Thursday, April 29, 2010

Mommy Dearest

My good friend Janeen Wright is the Arizona Young Mother of the Year.  Can you imagine the pressure?  But Janeen, she just takes it all in stride.  She is a fun loving marathon running mother of five.  She is a "hoot" as my grandma would say.  And she takes her crowning status seriously -- in the most casual and cheerful way possible.

Part of Janeen's mission is to make others aware of the importance of motherhood.   As a Boston Marathon alumni, Janeen thought that a 5K run in the Valley would be a great way to celebrate and cheer on the achievements and successes of women.  Thus, the Run Walk & Waddle was created.

Officially it's called the Arizona American Mothers 5k and 1 mile fun run.  You can find out more information here:  The race takes place in Gilbert, Arizona at Freestone Park on May 8th.

Go support the mothers of America on the day before Mother's Day.  Do something fun with your mother, or in honor of your mother, or because someday you will be a mother.

And Janeen.  You are my idol.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Right Age to Start Swimming Lessons

After 26 years of teaching kids summer swimming lessons, I've learned a thing or two.  I'm sure even Michael Phelps started out with these bits of wisdom.
1. To become a good swimmer, join a swim team.  Even summer programs will be enough to learn all four strokes well.

2.  The best age to put your child in lessons is two years old.  Maybe that's just me, but they seem to take it all in at that age.

3.  Crying goes in one ear and out the other to an instructor.  Crying will stop.  Don't let that keep you from bringing your kids to lessons.

4.  The more lessons you can provide for your little one, the better.

5.  Don't overreact when your child falls in.  Stay relaxed, fix the problem, and never let your kids see you panic.

6.  Feeding kids right before a lesson is a NO NO!

7.  Keep arm floaties off your kids arms and never around their waists if they cannot swim on their own.

Eight tips.  Eight is enough for today.  Over and out.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Race Report: Ragnar So Cal

Ten of the Sorry Bunch of Misfits from Ragnar So Cal

The pure logistics of Ragnar So Cal amaze me.  Four hundred teams of 12 complete a 200-mile foot race from Ventura to Dana Point, running non-stop for up to 36 hours.  Each participant runs every twelfth leg, three legs of the race, grouped in two bunny hopping vans of six.  Runners should be prepared to compete  in warm, sunny daylight hours and chilly, dark middle-of-the-night hours.  Sleep is optional, food is sketchy at best, but the experience is one for the books!

Team Number 75, aka "We Need More Cowbell 2" set off in good fashion at 9a.m. Friday morning. Van One was upbeat and ready to go, and the first runners soon found themselves in the beautiful hills of Thousand Oaks, where strawberry fields and majestic mountains were the backdrop for what was going to be a truly memorable weekend.  

Van Two, close on the fumes of Van One, was ready for the exchange in the parking lot of the local Simi Valley Christian Church at 2p.m.  Along with hundreds of their fellow participants, Team 75 cheered on their returning Runner 6, whacked the snap bracelet around Runner 7, then proceeded to load into their colorfully decorated cars and head to the next exchange locale.  And so it continued for the next 24 hours.

The positives of running Ragnar So Cal:  awesome scenery, beautiful neighborhoods, legs that snaked through Beverly Hills, Santa Monica Pier, Venice Beach, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach -- need I say more?  The negatives:  possible lack of sleep and maybe a few temporarily lost runners due to toppled signs or wrong directions.  But overall, a fun way to spend the weekend with friends and family members.  

Most footraces are done solo -- the solitary marathon, the competitive 10k, the individual track workout.  But Ragnar is a way to pair a seasoned elite runner with a novice 5k-er.  It's more about bonding time in the car than the minutes-per-mile one clocks on his Garmin.  It provides an opportunity to cross the finish line with twelve teammates who have worked hard and achieved something together.  And best of all, you get to plan out what you will do better as a team in 2012. 


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sporting Wisdom From Herm

1.  Never Yell at a referee, umpire or coach.  They are there to do a job and you need to respect their authority.  Be a good sport.

2.  If a game is too close for comfort and you can't bear to watch, it's okay to step outside and wait for the results.

3.  Vin Scully full blast at night on AM Radio is a great way to put kids to sleep.

4.  It's not about the game.  Kids are just happy to go with you - whether it's the Suns, ASU basketball or even a high school game.

5.  When Mom says "No Balls In the House", a ball made of socks is just as fun, until you knock over a lamp.
**WAIT, that bit of wisdom might be from the Funk boys, not Herm.

6.  Turning on the floodlights at the city ballpark is a very important part of the game.  Don't ever forget to do that.

7.  A calm demeanor and a smile can only help when dealing with two angry softball players.

8.  Take your turn at a marathon water station.  You'll never look at a race or runners the same way again.

9.  A lover of sports, fitness and anything "outdoorsy" might not raise children who love the same things.  But they'll always respect the game, the athlete and the experience.

10.  It's never to late to start something.  Just do it.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Little Science

Can you think back to when you've eaten a great meal at a restaurant, then quickly grabbed your sweater when you were done because you suddenly felt the air conditioning?  Or your last Thanksgiving meal, when you wobbled over to the couch and grabbed a blankey for a little post-meal nap because all the sudden you were cold?

The very watered down non-scientific explanation to what's happening in your body is your blood is making it's way to the digestive tract to help break down all that food.  You feel cooler because your body has more important things to do than keep you warm and comfortable.

Likewise, in a swim bike or running race, your good ole bod takes over and pumps more blood to the muscles that are exerting energy for you -- your legs, your arms, your heart.  When an athlete attempts to eat or drink under these conditions, the body often rebels and GI distress ... happens. It's only got so much blood and so many places to go.

To prevent this from happening, during your base periods of training, experiment will the Less is More philosophy.  Try using the 80,000 excess calories you have in your body stored as fat.  Practice training rides and runs drinking only water, and not taking quite so many energy gels.  You'll be hungry, I guarantee.  But you'll also have trained your body to tap into those fat stores.

And BTW, reward your body in the first 30 minutes post exercise with a carbo heavy snack.

Then when you are ramping up for a race, reintroduce GUs, energy drinks and solid foods back into your plan.  Make your body a lean, mean racing machine.  Aim to top of your glycogen stores with 25 percent of the calories you burn in an hour.  You'll save money on your nutrition needs, and become the athlete you always wanted be.

Friday, April 16, 2010

It's Been Going Around

So you're sick.  Sick sick.  Keep-you-in-bed-all-day sick.  But you're 10 weeks out from your marathon and the schedule says 20 long miles -- tomorrow.  What to do.

I had to consult my friends at Runner's World for this one.  Yes, common sense says a runner should stay in bed.  Sleep it off.  Miss a day.  But if you know runners like I know runners, it's not quite that easy.  Especially when they are deep into their serious training plan and banking on a record breaking day.

This is where the Above-The-Neck Rule comes in to play.  If your symptoms are scratchy throat or sniffly nose, go for it.  But if your symptoms are deep down into your chest, with an achey body and an overall tired and uncomfortable yuckiness, stay home.

Take extra caution when training with anything worse than a minor cold because it can escalate into more serious conditions affecting the lower respiratory tract and lungs. Sinus infection, or sinusitis, is an inflammation of the sinus cavity that affects 37 million Americans each year. Symptoms include runny nose, cough, headache, and facial pressure. With a full-blown sinus infection, you rarely feel like running. But if you do, consider the 72-hour rule of Jeffrey Hall Dobken, M.D.: "No running for three days," advises the allergist/immunologist and ultramarathoner in Little Silver, New Jersey. Even without the presence of a fever, says Dr. Dobken, some sinus infections, when stressed by exercise, can lead to pneumonia or, in extreme cases, respiratory failure.

The lesson today:  listen to your body, not your training program when it comes to running.  It will keep you running longer and happier for life.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Gentle Reminder About Soda

Ugh.  I am really enjoying Coke Zero these days.  And I love my 44 ounce Diet Dr. Pepper at Sonic.  All I have to do is pull around and say "The usual."  They know me there.

But I know better.  We all do.  So to remind us about the evils of Satan's Juice,  I'm reprinting this post from tri coach Lora Erickson, who has a degree in Heath Education.   She has a lot to say about it all.
Soda pop is a staple in the average American’s diet today.  Let’s consider the ramifications of this lifestyle choice.  Over the many years as I have worked as a weight loss specialist I would say the majority of the people that I have worked with that wanted to lose weight drank an average of three 12 once sodas a day before starting the program.  This is about 130 grams of sugar or 520 empty calories.  To burn this off an average 150 pound person would have to run about between 3.5-4 miles.   
Alright, so let’s say they decided to switch to diet soda after they figured this out.  No calories no problem right?  True no calories, but what about the other substances found in soda?  Soda pop is high in the mineral called phosphorus.  Extra phosphorus in the body is excreted through the urine and is accompanied by calcium which is often lost in the urine.  If the body doesn’t consume adequate amounts of calcium (soda often replaces milk in the diet) then the body takes calcium from the bones often making them porous.  This leads to osteopenia and finally osteoporosis, a painful chronic condition.  This once “aged” disease is now being seen in children.  
Another chemical found in soda is caffeine.  Although caffeine can be a performance enhancer when used properly, it is also a well-know diuretic and leads to water loss.  If you are trying to lean up you need water.  Have you seen a steak dry out to be a piece of beef jerky?  Simply, muscle is made up of water and if you aren’t getting enough water you will not build muscle.  People that drink soda in place of water are missing out on the benefits of a well hydrated body.  Hydrated body tissues perform and function better.  Soda pop gives you very little water and often requires more water to process the chemicals in it.  Another thing to consider with soda consumption is the dehydration.  Soda drinkers often consume pop in lou of water, combined this fact with a soda containing a diuretic (caffeine) then the individual is in a constant state of dehydration.  One of the many symptoms of dehydration is impaired ability to think clearly.  I don’t know about you, but I want to think clearly during my training and in a running race or triathlon.  Soda pop simply does not help you. 
So what about carbonation in soda pop?  Does it hurt you?   Bubbles are made of carbon dioxide.  Correct me if I am wrong but isn’t this what we are getting rid of when we are breathing out?  Putting this into your body on a regular basis just doesn’t make sense to me.  While I enjoy the flavor of a soda (rootbeer – my favorite – yum!) – it is certainly more of a treat than a staple in my diet since performance is important to me.  If you are striving for optimum health, then reach for a glass of water.          

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Anatomy of a Tri Store

 And this...  
And this..

But more important than all the gear are the supportive friends who celebrate  your grand opening with you.

The ones who come take a look, even though they aren't triathletes, or athletes at all.  The ones who wander around the store and browse at things like saddlebags, and pool buoys and Zipp wheels.  "Two thousand dollars for bike wheels?"  Or, "You're really going to wear something that .... tight?"

No, it just wouldn't be the same without those who question why you would ever do something as crazy as an Ironman, while contemplating when they might finish their first sprint tri.

Iron Gear Sports is now open for business, thanks to best friends, Facebook fans and loyal family members.  Whether you're an over trained competitor or a sideline Iron Mate, no one is more important than anyone else in this crazy world.  We do this together.  And that's what makes it worth doing at all. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Dawn Patrol

5:02 a.m. There are still stars in the sky outside.  The world is quiet.  What a great time for a run.

Pre-run breakfast is banana with peanut better.  It took some getting used to.  But once again, as a follow of Bob Seebohar, I will try his weird dietary advice.  So far so good.

I was reminded yesterday that the best way to prevent GI issues in a race is using the food the race directors are providing on the course during your long training runs.  Which clues me in to put Gatorade on the grocery list. And Hammer Gel.  And then contemplate all the yummy stuff I get to ingest over the next years of my life.

Good Morning, world.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

My Transition Position

I've spent a lot of time messing around in transition areas over the past few years.  I've gone from Panic-y Spaz to a bit more relaxed competitor. I recall in one of my first races in Mexico I ended up cycling 25 miles with my helmet on backward.  I set my helmet on my bike the wrong way.  My bad.

In a race where all your gear is left on a hand towel without bodyguards or loyal cheerleaders, it's kind of a crap shoot if your nutrition or helmet or anything ends up where you put it before you started.  Don't let this throw you off.  It's definitely worth the time to practice transitions from swim to bike and bike to run.
Sometimes these are the people waiting for you outside transitions....

Lay your gear out in order of your sport.  Put your bike shoes and socks at the bottom of the towel where you can reach them easily.  Put your glasses in your helmet and your helmet on your handlebars.  Then, put your running shoes, visor and gels on the top end of the towel.

I liked this tip in Bicyling Magazine from professional triathlete Nicole DeBoom:  "Grab what you need and dash through T2.  It is more efficient to toss on your hat, strap on your fuel belt and stuff gels into your back pocket while you are trotting out of transition than it is to stand in front of your rack.  The key is to keep moving," she says.

As a spectator at quite a few races I also offer this advice.  Don't wait until race day to try the shoe clipped onto your bike technique.  I am amazed at the Ironman athletes who struggle out of T1 trying to climb onto their bike while simultaneously trying to get their feet into their shoes.  Get it together people!  Is it really a time saver if you don't know what you are doing? Race smart and either practice your shoe technique or scrap the whole idea and run through T2 with your bike shoes on.  Don't add stress to your day. Smooth and effortless should be your goal.
Que lindo es sonar despierto.
How lovely it is to dream while you are awake.

Dreams That Have Come True