Saturday, July 23, 2011

Downward Dog 5K in Coralville, IA

This was such a small race that only about 12 people were there. The race started at 8a.m. and I didn't even set my alarm to get there. I guess being a Saturday and being up a little late on Friday night that I technically could have slept through the race. However I didn't sleep through it.   At 7:30a.m. Jason woke and said, "You are going to that race right?" I said, "Yes!" and I got up and ready for the race. I didn't even eat my banana. Usually I do eat a little something before running, but I just didn't feel like eating.

I arrived at the Downward Dog Yoga place at 7:50a.m. and it was raining. Not a fun way to start a race, but for as hot as it's been around here (in the 100 degree range) rain felt nice. Although it was still muggy and my hands were sticky the entire race.

They started the race with just twelve people. Eight of us were 5K runners, and the other four were 10K. I placed 5th out of 8 with a time of 29:28. Not my best time, however I think that because I didn't eat any food made me have absolutely no energy which may have resulted in this bad time. Either way I finished. This race was only $5.00 so you couldn't really complain that you didn't get a shirt or a race number for your scrapbook. They did have food at the end. Gatorade, water, bagels, cookies, bananas and apples. Bummer is, they had 8 door prizes and I'm so unlucky that I didn't win anything. Even though this race was only 3 miles from my house, I won't run it again next year. I will pick a race that I have to drive further to that has a shirt, race number and possibly chip timed.

Stephany and I after the race was over.

The Downward Dog Yoga place in Coralville, IA where the race started and ended.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

I finished

Today was the Lake Geode Challenge. It was the longest race I have ever done. 15oo meter open water swim in Lake Geode, 40K bike ride through steamy Iowa countryside, and a 10K run through the hilliest state park in the world. I am glad this is over. Every part of my body from my waist to the tips of my toes hurt. I also forgot to put on Body Glide so I am severely chaffed where my arms rubbed my tank top. I don't have all my splits yet but my final time was 3 hours and 5 minutes. I was aiming for a sub 3 hour race but at least I finished. The winner finished in 1 hour and 59 minutes. I was about 200 yards into the run, climbing this insane hill when he passed me coming into the finish. Talk about having the wind taken out of your sails.

The swim was a water start with all the men 44 and under starting in the first wave. The water was almost unswimmable due to coliform contamination but the DEQ decided that the water quality was just above allowable limits. Still, the water smelled and tasted a little on the skanky side. I didn't have any trouble sighting for about the first 1000 meters but as I got tired, I started to pull to one side and had to start sighting about every 6 strokes to stay on line with the finish. As I was finishing up the swim, the sun came out from the clouds and I knew that it was going to start getting hot. Running out of the water, up the beach to the transition, I was breathing pretty hard and my legs were a little unsteady. I took a little longer than usual to throw on my shirt, socks, and bike shoes hoping that I would calm down a little. Hopping on my bike out of transition, I tried to get a little speed in the first 200 yards because we had a huge hill to start climbing out of the beach area. As I started up the hill, I was pedaling pretty hard and as I geared down, I lost my chain. I quickly got it back on but it is very hard to get going back up a hill from a dead stand still. Once we got out of the park, I was able to pick up some speed but the hills kept coming. After flying down into the Skunk River valley at 40 mph, I had to immediately climb back out. I was largely able to hold my own during the 25 mile ride but I did get passed a few times. The scariest parts of the ride were during a couple of the descents that ended in blind curves but the speed was a rush. Since this was not a draft legal race, all riders had to be careful to stay away from the other riders. One rider actually got a 2 minute time penalty for riding too close behind another rider. When I dismounted the bike, I actually had to lean on the bike for support so that I wouldn't fall over. I quickly slipped my running shoes on, got rid of my bike helmet, and took off on the run. Right away I had to run up the same hill that I lost my bike chain on. It was incredibly miserable. I was feeling pretty badly and actually ended up walking part of the hill. Unfortunately, the hills just didn't stop. Thankfully, there were water/gatorade aid stations about every 3/4 mile. They also had bags of ice and ice-cold sponges. The ice bags were the best thing. I crunched on ice most of the race. That was the only thing that kept me going. I walked several times throughout the run portion but once I hit mile 4 I ran the rest of the way in.

running towards the finish


The plunge bath was wonderful.

Happy to be done!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I hate pseudoscience

Michelle keeps threatening me that she is going to make this her own personal blog since I very rarely write anything. I guess I had better step up and say something.

One of my big pet peeves is pseudoscience, particularly when it involves health and fitness issues. I saw a short video yesterday entitled "Why Diet Soda Makes You Fat." As a drinker of diet soda and as a 40 year old man that has trouble losing weight even though I put in about 10 hours of hard cardio and resistance training a week, I was interested. Unfortunately, it was a load of dung. The guy in the video started talking about how most of the food we eat these days (including diet sodas) are highly acidic and this "acidification" of our body makes us leach minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and iodine. Iodine is extremely important to our metabolism because it is used by our thyroid gland to make the hormones T4 and T3 which, among other things, help to increase our metabolism and therefore burn more calories. What he over looks is that it is nearly impossible to acidify our body. If our blood pH decreases below 7.35 (normal physiological pH ranges from 7.35 to 7.45) we would be seriously sick. The other thing he over looks is that no matter what the pH of the food we intake, it all gets acidified in the stomach during the process of digestion (stomach acid pH is about 2). As food is released in small amounts into the small intestines, the pH is increased to physiological levels. There is also no evidence in the peer-reviewed, published biomedical literature that supports this body acidification and leaching hypothesis.

Now, I am not suggesting that we should all feel good about chugging vast amount of soda, diet or otherwise. Soda, particularly Mt. Dew and colas, have negative effects on our teeth. One of the traps I fall into is believing that because I am drinking a diet soda, I can eat more. Also, artificial sweeteners (and excessive sugar) are thought to perhaps be able to "train" our brains to crave sweeter foods. If we give into these cravings and eat that extra piece of cake, we increase our blood insulin levels. While good for glucose uptake, insulin inhibits fat metabolism (this is the basis of the Atkins diet).

In short, it is important to limit the over consumption of any one food - particularly those with limited nutritional value. We need to focus on eating nutrient rich rather than just calories rich foods.

On another subject, I am competing in my first Olympic distance triathlon this Saturday. It is a 1500 meter swim, a 40K (25 miles) bike ride, and a 10K run. I am not a very strong runner and am nervous about having to run 6.1 miles after everything else. This is also a very hilly course both for the bike (we climb nearly 14oo feet over all) and the run (700' overall). My goal is to finish in 2 hours and 50 minutes or less.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Tri in July Sigourney, Iowa

You may ask, where is Sigourney, Iowa? I asked that same question. It is 53 miles Southwest of Iowa City. It's a small town with a great mini triathlon.

About a month or so ago my friend Tracy told me about this triathlon race. My first thought was "No way, because I don't swim." My main fear was swimming in an outdoor pond or lake with many others swimming at the same time and pushing my head under as I flail around helplessly and drown slowly. That is the main reason I haven't ever signed up for a triathlon. She let me know that this tri was so much different than the rest. First of all it's a mini sprint (330 yards of swimming, 6 miles on a bike and then a 2 mile run) and you swim in an outdoor pool and everyone starts 30 seconds apart, so your chances of being pushed under the water aren't as likely. I told her okay, but I was worried about the swimming part, plus I hadn't been on a bike in at least 4 years that I could remember, so that would be challenging for me as well. Running isn't strong for me either, but since I try to do at least a 5K race almost every Saturday I felt that I would be fine doing that.

Over the past few weeks I have tried to swim laps, but not knowing how to breathe properly has been an issue, plus not having the right swimsuit or goggles wasn't a good thing either, then lastly the NOT KNOWING HOW TO SWIM can create many issues when trying to swim. My swim portion was rather frightening for me. I started out too quickly because of excitement, then when I saw that the bottom of the pool dropped by 10 feet I freaked out and my head came up out of the water, I then swallowed water and panicked a little. I then decided that I was going to do this no matter what and flipped to my back and did a back stroke for the rest of the swim.

After exiting the pool I ran barefoot to the bike. I quickly put the bicycle helmet on, dried off my feet, put on socks and my shoes, then got on the bike to start the 6 miles. I did well on the bike, especially considering that I don't have my own bike and have only ridden a bike about 5 times in the last year. I was borrowing Tracy's bike and I had only ridden it for the first time the night before. There were hills to ride, but nothing too crazy. I finished the 6 miles in 23 minutes and then ran to put my bike up so I could start running.

The run felt so weird. My legs were like jello and it was extremely difficult to put one foot in front of the other and run. I felt like I was going so slow, but by the first mile mark my time was just at 10 minutes so that wasn't too bad.

When I finished I felt amazing and I'm glad I did this race. I highly recommend this race to anyone who likes to do triathlons, but to those especially who need a good first time tri!

My first goal was to finish. My second goal was to do this entire thing in under an hour, my third goal was to do this race in 50 minutes or less since last year's top 3 in my age group all had 51 minutes or less so I figured I could have a chance at placing in the top 3 if I just had a 50 minute time.

My final time was 55:18 and I placed 4th out of 6 in my age group of 30-39! I was 4 minutes and 13 seconds away from being 3rd place. Not bad for a first time out.

13 is my lucky number and when I saw this sign on the way to the race,  I just had to have a picture!

There were big painted rectangles on the grass and this is how I laid my stuff out for the transition between events.

Here I am in Tracy's triathlon suit that she let me borrow,  showing off my number that was written on my body for the race.

A really awesome triathlon bike that I was sure Jason would want, so I took a picture.

Tracy and I before the race!

Just before starting the race

Getting ready to start the race.  You can see a variety of swimsuits and triathlon suits in this picture.

Tracy took this picture of me through the fence of me waiting in line getting ready to start my swim

a picture of me struggling to swim.  I'm so glad I was able to finish this part of the race.

running to the bike

getting ready to ride

just finished the biking portion.  

some of my first steps of the running portion of the race.  My legs were so heavy.

Running in for a great finish!

After the race!

Amazing post race food.  There was breakfast pizza from Pizza Ranch, cookies from Subway, then bananas and water from a local grocery store were all donated for us!

After the race and a shower, Tracy and I posed in our race shirts!

If you double click on this picture you can see some  of the race results bigger.  

Saturday, July 9, 2011

2011 Heritage Days 5K in Mt. Vernon, IA

Today I woke up nice and early before my alarm at 5:30a.m. I felt great, so waking up so early wasn't the worst thing. It was my turn to drive and I picked up Stephany at 6:30 to go to Mt. Vernon. We arrived right on the dot of 7a.m. and went inside the high school to check in and get our shirts.  It was nice and slightly breezy outside and 70 degrees. At 8a.m. the weather had become a bit humid and hot. I'm not sure of the temperature, but it was definitely much hotter than when we arrived. The race started and the first mile went ok. It was really hot to run in. My first mile was 9:44 and that is slow for my first mile. I had thoughts of not running, but knew I would because I came to finish. There was this massive steep hill at the end of mile one. It was so steep that it was taking all I had to run up it. At one point I must have been running so slow up it that a power walker walked right by me, so I started walking instead up the hill.

I picked up the pace a bit in mile 2 and felt like I was running at a fast pace. However by the end of the race my time was a disappointing 29:50 I received a popsicle stick that had my place number on it. I was place #130 out of about 300. I ended up placing 6th in my age group which at the time I looked at my age group sheet it had 24 people in it. It's not the worst race I've ever done as far as time goes, but it's definitely not my best. I'm glad I finished given how hot I was.

Positives of this race:
Low Cost
You get a shirt
Bananas, watermelon, granola bars and water after the race
Indoor bathrooms!
5K and a 10K so if you like to go to longer races, then here you go.

Negatives and reasons I won't do this race again:
No doorprizes
No prizes for top three in age group
No medals of any kind for top three in age group.
No race number
Popsicle stick timing--I don't like this because it is so inaccurate because there are always people that don't turn them in, so you may think you have one time, but then get recorded as another.
The race organizers seemed a bit frazzled at the beginning of the race and not organized. They didn't have the 30-39 5K Women's registered sheet.
At the end you run on the high school track, but people were actually exiting the track so it was a little confusing where to go, they needed one of the volunteers at that turn.
Only one water stop on the course. Usually that is fine, but for as hot as it was, they needed two water stops and they needed gatorade or something equivalent.
I like bagels at the end and there weren't those.
No packet of goodies
Not chip timed.

Next year if I have to do a race on the 2nd weekend of July I will be glad to travel further for a better run race.

A picture of my shirt, that I can't find currently.

Stephany and I before the race.

Eating watermelon after the race.

Stephany and I after the race.

Lots of watermelon to eat, it was amazingly good!

granola bars too!

Stephany and I about an hour after the race waiting for results.

Monday, July 4, 2011

2011 Alliant Energy 8K race, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Because it's a holiday there are a variety of great races around the area. The one I chose to race is the Alliant Energy Fifth Season Races 8K. For those of you who don't know an 8K distance is within .03 of 5 miles. So basically it's a 5 mile race. This race had cash prizes and some of the best people in the country come to this race to run for the cash. The winner of this race today was Macdonard Ondara from Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is 26 years old and ran this race in ONLY 22:41. Amazing. This means his pace was a 4:34 minute mile. WOW!

The day started out just gorgeous. 64 degrees with medium humidity. A slight breeze and sunny. I ran this race in 48:38 for a 9:55 mile pace. I placed 747 of 872 total people. 281 out of 346 females. I placed 49 out of 65 in my age group of 35-39.

I started out the race not feeling 100%, but my motto is: You sign up for a race, you run it no matter what. The first mile I felt ok, but my first mile was 10:36. That's really bad for me. I hoped to run a bunch faster than that. By mile 3, my time was 29:39 so I had sped up a tiny bit. My shins were hurting in both legs today until mile 2 1/2. Then my IT band was hurting in my right leg until around mile 3 and both my ankles in the front were hurting. After mile 3 I felt amazing and ran a great last 2 miles! I think I could have ran 10 miles today the way I was feeling, but who knows since I haven't run further than 5 miles since my half marathon on May 7th. I'm trying to up the miles super slowly so my next Half Marathon on September 10th is done with better leg health.

There was lots of food at the end to choose from, ie: oranges, bananas, apples, granola bars, fruit treats, water, cookies, gatorade and muffins!

In our race packet there are free sandwiches for Chick-fil-a. I think I got 5 free sandwiches, so those will be fun to redeem. There was also a massage table at the end of the race so I took advantage of that.

After the 8K race was done there was a 5K race. I stayed around to watch a couple friends run that. Overall a great race!

Before the race at 6:15a.m.

Race just started.  I'm off to a great start!

Running in to the finish.  Thank you Jason for coming with to take great pictures!

Almost at the finish!
Very festive shorts.  Jason thought I was silly to take a picture.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

2011 Reagan Run, Dixon, Illinois

Last week my parents called and offered to buy Brenden a plane ticket to Ohio so he could visit for a few weeks all by himself. Brenden was super excited and said he'd love to go. While talking to Brenden I joked about how it would be so cool to find a race in Chicago on the way to the airport and how his flight was in the afternoon so we would have time to do a race most likely. Brenden and I googled races in Illinois. We found several. Then I mapped out our way to Midway airport. We found a race called Reagan Run in Dixon, Illinois and it was right off of I-88 which was on our way. Only problem is, we would have to get up super early to get to Dixon to pick up our packet in time.

So the plan was made and I registered online for our race. The race was set for Saturday, July 2nd at 8a.m. and we had to be there at 6:30a.m.ish to pick up our packet. We got up at 4:10a.m. to leave by 4:30a.m. along with my daughter Alyssa who wanted to take pictures and went to Dixon.

We arrived in Dixon at 6:20a.m., stepped out of the car and it felt like a heat wave had hit us. The weather didn't cool down in the night.  It was so hot that our hands were sticky.  Neither of us were sure how we would run this hot race.  However we were there to race so we picked up our packet and walked around Dixon to find the start and finish line, make ourselves familiar with the area, took pictures of Reagan's boyhood home and had a great time. It was a fabulous race.
Positives:  Chip timed, great shirt, lots and lots of food at the finish.  Well organized with volunteers at every turn.  Streets closed for racers.  Lots of bathrooms without too much of a wait.  A packet with some goodies in it.  Drinks at the start and finish and water on the course a couple times.  Split times called out to you at your 1 and 2 mile mark.  A special timing chip we got to keep. 1500 other runners to talk to.  Beautiful town! Oh and the best part was that the local YMCA let Brenden and I go there and shower for FREE so we wouldn't be stinky at the airport.  They were so nice on the phone giving us directions to the Y and were really nice in person when we arrived to shower!

 Enjoy the pictures that Alyssa and I took:

picture right off the freeway

 Picture of our race route.  Double click to see it bigger.

Ronald Reagan boyhood home.

Statue of Ronald Reagan on the right side of his home.  Brenden was fascinated with.

Brenden found his race pace.

My race pace, which is quite a bit slower than Brenden's pace.

Cool street sign.

There were signs showing quotes of Ronald Reagan all over the city.  My favorite quote was one I saw while running that said, "All great change in America begins at the dinner table."

A picture of Brenden's and my shoes with our special Centennial timing chip that we got to keep.

A before race picture.

The finish line.

Pizza after the race

Food of all kinds!

Even Italian Lemon ice.  It was super yummy!

Brenden and I in our race shirts at the airport later that day!