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Archives for April, 2011

Every Step Counts Fun Run 2011

Today was the Every Step Count run day.  The weather sure did cooperate.  Who knew you could see the Golden Gate Bridge from San Leandro?  It was great to see all of the people out running and trying to run.  Not everyone could run the whole distance but everyone tried.  Every time you get out and try, you get better.  I love to see the effort.  I tried to get a picture of every race participant.  The pictures can be found here.

Every Step Counts is a race hosted by the Stepping Stones Growth Center, an organization to help young people with learning disabilities.  Life skills involve making every step count and taking things one step at a time.

Mike’s note:  At a time when the state and national governments slash budgets for parks, education, and other vital programs, it’s great to see Stepping Stones Growth Center and similar programs making a great difference.

If you’re in the SF East Bay and want a local 5K to race this weekend, the Every Step Counts 1 Mile Walk/Run will be held on Saturday (April 30) from the San Leandro Marina Park.

The event, hosted by the Stepping Stones Growth Center non-profit social services agency, helps children and adults with disabilities get better life skills.

The race has a $30 entry fee (includes race entry, t-shirt, one free entry to prize drawing, goodie bag, and post-race snacks). You can head to the event registration page for online race signup.

For anyone thinking about attending the race, here are the particulars:

Date: Saturday, April 30, 2011
Location: San Leandro Marina Park, 13800 Monarch Bay Dr., San Leandro 94577
Race check-in and day of registration: Begins 7:30 a.m.
Opening ceremony and walk/run: Begins at 8:30 a.m.
Closing ceremony and post-event festivities: Begin at 10:00 a.m.

I’m currently working on an upcoming article related to the SSGC, its work in the community, and the impact of its 5K race.

Cycling advocates in San Francisco are upset with a continued effort to create a cycling speed limit on the Golden Gate Bridge.

The proposed speed limit would be 5 mph when navigating around any iron tower, with a 10 mph speed limit across most of the bridge. There is no official speed limit and there are times when people can be found exceeding 20 mph on a crowded bridge, making a possible incident more likely.

The base fine for law violators would be $100, but would drastically increase after court fees and other charges are included on the ticket.

Riding across the GGB draws thousands of visitors every day, as tourists, residents and athletes pedal across the bridge.

I think the focus should be on those towers, where you go around a blind turn that is narrow and sometimes hazardous. An avid cyclist friend agreed, saying he agreed that 5 mph around the tower seemed like a fair speed limit.

There are plenty of rude cycling snobs that have passed me on the GGB even when I was riding a fairly reckless pace. It’s going to happen, and it causes the most discomfort and danger among tourists with shaky bike handling abilities.

I’m all for keeping people safe on the bridge, but a $100 (plus added fees) on the ticket seems too ridiculous right now. Besides the fact that the proposal wasn’t well thought out — and didn’t involve any bike advocacy groups in SF or Marin.

The weather is warming up and more of us are getting out into state and national parks … a fun experience for people running and cycling, or spending more time with the family. There are some basic guidelines that should be followed to ensure safety, and Alameda Runners will be reaching out to a few different companies and experts to help contribute.

In an interview about South Lake Tahoe (coming soon), we were given this advice about Mother Nature:

The basics are pack-in and pack-out your trash while on the trails, camping, hiking, boating. We treasure where we live and ask locals and visitors to be conscience of their own efforts to trash and recycling around the lake. Also, visitors should be aware of what to do if you were to run into a bear while on the trails and don’t feed the animals. Other concern is the wildfire danger, cigarettes left near trees/pine needles that aren’t extinguished may result in a fire.

The trails and parks are hard to maintain, so definitely use the “pack-in” and “pack-out” rule to make sure everything you take with you also leaves with you.  This is true for all parks, including the East Bay Regional Parks.  When you are out in the park, pick up a wrapper that blows across your feet.  If trash gets picked up as soon as it is noticed, it will not wind up in one of those hard to reach places where it is difficult to pick up.

The Lake Tahoe region has bears, but you should be familiar with different wildlife in your local geographic area. For example, it’s very possible some of your trail runs take you into the domain controlled by coyotes, wolves, or other big cats you don’t want to snuggle with. Even smaller animals (raccoons or possums) can easily throw a wrench into your plans if you’re not aware and careful.

We’re putting together a collection of basic tips and tricks for casual hikers and backpackers looking to get away for day trips away from the suburbs.

Long Distance Training Supplies

Now that I am training for more than five hours just about every Saturday, my nutritional needs have changed. I am all about carrying food that contains a lot of calories that is easily digestible. Many thanks to the nutritionists at Clif and GU for their patience and understanding in helping us with our nutritional needs. I am trying to write an article on nutrition but I keep complicating things and not making any progress. I am making progress in a lot of areas which I will share with you now.

I know that my body can only process (or convert to glycogen) between 200-400 calories per hour while it is burning between 500-1500 calories per hour. I also know that my consumes calories glycogen stores very quickly when I am working hard. The trick is to train your body to burn calories from fat on these long workouts. To do this, you must slow down. The trainers say slow to 70-75% of your max heart rate. I don’t know what that is, so I say slow to 60-80% of max heart rate.

What has been working for me is packing the calories into my sports drink. My current favorite is Clif Lemonade flavor electrolyte drink. I make it about 50% stronger than the instructions say.

I have two 28 ounce bottles on my bike. Each bottle has 6 scoops of electrolyte powder. That gives me close to 500 calories per bottle. I also like to eat a clif bar, marathon bar or energy gel while riding the bike or running.

My stomach is more forgiving on the bike than when I am out running. Practice consuming the calories on the long,  slow workout days.

The better you get at staying well nourished, the lower your chances of crashing when you over do it. Bonking is a bad thing, you want to avoid it, if possible. I have a couple of baskets of training goodies. Variety is best. I favor Clif for a variety of reasons, such as they try to stay as natural as possible, they care about their customers, the stuff tastes good enough to eat and they are local to me.

GU is another small company that is local to me with quality products and they care about their customers too. Of course the top product in my picture is a Snickers Marathon bar but it does taste good and it is loaded with good calories.

Athletes looking for every advantage can help themselves reach their physical VO2 and lactate threshold, an article (re-published from VeloNews) reveals. Casual athletes typically focus more on actual training and basic diets, but serious athletes also want a physiological advantage.

A couple of tidbits from the article, which I fully recommend reading (it has some science stuff):

VO2 max is defined as the maximal rate of oxygen consumed by an exercising individual. An excellent resource for understanding this topic is Bassett and Howley’s paper “Limiting factors for maximum oxygen uptake and determinants of endurance performance” (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise volume 33, 2000). This paper outlines that VO2 max is limited by oxygen delivery to the muscles and not the muscles’ ability to utilize oxygen.

Additional details about lactate threshold:

A contributor to fatigue is the increased reliance on the anaerobic metabolic system, not the lactate molecule itself. Lactate threshold, loosely defined, is the workload which elicits substantial and unsustainable levels of lactate production relative to lactate clearance from the blood (anaerobic contribution).

If you’re ever in doubt, athletes have a wide variety of peer support and expert help from qualified professionals. I normally just reach out to one of my Twitter followers (@alamedarunners) for help, because someone usually can help me whenever necessary.  Also, feel free to look up your local chiropractor, sports nutritionist, or physiologist if you need additional help.

I love to review products aimed more towards sports nutrition, because it opens up the door for us to try so many unique products. Today we’re going to keep it rather simple, and chat about an emerging flavor of GU Chomps: watermelon.

I’m a big fan of electrolyte blocks that I can chew on, and it’s always a great time to test these products out. I’ve reviewed the GU Blueberry Pomegranate Chomps in the past, so I’m relatively familiar.

My 2011 Oakland Running Festival (ORF) goodie bag included a sample size of the GU Watermelon Chomps energy chews for athletes. I saved the sample blocks to try during a light bike ride around Alameda on an unusually warm day (above 70F in late March/early April).

As expected from sports nutrition, GU Chomps have a nice combination of both simple and complex carbs to fuel us. The Watermelon flavor (four pieces) has 90 calories, 50mg sodium, 40mg potassium, 23g total carbs, and 11g of sugar.

The taste of the GU Watermelon electrolyte blocks have a juicy watermelon flavor that should help athletes with a sweet tooth. The taste is good and it’s less sweet than some type of watermelon flavor candy, and should be easy to get down with a bit of water.

I normally just drink water on shorter bike rides, but the Chomps about 45 minutes into the ride properly fueled me for the rest of the 90 minutes spent out and about. They taste good and are effective — give them a try if you see them at your local running or cycling store.

Just like many of you, I have a choice between wearing my regular prescription eyeglasses or wearing normal sunglasses. I usually run wearing my sunglasses and will go for long bike rides with my prescription glasses (higher speeds, longer distances) to ensure I don’t end up in too much trouble.

Lately, I have become interested in picking up a pair of prescription sunglasses that will be able to protect my eyes and allow me to see normally. I remember it wasn’t too long ago when prescription sunglasses either were much too for average customers.

More manufacturers now offer “RX” sunglasses that are custom designed for athletes.  Cyclist-friendly Rudy Project has its “Rx-able sunglasses”, while Oakley has a strong catalog of Authentic Prescription Lenses. Ray-Ban also has some models that are Rx-compatible, with the trend only to continue this year.

Alameda Runners recently caught up with sunglasses maker Revo (full interview to be posted soon), but the company had this to say about its prescription sunglasses effort:

Revo Rx is an important part of the Revo line. Revo has a state-of-the-art, in-house optical lab to be able to provide and fill prescriptions of unsurpassed quality and exceptional clarity. Since every athlete’s eyes are different, the need for custom eye-wear is crucial and without that customization, it can lead to eye fatigue and headaches. Almost every model in Revo’s collection can be customized for each person’s prescription, whether that is single-vision or progressive lenses.

If you’re an athlete looking for prescription sunglasses, there are a growing number of choices for you to check out. Your local sunglasses store will probably have prescription sunglasses models you can try on. Options are available, so you just have to browse around and see what’s best for you.

As expected, the 2011 Oakland Running Festival helped the City of Oakland generate around $3 million in revenue from the 1300+ out of town athletes.
Athletes from outside the Bay Area spent around $445 to stay, eat and race in Oakland during festival weekend.

Here is a tidbit from the Oakland Tribune story:

While the economic windfall for Oakland was positive, the races also showcased the city to many who otherwise might not come to Oakland. The field represented people from 39 states and six other countries, and so far the feedback has been top-notch, said race spokesman Dave Gell.

“The financial impact is accountable, but the public relations impact should be assessed as well,” said Greenlight spokesman Ryan Chamberlain. “I’m not sure how you quantify the goodwill generated by several thousand people from all over the world going on a 26.2-mile street-level tour of the city and then reporting back nothing but good stories. This event makes Oakland look really good.”

If CSE (Corrigan Sports) wants to help ORF grow to the same size as the Baltimore Running Festival (25K+ runners, then economic success for Oakland is an important step. The feedback from the race was positive (again) as runners and visitors were able to look beyond the city’s sketchy public image.

Editor’s Note: It’s also worth noting that it’s excellent CSE pays the OPD overtime pay (roughly $100,000) so the City of Oakland doesn’t have to pick up the tab. It seems unlikely the community would be as willing to support the race if they had to pay for officers along the course.