Thursday, September 26, 2013

Yahtzee! Danny's way to train for a marathon

I recently signed up for the Rock N Roll Savannah Marathon in November and decided that after my less than optimal performance in Vermont, that I better change up my training plan. So I'm planning Yahtzee. Those of you not familiar with Yahtzee it's a dice game where you roll for certain hands(like a full house or 4 of a kind) but it involves a certain level of strategy because you only have a set number of rolls and if you shoot for a full house and don't get it, you end up having to score poorly on another hand option(I'd recommend scoring low on ones if you have a choice).

The Yahtzee Score sheet

So back to marathon training. Instead of full houses and straights, I have come up with the minimal number and type of runs I need to accomplish between now and the November 9th marathon.

Here is what my game plan looks like:

  • Long Runs(18-20 miles): Planned number of runs: 2
  • Middle Distance runs(12-15 miles): Planned number of runs: 5
  • Tempo Runs(8-12 miles) at marathon race pace: Planned number of runs: 5
  • Short Speed work(5-8 miles): Planned number of runs: 8
  • Miscellaneous Runs: Planned number of runs: 10
There is no set days or times that I need to get these runs in but I will try to get the prescribed number of each in between now and the marathon. I did the same thing for my Ironman training and it (somewhat)worked. But it sometimes ends up like playing Yahtzee in that I end up using all of my miscellaneous runs early in the training process and I'm stuck with doing the long and hard runs all at the end. For example yesterday I was planning on doing a tempo run but ended up only running seven with three of them slow because my parents dog pooped out at the end. Darn, chihuahua. Because of that, it doesn't count towards my tempo run checklist so I have to throw it under the miscellaneous run category. I often will also run my speed too slow so that also gets lumped into the miscellaneous category.  So it starts out being all fast and ends half-fast.
So as of now I have a little over a month to train for Savannah. Either way it should be a fun race and I hope that if I can play my cards(or dice) right, I will have given myself enough good workouts to come out with a good result. If not, I will blame it on Yahtzee.

Up Next? Amber is doing the Kearsarge Hill Climb this Saturday and Danny will be joining his brothers in Atlanta for the weekend.

PS: No dogs were injured in this story-my parents' dog is actually a husky. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Don't be a statistic

If you haven't heard of Coursera yet, let me introduce you to it as my mom did for me. It is a website that offers free courses from colleges and universities all over the world. With video lectures, assigned readings and quizzes and assignments, it is similar to college without the loud unwashed roommate. It also has the advantage of allowing you to take classes on almost any topic taught from a variety of perspectives. I've already taken several classes through it and am currently taking a public health class from the University of Copenhagen. When I was a finalist for the Fulbright, my proposal was to work with the University of Copenhagen's public health program as it was one of the best in the world and I wanted to go to Denmark. While I wasn't able to do that, I now find myself getting lectures from some of the professors with whom I would have been working. One topic that continues to be reiterated through the course is the idea of disability and loss of quality of health. 

Daly is no longer just the bed fellow of dilly. In public health terms, DALY stands fo disability adjusted life years. A DALY is equal to one year lost of an otherwise healthy life. This can be due to premature death as well as periods of disease that impacts your quality of health. I like this measurement(as opposed to just life expectancy) because what's the point of living a long life, if half of it is spent unable to do the things you love. According to my Coursera course professors, prior to the industrial revolution, the majority of DALYs in the US were from infectious diseases. After the industrial revolution, as the population aged(due to less maternal and infant deaths and longer life expectancy), food became more readily available, jobs became more sedentary and infectious diseases becoming less prevelant due to germ theory and microbiology, there was a shift to a larger contribution from non-communicable diseases or NCDs. NCDs are degenerative diseases or chronic diseases that are now causing many of the DALY's in the US population.

If you look at the top 25 leading risk factors for development of DALYs, numbers 1(high blood pressure), 2(smoking), 4(diet low in fruit), 5(alcohol use), 6(high body-mass index), 7(high fasting plasma glucose level-to some degree), 10(physical inactivity), 11(diet high in sodium), 12(diet low in nuts and seeds), 13(iron deficiency), 15(high total cholestrol level), 16(diet low in whole grains), 17(diet low in vegetables), 18(diet low in seafood n-3 fatty acids), 19(drug use), 22(diet high in processed meat), and 24(diet low in fiber) are all things that most(but not all) of us have control over.

That's a whole lot of risk factors over which we have control. There certainly are other factors that play a role in these risk factors that may be more out of control than originally appears. For example, undernourished mothers give birth to children who have higher insulin resistance and slower metabolisms which has been thought to lead to diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Likewise, living in urban areas has been shown to reduce one's ability to exercise freely(safety concerns, air quality, access), and get inexpensive healthy food options. Education itself has a huge role in health with a direct correlation between maternal education and that child's longevity. BUT there are still things we can all do to live healthier lives with less years lost to disability and death.  For the most of us, healthier eating is something we can control to some degree. Even if you cannot afford to shop at Whole Foods, you can opt to buy more fruits and vegetables and avoid trans fats and foods with excessive sugar and salt as well as not eat so much. Hand in hand with that is we can exercise more. Now those of you that are ultra-athletes thinking that this is a free-pass for you to continue to beat your bodies into the ground, here's the caveat: while some exercise is good, more isn't always better. As I have mentioned before you can overdo it. Don't. Your body will tell you if you're overdoing it. Listen to it. Now for the majority of the population out there, that's underdoing it: get out and exercise. Even if you eat well, if you're not exercising, you're not doing all you can to live a healthy life.

"Health is more than just the absence of disease"

Don't wait until you're sick to start eating well and exercising. A HUGE risk factor for development of chronic low back pain is aerobic exercise participation(as well as psychological elements-also shown to be improved by exercise). Don't wait to have the pain to start exercising. Find something you love to do and get out there and do it:) Let living healthy be the new epidemic that helps improve your days of quality life.

Maybe like bike riding up Mt Kearsarge this Saturday with Amber?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Amber's 2013 Season in Review(via Slideshow)

I know that Amber still has a few more races before the 2013 season winds to an end but I thought I'd put together a little slideshow of Amber's great 2013 season to date.

Sorry if you can't access the Youtube video because this will otherwise be a pretty boring post:)

Just a quick recap of her 2013 season so far:

San Juan 70.3- 11th Overall

Oceanside 70.3-10th Overall

Quabbin Bike Race-2nd Overall

US Pro Championships - St. George- 16th Overall
Rock n Race 5k-1st Overall

Eagleman 70.3- 3rd Overall

 Mont-Tremblant 70.3-4th Overall

European Pro Ironman Championships, Germany- 13th Overall

Top Notch Triathlon- 1st Female, 6th Overall-Course Record!

Timberman 70.3- 3rd Overall

70.3 World Championships -22nd Overall

Up Next: Kearsarge Hill Climb September 28th(Amber)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas or Amber is a Champion (to me)

So my last blog brought you up to the night before Amber's race at the 70.3 Worlds. We knew the competition would be fast and as expected the swim started out that way. Ignore my commentary on the video(best to shut your sound off) and just see how quickly the swim packs split. That makes it really tough to swim a fast time if you're trying to find that right line to swim. Apparently Amber had to switch lines at one point because her group wasn't going in the right direction. Read more about the swim and the whole race from Amber's perspective here.
After viewing the swim start from the bridge, I made my way over to the swim out. Usually the swim out is a short jog to the athlete's bikes but this one involved crossing  a bridge and a long run. Again pardon the sound on the video and watch all of these fast women getting out of the swim.
Amber came out of the water in a large pack but near the back of it which made things more challenging for her on the bike.

As you can see, just in the time it took to get through transition that large pack had already split up a bit and when I caught her on the bike early on that large pack from the swim was even further broken up(due to the varying speeds of the riders). Having someone in sight makes a huge difference with biking(even if you're not drafting) and supposedly Amber spent most the ride by herself
I had positioned myself to get a good cheering spot for Amber and little did I know I ended up standing right next to Jim Johnson, our friend from Oceanside, who was out to cheer Amber on. We briefly chatted but then I headed over to T2 so I could see Amber on the run. Oh yeah and to take advantage of the VIP tent.

Myles had gotten me a VIP badge so he and I spent some time eating a late(by triathlon standards) breakfast in the VIP and watched the race unfold on the television. Unfortunately they didn't cut back to Amber so I was definitely less interested but the Krispie Kremes did a fairly good job of holding my attention.

With a full stomach, Myles and I shortly thereafter headed out to watch Amber on the run. Since it was a three lap run course we were able to see her multiple times. She and fellow Zoot athlete Uli Broome were running the majority of the race together and looked like they would catch and pass multiple runners. Amber looked really strong and as you can see from the videos, she had enough energy to talk with me as she ran by(not recommended in a big race BTW). Unfortunately for Amber, all the downhill running ended up jostling her stomach and she had to stop multiple times to use the facilities. Despite that she ended up running a pretty good time(not one she would be happy with but respectable) and finished 22nd in the World.

 I met Amber in the athlete reception area but Myles' work as a Sherpa had just begun as his girlfriend and Amber's sister had just started her run. Unfortunately for Deidre, the overcast skies that had kept things relatively cool for Amber cleared so she had to run in the typical heat of Nevada. She still ended up finishing with a solid performance and the four of us met up with the Cullen parents and we spent the evening on the strip.

It was a fun vacation and a good indication of Amber's progress in her fitness this year. It makes me excited to think how well she willl do with another year of more improvements on the bike.

Up Next: The weekend Amber is doing the Mount Kearsarge Hill Climb, I will be joining my brothers down in Atlanta for a Patriots game. Sure to be fun:)

Oh and if you haven't liked Amber's Facebook page, do that now! She is giving away some awesome Zoot gear once she gets 1,000 likes! Check it out here.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, unless you write a blog entitled What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas…

A few days after we celebrated my cousin Ryan's wedding, Amber and I headed out to Las Vegas for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships where she would compete against 40 of the best female triathletes in the World. 
Danny, Ryan and Matty

So the Ironman 70.3 World Championships, yeah I’ve heard of them. Ironman, one of my friends did a sprint one of those. Oh 70.3 has a half-marathon? My friend ran a 5k marathon once. Oh yeah we got that a lot from all the Vegas peeps. Apparently triathlons and gambling and smoking don't go well together. Oh well. 

Anyway, we came to Vegas early to  have a few extra days to have a fun little vacation as well as to sort out all the details that involve triathlon. And thank goodness. Because we needed every day.
Things started out okay with a smooth flight that got us into Vegas early on Wednesday, checked into our hotel without a fuss. Amber and I spent the day exploring the area as well as getting our portraits taken.
Ironsherpa and Irongirl

Amber also had to do a swim-run so Amber tried to swim in the Stratosphere’s pool. Which was interesting…

Her planned forty minute run turned into 20 minutes because of 1)the oppressive 100+ temperatures, and 2)the oppressive crowds that come with anything involving the strip. That ended up being fine since less is more before a race and the heat will only drain you if you spend too much time out there in mid-day.

The next day Amber had to do a swim and bike so we went to the YMCA of North Las Vegas and boy was this a shock. Rather than an old Concord YMCA, we were exposed to a brand new state of the art YMCA. In addition to a huge, clean facility, they had outdoor swimming pool and a water slide. That might be the best chance to get me to the swimming pool.
While Amber was swimming, I went for a run over at Centennial Park and had some great views of the city as well as the mountain range.
A view from the Y

After the workout, Amber and I headed to Henderson to get her bike in. We had been encouraged to go to a specific place for a great biking route that didn't have any cars. I was going to go for a second run while she biked but within two pedal strokes we heard something was amiss and sure ensure Amber’s rear derailleur on her bike had broken.

Not an easy fix. We took the bike to the local shop who, probably due to being too busy with triathlon preparation, were not too helpful. Luckily, Myles Chase of MC Cycles who was coming out to support Deidre, was able to get a new derailleur overnight shipped to our hotel. Problem solved.
Myles putting on Amber's discwheel(oh yeah, which was DENTED by TSA on the flight out!)

Not so much. The next day at 10:30 when the delivery was supposed to have arrived, our package was not delivered. We decided to head to the race site to register. However, due to high winds the registration was delayed in order to change the location. We met up with a few other Zoot athletes and spent some time in the local library waiting for the race registration to reopen.
Zooters Kendra, Hanna and Amber

After finally registering, but not getting her bags for the race transitions, we headed back to the hotel thinking we would be able to get her bike fixed. But unfortunately, the package had still not arrived. After several hours of checking, the shipment was still in transit. We finally called  UPS to see why we hadn't gotten it yet, and we got something in return. The run-around. I spent over an hour on the phone using my big-boy’s voice before finally getting someone to finally agree to just leave the package, which was routed to the wrong town, where they had it and we would go get it. So we hopped in the car and drove for about 30 minutes out of town, straight into a scene from CSI. There weren't yet any dead bodies but if we stayed in this neighborhood much longer there most likely would be. We hurriedly picked up the package, got back in the car and headed back to the hotel where Myles assembled the new derailleur while Amber doubled-down on the penny slots.
Today has been pretty uneventful so hopefully this will continue through tomorrow when Amber and Deidre look to compete against the best half-ironman distance triathletes in the world. We will keep you posted on the results J

Up Next: IRONMAN 70.3 Worlds Championships in 15 hours!

Update: Click her for Race Report