How to Maintain Fitness and Wellness Habits: Tips and Techniques

How to Maintain Fitness and Wellness Habits: Tips and Techniques

Maintaining your fitness and wellness habits can be challenging, especially when life gets
busy. However, developing simple and effective strategies will help you stay on track and
keep your health a priority. This article will provide you with a comprehensive guide to
staying fit and healthy, complete with tips and techniques that you can implement in your
daily routine.

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6 Tips For Quality Run Training

6 Tips For Quality Run Training

Tips for Quality Run Training Train no faster than one pace quicker than the race you are training for. For example, 5k pace is good for an Olympic-distance race, while half-marathon pace suffices...

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How to Start Cycling

How to Start Cycling

One of the scariest things for a beginning triathlete, besides getting in the open water, is cycling.  The first image that wandered into my head upon deciding to start seriously bicycling was of a that scary peloton. Those tight formations of bikes moving at ridiculous speeds, during the Tour de France, so close together that one wrong move could cause serious damage to my body or someone else. Scary right? Luckily, triathlon doesn’t allow for huge groups like that, as a matter of fact it isn’t even allowed.  Whew!

Buying my first Bike

I didn’t have a lot of money when I first started in triathlon, and I also didn’t really know if I was going to like it.  I spent a lot of time in bike stores drooling over the expensive bikes, while studying cheaper entry level bikes.  Every bike store had a different angle they played.  One would say, purchase the more expensive bike, gain more speed so when I improved I didn’t have to buy another bike.  Another would tell me to buy the entry level but load it up with expensive components so I could ride faster, and when I wanted another bike, the components alone would warrant a good price, and of course that store would buy it back from me and give me a discount an another bike.  Decisions, decisions what to do, what to do?

I researched different road and tri bikes online and in magazines, and while I was pretty surecannondale_caad9 I would enjoy triathlon, I decided on an entry level Canondale CAAD 9 road bike.  I also included in my purchase, a pair of pedals, cleats, shoes and a helmet.  The helmet was very important especially since I hadn’t actually rode a bike in over 10 years.  Would I really not forget how to ride a bike?  The answer to that my friends is YES.  It is not a skill that is forgotten.  It maybe a little unsteady the first couple of times, but not forgotten.  Luckily I will have my trusty helmet, just in case.

I also read something that resonated with me.  The most important thing that is needed after the purchase of a bike, is the fitting.  At first I thought, “what?  Don’t I just have to find the most comfortable height of the seat and then get going?”  I had no idea that there are so many different adjustments on a bike, to a point that bike “fitters” actually have to be certified in order to properly fit you.  They have to take courses, pass tests and be mentored.  “Really?”, you ask?  Yes…really.

The fitting took about an hour where they put my bike on a trainer, and with my shoes and bike shorts I pedaled, then the fitter took measurements and made adjustments to my seat post raising it and lowering it to a perfect dimension.  Then he took angle measurements from the ground to my hip, knee and shoulder and from the pedal and a bunch of other places.  He moved my saddle not only up and down by forward and back.  He then took my handle bars and put different size spacers on the tube underneath my handlebars to find the perfect height and then was able to move them back and forth to find the right angle, height and most comfortable spot for me.  I had no clue there was this much to it.

Pre-First Ride

As I left the store after my fitting, Jo-el, the general manager and friend from my track club, gave me some good advice.  I had never rode in cleats and pedals before, where my feet were clipped into the pedals where they wouldn’t just simply lift up.  I had to turn my heel so the cleat would unclip from the pedals so I could put my foot down.  Jo-el said to take my bike in the house and put it between a doorway, and practice clipping and un-clipping from the pedals.  Also, I needed to find the most comfortable side to unclip first and then stick to that side no matter what.  I followed that advice in detail.  I clipped, unclipped, clipped and unclipped till I was sure I had mastered it.  Then I took a little ride around the block and practiced even more till I was confident I mastered at least that part.

I had a feeling of euphoria that first little trip in my neighborhood.  I felt fast, free traveling under my own power on this brand new, tuned Cannondale bike.  I was really excited for my first ride the next day in the hills of San Antonio.

The First Ride

I drove to San Antonio…Florida that is, with my brand new bike in the back, my new bike shorts on, bottles ready to put in their cages on the bike, coffee in my cup holder and classic rock playing on the radio.  I remember having mixed feelings about this initial ride.  I had never ridden in a group before, I had never ridden with these cleats and clips before, but I knew I was in good shape but was I fit enough?  After that I just thought to myself, “if you cannot go as far then just turn around and head back.  no big deal.”.

I met a friend at these ball fields and was mesmerized by the amount of bikers getting ready to take their morning ride.  The sea of colors from the different bikes and jerseys was extremely overwhelming.  That anxious feeling came back for a second until my friend mentioned we were riding with triathletes not pure cyclists.  They would understand I was on my first ride and would help me out.  After preparing for my first journey, we found our formation and began the trek.

I was surprised that I was staying in the middle of the pack and with minimal effort.  The wind was in my face,  I was pedaling under my own power and keeping up!  It was an incredibly euphoric feeling.  Unfortunately, when we hit the first long hill, euphoria turned to anxiety and then… embarrassment.

My pedaling slowed, and it became extremely hard to mash down on the pedals.  With very minimal spinning of my legs I tried to switch to higher gear, but I actually ended up in a lower gear which made it even harder. When I did finally gear up, it was too late.  I couldn’t move the pedals fast enough to switch gears, and my chain fell off , so I was at a dead stop. Of course I was so concerned about the gears I didn’t unclip out of my pedals, and I went down on my side.  The only thing that really hurt was my ego as I stood my bike up and examined the chain.  The group was passing me all asking if I was ok, and taking for granted that I was telling them I was fine and to keep going.  By the time I had my chain back on the group was completely out of site.  I pedaled like a bat out of hell hoping to catch up, but I missed a turn and ended up 10 miles out of my way, and lost.

To make a long story short ( I know, too late) one of the faster members of the group realized I was gone, backtracked, and finally found me asking directions at a convenience store.  He led me back to the group and I finished the ride without any other issues, but I learned a lot of lessons that day.

Hints to get started in cycling straight from the Goof:

0103_00504.jpg

On my first bike after a couple of modifications

1. Buy an entry level road bike.  This is usually an aluminum alloy frame.  You don’t want a Wal-mart special, but you don’t need to start with the top of the line bike either.

2. Purchase a set of entry level pedals, cleats and shoes.  The pedals usually come with the cleats and the bike shop will install them for  you.

3. Purchase safety equipment.  Biking shorts, and a helmet to start.  I would also have a set of sunglasses as well.  Not just to keep the sun out of your eyes, but it helps with the wind too.  Make sure you also have at least one water bottle with a cage installed on your bike.

4. Get the bike fit for you.  Have a certified bike fitter make those adjustments specifically for you.

5. Practice getting in and out of your cleats .  Put your bike in a doorway, hold onto the frame and get in and get out of your cleats.  Find the most comfortable side of the bike and then practice getting out of the cleats and putting your foot on the ground.

6.  Take a short ride around your neighborhood and continue to practice getting in and out of your cleats.  When seeing a stop or even a potential stop ahead practice just moving your heel just to the point where you unclip before stopping so you have a quick option that you can pull out of your clip to stop or return your heel to clip back in to keep going.  Remember to always clip out and stand with the same foot first every time.

7.  Understand your gears.  While in that first ride, switch the gears on your right hand and find what lever takes you to a higher or easier gear, and which one brings you to a lower or harder gear.

8.  Take your first long ride with friends and have some fun.

One last thing, you are going to fall.  That is just the reality of it.  You will get stuck in your cleats at some point and you will fall over, but it will be minimal.  The trick is to accept it, get up brush yourself off, laugh at yourself, get back on your bike and have fun.  It’s worth it I promise.

This post was originally published for IR4C for their new media site, IR4C.TV on July 2, 2013.

Goof Review: Outspokin’ Bicycles-Tampa

Goof Review: Outspokin’ Bicycles-Tampa

A couple of months ago, I was lucky enough to catch the first sign of my favorite bike store coming to Tampa.  At the time the stand-alone store was completely gutted without any sign of what it was going to look like.  Last week, after the store opened I was privileged to get my first look.  In the past I had to visit the Clearwater store strategically around training and races in the area.  Now, I am finally able to have the service and quality I enjoy, quite a bit closer to home.  What I didn’t expect, when I wandered in for the first time, was the bike store of my dreams. Outspokin has everything that could possibly be needed, and/or wanted, by bicycle enthusiasts and triathletes.

As owner, Val Tavanese, gave me the tour, she explained this location is the store she always dreamed of opening, because it had all the services, products and amenities that she personally wanted for in a bike shop.  The reason I continue to make the trip to 35 mile trip to Clearwater is not just because it is the location where I purchased my own Cervelo P2, but it is because Val and her team have always continued to provide top tier service and expert advice when I needed it.  Val assured me she is determined to continue the same tradition here in Tampa.

Enough of my praise and rhetoric, let’s get to the gears and chains of this amazing store.

Right outside the entrance double doors sits a nice table and chairs that providing a shady spot to relax after a long bike ride.  Walking into the sliding door you immediately see the front desk with smiling Outspokin team members surrounded by by bright colors and cycling accessories of all kinds.

Outspokin signFront SignFront Door View

Cycling manufacturers enforce their own rules and guidelines for retailers carrying their line of product.  Most cycling lines will only allow retailing of their product within a certain distance between stores carrying the same line.  For example, Cervelo only allows a store to carry their product within a 50 mile radius another bicycle shop in order to keep the shops from competing with one another.  Outspokin Tampa is carrying three amazing retail lines in Road, Cyclecross, Mountain, and touring bikes; BMC, Giant and Scott.

BCMGiantScott

What sets Outspokin apart from most bike specialty stores is their services.  The most important service, in my opinion, is maintenance.  Bike parts wear out, cyclists fall, and a good portion of the time adjustments need to be made do to change in technique, training regimen or even transport of the bike itself.  Outspokin has always had a great team of mechanics, and they need some room to work in right?  Well, the mechanics bay in the Tampa store is immense and Val has outfitted all of her maintenance team with a complete new set the tools necessary to assemble, repair and adjust their customers equipment without any sacrifice to quality.

Maintenance Tools Fixing

The next superior service is fitting.  In my experience, fitting the bike to the person is crucial for comfort, power and speed, especially in a road and triathlon bikes.  Outspokin spares nothing when it comes to fitting.  The fitting room is outfitted with the Retul system including Muve bike accessory.  Retul is a complete system for measuring every length, and angle of the rider to the bike which determines the athlete’s personalized adjustments.  For instance, when a riders leg is extended to the very bottom of the pedal, there is an optimum angle for the knee to be bent.  This system will measure the distance of the seat post and calculate what the precise height and the horizontal position of the seat is optimal in order to achieve that angle.

The Muve bike accessory to the Retul system allows for quick changes to those measurements which then can be transferred to their bike.  When I was fitting utilizing the Retul service, the Muve bike was not available, so for every change in angle I had to dismount and the technician had to pull those parts off my bike and replace them at the right measurement.  With the Muve bike, when the angles change the tech can adjust with the rider still on the bike.  This makes those adjustments faster and more accurate, because the computer will provide the adjusted angles and measurements as the tech is making those adjustments in real-time.

Two more advantages to do a fitting with Retul, are all of the adjustments are saved in Outspokin’s database, so when doing routine maintenance the techs can re-assemble the bike with the personalized adjustments.  Also, when cyclists travel with their bike it needs to be partially disassembled.  A print out of the angles and measurements can be placed with the bike, so either the rider or a mechanic can reassemble the bike without sacrificing personal comfort or performance.  What about those customers shopping for a bike and really have no idea what brand or geometry is best for them?  If a Retul analysis is completed, the measurements can be compared in a database that will then determine the line and models that will be the best fit for comfort, power and speed for that individual.  Pretty cool, am I right?

FittingRetul

Do you want to ride in the morning, but it is raining, cold or you just do not have the time to drive out to a safe place to get a good workout in?  Outspkin to the rescue with their CompuTrainer room.  Eight CompuTrainers are connected to a HDTV and will allow you and a few of your fellow cyclists the ability to ride a stage of the Tour de France, or the bike course of the Lake Placid Ironman on your own bike.  The CompuTrainers have the ability to add or remove resistance matching the elevation of the course as you are looking at the screen which is projecting exactly the point of view as if you were actually riding the course.  Pretty Sweet, right?  Outspokin makes it sweeter by providing showers, so you can ride that stage of the Tour and still make it to work that morning.  Tampa to France and back in time for work. (It is almost like transporter rooms were finally invented.)

Computrainer room Computrainer Room Shower

These are just a couple of services that are being provided.  Other services that are coming soon include in-store Lactate Threshold and VO2 Max Testing.

I am thrilled to be able to give such a glowing review to Outspokin.  I hope you get a chance to visit soon and take advantage of all the products and services they are offering.

Outspokin’s Grand Opening is this weekend, March 15 & 16th, and there will be plenty of events and vendors at the Tampa location, so check out the store, take a look at some the products vendors will be carrying and take a test ride on a new bike.  Oh, and tell them you heard about it from the IronGoof. Maybe, just maybe they will reward you for it.

A place to relax, and for the kiddiesEveryone Loves ShoesMultiple Ironman Triathlete Celeste at your service.

www.Outspokin.net

Carpe Viam!!!

 

Tribute #6 – Jessica Crate

Tribute #6 – Jessica Crate

It was apparent this was coming, right?  This woman was all over my Rock ‘n’ Roll recap, so the JC1inspiration was already foreshadowed and if you didn’t read the last post, then prepare to be inspired.

Jessica and I met on a set of commercial we were doing for some insurance company.  I never actual saw the final cut, but then again, that happens quite frequently.  We were actually placed in the roles of runners, which is why it made so much sense.  I was in a conversation about running and all of the sudden, I heard this upbeat, sultry voice from behind me enter into the conversation.  I turned around to see this tall, athletically thin, beautiful blond woman behind me.  Her hair in a ponytail, wearing a Newton visor and radiating the intense positive aura all around her.  There was more to this attraction then the minimalistic pure blood American male to the tall, stunningly gorgeous, platinum blond female(See? I am not denying the obvious).  The energy radiating from this woman was intense.

JC6

We conversed in detail all the while waiting for the lighting to be rigged, and shots set up.  I came to find her life as intoxicating as Jessica herself.  This woman is an Elite Runner holding course records in the Gasparilla Half-Marathon, St. Pete Women’s Half-Marathon and the St. Pete Rock ‘n’ Roll Half-Marathon.  As of last year she began competing in triathlon only to make it to Las Vegas for the 70.3 World Championships her first year.  If that wasn’t enough, she also coaches other elite athletes, has her own marketing company, and recently created her own Not-for-profit.  She is committed to giving back.

As I have continued to attempt climb inside her head and soul to try and understand what drives her, I have yet to hear her utter a negative word about anything or anyone.  She truly believes in winning not only the race, but in life itself.  If there is ever the opportunity to meet this unbelievable athlete and woman, do so.  Before you know it, you will be winning to.  Let me introduce you to my good friend, Jessica Crate.

Jessica Crate

Birthdate/Sign:  07/25/1985, Leojc10
Place of Birth: Victoria, British Columbia CANADA
Place growing up: Lived all over the US…. Oregon, California, Wisconsin, NY during Elementary School years.
High School: Sarnia, Ontario CANADA
High School sports: EVERYTHING! Lol…. I think I tried out for and was on every team! Basketball, Volleyball, Soccer, Softball, Gymnastics, Swimming, Dance, Cheerleading, Track & Field, Cross-country, I even dabbled in Girls Rugby (big mistake-haha).
College: Arizona State for 2 years studying Exercise Science and Kinesiology and was Academic and Varsity Scholar athlete for Track and XC(Cross Country) both years.
College Sports:  Track and XC, but also dabbled in Soccer, Yoga, Strength training and swimming.Transferred to Florida State University for my last 2 years to pursue Pre- Medical Studies and continued my Minors in Psychology and French. Also ran on the Varsity Track and XC Teams and made it to National Championships all 4 collegiate years. ūüôā
Other Sports:  I currently work out 2-3 times daily and mix up my training with cycling, running, swimming, yoga, P90X, SUP (stand up paddleboarding), surfing, adventure/mud racing, volleyball, waterskiing, snowboarding…. You name it!

 

When was it you started competing and why?
I was born a competitor and my Mom tells me I literally came into this world “running” as I was born 1 month pre-mature. Clearly I was eager to get moving at an early age ūüėČ
I grew up in a very athletic family, so “friendly competition” has been a part of my life since my early years. I love to win and have a burning desire for change for the better. Thus, I’m always looking to improve and hone my skills.

 

What is it that keeps you running after all of this time?
I absolutely LOVE a challenge, I love growing, running is a part of me, and a HUGE part of my life, friendships, relationships and what I do. Others inspire me to KEEP running and in return I hope to inspire others in the process.

 

In our private conversations you have basically told me that this year you have decided to give back.   How did that come about?
 I have been overseas on several missions trips and have had the privilege of traveling the JC7world for racing, training and competing. Being awarded a full-ride scholarship to two D1 Schools for both athletics and academics was not only a blessing, but I felt it a responsibility to essentially “Give Back” all that had been given to me. Upon graduating from college, I partnered with Olympic athlete, Jon Rankin, to launch our own Non-profit organization entitled “Giving Athletics, Inc”, who’s mission is to “Inspire Social change through athletic participation.” It has been so rewarding to help others by fitting them with clothes and shoes that allow them to participate in sports and gain an education. ūüôā

 

If you could give me one adjective to describe the feeling you get when you are working what would it be?
Exhilaration, FREEDOM, accomplishment, energy!

 

When and why did you start competing in triathlon?
Back in April 2011, I had been training hard to qualify for the Olympic Trials in the Marathon. I JC3had raced several marathons already, but my coach believed I was ready based on my workouts and marathon times. However, at mile 14, I side- stepped around some runners at a water station and snapped my foot. The adrenaline, high pain tolerance and my will to finish wouldn’t let me quit, so I ran the last 12.2 miles on a broken foot. I requalified for Boston, but obviously did more damage to my foot by continuing the race. My Olympic Trials dreams were shattered and I was now in a boot, unable to run. I began physical therapy and realized that I was going to go crazy if I couldn’t run, so I picked up swimming and cycling. Long story short, I started sprint triathlons, qualified for USAT Age Group Nationals in the ITU distance and soon I was embarking on tri training. I ended up qualifying for the USAT ITU World Championships and setting new goals, like Ironman 70.3. Now, here I am! Runner turned Triathlete ūüėČ

 

What projects are involved with besides running races?
I currently own a marketing company “CRATE, Inc.”, coach and train athletes in addition to my training, while working with a neutraceutical company, LifeVantage. I have found my purpose and passion in life and live to lead a legacy by coaching, training and inspiring others to achieve their goals and dreams.

 

What would you say is your greatest obstacle  you ever overcameJC9
Breaking my foot in the Boston marathon, overcoming that injury and breaking onto the triathlon scene to qualify for 2 World Championships last year as well as set 3 course records in half marathons throughout the state of Florida.

 

What is your greatest victory?
My greatest victory is overcoming so many failures to continue succeeding. I firmly believe, and as the most successful people will tell you, you have to fail FORWARD. The faster you fail, the quicker you’ll succeed.

 

What are you favorite quotes?
My business partners and teammates know my favorite slogans, amongst many “Jessica-isms” are: “K.I.S.S.” (Keep it simple silly), “Relax, Smile and Breathe”, “Live life to the fullest”, “Go BIG or go home!”

 

If you’d like more information on where she will be next or to sign up for a training session, contact her at [email protected]

Or visit her website: www.jessicacrate.com

Carpe Viam!

JC5

Jessica and the Goof

So it starts – Ironman Season Training Day #1

PB&J before our ride this weekend

Have you ever heard that saying “Today is first day of the rest of your life”? Today started my Ironman Journey #2 and I was excited last night to get started. No more excuses, no more waiting, today was the day the plan actually started. Of course I was so excited that I couldn’t sleep last night, but I got up anyway and got on my trainer for an hour of high intensity cycling in order to document my Lactate Threshold Heart Rate and Power Zone.

Today, I had to take two Lactate Threshold tests. The LT test determines at what heart rate and power wattage that you blood delivers oxygen to your muscles most efficiently. The scientific definition is the maximum steady state effort that can be maintained without lactate continually increasing. Lactate builds up not allowing oxygen to be utilized. Stay within the LT and the body will be able to keep working efficiently which turns into long amounts of time at that heart rate.

The greatest thing about knowing your Lactate Threshold is that you can train to make it even more efficient. A higher threshold means the body can keep going at higher intensity which turns into speed in the case of triathlon. The caveat is that in order to increase the LT, it has to be done slowly. More workouts above the LT will increase it, but the more the body and muscles are working above it, the shorter the duration until the muscles learn to work with less oxygen making them work a lot more efficiently. This is why the trends have been hit the gym hard, and the endurance will come.

I have a buddy Blayne, whom decided to make the move to CrossFit which is the epitome of high intensity training. I have done a couple of these workouts in the off-season and the actual work in class may only be 20 minutes, but the participants are wrecked afterwards. Let me get back to Blayne. He started taking part in CrossFit religiously, and trained very little for the Rev3 70.3 and completed it with no problem and did really well. The story doesn’t stop there. He entered a 50 mile road race a few weeks later without running more than 9 miles and he completed it and I saw him two days later as he was entering the coffee shop from another CrossFit class and he looked fine. (Maybe I should put the disclaimer that says “results not typical”?) Did I mention the guy is in his 40s?

More and more I have read about triathletes either taking up CrossFit, High Intensity Training(HIT), or supplementing their training with either. It makes sense. A couple of times a week, a short circuit sets of heavy weight(with good form) and the body works higher than it’s LT training the muscles to work with less oxygen. If the body continues to train this way, it makes sense the muscles adapt to utilizing a lower amount of oxygen. When the intensity is lowered, the heart rate reduces allowing more oxygenated blood to the muscles which actually increases the aerobic capacity or VO2. Increased VO2 allows the body to work harder at a longer rate.

Whew! Enough science. My first week looks like this:

I look at it now and it looks daunting. doesn’t it? ¬†This is the base phase of the plan, it gets busier and more intense as we get to the build and peak phases. ¬†I think I am in for a lot of fun this season. ¬†Speaking of season, my race schedule is posted on the right side pane of the page.
Yeah.  Over there 
 
 
FYI – I promise you I am not going to be blogging everyday about my workout that will just get boring, but when I have an epiphone or a breakthrough, that is when the post will be out. ¬†Of course I plan on conitnuing with any race reports, product reviews, cool new recipies and tributes to the those inspirational people I find so…well…inspirational.
Have a great week.
Carpe Viam!  Carpe Momentum!

Tribute Tuesday #5 – Benjamin Mena

There are people out there that take everything in stride and just let the world unfold around them, and there are people who have decided there is so much negativity in the world it is much easier to be oblivious to everything.  Either way, in my opinion, if it makes you happy, then do it.  There are a few people out there, that have a passion for making the world a better place.  There are those who find one cause and passionately support it, which is phenomenal, but a rare few people out there are able to spread their power of influence, courage, and passion to every cause, organization and individual in need they can.  My friend Ben is one of those people.

Before I tell you about his cool “Run for Cause” fun runs, or the races he has organized and the races coming up, let me tell you about Ben Mena the runner. ¬†Ben and I met through friends from my tri-club the A-Train and some friends from the Run Progressive track workouts. ¬†I knew of him and knew he was fast, but that didn’t justify what I saw when I first ran with him. ¬†I am amazed at people who can run a marathon with 7:30 average per mile pace. ¬†This guy hammers through half-marathons in under 6-minute miles and then will turn around and bike for 20 without skipping a beat.

My favorite memory of watching Ben was actually a cycling workout. ¬†Ben was coerced into joining us and Pete (Tribute #2) let him borrow his road bike. ¬†This bike had pedal cages on it because Ben didn’t have cycling shoes or cleats and this was going to be his first ride. ¬†Well, Ben goes out in front with the “A” group and is really strong. ¬†We all¬†thought, “OK, we will just hang back here and watch him die out and pick him up at the turnaround.” ¬†He reached the turnaround and just kept going and beat us all. ¬†First time out! ¬†A few weeks later he decides to do a duathlon in Orlando for the first time and he finishes first, overall. ¬† Ben’s VO2 max is off the charts. ¬†Maybe that is why he continues to help those in need, with a VO2 max that high, his heart is huge.

Ben organizes a monthly fun run in Brandon, Florida that gives to a different charity each month.  I have been running in every one since July and I have seen no less than 50 people at any of them.  He also is part of a duo with Beth Shaw (Dis-com-BOB-ulated Running), of which they have successfully completed their first race called the Shape Up for Summer 5k and now they have another one coming up called the Corporate 5k in downtown Tampa.  The Shape Up for Summer 5k had well over 750 runners which is well over what they expected and as I used the race as a culmination runs for my clientele, let me just say it was one of the best organized 5k runs I had participated in.  Beth and Ben did a really amazing job, so if you find a race organized by MenaShaw Races, you can be sure to have a great experience.

With that being said, Ben has another race he has organized and this one has an interesting spin on it while helping out some people that can really use it.  I will let him tell you in his own words.  Let me introduce, Benjamin Mena.

Benjamin (Ben) Mena
Birthdate: 8/25/83 – Virgo
Place of Birth: Virginia Beach, VA
Place growing up: Charleston SC and Bremerton, WA
High School: Cocoa Beach High
High School sports: Soccer, Cross Country, Track
College: University of Central Florida
College Sports: Cross Country, Track
Other Sports: Ummmm…..  nope

I usually describe you as one of the fastest runners in the Tampa Bay area. What started you running?
I used to be the guy that would make fun of the runners and throw stuff at them.  (in HS).  I thought running was dumb and pointless.   So after a win-less soccer season, the soccer girls tried to convince me to run cross country to prep for soccer… I said yeah right, that’s dumb… their response was just run behind us.  What teenage guy can say no.   after my first year running (JR year) I developed a passion for it and it quasi-took over my life.
JR year was just an introduction to the sport. Our workouts were easy as hell, but the one thing I loved my coach for (she was hot also) she taught us all how to make running fun and enjoyable.¬† ¬†My Sr year of high school we had a new coach.¬† She had a background as a professional runner, so she knew her stuff.¬† She helped give me the dream of being a college athlete.¬†¬† At that point, I¬†wasn’t good enough for any college team but I worked my ass off as hard as I could.¬† I had the one gift that every coach wants in their athlete.¬† Burning desire to make it.
The summer before college was pretty crazy.  I was working 5 jobs to try to get ready for college (until my car died) then I had to drop my job at Publix [Supermarket]because it was a 20-mile bike ride each way).  I would bike to my different jobs, then get home and run and then would be able to start hanging out with friends after 11 pm.   During that time I would never miss a run no matter how bad I wanted to have fun.
I still to this day don‚Äôt know why coach chose me out of all the other walk-ons..¬† but I am thankful she did.¬† I ran with my heart and I knew I had more to prove that everyone that came in on scholarships.¬† (I also¬†didn’t¬†have a car‚Ķ so I got a lot more miles in than most people.¬†¬† Outside all the running I was walking 5-14 miles a day to and from, and around school)¬† By the end of the first season, I was granted an athletic scholarship and the following year I was team captain‚Ķ

Ben doing what he does best

What and When was your first 5k time? What and when was your fastest 5k time?

Year of high school.  I don’t remember the time but I was low 20s, but my fastest was 15:20 in college.

What kind of workouts did you do to get that fast? 
You don’t want to know the schedule.  But my favorite workout was mile repeats!



What was your average weekly mileage?
60-80 was the average.  During the summer we would crank it up for base building.  My highest week was 112 and 90% of those miles were done along the Appalachian Trail.

I mentioned above that you hold a monthly fun run named “Run for a Cause” at the Cork & Olive in Brandon. ¬†How did that come about?
Just had the idea while at the bar.  I love hosting fun events for people…  and it came about from there.  our first event I was hoping for 10 people… and over 50 ended up showing up.

How many different charities have you hosted?  
7 or 8 now

If someone had a cause they would like to have hosted at one of your events what is the best way to contact you? Best is through FaceBook.


The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School has devastated the country. You chose to act quickly and do something about it by hosting this Virtual Run. Can you give the details?
This is a virtual half-marathon and virtual 5K. Since it is virtual, you can complete it anywhere in the world. You can run, walk, swim, bike, anything you like, and you can complete the 13.1 miles or 5K all at once, over the course of a week, or whenever you can. Just complete all miles between now and Jan 31st. This is on the honor system – you do not have to report your miles.
The registration fee for the Half Marathon is $30.
Register Here: http://www.active.com/half-marathon/tampa-fl/sandy-hook-elementary-memorial-half-marathon-and-5k-2013
Event Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/events/186264894845690/ 

What gave you the Idea?
I am on the board for a few charities, and I was already researching a way to do a virtual 5k. When the devastation occurred, I couldn’t sleep, so I mulled it over for a while and by Sunday I had it up on Active.com and Facebook and 200 people already had agreed to participate. Today on Facebook there are over 1800 that have committed and a little over 250 that have actually signed up on Active.com
It grew a lot faster than I thought. It went viral. I originally thought about a few people here in Tampa to raise around 1000 dollars, but now it is well over that.

Beth and Ben

 

Do you have any other races coming up?
Beth and I have been organizing a Tampa Bay Corporate 5K.
This is an event where the runners choose one of the 4 charities that this race will give back too. Every person that registers for the race will get a vote (fill in the blank) for the charity of their choice. The charity with the most votes will receive a portion of the proceeds along with Little Things for Cancer, Cystic Fibrosis (Tampa Chapter), and Operation Helping Hand.
You can get more details on the Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/131275133693630
or on the event website: http://www.tampacorporate5k.com/

Ben and his fiance Jennifer
Ben and the Goof