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I recently wrote a column titled, “What are the Best Dogs for Running?” In that column I mentioned that my dog saved me from a potential assault. Here’s the story.

 

I was running with my first dog, Shelby, on a local running path. We left the car in the lot of a nice complex that has ball fields and all the gorgeous park amenities and ran west. When we were heading back towards the parking lot post-run, I noticed two men sitting in lawn chairs beneath a big cottonwood tree.

 

What made the situation seem unusual to me is the tree was located next to the running path in gravel and weeds. About 100 yards away is a grassy green park with several tables and giant trees casting shade.

 

I thought to myself, “Why would these guys be sitting in lawn chairs in the weeds with a nice park right over there?”

 

About that time, my dog had to poop. Great.

 

I’m roughly 30 yards from the pair and I can hear them whispering. I’m watching them in my peripheral vision and they are watching me.

 

I told myself, “It seems unusual, but don’t overreact.”

 

I cleaned up after the dog and needed to deposit the waste in a trash can. I walked between the men and my car to get to the trash bucket. As I walked toward the can, one of the men got up and began walking behind me, towards their pickup. As he did this, I thought I heard him say, “We’ll show her.”

 

I told myself, “That’s surely not what he said. It’s noon and full daylight. I’m in a public parking lot in a relatively busy part of town. Don’t be ridiculous.”

 

At this point, Shelby is heeling directly at my side and on full alert. She was an 85-pound Rhodesian ridgeback with a serious look on her face. She wasn’t sniffing or messing around like dogs often do, she was at full attention.

 

When we turned around to head towards the car, the greasy looking fellow crossed in front of us and had his full attention on the dog. We walked calmly and confidently to the car and got in. I immediately locked the doors and felt relieved. I glanced at their pickup and trailer loaded with scrap medal as we left the lot. I thought to myself that it looked like it didn’t belong in the park setting. It made me feel afraid and I got out of there as soon as I could.

 

I went home and immediately called my husband. I explained that I had never felt the way I did that day and I didn’t like it. I also felt that I could be overreacting. There was surely some rational, non-scary explanation for the entire incident. He asked if I managed to get a license plate number and I told him I didn’t. I thought about it as I drove away, but didn’t want to go back. Besides that, I kept telling myself, “No big deal. This is no big deal.”

 

The next morning I opened the morning paper and read a woman had been assaulted on the trail, about 200 yards or so from where I saw the creepy guys. I felt sick to my stomach.

 

I immediately called the police station and told them what happened to me the day before. I gave them detailed descriptions of the men and their vehicle. They thanked me for calling in and the parting comment was, “Your dog likely saved you.”

 

I hung up the phone and hugged my dog with tears streaming down my face. I was certain she prevented me from being assaulted. As I write this story now, some 10 years after the incident, tears run down my cheeks. I’m so grateful I had the dog with me.

 

A friend that worked at the police station followed up for me. He told me the police determined that the guys were with the traveling carnival that headed out of town. The police checked with the carnival owners and the police in the next town where the carnival stopped. The creeps disappeared.

 

I don’t know if they ever got caught or went on to hurt other people.

 

I decided from that point forward, I would always listen to my instincts. If something seems creepy and bad – it is. If someone is acting suspicious, get a license plate number or a cell phone photo. On the rare occasions I run without a dog, I carry mace.

 

I try not to run scared, but at the same time I do realize there are bad people out there and I need to minimize risk as much as possible.

 

My dogs allow me to run in peace.

3,413 Views 5 Comments Permalink Tags: dogs, running_with_a_dog, dog_prevented_assault

I know I’m at least one tick off center compared to the normal population. I like it that way.

 

Most normal people think about New Year’s Resolutions around the end of December, after the holiday binge weeks of roughly November 20 through December 31. I’m thinking of New Year’s Resolutions now.

 

For me, the New Year begins after the Fall Fun Season ends. Fall Fun Season is when I enjoy all of my hard-earned race fitness by doing fun adventures with no training goals and few planned workouts. This is a nice way to celebrate the change of seasons. The days are getting shorter and snow will soon arrive in Colorado. When the snow and cold settle in, my habits change.

 

So now, late September and early October, I’m beginning to look forward into the next 12 months.

  • What are my winter goals for fitness fun? How many days of Nordic skiing? How manydays of downhill skiing? Yoga? Weights? Running?
  • What races do I want to do next summer? Same races as this year, or something new?
  • Nutrition goals for the winter? I’ve touched on this issue in recent blogs. Are there specific, measureable items I’m going to go after this winter that are different than past years?
  • Professional goals? Where do I want my business to go in the next year? Does this still fit with my long-term goals?

I’ve been pondering some of these things in the last couple of weeks. Nothing is written down yet, but I’m close.

 

Maybe you want to get a jump on January by beginning your resolutions and goal setting now?

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A week or so ago, I saw a sports techie segment on new gadgets. They talked about an audible heart rate monitor for use in the pool. It’s made by Finis and is called the Aquapulse.

 

Has anyone used this new device?

 

Feedback?

393 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: heart_rate_monitor, finis, aquapulse

In the thread of discussing winter weight gain (http://community.active.com/blogs/GaleBernhardt/2011/09/13/right-now-i-m-motivated-to-eat-well-what-happens-in-winter) , Facebook reader Steve Douglas sent me a link to The Science of Cycling website (http://www.exploratorium.edu/cycling/aerodynamics1.html) .

 

To see what your winter weight does to your speed, enter that number in the box for “your weight”. Put velocity at 10 mph, zero wind velocity and a grade of 10 degrees. Hit “calculate” to see the power required to maintain constant velocity. You’ll get a wattage number. Write that number down.

 

Now enter your summer racing weight keeping everything else the same. You’ll see that less watts are required to power your bike – which makes sense.

 

Since many of you do not own power meters, you can get a better idea of cost in speed. Begin making the velocity number faster by tenths of miles per hour, then hit “calculate”. Keep making the speed faster, until you equal the power number you wrote down for your winter weight.

 

Assuming I didn’t lose any power, in pure watts, by keeping my weight down 10 pounds I picked up nearly 1 mph (0.8 mph). Picking up 1 mph on my early races would make a big difference – especially if I could improve the power number rather than worrying about peeling off the pounds.

 

A few weeks ago I had a rather blunt reminder of how much work 10 pounds makes on a climb. This day was the primary incident that spurred my interest in keeping winter weight gain minimized. To go watch the USA Pro Cycling Challenge I packed a backpack with 100 ounces of water and carried 48 ounces of water on the bike frame. The weight of 148 ounces of water is just shy of 10 pounds.

 

I had food and extra clothes in the backpack as well. The pack and all the water was probably some 12 to 13 pounds. Since I always carry some 48 ounces of fluid when I ride, I figure the backpack was a physical example of riding with around 10 pounds of extra weight.

 

In one word – ugh.

 

Want a harsh visual and physical reminder of how expensive (in miles per hour) that winter weight gain will be? Go ride your favorite course with a 10-pound backpack and watch your average speed plummet. Notice how hard it is to pedal the bike. Between the bike calculator and the loaded backpack, perhaps you’ll find incentive to keep winter weight gain minimized?

784 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: cycling, winter_weight_gain

Q.  My brother recently rode a course with about 4,000 ft of climbing.  I rode a similarly hilly course. He averaged close to 200 Watts. I averaged 135 Watts and we rode at about the same average speed.

 

I have lost weight so am down to about 160 pounds, he isabout 180. He is upset he is using so much more power to ride the same speed, and thinks I'm more efficient. I'm actually impressed with his power.

 

Why the big difference? Different course? The weight difference? Efficiency difference?

 

Thanks for help understanding this new power thing. - LG

 

A.  Hey L.G. ~ Great questions. First, let me say that watts are not watts. What I mean by that is the critical measure for power comparisons from person to person begins with watts produced per kilogram (or pound) of body weight. Raw wattage numbers don't tell the entire power story – of course neither does body weight alone. (Some pretty big guys can ride fast.)

 

Your current watts per pound are 0.84 and your brother's are 1.1 - theoretically, he should go faster than you do if all other things are the same. The course specifics might be one difference – a bunch of short hills compared to longer climbs. Different riders favor different courses.

 

Another big issue is likely body position. Using an extreme example, if your brother was using his 1.1 watts per pound to race you - but - he was sitting upright with a giant flappy jacket on, his wind-catching position (wind pushing against his chest and the jacket) would be causing a good percentage of his wattage to be spent on overcoming the wind resistance.

 

If his bike weighs 10 pounds more than yours, that wattage is going into pushing a heavier bike. If he uses heavy tires and doesn't inflate them properly - that's more drag and friction that he's spending watts to overcome.

 

If you have your tires properly inflated, an aerodynamic position, an aero bike (aerobars and wheels are the biggies) and an aero helmet, then a bigger percentage of your wattage can be spent on powering the bike (speed) rather than overcoming friction and drag. So yes, you're likely more efficient - to the tune of at least 30% (110/85 = 30%). That difference is huge.

 

If your brother wants to get faster, he needs to start looking at some of these items. Of course, the “free speed” items are body position and clothing. If he needs to drop some weight, then that’s another way to gain speed – if – he doesn’t lose weight so quickly that he loses strength (and power).

 

Of course, you may want not want to tell him all of this…

534 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: power, weight_loss, watts

Like many of you, I am now at my race weight. I was thinking the other day, it is really easy for me to eat healthy foods and control portions. I’m not depriving myself of baked goods – but – I control portion size and/or decrease another treat somewhere else. I know how to eat healthy, I’m doing it. The best part is my current eating pattern doesn’t take iron will or starvation.

 

Eating this way is easy for me – I could keep it up forever.

 

The problem is I’ve said the last sentence to myself in previous fall and winter seasons. It seems that the multitude of changes that occur in winter create havoc for my nutrition resolve.

 

Talking about the issue to athletes showing up for the Sunday group ride, others express the same problem happens to them. We began theorizing what changes in fall and winter to make us feel like we cannot control the foods we eat or portion sizes? Why is it that many of us gain weight in the winter? Here are some of the thoughts:

 

1.     For many, exercise volume decreases not only in sport but in life as well. There are fewer long rides, no lawns to mow and less walking about outside.

2.     As daylight hours decrease and it gets colder, most of us get less sunlight exposure and Vitamin D. Certainly less daylight can have a serious affect on people with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but does this change affect everyone’s appetite? Or, are there people that don’t suffer from SAD but are more affected by short days? Do hormones play a role?

3.     Some sources note that low levels of Vitamin D cause weight gain. Should we supplement with Vitamin D through winter? It is possible to overdose on D, so caution is needed.

4.     Do we eat more processed, lower nutrient foods in winter, which causes our bodies to crave more food to make up the deficit?

5.     Experts say that cold weather increases the appetite for foods that warm the body quickly, like sugars and carbohydrates. Cold salads are less appealing. Creamy clam chowder and buttered cornbread is a much more pleasing choice when it’s chilly out.

 

This short list is a start. The big question is what to do about it? What changes can I make – or plan to make – that will keep my winter weight gain in the three-pound range rather than six? I’m also curious as to why some people never seem to struggle with weight in the winter – what is different about their body chemistry?

 

Good questions. I don’t have all the answers.

 

I will say one thing I’ve done this summer is change from blue cheese dressing on my salads to either balsamic vinaigrette or olive oil and (my best summer discovery) Lucini Dark Cherry Balsamico Vinegar. I love the taste and it doesn’t take much to give a salad great flavor. I believe I’m consuming fewer fat calories on my salads and the calories I am consuming contain the good fats. Do these good fats decrease appetite as well? I’m not sure.

 

Coming from a rich German heritage, it will be a challenge for me to figure out how to keep the winter weight gain minimized. For some reason, which I can’t explain, I think I can do it this year. I feel more confident than ever before.

 

I hope I’m right.

 

If I learn anything along the way, I’ll be sure to let you know.

 

 

PS...Thanks for patiently waiting for a new blog while the Active Community pages were updated.

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Last weekend I did one of my favorite races in the state, the King of the Rockies course at Winter Park, Colorado. It is part of the Epic Singletrack series.

 

This particular water crossing makes me giggle. About a tenth of a second after the second photo was taken, another rider rode through the creek blasting me with a wall of water. I broke out into wahoo-laughter.

 

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I am a lucky dog!!!

 

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For some of the cool water shots, here is a link to the photo gallery by Mountain Moon Photography. (Dana Hood from Peloton Cycles take special note of this photo – rather than submerging my bottom bracket (again), I ran through the water. ;-)  )

593 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: winter_park, king_of_the_rockies, epic_singletrack