A Staten Island triathlete and endurance coach ventures into the ultramarathon realm where there are seemingly no limits to human endurance. In 2013, he successfully finished the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning (picture of 2013 Grand Slam finishers above; I'm second from right), becoming only the 282nd person (since its beginnings in 1986) and only the fourth New Yorker to finish four of the oldest and most prestigious 100 mile ultramarathons in the U.S. in only 10 weeks.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mt. Beacon Pictures at Dawn

The video just below is my hair-raising descent from the fire tower after sunrise.


All of these pictures were taken at dawn at the end of the hill training workout, most at the Fire Tower. We were definitely thankful for a beautiful time to do this. Great photos!

On the trail leading to the fire tower. Beautiful pre-dawn light.

Reds and oranges. We were definitely treated to a great dawn!

Jackie and Deanna checking to see if we were going in the right direction to the tower.

Can't help taking a photo of the sky!

Jackie checking map again. She navigated us right and true.

Arrival at the fire tower. Full moon in background.

 Top of tower, full moon!

Awaiting arrival of dawn at tower.

Deanna flashing her award-winning smile!

Here comes the sun! A new day.

More sun.

Jackie in front of the sunrise.

A great pic of the motley crew at the top of the tower.

Beautiful picture getting down the tower after sunrise.

Some hair-raising photos of the descent.

Yikes!

Yeah, it was cold up there.

I'm coming down!

Leaving the fire tower

Final arrival at the trailhead. 16 miles done, 15,000 feet of elevation change. Time to get to the diner and eat a well deserved breakfast!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Mt.Beacon Short Report - In a word, FANTASTIC!

I'm keeping it short here.

What a weekend. First, volunteering for the High Rock Challenge on Saturday morning. Being the rabbit, I totalled about 12 rugged trail miles altogether.

But here was the best part of the weekend!

A nice group of about 7-9 hardcore ultra runners met at Mr. Beacon in the Hudson Valley Saturday night and proceeded to climb and descend a 1 mile long, 1000ft climb trail from the trail head to the top of Mr.Beacon overnight, simulating the exact conditions that would be encountered in a hilly 100 mile race. In the end, we climbed the hill 7 times, then descended the rugged trail that definitely taxed the quadriceps muscles. On the last climb, we fast-hiked an extra mile to the fire tower and climbed to the top to see a magnificent sunrise, a great finish to one of the most strenuous workouts I've ever done.

The totals for the overnight torture? 16 miles of running, about 7500 feet of climbing. Excellent!

What a great group of people to be with! Talk about pushing me to my limits, there is so much talent in this group that I know I can learn a lot from. They definitely know how to handle extremes in every aspect of the word. Although I had my moments of weeknesses, I handled the training very well! Although I still feel that I need to get even better for the last 9 weeks of training, the fact of the matter is that never in my wildest dreams have I thought to become super-fit like this! I just hope it carries over to the Grand Slam races this summer.

More info and pics to follow soon. As of now, I'm definitely due a nap. :-)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Availability 4-29 / Grand Slam Thoughts 9 Weeks Out

One of the things I would like to establish with my athletes is a schedule of sorts so that I can become more available for joint training. This way, we can communicate more often, face-to-face instead of over an impersonal electronic medium.

What you, the athlete, can do is take a look at my available training times and call or email me if you want to train at the same time. I think it makes for a more personal experience.

Anyway, here goes.

Monday April 29, morning run to 8 miles, 7AM - 11AM - location flexible.

Thursday May 2, run or ride, 8AM - 2PM - location flexible (if ride, preferably at Great Kills Park).

Sunday May 5, run or ride (or brick) - mornings from 8AM - 10AM.

As I keep stating, I'm a personal coach, not an online coach. Communication is always key here, and if you want to talk about my coaching strategy for your races, or maybe just talk about coaching philosophy in general, these would be a great time to do it!

All you need to do is contact me with a specific time and location within the ranges I specified above, and I'll be there!

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It is now exactly 9 more weeks until Western States. That's 63 days!

My schedule leading up to the first race of the Grand Slam is loaded with tons of mileage. Running, cycling, and swimming mileage.

I do approach these ultramarathons as  if they are triathlons, because with me, time has proven itself again and again that I am at my strongest for any race when I incorporate the more balanced triathlon training regimen into my schedule.

So tonight I travel to Mt. Beacon. Next week, I'll be the rear sweep for the North Face Bear Mountain 50k race. The following week, I'll be racing the Long Island Greenbelt 50k. The week after that I'll be doing a 2 day Appalachian Trail hike that should total around 100 miles.

Two weeks after the Appalachian Trail hike will be my last long run of the training, doing 34 miles on the Delaware and Raritan River Towpath with the Raritan Valley Road Runners.

Four weeks after the Towpath Run, I'm in Squaw Valley, toeing the start line at Western States.


My schedule has become frightening short my friends! I am not sure what am I to become during the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning quest, but I am definitely training my mind to expect the unexpected, and expect some truly hellish moments that I will need to calm myself out of. Each of these 100 mile races is a  huge trial in and of itself. To do 4 of them in 10 weeks? I still can't imagine it.

Well, I will definitely communicate to the 25 others who are attempting this feat also. Maybe with each other's support we can get us through the four races. I think we all need every bit of support we can get.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Here Comes Another Mt. Beacon Adventure - At Night!!!

I am about to embark on another adventure!

A couple of the NYC area's finest ultra ladies, Deanna and Jacqueline (who is also attempting the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning this year), have invited me along with others crazy enough to do this, on an overnight trip to do mountain repeats at Mt. Beacon in the Hudson Valley. I will be taking the trip up after fulfilling my High Rock Challenge volunteer duty on Saturday.

This is what is left of the incline railroad that goes to the top of Mt. Beacon. The trail meanders around this path, going up 1000 feet in nearly a mile. Perfect for mountain repeats. At night though? Yikes!


I went to this climb about a month ago, and the climb nearly knocked my socks off.

And now I go tomorrow night. Headlamp on, and limited vision. Up and down and up and down until dawn. With people who can do this as easy as doing a walk in the park. I'm in for it now!

It's not the uphill climb that Iam worried about with these talented athletes. I think I can now climb hills with some of the best in the area now.

It's going downhill that worries me.

These best ultra-athletes can fly down the hill! Even with a hill as technical as Mt. Beacon. I just have this sinking feeling that they are going to have to wait a little at the bottom as I get my slow butt down the mountain without killing myself.

And at night? I must have some sort of death wish, lol.

These people are going to push me to the brink of exhaustion Saturday night. In other words, this is definitely the best ultra-training that I'll be doing in prep for this summer. With athletes that can really push me to go farther. This is the reason I couldn't turn this opportunity down.

The steps at the bottom leading to the lower switchbacks of the Mt. beacon trail.

The trail is VERY technical. Going uphill isn't going to be my problem here. It's going downhill. I'll be with company who can fly down these things. I'm a dead man. ;-)

The switchbacks at the lower end of the trail. Ouch.

People can actually FLY down this? I can pick my way across at a moderate speed, but not at a suicidal dive-bomber rate. I'll leave that to the ladies, lol.


I guess it's time to buckle my seatbelt. I hope to get a  good nap in after volunteering at High Rock, because I'm definitely going to need it afterwards.

I'll let you know whether I survive or not.



Thursday, April 25, 2013

Finally a Warm Day / About Clubs and Groups

Warm Day for a Long Workout!

Finally, we on Staten Island had a warm day yesterday!

So I took advantage of it. My 60 mile bike, which was originally slated for Sunday, was moved to yesterday to take full advantage of the warm day.

So I traveled to Sayreville NJ to ride on the roads there.

The above park is only 5 minutes away from the Outerbridge; you can easily take 3-4 bike routes from here for great long bike workouts! Some great routes include going Down the Shore to Long Branch and even going west into Pennsylvania!


I did well, finishing a little over 3 hours (3:09:45). I was spent during the last 10 miles, but nothing that really slowed me down, besides the traffic, of course.

Weighing myself afterwards, I "hit my mark" at 175 pounds. I won't count that weight, of course, because I lost a lot of water weight during that ride. But still, it's pretty significant on how close I really am to my goal weight for the Grand Slam.

I...am...that...close...to my goal weight! I can taste it now.

With 9.5 weeks to go, I am truly amazed at the results that I am getting now. This is the first time in my life that both my diet and all aspects of my training are firing on all cylinders.

And I actually feel like I reversed my aging process a bit. That is the best part about it!

----------

About Clubs and Groups

I am a member of several running clubs and groups. I happen to like a lot of people in theses clubs, and that is why I will continue to be a member of various clubs that I'm in.

But, as I found out recently, never take a prominent position within the club.

The late, great George Carlin said it right...never get too involved in clubs and groups, for it will be the end of your individuality and creativeness.

Great quote from Carlin here, click for a bigger picture.


This is in *every* club that has ever been formed, not just the running clubs I'm involved in. There will always be people in every club that will try to destroy your individuality by "adhering to a team mentality".

That means being in a hive collective. No thanks.


That also means sacrificing some of my hours for others who don't exactly appreciate what I am doing. Being chained to a formal position in a club, I had no recourse but to continue giving some of my hours up to those unsupportive people.

I finally got smart and left the position in the club...which then allowed me to get those hours that I sacrificed back. Right there and then I felt a huge weight being removed from my shoulders.

Listen, I'm not against clubs at all. They do a lot of good things for people, enable one to make friends with others who have similar interests, and enable way to achieve goals that some people couldn't have done by themselves. There are a lot of good people who will support you in a club or group. And that's a good thing. But generally avoid those people, and there will always be those people, who will try to push you into teams with activities that you really don't want to do. Avoid these people with all costs. If you join a club, even a running club, make your friends and be very social on club runs, but stick to your guns and keep to *your* schedule. If you don't really want to do a race or a club run but someone is pressing you to do it, stick to your guns and politely tell them no. If they start berating and bullying you, and yes, this is all too common, then just walk away. They don't deserve your attention at all.

And don't ever seek a formal position in a club. That will be the death of your individuality. Just stay an ordinary member. This way you are not chained to that position and can come and go whenever you like.

That will be my philosophy I will use from now on. No formal positions ever. I will continue to be friends with various club members, and will definitely continue to invite them on certain runs and rides, but now I have the freedom to pick and choose friends to do certain activities with over those in the club who are not very supportive of my efforts. And that I can be happy about.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Ultramarathon Training - Why Swimming and Cycling?

An interesting question arose yesterday at the Staten Island South Shore YMCA while running trails with someone yesterday.

"If you're running all these 100 mile races, why are you swimming and cycling at all?"


It's a good question. I told her that cross-training has a way of exercising all the muscles that running itself doesn't do, and makes the body bulletproof to ultra-endurance races like those 100 mile events.

And since I'm training many different groups of muscles, I actually can load more hours of training in per week without sustaining an injury.

You see, if all I did was run, run, run, I would be taxing the same muscles all the time. Those same muscles need to recover at various points, so I have to program some down time into my regimen so that I don't get injured.

But when I add swimming and cycling into the mix? Well, I can easily pull back my volume of running to recover those muscles, but can ramp up, say, my cycling at the same time. I'm utilizing different muscles, so I can keep my intensity up while my running muscles are recovering.

Anyway, that's my take on it.

What is amazing about ultrarunning is that it is a relatively new phenomenon, and it is "undiscovered country", meaning there is no established way of training for these races yet. People who tackle these races need to find out for themselves what works for them and what doesn't. You cannot just buy a book and read from a script on how to approach the sport. The result, as amazing as it is, is that every ultrarunner has a very different approach to tackling ultramarathons.

Such as what I saw at Ultra Night last week at JackRabbit Sports. The forum had 8 different ultrarunners explaining their training and nutrition, and each was as different as the other in their approach.


One logs "big miles" of 160 miles per week of running, one does only 60 miles per week and Crossfit on the side (Crossfit is a new way of training that involves a holistic, high intensity approach, using groups of muscles instead of isolating each one). Another doesn't even keep a logbook, she goes out to run when she feels able to. You get the picture. And nutrition is also different among the ultrarunners; several are vegan, one went Paleolithic, one just eats raw fruits and some raw vegetables, and some just eat anything that is available to them.

As for me, I tried logging "big miles" before my second attempt at the 100 mile distance, the one I completed over 28 hours at Vermont 3 years ago. I barely got through that race. I used the same "big miles" routine in Leadville and died on the slopes of Hope Pass at mile 47. The race was utterly out of my league.

Immediately after the Leadville failure came a revelation; I started to go back to my triathlon roots and used that approach for Vermont last year. Cut down the run mileage but add the swim and cycling to the mix. The results were amazing! I finished the race in 21 hours and 24 minutes last year. The triathlon training worked!

That is what is great about training in a relatively young sport; everyone gets to make their own rules. There is no established training approach to ultras, not yet anyway, and given the philosophy of the sport, I don't think anyone *can* come up with a unified approach in training for the sport. Every ultramarathon course is different, the people who enter into ultrarunning come from different backgrounds and are largely experienced in training in that background for them to change their routine into something more unified.

I'll be sticking to my triathlon training. It works for me, and I think it will get me through the Grand Slam in the best way possible. I believe that all that swimming and cycling on top of my running will pay off this summer. And I'm willing to bet a small fortune on it. As a matter of fact, I already did, with all the expenses that come with these 4 races!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

10 Weeks to The Grand Slam of Ultrarunning - Basically On Track Again

I'm going to give a basic update on what I have been doing the past several weeks for training. Some good and some bad here but overall, I've been maintaining, and even increasing my performance even more. One thing I have to say right now is to thank my lucky stars that we Staten Islanders have a Greenbelt in our backyard to train. Without this, I don't think training for the Grand Slam was even possible.


Let's get the Bad News out of the way first. It's only one, but it's a big one:

1) My father's health. He is OK and strong as an ox, but he was diagnosed with prostate cancer a little more than a month ago. He was due radiation treatments, but they recently found another growth in his bladder, and he was admitted to a hospital for a "routine" procedure to take it out. My father spent about 3 days in the hospital for basic observation, and whatever growth they took out was sent to the lab. We will be nervously waiting results for 2 weeks. Hopefully the results will prove that the tumor is benign.

Since we help each other out in the family, I have basically taken over important aspects of his business and other important functions he does. This has seriously reduced my availability to train at my routine hours and have even sometimes resorted to training in the middle of the night to keep my fitness. Nevertheless, some of the training I had hoped to do was never done.

There also exists the very small possibility that I have to ditch the Grand Slam altogether to keep everything on track, but, as I said above, we all support each other as family and my other brothers can pick things up while I'm away running all those miles.

Now, the Good News:

1) The training hit a rough patch the past couple of weeks, but I'm glad to say that it did not affect my overall fitness at all. I've discovered this past weekend that I can still run very long without tiring much. All that training in the previous weeks do count. And my speed on the trails is WAY up. It is great to know that I can actually do well in shorter races if I want to try. The Staten Island Advance Memorial Day Run might be an option to do, but chances are that I won't to make sure that all of my focus is still on the Grand Slam.

2) There is a chance that I will have a sizeable crew for at least 2 of the races. I won't elaborate now, but if the key people involved have no problem with expenses, then I'm ready to roll!

3) My weight is down today to 177.5 pounds. My overall goal is to toe the line at Leadville at 175 pounds. I only need to drop 2.5 pounds. And I might reach my goal sooner, by toeing the line at Western States! Remember that my official weight at Leadville 2 years ago was 204 pounds. A nearly 30 pound drop between that race and this race is going to be the big difference in whether I finish this race or not!

The past 2 weeks have been also chaotic in terms of my diet. I have never left staying paleo in my diet, but the meals and the time I eat have been very inconsistent. I also thought I overindulged on dark chocolate the past couple of weeks. Basically, I was on a really high fat diet and thought that my weight was going to skyrocket when I finally made it to the scale. For the first time in 2 weeks, I went on the scale today and was pleasantly surprised that my weight was at 177.5 pounds! Which makes for a very interesting analysis...a high fat diet is really not bad for you at all, and supports the argument that it's the processed carbohydrates...aka GRAINS...that are the culprit in obesity and weight gain. That is something that I will really look into in the coming years.

So, that is my overall status. Overall, I say it's not bad at all. The only thing I would like right now is to actually see spring arrive in the Northeast. I did an 8 mile run this morning in 41 degree (F) weather with clothes that I normally use in November. Western States has the potential for a lot of heat, and I need at least a 2 week window to adjust to the heat so that my race goes well. I'm hoping that nature will start cooperating and give up the cold here.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston Marathon 2013 - The Agony of Waiting and the Ramifications Of It All


When I first heard about what happened in Boston, I immediately revisited a lot of my horrible recollections from September 11.

Fortunately, all of the people I know who did this race were safe, thank God.

I still remember clearly the events of September 11, 2001. My brother was a new firefighter at the time and I was living in NJ. When the impossible happened that day, the cell phones went down, cutting off all contact with my parents and with my brother. I couldn't drive back to Staten Island, so I had to sit where I was, worried to death.

It took 6-8 agonizing hours over whether my brother lived or not before I was finally able to contact my parents on Staten Island. My parents finally gave me the good news that my brother was safe and that he was on the Staten Island Ferry when the Twin Towers collapsed.

Other families I know didn't fare as well with their loved one's fate.

So, I got the same recollection of what happened at the Boston Marathon yesterday. Again, the cell service went down, and people I know were spending hours agonizing on whether their loved ones were OK. It was an eerie deja-vu that dated back to September 11, 2001. Most families got their good news that everyone was safe. I really feel for the few families that didn't get good news.

And I really worry about the ramifications for all of this. Apparently all the security they had at the finish, including bomb-sniffing dogs, didn't help at all. Are high profile races like these going to turn into armed prison camps, where spectators have to pass through a TSA style screening to get close to the line? And if so, at what expense? New York has bumped up its fees significantly for races in the area to where most of these races are too high to race in.

I don't know, but whatever end-result we are going to see, I am definitely not going to like.

As an ultrarunner, I am kind of fortunate to not partake in any televised high-profile races like the Boston Marathon frequently, but I do find myself around the New York City Marathon a lot, especially in a volunteering capacity, so I still count myself among the vulnerable here.

Still, one of the redeeming qualities that I have is that I have never really feared death at all; when my time comes, then it comes. This makes me a bit more immune to shying away from attending high profile events like this. And I urge everyone to do so too.

Listen, everyone should have a very fulfilling life, and that means never making a decision because you might be scared of a threat to your life. If everyone lived in fear, nobody would ever venture outside of their houses at all, and what kind of a life is that?

The bottom line? Live your life to the fullest, and never be scared. To be scared is one of the goals of whom or whatever did this at the Boston Marathon, so don't give into it.

Just go outside and do your thing and let fate take care of the rest.

Oh, and on your next run? Wear your favorite race shirt in tribute to those who are suffering and and who have perished in Boston. Most runners will be doing that today; it's the least we can do.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

My weekend in the Hudson Valley! Wow, what an experience!!!

With the weather not getting out of winter mode, I decided in the last minute not to run along with some friends in the White Mountains of New Hampshire since the Wind Chill was about -30F near Tuckerman's Ravine. The running was just not practical there, so I decided to take a little field trip closer to home.

The plan was simple. First, the person in NJ who is also doing the Grand Slam has mentioned about doing the mountain repeats at Mt. Beacon. So I took her advice and went with it. :-)


The picture above is the main trail of the Mt. Beacon climb, and it climbs close to 1 mile and up 1000 feet from the city of Beacon to the lookout at top.

I planned to do 5 of these repeats up and down this trail and see how I fare.

I then sleep at a nearby shelter at the Appalachian Trail, then head on over to Katonah to meet with people from the Leatherman's Harriers and the NY Trail and Ultrarunning Meetup Group to do the Leatherman's 10k course, plus a more difficult 10k course in case the 10k was not enough.


 The official Leatherman's Loop. All I can say was I loved it!!!

The 2nd, more difficult 10k loop, the Fire Tower Loop. The HUGE hills here really kicked my butt, in a good way. :-)

All I can say was, wow, what a rush! Everything turned out to be much better than in my wildest dreams. :-)

First, Mt. Beacon. The main route up to the top is am unrelenting climb to the top, with one very steep section in the lower section after the switchbacks and one really, really steep section closer to the top. Each lap started from the trailhead, up the steps in the lower end, then the rest of the way on this rocky trail to the top. On the uphills I power-hiked this thing to the top without stopping at all.When I finally got to the top I soaked in the scenery (wow!) of the lower Hudson Valley. I also thought to myself that it was going to be insane to do another 4 of these since the first power-hike sapped a lot of energy out of me!

The run down was also quite treacherous, but doable. As a matter of fact, I wanted the downhills to be punishing on my legs since I will be running down some major mountains in all of the Grand Slam races. So I kept the pace pretty quick getting down the hill.

When I got to the trailhead on the bottom, I took a quick drink, then started up again, power-hiking, of course.

And again, I did quite well! There were a lot of hikers on this trail that had to stop frequently as they were going uphill and were starting to notice what I was doing. With comments like "you're a machine" and "keep it going", I started to really have fun with these mountain repeats.

Got to the top again, turned around, ran down, and now my legs were starting to get trashed. Perfect! That's what I want to do. Trash the legs now so that they will be more trash resistant in the races that count.

On my third climb, one of the hikers looked at me and said, "what is this, third time?" I nodded yes, and said, "wow, God bless you!" Despite my legs getting more tired, I was still power-hiking with conviction!

The 4th and 5th times were the tough ones. Still, I did well with the last two and I was just impressed at my climbing ability at this point; my legs were much better at climbing than when I did Vermont! And I still had 12 weeks to go before the first Grand Slam ultra, so I'm am so stoked that my fitness is this exceptional!

The next day, I ride on down to do the Leatherman's Loop course with easily around 40 people. After some obligatory group camera shots before the run, we started soon after 8AM on the first part of the course. I went out quickly with the first group and maintained a near race-pace on this course. The course itself was challenging. Steep hills, 3 waist-high water crossings, lots of mud, and I was having fun here! I quickly fell in love with the course it was so challenging. With my legs trashed from the mountain repeats the day before, I still had a lot of energy left to climb the steep hills at a quick pace without any let up.

A "before" shot with the group.


A cool video of the actual Leatherman's Loop course.

My legs were thoroughly trashed after the first loop. And I was ready for the second, more difficult loop. After we gathered, about 15 of us decided to tackle the Fire Tower loop. I went with the lead group and quickly found myself climbing one heck of a long hill into the ridge. My legs were hurting, but I sill maintained an aggressive pace as I kept with the group. Once on top, the trails turned real technical and rocky as I was slowed going downhill on a scree field. About halfway through the loop, we finally turned toward the site of the Fire Tower; it was here that we encountered two HUGE, STEEP hills that forced us to climb on all fours to get to the top. I had to let up a little on these climbs, but the people in front of me stopped periodically to take in the sights and to allow the group to reform. After finally getting to the top, the trail descended mostly downhill as we were closing in on the parking lot. There were still some small but significant climbs that had to be negotiated, but they were done with little problem.

By the time I got back to the parking lot, my legs were thoroughly trashed. And I had a huge smile on my face. My goal for this weekend was fulfilled in such a great way; I would definitely love to come back here and actually do the Leatherman's Loop 10k race one of these years. It's such a kick-ass course that I would love to see how well I fare with the challenges the course deals out.

One thing about running with the people here is that, even though I run trails well, there were a lot of other people in this group that can run the trails better. And I'm glad to have people on this course that can really challenge me to run farther and faster than I would normally do. 

As for my prognosis with the Grand Slam, my fitness is probably the best it's ever been in regards to ultras. I'm super-light (180 pounds) and I'm very strong on hills, which gives me a much better chance at actually completing the Grand Slam this year. 12 weeks to go until Western States; I can't wait!



Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Always Read the Labels - Some Foods Can Surprise You With Bad Ingredients

I recently posted here about the 3 evil food ingredients you should avoid at all costs, wheat, artifical sweeteners, and high fructose corn syrup.

What is crazy is that it seems like 80% of all foods have one or more of these ingredients in them, even in those you don't suspect.

So you need to always be sceptical and read the labels.

I recently started to eat Greek Yogurt for breakfast and needed a bit of protein to sprinkle on it so that I can get my protein for the meal. I went over to Trader Joe's this morning to do a bit of grocery shopping and also to see what they have in terms of protein.



They had about 3-4 options for protein supplements. On a whim I decided to look at the ingredients that make up the protein powders.

One "designer whey protein" powder had fructose as the 2nd ingredient on the list.

Are you kidding me? Why does everything that is placed in a package HAVE to be sweetened? I put the can of powder back on the shelf with disgust.

I picked up another can, this one labeled "Trader Joe's Whey protein". I read the ingredients again...

...and saw "corn sugar" high on the list of ingredients again. I threw that back on the shelf with disgust.

The third brand was worse. It was a "MetRx" brand protein blend of something or another. I picked this one up and read the ingredients. What I saw was frightening.

Aside from all the suspicious chemicals I cannot pronounce easily, one of the ingredients stood out like a sore thumb...sucralose.

That would be Splenda, an artificial sweetener that is shown in many research report as very poisonous. WTF?

And no larger mention of this in bold letters on the label..., you know, like "Made with Splenda".

This was very galling to me. The people who usually pick up protein powders are usually health conscious folks who are looking to improve their health, and they lace their powders with something that can irrevocably damage their bodies? And not one mention in the front part of the label that it "has Splenda" in it.

I wound up picking up a Organic Hemp Protein powder from Trader Joes. It only has 3 ingredients in it, and all of them are natural.  Even with the protein powder I bought, I remain very sceptical about these powders in general, because of what is in these things. There has been a huge misinformation campaign about nutrition in general, and I am starting to believe that these protein powders might also be involved with this misinformation. The ingredients that I see in them certainly do not comfort me at all and will definitely be asking a lot more questions in the near future about using these protein powders at all.

Bottom line? Be on guard with any food or supplements you take. And ask a lot of questions, because sometimes you see things that you normally wouldn't see. This was the case this morning and I'm sure that it would not be the last surprise that I would ever see.

Our food supply has been compromised in a big way in recent years. Please act accordingly.

Monday, April 1, 2013

2013 Barkley Marathons - We Really Have No Excuse Not To Train!

At the point of this writing, we officially have 2 finishers of the incredibly insane Barkley Marathons. The weather was a real decisive factor this year, with cold rain saturating the runners the first night. Most of the carnage happened that night, and toward the end of day 2, only 2 runners were left to do the 4th and 5th loops.

From @Barkley2011FH - Thanks for posting. Travis Wildeboer handing in his pages the 5th and final time for the finish.

So, with these two badasses handling the weather and the course, where were you this weekend?

I know that some of you won't go outside because it might be chilly, or it's windy, or maybe it's snowing like hell out, but I continually see people like the one above putting all of us mortals to shame.

Yeah, I've been known to skip a workout because I'm a bit tired, so I fall into this category also, and I'm consistently humbled by other people who can brave the worst. Yet they continue to put one step in front of another, get to the finish line, and show us how it's really done.

So those of you who stay on the treadmill during the winters, wish the water in the pool or the beach warmer so that they don't have to feel the chill the moment they are getting in, wish it was less windy so that they don't have to struggle to keep the bike straight, I now present to you Nick Hollon and Travis Wildeboer, the 2 finishers of the 2013 Barkley Marathons. I don't think they will bother listening to our excuses we make for ourselves.

So get out there and train! I know I am. :-)