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!


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Catching Up with Dane and Dar

Over the past several months I've written about two friends on separate journeys towards a similar goal. In their own ways, both men inspired me to step up my efforts to motivate others to join me on my personal journey to live a more healthy, active life.

I met Dar Giess at the Youth Beef Industry Coungress in late March. A fellow native of the Great State of Kansas, Dar and immediately became friends for life. After I shared the story (and before/after picture) of my transformation from a 270 lb. couch potato to a 210 lb. Ironman (70.3) triathlete during my speech to these future beef industry leaders, Dar said I had motivated him to get back in shape and lose 60 lbs. before the Annual Cattle Industry Convention in February 2011. In doing so he wanted to also raise money to support youth programs in the beef industry. So I made a deal with Dar, pledging $2 per pound and promising to help spread the word about his effort. Dar checked in with me via text (his favortie form of communication) on October 7 and I'm pleased to report that he is well on his way towards his goal.

I look forward to taking an updated picture of a leaner, meaner Dar when I see him at the Minnesota Cattlemen's meeting in December.
 "I started at 309 and weighed 273 this morning," said Dar. "I am trying to run one good mile and can almost make it without walking. I feel like a hippo but am determined to keep it up. I also have my 13-year-old run with me. She beats me three power poles but someday I will push her hard! I am not dieting, just being sensible. I am 54-years-old and yesterday Lynnie and I made it 26 years together. If I can do it, anybody can. Its not easy when you get that heavy but just chip away."

Keep it up, Dar. I can't wait to see you in December when I come up for the Minnesota Cattlemen/Women's Convention!

I met Dane Rauschenberg two weeks later after running the St. Louis Half Marathon. Dane had run the full marathon and was boarding the same flight to Denver. After learning the story of Dane's journey to run 52 marathons in 52 weeks back in 2006, I asked Dane how he felt about beef's role in an athlete's diet. "One simple sentence," Dane replied. "I love beef."

Dane strides towards the finish of
the Boilermaker 15K wearing his
Team ZIP (Zinc, Iron and Protein) jersey.
Since that chance meeting Dane has shared his love for beef running three events as a member of the Team ZIP/BEEF running team: The Boilermaker 15K (sponsored by the New York Beef Industry Council), the Chicago Half Marathon (sponsord by the Illinois Beef Association) and the Quad Cities Marathon (sponsored by the Iowa Beef Industry Council). This week will join me and the Kansas Beef Council's Beef Endurance Team at the Kansas City Health and Fitness Expo and KC Marathon on Saturday (I will be running the half!).

Dane continues to run an event nearly every weekend motivating runners and non-runners alike to "ignore the impossible." "If you ignore the impossible it's amazing what you can accomplish," says Dane. "My goal is to inspire people to give their all, regardless of what their 'all' may be. I try to help people realize that without effort, nothing will happen. But with the right attitude, few things stand in your way."

For more on Dane's story, check out his recent interview on KWCH-TV in Wichita, KS. Dane was the featured speaker at the inaugural "Prarie Fire Marathon" in Wichita this past weekend, where he finished second in his age group with an impressive 3:07:46. Read his recap of the race on his blog, See Dane Run.

Keep running, Dane, and eating beef, of course. I look forward to seeing you this weekend in Kansas City.

Ride on!

Daren

Monday, September 27, 2010

What a Proud Day...Indeed!

 
The the Montana Running Ranchers at the base of Mount Hood, the start of the Hood to Coast relay. Back row (from left): Scott Hughes, Jeff Lewis, David Dover, Mike Rydell, Will Wise (Oregon Beef Council) Connie Becker, Sheri Roth. Front Row (from left): Rich Roth, Chantelle Thomas, Jennifer Lewis, Stacey Hughes, Rachel Lee, Sarah Nash-Werthheimer
"What a proud day..." read the e-mail I received today from a woman I've never met but already feel connected to through Team ZIP (Zinc, Iron and Protein), the national BEEF running team. "I cannot thank you enough for what you've inadvertently done," said Carin Ryan. "We've built friendships. We're healthier people."

Carin and a dozen other runners including California Women for Agriculture (CWA) president Celeste Settrini and members of the San Luis Obispo CWA chapter ran the Heritage Oaks Bank Family Day and Fun Run in Paso Robles, California. "We even had a gentleman who saw the chatter on Facebook and joined...we'd never met him!!"

The "Beef Backers" at F. McClintock's Saloon. From left: Denise Athy, Stephanie Mosinski Marden, Carn Ryan, Celeste Settrini, and Krista McNinch Kodl
"Team ZIP was definitely the hit of the day! It felt as if we were celebrities and paparazzi were following us as we were stopped for pictures, asked questions and spread our message," reports Carin. "Celebration of course ensued ending at Beef Backer Award Recipient F. McLintock's Saloon in downtown Paso Robles. We were all too proud to take our jerseys off so as we enjoyed the rest of our day, the message of lean beef in a healthy diet and lifestyle stuck with us."

What a proud day, indeed, for Team ZIP and for BEEF. And this is just the most recent example of healthy people spreading the word about beef's role in a healthy diet. Earlier this month the Montana Running Ranchers completed the 197-mile
Hood to Coast relay. "The Mother of All Relays" stretches from majestic Mt. Hood to the Pacific Ocean in Seaside, OR. More than 12,000 runners participated in the relay this year, including the Running Ranchers, led by Rich Roth of IX Ranch in Big Sandy, MT.

Rich Roth and other Montana Running Ranchers ran in cowboy hats and rang a cowbell whenever their team members approached. "It was obnoxious, but by the time the race was over people knew who we were," says Rich.
"What an awesome experience," says Rich. "We had a lot of fun and met some great people. Over the course of the entire race, we were constantly cheered for and constantly asked if we were 'real' ranchers. People loved that we were running for our industry and that we were all in such good shape. People would cheer 'GO BEEF' or 'GO COWBOY.' People were impressed that we drove all the way out from Montana and it was great to see all the people on the highway stare at our vans as we drove by."


Both Carin and Rich shared similar stories about the journey their teams traveled as they trained for and completed their races.


"We finished and still look pretty good!" says Celeste Settrini or Team ZIP. From left: CarrieAnn Arias, JoAnn Wall, Celeste Settrini, Krista McNinch Kodl, Carin Ryan, Stacy Miller, and Denise Athy.
"In just seven short weeks, we all found ourselves sharing our journey, speaking freely about the benefits of lean beef in a healthy diet and training together as we prepared for this fantastic run," says Carin. "The message always seemed to include 'strength' -- personal, physical and strength as an industry."

"As race day approached, the chatter amongst Team ZIP increased. Plans were made, training times were posted, encouragement was shared and it became very apparent this race and Team ZIP would change my life. We proudly wore our 'Real Women Eat Beef' shirts to the pre-race packet pick up and dinner. Everyone commented and asked questions. We were all proud to explain that we were excited to run our race fueled by lean beef!"


The Montana Running Ranchers had lots of time to bond and little time to sleep during the 27 hours, 32 minutes and 23 seconds it took to complete the 197-mile relay.


After running for more than 24 hours straight, the Montana Running Ranchers gathered at the finish line of Hood to Coast, "The Mother of All Relays."
"When we first got the team together we didn't know everyone on the team," says Rich. "By the end of the race, we felt like we were family and the funning thing is we have been corresponding back and forth since we came back about the race, our families and what event we are going to do next time."

"Talk about a group of energetic people. We were noticed so much just because we were the loudest group there. We had a cow bell (like the ones people use at the skiing events) and every time we would see our runner would start ringing that bell. It was obnoxious, but by the time the race was over people knew who we were. We took two way radios to stay in touch with our other van and since there were others on the same channel we quickly became the Beef 1 and Beef 2 vans. That is what other teams referred to us as."


From humble beginnings four years ago when I had the first Team ZIP cycling jerseys made for my Ride the Rockies team we now have more than 400 members nationwide running, cycling and competing in triathlons to demonstrate in the most tangible way that beef is an important part of a healthy diet.

A proud day indeed! Go Team ZIP. Go BEEF!
 


Ride on,

Daren

The Montana Beef Council supplied transportation for the Running Ranchers, complete with Team ZIP graphics! From left: Charlene Rich, MBC executive director, and Lisa Murray, director of nutrition and consumer information.

The Montana Running Ranchers take time to visit with the meat manager of Fred Meyer grocery.
"Real Women Eat Beef" says Team ZIP's California Contingent. From left: CarrieAnn Arias, Ann Marie Wood, Celeste Settrini, JoAnn Wall, Carin Ryan and Krista McNinch Kodl
Team ZIP getting ready to run. "We were so excited!!!" says Celeste. From left: Denise Athy, Krista McNinch Kodl, Ann Marie Wood, CarrieAnn Arias, JoAnn Wall, Celeste Settrini, Carin Ryan, Stephanie Mosinski Marden, and Susan Clark


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Where in the World is Dane?

Since we last checked in with extreme runner Dane Rauschenberg (at the Boilermaker 15K Road Race), our favorite beef-loving athlete has been a busy man (if you call running six races in six weekends busy).

[At left: Dane approaches the finish line at the Boilermaker 15K Road Race]

Then again, this is the guy who ran 52 marathons in 52 weeks. So the fact that he's only run five half marathons and a 20 mile steeplechase in the past six weeks may prompt shouts of "slacker" at his next race (not me, of course, but maybe from less sensitive fans). And if you look at his race calendar on See Dane Run you'll see that he is taking this weekend OFF from running.

So what is going on? Where in the world is Dane this weekend? Well, if you happen to be in Louisville, Kentucky, you might want to stop by the BEEF booth at the Louisville Ironman Expo and say hi. Dane will be there promoting beef with the Kentucky Beef Council.

Dane continues to talk about beef's role in his diet with other athletes via his Running Matters blog on Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and his own own blog, See Dane Run. In fact, his post today is called Facts on Beef and is a great look at the nutritional benefits of beef.

I'm so glad I bumped into Dane on the plane on the way home from running the GO! St. Louis Half Marathon. He is a great advocate for beef and has been an inspiration to me as I trained for the Boulder Ironman 70.3 triathlon and prepare to run my first marathon this December (stay tuned for details!).

Thanks, Dane!

Daren

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Why? Never Again! What's Next?!

Why? That's the question a lot of people ask when I talk about tackling an Ironman 70.3 triathlon. And, honestly, it's the question that was running through my mind around mile 8 of the 13.1 mile run in today's Boulder Ironman 70.3 (the last leg of a 70.3 Ironman, following a 1.2-mile swim and 56-mile bike for a total of 70.3 miles).
Above: Pain is overshadowed by elation, relief and satisfaction as I crossed the finish line at today's Boulder Ironman 70.3.

For the answer, take a look at my before and after picture. Sixteen years ago, at the young age of 30, I weighed 270 lbs. and got very little exercise. As I began to live a more healthy, active lifestyle I realized that I need to set goals to get me out of bed in the morning to ride my bike. So I signed up for an MS150 bike ride (fundraiser for Multiple Sclerosis research). After my first century ride (100 miles) I was hooked.

Several years later I met Nancy Strickland, a fitness instructor and tri coach, Nancy convinced me to give my first tri a try. Despite nearly drowning (not really, but I did stuggle mightily in the swim), I was hooked. So I signed up for swimming lessons with Nancy and started training for my next event. Ten triathlons later, all of various distances Nancy challenged me to sign up for the Vineman 70.3 (triathlons come in many distances -- sprint, Olympic, Ironman 70.3 and 140.6 are just a few).

I ran the Vineman 70.3 in July 2007 and thought "never again." The 13.1-mile run in 90+ degree heat was the most painful experience of my life. But it wasn't long before I was asking myself, "What's next?" I need goals!

Two months after Vineman I had a little altercation with a car and ended up getting a new titanium collarbone (in a bike vs. car altercation the car always wins). I continued to ride and run but stopped swimming and didn't sign up for another tri until this year -- the inaugural Boulder Ironman 70.3.

So tonight I am sitting on my couch reveling in the satisfaction of completing another Ironman 70.3. Three years older and about 5,430 ft. higher, I set a new PR, besting my Vineman time by over 22 minutes! I worked hard to get here and completed my goal. It's a great feeling...in spite of the pain. That's "why."

I'm not saying "never again." but I'm also not running out to sign up for another 70.3. And although I've toyed with someday trying a 140.6 (double the distance in each event), I think I have given up those crazy thoughts (ask me again tomorrow...or maybe next month).

So what's next? Maybe a marathon. I've done five halfs (two as part of the Ironman events) but never a full.

Or maybe I'll go back to being a couch potato...NOT! That's the one thing to which I can say, "Never again" and mean it!

Ride on!

Daren

Pics from the Boulder Ironman 70.3
photos by Leslie Williams

The Boulder Ironman 70.3 began with a skydiving team and singing of the Star Spangled Banner.

A Sharpie pen turned my old tri jersey into my new BEEFMAN jersey (still a work in progress). Unfortunately the love handles I developed in my "Fat Daren" days don't really look great in the super cool BEEF tri top my friends at the Texas Beef Council sent me :(

A warmup swim in the Boulder Reservoir netted a new seaweed toupe and a lot of confidence that my "water anxiety" issues were under control.

My heat (Wave 5) began around 6:45 a.m. I compare the swim start to a school of pirhannas attacked their prey. It can be a bit disconcerting so I have learned to move to the side and settle into my rhythm before re-entering the fray.

Exiting the water is part relief (to be alive) and part trepidation (still have a 56-mile bike and 13.1-mile run to go!).

My bike is one of the last on the Wave 5 rack after a very slow swim. I had some serious time to make up on the bike and turned in a 2:54:24 (19.3 mph average over 56 miles -- a personal best and ANY distance in a triathlon where drafting is not allowed!).

The run is my least favorite part of the event but I felt good for the first 6.5 mile loop. I slowed down a bit on the second loop but still hit my run goal of sub-10 min. miles (2:09:43). Dehydration became an issue in the last several miles and both hamstrings threatened to seize up at any moment. did I mention it was 90F during the run?

Nothing refuels like BEEF! The zinc, iron and protein in beef help repair and rebuld your body from instense physical activity. "The Rancher" burger at the Pearl Street Pub in Boulder (and two Amber Ales) hit the spot, but the hour-and-a-half ride home was painful. I'm glad Leslie was driving. Not sure I could have focused on the road!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Triathlon Training Tips (lessons learned the hard way)

Running late for the Boulder Stroke and Stride (swim and run) I was a bit "out of sorts" as I entered the water. I had missed the official start of the two lap 1500 meter swim by about 15 minutes (traffic getting from south Denver to Boulder was slow) and the fast swimmers were already finishing their first lap and running down the beach at Boulder Reservoir to start their second. In the middle of this churning mass of arms and legs I started swimming.
Above: The Boulder Stroke and Stride (1500 meter swim/5K run) takes place every Thursday in the summer at Boulder Reservoir.

"I can't breathe!" Inhale, exhale, it seems so easy on dry land. If you get out of breath on the bike or on a run, you just slow down. But for some reason in the water your brain functions differently. When you get out of breath your brain says, "I'm gonna die!" and panic ensues.

"Don't panic!" I told myself, "Just breathe." But I couldn't. So I stopped, treaded water to the side and looked back. With the setting sun glinting off the water (above) I couldn't even see the beach I had just left. All I could see was splashing water. Should I swim back to shore or keep going? I knew if I went back I wouldn't be back Sunday for the Boulder Ironman 70.3 (1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1 mile run). I had to calm, down, get into my rhythm and finish the swim. So I gave a thumbs up to the lifeguard anxiously watching me from the dock and slowly started swimming. Stroke, breathe, stroke, breathe and eventually I settled into stroke, stroke, breathe, stroke, stroke, breathe, my normal pattern. I finished strong and feel confident that I will be ready to swim Sunday morning.

LESSON #1: Do NOT wait until three days before the big event to practice an open water swim in a competitive setting (and don't be late for the start).

Putting my running shoes on over wet, sandy feet I realized that I had not brought any socks. I know many triathletes do not wear socks but I always run with socks. This was my second big mistake of the day. In the lasst miles of the 5K I could feel a blister forming on my right upper heel. By the end of the run it was bleeding pretty good. I don't think it will bother me Sunday. At least I hope not. Running a half marathon is painful enough without a nagging flesh wound!

LESSON #2: Do not do anything "different" on three days before the big event (or on race day).

After making two mistakes on my last significant training day I called my former tri coach from Kansas City, Nancy Strickland and asked for some final advice. Nancy said to take Friday off (today) and just do a very short, easy five mile ride, 1 mile run on Saturday. Basically, there is nothing left to do but keep the legs moving and the blood flowing!

Off to Boulder tomorrow...

Ride on!

Daren

Monday, July 19, 2010

Boulder, Boilermaker and BEEF, Oh My!

I woke up this morning to the realization that I have just three weeks left until the Boulder Ironman 70.3 triathlon and I’m not feeling at all ready to tackle a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike and 13.1 mile run all on the same day…let alone within my goal time of 6 hours and 25 minutes (to beat my personal record of 6:28:43 in the 2007 Vineman 70.3).

[Above: That's me at the finish of my first Ironman 70.3 three years ago. I think my first words were "Never again" and here I am three years later getting ready for my second Ironman 70.3!]

So I dragged my butt out of bed and headed to the pool for a 1.2-mile swim just to make sure I could at least finish the first leg! As I swam back and forth 84 lengths of the pool I pondered how I was going to squeeze enough training time in between now and August 8th (especially given that the week-long Cattle Industry Summer Conference falls smack dab in the middle of those three weeks!). One way I can get in my time on the bike is to ride to and from work so when I got home I packed a week’s worth of clothes and loaded my bike on my car. For the rest of the week I’ll be riding the 24 miles each way from my house in Castle Rock via the Cherry Creek and C-470 trails. Fortunately (for my colleagues), there is a shower facility in the first floor men’s room!

As a stand-alone event, I’d be feeling pretty good about the half marathon after running a personal record 1:15:55 (8:04/mile) in the Boilermaker 15K (9.3 miles) on July 11. That put me at number 2,007 of 6,418 male finishers (2,464 of 11,539 overall) and beat my 2009 time by nearly 2 minutes! Most of all, I had fun running with about 100 other BEEF runners including our newest recruit to Team ZIP, Dane Rauschenberg, who finished well ahead of me in 1:01:26 (read Dane’s account on his blog, SeeDaneRun).

[Above: that's me and Dane before the start of the Boilermaker 15K; Below: Hanging out with "Boston Bill" Rodgers at the Boilermaker sponsor dinner]

But running a half marathon after a 56-mile bike is another thing altogether, as I found out at Vineman in 2007 (my first and only half-Ironman distance event). After a good swim and a great bike segment I was 30 minutes ahead of my goal time. Then I lost it all on the run in 90F heat and high humidity. Struggling to stay hydrated and limping on a sore left foot I considered giving up and walking in, but managed to keep moving and finished 1:17 ahead of my goal time.

I’m determined not to die on the run this time so I scheduled an early season half marathon in St. Louis, along with the Bolder Boulder 10K and Boilermaker 15K. I’ve discovered that races always make me push myself harder than I do training on my own. So my logic was that I needed to schedule more races. But when I explained this theory to my former tri coach, Nancy, on a visit to KC this past weekend, she said I just need to train harder (actually, I think she called me a slacker!).

I think Nancy nailed it. When I rode with Nancy and her husband Steve this past Saturday I pushed it a lot harder. But when Steven and I went out for a “brick” run after the ride (in the heat and humidity of eastern Kansas) I felt the familiar foot pain and dehydration sapping my energy. So this week I’m going to focus on ride/run combo workouts (yes, I brought my running shoes to work, too) and staying hydrated during the ride (I need to drink a lot more than I do).

I also got in a good hill workout on my trip to Kansas, riding 25 miles through the campus of the University of Kansas. Anyone who thinks Kansas is flat needs to visit Lawrence. I rode one hill (three times!) that hit 18% grade. They do not make roads that steep in Colorado...at least not that I've found! Granted, they are "hills" and not mountains so they are steep but short.

[Above: I gave serious thought to attending the Veggie Lunch (omnivores welcome!) on the KU campus in my BEEF jersey; Below: Baby Jay rides my bike in fron of the Kansas Union]


I still haven’t figured out what I’m going to do next week during the conference. I may just have to give up some of the late night festivities so I can drag my butt out of bed at 4:30 in the morning to swim, bike and run before heading downtown to the meetings. The good news is I'll get plenty of BEEF during the week to fuel up my body for the following week.

Ride on!

Daren

Saturday, June 26, 2010

My Six-Week Ironman 70.3 Triathlon Training Program

Has it really been a month since I last posted anything? Where did June go? Travel. I’ve been to Chicago, Austin, Washington, D.C., Sacramento, Oklahoma City, and Garden City, Kansas, in the past four weeks. I woke up one morning this week in a hotel room and it took me a minute to remember where I was…and I was at home in my own bed!

That's me in DC overlooking the White House during a reception at John Deere's DC office

I realized today that I have exactly six weeks from tomorrow until the Boulder Ironman 70.3 triathlon. Guess I need to get with the program. The problem is I don’t really have one. I haven’t been in the pool in a month and I been riding on the road much (maybe 300 miles this season including the Elephant Rock Century ride three weeks ago).

Travel makes triathlon training tough. I can’t take my bike with me. Hotel pools big enough to swim laps in are rare. All I can really do on the road is run or workout in a hotel gym (about my least favorite form of exercise). So I do what I can when I can. That’s my training program.

I haven’t been able to run much since the Bolder Boulder 10K on Memorial Day and not at all for the past two weeks after taking an elbow to the rib cage in a “friendly” family basketball game while on vacation in Sacramento (two brothers, a brother-in-law, his brother, my daughter, two nephews and a niece who plays ball at Lewis and Clark where she was named to the 2010 All-Northwest Conference Team -- her freshman year!).

The finish of the Bolder Boulder 10K is inside Folsom Field at the University of Colorado

I did spend a lot of time riding on my Cyclops Fluid2 trainer this past Spring and winter and I can feel the results when I do get out on the road. I rode 24 miles to work yesterday morning in a personal best 1:17 (19.1 mph). I rode 50 today including 2,784 ft. of elevation gain and my legs feel good. So I’m not too worried about the bike portion (56 miles)

I rode up to Daniel's Park today to take in the amazing views of the
Front Range of the Rockies

I’ve got two weeks to prepare for the Boilermaker 15K Run on July 11. I plan to modify my two-week half marathon training program for Boilermaker. If my ribs will allow, I’ll run three miles tomorrow, four on Tuesday, five on Thursday, nine on Saturday, three on Monday, three on Wednesday, and an easy three on Friday. That’s thirty miles in two weeks, followed by the 9.3 miles that Sunday. In two weeks I’ll know whether I’m on track for the run leg (13.1 miles).

As for the swim (1.2 miles), I just need to get up and hit the pool more often in the coming weeks. I think I’ll start tomorrow morning before church. I can run in the afternoon. Heck, I might as well throw in a ride and do a personal mini tri tomorrow (with a church break built in!).

And tonight, of course, I’ll be eating BEEF to fuel up. The only question is which cut? I love a juicy Ribeye on the grill. Then again, a medium rare filet with blue cheese and sautéed Portobello s is hard to beat…and Tenderloin is one of the 29 Lean Cuts. Decisions, decisions…

Ride on!

Daren

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Fit End to BEEF RUNNER Month

Several weeks ago I pointed out that May is not only my birth month (Taurus, the bull, of course) but is also National BEEF Month and National RUNNER Month – two of my life’s passions. So I combined the two celebrations into one and launched the National BEEF RUNNER Month Challenge – eat at least 3 oz. of lean beef and get at least 30 minutes of heart-pumping exercise every day. I think I started something!

[Above: Runners like Calli Thorne from North Dakota know BEEF provides essential nutrients like zinc, iron and B vitamins that provide fuel for physical activity. This past weekend Calli ran the Fargo Marathon -- her first full marathon -- in 4:07:13. Congrats Calli!]

My theory is that if you eat lean BEEF and get some exercise every day in the month of May you’ll be ready for the opening of the swimming pools this weekend. So how are you doing?

I was feeling pretty good about my progress – having dropped five pounds – until this past weekend. My daughter’s high school graduation meant lots of friends and family and food and drink (lots of fun and lots of calories). I smoked up two BEEF briskets and four racks of pork "the other red meat" spare ribs. Yes, we ate a lot of meat but the calorie busters were my wife’s cheesy corn (corn, butter and cream cheese) and broccoli salad (with bacon and cheese, of course!). Oh, and maybe the beer.

But I don’t worry about indulging during these times because I know I’ll quickly drop the added pounds when I return to my normal routine. So far this week that was running five on Sunday, riding on my indoor trainer for 30 minutes Monday morning and running 3.1 today.

This weekend I am planning to top off National BEEF RUNNER Month with two major BEEF and RUNNING events.

On Saturday evening I will be enjoying a great big steak at SW Steakhouse at the Wynn in Las Vegas (voted “Best Steakhouse in Las Vegas” by the New York Magazine in 2009). I’ll be in Vegas with my brothers and several others celebrating my nephew’s 21st birthday. I’m sure the prime aged steaks will be amazing and the wine will be flowing. I just have to remember that I have a race to run on Monday!

Returning to Denver Sunday I’ll be up early on Monday headed to Boulder to run the BolderBOULDER 10K on Memorial Day. “Sea level is for sissies” is the slogan of the second largest running race in the USA with over 50,000 runners! This will be my first BB. I’ll be joined by a number of other BEEF runners from the Colorado Beef Council BEEF Running Team.

It’s supposed to be a great event with 31 bands and other entertainers along the 6.2-mile route. Following the race is a Memorial Day tribute with the Mile-Hi Sky Diving team, a jet flyover, a 21-gun salute and recognition of Medal of Honor recipients.

[Left: In 2008 a Team ZIP (Zinc, Iron and Protein) runner from New York ran the Boilermaker 15K carrying full size American and Marine Corps flags to honor his brother in the Marines]

It should be a great day and a fit end to National BEEF RUNNER Month! So dust off your grills and break out the running shoes. Wherever you celebrate Memorial Day weekend enjoy a great burger or steak on the grill and get some exercise. Your bathing suit will thank you…and you can show off your fit end!

Ride on!

Daren

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Let's Make a Deal with Dar

Meet Dar Giess (pronounced geese). I met Dar at the Youth Beef Industry Congress in Minneapolis a month or so ago. We immediately connected. Dar is from Kansas. I am from Kansas. The Kansas connection is strong. Dar is definitely "good people."

[Above: Dar does his best Royal Canadian Mounted Police impression at the World South Devon Congress 2008 Tour of Western Canada]

Dar and I had another connection. We’ve both had to battle the bulge. In my 20s I gained an average of seven pounds per year, growing from 200 to 270 pounds. Dar has a similar story.

I ran track in high school. So did Dar. I ran the two-mile. So did Dar. I ran the two-mile in around 15 minutes. Dar ran it in 10 minutes and 33 seconds. That's where the similarity ends. In case you don’t know, that’s really fast (5:16.05/mile).

[Above: Dar holds up his prize catch. “South Devon World Association – good cattle, good people having a good time” - Dar Giess, South Devon World President, Kananaskis, July 2008]

“Now it takes me about 10 hours and 33 minutes,” Dar said, in his self-deprecating way. “I actually haven’t timed myself. But I have started running again.”

After I shared my personal weight struggle with Dar he asked me to make a deal – if he would lose 50 pounds before the Annual Cattle Industry Convention in January, could I get him on NCBA's Cattlemen-to-Cattlemen to talk about the importance of youth programs in the beef industry? I made the deal (and thankfully Melissa, the producer of Cattlemen-to-Cattlemen agreed!).

Dar asked me to hold him accountable so I called this week to see how it was going.

“I’ve lost seven pounds so far. But it’s hard. This is not an easy project,” he said. “I just like to eat.”

I understand, Dar. I always said I’d never diet. I like to eat, too much. I always knew the only way I’d lose weight, and keep it off, was with exercise. But when I hit 270 I knew I had to do something. My brother had started selling a popular herbal weight loss program so I signed up. And I lost 40 pounds really fast. But then I gained half of it back.

Dar has a similar story. “Three times I’ve lost 50 pounds and every time I gain it back,” he said. “This time I’m not going to do it.”

I’ve kept my weight off now for over 10 years, so I shared the secret of my success with Dar. And now I’ll share it with you. Eat a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy and lean protein like BEEF! And, for those of us who like to eat, get some exercise – at least 30 minutes per day, three to five times a week.

[Above: That's me, at 270 lbs. in 1985, and at 210 lbs. in 2009 after riding up the highest paved road in North America to the summit of Mt. Evans (14,240 ft.)]

Maybe I should write a book. I’ll call it, “Eat Right and Exercise – the Secret to Maintaining Healthy Weight.” My next book will be “How to Make a Million Dollars Writing a Book about How to Make a Million Dollars.”

There is no secret formula. No book wil  give you willpower or make you get out of bed in the morning.

“I was at a sale barn today,” said Dar “There was a box of apple fritter donuts. I walked away.”

Keep walking, Dar. And keep running. I promised to hold you accountable. Now we all are! We’ll keep checking back on your progress. And we’ll be watching you on NCBA's Cattlemen-to-Cattlemen next January.

Ride On!

Daren

P.S. Dar and his wife, Lynn, helped start the American Salers Junior Association and the North American South Devon Junior Association. They are passionate about cattle and the future of young people in the cattle business. Dar said he was asking people to pledge $2 for every pound he loses before January that he will donate to youth programs. I’m in. Are you?

P.P.S. Please post a comment with your pledge or words of encouragement for Dar.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Former Vegetarian Meats Real America

Imagine riding a bike 2,500 miles from North Carolina to California. Now imagine riding a rusted out 1970’s era Schwinn Varsity 10-speed from North Carolina to California with everything you own strapped haphazardly to the bike. This is the sight I saw when Andrew Mayo came riding up to the barn at T4 Ranch outside Tucumcari, New Mexico.

[Above: Andrew Mayo's Schwinn Varsity. Click on the pic to get an up close view of the rusted metal, old school shifters, pedals and ancient leather seat.]

I was at the T4, a little 200,000 acre ranch in Eastern New Mexico, with about 50 reporters, legislators, and beef producers as part of a two-day “Gate to Plate BEEF Tour” of the New Mexico beef industry. We were in the middle of a barn dance when Andrew rode up around dusk. He had turned off the highway on a dirt road, looking for a place to camp, when he heard the music from the band.

[Above: T4 rancher Scott Bidegain ropes calves during the branding and castration demonstration during the "Gate to Plate BEEF Tour"]

As I watched from the barn, one of the other guests directed Andrew to one of the family members, Scott Bidegain, who offered him a place to camp and invited him to dinner. As Andrew ate his dinner -- a delicious ribeye steak, salad and baked potato leftover from the meal we had just enjoyed -- I sat down and asked him to tell me his story.

[Above: Scott Bidegain welcomes Andrew to the T4 Ranch. The T4 was established in 1902 by Scott's great, great grandmother Yetta]

“I’m from Raleigh, North Carolina. Well, I used to be. I’m not going back,” he said. “I’m headed to California, maybe Seattle, maybe I’ll end up back in Santa Fe.” In other words, Andrew is “on the road.”

When I asked if he enjoyed the steak he said, “I loved the steak. It was delicious.” But it was what he said next that really caught my attention. “I was basically a vegetarian when I started the ride,” he confessed. “I was abstaining from meat at first. I ate a lot of fruit. But then I had chicken one day and the next day I rode so far, so fast, I realized I needed protein to do this.”

I know, I know, it was chicken. Believe me; I gave him a brief lecture on the benefits of zinc, iron, B-vitamins and the other essential nutrients found in BEEF. But I don’t think it was necessary. He ate the whole steak. And based on this post from his blog, he has been enjoying quite a few cheesburgers as well!

When I asked why he had been a vegetarian, if it was an animal rights issue or a health issue, he said, “Neither. Eating meat every day at every meal just seemed a little excessive.” I guess maybe I’m a little excessive. Oh well :)

I also asked if he was surprised to receive such a welcome on the ranch. “Good ol' boys are always welcoming. It’s the big city people who pretend they don’t notice…or just don’t care. This is the real America. These are the people who are doing things, living their lives, not just observing.”

Andrew shared another example of “Real America” hospitality when I asked him about riding across the south. “I went into a local bike shop in Huntsville, Alabama, with three broken spokes, a bald rear tire and six patches on the tube.” The guys at Trailhead Bikes took one look at his bike and told him to come back later that night. When he got back they had fixed him up with a new back tire and new tube – all free of charge.

[Above: As we got back on the bus to head to our hotel in Tucumcari, Andrew prepared to set up camp at the T4 Ranch near an old well. It was a dark and windy night...but I have to admit I was a little jealous!]

Real America. I’ve certainly experienced it on the “Gate to Plate BEEF Tour.” Hard working Americans whose job it is to care for the land and their animals to make beef just like their ancestors did. People like Linda Davis and her father Albert Mitchell (former manager of the historic 600,000 acre Bell Ranch, where Linda grew up) -- courageous pioneers who settled the untamed West, homesteaded on desolate lands, and survived the dust bowl by driving their cattle into Mexico (only to return after the dust settled). Men and women who carry on the pioneer spirit that made this country great. This is real America.

It makes me yearn for a return to simpler times…or at least a time when people didn’t bite the hand that feeds them. I’m convinced we’ll get there sooner or later, either by reconnecting consumers with the farmers and ranchers who produce food (as we did on this tour) or by facing rising food costs and food availability issues as we struggle to feed a growing world population (which is what will happen if we follow the advice of Michael Pollan and his “Food, Inc.” cronies and turn the clock back on technology in food production).

But I doubt Andrew Mayo is thinking about that today (actually I wrote this yesterday on the bus ride back to Albuquerque). He’s probably out battling heavy headwinds – 40 to 60 mile per hour gusts out of the southwest – as he continues his journey to California. Funny how when you strip life down to the basic needs of food and shelter suddenly you worry a lot less about idealistic notions of a perfect world!

Read Andrew's account of his stop at the T4 Ranch (and the next day's ride into the wind) on his blog, Oh Holy Hubris.

Ride on, Andrew!

Daren

P.S. The Schwinn Varisty is an American classic. I just wish I still had the bright orange Varsity 10-speed I used to ride around Topeka, Kansas (from Lake Sherwood to White Lakes Mall and back). I loved that bike!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Take the National Beef Runner Month Challenge

May is National Beef Month! Why not. May is the month of the bull. Memorial Day kicks off summer grilling season. Nothing beef's up the barbecue like a burger or sizzles on the grill like a steak.

[Above: Team ZIP (Zinc, Iron and Protein) celebrates after running the Chicago Half Marathon]

May also happens to be my favorite month of the year. The weather is warming up, the days are getting longer, swimming pools will soon be opening...its time to shed the sweaters and lose that winter weight!

As it so happens May is also National Runners Month (at least according to Dick's Sporting Goods). Whether you are training to run your first 5K or just ran the Boston Marathon...just ran 202-miles from PA to DC or are strapping on your shoes for a walk around the block, its time to get moving!

[At left: Kansas Rancher Barb Downey runs the Boston Marathon for Team ZIP]

So where are you going to get the energy to get up and run in the morning or hit the streets after a long day at work? Physical activity requires fuel and nothing fuels physical activity like BEEF!

Beef provides ten essential nutrients like zinc, iron, protein and B-vitamins in every hunger satisfying bite. Zinc boosts your immune system (nothing cramps your training like a summer cold), iron helps your blood carry oxygen to your vital organs and muscles (pretty important during a long run), protein builds lean muscle (bring on the bikini!), and B-vitamins provide that much-needed energy.

[Above: The Nolz sisters prepare for their first half marathon]

It seems very fitting that National Beef Month and National Runners Month sync up in May!

[At left: Kim Molinaro runs the Boilermaker 15K with Team ZIP]

I mentioned National Beef Month on Facebook today and my wife came up up with a great idea. "Maybe you should have a 31-days of BEEF contest...I'll start...May 1 - Steak Jalisco; May 2 - grilled tri tip; May 3 - BEEF stroganoff..."

So then I posted a National Beef Month challenge. "May is Beef Month so I'm challenging my friends to see if you can out-beef Beef Man. Starting today, can you eat beef every day in the month of May? I won't count the first two days, although I've had beef every day so far (brisket and fajitas on Saturday, grilled tri-tip on Sunday). Tonight? Beef stroganoff, a la Leslie!"

So now I'm taking it one step further. Announcing the National BEEF RUNNERS Month Challenge! I'm going to eat beef and get some exercise every day in the month of May. And by Memorial Day weekend when the pools open I'll be ready to shed the shirt and hit the pool! Will you join me?

There are 29 days left in the month of May (counting today) and 29 lean cuts of beef. So whether you enjoy a lean tenderloin filet, lean ground beef or a T-bone steak (all lean cuts), you can enjoy a different lean beef cut every day!

[Above: Team ZIP members celebrate at the end of the Boileremaker 15K with BEEF and BEER!]

I am going to eat at least one 3 oz. serving of beef every day. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines call for 5.5 oz of lean protein every day. One 3 oz. serving of beef provides 51% of your daily protein, 38% of your zinc and 14% of the iron you need in less than 180 calories!

Whether you take a walk around the block, a hike or a bike ride, get out and move! I am going to get at least 30 minutes of heart-pumping exercise every day.

The best part of this challenge is that when you get some exercise you can enjoy lean beef knowing its fueling your physical activity. Of course you also need to get your servings of fruits and vegetables, low and non-fat dairy products, and whole grains -- all of which go great with BEEF!

If you are planning to join me for the National Beef Runners Month Challenge, please post a comment with your goals and keep me apprised of your progress. And join Team ZIP as we prepare for running, cycling and triathlon events throughout the summer.

Ride on!

Daren

Friday, April 30, 2010

Barb Does Boston: One Woman's Journey Back to Good Health

“I’m a Type B. Not a real ‘driven’ kind of person,” explained Barb Downey, wife, mother, and recent Boston Marathon finisher. Not driven? This is a woman who, after reaching age 40 (once considered “over-the-hill”) lost 130 lbs. (over half her weight), ran a marathon (her first organized race) and one-year later qualified for the Boston Marathon (by running 26.2 miles in under four hours – a pace of under 9:00/mile – in the Eisenhower Marathon in Abilene, Kansas).

[Above: Barb and her husband Joe head out to Ruth's Chris for a celebratory steak after the race. "I had an obnoxiously huge and delicious bone-in ribeye," said Barb. "Yes I wore the medal and yes, every other runner in the place had their's on!"]

And oh, by the way, when she’s not raising her children or training for the Boston Marathon she can be found preg-checking heifers, calving or control-burning pasture.

Barb is a 4th generation Kansas rancher. Her family settled in Wyoming in the 1800s and raised cattle but Barb didn’t grow up ranching but went to Kansas State University got a degree in Animal Science and started Downey Ranch with her dad in 1986.

[Above: Barb and her family visit the BEEF booth at the John Hancock Sports and Fitness Expo the day before the marathon].

I caught up with Barb this week to get a first-hand account of the Boston Marathon experience. Boston is, after all, the world’s most prestigious marathon. Thousands of runners come from all over the world – and Wabaunsee, Kansas – to run 26.2 miles through the streets of Boston.

“The day didn’t start off great,” said Barb. “My cab driver made me pour out the cup of coffee I had made in my hotel room. But when we arrived at the Athletes’ Village, thankfully they had coffee!”

Runners were transported to the Athlete’s Village in a caravan of school buses from Boston Commons.

“It was a festival atmosphere. A DJ was playing music and announcing the start of each wave (group of runners). There was an F15 flyover. It was total pandemonium, very cool.”

I signed up to follow Barb’s race via text messages, as did many friends and family members. The AT&T Athlete Alert was supposed to text updates at the 10K, half marathon and 30K marks but malfunctioned and didn’t send any updates until after the runner’s crossed the finish line.

When I got Barb’s time I immediately noticed something peculiar. After 10K (6.2 miles) she was averaging 9:55/mile. At the halfway mark (13.1 miles) she had picked up the pace and was averaging 9:41/mile. At 30K (18.6 miles) she was at 9:48/mile. But by the time she crossed the finish line her average had dropped to an average of 10:10/mile!

I’ve never run a full marathon but have heard about the infamous “wall” that many runners hit around mile 18. I asked Barb if this is what hit her.

“Actually my first mile was around 10:30. Slower than I had planned on starting but I was very conscious of not going out too fast. But then I settled into a steady pace. I really wasn’t paying too much attention to my time.”

[At left: Barb has a smile on her face...must have been early in the race!]

“This was working fine until mile 18 when we came to a short, steep hill. Suddenly I felt both of my quads start to cramp up. At that point I said a prayer and called on my supporters to give me strength.”

Barb’s best friends Debbie and Mary Anne had signed the inside of her Team ZIP (Zinc, Iron and Protein) jersey before the race. “You’re my hero,” wrote Debbie, a fellow rancher in the Kansas Flint Hills.

“After I got to the top of the hill – which was much worse than Heartbreak Hill in my opinion – I tried a job and felt OK so I settled back into a steady, but slower, pace.”

Barb finished in 4:26:45 (10:10/mile) – a time many runners would be more than happy with, especially in their THIRD marathon! Heck, I’d be happy to finish a marathon, which is a goal I have yet to achieve.

I know Barb’s goal was to finish in under four hours. Was she disappointed? I asked.

[At left: Barb crosses the finish line!]

“I cried for the second time ever…well, for the second time in my running career. It was joy. It was pride. It was a sense of accomplishment. It was the culmination of a four-year journey. The first time I cried was the first time I ran 10 miles. That’s when I knew I had changed the rest of my life.”

Disappointed? Of course not.

“I did something I never thought I would do, even when I was in great shape in high school, as a 46-year-old woman.”

Driven? You decide.

“But now I have to do it again and do it BETTER! My qualifier was a sub-4 which would be a nice Boston time. That means two more marathons (at least). Another qualifier and another Boston! Man, I'm going to need A LOT of BEEF!”

I’m a lot like Barb. I’m a Type B. My older brother is the Type A. Major success in business. Senior Partner at Deloitte. Best big brother a guy could ever hope for. But that’s not me. I was the kid called “lazy.” Every parent-teacher conference ended with “if only Daren would apply himself, work harder, he could be a straight A student.”

So what drives me and Barb and other “Type B” weekend warriors to set goals like riding to the top of the highest paved road in North America, running marathons, and tackling triathlons? Where was this motivation when we were the “underachievers” in our younger days? What can we do to motivate you to join us on this journey?

These are the questions I will attempt to answer in hopes of motivating you to join us in living a healthy, active lifestyle fueled by a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low and non-fat dairy products and lean protein (like BEEF!).

Ride on!

Daren