Friday, October 29, 2010

Age Graded Races

Have you ever participated in a Age Graded Race? Are you even familiar with what it is? Age-graded information allows you to:
  • Adjust your performance to what it theoretically would have been during your prime running years (your 20's and a portion of your 30's depending on the race distance). 
  • Judge your performance, using an achievement percentile, without bias for gender or the aging process (in other words, you are measured against a specific standard for your age and sex). These percentiles can be interpreted as follows:  
Over 90% --- World Class
Over 80% --- National Class
Over 70% --- Regional Class
Over 60% --- Local Class

Compare your performances for a specific race distance at various ages to determine which was your "best race". If, for example, I am a 49 year old male and wanted to see age-graded information for a time of 18:48 that I recently ran in a 5K race. Using this calculator:
  • enter 49 in the Age field 
  • select Male in the Gender field 
  • select 5 Kilometers as the Race Distance 
  • enter 18 in the Minutes field and 48 in the Seconds field for Race Time 
  • press the Calculate Age-Graded Race Time & Percentile button the age-graded race time and achievement percentile will appear

Mine came out to 76.666. That equates to a time of 16:55 that the calculator is saying I would have run in my prime. That's a pretty accurate reflection as I ran a 16:30 at the age of 28. The 76.666 equates to Regional Class. Neat, huh? That's about right for me. I would never get National class (80%+), certainly never World Class (90%+). But I've always have been somewhere in the podium mix regionally.

In any event, I wanted to share the calculator and logic with you. You can play with your times and see how you would rank.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Final Tri Par Score In

All six of my USAT sanctioned triathlons now have par scores with the arrival of the results from the Cy-Man Triathlon. Looks like I will be on the outside looking in when it comes to receiving national honorable mention honors.

All American honors are given to the top five percent in each age group. The next five percent receive Honorable Mention honors. Rankings are far from being final but currently to receive a honorable mention ones par score needs to be at 81.94476. I'm sitting at 81.68141. So close!

Click for larger view

What I'm not sure is how much that will change when the final rankings are provided. You see, to be officially ranked a person has to complete three USAT sanctioned triathlons within the year. There are a number of people ahead of me that have yet to achieve that number. So I could move up....I think. Or even move down. In 2009, HM honors went down to 83.66644 within my age group so I don't hold much hope.

My top three par scores ended up being:
  • Maple Grove - 83.83224
  • Cornman - 81.15399
  • Cy-Man - 80.14603
I guess I should be happy to be close to be in the top 10% in the Male 45-49 Age Group nationally. This was the first year that I tried to get in enough USAT sanctioned triathlons to qualify for a final ranking.

How is everyone else looking? Have you checked your par scores yet? I bet we have some AA or HM's out there!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Race Result: 42nd Annual Lincoln Family Downtown YMCA Half Marathon + Family 5K Walk & Run

Event: 42nd Annual Lincoln Family Downtown YMCA Half Marathon + Family 5K Walk & Run
Date: Saturday, October 23, 2010
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Weather: 69 (race time) and beautiful
Official Results: 5K results, half-marathon results

Personal results:

Official Time: 20:09 (6:30 per mile pace)
Garmin Time: 20:09 (6:12 per mile pace). Note - course was 3.25 miles
Overall: 10th (367 total); top 2.7%; 1st in 45-49 male age group (12 total)

The Recap

Getting our awards from Wyatt Earp

I know, I know. First thing you are wondering "Brian, how can you run a 18:48 last month and then have a 20:09?" Two reasons.

One, the course was long. My Garmin read 3.25 miles which is significantly above the 3.1 miles of a 5K. Take the 6:12 pace and equate to a 5K and you have a 19:15 5K. Upon reflection I'm happier with this result than the 18:48 last month.

Which then takes us to reason number two. I will just provide a illustration.

244 feet elevation gain!
I had been warned by fellow buddy & Arizona resident Tom Ohe of a hilly course. I had been training on hills for the last month. I made sure I got in every hill I could around Plymouth. But not for this looming single monster. Not that it was brutal, but it was a grinder.

At the starting line I spied about a dozen people that could take the race. I knew this would be challenging. After the shot gun blast by legendary Wyatt Earp to start the 5K, the field quickly thinned to about ten runners and that broke into two packs of five about a quarter mile in. My plan had been to try for a 18:30 5K and achieve that by starting hard and then trying to hold on.

I kept glancing at the Garmin throughout the first one-half mile. 5:20 pace, 5:30, 5:45. It was looking good. Then we started to climb. Again, furtive glances at the wrist. 5:55 pace, then 6:20, then...gulp...6:55. I was sucking air and we were still climbing. Look at my splits. I go from 6:01 to 6:41 to a 5:56 (downhill, of course).

My splits

That hill just kept going and going. But the turn-around eventually came. And the old knees and hips held together enough for me to stretch it out. About a half-mile from the finish Tom was there to challenge me to pass a couple of people in front of me, as I was in 10th overall at that time. And that's where I would stay.

From the official results page

Well, at least I can say I negative split the race! No one needs to know why.....ha! Here is the Garmin information and map for those interested.

The Family

The Well Kept Wife™ told me ahead of this event that she did not feel ready. And Tom's description of the hill had her pondering a K2 type of summit. And she woke up race day morning with a crick in her neck.

The Boy® trained in his own style again. He got in two training runs over two weeks leading to the event. What can I say? He's schedule between piano, swim team, and scouts....and toss in 5th grade just like pulling a full-time job. During warm-ups he developed the dreaded side stitch and it was clearly bothering him. I took some time to help attempt to work it out with him. He said it didn't bother him during the race but I could see it did when I was with him at the end, cheering him into the finish chute.
Regardless, they made me very proud.

As I was climbing The Hill, I kept worrying how they would be faring. On my descent, I was surprised to see them running together. The Boy® had stayed ahead of the Well Kept Wife™ during the 5K in Fargo. So either my son was hurting, or my wife had gone out too fast. But they seemed fine as we exchanged family pleasantries.

After I finished I immediately trotted back towards the race to catch-up with my friend Tom and to cheer on my family. First came the Boy®. He was laboring and holding his side. I ran with him and he finished strong, passing two people in a furious sprint to the line.

My son's time and placement

Again, I trotted out and was pleased to see the Well Kept Wife™ turn the final corner. I was greeted with the Italian middle finger salute. I knew she hated that hill. We ran in together and she did very well to finish again on the podium for the second straight event. This was her second race ever. Eight seconds out of first in her age group.

It was later that evening that I got the, "You know, I should have won," statement from her. She was in first at the halfway point. Now she has some time to recover and think about next year.

My wife's time and placement
For both of them to run a very challenging course as well as they did was a testament to their fortitude. They both did great. I was very, very proud.

Packet Pickup - Pickup was at the famous Runners Den in Phoenix. Voted one of America's top ten running stores and the "Best of Phoenix," Runner's Den has been a pillar of the Arizona running community since its doors opened in 1978. Runner's Den is a pioneer in customer services, such as individualized gait analysis, injury avoidance/prevention clinics and group training seminars. While there, I got myself a new race hat and the Boy® was thrilled to receive a new pair of running shoes (Brooks).  He even got a first class lesson in the importance of untying shoes before removing and how to tie a proper double knot from salesperson Craig. Craig, from the Midwest, has run over 180 marathons (2:28:14 P.R.), and has a 50 mile best of 5:37:23. The Boy® has been properly removing and tying his shoes ever since.
Grade - A+
Suggestion - None. This was sweet. The staff was fantastic. All three of us walked out with merchandise and couldn't have been happier.

Volunteers/Amenities - The volunteers at the park were great. Not quite the cornucopia of volunteers you see at a triathlon, but for a run the numbers were strong and helpful. But, no port-a-potties! There were only two park rest rooms open and while there did not seem to be a dearth of long lines I think some people were rushed, etc or thought they might miss the race. Could it hurt to have a dozen or so of our green cubed friends?
Grade - B
Suggestion - Just repeat in 2011

Run Course - Held at South Mountain Park just south of Phoenix, the course is on a paved road in a desert setting. Views are stunning. As above, the 5K course was challenging with the elevation change but not harsh. Just had some unexpected bite to it. I am only knocking down to a B due to the distance being off. For a race of this size and standards, it should have been spot on.
Grade - B
Suggestion - Measure that course for accuracy! 3.25 miles is way off from the true 3.1.

King of the Mountain inside South Park
Awards/Goodies - The medals were nice. Being awarded them by the legendary Wyatt Earp a photo moment. Nice t-shirts. The race bag also included sun block and chap stick. Hey, it is Arizona after all!
Grade - A
Suggestions - None.

Our awards from Arizona

Post Race Food - The Well Kept Wife™ had me add this category after her first event in Fargo. She was surprised by the junk food offered after the event. What do you think she said when she saw Dunkin' Donuts being offered up after this event?
Grade - D for Dunkin' Donuts!
Suggestions - To be fair, bagels and bananas were also offered. But really, donuts?

Overall - A very nice race within a great closed course venue. How can any race in Arizona go wrong? Thanks to my buddy Tom for biking out to the event to see us run. It was nice to see you Tom!

Next Event - November 14 at Bronda's Du (USAT), Fort Worth, TX. This will be a 2 mi run, 15 mi bike, 2 mi run. It takes place at the Texas Motor Speedway!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Can Traveling To Compete Be Bad For Your Health?

A good story from Matador Network on 10/19/10. Unsure of the authors name. I had a few long-distance trips this year where I was driving back long distance shortly after a triathlon. Driving back from Arkansas and Nebraska are examples. I wore my compression hose which I think helped my legs a great deal. Now we're on our way to Arizona for a long weekend including a 5K.

How 'bout you? How to do deal with long-distance travel for racing? Leave a comment after you read the story below.

How traveling long distances for racing can be dangerous, and what you can do to prevent injury.

Those of you who plan on making a long trek to Western Australia for your next Ironman or to New York’s upcoming marathon may want to think about extending your ticket by a few days.

Last week, ABC News reported the story of Chris and Tammy Lifka, a husband and wife pair of athletes who ended up under medical care after a recent race. Shortly after completing an Ironman and driving 17 hours from Colorado back to their home in Chicago, Chris, 41, began experiencing pain in his midsection, a condition that lasted a several weeks. After coughing up blood, he was admitted to the emergency room, where doctors determined he had blood clots in his lung.

Tammy, also in her forties, had fallen off her bike during a race, and after finishing, piled into the car for the ride home. Her leg began to swell, and she noticed how heavy her arm was feeling. Both conditions were attributed to clotting in her bloodstream, her doctors suspecting it was the ride home in addition to her fall that was the cause.

Both Lifkas are in tip-top shape and are not the usual case studies when it comes to the condition known as Deep Vein Thrombosis. DVT occurs when a blood clot forms in one of the body’s deep arteries due to lack of circulation, and typically in the legs. Clotting can cause permanent damage to the effected limbs, and if the clot travels to the lungs, like they did in Chris Lifka, the resulting pulmonary embolism may be fatal.

In addition the blood that Mr. Lifka experienced, travelers should look out for breathlessness, dizziness, chest pains or a quickened heart rate as signs of pulmonary embolism. (The first stages of DVT in the limbs are characterized by painful swelling, discoloration, and heat at the site of clotting.)

Travelers usually hear about the risks of DVT when on long flights–hence, all those airplane pamphlets with the silly cartoon characters doing squats and ankle rotations. There’s a common misconception that only the elderly, the obese, and others with poor circulation are at risk for the condition. The truth is that anyone can get DVT, and long periods of inactivity, whether driving or flying, restricts blood circulation and increases its likelihood.

Combine traveling great distances with having just pushed your body to extreme exhaustion–after creating microscopic tears and fractures in muscles and bones, which sets off natural blood coagulation–and even top-notch athletes have something to think about. Combine this further with the inevitable dehydration that slows blood circulation, and the competitors have something to really worry about. For Tammy Lifka, a minor spill off her bike added a light trauma to the mix, increasing her risk of clotting that much more.

For athletes, it might be the post-event where the risk is greatest. This is because right after all that exertion, blood pressure drops along with most body functions. Many racers can attest to how locked up they get after crossing the finish line. It is that immobility that interferes with normal blood flow throughout the body, causing blood to almost “gel.”

By sitting down for long periods after that and putting pressure is put on major leg arteries, causing blood to accumulate in other parts of the body, the condition drops into a downward spiral.

Of course, there are a few precautions that can help minimize the risks of DVT in traveling athletes. The below section, however, should not replace medical advice or the self-monitoring that should be part of every athlete’s recovery regimen. Just remember, if it feels wrong, stop:

1. Hydrate during and after the event. It is common knowledge that hydration is one of the most important factors in performance and recovery. When it comes to DVT, it could be potentially lifesaving by flushing the blood and bringing back normal circulation. Monitoring your urine color for a full day after the race will help you ensure that you are getting the fluids you need.

2. Stay mobile immediately after the event. Making sure that you don’t fall to the ground or allow your body to lock up after the event can seem inconceivable after a grueling race. But when it comes to DVT, it’s important to keep the tissue active by walking around or some light dynamic stretching to allow blood flow and the heart to return to normal functions at a natural pace.

3. Hold off on immediate long-distance travel. If you can extend your stay after a competitive event even for one day, it can serve the purpose of allowing your body to recover. This may be impossible with busy schedules which is why hydration as well as doing some exercises, provided below, are very useful.

4. Exercise during distance travel. Below are a few yoga-influenced moves that can be done during your trip:

- Hip and ankle stretch: While sitting, cross the right ankle over the left thigh. Inhale and then exhale will folding over at the waist. Take 10-15 long breaths there before switching feet.

- Sciatic nerve and hamstring release: While sitting, take one big inhale, and then exhale all your air out. Squeeze your sit bones and navel in and hold for 15 seconds.

- Seated twist: While sitting, lengthen your spine and inhale. On an exhale, use your arm rest to twist the torso to the right. Hold for 10-15 breaths before switching sides.

- Warrior II: If you can stand up, take one big step so your legs are in a straddle. Bend the right knee to 90-degrees, and straighten the left. Extend arms to your side and look over your right hand. Squeeze the fingers and rotate the wrists while maintaining the pose for 1-2 minutes. Switch sides.

- Forward bend: From a standing position, extend your arms overhead and stretch up, coming to your toes if you can. Hold for a few breathes before folding forward over your legs, bending your knees to increase mobility. Hold for 1 minute. Repeat 2-3 times.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Race Preview: 42nd Annual Lincoln Family Downtown YMCA Half Marathon + Family 5K Walk & Run

Event: 42nd Annual Lincoln Family Downtown YMCA Half Marathon + Family 5K Walk & Run
Date: Saturday, October 23, 2010
Location: South Mountain Park in Phoenix, Arizona
Previous Results: First time at this event for me. 2009 results for the curious. Course map.

It is family mini-vacation time. For five brief days we'll be in one of the rare places in the world where I can actually relax. It's amazing how I simply decompress the very moment we step outside of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. I love it in Arizona.

It is the oldest footrace in Arizona. Wyatt Earp starts the half-marathon race with a double barrel shot gun in the tradition of the old west. The proceeds benefit the Lincoln Family Downtown YMCA Strong Kids Campaign. This fundraising effort provides resources for inner city youth and Teen Center programs, as well as financial assistance for children to learn how to swim, experience day and overnight camp, and learn important values and life skills.
This will be my last running event of the year. I'll have only one event left in 2010 after this, a duathlon in Ft. Worth, Texas on November 14. For this Arizona race I'll be doing the 5K event as will the Well Kept Wife™ and the Boy®. So the whole family will once again be racing just as we did recently in Fargo.
Also joining in on the fun will be fellow Jamestown High School class of '79 alum, Tom Ohe. Tom and I ran together on the two Class A state championship ('77, '78) cross country teams. Two Blue Jays once again dominating the field? We'll see!
I won't be setting any goals for this one. Of course, I'll be striving to do my best and have a great effort. But it is a vacation after all and I don't want the added pressure of setting a time goal. It should be fun just to cheer on my family and friends as this is an out-and-back course. Apparently the 5K is uphill for the first half, then of course, downhill on the return. Should be interesting. Tom e-mailed me to say he thought the course reminded him of a certain cross country meet in Medora, North Dakota circa 1978.

If you have never been to western North Dakota, that is Badlands country. Sort of a miniature Grand Canyon. Flat..flat...flat...BOOM!...big mesa's, hills, and culverts. This meet had us essentially running a mile to a monster hill, climb it, turn around and come back down. It was a tough, tough course. Too bad the team didn't fare very well.

The Jamestown Blue Jay 7th/8th grade boys won. The 9th grade boys won. The girls won. The junior varsity won. And the varsity won. Tom and I ran on the JV team that day (the team was loaded). We did OK, I guess. If taking the first six spots and seven of the first ten spots is considered "OK".

Tom is 3rd from the left. I'm 4th from left.
Getting our trophies.
In any event, I'll be relaxed. I'll be happy. I'll be in my element. Like I said, I love Arizona and hope to live there for a portion of the year some day. We have even taken to doing some Southwest themed decorating in our house. Maybe I'll even come back with a permanent tattoo similar to the temporary Henna tattoo I picked up at the Minnesota State Fair this past summer. This little guy is pretty much seen everywhere in the Southwest.

In any event, we'll have a blast. We'll tackle one of the Seven Summits of Phoenix as well. We tackled Camelback Mountain in 2006, Lookout Mountain in 2008, and Piestewa Peak in March of 2010. Maybe we'll tackle South Mountain on this trip a few days before the race at the same venue. But we definitely be going on family desert hikes along with some Geocaching as well.

Wish us luck!
This will be the second event in a row that will be using the ChronoTrack system. You must be wearing your "D-Tag" correctly in order to be timed. For future reference for anyone who needs to know how to attach this unusual tag, please follow the instructions below.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Photos from Fargo Race

Why is it that one's parents are so inept at taking photos? It is as if the digital revolution just passed them by. In my case, my parents don't even own a computer and I wouldn't want them to. Here are a few photos from the Fargo race. Some photos are from my father's disposable camera, others from the official race photographers.

The Boy® comes in to the finish. Look of determination.
The Boy® is about to be chicked.

Then again, maybe not!

The Well Kept Wife completes her first 5K race

Somewhere on the 10K course.

The distinguished older gentleman finishes the 10K
Shortly after the finish.
The WKW™ & I picking up our AG awards

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Saucony sonicLite HD Wind Shield Gloves

For winning the Male 45-49 Age Group for the Fargo MiniMarathon 10K, I received a $20 gift certificate to GoFarSports in Fargo. I browsed around the store. They had a very nice collection of XC spikes and flats making me wish I was still in high school running cross-country and track & field. For the first time, I saw the Nike Free shoes. Wow. I might have to grab some of those.

But with winter approaching here in The Tundra, I opted for a new pair of gloves. Made by Saucony, these gloves are high visibility and for a light-weight glove are supposed to offer maximum protection against the cold. Features are:

• SonicLite exterior fabric keeps out rain and cold
• DryLete liner and cuffs provide comfort and protection
• USB-LED light and slot pocket on right hand
• Plush cloth wipe on thumb exterior
• Magnets fasten gloves together

Yeah, one needs the cloth wipe to brush away snot. The orange does make one look like the dude on the sideline at NFL games, but safety first!
And it is the LED light that really caught my eye. The light will be good for up to 100,000 hours. How will it last that long? A brilliant idea in which you can charge the light via any USB port. You get 1+ hour of light from just 20-minutes of charge time. The light is visible from up to 100 yards away. Take a look gander at the gloves and light in my homemade video:

QR Code to direct ordering - A QR Code is a matrix barcode which is readable by mobile phones that have a camera and all smartphones such a iPhone and Droid enabled phones. Those who use will know what to do. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Race Result: Fargo Mini Marathon

Event: Fargo Mini Marathon: Half-Marathon, 10K, & 5K events
Date: Saturday, October 9, 2010
Location: Fargo, North Dakota
Weather: 59 (race time) and beautiful
Official Results: Overall text results (all three races)

Personal results:

Goal: 39:59 (6:26 per mile pace)
Official Time: 39:40 (6:23 per mile pace)
Garmin Time: 39:39 (6:22 per mile pace)
Overall: 4th (637 total); top 0.47%; 1st in 45-49 male age group (15 total)

The Recap

Had the ol' grey beard going for this event.
The weather was almost perfect for the 8 AM start Saturday morning at the Fargo Civic Center. There was a slight breeze out of the ESE. The only thing bad about that was the day was going to heat up (it hit 87 F this past Saturday) so when we hit the turn-around we had the wind at our backs and I heated up. Nothing major, though.

This was sort of a weird race. Plenty of people for the 10K event as 637 people completed it. But it was plain from the start that the depth of the competition would be lacking. Two blocks into the event, five of us had already pulled away from the field. I glanced at my Garmin and we were pulling an astonishing 5:20 per mile pace and I asked myself, "What the eff ARE you doing!?!?", and pulled it back to the lower 6's. There was no way I was going to last at that pace.

A little over one-half mile in and eventual race winner (James Schanandore - 32:23) had left us in the dust. That left four of us in a pack. By mile two we had separated into little groups, each no more than forty yards behind the other. I was in the third group and dropping off. At this point I had a decision to make.

One, I could attempt to close the gap with the lead chase group. The risk here being that I catch the cahse group but the result being I could have a nuclear meltdown near the end of the race. Two, I stick to my original goal of going under 40-minutes. I went with option two. That's what I had been training for. It made no sense to go nuts at this point.

This meant that I was now running by myself. I mean, by-my-self. A quick glance over the shoulder and there was no one behind me. I could see no one at all. It was akin to running a workout by myself. This was very strange to me given the number of people in the race. There were five people busting their humps up front and no one else within the same zip code.

This made it a challenge for me to keep on my goal. Interestingly enough, I kept the distance between myself and the lead chase group the same. Shortly after mile three, I could see I was gaining. Again, I struggled with going all Prefontaine or just keeping within myself. It was at this point that we had the wind at our backs and I'm glad that once again I stuck to plan. As I was starting to heat up.

At this point, I need to discuss the first five. Again, Schanandore had pulled away early and was nowhere in sight. There was a second male that had now broken away and had about a 300-yard lead on me. In third was female extraordinaire Gina Aalgaard Kelly who had separated slightly from a fourth male. I was about 60-yards behind those two. And that is how we would finish.

However, as the first set of results were posted I noticed something very strange. I was listed in seventh overall. "That's just not right," I thought to myself. Like I said, there was no one within the same zip code as us. Someone had cut the course was my first thought. So I talked with some race officials just to make them aware I didn't think those results could be valid.

What I think happened was that two people had signed up for the 10K, but somehow ran the 5K course. That explains those two. But later in the day when the official results were posted, I was now listed as third overall! Now I was really scratching my head.

I could see that a Christopher Johnson who had run a 37:59 had been DQ'd. This is the person had had been in second place the whole race. I saw nothing....absolutely nothing....that could have lead to his DQ so I can only assume he ran the wrong race (was signed up for the half marathon) or had a chip malfunction?

Subsequent update - It appears that the results have been updated, moving me from 3rd overall to 4th. Glad to see Christopher Johnson was reinstated.

We had D-tags for this event? Ever had to deal with these? Not easy for the first timer user. I had a race official actually walk up to me as we stood at the starting line to adjust mine.

So whatever happened to Johnson, I don't know. But there is no mention of the fourth runner who would have finished behind Kelly, the overall female winner. So, somehow I ended up 3rd overall and 2nd overall for the males.

I liked the course. We started on roads that wound through the residential section of Moorhead (on Minnesota side of the Red River) before crossing the river again to finish on a very scenic run along the Red itself on their trail system. There was some rolling hills. So again, I was glad I didn't bust my balls and held to my goals and ran my race. My splits:

Here is the Garmin information and map for those interested.

The Family

Yes, this was the debut race for the Well Kept Wife™. And trust me, it was not me who insisted that she begin running. It was not me who planted, then germinated that idea. This was 110% her idea and goal. I provided her the training guidelines and support.

She had been running for a little over six weeks prior to this event. So we had no aspirations going into the event. When she had been reporting her training times to me in the last week, I had an thought she could go under thirty minutes. In fact, I was pretty positive if it.

Before the race we talked about that she would be running much faster than it would seem, especially that first mile. I wrote her targeted mile splits on the back of her hand in green marker just as I do for myself. I knew she would have a good race if she kept to those splits.

But, I did not expect her to go 28:11. Nor did I expect her to literally blow away the competition in her age group (Female 45-49). She was 1:09 faster than second place. She beat thirty other women in her age group so its not like she had a light field. A truly awesome first time effort. I just hope she doesn't expect to be first, or on the podium, at every event because of this! In fact, after the race she asked me when I thought she could try a 10K. I just laughed and let her know we'll see how she does over the winter.

The Boy® ended up with the family honor in the 5K, coming in ahead of his mom. There had been considerable smack talk between the two that morning. What may have hurt is that the Boy® ran a total of TWO TIMES during the six weeks his mom was training. I think he may be training a bit more in the coming two weeks.

That is because I see the score possibly being evened up in a couple of weeks in Arizona. Then we'll have the series tied at one apiece going into 2011. Hmmmm.

The Boy® ended up with a new PR of 27:48 and ended up 6th in the male 14 & Under age group which had 22 total runners. He was beaten by a 14-yo, 13-yo, 10-yo, 12-yo, and a 13-yo. But he beat a bunch of kids four years older than himself. He was pretty happy, but that may have been more to beating up on mom than any thing else.

The Well Kept Wife and the Boy® with their medals.

Let's get back to the event itself and break down the typical components, discussing what was done well and what needs improvement.

Packet Pickup - As far as I know, there was only same-day packet pickup. So we had to scream out of the Twin Cities at 3:30 PM Friday to make it to the Fargo Civic Center before 8 PM in order to get our packet. What was nice, we unexpectedly took the exit that took us right past the “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” house in south Moorhead that was still under construction. It looked great. Amazing work and amazing story for those that follow that show. The house was handed back to the family this past Sunday.
Grade - B-
Suggestion - Packet pickup itself was fine. Hardly any wait. Everything was in the bag. Maps of the course posted. There had been a change due to continuing work on flood walls in south Moorhead. I am docking the grade, though, as several attempts to verify if race day packet pickup would be available went unanswered. I expect better from race officials.

Volunteers - All the volunteers from packet pickup to post race were splendid and very helpful! I was especially impressed with the number of enthusiastic teenage volunteers. That is always good to see.
Grade - A
Suggestion - Just repeat in 2011

Run Course - As I said, there had been a slight course change that really only affected the half-marathon. The 5K course apparently was very nice, taking the runners past the Hjemkomst Center. The 10K was just beautiful fall foliage. It was special to me to again revisit some trails that I ran on when attending school at NDSU. I was recalling some XC meets as well when we hit Gooseberry Park. I believe I earned my very first XC medal ever in that park way back in the day.
Grade - A+
Suggestion - Just repeat in 2011

The Hjemkomst Center
Awards/Goodies - Long sleeved T-shirts were given for the 10K runners and short sleeved for the 5K runners. The good ol' cotton variety. And believe it or not, finishers medals were provided to all three events including the 5K! That was really cool. And they are nice medals. The top three overall males and top three overall females also received something but since I was not listed as within the top three males at the time of the award ceremony, with the DQ's coming later in the day, I have no idea what those would have been. The top three in each age group in all three events received gift certificates for Go Far Sports in Fargo. It is a very nice runners paradise and we shopped there after the event as I had a $20 gift card and my wife had a $10 gift card for our first place age group finishes. I'll be writing about some of the new gear in the coming days.
Grade - A
Suggestions - Offer to mail the gift cards next year. We had to wait for well over 115-minutes for the gift cards.....very much appreciated, mind be passed out.

The Maas medal collection from Fargo

Post Race Food - I've not included a review of post race food in my race reports before. But the Well Kept Wife...this being her first event...made a point about it and wanted me to make mention as she was appalled by the nutritional value being put forward. I told her it was no worse than any other event I've ever done and that some events don't offer anything at all. Still she found issue with the bags of potato chips and chocolate milk. She wanted protein and granola and something healthier. You food. They also had orange juice (which I loved) and banana's. Like I explained to her, any food after a race is a bonus and not a expectation. Lots of this stuff is donated and you have to love sponsors, otherwise these events would not happen. But I can see her point. Less processed food. More natural selections. Oranges, apples....fruit! And some good old protein bars or natural snacks as additional options. I'm sure other readers have a take on post-race food as well....feel free to share.
Grade - C
Suggestions - Introduce a focus group and be sure some mom's are represented. What would they like to see on the list of possible foods for 2011?

Overall - Loved the race. Great setup. We really lucked out with the weather. I will be very much considering this event for my 2011 race calendar. I whole heartily recommend it. Over 2500 people competed in the three events and one would not have known that as it was so well put together.

It is always nice to go back to the state of my birth and visit with the family. And yes, we visited the massive Scheels promised....twice. Let me tell you something about that store, and I'm not making this up: They have a better collection of running gear than any store in the Twin Cities. Bar none. Heck, they even have tall and short sizes of most things. They also carry items such as heavy duty UnderArmor for winter events that I've not seen here, even at Dicks. Just love that Scheels store. And the Well Kept Wife™ spent more than me this time around!

Next Event - Oct 23 at the 42nd Annual Lincoln Family Downtown YMCA Half Marathon + Family 5K Walk & Run, Phoenix, AZAll three of us are doing the 5K Run. This will be fun. I'll be setting no goals. Just go out there and try and stay ahead of my family! If you see these three people at the starting line, be afraid. Be VERY afraid!

The Maas family is coming soon to a race near you!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Announcing 5150 |

Fairly big news as a new International Distance triathlon series has been announced. Why 5150? Perhaps because 5150 is also code for "involuntary psychiatric admission" to hospitals?!?

WTC Launches New Global Event Series

Oct. 5, 2010 (Tampa, Fla.) – Today, World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), best known for its worldwide Ironman and Ironman 70.3 races, announces the launch of a new global event series titled 5150. All events within the 5150 Triathlon Series include a 1.5K swim, 40K bike and 10K run. Event information, including online registration details, will be available in the coming weeks on

Starting in 2011, the 5150 Series will be the largest international distance triathlon series in the world and will be the first non-drafting international race series of its kind, offering a competitive platform for professional and age group athletes. The 2011 event schedule will offer 13 domestic events as well as a handful of international races. The Hy-Vee Triathlon will host the 5150 U.S. Championship, offering professional athletes the opportunity to compete for $1 million in prize money. Additional international race locations in Europe and Asia-Pacific will be announced soon.

Iowa in September and Galveston in October will be up for consideration by me. Of course, IM events are pricey. we'll have to see what they come in with.

2011 5150 Series (United States)

March 13 Miami International Triathlon (Miami, Fla.)
May 1 St. Anthony’s Triathlon (St. Petersburg, Fla.)
May 15 5150 New Orleans (New Orleans, La.)
May 22 Memphis in May Triathlon (Tunica, Miss.)
June 19 Washington D.C. Triathlon (Washington, D.C.)
June 25 5150 Provo (Provo, Utah)
July 10 Boulder Peak Triathlon (Boulder, Colo.)
August 7 Nautica New York City Triathlon (New York, N.Y.)
September 4 Hy-Vee Triathlon/5150 U.S. Championship (Des Moines, Iowa)
September 11 5150 Lake Lanier (Gainesville, Ga.)
October 2 5150 Lake Las Vegas (Henderson, Nev.)
October 23 5150 Galveston (Galveston, Texas)
November 12 5150 Clearwater/5150 Series Finale (Clearwater, Fla.)

2011 5150 Series (International)

June 5 5150 Frankfurt (Frankfurt, Germany)
June 12 5150 Klagenfurt (Klagenfurt, Austria)
July 9 5150 Zurich (Zurich, Switzerland)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Race Preview: FM Mini Marathon/10K/5K

Event: FM Mini Marathon/10K/5K
Date: Saturday, October 9
Location: Fargo, North Dakota
Previous Results: First time at this event for me. 2009 results for the curious. Course map.

This will be our umpteenth trip to Fargo this year. My parents live in West Fargo, so any event we participate in gives us the chance to visit with them. We have been staying at the very nice Best Western Kelly Inn & Suites Fargo Hotel with very nice indoor pool and available suites. Plus, the morning breakfast is about as good as it gets.
And it doesn't hurt that the massive Scheels sports store is just a few blocks from the hotel. 196,000 square feet of sports shopping where I can also pick up some North Dakota State Bison merchandise. Being a '84 alum, it has been fun to once again wear the Thundering Herd colors.
On Saturday, I will be racing the 10K. The Boy® and the Well Kept Wife are doing the 5K. This should be fun simply because the event has now taken on a family affair. I'm more excited to see how they do than myself.
As for me, my goal is simple. I'd like to go under 40-minutes. So long as I can stay below 6:26 per mile pace, that should be doable. I'm feeling fairly cocky confident. It's been a long time since I have gone under 40-minutes for a 10K. The last time was February 19, 1989.
That was in College Station, Texas during the Texas Straight Shot 10K. After a week's postponement due to icy weather conditions, the 10K still drew the best runners to what certainly was the fastest TAC-certified course in the state. The course was a 106-foot descent point-to-point course. And we had to fight a strong headwind.
How did I handle the headwind? I, um, got on the shoulder of a very talented runner. I hung there until near the finish when I passed. Only, I felt very sheepish about doing so. The runner I hung onto was the overall female winner, Carol McLatchie.
My time, and personal record to this very day, was 35:37.21 (5:43 per mile pace). This was good enough to place me 5th in the male 25-30 age group and 24th overall. I did not make note of the total runners. But the field was deep. Think about that time. A 35:37 was only good enough for 24th! The event was won by Douglas Tolson in 30:13 (4:51 per mile pace).
Interesting side note from that event in 1989. The 10K meant the main drag (Texas Avenue) in Bryan-College Station had to be shut down. Hundreds of frustrated drivers found out they had to detour. Sixty-three complaints were phoned into the police. One man told officers that he was going to get his rifle and take care of all the mess on Texas Avenue. Lucky for all of us, he never materialized.
With my goal of going sub-40 this weekend in mind, I took a look at the male 45-49 age group from that race in 1989. I wanted to see how a sub-40 minute 10K would have fared. Not too well. First in that age group came in at 33:44, second at 36:07, third at 36:51, fourth in 39:43 and fifth was 39:52. Like I said, ton's of depth in that race. Ton's of depth in Texas. A sub 40-minute would have meant squat. An also ran. A wannabe. Not a contender.
Jump forward to Fargo. The 2009 winner in the 10K came in at 39:34. Second went to a female at 39:49. Third was a 40:21. There were 413 runners. And those were the top three times. So what will a sub-40 at this event buy me in 2010? If I do go sub-40 and place in the top 5 or top I even feel good about that accomplishment? I suppose you do.
Sheepishly though.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Chronic Stress Can Prematurely Age Your Brain

My Real Job® is a real killer. And like everyone else in this country today, the economy is causing even more stress. Outsourcing. Cut backs. More work for those left behind. There should be a national program called, "No Worker Left Behind" as those not experiencing the pain of a layoff instead experience the pain of a double workload. The mantra of achieving a work-life balance is a crock of shit at the moment. I now refer to signing onto my laptop each morning as "Crap-A-Palooza" as I have no idea what I will be dealing with on any given day. To say I am stressed, is akin to describing an atomic explosion as being "somewhat noisy."

What has become worrisome for me, given my endocrine issues of the last several years, has been what I term memory loss. I forget what I came into the kitchen for. I might forget the name of a neighbor down the street. I can recall my third grade teacher (Mrs. Kasner) but couldn't name a single college professor if my life depended on it. Naturally, one begins to worry about Alzheimers and other such things. I started to do some research.

“There’s always going to be stress in the environment,” says Howard Fillit, MD, clinical professor of geriatrics and medicine at New York’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine and executive director of the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation. “But what’s damaging is the distress we feel internally in response to it.”

Fillit’s distinction points to the bodywide reaction our bodies experience when we routinely respond to stress by going into fight-or-flight mode. In our brains, the stress response can cause memory and other aspects of cognition to become impaired, which is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and accelerated memory loss with aging. One thing that can happen is you can start feeling a lot older, mentally, than you are.

“Patients come in complaining of faulty memory and wonder if they’re beginning to get Alzheimer’s,” says Roberta Lee, MD, vice-chair of the Department of Integrative Medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center and author of The Superstress Solution (Random House, 2010). “Their workups and MRI scans look normal. In the interview, I ask them about their lifestyle and almost invariably they have compounded stress.”

The Research

Studies at the University of California–San Francisco have shown that repeated instances of the stress response (and their accompanying floods of cortisol) can cause shrinkage of the hippocampus — a key part of the brain’s limbic system vital to both stress regulation and long-term memory. Call it the downside of neuroplasticity.

Why It Matters to You

Aside from the obvious — no one wants his or her brain to age faster than it’s already going to — this research matters because it suggests that you have some influence over the rate of your own cognitive change.

To protect the brain from cortisol-related premature aging, Lee suggests building stress disruptors into your regular routine: “A five-minute period in the middle of every day during which you do absolutely nothing — nothing! — can help a lot, especially if you are consistent about it,” she says.

Her other recommendations include eating breakfast every day — complex carbohydrates (whole grains, veggies) and some protein. “Breakfast helps your metabolism feel like it won’t be stressed — caught up in a starvation-gluttony pattern,” she explains.
And when anxiety does strike, a good way to initiate the relaxation response is her “four-five breath” routine: breathing in through the nose to a count of four, then out through the mouth to a count of five. “Repeat it four times and you’ll feel the relaxation,” she says. “Best of all, do the four breaths twice daily, at the beginning and end of the day.”

Or win the lottery, retire, and move to Arizona! Stressed? Tell me about it and what you are doing to alleviate it.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Totals: Month Ending September 2010

Other than losing daylight and experiencing cooler-than-normal weather I thought September went well. I increased my run mileage, dropped my swim mileage, and tried to keep up on my bike workouts.

As far as the highlight of the month, I'll point to the both the Cy-Man Triathlon in Iowa and the Plymouth 5K. The triathlon because it was my last triathlon of the season and I was able to win my age group. The 5K because I met my goal of going under 19-minutes.

This month I have two running events and I hope the weather stays warm to even out the cold September! To the tape.

September 2010 Total Numbers

Total Workout Hours: 37:07.57
Swim Miles - 7.61
Bike Miles - 321.26
Run Miles - 124.17 (7:39 per mile avg)

Compare to last year -

September 2009 Total Numbers

Swim Miles - 3.89
Bike Miles - 301.46
Run Miles - 29.06 (Achilles recovery)

Compare to last month -

August 2010 Total Numbers

Total Workout Hours: 32:43.40
Swim Miles - 10.5
Bike Miles - 287.85
Run Miles - 86.74 (7:47 per mile avg)

Year-To-Date (2010)

Swim Miles - 98.23
Bike Miles - 2659.44
Run Miles - 847.72

Upcoming in October -

Oct 9 - FM Mini Marathon, Fargo - 10K Run
Oct 23 - 42nd Annual Lincoln Family Downtown YMCA Half Marathon + Family 5K Walk & Run, Phoenix, AZ - 5K Run