Archive for the ‘health’ Category

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#20 – Healthy Paws Healthy Cause Fun Run

16 June 2007

What is more fun than running a race? Running a race with my dogs! This morning I was joined by Haven and Beacon for the 1st annual Healthy Paws Healthy Cause Fun Run, a 4-mile event for dogs and their people. I’ve done two 5Ks with Haven before, but I’ve never attempted a race while being hitched to both of my wannabe sled dogs! This should be interesting…

The event was organized by the Cascade Hospital for Animals with proceeds to benefit Mackenzie’s Animal Sanctuary. There were no age groups, awards, or even official results – it’s just what it says, a “fun run” to get folks out enjoying the morning with their dogs. Over 80 people signed up, not bad for the first ever event. The race director I recognized (via her dog!) as Dr. Happel, the runner that I barely out-kicked at the finish of the 2006 Bailey’s Doggie Dash (if you follow the link, she’s in the orange shirt in the photos on the bottom row of the page).

Going into this race I wasn’t planning to run all out; rather, I wanted to maintain a tempo pace as best I could but primarily just have fun with Haven and Beacon. Since most participants were planning to walk, I lined up near the front; there were about 7 runners ahead of me. Dogs and people were still milling about – in fact, one lady was petting Haven – when the race director shouted out “Five seconds!” And we’re off!

The guy at the front broke free quickly and Haven and Beacon decided to chase him – hard! I had no choice but to join their pursuit and within 100 yards of the start we had passed everyone except the leader! It turns out that only eight people were running; the rest were walkers. I pulled alongside the front guy and we sheepishly confided that it felt rather weird to be leading a race. We kept looking back for a while, assuming that some fast runners would blow by us.

We chatted for the first mile where I learned that his dog – weimaraner named Bailey (not the one from Bailey’s Doggie Dash) – was five years old, just a year old than my two pups. She loves the water and behaves well on a leash; so well in fact that the guy (funny how I know his dog’s name but never learned his!) had the handle of his flexi-lead in his shorts pocket the whole time. If I tried that with my dogs they’d rip my shorts right off me!

With Haven and Beacon leading the way we cruised past the first mile marker in 6:45, a very fast pace for me. The course then ascended a moderate hill and Bailey’s owner exlaimed “Uh oh Bailey, daddy’s not feeling too good!” and sure enough, he began to fall back as my dogs pulled me upward. Going down the hill my feet were burning – I realized that I hadn’t tied my shoelaces tight enough and the soles of my feet were sliding along the bed of my shoe.

Mile two was the beginning of an undulating portion of the course, most of which was run on paved pedestrian paths. With nobody to chase, Haven and Beacon slowed their pace and were no longer pulling me up the hills. Around mile 2.5 Bailey and her owner caught up with us and we ran side-by-side for the next half mile. This time we didn’t say anything as we all needed to conserve our oxygen.

Somehow I must’ve programmed my dogs for a 5K distance (maybe they read my blog?) because soon after we passed the third mile marker (in 21:50, not bad!) they slowed waaaay down. Bailey and her runner kept their momentum going and pulled steadily away from us as I was forced to drag Haven and Beacon forward! Those lazy dogs. 🙂 Finally they realized I wasn’t going to stop and they ran beside me the rest of the way.

We passed some pedestrians going the opposite way to relayed to me that the guy ahead of me “was very concerned that I would catch him”, but I told them he had nothing to worry about. Not only were my dogs worn out, I was out of energy as well and we struggled most of the last mile. After passing Amanda with her camera, we finally reached the finish line! Sure enough Bailey had won and Haven and Beacon shared second place just one minute behind in 30:29. It was about five minutes until the next runners began showing up. Walkers continued to trickle into the finish for the next hour.

The organizers thought of everything, providing water (for both humans and canines), bagels, bananas, donuts, and dog treats for the finishers. Haven and Beacon eagerly helped themselves to some water while I shared a banana with Haven. After eating my peanut-covered donut, the dogs both got some treats and then finally I remembered to drink some water myself. Once we got home Amanda had the three of us pose for the obligatory post-race photo, all sporting our event t-shirt and bandanas. Haven and Beacon are now fast asleep at my feet. 🙂 What a fun race!

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#17 – Don’t Eat Before a Run

30 May 2007

Frequently I’ll join some co-workers for a 5-mile run during lunch. Today I tried an experiment that really backfired: I ate a turkey sandwich an hour before running. Coupled with today’s heat (87 humid degrees) my body was overwhelmed and I had to walk a couple times during the run! We were just running an easy pace but apparently my digestive system had gotten dibs on my oxygen supply before my legs, lungs, and skin (for cooling) got a chance. My energy was non-existent, my legs were mush, and my skin was on fire. I was curious to see how eating a meal before a run would affect things, and I guess I found out! So save yourself the trouble and hold off on that sandwich until after the run!

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#16 – Speedy Recovery

24 May 2007

If you’re ever unfortunate enough to get injured in an accident, the speed of your recovery will most likely be proportional to your fitness at the time. Take for example, Danelle Ballengee

Ballengee is one of the world’s top endurance athletes, most notably as a mountain runner and adventure racer. Last winter she was badly injured when she fell 50 feet down a rock face while on a training run with her dog, Taz, who wound up being instrumental in saving her life. This happened in December 2006, and doctors figured she’d need up to six months to heal her shattered hip before she could walk again.

Well, guess who competed in a 12-hour adventure race under the name “How’s This For Rehab?” about a week ago? Five months later and she finished among the front-runners! In fact, some believe that her injuries at the time would’ve been fatal for most people. Not only did she survive, she recovered in remarkable fashion.

Running sure is fun, but it can also be a great insurance policy even if running caused the malady. Go Danelle!

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#2 – Rest Days

3 April 2007

I’m sitting here eating some chocolate when normally I would be running! This past week I’ve dealt with a lingering cold and soreness in my left hip, so even though it burns me to do this I decided to take a day off. It’s no fun right now – the devil on my shoulder keeps whispering to go run – but logically I know that this will be good for me in the long term.

It might seem oxymoronic to write about not running in a blog devoted to finding reasons to run, but the truth is that if you don’t listen to your body and rest when necessary, an injury will trump any other reason to actually run.

Cal Ripkin had a great career and The Streak was truly impressive, but even when I was a kid I would wonder just how good he could’ve been if he’d allowed his minor injuries to heal for a game or two rather than play through them.

I guess it comes down to what you want. Do you want to string together daily runs and move up the ranks of the Running Streak List? Not me. I admit that those streaks are cool, but for me I have other priorities with my running. Besides, you don’t see many world class runners on that list!

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#1 – Conserve Your Heartbeats

1 April 2007

One of the interesting facts about land mammals is that their life expectancy is the same – if you measure it in terms of heartbeats. All land mammals will live for about 1 billion heartbeats. A shrew has a heart rate of 600 bpm (beats per minute) and a life expectancy of just three years. An elephant with their 30 bpm heart rate can expect to live over 60 years. The hearts of each animal will beat 1 billion times in their expected lifetime.

Humans, of course, are the exception – we can last for about 3 billion heartbeats. I’m not sure why – maybe medical technology, nutrition, who knows. Marine mammals don’t follow the pattern either, but let’s stick with ourselves and our 3 billion heartbeats. There are 525,600 minutes in a year, and the average human has a resting heart rate of 72 bpm, so divide that into 3 billion and you get a life expectancy of 79.3 years.

I was talking about this topic with a co-worker when he asked me “So how many days of your life did you burn up by running that ultramarathon?” Holy cow. My heart rate was probably around 150 bpm for the 12 hours it took me to run 50 miles, so in half a day I used up just over a day’s worth of heartbeats! More than that, I ran for 180 hours total in 2006 – that’s 7.5 days of extra heartbeats spent on running! Is it really worth it?

Before I started running three years ago, my resting heart rate happened to be the average 72 bpm. Let’s assume that I lived my first 28 years at that heart rate, which means I used up 1.06 billion of my life’s heartbeats in that span. Now let’s assume that I keep running (or cycling or otherwise keeping in good shape) for the rest of my life. My current resting heart rate is about 56 bpm, so if I keep that up for my remaining 1.94 billion heart beats, I would live another 69 years… to the age of 94!

By getting into (and staying in) good shape, I increased my life expectancy by 15 years! Each year I spend as a runner costs me one week of heartbeats, but the improved fitness adds 13 weeks to my life expectancy for a net of +12 weeks. Another way to look at it: Every month of regular running adds one week to my life! Diving deeper yet… assuming I run 3.5 times per week, that means that each run adds 12 hours to my life. How’s that for a good investment?

Yes, it’s worth it. Assuming, of course, that my clock will tick 3 billion times…