Sunday, January 27, 2008

Runnin' with the Kenyans

On this beautiful Sunday morning close to 5,000 runners gathered in north Austin for the point-to-point start of the 3M Half Marathon. Having done my first threshold interval session of the season just this past Wednesday with my buddy Pat, I was not quite sure how the legs would respond to a hard 13 mile effort. Awaking at 5:00 am I was excited to get a snap shot of my run fitness as it would provide good insight as to what areas I need to foucs for my upcoming IMAZ prep. Several of my friends would be running and the weather was mild enough to make a go at it with no extra layers. After a decent warm-up I made sure to position myself at the front as this has been a mistake I have made in the past with a slow start. My mind was ready for the suffering and I was ready to roll in my Spira Stingers, Team Sport Beans/NTTC lime green Coolmax tee and Jelly Belly visor. Looking around pre the gun I noticed several Kenyans who were part of Spira's elite running team. It was cool to see each of us sporting our black and yellow kicks. My goal time for the race was sub 1:10, but more importantly I wanted to run hard enough at the start to put myself in a good position. The horn sounded and we were off. A fast group quickly formed at the front as I found myself in a small chase pack. I knew it was going to hurt, but I had to drop back as I could not sustain the pace of these guys. Through the first 5K I ran 15:47...can I hold this pace?? As the race progressed I found some rhythm and settled in a bit. The first part of the course was mostly flat as it twisted through the north Austin neighborhoods. One of my goals was to make tactical decisions as needed. Shortly after the halfway mark, one of the professional men came up on my shoulder and we stayed together for about a mile. He was able to gap me on a downhill going into a turn and I thought, "Okay, time to be tactcial and respond." I shifted my focus to a quicker cadence and over the next couple of miles I noticed I was bridging the gap. By about the 9.5 mile marker I had successfully caught and dropped him. I knew there was a group working hard behind me and continued to press the pace. Approaching a set of small rollers my legs really began to feel the effects as my pace slowed. By the 10 mile mark I was beginning to hear what I already suspected: the lead professional women. I soon found myself running shoulder to shoulder between two Kenyans, both of whom are Spira sponsored athletes. We worked hard as a group of three with one or two just behind us as our Stingers danced along the road. Even though I was running stride for stride with some strong runners my ego flared up a bit as I thought, "Oh no, I don't want to get chicked." I made a little surge and brought one of the ladies with me, Jacquline Nyetipe. We stayed together over the final two miles and she was kind enough to apologize for bumping me on a turn. As we approached the finish line I backed down a bit so she could enjoy a "clean" finish. All said and done I was pleased with my effort of 1:09:40.

The crowd support was great and the race featured quite a bit of entertainment to keep us moving. It has given both me and Zane a good idea of my strengths and weaknesses with respect to my run at the moment.

Keep it smooth...

Friday, January 18, 2008

Bomb Run

For years I have heard about the famed "Bomb Run" in Austin headed up by running icon Gilbert Tuhabonye. It is a weekly run featuring some of Austin's top runners and triathletes. The distance and terrain vary from week to week and today's run was a 10 miler over paved roads and portions of Town Lake Trail. With the rain and cold temps only six of us gathered for the 6:00 am start. I can understand the need to get this run rolling as the summer months bring heat & humidity, but why such an early start in the darkness of a January morning!?! My goal was to be patient, wise and leave my ego in bed. Upon meeting Gilbert and the group at RunTex in downtown Austin I knew I was in good company. My buddy and fellow triathlete Pat Evoe was in attendance along with four other capable runners. Gilbert has a humorous nature about him as he proceeded to tell me he would be toeing the line at IM Arizona with a goal time of 8:45 or 9:00 as it was an early season race. He has an incredible story, so be sure to check out his website.

We made our way into the quiet early morning darkness with good chatter at a comfortable 7:30ish pace. This was a great way to warm the body in anticpation of the "bomb" to come later. Our pace gradually increased to 6:45-6:15 through mile 5. Gilbert advised us to "drop the bomb" over the final 4-5 miles. Not knowing exactly where we were I was content to sit on the heels of Pat and two other guys. At the 6 mile mark, one guy proceeded to go off the front while our pace made a significant change. Said "bomb" was being dropped. The lead runner was 100-150 meters in front as I decided to up my effort and keep him within that distance. I figured I would really have to find another gear to bridge up to him and I suspect at the time we were clipping off 5:40-5:45 miles. The final two miles continued with me in that position and it was a good indication my run fitness is coming around. All said and done, it was a great run and excellent way to get in a solid 10 miler when most folks were just diving into a cup of coffee. I think I will now dive into bed for a nap!

Keep it smooth...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Swimming Under the Lights

Thought I'd drop a brief note from Austin. Weather was beautiful on my Monday arrival and decent yesterday. It's great to be able to train sans all the extra layers with the mild temps. I had a sweet set of hill repeats yesterday up Mt. Bonnell and a swim at Old Stacey outdoor pool in the early evening. It was cool swimming under their lights in the 33 and change yard pool. This morning was 6:30 am masters at UT which is always a treat to swim in their facility. A bit of downtime before getting in a nice run and ride. Terra and Zane are such great friends and a pleasure to hang with.

Thanks for checking in & keep it smooth...

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Winter Riding Part II

Awaking to a vast blue sky with plenty of sunshine and what seemed to be calm winds I decided it would be a splendid day to ride OUTSIDE! After a leisurely breakfast I walked over to the gym to get in my preventive PT exercises. This would allow the mercury to creep into the upper 30s. I opted for the full booties and it was a good choice with the winds a tad stronger than what my protected balcony view revealed. Riding out of town along the rolling hills of 36 I was surprised to not see more cyclists out on the road. Did they all get out before me or were they warming themselves at Amante? Despite the steady headwind I enjoyed the solitude of this brisk winter morning. I kept thinking "Oh man it will be sweet to get a tailwind once I make my turn away from the mountains." Upon making said turn I found yet another headwind. Niiiice.

As I pack for my training camp in Austin I reluctantly include the cold weather crap as history tells me I might just need the extra warmth. I'm hoping to keep it all buried in my Rudy Project roller bag for the duration of my visit. Coach Zane tells me the fellas are already talking smack. Can't wait to get in the mix.

Keep it smooth...

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Winter Riding

Sitting in a meeting this morning I was thinking how great it would be to ride OUTSIDE later in the day. After lunch I dusted off my trusty road bike and donned the appropriate gear for the comfortable 40 degree weather. Pshh...not too long into my ride a few flakes began to fall as the snow clouds rolled down from the mountains. I soon found myself riding in the midst of a snow squall. Sweet! I can't decide what hurts more on the face: rain, hail or driving snow. It felt like tiny needles against my cheeks. Needless to say it took a mug of hot chocolate and soak in the hot tub to get back the warmth. Well at least I should not have to contend with this next week down in Austin!

DITCH FITCH! That's my thought as I read an article detailing A&F's newest t-shirt slogans for kids, "Make love, not babies" and "Awkward mornings beat boring nights". I'm no fuddy-duddy but I do believe this sends an unhealthy message to young people. Not surprising though as A&F is known for its controversial ad campaigns.

Keep it smooth...

Monday, January 07, 2008

Research v Reality

Most of my friends know outside of triathlon I visit various schools and church youth groups promoting the message of abstinence. I am currently the only approved abstinence presenter for the Boulder Valley School District. This afternoon I was in the gym and my friend Joanna asked my thoughts about a front-page article in Boulder's Sunday paper revealing the State of Colorado has declined federal funding for any abstinence-only education. She was curious as to my take on this. The article in our Daily Camera referenced a study indicating the ineffectiveness of abstinence-only education. While I find research and statistics to be of value, they can easily be manipulated for a specific agenda. While some stand firm abstinence-only education does not work based upon a particular study, there are others who will argue it does waving the results of a different study in their hands. As a former director of a crisis pregnancy center, a middle school & high school coach and teacher and someone who has interacted with teens across the country from my speaking this much I know: Today's young people deserve a better kind of love than Jerry Springer has to offer.

Our teens and young adults are the ones most impacted by those making public policy and if you were to ask a middle or high school student what message they prefer you might just be surprised. I believe abstinence is the healthiest option as it offers protection for the complete person: physically, emotionally and socially. If comprehensive health education is going to be taught, as it is within the Boulder Valley School District, all components should be addressed equally. Abstinence eduation should be presented along with contracepion. Unfortunately, many "comprehensive" health education models are left to the discretion of the individual teacher and it is quite likely abstinence is not given due discussion.

Interestingly, over the past several years the Center for Disease Control has changed its language on their website and what was once called "safe sex" is now referred to as "safer sex". This comes on the heels of an abundance of research on the effectiveness of condoms. I am not going to throw out a bunch of stats or reference any studies. I simply know there is no condom, jam, jelly, pill, plug or drug to protect a young person's heart. We live in a sex-saturated society that is constantly hitting our teens over their heads with a sexual sledge hammer. While some argue kids are simply going to "do it" (as evidenced by the Portland Maine school board's recent decision to provide contraception to middle school kids as young as 11 without parental consent/notification) I believe our young people have the ability and skills to practice abstinence. They do have more self-control than the family pet, don't they? I do not tell kids to repress their sexuality and bury it into the ground. It is a gift which should be guarded, treasured and protected. Ultimately, parents are the primary educators and I often encourage them to keep up on current trends, especially with STIs (also known as STDs; seems as it is more politically correct to reference STIs) as we are in the midst of an epidemic. It's a different game being played today than perhaps when you were in school with over 25 different sexually transmitted diseases. Many of these, like HPV, have multiple strains. If I had a young daughter or son I'd be damn open with my discussion on sex. Too much damange can be done if simply left to MTV or an over-burdened teacher to be the main source of information.

Abstinence education is not about squashing a person's sexuality, but rather preserving it for the future.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Warm & Windy

After several weeks of cold weather and snow, we had a brief reprieve the last couple of days with temps reaching into the mid to upper 50s. Of course, there was plenty of wind with that warm weather (yesterday gusting 35-40mph) and I opted to continue the love affair with my CompuTrainer despite the warmer temps. My body is responding well to the extended base phase and strength training, although the early season race schedule is still pending. I am looking forward to my annual pilgrimage to Austin for a couple of weeks leaving on 1/14. They have been having some stellar weather and I'm hoping it holds through the end of January. It will be great to train with the crew in Austin and spend time with Coach Z and Terra. As I glance out the window it is once again snowing...just in time for outdoor swim practice!

May 2008 bring you good health & happiness!

Keep it smooth...