The Hot Chocolate 5k, Training, and the New Math

It is absolutely amazing what you can accomplish in one year.  A year ago, my wife completed her very first 5k at the Hot Chocolate 5k.  I remember her saying towards the end of that race how she just wanted it to be over.  Well, we lined up again for the Hot Chocolate 5k one year later, and she has accomplished an amazing amount that anyone would be proud of.  In one year she ran a 5k, a 10k, a 10 mile run, a half marathon, a couple sprint triathlons, and an Olympic distance triathlon!  So it was a coming home of sorts, as we toed the line for the start of the race.

The race went well, even though we accidently started off with the 5-mile group.  The race was relatively flat and fast, and I was able to finish in 25:39.  Julie finished only a couple minutes behind me, and we met up and went to get our printout of the times.  Julie came in 5th in her age group!  This from a person who wanted to only finish just a year ago.  I looked at my slip, and asked if it was correct… I finished 2nd in my age group!  That was quite a surprise.  Here are a few photos of the event.

The other day I needed to run for 1:15 and to control my heart rate and keep it under my maximum aerobic level.  So I went to Gray’s Lake, where the path is nice with a 2-mile loop.  I have ran many miles around that lake and made many memories there.  I even posted that on my Facebook page, saying I was about to make some more memories, before starting my run.  I was surprised how right I was.  As I started out, there was an event where walkers were looping the lake.  As I got closer, there was the gingerbread man waving at the walkers.  It’s not every day that you see this, so I stopped and asked for a photo.

More happy memories made while running around Gray’s Lake.

The other day my coach had swim drills on my schedule. The calendar said 1700 yards of speed work.  I printed out my workout and headed for the pool.  I was about halfway through the workout when I looked at the distance on my Garmin 920XT.  Something wasn’t right: I was at 1000 yards already!  I counted the drills that I had completed, and it totaled 1000 yards.

So, I continued the drills, and I finished with 2200 yards.  I totaled up the entire workout, and it was 2200 yards.  So somehow the calendar was askew with the schedule, or it’s the new math.  Either way, I got a great swim in.

The training continues.  It’s amazing what the body can do.  I was frustrated the other day because I didn’t hit the marks on the bike that I was supposed to.  Then I started looking at the workouts for the past month, and that turned my mood around.  I run, I bike, I swim, and at times I do all three in the same day.  How can you be frustrated with that?  Today I swam over a mile, dried off and changed clothes, and got on a spin bike for over an hour.  I am blessed and amazed at what I have been able to do in five years.  You can do it too.  It just takes a goal, determination, a plan, and the desire to pursure that goal.

Live healthy, be happy.


How Do You Find the Time??

This question was asked of me the other day, “How do you find the time?”  They were referring to my exercise and training schedule.  It’s a valid question, and one that I answered quickly.  I replied “If it’s important to you, you’ll find the time to do it.”  That is true, as we find time to relax, inndulge in hobbies, go out with friends and family, if exercise is important to you, you will find the time.

The issue I am running into is finding enough time to do all the training I want.  I am not a paid athlete, so I have to have a job to pay bills, pay for insurance, and buy training equipment.  Training with my wife is a blessing, as she understands the need for working out, and we get to spend time together.  But with a house to maintain (or try to), three dogs, friends and family, you start feeling the pressure of trying to squeeze in everything, and you have to start getting creative in order to keep up the pace that you want.

I am currently training for my first Olympic distance triathlon and my third marathon.  I am heading into the long run portions of marathon training, and just last weekend I needed to complete a long run of 14 miles.  I mentor runners on Saturday mornings (which I love), and on Sunday we do a swim/bike/run brick.  So how do I fit a long run in with whats going on already?  It was pretty simple: get up early Saturday morning, run 8 miles to Fleet Feet Sports where the mentoring group meets up, stay loose and refuel and run 6 miles with the group!  As the miles increase however, that is goinng to get harder and harder to do.  But for right now it’s working.

We are also training on the swim portion of the triathlon without wetsuits from time to time, just in case the race is not wetsuit legal (due to the water temperature, according to USAT rules).  We are working on staying calm and just swimming, working on form and distance.  In fact, that is today’s workout since I have a day off from work.  I am taking my bike in for a tune up, and then hitting the lake.  When my wife gets off work, we may swim a second time.  

It amazes me and impresses me when I think of all those people that have completed a 70.3 Ironman or a 140.6 Ironman, thinking about how they found the time for all that training, and still tried to lead normal lives.  Hours in the pool, on the bike, running the streets, and still maintain a job and a family.  Where do they find the time??

They just do.  If it’s important to you, you’ll find the time.

It’s that time now.  Time to hit the lake.

 Live healthy, be happy!


The Ultimate Race to Give

The other day while reading Facebook posts, my friend Eric McGarrah sent me a message about applying for the Ultimate Race to Give, sponsored by BMW of Des Moines and Zoom Performance. What it listed seemed almost too good to be true. If selected, you receive training from a world-class triathlon coach from Zoom Performance, a open-water swim clinic, a transition clinic, running assessment, gear to wear at the event from BMW of Des Moines, paid entry in the Des Moines Triathlon, and a membership in the Des Moines Tri Club (I’m already a member!). You even get the use of a BMW for a weekend! Doesn’t that sound amazing??

Then there’s the “catch”. For my part, other than training is that I have to raise $1000 for the charity of my choice. Wait, what?? I get to choose what charity I raise money for?? That’s incredible! There was no thinking it over, I sent in my request to be considered right away! That evening, I told my wife about entering and she entered too! We laughed on how cute would it be if we both got accepted, then we discussed the charities that we wanted to work for. I chose the Animal Lifeline, a special needs no-kill shelter in Des Moines that Julie and I have donated to for years. We even adopted our Great Dane Murphy from the Animal Lifeline (Maverick the Weimaraner and Max the miniature Dachshund were adopted from the Animal Rescue League of Iowa). Julie selected the Heinz 57 Pet Rescue. So, now that we selected a charity, all we had to do was wait.

It wasn’t long before we received an email asking us to fill out a questionnaire. It asked your athletic accomplishments, who you wanted to raise money for, why did you pick that charity, was I on social media, how would I raise money for my charity, etc. It was rather short, and I was surprised that it didn’t ask a lot more questions. So we both answered the questionnaire and sent it in.  

A few days later, I got the news. I got selected!! I was so pumped, I emailed back thanking them and wanted to know if I could start the fundraising right away. Then I called my wife and told her to check her email…she didn’t get a letter. I told her to look again, and look for the name Cameron Denucce. She said she would look again, but had to get back to work. My heart sunk. I was hoping we could train together.

When she came home, I greeted Julie at the door with “Did you check again?” The look on her face gave it away…she got accepted!! She missed it the first time. We would be training together for a triathlon. I knew I wanted to do the Olympic distance, but what did Julie want to do? Her answer surprised and impressed me: she wanted to train for Olympic distance as well.

This past Friday, BMW of Des Moines invited us to a kickoff celebration. Unfortunately, Julie had to work, but I went and met Cameron and Craig from BMW, Matt and the coaches from Zoom Performance, and the rest of the team that I would be training with. They selected 8 people, and Craig said that they wished that they could have chosen more, but that they were impressed with our accomplishments and our charities that we selected. When Craig said “accomplishments”, it got me wondering. I’ve always set goals: run a half marathon, run a full marathon, run 1000 miles in a year (originally 750, but I had passed that mark before the year was out), things like that. Then it’s on to the next goal. I guess I never really looked at them as an athletic resume of sorts. Then Cameron asked all the athletes to gather for a group photo. I just stood there until Craig said “You better get in there”. They were referring to me?? I never considered myself an athlete, just someone who works out. We gathered for photos, and then a team meeting. It was exciting. 

Before we left, Cameron gave us these awesome BMW gym bags to store our gear in. It can also serve as a huge backpack! It has more pockets than I know what to do with! We also got our entry into the Des Moines Triathlon, and details on the use of the BMW for the weekend. Before you knew it, it was time to head home, but we were told that training started on Monday. I couldn’t wait!

Now, let me tell you a little about the Animal Lifeline of Iowa. One Christmas Eve, we stopped at the Animal Lifeline to drop off food for the dogs and cats. The volunteers asked if we wanted to see the puppies and kitties, and of course we did. There was a blind Bassett Hound that had great hearing and an even better sense of smell, especially when a treat was near! He was scheduled to be adopted, so that was good.

Then we were told that we had to be quiet when entering the next room, as this dog was hit by a car and had pins in her hip. They didn’t want to get her too excited. I imagined a poor dog laying in a cage, all alone and in pain, but what I saw shocked me. There was the poor dog, laying with pins holding her broken hip and leg together, gently wagging her tail. The reason why she was wagging her tail? Because a volunteer was sitting in the kennel next to her reading to her! We found out later that they took shifts staying with her until she was healed. That meant all through Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Years Day that dog was never alone. She was loved and cared for like never before (she was later adopted).

I have a donation page at Here is the link:

It is listed under “Ultimate Race to Give”. Please consider a donation to help the Animal Lifeline continue to care for pets until they are adopted. If they are not adopted, they live out their lives at the Lifeline, never at risk of being euthanized because of time of space constraints. You can read more about the Animal Lifeline of Iowa on their website:

Thank you!

Here is a picture of the awesome athletic bag that BMW of Des Moines gave each of us!

Live healthy, be happy!


A New Way To Ride

I had last Friday off from work, and since I had some spare time I thought it would be a good idea to get a brick workout in (two different workouts back-to-back). I decided on a 35 mile bike ride and then a run. The ride went well, averaging over 17 mph, but some soreness in my left ankle limited me to a 3 mile run. It felt fine the next day, when I had two runs totaling over 7 miles.

But this blog post focuses on the bike ride, or should I say what went with me on the ride. I attached a GoPro camera to my bike helmet, and the following video is the result. You can get an idea of the area and how beautiful it is to ride in Iowa! So let me know what you think of the video, since it is my first attempt at it.  See if you can spot the following:

  • A dog running full speed
  • Marines doing a timed run
  • A wild turkey crossing the road
  • How many golfers are teeing up


Live healthy, be happy!


iCan Marathon Training 2015

Applications are now being accepted for the 2015 iCan Marathon Training Group.  Have you run at least a 10k race without walking, and dreamed of running a full 26.2 mile marathon? Well now is your chance. The iCan team will give you the tools you need to succeed in a athletic feat that only a small percentage of the population can claim they have achieved.  

You will get a training program for daily runs, including cross-training and rest days.  You will get assistance from Coach Loran Storts and a group of mentors who have been exactly where you are now. You will join in on weekly group long runs up until the big day.

But wait!  There’s more!  Did I mention the cost of all this training and mentoring?  How much would you pay for a package like this??  The cost is an astoundingly affordable … free!!!  

So, if you live in the Des Moines, Iowa area, or know someone who does, please send them this link:

I will be one of the mentors in the group, and I look forward to seeing you cross the finish line of your 1st marathon, and be able to say “I Can!”

Live healthy, be happy!


Hot Chocolate 5k

The Hot Chocolate 5k was Sunday, and while it would have been a normal race with the exception for the chilly temperatures and the wind, there was something remarkable about this particular event. It was the first 5k race for my wife Julie! She has been training, and while running is somewhat hard on her due to back pain, she has pushed on and been running three miles with me in our neighborhood.

A couple of weeks before the 5k, my friend Stephanie texted me and asked if I wanted to do the event with her. I jumped at the chance, as Stephanie and I have logged in many miles together and I consider her a mentor as well as a dear friend. I failed to mention to Stephanie that my wife was running, and after our conversation I asked Julie if she wanted to run with us. I was excited when she said “yes”. We decided to surprise Stephanie and kept Julie’s running a well guarded secret until we were to meet up with Stephanie on race day.

We agreed on a meeting spot before the race, and when we arrived I asked Julie to hang back a little in hopes that Stephanie would not see her right away. That didn’t work, as Stephanie spotted her right away. Then she noticed Julie was wearing a bib number! The surprise on Stephanie’s face was priceless. She hugged us both and after chatting for a bit with Stephanie’s husband Paul, and our friend Justin who was running the 5 mile event, we lined up and got ready to run.

The race went well, and Julie stayed consistent throughout the run, finishing with a time of 38:50! She stopped only to sneeze because of the cold, and to grab a water, and pressed on. To say I am proud of her is an understatement. It took a lot of courage to train with a bad back, yet she did and she succeeded! I hope that she joins me in other runs in the future.

Julie and I crossing the finish line together at her first 5k.


Stephanie, Julie, and I at the Hot Chocolate 5k.

Thank you Paul for making us all breakfast after the run! What a great Sunday!

Live healthy, be happy!


It’s Cold Outside . . . let’s Run!

I need to update a little before I get into todays run: the bursitis in my left hip flared up again during our 18 mile run last weekend (actually it make me stop running at mile 13 and walk the last five). It was so bad that I actually went to the doctor Monday morning. After a couple of X-rays, he gave me some meds, an injection into the bursa sac, and told me to rest for 3-4 days.

I made it the entire four days without completely losing my mind of killing someone (although it was close a couple of times). I wanted to try a short run Friday, but the weather and work didn’t allow for it so I waited until this morning (Saturday) to try out the hip on a 12 mile run.

It was windy, cold, and dark as the members of the iCan Running Group gathered at Gray’s Lake. When we got started, it was 36 degrees, with winds gusting from almost every direction imaginable. Before we took off, Coach Loran said that we have all got the tough miles in, and with three weeks left there is nothing that can be done that will alter our marathon. Coach said that due to the weather, we should aim for 6-8 miles and that would be good enough. Hearing that made me happy, because even though I like the long runs, I wanted to test this hip out. So we stretched, and off we went!

Cold and windy, with lots of wind gusts, that’s what greeted us running across the bridge and almost everywhere we went. I was glad I wore layers and gloves, although I hate having to put them on so early. When I got back to the start, I had 7 miles in. The hip felt pretty good, with only slight discomfort. I’m hoping that by race day it will be 100%.

Running in winter in Iowa can be quite a challenge, especially when the temperatures swing drastically up or down. There’s ice and snow to maneuver around, adding to the challenge. There are ways to get a nice outdoor run in during the winter months, and here are some of the things I do to prepare for winter running:

1. Thermal running pants or tights: These pants will keep your legs warm on some very cold days. I have several pair, each one made for a different temperature.

2. Thermal running socks: I have the knee high thermal socks and they go under the tights to give an extra layer.

3. Layers: I wear an under-shirt and over-shirt with the under-shirt tucked into the tights to keep out drafts and wind. The over-shirt is long sleeved and usually a dry-fit type shirt. Then a hoodie, sweatshirt, or running jacket goes over that.

4. Gloves: Your hands need protection too! They make running gloves where the fingertips are a special material, so you can operate your iPhone.

5. Mask: On really cold days, I wear a running mask. It does tend to cause my sunglasses to fog up, but at least my head stays warm. I just have to remember to take it off BEFORE entering a convenience store.

6. Tracks or cleats: They make tracks for your shoes to help running on snow and ice. While I haven’t needed them yet, the time is coming.

Now that you’re all bundled up, it’s time to run in the frozen tundra! I hope this helps you with outdoor running in winter.



Live healthy, be happy!


The 20 Mile Run

Today I mapped out a twenty mile route to run. The marathon is a little over a month away, and I would like to get at least two 20 milers in before the big day. But after last weeks miserable 15 miler, part of which I walked, I was worried about not finishing this run as well.

The weather was with me today; nice and cool and low humidity. It was much nicer than is was a week ago when I felt drained and worn out. I started out before the sun rise, and the quiet streets allowed me to focus on my running, my gait, and my breathing.

Before too long, I was at the 13 mile marker. It was hard to believe what a difference a little weather was making. Although my body started to tire and get sore, I was able to continue and finish the run. It felt great to see my Garmin click over to the 20 mile mark! I needed a run like this, after such a defeating week of running in the heat.

Some people have been asking about hydration during a run, asking why they are getting chills after a run. I always run with water, and although each person is different, I start drinking water at about three miles. You have to keep the body hydrated, or you run the risk of not only dehydration, but heat exhaustion and other ailments.

Anther question was about fueling (eating) during a run. Typically the body has enough carbs to make a 13 mile run. Anything other than that, and you need something to refuel the body. I use Honey Stinger chews, and I usually eat about half a pack (5) every 3-4 miles after I get 10+ miles in. Today I didn’t need to refuel until mile 13, but you need to listen to your body and not wait until the body is completely drained before refueling.

Someone told me to take an old photo and post it next to a current photo so I could see the difference all this exercise was making. I always see the flaws, but even I have to admit I was surprised with the results so far:



Live healthy, be happy!


Heat, Humidity, Dew Point and the 15 Mile Run

It has been hot in Iowa lately. It seems summer has finally made an appearance in the midwest, and for runners it has been a harsh reminder to pay attention to the elements.

Kara, Doug, and I met at Raccoon River Park to get our weekend long run in. We were planning on 18 miles, and at the start everything seemed right with the world. Clear skies, calm winds, and at 7:30 am the temps were great. Raccoon River Park is a nice 3 mile loop around a lake, with a partially paved path turning into packed dirt and crushed gravel. There are some open areas, some nicely shaded areas, and a beautiful view of the lake at almost every step.

We took off and our first three-mile loop was rather easy. We stopped for a quick restroom break, and headed out for the second loop. As we ran we noticed that with the suns rising, the humidity was increasing. It started to get uncomfortable quickly, but we forged ahead and got another 6 miles in before needing to stop for more water. With no wind, it started to feel like a sauna, yet me decided to go on. At mile 12, I told Kara and Doug to go on ahead, as I needed to walk a bit. I did a walk/run pattern until I was close to 15 miles.

That’s when Kara, who was way ahead of me, texted saying that she was stopping at 15 miles. It was too humid to continue on. I texted back saying that I would be at our starting point in a few minutes.

While it was frustrating to not get the 18 miles in, I have to remember that heat, humidity, and dew point affect runs as much as snow, sleet, and bitter cold do. We have been lucky as midwestern runners with a mild summer and almost perfect running conditions. But, as today proved, we need to understand what effects weather has on our performance.

Here is a chart from that shows how the dew point affects a runner, and when we should call it a day.


While we were in the ‘uncomfortable for most people’ zone, it was good that we listened to our bodies and didn’t push it. Tomorrow is another day, and we have another 6 weeks until we taper for the marathon. I think all three of us were glad to get out of the heat.

Please remember to stay hydrated, and to listen to your body.

Live healthy, be happy!


Long Training Runs

Saturday morning’s run was to be a long training run. After a rough week, one where I only got two runs in of three miles, I was concerned that this run was going to end in failure. I didn’t know if I had the endurance to go past eight miles, even though I ran a half marathon in May. It’s funny how your doubts let you believe that you’ve lost everything you have built up.

After chatting with the iCan Running group and doing our stretches, we took off. My dear friend Kara and I were leading the pack, as most of the group was running slower due to the humidity. Kara and I just saw it as another hurdle to get over, to learn to deal with and push through it.

We chatted and laughed, which is all too common on our runs together. It’s our way of catching up with each other and making the most of this beautiful moment in time. There we were, in the early morning, two best friends enjoy a run and the beauty of the trails we were on. You really can’t ask for much more!

At one point we turned to see where the other runners were. Much to our surprise, they were nowhere to be seen. I knew we were running faster than they were, but I didn’t think we were that fast. We resumed our run and Kara said “Thank you for running with me, it would suck to run this far alone.” I thanked her too, and thought about how much easier the long runs are when you are with someone.

Most days, I run alone. It’s my Zen time, a chance to get away from everything and everyone, to clear my head and regroup. But, I love running with Kara and Stephanie, and the other runners in our group as well. Those are times to learn and teach, to help and to receive help.

But there is something magical when you have one or two running partners that know you so well, that are your closest of friends, that will always be there for you. These bonds develop over time, and countless miles covered together. And somewhere down the road you realize how special that is. Your pace is the same, you know when they will move a certain way, you look for the same things (we saw a deer watching us today). It becomes instinctive.

I would recommend to anyone starting out in running, especially distance running, to find a buddy to run with. Work together to assist one another in achieving each other’s goals, hold each other accountable when it comes to training, and hopefully you too can feel the magic of having a very special training partner.

We ended our run at 13.8 miles, and a total time of 2:22:31. It was hard to believe that I was worried about going eight miles. Kara sent me a note later saying “Thanks for the run. Just like old times.” Yes it was, and I hope the beginning of many more runs that are “just like old times.”