Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Gear Review: Nike + Challenges

Okay, lost my mini but now discovered that I can add a challenge display, so I did that. My current challenge is to run 24 miles in 4 weeks. 2 runs a week at 3 miles each, completely doable.

Gear Review: Nike+

Hmmmm. Nike+ has changed their website and it appears that it is no longer possible to display the Mini on this blog. For now I'm removing it, but hopefully, it will come back. It's a great motivation for me to get out and exercise!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Book Review: The raw and the cooked : adventures of a roving gourmand / Jim Harrison


I just, once again, finished reading The raw and the cooked : adventures of a roving gourmand (New York : Grove Press, c2001) by Jim Harrison, who is probably my favorite author. I started reading him in the late 80's when I first began vacationing near Sleeping Dunes National Lakeshore, which is near his farm. He is a hunter, fisherman, drug user, and wine/food fanatic who makes it all sound so appealing! I could never imagine hunting, I can't (literally) eat fish, and even though I've tried some recreational drugs, only alcohol has stuck with me. He actually can make it sound appealing to shoot a bird, pluck it, and then cook it over a wood fire in the middle of nowhere. He also mixes in plenty of poetry and literature, most of which is way over my head, but it gives it more weight than the typical outdoorsman writing. I enjoy his fiction, some of his poetry, but mostly his nonfiction. All his books are highly recommended!

Training: June 2009

After this morning's run, with a rest day scheduled for tomorrow, I have 16 workouts in the 30 days of June, just over 50%. Not bad, better than in the past, but if I stick to my triathlon training plan, I should be closer to 86%. Something to strive for.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Book Review: Running For Mortals

Running For Mortals (2007, NY: Rodale Inc), by John "The Penguin" Bingham and Coach Jenny Hadfield (I kid you not, that's what it says on the cover), is a really good read and is chock full of inspiration and common sense. Their approach is more gentle and affirming than many other running books I have read. I took one piece of advice to heart yesterday and ran more slowly than I normally do and ended up running 4.5 miles rather than the 3 miles I more typically cover. This book is definitely recommended for the beginning runner, as well as any runner who needs some new inspiration.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Gear Review: Xtenex Laces

This morning's run was the first with Xtenex laces, which was a little strange at first, but not bad. With some adjusting, I think I'll really enjoy them. Plus, I'll shave .02 seconds off my T2 transition! Recommended.

Here's what it says on the website:

"Xtenex (indeXed-TENsioning-nEXus) is a worldwide patented elastic lace technology that produces adjustable tensioning between shoe eyelets. This technology addresses the source of footwear related pain and discomfort: lace migration. Lace migration is the gradual movement of the shoe lace toward the forward bend of a shoe, which causes two main problems: 1) Binding; a tightening and restricting pressure at the top of the shoe. This can lead to foot fatigue, pain, numbness and restriction of natural foot swelling. 2) It loosens the fit around the footwear’s metatarsal area, which causes increased slipping and reduction of forward foot stabilization. This can produce heat friction, which often leads to painful blisters."

I also tried the Yankz! system, which seemed too complicated and I returned them.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Training: Thinking Like an Athlete

As I continue to eat and drink too much, I realize that I am still not thinking like an athlete. To really progress, I need to do more than just be consistent in my exercise (not that I'm there yet). Along with regular exercise, I have to start paying attention to how much, what, and how often I eat and drink. I'm not sure if that is a conscious decision and mindset, or if it creeps up over time. I'm going to make it a task for me to work on that.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Training: Another lost Nike+ Run

Had a decent run this morning, rainy but not cold and fun to splash through the mud on the trail! When I got home and synced my IPod, the run just disappeared. That's frustrating and disappointing; I really covet a Garmin Forerunner 310XT, so I could track my cycling, swimming, and running and wouldn't be dependent on the not so reliable sensor and IPod.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Book Review: Joe Friel's Your First Triathlon

Joe Friel's Your First Triathlon (2006, Boulder, CO: Velo Press) is not a bad primer for the new triathlete, but I preferred TJ Murphy's book (see review). This is not a bad book, but it does feel dated and it doesn't have a good balance between the basics and the technical. The basics are almost too basic, while the technical is too wonky and hard to read. The training plan is chock full of stuff and options, most of which you have to look into the Appendix to figure out. Simpler is better and Friel does not make it simple, at least in his book. He is very passionate, however, and this book is still worthwhile; it just doesn't get you as excited as some other beginner triathlon books.

Training: First Swim

First swim this morning, at the Downers Grove South pool. Did 550 yards easy, stopping after each 25 yards to rest and ponder life. It was easier than I expected, so I'm hopeful that I can work up to 400 meters (the triathlon distance) without too much trouble. Swimming is the one sport where, when I finish, I feel good and then immediately my whole body wants a nap. Good workout.

Gear: Thrift-Store Find: Saris Cycle-Ops Mag trainer

This morning, at our local thrift store, I purchased a Saris Cycle-Ops Mag trainer for $15! It was my luck that they had no idea what it was worth ($179.99 retail).  I printed the manual off the Saris website and it looks like all the pieces are there. This will definitely make me less chagrined at sitting in front of the TV.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Training: Useful Effort

I had a good workout day, made easier by having things to get accomplished in conjuntion with the effort. This morning I dropped my car at the dealer and ran some 3 miles home. When the car was ready I biked about 5 miles to pick it up. This afternoon the parents scrimmaged my daughter's soccer team, so I got to run around with a bunch of kindergarteners. Fun stuff.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Book Review: Racing the Sunset

I'm in the midst of reading Scott Tinley's Racing the Sunset: An Athlete's Quest for Life After Sport (2003, Guilford, CT: Lyons Press) and I'm struggling with it. The feeling one gets is someone who just can't let go, who still needs the adoration, who doesn't know what to do with himself. It's really the point of the book, a meditation on his transition from superstar triathlete to "normal person." Well boo-hoo. Life is tough when you've made a lot of money and had everything you wanted for so many years. Rather than coming off as contemplative, the feeling is more feeling sorry for himself. I've read about half the book and it doesn't seem to have anything new to say, so I'm putting it down. Bummer.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Book Review: Swim, Bike, Run, Laugh

Dan Madson's Swim, Bike, Run, Laugh: A Lighthearted Look at the Serious Sport of Triathlon and the Ironman Experience (2005: Bloomington, IN: authorHouse) is a short book filled with funny anecdotes regarding the author's journey from know-nothing to Ironman competitor. His writing is very relatable to the average person (like me) who enters a bike store and has no idea what half the terms mean. He doesn't get into his training too much, instead focusing on the people he meets, their advice, and his experiences out on the course. Pleasant and a nice alternative to the more academic training-plan books out there. Recommended.

Book Review: Triathlete Magazine's Guide to Finishing Your First Triathlon

T.J. Murphy's Triathlete Magazine's Guide to Finishing Your First Triathlon (2008, NY: Skyhorse Publishing) was the ideal first book to pick up to plan for my first triathlon. It is all-inclusive, and really assumes that you are some poor schmo who has made a grea tdecision to rey triathlon and will actually succeed! Murphy is a proponent of the everyone is welcome, triathlon is one, big happy family camp and the book is the better for it. Though he makes it seem to make it too easy (follow this simple 12 or 18 week program and you will shine!), it did give me confidence that this experience would not be as bad as I could have imagined. I'm actually looking forward to it! Recommended.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Friday, June 5, 2009

Race: Triathlon in August?

One of the reasons I purchased my new bike (see earlier post) was to join my son (age 8) in training for a triathlon, perhaps a race at the end of August. I've been running consistently for a month, will add cycling to the repertoire, and now have to find a place to swim train. I'm excited, if only to interact with my son and buy cool new gear!

Gear Review: 2006 Look 555 First Ride

Monday, I purchased this Look 555 complete bike for an unbelievable price -- over half off of the total component price! This is by far the most expensive, light, and quality bike I have ever owned. Back in college, when my friend Joey and I rode from Huntington Beach to San Diego, he rode a Schwinn LeTour and I rode a Gitane something or other. Those bikes each weighed a ton, but they also got the job done.

This bike is set up with Campagnolo Record components, with wheels, rims, seatpost and aero bars all Bontrager. The whole thing can easily be picked up with one hand. I have some older Sidi road shoes that I use that clip into Look Keo clipless pedals.

This morning's ride was a blast! Except for the cold (who'd have thought that Chicago in June would ever be cold?), I thoroughly enjoyed the several miles I rode. This bike, maybe from being so light, is more squirrelly than others I have ridden and I got off track when I turned my head to check behind me. When I got onto the aero bars, I understood why people say to use them several times before riding in a group -- it is a very strange sensation!

Overall, I am very pleased with this bike. It will definitely add another facet to my training program.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Book Review: Born To Run

Chris McDougalls's Born To Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen (2009, NY: Knopf), was a real surprise. I expected to read a book about the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico and their legendary running prowess, but this book was so much more than that. It really is an exploration and introduction to the theory that people evolved to run for endurance, in order to hunt animals down by literally running them to death (persistence hunting). Theoretically, it would take 3 to 5 hours for this to occur, leading to our own current fascination of running the marathon (3-5 hours for most). It's fascinating stuff, especially the strange coincidences of sharing biological features with horses and cats, rather than chimps, which shows that our evolution was for running rather than walking. I especially enjoyed the digressions into barefoot running, which makes a lot of sense. As a race, humans have really coddled our feet and I think that people who argue against cushioned shoes probably are correct. I will be striving to work as much barefoot running into my training as I can and will be doing more research on the subject. All in all, a very good read and definitely recommended!

Running, Skiing, and Endurance Sports - Patagonia.com

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