Saturday, April 28, 2012

Running - Hills

I read this in another blog and thought I would share it.  It is an interesting idea and it makes a lot of sense.  Anyway, enjoy:
Hills are an interesting challenge.  We know we have the strength and the experience to get through the climb, so it isn't a physical thing as much as it is mental.  Looking at something hard looming ahead is a daunting exercise in any arena, running or not.  I have friends and acquaintances right now who are looking at hills: a move with their family, a cancer diagnosis, an ADD diagnosis, a child with an incurable disease, a job change, a divorce, adjusting to a new baby, longing for a new baby and not having one, and many others.  The incline ahead is steep and unyielding.  So how do we prepare?  Running hills gives us some clues.  First, we relax - which is hard to do but essential.  We cannot make any assessments in a state of panic.  Then we remin ourselves and each other that we have strength for climbing.  Then we breathe; ideally, we breath deeply.  Then we begin.  We lift our legs and pump our arms and go at our own pace.  This is incredibly important.  It's so easy to lose heart on a hill when we compare ourselves to those around us.  We waste energy by taking our focus off the goal, which is of course going through the finish, not to it.  Some people attack a hill; others run steady.  Some have a mantra; others need a clear head.  It's good to know what kind of climber you are-the middle of a hill is not a good time to mess with definitions or change tactics.  When we practice enough by running hills, we develop our own rhythms and strategies.  The same with life's hills: The smaller ones make us fit for the biggies, and we can maintain our same rhythm.  The more we practice, the fitter we become and the less we fear. ~ Kristin Armstrong
Hills are always an interesting challenge, I agree.  I was always told to lift your legs higher, and do a sprint up the hill to maintain momentum after you hit the crest.  It seems to work well in my past experiences.  Most of the time (not always!) after a upward hill, there is a down hill slope.  During which you can open up your stride and not use as much energy. I do plan on trying the mental plan that Armstrong above wrote.  It seems like it would do nothing but help with other parts of your life.

Anyone else have ideas, motivation, cool stories, etc... about running hills?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

5k - Race for the Place

Hi, its me again.  In my last post I talked a little bit about my race that I ran.  From reader feedback (that's you!) it was suggested that I cover a play-by-play for it.  So here goes nothin`...

Race for the place is a 5K race for a domestic violence shelter that is on MSU's campus.  The race also takes place on campus.  If you have ever been to MSU, you will know the campus is huge and it has the Red Ceder river running through it.

Preparation Meal
The night before I had a big ass thing of pasta, it was amazing.  The morning of I had oatmeal, toast, and scrambled egg whites.

They had a nice setup in the Jenison Field house, a bunch of people with signup information, maps, and someone with a microphone that should never have a microphone (isn't that always the case?).  Anyway, they had group stretching before, and the promise of food after, mmmm, food.  About 15 minutes before we made our way to the start where I ran into a fellow coworker.  We chatted it up for a bit, but then we got the 5 minute warning.  Game face, ON!

The Start
Starting line behind people.  Are the slower, faster, no one knows...
I felt the start could have been better.  The announcer was okay, but he did say, "if you run a 6 minute mile come to the front, otherwise go to the back".  Really?!?  Normally they have signs that say "6 minute mile", "7 minute mile" etc...  Even though our timer didn't start until we crossed the line, I still felt I was running over people for the first 1/2 mile.  Part of me also liked this approach as I felt like a Formula one drive cutting through 5 o'clock traffic.

First Mile
The first mile consisted of ducking through traffic and trying not to trample the walkers.  After about the first 1/2 mile things slowed, but lots of overtake maneuvers continued.  We ran out to Grand River, then started up, what I thought, was a never ending incline.  The first mile ended along the Red Ceder.  After the first mile (which I ran in 8 minutes, 35 seconds) I felt I was going to fast, but the timer tricked me.  The timer on the board clocked when they fired the gun, not when we actually started, so I felt I was going really slow, and I was tired.  This was frustrating at the time, but looking back on it, it helped me in the end.  I trucked on, wanting to start walking, but continuing in full stride.

Mile Number Two
The second mile was a long stint along the Red Ceder river, very beautiful time of year for it as well.  We went from where ever we were to Hagadorn (all the way across campus).  Finally I hit the 2 mile mark where such promised water from the announcer was presented. There was a nice group of old ladies at the 2 mile mark that were handing out water cups.  I ran straight at them and said, "oh god thank you". The lady was trying not to giggle at me, and said, "keep it up, 1.1 more to go."  1/2 the cup was in my mouth, the other on my face.  Felt amazing.  I really thought I was a goner, but that little bit of water made all the difference.  Amazing!  So, if you do ever setup a water station, best advice, setup a couple trash cans a couple 100 meters away.  People were just throwing the cups down after they were done.  I did the nice thing and put the paper cup in my pocket, but it is something that could totally be avoided.

The Last One plus point one
Coming up on mile #3 I got really excited.  I could hear the people cheering in the background, and I though, I'm close.  I kicked it up a couple notches, thinking I should only have .1 miles left.  I was ... wrong. The finish line was in site, but what I didn't realize is that I had to run around Munn Ice Arena and then hit the finish line on my way back.  I was like, what wait, why?  I carried on, slowed a little, almost walked, but continued to run.  Once I saw the finish line in my path, I stepped it up a notch or 2.  Passed a couple more people and finished.  While walking through the finish line I was greeted with 2 choices: Chocolate Milk or water.  I looked at the milk guy and thought "milk is a bad choice", and went for the water.  The time was 25:27!!  Not bad for not running a 5k in 10 years!.

I sat and cheered on my wife as she finished.  We went inside to find a great assortment of food.  I finished 10th in my age group, which isn't to bad for little old me :) (i know i'm not old, but i feel it sometimes).

After Effects
I decided to take 1 week off of working out since I felt my knee was still having issues.  I think I just have runners knee, but its annoying.  It seemed to just flare up recently.  I'm hoping eventually it will go away.

Overall it was a great experience and I am looking forward to the 3 other ones that I'm doing this year.  Lastly I leave you with this:

My wife showed me this, I lol'd.  ENJOY!

Monday, April 23, 2012

TV vs. Alternatives.....GO!

There are people that live/eat/breath there whole lives around TV.  That is crazy people!  I do love a good episode of Supernatural, X-Files, Family Guy just like the rest but you have to find a balance.  This goes double for you computer folk (myself included) that stare at a computer screen all day.  We have to learn to enjoy the other things like: a nice bike ride, running, playing with your children (where applicable), volunteering at your local animal shelter, joining a social group, yoga, meditation, church, bowling, fishing, driving (fast on the tracks), having coffee w/ friends, etc....  There are so many other things to do (even in the cold northern winters) than watch TV.  Go do them before you can't get up because you are to old.  Anyway, sorry for the rant, but I see too many people with major health issues that don't take care of themselves and it gets to me sometimes.  I want to help them, but wise man/woman once said; "you can't control people, places, or things".  What you can do is write in your blog about it, so that's what I'm doing.  Anyway, enough about that, on with the show...

I have been on a Netflix documentary kick lately and I stumbled upon a couple good ones that made me do a double take on my life habits.

First up, Food Inc.  

I must warn you, if you have a weak stomach, or you love McDonalds, I would hesitate on watching this.  It shows how horrible the meat industry is and how bad it is for you.  It is a very well done documentary and is very pro-vegetarian.  They target a couple key corporations that really only care about money and not the common wealth.  No wonder American's are so fat :)  After watching it I question why anyone would ever want to eat at these places.  I eat there as a last resort.  Overall I give it a 4 out of 5.

And now, Forks over Knives.

This documentary is great.  They don't only bash on the meat industry like the above one, but they also demonstrate how the alternative is SOOOO much better for you.  These people are definitively extremists but they have a lot of great advice.  I'm not saying everyone should move to be a vegetarian, what I am saying is being a vegetarian is better for you, and this is the scientific proof that says so.   This show is really good because they focus more on the positives than the negatives that are obvious.  Overall I give this one a 5 out of 5.

So.... what is next?

I would first like to document that if I were a pizza, I would be a meat lovers.  I love meat, bacon, chicken, pulled beef sammiches. You name it, I like it.  For a couple reasons (not only these documentaries) I want to be more healthy, and these shows kind of gave me the fuel I have been looking for.

I have decided to try to avoid red meat, not remove it from my diet, just avoid it when possible.  I have been doing this for about a month or so and I must say that I feel healthier.  My workouts that I do last longer, I have more energy throughout the day, and I don't have as many... stomach issues.  I've also tried to eat less dairy products, and make better choices when I go out to dinner.  Going out to dinner it tough sometimes but the benefits are so worth the sacrifice.  Working out has really helped out a lot as well.  I go to the gym or go running/biking at least 3 times per week which is big for me.   I'll let you know how this goes, but so far, so good.

Once upon a time I was a runner, a pretty good runner at that.  This past new years eve I decided that my goal this year is to run 4 5k's.  Last weekend I ran the first one.  It felt good to actually get out and enjoy the day, and I helped a cause.  I felt good to be part of the community.

Anyone with/against me on this?

I'm curious about your thoughts on the topic, please post comments!

Blog update

If you haven't noticed I have exhausted all things anti-cable so I'm going to be expanding the scope of this blog to include alternatives to TV in general.