Leaving Winter

March 31st, 2014 | by Jeff Mohrmann0 Comments

I’m in Boulder, Colorado, sitting in a coffee shop looking at blue skies and nearly snow free mountains. It is almost 70 degrees here today. It isn’t April yet but I can feel and see the first signs of spring in the city; the slight hint of spring flowers in the air, cyclists enjoying their post ride coffees on the outdoor patios instead of in the warmth of the cafes, and college girls sunbathing on the CU campus. We are quickly leaving winter behind and ushering in the spring and summer training and racing season.

Normally, this time of year is one of my favorites. Replacing single digit temperatures during morning runs with early morning sunshine and warmth is usually more than a welcome change. But this year is a bit different. I’m leaving winter with a sense of trepidation and worry. This summer will be my second year running ultra distance events, and the year of my first attempt at the 100 mile distance. With the prospect of a more intense racing schedule capped by a race at a distance I’ve never come close to approaching the winter was my time work on the weaknesses I identified last year: building strength and being more disciplined about my diet.

The strength focus arose while running the 2013 San Juan Solstice 50 and realizing that at my size (6’2”, 200lbs), ignoring leg and core strength was going to result in an inability to survive long downhills during races. I’ve added weekly gym sessions with lots of squats, deadlifts, core work and other leg strengthening exercises. I’ve focused on doing intense climbs with intense downhills and added Cross-Fit style workouts into my weekly routines. I’m noticing that I recover faster from runs and feel stronger on the downhills. I’ve also noticed that I’m really bad at squats. And I really don’t like Cross-Fit.

On the nutrition side, I’ve adopted a (mostly) gluten free diet with an emphasis on lighter meals and more protein, with a bit of cheating during dinner. Or, as my fiancee puts it: “you are gluten free all day…and then three beers.” The focus here has been cutting body fat and getting lighter. I’m a strong climber, but hauling 200lbs uphill isn’t the most efficient use of energy. And I want to look good blasting the guns during hot days on the trails. The diet end of things has been more difficult to maintain. Beer is hard to say no to and living in a city (Colorado Springs) in which “gluten-free” is considered something only “hippy, liberal restaurants” offer requires more strategizing on a daily basis. But I try, always conscious of the fact that my pacers during the 100 miler aren’t going to want to carry 200lbs of runner of something happens.

Now that winter is over I’m questioning whether I did enough. Have I set myself up for a stronger race season? Or should have I just used the time exploring Colorado’s breweries? Leaving winter this year is less exciting and more worrisome. I approach the spring with more anxiety than is typical of my daily approach to life. But if all else fails, at least I’ll look good in a bathing suit. Sulking over a gluten free meal. With a beer.

Posted in Articles, On the move

Coava Coffee Roasters (Portland, OR)

February 25th, 2014 | by Darcie Nolan0 Comments

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Coava Coffee Roasters started as a small team working out of a garage as they poured their all into the best roasts they could craft. Now, they’ve successfully created one of the best places to get coffee in the city by bringing their coffee obsession to a warehouse-style shared space alongside a sustainable bamboo-woodworking collective in SE Portland.

Their dedication to balanced roasts has won them national acclaim and their crew – past and present – have held some of the top coffee honors. At the counter you choose from two, perfected, single-origin roasts or simple espresso drinks. No sugared and flavored concoctions. No multi-word order that is designed to hide true bean flavor. Simple, pure, great coffee. But, don’t be overwhelmed if you aren’t the coffee connoisseur type. As owner Matt Higgins put it to Barista Magazine, “Our crew is built around folks who not only care deeply about coffee and the industry that surrounds it, but they also really want to invite others into it.”

The folks at Coava concern themselves with everything from sustainable farming practices to the perfect pour. They know the agricultural process behind the beans they use and travel to the regions they source from so the single-origin roast that is in your cup represents more than a morning tradition. They strive to make their coffee business a partnership with the farmers they source from to the baristas that ensure the final product reflects the high quality of the source. Coava is dedicated to cup by cup pour overs using a Chemex coffee maker and use the metal KONE filter, which they designed, to allow oils from the coffee to get into your cup instead of being soaked up by paper filtering. The result is a hard-earned, well-balanced flavor you can watch them craft.

Their coffee isn’t the only thing that will leave an impression. Once you have your cup, grab a barstool or a seat at a community-sized table and enjoy the warehouse style space they share with Bamboo Revolution. The open floor plan of the shared space is eye-catching with a sweet minimalist vibe and a nod to industrialism. The limited tables and chairs mean that there aren’t too many long-term loungers and that is part of what makes this place great – Get in, get your fix and be ready to seize the rest of the day. In the summer, the garage door style walls roll up and help make the SE located Coava feel fully integrated into the Portland cityscape.

With the great coffee, amazing space and friendly staff, you will come to know Coava Coffee Roasters as one of the top places in Portland to not only get a cup of outstanding coffee, but learn what high quality coffee sourcing and roasting is all about.

*All photos by the fantastic Kristine Ridley Weilert. Check her out here.

Location: 1300 SE Grand Ave. Portland, OR

Hours: Weekdays 6am – 6pm, Weekends 8am – 6pm

Phone: 503-894-8134

Website: http://coavacoffee.com/

Follow: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Posted in Articles, Destinations, Portland, Reviews

TWW Food and Nutrition Feed for Monday, June 17, 2013: Top 10 recovery foods (with recipes), your brain on coffee and beers in cans.

June 17th, 2013 | by Jeff Mohrmann0 Comments

Today’s post features some great news about caffeine; it may help slow down the onslaught of Alzheimer’s disease. The news got me thinking about what we, as consumers, are really doing when we pick up something at the store that we have been told is “heart healthy, antioxidant rich, whole grain!”. Health information on food labels has become more of a marketing pitch than an actual assessment of health benefits. My favorite example is the marketing that goes into cereals. As in Captain Crunch and Cocoa Puffs. The boxes tell mom and dad that a single serving of cereal (with milk) provides innumerable nutrients and vitamins that you shouldn’t even think about sending your kid off to school without a bowl of small chocolate spheres. But is that how we want kids to learn about proper nutrition? By learning how to assess food quality via marketing material? I hope not. I hope more kids will learn that the best way to assess food quality is by how fresh the fruit is or by knowing that beets are a great source of antioxidants. Not because the box tells them, but because we took the time to teach them.

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Posted in Daily Feed

TWW Fitness and Training Feed for Wednesday, June 12, 2013: your fitness monitor is wrong, ideas for racing well at high altitude and why recovery shouldn’t involve mitigating pain

June 12th, 2013 | by Jeff Mohrmann0 Comments

 Colorado is, sadly, on fire yet again, with yesterday seeing three major fires erupting along the State’s Front Range: the Royal Gorge Fire near Canon City, Colorado, the Big Meadow Fire in Rocky Mountain National Park and the Black Forest Fire north of Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Black Forest Fire has already taken numerous homes in a city which is still recovering from the Waldo Canyon Fire. Sadly, huge fire seasons seem to becoming more of a routine part of the summer instead of the rare and isolated events of the past. If you want to help with the relief efforts consider picking up a shirt from Wild Fire Tees. The designs are great and the proceeds go towards a relief fund for the Pikes Peak region. Show Colorado some love!

The Fitness and Training Feed

You are recovering wrong: Outside Online has a nice piece up looking at whether the usual methods of post workout recovery: Advil, ice baths, anti-oxidants, actually do more to inhibit performance gains than enhance recovery. The piece cites numerous studies that have all variously found that our typical post-workout routines reduce the body’s ability to adapt to the stress we inflict on it during training, therefore reducing training gains. The bottom line: stress on the body, and letting the body recovery naturally from that stress, is the goal. The science has been floating around out there for a while but the piece does a nice job of boiling it down to some key points: 1) allowing your body to recover naturally from training stress helps increase training gains 2) coming into a race enhanced recovery methods are probably okay (with the theory that you have already adapted to what you need to adapt to) and 3) weekend warriors probably don’t need ice baths and anti-gravity treadmills.

Methods for increasing your altitude adaptations: Come summer time in Colorado the recreation scene shifts from running and riding along well plowed roads to playing in the mountains that make the state an outdoor athlete’s fantasy gym. Along with the winter thaw comes the excruciatingly frustrating and also humbling re-acclimatization to high altitude. Mountain Might (I know, terrible name, but they post some interesting stuff) has a piece up looking at the training free divers undertake in order to expand their ability to hold their breath for longer periods of time underwater can be adapted by ground based athletes to increase their altitude tolerance. The piece is pretty nerdy/technical and focuses on a concept called hypoxic ventilatory response (HVR). HVR is basically how your body deals with lower oxygen supply. As it turns out, you can work on your HVR like you can work on your biceps. The techniques discussed in the piece involve a lot of holding your breath followed up by some hyperventilating. It doesn’t sound super fun  to practice, but it could beat feeling like a fish out of water when you hit 12,000 feet.

Basic training for high altitude racing: Runner’s World has a nice piece up looking at how you can train for high altitude races while living at sea level. It has kind of a “altitude for beginners” vibe to it, with ideas like trying to simulate the climbs in the course and making sure you fuel sufficiently. I think the most important suggestion the piece makes is getting to the race location early. There isn’t a substitute for being at high altitude when it comes to racing (ie: the breathing exercises described above aren’t going to do much if you aren’t used to being up high in the first place). Besides, who doesn’t want to spend extra time in the mountains?

Is your fitness monitor accurate?: Probably not. In a great piece on the NY Times Well Blog, Gretchen Reynolds discusses a couple of experiments designed to measure the accuracy of fitness monitors (think Nike+ Fuel Band, Fitbit, and Bodybugg). A fitness monitor is essentially a hyper advanced pedometer: they are designed to measure your daily activity and, using a variety of proprietary algorithms, produce a detailed breakdown of your energy output during the day. As it turns out, fitness monitors are great at capturing more strenuous activity involving arms, such as running or walking fast, instead of subtler movements like walking around the office or stationary cycling. The problem arises from a limitation in the ability of the devices’ censors to capture smaller movements. For people in which physical activity is simply a number to be reached, the limitation is problematic. Although it is somewhat diabolically awesome that the devices only really work when the activity is more strenuous. Can’t cheat by walking back and forth between the couch and kitchen people!

Posted in Daily Feed

TWW Feed for Friday, June 7, 2013: the Strava lawsuit, REI is changing how you return things and the top cities for park lovers

June 7th, 2013 | by Jeff Mohrmann0 Comments

A few weekends ago some friends and I headed up to Colorado’s Lost Creek Wilderness for our long run of the week. Covering almost 120,000 acres only 60 miles southwest of Denver, Lost Creek is home to some of the most stunning geological formations I’ve experienced in Colorado as well as some amazing running trails. The scenery and the running made for both an incredible and soul searing day. Sometimes, in the general euphora that surrounds a good training run, you can forget about the terrible lows that can come out of nowhere. Such was our day in Lost Creek; immense satisfaction with where we chose to spend the day combined with some harrowing moments of dejection and self-doubt. I could chalk it up to being overly tired, or dehydration, or too much effort too soon. But in the end, as we struggled up the last climb of the day, it came to this: sometimes we, as humans, burn out. It happens in relationships, at work, or just the daily grind of life. And it’s okay. It’s okay to hit that wall. Because we push past it. And it makes us stronger, and better. And resets the baseline for what we can take on in the future. Sometimes we need to hit that bottom, so we can figure out how to climb back out.

The Feed

Strava wins, frivolous lawsuits lose: On Monday, June 3 a San Francisco Superior Court judge granted Strava, Inc.’s motion for summary judgment in a civil suit brought by cyclist William Flint’s family against Strava. Flint died while attempting to regain his King of the Mountain designation on a descent in Berkeley, CA (a King of the Mountain, or KOM, is the award given to the fastest cyclist on a given “segment” that exists in the Strava database). A motion for summary judgment is an argument made directly to the judge in a civil case that states there is no basis for a legal claim because, under applicable law, the defendant hasn’t done anything wrong or that the plaintiff himself was responsible for the injury that forms the basis of the lawsuit. The judge agreed with Strava’s motion, finding that Flint’s “assumption of risk” as a cyclist essentially nullified the family’s claim against Strava. Or, in other words, when you do something risky and get injured or killed you can’t sue the entity that facilitated or provided a venue for the activity. This theory is the same one underlying the reason we can’t sue ski resorts every time someone blows out a knee. While certainly a tragedy, the case underlines the simple fact that engaging in high speed and high risk sports can have consequences, ones that we accept with the very choice to participate in the first place. Liability starts, and stops, with the users.

Dirt-bag climber bros are bummed: Because REI, well known as the gear store with the most generous return policy on the planet, is now tightening its belt and revamping its policies. In the past, a user could return an item purchased from REI for a replacement, store credit or cash, regardless of how old the product was. In one example cited by the Denver Post’s article on the change a climber tells the story of how his friends would pick up used REI gear at yard sales for from the trash and return it to REI for cash. REI is limiting their return policy to items purchased within the last year (except for items with manufacturing defects which can still be returned at any time). A good example of the age old saying: “One rotten dirt bag climber bro can ruin the whole bunch.”

The top cities for parks: The Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit dedicated to land conservation focusing on parks and other public spaces, released its 2013 ranking for the top cities based on the organizations ParkScore rating. The ParkScore ratings were based on three factors: the percentage of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park; the city’s median park size and percentage of total city area dedicated to parks; and the combined number of playgrounds per 10,000 city residents and per capita parks spending. (via the Denver Post). 

You can check out the full list here along with some fancy graphics of how the Trust came up with the scores. Colorado Springs and Denver are both in the top twenty, with Seattle, Portland, San Diego, Sacramento and San Francisco in the top ten. The worst city if you really love parks? Fresno.

 The ski season in Colorado is over for us. Boots and snowboards are packed away, the running and cycling clothes are in their place. This is our ode to the 2012/2013 season. Here is to next year.

Posted in Daily Feed

TWW Feed for Friday, May 24, 2013: The UCI is trying to control you, pictures to motivate and the existence of hot streaks.

May 24th, 2013 | by Jeff Mohrmann0 Comments


The Feed

Pictures to get you going: Outside Online has a great gallery of reader submitted photos for you to click through, exclaim their beauty and then get frustrated you are sitting in a chair in front of a computer instead of doing the exact same things that make the photos so cool.

The best (and worst) states for cyclists: A ranking shared by The Goat of the best places to live if you like riding a lot. As expected, states like Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Minnesota are near the top with states like Kentucky, Alabama and North Dakota at the bottom. I was surprised with a few of the rankings. For instance New Jersey, long thought of as possibly the worst state to drive through, is apparently very nice for riding bikes. While seemingly progressive New Mexico is near the bottom.

Unsanctioned races are bad (according to the UCI): There has been some controversy floating around the cycling and mountain biking worlds regarding UCI’s decision to start enforcing rule 1.2.019, which prevents UCI licensed athletes from participating in unsantioned events. I would assume the policy reason for this rule is to make sure that racers are participating in events that are properly insured and drug tested, but in reality it seems to target big name events that fall outside of the UCI’s fee system, such as The National Ultra Endurance Series, the Breck Epic and the Teva Mountain Games. Riders are, unsurprisingly, revolting and not being able to participate in big-purse races that can provide great exposure. Outside Online has a nice synopsis of the issues surrounding the potential enforcement of the rule, which is stated below:

1.2.019: No licence holder may participate in an event that has not been included on a national, continental or world calendar or that has not been recognised by a national federation,a continental confederation or the UCI. A national federation may grant special exceptions for races or particular events run in its own country.

Somewhat ironic that an organization that has essentially been accused of helping hide the rampant doping era of cycling is now cracking down on races that might not fit the appropriate guidelines.

The evidence for winning streaks: Most sport fans will expound on the existence of hot streaks; those moments in time when a team, a player or an athlete seems to hit shot after shot, win impossible games or dominate races for a period of time. Remember the video game NBA Jam? It enshrined the hot streak by giving the player who hit more than three shots in a row incredibly new jumping abilities and a flaming ball. As fans, we love the idea of the hot streak. But at a statistical level, the idea that a team or a player can go on a hot streak is not generally supported by the evidence. Past studies, particularly within the basketball realm, have shown there is no statistical correlation between a player making a shot and then making the next. But don’t fear sports fans. The NY Times Well blog has a nice piece up looking at some more recent studies showing that there may actually be such thing as a hot streak. 

You should watch this, because when it comes to being outside some people like to hike and some people like to skydive through rocks.

Posted in Daily Feed