Thursday, September 30, 2010

Zensah Compression Socks Product Review

(Images above and below taken from Zensah website)

Recently, Suzanne of Zensah sent me a pair of their compression socks to try out. I'm a big believer in compression technology, and, placebo effect or not, I have had no (zero, zilch, nada, knock on wood) lower leg issues since I started using them for every run, some rides, and occasionally for recovery.

Based on the Italian word "SENZA" meaning to be "without," so too should athletes be "without limits," Zensah is a company whose products are made in the USA and Italy and their sales and marketing  offices are in Miami. Zensah Fabric is thermal-regulating, moisture wicking and ultra breathable. Zensah socks are made with seamless technology which allows for physiological patterns resulting in the following benefits:
  • Increased oxygen blood flow to the lower legs;
  • Only compression socks to incorporate arch support;
  • Silver ions reduce bacteria growth & Takes Away the Stink;
  • Decreased recovery time; and
  • Reduction of edema when travelling.


I really like to wear calf sleeves as well and, as you can see from the above picture, Zensah has a color to match anyone's taste. I wanted a pair of argyle socks, but (my only true complaint), the XL socks come only in sand + white. The funny thing is that, unlike most running products, the Zensah socks actually run a little large, so I probably could have requested the argyle in Large. As with most (all?) compression socks, the feet felt quite toasty in these, which will be a boon for anyone training in a wintry setting. Anyone who will train or race in compression technology is advised to get the calf sleeves instead.

If you are not using compression technology, but are thinking of taking the plunge, Zensah is definitely a company to look into. Comparatively reasonably priced, cool colors and amazing comfort, plus extremely high quality! Recommended.

(Disclaimer: I was sent this product for free to review on my blog - courtesy of Zensah. I did not pay for the item, receive payment for this review, or agree to give it a positive review. Aside from information gleaned from the company website, the opinions are my own.)

Have a product you'd like reviewed? Contact me at lakotega@yahoo.com.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

ExperienceTriathlon Coaching Services, Naperville, IL


pas·sion·ate (adj \ˈpa-sh(ə-)nət\)
a : capable of, affected by, or expressing intense feeling;
b : enthusiastic, ardent

Several weeks ago, I sat down with Joe LoPresto, founder and head coach of ExperienceTriathlon Coaching Services. Joe, a former executive at Big Blue, IBM, took an early retirement to follow his dream of starting a coaching business. The dictionary definition above is my lasting impression of Joe and his commitment to working with athletes in order that they not only succeed in their performance objectives, but enjoy the process along the way. Along with IBM, Joe brings in experience working with the Boy Scouts, is a level II USA Triathlon Certified Coach, is an Ambassador for lululemon athletica and has completed numerous endurance events, including IronMan Wisconsin (just don't call it IMoo!).

EXPERIENCETriathlon offers both personal and group coaching services. They offer ongoing training programs designed with experience level, personal goals, and daily time constraints in mind. Regardless of what level one is competing at now, if committed to getting to the next level, they can help you get there. They also specialize in bringing new athletes into triathlon and can teach you how to swim, bike and run safely and complete your first event.

I've personally benefited from working with ExperienceTriathlon, through a Master's swim program and by competing in an indoor triathlon, as well as having my son Teo attend a youth triathlon clinic. Joe and the entire staff, as well as the volunteers of their extended multisport family are clearly committed to being a member of the community in the western suburbs.

I've never used a coach and don't really plan on doing so anytime soon. Would it save me time and prevent me from making some colossal blunders? Absolutely yes, but to me, part of the allure of the endurance sports world is figuring it out on my own. So, while I might participate in a group session or benefit from someone putting on a race, the training and nutrition are my own. That's not to say that most (normal) people wouldn't benefit from personal coaching and shouldn't follow that path. Joe is quite eloquent on the benefits of coaching:
  • Instruction on the basic principles of training
  • A structured program that will keep you motivated and working toward your goals
  • Additional variety in your training
  • Advice on workouts and racing from an experienced multisport athlete
  • Higher goals and a plan to reach them
  • Advice on the right equipment and the best places to purchase it
  • Overtraining prevention
  • Reduction of injury risk and improved odds of getting to the starting line healthy
  • Continuous feedback on your workout and race performances
  • A focus on having fun with training instead of workout planning.
  • Access to other training partners and groups of your ability level.
  • A sounding board for ideas
So if you are interested in personal coaching, I would suggest contacting Coach Joe. While preferring to work hands-on with clients, ExperienceTriathlon is quite capable of creating a training plan that fits your needs and budget anywhere in the world. This won't be a cookie cutter plan like you can buy off so many sites on the Internet, but a thoughtful and practical plan to move you forward until you reach your goals.

I really enjoyed sitting down with Coach Joe, hearing about his journey, his personal and professional efforts in the multisport world, and especially the intensity with which he believes in what he is doing. He's a person well-worth knowing, both in a professional and personal manner.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Midwest Trails: Sag Valley Trails, Palos Park, IL


This was quite the weekend for running trails. Saturday I ran the Sag Valley Trails, while Sunday Teo and I continued our Trail Running Project by visiting Hidden Lake Forest Preserve (see post here). It was a beautiful morning for a run, cool but not cold and, while I started out with a long sleeve shirt, the sleeves were soon pushed up.

The Sag Valley Trails are located in Palos Park to the south and west of Chicago. Compared to the Palos run I recently posted about, the main trail is 100% crushed gravel, reminiscent in feeling to a rails-to-trails conversion, as seen in the photo below.


However, unlike a rails-to-trails conversion, there were many twists and turns to the trails and the terrain is non-stop undulation, with the trail usually ascending or descending. Even though I carried a map and referred to it several times, I missed a turn and ended up running the yellow path (see map above) in a figure-8 pattern, rather than as a straight loop. This added approximately a mile to my effort.


The main trail is a loop, with multiple connectors and side trails to shorten or lengthen the run. When I say that the terrain is undulating, I mean there are hills. Anyone who claims they can't find hills to train on should head over and complete this loop. Below see a typical hill from the yellow path. There were probably a dozen of these hills in the loop.


One of the hills here (centered in the trail system), was used for many years as the Swallow Cliffs Toboggan Run. "The six parallel toboggan runs at Swallow Cliff in Palos Township, known to many fans as "Terror Hill," are yesterday's Great America. Ask anyone about them, and if they've not been, they've heard of them. If they've been down the chutes, you'll see a look like they're falling down them all over again, an excitement mixed with disbelief that they ever had the courage to ascend the nearly 130 limestone steps, climb onto the wooden toboggan, watch the starter lift the gate and immediately plummet almost 100 feet, sliding a total of about 1,100 feet." As I ran by on Sunday, people were still using the steps to get in a hill workout.


In kind of a neat bit of serendipity, my wife and I purchased one of the retired toboggans from the Park District via Ebay. Not sure if we'll ever actually use it, but we are happy to have a piece of the Forest Preserve District to safeguard.
Feet hot, muscles aching after the run? Or just  need a break? The Sag Valley Trails pass over several beautiful streams that offer a cooling and soothing place to soak.


As seen from the photo of the old toboggan hill, Sag Valley is a popular destination for runners, walkers, cyclists, and equestrians. On Sunday there were at least two high school cross country teams training there. This is definitely a more urban (relatively speaking) experience compared to Palos. On one section the trail parallels Route 83 and the noise from the traffic is quite loud and constant. The drawback is that it's not a bucolic forest trail run, but on the days you might need to see another face or, heaven forbid, have an accident of some sort, civilization is nearby.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Trail Running Project: Hidden Lake Forest Preserve

Singletrack trails are not shown on map, but exist in green-gray area in upper right

Hidden Lake Forest Preserve, Downers Grove, IL, is located next door to the Morton Arboretum (in Lisle,IL). The main path that encircles two of the park's lakes, is a crushed limestone trail, flat and, while attractive, nothing to write home about. Step off that path however and a different world awaits you.

Main trail, which appears as line in upper right of map above
Running along a grassy path and over a hill, it is possible to enter the wooded section located in the Northeast corner of the preserve. This area is bisected by the main gravel and path seen above. Radiating  off that main path are innumerable loops and side trails, none marked and sometimes hard to follow. It is an ideal place to get lost, as it is bordered on one side by the Arboretum (fence), another by the main preserve path and lake, one by Butterfield Road, and the last by a corporate office park. No matter how lost, eventually you pop out at one of these borders and can reorient yourself.

Sunday, Tzaer and I continued our Trail Running Project by visiting this to complete our second trail run. It has been awhile since I'd run here and was amazed at how much the paths had been overgrown, with trails blocked by fallen trees. Happily, Teo and I both wore sweats, due to the cooler temps, but now useful as burr collectors and a protective skin.

Round Meadow Lake, not Hidden Lake. Hidden Lake is, well, hidden.
We charged along blithely, jumping over logs, ducking under branches, and generally enjoying our romp in the woods. The trails here are quite diverse, with only rock or stone not being represented. Otherwise grass, dirt, gravel, stone, and roots all make their presence known.


Of course we got lost and, no matter how many times it has happened to me before, there is still the slight panic. Running into the back of an office building gave us a general idea of where we were, so we headed west, back towards the car and safety. Even though I've run here many times before, the overgrown trails and newly fallen trees made me doubt myself and it took several attempts to find the correct side trail leading out.



What Tazer had to say:

Today’s run was pretty good. We ran for 29 minutes and 31 seconds. And then we got lost. But it was still something I would recommend doing. During our run I felt almost like an ant since every thing was over my head. I guess we ran about 2 or 3 miles, not including the walking. Today was a just about perfect running day. Trail running is something that will help you a lot because it works your balance muscles, because you trip a lot and you have to rebalance yourself. Trail running is a well balanced workout for everyone.


Kind of an interesting sidebar. The statues above stand outside the Chicago Board of Trade building in downtown Chicago. I walk by them each day to and from the train. Here's what the plaque between them says (in part):

These two statues one symbolizing agriculture and the other industry once stood at the main entrance of the Board of Trade Building built in 1885. The statues greeted commodity traders and the public for 45 years. Thought lost forever when the buildings were demolished in 1929 to make way for the exchange's current Art Deco structure in 2005, the statues were graciously returned to their origins through the generosity and goodwill of DuPage County Forest Preserve District. These statues were uncovered from the Hidden Lake Forest Preserve.

FuelBelt Helium 4 Product Review


In a nice bit of serendipity, soon after I signed up for the Chicago Monster Half-Marathon (have you seen the finisher's buckle? haha), FuelBelt sent me a Helium 4 hydration system and I've worn it on several runs, including my recent longer run at Palos.

What Fuelbelt says about the Helium system: "Helium is the most widely used hydration belt in the world. Helium is lightweight, comfortable and is standard equipment for runners of all abilities. We've put this belt through some of the toughest events in the world and it continues to outperform and deliver. When it comes to style and personalizing our Helium belts, athletes mix and match their belts with various bottle colors to create their own customized look and feel. Helium belts are available in a broad collection of Kona-inspired colorways."

Vinu Malik, the founder of FuelBelt, is an active triathlete and has qualified for and competed at Ironman Kona several times. To read an insightful interview with him, pick up a copy of the August 2009 issue of Triathlete Magazine or click here.


When I run, I ususally don't like to wear any more than is absolutely necessary. Belts, packs, keyholders, etc. just seem to get in the way and sometimes give me back pain. Occasionally though, one comes across a product that really delivers - the FuelBelt is one of them.

Running true to size, the Large (33-35" waist) fits me spot on, though when I lose more weight, it'll be hard to keep it in place. The bottles are unobtrusive and small enough that the sloshing from partially empty ones is not too distracting. I've tried both plain water and Nuun in the bottles and have not noticed any sort of plastic aftertaste, which sometimes happens with refillable bottles. The waistband is wide, padded, and affixes via a hook and loop fastener strip, not budging once it's on. A well-thought out and designed piece of running gear.

A complaint (sort of). When I go for a longer run, I like to carry my phone and my keys (if I 've driven to a trailhead). The pocket on the belt is just too small, at least for my Blackberry. To be honest, when I pulled out the belt from its shipping box, I started laughing, because the small pocket made me think of Ben Stiller in Zoolander with his teeny phone:


Apart from that, this is an amazing product. And, as it turns out, Fuelbelt makes larger pockets which can replace the smaller included pocket. This is part of Fuelbelt'scommitment to offering different options so that each person can customize their belt.  Even if you've shied away from wearing waistbelts as a hydration system, the Helium 4 is so comfortable and utilitarian (except for the mini phone pocket), it's definitely worth a look.

(Disclaimer: I was sent this product for free to review on my blog - courtesy of Fuelbelt. I did not pay for the item, receive payment for this review, or agree to give it a positive review. Aside from information gleaned from the company website, the opinions are my own.)

Have a product you'd like reviewed? Contact me at lakotega@yahoo.com.

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Monday Weigh-In results:

Weight: (Goal of 165) - 192.8
BF: (Goal of 11-22) - 12.3
TBW: (Goal of 50-65) - 57.6
VF: (Goal of 1-12) - 5

Friday, September 24, 2010

127 Defining Moments, 127 Hours + CSN Giveaway Winner!

James Franco as Aron Ralston in "127 Hours"
127 Defining Moments seeks to inspire people to share their own life-changing and inspiring experiences in the great outdoors. Share your defining moment and you could be one of 126 stories chosen for the website, as well as winning prizes from Eddie Bauer, First Ascent, Sierra Designs, Larabar and Camelback - entries will be judged by Outside Magazine editors on November 12th.

For those of you who don't know about him, Aron Ralston was an adventurer who became trapped by a rock in a canyon for 6 days. In order to survive and get out, Aron amputated his own arm. Snce then he has continued his adventures. Fox Searchlight pictures has made a movie of his life, "127 Hours," which will be released November 5th.

Synopsis: 127 HOURS is the new film from Danny Boyle, the Academy Award winning director of 2008's Best Picture, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE. 127 HOURS is the true story of mountain climber Aron Ralston's (James Franco) remarkable adventure to save himself after a fallen boulder crashes on his arm and traps him in an isolate canyon in Utah. Over the next five days Ralston examines his life and survives the elements to finally discover he has the courage and the wherewithal to extricate himself by any means necessary, scale a 65 foot wall and hike over eight miles before he is finally rescued. Throughout his journey, Ralston recalls friends, lovers (Clémence Poésy), family, and the last two people he ever had the chance to meet? A visceral thrilling story that will take an audience on a never before experienced journey and prove what we can do when we choose life.

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Via random.org, a winner was chosen from the plethora of new followers, old friends, and the rest of you (you know who you are). The comment which was chosen, completely randomly, was #5, written by Jill, of Run With Jill. Jill, I will get the promo code faster than you can say United States Postal Service (or a reasonable fascimile thereof).

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sugoi Turbo Tri Tank Product Review + Mystery Giveaway!

(Image taken from Sugoi website)

After much cajoling, pleading, and harassment, Scott from Outside PR sent me a Sugoi Turbo Tri Tank, just to shut me up for a moment (little does he know).

I've worn this on and off, mostly on my runs, as it's been getting pretty chilly for an armless top on the bike. The Turbo Tank is made of FinoStretch and Vector Stretch fabrics, and features a 14" partial front zip as well as a back pocket, perfectly sized to hold my Blackberry securely. Pair it with a FuelBelt and you might even call 911 (see earlier post), but probably my actions are not duplicable. I'm special (strange?) that way. Extremely comfortable, lightweight, wicks well and kept me from overheating, the only problem with this tank is that it reveals my belly a bit (oh wait, that's my problem, not Sugoi's). Sugoi is well-known as a quality company and this item does not disappoint.

What will it be? What will it be?
To sweeten the deal, Scott also asked me to host maybe the world's first Sugoi Mystery Giveaway! That's right, you can enter to win a prize that has not yet been revealed (I'm thinking Scott is winging this one). To enter (drumroll, please):

  1. Be a follower.
  2. Follow the blog on FB (Can't believe some of you don't! Shame, shame, Emily).
  3. Head over to the Sugoi website and let me know what you hope the mystery prize is.
  4. Retweet, FB this, link on your blog, interview me for a national running magazine.
Leave a comment for each thing that you do. Send checks and cash to Contest will run through Thursday, September 30th, 2010, winner chosen using random.org, and then posted Friday, October 1st.

(Disclaimer: I was sent this product for free to review on my blog - courtesy of Outside PR and Sugoi. I did not pay for the item, receive payment for this review, or agree to give it a positive review. Aside from information gleaned from the company website, the opinions are my own.)

Interested in having your product reviewed? Contact me at lakotega@yahoo.com.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

10 Random Things About Me (actually 21, but who's counting?)


So yesterday, blogging's hunky dad tagged me after being tagged by Andrew to reveal 10 Random Things. Read what he posted here. Since I'm an incorrigible lazy-ass, I'm recycling a post from Facebook that I've also actually used on this blog before (reduce, reuse, recycle!).

1. In middle school, my nickname was the “Maňana Kid.”

2. In college, my goal was to move every year with only what I could carry – you should see all the stuff I own now!

3. One of my fondest memories of high school is snow skiing and surfing the same day!

4. My one lasting ambition has been to travel around the world, nonstop, and visit as many places as I could muster the energy for.

5. I suggest everyone work for the federal government.

6. It’s scary to think that our children will one day be out on their own.

7. Every year, I’d like to do something totally new.

8. I’d love to run a 100-mile trail race.

9. I don’t miss living in Florida, but I miss that weather sometimes.

10. Someday I’d like to finish a project on the home in a reasonable amount of time.

11. I’d like to be fit again.

12. I wished I owned homes in 4 dissimilar spots and just travelled between them as my job for several months at a time.

13. Hopefully, my kids will be more focused than I ever have been.

14. I haven’t been back to CA since 1987, but maybe it’s time…

15. After high school, I wanted to apprentice with Sam Maloof and build furniture.

16. I like 2-buck Chuck! (and don’t care what others say)

17. An anagram for Palubinskas is A SLAB IS PUNK.

18. Sometimes I just have to laugh at my kids.

19. The first concert I went to was Saga, Rush, and Jethro Tull.

20. I wish there was a Fitness Fairy (see #11).

21. Punk rock made me the person I am today.

So now I get to tag 3 people.

EMZ from If I can't convince you... (because car pools are not all they are cracked up to be, but being strange is)
Beth from Shut Up and Run (because one can never have too many trifles or too much drivel)
Adam at I am Boring (because he actually is, but I want to keep him motivated)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Lake Carroll Triathlon Race Report


DNS. Did Not Start. Self- cancelled the race, for myriad reasons. Tossed and turned most of the night, woke to a downpour, thunder and lightning. Another thing was that my back was stiff and sore, so I didn't want to injure myself. Mostly though, I wanted to go home and spend some time with my family rather than waiting for a 9:00 race start.

I got to Lake Carroll Saturday, checked in and got my race bag filled with goodies.


That done, I set up my campsite.


Beautiful area, plenty of wide open spaces (note top of ski hill center back of photo - it is hilly there!). I grabbed a sub for dinner, read a bunch of Born to Run, and hit the hay. As mentioned above, I woke up and decided not to participate in the tri; instead, I headed home.

After my daughter's soccer game, I took a reluctant son out for a run. Once we hit the trails in Maple Grove Forest Preserve, he really lit up and started enjoying himself. No more crabby kid. On the way home, we came up with a plan. When he could, during the week he would train with his mom, while occasionally on the weekends, he and I (and others if they so desire) would find a new trail to run on - thus, the Trail Running Project was born. Hope you'll join us on the journey.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Trail Running Project


My wife and I really want our kids to be healthy, so we try to give them a balanced diet, limit their screen time (TV, DS, Wii, etc.), and push them outdoors as much as possible. Sometimes they just don't want to go. Yesterday, after my daughter's soccer game, I took my son for a run. He grumbled and delayed, but finally we were off. Almost immediately, he got a cramp and wanted to walk. We walked for a while and I asked him if he wanted to go home or continue on. I sensed he was wavering, so I told him that we were headed for Maple Grove, a small forest preserve near our house, where there is a really nice trail, probably about a mile and a half or so. He agreed to continue on.


As soon as we hit the trails, he visibly relaxed. I could tell he was starting to enjoy himself. Even though the running wasn't easy, he kept it up and we talked about trail running vs. road running. I urged him to keep an easy, even pace and that reassured him that he could finish the loop. Pretty soon he was searching out logs to jump on or over. As we headed out of the woods and back onto the sidewalks, he planned on running home. I let him know that we would be stopping well before home in order to cool off.

When we finally stopped, it was almost 38 minutes total, including the brief walk at the beginning, and almost 3 3/4 miles. He appeared proud of himself and agreed that the trail run was much more enjoyable than running around the block.

We talked about it some more, planned on running some more trails and...The Trail Running Project was born. Our plan is to run all the trails in the Du Page County Forest Preserve system, inviting the rest of the family as they are available. This blog will chronicle our attempts to complete this plan. We won't limit ourselves to just the Du Page collection of parks, but it's a nice jumping off point for us.

Maple Grove is a small preserve located on the near southwest side of Downers Grove, IL. It is about a mile or so away from our house, so is an easy run to get to this modest trail. Though not long in distance, this trail offers a variety of terrains, running surfaces and is densely wooded, so it's a good respite from the more urban surroundings. Attached to the prewerve is Downers Grove's Gilbert Park, which has a jungle gym, picnic shelter, and a baseball/softball field. Other baseball/softball fields can be found at the south end of the preserve. Two parking lots are more than ample for the amount of traffic this preserve sees.

ShareThisAdventure.com

(Image from ShareThisAdventure.com)

I recently came across a new website, Share This Adventure, which was dreamed up by Daniel. It's a a free website by an outdoor enthusiast for outdoor and adventure enthusiasts. Share adventures and stories with friends, family, and the world. You can also add your link to their Link Library.
When you sign up and/or share an adventure on the site, you get a PROMO code for %10 off gear at Clear Water Outdoor that you can use at checkout!!!


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Monday Weigh-In results:

Weight: (Goal of 199) - 194.6

BF: (Goal of 11-22) - 14.1

TBW: (Goal of 50-65) - 56.3

VF: (Goal of 1-12) - 6

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Want to Run the 2010 NYC Marathon?


Many people are disappointed at not winning a spot in the lottery to run the ING NYC Marathon. Team Continuum have a limited amount of guaranteed registrations left and they are going fast! Please help me spread the word about this opportunity to get in on the race and help an important cause. Deadline for registration has just been extended by the NY Road Runners Association until October 5th, but once the spots are taken, they are gone.

TEAM CONTINUUM

It’s not too late to train for the marathon! Team Continuum’s coach John Hirsh has compiled a crash-training program to assist your transformation from recreational runners to marathon-ready in time for November 7th.

Team Continuum, an official charity partner of the NY Road Runners Association, is currently raising money from participants running in the ING NYC Marathon. When a cancer diagnosis results in hardship and uncertainty in someone's life, Team Continuum steps in to pay the patient’s bills, and to provide immediate and vital non-medical assistance to cancer patients and their families.

TEAM CONTINUUM

Want to get involved?  Register today for your guaranteed entry!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Chin Up Bar Purchase + CSN Giveaway!

(Not my living room, sorry stalkers.)

I could have bought a coffee table, but instead I bought a chin-up bar. It's the perfect size and weight to threaten my children with when they get too rambunctious. Oddly enough, some people use this as an exercise contraption. One of my goals for the winter training season, besides continued weight loss, is to become stronger, trying to use functional body weight exercises as much as possible. Thus, the chin-up bar. Along with chin-ups, I will continue The Hard CORE Club and will do a modified version of the 100 Pushups Challenge.

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For the giveaway, CSN is giving one lucky reader a $35 one-time use gift code to any of their sites - woohoo! For entry (Just remember that they only ship to the United States and Canada):

  1. Be a follower.
  2. Follow the blog on FB (Can't believe some of you don't! Shame, shame).
  3. Retweet, FB this, link on your blog.
Leave a comment for each thing that you do, that you do. Contest will run through Thursday, September 23rd, 2010, winner chosen using random.org, and then posted Friday, September 24th..

(Disclaimer: CSN provided me with a promo code to purchase an item. They did not pay me to give a positive review nor did I agree to do so. CSN is also providing a promo code to be given away with no obligation on my part except to link to their website.)

Companies, do you have a product you'd like reviewed? Contact me at lakotega@yahoo.com.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Bikes not Cars


Love this photo that Brownie shared on his blog, Brownie, Yer Doin' A Heck of A Job! Too true. I wish I could bike or run to work, but the train is still one step up from car-commuting.

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Runs end. Running doesn't. - Anonymous Runner

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Midwest Trail: Palos Forest Preserve

One of the many lakes at Palos

Saturday, for my Long Slow Distance run, I decided to head over to Palos Forest Preserve. Palos is known predominantly for being the premier Chicagoland mountain biking destination. While it has no mountains to speak of, the rolling terrain does offer some challenge.


The above trail map comes from the CAMBR website (Chicago Area Mountain Bikers) and they, in conjunction with the forest district, are responsible for maintaining the trails, purely on a volunteer basis - hooray for CAMBR!

I got there just before dawn, so I sat in my car until I thought I could see enough to run - the trail from the mountain bike staging area is a single-track, so didn't want to risk injury. My plan was to run the yellow trail, at 8.3 miles a decent distance for me (my plan is to increase this each Saturday so that I'm ready for the Chicago Monster Half-Marathon on Halloween). I looked at the map once more, got out, and purposefully (?) left the map in the car - it was raining, so I didn't want to ruin it, smart right?

The initial section ,as I mentioned, is single-track and, as far as midwest trail runs is concerned, is fun, twisty and rolling. At the end of the single-track is the multi-use trail, for runners, walkers, cyclists, and equestrians. I of course, turned right instead of left and eventually had to backtrack.


Palos Yellow Multi-Use Trail

 Once headed in the right direction, I settled into a nice even pace, pausing occasionally to sip some Nuun (thanks AngieB!) and take the random photo with my new Blackberry Tour - what a camera improvement over the Curve! I saw deer, maybe a coyote, some chipmunks and squirrels. Considering there was a light rain, I was surprised  and gratified to see any wildlife.

About an hour into the run, I heard strange radio-like sounds followed by a voice. Looking around, I could see no one and so, continued on. A few moments later, once again, a disembodied voice. I slowed down, stilled my breathing, and this is what I heard:

     "911. What is your emergency and location, please."
     "Me: Oops, my phone just dialed by itself."
     "911: So you don't need emergency assistance."
     "Me: Um, no, thank you."
     "911: You are SURE you don't need emergency assistance?"
     "Me: No, I'm good thanks."
     "911: Thank you."

Much relieved, but chagrined, I soldiered on. I was trying out a new tri top from Sugoi, carrying my phone in the rear pocket under a new Fuelbelt I was trying out, and apparently the phone buttons got pushed in just the right manner to call 911. Oops.

When I reached a T in the path, with multi-use behind, to the left, and to the right of me, I wondered if I should continue ahead, on a single-track trail that looked more like a stream bed than an actual trail - it had no markings to boot. Since I didn't have my map with me (doh!), I wasn't sure what to do, but I knew that the multi-use trail going left and right was marked with peach (or similar color), so that probably wasn't right. I plunged ahead.

Beautiful Palos single-track

Eventually the streambed turned into what is pictured above, just beautiful trail! And, I saw a yellow trail marker, so I knew I was on the right track. I ran along until...the trail ended at a road. Hmmmm.... I jogged up the road a bit and...the trail started again. Continued beautiful single-track until...the trail ended at a road, an intersection of two roads, to boot. Hmmmm... I wandered left, I wandered right, I backtracked, now I felt lost (sniffle). I phoned my wife, completely forgetting about the map program I had on the phone, and asked her to boot up the old computer at home. I continued moving, always moving, searching for hope. And there it was, an equestrian staging center! No map, but in the corner of the parking lot, a trail marked yellow. I hung up with my wife, and ran along - turns out that I had chanced upon a spur of the yellow trail, which eventually led me back to my car. Not exactly what I had in my when I started, but really what normally happens when I trail run. My 8.3 mile run became an 1:30, 9.67 mile run. Except for getting lost, this was a run I would have happily continued. I'll be back to Palos!

If you are in the Chicago area, definitely check out Palos Forest Preserve. If you park at the mountain bike staging area, there are several single-track trails to choose from, along with the gravel multi-use trail. My next run here will be a reversal of the yellow trail, with the cemetery loop added for an additional few miles.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Why Do I Run? Video and a Born to Run Movie?


A couple of days ago, Ed, from Trail Running Soul, shared a link to a video by Funnyhead6, a musing on why he runs. Kind of neat.



Anyone know of other good videos along the same lines by swimmers, cyclists, triathletes, or other runners?

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In other running-related news, there are rumors circulating recently in bloggyland of a movie being made of the book Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall. If you're like most people and have read the book, you know how inspiring it is and how many people have tried barefoot running because of it. Jake Gyllenhaal at Leadville 100? Lead role?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Lake Carroll Tri Taper Week


Aaah, taper week. On Sunday, I will be participating in the Lake Carroll Triathlon. Apart from the fact that I have not swum since the Bigfoot Triathlon in June, I feel remarkably ready. A huge bonus is that I get to once again camp (on the lake's private campground), which I am really looking forward to. Once again, it looks like I will be flying solo, with the baby and dogs (and cat and other children) keeping my wife from joining me.

To be honest, I am actually looking past this tri in anticipation of the Monster Dash Half-Marathon I have coming up Halloween morning. My runs recently have been outstanding - Saturday I did a 9.5 mile trail run that made me realize how much I love running and how far I've come back from indolence and sloth. Did I mention that the half-mary has a cool finishers' buckle? :)


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Monday Weigh-In results:

Weight: (Goal of 200) - 196.4
BF: (Goal of 11-22) - 13.4
TBW: (Goal of 50-65) - 56.9
VF: (Goal of 1-12) - 6

Friday, September 10, 2010

Cranky Blogger Post + Road ID Giveaway Winner!


Slightly cranky post, because this morning, after my ride, I sat at the computer to burnish a near-masterpiece post that I had drafted yesterday. Much to my surprise, the draft is gone, poof, into the ether. Andrew, at Running Man Wannabe, had tagged me for the Super Fatlete challenge.


The saddest thing, is that it was a really funny, snarky post, filled with the good times of old friends and the newness of the very best of Radio Disney. I was erudite, sly, and insightful. I tagged a subsequent group of bloggers along with the creation of 8 very funny pop culture questions, nothing to do with training. But now, noone will ever read it, sort of a lost Hemingway of the blogging world.

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On a happier note, yesterday was the deadline to enter the Road ID race hat and gift certificate giveaway, sponsored by none other than your humble host and the good folks at Road ID. What did we do before Road ID?


The magic that is random.org chose the winner and that winner is Lindsay, from Chasing the Kenyans. Lindsay, please send me the info for where to send the "product."

Have a great weekend all!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Max International Product Review & Giveaway

(Image taken from Max website)

Recently, on LinkedIn, I was in one of the Triathlon groups reading about the best way to introduce a new product into the multisport marketplace. My suggestion was to get it into the hands of bloggers (the "sneezers") and let them take it from there. Lindy Gamble, who works with Max International, took me up on the offer and sent me some products to test.

 According to Max, their products will naturally increase your energy, detoxify your system and strengthen your immune system. Who wouldn't want that? How does it work? Cutting-edge, intra-cellular, anti-aging technology such as Glutathione.

From Wikipedia:

Glutathione (GSH) is a tripeptide. It contains an unusual peptide linkage between the amine group of cysteine and the carboxyl group of the glutamate side chain. Glutathione, an antioxidant, helps protect cells from reactive oxygen species such as free radicals and peroxides. The ratio of reduced glutathione to oxidized glutathione within cells is often used scientifically as a measure of cellular toxicity.

Lindy sent me 3 products:
  1. Max GXL - provides cellular defense thru Gutathione support.
  2. Max N-Fuze - provides complete cellular fuel and nutrition to perform vital functions including cellular detoxification.
  3. Max ATP3 - provides clean, natural cellular energy (ATP) for maximum performance.
Here's the unfortunate part (for me): my doctor and I are working on lowering my cholesterol, increasing my Vitamin D, and generally working on recalibrating my blood chemistry in order to make me a healthier person. And, even though she's not averse to me trying new supplements, she has asked me to refrain until we finish our work (in about a year), before I take supplements such as these that may or may not interact with the supplements that I am using under her regimen.

My loss is your gain, however. First three interested parties who email me their name and address at lakotega@yahoo.com will receive samples of Max products, courtesy of me Lindy. All you have to do is try them out and post about it on your blog. Simple.

(Disclaimer: I was sent this product for free to review on my blog - courtesy of Lindy Gamble. I did not pay for the items, receive payment, or agree to give it a positive review. Aside from information gleaned from the company website, the opinions are my own.)

Have a product you'd like reviewed? Contact me at lakotega@yahoo.com.

Running, Skiing, and Endurance Sports - Patagonia.com

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