Tag Archives: sustainability

Vote for Me! Vote for a Fit America!

I’m not running for President, but I have an agenda. One that the leading two candidates haven’t said a peep about, to my knowledge. This is an outrage. Why aren’t people talking about the issues that really count for something?

Unfortunately, I’m not sure any President would have the ability to implement the platform I describe below, despite its undoubted value. I’m thinking there would have to be a Supreme Overlord or the like to get it done. I humbly submit myself to take on this daunting task. I promise to be firm, yet benevolent.

I’m calling my campaign: “Make America Fit Again.”

uncle-sam-with-kettlebell

Here’s how I get this country into shape, physically, economically, and emotionally.

1. More “honest” calorie counts and fat/sugar totals on snack food packages. Oh, the makers of the scrumptious-looking muffins below may be telling the truth on the labels, but look closely – one muffin is two servings. Who eats half a muffin?

muffins

single-muffin-nutrition-information

2.  Corporate CEOs who enable unethical behavior to boost profits and rake in huge bonuses would be prosecuted and serve their time as stockers at Wal-Mart. Tote that cart! Lift that box! We’ll sweat out that sense of entitlement!

3 . Wide paved shoulders required on all paved roads, or a paved bike/multipurpose path alongside them. The streets should be safe for walkers, cyclists, and anyone else who prefers self-powered means of transportation.

4.  Mandatory martial arts or yoga & meditation classes for all school-age children, starting at age five. Imagine an entire generation with self-discipline, introspection, respect for everyone, and physical fitness. Who’d be left to start the wars?

aikido-youth-class

5.  When a politician says something untrue during a debate, speech, or public appearance, a whistle goes off and they have to do 30 burpees before they can continue.

They'd be the two fittest people on the planet!

They’d be the two fittest people on the planet!

6 . “Diets” would be outlawed. As would “fat burning” supplements and all so-called weight loss miracles. Waste of money at best, dangerous at worst.

7.  Recycling and composting services throughout the country. And a nationwide 25-cent deposit law for all glass and aluminum containers. Stop throwing perfectly recyclable soda and beer cans in the trash – or, for Pete’s sake, on the ground.

beer-cans-in-river-mysanantonio-blog

From the “My San Antonio” blog.

8.  Minimum environmental sustainability taxes for individuals and corporations. Clean air, water, and land benefits everyone, and is worth the cost. What kind of planet do you want to leave your grandkids?

And just to round things off, two morality rules to piss off liberals and conservatives alike:

9.  When two people meet for the first time in the day, the first words out of their mouths must be something kind about the other person. After that, they can fight. If they still want to.

10.  When someone identifies a race, society, or religion and says, “they are the problem,” he or she has to live among “them” for a year.

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Do you agree with my platform? Would it result in a fitter America? Let me know your thoughts. I may be seeking absolute power over everyone and everything, but that doesn’t mean I’m not open-minded. We can agree to disagree!

The only thing I haven’t worked out quite yet is how to become Supreme Overlord. I am a big fan of our Constitution, after all. I just wish more of our current politicians were, too.

Zero Waste: Adding 3 More “Rs” to Running

Some of my faithful readers know that I have a strong interest in sustainable practices. For those of you who didn’t – well, I have this strong interest in sustainable practices.

Reduce Reuse RecycleThat means, basically, that I support and encourage the three “Rs” of managing waste. I’m also firmly in favor of renewable energy sources and organic farming. This was once considered fringe, “hippie” stuff, but it’s rapidly becoming mainstream, and hopefully will be standard practice before long.

So I’m thrilled to tell you that this year I’m helping bring sustainable practices to another activity that I love – the world of running.

I run, pace, and/or volunteer at over twenty events every year, and it bothers me how much waste they generate and send to landfills. That includes a lot of recyclable cans, bottles, and cardboard, and food waste (banana peels, half-eaten muffins, etc.)  that could be composted.

Trash from a small event last year. All of it went to the landfill.

Trash from a small event last year. All of it went to the landfill.

I figured there had to be a better way, and in my research I came across the Council for Responsible Sport and their certification program that recognizes waste reduction and redirection.

Gazelle Girl 2015 - 3,000 runners, and this is all that went to the landfill.

Gazelle Girl 2015 – 3,000 runners, and this is all that went to the landfill.

After volunteering at an annual women’s race in Grand Rapids that applies the CRS standards to achieve nearly zero waste (read my 2015 post about that here), I knew I wanted to bring what they did to the Ann Arbor area. So I approached my favorite running events company, showed them what was possible, and made my pitch to help them do the same.

To what may be their everlasting regret, they accepted. And so RF Events “Team ZW” was formed.

Saturday's ZW crew - ready to rock that trash! Yours truly on far right.

Saturday’s ZW crew – ready to rock that trash! Yours truly on far right.

To get things going, we obtained a small grant from the Can’d Aid Foundation’s #CrushitCrusade, and used it to obtain training and waste disposal tents from ZeroHero, a company that specializes in sustainable waste management for events all over the country. We scheduled Trail Marathon Weekend, April 23-24, as our inaugural Zero Waste event. We recruited volunteers, deployed the tents, and hoped for the best.

Stylin' it on the trail!

Stylin’ it on the trail!

The results were better than I could have hoped for. Of the nearly 500 pounds of total waste we collected over the weekend, less than 50 went to the landfill. Everything else was recycled, composted, or will be sent to TerraCycle for “upcycling” into new plastic products. And we got several positive comments from the runners. “Those are the coolest tents EVER!” I heard one of them say. (Oh, wait, that was me. But I’m sure many other runners were thinking it.)

So if you’re going to a Running Fit race this year, look for the green shirts and the coolest tents ever, and know that we’re doing our best to make the sport we love better than ever!

Below are more ZW photos from Trail Marathon. Enjoy!

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Gearing Up – Ultras Ahead! And a Trashy Update

My first ultra of 2015 is just a week away, and it’s time to start putting things in order for the big day. Actually, the big weekend, as I’ll be doing the Running Fit Trail Marathon “No Wimps” challenge again – half marathon Saturday, 50K Sunday. No guarantees that I’ll jump into the lake again after finishing, but we’ll see.

"No Wimps, Baby!" - 2014

“No Wimps, Baby!” – 2014.

I’ve done the prep work; from now until race day it’s rest and maintain, backing off on distance just a tad and slowing the pace way down. Today, for example, I cut down my long run from 16 miles to 11, and ran easy the entire way. I’m also working in some bike rides, which keep the legs moving without overstressing the knees.

But the tricky part of ultras for me isn’t sore legs, but other factors that cause discomfort. It’s these things more than fatigue that put me at risk of not running as well as I hope to. So I will be making a couple of adjustments at the Trail Marathon. If all goes well I can carry them over to my Glacier Ridge 50 miler, and onto my next 100K attempt later this year.

Lubrication. Chafing is a big problem when I go past 50K, and was one of the things that contributed to my DNF at my 100K attempt last year. Let’s just say that no man wants to experience skin rubbed raw where mine was. Two mainstays of ultrarunners, Vaseline and Body Glide, don’t work well enough for me. Skip at Body Specs recommended Cramer’s Skin Lube, and I just ordered some. That plus compression shorts instead of regular shorts should help a lot.

There are times... (Source: http://www.nzdoctor.co.nz/in-print/2010/april-2010/21-april-2010/too-hot-to-handle.aspx)

There are times…
(Source: nzdoctor.co.nz)

Electrolytes. When I’m on the trail I sweat a lot. An awful lot. From learning the hard way I know I have to keep my salt level up. Until now I’ve been relying on salt-dipped potatoes at the aid stations, which work really well for me – but they don’t always have salt at every station. So salt tabs seem like a logical thing to bring along.

Stomach relief. So far I’ve been fortunate in that eating during an ultramarathon doesn’t bother me. But you never know. And this article explains why runners can get an upset stomach. So I will be packing a roll of antacids, just in case.

Followup: Race Trash and what’s being done about it

This is from the Berlin Marathon, but quite typical. (Source: Wikimedia Commons.)

This is from the Berlin Marathon, but quite typical. (Source: Wikimedia Commons.)

A couple of posts ago I talked about the amount of trash generated during a typical race, and the efforts made by some events to cut down on that waste. On Sunday I will be part of the “Green Team” at the Gazelle Girl half marathon in Grand Rapids – a race that last year produced one 6-lb. bag of trash. Everything else was recycled or composted. I’m going there to find out how they do this, and I’ll share what I learned with you next week.

And before I go, I want to give a big shout-out to the 21 PR Fitness runners who are going to toe the line at the Boston Marathon on Monday. Go get ’em, guys!

PR Fitness - Boston Marathon runners 2015

 

 

Water, Water (and Trash) Everywhere

The 2011 Chicago Marathon, my first-ever 26.2, was sweaty, painful, taxing to my physical and mental limits – and one of the best days of my life. So much was wonderful; the weather, the energy of the other runners, and the cheers of the crowds lining the course. Yet there is one disturbing image that sticks in my mind about that race:

Blue sponges.

Yep, just like this! Thanks to Marathon Pundit for this photo.

Yep, just like this! Thanks to Marathon Pundit for this photo.

Somewhere in the middle miles, an aid station handed out large blue sponges soaked in cold water. Oh, how fabulous, I thought as I took one and cooled off my steaming head. But then I looked ahead to a curb-to-curb sea of sponges on the road for at least 50 yards. Volunteers were trying to sweep them away, but the runners were too thick. So I gingerly ran through the mess, hoping I wouldn’t slip and get trampled by my fellow sponge-bearers.

At other aid stations it was empty water cups everywhere, although nothing quite like the sponge station. I’ve run enough races now to know this is pretty common, and that most are well-run enough to pick up after themselves. Even so, that’s a lot of cups, sponges, and other detritus that end up in a landfill.

This is from the Berlin Marathon, but quite typical. (Source: Wikimedia Commons.)

This is from the Berlin Marathon, but quite typical. (Source: Wikimedia Commons.)

Let’s look at just one resource critical to a race: potable water. There needs to be plenty of it, delivered quickly to runners in stride and to exhausted, dehydrated finishers. But it’s heavy and bulky, and needs to be at several locations along the course, along with its packaging and distribution materials. This means a lot of plastic, transportation costs, and manual labor – and a lot of trash.

Here, for example, are some numbers I found from the 2011 New York Marathon, with 47,000 runners and Lord knows how many volunteers, crews, and spectators. Just making water available during the race resulted in the following:

  • 237,200 free disposable plastic water bottles
  • 93,600 eight-ounce bottles of water
  • 2,300,000 paper cups

All of which contributed to the more than 100 tons of trash collected afterward, including six tons of paper and three tons of metal, glass and plastic. (See more interesting numbers from the marathon here.) It led Mother Jones to write an article entitled, “Are Marathons Bad for the Planet?

2012 Dexter-Ann Arbor half marathon: just one of the water stations.

2012 Dexter-Ann Arbor half marathon: just one of at least 7 water stations.

As the 2011 NYC marathon raised $33 million for charities and generated roughly $250 million for the city’s economy, I’d argue that it was a positive event overall. But it came at a substantial cost in setup and cleanup. Is it possible that those costs could have been reduced – substantially reduced, even – while maintaining the quality of the race experience?

The good news is that the answer appears to be yes. From simple “cup-free” races to internationally recognized “sustainability certification” some events are reducing their impact on the environment, and the associated costs, through innovative approaches and better management of existing methods. Here are just a couple of recent examples.

From Running USA:
Sonoma‘s Destination Races Strives For Zero Waste

ONOMA, Calif. – In July the Napa-to-Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon, presented by Newton Running and produced by Destination Races of Sonoma, achieved an impressive 96.98% landfill diversion rate…compostable products [replaced] all the water bottles, coffee cups, paper plates, napkins and plastic utensils that would typically be headed to the landfill.  This plan also resulted in a 62% reduction in greenhouse gases.
Read the full article here.

And this is from the website for the Two-Hearted Trail race in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula this June.
Environmental Measures

  1. Greenlayer, eco-tech shirts made from 100% recycled polyester.
  2. Each runner must carry a functional hydration system or a minimum 20oz water bottle. There are no cups at the aid stations.
  3. Food served after the event are either locally produced, organically grown, or both.
  4. Medallions and glasswork awards are made by Michigan artists.
  5. Food waste is composted and all other materials are recycled.
  6. Course is marked with reusable flags that are removed after the event.

And while this 2009 festival in New Zealand was not a race, it shows what a day-long event with 25,000 attendees can achieve in waste reduction. Highlights include 5,200kg of materials recycled or composted vs. only 550kg to landfill, an 86% reduction in their greenhouse gas emissions, and eliminating the need to landfill contaminated recyclables – a reduction 640kg of waste over the previous year.

Next up: an organization that has created a multi-level certification program for recognizing races that reduce waste, conserve resources, and promote local businesses. It seems to be catching on. Stay tuned!