results. As I have stated in my blog posts many times before my strong faith plays a vital part in my training. I was also very pleased with my training schedule and nutrition plan. I felt strong both mentally and physically coming into the race and finished in the same way.

Arriving at the finish was great! Even in the bad weather there were lots of people there to cheer finishers in. Finish time was 7:31:25. (Last year I ran the race in 8:54.) I was really happy to cut that much time off of the race last year. It was a challenging, but great race and I can't wait until next year which I will run right before the Boston Marathon.


Although the finish line was exciting, there was something even more special at the conclusion of this ultra adventure. There waiting for me at the end were family and friends. What more could you want. To Berta, Andy, Kelsey (Not in the picture because she spent the day taking pictures), Katiy, Joel, Jenny (Helping me down the slanted walkway), Maggie, and Monk I say a big thank you for meeting me at the finish and helping to celebrate the ultra accomplishment. It was great to see you there and I sincerely appreciate all that you do for this crazy runner.

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Watch Out for Falling Ice!

This morning my alarm went off just as it had yesterday morning. Today was different though. Instead of being greeted by early morning snow, ice, and wind, the pre-dawn sunlight was peaking over the horizon with renewed vigor. By some magic, the ice was gone off of the streets and some of the yards. However, as I started my 20 mile run, I noticed that the ice was still holding a nervous grip on the power lines.

I have always been amused by the road signs in the mountains that warn us of "Watch for Falling Rock Ahead". It's been my opinion that when you see that sign, It's too late. The rocks aren't going to comply with the request of a sign. Plus, I'm not going to stop and watch. Doesn't make sense to wait to be crushed. Seems I always drive a little faster during those stretches.

Anyway, today as I ran, I was bombarded by large ice chunks falling off of the power lines. There were no signs along the way that said "Watch Out for Falling Ice". I did run a little faster however. The ice was losing its grip. I was paying for it. Then it took on a whole new meaning as it hit me for maybe the fourth time.

The ice breaking away from the power lines was somewhat symbolic of many of the things that we are all going through right now. As the ice breaks away, it leaves the lines free. The ice is symbolic of things holding us back. When the ice breaks away it releases the lines back to regain strength and work harder to do what they are there to do.

It's kind of like us as we start a new season of running. Many of us have run all winter and even run races. Others are now starting to get their training programs underway for a future race. And some are in training to gain fitness with no desire to race. All of us have the common thread of needing to break free of some things. What's holding you back? You can form your own list, but just like the power lines, it's time to regain our strength and work even harder towards our goals.

The sign should say, "Watch Out for Runners Breaking Free".

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Running or Not

The alarm went off this morning as scheduled. Knowing the possibilities that existed with the weather, my first glance was out the window to see if the forecast had actually come true. It had to a certain extent. It was raining and freezing on just about everything and there was a very strong wind. The strange thing was that in some surrounding cities the weather packed a different punch. Some had all rain and some had drifts of snow above 12 inches. Some even had dry pavement. I went ahead and ate a pre-run breakfast of 2 pieces of Ezekiel bread with peanut butter (natural and ground myself at a local store) with a bowl of tart cherries and a soy protein drink.

Then I really looked outside as the rain grew heavier and the freezing intensified. A coating of ice was now on just about everything. It was at this point that I thought to myself I was still going. Got all the gear on and shoes tied and went downstairs. And stopped.

What was I doing? An Ultra-Marathon next weekend. Ice everywhere. Surely I could just step around all of the bad spots and make my 14 miles ok. Surely it wasn't as bad as it looked. I've run in rain before many times. Then it hit me. What if I slip? What if I do take that chance and pull something? I know many of you out there would say "go" and maybe many of you have. Well I have too. But today was different. My body said "no". My mind said, "go for it".

The decision was a tough one. But I decided to take a rest day and be safe. I know deep down that the bulk of my training for the ultra is complete. Now is really taper time. A day off will not be bad. So I didn't run this morning.

The earth didn't shake. My shoes didn't vaporize and disappear. My running clothes are still waiting for me for tomorrow. I think that I did ok today. Had a good nap and watched some NCAA basketball. In past years I would have gone ahead and forced a low quality run for no reason other than just being stubborn. So hopefully tomorrow's weather will be better and I can get me run in. I know the surface might still be a little questionable but it should be better. I hope so. I don't know if I can make two good decisions in a row.

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy an safe!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Marathon- Little Rock Style

The Little Rock Marathon in Little Rock, AR was fantastic! It was a great marathon race put on by an amazing group of staff and volunteers from the Parks and Recreation Department and local community members. It was a welcomed surprise to my marathon schedule for the year and a "must go back" for next year. I would have to rate it as one of the top five marathons that I have ever done. Very well organized and plenty of things to do before and after the race. One of the things that impressed me the most was just how glad they were that you were there and had chosen to run in their race. It was mentioned several times from hotel staff to the restaurants that we went to. Organizers wanted everyone to have a great race and to have a fun time in their city. It was also designated as a "walker friendly" race. Many people took them up on the walker invitation which included a two hour early start option.

We stayed at the Peabody Hotel which was an incredible experience. Wonderful service and the outstanding food at the Capriccio Grill Italian Steakhouse was a big plus. If you ever get a chance to stay there, check out the duck parade. From the minute we were picked up at the airport by the hotel shuttle to arrival at the hotel, we were treated to a historical conversation from the driver about the sites and sounds of the city. We were greeted upon arriving with cold, rain and wind. Yes, I was worried at that point and it was just Friday night. Rooms were large and like I said before, the food at the hotel was amazing. Hotel: A+

Registration and Packet Pick-Up was very easy as it was located next to the hotel at the Expo. Packet pick-up was well organized and fast. All directions were spelled out clearly and the tickets for the Pasta Dinner and Post Race Party were easily purchase without any hassle. Participant shirts and timing chips were easy to get and check out. Volunteers were very informed about the race course and gave me very worthwhile tips on navigating the hills and out and backs. Registration and Packet Pick-Up: A

The Expo was not large but there was enough there to get you by and also be able to purchase things that you might have left at home. Vendors were not especially energized to be there though and a few looked like they were just waiting for Saturday evening to come. There were only a few booths with really good sale deals on merchandise. Others seemed a little high priced. Some shoes were half price. There were no major vendors there from running related companies though. That to me is a real negative. Expo: B

The Pasta Dinner was catered by the Peabody Hotel and it was simple yet very good. The buffet set-up provided an easy access to get seconds and also to get in and out of the dinner if you wanted to get back and rest. The bread was fantastic! It was great to have runner/author Bart Yasso there to say a few words of encouragement and to recognize a few groups and individuals that deserved the recognition. It was my first introduction to the Marathon Maniacs group of which I sent in an application today to become a member. Pasta Dinner: B+

The race day organization was very well done. This was the first year that they used the corral system and it worked very well. Everything (Information signs) was very well marked and there were plenty of porta potties available. The start was smooth and with the cool temperatures and overcast skies, it was a great start. Starting Area: A

The race course was hilly and challenging. After saying that though, it was strangely fast. There was some circling around downtown around historic sites and then off we went over a bridge to North Little Rock where we did and out and back kind of circle thing and then back over the bridge where we then did a true out and back with a turn around at about mile 21. The course was beautiful in many paces and also very normal "city looking" in others. The aid stations were staffed with very good volunteers that really knew what they were doing. Lots of on course support: people giving directions and medical staff. Race course, aid stations, and volunteers: A+

Finish Line events were excellent with a band playing, a pre-made goodie bag of food plus other food items available to choose from, plus getting the biggest marathon medal I have ever seen. The really amazing thing is that Bart Yasso and another person announced every finishers name as he or she crossed the line. He was there at the finish line to high five and greet everyone. The local FOX network station also provided finish line footage of each finisher and can be accessed by anyone wanting to see people finish that they knew. It was really a great finish area. Finish Area and Volunteers: A+

The Post Race Party was held at the Clinton Presidential Library with BBQ and Bands plus a free tour of the museum. If there was one glitch in the whole experience, this was it. People had to wait in line for food from an hour to an hour and a half. There is nothing worse than making marathoners and their families have to stand for that amount of time. It was really not a good situation at all. I hope that they reconsider for next year. The BBQ was outstanding but too little to late. Post Race Party: D

Monday was a travel day and with a late afternoon flight departure we were able to just have a great time in the River Market area and sample great food and have a great walk to stretch out my sore legs. We toured the Old Statehouse Museum which was interesting. Little Rock has so many things to do. It is really a great area to visit and also a great area to race.

I had a great race experience and enjoyed every minute of the trip. I qualified for the Boston Marathon for the second time this year with a time of 3:39:00. The course was tough and hilly as I said, but my race strategies, training, and Hammer Nutrition supplements helped pave the way to a strong race. These are all important components of my preparation. But like many other runners, my faith also provides me strength and endurance.

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

2 Longs Each Weekend

As I prepare for a 44 mile ultra race in April, I have adjusted my training plan the past month or so to include two long runs over 20 miles on Saturday and Sunday. Midweek training includes two 9 milers and a 6 usually throwing in fartleks, tempo, or hill runs with those miles as well as three nights of Cross Training. Needless to say, there have been many good runs but also a few clunkers. It never stops amazing me how the first mile of some of these runs can seem like the hardest. Especially when the winter wind blows hard at you from the north for that first one. I have also run a few marathons during the training schedule to break the routine and get into some racing conditions. The upcoming Little Rock, AR., marathon will be one of those. I am looking forward to Little Rock as I have heard many good things about the race and the people that run it. Even with the "hills" they talk about.

Today as I was running my 26 miles several things came across my mind as I was running. Yes, there were buds on some of the trees. And yes, where I live it was 70 degrees today and will get cold again next week...but I was thinking of some Spring Cleaning things that we should all be thinking about:
1. Register for some races coming up in the next few months and set some training goals to get you there.
2. Shoe check. Take a look and also take a run in the shoes you have had during this winter and see if it's time to get new ones. Remember I recommend to buy two pair at once so you can rotate them and keep a good bounce to them.
3. Gear check. Same as the shoes. You deserve some new running gear. Go for it!
4. Donate. If you have a bunch of shoes around that are good for wearing but not for training, consider donating them to a local organization that might need them.
5. Check out your nutrition and training plans. If you don't have one, consider putting together some ideas and set goals.

I'm looking forward to the race schedule that I have the next few months and will keep you informed of how things are going. You can check out the races that I have coming up on the side of my blog.

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Running Twitter

Ok, so I've found something new (at least to me). I am now officially registered on Twitter. Twitter for those of you that don't know, is a site that let's you communicate and stay connected with people via computer or cell phone. It is fantastic. If you are interested in signing up to Twitter, go to the link above and get started.

I plan on using it to communicate about my training runs and other things that relate to topics on my blog. If I am on a run, I'll update people on how the run is going and then also send messages on the latest in training and nutrition tips to people that have signed up to follow me. You'll find out firsthand how things are going and hopefully get some useful information. To follow me just follow me at http://twitter.com/mawoolard.

Have a couple of long runs scheduled for this weekend. It would be a good time to follow the progress.

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Austin Marathon-Not Just a Fireball in the Sky

The 2009 Austin Marathon last weekend was a big success! The new course was a hilly challenge and one that I was really happy to have run well. ( Finished in 3:49:01) Austin is a great host city and a city that is just made for runners to have a good time in. The running trails and running clubs are incredible and very well supported.

This was billed as the best "Green Marathon" in the U.S., maybe the only one. I would have to agree that the race staff and city have worked well together to recycle everything but the runners. And that's what worries me. Is being "Green" enough to make runners come back? It was really a no frills marathon. Although I was glad that the Goodie Bag was not filled with 10 lbs. of junk that you never read, I was a little disappointed that the packet pick-up at the Expo was handled like a cattle pen for runners. At least when we went, the line was very long and for runners, being on your feet for an extended period of time is not a good game plan. Compared to other marathons the Austin Marathon would grade low in my book for packet pick-up. After that, getting your tee shirt and other things went well. The Expo was fairly small but vendors were very friendly and willing to help sell whatever product they were displaying.

The pasta dinner the night before is one of he best in the country. Speakers Dick Beardsley and Bart Yasso provided great motivation as always. They are fantastic representatives of the running community and world famous authors. A big thanks for being there goes out to them! Overall, Race Director John Conley did an outstanding job with all aspects of the marathon and half-marathon. There are always exceptions and there is no way to please everybody.

The actual race itself seemed to run smooth from a runner's perspective. The surface of the course was very good, the volunteers at the aid station were outstanding (I always wish I could thank each of them individually). Representatives from the Fire, Police, and Medical community were everywhere and always willing to help with any aspect of the race. Another big thanks to all of them! Finishing hills at the 22 and 24 mile markers were intense but added a great amount of satisfaction once you were up and over. The finish line area was exciting and electric as it always is. Talk about a runner's rush. Wow! It was great! The crowds along the way were very supportive and vocal. That is really helpful as you progress in your race.

With all of that said wouldn't you know it that what steals the show is some bright falling light from the sky. Not the runners who just finished their first marathon. Or the runners that had run all of the Austin Marathons. Or the runners that PR'd and maybe qualified for Boston. Or the runners that struggled through injury, cramping, or just plain feeling like "Why did I ever do this?". The news didn't show that each and every participant either in the half or full marathon had trained and prepared for this race for months, and given up countless hours to make their dream come true. Well, maybe it was just Tinker Bell, but CNN's coverage of the Austin Marathon Fireball can be found in several places on YouTube. If you want to see it you can check it out. For more important information, check out the results of the thousands of people that finished the race at the Austin Marathon website. Congratulations to all who participated. Remember what John Bingham, author and inspirational speaker, says to all runners," The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start."

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Runner's World Recipe Finder

There are times when a website really puts out something that is really very helpful. Today's Runner's World Online email mentioned their Recipe Finder. It is a great collection of food ideas that just make your mouth water to think about them. It is also a very easy to navigate and to just look for ideas that might really fit your nutrition needs. Sometimes it is good to have these ideas at your fingertips in case you are looking for something to fix for a meal/snack and really need to try something new or just change up an existing one that you might already have.

Each tab has multiple categories for a variety of nutritional needs. It's fun to just explore the site and take advantage of the incredible recipe ideas available to you. I think that they have covered just about everything that I can think of that a person might want if they are searching for ideas for meal planning. The site is filled with ideas that are really ones that we all can do. Ones that don't require us to have our own chef at our house.

The category search feature is really great. The categories are:course/dish type, health concerns, dietary needs, main ingredient, cuisine, occasion, cooking method, cook/prep time,
cooking skill, and food for fitness. This feature really makes it all work so well in a search of what you might want to eat.

Enjoy this site. Bookmark it/ put it on your favorites so you can get to it fast. It really has lots of information for all types of runners and cyclists.

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Running Through the Super Bowl

Tomorrow is the big day. Super Bowl Sunday. While many of us will be out for our long run or spin, others will be gearing up for that yearly food fest that also includes an NFL football game and some interesting commercials. After my long run today of 26 miles I went grocery shopping for a few things this evening and found out that just about every junk food available to the buying public was on sale while everything else was at regular price or higher. Great Message.

The commercials will provide an insight to where we are as consumers to some degree. Many companies really go for it and don't mind paying the estimated 3 million dollars for 30 seconds of fame. But is that the real thing they are after? Is a statement being made for us that we just don't get? What if during each of these high priced ads, a runner ran or cyclist biked through the ad and just waved and said, "Hey, look what I'm doing. I'm getting some exercise. Wow! It feels great!". What kind of additional message would that send across our country and the world about the need to get out and get some exercise? Millions of adults and children will be glued to the television and can be influenced by this massive product invitation.

What if we spent that much effort on getting the fitness message out? Wow! What an impact! Following is a Budweiser ad from the past that shows some possibilities.



So as you watch or in many cases don't watch America's tribute to "I'll buy just about anything if you show it during the Super Bowl.", think about that runner running through, the cyclist biking through, the yoga participant stretching through, the walker walking through, and many other possibilities that could demonstrate fitness or a healthy lifestyle. The Budweiser commercial presented a strong message. When will the other corporations join the team? Budweiser gets it. Do you?

Forward we go! May your roads and trail be happy and safe!