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!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Chevron Houston Marathon 2009

Ran in the Chevron Houston Marathon last weekend. What a great weekend! Weather was great. People in charge of the marathon were fantastic. The expo was very well organized with excellent vendors with just about anything you could ask for. As I go to each marathon or ultra-marathon that I run, I find it interesting to compare the outcome of all of the organization and planning that goes into each race. Houston was at the top of the charts in just about every category.

The course is a fair and fast one with a few hills but very good surfaces and mile markings. At each mile marker there was a volunteer calling out split times and letting you know by wave how you were doing. It was great!

The morning of the race was really well organized. Signs were posted everywhere showing runners, either marathon or half-marathon, how to get to their respective corrals. The 7:00AM start meant that the race would start in the dark so lighted directions were vital. Then there is the ever important race for the porta-cans. No need to in Houston. I have never seen so many. Both all around the start area and then also in the corrals. There were also more than enough porta-cans along the course. Not just one or two like most races.

Aid stations were staffed by wonderful volunteers that really knew what runners needed. I carried a hand-held bottle and they were always ready to fill it up with either a pitcher or multiple cups to speed my aid station time along. That really makes a difference. The crowds were amazing and very encouraging. It seemed like there were people watching the entire length of the course.

Now the fun stuff. Mr. Organized here had his first race where gear things just didn't go well at all. The waist pouch (The brand name I don't know. The tag is missing or I would reveal what a piece of junk that it was) where I keep my tubes of powdered Heed, Perpetuem, and Endurolyte caps from Hammer Nutrition, broke at mile 1 and fell to the ground with a "Oh no that can't be happening" sound. So I picked up the pouch and carried it in one hand and my hand-held bottle in the other for the remainder of the race. It was difficult getting things out for each time that I needed them but it worked out and although some time was lost, I got pretty good at stuffing things under my arms when it came time to fill a bottle up. On top of that, the afternoon before the race I was putting my timing chip on my shoes when I realized that I had put it on the wrong pair of shoes. So a trip back to the expo to get extra ties (yes I do put multiple ties on the chip, never have trusted just one) was in order. Mission accomplished. Now the hunt starts for a new waist pouch that will last longer than three marathons.

I also am a creature of routine basically the minute I step on the plane or in the car to go to the race until the finish of the race. At this race, there was the traditional pasta dinner at a fantastic restaurant near the hotel which I did as usual. But the twist this time was that instead of going back to the hotel and pace back and forth until the 4:00AM wake-up call, we went to the Rockets/Heat NBA game. Outstanding! What a routine breaker that was. But all was well.

As I crossed the finish line at 4:01:52 I thought of many things. I thought about how blessed I was to have the opportunity to do my running thing. I thought about my wife Berta who cheers me on at races and follows me on training runs and meets me with my stock of Hammer Nutrition products. I thought about my son Andy who didn't get to run this race with me because his dog Monk had major surgery and he wanted to be near him during the hours of recovery. A good decision. Monk needed him. Andy is also trying to get an ankle better for future races. I thought about my daughter Kelsey who makes signs for us all and makes me laugh at some of the crazy things I do to get ready. I thought about Larry and Sheri, our amazing friends. Larry ran a fantastic race and Sheri was there to take pictures of the race and cheer us on. And then as I walked on past some medical people and volunteers who asked if I needed anything, I thought some more and said, "No, things are just great!". Thanks to all of you who bring a bit of sunshine each day to the world around you!

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

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Quadricep Group, Adductor Group, and Hamstring Group Were Talking the Other Day and....

Running in the cold weather presents several challenges. Some challenges can be helped by a good selection of gear from running specialists. A hidden challenge that often carries more importance than you might think is what we should call our "muscles in action". Stretching is a vital part of the before and after part of a training run, race, cross training day, or rest day. This becomes a very personal situation. Everyone is different here. Some people require more stretching than others. Some runners can bolt out the door with no other preparation than lacing up their shoes and grabbing their water bottle. Even in frigid temperatures many just make a quick stop to grab gloves and a hat and off they go. I am not one of those.

As mentioned in earlier blog posts, I have a specific routine before each run. One that I feel benefits what my body needs to maximize my endurance and speed. By habit, I have often done the majority of my stretching after a brief warm-up walk of 1/2 mile. With the colder temperatures, I now do a lot of my stretching indoors before I go. I have also at times used a heating pad for just a little while to warm the muscles up prior to the indoor stretching.

How can you get even more help? During the past few months I have been using The Stick, a fantastically simple training tool. The product is available online, at running stores, and at most larger race expos. It is well worth the money. It has been very helpful to me in rolling knots/kinks out of sore muscles. It provides myofascial release and trigger point therapy. Using it increases circulation and encourages blood flow. It has really helped me during these cold months but also helped a great deal during the summer and fall training times as well. I would strongly consider getting one!

Also remember that everyone needs different amounts of stretching time and preparation. Cold months make it even more important. There is no specific rule. Just make sure you are stretching before and after any time you are calling on your muscles to do some work. A very beneficial time is right before bed after you have had that protein shake to help the healing process from your daily training. Get those knots and kinks out, get that blood flow started, and then get a good nights rest.

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