Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Why Golf and Triathlon are Alike

Tazer and I finish our initial golf lessons at the Downers Grove Golf Club tonight. Laima starts her lessons Thursday, and a new round of lessons await Gaigai and me next week. I've played golf on and off (mostly off) since senior year of High School, have always enjoyed it, but was never any good due to my propensity to just whacking away at the ball. This time I'm approaching it in a more mature manner, being relaxed, and getting some lessons. Starting up golf reminded me of my initial foray into triathlon (which I also flailed away at for several years), and I got to thinking about how much golf and triathlon are alike.

Golf and triathlon? Alike? Yup.

Both sports have three main components to its execution. Triathlon has swim/bike/run, while golf has tee/fairway/green. In both cases, you don't have to excel at any one of the facets, but be consistently good in all three. You've got to practice to improve in both sports - running off the bike for the first time will humble even the strongest runners. Both sports require mental toughness, whether it's standing on the first tee in front of a crowded 19th Hole or facing your first OWS.

Like Golf, Triathlon is cost prohibitive. You don't NEED the newest fancy equipment, but it APPEARS that it will improve your game. And, to a certain point, it will. Some years ago, friends of my wife gave us an old Bridgestone road bike, which I had refurbished to act as my first road/tri bike. It was a quality steel bike, well-made and a classic. Fast-forward to several years ago. While ogling bikes in my LBS, I noticed a full carbon Look 555 with Campy components, weighing not much more than a feather, on sale for a ridiculously low price (all things being relative). There is no question in my mind that I am a far superior cyclist on the Look (not that it's saying much), compared to that old Bridgestone. Sometimes new, quality materials improve your performance, yes they do.

In both sports, three basic tenets will lead to success. Practice, plan for success (viualization), and play to your strengths - completing the course will be the more enjoyable for it.

Monday, May 30, 2011

12 Weeks to Barefoot Running: Week 2: Growing New Skin

Last week was my first attempt at incorporating barefoot running into my training. I'm using the 12-week plan that's included in Michael Sandler's book, Barefoot Running. Here is the plan and the 3 days I ran last week:

12 Weeks to Barefoot Running: Weeks 1-2: Growing New Skin
Pace: Easy Jogging
Distance:a few hundred yards to one mile
Objective: Stimulate feet to grow new skin

Week 2:

Day 1: First 4/10 mile barefoot, still dark so very cautious. Really feeling all these extra pounds today.

Day 2: Union Pier run - No BF, just didn't feel like dealing with the plethora of gravel strewn everywhere. Windy morning, big waves on the lake.

Day 3: No BF again, just no desire to run on wet sidewalks without shoes. Worked really hard to slow pace down, wanted to average 9:00 miles, was just under, but not an even effort, work still needs to be done!

Stacey (aka UltraPrincess) asked me how it was going and this was my response to her:

Well, it's only been 2 weeks, but 2 things really jumped out at me:

"1. Ironically enough, barefoot running feels totally unnatural, maybe because so much thought goes into it.

2. All my socks feel like they are suffocating my feet - the shoes don't bother me so much.

Eventually, I can see going to a sockless, minimalist shoe running plan. Can't quite see going BF full time, but who knows?

I'm also testing out a new pair of shoes(the NB 890), which are incredibly light, so I'm having a hard time distinguishing between effects due to BF running and those from the new shoes."

So reset time on the barefoot running thing, this week will once again be week 2. My goal is to get through the entire 12 week plan to really give it an honest shot.

After continued wet, dark weather, today finally appears to be summer like, with blue skies forecast, along with a temp of 90 degrees. We're headed to the in-laws for some pool time and a barbecue - the pool will be too cold for swimming, but still nice to hang out on the deck.

Have a great holiday!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Springtime or No

With our never ending winter this year, we were really looking forward to this weekend and headed out to Union Pier, MI, to enjoy the Lake Michigan shoreline and its attendant attractions. However, much like winter was extremely cold, snowy, and windy, spring so far has been more of the same, though it is only cold, wet, and windy. Today, however, promises to be a bluebird day, so hope springs eternal.

We drove out yesterday  early morning, with gray skies, wind, and intermittent rain (more on than off). Since I was teleworking, I didn't mind sitting in the cottage and to be honest, the kids were troopers as well, occupying themselves relatively quietly for the most part.

After a long day of federal real estate, but also getting ready for our agency's transition to Google (hooray!), we decided to head over to Timothy's Restaurant for a family dinner. Laima and I had eaten here before getting married, so it's quite a feat for the restaurant to still be here after 13 some odd years. To be honest, I vaguely remembered eating here, but sitting in the dining room, no recollections came forth, though Laima prodded me several times.

After we finished however, I realized what it was. The restaurant in my mind from so many years ago was an intimate, romantic lakeside inn eatery, yet the one we had just left didn't have that feeling at all. It struck me then, that Timothy's was like an aging dowager, attempting to put on a great face by overuse of makeup, but unable to hide the tired bones.

This is a restaurant that just isn't trying very hard, or at least not in the right ways. The service bordered on nonexistent, which is very nearly a crime at the prices charged. Our waitress (yes, we waited and waited for her) switched a more expensive bottle of champagne for the one we ordered, which I didn't notice until after I had okayed it. Granted, I should have been paying better attention, but with 4 kids in a "fancy" restaurant, sometimes the mind wanders. Fool me once, etc.

The food was not bad, in fact individual items were very good. My butternut squash was good, as were the "stir-fried" veggies on top, but there was no cohesiveness between the two, and even less so with the broth  the two were placed on. Tazer and Laima both had the steak frites, and, while the steak and its sauce were quite delicious, the fries were limp. There is no excuse for that. Gaigai's kid burger was the surprise of the meal, being both large and tasty, though neither her meal nor Munchkin's came with any sort of vegetable, which is something I'll never understand. At least make the effort, even if you think the kids won't eat it.

The decor seems tired as well, with, strangely enough, foam padding on the underside of our table,which nearly fell over several times when Tazer leaned his whole weight on it. Most of the clientele was of the elderly variety and granted, it was early seating, but I'm guessing it doesn't change much. My reasoning for this is an older gentleman's comment to us as he came in towards the end of our meal: "So strange to see young people here!" That says it all.

So, unfortunately, my dim memory of a romantic meal with Laima is now replaced with a forgettable meal on a gray evening. Can't recommend Timothy's at this time, unless a major revamp is done for the decor, service, food, and effort. A big task, but necessary, as this is one of the only restaurants in town.

Timothy's on Urbanspoon

But today is another day. While it's still overcast and a bit chilly this morning, blue skies have appeared on the horizon and the sun appears to be defeating the clouds. This afternoon we'll head down to the beach. While it is still too cold to swim, the beach holds endless fascination for all of us, especially after big storms, when the waves deposit myriad treasures there for the finding.

Have a great weekend all!
While enjoying family and friends,
please also remember the service and sacrifices
 made by our veterans!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Barefoot Running is Bad and a Healthy Transition to Barefoot Running

So maybe you're not sure about barefoot running or you believe it's a bunch of hippie granola hokum, maybe a Commie plot to misdirect the Youth of Today away from materialistic concerns. Whatever your skepticism, feel free to visit Barefoot Running is Bad, a website dedicated to saying, you guessed it, that barefoot running is bad. I was intrigued but then disappointed to find that the website is not based on educating people, but rather refuting the barefoot running establishment by basically saying "are not!" to barefoot running's "are too!" I am always happy to hear an opposing view, unless it opposes my own, but I wish the author had set out to illuminate more than simply object.

If after visiting, you're still thinking of giving it the old barefoot try...

According to Christopher McDougall (author of Born to Run), anyone can make the transition to barefoot running within three weeks. The underlying philosophy of the barefoot running movement, however, is that runners should listen to what their feet are telling them. For people who have grown up wearing shoes, the transition to barefoot running should be done slowly rather than suddenly.

In his book, Barefoot Running, Michael Sandler offers the following 10 tips for making the shod to barefoot transition:
  1. Go slow - consider starting with 100 yards and add to that gradually.
  2. Let your skin be your guide - feel the ground and learn to run lightly.
  3. Build foot strength - between runs, do foot-strengthening exercises.
  4. Focus on form - transitioning demands greater focus on what your body is doing.
  5. Leave the iPod and ego behind - pay attention and start slowly.
  6. Get balanced - work on balance and symmetrical strength.
  7. Get loose - stretch!
  8. Get aligned - misalignment creates overuse injuries.
  9. Go bare - find a variety of surfaces and out of shoes.
  10. Learn to rest - barefoot running does not eliminate the need for recovery.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Road ID Giveaway; Big Kahuna or Medium Shot?

Laima is hosting a giveaway for a RoadID over at Women's Endurance Gear - head over there to become a follower and enter for your chance to win. Even if you already have a RoadID, they now have smaller styles that are appropriate for kids, so it would make a great present for someone you know. As our son Tazer becomes bolder and more independent on his bike, we are realizing that a RoadID for him will make him a bit safer and allow us a bit less fear as he heads out of the driveway. It's never easy to watch them go.

So the "Medium Shot" who is Patrick over at The Road posed an interesting question on his post yesterday - he's looking for a funny or cheesy-named half marathon next February. Since we're both big guys, my first thought was that he should head to Hawaii for the Run For The Whales Half, but that's more ironic than cheesy. There's also the Disney Princess, which migt be right up his alley, or maybe the Snow Joke in Seeley Lake, MT. Ultimately though, for its name and close proximity to home, Patrick should opt for the Hugs & Kisses in Long Beach, CA. Do you have a suggestion for Patrick?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Why We Race Part 8

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, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6 and Part 7 began the sharing of people's responses. Here, in order of receipt, is Part 7 of the responses:

Angie Bee, Barefoot Angie Bee:
I like the structure of races.  The anticipation and camaraderie of the whole event makes it really fun!  Something about signing up and working towards that date keeps me on track where as I have a hard time structuring my training otherwise.
I love the t-shirts and medals but who doesn't!!  The price of race entry fee is what keeps me from racing way more often. Its pretty simple for me but I look forward to hearing what others say about it!

Valen, A season of resting (and training for Ironman):
I can only talk about me, but I found racing an exhilarating experience, I have too much fun while racing, maybe because not often I am running, or swimming or biking with 200 or 300 other mad guys from all ages, sizes and shapes from the whole of the country (and the world). Maybe it is also re-incarnation of the boy in me, still wanting to play around as much as possible.
Training, on the other side, it is more of an adult thing, I test my own discipline, and ability to go further, things I began to like as I grew older. There is a sense of adventure and also the sense of being in the process of reaching and breaking many physical and mental boundaries.

Amanda, Run to the Finish:
What a fun question...especially because I only do a few select races each year.
Why do you race? I run because I just love the way that it feels. I race only once or twice a year to prove things to myself, i.e. I can run farther or faster. It allows me to continue proving to myself that I can always do more than I believed.  Smaller races or costume races are all about enjoying the camaraderie that this sport provides!
Why are you willing to pay to run on public streets or trails, sometimes paying large amounts for travel and accommodations? I love to travel and racing is a great excuse to see new places! I feel like running allows me to see cities in a completely different way than most visitors.  While I don't need a reason to travel, it's more fun to tell people I ran a marathon in Seattle before taking my Alaskan cruise...plus no guilt for that week of vegetation!
 Why are you willing to plan a race around a particular weekend? If it's a race that has peaked my interest because it looks like a great course, a neat city or just a lot of fun then I can't wait for that weekend. I'm not planning around it, but more like excited for it to get here so I can have a great new experience.
What ARE your motivators to race?
Competition with myself.
Testing my limits.
Being with friends.

Monday, May 23, 2011

12 Weeks to Barefoot Running: Week 1: Growing New Skin

Guilford County Forest Preserve

Last week was my first attempt at incorporating barefoot running into my training. I'm using the 12-week plan that's included in Michael Sandler's book, Barefoot Running. Here is the plan and the 3 days I ran last week:

12 Weeks to Barefoot Running: Weeks 1-2: Growing New Skin
Pace: Easy Jogging
Distance:a few hundred yards to one mile
Objective: Stimulate feet to grow new skin

Day 1: 38 degrees outside, so barefoot running starts on the treadmill. 1/4 mile barefoot, felt good, strange to run on toes/forefoot, really felt it in the calves and lower legs. 3/4 mile sockless, felt okay. Started watching "American Dreamz," funny movie.

Day 2: Indianapolis trip – did not sleep well, never do in hotels, but got up in time to fit in a run. First ½  mile barefoot, did not think about form, just ran, felt good. Ran at a fast pace(6:40 first mile!), didn't know I had it in me. Stabbing pain in right heel when stretching over the last week or so, bummer. Doesn't affect walking or running, yet.

LZ Peace Memorial

Day 3: Rockford trip – Gaigai’s soccer tournament, decided to make an overnight trip of it, stayed at the okay, but tired Residence Inn in Rockford. Two bedrooms suits our family well, but cold pool and general aged infrastructure made this a skip next time, probably. It isn’t easy to find hotels with adjoining rooms or 2 bedroom suites these days. Early morning run - 6/10 mile barefoot, then on bike path through forest preserve. Found reenactment area and historical village, then peace memorial, lots of things to see. Once again I didn't focus on my form, just ran comfortably - once I my feet started feeling hot, I stopped to put on shocks and shoes.

Barefoot running has started out relatively promisingly, though from the onset, I don’t see myself giving up on shoes long-term, but it is the first week. A bigger difference I noticed was that pulling on socks after barefooting it is more uncomfortable than donning shoes. Barefoot running really allows for the feet to breathe, which even the best socks don’t.

Friday, May 20, 2011


Yesterday I spent the day in Indianapolis, arriving Wednesday night, and staying at the new JW Marriott hotel downtown. While an attractive hotel, the noise from the street was louder than I liked – after starting in a 5th floor room, I changed to one on the 18th floor, which mitigated the traffic sounds, but did not wholly get rid of them. Marriott owns the entire block and has situated 3 hotels and a conference center there, so I am really surprised that this flagship hotel faces downtown and sits on one of the busiest roadways, when the other end of the block overlooks White River State Park, the zoo and the river. Poor planning on that one. Otherwise, the service goes well above and beyond, and the furnishings are modern and comfortable – nothing like lounging on a “heavenly” bed in your plush robe, is there? My suggestion, if you are staying in Indianapolis and want to try the JW Marriott: request a high floor on the west side of the building.

High Velocity Sports Bar on Urbanspoon

Being the decadent traveler I am, I ordered room service and ate sitting on the bed, watching the Tour Of California (a rare treat since we no longer have Versus). The hotel allowed me to order from either of the two in-house restaurants, so I mixed it up and tried both. From High Velocity, I got the Crispy Sesame Chicken salad, which was much better than anticipated and surprising as well. The chicken seemed to be hand-breaded and lightly fried, rather than the popcorn-style chicken I was expecting. The lychee fruit were a nice twist as well. No dressing (though a vinaigrette was indicated on the menu) initially seemed like an oversight, but the salad was the better for it ( and healthier to boot). To satisfy my inner glutton (which is displayed in an outer glutton’s body), I opted for the Lava di Cioccolato (Lava cake served with warm zabaglione sauce and vanilla gelato) from Osteria Pronto. I normally am not a fan of sauces with my deserts, but the chocolate syrup mixed with the Haagen Dasz ice cream (in lieu of the gelato?) made for sweet tooth satisfaction. To complete the experience, a Guinness Stout (recently learned it's not vegan, but since the fish scales imparted no taste, I can’t complain too much).

Osteria Pronto on Urbanspoon

After tossing and turning most of the night (as my kids say, when I’m away it’s “sad and lonely”), I didn’t have much impetus to go outside for a run. Dutifully, however, I stuck with the plan and headed out. Being near the White River and Central Canal, I knew I would only have several blocks to run along city streets, always a nice treat. After a half mile of barefoot running, I continued along the canal before heading out and back along the White River, enjoying the early morning zoo smells along with nearly perfect running weather. Not sure what got into me, but my first mile was run in 6:40, beyond blazingly fast for me, as I normally plod along in the 8:30-9:00 minute per mile pace for my tempo runs. The results of this fast start? Heaving lungs, a surprised body, and 5 miles in under 40 minutes. Where did that come from? I think my Garmin may have been acting up.

Except for missing my family, I always enjoy visiting Indianapolis. The city has made great efforts to keep this a walkable, interesting city, one well-worth visiting. Multiple museums, monuments, historical sites, as well as university and private arenas provide for something of interesting to just about anyone.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Guest Post: FootQuest 9000 Part 1

FootQuest 9000. A double-feetured tale of running, recovery and unrecoverable puns. Part 1.

When you last heard from me, the bottoms of my feet felt like crunchy doughnuts, and I was grabbing for a glass of milk that was forever out of reach. I had been running singletrack trails for a year. I had run through all seasons, through summer sweat and slushy winter snow. My favorite trails were those that had thwarted the ablest mountain biker, sending them to their local bike shops with bent rims. As I went screaming pell mell down the narrow chutes, wayward squirrels gathering nuts would suddenly scatter and I would laugh heartily at their misfortune. Ha ha ha...run squirrel run! I could run 7 minute miles with my mouth closed...and a stuffy nose, and never be out of breath. Oh yes, dear reader...I was hardcore.

Why was I having so much fun? What made me hardcore? How did running evolve into such times of high mayhem you ask? My secret was that I ran BareFoot (BF). Not the kind of BF in which one wear’s thin shoes and run’s POSE style and calls it “barefoot running”. No, I was running BF, as in, naked footed. And just as the fun was really starting, just after I had passed BF trail running landmarks such as running a trail half marathon and 3 miles on snowpack...it all came to an end. My feet got greedy for speed, which is easy when BF. I went too fast, for too long and hit some very big rocks. That was what really did it. Big huge rocks, smashing into the bottoms of my feet like petrified bugs at highway speed, striking ligaments, tendons and the peroneal nerves on the bottoms of both feet. Suddenly, I was hobbled. I spent about 2 months or more just doing nothing more than gentle walking. The pain was pretty severe. But slowly I began to feel that I could approach running again. This story picks up there....

First Day Out

I simply must exceed walking speed or lose my mind!  Yoga helps but I miss the full body motion workout.  Yet, running on trails BF again is currently as appealing as having a foot fight with a 7-foot man in steel toed boots.  Every bone in my body said NO.  I do the unthinkable...pavement.  I actually go out for a gingerly 2-mile BF jog.  I go really, really slowly.  It doesn’t help.  Before I get back to my car the middle of my foot was sending up smoke signals...and I think some buzzards were circling. 

Second Day Out

Repeat of First Day...some people never learn.

Third Day Out

I give up all my morals.  I throw my ethics and standards over my shoulder at a 6-minute mile pace.  I surrender to the Shiva of Shoedom and lay down upon my closet floor to search for...my old Nike running shoes.  I just finally realized that my feet, in their current state, simply needed more cushioning, or I’d never be able to reintroduce running to my feet again.  I had an old pair of Nike Bowerman Edition shoes.  I’d worn them before my BF days.  They are fairly lightweight and sort of squishy.  I was able to run again and that was all that mattered to me at that point.  I ran out on my favorite trail.  I-was-ecstatic.  I ended the run back at my car, exceedingly happy.

Yet, I still noted that the structure of the shoe was way too built up for me to have it work.  I knew this because when I stepped out of my car, post run...my Achilles’ Tendons on both feet hurt so much that I wondered if the arrows were in fact, actually protruding from my heels.  This pain sent me on a new errand: find a super lightweight minimalist shoe that has enough padding to trail run again...but with very little drop.  I was certain that the increased drop was the culprit for the Achilles’ Tendon pain...pain that I had never once encountered while running with or without shoes.  My theory is that running BF for so long changed my stride and gait.  Thus going back to a built up shoe just threw everything off.

The Shoe Search: Merrell True Glove and Trail Glove

I walked to my nearest gear shop.  Nah...that isn’t true.  I limped to my nearest gear shop.  Though I partially chose this store based upon the beauty of one of their sales persons, they also had the new Merrell shoe line up.  So, I smiled at the woman and started trying on the new Merrell minimalist shoes.  Minimalist shoes?  Okay, I am no shoe expert, but the Trail Glove and True Glove are nothing more than a slab.  They are the white toast of minimalist shoes.  The plain white cracker at the trail running potluck.  I tried them on and felt like my Grandma could have made something more original.  I am not trying to be unkind.  But go to your local store.  Forget the hype.  Ignore the advertisements.  Just pick one up and ask yourself how this shoe can add to bringing you closer to running as a minimalist.  I felt that they just threw this thing out on the market...threw it at the consumers, just to ride on the fad.  I found it insulting actually, and I am glad it passed over me.  Plus, everyone knows that zero drop really is important if one is to mimic actual barefoot gait patterns.  Set this shoe on the ground and marvel at how powerfully upswept the toe box is.  The thing floats above the Earth, lifting your toes up in an unnatural position.  This positioning is tyrannical, and your metatarsals will be staging a coup in no time. 

After you have run barefoot extensively a magical thing happens to your feet.  They become unbelievably sensitive to pressure, temperature, moisture, just as much so as your fingertips.  Trying on shoes with this heightened supersense is pretty interesting.  I can instantly feel exactly where the soft and solid parts of the shoes are.  With these particular shoes, I could actually feel the patterned rubber and the way it had gaps in it.  As I stood, I could feel the way parts of my feet fell through the open portions of the sole’s misconstrued grid layout.  Were they trying to lose money on this shoe?  Was it a tax shelter perhaps?  I could also easily imagine a nice sharp rock fitting so nicely right in between those open areas and hitting my foot.  Yeah, I liked these shoes about as much as I like a flat tire at midnight.  Might as well run in Birkenstocks or flip flops.  Have I said enough to convey my disdain for this shoe yet? 

Then I went to my favorite running store.  The guy there had just been to a big shoe conference thingy and had made pals with a Merrell rep.  He was sporting some prototypes for the up and coming Minimus shoe that had been given to him by the rep.  Now, I can’t yet wear that shoe because I need more padding due to my injury.  But if I could I would.  Here is the crazy part though; there it was, a minimalist shoe from Merrell.  A minimalist shoe, through and through.  Yet I had just been holding their “minimalist shoe”-the Trail Glove and True Glove.  So it begs the question, Merrell, which is it?  They can’t both be minimalist shoes when their construction is completely dissimilar.  It only adds to my feeling that I’d never run in the Trail Glove or True Glove and would wholeheartedly not recommend them to anyone.  In this age where we are all curious about BF and minimalist running, I am reminded of snake oil salesman from the old West.  So few people know what to look for in a shoe, when they are trying to run barefoot actually.  It is an easy marketplace for large companies to throw together schlock with laces or velcro and call it an Armani.  My advice will always be to not look for a shoe.  Go BF, go slow, and don’t run on trails with gnarly rocks covered by leaves at 20 mph.  If that truly doesn’t work, then good luck to all of us in finding a new shoe in the brave new world of shoes.  Wow...thanks for listening dear reader.  I really had to get that off my chest!  I knew you would understand. 

Tune in next time for a review of racing flats as a minimalist option, what it is like to run in shoes again, my first race and the shoe I finally DO recommend running in while recovering from overdoing it through BF running.

Charlie coaches barefoot trail running in the Chapel Hill, NC area.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

CLIF BAR’s Meet the Moment Program

CLIF BAR yesterday introduced Meet the Moment, a celebration of athletic adventures and the places they happen. Whether it’s action, adventure or the thrill of the chase, CLIF BAR wants people to share how they Meet the Moment by uploading inspiring photos and stories at www.MeettheMoment.com.

CLIF BAR will award three people who upload the most inspirational and creative Moments by July 31 an opportunity to pursue their dream adventure. Each winner will select the adventure of their choice (up to a maximum value of $12,000) - be it trekking the Amazon, chasing the Tour de France, riding a wave at J Bay, extreme boarding at Marmot or any other athletic adventure they’ve dreamed about.

To protect the places people play, CLIF BAR also will donate $5 to one of five non-profits dedicated to protecting outdoor places each time someone creates and uploads their first Moment. To further support these conservation and preservation efforts, CLIF BAR will double its contribution to each non-profit if people submit 10,000 Moments by July 31. All told, CLIF BAR, the nation’s #1 energy bar, could contribute up to $125,000 to the five organizations.

The five non-profit beneficiaries that people can select from to direct a $5 CLIF BAR donation on their behalf – Leave No Trace, International Mountain Biking Association, Surfrider Foundation, Access Fund and Winter Wildlands Alliance – were chosen for their focus on protecting the places where people Meet the Moment and their dedication to ensuring that outdoor spaces will be preserved for future generations to experience their own Moments.

I shared a photo and a quick note regarding our family's visit to Starved Rock State Park - our kids were so excited to hike and be out in nature! Anytime you can get a 10, 8, and 4 year old to walk, run, jump, and climb for 2+ hours, you know it's a good thing. That they want to  do it again is amazing. I opted to have a donation made to Leave No Trace, something we work hard to instill in our kids by taking photos and leaving sticks, rocks and plants where they are. Please head over to my Moment , click "Like," and then create your own Moment.
Anyone is invited to upload a photo and share their Moment at www.MeettheMoment.com. The Moment can be described in “magnetic poetry style” by choosing from a bank of words that will be placed on top of the photo to create an individualized postcard.  People can also opt to add their own words to their postcard.

Clif Bar & Company is a leading maker of nutritious and organic foods and drinks for people on-the-go, including CLIF® BAR energy bar, LUNA®, The Whole Nutrition Bar for Women®; and CLIF Kid®, Nourishing Kids in Motion®. Focused on sports nutrition and healthy snacks, the company is committed to sustaining its people, brands, business, community and planet. For more information on Clif Bar & Company, please visit http://www.clifbar.com/, check out our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/clifbar or follow us on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/clifbar.  

Monday, May 16, 2011

Barefoot Running: The Attempt

Because I’m a sheep Because All the Cool Kids Are Doing It If you haven’t been training under a rock, you’ve surely stumbled across the idea of running barefoot or in more minimal shoes. When I started running again a year and a half ago, I was intrigued but never felt the pull enough to actually try it. However, when I recently read Bryon Powell’s Relentless Forward Progress, I was really impressed by one of the appendices, which explicated reasons to consider barefoot running.

Recently, scanning our library’s website, I saw that they had, in their collection, Barefoot Running by Michael Sandler, the author of the aforementioned appendix. When I first started the book, however, I was crestfallen, as the first several chapters were of the granola and hippie-dippie prose variety. I’m not against spirituality, but I am not really comfortable reading about it. Better left unsaid as I find it detracts, to me, from the actual subject matter of the book. However, Sandler does have a lot of good things to say about transitioning to barefoot running and the benefits it conveys.

I’ve decided to use his 12 week program to add some barefoot running to my training, with the thought that it may benefit me and hopefully won’t hurt me. Contrary to a lot of reports, barefoot runners do not get injured any less than those shod, though the injuries tend to be of a different ilk. After each week, I’ll report back to let you all know what I think.

Friday, May 13, 2011

I'm Here to Win

I'm Here to Win: A World Champion's Advice for Peak Performance by Chris McCormack with Tim Vandehey was a book I both looked forward to and dreaded reading. As some of you know, I think that Chris “Macca” McCormack is somewhat of a blowhard and a braggart. He’s won numerous times at a variety of triathlon distances, but he’s always rubbed me the wrong way. There’s confident and there’s cocky – Macca is the latter. I’m not big on trashtalking – Macca admits it’s part of his preparations for racing. All in all, a guy who could be a role model instead turns me off. This book was read by me in hopes that he would change my mind.

Hachette Book Group:

"As the winner of the 2010 Hawaii Ironman Championship, Chris "Macca" McCormack may be the world's greatest athlete.

In I'M HERE TO WIN, McCormack shares his story along  with training tips and practical advice to help readers develop their own routines, diet, exercise programs and race strategies.

Chris McCormack has dedicated his life to training for-- and winning-- the Ironman Hawaii, one of the most grueling tests of mental and physical endurance in the world. The race challenges athletes to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run a full marathon, 26.2 miles, all  while battling harsh conditions and their own willpower.

In 2010, McCormack won the Hawaiian Ironman Championship for the second time  at 37 years old-- a testament to his fitness and endurance.  Macca's  journey to athletic greatness is more than just one of physical perseverance. After coming in fourth in Hawaii last year, Macca returned to the island chanting, "I'm Here To Win!" He had a new mental game plan in place that brought him first across the finish line. In his much-anticipated book, Macca shares his playbook and reveals everything it takes-- mind, body, and spirit-- to become a champion.

In addition to his Hawaii Ironman wins, Macca holds the record for the most triathlon race wins ever and it's his winning strategies and mindset that he now brings to the reader  in I'M HERE TO WIN.

For weekend warriors who casually compete to seasoned veterans who race every weekend, armchair athletes looking for an extra push and everyone in between, I'M HERE TO WIN provides riveting insight into the mind of a great champion with excitement and inspiration on every page.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Chris McCormack "Macca" was born in Sydney, Australia on April 4, 1973. He won titles and awards for his participation in sports during his school years, but initially chose education over a pro sports career and became an accountant after graduating from the University of New South Wales. He began competing professionally in 1996, and most recently, won the 2010 Ironman World Championship in Honolulu."

Nothing in the book made me change my impression of Macca. He seems totally self-absorbed and takes credit for pretty much everything, begrudgingly doling out small increments of thanks to some people. I get this is a biography, and most elite athletes are pretty full of themselves, but no one can do it alone, and I guess I most appreciate those that really point out all the supporters that make their career possible.

One of the things he is most proud of is the fact that he has always done things counter to accepted thought or practice. As a contrarian myself, I would admire this, if it wasn't part of his "mental game...highlighting the fears and insecurities in other athletes." Once again, he just comes across looking somewhat like a jerk.

There's also a strange dichotomy to his writing. In one chapter he will pointing out to the Australian Triathlon Federation how wrong they were by leaving him off the Olympic Squad. Several chapters later he states that he never shoved his success in anybody's face, not even Triathlon Australia. ??? Even his efforts to improve his image are contradicted by him saying that people thought he was trying to be nicer even though he was crushing opponents, winning everything in sight while playing his mental games.

A big part of this lies with me. I have never been particularly competitive and really am not at this stage of my life. Macca is a professional athlete and working with what he has. As he mentions, at the elite level, the physical differences between competitors is infitesmal, so the mental edge was where he played his cards. He didn't mind being the bad guy, the bully, if it meant he won races. It'll be interesting to see how he feels 10 or 15 years from now, when he reflects on his career. I wonder how he'd react if his daughters were either trash-talking their opponents or were the brunt of the trash-talk?

Anything positive to say?

I don't want it to seem like I'm completely down on this book. Sprinkled in the nearly nonstop self-congratulatory pats on his back, Macca has some really insightful strategies to share regarding training, racing, and educating yourself about the sport. They alone are worth reading this book, in spite of the blustering bravado.

Something I hadn't noticed before, but Macca points out in the book, is that he always has the number 19455 either on his apparel or written on his body for every race. The significance? His mother lived for 19,455 days, before succumbing to cancer. He then took that number, 19455, multiplied it by 140.6 (the distance of a long course triathlon), and came up with $2,735,373, the amount he decided to raise for breast cancer. Really a nice gesture.

This book can be ordered through Amazon.com.

Disclaimer: This product was advanced to me for review purposes, courtesy of Hachette Book Group via Net Galley. I was not compensated in any other way for the review, was not obligated to give it a positive review, and all opinions are my own. Some information in this review was taken from the company website.

Want your product reviewed?
Contact me at lakotega@yahoo.com.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Guest Post: Weekend Warrior vs. Cubicle Castaway ......

The greatest question that could be asked, Weekend Warrior vs. Cubicle Castaway? Does that make any sense? That is the question that I am wrestling with today, and everyday. I'm always going back and forth on this one question while I am in the shower or staring at my computer screen at 3:30 in the afternoon. Does my cubicle suck or does it give me money and the freedom to do the stuff I want? What would it be like if I was a cubicle castaway and did what I wanted outside full time? Do I have what it takes to be that person? And that is the real question here, which is better? Are either of these two choices of life better then the other? What does one offer that the other does not, and what are the advantages and disadvantages of each?

The Weekend Warrior.............

I am in a peculiar situation as I am a full head on cubicle man during the week and a weekend warrior, fighting my way through the corporate jungle. However, my wife is a cubicle castaway who works, eats, sleeps, and plays in the outdoor industry. She is always making me painfully aware of how uncool I am because I have not heard about the awesome new backpacks that Deuter has out or something else along those lines. But, this is the life I have chosen. Four years of college and all I wanted that whole time was to work in a cubicle. But, what would it be like to have a job like my wife? Her job is to know and sell every kind of outdoor gear. Her job is to kayakSUP, and all that other stuff that I don't call work. But, then again she has funny hours and any job can be stressful and become taxing, doesn't matter what you do, some days are just plain tough. To be honest, as a weekend warrior there is one complaint that I have to voice against the cubicle castaways. Sometimes I feel just like a "outsider." It seems that there can be some big headed cubicle castaways that think just because they don't work in a cubicle that they are somehow one setup above the rest of us. So, once again here we are, Weekend Warrior vs. Cubicle Castaway.

Let us take the side of a Weekend Warrior for a few moments. The typical weekend warrior usually holds the old American Dream, a steady 8 to 5 job with a nice house, condo, or apartment to go along with it. These warriors of the corporate jungle cut and scramble their way through the week, just to make it to that Friday afternoon. Like a butterfly, ok a little cheesy, they shed off those business casual cloths and from that bat cave they emerge with the newest Patagonia shirt which makes them feel alive again. Now, there is something to be said about falling into the weekend warrior group. These are some possible reasons.....

1. Does a weekend warrior appreciate those great outdoors more after being cooped up all day?
2. Can a weekend warrior open up more opportunities and adventures by collecting that nice paycheck every two weeks?
3. Are the weekend warriors not so high and mighty, being more down to earth and easy going?

The Cubicle Castaway............

Of course there are two sides to every story. For the sake of being fair, and not being in the doghouse from my wife, I must take up the other side of the argument. Let there be no doubt, when I watch a movie like "127 Hours," there is something inside me that just wants to be a full time cubicle castaway that I can barely take it. Who, after sitting in a cubicle for one week has not day dreamed about just leaving it all behind and doing what we all love in the outdoors full time? My wife gets to wear the cool cloths 7 days a week, no dressing up. She gets to work with kayaks, backpacks, SUP's, and all those things I dream about at night. Who doesn't like the idea of "work" being going on a rock climbing trip or backpacking trip?

To be a cubicle castaway would mean, in general, to leave the stress of that corporate world. Heck, that probably extends your life expectancy by a couple years. Low stress, breathing that fresh air everyday, that has got to be better for you. No doubt you can become a master of many things such as rock climbing, paddling, and trail running. When it comes down to it, if you get to spend all day surrounded by those hobbies and outdoor activities you like to do, perhaps you become more of master at these things and are therefore able to enjoy them more. In the end life is pretty short and from that point of view maybe the cubicle castaway really gets to live life more and enjoy it to its fullest. Maybe these are some possible reasons for choosing to be a cubicle castaway.....

1. Cubicle Castaways get to spend all day, everyday doing what they love outdoors and the rest of us don't?
2. Do Cubicle Castaways get to become more experienced in outdoor activities, mastering them, and therefore enjoy them more then the average person?
3. Does a Cubicle Castaway live in a low stress environment that gives them better mental and physical health?

Most likely in the end it will come down to what kind of person you are. Some people like the security of that corporate job and truly love what they do. Others can not stand the thought, and couldn't be in the cubicle for a week straight, and have chosen another path. You've probably heard the saying, "the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence," probably at some point both Weekend Warriors and Cubicle Castaways have wondered what it would be like to have what the other person has. What kind of a person are you? Is your kind better then the other? What benefits does your choice give you? Would you change if you could?

Daniel's Bio: Cubicle warrior and weekend warrior, that is me. I am Midwest boy raised in the flatlands who grew up working and playing in the great outdoors...mostly because that is all you can do where I'm from. I'm a fan of anything outdoors, from fly fishing on the weekend to climbing Colorado's Capitol Peak. Doesn't matter if it is running, biking, or kayaking I like to do it all. I enjoy being a amateur of all them, I believe it makes life more interesting when you don't know what you are doing. I run a web site called www.ShareThisAdventure.com, a free web site made by outdoor enthusiast, for outdoor and adventure enthusiast. I want everyone to be inspired and to inspire others with adventure stories from the mountain to the weekend road trip. Basically anyone can upload a story with photos about any activity they have done outdoors and share it with the world, the idea is to share the love of the outdoors and get people off that couch.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hell on Two Wheels

The Race Across America (RAAM) is considered one of the toughest endurance events in the world.
RAAM—the Race Across America—is a bicycle race like no other. It’s nothing like its more famous cousin, the Tour de France. RAAM is much crazier, more gothic, and even savage. Once the gun goes off on the Pacific Coast, the clock doesn’t stop, so if you sleep, you lose. The first rider to complete the prescribed 3,000-mile route—nine days later at the Atlantic—is the victor. Most racers manage two or three hours of sleep each day while the leaders get by on an hour and a half—or less. Sleep deprivation leads them to hallucinate, often for hours on end. This epic race is the most brutal organized sporting event you’ve never heard of and one of the best kept secrets in the sports world. Contestants have died, been maimed, and spiraled down into the nightmarish realm of the mad. Half of them don’t finish. In fact, only 200 racers have ever made it to the end. Outside magazine calls it “the toughest test of endurance in the world,” and one winner who also climbed the world’s highest mountain said, “Everest is more dangerous but RAAM is harder.”

Hell on Two Wheels takes readers inside a harrowing, 3,000-mile long ultra-distance cycling race and follows a handful of courageous athletes who test themselves, each other, and the limits of human endurance.

Hell on Two Wheels is a thrilling and remarkably detailed account of their ups and downs, triumphs and tragedies. This is more than just a race—it's a monster, a crucible, an unforgettable allegory about the human experience of pain, joy, and self-discovery.

Amy Snyder is a marathon cyclist, three-time Ironman finisher, and retired management consultant. She lives in La Jolla, California, and recently wrote Hell on Two Wheels, a book about a 3,000-mile nonstop bike race Outside Magazine called the toughest test of endurance in the world. Learn more about her book at www.hellontwowheelsbook.com.

Amy's book tour kicks off June 2nd, information and more dates can be found on the website. I will be receiving a pre-publication copy to review, so check back in several weeks to find out what I thought of the book! If you can't wait, pre-order the book through Amazon.

Get more information about this forthcoming book on the Hell on Two Wheels website, on Facebook, or Twitter.

Monday, May 9, 2011

2Toms BlisterShield Review + Giveaway

If you suffer from blisters, there are several paths for prevention that you can take: liquid or gel, powder, taping the feet, double socks or something similar. Liquids and gels are messy and can damage your socks, tape can be painful if incorrectly applied, while double socks can affect the way your feet feel in your shoes or necessitate the purchase of new shoes entirely.

2Toms was established by Tom Lewis and Tom Judd; a scientist from M.I.T. (not my alma mater, but a decent school nonetheless) and a business entrepreneur. Both loved to hike and took great pride in leading active, healthy lifestyles. The pair often found themselves wondering how to prevent odors, blisters and chafing. Through extensive research, their first product, BlisterShield was born. The product addressed how to prevent blisters and was an instant success. Not long after, SportShield was introduced onto the market and offered yet another smart solution for the prevention of chaffing. These products are available in roll-ons and single use packets, and can be used independently or together for extra protection. I've used SportShield with great success to prevent nipple chafing, so I was happy to try BlisterShield as well.
Blistershield has no odor, which was kind of a surprise to me, but I suppose it's better than one I'm not fond of. The packages come with a plastic scoop to aid in the movement of powder to clothing of choice - I only used BlisterShield in my socks, but I'm sure this could be very effective in cycling or running shorts as well. While the powder was loose in the bag, it clumped quite a bit and then stuck inside the scoop, not sure the mechanism for that happening and it wasn't a big deal, just noted as something to remember,

BlisterShield is a powder, but is actually made up of 2 waxes, which is interesting. If you read Laima's review over at Women's Endurance Gear, she mentioned how slippery the socks felt on bare floors and vinyl - she's right and it's kind of fun (maybe even good for the floors?).

More information about 2Toms and their products can be found on their website, by liking them on Facebook or following them on Twitter.


In what may be one of the most disturbing contests of recent memory, 2Toms is giving a contestant a 1/2 Year supply of 2Toms products for having (and sharing) the worst blister of the year. Our own Kate of SuperKate is entered - head over to the Facebook page, like 2Toms, and then click on her blister photo so he has a chance to win!

2Toms not only provided us with review samples to try out, but two, yes two folks will have the opportunity to try BlisterShield out by winning a bag of their own.

2 ways to win:

  1. Head over to Women's Endurance Gear, follow if you are not already doing so, and leave a comment, simple, even ChrisK could do it! Deadline is Monday, May 9th.
  2. Be a follower here, leave me a comment on whether you suffer from blisters and your strategy for dealing with them, easy-peasy.
Contest on this site will run through the end of Monday, May 16th, whence a winner will be chosen. You can't win if you don't play, so follow and leave a comment!

Disclaimer: This product was sent to me for review purposes, courtesy of 2Toms via Kristin at Transmyt. I was not compensated in any other way for the review, was not obligated to give it a positive review, and all opinions are my own. Some information in this review was taken from the company website.

Would you like your product reviewed?
Contact me at lakotega@yahoo.com.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Community News

In bloggy news today:

Bob Shuler, aka IronBob aka OneHourIronman had a letter published in the June 2011 issue of Triathlete Magazine! Sort of surprised it wasn't about refrigerator repair man butt cracks, but that's Bob, always surprising the multisport world.

(*Addendum: Big Daddy Diesel has let me know that there are three other bloggers mentioned: Heidi Austin from TriAngel, Chloe from Chloe is..., Tawn from Tri Dawn - woohoo! I hadn't gotten through the whole issue, so thanks for the heads-up.)

Even as you read this, EMZ is running her way to nowhere, 24 hours on the treadmill to benefit the Sojourner Center. For more info and to support her cause, head over to Run EMZ! She's. fReaking. got. thIs.

The 24 Treadmill Marathon Support for Sojourner Center
When: 05/06/2011 6am-05/07/2011 6am Mountain Time
Where: Channel 12 studio 200 East Van Buren; Phoenix, AZ

Still the weekend left to follow and possibly win some BlisterShield over at Women's Endurance Gear. Or follow for such things as the recipe for Black Bean Brownies (Black Bean Brownies?!). Be a mensch (menscha/menschess?) - head over there and start following today!


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Velominati: Keepers of the Cog

Once in a while you come across a website that most people might miss, so you share. Cycling is an inscrutable religion to most people, including, somewhat, to me. I used to read BikeSnobNYC quite a bit,  along with the Fat Cyclist,  along with plenty of the Tour de France and other bike races, but there is always something that remains elusively out of reach. Now I'm not some yokel who can't tell his Rapha from his Assos in the ground, but still...

The Velominati have a certain rigid dogmatism, coupled with a sly humor, that, while not letting you in on the secrets, inculcates you into the cult via The Rules, The Lexicon, The Works, and The Bikes. Examples of some of the EIGHTY-FIVE rules:
  • RULE 5: Harden the F*ck Up.
  • RULE 9: If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.
  • RULE 22: Cycling caps can be worn under helmets, but never when not riding, no matter how hip you think you look. This will render one a douche, and should result in public berating or beating.    The only time it is acceptable to wear a cycling cap is while directly engaged in cycling activities and while clad in cycling kit.  This includes activities taking place prior to and immediately after the ride such as machine tuning and tire pumping.  Also included are cafe appearances for pre-ride espressi and post-ride pub appearances for body-refueling ales (provided said pub has sunny, outdoor patio – do not stray inside a pub wearing kit or risk being ceremoniously beaten by leather-clad biker chicks).   Under these conditions, having your cap skull-side tipped jauntily at a rakish angle is, one might say, de rigueur.  All good things must be taken in measure, however, and as such it is critical that we let sanity and good taste prevail: as long as the first sip of the relevant caffeine or hop-based beverage is taken whilst beads of sweat, snow, or rain are still evident on one’s brow then it is legitimate for the cap to be worn. However, once all that remains in the cranial furrows is salt, it is then time to shower, throw on some suitable après-ride attire (a woollen Molteni Arcore training top circa ’73 comes to mind) and return to the bar, folded copy of pastel-coloured news publication in hand, ready for formal fluid replacement. It is also helpful if you are a Giant of the Road, rather than a giant douchebag.
  • RULE 42: A bike race shall never be preceded with a swim and/or followed by a run.
  • RULE 62: You shall not ride with earphones. Cycling is about getting outside and into the elements and you don’t need to be listening to Queen or Slayer in order to experience that. Immerse yourself in the rhythm and pain, not in whatever 80′s hair band you call “music”. Rule 5 and ride your bike.
  • RULE 77: Respect the earth.  Do not throw your empty gel packets, energy bar wrappers or punctured tubes on the road or in the bush.  Stuff em in your jersey pockets, and repair that tube when you get home.
All in all, a fun list.

"La Vie Velominatus. It is the life we, as Velominati, lead.  It is life as a disciple of cycling, of the greater meaning the bike holds and the lessons it teaches us. A Velominatus is a disciple of the highest order.  We spend our days poring over the very essence of what makes ours such a special sport and how that essence  fits into cycling’s colorful fabric.  This is the Velominati’s raison d’être.  This is where the Velominati can be ourselves.  This is our agony – our badge of honor – our sin.

Velominati.com is less about the articles and more about the conversation. Those of you who read more and post more, become an integral part of the discussion and help carry the momentum forward. There are several levels of Velominatus:
  • Level 4 Velominatus: The casual observer and occasional poster.
  • Level 3 Velominatus: The regular reader and casual poster.
  • Level 2 Velominatus: The devoted reader and regular poster.
  • Level 1 Velominatus: The most committed of reader and poster.
  • Gray, Black, and Orange Order Velominatus: Once having passed Level 1, the inducted among the Order wear three color badges, based on their rank."
For some history, to learn a few things about cycling, and maybe get a chuckle or two, head over to their website and look around. Who knows, maybe you're a Velominati-to-be?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

BlisterShield Giveaway; Bogus MLK Quote; Star Wars Day

2Toms recently sent us some BlisterShield to try out and also give away. Laima has completed her review and is giving away a bag of BlisterShield through May 9th. Head over to Women's Endurance Gear, follow and leave a comment to enter. 

(from Salon.com)

Patrick of The Road had a very moving and thoughtful post yesterday, Nine Years, Seven Months, Twenty Days, about the events of 9/11 and the recent death of Osama bin Laden. In the comments, I responded by repeating a purported MLK quote that I thought summed up the confusion I was feeling about not celebrating this enemy's death:

"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."
- Martin Luther King, Jr

It turns out that the quote was actually not MLK's, but rather a creation of Penn Jillette, who cobbled together some of MLK's words and added some finishing touches to make it complete. It was one of the most retweeted quotes yesterday and, as I mentioned, I wasn't immune to participating. Having learned that it was, indeed, not a true quote, I thought about whether it made any difference. Personally, I don't really care whether Penn or MLK actually should get credit, but I do like to cite sources as often as possible.

I still don't celebrate OBL's death, don't see a reason to reflect his hate back upon him. I understand others' reactions and do not condemn anyone for feeling the way they do. His death to me just kindles a small spark of hope that it will make a difference. Somehow I doubt it.

To lighten the mood....


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Happiness of Pursuit

The Happiness of Pursuit: A Father's Courage, a Son's Love and Life's Steepest Climb is the story of Davis Phinney, a world-class cyclist who won Olympic bronze and stages at the Tour de France. From the late 70's until his retirement in 1993, his 328 career victories are the most by any U.S. cyclist. In 2000, he was diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson's disease. Realizing that there are ways to improve the quality of his day to day living, Davis started the Davis Phinney Foundation as a way to promote and fund innovative research that demonstrates the effects and importance of exercise, speech and other elements that are critical to quality of life.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt:

"For two decades, Davis Phinney was one of America’s most successful cyclists. He won two stages at the Tour de France and an Olympic medal. But after years of feeling off, he was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s. The body that had been his ally was now something else: a prison. <
The Happiness of Pursuit is the story of how Davis sought to overcome his Parkinson’s by reaching back to what had made him so successful on the bike and adjusting his perspective on what counted as a win. The news of his diagnosis began a dark period for this vibrant athlete, but there was also light. His son Taylor’s own bike-racing career was taking off. Determined to beat the Body Snatcher, Davis underwent a procedure called deep brain stimulation. Although not cured, his symptoms abated enough for him to see Taylor compete in the Beijing Olympics. Davis Phinney had won another stage. But the joy, he discovered, was in the pursuit. 

With humor and grace, Phinney weaves the narrative of his battle with Parkinson’s with tales from his cycling career and from his son’s emerging career. The Happiness of Pursuit is a remarkable story of fathers and sons and bikes, of victories large and small."

The book is part memoir, part parent pride, and part disease education. Phinney's diagnosis with Huntington's means he has to approach life very differently than someone without the illness, and, in his words, he's a "big proponent of a positive attitude and the benefits of exercise." Who would argue with that, ill or not? Jason over at Cook Train Eat Race posted about 10 Reasons Endurance Sports Are Good For You - the statistics of what exercise means to health are astounding (I know I'm preaching to the choir). I can't even imagine what it must have been like for a world-beating athlete live with his body failing him and it's great to learn that, after the initial shock, he has been working to improve not only his own lot, but other's as well.

Stories about the 7-Eleven Cycling team relate unknown history of the first cycling team from the U.S. to cross the pond and mix it up with the professional european cyclists. Bob Roll, who  I think is an incredibly funny and gifted announcer, has a gift for languages - who knew? After initially being snubbed by the european riders, press, and fans, eventually the Americans proved themselves and paved the way for current U.S. teams to remain in the hunt for cycling victories, world-wide.

Besides his own illness, Phinney writes about dealing with his father's battle with prostate cancer. His father initially looked down on his decision to become a bicycle racer, even though he himself cycled to work and around the world, but nonetheless supported his son's decision. Phinney's father, when told he had cancer, had a major personality change, going from cold and distant to gregarious and outgoing, leading to the two men becoming close friends when Davis whas 28. His father helped found a group I had never heard of: Cyclists Combating Cancer - if you haven't either, you can check them out on their website, Ride to Live!

One of the things I most enjoyed about this book is that Phinney, both in real life and through his foundation, is not searching for a cure to Parkinson's (not that he'd mind if they found one). He is all about removing limits and expectations, not waiting for a cure or told what he can do, but living life in this moment and capturing the daily small victories.  It's a lesson we can all take to heart. The Happiness of Pursuit  will be published June 1, 2011 and is a worthy addition to anyone's bookshelf.

Disclaimer: This product was advanced to me for review purposes, courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via Net Galley. I was not compensated in any other way for the review, was not obligated to give it a positive review, and all opinions are my own. Some information in this review was taken from the company website.

Would you like your product reviewed?
Contact me at lakotega@yahoo.com.

Running, Skiing, and Endurance Sports - Patagonia.com

REI: Gear for the Great Outdoors

UnderArmour - I WILL

Outdoor DIVAS - Adventure Gear for Active Women