Thursday, August 27, 2015

And Greater Success...

As my daughter goes off to begin her freshman year at Hope College, she is the last of my children to go. I began this blog just after she had gone off to the MHSAA's State Cross Country meet her freshman year in high school. I had the goal of doing an Ironman in mind which I eventually did. I've now left teaching after 21 happy years and I'm no longer coaching Cross Country either. Much has changed in my life since I began this blog. But as I reflect on what kinds of success there are out there, I count my daughter's college entrance essay as greater than even completing Madison in 2013. I'll let my daughter's words be the final entry for this blog.

Katherine Helder
Advanced Composition
1st Hour
Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.
"26.2. These running stickers are displayed everywhere. Most people know what they mean, but they don’t actually know what they mean. My fourteen-year-old legs, however, learned one unforgettable day.
     I remember the moment when my dad told me about himself crossing the finish line of his first marathon his sophomore year of high school. He left me with that thought after he tucked me in one night many years ago. My mind was blown at that point, but not enough to stop me from dreaming my first dream of a marathon freshmen year of high school. This was just a spark of my competitive side.
    The emotions of actually running a marathon had not set in when I signed up for the race. They did not set in many months after signing up. How could I be nervous for something that was so unknown? Though the moment they did finally set in could not be more clear: lunch time, a couple weeks before the race.
    One day, at school, I decided to sit at the senior table with some friends, which was nothing out of the ordinary. Most of us were on the cross country team. Being the youngest, a freshman, I really looked up to those girls. Soon the topic of my marathon came up. The words still play back through my head. If the captain of the basketball and soccer team doubts me, how could I not doubt myself? In that moment, the emotions hit me.
    “Never again, never again” were the words in my head the last half of the race, promoted by the pain shooting up through my feet.

Dad stayed by my side though, beaming as he was actually living the day his own daughter joined him in his passion. He talked me through the toughest moments, one being the thirteenth mile mark. A thirteen-mile race was all I had ever achieved up until that point. I persevered with my dreams, reputation, prayers, but mainly my dad, in mind. After over five hours of mental drive, the finish line came around the corner. There I exerted all I had left, which was not much, but enough. The medal was then placed around my neck as I struggled to stand; followed by the hug and support from two of my best friends. I had conquered negative words, my dream, and a marathon.

I have yet to experience a better moment than being medaled after the race. The feelings are inexpicable and something I will never be able to relive. The marathon achievement is not what makes that medal so great, though. It is the many worthwhile things that seeing the medal will remind me of. I conquered self-doubt, and had growth of mind. But the most important thing to me is the hours that make up memories between my dad and me. It is a bond that will last a lifetime. Those bonds are what we are to treasure; not the accomplishments, but the relationships formed along the way. Because someday I may no longer be able to run, but the relationships and memories are something that can never be taken or replaced."

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


In Fall 2013, When I got back to my classroom at Everett High School, I was a little wilted on the Monday following Madison. So I explained to my students why I was mostly not moving much that day, since usually I do move around the classroom quite a bit. One of my students that year, Juan Ramirez, did a little feature story on me in the Viking Voice, Everett's school newspaper. I was quite flattered by both Juan's interest and my friend Chad Sanders' (Journalism teacher extraordinaire) Photoshop interpretation of my first 140.6 event.

You can read the specifics of the race by clicking on the article.  Of course, although I didn't do much of the actual Ironman itself with Kurt (minor exception being a few miles of the marathon leg, where we were both Ummm... walking, although it was his second 13 miles and my first 13 miles...) it was a heck of a way to turn 50. I'd recommend doing an Ironman to anyone who enjoys the experience of attempting something rather difficult to see what you're made of.
Me and Kurt (right) about to get into Lake Monona for the 2.4 mile swim leg
It was late, and everyone was sleeping but, my daughter Katie made me feel like a conquering hero upon return to Michigan with this cool sign greeting me on the garage door!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

“The idea that thirst comes too late is a marketing ploy of the sports-drink industry," says Tim Noakes, M.D., professor of sport and exercise science at University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Pretty important book here, especially for me as a coach. I just got my copy of Dr. Tim Noakes newest book and it is an eye-opener. I'll let Dr. Noakes summarize his conclusions which in no way should dissuade you from buying a copy of the book for yourself.

from p.353: Summary
In this book I have described my odyssey of three decades that began when I received Eleanor Sadler's letter in June 1981. During this journey I have learned how science is meant to work and conversely how it often does - a quite different reality. This has been a bitter lesson.
     Over this period of 30 years I did, however, learn the real science of hydration:
• Your body will tell you what it needs, if you just listen.
• So drink only ad libitum - that is, according to the dictates of thirst.
• Dehydration is not a disease. Nor does dehydration contribute in any way to any illnesses associated with prolonged exercise like road, marathon, and ultramarathon running races and triathlons.
• If you are carbohydrate adapted, to optimize your performance during more prolonged competitive exercise, you will need to ingest some carbohydrate or perhaps preferably a favorite food.
• There is no need to increase your habitual daily sodium intake above that dictated by your appetite.
• There is no need to ingest additional sodium during exercise.
• Understand that much of what you believe about your personal well-being is the result of targeted manipulations by industries whose principal focus is their commerical fitness and not necessarily your health or safety.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Dawkin's Neologism meets Gene Wilder...

 The first time I saw the Condescending Wonka meme it was the Northface one that one of my kids left on the desktop of my computer. I thought it was extremely funny. So I had to make one of my own:
Then the thought occurred to me...are there Triathlon meme's out there too? Why yes there are! One that applied to me in fact, talking about runners turning to triathlon. And of course, I don't have much good advice on swimming except to say Aqua Sphere goggles are great! I remember loving the 1971 film Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. I still can't decide if I would like the chocolate river or the the Fizzy Lifting Drinks more...or maybe the wallpaper you can lick... wait no that would be really impractical and gross. So to be quite clear, Richard Dawkins' publication five years later of The Selfish Gene in 1976 escaped my attention (I was in sixth grade). In that book he coined the term "meme" which I find today to be both annoying and fun. Annoying because I associate that particular concept with philosophers like Lacan or Baudrillard and semiotics not a biologist like Dawkins but, fun because of this silly sarcastic Gene Wilder pomo mashup. 
So in the words of Wonka himself: "Good Day Sir!"

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Olympics 2012: opening ceremony

"Pretty sure @AnnCurry knows who Tim Berners-Lee is" tweets Reuter's columnist Anthony De Rosa
'Nuff said.
background in case you missed it: 
During NBC's opening ceremony coverage, Meredith Vieira voiced words that are likely to haunt her for years to come, bringing on a barrage of heckling tweets within the online community. (Photo: Reuters / Brendan McDermid)
"Dear @NBC, Timothy Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web that hastened your network's irrelevance," tweeted one.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

"Stride Rate X Stride Length = Speed"

Often I will noodle around on the Web before I do a blog entry for a variety of reasons. This morning I was thinking about yesterday's marathon clinic and the workout that we did. We did something called bounding. I think I may have heard of it before in the context of running but I have never done it as an aid to training...and like so many things we do at the clinic, it would probably never have occurred to me either. Owen laid out seven or eight sticks on the ground several feet apart, kind of like a ladder and we hopped through them first on one leg and then the other. After that we used both our legs and ran (bounded) through them all in an effort to increase stride length. Prior to this we were working on cadence. Owen used a digital metronome and we ran in place at 180 beats per minute (BPM) and then up to 200 BPM and back down to 180. Owen also talks about soft knees in promoting good running form. All very interesting to me and new. So to get to my point, I googled bounding and began reading a remarkably good article that mirrored last evening's workout on the Peak Performance web site. Well surprisingly (or maybe not actually) it was written by Owen. I hope it makes you think and gives you something new to try, to keep training fresh. And of course, to repeat Owen's mantra: Stride Rate X Stride Length = Speed...I hope these ideas make you faster too!

Anderson, O. (2003, November 25). Speed training: 
bounding to improve performance. Retrieved 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Hawk Island Triathlon 2012

Finally, I got some goggles that actually keep the water out. Some years ago (three, I think) I bought some oversize Barracudas and I've never done a tri without having water get into my goggles. I messed around with the little Allen wrench they give you, and cut the nose bridge piece to fit my face but really those things never worked for me. I guess since I spent what I thought to be a largish sum of money for them I thought I should make them work. Well I was perusing the latest issue of LAVA and read an article/review extolling the virtues of Aqua Sphere goggles. Simple story really. They arrived the day before my Sprint tri. Nevertheless I put them on and they felt really great. The next morning during the swim...WOW! I could see everything around me, no water in my eyes, COMFORT...I am pleased beyond my expectations. It's also nice to buy something that isn't made in China. That may sound a bit provincial. For $18.00 you get a lot of value. Best choice I've made in a long time. And BTW, I cut five minutes off my time this year from the 2010 Hawk-I-Tri. Happy!