A blog for (semi) athletic middle-aged men (and women) holding on to (the last vestiges of) their youth
by training for and competing in running, cycling, swimming and triathlon events!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Goin' to Kansas City

Actually, "Went to Kansas City" would be more appropriate but it's a lot less catchy than the title of the famous jazz tune by Wilbert Harrison. The truth is I was in Kansas City last week and am just now getting around to writing about my trip. In any event, it was good to get back to KC, see some old friends and pick up some new Chiefs gear to wear back in Denver. I just hope my beloved Chiefs look better in their first game this weekend than they did in preseason!

While in KC attending a meeting at the Westin Crown Center, I went for a run through downtown, past Liberty Memorial, Union Station and the new Sprint Arena (at left) that opens on October 13 with a sold out Elton John concert. It's great to see the new arena taking shape and helping reshape downtown Kansas City.

Downtown Kansas City, once on the verge of becoming a ghost town, is now one big construction zone. The new 17-story H&R Block World Headquarters sits in the middle of the mess, waiting for the rest of the city to catch up. But it won't be long before the new Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, Power and Light District, and other new attractions complete the dramatic transformation of downtown KC.

Before heading back to Denver last Friday I had a unique opportunity to visit the worldwide headquarters of Garmin, manufacturer of global positioning systems for flying, driving, running, cycling, hiking, hunting, and boating. I am a huge fan of the Garmin Forerunner and Edge GPS-enabled running and cycling computers, so it was cool to visit the place where these amazing gadgets are made.

My friend and former colleague Ted Gartner (left) is the manager of media relations for Garmin, so I got a private tour of the manufacturing, warehouse/shipping and marketing departments. It is an impressive operation. I loved seeing boxes and boxes of Garmin products ready for shipping to stores across the country. Ted tells me that every device Garmin passes through that facility in humble Olathe, Kansas.

Next stop: It's back to the Windy City for the running of the Chicago Half Marathon on Sunday and the National Beef Cook-Off next week.


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Running Through Enemy Territory

I love living in Colorado. But as a native Kansan -- and Kansas City Chiefs fan -- football season is an interesting time to live in Denver. This was especially true today as I ran the Fans on the Field 10K in downtown Denver with fellow Chicago Half Marathon trainees Deann, Shenoa and Michaele (pictured with me at left).

Fans on the Field is a fundraising run for the National Sports Center for the Disabled that takes runners through Coors Field (home of the Colorado Rockies), the Pepsi Center (home of the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalance) and finally Invesco Field at Mile High (home of the Denver Donkeys).

[At left: runners loop through Coors Field around mile 3 of Fans on the Field 2007]

Those of you who follow pro football will remember that the Donkey's self-destructed in the final game of last season to allow the Chiefs to go on to the playoffs. So, of course, I just had to take the opportunity to rub it in the face of all the Denver fans in the run. The only problem is that I didn't have any KC Chiefs logo running apparel, so I printed Arrowheads on Avery Ink Jet labels and stuck them on my hat, shorts and shirt! Unfortunately, following last night's pitiful performance in a preseason game against Dallas, the Donkey fans didn't take the bait. I didn't hear a single negative comment. In fact, the only comments I heard were from fellow Chiefs fans cheering me on!

Fans on the Field began at Mile High and headed along the Platte River to Coors Field, where we ran into the stadium, across the warning track and back out the way we came. From there we headed towards the Pepsi Center where we ran in one side and out the other, heading back towards Mile High. When we got back to Mile High the course took us in the north end of the stadium, along the sideline and back out the south end to the finish line.

[At left and below: Deann crosses the finish line followed by Shenoa and Michaele]

As we entered the stadium we were greeted by "Miles" the Denver Donkey mascot. As I passed him I yelled "Go Chiefs" and he bagan to chase me. But much like a Donkey defenseman trying to run down Chiefs running back Larry Johnson, the gap widened as I sprinted into the stadium and towards the opposite end zone.

The extra motivation was just enough to send me across the finish line just under my goal of 55:48 (9:00 min/mile). According to the official race results I finished in 55:29 for an average of 8:56/mile.
Thanks, "Miles," for giving me the push I needed to meet my goal!

Overall I finished 91st out of 192 men and 22nd out of 48 men in my division. I'm always happy to finish in the top half. So, feeling good about the effort, I kicked back on the grass in front of Invesco Field for a couple of refreshing malt beverages. It was a beautiful day. I could have taken a nap right there but the "honey do" list back at home included installing a ceiling fan in our kitchen, so I headed south to Castle Rock.

Coming up this week, my running tour of the country includes stops in Great Bend, Kansas and Dublin, Ohio. Woo hoo!


Thursday, August 16, 2007

My Kind of Town...Chicago Is

This week's business trip took me from the Nation's Capitol to My Kind of Town...Chicago. And my running tour of two of our country's -- the world's -- finest cities continued this morning with a six mile run along the shores of Lake Michigan.

[At left: self-portrait in front of the John Hancock building on the Magnificent Mile]

Heading north from my hotel on the Magnificent Mile, I ran along the path between Lake Shore Drive and the shoreline. This is one of my favorite runs in the country.

For one thing, it's FLAT! For another, the scenery is great. But I think the reason I really like it is for the people watching. At any given time hundreds of Chicagoans (and hundreds of visitors like me, I'm sure) can be found running, walking and riding their bikes along this path. The next time I'm here I won't be running on the path. I'll be one of over 12,000 people running down the middle of Lake Shore Drive in the Chicago Half Marathon. It's going to be awesome.

One of the reasons Frank Sinatra called Chicago "My Kind of Town" was because Chicago is "my kind of people, too. People who smile at you." There's no doubt when you are running along Lake Michigan that this is a midwestern city. People do actually smile at you.

But I think the reason I call Chicago my kind of town is the shopping along Michigan Avenue. I went window shopping along the Magnificent Mile this evening after dinner at Mike Ditka's Restaurant, past the Garmin Showcase and dozens of designer boutiques like Guess, Kenneth Cole and Cole Haan -- three of my favorites. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately!) the stores were closed. Even with the stores closed downtown Chicago is alive with activity, but it does sleep. And sleep is what I am going to do now!


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A Run Down Memory Lane

I went for a great run in the Nation's Capital this evening. It was a beautiful August evening in Washington (I never thought those words would ever escape my lips...or my fingers). Seriously, it was a comfortable evening in the 80s, low humidity and clear blue skies. Very unusual for Washington in August.

[At left: self-portrait from the Lincoln Memorial looking East toward's the Washington Monument and Nation's Capitol.]

I remember many hazy, hot and humid days in August in Washington, D.C. -- having lived here from 1979 to 1997 -- and I remember many summer softball games on the National Mall, sweating profusely as we played with a beer in hand on the fields between the Smithsonian Museums.

Some things have changed, and some remain the same. As I ran along the Mall between the Lincoln Memorial and Capitol Building tonight, I passed many softball games--but didn't see any beer coolers. And at one point I passed a kick ball game (see above picture). I don't remember any of those back in the day. Softball was the only game in town. Summer softball on the Mall is a Capitol Hill tradition. All of the offices have a team and send interns down to the Mall around noon to reserve fields, where games are played back to back on the large square patches of grass -- sharing an outfield!

So I ran from my hotel at 14th and K, down 14th Street to the Washington Monument, then west to the Lincoln Memorial, where I ran up the steps, stopped, took a picture and ran back down headed east towards the Capitol...where I ran up the steps, stopped, took a picture and ran back down headed northwest on Pennsylvania Avenue towards the White House and my hotel.

[Above: self-portrait from the Nation's Capitol looking West toward's the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial.]

The entire run covered six miles, and I finished in just under an hour averaging about 10 mins/mile. Not fast, but that includes stopping to cross streets and take pictures, so I wasn't really pushing it. Tonight was just a fun run down memory lane...and I enjoyed the trip.


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Eleven Miles on the High Line Canal

With four weeks and one day to go until the Chicago Half Marathon, it's time to step up the mileage. Our training schedule calls for long runs on Saturday mornings, so I crawled out of bed at 6:00 a.m. this morning to join my colleagues Caroline, Michaele, and Shenoa (pictured at left) for a run on the High Line Canal trail in southern Denver. The weather was perfect -- sunny and about 70 degrees.

My goal for the Chicago Half Marathon is to finish under two hours -- right around 9:00/mile. I averaged 9:34/mile today over 11 miles, right about where I wanted to be today. I still have some work to do to meet my goal, but considering that today's run was at elevation (about 5,500 ft above sea level) and the average in Chicago is 579 ft. (577 along lake shore, where the Chicago Half takes place), I think I'm in good shape.

The High Line Canal trail is a gravel trail that stretches for 60 miles from Douglas County in southwest Denver to the Green Valley Ranch area in extreme Northeast Denver. It's a great place to do our long distance runs.

This week I'll be traveling to Washington, D.C., where I hope to get in an early morning run around the Capitol Mall, and Chicago, where I plan to run part of the Chicago Half route!

Keep on running!


Thursday, August 9, 2007

Coming Soon! Beef Running Jerseys!!

I just received this picture of the new "Beef. It's What's for Dinner" running jerseys hot off the presses! How cool is that? The new running jerseys will make their debut at the Chicago Half Marathon on September 9, two days before the start of the National Beef Cook-Off in Chicago. A team of beef-eating runners will be wearing the jerseys to promote eating beef as part of a healthy lifestyle.

The front of the running jerseys (at left) feature the Beef Checkoff and "Team ZIP" (Zinc/Iron/Protein) logos with the words "Running powered by BEEF." Pictured above is the back of the running singlet (tank top). We will also have running Ts (with sleeves) and microfiber running caps.

The new "Beef. It's What's for Dinner" fitness apparel was designed by Don Waite, creative director at the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, and is being produced by Pactimo, a Colorado-based manufacturer of elite custom athletic apparel. Pactimo has been great to work with and they make the highest quality custom team apparel I have ever worn. Contact Matt Sodnicar at Pactimo for all of your team's cycling, triathlon and running gear needs.


Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Beef. It's What's for Bodybuilding!

Recognize the tall blond in the middle of this picture? That's Jean O'Toole of the New York Beef Industry Council with her spinning class at the Paragon Athletic Club in New Hartford, New York. Jean wore her new "Beef. It's What's for Dinner" cycling jersey to her 5:45 a.m. spinning class last Wednesday and her classmates loved it so much they wanted a picture with her!

Jean is a great example of how you can incorporate lean beef into a healthy diet/lifestyle. Jean is an accomplished amateur bodybuilder who has participated in competitions held by the U.S. Bodybuilding Federation (USBF). Among her achievements, Jean recently received a 2nd, 4th and 5th place in the figure competitions and a 2nd and 4th place in body building at the 2007 USBF Liberty State (New York) Natural Bodybuilding & Figure Contest in Binghamton, New York.
Last year Jean finished a very impressive fourth place in the women's novice division at the 2006 USBF North American Bodybuilding and Figure Pro/Am.

Jean describes her secret to success (in addition to hard work, dedication and discipline!)...

"I ate a lot of sirloin and stuck to the 29 lean cuts while my fellow competitors bored themselves on salmon and broiled chicken! I have befriended a competitor in Buffalo and educated her on beef...she is now a believer and eater of more lean beef, and has subscribed to the Beef So Simple e-newsletter!"

Many bodybuilders understand the importance of beef in their diet. The editor of "Body Building Resource" -- a website for body builders -- says "Beef is high in quality protein which is a MUST if you want to build thick dense muscles."

Bodybuilding.com, THE supersite for bodybuilders, features an "All About BEEF" section complete with information on cuts, nutrition and recipes.

But Jean also understands it's not just what you eat. You have to remain active to maintain a body like hers. As I learned when I weighed 270 lbs. and ate lots of chicken thinking it would help me lose weight, what I needed was exercise. And when you exercise you need high quality protein -- like beef -- to fuel your body. Here's Jean's story...

"I have been in athletics since I was eight as a competitive swimmer, played volleyball in college and went from there...when I stopped sports 45 lbs. hit my behind so fast it stopped trucks! I was pushing almost 200 lbs. in 1989-1990!!! But like you....I got smart and took it off and strive to KEEP IT OFF!"

Now Jean is looking to her next challenge in her quest to stay fit and active.

"I plan on running a 5K in September called "The Falling Leaves" and will put together a Beef Team for the 31st running of the
Boilermaker, the nation's largest 15k!, to be run July 13, 2008, Utica, NY! I have also been pondering a mini triathlon...I guess it remains to be seen what I will challenge myself with next in my quest of health, fitness and fun!"

Jean, count me in for the Beef Team at the Boilermaker. I'll even supply the "Beef. It's What's for Dinner" running jerseys! Thanks for all you do to help promote lean beef. Keep up the good work!


Friday, August 3, 2007

What's a Snug Run?

A Snug Run is a 5K run every Thursday night in downtown Denver that begins and ends at the Irish Snug, an Irish Pub on Colfax Avenue -- an area frequented by Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady back in the 40s and 50s (as chronicled by Kerouac in "On the Road").

To do a Snug Run you have to join the Snug Running Club, a group of over 600 locals who are physically active and enjoy downing a Guiness or two after a good run. I joined the Snug Running Club a few weeks ago along with several of my colleagues who are training for the Chicago Half Marathon on September 9.

[At left: my colleague Caroline skipping along during last night's Snug Run]

All you have to do to join the Snug Runing Club is go to the website, register, show up and run! It's just that easy. After you participate in five Snug run / walk / trot / stagger / crawls you will be awarded an official Irish Snug Running Club t-shirt! The benefits of membership also include a free spaghetti dinner and $3 pints of Guiness after the run.

Last night I finished the Snug Run in 26:29. As I said in yesterday's post, my goal was to finish under 25 minutes for the first time in a 5K this year, but I kind of forgot that the first mile of a Snug Run is pretty congested. Imagine 100+ runners all leaving a bar at the same time and running down a narrow city sidewalk, stopping for traffic at intersections, etc.

[Above: My colleague Shenoa rounds the corner one block from the Snug Irish Pub.]

So my first mile was an even 10 minutes, but the route opens up when we hit the edge of Cheesman Park and eventually winds past the Denver Botanic Gardens (where John Hiatt and Shawn Colvin were in concert last night). I picked up the pace in mile two (8:45) and recorded my fastest mile time this year in mile three at 7:35! So on average I ran at 8:31/mile. You can check out the entire route map, elevation profile, and more information than you could ever find useful (like the weather at the time of the run), by clicking on the map at left, which will take you to my MotionBased TrailNetwork record of the event (as recorded on my Garmin Forerunner).

Next weeek I'm off to St. Louis for a meeting with the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association. So, why are the Oklahoma Cattlemen meeting in Missouri? To tour the Purina Mills Cattle Nutrition facility, of course. I will be staying at my cousin Wiley's house in Town and Country, MO -- my home away from home two summers ago while working on a project for a Fleishman-Hillard client. I look forward to running my old training route along Ballas Road -- a running roller coaster ride. Sprinting up the hills and jogging down the other side is a great interval workout.

More on hills/interval training in my next post. Until then...


Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Back in Action

I forced myself out of bed this morning and headed to the Castle View High School track to do some speed work. As I ran the first lap I thought, "I'm just not into this." But as my workout progressed my body and mind warmed up to the idea.

I ran my first mile at a consistent pace of around 8:45. I did my second mile at a progressive pace -- running each lap faster than the previous lap -- finishing around 8:30. For my third mile I ran at an easy pace for the first half of each lap and sprinted the last half. This type of workout -- called fartlek -- is supposed to help develop aerobic and anaerobic capacity. For me, it seems to help me push beyond "jogging" at a 9-10 min/mile pace to actually running!

I plan to do track work at least once a week between now and the Chicago Half Marathon on September 9. I hope it will help me build the speed and endurance I need to reach my goal of finishing under two hours -- or about a 9 min/mile pace.

Tomorrow evening I am planning to do a Snug Run with some colleagues who are also training for the Chicago Half. My goal is to runa sub-25-minute 5K (8 min/mile) for the first time since moving to the Denver area a year ago.