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!

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!


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!


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!


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!