Sunday, November 29, 2009

All Will Be Well 5K Run

Saturday was a charity 5K run/walk for Dan Lyons, a 23-year old gent diagnosed with leukemia. He was an intern this summer at my work and he's the type of guy that you instantly like. The lovableness showed yesterday with the turnout for the event -- maybe 300 people? Not sure, but it was pretty crowded for a small high school event. I can count on one hand the number of 5Ks I ran in my life (my preference is longer stuff), but this was one was a little special. We heard about the 5K at work at a time when two Biggest Loser team mates were starting to run a little more to lose weight and thinking about being able the run a 5K without stopping. Bingo -- this 5K was going to be their goal. So three weeks ago, Joann and Madra could easily walk 3 miles with a couple minutes of running thrown in the mix, but never ran a full 3 miles without stopping. Yesterday they not only ran 3.2 miles with nary a stop, but they ran part of it off-road. The course was around the perimeter of the Trinity High school. So we did some small hills, a lot of grass running, a tiny bit of trail running, and some track running. The key for both girls was the pace. In our practice runs at work, we kept it slow, slow, slow so they would not tire out and want to rest. Madra likes to pick up the pace, but Joann and I were quick to reel her back in and remind her of the goal - finish. At the race, we really had to focus on the pace because its SO easy to want to stick with the group that took off at the start like horses out of the gate. By the end, maybe a dozen or more of those fast starters were walking and we passed them all and finished without a single stop. Madra thought it took too long (37 minutes), but longer times are normal for off-road. There's clearly a difference between running in grass and running on asphalt. I'm proud of them both! Two new runners have just entered the running the world.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Another 50-year Old Inspiration

I picked up an Oxygen magazine because I liked the haircut of a girl in the magazine not so much for the content of the mag -- women's bodybuilding. (Although I used to lift weights in another life and played with power lifting for a very brief time in 1987 - ha! Me, SUMU wrestler Chili! Funny). Perusing the mag, I come to find a fellow 50-year old with an inspiring story. Tosca Reno. She turned 40, was overweight, and decided to do something about it. Today, at 50, look at her! She did it through changing her eating habits and a lot of exercise - mostly weight-lifting. She's also the author of The Eat Clean Diet. It's pretty darn amazing what good food and little exercise will do for the 50-year old body. Damn -- there's hope for me yet!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Transylvania Epic Update

I got some inside scoop that a media event was held last weekend in State College on the Transylvania Epic and I said, "I'll bet Fit Chick was there." Sure enough, she was. And here's her take on the Event -- she updated her blog and wrote about it. The Transylvania Epic is a 7-stage mountain bike race to be held next May 31-June 5 2010. You have to have 3 riders from a team finish each 25-35 mile stage per day, or you could ride the entire 7 days solo which many folks will do. I'm guessing a team of 9 average riders could handle the race. "Average" meaning a rider that could do a 25-35 mountain bike ride one day, take a day off, then do it again? I guess maybe when you think about it that's really not average now is it. Each Team member could pick the stages they'd like to do which are interesting little loops. The new Raystown trails are one of the loops, and one of my favorite rides is in there too - RB Winter. Some other state college Epic rides are part of the stages also. Cool stuff.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Born to Run - What a Read!

What a read! Who would have thought I’d be mesmerized by a book on a bunch of Mexican Indians (Tarahumara) in the Copper Canyons in Mexico, racing against some of America’s best ultra runners like Scott Jurek. It was fabulous and brought tears to my eyes at the end. Perhaps the “star” of the book, “Caballo”, said it best in the end when offered a sponsorship from North Face: “No, thanks, I don’t want anyone to do anything except come run, party, dance, eat, and hang with us. Running isn’t about making people buy stuff. Running should be free, man.” And isn’t that what its really all about – living free and having fun? Which is pretty much what the Tarahumara do all day, every day – eat (corn, chia seeds, beans – they’re vegetarian!), run, drink corn beer, and sleep. Sparing you a long review (you can get those anywhere on the web!), suffice it to say it’s a good read with a spectacular ending where Caballo tells his life story. How he was born a scrawny marine kid who took up boxing to “fight” off the wise cracks of being a geek; how he got famous boxing, lost his girlfriend to another guy (and was devastated), and ended up in Maui living in a cave and running the side of the dormant volcano, Haleakala (Ricky and I were there!); how he to-this-day lives in a hut in Mexico and runs “free” with the Tarahumara and only goes back to the states to make a couple bucks to survive another year. The author did a fabulous job of pulling the characters together and describing the uniqueness of them all. Barefoot Ted, Jenn and Billy, the Tarahumara, Caballo (above in the pic), and of course himself, Christopher McDougall who works for Rodale (writes for Runners' World and Men's Health) and lives and runs in central PA! (don’t they all!?) Born to Run is currently #68 on Amazon's top sellers list. I think I’ll go for a run now!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Millersburg "Narrows"

My hubby and I were both raised in the quaint central Pennsylvania town of Millersburg (I was in the burbs on a farm). It's one of those communities that everybody knows everybody and they all come out to support a local event. It's home to the historic paddle wheel Millersburg ferry and the ferry crosses, you guessed it, the Susquehanna River. If you know your geology, you know every river has ridge lines and rocks where the mountains break for the river. The Dauphin Narrows is one of the most obvious with rocks jutting out everywhere. Millersburg has them too -- but in a much more controlled manner. Ricky and I went exploring this weekend in our kayaks at the head of the Millersburg mountain in what we are calling the Millersburg Narrows. The Lehigh was running but we're both weary of driving so much and the Dauphin Narrows was a little too high (4.25 feet). Millersburg is about 17 miles from our home so we opted to stay close to home. The paddle to the M-narrows from the put in was long - maybe a mile. Not so bad going down river, but after an hour and half of playing, the paddle back up river was grueling. We need to find a closer put in. The narrows themselves were beautiful. There were long ridges, like shelves, with water flowing over them like mini 1-2 foot high waterfalls. It was very scenic, and made it very obvious to see where you could and couldn't go through with a canoe. The Susquehanna River Trails Map shows far river right as the only accessible passage. We can see why. In between those shelves, is some very, very nice flow with beautiful, controlled, smooth waves. We didn't surf yesterday, but we definitely want to get back in there and explore some more. I believe the M-narrows will be one of our new favorite destinations once we figure out a closer put in. And the best part? Two bald eagles hanging out on a rock. There was an article in the local paper a year or so ago about the eagles nesting at the head of the mountain.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Final Statistics on our Biggest Loser contest At Work

OVERALL TEAM TOTALS for WEIGHT and PERCENTAGE. As a reminder, these were 5-person teams, and collectively, 40 people lost 298.1 pounds. I'd say that's a success!

High Voltage Lifers – 75 lbs & 38.47 %
Slim Gems -- 54.5 lbs & 29.03 %
Fatbusters United – 41.2 lbs & 21.70 %
Thinternational – 45.6 lbs & 24.53 %
Children of the Cornelius – 20.1 lbs & 11.79 %
Big Deal – 26.8 lbs & 12.92%
Gut Outtahere -- 17.4 lbs & 10.26%
NewPAlite – 17.4lbs & 13.77%

Final Results of Biggest Loser At Work

The winners have been determined. The two teams out of eight that were in contention for the overall win got together to compare notes of the final week. The captains talked about who was on the hot seat for both weight loss and exercise and “Paul’s” team swept all categories the final week and won the pot-o-money. His team collectively lost 75 pounds – nothing to sneeze at! Paul is the one that exercised 23 hours two weeks in a row, lost 15 pounds each week, and got one of his team mates to exercise 28 hours this final week doing walking of stairs, walking in general, etc (the reasons for my below post on “So You “Exercise", huh?”). The girl’s team that poured their heart and soul into this was 2nd place. At first I was a little disappointed for them, but their captain had SUCH words of wisdom: “Keep your heads up! The biggest challenges for us individually were to lose weight, gain better eating habits, and learn new exercise routines. In the process we developed great friendships and the camaraderie was a blast! Our energy was contagious. We could not have put together a better or more dedicated team and I wouldn’t trade any of you for anyone on Paul’s team. Okay,….maybe Paul. J …. " Madra was an awesome captain. Congrats girls! In my eyes, YOU won. BTW, Madra and one of her team-mates, Joann (my cube neighbor at work), will be doing their first 5K next week as a result of this competition. How cool is that! Joann is also talking about maybe doing the Harrisburg Marathon next year in the walking category. I might join her -- that would be an awesome, fat-burning workout. Every single person took something away from this contest. It was truly win, win.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Week 5 Biggest Loser at Work - One More Week To Go

Our work Biggest Loser contest is in the final days. There are only 5 more days of attempting to lose enough weight to make one of the 8 teams of 5 members proud to collect their $80.00 each. My team’s chances are zilch. We collectively GAINED 3 pounds this week and I had the proud honor of being one of those pounds (I’m not worried – I have 5 days to lose it again AND some to bring my total loss to 9-10 pounds). There really are only two teams that could win at this point. All the other teams are too far down in points to even come close to those two teams with 1 week remaining. It would be nice to see the all-female team win ‘cause they ALL worked really hard the past six weeks and are truly deserving of the win. The one gal (Madra, the former college basketball player) lost 17 pounds! She said she’s feeling real good about getting active again. The pizza party announcing the winners is next Friday over lunch. I’ll fill you in on the overall winning team after that.

Friday, November 6, 2009

So you "Exercise," Huh?

Being a loser here at work has put a new perspective on what we all term “exercise.” Some controversy over exercise week and a lot of points earned by one of teams (28 points for 28 hours of exercise by one of the members who is not your typical work-out type of girl?) raised some valid issues and arguments. The “hardcore” exercisers – those that run, bike, swim, etc – felt those that claimed climbing the stairs just to get to work should not be counted. Those that were counting all that stair climbing never climbed the stairs before; thus, it’s exercise in their world. And they have a valid point. The weightloss resources website states:
“Exercise is also known as physical activity. In simple terms exercise is any movement that works your body at a greater intensity than your usual level of daily activity. Exercise raises your heart rate and works your muscles and is most commonly undertaken to achieve the aim of physical fitness. What would be suitable exercise for one person may be too much or too little for another. "

Those are some well stated words on defining exercise. It certainly made me see the light from a different angle. At first, I agreed with the hardcore gal who felt those 28 hours aren’t valid – they didn’t compare to her sprints, isometrics, and running. But, just like on the TV show biggest loser, there are some folks who seldom move their bodies much. So those 28 hours are likely valid hours. They might be hours that you and I and Ms. Hardcore wouldn’t consider “exercise” in our daily routines, but they are exercise, nonetheless. Oh the water cooler chit chat of Biggest Loser at Work!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Biggest Loser Week 4

We have two more weeks to go, and we're down to a two-team battle after the exercise points were tallied - the High Voltage Lifers and Slim Gems. I'm rooting for the Slim Gems because they have really put a team effort into this and do a lot together as a team. High Voltage Lifers has one person pretty much carrying the whole team. Here are the team totals for the week.


Fatbusters United – +6.4lbs & +4.03% -- 54 exercise hours
Gut Outtahere -- 3.6 lbs & 2.04% -- 40.45 exercise hours (Jill was 23 hours)
Slim Gems -- 1.8 lbs & +0.21% -- 63.63 exercise hours (Madra had 23.5 hours)
Children of the Cornelius – 2.3 lbs & 1.43% -- 62 exercise hours
Big Deal - 6.5bs & 3.23% -- 27 exercise hours
High Voltage Lifers – 2.5 lbs & 1.73% --- 77.5 exercise hours
Thinternational – 1.3 lbs & 0.82% -- 45.5 exercise hours
NewPAlite – +1.3 lbs & +0.49% -- 37.5 exercise hours

The gal that won the hot seat this week for exercise hours, Madra, was a former college basketball player and she dug deep to her jock days to get in 23 hours of exercise. She also was the top weight loss person with 7.5 pounds. She truly worked her butt off this past week. The guy from the 1st week set the exercise precedent of 23 hours and that’s exactly what everyone was shooting for. Madra and I both were completely exhausted after those 23 hours. I had to go home and take a nap yesterday! Half-way through my last ½ hour at the YMCA on Tuesday evening, my body just shut down and said NO MORE. Madra also was completed drained and couldn’t do anything yesterday either. It was a fun week watching everyone exercise like crazy people. And my weight loss? Another 1.1 pounds to bring the total to 8.6 pounds. Just 1.4 pounds in the next two weeks and my goal is accomplished (10 pounds total). I’m a loser (and an exercise slacker!!)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Paddle, Paddle, Paddle, and Ride, Ride, Ride

Hubby and I had a lovely paddle today on a creek in our backyard -- the Wiconisco. The creek starts in Williamstown and joins Rattling Creek in Lykens (yes, the same Rattling Creek as our Bike trails) and meanders through Lykens Valley for 34 miles. We paddled the last 8 miles today from just below Elizabethville to where it dumps into the Susquehanna river in Millersburg. The only reason we did it is because it was finally high enough to paddle! Normally, it runs SO low you scrape and scratch your way down. We played in little waves and had a good time for a little over 3 hours. The last two miles get a little bouncy with a couple small rapids. And Friday was spent in Weiser state forest riding very slow and easy snowmobile trail and fire road. I followed part of what I call the modified Rattling 50 Marathon route. It's the same route skipping all the singletrack, and I didn't do the start or finish (which total about 15 miles). That's the nice part of the Rattling Creek trails -- there are go-arounds for nearly all the singletrack. The trails were wet and even the leaves were holding little pockets of water and it was kinda cold. So I was a happy camper on fire road/snowmobile trails. 4 hours of saddle time. Good hours for the hot seat (I'm on the exercise hot seat at work for Biggest Loser).

Amazon Bestseller - on Running?

Hit search in on your favorite sport and you'll come up with dozens of books and other paraphernalia. Hit the bestseller list and you'll likely find few books on sports -- except for this one: Born to Run. It caught me off guard in amongst the novels (which I wouldn't waste my time reading - sorry novel readers!), so I had to explore what it was about. Born to Run, written by Christopher McDougall, is mostly about ultra distance running by a Mexican Indian tribe. What's astonishing is they do it completely naturally - no special nutrition, no fancy-dancy padded, high-tech sneakers (they wear little more than flip-flops), and no training. And that's where the author goes with the book, comparing us to them. He claims humans were born and built to run (hunters and gathers of prehistoric times?) and the Tarahumara Indians provide the proof in the today's modern world. The whole idea for the book started with a thought "why does my foot hurt." Read the reviews above for more info. I really like the "natural" part of it all. Yes, they eat "natural" diets in Mexico! The main staples of these people are Chia seeds, pinole (corn meal), and grain alcohol. The author also claims their clear-headedness has a lot to do with their natural ability to run. They just run and don't think too much about it. No heart rate monitors, no distance calculators, no gels or sports drinks, no thoughts about oh-my-aching-back. They clear their heads and enjoy the outdoor world. I like that clear head idea. Now where's that switch to turn off the brain.