Saturday, January 30, 2010

Geocache Adventure

The Boy® was out of school Friday due to conferences, so we had a Man's Day. We slept in, ate breakfast in our underwear.....taking great pride in scratching our bellies....and then we went bowling.

Upon returning from bowling, we went on our first Geocache adventure. Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online. Geocaching is enjoyed by people from all age groups, with a strong sense of community and support for the environment. This was right up the little Webelos alley.

For Christmas, the Boy® had received Apisphere's Geomate Jr Handheld GPS Geocacher. Very easy to use, this unit comes preloaded with approximately 250,000geocache locations covering all 50 U.S. states. Simply go outside, turn it on and follow the arrow and distance to your closest geocache. Hit the "Next" button and the Geomate.jr will take you to the next closest geocache.

Frankly, I was stunned by how accurate this thing was. Our first couple of attempts came up empty. Only then did I notice that the size of the geocache we were searching for was rated very low. This meant that basically we were looking for a needle in a haystack. And the haystack was covered with snow.

We then got lucky. There was a geocache nearby that was a size 4. This meant it would be a large container. We were off. The results, can be seen in the video below.

If you have a youngin', I highly recommend this little device. Whether you are taking a road trip, visiting the relatives, camping, or just taking a stroll through the local park, the Geomate.jr is always ready to go and is perfect for that spontaneous outdoor adventure with friends or the family.

Friday, January 29, 2010

I Can Run In Circles

One can half imagine they are stuck in traffic somewhere in Florida. You are stuck behind a Blue Hair who has left their left turn signal light on. You have been stuck behind said vehicle for some twenty odd miles. Suddenly, a lane opens up and you speed by. Only to find yourself blocked by two eighteen wheelers. One in each lane. Each traveling the same speed. You want to scream. You do scream.

Such is life running inside a domed soccer field. I'm only doing this because A) it's friggin cold outside, B) by the time I get a chance to think about running it is dark, C) it rained last weekend and then an Arctic Front moved in and froze everything solid so the footing is treacherous at best.

So, I hit the dome last night. I went late expecting it to be a bit sparse. Nooooo. Wall to wall people. You've got the idiots who think its important to still talk on their cell phone. You've got the idiots who walk nine abreast. You've got the idiots who allow their young children to roam free without any regard to the fact there is a man who is approaching the fifth decade of his life and is still hellbent on breaking the four minute mile who would just as assume run over the little tot and not look back.

Not that I'm bitter.

Here's what it looks like on the Garmin when you're all done.

And if you are bored and want to watch me run in circles for 4 miles, you can watch it here.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Stacked Chicken Enchiladas

Though the sauce for this handsome dish tastes complex, it's made with canned chile sauce doctored up with sweet spices, raisins, pine nuts, and smoky chipotle chiles.

Prep and Cook Time: about 1 hour.

Notes: For a hotter sauce, add more chipotles and adobo sauce to the chicken mixture. Six-inch wide tortillas are available at Latino markets and some supermarkets (you can use larger tortillas, but the stacks won't look as tall or grand). To speed preparation, buy shredded cabbage. To make enchiladas ahead, assemble them, but reserve the final cheese that goes on top and don't bake. Cover tightly with a piece of oiled foil and chill for up to 1 day. Bake, covered, in a 375° oven until hot in the center, about 50 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with reserved cheese, and bake about 5 minutes more.

Total Time: 1 hour(s)
Yield: Makes 2 enchiladas (each 3 to 4 servings)

1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 can (28 oz.) red chile sauce, divided
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon finely chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, plus 2 tsp. sauce (see Notes)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
3 3/4 cups shredded white and/or dark chicken meat (from one 2 1/2- to 3-lb. rotisserie chicken)
12 corn tortillas (6 in. wide; see Notes)
3 cups coarsely shredded jack cheese
2 radishes, halved and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
5 to 6 cups very thinly sliced green cabbage (see Notes)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375°. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, cook onion with olive oil, stirring often until softened, about 5 minutes.

2. Stir in 3/4 cup red chile sauce, the pine nuts, raisins, cinnamon, allspice, chipotle chiles, adobo sauce, tomato paste, brown sugar, and vinegar. Add chicken, then bring mixture to a boil, stirring. Remove from heat. Pour remaining red chile sauce into a pie pan.

3. To make enchilada stacks, dip 1 tortilla in chile sauce in pie pan to coat. Place on an ovenproof dinner plate. Repeat with another tortilla on a second plate. Spread each tortilla evenly with a heaping 1/3 cup chicken mixture, then with 1/4 cup cheese. Repeat layering with 8 more tortillas, dipping them in sauce, then adding chicken mixture and cheese to make 2 stacks of 5 layers. (You'll use all the chicken but not all the cheese.) Dip the last 2 tortillas in sauce, place each, curved side down, on stack, and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

4. Bake enchiladas until hot in the center and cheese bubbles on top, 10 to 15 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, pour remaining chile sauce from the pie pan into a microwave-safe pitcher and cook in a microwave oven on full power until simmering, 1 to 2 minutes. To make the salad, stir together radishes, lime juice, and extra-virgin olive oil in a large bowl. Just before serving, stir in cabbage and cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

6. Top each enchilada with a small mound of salad and cut in thirds or quarters to serve. Offer with remaining salad and chile sauce to add to taste.

Note: Nutritional analysis is per 1/4-stack serving.

Nutritional Information
Calories: 608 (47% from fat)
Protein: 32g
Fat: 32g (sat 11)
Carbohydrate: 56g
Fiber: 4.3g
Sodium: 2084mg
Cholesterol: 104mg

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Photo Essays - Jan 26, 2010

Various photos from the week that was. Click on photos for larger size. All photos are mine except where noted:

Benjamin Phelps (yes, that's his real last name) a member of the Boy®'s swim team has a super start from the blocks.

Another member of the Boy®'s swim team with equally pretty form.

The Boy® (in yellow cap) has a little work to do off the blocks. It will get there.

The Boy® (in Vikings cap) duels with unknown in Packers cap. Always has to be a Cheesehead showing up!

What the Boy® did after winning his first ever swim heat. Smile!

Note to self: Ask Coach Suzanne what's up with the ink messages.

American ingenuity at its finest. Adam Beston's (his photo) DIY homemade aero helmet. See full story here.

Been a Vikings fan all my life and all seasons have ended alike: they reach down your throat and they grab your heart, pull it out and throw it on the floor, step on it with their spikes, spit on it, shove it in the oven and cook the shit out of it. Then they slice it into little pieces, slam it on a hunk of toast, and serve it to you and then expect you to say, "Thanks, guys, it was delicious." But it was a hell of a season. Until next year! Photo by Brian Peterson, Star Tribune

Thursday, January 21, 2010

How Should You Practice Your Swim When You Only Have 30 Minutes?

How many of you try and fit in a quick swim over lunch. And by 'quick', I mean you have a meeting at 1 PM but you are really in need of hitting the pool and if you don't get 'er done today, it won't be until the weekend!

The following is an article posted by Terry Laughlin from Runner Triathlete News. RTN is a monthly mag that serves the multi-endurance sports athletes from my old triathlon stomping grounds of Texas. I thought many of you would enjoy reading it.

When time is short, many swimmers instinctively want to jump in and swim nonstop. Regardless of how much time you have, you should always ask: “What will benefit me the most?” If you feel aerobic conditioning is paramount, a continuous 30-min swim might not bring the greatest benefit since your pace is likely to be slow and heart rate fairly low, unless your “skill circuits” are sufficiently robust to maintain a constant Stroke Length and Stroke Rate throughout.

A potential benefit of a continuous 30-minute swim could be to test the durability of your muscle memory and focus. For an exercise in Mindful Swimming, you could cycle through three “stroke thoughts” for 30 minutes of uninterrupted swimming E.G. Marionette Arm Recovery for 50 yards and Mail Slot Entry for 50 yards and Patient Catch for 50 yards, continuing that way for 30 minutes.

Or in an exercise that will increase your ability to calibrate and adjust your Stroke Length, alternate two or three strokes counts. E.G. Swim at 15 SPL (Strokes Per Length) for odd 25s and 16 SPL on the even 25s. When you add 1 SPL, you should notice an increase in speed.

Alternatively, you could work on consistent pacing by swimming with a goal of maintaining a consistent SPL with a particular Tempo Trainer setting. E.G. Set TT at 1.30 sec/stroke and maintain 15 SPL. Continue swimming so long as you keep completing laps at 15 SPL. If your count goes above 15, give yourself one more length to try to bring it back down. (Remember, adding a stroke at a 1.30 tempo means your pace on that length was 1.3 seconds slower. If you keep swimming with the higher SPL, you’re not improving aerobic fitness — you’re training yourself to lose pace.) If you can’t return to 15 SPL, take a break, say 5 to 10 beeps. Then resume swimming. Keep track of the number of times you need to rest in 30 minutes. If it was 10 times, your goal for your next continuous 30-minute swim could be to maintain a 15 SPL – 1.30 SR with nine or fewer breaks.

Most swimmers will benefit more from a series of shorter swims. At times, having only 30 minutes to swim, I’ve done 30-minutes of 25-yard and/or 50-yard repeats because I gave myself a task so exacting that I couldn’t complete it successfully if I swam farther. E.G. I can maintain 12 SPL at a tempo faster than 1.20 sec per stroke only for 25 yards. If I attempt a 50, it’s almost inevitable that I’ll take 13 SPL on the second lap. If I decide to swim 50s, then I’ll set the bar for the task at not exceeding 25 total strokes at a tempo of 1.20. Or I could allow a faster tempo and find the lowest number of strokes I can hit for 50 yards with unblinking focus.

The main takeaway here is that you should evaluate the benefit of any practice – even those that are quite brief – on the mental and neuromuscular adaptation they produce, not just the metabolic. In fact the argument for emphasizing mental and motor training over conditioning in a short practice is far stronger since it’s nearly impossible to get a metabolic effect in a time period that short, while your nervous system can make considerable adaptation.

Understand that I’m not arguing against doing a continuous 30-minute swim. I’ve made that choice at times. But I made sure the content of my 30-minute swim – e.g. to maintain a challenging combination of SPL and TT setting – would result in strengthening my neuromuscular “efficiency imprint” and require complete attention for every stroke I took (probably around 1500 in 30 minutes) during that swim. Fifteen-hundred beneficial imprints is definitely a positive return on a 30-minute practice.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Which is better? Pool practice or Open Water?

The following is an article posted by Terry Laughlin from Runner Triathlete News. RTN is a monthly mag that serves the multi-endurance sports athletes from my old triathlon stomping grounds of Texas. I thought many of you would enjoy reading it.

I hope to do more open water practice swims this year (Dear Boys & Girls at Gear West....can you hold some open water practice swims this coming season...pretty please with sugar on top?). The reason for this: I find that I still suffer from what can best be described as "first timer's choking sensation," often accompanying one-piece wet suits. The suit may be too tight. I just can't breathe, even after a long warm-up. Once the gun goes off, I get about 100-200 yds in and I just can't breathe and have to roll onto my back. Last season, I just eliminated the wet suit entirely and went simply with a swim suit. Problem eliminated, saved for the time I am losing due to the buoyancy the wet suit gives you.

TI Coach John Beaty of Chattanooga posted this query on the TI Coaches Forum: Having worked with people over the years who do a lot of open water swimming, either tri’s or open water races, I have wondered what is inviting to them about swimming in open water. Personally, I am a pool swimmer. I love the backstroke events and the 100-200 freestyles. But I have never been able to understand the attraction to open water. I have done open water swims and races but have yet to be “bitten by the bug.”

I love pools…lane lines, starting blocks and walls. So, I ask of ya’ll, what do you find enjoyable about the open water? Help me understand so that at our Workshops, I can have a better understanding of why so many TI students aspire to open water.

There were many responses from other TI coaches relating the natural beauty and sense of freedom they’ve experienced in open water. I decided to focus on the learning and improvement advantages of each. Combining pool and open water practice gives you the best of both worlds. Here are excerpts from my response:


Being able to help our students maximize the benefits of pool practice is important because that’s where most swimming happens. Teaching open water skills gives us nearly limitless Kaizen Opportunities with which to inspire our students. All things being equal I prefer to swim in open water at every opportunity, yet I still manage to have great experiences in the pool by focusing on what I can do better there than in open water. So here’s my summary of what I see as the advantages of each:

In the pool

1) I can vary the stimulus to my brain and nervous system in almost limitless ways, with changes in form (different drills and strokes) Stroke Length, Stroke Rate, etc. as frequently as every 25 yards or several times a minute. So many different stimuli and the ability to change inputs with great frequency maximizes what neuroscientists call Synaptic Plasticity – the ability of the brain to learn and adapt to new tasks and “shift gears” fluidly and seamlessly.

2) Being able to swim standard distances, and precisely measure speed and efficiency, gives me “empirical measures” to compare efforts with outcomes. This helps me continually refine my efforts.

3) Over time I can precisely track improvement by repeating all the elements of any set for which I’ve recorded my results – or exactly compare one race to another.

4) Swimming much shorter distances, broken frequently by moments of inactivity/recovery (pushoffs) facilitates higher levels of metabolic intensity (heart and respiration rate, muscle fiber recruitment) than is usually possible in open water.

In open water

1) The unpredictable and variable conditions of open water gives me the opportunity to develop an entirely new range of skills. Indeed, most pool swimmers need to learn to swim all over again, when they transition to open water.

2) The unpredictability and variability – and absence of familiar “structure” – in open water forces me to be much more flexible, resourceful and opportunistic. This helps develop a greatly expanded set of “strategic circuits” in my brain.

3) Swimming long unbroken distances (potentially 1000s of uninterrupted strokes) with a single “stroke thought” maximizes the development of Synaptic Strength – making motor programs (“skill circuits”) more robust, more resistant to breakdown and more automatic.

4) Swimming longer unbroken distances also facilitates higher levels of metabolic, motor and mental endurance.

If our primary goal is Continuous Improvement, a combination of pool and open water is unbeatable.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

iPhone App of the Month: More Cowbell!

This month is the More Cowbell! app. More Cowbell! is an iPhone app for the runner/triathlete and running/triathlete fan. Out supporting an athlete? Use the shake to play option to ring the bell when they pass by. Waiting for the athlete? Listen to your favorite song and launch the app to tap along with the song, but you better keep up or the record producer will demand for you to keep up.

More Cowbells! is an app that was developed by Texas duathlete Glenda Adams. It is compatible with both the iPhone and iPod Touch and is available at the iTunes store ($0.99).

Monday, January 18, 2010

Totals: Week Ending January 17

Highlight this past week was Stage 2 of the indoor series at Gear West. This stage was a time-trial up the Alpe D' Huez (2.5 miles). Only problem was cramp in my left calf that I am still feeling. I'll be lining up a massage later this week to work that out.

As expected, my hours dropped a bit as I was in the 3rd week of my 2 weeks build, 1 week rest cycle. I had some quicker workouts all around, including a 7:33 swim for 500-yards in the pool plus my No Minds swim workout which I have really come to like.

On the run I also got in some hills. I'm feeling stronger than at this point last year. Not necessarily faster, but somehow stronger. Lots more fuel in the reserve.

Next week, I hope to get in closer to ten hours again. We'll see. Work is, well, busy. And the Boy® has his annual Cub Scout Pinewood Derby event on Saturday. Sunday is his very first Swim Team meet at the University of Minnesota Aquacenter. He is doing the 200 free, 50 back, 50 breast, and 50 free. Then, the Vikes take on the Saints in the NFC Championship game. So, my week more be another low hours affair.

Here's hoping all your winter workouts ate progressing as planned. Let's keep each other motivated!

Total Workout Hours: 6:06.10
Swim Miles - 3.81
Bike Miles - 33.6
Run Miles - 10.4
Total Days Missed - Two

Previous Week (w/e Jan. 3)
Total Workout Hours: 9:05.15
Swim Miles - 3.07
Bike Miles - 74.08
Run Miles - 20.86
Total Days Missed - Two

January 2010 Numbers To-Date
Swim Miles - 8.3
Bike Miles - 152.69
Run Miles - 38.09

compare to last year

January 2009 Total Numbers
Swim Miles - 3.2
Bike Miles - 201
Run Miles - Unknown

Saturday, January 16, 2010

I Did the Alpe D' Huez uphill TT

Late Friday I flew to the central French Alps,unpacked the bike and climbed. Fans ran along side me and encouraged me to ride faster. Helicopters flew over head. I was swarmed for autographs.

Um, I did climb. But it was indoors!

Gear West Bike and Triathlon has been holding an open-to-all Virtual Time Trial Series taking place in store on the Tacx Fortius Virtual Reality trainer. Each Time Trial "Event" will run 1 month, at which time they will change courses. The Male and Female winners from each age-group after the month will not only receive a $10 GWB&Tri gift certificate, but have bragging rights all month.

Last month I did Stage One: the Tour of Lombardy. For Stage Two we did the Alpe D' Huez. Well, the first 2.5 miles.

The Alpe d'Huez is one of the great climbs of the Alps, and was first climbed by the Tour de France in 1952 when Fausto Coppi won the stage. The climb to the ski resort has 21 marked hairpins, with the toughest part of the ascent over the first three kilometres and first six hairpins. It is a mountain pasture in the Central French Alps, in the commune of Huez, in the Isère département in the Rhône-Alpes region.

It has quite a history.

Significant stages
1952: Jean Robic attacked at the start of the climb and only Fausto Coppi could stay with him. The two climbed together until Coppi attacked at bend five, four kilometres from the top. He won the stage, the yellow jersey and the Tour.

1977: Lucien van Impe, a Belgian rider leading the climbers' competition, broke clear on the col du Glandon. He gained enough time to threaten the leader, Bernard Thévenet. He was still clear on the Alpe when a car drove into him. The time that van Impe waited for another wheel was enough to keep Thévenet in the lead by eight seconds.

1978: Another Belgian leading the mountains race also came close to taking the yellow jersey. Michel Pollentier also finished alone, but he was caught soon afterwards defrauding a drugs control and was disqualified.

1984: The Tour invited amateurs to take part in the 1980s. The best was Luis Herrera, who lived at 2,000m in Colombia. None of the professionals could follow him. He won alone to the cacophony of broadcasters who had arrived to report his progress.

1986: Bernard Hinault said he would help Greg LeMond win the Tour but appeared to ride otherwise. The two crossed the line arm in arm in an apparent sign of truce.

1997: Marco Pantani, who won on the Alpe two years earlier, attacked three times and only Jan Ullrich could match him. He lasted until 10 km from the summit and Pantani rode on alone to win in what is often quoted as record speed (14.34 MPH).

The total length of the course is 13.2 KM. For this event, wew only did the first 4 KM...and that was bad enough.

In front of me the Tacx computer screen showed a 12.2% max grade with an average grade of 7.5%. My power output maxed in the low 400's range, my average watts started in the low 300's then quickly went backwards and ended inthe upper 200's. I was cooked. With about a mile left in the climb my left calf started to cramp, badly. So I turned the effort into one of just lasting to the finish.

I was sorely disappointed in my overall effort. But what I came away with most was the fact that I had not even completed 1/3 of the ascent. The Tour boys do the whole blasted thing. And that's after a few hours onthe road just getting to the mountain! My speed hovered just under 10 MPH. The pros are in the 13/14 MPH range. Unbeliveable.

In talking with Curt and Gear West owner Kevin O'Connor the Tacx system has just upgraded to version 1.2 which will now allow for Google Earth. What does this mean? Heck, you can download a course via Map My Ride, for example, and ride an upcoming event weeks ahead of time to become familiar with it without ever having to leave home. Quite an advantage in my book. And you will actually get the visual via Google Earth along with the topography readout.

One really cool feature of this trainer is the ability to take your height and weight into account, so light people can fly up the mountains just like they would in real life. Bigger people have to put out bigger watts to climb.

I really appreciate Gear West putting on this series.

This is what the ride looked like to me... scenic views from the classic Tour of Lombardy in Italy.

David on the Tacx

This is what it looks like to "outsiders"

This is a unique opportunity to not only try out the best Virtual Reality Cycling Software available, but also to get a benchmark for your winter fitness, as the Tacx system will also measure your power, heart rate and cadence.

Here's the TT courses:
November 23-December 23: Tour of Lombardy 3.6 mile TT (Italy)
December 26-January 25: Alpe D' Huez uphill TT (2.5 miles)
January 26-February 26: Tour of Flanders TT (8 miles)

In the area? Read more and sign up here.

Friday, January 15, 2010

New Training Book: Racing Weight

Has anyone seen or purchased a new book on the market called, "Racing Weight: How to Get Lean for Peak Performance" by Triathlete magazine senior editor Matt Fitzgerald?

The description of the book is:

Endurance athletes are weight-conscious and given the miles and hours spent training, there’s a lot at stake. Weighing in just five or ten pounds over the ideal weight can dramatically impact race results. Author Matt Fitzgerald shows athletes how to identify their optimal weight and body composition to realize their goals. This 5-step plan to get lean is the key to faster racing and better health. With tools to improve diet, manage appetite, and time important nutrients, Racing Weight will inspire and equip athletes to make the subtle changes they need to start their next race at their optimal weight.

From what I can tell about reading comments on-line is basically the book helps you create a step by step process to analyze your current weight and to determine where you want to be and how to get there.

I do have 10-12 lbs to shed.....but I'm uncertain if this is the book for me? Is it perhaps geared more to the elite endurance athlete? For example, it has been quite some time since this now almost 49-year old body was in the single digits for body fat. So, is this book going to be realistic for me? Take a gander at one page (thanks to Amazon):

It can be a little offish to a age grouper to see that David Zabriskie stands 6 feet and weighs 147 lbs while I am 5' 8" and sitting at 150 lbs. Yeah, I should be sitting at 142 lbs or lower "but".....and that's just where I'm going. I see these types of numbers and I immediately go in excuse-making mode. Full-time job, no time for proper meal planning,etc. Which means I would put the book down in frustration and never pick it up again.

So, back to the original question,"Has anyone actually held this little book in their hands and if so, what did you think?" Are you doing anythings special this off-season to drop some weight? Leave a comment! And happy dieting!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Hamel 5K

Add the Hamel Lions 5K to my list of events this year. The event is hosted by the Hamel Lions Club and will take place on Super Bowl Sunday, February 7, at 9:45 am. You may register at the Hamel Community Center Located at 3200 Mill Street. Mill Street is a new road located between the Hamel State Bank and the Hardware Store in Hamel, MN. Look for the signs on Hamel Road directing you to the Community Center.


Entry Form. Advanced Entry Fee: $20.00. Day of the Race: $25.00

Pancake Breakfast takes place from 7:30 am - 1:00 pm. The Pancake Breakfast is included with registration along with a "Freeze Your Buns Run" long sleeve shirt. There will also be free Child Care during the event. Pets on leashes are also welcomed.

Last year the temp was at 25. It was very icy-icy-icy. The high the day previous had been 45 so there was a thaw and everything refroze the previous night. There was also a very stiff wind out of the west.

Last year I ran a 22:06. Pulled right ham at 2K mark. Had been on 6:15 pace. Limped it in. This is really a fun run event that is not officially timed. So this year, I am not going to be busting my hump but rather just work into it slow and use it simply as a speed workout to gauge my present fitness. I would hope to be under 21 minutes (6:45 per mile pace). Again, unless I feel really good the lone goal will be to get in a speed workout and come away injury free.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Totals: Week Ending January 10

Another week in the books. I was able to try out running indoors via the Plymouth Soccer Bubble this past week (w/e Jan. 10).

This coming week I hope to find time for Stage 2 of the indoor series at Gear West. This stage is a time-trial up the Alpe D' Huez (2.5 miles). I expect my hours to drop a bit as I will be in the 3rd week of my 2 weeks build, 1 week rest cycle. But if the weather is good....who knows!?!?

Total Workout Hours: 9:05.15
Swim Miles - 3.07
Bike Miles - 74.08
Run Miles - 20.86
Total Days Missed - Two

Previous Week (w/e Jan. 3)
Total Workout Hours: 10:29.31
Swim Miles - 5.14
Bike Miles - 80.38
Run Miles - 18.41

January 2010 Numbers To-Date
Swim Miles - 4.49
Bike Miles - 119.07
Run Miles - 31.73

compare to last year

January 2009 Total Numbers
Swim Miles - 3.2
Bike Miles - 201
Run Miles - Unknown

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Of Sequels and Past US Marathon Oly Trials

This past week I finished off the sequel to "Once a Runner", perhaps the best running novel of all time. The sequel is "Again to Carthage" by John L. Parker Jr.

Parker has written a worthy sequel to OAR. While the book stands up well by itself, if you view it as an extension of the original story and read them sequentially, I think it makes the new novel a more meaningful tale. For the runners out there, be assured that John once again captures the elements of our sport that make it so dear to us.

The workouts, the sacrifice and the racing are all there, and the more mature Quenton Cassidy (the main character) is a logical extension of the original character. I also find myself looking back to that time period to look up the runners names touted in the book (recall Don Kardong??) to recall a time from my youth when I followed those runners as much as athletes in any other mainstream sport.

Without giving too much away from the book, I wanted to look back at the US Olympic Marathon trials from the Golden Age of the running boom. So I did just that. Take a look at these names and let me know who your recognize. Was there anyone from this group that you followed or inspired you to greater things? As many of us can recall the time and place where important events in history took place (JFK assassination, US hockey team winning gold, Michael Johnson winning the 200 at Atlanta), can you recall anything specifically? I can recall when Frank Shorter took gold at may have even changed my life.

I also was able to meet Frank Shorter in Texas circa 1989 as shown below. You can read the story about how this happened here.

Here then, are the US Olympic Trial results from the Golden Age (72-80):

Date: July 9, 1972
Location: Eugene, Oregon
The details: 100 Starters, 66 Finishers

1) Kenny Moore (OR) 2:15:58
2) Frank Shorter (CO) 2:15:58
3) Jack Bacheler (FL) 2:20:30
4) Jeff Galloway (FL) 2:20:30
5) Greg Brock (CA) 2:22:30
6) Don Kardong (CA) 2:22:42
7) Mark Covert (CA) 2:23:35
8) Tom Hoffman (WI) 2:23:45
9) Norm Higgins (CT) 2:24:08
10) Skip Houk (NV) 2:24:41

Note - Shorter won Gold at the Games in Munich

Date: May 22, 1976
Location: Eugene, Oregon
The details: 87 Qualifiers, 77 Starters, 49 Finishers

1) Frank Shorter (FL) 2:11:51
2) Bill Rodgers (MA) 2:11:58
3) Don Kardong (WA) 2:13:54
4) Tony Sandoval (CA) 2:14:58
5) Tom Fleming (NJ) 2:15:48
6) Bob Varsha (GA) 2:15:50
7) John Bramley (CT) 2:17:16
8) Kirk Pfeffer (CA) 2:17:58
9) Jeff Galloway (GA) 2:18:29
10) Amby Burfoot (CT) 2:18:56
11) Bob Busby (MO) 2:19:05
12) Carl Hatfield (WV) 2:19:18
13) Marty Sudzina (PA) 2:19:55
14) Perry Forrester (CA) 2:20:01
15) Ron Kurrle (CA) 2:20:18

Note - Shorter took silver at Montreal. Shorter was beaten only by East Germany's Waldemar Cierpinski, who was part of the East-German drug-doping machine. However, the International Olympic Committee has never chosen to take action against East German athletes. The only other American to medal in the marathon since Shorter's day is Meb Keflezighi, second in the 2004 Athens Olympic Marathon.

Date: May 24, 1980
Location: Buffalo, NY
Time standard: 2:21:54
The details:225 Qualifiers, 192 Starters, 125 Finishers

1) Tony Sandoval (NM) 2:10:19 Trials Rec
2) Benji Durden (GA) 2:10:41
3) Kyle Heffner (TX) 2:10:55
4) Ron Tabb (TX) 2:12:39
5) Jeff Wells(TX) 2:13:16
6) Kevin McCarey (OR) 2:13:17
7) Randy Thomas (MA) 2:13:40
8) Gordon Minty (MI) 2:13:53
9) Frank Richardson (IA) 2:14:17
10) Dennis Rinde (CA) 2:14:22
11) Walt Saeger (OH) 2:14:38
12) Dave Smith (CA) 2:14:48
13) David Patterson (PA) 2:15:09
14) Chuck Hattersley (CO) 2:15:30
15) Jeff Foster (PA) 2:15:56
16) Dick Beardsley (MN) 2:16:01
17) John Dimick (VT) 2:16:08
18) Kim Burke (PA) 2:16:10
19) John Vitale (CT) 2:16:22
20) Ted Castaneda (CO) 2:16:38
21) Mike Pinocci (NV) 2:16:46
22) Gary Fanelli (PA) 2:16:49
23) Chuck Smead (CA) 2:16:58
24) Cliff Karthauser (NE) 2:16:58
25) Bill Glad (WA) 2:17:23
26) John Miley (OK) 2:17:23
27) Roy Kulikowski (SC) 2:17:26
28) Bruce Robinson (MD) 2:17:30
29) David Miley (OK) 2:17:40
30) Rick Callison (OH) 2:17:42

Note - 56 men under 2:20 - a Trials record. The USA boycotted the Moscow Games thanks to the peanut farmer from Georgia.

So, memories? Leave a comment. Would love to hear your thoughts. And happy running!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Running Indoors

On Tuesday (Jan 5) I was faced with a choice of running outside where it was already dark, I knew the paths would be icy, and the temps were already south of zero F. Instead of doing that, I packed up a little running gear and headed to the Plymouth Creek Fieldhouse.

The domed fieldhouse provides refuge from the winter temps as it is inflated from November through April. The fieldhouse provides an indoor space for soccer, softball, baseball, football, lacrosse, rugby and other sports.

The field is surrounded by a walking/jogging track. For those local Plymouth runners, free indoor walking and jogging are offered during the winter. For information on hours that the fieldhouse is open for walking/jogging , please call 763-509-5292. This recorded message is updated weekly. Walking/jogging hours are dependent on other scheduled activities.

Inside, the temps are not tropical. I'm guessing somewhere in the 50's. But still better than the outside temperatures. I was able to get in a 8-mile run. Best of all, the Garmin worked. I had been worried about getting a signal under the Dome but the Garmin had no issues.

Yes, the track can be a little congested at times. The comings and goings of young boys and girls to soccer practice along with the Hen Packs (woman who have to walk three abreast while flapping their arms as they walk) make for interesting laps. But it also helps keep you alert as you try to fight the sheer boredom of dealing with 5 1/4 laps per mile.

Here's a short video of what it looks like. The blue outer strip is the track:


Map to Fieldhouse

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Question of the Week Winner

On Monday, I posed the question - 'Why is a 6:51 pace so important for my half-marathon goal on May 22?'.

Adam Beston of Missoula, Montana correctly answered. A 6:51 per mile pace will equate to exactly a 1:29.59 half-marathon. And that is the goal I will set out to achieve on May 22 when I attempt to run the Fargo half-marathon.

My chances? Slim to none. It has been a very long time since I have run this distance. My ligaments and joints seem to hit a certain spot, usually around 8-miles, when they scream out to me, "Enough! You may want to go on but we're done. A whirlpool and a rub-down if you would, please."

This gets hard to take as I have run a 1:17 half before. But I was half the age I am now. The mind still really wants to take it to the cleaners and have a 'ripper'. But these days, it also takes me a good 30-mins just to be able to reach the kitchen and pour that first cup of java.

My first real test will be March 20 in Glendale, Arizona as I run a 10K. My goal for that will be a 42:33....yes, the magical 6:51 per mile pace. If I can run that time in Arizona, coupled with 8-weeks of training left between then and the Fargo event....I might be able to pull it off. Otherwise, I will simply have to accept that I may have to adjust my goal.

Congrats to Adam for figuring it out quickly! If you have not had the chance, please visit his training blog. Adam does some very hard-core track workouts. All good stuff that he incorporates into his training regimen. I wish I had access to a track like he does!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Totals: Week Ending January 3

Not much to talk about save for mind-numbing cold temperatures for another week. I may try my hand at running indoors via the Plymouth Soccer Bubble this week. If so, I will report on that. Not a bad week previous, as I was able to put in numbers more to my liking. All in an effort to start laying down a decent base.

Total Workout Hours: 10:29.31
Swim Miles - 5.14
Bike Miles - 80.38
Run Miles - 18.41

Question of the week - Why is a 6:51 pace so important for my half-marathon goal on May 22?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Shim

Last year I had a Retül bike fit done at Gear West in Long Lake, Minnesota. It did wonders for my cycling last year.

At the time of the fit, my left knee was hardly traveling at all. By traveling, I mean that the knee was basically pumping up and down in a straight vertical line. But the right knee was a different story.

My right leg is shorter. We're not talking inches here, just enough to throw a person off and lead to some mechanic issues. Long story short, we added a shim underneath my right shoe cleat and right away the difference could be felt.

I rode with this single cleat shim for all of last season and it seemed fine. But this fall I started to have some pain in my right knee and some pain in the right hip. When I got on the windtrainer, I noticed the knee seemed to be traveling again and my hip seemed to be stretching. So, I went back in this last week and we added in a thicker shim.

The results were immediate. After three rides my pains have all but subsided. My right leg feels as strong as my left. It's all about mechanics. And sometimes all it takes is a little time to figure it out and something as simple as a piece of plastic that costs less than $1.

So let's dig into mechanics and injuries a bit. Cycling creates a tremendous demand on the lower extremities since they are responsible for producing a majority of the energy imparted to the bike. The high reactive forces created between the foot and the pedal produce loads that often adversely affect the joints and muscles of the legs and feet, leading to overuse injuries.

The incidence of lower extremity injury in cycling is high. One study of over 500 recreational cyclists reported 85 percent of the cyclists experienced one or more overuse injuries, 36 percent of which required medical treatment.

The main causes of overuse injuries in cyclists include a poorly fitting bicycle, musculoskeletal imbalances and training errors. Cycling is very repetitive. During one hour of cycling, a rider may average up to 5,000 pedal revolutions. The smallest amount of malalignment, whether it is anatomic or equipment-related, can lead to dysfunction, impaired performance and injury. In order to evaluate and treat a cycling athlete properly, the clinician needs a basic understanding of bicycle fitting, the proper selection of cycling shoes and foot orthoses (if indicated), and how anatomic factors and training errors contribute to these overuse injuries.

More often than not, iliotibial band syndrome is the result of over-training, a tight iliotibial band, varus alignment of the lower extremity, internal tibial torsion, overpronation or incorrect seat height. It is often accompanied by trochanteric bursitis and is characterized by pain and point tenderness over the greater trochanter. Iliotibial band syndrome can also produce symptoms at the knee joint or its insertion site on the tibia. Management of this condition consists of iliotibial band stretching, ice massage, nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs, orthoses and cleat and/or saddle adjustment.

Patella femoral pain, chondromalacia and infrapatella tendinitis are common problems in cyclists. Patella femoral pain is often referred to as biker’s knee and is associated with patella malalignment, increased Q angle, valgus foot and leg alignment, overpronation, a saddle that is too low or forward, poor cleat adjustment or alignment. Treatment includes correcting the mechanical factors related to the bicycle; improving foot alignment with foot orthoses or medial wedging between the shoe and cleat; and ensuring proper stretching of the vastus medialis.

Patella tendinitis presents with pain at the proximal or distal pole of the patella that increases with the extension of the knee, especially against resistance. The mechanical factors usually associated with patella tendinitis are incorrect seat height and improper saddle fitting. This condition can also result from valgus leg alignment, internal tibial torsion and overpronation while pedaling.

In addition to correcting the mechanical and foot/leg alignment factors, cyclists should decrease the intensity of rides and the resistance they are pedaling against by using lower gears and higher cadence until decreased symptoms permit a return to increased training.

Achilles tendinitis and plantar fasciitis are overuse injuries that can be caused by training errors or riding with the seat height too low. Biomechanical conditions contributing to these injuries include overpronation and a leg length discrepancy. Plantar fasciitis may also be caused by old or worn out biking shoes. The shank or rigid sole of the biking shoe becomes more pliable, causing excessive flex in the shoe and strain on the plantar fascia.

Achilles tendinitis is marked by pain in the Achilles tendon and occasionally the insertion. Patients have increased pain when toeing off or standing on their toes and pedaling. Plantar fasciitis usually presents with pain at the plantar fascia insertion of the medial calcaneus.

Treatment and management of these conditions consist of therapeutic exercise including stretching, ice massage and NSAIDs. Both conditions benefit from the use of foot orthoses and night splints. In the case of a leg length discrepancy, one should first correct any existing overpronation, proceed to fit the bike to the long leg and then address the short leg with orthoses or shim between the shoe and cleat. The thickness of the shim should be less than the measured discrepancy. The cyclist can aid recovery by decreasing riding time and intensity. Riding at a higher cadence with low resistance may also help.

Hope that helps if anyone is experiencing any bike related pain. I highly recommend a proper bike fitting, such as the Retül bike fit.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Tale of the Tape for 2009 - Grand Mileage Totals

There are great many people in my life you think I workout way too much. "You are always running." Or, "I always see you at the pool". And, "I saw you leave on your bike two hours ago and you are just getting back now?"

Frankly, I beg to differ. I don't work out enough. Of course, the baseline I seem to always fall back on is twenty years ago when I was single. Did not have to worry about a massively busy and rewarding career. Had no 6 PM soccer or swim team schedule to worry about getting a youngin' to on time. Back then, it was three to five hours a day. Every day. Glorious days.

When I added up my overall mileage for 2009, frankly I'm surprised to have done as well as I did. To wit:

Number of Overall Podium Finishes - 3
Number of Age Group Podium Finishes - 10
Number of Age Group Wins - 5
Number of Fastest Overall Bike Split - 2

All on very limited mileage. Just too many early season injuries, too many times when work (real job) demands turned into twelve hour (or more!) days, and too many times when I turned off the early alarm and just said, "screw it."

Here are my totals, by discipline for 2009. I'm sure you'll be surprised to learn just how little I did work out.

Swim - 98.8 miles overall. Best month was July with 14.5 miles. Worst was January with 3.2 miles.

Bike - 2812 miles overall. Best month was July with 414.5 miles. Worst was October with 76 miles.

Run - 459 miles overall. Man, between the Achilles and a pulled ham I really suffered in this discipline. Best month was November with 75 miles. Worst was June with 10 miles.

Hopefully, 2010 will have a little more heady numbers for me to look at. Can I do 120miles of swimming? Can I approach 3500 miles on the bike. Can I get 1000 miles in on the run? Or can I do even better? We'll see.

What kinds of gaudy totals do you have for 2009? I'm sure we have some real bulldogs out there!