Tuesday, March 3, 2015

A change of goal, but not pace - big plans for 2015!


2015 brings new loftier goals in health and fitness, and new lessons to be learned hunting. 


In the summer of 2014 I went for my annual physical, and through blood work my doctor found that my cholesterol was high, as well as my triglycerides, and my A1C was borderline high, which he stated was a precursor for diabetes. He said, well, you're not fat, which means I can't just tell you to eat right, because it doesn't look like you're eating all that bad. He asked how much sugar I was eating and I told him not much, so he said, well, make it none. At the time I thought, this guy is crazy! I did tell him that I thought I could get my cholesterol back in check with diet, so he gave me until November to get it straight or he was going to have to put me on medication. 

I started looking into diet changes, and had considered going into a more Paleo type of diet, but figured that wouldn't help my cholesterol before I started doing some research. I basically took the next 3 months to research and think about how I was going to attack this, and in October I started the "Whole 30" diet - which is more of a body reset. No alcohol, no dairy, no legumes, no pasta, no grains for 30 days, along with some other limits on ingredients. Then you can start adding stuff back in and see how you feel.  This is not easy at all. It's very tough finding what you can eat, especially at first. I am lucky that I hunt and have game meat in the freezer, and we have a garden with plenty of fresh vegetables. I was never able to get away from the evening "snack" of frozen blueberries, but even though not recommended, it wasn't off limits, and it was my weakness. Evening snacks were and still are a hard habit to break. Anyhow, on November 24th I had my bloodwork done again with the following results. 

    • Total Cholesterol - 194       down from      229
    • HDL Cholesterol -   44          up from         41
    • LDL Cholesterol -  136      down from      142
    • Triglycerides  -        69       down from      231
    • A1C -                       5.1      down from      6.1
    • Weight -                   184     down from     195 (this was Oct 24 - Nov 24)

Wait, what? Yes, this was diet alone. No exercise changes. Kris wasn't super convinced when I started it, and has become quite the advocate after seeing the results. Including the clearing up of the snuffy noses for Kelleach our 12 year old son, and the acne on Brogan our 15 year old son. For Brogan it was dairy, and Kelleach seems to be mostly gluten and dairy. I have added things back in, but can definitely tell when I go off too far. Grains and dairy seem to hit me the hardest and take the longest to recover from. Sugar is just addicting. That's it. There's no way around it. When I fall off the sugar wagon, and I still do, it's hard to get back on track. Sugar in my mind is one of the most addictive substances in the world, and causes you to desire it more. The only sugar I allow myself now is honey in my coffee, and a very occasional dark chocolate bar, but even that has to be limited.


So - once getting my health in check somewhat, and agreeing to go to Colorado in September and be the videographer/photographer for Kim Womer's high country mule deer rifle hunt, the decision was made that even though I was in good shape for the 2014 mule deer hunt, it was time to get in great shape for 2015. Kim was asking Jeff at Antler Quest to give us the best chances of a 200 inch buck, no matter what we physically had to do to get it. I told Kim whatever he needed me to be able to do, I would be ready and we started planning. I mentioned to Kim that on the last Saturday of our hunt, there was a race that I always wanted to run. The Imogene Pass Run (IPR) goes from Ouray Colorado to Telluride Colorado. Running up 5000 feet to go over a 13,000 pass and then down into Colorado. It's a 17 mile race and has been on my bucket list since I learned about it. Kim was fully supportive and said I had to do it. He said he'd be waiting for me at the finish with a beer. 

Having never run further than a half marathon, and never run that kind of elevation, I signed up for a couple of the tougher local races, including the Frozen Snot, which is a 14 mile race in PA which climbs 5400 feet over the length of the race. For a precursor, I ran the Frozen Assets race, which is typically a snowshoe race, unless there's not enough snow, which was the case this year. It was a 23 degree morning, and with little snow on the trail I ran my first race of the year on January 3rd. 

I decided that my goal for 2015 was not only to run the Frozen Snot, and the Imogene Pass Run, but to also try to run a half marathon every month. 

The Frozen Snot took me about 6.5 hours, and was a good lesson. A few weeks later I did the Cast A Shadow snowshoe race, and ran 14.6 miles in snowshoes in around 3:55. Both of these races were a very good idea of what was coming. A 13 mile road race is nothing compared to what these races had held for me, and if I had any dreams of a 4-5 hour IPR, then I needed to do some serious leg work. This would also help me immensely with all of my running, and with the whole reason for getting serious about my running - Kim's muley hunt! 

So - with 180 days left before we leave NY for Colorado (September 2nd), we have big plans. Kim has been working out like a madman, and I have been ramping up. I have been doing some running, and just got back to the gym last week, and have been snowshoeing with Kris up back. I'll be in shape. Right now I am reading a book by Loren Cordaine about the Paleo Athlete, and combining the Paleo diet with the athletic lifestyle to maximize your training.

New Lessons

So this leaves us with the lessons to be learned. 

Since my first half marathon in February of 2010 I have learned quite a bit. I did my jaunt with cycling, and distance cycling and triathlons, and running, and now I am looking to the woods for my hunting and my running. It's a different type of running and demands your attention at all times, but is very mind clearing with the fact being that there isn't a lot of room for doing much other than paying attention and enjoying the view. I've learned a lot about training, how if I want to be faster I have to do speed-work, and if I ever want to be a good Snowshoe racer, or trail runner, I need to do some serious legwork and hill work which overlap each other in benefit. So there are fitness lessons. 

I am waiting for delivery of my new Panasonic HC-VX870 4K camcorder, and have busted out the Contour Roam and my D300 to start working on my photography again. Kim and I will be sitting down with what we have and seeing where we are with things. Kim has a line on some GoPro cameras which will also help out with things, and I believe we're going to sign up for a video class with Campbell Cameras being held on the 21st of March in PA. 

The next level of learning for me will be hunting with a new person. This is always a lesson in life. To see how different hunters approach things. Many times small changes in how things are approached can lead to different levels of success. Additionally, Kim and I will be hunting similar to the way I hunted last year for mule deer, but in the same way, quite differently. We will be hunting more of a specific animal. Possibly going for a single deer. That one buck in the area that exceeds all others. It will take time and patience, and fitness. It's going to be a great experience. Additionally, if things go well enough, it may give me the time to get off the mountain before my race and possibly get my first elk. Even if it's a cow. I wouldn't mind bringing home a whole bunch of meat for the freezer. 

Time will tell.  

Next race is the Cooks Forest Half Marathon that Kris and I will be running on March 28th. 

Hunting the West


It's definitely been a while - what, 2.5 years? So much has changed. In August of 2012 I did my second running at the Dark Skies 200K solo. I got about 87 miles in, and realized that I just wasn't having fun. So I called Kris, told her where to pick me up, and bailed. I still rode the bike on and off. Kris and I ride the tandem on occasion also, but more of my time is now being spent running.

Last fall, in September, I spent a week in Colorado hunting Mule Deer at around 12,000 feet and above. It was an awesome hunt. I went with my cousin Casey and his best friend from high school, Brad Valentine who also happens to have become one of my best friends also. We have been doing hunts of one sort or another every two years since 2006, and we always have a blast planning, driving out and hunting together.

In 2006 we went out and utilized a drop camp style of hunting. They took us back in to a walled tent on horseback and dropped us off for a week. 

It was awesome. We didn't end up with any success, but enjoyed the trip, and did see game. I remember seeing Elk on a distant ridgeline and thinking wow, cool, way too far away, but definitely cool! We now know that it was truly not likely too far away, and we probably should have gone after them, but live and learn. We weren't really prepared for that kind of climbing, and with archery equipment it would have been quite a task to successfully complete. 

We did enjoy the trip, and looking through pictures brings you back to the memories immediately. After doing this for years, and hunting in Wyoming for antelope, I have decided and talked to Kris about doing a trip to Colorado every year in the future.  

The last day of our 2006 trip, it snowed, and we ended up waiting a whole day for the guys to come in and pick us up. 

This was our first experience with an outfitter, and we were to find out on our next trip that there is no hurry for them to come get you. They tell you it'll be Saturday, so you get ready at 7AM and sit all day and waste your time waiting.  It's a horrible way to end your trip, and in 2008 we tried a different outfitter with similar results, 1 small mule deer buck shot for camp meat, and a raghorn bull missed high, and a full day wait for the outfitter to come get us at dusk, with a ride out in the dark, in a thunderstorm with lightning being our only light while riding along a bluff edge over a gorge. It was scary, but also one of the coolest experiences I have ever witnessed. 

In 2010 we ended up hunting by trespass fee on an 800 acre piece in Colorado. Each year we learn more and more. This was probably our best hunting area, and our best opportunities. We just still have alot to learn about the HOW of Elk hunting. The hunt was done at 9800 feet which is decent elevation, and it was fairly flat. We found huge wallows off the back of the property on Federal Land, but just couldn't put everything together to get ourselves an Elk. All in all, at this point, we had spent probably $15,000 between the 3 of us just for our hunts, not including tags, fuel, food and supplies.

2012 demanded we actually have a successful trip, so we hooked up with a landowner near Casper Wyoming and pulled the 5th wheel out there to hunt Pronghorn.  We all tagged out the first day with our bows, even though the landowner told us not to shoot the first one we saw, which none of us did. We all shot Pope and Young class bucks, with Casey's being the only one to make the books. That was also a fun trip, and got our heads back into what a successful hunt feels like. 

Coming off a high, we decided to head back to Colorado for 2014. We used a service called Antler Quest, which was basically a guy who goes out and scouts for you. We got ahold of Jeff Coldwell a year in advance and he worked with our requests to try to find a place that we would enjoy and have a good chance of success. He told us that we would not be going for Elk and Mule Deer. "Pick a species and concentrate on that". It was good advice. We also had some preference points, so decided we would give it a shot with our muzzleloaders. In March Jeff told us what unit to apply for, and we all drew. Then in August, about 3-4 weeks before our trip, Jeff headed to our spot to scout. He sent us our hunt packet which included a map of the area with the hotspots and our recommended camping spot circled, and 38 photo's he had taken while out there with notes on them pointing out where to look while glassing. 

The hike in was about 3 miles long, and climbed from 9800 feet where we parked to approximately 11,500 feet where we set up camp. It took 3 hours, and was damned hard carrying 70 lb packs, but was beautiful. Here's Brad and Casey ahead of me on the walk in, just before the Big Bend, and almost 2 miles into the trip. It took us over 3 hours to cover the 3 miles.

We set up camp, and glassed some, saw some Elk, and a couple of mule deer, even a small buck. The first night was the coolest, probably around 20 degrees, but comfortable enough. We were up and scouting early and Casey spotted a nice buck that he wanted to go after. So off he went. Brad and I split up and tried to keep an eye on the buck and spot for him. I climbed up one side of the bowl, and got some nice shots through my spotting scope of the buck, but it wasn't meant to be.

Caseys buck. 

Later in the week I spotted a group of 5 bucks, and spent the next few days trying to put together a stalk strategy. I got within 150 yards, and screwed up the shot. Brad got a decent buck on the third day, and was the only one of us who went home with a buck.

That brings us up to present day for the most part. Big plans are in the works for 2015. Including a High Country Early Rifle Hunt with Kim Womer, and a Bucket List race for me. In the same 2 week period.  Stay tuned! 

Damn! Where'd the time go!


So much has happened since my last post..  I "fell off" my goal. I PR'd a half marathon. I was part of some amazing stuff, and have plans for my first Marathon.

I did my last full 200K in July with Bill Fischer. It was a beautiful ride - the Hornell 200K. It was a great day, nice and reasonable for temps - mid-70's. The wind wasn't horrible, and the ride was pleasant.

It was my first ride with Bill in some time, and he stated more than once how he was impressed at the improvements I had made in ability and strength riding. It was probably a lot of smoke, and he was just hoping to keep me moving, but it was nice just the same. It was definitely the first time we had ridden together since the loss of two friends we had both ridden with on part of this same route in the spring. We talked of it some and cherished the time together, and the fact that no-one is invincible, and it's important to be sure that you're putting the right things first.

The ride took us 11 hours and 3 minutes, with an hour and 20 minutes of "down time".  Though it was a great ride, about 6.5 hours into the ride (seems like it's always around there), I recognized that I needed to get something into my stomach to get things "straight". I tell Bill that when we get into Savona (around 80+/- miles), I was going to need to do something about my nutrition, and was hoping for some chicken noodle soup. Knowing how it helped near the end of my 300K.

Well, we pull into Savona, stop at a non scheduled gas station / Subway, and I look for soup.  Awesome, they have chicken noodle soup in the store. I ask about a microwave, nope, sorry. Bummer. I tell Bill, that we'll have to move on and hope for the best in Addison only 15 miles further on with a little over 1000 feet of climbing between here and there.  Oh well, pedal, pedal, pedal..

About half way to Addison I start to get to the point where I am thirst, but feeling nausea. I keep drinking and doing what I can to keep moving. We get to Addison - less than 30 miles left, and I am feeling that I have once again hit that nutrition wall. Damn.. Just can't figure it out! Ugh ! This is SO frustrating. I can seem to do anything other than get water down. Bill and I sit in the Acorn for 20 minutes, and see what a little rest will do for us. Every other stop has been quick and dirty. One thing I had learned with my rides is, the less time you spend on your butt, or screwing around off the bike, the better off you are, and the sooner you'll get done! If you think about it, 3-4 minutes is a mile, so, an extra 8-10 minutes on the bike, and not sitting around puts you 2-3 more miles down the road. Well, after about 3 minutes sitting, I get the shakes pretty bad, and mention to Bill, "this doesn't look good, lets get back on the road". So we go. It's not too bad. I get another 10 miles in, and start really feeling like crap with about 20 miles left.

The last 20 miles was pretty tough. I was thirsty, but didn't feel any better when I drank. I remember at one point mentioning to Bill "if I felt like I do right now doing anything else, I would find some place to lay down". Bill pulls off in Canisteo - with less than 10 miles left, and goes and gets me something to drink, and I keep pedaling. We get 2 miles from the finish, and I yell to Bill that I have to stop, now... We pull off the road, and I empty my stomach (sorry folks). It was all water - nothing but water. AND - it seemed like a gallon. To me, I would say it was everything I had consumed since Savona, since that point where my body told me "hey! do something smart here". Well, obviously, I didn't.

We finished the ride, and I am still on track for my R-12. My 12 months in a row of 200K's or better. One more in the books, and only 4 more to go!  I am 2/3 done. The hot months are pretty much over, and the easier months are coming. Bill and I talk a bit at the end about our thoughts on what it could be. We finish. I have part of a chocolate milk, and just get on the road. It's only a half hour drive home. YEP! A half hour and two more pit stops to be sure that my stomach is completely empty! Awesome!!!

The next few weeks I spend doing what I am good at. Analyzing, over-analyzing, reading, researching, and over-thinking anything that it could possibly be! I figure that it must have been the fact that I hadn't taken in enough sodium. IN fact, I sweat pretty heavy, and though I was replacing my fluids with water, I wasn't taking in any sodium. I read in one article that for every liter of sweat (I am about 1 liter per hour) you can lose between 250 and 3250 mg of sodium. WHAT! What did that say? Though that is a pretty broad range, it's also quite a surprise.  Lets go with 1500 mg. 10 hours, 15,000 mg. ! OK.. I need to make sure I up my sodium intake. I think what I was suffering from may have been a mild case of hyponatremia.

So - Amazon - shopping cart - buffered salt tablets - check..  Ready for my next ride!

August 4th. Willow Creek Triathlon.  This event is awesome. I was dressed up in this classy old skool getup. Knee High Socks, Old Skool Puma's, Mesh Tank Top, 1984 Fuji Del Ray, Umbro Shorts.. I decided to help some guys on the team out since it's a point to point, and I would park at the end, and ride back to the start. It's only 17 miles. Heck. I'll just take an easy ride!

I park the truck, get the Fuji out, throw on my backpack with my wetsuit in it, and head up the road to the start. I am moving right along in my first few miles, and then I realize that I am doing pretty good! Hey, wonder how long it would take if I pushed myself (this was a STUPID idea - almost as dumb as wearing a bunch of old skool clothes!). Well. I made the 17 miles in 51 minutes. That's a 20 mph average, on an older bike, wearing a backpack. I was going to CRUSH this race!  Awesome!

We get ready for the start of the race, and shoot the breeze with all the Rogues. We had more banana hammocks there that anyone wanted to see, but that's what the guys do for the "fun" factor. I figure I should try to get a few calories, since I just depleted everything. Thank god Tim Andrus had some Gatorade. I drank about half the bottle, and was ready to roll!

The race starts, my swim goes well, I jump on the bike and am in the first mile, and am gaining on a guy on a TT bike.  I pull up and ask him how he's doing, and he says that he's doing poorly, that his handlebars slipped, and he had just crashed. I said "bummer" and pedaled on. I figure if you're not smart enough to check your bike out before a race, then maybe....   OK..  The ride goes slower than I hoped. The guy on the TT bike passes me along with some others. There is a strong headwind, and I am just not feeling it. I finish the bike stage, and hop off for a super fast transition since I am wearing the same sneaks that I wore on the bike with my pedal cages. I forget something important though - the water station.

It's hotter on the course than I had expected. My swim was pretty good, my ride sucked, and now my run was also sucking. I was sweating pretty bad, and feeling crappy. People were stopping to walk, and it looked like a good idea, so I said screw it, and walked. I watched 2 people collapse in front of me on my leisurely afternoon walk. I also saw some of the folks that I should have been beating pass me, but instead of running, I cheered them on and finished 20 minutes slower than last year, but I felt good, so I didn't care.

All in all it was a great race. I had fun, and enjoyed my time with friends. Since that point, I have done much more running, and much less riding.  It's funny how this article was started in October of 2012, and I am just wrapping it up today, March 3rd, 2015! I did alot of running, worked on my pace, slimmed down some, switched to a more Paleo lifestyle, and am now just starting doing alot more trail running, and considering possibly a Full Marathon, or an Ultra Trail Run in my future.

Stay tuned!