Wednesday, January 25, 2012

LOUDENS Don't Quit: Jeff's Marathon Recap

Jeff is the newest member of the Gorilla Multisport training team.  He recently completed his first marathon, The PF Chang's Rock and Roll in Phoenix earlier this month.  I asked him to tell the story of his journey to the marathon finish line, and beyond...

Waiting outside of Corral Three in the cool, early morning of January 15th, I pondered at how far I'd come.  Six years ago, I saw a picture of myself dancing with my daughter at her wedding.  I wondered who that man was.  Surely it wasn't me.  But at 260 pounds, I knew it was time to do something about my weight. 

I did the diet thing -- watching my calorie intake -- but not much more than that.  My weight came down, which made me happy, but something was missing.  I needed to do more.

Then, about two years ago, we had an incident in our family that woke me up.  My wife was rushed to the hospital with what we thought was a heart attack.  Talk about putting your health in perspective.  We both decided that we needed to include exercise in our daily regimen.  So we joined a gym.

The first time I stepped on the treadmill, after five minutes I remembered why I hated to run.  I couldn't do it, literally.   Our children are members of the same gym and so they would motivate me and encourage me when I couldn't run one more minute.  And things began to change:  five minutes became 10, until one day, I could run one hour without falling to my knees.

My daughter, Tashina, and son Dallas had run marathons and half marathons.  They encouraged me to run my first half marathon last year.  Now one year later I was running a full marathon with my two sons.  Twenty six point two freakin' miles!

The marathon was delayed due to traffic issues, so as we waited, I wondered if I had lost my mind.  I had only been running for two years.  Could I do this?  Was I crazy?  Yes to both!

When they finally let us start, I felt pretty good.  Slow and easy -- find my pace -- get into my rhythm.  I could do this.  I knew Dallas was somewhere in front of me.  He is young and in great shape and had already finished the PF Chang's Rock and Roll marathon last year and was back for his second attempt.  The one I was concerned about was Hunter, my oldest son.  He had never run a marathon before, but with only three weeks of training under his belt, he was going to tackle this marathon with me.  Like he has always said, don't ever tell a LOUDEN he can't do something, because he will prove you wrong every time.  A LOUDEN will always finish what he starts.   I knew he would finish this.

About Mile six I saw my family cheering me on.  I saw them again at Mile 13.  I was still feeling pretty good.  At Mile 16 I could feel the tight pull of my hamstrings, but I was confident that I was on track.  Just as I hit Mile 19, I saw Hunter running toward me  on the out-and-back section of the course.  We high fived each other and he looked to be doing okay.  I, on the other hand, was not doing so great.  My thighs were starting to hurt, and not in a good way.  I had 7.2 miles left to go.

They say the last six miles are the hardest, and they weren't kidding.  My family was waiting for me at Mile 19 and my daughter joined in and ran with me for a few yards.  "How you feeling, Dad?" she asked.  "I hurt!" was my response.  "You're doing great, Dad, you can do it." she said before peeling off and leaving me to finish the race on my own.

At Mile 21, I asked myself why I was doing this!  Somewhere on my bucket list someone had written "run a marathon," so I was running a marathon.  I was going to have to hurt that person.  Oh wait, that was ME that wrote that.  At Mile 22 I couldn't even begin to fathom why I had paid the entrance fee to torture myself.  At Mile 24, I knew I only had two miles left and was determined to make it, whether or not I had to crawl to the finish line. 

It seemed like forever before the finish line came into view.  I could hear the screams of the crowd and the music blaring loudly over the speakers and through the noise I could hear and see my family jumping up and down and screaming "Go, Dad, Go!"

I crossed the finish line in four hours, twenty one minutes (4:21).  I had wanted to come in at four hours, but I had finished, and it was okay.  Now I join an elite one percent of the population that has run a marathon.  What a personal accomplishment!  If you had asked me six years ago or even two years ago would I have ever run a marathon, the answer would be NO!  But with a lot of work and determination, I learned that I could accomplish anything, especially when I was my own worst critic.

Next on my bucket list,  I am going to take on the 2012 Ford Ironman Arizona.  And with the help of my coach, Lorie Tucker, I know I can scratch one more thing off my list.

After all, LOUDEN's don't quit!

Call Me Ms. Popular

Guess what, folks...we've reached capacity.  That's right, all sold out!  Consider yourself lucky if you signed up in time.  The swag bags are chock full of goodies, the finish line will surrounded by bouncy houses and family friendly booths, and the race is going to take place on a pristene spring morning in the beautiful desertscape of Usery mountain. 
We're working hard to make this race the best in the Valley.  See you in less than six weeks!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Take A Stance

Sometimes it's all about the gear.  And new socks, well, they're important.  The mountain biking world has long known about these fabulous socks by Stance, but I'm just getting on the band wagon -- always a little late, I might add. 

Why do I like these socks?  First off, they're cute.  They come in great patterns, colors and designs.  Second, they're softer than soft.  And third, their above-the-ankle-but-below-the-calf length is perfect for mountain biking, where one needs a little protection but not always knee-length protection from the cactus and granite and dirt below.

I'm also loving that you can order them from Zappos with free shipping.  And I'm excited to try the different styles for skiing and maybe the shorter ones for running.  It's a shame to hide such a nice sock under a shoe but your feet will love it when you do*.

*Rhyme free of charge, today.

Find out more at

Friday, January 20, 2012

Thursday, January 19, 2012

"The Front Is For Show, The Back Is For Go!"

Week two of Crossfit Endurance has proved to be a challenge to my body.  I've learned my flexibility is weak but my endurance is strong.  I've moved and done things I have never done before.  It's been a blast, it's been a chore -- but I like it.  

My slave driver in this experiment is Dave Eaton.  His blog chronicles his two years in the sport and his daily exercise regimen.  When we first began, he explained the difference between his program and the typical weight training workout.  Weight trainers train to look good.  They want big pecs and beefy arms.  They want a lean waistline with six-pack abs.  But Crossfit exercise with a purpose of moving faster and jumping higher and perfecting whole-body fitness. 

Crossfit athletes work on movements that combine balance, strength, accuracy and complete body fitness.  In Crossfit Endurance they organize a plan of strength coupled with endurance training via swim, bike and run to produce a faster triathlete or marathoner or century cyclist.

Dave and I are joining forces with his knowledge of Crossfit and mine of USAT Coach triathlon training.  If you are interested in training with us for a) Crossfit or b) Triathlon/Endurance training with a Crossfit emphasis, contact either of us today.

It's time to change things up.  Come be a part of the change.

P/S  I really need to work on that "go" part of training....

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Goodbye, Hello  

Register today with "10phx" for $10 off your entry fee

Monday, January 16, 2012

Heather Conquers Tough Mudder 2012

There a few sensations that I dislike more than being cold. Worse than that is being in cold water.  Contrast that with how much I love the feeling of conquering something difficult or pushing myself to the extreme, and you'll understand why I signed up for the Tough Mudder.

A lot of things sound like great fun when they are far off. As the day drew closer, the course details were sent to us, and we began considering how uncomfortable it would be to run 12.5 miles covered in
mud and cold water. Thankfully, Lorie had added more weights to my training and I felt as prepared as I could for the walls, nets and greased half pipes that we were going to be scaling. It is difficult
to train for diving into radioactive green water full of ice that is being dumped by the truck loads, and the accompanying shock to every system in the body, though. Needless to say, we were grateful for the
unseasonably warm January weather and sunshine.

I decided to wear my Gorilla tri top since it's designed for wet/dry racing. I went with shorts and knee pads rather than pants because the thought of cold water and mud chaffing didn't sound like the best
option. I wore weight training gloves as well for good measure, thinking it would spare my hands on some of the obstacles. Overall, it worked out just great, but we all decided that by the time we got to
obstacles where gloves would've come in handy, they were too wet and muddy to really help. I wouldn't wear those again if I had it to do over, but I was glad to have knee pads when crawling through crushed rock and mud pits on my belly. It wasn't essential to have them, but my knees were better off at the end of the day. I just pulled them down by my ankles while running so they wouldn't chafe.

It helped that we looked at the Tough Mudder as an event rather than a race. It was a good approach that allowed for more fun and team spirit than pressure, unless you count carrying a railroad tie with a
teammate for half a mile pressure. We decided to just stick together and have a good time. It was an excellent idea once we realized how essential teamwork was in conquering the 22 obstacles. Several times we relied on others to pull us up muddy, slippery slopes after trudging through the mud pits. In turn, we lent a hand to those below us before continuing on. We enjoyed facing the multiple challenges, jumping from the 15 foot plank into the freezing pond below, and getting to know fellow Mudders on the course. Another highlight for me was the apple sauce squeezes that were offered at an aid station rather than gels. An interesting and tastier alternative in my opinion. It took us longer than we expected, finishing at exactly 3 hours. I'm glad that I'm not a "natural athlete" like several of my
teammates claimed to be who didn't train more than a few miles a few times before the race. I'm glad I'm not a "natural" because my training helped me really enjoy my time on the course and feel
perfectly fine the day after.

A side note, a soak in a hot tub immediately following the run to thaw out with lots of delicious food to replace all of the calories burned is a must. In addition, compression tights are not just an
expensive and sexy piece of wardrobe, they are an excellent aid to recovery. On the way to the event, my husband mused that it was appropriate to do the Tough Mudder for our 7th anniversary. Symbolic,
maybe. Intense, hard work, a bit messy sometimes and a definite endurance event. He was right, but I'd like to add that it really was good fun and very rewarding after all. How fitting.


Here are some photos of Greg Arnett who also participated in the festivities aka Tough Mudder.
The Arctic Enema

Trying to heavy my body over walls

Jumping into a big pool of slime 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sandy Licks The Pole!

Jamie and Sandy are all smiles after their cold race!
Sandy is one of the most uplifting athletes I know.  She constantly pushes her limits and actively competes and wins her age group in all type of events from swimming to running to cycling.  For fun she likes to take off on her bike and ride from Salt Lake to St. George -- over 300 miles.  I asked her for a race recap of this "maintenance run/race" held in her neighboring city of Midway, near the 2002 Olympic site for cross country skiing.

  Last weekend Participating in the "Lick the Pole Obstacle Course Fun Run" was a" triple dog dare" from the producers of the Kiss Me Dirty Mud Run gang.  The event was at Soldier Hollow in Midway, UT on Saturday, January 7th. 

Normally there would be a ton of snow, but this year we only got a dusting  the night before.  Costumes were encouraged and everyone that registered received a "Lick the Pole" knit hat.   Due to the lack of snow, some of the obstacles were not set up but the ones that were were fun.

People of all ages, sizes and abilities were participating so the atmosphere was very casual and one felt a need to hurry; part of that could have been the 7500 ft altitude and the steep hill at the start! 

It was a great event, well organized and fun even though Mother Nature didn't cooperate!  If you live in Utah, I would highly recommend this one for an after holiday celebration!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Really Cool Video From 12 Hour....

Enjoy this video of the Papago Race last weekend. My team and friends are not in the video, but it gives a
nice recap of the day.

Monday, January 9, 2012

12+ Hours In The Papago

"Four Mountain Bike Race Virgins" might have been a more appropriately titled name for our group of ambitious road cyclists attempting our first mountain bike race.  RedRockCo in Tempe provided the perfect way for us to get our feet "dirty" in a co-ed quad team option for the 12 Hours In The Papago event.

I'd compare 12 Hours to a runner's RAGNAR, where teams continually pass a timing chip between them and compete from sun up to sundown.  In Saturday's race, we circled the same 7.2 miles 18 times before we finished -- 11th out 15 co-ed teams.  Hey, it was our first try!

In a team of four, there's a lot more waiting around than actual riding, which proved to be fun and quad-tightening at the same time.  Our gang of racers found that circling the course twice (not just once) then passing the baton was actually more comfortable and less fatiguing than getting off your bike every 35 minutes.

Some helpful tips if you ever try this race for yourself:

1.  If you have a brand new bike, ride it once or twice BEFORE you actually bring it to a race.  Make sure all tires are filled and the gearing works perfectly.

2.  An EZ Up canopy is the perfect shading for a team.  However, strategically placing your canopy beside a team with a gas heater is key in the morning.  Even better is finding neighbors who actually clean and lube your chain between laps.  Thank you New Mexicans in the KONA tent. **And if you are a spectator, homemade cookies are always appreciated. 

3.  A quick bite at In N Out Burger may SOUND good but can do a number on your tummy while you are climbing and descending down the technical portions of the Papago Trails.

4.  If you have to ride that last lap in the dark, be sure to look for the guy who is lit up like a Christmas tree and let him lead out.  Even a full moon and a Cateye nightlight won't make those weird shadows any less scarier out there, alone, in the!

5.  You are super popular the minute your competitors know you are giving away your FREE Beer tickets after the race ends.

6.  Plan to do this event in 2013 and enjoy the perfect Arizona weather and give this fun event a try in 2013! And congratulations to the Gorillas In The Dust!  Fun time spent between moons!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Jessie Suggests

I am a big fan of Jessie Stensland, a pro triathlete and athletic guru.  I've attended her Movement U seminars and workshops several times.  I try to incorporate her movements before a run, but have forgotten some of the pre-warm up exercises, until now.  Here is Jessie's list:

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Running Form Friday: Tight Calves

Finding A Race Near You

A great site for finding races in your area or around the country is  Check it out if you are planning your racing calendar for this year.  You can search for races within your state or maybe even select a destination event to combine vacation and racing at the same time. Lots of great stuff here. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Treating Depression Via Endorphins

There's a reason triathlete are hooked on their sport:  endorphins.  Endorphins dull pain in the body and produce euphoria in the mind.  According to Spark, they are "the elixir of heroism, helping us ignore pain when we're physically overextended so we can finish the task at hand."  Exercise also boosts dopamine, which improves mood and feelings of wellness and jump-starts the attention system.  And don't forget serotonin, equally affected by exercise, which improving self-esteem, impulse control and learning.

Not until 1999 was a landmark study performed by Duke University to compare the effects of anti-depressant drugs versus exercise.  In the study, participants were divided into three groups: those taking Zoloft (the anti-depressant drug), exercisers, and those that were doing both.  The exercise group was assigned to supervised walking or jogging, at 70-85 percent of their aerobic capacity, for thirty minutes three times a week.  The results?  All three groups showed significant drops in depression, and about half of each group was in remission.  Another 13 percent experienced fewer symptoms.

If I'm reading that right, I'd say exercise is a wonder drug.  It doesn't cost anything to go out for a walk.  And think of the benefits of doing just that. 

Here we are at the start of a brand new year -- 2012.  Why don't you make this the year to start and keep that training plan?  Call a friend, hire a coach, or just lace up your kicks and head outside.  This is YOUR year to be healthier, happier and all-around better, drug free with an extra boost of endorphins. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Faces Of Success

Say hello to the faces of some Gorilla Multisport athletes.  These folks achieved a lot in 2011.  They all set goals to race faster and achieve more than they ever had in the past.  They made commitments, followed training plans and channeled their passion to success!  Congratulations ladies and gentlemen.  I am proud of you all.  

Grandma, mom and friend Sandy

Heather, mom of two and super hero in training

Sacha, hot mom and full-time nurse

Lydon, world traveler, father and proud new grandfather

Kaye, mom to three great boys

Melissa, mom and creator of the most amazing cakes and cookies

Brooklyn, art history student and first time half marathoner

Abigail, cross country runner and new half marathoner

And here's our latest athletes, father and son Jeff and Dallas, training hard to achieve success in 2012.  Looking forward to a great year, guys!

Dallas, hoping for podium success in 2012

Jeff, dad and grandpa, achieving more everyday

Are you ready to join the revolution?  What are your goals?  What is your plan?  Monday is the start of a brand new year.  How are you going to make it better?

Que lindo es sonar despierto.
How lovely it is to dream while you are awake.

Dreams That Have Come True