Thursday, March 31, 2011

loud QUIET loud

Loudquietloud - A Film About the Pixies

In 1992, to the shock of the alternative music world, Charles "Black Francis" Thompson, the front man for The Pixies, called it quits. Simmering animosity between him and bassist Kim Deal had made their partnership untenable, so they parted ways, Charles performing as Frank Black, while Kim teamed up with twin Kelly to form the Breeders. Along with countless fans, I was disappointed, but moved on, though I never stopped listening to their music. The Pixies cultivated the sound that I have always found most compelling in music, the fusion of a wall of noise with poppy melody. I never really liked their dirgy, slow-moving pieces, but there was enough of what I liked for me to continue listening.

Fast-forward to 2004, and the band was reunited, mostly due to financial needs, but I think also to see if they could slay the dragons of the past and move forward as a unit. While Charles and Kim had their side projects to keep them busy, Joey Santiago (guitarist) scored movies and paired up with his wife to form The Martinis, while David Lovering, the drummer, focused his energy on performing magic and beach combing with a metal detector. With the advent of mp3s, music sharing, and the general collapse of record/cd buying, the royalty checks had begun to wither. Several of the band members were expecting children, so the financial pressure overcame their reluctance to try again.

"loud QUIET loud" was filmed over the year that The Pixies reunited, toured, and pondered their future together. Portions of it are painful to watch, as the antagonists ignore and snub each other, showing the divisions that never healed. Over the course of the documentary, however, connections are made, friendships reborn, spirits uplifted. If you are a Pixies fan, or even if you have never heard of them before, this movie is a great view into their reunion attempt, with some band history thrown in for good measure. Well-worth seeking out.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Blog Stickers and Aerial Yoga

Not sure if I properly thanked everyone for the bloggy love shown by sending me a blog sticker they've created (I'm actually waiting until I can come up with something clever). Above, from left to right, top to bottom, thanks go to Paige of Serious Case of the Runs, Beth from Shut Up And Run, Matty, Matty, and Matty from MattyRunRun, Bryon from iRunFar, Dax from Dirty Running, Lindsay from Chasing the Kenyans, and Jim from 50 After 40. Not pictured because she created a window cling is Aimee of I Tri To Be Me.  If you are not following all these talented writers, click on each of the above links and do so now.

Just when you thought yoga couldn't get any stranger....

A new form of yoga has practitioners hanging from the ceiling with acrobatic moves. Verizon's Kimberly S. Simone describes the benefits of the workout, including how it has helped her migraines.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pearl iZUMi Running Apparel


Pearl Izumi is celebrating 60 years, or kanreki. What is Kanreki? For men, the 60th birthday is called kanreki, the recognition of his “second infancy.” The Japanese characters in the word kanreki literally mean “return” and “calendar.” The traditional calendar, which was based on the Chinese calendar, was organized on 60-year cycles. The cycle of life returns to its starting point in 60 years, and as such, kanreki celebrates that point in a man’s life when his personal calendar has returned to the calendar sign under which he was born.

The name Pearl Izumi USA, Inc. is derived from the gem "pearl" and an area of Japan known for its clear water "Izumi." Literally translated, the name means, "fountain of pearls." The focus of the Pearl Izumi USA, Inc. line remains dedicated to meeting the needs of the serious sport enthusiast. The company's long-term plan for the Pearl Izumi USA, Inc. brand has been to strengthen its position in cycling and apply the same formula for quality, innovation and technical performance into other sport categories. These categories now successfully include cross-country skiing, triathlon, duathlon, running and other outdoor sport activities.

I've worn Pearl iZUMi cycling gear and have always appreciated the design and quality that the brand brings to the table. Recently, via Outside PR, I was given the opportunity to try out some of their 2011 running apparel and shoes. Street cred? The winners of the 2010 Wasatch 100 both wore Pearl iZUMi running gear!

The Infinity In-R-Cool® Short Sleeve features our innovative In-R-Cool® technology that cools the body while you exercise. This is the ultimate lightweight hot weather running top.

Superstealth up front, wicked cool in the back!

  • ELITE Transfer fabric with In-R-Cool® technology provides superior skin cooling and moisture management when you perspire
  • Direct-Vent panels provide superior ventilation
  • Reflective elements for low-light visibility
  • Screen print
The Infinity LD Short features a full Minerale™ liner which dries 50% faster than regular performance polyesters. The lightweight outer shell has a longer inseam and secure external pockets.

LD Shorts are mostly subtle, with just a hint of elan via racing stripe and web

ELITE Transfer fabric is lightweight and provides superior moisture transfer
  • Smooth front panel with elasticized sides and back with stretch draw cord for superior comfort and fit
  • Two hook and loop and two zippered pockets
  • Fully-integrated Float liner uses Transfer fabric with Minerale™ which provides optimal moisture transfer, faster dry time and odor absorption
  • 7" inseam [size medium]
  • Reflective elements for low-light visibility

Incredibly light and comfortable, these shorts really allow the legs to move and breathe. With multiple pockets (on the small side), minimalist runners can forgo other storage options. Two items to note: the fabric was clingy, but not uncomfortable and the shorts ran a tad small, so if you like your shorts roomy and loose, get them a size larger than normal.

The new Streak II has been completely overhauled this season to be even faster, lighter and more performance-oriented than ever. With a new lower profile midsole and lightweight upper, the Streak II is light enough for a 5K, but cushioned enough for a marathon. This is your new go-to PR shoe.

  • 1:1 Seamless Upper creates an unparalleled fit with a seam-free interior
  • 1:1 360° Lacing anatomically conforms to the foot for a tailored fit regardless of foot shape
  • NEW 1:1 Energy Foam cushions the forefoot upon impact and then returns energy back to the runner
  • Outsole-grade EVA and blown rubber outsole combines for great cushioning and weight savings
  • Segmented forefoot for a smooth, efficient ride
  • NEW Ortholite® sockliner for amazing step-in comfort and long-lasting cushioning
  • NEW 100% recycled lace webbing and laces
  • Heel/Toe offset: 19.0mm/10.0mm

I was initially sent a size 13 for review, but found them too constricting. As Pearl iZUMi does not make a size 13.5 (does any shoe maker?), I went with a size 14 and was much happier. ORDER HALF TO FULL SIZE LARGER THAN NORMALLY WORN! Apart from the sizing issue, my other concern was their light weight, due to being a bigger guy who is more of a plodding sloth than lightfooted gazelle. My initial runs were all very short, to make sure I didn't damage myself in these more minimalist shoes, but I have worked my way up to 40+ minutes in them with no concerns. While not appreciated by all, I found the blazing green a beautiful color and felt somewhat badass in them, as I were an actual athlete. Even ChrisK has admitted to liking bright green shoes, so there must be something to it. While I haven't been brave enough to try it yet, my impression is that these would be comfortable sockless. Extremely light and breathable, I'd recommend these as a training shoe for warmer to hot days or indoors on the treadmill.

Overall, it seems Pearl iZUMi has hit a home run with their running gear and I can happily recommend searching out any and all options available to you. I hope to be given the opportunity to try out their cycling and triathlon gear as well - I especially covet the TRI FLY III CARBON shoe.

Check out Pearl iZUMi's website, like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, and check out their videos on YouTube.


(Disclaimer: I was sent these products for free to review on my blog - courtesy of Pearl iZUMi, via Outside PR. I did not pay for the items, receive payment, or agree to give them a positive review. Aside from information gleaned from the company's website, the opinions are my own.)

Would you like a product reviewed? 
Contact me at!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Chicagoland Trail: Lyman Woods (Winter)

Lyman Woods Forest Preserve contains150 acres of oak woods, prairie, and marsh habitats that supports over 300 species of native plants. Its preservation in 1987 represents the cooperative effort of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, the Downers Grove Park District and the village of Downers Grove. The preserve also houses the William F. Sherman Jr. Interpretive Center, a green building exemplifying the latest in environmentally friendly building practices and technology.

Lyman woods is just off I-88 west of Chicago and within running distance of my house. While not shown on the map, there is an entrance located behind the Good Samaritan Hospital parking garage, leading to beautiful singletrack, which connects with the main trail. There are 2 of these singletrack trails leading from this hidden entrance, so it is possible to run a long loop from this starting point.

The main trail is mostly a doubletrack composed of dirt, gravel, and leaves in some sections, and mown grass for the majority of the balance, though short sections of asphalt remain, dating back to when this was private property.

Lyman Woods boasts plenty of water features, including a large lake, which has a floating dock for easy viewing.

During your visit, you'll find three rare kames, glacially deposited hills of gravel, which support native prairie and oak woods. The most outstanding feature is a 19-acre oak woods that has remained undisturbed since it was purchased by the Lyman family in 1839. Today it serves as one of the few examples of the pre-settlement landscape that dominated the Downers Grove area.

In some of the swampier sections, the preserve has both old and newer sections of boardwalk to improve access.

There is an amazing diversity of plant life, including six species classified as rare in the Chicago region. Catch a glimpse of animals including deer, coyote, fox, Cooper's Hawks, Great Horned Owls, a wide variety of reptiles, amphibians, insects, and numerous songbirds.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Trix Gear Product Review

You're an endurance enthusiast, you live, breathe, and eat triathlon or ultraruning or cycling or what have you. You want the general public to know you for what you are, but what to wear? You don't want to wear your technical gear to the grocery store, right? (Well, unless you wear your full cycling kit to the coffee shop in hopes of being mistaken for Marco Pantani, a la Patrick at The Road - who, according to my wife, looks more like Vin Diesel). What you really want is the perfect combination of comfort and style, in the way of your favorite cotton shirt.

Enter Trix Gear.

Even the glamour shot can't hide the double chin.
Check out that tough looking design though!

What do you get when you cross a triathlon obsessed husband with a graphic designer wife? Marriage met on middle ground and some pretty inspired tri lifestyle t-shirts. Frustrated by lack of fashion friendly triathlon inspired t-shirts during their seven plus years participating and spectating the team takes on the need and launches their online store October '09. Paul Duffy (owner/triathlete) has been participating in triathlons since 2002 but it wasn’t until his brain tumor in ‘05 that the sport became more meaningful to him.  Getting up to train day after day has come to symbolize good health and capability.  Paul’s wife agrees but would add that the sport really suits his hyperactive nature and is a great counter balance to a largely sedentary day job. Celeste (Owner/Designer) has yet to compete in a triathlon herself but does not feel this impedes her insight into the sport.  Having trailed three kids over eight years to a multitude of races not to mention accommodating her husband’s persistent and busy training schedule must certainly qualify her for some form of a finisher’s shirt.  While she waits she applies her graphic design background and her rather lengthy hours of spectating to Trix-Gear’s line of t-shirts.

Trix Gear was kind enough to send us each a t-shirt, with a onesie for the littlest one. We all agreed that these are incredibly comfortable tees, soft, high quality, and definitely wearable to your favorite stylish location.

World's most gorgeous family!
(note absence of father figure to increase cuteness factor)

The thing I liked most about Trix Gear is that they are clearly casual wear, yet identify the wearer as someone who is interested in the endurance lifestyle. The designs are gritty, detailed, and the more you look, the more you discover. Details like the large chain ring, out of context and in unusual colors, add panache to the shirts. Usurping the mall ride with a triathlon bike in place of the carousel horse is one of my favorite images. Trix Gear is always coming up with new designs and, as mentioned, run the gamut from newborn to grizzled old man like myself (trophy wife not included).

Highly recommended for anyone who wants to self-identify as an endurance aficionado, yet eschews technical gear in lieu of comfy cotton.

For a 15% discount on your order,
 just enter code "MWMS" at checkout!

Like Trix Gear on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, read their Tumblr blog, and check out the Trix website.

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

Would you like a product reviewed? 
Contact me at!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Music Swap, OptygenHP and Women's PowerSox Giveaways

Over the last several weeks, Patrick of The Road and I have been trading YouTube music videos, bouncing old favorites off of each other, though I also sent him a ringer just to shake things up, in response to a Badfinger video. For some reason he wasn't enthused. Who can resist Hugh Gant? Patrick, that's who. It's been a lot of fun, with bands that have included The Damned, Stiff Little Fingers, Descendents, Killing Joke, and others, including the aforementioned Badfinger. When's the last time you listened to Cheap Trick sing "Surrender" at Budokan? What's a band you used to love but haven't thought of in a while?

One band that occasionally pops into my head, especially in relation to Patrick is Uniform Choice. Uniform Choice? Uniform Choice was a band started by some guys at my high school (go Monarchs!) and then later, Patrick played guitar for them. How's that for six degrees of separation?

In other news, today is the last day to enter the OptygenHP giveaway sponsored by ProLine Nutrition. ProLine Sports has generously offered two ways to enter a drawing for a month's supply of OptygenHP. Be a follower of this blog, then head over to the ProLine website to enter and like them on Facebook for a Second Chance Drawing! (You can also follow them on Twitter.) Winner will be chosen at random Friday, March 25th, 2011, so enter before midnight on Thursday the 24th.

Also, you have until Monday night to enter the Women's Powersox Giveaway over at Women's Endurance Gear.

How to enter:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Guest Post: How I Became Barefoot Charlie: The Origin (Part 3 of 3)

(Sigh) The title of this article might have to be renamed into “How I Nearly Quit Being Barefoot Charlie”.  Not an expected development.  I am not beating the drum of defeet.  But as I write these very words, I can feel my once proud callouses melting away.  I feel the Barefoot Superhero dreams sublimating like snow in cotton candy in the downpour. 

Here is what happened.  I love rollerblading and I haven’t figured out how to do so barefooted.  So, after not roller blading for a long long time, I headed out on my subpar blades for a short 6 mile jaunt.  The blades always hurt my feet.  I have been remiss in not buying a serious pair of roller blades, sticking with my hockey pair...heavy, clunky, painful.  There is this certain way that my feet have always twisted in them.  Sort of like being in a bad relationship.  You know it is an ill fit, but you keep sticking around until something breaks.  So, I went rollerblading and hit it hard and did something really weird to my feet, reinjuring what I had done the day before.  Oh yeah, the day before....I went trail running on a 6 or 7 mile loop that I hadn’t been on for a long time, mainly because if it had a name it would be something like “Rocky Road” or “Foot Crunch Disaster Pie” or “Metatarsal Tragedy”.  I took some of the worst rock hits I have ever taken.  My feet were gripped in spasms of terror.  I had headed out confidently but literally came home limping. 

The next day I went rollerblading in my ill fitting rigs.  Things really ramped up with the pain at that point.  What was I to do on the third day?  I chose the wizened path of a 39 year old man who has been there and done that and learned how to finally take things slowly when there is physical pain.  I applied hard won lessons garnered from too many days of pushing myself hard through races and paying a high price in extended recovery times.  What I did was this....I went running for 6 really fast miles.

Since that day, I have not run and mostly limped.  The bones in my feet feel mostly like crunchy doughnuts.  And I realize that makes no sense, not even to me.  Not even a glazed crunchy doughnut makes sense.  But just imagine that something solid and a doughnut, suddenly becomes all crunchy and crumbly.  That is what my bones feel like in my feet, and all the milk in the world can’t wash away that feeling.

I have even found myself teaming up with an old adversary.  Was it Lao Tzu who said that the enemy of my enemy is my friend?  I rooted around in the closet and pulled out my Vibram Five Fingers.  I swore to never wear them again.  But I traced some of my foot pain to my Hurache Running Sandals.  They made me walk funny and I think it had something to do with how slow my recovery has been.  There was a pitched battle and the VFF’s and I kicked them out of the house.  I am not running in VFF's but must concede that they actually do allow my walking stride to be way more natural than how things felt in my Hurache's.

I hear what you are saying reader, I can feel your questions across the miles.  What does this all mean?  Is he saying to not run barefoot?  Why does he compare foot pain to crunchy doughnuts?  Should I buy stock in Vibram?

Here is what I am actually saying.  To really be your own superhero, you must listen to yourself.  Invariably, listening to yourself will get you into trouble...and how you bounce back from that trouble is how you develop superpowers.  In the end, it wasn’t about barefoot running, VFF’s, running technique or crunchy glazed doughnuts.  Again, it was about facing that side of me that likes to push the edge a bit too much.  I knew better than to run on that trail and I paid the price.  I knew better than to use those blades when they were such a poor fit and it left me hobbled.  I really knew not to go running on that third day and that was the last straw for my poor feet.  So, in the end, not listening to myself is how I usually end up learning how to listen to myself better the next time.  I think this is the most important superpower to have, and the most elusive one to acquire as well. 

My advice is to definitely run barefoot but to stop if you are hitting rocks and feeling pain.  Embrace barefoot running and follow no one else’s advice but those of your own feet.  And if you aren’t 25 or younger, be prepared to pay a hefty price for not heeding the warning signs of physical pain.  Leave the machismo at home and spend more time outside. I realize that this posting was supposed to be about something much more fun sounding.  I was going to write about capes, Jedi Powers, and drinking from the Holy Grail of Bare Feet.  But I think it is more important to offer up advice that can lead to your enjoyment of being outdoors and in your body in a sustainable and pain free way.  At least I managed to work in the phrase “crunchy doughtnuts”.  I think I worked it in at least 4 times.

As for me, I will slowly and gently reintroduce my feet towards barefoot running.  I actually may get a thin minimalist shoe for a tiny bit of protection on the trails...I am considering the Altra Adam.  But whenever the trail conditions allow, I will still be barefoot.  I will be sticking to trails that won’t cripple me.  I will also be buying a lovely new pair of awesome roller blades that don’t break my feet like crunchy doughnuts (5 times!).

see you on the trails,

Charlie is the customer service guru at PranaFlo, an online retailer of running gear and site for trailrunners to connect and get inspired to get out there and enjoy the outdoors.  He also coaches barefoot trail running in the Chapel Hill, NC area.

His sites are:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Why We Race Part 5

At the end of 2010, as people planned and posted their race schedules for 2011, I couldn't help wondering where all these people got their motivation. I have goals and experiences that I look towards in the coming year, but somehow racing just wasn't that important. Why?

I emailed a wide-ranging group of blogging buddies and sent out a general bulletin on the Endurance Athlete Project asking some simple questions:

Why do you race? Why are you willing to pay to run on public streets or trails, sometimes paying large amounts for travel and accommodations? Why are you willing to plan a race around a particular weekend? What ARE your motivators to race?

Part 1 was my introduction, while Part 2 , Part 3 and Part 4 began the sharing of people's responses. Here, in order of receipt, are some further responses:

Craig, Let’s Do This "Again": In reply to Why do you race?
Over the years I have thought about this more times than I could ever imagined. Having spent so many years lining up against others for races.

The question was put out there by you of "Why do you race"?

I'm sure there will be more answers to this question than I ever would have thought possible. That being said, I look forward to everyone else's responses.
For me though it is all about the personal challenge of being put up against the next person and competing. 
The most average persons on the street and this includes myself, can do remarkable things when faced with oppositions and challenges that we internally question if we can complete.
This was and still is my number one driving force.
 I personally like the training that leads up to the race, no matter what the race is. I have been fortunate in my life to compete professionally and on the amateur level at all sorts of sports. I have never been one to get locked in to one thing and only one thing. This could also be a reason that I have never quite accomplished what was believed by others that I should have. But in reality its not about them,its about me. I also have to believe this is what draws me so close to multi sport racing and training.
I love being pushed, and I love pushing myself. More in athletics than anything. I love lining up and looking to the left and then right, just to see the faces of pressure and fear. 
I love the butterflys and nausea that comes with it. It's amazing how when the gun goes off, or the gate is dropped that it all goes somewhere else. 
I don't even mind paying to race. Having been around some type of competition nearly all my life I have come to appreciate what goes in to putting on events. I think promoters should be compensated to an extent. There is a fine line to the business aspect to all of it though. Some deserve more than others,some deserve less. 
The expense of traveling to destinations is a choice. A choice me make to enhance the adventure that we are currently on at that time in our life. Personally I like to compete as local as possible, but that hasn't always been the case.That is just where I'm at right now in this adventure.
My motivation to race right now is really all about what I just wrote, where I'm at in my current adventure.
 I think the only difference now is that I see it as a total life change, a lifestyle change if you will. I like the discipline it affords me. I like that I have to push myself to reach certain goals. I don't have any pressures of having to compete for a living. I just get to compete to live, and live a better and fuller life because of it. 
I appreciate more so now than I ever have, the commitment that people had,have and will make to pursue there dreams. I know this means so many different things to so many different people.
From weight loss, to family and friends that faced tragedy. We all had some light switch that has been turned on to do what we think is best, and we do are best to fulfill the dream we saw, and the vision we have.
I think I like to race more just to be surrounded by like minded people. The race itself is just the icing on the adventure cake.
For me it all comes to this. It's not necessarily about the destination, but the adventure and getting there.

Tracy, Our Life with 3 Guys and a Doll: There are a number of reasons I like to race...

~ I like the adrenaline rush and the excitement of race day. It's like a party with a bunch of people I've never met.
~ I'm a newer runner and having an 'official' time for the distance makes me  feel more legit.
~ Accountability...I'm more likely to faithfully train if I've paid the money, particularly for the more expensive, longer distance races.
~ Goals... I ran xx time in 09 for this race. Can I get a new PR in 10?
~ shirts are a fun addition to my running wardrobe.
And it's just plain fun. :D

Jill, Run With Jill: I think racing was either embedded in my genes at birth or I latched on in high school or college track - but somewhere along the way, racing transitioned from those college day "have-to's" into a "I can't wait to" and I've literally run hundreds of races in my 26 years of running since college because I truly enjoy them.

I haven't continuously had a wild love affair with racing, I have taken long stretches off for a barrage of reasons; but I tend to always find my way back to the racing circuit, and I'll try to explain why as best I can.

Marathons:  First and foremost - I love how the training makes me feel pure and whole and clean.  I love how my body just responds to the task at hand and excuses become absent from my vocabulary; my goal racing a marathon is to finish feeling strong and I know I cannot train half-ass and except to cross feeling good, therefore I must train hard and train well.  If I have a marathon race on my calendar, I am focused and driven and pushing myself past it's comfort zone - and I thrive for that, because mentally, I fight demons telling me constantly I cannot.  I went from running the mile in high school and college to a crazy seduction for the marathon because a personal tragedy in my very young life left me angry and bitter with so much hurt inside that I had to take that mile and turn it into something physically more demanding; I turned one mile into 26.2....and the physical pain shut out most of the emotional pain.  Second, I love being able to do something that most cannot.  I don't mean that as self-rightous bragging rights, I just truly believe we are all capable of doing more than we think we can and I grateful I am one of the few who has had the courage to find out I can. 

So why an organized marathon race where I get to spend ridiculous amounts of money vs going outside and running the same distance?  First, because if I have a scheduled race on the calendar, that becomes the challenge.  That becomes the focus.  That becomes the goal to make sure I have done all I can do in the allowed time to get the job doing, having left no stone unturned, so I can finish well.  If I put a date on my calendar to "go run 26.2 miles" on the trails by myself, I know my weakness well enough to I know I could potentially move that date back indefinitely until I felt "ready" and I'm not sure the mental demons and anxiety would ever tell me when that time was.  Races make me accountable to be prepared by the date it's run.  Second, I love to travel and I love to run so why not combine the two and travel to a marathon.  I have run one marathon, of the 17 I have done, living in the town where the race was held (Rocket City) and I have to say that the race does not hold as much personal, emotional meaning as others I have sacrificed to travel to.  The marathon race is also are my own personal time and space, something I do for me.  I do not like to take my family to marathons, I selfishly (or unselfishly) want to reward myself for all the hard work I put in to get there and I want to savor the time with myself or with fellow marathoners I know.  I do not want to be social director to my family and truthfully, my family doesn't fully understand the emotional journey the marathon race is for me and how difficult and straining it is on my body.  A classic example is when I did take my daughter, Abbey, to Tucson with me last year.  I had just fired my personal trainer and I was pretty much a basket-case and when tears started flowing after I picked up my race packet and didn't have him to talk to about some pre-race things stewing in my brain, and she told me to "Snap out of it."  She also wanted to trek all over the UofA campus the night before the race and didn't understand how I wanted to stay off my feet from any long walks and no, I wasn't eating spicy Mexican food that night, either.  As soon as I returned from the race, she asked how long before we could go get some food...I just wanted to take a long hot bath and go to bed.  She really was good about it all after I had to explain, and supportive of the race, but it wasn't the mother/daughter vacation she envisioned and I had a ton of guilt over it.  So it's just easier for a performance marathon to go by myself or with other running friends.  And third, I think it's a blast to meet up with others I know at marathon races.  Boston was a blast, mostly because of the friendships forged.  San Francisco the same.  Portland, I ran with part of a group from RW as part of a team and after the race we had a huge party and it was so much fun.  Just to name a few.  I'm pretty sure I couldn't pull many blog runners from afar to come out to Colorado to go for a long run, but I bet you can get a few to meet at a race where rewards of race shirts and medals and support crowds clapping for you are abundant.  And forth, I just love the whole spirit of everyone involved in a marathon race.  I love standing at the start line of a marathon knowing all those around me have trained so hard to be standing there with me.  I love their stories of what it took for them to get there.  I love the smiles on their faces or the tears of emotions when they cross the finish line.  I feel pretty damn lucky I'm part of a very special, unique group of people.  And finally, I love the hardware.  I love to hang my medal, the grand prize, on closet door to remind me daily of the sacrifices I've made to earn it or take me away on a little excursion for a few minutes when the day's rough and I can go back in time for a bit to a very happy place.

Shorter races of less than a marathon:
- Speedwork: I know I will run faster when there is an certain adrenaline rush of a race attached to it.  I know I just run faster/achieve a more beneficial workout if I race with others around me with the same purpose.
- They are excellent to incorporate into marathon training.
- To gage my current fitness level.
- To gage where I need more work (hills - up or down, which strength training I need to focus more on).  Kinda goes with the reason listed above, but not always, nor necessarily.
- They push me beyond my comfort zone, a sensational feeling of accomplishment I can't seem to get when I'm on my own running.
- Sometimes I do them for fun, like the DU, just to try something different I wouldn't do on my own.
- Sometimes I do them because friends are doing them and it's fun to talk shop with them. 
- Sometimes I do them because I lack motivation to run more than a day or two/week and they truly do help jump-start my running.

Monday, March 21, 2011

OptygenHP Product Review and Giveaway

OptygenHP, a supplement marketed by 1st Endurance, is touted as improving muscular endurance, exercise capacity, and total work done. It also supposedly aids in recovery. The two main adaptogens in OptygenHP (Rhodiola and Cordyceps CS-4) were first used by Tibetan Sherpas to help them climb Mt. Everest. OptygenHP utilizes these two unique adaptogens because clinical research on elite endurance athletes has shown them to improve performance, increase the body’s ability to adapt to high levels of physical stress, increase aerobic threshold and reduce lactic acid. 1st Endurance's research has shown the following endurance benefits:

-Increases Endurance and Performance
-Increased strength
-Reduces Lactic Acid
-Increases oxygen utilization
-Increase in VO2 Max
-Increase in Time to Exhaustion
-Increases Anaerobic threshold
-Improved exercise capacity
-Increases Maximal Oxygen uptake
-30% - 50% increase in Oxygen Utilization
-Increase ratio of ATP by 45% - 55%
-Enhances Endurance
-Increase in ATP production 

I received a one-month supply of OptygenHP, courtesy of Proline Sports Nutrition, after having my interest piqued by The Manly Runner himself, Chris K (though he was attempting to BQ or Die at that time).

"ProLine Sports Nutrition and Equipment is owned and managed by endurance athletes. While training, we searched for the best supplements to enhance our performance without compromising our ability to compete against world class athletes in professional and amateur sporting leagues. That means that every supplement we sell is legal and accepted by the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) , US Anti-Doping Association (USADA) and Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). We have used every product that we offer including some of the most widely used endurance supplements, recovery products and training equipment on the market today. Our goal is to make your training more effective and decrease your recovery time allowing for greater success beating your personal records or even a world record or two."

I call it voodoo science, because there is no specific new feeling when taking OptygenHP (though 1st Endurance states that some might feel a "tingle"). Unlike some other supplements, which make you feel stronger, faster, or more refreshed, OptygenHP is the quiet, behind-the-scenes, doer who actually makes things happen. So does it work, you ask? Absolutely, I'm a total believer. I'm not the fittest, nor the fittest, nor the most handsome (and I'm not sure OptygenHP could help with that), but, after taking this for a week or so, I headed out for a long run and discovered that I felt better for a longer duration and, even though I stopped my long run when planned, felt like I could continue. The next day, when the middle-age soreness usually appears, I instead felt some spring in my step, like I could run long again. This effect, of feeling stronger during the longer run and fresher the next day, was repeated every weekend for the month I've been taking the product. ChrisK had told me that it would be most effective after runs longer than 16 miles and I'll have to take his word for it, because I never got to that distance, but the effect was definitely felt on my shorter duration long runs.

Head over to Dangle The Carrot, where Jeff lets you know the opinion of an actual athlete. (If you are not following Jeff yet, you should, for jaw-dropping training posts, shark attacks, and the occasional political rant, all wrapped up in an oversize Texas twang.)

Now OptygenHP is not inexpensive and might not, economically, be for everyday use. However, as often as possible, and especially for your "A Events," OptygenHP is a must. Take it approximately a month before your event, enjoy the benefits of more pleasant training, higher levels of endurance, and quicker recovery in order to maximize the possibility of the most enjoyment come event day.

ProLine Sports has generously offered two ways to enter a drawing for a month's supply of OptygenHP. Be a follower of this blog, then head over to the ProLine website to enter and like them on Facebook for a Second Chance Drawing! (You can also follow them on Twitter.) Winner will be chosen at random Friday, March 25th, 2011, so enter before midnight on Thursday the 24th.

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

Would you like a product reviewed? 
Contact me at!

RUN! Book Review

Run!: 26.2 Stories of Blisters and Bliss 

RUN! 26.2 Stories of Blisters and Bliss (Emmaus, PA: Rodale, 2011), is Dean Karnazes' latest book about his life and running. While he's always been pretty good about giving credit to his supporters, he goes beyond that in this latest tome by actually having others write some of the chapters. His wife Julie penned a chapter along with his friend Topher Gaylord (president of The North Face).

If you've read and enjoyed Dean's other books, nothing in this one will surprise you, and, while some information has been repeated in pretty much every book (like ordering a thin crust, unsliced pizza which he rolls into a burrito for eating on the run), there is enough new info to make it a worthwhile read.

There are many detractors as well, who claim that Karnazes is simply a self-glorifying egomaniac, and there is probably some truth to that. However, as former person in this camp, I've come around to appreciating what this megafamous ultrarunner is doing to promote health and the sport of ultrarunning.

I, for one, might not be planning my first ultra this year if he were not such a motivating figure. While awed by him, my children see in him the limitless potential that they themselves have. Powerful stuff.

In short, if you're a fan you'll enjoy this book and if not, maybe give it a chance and if Dean can't change your mind. As he concludes the book, remarking on his dream of running a marathon in every country of the world in the span of a calendar year:

"That's my dream. Your dream might be a little less audacious, but that doesn't matter. There's a life out there  waiting for us. RUN!"

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday Fluff

Two new ultrarunning books coming out very soon, pre-ordering going on now through Amazon or for Bryon's book, also through his website, I Run Far (hadn't noticed before ordering through Amazon).

Zensah is having a giveaway for a pair of their compression socks via their Facebook page - head over and enter! My review of Optygen HP will be up on Monday, along with an opportunity to win two (2!) months worth of the product. Jeff over at Dangle The Carrot will be posting about Optygen HP as well, so you'll be able to hear how it affects an actual athlete.

Lots of new reviews up over at Women's Endurance Gear - if you haven't checked it out yet, head over, follow, and comment to your heart's content.

My running bucket list is up over at Endurance Gear Reviews - head over to add a must-do event that you've been dreaming of doing. If you're not following yet, do so today, couple of giveaways coming up there as well.

Extreme Running Book Review

Extreme Running

The term bucket list gets thrown about quite a bit and often it's a tiresome mishmash of all the obvious stuff you really should do before you die, but Kym McConnell and Dave Horsley's book Extreme Running (London, England: Pavilion, 2007) made me start thinking about events I might want to participate in, if I were so inclined. This is a well-researched book, with lots of info and details on a variety of events around the world. Inclusion in the book required a race to be extreme, offer a cross-section of terrain and climate, and be organized, so some well-known events like the Grand Canyon Traverse were excluded.

I have a couple of events I'd like to complete, though none of them are organized, or if they are, I don't necessarily feel that I need to participate in the official event.
  • Grand Canyon Rim to Rim (and maybe back)
  • Illinois Route 64, from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River (a run I'm planning in the next few years)
  • Grand Illinois Trail - 500 or so miles of northern Illinois, probably by bike
  • Run the Ice Age Trail in Wisconsin (1000 miles, could take a while)
  • Pacific Crest Trail - 2,650 miles, this one would definitely take a while
 Do you have an event you are dreaming of? Something so wild and audacious that people will gasp when you suggest it? Anything that will stretch your personal limits?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Saint Patrick, Ultrarunner

March 17th is the accepted date of Saint Patrick's death and the Irish (along with many others) celebrate by dyeing rivers green and drowning their sorrow about his death with copious amounts of green beer. What few people know, however, is that Saint Patrick was one of the first known ultrarunners, escaping slavery and running around loose throughout Ireland. Credited with ridding Ireland of snakes, or serpents, the truth is that Saint Patrick was simply using them as fuel on the go, a la K-Venom. To all you endurance enthusiasts out there, raise a toast to Saint Patrick, patron saint of ultrarunners.

Happy St Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The ABC's of KovasP

The ABC's of KovasP
(Or 26 Things You Probably Don't Care About)

(A) Age: 45
(B) Bed Size: King
(C) Chore You Hate: Cleaning out drains
(D) Dogs: 1 – a chow mix (had 2 brothers, but one is gone since xmas)

(E) Essential Start Your Day Item: Coffee
(F) Favorite Color: Green, blue, and silver
(G) Gold or Silver: Silver but prefer platinum
(H) Height: 6’
(I) Instruments You Play: Violin – in grade school, trying to learn guitar with my son.
(J) Job Title: Leasing Specialist
(K) Kids: 4 – 3 boys and a girl
(L) Live: Downers Grove, IL
(M) Mom's Name: SaulÄ—
(N) Nicknames: Trail Guru – thanks Craig!

(O) Overnight Hospital Stays: 4 births
(P) Pet Peeve: Litterbugs
(Q) Quote from a Movie:  “Have fun stormin’ the castle!”
(R) Right or Left Handed: Right
(S) Siblings: 5: older brother, older sister, younger brother, younger sister
(T) What time do you get up? Between 3 and 4
(U) Underwear: Briefs
(V) Vegetable You Dislike: Avocado
(W) What Makes You Run Late: My wife J

(X) X-Rays You've Had Done: Teeth, ankle
(Y) Yummy Food You Make: Pancakes and scones
(Z) Zoo, Favorite Animal: Sloth

Running, Skiing, and Endurance Sports -

REI: Gear for the Great Outdoors

UnderArmour - I WILL

Outdoor DIVAS - Adventure Gear for Active Women