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, March 20, 2012

Why I Eat Beef: Perspectives from a Meat Eater on Meatout Day

On the occasion of Meatout 2012, I thought I'd share my perspectives on why I eat meat, every day, mostly BEEF, as part of a healthful diet. Yes, that's right, I said I eat beef every day as part of a healthful diet. I will explain further in a moment. But first, in case you aren't familiar with Meatout, here is an explanation from their website (because I refuse to link to it):
"On (or around) March 20, thousands of caring people in all 50 U.S. states and two dozen other countries encourage their friends, families, and communities to 'kick the meat habit'  and explore a wholesome, compassionate diet of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains."
I find it interesting that the focus of this statement is on a "wholesome diet" when the organization behind Meatout is not a group of dietitians, doctors or health experts of any kind. Meatout is orchestrated by the Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM), a 501(c)(3) national nonprofit organization "working to end the use of animals for food."

I think this is important to note because most anti-meat campaigns like Meatout and Meatless Monday have their roots in animal rights activism. So, for the record, I believe it is OK to raise animals to produce food. I also believe every animal raised for food should be treated properly throughout their life and the people I work for in the beef community believe the same.

Now, back to why I eat meat...

Beef provides 10 percent of 10 essential nutrients
for less than 10 percent of your daily calories.
I eat meat every day, mostly beef, because I know beef is a nutrient powerhouse that helps me “protein up” to provide the fuel to finish my everyday workouts, Ironman 70.3 triathlons and multi-day events like Ride the Rockies. In a study  on the effects of protein consumption on the muscle hypertropy during exercise, individuals who ate protein within an hour of exercise achieved more lean body mass than those who just ate protein in the morning and evening. Individuals also lost more fat when eating protein closer to the time of exercise. (Cribb, PJ and Hayes, A., Med Sci Sports Exerc, 38(11):1918-25, 2006.)

I eat beef because it provides the fuel my body needs to be physically active. Beef is a good or excellent source of 10 essential nutrients like zinc, iron, protein and B vitamins. Just remember the 10/10/10 rule. Beef provides more than 10 percent of 10 essential nutrients for less than 10 percent of your daily calories.

A Peanut Butter Power Bar provides less
than half the protein and more than twice
the calories than a 3 oz. serving of lean beef.
I even eat beef for weight maintenance during the winter months (at age 47 I find it harder and harder to avoid winter weight gain), I know that lean beef is a great source of high-quality protein in a low calorie, nutrient-rich package. On average, a 3-ounce serving of lean beef provides 154 calories and nearly 50 percent of the Daily Value for protein (25 grams). That's a lot less than peanut butter, black beans or other plant based protein sources, especially protein bars (a PowerBar Peanut Butter packs 240 calories for only 9 grams of protein!).

Finally, I eat beef because I know the latest research shows that eating lean beef as part of a heart healthy diet, every day, helps lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.

And that, my friends, is why I eat BEEF every day (even on Mondays)!

Ride on!


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Ride the Rockies 2012 Training -- Week Two (Riding with Big Troy)

Week two of my Ride the Rockies 2012 training began and ended on rides with my buddy Troy. There's just something about riding with Troy that always pushed me to a new level. Troy said the same thing when we were riding today. It seems like we always end up racing to the top of a ridge or seeing who can set the fastest pace pulling on the straightaways. To say we are both competitive might be an understatement!

Big Troy at the southernmost point of our ride, Palmer Lake, Colorado.
Troy is a big, strong rider. The two of us must be a sight on the road. He stands 6'6" and I'm 6"4". Our bikes are about as tall as you can buy without having one custom built. Heading south on Hwy 105 into a headwind towards Palmer Lake, Colorado, he makes a great wind block. But when we came cruising back down Spruce Meadows Road with a tailwind into Larkspur, we were flying along at 35-40 mph.
We rode past Spruce Mountain Ranch on our 54-mile ride today.
There's nothing much more rewarding than riding with the wind after two hours of pushing against it, which is why I always try to start into the wind. But even as we headed north towards home I found myself having to push hard to hang with Big Troy.

I was hurtin' for certain by the time we rolled back into Castle Rock. My legs ached for about an hour after the ride, even after breaking out the rolling pin to roll the lactic acid out of my quads.

I enjoy riding alone. Its a great way to get lost in thought and relax. But riding with a rider who is as storng or stronger than you is an important part of training. The route we rode today featured 2,136 ft. of elevation gain over 53.93 miles. I averaged 16 mph, about one mile per hour faster than I normally ride. But I didn't need my Garmin Edge bike computer to tell me that. I can feel it.

Ride on!


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Ride the Rockies 2012 Training -- Week One

It's been just over a week since we learned we were selected in the lottery for Ride the Rockies 2012. In those nine days I have ridden a total of 135 miles, 125 of those on the road! That has been an unexpected treat as we have been enjoying spring-like weather in Castle Rock a little earlier than normal. Typically, March is Denver's snowiest month, averaging 11.7 inches of snow.

My goal is to ride 100 miles per week in March, either on the road or my Cyclops Fluid2 trainer. Its a lot easier to get the miles in on the road and, as my buddy Troy observed on our ride today, "There's nothing like riding on the road to train for riding on the road." I totally agree but indoor training is a must during the winter in Colorado. And the Fluid2 helps me practice on spinning a perfect circle, which is probably the number one thing I need to work on to improve endurance and get faster.

But there is nothing like riding on the road and climbing the hills around my home in Castle Rock for pure pain and enjoyment! Those 125 miles on the road consisted of three rides: 42 on Sunday the 4th, 48 yesterday and 35 today (Sunday the 11th). The total elevation gain: 5,699 feet; Calories burned: 8,076 (according to my Garmin Edge cycling computer).

I have the good fortune of living along Hwy 105 which runs for 33 miles along the front range of the Rockies between Sedalia and the Black Forest. The views are amazing and their are plenty of good climbs to simulate the grueling mountain passes we will tackle in June. The roads around my these are range from 6,000-8,000 ft. above sea level.

I now live at 6,400 ft. However, the first two years I trained for Ride the Rockies (2005-06) I was living in Kansas City at 1,000 ft above sea level. So how did I simulate the hills? Well, first of all Eastern Kansas is NOT flat. We may not have the sustained climbs of a mountain pass but we have hills, lots of them. Second, I really think the key to finishing every mile of Ride the Rockies is to get in as good shape as you can, not matter where you live, and stay hydrate during the ride (more on that later).

The other key is to fuel your body properly. As you may have guessed, my fuel of choice is beef. Of course, man cannot live on beef alone (although I come pretty close). They key is to enjoy a wide variety of foods to get all the nutrients your body needs to sustain and recover from long workouts. Lean beef provides the power athletes need with nutrients like protein to build muscle, iron for healthy red blood cells (which transport oxygen from your lungs to your vital organs and muscles, pretty important at the summit of Independence Pass!), and B vitamins for energy.
Threw these ribeyes on the grill last night to fuel my ride today (no, I didn't eat BOTH of them!)

Of course, one of the reasons I do things like Ride the Rockies is so I can enjoy the foods I love, like ribeye steak, red wine and chocolate! It just doesn't get any better than that after a long ride and a nap on the couch, which I am fixin' to do right now!

Ride on!


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Ride the Rockies 2012 Will Be Another Epic Adventure

I woke yesterday suddenly, the way you do when your eyes pop open and your brain is fully awake with a thought. Mine was, "Today is the day we find out if we were selected in the Ride the Rockies lottery!" I immediately jumped up and checked my e-mail. Nothing yet, but it was still early in the day.

I had no idea when to expect the e-mail so I checked throughout the day getting more anxious as the hours went by. But then my friend Al, who I met on my first Ride the Rockies in 2005, posted a link to the Ride the Rockies Roster on my Facebook page saying, "I see your name on the acceptance list. You're going." So of course I clicked the link and there it was:

Then the adrenaline rush hit. I was so pumped I couldn't focus on anything else. I'm in! After doing RTR for five straight years, from 2005 to 2009, I took two years off but I am back and Ready to Rock in 2012.

I remember finding out the news in a very different way back in 2005. I lived in KC at the time and my friend Dave, a former neighbor who had moved to Colorado, called and said, "I'm registering for Ride the Rockies. Are you in?" "I'm in," I said, giving it little thought. I really didn't think about it at all until I received a big envelope in the mail a month later. "Congratulations!" I read, and that's as far as I got before I thought, "Oh my (or similar exclamation), what have I gotten myself into?!"

Dave and I leaving his house for the starting line of Ride the Rockies

RTR 05 after crossing Grand Mesa
(in the background)
That first year was an amazing experience. As I told the Denver Post after the Day 2 climb to the top of Grand Mesa, "This is the toughest thing I have ever done." It was brutal: 91 miles and 6,000 feet of vertical gain in 90 degree weather. One-fourth of the 2,000 riders failed to complete the climb that day. But I made it to the top and finished all 405 miles of the ride that year.

Crossing the finish line in Breckenridge, after tackling Monarch Pass (11,312 ft.), experiencing Salida for the first time (and ending up in the ER in Leadville the next day with "altitude sickness"), and finally crossing over Fremont Pass (11,318 ft.) into Summit County, was the greatest feeling of accomplishment up to that point in my life. Even after finishing five RTRs, three Ironman 70.3 triathlons and riding to the top of the highest paved road in North America to the summit of Mt. Evans (14,240 ft.), it still ranks right up there in the top five.

I look forward to crossing the finish line in Ft. Collins on June 15. But this year I want to enjoy the ride to the fullest extent possible. My goal is to be in the best cycling shape of my life by June 9 so starting today I am kicking it up a notch, doubling my usual time on my Cyclops Fluid 2 indoor trainer to one hour. Hopefully I'll be able to get back out on the road soon and start logging some serious miles in the saddle. My goal is to ride 1,500 miles in the next 14 weeks. That's awfully hard to do riding inside my house going nowhere!

Ride on...