Tuesday, January 31, 2012

LifeProof Cases Product Review

LifeProof Cases were designed with the Four Proofs in mind: Water, Dirt, Snow, Shock. The cases are designed to be used at pretty much any time so you can have confidence and freedom to stay connected wherever you are with whatever you're doing. If you participate in any sort of endurance sport, staying connected can mean a lift home after a twisted ankle, an unexpected second or third flat on the bike, or any other reason, including emergencies. LifeProof was designed to protect against water damage to 6.6 feet under water and shockproof to 6.6 feet above ground. As with all things, there is no complete guarantee that failure of protection will never occur.

The new LifeProof Bike and Bar Mount  fits a wide range of bicycle bars and bar-stems so users can take their iPhone on the road, off the trails, on the snowmobile, motorcycle or jet ski. Crafted out of premium, high-impact materials, LifeProof users can bike through rugged terrain, drive cross country on a motorcycle using GPS, take video during bike trips, listen to favorite tunes, stay connected on the work site and much more, while having full access to all iPhone functions. All buttons and features are accessible in the mount, including iPhone speaker and microphone, and allows for use of performance and navigation apps in real-time.

The LifeProof bike and bar mount can be adjusted for portrait or landscape orientation and is rear-camera compatible so it can be adjusted to vertical angle suitable for video recording activities. The gimbal ball-head allows for fine adjustment of viewing angle. The LifeProof bike and bar mount allows for the iPhone to conveniently be placed and removed with one hand through a quick release locking mechanism, giving the rider the ability to fully focus on enjoying the ride. The MSRP is $39.99.

LifeProof sent me a case and bike mount to try out. The bike mount comes with three inner rubber rings to give a secure fit for differing tube or handlebar thicknesses. The case is pretty intuitive, though the additional connector is not. Their website has great instructions to follow both in written and video form, well worth watching before use.

LifeProof bike mount with Droid X

LifeProof Cases are designed to be used with iPhones (when will someone create things like this for my Blackberry? Probably never.). However, in a bit of serendipity, my wife’s Droid X fit perfectly into the bike mount. No case means no protection, but on pleasant days it could be used with that as well.

If you have an iPhone and need to carry it with you regardless of weather or location, these LifeProof Cases are definitely something to look at. High quality, reasonable price for the performance, and peace of mind.

More info at the LifeProof website, on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

(Disclaimer: I was sent these products for free to review on my blog, courtesy of LifeProof Cases, via Mambo Communications. 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?

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Team Tough Chik

Laima is back from knee surgery (her second! and she's running again!) and has plans to not only run this year, but also race. To that end, as a motivator, she joined Team Tough Chik. Having borne 4 children and shared a life with me for 13+ years, amongst other things, she is the very definition of a Tough Chik. Many of you are fans of the company and might already know about the team. If not, head over to their blog to read an intro on Laima and some other tough runners, then head over to Women's Endurance Gear to follow along!

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Freeze Your Thorns Off 5K Race Report

Day had broken cold and gray, exceedingly cold and gray, when I turned aside from the main trail and climbed the high earth-bank, where a dim and little-travelled trail led eastward through the fat spruce timberland. It was a steep bank, and I paused for breath at the top, excusing the act to myself by looking at my watch. There was no sun nor hint of sun, though there was not a cloud in the sky. It was a clear day, and yet there seemed an intangible pall over the face of things, a subtle gloom that made the day dark, and that was due to the absence of sun. This fact did not worry me. I was used to the lack of sun. It had been days since I had seen the sun, and I knew that a few more days must pass before that cheerful orb, due south, would just peep above the sky-line and dip immediately from view.

But all this—the mysterious, far-reaching hair-line trail, the absence of sun from the sky, the tremendous cold, and the strangeness and weirdness of it all—made no impression on me. It was not because I was long used to it.

I plunged in among the big spruce trees. The trail was faint. A foot of snow had fallen and I was glad I was without a sled, travelling light. In reality, it was not merely colder than fifty below zero; it was colder than sixty below, than seventy below. It was seventy-five below zero. Since the freezing-point is thirty-two above zero, it meant that one hundred and seven degrees of frost obtained.

I held on through the level stretch of woods for a mile, dropped down a bank to the frozen bed of a small stream. I held steadily on. I was not much given to thinking, and just then particularly I had nothing to think about save beating The Manly Runner, as I had beaten him so oft before.

Once in a while the thought reiterated itself that it was very cold and that I had never experienced such cold. As I ran along I rubbed my cheek-bones and nose with the back of my mittened hand. I did this automatically, now and again changing hands. But rub as I would, the instant I stopped my cheek-bones went numb, and the following instant the end of my nose went numb. I was sure to frost my cheeks; I knew that, and experienced a pang of regret that I had not devised a nose-strap of the sort The Manly Runner wore in cold snaps. Such a strap passed across the cheeks, as well, and saved them. But it didn't matter much, after all. What were frosted cheeks? A bit painful, that was all; they were never serious.

A certain fear of death, dull and oppressive, came to me. This fear quickly became poignant as I realized that it was no longer a mere matter of freezing my fingers and toes, or of losing my hands and feet, but that it was a matter of life and death with the chances against me. It struck me as curious that I could run at all on feet so frozen that I could not feel them when they struck the earth and took the weight of my body. I seemed to skim along above the surface, and to have no connection with the earth. Somewhere I had once seen a winged Mercury, and I wondered if Mercury felt as I felt when skimming over the earth.

Freeze Your Thorns Off 5K
How did you do, oh Manly Runner?

Adapted without permission from Jack London’s “Build a Fire.

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Guitar Hero

Tazer - my Guitar Hero

Our son Tazer has started guitar lessons. To make sure he started out with a decent instrument and to keep the excitement level high, I asked Patrick (of Stuff) for some suggestions, and we invested in a Baby Taylor for him. Beautiful sounding instrument and, with 3 siblings in line behind him, possibly a family heirloom in the making:

"The ¾-size Baby Taylor firmly established the travel guitar category years ago and today is more popular than ever. At the heart of it all is an authentic guitar sound and inviting playing experience. Featuring a sapele laminate back and sides and solid top of either spruce or mahogany, you can add a capo, high-string it, tune it down, play it around the campfire, help your kids form their first guitar chords — however you use it, it's always fun to have one within reach. The mahogany-top version will yield a slightly darker, earthier tone than the spruce top."

As a way to encourage his practice, and also to fulfill a longtime dream to learn how to play guitar, I bought myself an entry-level guitar from Fender Guitars:

It's towards the lower end of their line, but received good reviews around the web, so I felt confident in buying it as my first guitar. In elementary school I played violin and in college I tried picking up the bass guitar, so I have some sense of how to read music and so on. We started practicing together on Sunday - he's already taught me quite a bit, and I sense it will be good for him as well.

As an added bonus, we have a great family-ownerd guitar shop in Downers Grove, Tobias Music, where I will treat myself to a Taylor or Martin or similar higher end guitar if I stick with it. (Have you seen the price of a good guitar? Holy cow!)

Then, and only then, will I be ready to rock out with Patrick in the world-famous Dudeband™.

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

11 Random Things About Me

Lindsay at Chasing the Kenyans, XL MIC from Taking It On, and Kate at SuperKate  tagged me to participate in the 11 Random Things Meme going around. Curse them.

Here are the rules:

1. #1 Rule is..no rules! (Post these rules)
2. You must post 11 random things about yourself
3. Answer the questions set for you in their post
4. Create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer
5. Go to their blog and tell them you’ve tagged them
6. No stuff in the tagging section about you are tagged if you are reading this. You legitimately have to tag 11 people!

11 Random Things About Me (I've done similar things before, so you may know these already):

1. "Saliva Pukka Bisons" is anagram of my name if you include my middle initial. Cool, right?
2. I think I've visited all 48 Continental United States (Hawaii and Alaska are just too expensive to get to).
3. My dad was a Fulbright Professor in my youth, so I got to live in Europe twice growing up - Austria and Finland, once very young, once at the beginning of High School.
4. I work for the Federal Government.
5. I always file my taxes as soon as I have all my documents - I'm already halfway done today.
6. I'd live in shorts and bare feet if I was able - my coworkers constantly kid me about going shoeless at work (I do wear socks).
7. Middle child of five. "Middle children have low self-esteem. They need support for anything they do, sometimes talents are wasted when they do not pursue their dreams. Middle children have a feeling of emptiness.They are always lonely and are jealous of others. This is a very broad trait, since it affects every aspect of their lives. They may be a little weird, unfriendly and even worse, psychotic because of this feeling of emptiness."  (from Middle Child Personality)
8. I was in a band in Orange County called No Doubt in 1986. No, I don't know Gwen Stefani.
9. During college and pre-marriage, I used to try to move each year, with only what I could carry. Now it takes 2 huge moving vans.
10. Bodysurfing is probably the thing I miss most about living in California. Besides the weather. (And glassy water - thanks Patrick!)
11. Meg Ryan visited an art supply store I managed at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago - that is one tiny woman.

Lindsay's questions:

1. you have the skills to go pro in any sport (except running/triathlons). what sport would you choose? Golf.
2. what is your favorite vegetable? Brussels sprouts roasted with garlic, soy sauc, hot peppers, and maple syrup. Yum.
3. they're making a movie about your life. what actor/actress would play you? Vince Gill - lots of people think he looks like me.
4. last book you read? Lucky You by Carl Hiaasen.
5. last text message you sent? I'm more of an email guy.
6. what is your favorite meal/recipe to cook? One-pot meals, with everything but the kitchen sink. (Just ask Laima.)
7. do you prefer dusting or vacuuming? (and when are you coming to do my house?) Vacuuming. What's dusting?
8. if you could go on vacation to anywhere in the us or canada, where would you go? Vancouver, BC.
9. what something you love about where you live? Feels safe.
10. something you don't love about where you live? Boring as hell. :)
11. what do you do when you have trouble falling asleep? I don't remember the last time I had trouble falling asleep.

Tagged bloggers (if you've been tagged before, my sincerest apologies, not really) - cite 11 random things and answer Lindsay's questions (I'm lazy, even though it's not part of the Middle Child Syndrome) and tag other bloggers (however many you want, you're in charge (unless you're a middle child):

1. Anne at Run DMZ
2. Valen at Older But Not Wiser
4. Patrick at Stuff
6. Caroline at Canadian Runner In Exile
8. Mike at Mike's Triathlon Journey
9. Laima at Women's Endurance Gear
11. Constantin at Highball Blog

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Guest Post: Overeat and Lose Weight Throughout the Year - A Three Step Plan for the Whole Family

How do you keep your waistline in check when you overeat? Take A Hike!

Did you overindulge like most of us during the holidays? Did you set a New Year Resolution to lose weight and get in shape? Have you tried diet plans before only to find yourself back to your old eating habits? The “Overeat and Lose Weight Plan” is not some diet gimmick, it’s not a computer App, it’s a lifestyle; and it’s FREE. Apply the “Overeat and Lose Weight Plan” to your lifestyle and you will be more prepared than most to handle those five sugar cookies, four oversized cuts of prime rib, three turtle caramels, two pounds of shrimp cocktail, and several pieces of fudge.

The “Overeat and Lose Weight Plan” is a combination of walking, eating and exerting more calories than you consume. This method will prepare you to enjoy those moments of overindulgence; guilt free. The plan doesn’t endorse overeating unhealthy foods but I know from my own habits how hard it ease to resist eating the food you love the most. Most really good food seems to come with a price tag of high calories, fat, and sugar.

I’m an avid hiker. In addition to walking the 2,160-mile Appalachian Trail, I also walked the 218-mile John Muir Trail with my wife, and trekked across a 50-mile path of Ireland with my wife, young daughter, and extended family. My wife and I emerged from the church doors on our wedding day wearing backpacks, and my son was taken on his first hike at 8 weeks.

I proved that you can overeat and lose weight by hiking. I lost over 30 pounds in five months while eating enormous portions of food. How? By strapping on a backpack and walking over 2,000-miles, completing the entire Appalachian Trail. I burned between 4-6,000 calories a day; the equivalence of running two marathons per day. My appetite tripled in size causing some hilarious food binges and still losing all that weight:
  • I would seek out all you can eat buffets in towns along the trail. Hikers refer to these as hog troughs.
  • I ate a large pizza as a snack; a dozen donuts before breakfast; a half-gallon of ice-cream at the half-way point of his journey and more.
  • I would fantasize about food while walking in the woods—the tree branch looked like New York Strip…the dirt kicked in with the snow looked like Oreo Cookie Ice cream.
 I know that walking the entire Appalachian Trail as a diet plan over a 4-6 month period is a bit extreme for most, but I’ve continued my “Over Eat and Lose Weight Plan” successfully even off the trail.

The number one most popular New Year’s resolution is to lose weight. Sadly, most diet plans fail.

Most diet plans fail because they usually require cutting out your favorite “high calorie” and “high fat” foods. Eventually, temptation is too hard to resist and the diet fails. Revamping your lifestyle to include walking and hiking and including your kids, spouse and friends will become an engrained healthy habit and will also create adventurous memories to cherish forever.

My plan has been successful because it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle and I continue to eat my favorite foods.

The method is a simple three step plan:

Step One: Develop a walking routine. At least five days a week, take a hike around the neighborhood, park, beach, or nearby trail.
  • Make this a family or social event. Routines are easy to stick to when they are established and a walk with family and friends will get everyone away from the distracters of the indoors (TV, computer, etc.) and allow some bonding time with each other. Kids need to get up and move around more than ever with more and more time spent in front of the computer or on the couch playing video games.
  • Outfit everyone in comfortable walking shoes or trail shoes (your local outfitter or running shop will help out hear).
  • Be sure to wear the right clothing (NO cotton, dress in layers, and dress for the weather).
  • Save money and stop driving everywhere. Walk to the grocery store. Walk to your local restaurant for dinner and back. Walk to the library. Make walking and hiking as routine as brushing your teeth.
  • If you’re going for more than a walk around the neighborhood, bring along food and water. An adult needs at least two quarts of water per day. Pack enough snacks for everyone.
  • Consult with experts (park rangers) and research (websites, local outfitters) before undertaking new parks and trails. Attend local slide shows or lectures (outfitters/libraries/bookstores) every chance you get.
  • Brush up on safety precautions (first aid, signs and symptoms of hypothermia, how to use a compass, etc.). Keep matches and lighters dry and in a safe place. Know how to start a fire to keep warm. If you do get lost, make yourself as visible as possible. Place a bright item (e.g. item of clothing or gear) in the open. Make distress signals and make noise. If you brought a cell phone, check periodically to see if it works. Leave a copy of your itinerary with a friend or family member.
Step Two: Keep it Fun!
  • Let the youngest child or slowest walker lead. This helps you focus on what their interested in and will prevent you from leaving them in your dust.
  • Bring the outdoors inside. Educate your kids constantly to generate interest and enthusiasm. Take lots of pictures of the kids and places you go. Make posters for the family and living room and for Christmas cards. Get magazines, videos, and artwork of those places you want to go. Rent movies about faraway places. Use the Internet together to look at maps, and photographs of the wildlife, environments, and spectacular scenery you will be visiting someday.
  • Go high tech. Bring on the gadgetry! Turn your computer game nerds on to the adventure technology. (e.g. GPS, pedometers headlamp flashlights, geocaching) and teach them all about how these incredible devices are being used for fun, like scavenger hiking in the Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mtn Ntl. Parks.
  • Take the kids to a local orienteering course and learn how to use GPS and compass together.
  • Use your local walks to train for a bigger adventure to a distant park.
  • Involve everyone in your family; especially the kids, in planning out all trips and adventures. Older children can use the computer to research your destination or sport. (all national parks and most other destinations have websites chock full of facts and info, maps, wildlife).
  • Let the kids (especially teens) bring along a friend. Get permission from parents and make it a club adventure.
Step Three: Eat!
  • Use an online calorie intake and calories burned calculator to figure out how many calories you typically consume each day, then figure out the distance you would have to hike to burn those calories off. Any search engine will pull up lots of these calculators.
  • The pedometer and trail maps will help you determine if you’ve covered enough distance to burn the necessary calories.
  • Eat a daily healthy balanced meal. Including fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Consult with a dietician for help. So, when you do go off the reservation and splurge on junk food, you have a normal eating routine to snap back to.
Guest Author Info: Jeff Alt is a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA). His adventures have been featured in media nationwide including: ESPN, Hallmark Channel, the AP, CNN-Radio, NPR, and more. Alt's award-winning books, A Walk for Sunshine and A Hike for Mike, have been reviewed in Library Journal, Chicago Sun Times and more.

For more information visit http://www.jeffalt.com/

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Walk For Sunshine Book and DVD Review

I love the outdoors and have always dreamed of hiking for extended periods. When we lived in Virginia, we actually hiked a portion of the Appalachian Trail while geocaching, which was an amazing experience. Jeff Alt went further, a lot further. He hiked the entire distance (about 2,160 miles the year he thruhiked) and this book and DVD are his story of that trek.

Both the book and DVD are presented in a lighthearted manner, with his travails humorous anecdotes rather than sorrowful stories. Alt is earnest in his storytelling, but it is no wonder, as his hike was conceived as a fundraiser for Sunshine Communities, where his disabled brother lives.

Alt takes you along on an entertaining walk with bears, bugs, blisters, skunk bedmates, and hilarious food cravings. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy this adventure for a noble cause. Jeff dedicated his journey to his brother who has cerebral palsy inspiring an annual fundraiser which has raised over $160,000 for the disabled home in which his brother resides. A Walk For Sunshine has been featured on ESPN, Hallmark Channel, reviewed by the AP, and more. As you walk along with Jeff, you experience perseverance, surviving with only the bare essentials, the success of goal setting, and overcoming obstacles.

Jeff is not a professional author and it shows. His writing, however, is entertaining and he keeps the story moving along. The DVD is a companion piece to the book and features mostly slides, rather than live action. On the DVD, he comes across as very personable and likable.

About the Author: Jeff Alt’s adventures have been featured in media nationwide including: ESPN’s Inside America’s National Parks, Hallmark Channel’s New Morning, CNN-Radio, USA Radio Network, the AP, the Chicago Sun Times, and many more. Alt is a talented speaker, teacher, and the award-winning author of A Walk For Sunshine and A Hike For Mike. Alt is a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA). Jeff has shared his Appalachian Trail adventures with guests in the Shenandoah National Park for over six years. He holds a Master’s degree from Miami University in Ohio and a degree from the University of Toledo. He continues to host the annual Walk-With-Sunshine inspired by his Appalachian Trail journey. Jeff has walked the 2,160-mile Appalachian Trail, the 218-mile John Muir Trail with his wife, and last summer he carried his 21-month old daughter in a pack across a swath of Ireland on a family hike.

More information can be found on Jeff Alt's website and on his Facebook page.

(Disclaimer: I was sent these products for free to review on my blog, courtesy of Jeff Alt and KSB Promotions. 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.)

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Differences Between Skiing and Snowboarding

So with winter now seemingly in full swing, we're definitely thinking more about getting out into the snow and cold. We went snow tubing and hope to hit the slopes to ski and snowboard before our Colorado trip in March.

I definitely want to try snowboarding, because at my age you don't just hop into a new sport (I haven't been skiing in so long it would be a new sport at this point), and snowboarding seems safer than skiing. But is it?

Here's what I found:

Skiing and snowboarding are alike in that they are both downhill and are both the source of countless hours of fun and exhilaration Some of the differences, however, that you'll find between them include:
  • Snowboard riders constantly have to sit or exert energy to remain on edge while they are stationary. Unlike skiing, you will not have poles to help you remain upright and standing when you are not moving.
  • Snowboarding is a lot easier on the knees compared to skiing. Knee injuries are not as common in snowboarding as they are in skiing. Snowboarding can, however, be a lot more brutal on your wrists so make sure you wear some wrist guards.
  • You'll start to develop a deep hatred for flats when you're starting out with the snowboard. Again, you won't have your ski poles to bail you out.
  • You will, however, begin to fall in love with deeper and softer snow. Snowboards work nicely in powder and crud while skis are better in bumps and ice.
  • Getting up after a fall on a snowboard is a skill in itself but once mastered should prove to be easier and faster than having to put your stuff together again after falling on skis.

Statistics On Skiing/Snowboarding

Fatalities - According to the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA): During the past 10 years, about 40.6 people have died skiing/snowboarding per year on average. During the 2009/10 season, 38 fatalities occurred out of the 59.8 million skier/snowboarder days reported for the season. Twenty-five of the fatalities were skiers (18 male, 7 female) and 13 of the fatalities were snowboarders, (12 male, 1 female). Among the fatalities, 19 of those involved were reported as wearing a helmet at the time of the incident. The rate of fatality converts to .64 per million skier/snowboarder visits.

Serious Injuries - Serious injuries (paralysis, serious head, and other serious injuries) occur at the rate of about 43 per year, according to the NSAA. In the 2009/10 season, there were 39 serious injuries. Sixteen of these serious injuries were skiers (11 male, 5 female) and 23 were snowboarders, (16 male, 7 female). Among the serious injuries, 18 of those involved were reported as wearing a helmet at the time of the incident. The rate of serious injury in 2009/10 was .65 per million skier/snowboarder visits.

Since I classify myself primarily as a runner, I'd opt for a wrist injury over a knee injury, as I can run with a cast on my hand, but can't with a bum knee. The statistic that most stood out to me, however, is that 50% of the fatalities and a similar number of those seriously injured were wearing helmets. 50/50 odds don't seem to show much benefit to wearing a helmet. 

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Spartan Race

I think I've written about the Spartan Race in the past - looks brutal but fun. This adventure race might go on my 2013 race schedule. I'm participating in the Warrior Dash this summer with Laima, but this looks much tougher.

Anyone run this?
As tough as it looks?

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Toast To A Friend Who Passed

Today, I'm headed to the funeral of a coworker's father. I didn't know him, but my friend has shared so much about him, I almost feel like I did. He lived an amazing life, full of travel, adventure, education, and work, and his children are good people, so he succeeded with that part as well. It's a cold winter day here in the Midwest, but I guess there's never a good time to bury a loved one.

Oh, here's to other meetings,
And merry greetings then;
And here's to those we've drunk with,
But never can again.


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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Winter Sports: Snow Tubing

Mt Hoy - Blackwell Forest Preserve, Warrenville, IL

Last time I was at Blackwell Forest Preserve, it was just over a year ago and I was there for a trail run. This time, the whole family came along to try out a new, for us, winter sport: snow tubing!

It's not a huge monster of a mountain, but it felt pretty steep climbing up, carrying first an 18-month old and then our 4 1/2 year old. Yeah, we earn our turns in the Midwest.

Who new Tubing was so complex?

We had some snow last week and this morning dawned fair and warm, enemies of snow sports (though it sure was beautiful). As time went on, the runs got shorter and shorter, as the snow thawed and became sticky. Still, it made the hikes back up shorter, surely a relief for short legs. After a long morning Tubing, you're exhausted and all done in; two things come to mind:

A quick nap:

or maybe some time by the fire:

Lots of family fun, not too far from home. We are really looking forward to the next snowfall and opportunity to return, hopefully to slide top to bottom.

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Ultimate Ride: Shaun White

(You may wonder why I'm reviewing another Shaun White snowboarding movie -- simple, it's what our library system owns!)

Ultimate Ride is a series from Red Bull featuring their sponsored athletes. More a biopic than an actual snowboarding movie, this is Red Bull attempting to put a human face on superstar snowboarder Shaun White. This video follows White from the United States to Japan, where he rides mountains in order to become a more balanced snowboarder - winning has become too easy and he needs a new challenge. Much of the movie focuses on White as an individual, dealing with such a public life at a very young age. Kind of hard to feel too much for him, as he clearly enjoys his life and is paid handsomely for giving up most of his privacy. Kid-friendly, this is actually a pretty balanced movie, with snowboarding being only one aspect.

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday Funny: Why Teachers Drink

(I'm sure the following is totally made up, but still funny...shared by  coworker, so not sure of the origin.)

The following questions were set in last year's GED examination These are genuine answers (from 16 year olds)............and they WILL breed and vote!!!!!!!

Q. Name the four seasons
A. Salt, pepper, mustard and vinegar

Q. How is dew formed
A. The sun shines down on the leaves and makes them perspire

Q. What causes the tides in the oceans
A. The tides are a fight between the earth and the moon. All water tends to flow towards the moon, because there is no water on the moon, and nature abhors a vacuum. I forget where the sun joins the fight

Q. In a democratic society, how important are elections
A. Very important. Sex can only happen when a male gets an election

Q. What are steroids
A. Things for keeping carpets still on the stairs

Q. Name a major disease associated with cigarettes
A. Premature death

Q. What is artificial insemination
A. When the farmer does it to the bull instead of the cow

Q. How can you delay milk turning sour
A. Keep it in the cow

Q. How are the main 20 parts of the body categorised (e.g. The abdomen)
A. The body is consisted into 3 parts - the brainium, the borax and the abdominal cavity. The brainium contains the brain, the borax contains the heart and lungs and the abdominal cavity contains the five bowels: A, E, I,O,U.

Q. What is the fibula?
A. A small lie

Q. What is the most common form of birth control
A. Most people prevent contraception by wearing a condominium

Q. What is a seizure?
A. A Roman Emperor.

Q. What is a terminal illness
A. When you are sick at the airport.

Q. What does the word 'benign' mean?
A. Benign is what you will be after you be eight

Have a great weekend!

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Drymax Sport Socks Product Review

I'd been hearing about the wonders of Drymax Socks floating around the ultrarunning community for a while and had always wanted to try them. Recently, I got to try three of their running socks designed for men, while Laima handled female review duties over at Women's Endurance Gear.

First thing I appreciated about Drymax was that they are made in the USA. Not in a jingoistic sense, but happy to support a more local and therefore more environmental company. The other pleasant surprise was the act that Drymax makes socks in an XXL. With size 13 feet, I usually make do with XL socks (typically sized 9-12), so they often are serviceable, though not quite right. The XXL run almost too large, but were extremely comfortable and I have no worries about them shrinking until they are unusable.

Drymax Sport Socks are all about moisture control. No sock can prevent your feet from sweating, unless they possess anti-perspirant qualities, which most socks do not (do any?). Drymax socks keep feet 25 times drier than wicking socks by mechanically moving moisture away from the foot. The Drymax fiber technology is permanent and not a surface treatment, so it will not wear out or wash out after repeated use or launderings.

They cannot prevent blisters caused by socks that don't fit right or have an irritating seam, but do prevent blisters caused by moisture. When wet, skin tends to soften, so it becomes more susceptible to blisters. Drymax, by keeping your feet dry, help eliminate blisters caused by excess wetness. Drymax Socks can help eliminate foot odors. Decaying bacteria usually causes foot odor, and bacteria like to grow in damp, warm, dark areas. If moisture is eliminated, so is the environment bacteria like to grow in. The v3 and v4 Drymax Socks all contain MicroZap® which is an antimicrobial additive. MicroZap is a silver based zirconium phosphate ceramic ion-exchange resin. This is a permanent treatment of the fibers, so will last as long as the socks do.

Drymax socks are designed with 5 different levels of protective padding. This protective padding comes in four densities: Low-, Low, Medium, Medium+ and High. Drymax Sports makes their protective padding dense as opposed to thick, so it is less likely to affect the fit of your shoes.

The special fibers used in Drymax socks have a comfortable springiness and do not get stiff, shrink, or lose shape over time. The whites are crisp and the colors never dull. Drymax socks are designed to last a long time due to the use of the highest quality Drymax and Polyester fibers and special abrasion resistant Nylon fiber reinforcements placed in the normal heel and toe wear areas. To help maintain the socks (and all technical apparel), do not use fabric softeners on technical apparel or socks. Fabric softeners leave a residual coating on fibers and fabrics, preventing them from performing as designed. To remove fabric softeners, simply launder with detergent and rinse.

The three socks I received for review were the Running, Running Lite-Mesh, and Lite Trail Running. Drymax sorts their socks by both temperature and distance run, so they actually make special socks for ultrarunners running up to 200 miles.

The new Running Socks were designed with a special Dual Layer Moisture Removal System that moves moisture off the skin through the inner Drymax layer to the outer absorbent layer almost instantly. They are a Medium+ Density protective padded sock. The Running Socks were designed to be used in cool to warm conditions, keeping feet dry, comfortable and odor free. I ran in these both inside on the treadmill and outside on street and trail and the socks (and therefore my feet) remained comfortable start to finish.

The Running Lite-Mesh Socks were designed with a special Dual Layer Moisture Removal System that moves moisture off the skin through the inner Drymax layer to the outer absorbent layer almost instantly. These are a Low Density protective padded sock and you can easily tell the difference between these and the more densely padded Running Sock. The Lite-Mesh Socks were designed to be used in mild to warm conditions, but were fine in the cooler winter temps as well.

Apart from the darker coloring, I didn't really feel these socks were any more or less appropriate for trail rather than street or treadmill running. They are a Medium+ Density protective padded sock, and are were designed to be used in cool to warm conditions, but, once again, no problems in the cooler mornings this winter.

All these socks were comfortable out of the packaging, have withstood runs on street, trail, and treadmill, and, after repeated washings and dryings, feel and look brand new. Incredibly high quality, fit, and comfort will definitely keep these socks in rotation for their (hopefully) long life. Will definitely be looking at some of their other offerings for cycling, skiing, and snowboarding as well. I know I'll be running in Drymax for my first 50K this fall!

For more info, check out the Drymax Socks Website, like them on Facebook and follow on Twitter.

(Disclaimer: I was sent this product for free to review on my blog, courtesy of Drymax Sports. 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.)

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Who Cut The (Vegan) Cheese?

Since the beginning of the year, I've focused on eating vegan, for many of the usual reasons, but mostly because I want to.

Many nutritional benefits come from a vegan diet full of foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, and soy products. Eating a healthy vegan diet has shown to prevent a number of diseases. In addition to good nutrition and disease prevention, eating vegan also provides many physical benefits. The typical American diet not only consists of too much food, it also relies on too much of unnecessary food products or toxins. From helping the environment to avoiding serious bacterial infections, a vegan diet can be a much healthier way to eat. (From NursingDegree.net)

Last couple of days, our son Tazer has gotten interested, mostly because he believes vegans get to eat more good bread than carnivores. Not altogether wrong, but not really right either. Yesterday, when I got home from work, he very seriously came up to me and asked, "Papa, do you REALLY like that vegan cheese?" We'd gone over to Whole Foods and I'd bought some vegan cheeses to try out, to add some familiarity and dimension to my sandwiches. Truth is, vegan cheese is not very good on its own. The two I've had in recent days, both "American" one soy-based, the other rice, taste very plasticky and fake on their own. However, on a bagel, they are just fine.

My ultimate goal is to move away from these highly processed foods to more of a whole foods diet, but it's interesting to see how far, and how little, vegan foods have progressed since I was last seriously vegan 25 or so years ago.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

2Toms Stink Free Sports Detergent Product Review

Why You Need to Use Sports Detergent

It’s not the sweat that gives you stinky socks. It’s the bacteria on your skin combined with the sweat that causes body odor. And since your clothes touch your skin during exercise or hard work, the sweaty bacteria attaches itself to your clothing, too. Sweaty clothes are a breeding ground for smelly bacteria.

Many of today’s high-tech fabrics are designed to wick sweat away from your skin, absorbing moisture and keeping you dry. The problem is these sweat-wicking fabrics lock in the stink, too. Regular laundry detergent is formulated for lightly soiled cotton-based fabrics, and cannot effectively get the odor out of your stinky socks, smelly shoes, sweat-stained shirt, etc. The only thing that can get your smelly clothes fresh is a sports detergent specifically formulated to eliminate the bacteria that causes odors.

With 2 adults and 3 sweaty children (Little Worker is more about food stains than sweat at this point), our technical apparel takes quite a beating. We typically use some sort of unscented,dye-free detergent to wash all our clothes and usually hang up the clothes to make them last longer. In general, we're good to our gear. Unfortunately, our gear is not always good to us. Ever pulled a "clean" shirt from the drawer, pull it over your head, and then get a whiff of old sweat? Or hug your child only to discover a certain homeless-like aroma wafting from their favorite tech shirt? I have, and it's not pleasant. At a certain point, regular detergent just doesn't cut it. 2Toms to the rescue!

2Toms is the creator of BlisterShield, SportShield and ButtShield®, which are anti-friction skin guards that eliminate the friction that cause blisters and chafing. BlisterShield is a powder for the feet and hands while SportShield® & ButtShield® are liquids for the rest of the body. BlisterShield, SportShield and ButtShield increase comfort, enhance performance and endurance. All our products are odor free, non-greasy, and last all day under the most extreme conditions. Please visit www.2toms.com for more information. Their mission is to provide the best comfort and care to consumers by using technologically advanced products while generating reasonable earnings to support employee welfare and morale.

2Toms has developed a new Stink-Free product, which promises to make the bacteria-ridden, sweaty tech shirt a thing of the past (also works on socks and shorts). The detergent comes out of the pouch with a powerful scent, which disappears in the wash, leaving a neutral smelling garment behind. This stuff actually works. And I'm hugging my kids more, so we're happier to boot. :)

One thing I didn't like was that the sample size  I was sent was for 2 loads. Very difficult to squeeze out a single load amount from a slippery plastic bag. As such, I'd suggest opting for the bottle, which has a cap for measuring.

For more info, check out the 2Toms website, like 2Toms on Facebook  and follow on Twitter.

Sources: http://www.2toms.com/stink-free-sports-detergent-3

(Disclaimer: I was sent this product for free to review on my blog, courtesy of 2Toms via Transmyt. 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.)

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Monday, January 9, 2012

Cheap Midwest Multisport Life

Say you're bored one day and you decide to self-search yourself one Google. (What? Am I the only one?) Pretty much what you expected, right? What if you found an unusual result? What if you found the above?

What about this?


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Friday, January 6, 2012

First Descent DVD Review

First Descent (2005, 110 minutes plus bonus footage, PG-13) is a DVD that both entertains and educates. Shawn Farmer, Nick Perata, Terje Haakonsen, Hannah Teter and the Flying Tomato himself, Shaun White, get together to ride some big mountains in Alaska. Travis Rice also makes a cameo appearance. That’s the entertaining part.

The education comes in interspersed scenes that hit the high points of snowboarding history, from its backcountry origins based on surf-style in the snow, to its current incarnation as a worldwide phenomenon that emphasizes skateboards tricks and big moves. Jake Burton, Tom Sims, and a few other snowboarding legends talk about the progression, very cool homage to the originators.

Decent music to boot.

For a small taste, check out the trailer:

We watched this with our kids and, while it is rated PG-13 for brief strong language and a momentary drug reference, there is nothing overt that would upset most parents. After watching this, every single one of our kids wanted to grab a snowboard and get outside to give it a go. Too bad there is no snow and it was 7 o’clock at night, dark. They’ll get their chance in a few months when we go to Breckenridge, unless we hit some local hills here in the Midwest first.

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Thursday, January 5, 2012

NeoCell Sport Product Review

The NeoCell Corporation is dedicated to providing premium collagen peptide-based dietary supplements for skin, connective tissue and joint health for consumers worldwide. All of NeoCell’s health, wellness and anti-aging products are doctor-formulated and offer the highest quality and precise combination of ingredients to maximize health and wellness benefits for consumers of all ages. NeoCell’s products are manufactured in our own GMP certified facility in California and guarantee the highest quality and safety manufacturing standards, meeting the needs of regulators world-wide.

Laima and I received some Collagen Sport to try out, in both French Vanilla and Belgian Chocolate. (Check out what she thought over at Women’s Endurance Gear.)

According to NeoCell Sport, whey protein isolate is THE preferred and superior form of protein for athletes. It’s rich in essential and branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), necessary especially after strenuous workouts. Each serving of Collagen Sport™ provides a good source of daily vitamins and minerals as well as the antioxidant power of Pomegranate extract.

The Rundown:
  • 15 grams Pure Ion-Exchange Whey Protein Isolate
  • 15 grams Super Collagen™ Bioavailable Peptides
  • Rich in BCAAs
  • Good source of L-Glutamine
  • Enhanced with Exogenous Amino Acids
  • Multi-vitamin Fortification
  • Doctor Formulated
 What’s NOT in Collagen Sport™:
  • Gluten, Wheat, Sugar & Lactose Free
  • No Artificial Sweeteners or Flavors
  • No Fillers or Synthetic Ingredients
Their roster of sponsored athletes on the website is comprised mostly of mixed-martial-arts fighters, though there is an older triathlete to give it some variety. :)

I tried the product after both running and cycling workouts, mixing first with plain water and then with soymilk. Both methods are suggested on the packaging. While the powder mixed in to the water without too many lumps, it seemed to wok much better with the soymilk.

According to the nutritional breakdown, there are no sugars in the Collagen Sport and it showed – I would have preferred a sweeter taste, but that is more of what I am used to and, obviously, could add sweetener if I so desired. I applaud NeoCell for not adding it and leaving it up to the user. The fact that it is gluten-free will please some, while I am a huge fan of products without artificial additives.

With 30 grams of protein per serving (in only 123 calories plus any additional if you don’t use water), this is a dynamite way to get plenty of protein.

More information can be found on the company website, liking on Facebook, and by following them on Twitter.


(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.)

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Madness That Is lululemon

I’ve always been neither hot nor cold regarding lululemon, the yoga-inspired clothing company. Instead, it seemed like they might be doing some good with their community-building. Their clothes were interesting, but incredibly expensive. Just over a year ago, I met one of their local ambassadors, Joe LoPresto, founder of ExperienceTriathlon.  My views have drastically shifted now, after Patrick shared a Huffington Post article detailing what a sordid mess the company actually is.

From the Huffington Post: A recent guilty verdict in the trial of 28-year-old Brittany Norwood -- accused of first-degree murder in the grisly slaying of her 30-year old co-worker Jayna Murray – in the  lululemon outlet on the outskirts of Washington, DC.

The severity of the attack is almost unbelievable.

[L]ululemon is no typical workplace, in fact. Its highly competitive (considered cultish by some) corporate culture has raised serious ethical concerns for years, and so have the company's exploitative marketing and advertising policies. (Again from Huffington Post)

Turns out the problems began with its founding in Vancouver in 1998. Former CEO Chip Wilson, said he came up with "lululemon" because he delighted in the idea that trying to pronounce the name -- with its three syllables beginning with "l'" -- would pose a special challenge for the Japanese, whom he enjoyed making fun of. From that less-than-enlightened starting point Wilson went on to create a huge controversy in 2005 when he announced that the firm would rely on child labor and "sweat shops" in China, after three competitors in his native Vancouver went belly up due to rising labor costs. (Huffington Post)

Then, in 2006, the firm rolled out a line of "Vita-Sea" apparel bags that it claimed were made with seaweed fiber, and had health and medicinal effects for consumers, including stress reduction, through the release of amino acids and vitamins into the skin's natural moisture. But they were lying -- there was no seaweed of any kind in the bags the newspaper tested. (Huffington Post)

It goes on… If any one of these is true it amazes me that they are still in business. Great job on their public relations, I guess.

How has lululemon survived these scandals? In a word, record profits.

For me, this is not a company I can support. I hope that you do your own research and make an informed decision on whether you want to or not.

Huffington Post
Vancouver Sun
CTV News

(*Post-script: After this was originally posted, I was challenged by Coach J-R (Jean-Remi John CAMPION), who commented: "A very anecdotal point of view, no fact at all to back this up. And very badly written... Sounds like a one sided story... and as far as the poor person that was murdered, does this only happen in lululemon or are no other people unfortunately murdered in work places or as a result of work disputes... Does someone actually have Chip on record saying this about kids/sweat shops etc or not? Here is the meaning of anecdotal in case you are wondering: anecdotal |ˌanikˈdōtl| adjective (of an account) not necessarily true or reliable, because based on personal accounts rather than facts or research : while there was much anecdotal evidence there was little hard fact | these claims were purely anecdotal. Take or leave lululemon. Sales are on right now up to 70% in some stores here in Sydney! Chimaste, J-R Campion Run Ambassador lululemon athletica Mid City Sydney Australia."

I'm glad he did that, because I truthfully had taken some of this without digging into it as deeply as I should have. Here is my response to Coach J-R: "Coach, thanks for the definition. A murder and subsequent conviction are not anecdotal. Lab tests showing a company lied about its product is not anecdotal. Chip Wilson talked about using sweatshops at the 2005 Business Alliance of Local Living Economies Conference in Vancouver. Chip Wilson's quote about the Japanese's difficulty in pronouncing the name of the company is from an article in the National Post Business Magazine. You're right that bad things happen to all sorts of companies. However, none of these situations is something you'd expect from a company that: 'creates components for people to live longer, healthier and more fun lives.' (from the lululemon manifesto)."

As a lululemon ambassador, his first instinct was to defend the company, which is as it should be. I hope, after reading my rebuttal, that he ponders whether or not he wants to stay affiliated with them.)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Inside Training: Trainer Workouts

For the last month and a half or so, I have been very diligently working on my base fitness: 3 days a week running, 3 days a week cycling. Each session has been a half hour, and most have been done on the treadmill or trainer. This has served 2 purposes: I can maintain a specific pace while running, and I can compare my results on the trainer without having to factor outside impacts. My plan is to continue this base-building for the next month or so, until I start my half-marathon training (if I sign up for an end of April 20K, that is). Then my running will morph into the same 3 a week sessions, but they will consist of a speedwork, tempo, and long run rather than a straight tempo.

For the trainer, what I've been doing has been a repetition of a time trial - the same bike, same trainer, different gears (and different movies). From a low of 6.53 miles at the end of November, my distance has increased to 11.34 miles on New Year's Day, almost doubling my distance. This has been mostly due to riding in the big ring as of late, though improved fitness has played its role as well.

Much as I enjoy these time trial efforts, the effect is mostly on my base fitness, which will eventually plateau if I continue this path. What will help improve my cycling-specific fitness and bike strength is intervals. Bicycling Magazine had some nice suggestions I'll be adding soon to my repertoire. Their suggestion is to warm up for 15 minutes, complete the workout, then finish with a 10 minute cooldown:
  • Speed Intervals improve power and speed, and help you recover from repeated hard efforts:
    • Do four one-minute fast-pedal intervals: Use an easy gear and as high a cadence as possible. Keep your rate of perceived exertion (RPE ) low—5 out of 10. Recover for two minutes between efforts.
    • Pedal five minutes easy.
    • Do 10 to 12 intervals of 30 seconds on/30 seconds off. The "on" portions are 95 percent effort (RPE 9 to 9.5) at as high a cadence as possible. Stand or sit as needed. For the "off" parts, spin easy.
    • Make it harder: Add one on/off interval, up to 20 total.
  • Climbing Bursts help you respond to attacks on hills:
    • Simulate a hill by raising the bike's front wheel.
    • Ride 10 minutes at a pace you can hold for an hour (90 to 100 percent of threshold power or heart rate; RPE 8). Once every two minutes, stand and attack for 12 to 15 pedal strokes—a near all-out effort.
    • Spin easy for 10 minutes.
    • Repeat (do three fast efforts total).
    • Make it harder: Try 2x15 minutes (10 minutes recovery), then 3x12 (six minutes recovery), then 2x20 (10 minutes recovery).
  • Ladder Intervals simulate the demands of racing:
    • Pedal for four minutes at RPE 8 (90 to 100 percent of threshold power), then three minutes at RPE 9 (100 to 110 percent of threshold), then one minute allout (115 percent of threshold).
    • Spin easy for five minutes.
    • Pedal one minute all-out, then three minutes at RPE 9, then four minutes at RPE 8.
    • Spin easy for 10 minutes.
    • Repeat the sequence.
    • Make it harder: Add 30 seconds to each rung of the ladder, then a minute.
Bicyling Magazine

Running, Skiing, and Endurance Sports - Patagonia.com

REI: Gear for the Great Outdoors

UnderArmour - I WILL

Outdoor DIVAS - Adventure Gear for Active Women