Thursday, December 23, 2010

Nutrition

I'm putting a lot of thinking into insurance as the big runs approach. The goal is to insure against cramps and help to avoid the wall. The Phoenix edition of the Rock and Roll marathon series gives me a perfect opportunity to test my nutrition strategies with a few months of buffer before the big run.

After quite a bit of research, I've settled on Hammer Nutrition as my primary solution. Lately, I've used HEED powder on training runs to keep the electrolytes up without a lot of sugar. I've not made my way through all of the flavors, but Subtle Melon really works well for me - even in a double strength bottle. The 'subtle' in the name certainly rings true and makes for easy intake.

For fuel, I'm focusing on Hammer Gel - vanilla flavor as the primary solution. I started with single-use gel packs, but have moved on to a 650ml bottle that I can put into smaller distribution flasks. Wearing a few flasks on my running belt, while carrying a HEED-spiked water bottle with a carrying strap gives me what I need for two to three hour workouts.

My next experiment will be with protein. Based on my reading, for endurance events, such as 40for40, I'm going to need to integrate protein into my carbohydrate intake. Hammer Nutrition has an interesting mix called Perpetuem that functions both as a carbohydrate replenishment solution and a protein source. There is even a flavor - Caffe Latte - that incorporates a mild dose of caffeine into the mix.

For days when I really get behind and I start to flag, I carry Sports Beans - lemon-lime or orange flavor. These are made with cane sugars so it doesn't meet a low-sugar criteria, but I find that I get quicker relief in the event that I'm starting to hit the wall on a long training run.

All in all, I plan to go to Phoenix with the following strategy. HEED prior to the race and possibly a few ounces to carry me through the first five kilometers. From there forward, I'll rely on good old water at the water stations for hydration. Hammer Gel will be my first choice for fuel, carried in distribution flasks on my race belt. After 20 kilometers, I'm going to mix in some Perpetuem, using the solid tabs. I'll have some Sports Beans in reserve in the case that things get tough. Nothing like a sugar rush to bring morale back.

After the marathon, I'll be able to hone my intake plan prior to making the big run in April. Stay tuned for a post-Phoenix update for what worked and what didn't.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Legend

With miles and miles of running under my belt and plenty more in the future, I'm always looking for some variability and a new scene to accompany a morning or evening workout. Last week, I was lucky to be traveling on the west coast with a stop off in Eugene, Oregon. For those that don't know, Eugene is truly a Mecca for the distance runner.

The infatuation with running in Southwest Oregon probably dates back to the spirit of the Pioneers, but the true frenzy was released by a young school boy named Steve Prefontaine. The Marshfield High School runner took America by storm with his huge performances in the one mile and two mile distance categories. He later went on to become a true Legend in the 5,000 meter distance, and almost single handedly delivered America's running community into a running boom of success in the 1970's. In fact while running for the famed Oregon Track Club, he set American records in every distance from 2,000 meters to 10,000 meters.

Unfortunately for all of us, we lost Pre to a late night automobile accident at the young age of 24. But Pre's legend and his influence lives on - palpably so - in Eugene. Lucky for me, he has inspired a magnificent network of running trails in the downtown area, running up one side of the Willamette River and down the other -- http://www.eugenerunningcompany.com/home/erc1/smartlist_22/running_trails_in_eugene.html

With a little knowledge of the beautiful views to be had, I set out on an early morning jaunt. As with many of my best sessions, I wasn't 100% sure of the final distance when I took my first stride. I suppose the inspiration of an awesome, rain-swollen Willamette River drove me further than I imagined. In the end, I had logged nearly 20 miles at consistent, training pace -- http://www.endomondo.com/workouts/iYNpoI-6dVo

Pre's legend lives on in Eugene. And I'm honored to have taken a few steps on his trail.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gratitude


One important component to the 40for40 quest is setting my factory in order for the next forty years of production. The ultimate goal is to prepare for the celebration by choosing changes that improve life for me and those around me.

For me, a long term goal really allows me to notice the small improvements that bring me closer to the objective. Without a goal as a measuring stick, we just don't have a continuous loop of positive feedback. And without a sign of progress, we miss an opportunity for gratitude.

This week I made an appointment with Kevin Linde, the physical therapist who helped me recover from my knee surgery in March 2009. I went to Kevin for two reasons. First, I don't want to move forward with my endurance training unless my knee and my other parts are properly functioning for the task at hand. And secondly, I want to see how I have improved. I am grateful that I made the appointment.

Kevin is really talented at noticing minor imbalances in the body. In my case he showed me that the patella in my once injured knee was not tracking as it should. A lack of development in my medial muscles was allowing the knee to move ever so slightly up and away from its normal alignment during each running stroke. Now thanks to Kevin, I am armed with some great exercises and a plan to strengthen my knee for the upcoming training. In this case, merely identifying a flaw has given me new inspiration for gratitude.

As our annual reminder of thanksgiving settles upon us, we should look within us and around us for improvement opportunities. An opportunity to improve is a futures option on Gratitude.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Progress

The last ten days have been an exciting stretch dedicated to progress. First off, I discovered a terrific website that tracks all of my workouts using the GPS signal from my smart phone. endomondo.com has given me the opportunity to push my endurance and really focus on keeping a consistent pace regardless of distance and adversity.

Sometimes opportunity and adversity come at the same time and more often than not, the precursor is a simple wrong turn. For my training, the wrong turn came last Saturday. I had left early in the morning, well before dawn, following a route along the W&OD and Custis trails, planning to follow a 20-25km loop. However, as I approached the Roosevelt bridge - intending to pass beneath it, I realized that my right veer at the fork was lifting me up higher and higher with improving views of the monument field across the river. I was no longer following my intended loop but now moving east across the Potomac River and down to the National Mall.

Because of my wrong turn, I had the opportunity to run all the way to the Capitol, past the Washington Memorial, across Memorial Bridge and past Arlington National Cemetery. And to reward me for taking the opportunity to withstand the adversity of additional distance, I saw the most brilliant sunrise I have ever logged. As I passed the Netherlands Carillon, stars and midnight blue painted a cloudless sky above while an easterly view of crimson and fire was only interrupted by dark shadows of Washington DC's treasured monuments. I couldn't have asked for a better reward and in the end as I arrived home, I had conquered half of me my ultimate 40-mile goal - over 20 miles of training toward progress.

After a week of swimming and cross training to ensure that I hadn't injured myself during the long run, I celebrated with a 13 miler this morning and what a celebration it was. According to my gps enabled trainer on endomondo.com, I set personal bests during the run for all categories - 12 minute Cooper test, 3 miles, 5k, 10k, 1 hour run, and half marathon. I am feeling that the months of training is really starting to pay off with strength, endurance and running form. Progress through opportunity and charged by adversity. What could be sweeter?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dedication

You don't have to search far this Thursday, the 11th day of the 11th month, for examples of dedication around us. The women and men of the military who provide safety and peace of mind for both the denizens of our country as well as billions of other people throughout the world dedicate themselves to a greater cause every day.

A greater cause is the essence of dedication. By working within a cause larger than the individual we create more than we expected through perseverance and dedication to the greater good. Our impact goes beyond our own capabilities and uncontrolled benefit leaks out into the wide river that flows within us. The greater good is the focus of 40for40 and that goodness is what drives me to train harder and push myself further than I have traveled before during my short stint here on Planet Earth. Any benefit that I offer to others is preserved and protected through the selfless actions of our Veterans.

I'm proud to celebrate the dedication of our Veterans today and I am reminded that the origin of 11 November as a day of remembrance is the noble desire to set aside conflict in favor of peace.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Weather


This morning's weather can be described in a word. Monsoon. Warm temperatures, high winds and lots of rain. This is the type of morning where you just want to stay inside and sip on coffee. Luckily, I find motivation this morning and even torrential rains can't hold me back.

Now after a morning run and a rain affected commute I sit with Zach waiting on the final check for his weekly allergy shot. Zach's weekly progress continues to be a motivator for him and for me.

It amazes me how each little step can positively effect one's overall outlook.  For example, a simple rain drenched 4-miler not only improves my energy level, but also makes me excited to continue planning the 40for40 event and to work on my overall objective of health and happiness for my family.



Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mileage

One of the benefits of living in Northern Virginia is the access to Washington & Old Dominion bike trail or more commonly known as the W&OD trail. This trail is nearly always the center spine of any training run that starts from home. My home is about one-half mile from mile marker 6.5 for a westerly jaunt and about a half mile from mile marker 6.0 for a trek in the direction of Washington D.C. and its many beautiful trails along the Potomac river.

In fact, my home town of Falls Church City opened the first section of the trail with a project in 1974. Over time, the popularity of Falls Church's foray into trail building on old rail lines caught the attention of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NVRPA). NVRPA took over the extensions of the trail and over time it has grown into the jewel that it is today. The National Recreation Trail travels along hill and dale from Shirlington in Arlington near the Pentagon out to the western suburbs of Leesburg, well west of the Nation's capital.

There is another aspect of the trail that interests me. The total length is 44.7 miles. This is very very close to the trek that I'll be taking in April. And while I don't intend running the full length as a trainer this winter, I will no doubt pound many sections of pavement along the old railroad right of way.

My penchant for variety means that I'm not much of an out and back runner, but with two directions of trail to choose and a variety of suburban side streets and other trails for return options, I'm rarely, if ever, feeling predictable when I set out for an early jaunt.

As we descend toward the roll back from daylight savings and on to the winter solstice, my early jaunts are more often than not traveled with a headlamp in full beam. These are the training days that will pay off in spring, so onward and onward we go.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Achievements


Life is measured and indeed oft remembered in increments on the journey forward. Each step, while important overall, becomes a blur of color in our rainbowed memories. And so we erect monuments beside the trail to mark our progress and to remind us of the essence imbued within the shades of progress.

This week, our family celebrates a few milestones. A twelfth anniversary for the parents, an eighth birthday for our oldest son, and another half year older for the runner in training. The last point brings up an interesting thought - today there are less than six months until the forty mile adventure.

And so with a milestone tackled and a goal in sight, it is worthwhile to evaluate our progress and look to the road ahead. Training has been going well. The runs are longer now. Eight milers are no problem now and the longer runs if 14, 15, and 16 miles, while slow and often painful are successfully completed one by one.

The longer runs have shown me that nutrition and hydration will be critical ingredients for success next April. My biggest fear is the possibility of cramping during a forty mile run. And so in the six months ahead, I will increase my endurance and work hard to learn new ways to keep my body going longer and longer.

So this week, we toast our achievements and look to the road ahead to guide us toward the greater good.



Friday, October 8, 2010

Mission Accomplished

Allergy shots completed.

Inspiration


This morning is a perfect morning to think about the driving force behind my desire to knock out 40 miles by fleet foot in April 2011. The reason that today is better than another day is that Zachary and I arose well before dawn to trek across Washington DC interstates to the best allergist in the area. And here we sit in Dr. Economides's lobby waiting for an opportunity to take a shot in the arm for immunity and prevention.

Zachary suffers as many people do from allergies. Today we are attacking grasses and molds and airborne allergens that might weaken Zach as he faces the challenges of a new day at school, at play and at sport. There is a reason that we want Zachary as strong as possible. The reason is his severe allergy to peanuts and tree nuts. This reality has shaped Zach's life over the last few years and today we continue our fight. Everyday is a new victory, an opportunity to live and to love.

As I approached my fortieth birthday, I knew that I wanted to do something that would be a positive change in my life. Exercise has always inspired me and after working through a knee operation in 2009, I was more respectful of what it might be like to lose endurance, sport or even mobility. This respect pushed me to try something that would require life changes. Changes that I will take in tow for the next forty years and beyond.

Health became my first inspiration. But health in self and of body was not enough. To make a statement, the body needs nourishment, but so do the mind and the soul. Five years with Zachary in my life has given my new understanding of the true meaning of soul. I knew that an effort to help Zachary's future while strengthening mine was the right combination for a successful test of mind, body and soul.

Health is still the true inspiration, but now I am running for myself and running for the health of my son. FAAN is the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network and for Zachary, they offer hope in the form of allergy awareness and funding for scientific research. We don't want a silver bullet; we simply want a life for Zachary where he can walk into any restaurant, order wisely and not fear a poisonous reaction. We are confident that success is achievable. And for this success, I run and I work to raise money and support for FAAN.