Friday, May 27, 2011

Eating Healthy with Beef- A one Q and one A session

The good thing about having over 2600 "friends" on facebook is that you can experience lively debate.  The bad thing is that the comment section to respond to those questions is not the appropriate place to respond, usually. It is too tiny and limited in characters, especially when you have a lot to say.  In this particular instance, I mentioned in a status update that

"May not like being up this early but I do like talking to people about eating heathful foods such as protein rich lean-beef on morning news shows!"  This was in reference to my appearance on WCAX in Vermont about my upcoming 130th Marathon.

One response was as follows:  

Dane: when you talk to the public & children about beef do you ever share with them a walk through of the life & slaughter of cows or is that still taboo? 

[For an interesting look at such "slaughter" look at this article here (which the poser of the question predictably found to be "slanted". I say predictably as he is one who often likens horrific human tragedies to those in the production of meat in the cattle industry.]

In typical Dane-fashion (yes I am using the third person here) I wanted to simply say "Yes, if asked" because, well, I am blunt, direct and honest like that.  However, simply answering the question wouldnt really answer the true question (especially given I know the views the person who posed the question has and a simple answer would not really suffice.)  I thought about writing a response in return in private but then I realized that there is nothing I would say to him that I would hide from the other 2599 facebook friends.  So please read my response to him and realize it is the same I would give to anyone else. Also, to quote Principal Vernon from "The Breakfast Club."

"Don't mess with the bull, young man. You'll get the horns"

My answer: 

Yes, Erksien, I would happily do so.  But to answer in greater length:
1. The public and the children are not mutually exclusive.  Putting "the children" in there to try to prey on emotional sentimentalities is a pretty weak way to try and win sympathy from readers.

2. The vast majority of people with the appropriate amount of working chromosomes are aware that in order to eat meat, an animal must die. While I am not rich enough and do not have the time to ONLY eat meat I kill (ala Mark Zuckerberg's latest claim to do so - Google it, I don't feel like providing a link here) having been a hunter in the past, I thoroughly respect that animals are giving their lives so I can eat their meat.

3. Having grown up in NW PA, with ranchers and farmers and their "children" as my friends and neighbors, I fully comprehend every aspect of the circle of life when it comes to eating beef. I also know that there are fewer better treated animals than the cattle which eventually end up on my plate. Why?  Because if they cattle are not taken care of, their meat is poor.  If their meat is poor, then the cattle producer who sold them will not receive any more orders to sell his cattle.  If that happens, the cattle producer, who already is more or less doing what s/he does for the love of the land and the animal (no cattle producer is getting rich - please do the research here again on how little money is made from each head of cattle and then you will realize how thin their profit margins are and how much incentive they have to provide healthful and nutritious meat to consumers) goes broke. As such, there is zero incentive for meat to be anything less than superb.

4. There are very few taboo subjects with me.  If you have spent any time on my Facebook page you see I do not back down from any discussion.  Of course, I want any discussion to stick the parameters of what is being discussed and will happily snap in half any attempts to derail it with a straw man argument.  So no, discussing this is not taboo. In fact, I invite open and honest discussion about the things I stand up for.

5. I see you ignored the health benefits of eating beef in your critiquing and slightly (actually more than slightly) condescending question here because you realize:

a. Science is behind me in how beef is a nutritious, low-calorie, high in protein, zinc and iron way to properly fuel your body to be a normal person or one who takes on physical challenges.

b. Exact instances are behind me in that I have fueled myself from doing 52 Marathons in 52 Weekends to 202 miles in 50 hours to taking on triathlons all while constantly traveling, speaking and pushing myself to the limit.

So if anything, you showed good judgment in leaving that part out. Kudos!

I hope I answered your question adequately. I apologize for the delay in responding but I was out in Vermont running very happily, without injury, in shoes, while eating a healthful balanced diet that contains beef.

After this article was posted, I actually went to one of the biggest feedlots in the world in Idaho.  I wrote about my experience there. Even those this initial article was posted over two years ago, and the feedlot visit was the beginning of last year, nothing has changed in any of the view points I espoused.  I still eat lean beef, I still feel it is one of the reason why I can do the feats I do and I still think that by and large the cattle are treated far better than most people treat their friends and pets.

Go beef.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

SG Tri Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 6; 16th Edition 
237.2 miles raced, 2900 meters swam and 77.9 miles biked in 2011
Race:SG Olympic Tri
Place: Hurricane, UT       
Miles from home: 285 miles
Weather: 60-70 degrees; sunny 


When this weekend opened up a few months ago, I thought about doing one of the 5150 series races in Memphis.  However, after sending my bike to Tampa to compete in the St. Anthony’s Tri, spending a ridiculous amount of money to do so and then subsequently not having my bike for a total of three weeks total because of the in-transit shipping, I decided that was not going to happen.  What to do? Well, I found the relatively nearby-ish triathlon in St. George, UT.

When it is still snowing in the town you live in, a 4 hour drive south into the desert gives you hope for at least palatable racing conditions.  Looking at the weather forecast backed up those hopes so I signed up rather late for this triathlon, slapped my bike on the back of my car and drove down Friday afternoon to St. George.

I had a small book signing and meet and greet with triathletes here but I was picking their brains far more than they were mine. While they were curious what I eat the night before (steak) shoes I wear (K-Swiss) and if I would wear socks (um, yes! Lin Socks baby!) I wanted to know everything they could tell me about triathlons. Even with many marathons under my belt, I still listen to advice given to me about running so you can imagine the rapt attention I was paying to these triathletes with oodles of swim, bike and run experience under them. Even with my lack of experience, I had made no secret that I was going to be gunning for a top spot, even potentially a win. So I had to know as much as possible about how to make that happen.

As I tried desperately to go to bed early (if you do not know me well enough, let me explain that I have a normal bed time of around 2 AM) I finally succeed only to be awoken by one of the loudest conversations ever held on a telephone.  Someone in the next room of my hotel was calling someone else in England at midnight here in Utah.  How did I know it was England? Well, I could hear every single word of this conversation! Every one.  I finally called his room and asked him to keep it down.  He did but he might as well have been sitting in my room with me.  I put some ear plugs in, placed my cell phone next to my head and slept fitfully thinking I would not hear its alarm in the morning.  Fortunately, I did, got p and was on my way to the race. Weary but at least on time.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fit For Business 10k Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 6; 15th Edition 
231 miles raced, 1400 meters swam and 57.4 miles biked in 2011
Race: Fit For Business 10k
Place: Bakersfield, CA       
Miles from home: 710 miles
Weather: 60-70 degrees; overcast 

I was looking forward to being in Bakersfield for this Fit For Business 5k/10k race for quite some time, even if only to be in the town who played the villains in the fantastic 1980s movie Best of Times. Little did I know how much more than just Hollywood movie settings I would see in my short visit there.

The Fit for Business 5k/10k was the brainchild of the KernEconomic Development Foundation as part of two-day event to raise money for job-creating research and education in Kern County. This was the inaugural event for this race but fortunately, the KEDF had chosen a wonderful venue for the race –t he newly created The Park at River Walk. A 32-acre parcel of land adjacent to the Kern River, this park was rescued from urban development some years ago and, what was once an inaccessible piece of land located adjacent to the highway, it is now the city's greatest recreational feature.

Probably not wise to do this the day before a race.
Reclamation projects such as this, which open up land for runners and cyclists and other outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy what was once useless to them warm my heart.  To see one such as this which run right next to a river, makes me even happier.  Prior to the expo, I had a few hours to kill so I decided to go on a quick exploration trip.  Following the Kern River inland I saw it spilled out of the man-made reservoir called Isabella Lake. I love checking out big bodies of water so off on I went. Little did I know that on my way to the lake, the pleasant and calm Kern River would turn into a whitewater rafters' delight!  When I got to the lake itself, I was even more pleased to see people out boating, skiing and enjoying a beautiful day. I can see why this is such a tourist attraction.

Kylee, me and Kayla.
Quickly heading back into town, I got ready for the packet pickup and to do a meet and great with those who were picking up their packets.  These smaller events always allow me to spend more individual time with each person and hearing their stories always inspires me. Listening to children tell me what they hope to achieve (running-related and non) with such wide eyes and optimism even removes the cynicism of the most grumpy part of me. 

After the packet pickup I enjoyed the most delicious Top Sirloin steak dinner with members of the KEDF at the unique KC’s Steakhouse in downtown Bakersfield. Conversation went swiftly by as we discussed the historic nature of Bakersfield and how it has ties, in some respects, to my hometown in Titusville, PA (Hint: Oil.) Soon it was time to part and ready for bed.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fox Valley Fall Final 20

About a week ago I found out I made it into the St. George Marathon via the lottery. First and foremost - Whew!  I made it into this race back in 2008 but had to pull out do to a work conflict.  Since that time, I have been aching to get back to southern UT to run this race. While the St. George Marathon does contain much more uphill in it then people believe, it does have a significant amount of downhill in it, which is something tailored to my specific skill set. (Read more about my feelings on downhill personal bests HERE.)  Nevertheless I am very excited to run it, even given my busy racing schedule in the weeks before it.

This is why I am even more excited than usual to announce I will be taking part in the Fox Valley Fall Final 20 Miler as part of the Fox Valley Marathon weekend this September 18th. Two weeks before the St. George Marathon, this 20-mile run is perfect for me to get in one last long run prior to beginning to taper for St. George.  It is also perfect for the same purpose of any other Marathon in early October - to test your legs on a catered training run. Of course, other people will be racing in this 20-miler (as well as the other running events at Fox Valley as well) and it will be fun for those people as well. 

How can it not?  Look at the scenery. Skirting the Fox River on both banks, the course should be nothing but idyllic.  In addition, with few of us having ever run a 20-mile race it is more or less guaranteed to be a new personal best! Nothing wrong with tackling a new distance to challenge oneself in an exciting new way.
Having said that, regardless of what distance you are running, I hope to see many of you out there at this race as I will be helping to spearhead the Illinois Beef Association's brand-new Team Beef. Continuing to answer questions of how I fuel myself in the best way I know how, I will by proudly telling all that I get the power of protein from lean beef. 

Come out and join me and let's enjoy a gorgeous run in Illinois!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 6; 14th Edition 
224.8 miles raced, 1400 meters swam and 57.4 miles biked in 2011
Race: Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon
Place: Solvang, CA       
Miles from home: 810 miles
Weather: 50-60 degrees; overcast 

At the wine tasting on the night before the expo for this Half-Marathon I was gladly meeting people and telling them that I had zero racing plans for this race. I was simply going to go out, enjoy the scenery and have a nice long run.  I truly meant it as well.

I spoke with a nice gentleman named Jerry who was saying he was going to try his best to set a new personal best.When I asked him what he wished to run I saw that it was right around what I planned on running (1:28-1:29).  I asked him if he wanted a pacer and he gladly accept.  I told him I would run as close as I could to 6:45 per mile which would lead to a 1:28:29.  If he wanted to go faster or slower than that he could.  He would just always know that where I was 6:45 per mile.

The rest of the evening was spent talking with people who could not be more happy to be relaxing and enjoying the winery while I continued to devour the cheese and crackers.  I was as hungry guy and was very much craving some steak. When a group of people ask me to join them for dinner, I happily obliged and made even more friends for the weekend.

At the expo the next day, a low-paced feel for the day permeated throughout. You could tell people were there to relax and have a good time.  This general malaise would belie how exceedingly fast some of the top runners would run the next day but this day’s festivities were about relaxing.  I passed out a ton of beef recipes and facts on the nutritional value of lean beef.  Many were curious how I fuel myself and I was happy to let them know that a diet if lean beef is what keeps me going mile after mile.
With the expo over I hurried over to the dinner to give a small talk to the assorted runners and friends who were still simply relaxing and taking in the evening.  I got to catch up with my old friend Rudy Novotny who would be the voice of the race the next day. Rudy just so happened to announce my current marathon personal best back in Ogden in 2009, a time I plan on smashing in October in St. George.

Dinner ended and I had to drive from Solvang to LAX to pick up Shannon.  Late planning for this race made a lot of extra traveling necessary to get to hotels and to the race etc.  But I most assuredly know a lot about the back roads of this gorgeous wine country. Finally tumbling into bed around 1 AM I knew the 5 AM wake-up call would not be pleasant.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

PowerBar Energy Gels

Over the years, I have experimented with tons of ways to fuel my body during an event.  With each different event comes a different challenge and a different need.  with ultra events I have found I can take my time to actually chew something.  In an ultra-ultra event, like last year's 202 mile solo run of the American Odyssey Relay, I not only took time to chew food, I got real food in sit down meal style.

However, with the addition of triathlons to my exercise fun, I have found that I need to take in an energy gel or two.  When my friend Chris White showed me a way to tape the Energy gels to my bike for easy rip-off-ability on a recent bike ride, the possibility of fueling on the go and doing so quickly was made much easier for me.

I have often been asked what gel I use the most and I am always happy to tell someone.  However I realized i had never really publicly talked about the kind I enjoy best.  Well, it is that time.

Without a doubt, PowerBar's Energy Gel's are my favorite brand.  But even more so than that, on a sub-level, the strawberry-banana flavoring is tops by far.  It is not even the flavor which is so smooth but the consistency itself I love.  While the chocolate flavored Gels provided a solid flavoring and almost chewable consistency, the strawberry-banana have a much more liquid consistency that allows for an athlete to almost drink the gel whole. 

Most recently in the St. Anthony's Tri I competed in, something wasn't sitting right in my stomach.  The usual gel would have probably exacerbated the problem.  In spite of the stomach troubles, I knew I needed one of the gels I had on my bike for energy.  However, a problem arose when with about 2 miles left on the bike, I dropped my bottle filled with NUUN (another product I love).  Normally, I would not think of taking a gel pack without some sort of fluid to wash it down.  But not with the strawberry-banana PowerBar Gel!. Ripped from my bike, up to my mout and down the hatch.  *BAM*.  Just like that.

This afternoon, after an early flight and 2.5 hour drive and just general malaise, I decided to go for a run in Lompoc, CA.  Beautiful day out but I was starving.  I wanted to do about 6 miles before an engagement I have to attend (and really need to grab a shower and get off the computer and go to it!) but I did not have time for any real food. In the mouth went the PowerBar Gel (with 4 times the sodium of other similar gels- important for a heavy sweater like myself) and away I went.  I enjoyed the sun, enjoyed the run and am now ready to go grab me a steak.

So when you want to know what gel I like, look no further than good old strawberry-banana PowerBar gel.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

St. Anthony's Triathlon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 6; 13th Edition 
211.7 miles raced, 1400 meters swam and 57.4 miles biked in 2011
Race: St. Anthony's Triathlon
Place: St. Petersburg, FL       
Miles from home: 2348 miles
Weather: 70-80s degrees; windy and humid

To say I was excited about this brand new chapter of racing in my life is an understatement.  I love running.  I cannot see me ever getting tired of toeing the line hearing a gun fire and running as hard as I can toward the finish.  Granted, I do not get to do that exact scenario as often as I like (part of my own decision to often pace groups or take on other interesting side events such as my Charity Chaser) but I definitely love it. But to add something new to my calendar that is completely out of my wheelhouse was exhilarating and exciting.

Now if it had been as simple as competing in my first Olympic Distance Triathlon, which is what the St. Anthony’s triathlon is, I am sure the story could still be interesting but I had to throw in some patented Dane hurdles.  First and foremost, I forgot I had double booked myself.  I usually am on top of my schedule and can do a Rainman-esque remembering of where and when I will be at the drop of a hat.  But when I signed up for St. Anthony’s is just so happened to be on the same weekend where I would be doing a speech at an elementary school in Austin and then leading over 40 students on a 5k run that same weekend.  The only saving grace keeping me from having to eat my registration fee for the triathlon was that the 5k was on Saturday and the tri on Sunday.

After figuring out how I could get my bike to Tampa, picked up, checked in and somehow get my packet from the race as well, all while not getting into Tamp from Austin until 8 PM the night before the race, everything else should be a cakewalk, right? Wrong. Arriving in Tampa, I found out that my reservation for my rental car was still valid- they just did not have any cars. Now I know this dates me a little bit but whenever I run into something of this nature I am instantly reminded of the Seinfeld episode where Jerry is confronted with a similar situation.  He calmly tells the person it is not clear they know how to hold a reservation – they only know how to “take” one. I cannot say I was as funny or calm.

A full hour and a half after I was supposed to have my car, I finally was sitting in it.