Monday, March 25, 2013

iHope Support and Weeks 5 and 6

I've been very busy lately working to help build the iHope foundation that seeks to provide low-income students who display outstanding character and work ethic traits with technological resources.  In lieu of obtaining sponsors to help me with my racing I've gone to local businesses in our community seeking support for iHope.  I have laid out various levels of support for the iHope cause.  In return I will race through 2013 representing those businesses that support iHope.  I am also hopeful of getting friends, family, followers, and fans on board to support this cause realizing that an iHope gift could potentially be a life-changing gift for these students.  At times I wondered if all this work is worth the effort.  I know it is.  I am so thrilled to announce that local grocery chain Hy-Vee and local bank First Central State Bank have both contributed to the iHope foundation. 


 Hy-Vee and First Central State Bank have always been into giving back to the community and I'm so glad they thought iHope was a worthy cause.  Hy-Vee has invested a lot of money into helping Iowa reach the Governor's goal of becoming the healthiest state.  They are sponsors of countless local road races, they are the main sponsor of triathlon's biggest prize purse race in the world, the Hy-Vee Triathlon which is held annually in Des Moines, Iowa.  In addition Hy-Vee contributes so much more.  I recently noticed Hy-Vee gives an annual scholarship to a Pleasant Valley graduate.  The Hy-Vee that supported iHope is the one on Devils Glen Road.  I worked there from the time I was 16 until I graduated from college and I learned the values of hard work and working as a team during my time there.  Thanks Hy-Vee for supporting my race effort by supporting iHope! 
First Central State Bank is also very committed to making the community a better place.  They have banks in Le Claire, Eldridge, Long Grove, and DeWitt, Iowa.  They have been the title sponsor of the First Central State Bank Crossroads Triathlon since the start of the race nearly 10 years ago.  They are very active in Le Claire in setting up annual Tug Fest events as well as an important part of Chamber of Commerce in our community.  I'll be racing with a First Central State Bank sticker on my helmet this year!  I realize the businesses have chosen to help build the iHope Foundation not because of my racing but because of the good they see in this foundation.  If you are willing and able to help with the foundation I'd be grateful to any amount you can give.  You can click here to make a tax deductible donation.  I have an iHope page at the top of this blog where you can read the story about how iHope was born and learn more about how we aim to make a difference in our community. 
I hope to earn as much money as I can racing this year for iHope.  Weeks 5 and 6 were big steps towards the goals I have.  The mountain that looked so dauntingly big when I began 6 weeks ago is not looking nearly as large any more.  I still have a long way to go but I'm starting to feel pretty fit.  For the first time this year I weighed in under 160 lbs. so I'm getting closer to race weight.  I am glad I'm not racing a triathlon for awhile but I now feel like if I had to race this weekend I could hold my own.  Week 5 was a nice week of 20.5 hours training time with 170 bike miles, 41 run miles, and 12,500 yards swimming.  Week 6 was a huge week with spring break.  My total training time was 26.5 hours.  I biked 235 miles, ran 53 miles, and swam 16,000 yards (all highs for the season).  My swimming has seen big improvements over the past few weeks.  I'm also starting to feel the run fitness come back.  I've been meeting a nice group for Sunday morning runs and this past weekend was my longest this year at 80 minutes.  6 weeks ago my first run was 22 minutes and every minute was tougher than any of the 80 minutes this week on the long run.  I feel stronger and my weights are as high as they were all of last year.  This upcoming weekend I'm going to race a hard effort in a local 5k.  I want to find out where my fitness is at.  I also know the race will serve as a great workout.  I am looking forward to the weather turning so I can begin riding the bike outdoors more often although I do enjoy riding the trainer and will continue to do so for part of my training even when the weather is nice.  I'm waiting to hear back from more businesses and have one tentative right now that I'll wait to announce.  If you know of a business that would be interested in sponsoring me by making an iHope contribution please let me know and I'll get the information sent out.  It's been a lot of fun knowing that getting into great shape is for a much greater cause than just me.  Hopefully by this time in the year you have laid out some fitness goals you would like to achieve this year.  I can tell you it is never to late to begin working for those.  I started so much later than I ever have and I'm realizing already what a good move this was.  I'm feeling extremely fresh, healthy, and most importantly motivated.  Thanks for reading.  DREAM BIG!

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Birth of iHope

I'm more excited than ever to be racing for a great cause in 2013.  The cause is a non-profit foundation called iHope that I helped create in the Pleasant Valley Community School District, the district that I have enjoyed teaching in over the past 11 years.  The story of how iHope was born is here. 
In July of 2009 my grandmother, Evelyn Lehman passed away.  My grandma was an awesome person.  Her and my grandpa gave time, energy, and money to their church, community and to their grandkids who they spoiled.  When my grandma died she left all of her grandchildren some money.  I knew I wanted to use this money in a giving way because that would make my grandma proud.  The first time was when Jen and I were out for dinner at Granite City in the fall of 2010.  This night happened to be the night of Homecoming in my school district.  While we were eating dinner we noticed many of my former 8th grade students enjoying dinner with their friends and classmates.  I remembered reading about a time when former NFL player Kurt Warner was in the Quad Cities eating dinner during a homecoming night and the newspaper wrote a story about how Kurt Warner picked up the tab for a group of students.  How cool is that!  Jen and I decided this was not something that could be done by just an NFL football player but was something we could do as well.  We used some money from "Grandma's Fund" to pick up the tab for a group of 24 students before we left. 
Last spring I had a student that displayed outstanding work habits and character traits.  This particular student came from a low-income family.  They did not let the circumstances affect how they treated people or how hard they worked.  There were no excuses.  This student had been working hard on an extra credit project for my class and when I asked one day if it was finished they pulled it out of their bag fighting back tears telling me how the storm the night before caused it to get all wet in their bedroom.  The project resembled what the student told me.  My heart broke for this student as I realized the situation they were living in.  I went home and told Jen about it and we decided right away we wanted to do something for this student.  We decided to use "Grandma's Fund" to buy the student an iPad along with a heavy duty protective case and some iBook gift cards.  When I presented this gift to the student it was immediately noticable what kind of impact it had.  Along with the gift I gave the student a letter telling why we felt this gift was merited.  I explained that the student's character and work habits were something that made me believe they were going to be successful in life.  I mentioned how I hoped this student would use the iPad to help with school and look to a future beyond high school.  I also encouraged the student to pay it forward some day when the opportunity was there.  The student said it was the best gift they had ever received.  It made a big influence on me as well.  I realized this was something I wanted to be able to do more often...maybe once a year...or more perhaps.  This is when the idea of iHope was born. 
I spoke with our Superintendent and he was very supportive of the iHope idea and helped me set up a foundation through the school district where money would be saved to use for low-income junior high students that display positive work habits and character traits.  We will use the money to purchase technology that will hopefully give these students hope for a bright future.  These are students that statistics would say will not go to college.  They are students that statistics would say will end up living in poverty through the vicious cycle.  They are students that we believe differently about.  They are ones that we believe with a little extra help and hope from us can make it through the cycle of poverty to become whatever they dream of becoming.  We also decided that the iHope fund can be used to provide other things like athletic shoes, school book bags...etc. for students who lack those things.  I started the iHope foundation by donating $500.00 from "Grandma's Fund" today and a pledge to donate any money I win at races in 2013 to the foundation.  I realize keeping this foundation going for the long haul may not happen without outside help.  I would love your help with this investment on the youth in our community.  A donation of ANY amount will help a worthy child.  All children who are presented with iHope gifts will be given a letter telling why they were chosen (by a board set up at our school).  The letter will also encourage the students to set goals and believe in those goals.  Lastly the letter will encourage these students to pay it forward when the opportunity arises.  The students must display positive work habits and character traits...the things we think will help them be successful and things that are very important in our school district.  All donations to iHope are tax deductable.  You may donate a couple different ways.  One way is to click here and you will be able to donate online and will be given an immediate tax deductible receipt.  The other way is to make a check out to iHope Foundation and dropped off or mailed to the Pleasant Valley School District.  Checks should be mailed or dropped off to:
Pleasant Valley Foundation
525 Belmont Road
Bettendorf, IA 52722
Racing in 2013 will be extremely exciting for me.  Knowing I can help make a difference for a child in our community fuels my motivation more than ever.  Even if I can earn just a hundred dollars at a race I know that will make a big difference.  My goal is to earn $1,500 through racing this year.  I'd love to have your support and help.  I cannot stress enough that we'd be thrilled for ANY help you can give...$5.00...$10.00...everything will make a difference.  Together we can help give a student in our community the HOPE to DREAM BIG...the HOPE to change their life...the HOPE to build a better world.  Thanks!!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Weeks 3 and and downs

Week 3 was a great week of training.  I continued to build on my first two weeks of training by getting my highest training volume of 2013.  My total training time was 17.5 hours with 36 run miles, 141 bike miles, and 9,200 yards of swimming.  I felt much stronger by the end of the week when I completed my longest run yet of 70 minutes.  On Monday of last week things took a turn for the worse.  I had been experiencing some pain in my lower back and by last Monday it had me walking hunched over.  I couldn't walk pain free let alone think about running.  It had bothered me pushing off the wall swimming on Sunday afternoon so I made the decision to get it taken care of without trying to push through it.  I decided I would get a high volume week on the bike but shut down running, swimming, core work, lifting, plyometrics, and jump rope until things calmed down.  This was a great move.  After two visits to Kaminski Pain and Performance Care for ART sessions and laser treatment I was feeling near 100% by the weekend and ran 6 miles on Friday and 10 on Sunday both pain free.  Although my total training time took a step back at 15 hrs. 45 minutes I did manage to put in 10 hours or 200 miles on the bike.  Dr. Kaminski informed me that my hip flexors and quad muscles were so tight it was causing me to run with a forward lean and this was creating a lot of stress on my lower back and I had a good deal of inflamation around one of the discs in my back.  This is near 100% as I begin week 5.  When I was in on Thursday I decided it was time to do a Body Composition Analysis.  He has a high tech machine where they strap some electrode pads on you and it gives a full body composition analysis.  Last year I had this done 3 times.  The first time was when I began training and I was 18.4% body fat weighing 171 lbs..  I tested about 7 weeks later on Feb. 28 of 2012 and although I had lost 9 lbs. my body fat % was still 16.7%.  This was when I went nuts counting calories and eating 100% healthier than I ever have over the next month.  4 weeks later I tested my lowest ever weighing 151 lbs. with a body fat% of 9.3%.  I have been frustrated by my lack of weight loss through the first three weeks of training.  I knew I was still hovering around 170 lbs. although I felt like I was getting thinner.  I couldn't figure out why I was still weighing so much so I knew it would be good to get tested.  I weighed in at 172 lbs. and my body fat % was 16.4.  This was a good boost of confidence for a few reasons.  The % was actually slightly lower than last February when I weighed 11 lbs. less.  The difference this year is that I had 4 lbs. more fluid in my body which is a sign that I'm better hydrated and I also had 6 lbs. more muscle in my body.  My actual pounds of fat was at 28 compared to 27 when I tested in February of 2012.  This was exciting for a few reasons.  Although I'm weighing more it is not bad weight.  I do believe I have been ridding myself of bad weight while adding muscle early in the training this year.  It also gives me a lot of hope that I can get my body fat % back under 10% by race season.  I tested a slighly lower % of body fat on three weeks of training this year compared to last year in February when I was 10 weeks into training.  It also reminded me of how hard I worked on eating healthy when I saw last year's numbers and realized over the course of 4 weeks I went from carrying 27 lbs. of fat down to 14.1 lbs. of fat when I tested at 9.3%.  This has renewed my focus on eating healthy.  Right now most of my workouts are at a base building intensity which doesn't require me to have a lot of carbohydrates.  At the lower intensity the body uses mainly fat for energy.  Because I don't need a lot of carbohydrates and have a lot of fat to burn I need to be careful not to consume a lot of carbohydrates except for the couple days a week when I do add intensity into the workouts.  I'm a little worried about carrying 6 extra lbs. of muscle but it is so early in the year it probably doesn't hurt to have that now because I know I will cut back the focus on weights as I get closer to race time.  There is a lot of statistics on the report they give after doing a body composition analysis so if you are interested give them a call at Kaminski Pain and Performance Care and schedule your BCA.  Now that I'm a month into training I'm beginning to start getting into higher volumes of training.  I was very careful not to increase too fast too quickly.  In my experience the most common injuries come either when beginning a new training cycle coming off a break or when increasing too quickly.  I've been very cautious through the first month.  Now I'm at a level where the volumes start to look bigger.  We begin spring break on Friday so I'll have 1 extra day without work this week so I'll get a bigger than normal Friday in.  Next week I'm planning to roll the dice a bit and substantially increase my training for my spring break week in what will be a bit of a training camp.  I'll tear myself down pretty good and then take an easier week the following week.  I'm hoping the weather will turn so I don't have to sit on the trainer for all my bike rides.  I don't mind riding 60-90 minutes on the trainer but much more than that gets cumbersome unless the hawkeyes are in a great game in which I can squeeze out 2 hours.  I have my race schedule almost finalized.  I have a busy month in June with 4 races, 2 in July, 3 in August, 1 in September, and 1 in October.  I'm swimming much less right now than I did early in training last year.  My swimming did not progress like I would have hoped with much more time in the water a year ago and i've decided with a full-time job, two children, and a wife at home it is not worth spending all the time in the pool this early.  My plan is to stick to 10,000 yards/week in March, 12,000 in April, and 14,000 in May.  My longest swim day will be about 4,000 yards in March, 4,500 in April, and 5,000 in May.  I'm hoping that will get me close to swimming where I was last year although I'd always like to be faster if I can continue fixing my techinque.  Speaking of that I attended Stacey Zapolski's swim clinic at Augustana College yesterday and it was well worth my investment.  We had a small group and were spoiled to get so much individual stroke feedback.  I have 2 really important things to work on before the next clinic.  Stacey even video-taped us swimming and we broke down the tape which was valuable to see the things she was telling us about our stroke.  If you are interested in attending the next clinic send me an e-mail and I'll get you the details about when it is.  I'm beginning to feel the excitement for training and racing I had lost in the ladder part of 2012.  It's a lot of fun.  I have recently created a non-profit foundation called iHope in my school district.  The mission of iHope is to provide technological resources to low-income students that display positive work habits and outstanding character traits.  I will discuss this more in detail in my next post but if you would like to contribue to iHope and help make a difference to a child in our community click here. Work hard towards your goals and make them happen.  DREAM BIG!