Saturday, March 31, 2012

How Do Celebrate Your 90th B-day? Skydiving, of course...(video)

My great Aunt Bonnie celebrated her 90th birthday last year in style by going skydiving for the first time. ABC shot a great video of it.

Way to go, Great Aunt Bonnie!

As we celebrate her life in her last few hours this weekend, I am in awe of how full her life was. I sure hope I can replicate her finishing kick.

Love you, Bonnie.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Orgasm During Exercise - Introducing the "Coregasm"

In case you need another motivator for doing your core exercises, a new study headed up by Debby Herbenick says that some women experience orgasm WHILE exercising...dubbed the "coregasm". Love it!

An estimated 45 percent of the women who responded to the researchers' online request for women who had either exercise-induced orgasm (EIO) or exercise-induced sexual pleasure (EISP) said their first experience was during abdominal exercises, followed by weight lifting (26.5 percent), yoga (20 percent), bicycling (15.8 percent), running (13.2 percent) and walking/hiking (9.6 percent). Any exercise that involves the core muscles seems to trigger that sense of pleasure -- chin-ups, climbing ropes and especially the "captain's chair," a rack with padded arm rests that allows the legs to hang free before lifting the knees to the chest. A handful of women said they even had sexual feelings while mopping or walking.

Thank God it isn't the same for men. A lycra-clad gym could be a little...awkward.

Cosmopolitan Magazine will probably devote 10 pages to this next month. I'll never look at a spin class the same way every again. ;-)

- SD

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Do Muscles Atrophy with Age? It's More Like "Use It or Lose It"

For those of us Masters worried that aging invariably concludes muscle deterioration, there's some good news from an interesting new study put out by Dr. Vonda Wright and her colleagues. The goal of the study was to examine whether the changes that are commonly associated with muscle aging reflect the true physiology of muscle aging or whether they reflect disuse atrophy. They studied 40 Masters athletes from the age of 40 to 81, and found a surprising lack of muscle loss when comparing active adults at either end of the age spectrum. Non-active adults, however, had significant muscle atrophy. The pictures speak a thousand words.

Note that the 40-year-old triathlete and 70-year-old triathlete have similar muscle make up. And that one in the middle? Put that on your fridge for a little exercise motivation. ;-) Basically, you "use it or lose it" when it comes to muscle atrophy. Add that to this study that says older runners remain economical in their use of oxygen, and it explains why we have 90+ year old super stars like Francis Albaugh and Fauja Singh.

Pretty amazing.

- SD

PS - See you at Woodside this Saturday?!? Inside Trail Racing will be hosting an event, and I'll be running the course backwards to get photos of y'all. BTW, if you're wondering where the pic at the top of my blog comes from, you'll see it on the course on the final few miles.

Still a few on the link below to get signed up!

Mar 24
Woodside Ramble10K, Half Marathon,
36K, 50K
Huddart County ParkWoodside, CA
Mar 31
Redwood Peak10K, Half Marathon,
30K, 50K
Redwood Regional ParkOakland, CA
Apr 14
Knickerbocker Canyon5K, 10K,
Half Marathon
Auburn S.R.A.Cool, CA
Apr 28
Folsom Lake10K, Half Marathon,
Marathon, 50K
Folsom PointFolsom, CA
May 6
Big Trees10K, Half Marathon,
30K, 50K
Joaquin Miller ParkOakland, CA
May 26
China Camp5K, 10K,
Half Marathon
China Camp S.P.San Rafael, CA
Jun 16
Pacifica Foothills5K, 10K, Half Marathon,
San Pedro Valley ParkPacifica, CA

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Adam Campbell and Ellie Greenwood Score at Chuckanut 50k

Canadians Adam Campbell (Victoria, BC) and Ellie Greenwood (Banff, Alberta) claimed victory at the wet and muddy 2012 Chuckanut 50k in Bellingham, WA, this weekend. It was Adam's first victory here (3:48:55), and his late charge was enough to hold off Sage Canaday (3:49:22) and long-time leader Jaxo Schlarb (3:49:59). Ellie took three minutes off her course record (4:09:27) in a decisive 22-minute win. The local Bellingham Herald has a great article about the event.

('s Bryon Powell got this great shot of Ellie Greenwood charging through the weather, as part of his live coverage of the event)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Nike Apologizes for "Black & Tan" Shoes for St. Patricks Day

Nike has officially apologized for introducing their "Black and Tan" St. Patrick's Day-themed shoes, citing that some found it inappropriate and offensive. Whereas most of us know it as a referral to the delicious Guiness/Bass beer concoction, it's also the name of a British paramilitary unit sent to quell Irish rebellion against British rule in the 1920s, a strike that led to many attacks on civilians.

"Black and Tan" or "Tan" is still a pejorative term for the British in Ireland. As the LA Times notes, "it would be akin, in some circles, to naming a sneaker the Taliban or the Nazi." Oops.

This isn't the first time a Nike promotion has offended consumers. In 2006, Christians protested their use of a painted cross on the body of soccer player Wayne Rooney, saying it trivialized the sufferings of Christ. The company's 2010 ad, starring a mournful post-sex scandal Tiger Woods in a black-and-white video, also drew ire for its voiceover.

But you know what? These "controversial" ads often end up getting more exposure through PR than a typical media ad buy, so perhaps it is by design rather than a snafu. It could be Nike just found a creative way to move some ugly brown shoes. ;-)

Happy St. Patrick's Day, all! I hope you are enjoying a green run and a green beer wherever you are.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Way Too Fun at The Way Too Cool 50k

Last Saturday, I had the great pleasure of joining 700+ runners for the 15th running of the Way Too Cool 50k in Cool, CA, on a wonderfully sunny day. It was great to catch up with friends, watch Gary Gellin and Tyler Stewart fly to new course records, and embrace every minute of a leisurely run in the American River Canyon.

My original plan was to go fast at WTC and try and get under four hours, extending my streak of a PR half marathon and near-PR marathon in the last month. But a not-so-funny thing happened on the way to the starting line...the stomach flu (ugh). Not a mild case either, but one of those daycare-concocted ebola strains that strips your body of dehydration faster than running Badwater in a mud mask. By the time race day arrived, I had only managed a few slow jogs in the previous two weeks, but felt good enough to toe the line.

At the start, everyone was buzzing about the near-perfect conditions of the trails and ideal weather. It might even be possible to run the race with dry feet! Unheard of. I warmed up with my Inside Trail Racing teammates Gary Gellin (in peak shape) and Tim Long (fighting a cold of his own), and caught up with UltraRunner Podcast's Scotty Sandow (training for States), top Women's finisher Caitlin Smith, the whippet-thin Will Gotthardt, Oregon's Rod Bien, the always-fast Erik Skaden, Sam Robinson (here for his first 50k), and the army of great volunteers that make this race so special. At 7:30am sharp, one of the biggest ultras in the country was off and running!
(Racers ready...)
(Catching up at the start with Erik Skaden and Jacob Rydman)
(And we're off!)
The pace was fast from the get-go, with Sam Robinson, super-Master Rich Hanna, Gary Gellin, and AZ's Shaun Martin quickly forming a pack up front. I was in a large chase peleton about 20 seconds back, where Erik Skaden, Mark Lantz, Jacob Rydman, Michael Fink, and Caitlin Smith cruised at a 6:30 min/mile pace. Better get my pictures fast, since I ain't hangin' with these guys for long!

(Skaden says hi, as he paces with Mark Lantz and the gang)
(Hey, where did that lead pack go?)
(The gorilla returns with his new friend, banana man!)

(Michael Fink and Caitlin Smith take us onto the dirt)
We hit the dirt about 1.5 miles in, and the trails were in amazing shape. This was a PR day for somebody, for sure! Not for me though - I was already getting that twitchy muscle feeling like I was already dehydrated. It probably didn't help that I forgot my water bottle at the start too. But I remembered my camera! ;-)

(Conga line down the single track)
(Will Gotthardt starts picking up speed)
(Comin' through!)
The rolling single track was wonderful, and after a few miles, I decided to stop fighting the twitchy muscles, ease up on the accelerator, and just enjoy the fact that I get to spend this beautiful day outside with friends. A sub-7 min/mile hurt, but 8:30 min/mile felt just to listen to the body and just cruise today. The freedom to choose a pace felt like the greatest gift of all, particularly when juxtaposed with my every-fifteen-minutes-booked weekday reality. Honestly, could there be a better way to spend the day?

(The trees say winter, but the flowers say spring)
(Enjoying the single track, photo courtesy of Pete Beck)

(Jean Pommier passes me up)
(Great cheering section!)
I got a chance to say hi as many runners flew by, including Ironman triathlete Tyler Stewart, Jean Pommier (fresh in from Dubai), Erik Skaden, and a strong Tim Long. We passed by the Cool Fire Station (mile 7) where tons of fans were out to cheer on their runners, then headed down to the river. I had my Nikon J1 with me - heavy artillery as far as cameras go - and was able to spend some time adjusting the settings to get some good shots. It's hard to say which is more fun, going fast or going just fast enough to take great pictures!

(Go photo guy! Pic courtesy of Tim Stahler)
(Trails were PERFECT)
(Hopping a creek on the way to the American River)
(Yummy single track)
(Volunteers get us across Hwy 49)
We crossed Hwy 49 and dropped down into the calm canyon filled with sounds of birds, frogs, and the crazy volunteers at the aid station rocking out to 70's tunes. The runners were spread out along the fire road, all running quietly enough to not disturb the fisherman and hikers. I was so glad I didn't have my iPod this time - if you slow down enough, there is a symphony of nature surrounding you. The morning recital is a well-practiced masterpiece!

(Joe Van De Water heading down into the canyon)
(Gravity good!)
(The peaceful American River)
(The lively volunteers)
By the time I reached the next aid station (mile 14), I was realizing the forgotten water bottle was a big mistake. No problem, said Mike and the volunteers, as they went into their supplies and got a spare. Phew! Thanks, guys! Good thing too, since I would drain half of it by the time we reached the climb up the American River Canyon trail, and all of it well before the ALT aid station. For this race, the bottle is a must!
(Turning up the first big climb)
(Smiling up the American River Canyon trail)
Rory Bosio and a few others made mincemeat of the climb while I slowly hiked up and soaked in all the early blooming flowers. This was definitely where this course sorts out the Men/Women from the Boys/Girls, and I was at pre-teen pace at best. No body was holding up just fine so I was loving it.
(The super-fun aid station crew at ALT)
(The creeks didn't get much bigger than this)
(Filmmaker extraordinaire JB Benna shows that new daddyhood isn't cramping his training too much)
I got a bite at the ALT aid station (mile 21), and couldn't help but flash back to the 2009 Western States when I came through at 3am and flunked my weigh in. Ah, so much more pleasant this time! Without the out-and-back of previous WTC courses, it felt like we had the trail all to ourselves, and we worked together to get a nice pace going. We came upon a limping Graham Cooper who had twisted his ankle, and it was nice to have the freedom to slow down and walk with him for a bit. He's one of the few guys I know who actually sees this section of the course during Western States during the daylight with his Top 10 finishes.

(Gary builds up speed for Goat Hill)
(Jason Reed shows how to tackle the 25% incline of Goat Hill)
(Not sure if his dentist would approve of this technique)
(Howdy partner! Welcome to Goat Hill!)
(Deja vu...Norm and Helen Klein, Marty Hoffman, and the regular crew of Goat Hill)
Goat Hill was the beast we expected, but we were rewarded with one of the finest run aid stations in ultrarunning (mile 26). I had a huge lunch - soup, sandwich, rice krispy treats, and Coke - and wondered if I was going to end this race up a few pounds. Soon enough Marty boosted me out to make room for others, and we zig-zagged our way through the single track to Hwy 49 again. We can smell the barn door now!

(The Way Too Awesome aid station)
(Enjoying a beer with the volunteers)
(Running with beer on this awesome single track - could life get any better?)
The Way Too Awesome aid station (mile 29.5) definitely lived up to its name, with 80's tunes, costumes, fun and loud volunteers, and a full cooler of beer! Eric Schranz (of UltraRunner Podcast fame) set me up with a very tasty Jack Russell IPA, and I had a toast with the volunteers before hitting the trail with my ice cold brewskie. One volunteer joked "if you can finish the beer before the finish, you can have six more!". You're on! But a few swigs later I realized how hard it is to run and drink beer...I have a whole new respect for the beer mile.

(Running with beer...a beautiful thing! Photo courtesy of Pete Beck)
I did manage to finish that beer, but only because I stopped right before the finish to chug it down. Let's hope that Facchino Photography got that one! I finished up in 4:46:06 for 122nd place, surprised that I still managed to do alright with all that goofing off. My Inside Trail Racing teammates had an amazing day, with Gary Gellin winning overall and setting a CR 3:27:43, and Tim Long timing his sub-4 goal perfectly to finish in 3:59:59.

(At the finish!)
(Gary Gellin hustles in to shave 40 seconds off the CR! Photo courtesy of Pete Beck)
(Frog cupcakes - the best finisher award there is!)
(Will Gotthardt cools down after a 4-hr finish, while Sam Robinson enjoys recounting his first 50k [3:53!], and Caitlin is already updating Facebook)
I got to hear the full story on the front runners while we all stuffed our faces with cupcakes and beer, lounging in the comfy chairs of the Patagonia lounge. In the overall race, Gary said that Shaun Martin set the pace early, while Sam Robinson looked effortless on the flat stuff, and Rich helped push the pace on the hills. Shaun said "Gary was flat out punishing us on the climbs", and when Gary ran the whole length of Goat Hill to build a two minute lead over former WTC winner Rich Hanna, he went right through the aid station and sprinted to the finish in record time (well, record time for the new course). 47-year-old Rich Hanna was 2nd (3:30, a PR for this course), Jacob Rydman closed fast for 3rd (3:34), Shaun Martin was 4th (3:36), and Rod Bien rocked 5th (3:41).

The Women's race was led by Caitlin Smith for the first 12 miles, before she was sidelined by stomach issues and ceded the lead to triathlete Tyler Stewart, who went on to win with a CR 3:49. Santa Monica's Megan Lieb snuck by for 2nd (4:00), and Caitlin held on for 3rd (4:05). The Women get faster every year!

Overall an amazing day, and a fabulous way to usher in the ultrarunning season. I am grateful for the chance to share it with so many great runners and volunteers!

- SD

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Stefaan Engels Runs A Marathon A Day For A Whole Year - That's 365 Marathons!

Belgian Stefaan Engels, already a world record holder for running 20 Ironman races in a single year, smashed the world record of most consecutive marathons of 52 by upping the bar to 365. Yup, 365 marathons in 365 days.
(Engels finishes his 365th consecutive marathon in Barcelona)

Engels averaged around four hours to complete a marathon, and ran - not walked - every one. He said his best time was 2 hours, 56 minutes. That's pretty impressive!

You can read more about his story on CNN and ESPN.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

The 2012 Robert and Linda Mathis Memorial Run

I wasn't able to make the hopefully-first-of-many Mathis memorial fun runs last weekend thanks to a stomach virus. Peter Lubber's did a fantastic job chronicling a great day put on by Jennifer Lee Dicus, Aaron Summerhays, and many others. Be sure to check out his story., complete with words and memories shared by Race Directors and runners alike. You can also still donate to the Robert and Linda Mathis Foundation, where proceeds go to families surviving DUI accidents.
(Family members of Robert and Linda release balloons at the start of the run, photo courtesy of Peter Lubbers)
I did swing by and post a makeshift memorial at the spot where they were last seen alive in Incline Village, NV. It says, "Make Your Life An Inspired Journey. Today, hundreds of runners celebrated your lives on the trails you shared with open hearts. We miss you."

And we do miss you both.

- SD