Friday, March 30, 2007

The Dark Corner's of a Race Director's Brain

A Look at Safety

Let's talk about the big issue of safety. While learning, and even borrowing, from previous races and other race directors might be a good thing, it's nothing but trouble when you're talking about the safety of your racers and staff. This week, we're going to explore three places where proper precautions can make or break a race.

Ropes courses usually draw the most scrutiny, but they're probably one of the safer disciplines in adventure racing when done properly. Ropes are typically the only place in a course where outside help is used to assure correct procedures and safety. The one big question is why and when should experts be hired. Most of us can rig ropes and follow good practices to assure safety. We look at the aerial rescue possibility: If you think you're going to need one, hire an expert . We think of it this way: The best way to save someone from drowning is by throwing them a life line, and anyone can do that. But, if you have to enter the water to save a victim, the risk for the victim and the rescuer increases greatly and should only be done by trained personnel. The same applies with rope courses.

Water is where the majority of the most serious accidents have occurred in adventure racing. The risk of drowning and hypothermia are very real. A typical piece of safety equipment is the strobe, which can really speed rescue efforts in a large body of water. If you tip at night in a lake which can encompass hundreds or thousands of acres a dangerous situation occurs. You may be miles from shore and no one will know that you have tipped. The proper strobe is important to preventing disaster. The strobe should be rated for at least two miles of visibility, flash 360 degrees, be water-proof and ideally float with the strobe upright. If only head lamps and glow sticks were required, the search area increases a minimum of 10 times assuming the head lamp or glow stick can be seen from all direction.

The third, and probably one of the most over-looked area for safety concern is the handle-bar mounted bike light. We require front lights for the same reason the center brake light became standard on cars. Studies showed the center brake light on a car improved response time and decreased rear end collisions. The same is true in the front bike light case. Say you only have a light on your helmet, you're on the side of the road looking back or you're tired and have your head down. Your standard driver moving at 50 mph on the county road might not see you. You will want every advantage possible to improve his response time for identifying you.

These are just three examples. The key is to step back and think carefully about simple steps that you can follow to improve the safety of your race.

Check back next Thursday for advice from Shawn Dietrich. More from us in two weeks.

Jerry Lyons and Dave Kauffman
Planet Adventure

Green Regs and Ham

The Making of a Green Hospital (cont. from 3/16)

Despite prior failures of recycling programs, the hospital was now committed to recycling as its first green initiative. From my understanding, prior failure with recycling was related to a number of factors ranging from poor compliance to contractual problems. Employees of the hospital were either not attempting to recycle, or placing items in the wrong bins. The result was continuous loads of material that were considered tainted and hauled away by the company at a huge expense. The contract with this vendor stated that if loads were contaminated (such as plastic in a load of paper) the whole load would be rejected and the hospital would be charged a fee. Furthermore, the vendor was picking up materials at various locations throughout the hospital and charging extra for each individual stop. In the end the program was abandoned because of the considerable cost.

As the Green Committee began developing a plan, we hoped to learn from our previous experience. We laid out a number of action items to maximize our success with the new recycling program.

1.Solicit proposals from recycling vendors and negotiate a contract
2.Establish a marketing campaign to encourage employees to participate
3.Post signage to promote compliance with proper procedures for recycling
4.Acquire recycling receptacles to place within the hospital
5.Modify nursing stations and office spaces to accommodate receptacles
6.Train Environmental Services Department to properly dispose of recyclable material
7.Ensure protection of patient sensitive material during the handling of paper waste
8.Establish a central location for the storage, sorting and pick-up of recyclable material


Stay tuned in 2 weeks for the next installment of The Making of a Green Hospital.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Race Report

ARFE-SmartWool: Good in all Weather

Team ARFE-Smartwool for this race is Kristoffer Nielsen, Erin Nielsen, and Chris Edmundson. Kristoffer filed this race report.

We met up at Chris's house in Newton, MA on Wednesday night, packed everything in the A4 wagon and the following morning (early) we hit the road for Georgia. The total trip took slightly longer than expected at 18hrs, but we arrived at Meri and Ed's home in GA with enough time to get a solid night of sleep. They are very gracious friends of Pamela, our crew who while we were driving, had flown in from Boulder for the race.



On Friday morning we were up and about at around 9am in sunny, warm Georgia. We decided that a short 45minute run would be good to get our joints and muscles moving a bit after the long trip down in the car. Running through the 'burbs of GA was great fun, weaving in and out of interesting neighborhoods, rail road beds, and small sections of woods. In true adventure spirit we even managed to find a long black pipe to run on that spanned a section of forest floor. After getting back from our run, the four of us crammed into the wagon with all of our gear bulging at the seams and headed 45 minutes north to the canoe pickup.

We arrived at the race registration / check-in at around 2:30pm. The process was smooth and relaxed without any useless gear check or anything of that sort. We loved the fact that we got our map early and while Chris and Pamela got the bikes tip top, Erin and I plotted the course's checkpoints and decided on route choices. This was our first experience with a map of this size, a 1:24,000, 36in x 46in monster! It was so large that we could have used it as a sail during the paddle, or perhaps as our emergency blanket that was required as part of our mandatory gear.


Note to race directors: Bigger maps make for a need for bigger hotel rooms and tables.

By the late afternoon it was quite apparent that the race as it plotted out, was going to consist of lots of elevation gain and long bike and trekking legs. The race was going to be won by whichever team had the legs for the hills and the ability to withstand the high temperatures. Being a North East team that currently has 3 feet of snow on the ground and usually relies on navigation as much as fitness, we were a bit worried. There was, however, an 8-kilometer "orienteering" section that broke up the bike and we knew that that would be to our advantage and help us to stay in the mad-dash, horse race.

Dinner, provided by the event directors was excellent, the meeting was short and to the point, and with that we got another great night sleep which allowed us to be very well rested for what was to come.

We were at the race start by 7am. Chris and I got the portage wheels on the boat and tested it to make sure everything was in good order; it was. The race was to start with a 1-mile run prologue, which only one member of each team needed to participate. While Erin and Chris got a few last pieces of gear in order I ran around a bit to get warmed up for the sprint I was about to participate in.

Soon, all the runners lined up at the entrance to the parking lot on the starting line awaiting the starting gun for the out and back prologue. We were off, and by the turn-around point I had managed to work my way up to around tenth place. As we rounded the cone and came back down the road towards the awaiting teams lined up with their boats, I managed to pass several people and by the time I reached the end I was in third place, having completed the mile in roughly 5 minutes 20 seconds. Chris and Erin had the boat ready to roll in great position and as soon as I got back we were off on the 500 meter portage down to the lake.

Boats on Wheels...what an innovative idea!

We reached the water in 3rd place but as the paddle started towards CP1 we were passed by several teams right off. Shortly after CP1 Enduraventure and Infiterra Sports also passed us. By this time we were in around 6th or 7th place where we would stay for the remainder of the 4hr paddle. CPs 1 through 4 were very easy to find and consisted basically of a flat water, out and back to various finger like extensions of the lake. Enduraventure, the only team towards the front with a aluminum speed machine managed managed to pass everyone on the water and put an impressive 27 minutes on us by TA1.

Our transition was efficient and the fastest of all the teams in just over a 1 minute. We off on the bike which was hilly from the start as we worked our way 10 kilometers up to CP6, also the start to the so called orienteering section. This O section was made up of 3 CPs that could be collected in any order each separated by several kilometers. As we were getting our running shoes on and pulling all unnecessary gear out of our packs EMS came rolling in and it was clear to us that they were ready for a fast day of riding. They had made up nearly ten minutes on us just in that short bike leg up to the O section. We headed out quickly deciding to collect the CPs in what turned out to be the opposite order from most other teams (9,8,7). A few teams including Infiterra had chosen the same order however within short time of quick and efficient navigation we had passed them and were in front heading towards CP9. Our strategy for the race was to exchange the map between us every few CPs in order to keep our minds fresh and accurate. It was working. We cleaned up CP8, found an unmapped trail heading out of the ravine towards CP9 and despite Chris showing early signs of weakness from sun and heat, we were in overall good spirits and confident with our racing. CP7 was collected as well with ease and then we headed back up through a broad saddle to the road that lead into the bike drop and CP10(formerly CP6). We were pleased to discover that we had made up great time and were now in first place. With Enduraventure having arrived at the beginning of this O section over 30minutes before us we were excited by our execution but knew they and other teams would be on our heels before long.


Ever wonder what support crews do while they're waiting for teams to come in? Now you know: They take pictures of themselves in team gear to send to our sponsors.
Sure enough EMS, and ATP were right on us and after 20 minutes or so of having climbed up through the windy gravel roads on the way to CP 11 were passed by EMS, and then ATP shortly after. As we arrived at CP 11 and were showing them our mandatory gear, Enduraventure pulled in behind us. We thought for sure that they would pass us and it would be long before we'd see them again, however the next section of travel was a long and rough decent and so we managed to stay ahead of them, even back up the accents to CP12 and into CP13.

CP13 was a whack-a-bike coming off an easy attackpoint on the corner of the ascending road. The travel was slow through thick brush and rhododendron, about 600 meters or more so down a rather distinct ridgy, spur. We spiked the CP with ease but unfortunately made the decision to continue down the hill side to the river below where there was a mapped trail that gradually ascended back up to the road in the direction of CP14. It looked good on the map but in reality the trail was indistinct in places and very difficult to travel. Lifting our bikes over logs and other obstacles for the several kilometers it took to get back up to the road proved taxing but much to our surprise our sharp navigation and route choice, although not ideal, had us back in first place.

Far up the trail from hell, we heard a friendly whistle from behind us. I turned around and it was our good friends and fellow north easterners, EMS. We were very happy to see them and pleased to find out that they and us were now traveling together, at least for a little while in the lead. We shared some conversation as they described their unfavorable experience with CP13 and how most other teams that were ahead of us had the same trouble. We made it out to the gravel road and ascended with them for a bit. By the time we made it to CP14 they were about a minute lead that was to open up again on the way up to CP15.

It started getting dark now as we we neared the 3800ft of elevation that would bring us to the entry point to CP15, another long whack-a-bike down a broad reentrant to a rogue farm trail. Here is were the first mistake of the race took place. Pressuring ourselves to find the catching feature before sunset, we rushed the map reading and did not thoroughly cross reference with compass and elevation. As a small excuse I will say that the reentrant that we headed down was a parallel feature to the one that we should have been traveling down. We lost a painful 400ft of elevation and had gone about a kilometer before realizing that we had screwed up, and screwed up big! Having said that it could have been worse, we could have gone even further and spent who knows how long searching for a CP that did not exist. But no we knew we were wrong and did not hesitate to turn around and climb back out of the bowl back up to the road. In short time we made our way up to the next big reentrant and again dropped into the feature working our way down to the CP. We followed the terrain brilliantly and landed right on top of the flag. And, although discouraged by our bobble knowing it had put us back by a lot, we were eager to push on. Only one CP left on the bike course!

CP16 was collected simply by traveling the same road to the manned (actually two or three woman) station where we found out that we had lost an hour on our detour. Furthermore, Chris was no starting to show persistent signs of illness and the bonk. To this point he had been weak but we had maintained a good race. As we descended for a bit away from CP16 on our way to the distant TA2, we found ourselves on a ridge line with a poorly mapped trail junction. Several unmapped trails presented themselves. One followed out in the direction we wanted to go but suddenly ended, another headed out in an other direction and ended. We were worried about our teammate whom in most other races can be depended on as a powerhouse work horse, and were very hesitant on how to proceed. Erin and I stood there pondering for way to long as Chris laid unconscious on the ground, resting. We did not want a repeat of CP15's bobble. Eventually we followed one of the rogue trails for a few hundred meters and then bushwhacked down the ridge side to the trail that we later were told had continued on from the point where we were standing behind an old broken down van. I had checked this area myself twice, but apparently not well enough for the trail fizzled out much like all the other trails in that area but then picked right back up and continued on. The remaining long and fast decent down the narrow trail to the TA was a blast and perhaps my favorite part of the race despite at this point being over two hours back from the lead.

TA2 was reached and although it was good to see Pamela we had to move quickly through the transition if we were to have any chance of catching the leaders on what was promised as a 8-10hr foot march back up to the mountains we had just come from. We had an other speedy transition in under 5 minutes and despite Chris's pains we were off and running. An easy road section to CP18, and then a brutal accent up the steep slope of Smith Creek Ridge. The course director had given everyone a really long and out of the way, go-south to go-north, suggested route that we wanted no part of. So we pushed up to the ridge and began our 2 kilometer bushwhack towards the trail that would eventually lead us to CP19.

After not long, Chris was becoming less coherent and non-responsive. His eyes peered into nothingness and he looked as if his soul was gone. We were moving at a painfully slow pace and every 50 meters or so he would lay down and not want to continue. Where earlier in the race his body was telling him to sop but his mind was overriding it and telling him to keep going, now his mind was giving in too and all forward progression was coming to a halt and it seemed our race was coming to and end. Many other teams had pulled out earlier in the race because of heat exhaustion and difficulty, and Erin and I could not help but think we would suffer the same fate.

As Chris laid on there on the ground I stood over him pondering what to do. Erin looked over at me further towards the direction we were heading and looked at me with a worrying face. Although she said nothing it was as if her face was screaming "get him up, carry him if you have to. We need to keep moving!" I then sat down with him and Erin stood over us as we discussed our situation. We agreed to all stop and sleep for a few hours until sunlight broke and then try to keep going. Erin and I were fairly confident that if we could somehow just keep going and get all the CPs we would likely end up in the top five.

Chris slept, wrapped in his orange space blanket, as Erin and I sat eating a dry and not so tasty burrito. As Erin rested too I laid there trying to calculate how much time we wold need to collect the rest of the CPs and make it back by the mandatory cut off. In this race if you were not back by the 30hr time cutoff you would be disqualified. I laid there thinking how cruel it would be to have raced all this way just to be disqualified on arrival. However the alternative was to skip one or more CPs and still be ranked, but be ranked behind the teams who had gotten them all. We did not know who or how many teams had collected all the CPs. What I did know was that if we were going to make it into the top 5 we needed to get them all. So, how long do we rest until starting up again and insuring we had enough time to get them all. How long would it take? We needed to let Chris rest for as long as possible or risk not making it at all.

Much to our surprise, several other teams had chosen our same route over this ridge and passed over us as we laid there on the forest floor. As the light started to break I looked at my watch and it said 7:13. At that time we got up and within a few minutes were on our way again, legs stiff from having be motionless for those hours. After a bit we started moving faster and faster until we broke into a run. We found the trail in short time and were well on our way to CP19 now. Chris had some life back in him, amazingly, and our team once again was determined as ever to get all the CPs and finish this darn race! But the clock was ticking and no time could be waisted. Every navigation decision and route choice had to be perfectly executed or we'd miss the cutoff.

CP19 came and went and we were pressing on to 20 still running. We travelled the gravel road a bit longer and then back into the woods, over a narrow saddle at 3800ft. Then up and over a summit at 4114ft (the highest we'd reach in the race) and down into a wide bowl on the other side. We dropped 1200ft into what eventually turned into a ravine with water draining through, fought our way through a short section of this rhododendrons and then into a field were CP20 hung. An unmapped trail leading out of the ravine put a smile on our faces and were again were running on solid footing.

Running down the wide trail that wound along the contours of this long river valley, we went over our route choices over and over. Again time was on our minds constantly. We decided to follow this trail until it eventually lead up to a paved road across from where our entry point to CP21 was. Again as we had hoped there was an unmapped trail that followed a large drainage 3 kilometers down the scout camp at CP21. We ran excitedly down the whole way on the narrow trail until eventually arriving at the manned CP. It was great to see people again after so long without seeing anyone out there on the course. Despite there being a raging flow of water pouring under the CP and us being out of water, we decided we did not have time to stop and refill and that we needed to keep moving if we were going to make it.

The next leg was short, but between us and CP22, the final check point, stood a steep, heartbreaking 1400ft of elevation gain. We had been talking about it for the past two ours though and had been psyching ourselves up for it. This was it, get this last CP and then it was a long but all down hill mad-dash for the finish. We started up were moving at a good strong pace. We made it to a large ridge about 3/4 the way up in a short half hour and then continued up the shallower ridge to the knob where CP22 was hanging lonely in a cluster of trees.

CP22 was ours and another gravel road wound down the mountain just below us. Two hours left on the clock to travel the remaining 6 or 7 kilometers. The sun shining hot and temps in the high 80s wore through us with every stride but we were as determined as ever to reach the line on time. We followed the road several kilometers down until we reached another large and steep drainage which we had planned to follow for a few kilometers out to the paved park road. This would be the final bushwhack and it treated us no nicer than any of the previous. It was very steep in sections and thick with brush and rhodies'. As we made our way down we passed by another team and gained a slight burst of energy. Chris had been holding it together the best he could since the early morning but finally reached a point where he had no more and passed out. Once back on his feet I grabbed his pack and we pushed him along out to the road. He grabbed onto the bungy strap on Erin's pack and she pulled him as I held and pushed him from behind. Time was cutting it close and above all we just wanted to be finished.

We traveled the road for a short few hundred meters and then hit the lake trail that wound around the lake by the finish line at the Unicoi lodge. We ran the trail as quickly as we could manage and as we made it back out onto the entrance road we could see the finish. One last hill and short trail stood in our way. We could see Pamela, our crew, standing at the top cheering us on. We made it to the top with an overwhelming sigh of relief as I handed in our passport at 1:26pm. 29 hours and 26 minutes into the race. 34 minutes before the deadline, with all the CPs. We got 4th place overall.

We would like to thank the race and course directors for a challenging event, one that we will certainly attend next year. I also want to point out and thank EMS for their kindness in sticking around until we finished. They themselves had an awesome race getting second place just minutes behind the overall winners. Having them their support there to cheer us on as we finish was tremendous. They are true sportsmen (and woman).

As always great thanks to our sponsors, SmartWool, GoLite, and Gatorade (without their Endurance hydration formula we would not have made it in this heat).

News and stuff

Hi there,

Sorry for the incredible confusion this week--a 24-30-hour race always screws up our sleep schedules, even if we're just watching from the sidelines.
ARFE has just found out that San Francisco has approved tha ban on plastic bags. In six months, all large grocery stores will be required to take out the plastic bag option and offer consumers recyclable paper bags or plastic bags made of degradeable or compostable plastic substitute, like corn starches.


Here are ARFE HQ we use big canvas bags for our groceries.

The California Grocers Association, the lobbying group for many large grocers in California, remained carefully neutral on the subject, pointing out that grocers will adapt.
We're waiting for a complaint for the lobbying group responsible for manufacturers that produce plastic bags.
Until then, we're reminded of all the folks that complained about telemarketers losing their jobs when the Do Not Call List went into effect, and heartened by the memory of what happened when the California's lawmakers put their collective feet down in the early 90s and demanded lower emissions from car manufacturers. Detroit whined and moaned--but they complied, and it turned out they'd been sitting on the technology to make it happen cheaply for years.
Well, there you have it, then. Bring on the ban--and may other cities follow suit.
In a similar vein, ARFE and Team ARFE-SmartWool has been pushing the use of recycled- or organic-cotton swag bags, like these.



You saw them at the Swamp Stomp, CPZero.com, and Sunflower 24 race this year--and you'll see them many more times over the course of the summer, as we follow the CheckpointTracker.com series through its inaugural year. The idea, of course, is that we just end up throwing out those awful plastic swag bags. Think about it: Team ARFE-SmartWool itself goes to an average of 10 races per season. So:
10 races
x 250 racers at each race
---------------
2500 plastic bags.

That's a lot of bags in a landfill. And that's just the races we go to. You do the math.

These you can use again and again. Some of them are made from recycled material found on the cutting room floor at T-shirt factories. The ones we bought for CPTracker are made from an organic cotton. So use them in good faith. There may be some kind of extra treat for bringing them back to a race in the future, who knows? Because, you know, we here at ARFE are all about treats.

Keep your ears open.

Cheers,
ARFE Management

A Visit From Our Resident Science Geek

Carbohydrate during exercise

Your muscles and brain are fueled by carbohydrates (glucose). At lower exercise intensities, your body is able to convert stored fat into fuel for your muscles. As the intensity increases carbohydrate becomes the primary fuel for the muscles. An average well nourished person's, body stores carbohydrate (as glycogen) in the muscle (about 325g) and liver (90-110g). This is about 2000 calories - enough to fuel a 20 mile run. These glycogen stores can be spared by taking in carbohydrate during exercise.


During exercise try to consume 30-60g of carbohydrates per hour. Most people cannot metabolize more than 60g of carbohydrate per hour so increasing intake will not increase your performance. In fact, over consumption of carbohydrates (and food in general - especially fats) may result in an upset stomach due to slower gastric emptying (think "sugar belly"). The more intense the exercise the higher the probability of getting stomach issues.

The concentration of carbohydrates also plays a role in gastric emptying. A 6-8% carbohydrate solution (most sports drinks are formulated in this range) is most quickly absorbed. If you are using gels or "real" food for your carbohydrate source be sure to ingest enough water to help speed absorption.

Theoretically, during a race you could fuel yourself on just a sports drink (I have worked with Iron man triathletes who use only sports drinks for their hydration and nutrition needs during competition). If you consume about 1L per hour of a sports drink to hydrate, you are also getting about 60g of carbohydrate. For longer races, you will most likely not want to do this. You will feel hunger and want to eat. Try eating during less intense sections of the course to minimize the risk of stomach upset.

Things you might try (during training) to test your nutrition strategy:

1. If you are consuming more than the 60g per hour and have stomach issues, try cutting back and see if the issue goes away.

2. Even if you are not having stomach issues and are consuming higher amounts of food/carbohydrates, try cutting back and see if it affects your performance. You may find you need to carry less food during a race.

3. Focus on the concentration of carbohydrate in your stomach. Use a sports drink for your energy source, or know the carbohydrate content of your food and drink enough water to achieve a 6-8% solution in your stomach.

4. You can "train" your digestive system to handle exercise with food in the stomach. Practice training after eating. Also you'll learn which foods you handle more readily than others.

Next post I will focus on carbohydrates and recovery.

Happy Training,

Jim

Monday, March 26, 2007

Last report from Crew Queen

It's 815 am on Mon am and I'm at the Atlanta airport. I last left our team sleeping soundly at my friends house in Atlanta. HUGE thanks to Meri & Ed for giving us a home base pre and post race.

As reported the team came in at 1:24 and I was very happy to see them, along with everyone else at the Finish. There was a huge ARFE buzz for several hours (like 12) at the finish so everyone was happy to see them. They were extremely dehydrated when they came in but they made it before 2pm and they got all the checkpoints. They are unofficially 4th (YAY!!!) barring any penalties or controversies. I over heard the race director saying that he had not hear of any penalties and suspected that that everyone's places will hold. So 4th should stick. I'll save all the juicy details of the race for the race report.

As for me..I had a BLAST and am looking forward to the next one. I just wish I could have stayed in Atlanta longer to see them off properly, but duty calls in CO. So I'm leaving Georgia one VERY proud support person. I can't wait to see what else ARFE-SW can pull off this season.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

finish line!`

Team ARFE SmartWool came in at 1:24 PM, well before the 2PM cutoff for full course finishers.
We still don't know what place.
Thanks for keeping up with us, everyone, and keep an eye out for a full race report on Tuesday!

Cheers,
ARFE Management

update

From the Crew Queen...

Ok this just in from the volunteer at CP21. He reports that ARFE-SW came thru at approx 1140 am with all CP's punched including 21. This means they have 2:20 left until the official cut off time of 2pm today. Everyone continues to project they will come in 4th (unofficially). The volunteer reports that they were in good spirits and RUNNING! It's going to be tight to get in by 2. Soon I'll go out on the a little ledge and watch them come in.

Pre-finish update

Ok this just in from the volunteer at CP21. He reports that ARFE-SW came thru at approx 1140 am with all CP's punched including 21. This means they have 2:20 left until the official cut off time of 2pm today. Everyone continues to project they will come in 4th (unofficially). The volunteer reports that they were in good spirits and RUNNING! It's going to be tight to get in by 2. Soon I'll go out on the a little ledge and watch them come in.

Side bar: The race director is trying to make his trade mark be that there is warm soup available at certain CP's on night legs. That was in fact the case last night. However, apparently it was chicken noodle which does not jive with the veggies. Don't worry veg heads, I put in a good word for us!

Still waiting...

ATP physically came in to the TA at about 9:25 (regardless of what the website said earlier). Team ARFE-SW left the TA about 1.5 hrs behind this team. That being said.... I have NO idea where they are or what is going on. Only about 5-6 teams are expected to get all the checkpoint and finish and we are one of them. I've melted into the volunteer crowd and have spent a bit of time hangin' with our neighborly GoLite rep, Ashley Wallace (well my neighbor in Boulder that is). Awesome group of folks to spend a TON of time with, especially the ATP support crew.

tick tock ... tick tock ... back to staring at the road....

update

news from the Crew Queen is that the dashboard (previous post) is a little screwy. ATP hasn't finished, contrary to my last post.
sorry!
still waiting for ARFE-SmartWool. Crew Queen says she's on the edge of her seat waiting for a potential footrace for 3rd.
ARFE mgmt is off to run a road race of our own. we will check in ASAP and leave you now in the capable hands of our own Pamela Robbins.

some teams at finish

dashboard has Enduradventure, ATP, and EMS at the finish line, in that order.
ARFE-SmartWool sounds like they're still hanging strong.

Results from TA 2

Finally figured out how to post for myself.

Team ARFE-SW had another stellar transition. This transition from bike to trek took about 5 min. They entered the TA in the 5th spot and left in 4th. Their quick transitions continue to be the talk of the TA's. There certainly has been an ARFE-SW buzz out there tonight (most likely bc I was positioned directly behind the CP and kept talking a good game).
The leaders were 2:18 ahead and the third team was 1:30 ahead with an ailing member. The buzz around the TA is that CP 13 was extremely difficult to get to but so far our team is putting up a good fight as they have all the CPs up to this point. Almost every other team that comes in is dropping out and I heard that some support people are ditching their teams. I don't understand!! Never fear, I'm not going anywhere.

They left the TA with fresh dry packs, food and their trekking poles (this means its very steep if this crew of all people is using poles). Departure from TA2 was 1:38 am. Race directors said it took them 6-7 hrs to do this section fresh during daylight. So we are guessing our leaders will be in anywhere from 8hrs on. Although, who knows bc I spent 4 hrs standing at the turn to the TA convinced that they were only 20 min away.

Time for a wee bit of shut eye until the next post. I've very proud of this team for being so well positioned going into the last section.
-pamela

Saturday, March 24, 2007

9PM EST

Crew Queen says:

apparently the [CPTracker.com] website is down bc teams are dropping like flies. 60% anticipated to drop out by this TA [TA2].

hang in there, racers! team ARFE SW still in 2nd place.

update, Team TBL

We've had the awful news that Team Timberland has had to drop due to heat stroke.
We love having you on course, Team TBL...better luck next time. We look forward to seeing you again.

an update from Crew Queen

Ok well it's 740 pm here and the leaders are expected anywhere from
10-2am..hmmmm. I want to add an addendum to the CP tracker. At last
check it showed ARFE-Smartwool as skipping CP7. This is FALSE! I just
saw the hand written sheet from the volunteer who was at CP7 and they
had indeed been there. So... this means that so far they have no
skipped any CP's..yay! I'm sure the website has been updated by now
but I wanted to report.

CP14 shows ARFE-Smartwool and EMS neck and neck!!

I have to say it is soooooooo fun supporting for a leading team (not
that I know any different in my vast experience). There is a
quasi-rookie team set up next to me and they are admiring the
minimalist approach to TA's and the duplicate gear.

I am going to try bringing my computer to the TA and blog from there.
TA2 is literally set up on top of the CP. Can't get much close than
that.

-PR

as of 20 minutes ago...

Team ARFE SmartWool and Team EMS are battling it out for first, separated by a minute, EMS in the lead.
GO ARFE-SmartWool!
[Go EMS too! Representin' for the Northeast!]

news from TA2!

The Crew Queen check in:

Georgia on our minds....

Hello from TA2/Finish. It's about 5pm and the day is already flying.
Team ARFE-Smartwool is on the bike section which has an orienteering
section as well. This race is heavily waiting the bike...or so I hear.
I saw our team mates for a speedy and effecient 2 minute transition.
This crew has it down to a science. They have duplicates GoLite packs
and gear so there is no unpaking and repacking to be done.
They seemed to be in good spirits although it all happened so fast
that I have no idea how they were feeling. No one was hurt and they
were asking for food...all good things.

The morning started at 515 am preceeded by a night where Kristoffer
kept waking up thinking it was time to race. Breakfast was had in the
lodge and we were off to the paddle start about 25 min away from
TA2/Finish. As far as support work goes, there is not much. Two TA's
leaves a lot of time to play around but I'm too loyal and don't like
to leave the TA area for too long so I aplogize if this lacks detail.

They began promptly at 8am with a brief 1 mi prolouge which Kristoffer
ran and finished in the top 5, if not 3. Then it was a 600yd portage
(up a hill...) to the paddle.

The weather is warm with partly couldy skies and, according to Chris,
Krisoffer & Erin, they welcome the heat so as not to have a repeat of
what happened in Florida. Happily it's not humid they way it can
normally get down here.

I wish I had more details to report but with so few TA's I hardly seem
our ARFE-Smartwoolers.

TA2 is happening sometime in the next 5 minutes to 4 hours so stay
tuned and I'll write more. Time to make PB&J's...

update, CP1

ARFE-SmartWool is past CP1. According to the CPZero leaderboard, it looks like they're in 8th place and traveling with our old friends Team ATP [Hello, Scott!].
Six teams so far have already passed CP4. Team ARFE-SmartWool hasn't logged in there yet but should soon.
They were among the first few teams to reach CP1.

ARFE HQ moves to Georgia

Well, for the weekend, anyway.
Here's the update so far from our Crew Queen, Pamela Robbins:

Morning from ARFE HQ.

Wireless is dodgy but I should be able to blog it up later. Cell phone
reception also dodgy...

I'm excited! The crew is well rested after about 6 hrs of sleep.
Things look good. Only 2 TA's and not a whole lot of nav. As EMS said,
it's gonna be a horse race. Oh boy! Erin, Chris & Kristoffer and
rested, fed and seem to be exceptionatly organized and ready.

Go ARFE-SmartWool, go... will blog after the first TA if I can which should be
between 12 and 2. Starting with a long paddle.

Friday, March 23, 2007

GREEN REGS AND HAM

READY FOR THE KICK-OFF...

Things are coming together nicely.

1. My team's budget has been approved. It is actually more than we need for the Earth Month Kick-off, so I'll have money to use for the sustainability team throughout the year.

2. The team has gained 2 new members, both of whom are very passionate and have influence in the pilot plant and the facility maintenance crews.

3. I have more than 30 people signed up for the kick-off meeting/showing of "The Inconvenient Truth" on April 2nd.

4. I am very excited that Sid from Atmosclear ( http://www.atmosclear.org/ ) has donated enough carbon off-sets to make our facility carbon neutral on April 2nd.

5. I have permission from the head of R&D to proceed with the sustainability team.

6. The Corporation as a whole was just named energy star partner of the year, for its energy management programs and reductions in greenhouse gases.

7. I met some colleagues from our sister company in Texas who are starting a similar team - a great opportunity to work together to make a bigger difference.

8. I have permission to run a slide show about our efforts on the flat screen TV in our lobby for the month of April (we will also display our carbon off set certificate).

9. Our trail clean-up day at the end of April is all planned.

10. Already the level of excitement and efforts of people at the facility are exceeding my hopes for progress this year - Exciting times are ahead, I can't wait.

The fact that there is support for these types of projects from the CEO of the corporation all the way down to my manager, makes me feel like this team can and will make significant contributions in a fairly short time.

Next time I post I'll update you on the kick-off and the team's progress.

-Jim

...and it's recyclable!

We are ARFE are convinced we need one of these.



Why? Well, because it's made of recycled yogurt cartons, that's why.
Oh, oh, you want to know what it's for. Well, it's a towel-holder. You stick the end of your dishrag into ...
Oh, never mind.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

holy crap!

today, ARFE management chased a balloon down the street. we saw it from our office window and something went a little sparky in our neurons, and after dashing about the house for our keys and a hound leash and shoes (we are, after all, somewhat responsible), we scooted out the door and went zipping across and down the street for the pretty red thing we'd seen loping across two lanes of fast-moving traffic.
we were rewarded with this:

which reminded us of this, which led to this, and the reminder that life is nothing if we've forgotten how to play.
all of which is a long-ass way of saying that we are wishing Team ARFE-SmartWool a tremendous time in Georgia this weekend as they tackle the inaugural CheckpointTracker race! Hooray!



Keep your eyes peeled here for running updates on the race!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A Visit from Our Resident Science Geek

Carbohydrate Loading

For the next three blogs I am going to touch on carbohydrates. First I'll talk about pre-loading prior to an event, then consumption during exercise and finally for aiding in recovery.


ARFE Management would cop to using these to carbo-load in the days before an event. Heck, we might eat these DURING an event. Read on to find out what you really should do.

Carbohydrate Loading Prior to the event:

Carbohydrates are the primary fuel used by the muscles during intense exercise (Carbohydrates are the only fuel source your muscles can use without oxygen), fats provide significant energy at lower exercise intensities.

In the days prior to the event, focus on well balanced meals with a high carbohydrate content. You should be aiming for 7-10 grams (g) of carbohydrates per kilogram (kg)body weight. If you are training an hour or so per day shoot for the 7g/kg body weight. If you are at 3 hours per day, you should be aiming for the 10g/kg body weight. This will maintain your glycogen levels (glycogen is what your body converts glucose into for storage in the liver and muscles).


For your meal just prior to the event (usually breakfast) things become more individualized.


Team ARFE-SmartWool member Stoff lurrrrrvs these Gatorade bars. And we're not just sayin' that.

Some people can handle a small meal less than an hour before exercise, other people can't tolerate eating so close to the event. Here are some strategies to try depending on how you tolerate eating prior to an event:

If you can eat within an hour of the start time, try to get a small 300-600 calorie meal (1-2 grams carbohydrate per kilogram body weight) an hour before the start.

On the opposite side if you can't tolerate anything in your stomach at the start of exercise, you should shoot for a larger meal earlier. For example, a 800-1200 calorie meal with 3-4g of carbohydrate per kilogram body weight 3-4 hours prior to an event. If you are really intolerant to eating prior to racing, try liquid diets to achieve your calories.

Most people will fall somewhere in between these examples. No matter where you fall it is a good idea to train yourself to tolerate 8-16 ounces of a sports drink 15 - 20 minutes prior to the start of exercise. This will help top off your carbohydrate and hydration status in time for the start.

As always feel free to ask questions or for references with more details.

Happy training,

Jim

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Recovery Workouts Begin!

Our usual plan for the Tuesday blog entry is a recap of the weekend's events or simply a overview of the workout plan for the week ahead. With no race to detail from the prior weekend, my exercise scheme will be the focus. Not the typical level of physical abuse, though. This will be my first week back in the gym after a recent illness, so the focus is on a disciplined increase in intensity over the next two weeks. This week is a bit easier than most with about 10 hours of cardio planned along with four sessions of upper-body weight training. I've confined my workouts to the local gym in order to indulge my respiratory system in the warm air and keep on track for the Planet Adventure AR in three weeks and four days!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Sprocket's Roundup

No roundup today. Sorry. Tired from playing with other dogs on St. Patrick's day. Irish setters, wolfhounds, you know, the lot.

Friday, March 16, 2007

GREEN REGS AND HAM

The Making of a Green Hospital (cont.)

After winning my first battle with the hospital (see posting from 3/2/07), I was ecstatic about our upcoming “Green Committee” meeting. I had done my homework and was prepared with a massive list of green initiatives for the committee to consider. The list considered such possibilities as recycling, waste and power reduction, alternative energy, green purchasing, non-toxic cleaners, etc. Next, I had gathered information on an organization called Hospitals for a Healthy Environment (H2E). H2E’s mission is “To educate, motivate, and engage health care professionals to adopt best environmental practices that increase operational efficiency, and support an environmentally sustainable system that improves the health of patients, staff and the community.” H2E recommended that I contact the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) as a first step in going green. I learned of a new program offered by the DEP designed specifically to assist hospitals become more environmentally sound. I was encouraged by my contact at the DEP who stated that he was not part of the enforcement division and would not look for or report violations at the hospital. Rather, my contact suggested that if our hospital was proactive with environmental improvements, he would help advocate for us in case of future violations. Seems like a win-win situation right?

So the first meeting arrived and my general outlook on the hospital’s future changed dramatically. As I was introduced to the other committee members (all hospital executives), I immediately felt out of place. As the only non-executive on the committee, I wondered about my role. Then, after my recommendations were quickly dismissed, I understood why I was there. By having me on the committee, they could ensure that I did not jeopardize the hospital’s reputation by speaking with the media.

As the meeting wore on, the members concluded that the only initiative to be addressed at this time was paper recycling. This was the most effective way to reduce the mass of our waste for which we are charged by the ton for removal. Since paper is a valuable commodity, recycling would be of little to no cost to the institution and it would concurrently reduce the cost of waste removal. All other green initiatives were to be on hold until the paper recycling was shown to be cost effective. The committee outright refused to have any involvement with the DEP for fear of violations and would not partner with H2E because the hospital could not commit to change at this time.

I realized that the progress would be slow, but positive at the very least. For the time being I would hold my tongue and try to learn the motivations and concerns of the committee. Eventually I would be heard…


http://www.h2e-online.org/

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Dark Corners of a Race Director's Brain

AR Course Design: Checking out the Lay of the Land

This week we're continuing our series on how to plan a great race course. The next step is a no-brainer, but we'll tell you about some tools we use that will make life a whole lot easier: Get your hands on all the information you can about the area you are considering.


This is not the kind of map you need to plan a race. Read on for the materials that will actually help you.

You'll obviously need maps. Topographic maps, which are a graphic representation of the surface areas of a region like elevation and land composition, are critical. U.S. Geologic Survey (USGS) topographic maps are readily available and come in scales ranging from 1:24,000 (7.5-minute) up to 1:250,0000. 7.5-minute maps are the typical maps used. For longer races, it's smart to get a bigger scale like a 1:63,000 (15-minute) or 1:100,000. The larger scale maps let you see the complete picture at one glance, and are excellent choices for staff, volunteers and race crews, or even spectators. If you are in a national forest or park, another good map source is the National Geographic Trails Illustrated series of topographic maps.

You should also look for local mountain biking, hiking, orienteering or paddle/canoeing organizations. These groups often produce publications that you can use for additional reference. An Internet search will produce a whole list of good information. This information will give you a good assessment of natural resources available and may point out opportunities you may not have known about.

Opening up communication with some of the clubs and organizations can also be beneficial. Not only will they gladly convey their perspective, but you may also find new allies in seeking out new volunteers or teams.

Less obvious but also very important to know early on are the property owners in the area. Your best friend here is the county plat directory. This is typically a small scale spiral bound 8-1/2" x 11" book of the county plat maps. Plat maps list the property boundaries and owners of all land parcels in a county. Usually, the plat directory is available for a small fee from the county surveyor or assessor office. It's a wise investment, because the plat maps are almost always more up-to-date than topo or park maps, which might get updated once every five years or more. There are also some online companies that sell these directories. We once found, using a plat map, that a park we were using had acquired more property. You also must acquire permission to use private properties for your race. Owner information will be very important for the permit process.

Once you have gathered all your study materials, it is time to dig in and start crafting the adventure race course.

So far, we've looked at choosing the race length and what you need to gather to begin laying out the course. Next Thursday, Shawn Dietrich will be back to offer more of his insites and the following week, we'll continue our discussion on AR Course Design.

Jerry Lyons and Dave Kauffman
Planet Adventure

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A Visit from our Resident Science Geek

Hewsflash: Being an Old Salt Could Help Your Racing!

This week I am going to address sodium. To do this I will borrow heavily from a paper written by Michael F. Bergeron, Ph.D., FACSM. The full paper can be found here.

When I started racing, I was told that potassium is the big electrolyte needed for preventing cramps. Eat your bananas, drink your orange juice, etc. I now know sodium is typically the culprit when cramping is the result of an electrolyte imbalance.


Your Morton's salt gal might be a better companion than the Chiquita Banana Lady in terms of keeping you in top racing form. Read on to find out more.

Here are some key points from the paper:

1. Athletes lose far more sodium and chloride in sweat than any other electrolytes.
2. Sodium and chloride losses are greater with higher sweating rates.
3. Sodium and chloride losses in sweat are usually less when an athlete is acclimatized to the heat.
4. To completely replace body fluids after exercise, an athlete must replace the sodium and chloride that were lost through sweating.
5. Sodium deficits can lead to incomplete rehydration and muscle cramps.

Previously I talked about sweat rates and hydration. Since sodium is lost in sweat, knowing your sweat rate will also help you learn to "dial" in your sodium needs. A good place to start is 1g sodium lost per liter of sweat. For some unacclimatized athletes exercising in the heat, losses can be as high as 2 grams per liter of sweat.
Every athlete is different, so practice with your training and figure out what works best for you. Dr. Bergeron's paper has some good information and links in it, so check it out. It is a good exercise in reading technical papers; A skill that can open up many new doors for getting your nutritional edge over the competition.

Happy training (and reading)

Jim

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Training Report

Team ARFE-SmartWool: Still Frigid!
This week, Kristoffer and Erin Nielsen fill us in on their rigorous training schedule...is it match for the rigorous far northeast weather?
Interesting week of weather we've had up here in North Haverhill, New Hampshire. Last week consisted of mornings with negative temps between -10F and -15F. Because of our busy schedule we tend to train in the early mornings. If we have a longer workout in our schedule then we'll put in the hours after work, however.
On bitterly cold mornings, waking up only to go immediately outside for a run is the last thing one wants to do so Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday we stayed indoors and did bike workouts on our CycleOps spin bikes. These workouts consist of mostly long steady, power intervals closely monitored by heart-rate data. To make time go by a little quicker most days we can be caught watching pre-tivo'd episodes of Mythbusters, or this week's game of our La Liga favorites, Barcelona (spanish soccer).
Saturday, was a complete flip on the weather charts offering temps in the 40s with clear skies and a warm sun. We did an early run loop outside down our road 6 kilometers and then a longer, harder leg back to the house on a snow covered rail trail.
Sunday was our rest day catching up on sleep and general couch time. Yesterday, Monday, we needed a longer run workout, to make up for the lack of running from last week. We came home from work at around 6:30pm and packed up our packs with some food and Gatorade and hit then road. We ran from our house, on a 7.4 kilometer gradual accent to the trailhead of Black Mt. We then let Loki, our German Shorthair, off his leash to run wild, and headed on a 3 kilometer, steep accent up the southern side to the summit at roughly 1200 meters. This is a steep and challenging run for any mountain runner. The run back down was awesomely fun, cruising down the snow pack and skiing on our shoes whenever we could. Downhill running is something we enjoy immensely and excel at. Once at the bottom again we ran the same road back for a total workout time of 2:57 and total elevation gain of over 2000 meters.

Monday, March 12, 2007

News Analysis


You are What You...Wear?
Team ARFE-SmartWool and ARFE management wear eco-friendly SmartWool clothing whenever we can--and it's not just because they're out title sponsors.
Oh, sure, we wear it because it performs well, looks great, and doesn't smell, even when we do, but we stumbled across something recently that we think everyone should sit up and pay attention to: A report from Cambridge University on the sustainability of clothing and fashion today. Titled "Well Dressed?" it questions what impact, exactly, the clothing industry has on sustainability, and what consumers can do to help us along our road to a more sustainable lifestyle.
The report's executive report notes that the major environmental impacts of the textile and clothing industry arise from "the use of energy and toxic chemicals." We figured that meant thee actual machinery and electricity for production. But--big surprise--it turns out that most of the energy use is dominated by burning fossil fuel to create eletricity for water and air for laundering.
Laundering!
Then, with the advent of stores like H&M and Mexx, which provide styles that rotate in and out so fast they make our head spin, and at a cheap, cheap price, many consumers are just throwing out what they want.
On average, notes the report, UK consumers send "30 kilos of clothing per capita to the landfill."
There's no word yet on the US consumer, but I'm afraid to ask.
So...what can you do?
*Buy organic, or from your local consignment or second-hand store. Hey, everything old is new again, and there's no shame in being retro.
*Buy fewer garments that may cost more (Racers shouldn't be any strangers to this practise.)
(Right, a top from a certain member of ARFE Management's closet. She own a few of these. They each cost her an arm and a leg, but she wears them everwhere, and has owned them each for well over six years. They still look great.)
*When you rip something, stitch shut the rip, instead of throwing out the item and buying a new one.
*Dispose of used clothing and textiles through recycling businesses or second-hand shops.
And, finally--
*Launder your clothes less often. We know, we know. But if you're just going for a 12K run or some such, we bet if you hang your top up and just let it air dry, you'll find that it's not as gross as you might expect. (We know, we've tried this.)

Of course, don't forget to tell all your friends. And--do comment below. We're curious to hear what you think.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Sprocket's Thinking Spot

In this space, we'll pull together a smattering of all things pertinent that we think Sprocket would want you to know. Fortunately, we think he has just short enough of an attention span to have lots of interesting things to tell you. Let's find out, shall we?


Links

We've found a pretty special new organization run by an old friend of ours from our days at Audubon magazine. He's started a climate change movement called Step It Up 2007, which encourages everyone to weigh in on climate change by means of a live petition. You show up at an event or create an event that gathers in the name of asking Congress to reduce emissions by 80% in 2050, gather all your peeps in front of a "Step It Up 2007" banner, and send a photo into the good folks at Step It Up. National Step It Up day is April 14th.




ARFE is an organization that's restricted from lobbying, unfortunately, but we'll be asking some select people we know who are running events that day to Step It Up for us.


Here in Chicago we're planning on attending a festival that falls, fortuitously, on Earth Day. April 21 and 22, we'll be in the enormous McCormick Convention Center, learning a lot about being green by attention the annual Green Festival. We're very excited to see what we learn.




Food and Drink
We drink a fair amount of wine with beer here in the ARFE household, and we like to have people over--so we try to introduce ourselves, and our guests, to new options. One area that we haven't done much exploring in is organic beer and wine. We've heard great things: organic wine has less sulfur in it, for instance--but we haven't actually found anything we really really like. That might change: We got a hot tip that there's an organic wine out there that we might really like. It's from Provence. We like Provence, land of lavender and kindly monks, so we'll try this bottle next and keep you posted.


If that fails, we always have the Family Farmed expo to fall back on: it's a collection of local farmers, and they're hosting an organic food and wine tasting at the historic Chicago Cultural Center. Maybe we'll find something good there. Or maybe one of us will get stuck ogling something completely unrelated to organic, like pictures of the great architecutre here in Chicago. We're not saying who that someone might be.


News
Just in time for Step It Up, the European Union has called on select nations (ahem, China, us, and India) to meet the EU's challenge of reducing greenhouse emissions by 30% from 1990 levels by the year 2020. If the "rest of the world" doesn't sign on, says the EU, those nice Europeans will still commit to reducing their emissions by 20% by the year 2020. Step It Up, and let's follow suit, yes?


And now for something completely different: PETA has sent a missive to Al Gore insisting on a vegetarian diet for him. We understand that the big hubbub over his actual carbon footprint may have ruffled a few feathers, but everyone understands that you have a slay a few chickens in order to make a fine chicken soup....


Oh, whoops, did we just say that? ....


Stay tuned for next week's installment. There's never a shortage of things to tell you!

Friday, March 9, 2007

The Dark Corners of a Race Director's Brain

Planning an Environmentally Sensitive Adventure Race

  • Course Planning

WeCeFAR looks for interesting places to take racers while maintaining a fluid and mangeable course. We try to use an area only once during the race to reduce the impact and enhance the experience. After we have an original course overview, the team looks for good transition areas that already exist and that are accessable to volunteers, which lowers overall impact. We create a basic route plan based on how we think teams would move through each section and draw on the maps we provide them.

  • Land Manager Meetings

WeCeFAR then meets with the respective Land Managers for comments and concerns. Each organization discusses the pros and cons of each area. We negotiate on any areas of disagreement with respect to usage. We then modify the course plan to accomodate Land Manager concerns for sensitive areas.



Picking an environmentally stable boat launch and take-out, like this gravel-lined area, is a major step towards reducing the footprint of your adventure race.

  • Environment Expert Review

Last but not least we send the final plan to an naturalist for an outside consultantion. This individual provides WeCeFAR with general environmental concerns such as canoe launch areas. In the recent SmartWool Swamp Stomp we had a landing at Kettle Island. Our consultant was concerned because the map didn't show an area for this landing. we assured him that the area had a rocky shore line and that the impact would be minimal.

It all sounds incredibly obvious, but steps like this can lead to a small footprint--and make everyone's racing season better.


Tune in next week for more tips from Dave Kauffman.

Green Regs and Ham

Just Out of the Starting Gate

I am very excited about the prospect of making some positive environmental changes at work. Chris’s story and his achievements give me the hope that I and the team of like minded coworkers who have joined me can make a difference both for the environment and for the company’s bottom line.

I am starting from scratch; I have put together a team under the aegis of the Employee Activity Committee to make April “Earth Month” at our research and development facility. This is the first Earth Day celebration we will be participating in as a facility.

We are kicking the month off with a lunchtime viewing of “An Inconvenient Truth.”


We'll be screening this movie and "Who Killed the Electric Car?" as part of an effort to increase awareness.

The goals for the month are:

· To increase use of the recycling bins in the facility
· Encourage participation for the trail clean up day on the 28th
· Create a “Sustainability” team to evaluate opportunities to cut waste and
costs from operations at our facility.

Some of the ideas we have for the sustainability team to start assessing are:
- Switching to more energy efficient light bulbs
- Have periodic recycling drives (shoes, electronics, hazardous house hold goods etc) not just for
employees, but for the surrounding community.
- Giving employees access to their own plot of land on the property to raise vegetables (donating
some to the local food bank and allowing the employees to keep the rest).
- Making green roofs, installing solar panels or some other friendly use of the buildings on site.
- Adopting a highway section


The Apple Store in downtown Chicago has a green roof; this might make a good model for our R&D facility.

I am looking forward to this endeavor; I know the corporation as a whole is focused on becoming more environmentally friendly. Last year we converted our sales force company car options to hybrids, we donate water purification systems to the areas where we have production facilities and many of our production facilities have won efficiency awards.

I have a great team to work with can’t wait to get started.

Stay tuned for more reports on this journey.

-Jim

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

A Visit from Our Resident Science Geek

Know Your Sweat Rate!!!

This week I am sharing the most important nutrition or hydration tip I can think of. Those of you who know me know I struggle with this aspect of racing more than any other. Knowing your sweat rate and using that knowledge to properly hydrate while training and racing can make a huge difference in your exercise performance. As little as 2% body loss through sweat can cause fatigue and reduce physical and mental skills.


Jim looks happy, doesn't he? It's because he KNOWS HIS SWEAT RATE and has prepped for the enormous amount of fluid he's going to lose over the 7 hours of the Steelhead Half Ironman. Read on to find out more. And no, we don't have any photos of Jim looking dehydrated and pasty. Or barfing.

Determining your sweat rate is very simple. Weigh yourself before you go out for a training session, keep track of how much fluid you consume during the workout, and then weigh yourself afterwards.

- If you have lost weight it is a result of sweat loss. Drink 20-24 ounces of fluid for each pound lost.
- If you have gained weight, drink less the next time you work out – Excessive over hydrating can be dangerous.

A good place to start is 1 liter per hour, optimally about 8 ounces every 15 minutes.

Obviously your hydration needs change depending on the conditions you are in. In the heat and humidity you will sweat more and need to take in more fluid. A great way to dial in your hydration needs is to record your change in weight during a variety of weather conditions. Over time you will see how your own needs change based on the conditions of your bout of exercise.

Sweat rates vary greatly among individual athletes; your teammate may only need 1 liter per hour on a hot day while you may need 2 or more (I have heard of athletes with sweat rates approaching 4 liters or more per hour in hot conditions).

If you are like me and have a high sweat rate, don’t despair: You can train your body to be able to handle the extra fluid intake – just like training your muscles and cardiovascular system. As you train, concentrate on gradually increasing the amount of fluid you take in per hour until you reach your optimal fluid intake.

Adventure racers have a unique challenge regarding hydration, we need to carry or find our fluids in a timely manner on the course. Knowing your sweat rate and potential weather conditions can help you plan accordingly.

Electrolytes are another important aspect of hydration which I will address in the future.

Happy training!

-Jim

Monday, March 5, 2007

Tuesday Race Report

ARFE-SmartWool becomes Frigidly Inflicted

by Kristoffer Nielson

Team ARFE-SmartWool is getting tired of being nearly derailed by snow storms. On Friday afternoon, Erin and I sat in our living room discussing whether we should embark on what turned out to be a two-and-half hour drive to Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont, where this years Frigid Infliction was held. We were both home from work due to the storm, and the media had been making news of it all day long. After some deliberation we decided to take on the risky drive and began to creep through the snow on our way to race check-in and gear check.



We spent the night cozied in our sleeping bags, camped in our tent close to the start line. The maps were all pre-plotted--we were able to get a good night's rest.

The race started at five AM and consisted of three disciplines: cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and 'post holing'. The two decent storms we've had this season left four fluffy feet of white stuff for racers to deal with. The gun was off and so were we.

The first leg was on hard-packed ski slopes towards the first CP. There were two checkpoints between the start and TA1, but we were only required to visit one of them. And CP3 had been removed by the race directors because of the mass quantities of snow. Most teams chose CP2 and stayed on the main trails heading up while we decided on a less-than-obvious route choice and broke trail for a small handful of distant followers. Despite a few frustrating incidences with Erin's gaiters falling off, we managed to hold a lead, found CP2 with ease and were the first team to arrive at the TA.

We transitioned quickly, getting a new map and changing into our snowshoes. The next section of the race consisted of four CPs that could be collected in any order. We decided to break them into two loops, CP5 and CP4, then back past the TA for CP7 and CP8. CP6 had been removed again due to snow. Most teams fought the steep accent to CP4 first and the on up to CP5. We had blown by the trail that leaded up to CP4 and decided then to take the longer, yet more gradual incline around to CP5 first. CP5 was on the northern point of a ridgy summit, and we climbed a short, steep accent, breaking trail up to the punch. We found the entry point using a solid catching feature, a trail merge, right before cutting up towards the CP.

We were off again and despite a ten-minute bobble with a wrong turn before CP4, we were feeling good about our racing and were enjoying all the grand views of the Green Mountains. We worked our way up towards CP8 only to find that it had been miss placed. Although we were very confident that the point had been misplaced we hesitated a bit because of the fiasco we experienced with CPO at the Swamp Stomp in Florida just a few weeks earlier. After about fifteen minutes we decided we were sure of the misplacement and decided to move on. Later it was confirmed by the race director that the CP had indeed been misplaced.


[Bolton Valley has lots of trails!]

From CP8. we came off the ridge to collect number 7 by dropping just over three hundred feet in elevation, down a drainage. We made short work of it and were quickly on our way to TA2. There we received instructions and a point on the map where we would go to find our skis. When we arrived there we quickly threw our shoes in our packs, strapped our snowshoes under the convenient outside bungee, and changed into our ski boots which we had been carrying.

We skied a short bit before realizing the temperature had risen immensely and the kick wax we had on the our skis was useless. Despite the lack of kick to our classic skis we managed to quickly collect the next three checkpoints, CP9, CP10, and CP11. There was a key route choice on the way to CP11 that avoided lots of slow moving steep terrain. Excited by the fact that we had spiked all of the ski controls thus far, we were delighted to find out from the crew at CP12 that we had over an hour lead on the other teams. But racing in winter snow has a caveat: as first place team, we'd not only broken trail for all the other teams, but effectively were navigating for them as well. We had to be clean and make route choices quickly to avoid being run down.

The ski to CP13 was extremely difficult in 4-foot-deep snow. We travelled the Catamount trail for awhile, found our cut-in, and decided we had to hike carrying our skis and poles the whole way. It was simply not possible to advance any further while on skis. We navigated our way directly into CP13 but did not see it at first because it was placed seemingly higher on the slope than the map was showing. After hiking up the steep face through waist deep snow and collecting CP13 we made our way slowly, breaking trail towards CP14. Our route had us contouring across the slope slowly gain elevation while looking for a large reentrant/drainage that held the CP.

We spent the next hour-plus searching for CP14 in frustration--and what seemed to be a maze of unmapped drainages. Two other teams caught up to us and were also unable to find the CP, we decided to bail to a bigger relocation point on a huge ravine. Within minutes, we found the CP. Still, it was possible we'd blown our lead, and we rushed off with the other teams in hot pursuit. We finished the difficult trail break up to TA3 still in first place, though, and nearly set the Tyrollean traverse on fire as we crossed it in haste.

We quickly threw on our snowshoes and ran the three remaining kilometers to the finish. We were the first team to arrive, earning us first place overall and in our division, finishing in just under ten hours. Big thanks to SmartWool, which kept us warm during the race, and GoLite, whose packs managed to hold all of our stuff!

Monday Morning News Review

Whole Paycheck
First, HUGE HUGE PROPS TO Team ARFE-SmartWool members Kristoffer Nielsen and Erin Nielsen for winning this past weekend's Frigid Infliction race in, uh, frigid Bolton Valley, Vermont! A race report is forthcoming.
Second, your Miss Midwesterly has been dying to talk to you about this little thing called Whole Foods for the longest time now. Hailing as she does from Southern California, where Wild Oats and Trader Joe's was king, and having seen the travesty that is Whole Foods Columbus Circle in her favorite hamlet of New York, and now, having moved to the hinterlands of the mid-west, where "organic" is the new buzzword, well, she's seen that Whole Foods chain go through a lot.


Last year, we know of one race director whose races were sponsored in part by Whole Foods, and this year, we've heard more of the same. We're hearing a lot of this this because, as we move forward with the Green Racing movement, race directors are asking which retailers and sponsors we'd prefer to work with.
The truth is, I've not, since I first "met" Whole Foods back in the early 90s, bought into the Whole Foods trend. It is, so far as I've seen, farther away from its organic roots than it's ever been. The prices are sky-high. They ship in grapes from Chile; oranges from god-knows-where; the hemp-clothing boutique boasts hemp clothing made in Romania...is it really good for the earth if you have to spend a ton of jet fuel to get it from there to here? Its parking lots are rife with Land Rovers, Saabs, and--oh, god, the sharp sting of irony--H3s, and this is just something that the Missus won't stand for. It seems more interested in catering to trends than in providing good quality food at a decent price.
The Times carried an exploratory article recently on just how far Whole Foods has strayed from its roots of providing good, organic produce at decent prices.
For now, Jim and I are staying away from Whole Foods and shopping at our local Sunflower Market. It features local community-based produce. We like that. We're also joining a community-based farm co-op this summer for our produce.
What do you think of Whole Foods? Do you shop there? If not, where do you shop, and how does green fit into your lifestyle? We're curious--do tell.
In other, somewhat related news, in a mad search for a new pair of blue jeans, the Missus went from Nordstrom's to Macy's to Gap. She tried on Chip and Pepper, Diesel, DKNY, Seven for all Mankind, and Rock and Republic. Guess where she finally found the ones that fit?
Wal-Mart. Right next to the new bamboo-fiber clothing line they've been carrying.
Weirrrrrd.
Oh, and P.S.: Sprocket was ill this weekend with a terrible case of the runs. He didn't do the week-enderly roundup of links. But he's sorry, and he'll make it up to you next week. Bark, bark!

Friday, March 2, 2007

Green Reg's and Ham

Chris Edmundson and Jim Holden will share this space. Chris and Jim are both members of "Green Teams" at their respective workplaces, committees that are specifically designated to lessen the environmental footprint of the workplace. Here, Chris tells us about his experience starting a Green Team at his hospital.

The Making of a Green Hospital

In 2007 it is hard to imagine a hospital or other large business that doesn’t recycle or take measures to protect their environment. Unfortunately, these organizations do exist and they are more prevalent than one might expect. In 2004 I accepted a position as a physical therapist at a major Boston hospital and I was immediately struck by their blatant disregard for environmental issues. From my first day, I resolved to promote environmental awareness and seek changes throughout the entire organization.

I began writing a series of letters to department directors and managers expecting to gain support for this initiative. Months passed and no one responded to any of my many emails. At the time, I assumed that I was being ignored because of my insignificant status in the hospital hierarchy. Looking back, I suspect that my inexperience with effective communication may have contributed to my lack of success. At any rate, I was infuriated and I began to do my homework.

My next move was to target one popular issue and learn more about the local and state laws. I chose to push recycling since it has already been popularized and is generally accepted within most organizations. To my delight, I found that Massachusetts already had banned the disposal of paper, glass, single polymer plastics, metal and a number of other recyclable materials. This gave me the firepower I needed to bring to the hospital administrators. At this point, I researched the chain of command at the hospital and targeted a number of the most influential people in the organization. In my letter I presented an effective argument for the creation of a recycling program citing the Massachusetts waste bans. Again no response!!

At this point I was becoming restless. I consulted a client of mine who works as a lawyer for a number of health care organizations. He suggested that I resend my letter with a carbon copy to the legal and public relations departments. Additionally, he suggested I add a statement of how I would like to take this story to a local newspaper. I incorporated these suggestions and sure enough, obtained a response the following morning!

The first contact from hospital executives was directed to my manager. One of the hospital Vice Presidents inquired about my general personality and my ability to approach such issues in a practical manner. She was afraid that I was a bit of a radical and feared I might create negative press for the hospital. After my manager assured her of my professionalism I received an email from the VP announcing the formation of a “Green Committee.” To my surprise I was asked to serve on this committee along with a number of department managers and supervisors.

Two years after establishing my mission I had finally helped to guide the hospital in the right direction. I could hardly contain my excitement and I began researching all of the areas that we might improve. I had some big plans for our first meeting!

Stay tuned Fridays for the upcoming installments on the making of a green hospital.


Chris Edmundson

Thursday, March 1, 2007

The Dark Corners of a Race Director's Brain

AR Course Design: Where to Start?

Designing an adventure race course might seem as easy as picking some check points and putting them on a map. Though this method may work, more than likely you will have a race that is out of control. From a race director's point of view, producing an adventure race is managing controlled chaos; hence, the common cry of a race director, "It's much easier to race than it is to manage a race!" To prevent the control from becoming uncontrolled, starting out right is the key.

When designing a course, the first decision is how much time you want the race to take. Will it be a 4-, 8-, 12-, 24-hour course, or longer? Remember that when you double the amount of time for a race, the work quadruples. Assume the slowest possible steady and constant speed when picking the duration. So what does that mean? We have found that teams at the back of the pack actually move about 1.6 times more slowly than the top teams on a course, assuming the likes of Tobin or Kloser aren't in your field. This holds true for races up 30 hours with short races tending towards a little less variation. Depending on the level of racing in your area this factor may differ some.

For instance, when preparing for an 18-hour race, the winning team should finish in 11 to 12 hours. By doing this you, can expect 70% to 80% of the teams to finish a well designed course. Why is this important? First of all, it is critical in managing the controlled chaos. The easiest way to keep track of teams is for them to continue moving through the course. You eat up a lot of resources when you're uncertain where over half of your teams are or when you have to recover a lot of teams. Secondly, and possibly more important, the middle- to the back-of-the-pack teams are your bread and butter. You don't get rich putting on adventure races. At best you hope to break even or make enough money to support your own racing habit. If the bread and butter teams are happy, usually everyone is happy!

This is only the first step. Check back every other Thursday as we empty our minds on AR course design. Next Thursday, WeCeFAR race director and course designer Shawn Dietrich weighs in.

Jerry Lyons and Dave Kauffman
Planet Adventure