Monday, October 18, 2010

I will NOT let Big Food kill me or my family

First, a training update. Since the Rock 'n Roll Denver Marathon (held yesterday) closed out, I don't really think I'll be racing again this year. I would love to do the near-sea level Las Vegas or Sacramento marathons, but unfortunately we have next to no vacation time since we just started our jobs in April, and I hate the thought of flying back to Denver the same day that I race 26.2 miles. So for now, I'm done in 2010.

In 2011, I'll have much more vacation time and greater flexibility!

Physically and mentally, I'm feeling pretty good and have completed my second consecutive week of 70+ miles. My left heel still isn't great, but the plantar fasciitis is much better. It's healing very slowly. The good news is that my legs are pretty much back to normal, and my endocrine system, which was pretty depleted after Leadville, is roaring (as evidenced by better sleep, a better attitude, a better appetite, etc.). I've learned more about my body and running in general in the last 6 months than I have in the 7 years I've been covering serious distances. The altitude has been a huge adjustment. I hate to say it, but running at altitude is WAY harder than running at sea level. It's not the hills or mountains that get you; it's the thin air combined with those long ascents! I think the hardest stages are now behind me.

On Saturday morning, I did a hard 14.5 miler between 5,900-6,500 feet in Parker with tons of hills. It brought just shy of 4,000 feet of combined climb and descent. Then I did 4 more miles that night and then 16.2 miles the next day, finishing the week with 70.

This time of year through the holidays and winter, my goal is 70 miles per week, which I view as sort of my baseline mileage. For me, 70 miles per week is perfect for great quality and also getting healthy, strong and efficient going into the build-up and peak mileage, which will begin next March. Throughout the winter my quality will consist of intervals and tempo running with a possible marathon in April or May. We'll be in our new house in November and I can't wait to have my beloved treadmill back! As an added bonus, our neighborhood has a very nice workout facility with fast treadmills, stationary bikes, weights, etc. My treadmill maxes out at just 6:00 miles, and so I'll be heading to the club for my intervals.

My 2011 racing schedule might consist of:

March: Local 1/2 marathon if I can find one.
April: Marathon--not sure which one
May: Greenland Trail 50K; maybe the Jemez 50 miler in Las Alamos, NM--one of the harder 50-milers in the nation
June: If not Jemez, maybe the San Juan Solstice 50, another brutal 50-miler in Colorado's San Juan Mountain Range
July: Leadville Marathon and Barr Trail Mountain Race
August: Leadville 100
December: Las Vegas or Sacramento Marathon

Except for the Leadville Marathon and Leadville 100, the schedule is totally fluid as of now.


Over the past few weeks, I've attended two lectures by physicians through my work at the Colorado Neurological Institute. One regarded risk factors for cancer, and the other focused on stroke. In both, as in many other lectures I've attended, there was a theme:
People with diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), cardiovascular disease, obesity, etc. are at much greater risk or heart attack, stroke, cancer, arthritis/joint paint and other conditions than those who live a healthy life.
Part of me wonders if the medical community is really leveling with us. It seems the medical community is so busy treating symptoms, conditions, etc., that it hasn't really done what it should to promote prevention and serve as a public watchdog.

Healthy living doesn't make you immune. Marathon runners still drop dead from heart attack and suffer strokes. They get cancer, too. But living healthy dramatically reduces your risk.

At the center of the unfolding health crisis, which is going to cause costs to go up even further, is obesity. As I was saying to Anne a few days ago, there just weren't that many obese and overweight kids and adults when we were kids. Today, obesity is an epidemic. Look at the quality of our food and I think we'll find a correlation between what we're eating and how fat we are. I suspect high-fructose corn syrup, a super-sweet chemical, is a major culprit. HFCS is a cheap "alternative" to sugar and is in nearly everything--from mayonnaise, salad dressing, baked goods (including bread) and juices to ketchup, pop, cereals and granola bars--and has proliferated as foodmakers have sacrificed quality in the name of costs. Sugar is a huge contributor to fat production, and cancer feeds off sugar. We have since eliminated HFCS in our diet and this has meant paying more for higher-quality products. Check out the following video about the dangers of HFCS:

Quite disturbingly, many (but not all) foodmakers are now eliminating HFCS in their products, or offering alternatives. Why is that disturbing? It suggests that foodmakers such as Heinz, Kraft, etc., knew about the dangers of HFCS and are only now curbing its use because they've been exposed! They don't care about our health; they care only about profits! And McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King, Subway, Domino's Pizza, Pizza Hut, even my beloved Papa Johns, etc.? Garbage! Those burritos at Chipotle and Qdoba (Qdoba is an occasional treat for me)? A thousand-plus calories each! The same goes for so-called "upscale" restaurants like Chili's, Applebee's, etc. Folks, what's going on with food today is the same as what went on all those years with Big Tobacco--denying that cigarettes caused cancer and then finally fessing up after they were called to the carpet...and after thousands had died of lung cancer.

Even more disturbing, the corn lobby, which is just as sinister as Big Tobacco in its PR efforts, is trying to get HFCS changed to "corn sugar," as if a name change will make HFCS safer.

But the most disturbing trend I see is a new type of campaign in which foodmakers brag about using "natural sugar" in their products (versus HFCS), as if natural sugar is good for you. I recently saw this tactic in a Sierra Mist commercial, but, make no mistake about, it's horrible for you.

Starting in 2002, I worked my ass off to lose 53 lbs. and I'm not going to let Big Food undermine my efforts. I'll pay more to stay healthy. I really feel badly for families who don't have much and for whom paying more for quality would present hardship. But should healthy food really be a hardship?
Should one or two organic apples cost about the same as a Big Mac value meal?
HFCS isn't the only enemy.
  • Cows are fed corn when they should be eating grass, and they are also pumped with antibiotics and other chemicals.
  • Chickens are confined to small cages and fed low-quality feed.
  • Milk and dairy products, which are loaded with hormones, are blamed by many for causing kids to prematurely hit puberty.
  • Non-organic fruits and vegetables are laced with pesticides.
  • Sodium is a huge problem in processed and canned foods as well as lunch meats.
The list goes on.

The documentary Food, Inc. is one of many exposes on the food industry. Yes, many people today are hungry for a change.

Are you?


  1. I will be at Jemez and the SJS at least. Love the course in Lake City! Looks like a great schedule for you.

  2. Convenience. It's the American way. Profits? It's the only reason they're in business - even the organic farmers. I love the tag line on Redvines "fat free". It's true! ....when you swallow it. Then the sugar is burned and the excess is stored in the adipose tissue for "stored energy" aka FAT. It's all a play on words and clever marketing. I don't agree with any of it but it's hard to eat "whole foods" all day every day. Awareness is the key for generations to follow otherwise it's only gonna get worse.

    See you at SJS, if not before.

  3. Quite the race schedule for 11! Hope our paths cross in that year. Happy running.

    Good stuff on food here as well.