Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A Visit from Our Resident Science Geek

(We're not suggesting you put yourself through this kind of testing. Read on for a few tips on how to get the best advice possible.)

My advice for this first weekly ARFE nutrition/hydration tip is an old adage from my mother. Whenever I saw cool things on TV and was inspired to repeat them in the backyard (it usually involving fire, guns, or jumping my bicycle over neighbor kids), she'd say, "Don't believe everything you see on TV."

There are so many products geared towards improving athletic performance, hydration and recovery in the market. It is difficult to know what is efficacious and what's "snake oil." There are a lot of researchers at universities and other reputable laboratories practicing good science around exercise performance, nutrition and hydration.

There are also a lot people in the sport nutrition industry out to make a buck. Athletes need to put as much effort into choosing nutrition and hydration strategies and products as they do into researching gear before they buy it: Did you just run out and buy the coolest mountain bike on the shelf because the salesperson said it was the best? Probably not. Most likely you researched the options out there, full suspension vs. hard tail, clipless pedals vs. rat traps, V brakes vs. disc brakes...
Think of the food and drink you train with, use on the course and use for recovery as equipment. Treat them that way and you will be rewarded.

Here are a couple of professional-grade websites I know have extensive research behind their recommendations and a book that is the bible of sports drinks and hydration.

Check out the PDF brochures at the bottom of the page.

Yes, it is a real place that does real science.

Sports Drinks: Basic Science and Practical Aspects, Edited by Murray and Maughn. This book details more than you could ever want to know about hydration and sports drinks.

I am looking forward to posting weekly tips on nutrition and hydration, and encourage questions and comments - there are always new things to learn.

Happy training,


Monday, February 26, 2007

Swamp Stomp Race Report

Team ARFE-Smartwool Event File
SmartWool Swamp Stomp
February 17th, 18th 2006

Team: Erin Nielsen, Kristoffer Nielsen, Chris Edmundson, Bruce Swanson

This event was located in central Florida parks and wetlands approximately 1 hour NE of Tampa, Florida. Pre-race conditions were dry and cold with a temperature range of 26 – 60 degrees Fahrenheit through the day. No precipitation was forecast.

Our trip to the event turned out to be quite a challenge. Three of our four team-members were scheduled to fly from Boston on Thursday afternoon to arrive in Tampa a day prior to the event, but this was not in the cards. The previous days' snowstorm, troubles with Jet Blue and a certain NASCAR event in Florida reduced airline capacity and increased demand. A rented van took the place of the friendly skies and a 21-hour drive lay before them. For my part, transportation went smooth until I arrived in Orlando without a car reservation. The Daytona 500 fans rented everything with four wheels and left me to wait for Jim Holden who kindly left the event registration to retrieve me. I arrived at the pre-race meeting site seven hours after landing – depending on my team-mates to assemble my bike and take notes at the meeting. What a slacker!

Nothing unexpected with the sleeping arrangements: four of us in a small hotel room with every square foot of floor-space covered with bikes, clothing and equipment of every description. Reviewing routes and gear, packing and re-packing lasted until nearly 2AM with the alarm set at 6AM.

The race started with a paddling leg at about 8AM with temperatures a few degrees below freezing. We were wearing our rain suits to retain heat and stay dry. The river was flat, slow and wound casually through the cypress swamps. These were perfect conditions to look for alligators, snakes and turtles but the cold temperatures kept them out of view. The area was a bird watchers paradise, though. There were great blue herons and other wading birds, hawks, ospreys, kingfishers and ducks. We performed quite well during the paddling and associated navigation. We gathered every checkpoint and bonus checkpoint along the way and spent a great deal of time in the first and second position for this category. We finished the paddle with a long portage almost exactly ten hours after we began.

Our transition from boats to bikes went smooth and fast. We were soon on our way to the climbing section. After a few minutes we arrived at our objective – a wooden tower apparently designed for training of this type. Each team-member climbed one side on belay and rappelled down another side with hints used to find the next checkpoint. Darkness fell as we located this checkpoint and continued the event on our bikes with lights ablaze.

What started as a fast-paced bike orienteering leg soon ground to a halt when we found ourselves completely unable to locate the “geocaching” checkpoint. Two hours of searching and two days of sleep deprivation were taking its toll on our accomplished, competitive orienteer. My trusty stash of Vivarin was inadvertently discarded with some trash and we found ourselves in a hopeless competitive position. It’s unusual for these team-members and hard to explain in retrospect, but we found our position unacceptable and we decided to withdraw and compete another day.

a new look for the ARFE blog

Here's proof that the green movement is taking off: Al Gore and his team win Best Oscar for Best Documentary; Al Gore, showing charisma the likes of which might have served him well during the election, uses his moment in the limelight to urge us to renew our hope for a brighter, greener future.

Also: Oscar goes carbon-neutral. Pshaw! ARFE was way ahead of you, Oscar! Now, where's our personal nod from Leonardo? Show me merino-wool gowns and tuxes, blue recycling bins everywhere, and a Best Garbage Program.

But really, I'm not here to harp on Oscar. Here's the real news of the day...the ARFE blog is diversifying. Here's our lineup from now on:

Mondays: News roundup

Tuesdays: Race Report Team Captain Bruce Swanson brings you the race report from the previous weekend's race, if there's been a race. If not, Bruce will give you some idea of his workout over the weekend, and a look at his training week to come. If you're lucky, he might even throw in a good training tip!

Wednesdays: A Visit from Our Resident Science Geek: Master's Team Captain Jim Holden gives us a sneak peek into the world of sports science and nutrition.

Thursdays: The Dark Corners of a Race Director's Brain: Resident race directors Shawn Dietrich (WeCeFAR and Dave Kauffman (Planet Adventure give you a rare glimpse into the workings of putting together a race.

Fridays: Green Reg's and Tofurkey. Jim Holden and Chris Edmundson tell tales and share tips from the world of getting a major conosumer goods corporation and Chris' hospital to Go Green.

Saturdays and Sundays: Sprocket's Roundup. Everyone's favorite four-legged mascot tells us what's running through his brain. Random links, running race reports, news and fun bits.

We hope you'll enjoy the new ARFE blog, and look forward to hearing your comments!

Yi Shun

Friday, February 23, 2007

we [heart] LaraBar

I have to admit, the first time that Shawn made me eat one of these, at OR, I was completely unsure of what I was eating.
It was an energy bar. But it had bits of REAL FRUIT in it.
It was an energy bar. But I could see exactly what foods were in it.
It was an energy bar. But "cherry" tasted like cherry. "Chocolate" tasted like dark chocolate. "Ginger" had actual heat to it! And oh, sweet Jesus, "Banana" tasted like banana bread.
Thus began my LaraBar fandom. We phoned and asked if they'd be a part of our Treats for Trash program, and joy of joys, they said yes.
We unveiled our partnership at the Swamp Stomp. Overheard from a racer stuffing her face with good bars: "I'm going to buy a whole BOX of these when I get home!"
Good on you. Glad we could help.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Wow, what a race!!!
Aside from it being the nation's first-ever GREEN ADVENTURE RACE, we had a terrific time watching some very talented competition battle it out for first place at this year's SmartWool Swamp Stomp!
There's a lot to review, but first, a photo of this year's Best Garbage winners, Team Way Too Far:

Yes, yes, that's all from the canoe leg! Go, Team Way Too Far! They went home with terrific Synergy jackets.
Big thanks to SmartWool and our teams!

ARFE Admin

Saturday, February 17, 2007

ARFE loves Mother Nasture

...or not.
Well, no, we do, but not when she delays three quarters of our team from the inaugural SmartWool Swamp Stomp!
Jim and Yi Shun drove down to Florida from Chicago, thankfully escaping the negative 33 wind chill, only to land in 25-degree freak Florida snap.
We got a phone call just before arriving at Race Director Shawn Dietrich's house, to hear that team members Kristoffer Nielson, Erin Nielson, and Chris Edmundson were bumped to another flight--NEXT WEEKEND.
Judging that unacceptable, they decided that this was unacceptable, and rented a minivan to drive all the way down to florida from Boston. They arrived in good time, only to find that team captain Bruce Swanson had been screwed over by a rental car company and was stuck in Orlando.
Trusty ARFE Staff member Jim drove down to Orlando to collect him, and they returned just in time to catch the end of race check-in.
Never mind, everyone is on here now and the race started this morning in chilly, un-Florida-like 25 degrees.
Lovely. Check back here for more updates soon!

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

He's Not Quite King Kong...

...but he's close.
At this very minute, Team ARFE-SmartWool captain Bruce Swanson is racing up the steps of the Empire State Buildiing as part of the Empire State Building Run-Up. We can't wait to see how he does over 85 stories! Check out the above link for results.
Good luck, Bruce!!!

Monday, February 5, 2007

the end of one sports season...

...the beginning of the adventure race season!
today it's a blistering NEGATIVE THREE degrees in chicago as i sit here and type. with wind chill, says Weather.com, it's negative 22. TWENTY-TWO.
anyway, with WeCeFAR's SmartWool Swamp Stomp only two weeks away, at least some of us get to head down to Florida to check out the offerings of the nation's first-ever entirely green adventure race!
ARFE put together ten commandments of green adventure racing, and we're hoping that this will become a huge trend.
among the ten are commitments to a Leave No Trace seminar, buying enough carbon offsets to negate the carbon "cost" of the race (we use our friends at Atmosclear for this purpose), sustainble-material T-shirts, and sustainable- or recycled-material swag bags.
keep your eyes peeled on this 'blog for more information, and at this web site as it grows. we'll have lots more information soon. thanks for coming to visit!
of course, if you live in Chicago, you don't have to keep your eyes peeled. just go outside. the weather will peel your eyes for you.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Hello from the new ARFE blog

Happy Superbowl Sunday, folks!
Today ARFE woke up to this very exciting news from Terry Bicycles. The ARFE bracelet, made of recycled bicycle chains and real copper wire, is available for sale now. Click here for more information. If you'd like to order different colors of these bracelets that aren't shown, contact ARFE for more information.