Friday, June 29, 2012

Watching the Trials

Back in 2008, with the Olympic Trials in relatively nearby Eugene (I lived in Salt Lake City) I so wanted to make the trip. Unfortunately, it never happened. With the trials in 2012 being in the no-need-to-use-the-word "relatively Eugene again (I moved to Portland a week ago) i would not make the same mistake again. The only question was, needing to move myself into my apartment, and having at least a low-enough grade of OCD to allow me to escape for one day to watch the trials before returning to unpack, which day to pick? I think I, like Indiana Jones, chose wisely.

Two major events will stand out from this day of the Trials that I watched yesterday. The Discus and the 5,000 meter final (both men's and women's).

I will start with the 5,000 meter men's final.  Galen Rupp won with an incredible 52-second last 400 meter (I mean, wow.) I have never understood the knock on Rupp, whom some seem to dislike.  Perhaps some have reason but I am guessing most just have a "feeling" and go off of fourth hand accounts. All I know if he is one heck of a competitor and it was amazing to watch him run. Breaking Steve Prefontaine's 40 year old meet record was surprising but what I found shocking was that even in doing so, his time was not the Olympic A qualifying standard.

As ESPN explains "There's this thing called the Olympic qualifying standard -- a minimum performance level that divides those who will compete in London from the rest of us. You can win an event at the trials, but if you haven't met the Olympic A standard for your event -- a 65-meter discus throw, say, or a 5,000-meter time of 15 minutes, 20 seconds -- your trials medal earns you a stool at your local sports bar during the Games."

So Rupp's 13:22 broke the record but didn't even break the A standard at this meet (he has done so previously). I am not quite sure what this says about the trials other than it was obvious the runners decided to make it a tactical race for about 6 laps and then a race would break out.  That's exactly what happened, where Rupp got in front of Bernard Lagat, known for his finishing kick, and then, after falling behind Lagat, somehow surged ahead again to win. Rupp had lost to Lagat 12 previous times. Thirteen seemed lucky enough for Galen. Kudos to Rupp and the other two men, Lagat and Lomong who will be representing us at the Olympics.

Earlier in the meet, a track coach from an Ohio school siting behind me, mentioned he had never seen an entire stadium get that "up" for a discus thrower before.  There was a reason. Lance Brooks, who had led the trials from his very first throw, was missing that elusive "A" standard. Faulting on his first two throws at his final attempt to hit 65 meters, the crowd was buzzing. I was sitting in the stands almost parallel to the 60 meter line for the discus.  Let me break here for a second.

If you have never watched a track meet at Hayward Field, and are a track fan, you are doing yourself a great disservice. THIS is a crowd. Chanting and rhythmic clapping, knowledgeable fans, and general excitement for all is palpable. When a pole vaulter ended up making the final three to move on, a shriek went up from one woman in the crowd.  It ends up it was his mother.  Instantly the crowd turned from the field and began applauding the woman in the stands. It was fantastic. Again, THIS is a crowd.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Run with Dad

My father passed away in January. (You can read the piece I wrote about him here.)  For brevity’s sake, my father, crippled in a hunting accident before I was born, never once went on a run with me. Seeing parents and their children running together at races will never not choke me up, and that was before my father passed.

I just made a big life change and moved to Portland, OR.  The normal rigmarole of moving was compounded in its difficulty by having an injured shoulder. However, with the help of a few good friends, I was unloaded in just over an hour.  I’d like to think we set a new PR. But once the unloading was done, the unpacking began.  What a nightmare.

After a few, well, many, hours of unpacking, the dismal sky out my window turned into a beautiful day.  I decided I needed to go for a little shakeout run. Now where the heck was my watch? Obviously, I do not need a watch to do a run but given my body is not in the shape that it used to be, in order for me to know how far I was running (I can usually tell simply by feel) I thought a watch would be helpful.  But I  could not find either of my Timex running watches. What could I find, amongst the boxes and bags and sundry other packing paraphernalia? Well, somehow, I found my father’s old watch, which my mother had just given to my last week when I was home for a visit.

My father was never without this watch. It was no heirloom and it was nothing fancy.  But he always had it on. Getting it as a gift from my mother to hold onto was very special.  I could never wear it, unless I took about 10 links out of the band (Damn you, girly little wrists!) but I never intended to do so.  I simply wanted to have it. But here it was.

I decided I would take it with me.

Off I ran from the pace of my new beginning, up to Mt. Tabor’s lush wounded hills with the sun streaming through the filtered leaves. Even as my inactivity from the past month coupled with the rigors of moving, tore at my tired legs and unused lungs, I felt light as a feather. My father had never been to Portland. Now, at least a little part of him has been.

I finished the little four miler and went back to unpacking. I found my Timex Run Trainer and will probably use it for the remainder of my runs without fail. But my very first run as a Portland resident came at the ticking hands of my father’s Lorus. 

I hope it enjoyed the view.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Last Run in Salt Lake City

It is only fitting that the last run I do as a resident of Salt Lake City was at Liberty Park.  And it was by great fate that I happened to see Henry.  I cannot tell how much this made my day.  To tell you who Henry is, I am going to repost an article I wrote about Henry over a year ago, below:

When I first moved to Salt Lake City, I chose the place I wanted to live based on very little to do with the apartment itself. The reasoning behind why I rented this particular apartment (which I chose using Google maps – honestly) had much to do with its location–being right across the street from a park with a 1.5-mile running oval. I have sung the praises of Liberty Park’s ease of access and mostly traffic-free running trails to my friends and fellow runners all the time. It is simply wonderful.

When I had a more conventional 9-5 job, I would get up around 7am and go for a 3.75-mile run to wake myself up. I despise morning running. I have no idea how on race day I am even able to get up for the race itself. However, every morning I went for a run here at Liberty Park, I was almost always destined to be happy in some small way. I would get to see Henry.

Then, my life changed and my routine changed and I rarely run at that hour anymore. As such, it is times like today, when I randomly see Henry, that really make me happy.  I mentioned over three years ago in a blog posting how I wanted to get to know Henry more. Unfortunately, I have failed to do so. I did once stop and talk to him but I almost felt like I was bothering him, in spite of his genial nature. He was there to get in his exercise, not be hindered by some little whippersnapper. I do know Henry is every bit of 80-years-old and is exercising at Liberty Park, I am guessing, every single day. I once caught his last name (since forgotten) and a little of his story. But since we run (well, he does a fast walk, in all honesty) in different directions, I usually get nothing more than a big smile, a quick wave and both an ironic yet not at all self-aware comment about how he is glad to see I am still out here running. I cannot even begin to tell you how much this makes me chuckle.

I almost do not want to know more about Henry than I already do. I want to keep him as this icon of what I hope to be someday: happy, much older, and healthy. Will getting to know him better ruin the wonderful semi-relationship I have with Henry? Will that take away some of the allure? I guess I see in Henry what I wish my own father could have–namely, the ability to walk.  Unfortunately, that has been taken away from my own Dad. I wonder if seeing Henry as a symbol of someone else and not just himself is a little rude.

Chances are I will just observe Henry from afar hoping to see him as often as possible without interrupting his routine. On the other hand, I do feel we do not often enough tell those who make us happy that they do so. Small random compliments really do make the world go around. Perhaps then, if only to let him know he inspires me and that I hope to be as active as he is when I get a little older, I will stop and chat with him again. Learn his story. See what motivates him. Regardless, he surely is awesome.

Rock on, Henry.

These words still ring true today.  See you later, Salt Lake City.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Canton Marathon Relay Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 7; 8th Edition 
202.5 miles raced in 2012
Race: Canton Marathon Relay
Place: Canton, OH
Miles from home: 1767 miles
Weather: 60-70s, slight rain,overcast

Any layoff from any activity will make one rusty.  When it is a forced layoff and in the interim you aren’t even allowed to practice, the rust could be inches deep. That was what I was fearful at the Canton Marathon.

First and foremost, there was no way on this pale blue dot that I was going to be able to run the full marathon. In fact, even pre-accident I had not intended to do so.  You see, we had something planned. Now, I have a habit of using the word “we” when it is often just me. I did this with my 350 mile run in Oregon because for me, my crew was just as much a part of me completing the task as I was.  But in this case, the “we” really was more than runner. You see, I would be joining a number of other runners from Ohio to take part in this inaugural running of the Canton Marathon by teaming up to form three different relay teams.

Originally, I had been planning to run the first leg of the first relay, biking to the transition phase for the third leg, running that leg, and then riding another bike to the 5th leg starting point to run 3 legs on three different relay teams. That idea was put on the back burner with one tumble over the handlebars. Not only would I be unable to do so because of my shoulder injury, my lack of exercise in the past month had made it almost impossible to think about running more than 5 miles. But as race day approached and it had been basically four weeks since I had attempted to do anything resembling a hard run, I knew I would give my absolute best. I had a team relying on me, multiple shoulder breaks and lacerations be damned!

This team was Team Beef, put together by the Ohio Beef Council. All members proud to fuel themselves on lean beef, the fifteen of us were rip roaring ready to go. A few days prior to the race the forecast looked to be quite non-too-pleasing. High humidity and temperatures predicted to hit 90 meant that there could be some trouble.  The Canton Marathon people reacted quickly and let many runners either switch from one race to another or defer their entry until the next year. At the expo itself, it seemed many were taking one of those two options. Regardless of whether runners should or should not take the option, the fact they had one shows some foresight on the organizers of this first-time marathon. That bodes well for the future.

I spent my time signing copies of my new book at the Ohio Beef Council booth, meeting and being inspired by oodles of runners. At the pre-race dinner I gave a speech to a group of people who turned my usual half hour speech into a full hour-plus of Q&A, insight shared and given and a general wonderful time had by all. I had gingerly shook hands all day as my shoulder was feeling better, but I was still quite trepidacious about what it could handle in the vigorous-shaking department.

After the expo, I was treated to a fantastic sirloin steak. I got the bigger than usual portion simply because I was “just” running 7 miles the next day and not 18 or more as originally planned. As such, I didn’t mind having a little more fuel in me than normally needed.  To be honest, I was even feeling the butterflies. The last time I had run with any purpose had been four weeks prior at the Green bay Marathon – and we know how that turned out. I was anxious and happy that, as the last leg of the relay I would not have to be at the starting line at 6 AM. Nothing good ever happens at that hour.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Boise 29.3 Recap

No one finished the Boise 70.3.  Now, I don't feel bad about not being able to compete.

I am, of course, playing with words here a bit but given the horrific weather at the start of the Boise 70.3, race officials decided to shorten the bike ride from 56 miles to a mere 15 miles. That made the triathlon a 1.2 mile swim, 15 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run.  Or in other words, my current dream triathlon. Arrgh!

Weather conditions at the start of the race had temperatures in the low 40s, winds up to 40 mph and cold bone-chilling rain. After some of the elites got out of the water, the elected to keep their wetsuits on rather than deal with the freezing temperatures.

But I am getting a little ahead of myself.

For me, this was the second straight year I was working with the Idaho Beef Council at the Boise 70.3 weekend. In a sling for most of the weekend (I say "most" because it is hard to shake hands, sign autographs and more or less do everything i need to do completely encased in a sling) it was bittersweet indeed.  This was supposed to be the race that kicked off my tri-season for the foreseeable future. But life intervened and I ended up with four broken bones in my shoulder and all sorts of unpronounceable things being ripped to shreds following a wreck on my bike. So instead I was resigned to the fact that this would be one of the few races where I was solely a spectator.

The nice thing about that was that I really got to spend time around the other competitors - taking pictures, chatting and checking out the behind-the-scenes events near the finish. Over 100 members of Team Beef were signed up to compete and many were fantastic athletes. even without a hurt wing I would have been hard pressed to give some of these fellow Team Beef members a run for the money for fastest finish.But that was what made this weekend so wonderful.  Seeing like-minded individuals who knew what fueled their body properly, pushing their own boundaries.

All members of Team Beef were also in the drawing for a Timex gift packaged generously donated to Idaho Beef Council including, amongst other things, a Timex Run Trainer, T-shirts and visors. If I did not already possess one of these great training tools I would have been even more upset I wasn't competing.A special thanks indeed to Timex for making two male and two female competitors very fortunate that day.

And what a day it was. In what will be remembered as the short 70.3 by many, even more will remember the unbelievable finish, in which Matty Reed and Callum Millward tied in what was one of the most unbelievable finishes in Ironman history (check the video here.) I was on-hand to witness and you can actually see my head and camera in this shot used on the Ironman website! Without a doubt if the Ironman people are smart, they will have not only a wider finishling for future events but also install a finishline camera so they don't have to rely on spectators with quick fingers to help them decide the winners.  (I do not think it was a tie but that is another matter.)

Now my goal is to heal this shoulder as quickly as possible and ready myself for a lot of exciting changes in my life. My eyes are on the prize at the Vikingman 70.3 in August and now I just have to get my feet in the pedals and my body in the pool.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Blood Work and Lean Beef

When you reach a certain level of semi-famousness in a niche sport (which I have) you deal with your crackpots and ne'er do wells.  It comes with the territory. When you are aligned as the first official "spokesrunner" for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and are an avid lean beef eater, the chances of those disagreeing with your food choice and therefore attacking your decisions increases hundred-fold. To which I say, with all sincerity, bring it.

Differences in choice of fueling are as varied as the people out there fueling themselves. But what is neat is while everyone is "entitled" to their own opinion (which, no they aren't, but that's another story entirely) they are not entitled to their own facts. Studies vary and sensationalism rules, especially in this hyper-short-attention span world.  But let's start with some basic facts for you about lean beef, my preferred fuel for not only finishing but recovering.

1. According to government guidelines, a serving qualifies as "lean" if it has less than 10g total fat, 4.5g or less saturated fat and less than 95mg cholesterol per 3.5 oz. serving.
2. There are 29 cuts of beef LEANER than skinless chicken thigh.
3. You get 51% of the protein you need in a day from just 3 ounces of lean beef in only 154 calories. To get the same amount of protein in Tofu you would have to consume 1 1/4 cups for 236 calories; 3 1/2 cups of black beans for 374 calories and 7 tablespoons of peanut butter for 670 calories!

I was recently in a bike crash. As part of all the tests I had done, my blood was drawn.  I received my blood work back today. Here are the results and I quote from my doctor:

With regards to hemoglobin and hematocrit: "Yours are perfect with a hemoglobin of 14.1 (13.0-17.0) and Hematocrit of 42.6 (37.0-49.0)."

With regards to my cholesterol: "Again, your numbers are perfect. HDL 57 (> 39) and LDL 81 (<100) for a total cholesterol of 157 (<200). Triglycerides 93 (<150)." 
(to note, Total cholesterol - HDL - triglycerides/5 = LDL or bad cholesterol)

How about my liver? "Yours are perfect with AST 26 (5-35) and ALT 26 (7-56)."

Blood sugar? "Your blood sugar (indication of diabetes) was actually a little low at 58 and the norm is (65-100)."

Again, these are facts. I always have been and always will be willing to discuss in adult, intelligent, and rational manners, difference in opinion with regard to the healthful benefits of varying food sources. But when I eat a diet rich in lean beef, accomplish the things I have and possess the test results above, please know that these facts cannot be argued with. Plain and simply, eating lean beef has fueled me to conquer some tough challenges and has helped me recover once those challenges were accomplished.

Now I face the challenge of healing multiple broken bones in my shoulder. I have a 70.3 triathlon coming up at the Vikingman at the end of August. I am going to need all the help I can get to heal my body, begin training and prepare for tough competition all in a very short time frame. I will be making sure I am doing so the best way I know how for my body and that is by eating lean beef.

The West sure as hell wasn't won on salad, people.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

On the Shelf

Last week I wrote about a bike accident I had and how I was going to power-through.  Well, I was wrong. I based my "power-through" philosophy on a apparently misread X-ray. Originally told I was bonebreak free, I assumed the lingering pain and soreness in my shoulder was just bruising and its ilk which would go away with some TLC. However, at the behest of my doctor (who unfortunately doesn't  live where I got the x-rays done) I did some follow-up x-rays as well as an MRI. The result?

Well, as far as the shoulder area goes, I broke my clavicle, I fractured my coracoid process of the scapula (shoulderblade), I fractured my acromion, I tore part of joint capsule of the shoulder (glenoid labrum), and came close to rupturing my biceps tendon. I know - That's it?!

Even while I was flattered at the amazement of the doctor as to how I broke the coracoid process ("I get 40 patients in here a month and I have seen like 4 breaks of that bone in the past 18 months") I have always been the sort who appreciates underwhelming a doctor whenever I go in for a check-up. Best to not be remembered for how bad you messed up something.

The good news is that there is no damage to the rotator cuff and as for now, the tear in the joint capsule will not require surgery. The bad news is that I am supposed to layoff activity for about 8 weeks. This means that I am undoubtedly not doing the entire Ironman 70.3 this weekend with Idaho Team Beef, and my idea to run something fun and interesting with the Ohio Team Beef in Canton next weekend will be curtailed.

However, I will use this time to try and recharge my batteries the best I can, even though I know I will lose a ton of fitness in the next two months. Fortunately, my travel schedule will stay light so I will be able to stay home a little bit more, focus on eating lots of lean beef to help speed the recovery process and focus on the comeback.

I purposefully schedule most of July and August to be race free in order to prepare for a move and get some training in.  I will now use that time to heal up and, well, try to get some training in.  I still have a full docket of races for the fall with some still to add.  I plan to come back stronger and more fit than I have been in years, breaking PRs and setting new and higher goals along the way.