Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Academic All State: MITCA

I just found out my Girl's XC team just won Academic All State as awarded by the Michigan Interscholastic Track Coaches Association (MITCA). Very Exciting for me! I guess the girls will have to either read my blog or wait until the end of the year to find out because I know they will appreciate this further acknowledgment of what an achievement this particular team was. First getting to the MHSAA State XC Meet for the first time in 29 years and then this! Academic All State in our case means that they are ranked as 4th among the smartest teams, by GPA, in Division 4 girl's XC teams that made it to the state meet. If I may use an acting awards analogy: MHSAA is kind of like the Oscars. Everyone knows about them. But the MITCA award is kind of like the SAG awards. More meaningful for the practitioner because you're being judged by your peers, but less well known. As many people know, cross country is not a sport populated by athletes who are slackers anyway so this is indeed a real prize and I'm so proud of them; they are the gift to me that keeps on giving. What a nice piece of cheese paper to put out in the obligatory senior shrine for the open house. I'm happy to have done well my first year coaching at my daughter's school but it will be tough to outdo these ladies in the coming years.
I love my girls!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Owen Anderson

    My Wednesday night marathon clinic is run by Owen Anderson who is quite a knowledgable man when it comes to running. He just got back from a race director's conference in Houston and had some wry observations about the "celebrity" status enjoyed by Dave McGillivray, race director for the Boston Marathon. Owen's sense of humor is definitely one of his strong suits. He promotes an interesting vision for a less is more philosophy in running. Also he was glad to share that there will be some Kenyans running this year at the inaugural Lansing Marathon event and to say that an exciting new running program for kids is beginning within the Lansing schools. Obesity being a problem plaguing Michigan's youth, I'm sure this will be just the thing for some deserving and motivated young people. 
     One thing that Owen talks about, that I've never really heard too much about, is the importance of the nervous system and developing an overall level of fitness to enhance running, not just "heart size and leg speed" development. We did an interesting array of drills tonight that included soccer balls, cones, and a plastic ladder that we basically hopscotched through. Not at all what I was expecting but very fun things to do with my cross country team next fall. As I look back on my running life I realized I've never really been coached for a marathon before. I just went out and did them for fun. Now I think I'd like to qualify for Boston (before they make it even harder) and I think I've found a coach to get me there.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

My Other Blog

I didn't mean to be inattentive but I've been doing stuff with my other blog. I'm new at blogging and I find it fun and this new one just sort of started up. It's pretty specialized as it focuses on a single WWII unit that my great uncle was part of, but people from across the country who had/have family members in it are sending me pictures and stories and so I've been happily posting all sorts of interesting things there. So now I need to find some sort of balance between the two blogs. And really, I'm not sure what kind of accountability exists in the blogosphere for how often one blogs. So if you're interested check it out: http://743rdtankbn.blogspot.com/ 

If not, I'll be back soon with Age Grouperesque material. So forgive the commercial for the military theme...on the other hand you may like it as well!

Monday, January 16, 2012

National 24 Hour Challenge

Middle age and triathlon have moved me to a different event I never thought I'd be doing. The National 24 Hour Challenge is a cycling specific event that is not a race but "a personal best on-road bicycle ride to test your endurance and determination." It's held annually on Father's Day weekend since 1983. I've never gone 112 miles on a bike before so I imagine if I have 24 hours to ride I should be able to do that at least twice. But hey I've never done it before. It starts at 8:00 am Saturday and ends @ 8:00 am on Sunday. The course features three loops. Loop One is 121.6 miles long and you only get to ride it once and you have to ride it first. There are four checkpoints on this loop. Loop Two is 23.7 miles long. You can ride it as many times as you want but you must ride it once before you ride Loop Three which is 7.5 miles long. There are two checkpoints on Loop Two. Only full loops of Loop Three completed by 8:00 am count. There is one checkpoint on this loop. The Start/Finish area is a common checkpoint for all three loops. You can go to their web site for more details but it seems like my kind of event. Not a cycle race (the thought of being in a peloton scares me) but it does seem like just the thing to get me more into cycling. I love the running and the swimming but the cycling is such a HUGE part of any Ironman. I'll be sure to report on this event.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Sticking Point

A memorable scene from Marathon Man
Parker has a section in his book that is a compilation of observations that "don't seem fit anywhere else," as he says, and the first one really rings true in my experience. He says when he first started using the heart rate monitor (HRM), "I discovered that I seemed to have a pace that felt 'grooved in.' It was several beats above my 70% recovery ceiling, so it was annoying to have to back off from this very natural feeling pace." He calls this a sticking point. It is a HUGE sticking point for me in my present training. VERY annoying because it happens at about the point where your mind begins to wander off into wherever it goes when you fall into a pace and then the beeping pulls you back from it. It reminds me of being constantly awakened right when you're about to go to sleep. He goes on to say not to give in to the desire to ignore the HRM and also that it will eventually go away too. GOOD!

Another thing he suggests is to use the heart rate monitor for Daily Real World Biofeedback. In my case I went to the dentist wearing my HRM. I was having a filling replaced and I thought it would be interesting to see how high my heart beats per minute (BPM) jumped when the drilling started. Funny thing here...and this was verified by the dental assistant, whenever the drilling started and all during the drilling, my BPM dropped to a very low level in the 50's. When the drilling stopped my BPM went up to the mid to upper 60's. Very strange. And no I don't like getting fillings. I dislike the sound of the drill as much as anyone. So there you go. A couple of interesting things that Parker brings up in Chapter 15 of his book that have been put to the test of experience. In the future I'll be talking about some other writers I've been reading who come from a distance running background that also do triathlons. In particular Don Fink's Be Iron Fit. Gotta go! Time to run!

Friday, January 6, 2012

ICEtrekking and a Race to The Pole

Amundsen: an endurance athlete of a different caliber!
South Pole and back: 1,860 miles round trip.
Roald Amundsen would be proud. I had the distinct pleasure of portraying the guy in a recent local production of Ted Tally's Terra Nova @ Riverwalk Theatre's blackbox. Even though the show is over I still carry the character with me at odd times, like last night when I went running with my new ICEtrekker Diamond Grip traction slip ons. In Michigan if you run outside during the winter, there are times when the pavement has ice that you can't see or is covered by snow. I put these on my shoes and ran right across some icy spots on the sidewalk and in the streets but there was no slipping. No indication that I was even on ice whatsoever. They are amazing. Since it wasn't overly icy out, I could also test running on bare pavement and the ICEtrekkers didn't feel weird at all. They live up to their advertising. Even though Amundsen used skis and dogs to get him to the South Pole 100 years ago, if he were training for an Ironman today, I'm sure he'd endorse these things (actually if Falcon-Scott had used them it might have turned out differently for the Brits). Also, as it happens when I blog, I sometimes Google two search terms I might not ordinarily think of together otherwise, such as the two words: Marathon/Antarctica. Well what do you know, there IS a marathon on the seventh continent. In fact there are two! The one I want to do would cost me around $12,000 dollars to do, so I may have to wait until the kids are out of college to seriously contemplate doing it. Maybe I'll start a new blog when I'm 59, and do the Ice Marathon when I'm 60. For that I won't need a Norwegian accent.

"You feared life had passed you by, that you couldn't keep pace with the younger men. And yet, you see -- it's the younger men who are falling by the wayside, and you who are still strong. You thought it was a kind of death at the Pole -- yet I tell you, you were never so alive as now, and the moment you were born for is here...Live it well."

A better cast, crew and director I could not ask for.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Hawk-I-Tri, Lansing, MI

Hawk Island, 2010 before I added my aero-bars...
     Besides Steelhead, I've also done a local sprint triathlon a couple of times in Lansing called the Hawk-I-Tri.  It's done at a beautiful place in South Lansing called Hawk Island (hence the name). I remember driving by there every morning on the way to work as Ingham County was developing this great venue for all sorts of things and thought it'd be a great home cross country course for the XC team I was coaching at the time. For a few years it was our home course but with the addition of a splash pad, a dog park, more paved trails, and a sledding hill it became too developed for a cross country course, unless I was ok with lots of cement on the course, which I wasn't. Now I take my current team there to train and for that it is perfect. The paddle boat practice is a team favorite.
     The 2009 Hawk-I-Tri was the first time I used a wet suit in a triathlon. I was watching my wave go out ahead of me (my strategy for not getting kicked or swam over) and I thought to myself, "wow look at those guys wheezing and hanging on to the spotters in the paddle boats; is that really my peer group?" Well, as I approached the first turn, my breathing felt really compressed in the wet suit. It was squishing my chest. Not only that, I began to mentally freak out because it felt like I couldn't get enough air. So to make a potentially long story short, I became one of those guys wheezing and hanging on to the paddle boat/spotters on the first turn. I gasped for probably a minute and then regained my composure enough to swim breast stroke for most of the rest of the way. It is only a 400 meter swim so it wasn't too prolonged. That did NOT happen during the swim the following year at Steelhead. Later on I realized I was hyper-ventilating. Pretty scary but lesson learned. If you want a family friendly beginner triathlon, the Hawk-I-Tri is a growing vibrant event you should check out! Congratulations to Kathie Dunbar for creating such an enduring signature event for Lansing!