Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Going Nowhere Fast

That's the story of running an ultra on a treadmill in a nutshell. I got motivated this weekend to go out and run 50k just for fun when I saw that the Yours Truly 50k was going on. I didn't get motivated quite enough to actually leave the house and do it though, so I decided I'd knock out a 50k on the treadmill one morning this week. I was also inspired by Bill Gates' letter this week regarding the Gates Foundation's commitment to actually increasing its spending this year despite decreased incoming funds and the down economy. Put it all together and I decided to donate the entry fee I might have paid for a 50k race today to a great charity. It seems really important in this down economy that we all do our part to continue to support those in even more need than ourselves if and when we can.

So the 50k went well today. It was not terribly eventful. I woke early and was at the gym shortly after it opened, chose a treadmill, and set up my little mini-aid station on the floor next to it. I decided to use the time to learn more about our new President and began listening to Obama's Dreams From My Father while running. It definitely helped the hours pass and kept my mind elsewhere. The treadmill shuts off automatically every hour, so those were my built in quick aid breaks. My end time was 4:08, probably one of my fastest 50k's ever, but I'll be excited to get back on the trails for the next one!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Great Day at the Libraries

Yesterday was a lot of fun. No snow and fast running companions made for much quicker progress than the first time around. The libraries being open for normal hours (and even a few letting us in early) helped a lot too! It was a great day, and we were all really glad to be able to help promote the libraries and get folks excited about going to visit their local branch!

Devon Crosby-Helms, Jonathan Bernard, and Linda Barton met at my house yesterday morning for a quick pow-wow before we hit the road. Brock unfortunately had some things come up at work (Caffe Vita) that couldn't be avoided and couldn't join us for the day. Linda (fresh 0ff the really tough HURT 100k race in HI this past weekend) graciously joined us for the whole day keeping us fueled, hydrated, and full of caffeine. Devon, Jonathan, and I hit the road just after 9am and were able to get in at our first 2 library stops even though they weren't quite open yet. Devon pointed out that it felt like we were going trick or treating as we rang the bells at the back door and held out our passports hoping for stamps.

We continued to press on clicking off libraries and miles one by one. Devon (a SPL librarian herself) had to fight back the urge to catch up with many of the librarians we saw, but we all kept moving really well. All the librarians were very welcoming and excited to see us. The library in South Park even had a great little sign on the front door to welcome us in! While it was a cold day, as long as we kept moving it felt great and we were fortunate to have no rain (or snow).

At Queen Anne, we found friend Thomas waiting for us, and he joined us for a nice long stretch. Devon and Jonathan knew Thomas from the running community here in Seattle, but I had met Thomas several years ago when he lived in Indianapolis and joined me during the 50 marathons for my run there! Small world! We pushed on and met up with all the great library folks at the Central library, then International district and cut over to Alaskan Way to head over to West Seattle. Thomas cut off from us there to go back to work, and the 3 of us continued on. Devon lives in W Seattle, so was really helpful with getting us around there. Devon was also wearing a GPS and informed us that we had done the first 50k in about 4:18 (I think our next 50k was a bit slower...). Dark came around the SouthWest Branch, so our head lamps went on for the night push til 8pm. The slog around Boeing was arduous to say the least (we thought it seemed big when driving by on I-5), but we made it over to Rainier Beach and started moving back up north, feeling like we were on the home stretch.

We slowly came to the realization that we were probably not going to make it to all 27 libraries before our 8pm cut-off, but we decided to just keep pushing and stay on our intended course to get as many as we possibly could before 8. With a hard last push, we were able to squeeze in at the Madrona branch at 7:58pm, get our stamps, and be gone. Linda was there to meet us, and we snapped a few photos, ate a bit of food, put on some clothes, and headed back for the barn. 25 libraries visited for the day, and we only missed the Capitol Hill and Montlake branches. We'll all likely meet up in the next day or 2 to run to the last two and finish up our stamps.

On the way back, I called a few folks to update on our progress, and ironically noticed that I had gotten an email from the library- a due date reminder on a book! Fortunately, with just a few clicks, I renewed my book, and all was well. The Seattle PI wrote a good article on our day's endeavours here, although in an earlier version the author had a line I really liked. It said something like- "Sam's wife Kirsten, a dietitian at Children's Hospital- her extreme sport of choice? Extreme patience. "That's definitely the truth," said Sam." Indeed, that's definitely the truth.

Though we certainly did our fair share of j-walking, we got held up a fair amount waiting for traffic lights, a train for a few moments, etc. Also the stop and go in and out of the libraries proved challenging to a consistent pace, but all in all we kept moving really steadily throughout the day.

Well, I hope this story inspires you to go check out your local library and be reminded of what an incredible resource we have there! On that note, I'm going to curl up with my new book and get it finished before I get another due date notice!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Library Run- Round 2 sans snow (hopefully!)

Well, with my library run being cut a bit short last time, I decided I needed to go back and finish what I started, so tomorrow it's time to give it a go again! It should be a great day to go to the library, and this time I'll have company! Brock Gavery, Devon Crosby-Helms, and Jonathan Bernard will all be joining in the zig-zagging library fun.

Another great detailed write-up of what we're up to can be found here.

Hope to see you on the road and at the library tomorrow!

You can follow along throughout the day tomorrow via Twitter. My username is seesamrun.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Good day

Wow, yesterday was a really interesting experiment for me. The weather turned out to be ideal, the miles clicked by quickly, and the food from McDonald's wasn't nearly as uncomfortable to get down (and keep down) as I'd expected. After a short run from home to my first McDonald's stop on the Lake Washington loop, I stopped for breakfast. First, I was very pleased to see the inside of the place totally empty, then realized that the drive-thru was lined up nearly down the street. I had a Deluxe Breakfast and a Medium coffee. It was a large amount of food, and I certainly hope not many people ever order it. Feeling pretty full and like I had a load of bricks in my stomach I started making my way up and around the north side of Lake Washington. Once things began to digest a bit, I moved quickly and felt good all the way around to Bellevue. I had planned to stop for lunch there, but was feeling good, not hungry, and couldn't stomach the thought of another grease bomb meal already, so I pushed on.

Next stop was the McDonald's in Renton where I had planned to have a Big Mac, but the picture up on the menu was just too daunting for my shaky stomach. I went with the 1/4 pounder value meal instead, and it seemed about right for me. I was definitely hungry at that point, but it wasn't so much food that it made me feel bad this time. On down around the south side I went, and started coming up the west side. The many miles of pavement began to take their toll on my body by the end, but I still felt strong.

I stopped for one last "meal" of sorts at the McDonald's near University Village. I simply couldn't stomach any more full meal deals, but figured I'd better have a bit more food to get me home. I just had 2 apple pies and a medium mocha and was back on my way. My head lamp and blinking red light on, I powered through back home, and started refueling like crazy on water and sports drink.

So my total calories burned on the day (according to one of those simple calorie calculators online) was 7,822. I consumed only 3350 calories through the course of the day (oops). So I actually ended the day with a 4,472 calorie deficit, but felt amazingly fine throughout the day. Although my last "meal" ended up being only a snack really, I feel I definitely proved that just a few meals from McDonald's pretty sufficiently fueled me all the way around Lake Washington for a 60ish mile run. At the same time many people are eating the same thing, sitting at a desk, and not exercising. That is really scary. You can see my caloric/nutrition breakdown in the below chart.

Some observations in general:

McDonald's related;
1) I was amazed/baffled by how many people were at all the McDonald's I went to and just how busy they were.
2) McDonald's staff is not accustomed to a shorts-clad sweaty runner ordering food (that's a good thing I think). It was like worlds colliding and I could tell it just felt strange to them.
3) McDonald's has the calorie count of most menu items displayed on the menu now. That's a step in the right direction I think, but I very seriously doubt this affects anyone's ordering decisions (judging from what was on peoples' trays).
4) They don't even give you the option of ordering just 1 apple pie. On the menu, it's listed as just "2 apple pies." Period. I think the option for just 1 could be a positive thing.

Running related;
1) I don't generally eat enough when I run, even though I try really hard. Although this was clearly a bit too much in single sittings (and far from the right fuel for running), it did make it clear to me that the high calorie intake was beneficial in keeping me feeling good (once my stomach settled down of course).
2) Although they're conveniently located and occur frequently, McDonald's does not make for a good aid station option.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Heading to the arches...

Well, here goes nothing. I've eaten nothing and am off to start this little adventure. I've got about a 5 mile run to my first McDonald's, then will start making my way around the lake. My tentative plan is lunch in Bellevue, and dinner on the Southwest corner of the lake. This is going to be interesting.

I'll be updating on progress, calories, post photos, etc. on and my username is seesamrun. Spread the word, and let's really think about what we're putting in our bodies! The only way to combat obesity in our country is one individual person at a time.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Golden Arches + Running = ????

Tomorrow I'm embarking on a sort of nutritional/social experiment (whilst running of course). I'm going to run around Lake Washington (about a 60ish mile run on road/bike path that I've done a handful of times before). But the catch is that this time my goal is to do it while nourished from nothing but 3 squares from none other than McDonald's.

Why on earth am I doing this? Well, in the spirit of New Year's resolutions and people probably starting to fall off of them already at this point, my goal in this is just to get people really thinking about what they eat and what goes into their bodies. I doubt honestly that many people eat 3 meals a day at McDonald's (and I certainly hope not), but with obesity more on the rise in our country now than ever, I fear it's not far from the reality of most peoples' diets (over 1/3 of Americans are now OBESE!). So the goal is just to say hey- if just 3 meals at McDonald's can fuel me to run this far in a day, just think about what that same caloric intake is doing in the average sedentary American's body in a given day while sitting at a desk!

So my goal is to do this run fueled only by 3 meals from McDonald's (which I'll of course stop at along the way). I'll just eat standard value meals or whatever the norm is. I never eat fast food, so I fear this could get really ugly with my GI system, but it'll be an interesting experiment.

More to come on this, and I'll be updating probably via Twitter throughout the day tomorrow with caloric intake, progress, etc. Pass it along, and tell your friends! Let's do our part to make a dent in our nation's obesity problem! See you on the pavement!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Snowy Seattle

Wow, another snow storm in Seattle Sunday night, but this one didn't have nearly the same effect as the Christmas time storm that totally shut down the city. With temps above freezing, the 3 inches or so that poured down on Sunday are pretty much all gone now. I just started a new book and read an incredibly apropos paragraph regarding winter storms and the joy that comes from a kind of unanimous and corporate inability to carry on with your usual day to day tasks- kind of a universal get out of jail free card for all your typical activities. It's easy to get bogged down with a negative attitude with weather like this, but I think it's so important to look for the positive. I like this a lot, and think it gives a neat perspective;

" There is something joyful about storms that interrupt routine. Snow or freezing rain suddenly releases you from expectations, performance demands, and the tyranny of appointments and schedules. And unlike illness, it is largely a corporate rather than individual experience. One can almost hear a unified sigh rise from the nearby city and surrounding countryside where Nature has intervened to give respite to the weary humans slogging it out within her purview. All those affected this way are united by a mutual excuse, and the heart is suddenly and unexpectedly a little giddy. There will be no apologies needed for not showing up to some commitment or other. Everyone understands and shares in this singular justification, and the sudden alleviation of the pressure to produce makes the heart merry. "

-from The Shack, by Wm. Paul Young

Here's to making the most of these winter storms!