Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Little Athletes, Big Leaders Book Review


“We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence then, is not an act but a habit.”
-- Aristotle

There is no question in my mind that I am one of the fortunate ones: Amazing wife, great kids, enough health to enjoy time outdoors, a stable job, and a home in a nice suburb. I truly do not want for anything. Still, there’s a part of me that is never satisfied, though it has nothing to do with material goods. I am well aware of my shortcomings as a husband, father, and friend. Definitely room for improvement there. I recently had the opportunity to read Bruce Beaton’s Little Athletes, Big Leaders: Effective Sport Parenting (Kentville, Canada: Bruce Benton Leadership Training, 2011) and it was a book that helped me plan a way to be better in all those facets of my life. Now, whether I follow through remains to be seen.

About the Author:

Bruce’s core belief is that the skills associated with leadership are the most important you will ever learn. As a leader, you must create a vision or goal you are passionate about, and if you develop the strategic and relationship skills necessary to leverage the engagement and productivity required to bring that dream into reality, you will succeed. Bruce is the coauthor of The Truth About Success, My Rules, Enduring Principles of Leadership and 38 Lessons Learned in Professional Football, and most recently, Little Athletes Big Leaders – Effective Sport Parenting.
The book delves into the following topics, among others:
  • Sport Leadership: Should we expect more?
  • Raising Leaders through Organized Sport: Is this programming important?
  • The Four Core Leadership Principles and how organized sport addresses them.
  • Positive Leadership Programming for Athletes: Are we getting it Right? What are we really teaching in the car?
  • The Most Important Leadership Minute in the Day for Sport Parents: Do we know what we’re doing?
  • The Magic Ratio: Don’t force your kid to “divorce” you later.
  • The 10,000 Hour “Rule”: Is this research relevant?
  • Long Time Perspective: If this is the single most important socioeconomic differentiator, why don’t we teach it to our kids?
  • Creating a “Growth” Mindset: This one small shift will change your child’s life forever.
  • The Daily Improvement Rule: The no stress route to greatness.
  • Skill Development is Brain Work: Why the Daily Improvement Rule works.
Leadership, work ethic, interpersonal communication, and goal setting are all transferable abilities and skills. They can be learned and developed in sport and easily transferred to any life application. According to Beaton, the sport world is the best and most likely place a child will develop these critical life skills. “Great results come from focusing on a consistent approach, not on the result itself.”

If you’re a parent, husband, son/daughter, or friend, this can be a useful book. While it’s aimed at parents, there are many lessons gleaned that I will try to apply to my own life.

Sources:
http://www.littleathletesbigleaders.ca/

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

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


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Nature and Mental Health



I try to get out on the trails as often as I can. We take the kids to forest preserves and our community has quite a few parks. But I work in the city, so much of my time is spent looking out of a train window while commuting, and, if I get the opportunity, walking around downtown Chicago. My views are mostly urban. I think that's why I enjoy getting into more wild territory when I have the opportunity and, it turns out, it's what my mind craves:
  1. Increased attention span. A 2008 study by University of Michigan psychologists found that walking outside or even just looking at pictures of natural settings improves directed attention, the ability to concentrate on a task. Put another way: nature restores our ability to focus.
  2. Better memory. The same study supported previous experiments showing that being in nature improves memory—by 20 percent when it came to recalling a series of numbers.
  3. Reduced stress. Office workers with views of trees and flowers reported lower stress levels, higher job satisfaction, and fewer physical ailments than colleagues with views of buildings, according to a 1989 study by the University of Michigan.
  4. Improved mood. In a 1991 study by Texas A+M psychologists, subjects who viewed scenes of water or trees reported a much quicker return to a positive mood after a stressful event than those who viewed urban scenes.
  5. Greater creativity. In a pilot study this March, psychologists found that students in an Outward Bound course showed a 40 percent boost in frontal-lobe activity—which is linked to creativity—after four days in the backcountry.
So what are you waiting for? Get outside!

Sources:
http://www.outsideonline.com/

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cyber Monday


I am a huge fan of Patagonia - they make amazing outdoor gear while being respectful of their place in society and environment. This morning I received an email from them entitled "Don't Buy This Jacket." If it was another company, I might have taken a cynical view, but I believe they are totally sincere, as they seem to be every day. Here is the email:

Today is Cyber Monday. It will likely be the biggest online shopping day ever. Cyber Monday was created by the National Retail Federation in 2005 to focus media and public attention on online shopping. But Cyber Monday, and the culture of consumption it reflects, puts the economy of natural systems that support all life firmly in the red. We're now using the resources of one-and-a-half planets on our one and only planet.

Because Patagonia wants to be in business for a good long time – and leave a world inhabitable for our kids – we want to do the opposite of every other business today. We ask you to buy less and to reflect before you spend a dime on this jacket or anything else.

Environmental bankruptcy, as with corporate bankruptcy, can happen very slowly, then all of a sudden. This is what we face unless we slow down, then reverse the damage. We're running short on fresh water, topsoil, fisheries, wetlands – all our planet's natural systems and resources that support business, and life, including our own.

The environmental cost of everything we make is astonishing. Consider the R2® Jacket shown, one of our best sellers. To make it required 135 liters of water, enough to meet the daily needs (three glasses a day) of 45 people. Its journey from its origin as 60% recycled polyester to our Reno warehouse generated nearly 20 pounds of carbon dioxide, 24 times the weight of the finished product. This jacket left behind, on its way to Reno, two-thirds its weight in waste.

And this is a 60% recycled polyester jacket, knit and sewn to a high standard; it is exceptionally durable, so you won't have to replace it as often. And when it comes to the end of its useful life we'll take it back to recycle into a product of equal value. But, as is true of all the things we can make and you can buy, this jacket comes with an environmental cost higher than its price.

There is much to be done and plenty for us all to do. Don't buy what you don't need. Think twice before you buy anything. Go to patagonia.com/CommonThreads, take the Common Threads Initiative pledge and join us in the fifth “R,” to reimagine a world where we take only what nature can replace.


REDUCE
WE make useful gear
that lasts a long time
YOU don't buy what
you don't need

REPAIR
WE help you repair
your Patagonia gear
YOU pledge to fix
what's broken

REUSE
WE help find a home
for Patagonia gear
you no longer need
YOU sell or pass it on*

RECYCLE
WE will take back your Patagonia gear that
is worn out
YOU pledge to
keep your stuff out
of the landfill
and incinerator

REIMAGINE
TOGETHER we reimagine
a world where we take
only what nature
can replace

Sources:
http://www.patagonia.com/us/common-threads

Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend!


I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! Our day started out with what is becoming a family tradition, running the Bonfield Express 5K here in Downers Grove. Last year the entire family participated, either by running or by riding in a stroller. This year, due to Laima's recent knee surgery (healing well), only Tazer, Gaigai and I ran, though we met up with some other families before the start. Gaigai went off with a group of her friends (all highly visible due to fluorescent pink running hats), while I stuck with Tazer and his buddies, at his request. Though he claimed to want a steady pace run, it was the typical sprint, slow down, walk, mostly due to his friends. I think next year we'll work on running a more even pace.

After a leisurely morning brunch, we got cleaned up and headed over to an Aunt's home, where Thanksgiving is held every year. Several hours of outstanding conversation, food, wine, and football later, I grabbed the Little Worker and Munchkin, and headed home. Yesterday I added 2 more varietal grapes to my Wine Century Club project - Carmenere and Prosecco, so it was a successful day in every way possible.

Today we'll set up the christmas tree, then head downtown this afternoon for storytime at the library, a procession to the tree lighting ceremony, followed by the premiere of the train station lighting display. Sometimes it's good to live in what is really a small town.

Have a great weekend all!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Clif Family Winery



I’ve always been a fan of Clif Bars and the company’s commitment to being socially and environmentally responsible. I participated in the Clif Bar Meet The Moment Campaign  (and won some sweet swag), so I’ve been following their family winery development with lots of interest. It seems fitting that the first wine samples I’ve received to review on my wine blog, 50 States Of Wine, would come from the Clif Family Winery. Though they do bottle their wine, they also have considered us outdoor folks as well, creating the Climber Pouch, with a grab handle and a carabiner hole, for easier transport on bike or on foot. Very cool.


Their lifestyle and interest in wine led Gary Erickson and Kit Crawford to the Napa Valley in 1997. What started as a home in the country has developed into a wonderful adventure in winemaking, and a deeper commitment to sustainability and farming.


In spring 2011 they opened Velo Vino Napa Valley, a wine and cycling destination that brings together their passion for wine, food and cycling in a single location. Built to fuel the adventurer’s soul, Velo Vino is a unique tasting room and retail experience that features Clif Family Wines, food products from the Farm, espresso, Clif Bars and cycling apparel. Cannot wait to visit!

I’ll be reviewing the wines in the upcoming weeks over at 50 States Of Wine – if you’re not following yet, I’d love to have you join me!

Sources:
http://www.cliffamilywinery.com/index.cfm

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

BubbleShield Sleeves Product Review



BubbleShield for Smartphones

The BubbleShield Reusable Waterproof Sleeve for smartphones is the ultimate solution to keep your smartphone clean and dry -- the 2-zip enclosure prevents dirt, sand, oil, grease, water, fingerprints, and other undesirable substances from getting in or on your smartphone. The front and back camera will both be unaffected by the enclosure, enabling you to take photos in dicier environments. A special placement ring is embedded on the top corner, allowing you to keep your smartphone close to you.  The BubbleShield has a waterproof standard of IPX5 - water splashing against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effect. Compatible with iPhone4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, and other smartphones.



BubbleShield for Tablets

This BubbleShield is a scaled-up version of the smartphone shield, designed to keep your tablet clean and dry. It offers similar protection to the smaller shield, with the same retention ring for hooking the tablet to wherever you want it attached.


Slight tear, courtesy of an overzealous 10-year old

I was really interested in trying these out when Ryan contacted me about the BubbleShields, because I take my BlackBerry EVERYWHERE! And, with a 10 year old iPad owner in the house, there is always a chance that liquids, dirt, or what have you will end up on or in the tablet. The BubbleShields are thin plastic, very lightweight, so they do not add much to the bulk or heaviness when carried with you. Since I run in the mud and rain quite often, I was happy that my phone had this added protection. One drawback we discovered right off is that the Bubbleshields are incredibly difficult to open -- I put one on my son's iPad and he tore it open when he couldn't get the zip to release. Ooops. Apart from that, they are really cool and do the job they're supposed to. Pretty amazing that the sceens still work with the plastic over them. If you run or ride (or ski or sail) wherever dirt and water could harm your phone, these nifty products will protect your technology.


The Joy Factory offers lifestyle-driven digital companion accessories. The company’s namesake is derived from the definition of Joy: the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying. This is the driving philosophy behind the company’s commitment to creating an elite class of digital companion products that bridge today’s complex technology and elicit a joyful experience for the consumer.

More info about The Joy Factory can be found on their website, by following them on Twitter, or liking them on Facebook.

Sources
http://www.thejoyfactory.com/

(Disclaimer: I was sent these products for free to review on my blog - courtesy of The Joy Factory, via Echo Media Group. I did not pay for the items, receive payment for this review, or agree to give a positive review. Aside from information gleaned from the company website, the opinions are my own.)

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

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Basic Tips for Trail Running at Night



As winter arrives, it becomes more and more likely that some of your runs will take place in the dark. If you’re a road or sidewalk runner, for the most part you can utilize streetlights to see your way. In the countryside, a full or partial moon may be enough. However, when you hit the trails, you need to think about bringing your own illumination, bet it a flashlight or headlamp.

Flashlights and headlamps vary widely in weight and brightness, and come in a variety of light sources, such as halogen, fluorescent, LED (light-emitting diodes) and conventional tungsten light bulb. These types of lights range in brightness, energy efficiency, durability and cost. Some units allow for adjustability in brightness and intensity of focus, others come with rechargeable battery packs, are water-resistant or waterproof, and still others offer multiple types of light sources. A flashlight has the benefit of being pointed in any direction desired, but must be carried. A headlamp is hands-free, but the head must be turned to light up the sides of the trail.

Combining headlamp and hand-held flashlight gives greater depth perception. The combination of light angles can highlight trail obstacles, remove some of the shadows cast by a single light source, and helps find trail blazes.

Another, more unusual option is to acquire a sternum-level light or wear them a light on the waist.
Road or trail, in the dark it pays to see and be seen -- be safe out there!

Sources:
Running Times

Friday, November 18, 2011

Winter Layering for Cycling

Winter is here in the Midwest, with below freezing temps greeting us in the morning, though midday highs might reach nearly 60 degrees. Now is the time we layer up for cycling and running. Yesterday I posted about Brooks Running Winter Gear (you can also check out some ladies' apparel at Women's Endurance Gear), today I'm following up with some suggestions for cycling.


In colder temps, it's all about the layering:
  • 65-70 degrees: START WITH baselayer, short-sleeve jersey, shorts, short-finger gloves, socks
  • 60-65 degrees: ADD arm warmers, full-finger gloves
  • 55-60 degrees: SWAP IN knickers or knee warmers; thicker socks
  • 50-55 degrees: SWAP in leg warmers; ADD a vest
  • 45-50 degrees: SWAP IN thicker gloves, long-sleeve jersey; ADD toe covers, sock layer, ear covers
  • 40-45 degrees: SWAP IN tights, long sleeve base layer, thin hat
  • 35-40 degrees: SWAP IN shoe covers or winter shoes, thick hat or balaclava
  • 30-35 degrees: SWAP IN heavier tights, lobster gloves or mittens
  • 25-30 degrees: ADD second long-sleeve jersey, midlayer sock
  • 25 and below: ADD baselayer short and/or knee warmers under tights
I would add to consider adding apparel made of a wind-blocking material, as well as moisture repelling gear for the inevitable wetness during cold-weather riding.

Check out some other cold weather cycling tips at Cook Train Eat Race!

Sources:
Bicycling Magazine December 2011

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Brooks Running Winter Gear Product Review Part II

Just in time for the cold weather rolling into the Midwest (literally freezing this morning), Brooks Running sent me a goodie box with some winter weight gear to try out - the all new Infiniti Hybrid Wind Shirt, the Silver Bullet Wind Pant, and Silver Bullet Jacket. All three are some of the softest running gear I've ever tried, really cozy in the fall and wintry air. Nice addition to the Brooks Running Winter gear I reviewed back in March.


Men's Infiniti Hybrid Wind Shirt ($80.00 )

Designed to keep you warm on even the windiest days, this shirt’s wind-resistant woven fabric combined with stretch knit panels deflects and protects, so the elements won't slow you down.

• Fit: Semi-fitted
• Hybrid wind resistant woven/stretch knit panels
• Articulated sleeves with thumbholes
• ¾ front zipper for extra breathability
• Hidden back zip pocket
• 360° of 3M™ Scotchlite™ retroreflectivity

This is a versatile piece in that can be worn by itself, over a baselayer for added warmth, and as a mid-layer under a jacket. One thing that Brooks is starting to do more often is to add thumb loops to their long sleeve gear, which is something I wholeheartedly endorse. The only negatives regarding this shirt is that the 1/4 length zip is not enough for such a hot runner like myself, but does spill some heat for relief, and the lack of a chest or arm pocket. The lone zippered pocket is found in the lower back, which I don't like to use, as the hem then sways while running. Still a great addition to the fall and winter wardrobe.


Silver Bullet Wind Pant ($120.00)

Great winter pant combines Silver Bullet fabric for protection against water, wind and cold; with a soft brushed thermal knit fabric paired with wind and water blocking protection.

• Fit: Semi-fitted
• 28" Inseam (medium)
• Aluminum membrane creates more warmth with minimal weight
• Stretch knit panels and articulated knees for maximum movement
• Windproof and water-resistant
• 360° of 3M™ Scotchlite™ retroreflectivity
• 9" offset ankle zippers with reflectivity

These are both comfortable and bizarrely designed pants. I really appreciate the fleecy softness on the inside paired with the windblocking outside, but for some reason (not one I can figure out myself), the protective layer is left open just below the knees, creating a pocket, as it were. Haven't figured out a benefit yet. Laima received the Women's Silver Bullet Tights for review over at Women's Endurance Gear, and they had the same feature (?). Excepting that oddity, these pants do their intended job and more - I've run in wet circumstances down to 40 degrees, and they are still too warm. These will be awesome once truly cold weather arrives!


Men's Silver Bullet Jacket ($150.00)

Proving that less really is more, this super-lightweight run jacket packs a big punch with a high tech aluminum membrane so you can stay warm without adding extra layers.

• Fit: Semi-fitted
• Aluminum membrane creates more warmth with minimal weight
• Windproof and water-resistant
• 360° of 3M™ Scotchlite™ retroreflectivity
• Cozy cuffs with thumbholes and flip-mitt
• Venting at back arm holes
• Moisture-proof media pocket

This is a really amazing garment to me - so incredibly lightweight, it doesn't seem possible that it could keep one warm down to 40 degrees. However, I ran with it in below 40 degree weather, in the rain, and was both dry and too warm with just a thin long sleeve baselayer underneath. Great performance! Incredibly soft inside, I think I wear this as much for casual outings as I do for running - the thumb loops are a great addition, but I'm not sold on the flip-mitts. While they are a great idea, they seem too small to be comfortable. Perhaps my hands are just larger for the intended audience.

As always, you get the Brooks True Blue Guarantee -- All products come with a no-questions-asked, 30-day satisfaction guarantee. Check out Brooks Running on Facebook and follow them on Twitter!

Sources:
http://www.brooksrunning.com/

(Disclaimer: I was sent these products for free to review on my blog - courtesy of Brooks Running, via Maloney + Fox. I did not pay for the items, receive payment for this review, or agree to give a positive review. Aside from information gleaned from the company website, the opinions are my own.)

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

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Guest Post: Fighting Cancer with Diet and Exercise

By Jackie Clark


Discovering the presence of cancer can inspire a host of questions while simultaneously sending you into a state of disbelief. One of the first questions you might ask is the survival rate of your particular cancer diagnosis. Survival rate statistics give a general idea for most in your situation but cannot give you individualized percentages on the chance for cure or remission. However, no matter if diagnosed with a rare form of cancer like mesothelioma or more common forms of cancer of the prostate or breast, survivability increases based on treatments and healthy lifestyle changes.

Diet and exercise are two controllable factors you can change once diagnosed. Nutrition is a key factor because you need all the nutrients you can get to maintain normal bodily functions, particularly if undergoing intense treatments. The National Cancer Institute suggests including healthy foods rich in vitamins, minerals, lean protein, carbohydrates and unsaturated fats in daily meals to ensure proper nourishment. Good eating habits not only energize you to take on the day but also help maintain body weight, strength and boost your immune system, which is an essential component of fighting cancer. Depending on the type of cancer, you might need to follow a particular diet to properly digest food, prevent nausea or gastrointestinal disturbance and reduce the risk of pain associated with the cancer.

Following a mostly plant-based diet supplies your body with antioxidants to prevent further cell damage. The American Cancer Society notes when fighting cancer, eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains provides your body with a natural source of antioxidants to help reduce the risk of cancer recurrence after treatment. However, limiting consumption of saturated fats from fried foods and fatty red meat also helps in the process of maintaining good nutrition and health. Additionally, eating a well-balanced diet reduces the risk of depression, fatigue, weakness and stress associated with cancer symptoms and the residual effects of treatment.

Regular exercise along with healthy diet optimizes the cancer-fighting power of the immune system, protects your major organs and lowers the risk of muscle and tissue wasting. Walk for 20 minutes a day, up to five times a week or engage in specific workout routines based on your abilities. Include one day of stretching exercises like yoga to maintain muscle elasticity. Add strength-training exercise at least once a week using lightweights to target upper and lower body muscle tone. Walk, jog, swim or use cardiovascular machines at the gym, three to five times a week, to maintain cardiovascular health. Alternate your routines for diversity but always check with your physician first, before engaging any new exercise or nutrition program.

Coping with cancer can seem like an arduous process and at times might cause intense emotional pain. You can regain a sense of normalcy in spite of the diagnosis by taking action and fighting with the best defense systems you have, which includes the choice to live healthy, even against the odds.


About the Author: Jackie joined the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance in 2009 as research assistant after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in fitness and nutrition. Jackie’s experience in technical and medical research has allowed her to assist in the development of medical content and outreach efforts, with specializations in alternative care, cancer support programs, and social media campaigns.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Running Across America



On October 28, 2011, ten Team Type 1 Runners began a 3,000 mile, non-stop, relay-style run across America. Through varying weather and terrain, these athletes with Type 1 diabetes ran an average of 18 miles per day to finish in just 15 days. The team completed the journey in New York City on World Diabetes Day, November 14, 2011, and once again demonstrated that all things are possible, despite living everyday with an incurable disease. Colleen over at IronDiva  wrote about her husband’s Run Across America as part of the Team Type 1 effort. You can read about their journey on the Team Type 1 website. Congratulations to all involved!


If this sounds like something you’d like to try, there is a unique opportunity coming up this spring. Using all or part of 20 rail and canal trails and 2000 miles of road, the Run Across America on Trail will begin on May 30, 2012. Following in the footsteps of the 1992-1995 TRANSAMs and the 2002 and 2004 Runs Across America, the Run Across America on Trail will also be a stage run. The nearly 3360 mile route will take 80 days to run which works out to an average of 42 miles a day. The run will start at/near Twin Harbors State Park in Washington, and the run will end at Cape Henlopen State Park in Delaware at the eastern terminus of the American Discovery Trail.

Sources:
http://www.runacrossamericaontrail.com/Welcome.html


Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday Motivation



Just as in parenting, in endurance sports there are plenty of discussions of nature versus nurture. What's more important, good genes or good training habits? My parents did not actively exercise while I was growing up, though I never stopped moving myself. Maybe having grown up during WWII they felt exercise was frivolous, or maybe it was something else, but while I never saw them as active people, they made sure that we had every opportunity to be outside.

What has me pondering this unanswerable question is an article in the November/December 2011 issue of Inside Triathlon, "Why The Best Are The Best--And How You Can Emulate Them," by Torbjørn Sindballe. Besides being a former world-class athlete, Sindballe is also one of my favorite writers in the endurance niche.

The gist of the article is that we are dealt our genetic hand and, while some may have a competitive advantage because of it, everyone has a chance by developing strengths in other areas. Here then, are some lessons from some of the best elite triathletes:
  • Craig Alexander - incredible run efficiency and maniacal preparation.
  • Mark Allen - mental toughness, developed over years.
  • Paula Newby-Fraser - intelligent preparation and study of the sport.
  • Chris McCormack - master tactician.
  • Dave Scott - strengthening stability muscles, emphasis on nutrition.
So, while you or I may not have the genetics to fall back on, maximizing our potential in other areas can have us perform at our peak and be competitive, if so desired.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Happy Veterans Day!


Today our nation honors the courage and sacrifice of the men and women who served in our Armed Forces. It is a day to thank those who served and remember the many who paid the ultimate price defending our nation's freedom.

Have a Happy Veterans Day and a great Weekend!

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You Are An Ironman Book Review


You Are An Ironman (New York, NY: Viking, 2011) by Jacques Steinberg, New York Times reporter and author of the bestselling “The Gatekeepers,” follows the stories of six people pursuing this life-defining goal: a 2.4-mile swim (the equivalent of about 175 lengths across a typical, 25-yard community pool), followed by a 112-mile bike ride (the length of the trip from New York City to past Philadelphia), followed by a 26.2 mile (marathon) run, all in less than 17 hours.

I’ll say straight off that I didn’t really like this book. It’s really hard to figure out who the intended audience is.
  • Any book that puts “The World’s Toughest Triathlon” seems really misguided. Not that an Ironman is easy, but most devotees of the sport recognize there are many tougher races. I get it, they're trying to sell books, but it is emblematic to me about the problems with this book.
  • This book has a "Chicken Soup for..." vibe to it, looking to inspire through the stories more so than offer good training or nutrition advice. Maybe I’ve just read too many Ironman success stories to be moved by the characters, but this group doesn't seem that inspiring to me.
  • There's a distinct feel of a dilettante in this book, with Steinberg seemingly only having a surface knowledge not just of the Ironman, but triathlon in general.
I’m disappointed to be so down on this book, I read it to the end hoping to find something redeeming about it, but never did. Whatever the case is, I’m not sure I would recommend this book to anyone.

Sources:
http://www.facebook.com/youareanironmanthebook

Am I wrong in this?
Did you read the book and love it?

Midwest Multisport Life on Facebook

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

7 Races To Get You Started in Ultrarunning



This year, I took off from racing, opting instead to run for fun and to support Laima as she made a more serious commitment to running. I am registered for one race, Thanksgiving Day's Bonfield Express, a local race that is our children's introduction to the 5K (Tazer and GaiGai both ran it last year). Looking forward to next year, I've looked at a few ultras that might be fun reintroductions to racing again. Active.com had a great article about seven races that would be good beginner races:

Frozen Sasquatch Trail 50K (Charleston, West Virginia - January 7, 2012): Limited to the first 150 runners, this 50K will take you through the most scenic, winter trails of the Kanawha State Forest. You'll battle it out with the elements--and yourself--for an experience you won't forget. Anything with the word frozen just isn't appealing to me at all at this point, facing many months of ugly running weather.

Long Haul 100 Ultra-Marathon (Wesley Chapel, Florida - January 21, 2012): Support the victims of the Haiti earthquake by participating in The Long Haul 100. This extreme race will test your endurance while treating you to scenic views. Wesley Chapel is north of Tampa, near where we lived in Florida, so it might be nice to revisit.

Susitna 100 or Little Su 50K (Anchorage, Alaska - February 18, 2012): Connect with nature as you race through remote forests, frozen rivers and lakes in the Alaskan wilderness on this ultrarunning adventure. Apart from always wanting to visit Alaska, this is also not overly appealing to me.

Carl Touchstone Memorial Mississippi Trail 50 (Laurel, Mississippi - March 3, 2012): Tackle Longleaf Horse Trail in the Desoto National Forest. The gently rolling pine forest has mostly single track with some double track logging roads to test your technical skills. This would be a chance to meet up with The Running Artist, Jennifer, so that would be quite cool!

Croom Fools Run 2012 (Brooksville, Florida - April 7, 2012): This race takes place at Croom within the Withlacoochee State Forest, which was named one of the "10 Coolest Places You've Never Been in North America" by the World Wildlife Fund. This also is in the same region of Florida that we once lived, so it would be a homecoming as well as a trip to one of the coolest places we've never been.

Zane Grey Highline Trail 50 Mile Run (Payson, Arizona - April 21, 2012): Now in its 23rd year, this ultrarunning event takes you on the beautiful Highline Trail. The trail is part of the Tonto National Forest and is filled with breathtaking scenery all runners can enjoy. I've heard nothing but good things about this race and going to Arizona at the end of Spring sounds really appealing. We could visit my wife's relatives as well.

2012 Burning River 100 Mile Endurance Run (Willoughby Hills, Ohio - July 28, 2012): This epic 100-mile run held in Northeast Ohio runs through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the Cleveland Metroparks and the Metro Parks. It will also feature some of the best ultrarunners around as it is also the USATF 100 Mile Trail National Championship. A chance to be around some of the current ultraruning legends, pretty cool!

Honestly, it's totally unlikely that I would register for any of the races on this list. What this list does for me is gets me pondering where I'd like to run. Also, how would it benefit me in visiting wineries from all the 50 States? (You didn't know I had a wine blog? Head over to the 50 States Of Wine to follow my journey!)

Sources:

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

New Blog Sponsor: Outdoor Channel



Maybe you recently read, over at Women's Endurance Gear, that Laima has a new sponsor, Columbia Sportswear (click on the link to check out their new Omni-Heat® Reflective gear)! I'm really happy for her and she really deserves it, she has a unique approach to and perspective on our outdoor activities. If you're not following her yet, you really should be.


In a bit of serendipity, I also got a new sponsor last week, Outdoor Channel. Head over there by clicking on their ad in the right sidebar and check out some great outdoor info! Welcome Outdoor Channel and thank you!

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Monday, November 7, 2011

Palos Forest Preserve - Orange Loop (Fall)

Though I try to work trails into my runs as often as possible, for the most part my training is usually on streets and sidewalks. I decided to fix the situation this weekend by heading over to the Palos Forest Preserve.


I've been to the Palos Forest Preserve many times, it might be my favorite place to run trails around here. I've never completed the orange loop, though I ran a portion of it for the Red Bull Trail Daze several years ago. I was not disappointed.


It would be nearly impossible to ask for a nicer day for a trail run - a consistent 40 degrees, no wind, sun, and just enough wet dirt to keep it interesting. The CAMBR map calls the orange loop a 6.3 mile run, while my Garmin registered just 5.6 - maybe the tree cover affected the distance. The loop is comprised of mostly rocky dirt doubletrack, with copious roots and rocks. It has some decent climbs and descents, totalling (according to the Garmin) 300+ feet of elevation change, up and down. This run really kicked my butt, but in a really pleasant way.

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Friday, November 4, 2011

Become a Guest Blogger and Get Free Gear!



I occasionally have guest bloggers here on Midwest Multisport Life, but I offer them nothing beyond access to my readership. But now you have the chance to go way beyond my meager offerings. Constantin over at the Highball Blog is seeking your help to get guest blogger product reviews for his site. Interested? Head over to How To Get Free Outdoor Gear From Sponsors for more information. Think this is not a big deal? Highball Blog got over 56,000 pageviews in one month - that's quite a bit of exposure for your blog!

Have a great weekend all!!!

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

DC Multisport

Yesterday morning, before my meeting, I took a long walk through the downtown area of DC. It got me thinking that I haven't seen or read about such a unique training venue compared to this city.


Washington DC has an endless variety of areas and types of trails for cycling and running. Though on the banks of the Potomac, the river is rarely clean enough for swimming, so it really only lacks an open-water swimming venue. However, Chesapeake Bay is approximately an hour away, so it's doable.

I was really impressed with the strides DC has made with promoting cycling in the city - beyond the well-used bike-share program, new bike lanes were seen in several different locations. From anywhere in the downtown area, a few miles is all that separates one from connecting to the many bike paths that then head out into the surrounding states. When we lived in Falls Church, VA, I could bike commute on dedicated bike lanes, crossing all of 3 or 4 streets to get to work. Connect to the C&O Canal Path, and it's 184.5 mile length offers up long rides (or runs) of amazing length.


It was living in Virginia that got me hooked on trail running. My favorite local path was the Potomac Heritage Trail, running north along the river from Roosevelt Island. It connected with some side trails that actually allowed me to trail run from nearby my house all the way to the Potomac - easily a half marathon one way if I so decided. The trails in the Falls Church/DC are incredibly varied as well, from paved former rail trails to ankle-wrenching single track, so it was a great place to get acquainted with the sport.

The ultimate trail running area has to be the Shenandoah National Park. Located about 75 miles west of DC, it has a portion of the Appalachian Trail running through it, with multiple side trails, loops, and well-known hikes. It also is a great place to cycle (if you want to get hill workouts in) - 105 miles of meandering blacktop take you from one end of the park to the other, and 35 MPH speed limit for cars!


Don't get me wrong - there are many many places to live and have great access to multisport training venues, but I can't think of another that matches it, especially when factoring in the history of the area, the monuments, the local culture.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

DC Trip



I've been in DC for a few days, for work, and it's a bittersweet feeling. First, even though I love to travel, I immediately miss my family. Also, just to walk by the White House, to see the Washington Monument, it really makes me miss our life here. There is just so much history here, so many things to see just walking around randomly. There's even wine country all around and tons of great trail running.


For dinner one night, I stopped in at Chop't, a custom salad company. Starting with a green (I opted for spinach), there is a large menu of toppings to choose from, followed by a choice of dressing (32 by my count). On my spinach, I selected beets, granny apples, red onions, and sunflower seeds, with a steakhouse blue cheese dressing. The salad is then chopped on the counter, placed in a bowl, then tossed with the dressing. Except for the dressing, I thought the salad tasted great and really liked the whole process. Neat concept, executed pretty well, good place to try when you're feeling healthy.

Chop't Creative Salad Company on Urbanspoon

Work has been good as well, nothing like feeling that I'm making a difference.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

World Vegan Day



World Vegan Day is an annual event celebrated on 1 November, by vegans around the world, and people who are supportive of veganism. The Day was established in 1994 by Louise Wallis, then President and Chair of The Vegan Society UK. World Vegan Day marks the start of World Vegan Month every year, commemorating the coining of the term, 'vegan' and the founding of The Vegan Society in November 1944.

Find out how other people are celebrating through The Vegan Society Facebook page.

Why vegan?

Vegans avoid using animals for any reason.

Over 1 billion animals are killed for food every year in the UK alone. Male calves and chicks are often destroyed at less than one day old. Other animals have feelings and preferences similar to ours so their exploitation causes much suffering.

Farming animals for food is wasteful. The global livestock industry is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions and uses enough calories to feed 3.5 billion humans per year. Each time you have a plant-based lunch, you'll reduce your carbon footprint by the equivalent of 2.5 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions over an average animal-based lunch like a hamburger, a tuna sandwich, grilled cheese, or chicken nuggets. For dinner you save 2.8 pounds and for breakfast 2.0 pounds of emissions. If you have a veggie meal instead of a red-meat lunch like a ham sandwich or a hamburger, you shrink your carbon footprint by almost 3.5 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions. 133 gallons of water conserved at lunch versus the average American lunch. Don't forget the land you save from deforestation, over-grazing, and pesticide and fertilizer pollution: about 24 square feet at lunch.

I'm not 100% vegan, though I'd like to be. Even if you’re not a vegan nor plan to become one, consider eating at least one meal this week without animal products. Or find and buy a vegan wine to enjoy!

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Vegan_Day
http://www.vegansociety.com/News-And-Events/world-vegan-day/
http://www.pbjcampaign.org/numbers

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