Monday, August 31, 2015

One Year. One Goal. One Hundred Miles. Leadville 2016.

Last weekend was the Leadville 100, a one hundred mile ultra-marathon in Leadville, Colorado. More than 600 runners began, and a little over 300 finished in under the 30 hour limit.   Next year I plan to be one of them.

I have been fascinated by the race for years.  I thought that I would be one of the 600 entrants last week, but the timing just wasn't right.  My last marathon was the Las Vegas Marathon last November.  It was my 23rd marathon in less than 3 years.  I, and my family, too, needed a break.

However, I have not been able to shake the Leadville bug.  The time off has really allowed me to consider why I want to do it so badly.   Running, and running a long distance, brings me inner peace and calm, and makes me happy.  But why must it be 100 miles?  Even I know that seems crazy.

The real reason to do something as ambitious as this, isn't so much to achieve the goal, but to become the type of person who could achieve the goal.  I know that in order to be one of the 300 or so finishers at Leadville, I will have to become the best version of myself that I have ever been.  Absolutely determined, disciplined, and focused.

One year.  One goal.  One hundred miles.  Leadville 2016!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Walnut Wednesdays

When I was little, my grandmother used to bake all kinds of treats.  However, I was always dismayed that she added walnuts to practically everything she baked.  Banana bread, fudge, you name it, she added walnuts to it.  I would pick the nuts out of whatever I was eating.  Like so many things, it turns out that grandmother really knew best.

Nuts are generally regarded as a good source of healthy fats.  It turns out that walnuts, in particular, really pack quite a nutritional punch.  Among other things, they are an excellent source of fiber,  unsaturated (healthy) fats, omega fatty acids, vitamins (B vitamins, folate, and thiamin) and minerals (manganese, copper, phosphorus, and magnesium).

It is known that walnuts can help lower LDL or "bad" cholesterol and can help increase HDL or "good" cholesterol.  The beneficial effects of walnuts extend beyond simply improving one's lipid profile.  A weekly serving of walnuts can help improve arterial function.  This may explain why a weekly serving of walnuts may lower one's chance of death from cardiovascular event by as much as 50%!

I never did develop a real love for the taste of walnuts (sorry, Grandma), but the benefits of eating walnuts have convinced me to eat one serving per week.  Let's call it "Walnut Wednesday."

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Cornhusker State Games Triathlon

This past weekend I competed in my first ever triathlon, the Cornhusker State Games Triathlon.  Overall, the event was fun and successful.

I started swimming in March and until very recently, I wasn't sure I could do the swim part of the race.  I was taking a "Master's" swim class and one day the coach asked if I had time to do a private lesson some day, because she was concerned that I would drown in open water!  Although I am not a strong swimmer at all, after ~8 weeks of swimming 3 days/week, I did become comfortable enough in the water that I was sure I could do the 500 yard swim the Tri required.  I did a couple of short open water lake swims the week before to acclimate to that setting and get over the "ick" factor of lake swimming.

The morning of the race came and my wife and I loaded our bikes and headed to Holmes Lake, where the race was held.  We were both nervous and excited.  My wife swam in high school and is a strong, efficient swimmer, but she had never done anything like this.  I donned my wetsuit, goggles, and swim cap and started in the 3rd wave.  I purposely positioned myself towards the back.  Thankfully, it was not crowded at all.  I started an easy free-style stroke, but soon my swim cap and goggles felt like they were falling off.  The water was pretty choppy and about 25 yards in I swallowed a big mouthful of lake water.  I never really recovered fully from this and settled into an easy stroke.  I have learned to do a decent back stroke to recover and settle myself down, and I relied heavily on this to complete the 500 yard distance.  I was satisfied that I didn't require assistance and never had to stop.  I was not the last one out of the water, but was pretty close.  My wife, who had easily finished in the top half of the women's wave, was waiting and cheering in the transition area.

I took a few minutes to get out of my wetsuit and get ready for the bike.  We left the transition area and embarked on a 20K ride, 3 times around the streets of Holmes Lake.  The highlight was seeing our kids on the side of the road, holding up their signs and cheering us on.  The 3 laps took us about 45 minutes and then we returned to the transition area to get ready for the run.  It was now getting pretty hot, and even though the swim and bike weren't long, the feeling of starting to run after swimming and biking is one that I haven't yet gotten used to.  We settled into an easy jog and completed the 5K course in under 30 minutes.  Our kids were waiting for us near the finish and because there were so few finishers this late in the race, I felt comfortable taking them for a jog across the finish line with us.  The race officials, while not super pleased I am sure, didn't say anything.

We celebrated our accomplishment at the finish line with snacks and chocolate milk.  Our finish time of ~1:40 was well in the back of the pack, but for a couple of first time triathletes, we were both pleased.  I was happy to prove my Master's coach wrong.  I didn't drown!

I actually came to really enjoy the cross training aspect of this.  For far too long, I have just run, to the exclusion of other activities.  This was a nice change of pace, although I have to admit, as I crawled out of the water, I found myself thinking, "I bet an Ultra-Marathon would be easier than this....."  Well, probably not.

CSG Pictures