Monday, April 30, 2007

News Roundup

Money, money, money makes the world go 'round
Now that climatology and climate change are taking front and center in the news, we're not surprised to see big names in philanthropy throw in big bills to match the interest.
Probably most significant is the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, a relatively new group founded only in 1996. As of December 2006, though, the foundation has roughly $1.8 billion to give away, and it's ear marked $100 million of that in a tremendous effort to encourage a clean-energy economy. You can track the progress of that effort at the foundation's website
Next is our favorite billionaire of all time, Richard Branson. We love him for his quirky approach to telephones, rail, airline, and vacation travel, and we love him even more for his early effort to encourage CO2 reduction. In true line with his financial worth, though, Branson isn't just throwing the money at some bloke who comes up with a way to scrub CO2 out of the atmosphere. His $25 million prize can only be won if some genius out there finds a way to remove a billion tons of CO2 a year. By way of measurement, we offer this following stat: The average United States resident emits 25 tons of CO2 per year. You do the math, and just keep in mind that the average world resident emits roughly 4 or 5 tons of CO2 a year.
Kudos, Richard. We knew your outsized reputation wasn't all fluff and PR.
On a smaller, but just as significant, note, we stumbled across the story of one pint-sized New Yorker making a tremendous difference. Dustin Satloff, who's all of 13, started a company that makes what he calls "SatBats." They differ from regular baseball bats made of ash in one critical way: they're made of renewable, twice-as-strong-as-ash bamboo. You can read more about them here.
All of this talk about money has made us want to go write some grant applications.
Onwards and forwards!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Sprocket's Roundup

So Much Cool Stuff, We Can Hardly Contain Ourselves

We have things we want to get off our collective chests before we head out the door to the Green Festival in just a few moments here.
First, ARFE is teaming up with Live Green Chicago to sponsor one of their Green Room events. Occuring the second Thursday of every month, the Green Room is a gathering place where folks can gather, learn about environmental causes, have some good locally produced or sustainable (and sustaning) fare and booze, and listen to some terrific music. The events are all carbon neutral, and you meet a lot of great people. We're going to try and team up ours with a good physical activity of some sort, so keep your eyes peeled. If that doesn't happen, though, at least you'll have the following: Booze and planting trees. That's all we can say for now, but keep your eyes peeled for some forthcoming details.
Then, our pals at Live It Green have a terrific consortium of companies that include a T-shirt company that takes one ton of CO2 off the market for each organic cotton T you buy from them. It's called, natch, One Ton CO2, and the Ts are pretty fly.

Forthcoming from Live It Green, as well: Tunes for Trees. Buy music directly via Tunes for Trees. Every ten songs plants a tree. Brilliant! Not live yet, although you can look at their swank logo by clicking on the link above. Our sources say Just a Few More Weeks. We can hardly wait, but we'll let you know when it goes live.

Okay. Now it's off to ride our bicycles to the Green Festival. We'll report when we return.


Friday, April 20, 2007

Green Regs and Ham

The Making of a Green Hospital (cont. from 3/30)

As the Green Committee moved forward with the recycling plan, the committee head continued to stress “budget neutral.” In other words, the environmental initiatives of this huge metropolitan hospital had no funding. Everything that we do has to cost nothing…Hmm… That seems impractical right? Well the truth of the matter is that remaining budget neutral is not only possible but almost guaranteed. Sure some projects are likely to incur expenses, but many of our proposed changes would save the hospital bundles of money. For example, money can be made from the resale of paper and corrugated cardboard, while the reduced mass of outgoing trash would reduce waste hauling costs. Probably the easiest way to save money through environmental initiatives is through reduction of energy consumption. We all know how expensive it is to heat our house and provide electricity. These costs continue to rise annually and are a growing burden on our hospital’s profitability.

With these opportunities to save money, why is the committee so concerned with remaining budget neutral? Well, it turns out that the hospital has no central location to process recyclable material and trash. Particularly, a large amount of space is necessary for the sorting and storage of material awaiting pickup. With no such location available, the adoption of a cost effective, comprehensive recycling program will be impossible. If waste haulers must make multiple stops, it will cost the hospital money. If adequate sorting and storage of material is not available, loads of material may become tainted and lead to increased cost. Such a space problem can only be rectified through changes to the facility through new construction. It looked as if our committee would have to expand to include individuals involved in planning and development of the hospital campus. My first thought was that recruiting this new committee member would kill two birds with one stone. We could deal with the recycling issue and simultaneously establish some green building codes. Is it possible that this new member will be receptive to my plans for green building initiatives? Stay tuned for the next installment in 2 weeks.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Visit From Our Resident Science Geek

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS):

This is such a sensitive topic, not only for athletes, but in the general population. In this blog entry I am going to try and root out some common misunderstandings regarding HFCS.
Before I start I want to define a few terms:

Sucrose: Sucrose is a disaccharide made up of equal amounts of glucose and fructose (commonly known as table sugar)

Corn Syrup: A syrup produced form 3 enzymatic reactions of corn starch – also known as glucose syrup.

High Fructose Corn Syrup: Corn syrup further enzymatically treated to convert some of the glucose to fructose. There are 2 common types of HFCS: HFCS 42 and HFCS 55. The numbers represent the percent of fructose in the syrup after the enzymatic treatments.

Right from the start you may notice that HFCS actually does not contain high amounts of fructose compared to sucrose (or honey), it is called high fructose corn syrup because compared to the 100% glucose syrup from which it is derived it has a high fructose content (the first HFCS invented in the 1960’s was only 15% fructose).

High fructose corn syrup has many advantages over sucrose in food processing (cost, stability, ease of storage and transport etc.) and so the use of HFCS has gone up and sucrose use has gone down in the food industry over the past 40 years (especially in the United States). This rise in the number of products containing HFCS has led to a rise in consumption of HFCS over this same time period. The rise in obesity and diabetes has also taken place in the same time period.

This coincidence has led many to point to HFCS as the cause of obesity and diabetes. I would like to make a few comments towards that notion:

The price of gasoline has risen over that same time… I know, I know there is no relation to gasoline prices and obesity. I am just trying to make a point that just because things correlate, it does not necessarily mean one is the cause of the other. Here are some more pertinent facts:

1. Over the same time period of increased HFCS intake the amount of time people spend being active (especially kids) has declined.

2. The obesity and diabetes rates have been increasing worldwide (even in countries like Brazil and Egypt where no HFCS is in the food supply). HFCS makes up only 10% of the caloric sweetener used in the world.

3. During the last few years, consumption of HFCS has begun to decline, yet the rates of obesity and diabetes continue to climb.

Now I will address how HFCS is absorbed by the body. It is absorbed in the exact same manner that sucrose and honey are, your body does not differentiate how it digests any of these carbohydrates. It is true that fructose and glucose are metabolized differently. This is where many of the misconceptions of HFCS being converted directly to fat come from. So when comparing HFCS, sucrose and honey it is not valid to say one is worse than the other based on metabolic pathways.

So now let me tie some benefits of fructose to athletes into my little tirade.
Having a little fructose mixed with glucose in a bar or sports drink (or any food for that matter) actually has been shown to increase the absorption rate of the carbohydrates as compared to just glucose. Since different receptors are responsible for absorption of fructose and glucose you are (to use the subway as an example) effectively using more “turnstiles” to get the sugars absorbed faster. Recently studies have shown that the combination of glucose and fructose is also metabolized faster than glucose alone. Now, it is true that too much fructose will cause stomach distress so as with many things, moderation is the key.

Hopefully, I have given you some things to think about when it comes to HFCS and the media coverage of these types of things.
As always if you have comments or want references or more information just let me know.

Happy Training,


Monday, April 16, 2007

PA24 Race 2007 – Team Report

This year’s Planet Adventure 24-Hour Race was held in the Hoosier National Forest in southern Indiana - perhaps 45 minutes west of Louisville, KY. The conditions were very wet with temperatures ranging from the low 30s at night to 50 degrees during the day. The terrain featured rolling hills with hardwood forests that easily accommodated off-trail navigation. The ground was saturated with water and made the bike travel very muddy and slow, especially for teams like us who chose narrow, semi-slick tires.

The race began shortly after 8:00AM Saturday with an orienteering course, requiring that we locate checkpoints worth a combined value of 15 points. Two strategies presented themselves: run far and gain fewer high-value points or stay near and use our orienteering skills to find a greater number of checkpoints. We chose the latter strategy and returned to the transition area in 3rd or 4th place after a few challenges – including the strangely misplaced checkpoint 10 which was found nearly 100m down from its “hilltop” position.

We transitioned quickly from the orienteering leg to our heaviest packs in preparation for biking, climbing, trekking and paddling. The biking would have been fast and fun in dry conditions. The road and gravel sections were unaffected, but much time was lost pushing bikes or riding at degraded speeds in the mud. After biking, the ropes crew was a welcome sight and added some variety to the event. They took advantage of the interesting rock formations to rig a traverse and a rappelling section. A couple checkpoints followed on foot and ended at the paddling start. This paddling leg started rather quickly with approximately 6k down a tributary stream followed by 9k upstream on the Ohio River. This latter portion found us close to the river bank in an effort to avoid a current that appeared to range from 1-4 kph. We were fortunate to have our take-out in sight before nightfall, though we finished in full darkness with glow sticks lighted.

One of our team was suffering from mild hypothermia upon completion of the paddle. A warm support vehicle, food, dry clothes and a heavy dose of inner strength gave this person the capability to continue – through the lingering effects that continued for hours.

A navigation section followed on foot within and near a quarry. The mining activity had altered the topography that appeared on our maps and created interesting challenges in the form of cut-away bluffs that were commonly 10m to 30m in height. This section took much longer than we had hoped, and we returned to the TA with the knowledge that only one discipline lay before us. The final bike leg was modified to remove the trail portions, though it was not short overall – an effort of approximately 4 hours in our case.

We finished the race to a decidedly low-key reception. The low temperatures, rain and muddy conditions created huge challenges for the competition and it was unfortunate to see that 23 teams out of 33 starters had withdrawn from the event.

The final results should read a start time of 8:05AM Central Time with a finish of 7:59AM the following day, for a total time of 23:54. This put us in fourth place overall, third place for the 4-person coed category.

We would like to recognize and thank our sponsors, support and other well-wishers. SmartWool clothing provided the first 1-3 layers of our base clothing along with numerous hats, gloves and accessories. GoLite packs, shells, hats and other products were put to good use. Gatorade fluids and other products were always within reach. ARFE and Yi Shun Lai provided the organization, support and identity for the team – the genesis for our effort and a great help.

one more thing:

23 teams withdrew from the event.
10 finished. of those, two were unranked.
our ARFE-WeCeFAR squad passed ten teams before they withdrew.
is it any wonder we take pride in our athletes?


By no means should this be considered a race report. We leave that stuff to the pros at Team ARFE-SmartWool and ARFE-WeCeFAR. By all means should you consider this the ramblings of one very scattered individual.

ARFE Management would like to thank Planet Adventure Race for their incredible race this weekend. Last year race directors Jerry, Dave and Greg battled hailstones the size of golf balls in race planning; this year it was consistent rain, winds, and a wintry mix on top of it all. Through it all, they managed to think on the fly and save the race.

We're especially thankful to Dave, who answered one particular crew person's phone call every time she got lost in the rolling hills of Indiana on her way to the next TA or checkpoint. No points for telling her the wrong location of the post-race party.

The incredibly artistic Brooke made a beautiful poster for Step It Up 2007 that got wet and lost in the shuffle between TA2 and our host hotel. We wish we knew where it was...thank you, Brooke!

PA races tend to attract terrific volunteers, racers, crew, and we'd like to thank Carrie-the-volunteer-paramedic, who came to our rescue with her bike wheel when a certain unnamed crew member for Team ARFE-SmartWool looked around and realized that she had four bikes and only three front wheels.

Mark and Greg, crew for Citgo GrayGoat, were of both incredible entertainment and practical value, helping us with our cranky bike racks and making robot noises on demand. A member of Citgo GrayGoat B helped us to navigate whether or not Carrie's wheel would fit on the aforementioned bike-without-a-wheel. Thank you!

An unnamed crew for another team graciously supplied hot broth for a hypothermic ARFE-SmartWool member. We wish we knew who you were, but just know that we're thinking of you. Please, come find us at the next event.

Team ARFE-SmartWool reports that Team Indy Rootstock gave them water when they needed it. We knew they're one of our favorite teams for a reason!

Sumitra, a Team Indy Rootstock member and one of the weekend's key volunteers, gave us great microbrew beer during check-in. We needed it! Thank you! And Cristal, the official Volunteer Maven for the weekend, did an incredible job pulling together an organized and friendly check-in process and volunteer coverage on only a week's notice. We think we are still in awe of her organizational prowess and would like her to come organize the ARFE-SmartWool office and the lives of key ARFE personnel, please.

Sandy, a crew member for Team Fever River Racing, was a blessing during the cold long hours of waiting. We look forward to seeing you on the adventure racing course yourself one day, Sandy!

Noelle, our crew for Team ARFE-WeCeFAR, gamely put aside her head cold and cough in order to crew for us through this race. She drove out to get Team ARFE-SmartWool french fries, fried fish, and burgers, which were heartily consumed, and which led to this gem of a relevation from Chris E: "Oh, I think I'll have the Long John Silver's fries. They seem like they're more vegan." Uh, okay. For all you aspiring vegans out there, now you know. Then Chris ate the McDonald's french fries, too.

Our wonderful teams deserve props and thanks, too: Mickey, Jim Squared, and Shawn on ARFE-WeCeFAR, and Chris, 'Stoff, Erin, and the incomparable Bruce on ARFE-SmartWool. We are indiscriminately proud of you.

We always save the best for last: Big, huge thank yous to our one, our only Crew Queen, Pamela Robbins, for posting and maintaining such good contact, all through the night. We were texting her up until 4AM, when she finally turned off the phone to get some sleep a scant two days before the Boston Marathon.

Best Garbage winners are Team Bagelworks, from Colorado and Michigan, for two enormous propane tanks and a big platic corrugated plastic tube-thing that had a tail coming off of one end (those things with tails, they're extra-hard to handle). They won incredibly good looking SmartWool Synergy jackets. Oh boy!

Best Garbage second place went to Team Disturbed, who dragged in a fire extinguisher. They'll get SmartWool socks and hats and a baselayer top. Nothing like being clothed tip-to-toe in cozy merino wool.

Special honors go to Shawn Dietrich of Team ARFE-WeCeFAR, who reportedly found a lovely cone-shaped teal Tupperware container. That in and of itself isn't so unusual. What's pretty fabulous is that Shawn wore the thing on his head for four hours and had a full conversation with a federal employee while doing so. Regrettably, members of the ARFE family are not eligible for Best Garbage prizes. Perhaps we can submit sightings of Shawn to Project Runway, though.

That's it for now. This is ARFE Management, signing off to clean up the mess on her desk.

quick quick... a bunny is how we hope our Crew Queen will run the Boston Marathon. Weather is cold and rainy in Boston right now, 52, and everyone is bundled up.
More later, as I plow through the post-race detritus and gather my thoughts...there are plenty of people to thank and plenty of things to relay to you!

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Apparently ARFE-SW got some inaccurate information at the finish. They finished 3rd (Bagle works 1st, Alpine Shop 2nd). The team is a bit refreshed and headed east as I type. Once again, congrats to all on a fantastic finish in nasty conditions!!

2nd place finish for ARFE-SW!!!

Well it has been a quite an eventful night for Teams ARFE! The masters team, ARFE/WeCeFar, withdrew due to an ill teammate. Congrats on an excellent effort given the wintery conditions. At about 2:30 am ARFE-SW left on the final bike leg and were in 5th place by about 45 minutes. Time for them to step it up on the bike...and they did!! Team members who had been feeling hypothermic had bounced back and were looking strong. The race directors cut the second paddle due to cold temps and rain. Yi Shun anticipated a long bike leg beginning at 2:30 am. In anticipation of that I shut my phone off for a few hours only to wake up to a message from Chris that they had finished second (Bagel Works finished 1st). YAHOO! I spoke to Yi Shun a few minutes ago and she was very pleased the team had done the bike part so well due to the cold and wet conditions. Time for everyone to go inside, warm up and sleep. The cut off time for this race is 1pm today and they finished at 7am. CONGRATS to all on an excellent race. We also owe a huge thanks to Carrie (volunteer paramedic) who loaned ARFE-SW her front wheel!! Way to show Indiana what ARFE-SW can do. This is one proud blogger logging off until the next big event!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Heading into the night...

Here is the latest update as Team ARFE-SW heads into a cold rainy night. Yi Shun writes "ARFE-SW just left after a very long TA. There is some hypothermia but all seems okay now. The second paddle leg has been cut out. Bagel Works is in 1st and ARFE-SW is in 3rd". It appears that in the face of some crappy weather ARFE-SW made a smart choice at this most recent TA. Warming up and eating is always time well spent, especially in rain and colder temps. Now lets hope our Crew Queen is keeping herself warm and comfy. More as the night presses on...

The latest news thru CP5

Sorry for the delay between the last posts. I was a the expo for the Boston Marathon meeting our friendly Gatorade rep, Christina. I got to give her updates and she gave me samples... a win, win! Thanks Gatorade!!

Here is a recap of the last few CPs from Yi Shun. Team ARFE-SW came thru CP2 in 3rd place behind Bagel Works (1st) and Citgo Grey Goat B (2nd). Alpine Shop was 4th after some difficulty with a chain. After this CP the team was off to the ropes course. Noelle is keeping track of the masters team, ARFE/WeCeFar, and I've yet to hear from her.

CP 4 & 5 have been completed at this point and ARFE-SW is currently in 2nd. Bagel Works is in the #1 spot by 45 minutes. Team Citgo Grey Goat B is in 3rd with rumors that they have lost a team member. Therefore, if they are operating as 3 person team, then they are no longer ranked with ARFE-Smartwool.

The last communication with Yi Shun was a choppy connection but it sounds like she is preparing for a transition to the bikes. GO ARFE teams GO!

TA1 update #2

At 10:06 (central) ARFE-SW is in and out of TA1 with a transition of less than 2 min. According to the crew queen the team has some concerns about CP10 but that is to be sorted out later. Not sure which discipline they are doing now. I anticipate it's bike but am waiting for confirmation. Still have not seen ARFE/WeCeFar. There are report of steady rain...ugh.

TA1 update

As of 9:34 Team Bagle Works was at TA1. We have not seen ARFE-SW as of yet. Today we have two ARFE teams racing and the reports of ARFE/WeCeFAR (the master's team) is that they are happy and doing well, but we are not quite sure when we should expect them at the TA. I anticipate continued speedy transitions for ARFE-SW as they are using the same strategy they did in Georgia. Thanks to the sponsors they have duplicate GoLite packs and are able to have each pack ready to go for the next leg. Therefore, we should expect under 2 minute transitions for this 24 hr race.

Planet Adventure 24 is underway

...And they are off! The Crew Queen for this race will be Yi Shun and I'll be blogging on her behalf due to the lack of internet access. Team ARFE-Smartwool is off and running. They race started at 8 am from Tell City, Indiana with an orienteering section. The team predicts this leg should take about 1.5 hours which will bring them back to the TA at approx 9:30am (central). Keep in mind as you are tracking that they are in the central time zone so they are an hour behind EST. The O section is followed by a bike, paddle, trek, ropes combo which we will get more details on after they come in from this first section. Starting off with an orienteering section sounds like a good way to set themselves apart from the field given that it's one of thier strengths. Looks like its going to be a bit of a soggy race given the current conditions and forecast of rain with temps in the mid-30's to mid-40's. More to follow shortly after the next TA...stay tuned.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

cock-eyed and pear shaped

Hello there,
So sorry for the freakish nature of this week's posts. If you haven't figured it out, all of this freakishness is owing to the fact that this weekend is the PA 24-Hour Challenge in lovely Tell City, Indiana.
As I write, I can feel all the cool SmartWool swag spreading out to cover all of my living room floor. Why, you ask, have I so much SmartWool on my floor? It's because this weekend, we'll be conducting our traditional Best Garbage and Treats for Trash programs. Likewise, we'll be busy making this race Leave No Trace Aware duriing the pre-race meeting. Racers can win great SmartWool prizes just for answering some sneaky quiz questions during our LNT presentation, so keep your ears peeled!
At this race, you'll find some terrific ORGANIC COTTON swag bags, provided by ARFE and SmartWool, and you'll also find that race management has taken a step of its own and purchased race T-shirts made of BAMBOO. [Please don't eat the shirts, no matter how hungry you get during the race. This would be akin to you smoking a hemp T-shirt. Just don't do it.]
Also--this weekend's race might just be the nation's first-ever Step It Up event! That's only because we're staring way earlier than any other event scheduled, but hey, we'll take what we can get. The PA 24 racers will be the first to ask Congress to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by the year 2020! Yeah, it's brave and ballsy, but we'd expect no less of racers.
This weekend Team ARFE-SmartWool and Team ARFE-SmartWool Senior, our Master's Squad, will be competing! As usual, you can keep your eyes peeled on the 'blog right here for a live-blogging extravaganza!
Right, then. Back to more sorting.
I do have a News Roundup for you, believe it or not. It's just buried under all these piles of luxurious Merino Wool...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


I plan to do a post on High Fructose Corn Syrup. This week I am prepping for the Planet Adventure 24 hour race so it will have to wait until next week.

Stay tuned.

Happy Training,


Monday, April 9, 2007

Sprocket's Roundup

Oscar the Grouch had nothing on ARFE HQ
Not so much because we are just as grouchy as he is--although we are, today. [This climate change garbage has Chicago in the 30s today, and we are not happy about that.] No, we're a match for Oscar because if you look around in various corners of our house, it looks like we're garbage collectors extraordinaire! [We try to keep it out of sight, but, hey, out of sight, out of mind--and we don't want that. Plus, we're not the best housekeepers, anyway.]
We've gathered together a little compendium of the things we do to reduce, re-use, and recycle here, and we thought we'd share it with you.
First, the most obvious: plastic containers from takeout. We're somewhat relieved that local restaurants have shifted from using those waxed card-board containers with wire handles. They were pain to dismantle and recycle, although we did. Now most of them are using the sealed-plastic tub, which make terrific re-usble food containers. We use them when we take Sprocket on short trips, for food, treats, and sometimes water.

Just a sampling of some of the things we recycle at ARFE HQ: glass jars and bottles, zip-top bags, takeout containers, pudding containers, giftwrap.

Then, after a good re-soaking in soapy [biodegradable soap!] water, we use them again, for our leftovers. We've also used these containers as handy options for when we take cookies to the office for sharing. Of course, you have to wash thoroughly. Sometimes it takes forever to get the scent of that pupu platter you had off that plastic.
We also like to recycle jars and bottles here. They make handy instruments for infusing our own liquors (yes! we really do this!), storing change or buttons, or even as gifts for friends when re-filled with the raw ingredients for Grandma's oatmeal cookie. We have one friend who filled mason jars with a special hot-chocolate mix for the holidays. Boy, was that a delicious idea. These jars also make good impromptu vases, for those organically grown, fair-trade flowers you worked so hard to find.
We wash our zip-top bags for use as gear caddies for our races, or for use again as food storage. (We buy tremendous chunks of cheese from our local food club, things that we can' possibly eat in one sitting. The bags are good for this kind of thing.)
We have gift wrap from 2000 around. This is partially due to our penchant for giving small gifts; partially due to the fact that we have incredibly tasteful friends who give us gifts in nice wrappings. We never ever throw out a piece of packaging here before we re-use it. Unless, of course, you're Jim, in which case you have no idea how to unwrap a gift nicely and it all ends up in shreds. In which case, well, we just try to salvage what we can, and save it for the really, really small gifts we have to give out.
We also recycle our old maps this way.

Here's a manuscript that we're working on. When we're done with it, we'll use it twice before it goes into the recycling bin.

We use our paper in another manner. We print on both sides of it, or cut it up into halves and use it as letter-writing paper. After that, we use it to pad our packages for fragile things that we have to send out.
We almost never take grocery bags from the store anymore. We use terrific canvas bags that we can use again and again. We do have a tremendous number of plastic bags from the newspaper, and we use that for tasks like, ur, picking up Sprocket-poo from our walks and runs.

Canvas bags. Great for race swag, groceries, and other fun things.

Oh, don't get us wrong. We're definitely not perfect. And our house is practically bursting at the seams with things to be reused, reduced, and recycled. The truth is, it's a little ominous to think of all the stuff that's in our house. We have, if you will, our own little landfill. And we're running out of space.
If one household can geenrate this much reusuable material, think of what whole cities can do!

Friday, April 6, 2007


The Kick Off...

The Earth Month Kick off took place this week. I was encouraged by the turn out for the lunch time showing of "An Inconvenient Truth". Forty people responded, but more than sixty showed up (and no one grabbed the free pizza and left). More than half stayed for whole movie (the movie ran much longer than a typical lunch hour) and we had a good group sign up for the trail clean up later this month. I had many requests for an encore presentation, so I think the day before Earth Day we will have another showing with more posters and information on things that can be done at work home and in the community to reduce our footprint on the environment.

One of my colleagues on the Sustainability team has taken the initiative to cut the use of paper cups for the fountain machine in the cafeteria. The plan is to give everyone a reusable mug and reduce the cost of a fountain drink in that mug to encourage its use.

On the topic of the sustainability team, I am excited for its future, I have a cross section of motivated people from the pilot plant, facilities, packaging, engineering product development and HR all signed up. This bodes well for the team making impacts throughout the facility.

I am calling a contact at our division in Texas later today (they are a bit ahead of our facility with regards to a sustainability team). He is interested in working together. He is also part of a cross divisional sustainability team that until yesterday I didn’t know existed.

I am quickly learning that I am going to need to be more politically savvy on this project than I ever have been before. This sustainability team has become very high profile, and already I can see people trying to take advantage to further their careers at the expense of those really interested in making a difference. I suppose it is just a sad part of the corporate life.

Anyway things are going faster and getting bigger than I had hoped, so onwards we go.


Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Dark Corners of a Race Directors Mind sheds some light on 'vetting'

I guess the message that Dave, Jerry and Shawn are trying to get across to all of our Adventure Racing friends is that we all need to do some research about the Race Directors that we race with. Safety and Course planning are key to having a safe and great experience.
In my first blog I tried to share how Kip, Jesscia and I plan out WeCeFAR courses. Today I will take the next step in course planning by shedding light on those Dark Corners of my mind that hold the key to providing a top notch race - VETTING
You might have heard Race Directors say that their course has been vetted which is great however I would like to suggest that you should make sure that the course has been completed by someone that didn't create the course. This is important for several reasons;
  • Accurate time estimates for the course
  • Assure that all of the Control Points are "where" the RD thinks they are with respect to the maps and location.
  • Plan for navigation mistakes
  • Course management during the race - The RD will know if teams are having difficulty in an area, adjust the course if conditions change, modify the course cut offs, etc with confidance
  • Another set of eyes on the instructions.

As I described in the first edition, one of us plans a section, the second one runs that section and colaborates with the designer on modifications and then the third one runs for a time estimate. Once all of the instructions are complete we beg a friend to run our courses for the final test.

I think method has allowed racers to "find" all of our controls while still providing a challenging course.

Come Out and Play

ARFE races next weekend at Planet Adventure in Indiana.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Exercise Creativity

There are few among us who have lifestyles that easily accommodate an ultra-endurance exercise regimen. The time commitment is often 1.5 to 3 hours per day with few days off (per month). Life sends us a constant stream of challenges to such an exercise routine regarding family, work, school, vacations, other hobbies, etc. I'll offer two strategies to maintain the ritual.

Train as early as possible in the day. I transitioned to an early morning workout several years ago and have found that this time period is least impacted by the day's challenges. As the day progresses, the lunch time-frame can be compromised by work and personal commitments. The after-work time is most susceptible due to the cumulative challenges of the day. The downside of such an early workout includes sleep deprivation, training in the dark or locating a gym with very early hours.

Finally, we must be aggressive about finding a way to exercise when our usual routine is compromised. Devise multiple backup workouts: use a bike trainer at home when you can't get outside, get a jogging stroller if you have young children, do stair-climbs in a building or home, and don't hesitate to jog or bike in the rain or dark. In addition, when you're out of town on vacation or business, ask the hotel if they have negotiated rates for a local gym - the hotel facilities are not typically acceptable. Train hard and stay committed

A Visit From Our Resident Science Geek

Carbohydrate for Recovery

Today I will focus on carbohydrate intake for recovery. Protein also has a role in recovery, but I will touch on that in a later post.

After an endurance race or training session your glycogen stores will be reduced or depleted. During exercise the muscle's ability to uptake glucose from the blood is greatly increased. This up-regulation continues for a short time after exercise ends. During this time the muscle replaces glycogen at a faster rate than when it is at rest.
To take advantage of this time period where muscle tissue is up-regulated you should aim to take in 1.2 g/kg of carbohydrate per hour for the first few hours after exercise. The sooner your next bout of exercise is, the more important it is to get the carbohydrates back in a timely manner.
Some things to consider:
1. When there is muscle damage (soreness is an indicator), recovery will take longer.

2. Try and get some of the carbohydrates from liquids, this will also help your hydration status recover.

3. While carbohydrates are important, don't neglect the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that are essential for maintaining your health. Try to get your recovery carbohydrates from well balanced foods.

As always, if you have questions or want more information or references let me know.
Happy Training,


A News Extra

Take That, Evil-doers!
Okay, okay--maybe "evil-doers" is a little strong. But we're very happy to note that the Supreme Court has finally found someone to hold accountable: it's ruled that the EPA is, indeed, responsible for setting limits on greenhouse gases.
Previous to this, no one was sure what the "Environmental Protection" in "Environmental Protection Agency" meant.
Oops, did we just say that?

Monday, April 2, 2007

News Roundup

Planes, Ashes, and Toilet Paper
ARFE Management is looking at a full summer of flying. It's probably the least environmentally sound choice we can make, but it's almost impossible for us to get by without it, what with people getting married in far-away places, staff trainings going on in far-away places, and family living farthest away.
We've already purchased a whole year's worth of carbon offsets to get us through, but we were happy to see travel companies following suit: Now, when you buy a plane ticket via or, you have an option to tack on a practically negligible $5 to $30 to offset the carbon cost of your travel. (Obviously, the donation depends on how far you're going.) We think it's easier to just offset your whole year, but this is a good option, too.

The good people at Boeing are working on getting the Dreamliner in flying shape for 2008; the new plane will hold about 280 passengers and travel at about the same speeds as current passenger planes, but it'll use about 20% less fuel. The key is its much lighter body: half of the plane is made of composite materials. You know, like carbon fibre. Mmmmm, carbon fibre...

We couldn't actually find any real information that laid out what kind of composite material the plane's engineers are using, but we're happy that it's light enough to reduce fuel usage.

We spotted this very weird item in the Times the other day: A small company that wants to scatter human ashes in the wilderness is running up against US Forest Service guidelines that prevents exactly that. Boy, those Forest Service folks think of everything, don't they? Now, if only we could get them to think of adventure races in a good light.

These ladies in white look innocuous enough, don't they? The Forest Service didn't think so.

Then we ran smack into a funky story about a family living in New York City that is trying its best to live a no-impact lifestyle. The blog from the man of the house, No Impact Man, is an interesting read. And they admit that they're being radical on purpose. Fine. We have to say, though, we think you're using a lot of water by opting not to use toilet paper. And, ick.

Perhaps a better read is Time Magazine's List of 51 Things You Can Do. How many of these are you doing?

Next week, a look through the ARFE household and how many of these things we're pursusing, and our own experiences with trying them out.


Sprocket's Roundup

Being a Proper Boozehound

We go through a fair amount of wine and beer here at ARFE Headquarters. Lately, though, we've been thinking that maybe we should look at our consumption more seriously.
Oh, we don't by any means think that we should taper off. We do think that perhaps we should make a more concerted effort to buy organic wines and beers, or maybe even wines and beers from vineyards and breweries that practice or encourage sustainable harvesting and farming.
So when we were in our home state of New York, recently, and stumbled upon Anthony Road Wines, which says that it practices sustainable agriculture, well, that just started a whole ball rolling. We bought two bottles as gifts and are waiting for our friends to get back to us on the details. (Ur, that would be how they taste, and so on.)
We took a look through our extensive beer collection and looked up the origins of each beer, and were pleased to see that much of the beer we've been drinking is, indeed, already organic. Call it fool's luck: We've been doing right by our booze choices and not even realizing it.
Otter Creek Brewing Company has been making organic beer under its Wolaver's label for ages now. We first discovered this beer skiing in Vermont--and we're happy we did. We like its hoppy India Pale Ale for summer evenings after a nice trail run and its seasonal, full Oatmeal Stout for winter evenings in the hot tub after a good day of skiing or just throwing snowballs at someone you love.

Otter Creek says that the otter is their mascot, and not just because the creek that runs through Middlebury, Vermont, right next to where their brewery is located is called Otter Creek. It's because river otters like to play and play and play...somehow, ARFE Management is regretting the day she threw the acceptance letter from Middlebury College into the garbage. Why, oh why?

Then, another favorite Northeast brewery, based in lovely Rehobeth, Delaware, is Dogfish Head Brewery. They do a wonderful brew that satisfies two jones for us: a Chicory Stout that is made of organic coffee beans, St. John's Wort, chicory, and licorice root. We like the flavor, and we like the little coffee kick that goes with it. It's a seasonal brew, but that makes it something to look forward to every December.

Prettttty beeeeeer. Gooooood beeeer.

Even the big brewers are getting into the game. Anheuser Busch (stop that laughing right now. I mean it. Stop it) has two entries into this market, Stone Mill Pale Ale and Wild Hop Lager, were in test markets last we heard in July of last year. They're certainly not labeled as being from AB--you'll see them under the brewing label of something called Green Valley Brewing Company, "the organic brewery of Anheuser Busch." [That last bit is in the fine print.] We haven't tried the beer yet, although we will for the sake of research, and we are impressed by the company line on recycling, conservation, and energy use at the Green Valley Brewing facilities: 97% of their solid waste is recycled, and they're using their wastewater for several applicable uses.

Of course, by far the best way to go sustainable and organic is to buy local and organic and sustainable. Our local brewery, Goose Island, is rumored to make an organic ale that we haven't seen yet. And Jim, our master's team captain, is from a fine place up north called Wisconsin. They make a lovely beer called Leinenkugel's there. We're waiting for them to come out with an organic brew.

Perhaps the best option of all is to start homebrewing. We know for a fact that our friend Kevin makes his own brew. It's fine and heady, loaded with an alcoholic content bordering on 7%, but Kevin's since moved to Alaska--so he's not really local anymore. And our friend Mike grows his hops in his backyard in St. Louis, MO and then brews the stuff in his basement. That's pretty darned local, as far as we're concerned--we only have to drive 6 hours to get to Mike. That's a mere 4 days by bicycle if we put in century days. Boy, a nice Mike-brew would taste good, after that, wouldn't it?

Chicago to St. Louis. Not very far according to this map. Ready the homebrew, Mike, we're coming in!