Friday, June 29, 2012

TIMEX Factory Team (TFT) Application

Designed to provide multisport athletes the opportunity to connect with TIMEX in a way that was not previously available, the new TIMEX Factory Team (TFT) was designed to be a complementary program to the already successful TIMEX Multisport Team. Launched in an effort to support the large number of outstanding athletes that exist in the multisport community, the team will give more athletes the opportunity to represent the TIMEX brand in addition to growing the community of TIMEX athletes who are dedicated to achieving their racing and training goals.

The Team application is available online and will be throughout the year. Athletes will be selected based upon their athletic achievements and their community involvement. Applicants of all disciplines are welcome to apply. Those selected will receive products from TIMEX and will be given exclusive rights to wear the TFT uniform developed by Champion System.

Selected athlete will receive the following: Timex Ironman digital sports watch plus discount for additional product purchases, a Timex Factory Team Uniform - Exclusive to team members ($80 voucher to order online), and a Timex technical running hat and visor. Obligations of Timex Factory Team athletes: Team dues of $100, athletes must wear Timex sports time piece during all racing and training, will upload photos from races and training to social media outlets on a weekly basis, and submit race results within a week after race date.

Here’s a link to the application -- apply to become a Team Member!

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Vasque Footwear Velocity 2.0 Trail Running Shoe

The armored construction of a hiking shoe is mated to the lightweight breathability of a running shoe. Thoughts? Heavy? Clunky? Good for neither hiking nor trail running? Those were my initial thoughts when I heard about the Velocity 2.0s. Was I ever wrong.

First off, even though this shoe looks rugged and super-protective, it was a LOT lighter than I expected. And, while there is a certain amount of stiffness expected from a shoe with a protective plate, these were incredibly comfortable out of the box. The outsole is the Vasque Mako (and the lugs do look like shark teeth, with a molded EVA and TPU plate for protection, and what’s called the Arc Tempo last.
Our Arc Tempo last creates an athletic fit that promotes quickness and agility over technical ground. The asymmetrical curve is ideal for people with higher arches and also places your foot in a more powerful position during toe off. This aggressive toe spring facilitates rapid obstacle clearance. The tapered toe box offers adequate room without wasted space. And the medium volume heel fits a wide range of shapes. Perfect for shorter distances on technical trails.
As is typical, I first took these shoes out for a shorter run, in this case, a hill workout. Comfortable on the sidewalk, good in the grass, so far so good. After a few weeks of the occasional shorter run, I decided to try them out on my normal 8 mile loop – all cement, all the time. No problems at all for the Velocity 2.0s. Then, another mixed surface run, farther still. 16 miles – while they started feeling a bit heavy, it probably was me getting tired more than a flaw in the shoes. I’ve now run maybe 6 or 7 times in these shoes, varying distances and, apart from a treadmill, on every type of surface, from street to singletrack. These are so comfortable, that I am seriously considering these as the shoe I’ll wear for my first ultra this fall.

This is a well cushioned neutral trail running shoe. The grippy outsole works on all surfaces, while the mesh uppers are quick-drying in the event you splash through a stream or run through wet grass. Add the out of box comfort and spacious toe box and I’m not sure what else you could ask for.

Well, actually, I could ask for these, the Velocity 2.0 GTX, gorgeous shoe:

In the market for a modern hiking shoe? Check out Laima’s review of the Vasque Mantra 2.0s at Women’s Endurance Gear.

For more information, please visit the Vasque website,  like them on Facebook,  and follow on Twitter.

(Disclaimer: I was sent this items for free to review on my blog, courtesy of Vasque Footwear, via Darby Communications. 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, June 27, 2012

Engine 2 Diet Book

I’ve been vegan for some time now, vegetarian for even longer, but I feel like I’ve stalled – my weight is steady, but I clearly could shed more than a few pounds. Part of it is overeating and drinking too much wine, but a big part of that comes from my approach. Rather than embracing a plant-based lifestyle, I’ve taken a meat-based meal plan and simply replaced the meat with healthier options. I’m still eating too much processed food, still thinking about how my meals fit within a typical American diet. It needs to change.

Reading Rip Esselstyn’s Engine 2 Diet, this is what most struck me. My body won’t change until my approach changes. To follow this diet, you must give up meat and dairy, no problem, but also all processed foods (bye bye bagels). More difficult for me is giving up extracted oils – we love our olive and grapeseed oils! Rip writes that you can make the change in 28 days, which is how long new habits take to ingrain. The book claims that a fully plant-based diet will:
  • Help you lose weight;
  • Lower your body fat;
  • Increase your lean muscle mass;
  • Improve your cardiovascular health;
  • Will make you more disease-proof; and
  • Give you many more positive benefits.

As a vegan already, I completely concur with this. I truly believe a plant-based diet is the way to go. It definitely is not easy in our society, but I think it’s worth the effort to gain the benefits.

The book is decently written, motivational, and goes behind many typical diseases and how they can be prevented using this plant-based diet. Is the book perfect? No. One of the glaring, to me, contradictions is the statement that to be successful, one must follow a whole foods diet, but then Rip suggests soy milk instead of dairy, and Boca burgers instead of beef. While theyare definitely healthier, they are not whole foods, but rather processed foods. No biggie, still a step in the right direction.

The book also includes an exercise regimen to follow and a whole lot of recipes to try out. I purposefully did not try any of the recipes, as Laima had said she wanted to try out the 28 Day Challenge. If she’s up for it, so am I and we’ll use these recipes if we can’t get things going on our own.

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

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hero Rush Illinois--Don’t just play in the mud. Be a Hero.

If there is anyone who doesn’t get a lump in their throat or a tear in their eye when they think about the emergency personnel rushing into the Twin Towers on 9/11, I’d be surprised. We don’t think or thank often enough these heroes who rush into not just that situation, but ones everyday, where the only safe thought would be to get out. Now there's a way to honor the brave firefighters while having a blast in the process!

After our recent participation in the Warrior Dash,  the organizers at Hero Rush were nice enough to comp Laima and me some media passes to check out Hero Rush Illinois. Pretty exciting stuff, though, as the Hero Rush promoters, state, it’s "Not Just A Mud Run:”
”Designed by veteran firefighters, the course and obstacles will enable everyone to feel the rush of being a firefighter for a day! We start with a 5k+ course, but instead of military style obstacles, ours will simulate the challenges that firefighters face on the job. Runners will climb ladders, scale steep roofs, bust through windows and doors, drag massive fire hoses, crawl through smoke-filled mazes, and more. No mud pits, but there will be tons of water and, at some events, even an opportunity for spectators to take aim on the runners!

In our festival area (the Inferno Midway) spectators and runners both can try their firefighter skills on stand-alone obstacles and challenges. Plus there will be great food & beverage options, entertainment, music, merchandise and more. We’re inviting local fire departments to get involved by doing demonstrations and promoting public safety. And for families, there are two kid’s adventure courses.

We’ve designated a charity, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, which serves the families of fallen firefighters across the country. One of the most popular ways we are raising money for the NFFF is through our “343 Wave,” which honors the firefighters who were killed in the Twin Towers on 9/11. And because we are dedicated to helping fire departments in the communities that host our events, we’ll also identify a local fire-related charity in each market to support.

Hero Rush is the latest, greatest event for athletes, weekend warriors, young professionals, families – you name it, there’s something fun and challenging for everyone.”

The Illinois event takes place in Sandwich, which is a couple hours west of Chicago, on Saturday, July 28. REALLY looking forward to this event - it looks like a ton of fun -- we hope you’ll join us out there! Register at the Hero Rush website.  When you sign up for the Illinois race, use the promo codes MultiSportLife15 and WomensEndurance15 - both are good for 15% off of a runner or Team entry to the Chicagoland race.

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Week 8: The North Face Endurance 50K Training

TrekSta Edict Trail Running Shoes

Monday: Core/20 Mile Ride
  • First day with new Garmin, nice to have in front of me rather than on my wrist, but initially too dark to see - wasn't sure how to light up screen. Nice morning for a ride - straight out and back for all intents and purposes. 50 miles Thursday, daunting and exciting at the same time.
Tuesday: 8 Mile Run 
  • Windy and warm, humid. Even thought the public is not quite ready for it, halfway through I ran shirtless, to ameliorate some nipple chafing. Ran across a skunk, happily no oil was sprayed and I remained odor-free, at least skunkwise.
Wednesday: OFF
  •  Tuckered, a difficult night with Little Worker. Oddly enough, a diaper change was required at 2:00 AM, that has not happened in a LONG time! Guess he wants to keep us on our toes. Maybe being tired is good for me, got a lot of work done today, much of it that I had been procrastinating on for awhile.
Thursday: 50 Mile Ride
  • Somewhat dreaded doing this, but mapped out a seemingly endless course, laid out my kit, packed snacks, inflated tires, and froze water bottle Wednesday night in preparation. Not half a block from home it started raining huge fat drops and I gratefully turned home to lay on the couch. Of course the rain didn't last very long and then I felt guilty, but the ride will happen Friday instead, not a huge deal.
Friday: Strength/Core
  • 50 mile ride today instead. I'm always somewhat surprised when there are other people out at 3:30 - this morning there seemed to be even more than usual. Definitely very tough, but happily not quite as difficult as I had built it up in my head. Oddly, for the beginning of summer, it was very cool, almost cold sometimes on the bike. Figured out the Garmin and was happy to have it, such an improvement!
Saturday: Tempo 10
  • After yesterday's 50 mile ride and a sleepless night courtesy of Little Worker, opted to take it easy today and just relax, putter around the house. It's just the two of us, as Laima, Tazer, Gaigai and Munchkin have all gone to Michigan to celebrate Midsummer. Took a morning walk to the park and then an afternoon walk to see a train go by. Nice to have this bonding time!
Sunday: Speedwork/Drills
  • Speedwork at the track was questionable today, since I had Little Worker, so opted for a modified stroller run.

    Plan called for:
    1 mile warmup
    400 interval
    400 recovery
    800 interval
    400 recovery
    400 interval
    400 recovery
    Repeat 3 times
    1 mile cooldown
    What I actually did:
    8 min warmup
    2 min interval
    2 min cooldown
    4 min interval
    2 min cooldown
    2 min interval
    2 min cooldown
    Repeated twice
    8 min cooldown
    Worked out very nicely and pushing the stroller added a minor strength component to the workout. First run in the new TrekSta Edicts, I'm thinking they will be a good shoe!
Weekly Totals:  81.91 miles, 6:01:42. A little bit less than planned for, but a good week overall.

(Training Plan adapted from Jeff Horowitz’ Smart Marathon Training)

Monday Weigh-In -- Original Weight (Day 1): 209.6, today 204 - still a long way from where I want to be, but hopefully have turned a corner and will start seeing results.

This was a good week. I overcame my fear of that 50 mile ride, really listened to my body, adapted to circumstances, and overall feel pretty good, considering. FINALLY had a decent week of eating, at least portion-wise. Starting to pay attention, instead of eating how I feel at any given moment. That's huge progress, hoping I can keep it up! (TWSS)

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Sunday, June 24, 2012

New Balance Falmouth Road Race Entry Giveaway

What's your RUNspiration? is giving away a pretty amazing prize package! The winner will receive two airline tickets to Falmouth, Massachusetts and entries to the New Balance Falmouth Road Race on Aug. 12. In order to enter, share words of inspiration here -

Share your entry on Facebook and ask your friends to vote on their favorite entries. Finalists will be determined by voting and chosen each week through June 29, 2012.

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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Campfires and Loon Calls

When I was younger, I often dreamed of visiting the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota. Imagine travelling by canoe and portaging lake to lake, far from roads and civilization of most every type. I recently enjoyed a book about the area, Jerry Apps’ Campfires and Loon Calls: Travels in the Boundary Waters (Golden, CO: Fulcrum Books, 2011) that described this area and his many years of visits:

“During his twenty-five years of canoeing in the wild, Jerry Apps has experienced it all—wicked thunderstorms, inquisitive bears, swamping a canoe, night skies filled with more stars imaginable, falling asleep to the lullaby of water lapping at the canoe's edge. In his latest book, Campfires and Loon Calls, Apps generously shares his seasoned advice, from how to set up camp and protect food from hungry bears to minimalist cooking and appreciating a rainy day, all the while weaving in the incredible history of the Boundary Waters region.”
This is almost too simple a book and, being an academic, Apps writes in a somewhat dry style, so his subtle lessons could go undetected. Beyond being merely a travelogue of time spent canoeing the Boundary Waters, he looks at culture, our priorities, and how a wilderness area fits (or doesn’t) within those parameters. Pithy, sometimes amusing stories illustrate good tenets of canoe camping, and Apps often reminds us to slow down and enjoy where we are and what we are doing – great advice.

It’s unlikely that I’ll pack up my family and head up to the Boundary Waters anytime soon. It’s unlikely my wife would let me. But the next time we go canoeing, or camping, or the two together if we’re lucky, I’ll be the more prepared because of this tome.

About the Author: Jerry Apps writes novels and nonfiction about the outdoors, country life, and rural living. He received the 2008 First Place Nature Writing Award from the Midwest Independent Publishers Association and the 2007 Major Achievement Award from the Council for Wisconsin writers. He and his wife live in Madison, Wisconsin. Visit Jerry Apps at

(Disclaimer: I was sent this book for free to review on my blog, courtesy of Fulcrum Books. 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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Friday, June 22, 2012

Mezamashii Run Project

The Mezamashii Run Project is an effort by Mizuno to help create a more euphoric running experience — a more "brilliant" run — for more runners everywhere. The word "mezamashii" means "eye-opening" or "brilliant" in Japanese — it's a word that captures the euphoric feeling of a brilliant run. Mizuno believes their shoes can help runners achieve this mezamashii feeling more often, so they’re inviting thousands of runners to receive a free pair of shoes and join their quest for the brilliant run.

In this initial phase, Mizuno is relying on word of mouth and social media to create buzz between those who have received invites and those who want invites. Over the course of the remainder of the year, Mizuno will give away thousands of shoes to runners who are looking to experience more euphoric, brilliant, mezamashii running.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever run in a pair of Mizunos before, so I was pretty excited to get a free pair to try out. Since most of my training is done on the road (unfortunately), I decided to try out the Wave Rider 15, a shoe of “harmonious balance of a lightweight feel, wrapped-to-foot fit and exquisitely smooth ride, ultimately producing a brilliant running experience.” Sounds good to me!

Plus, check out the dynamite colors!

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

CLIF® Bar Introduces GARY's PANFORTE

“In celebration of the company’s 20th anniversary, Clif Bar and Company Founder and Co-CEO Gary Erickson created GARY's PANFORTE, a limited-edition CLIF® Bar full of fruits, nuts and spices that was inspired by his early cycling adventures over Northern Italy’s Passo di G├ávia.”

“Now, 20 years later, Erickson wanted to create GARY's PANFORTE, embodying the flavors of a traditional Italian Panforte, which is full of fruits, nuts, spices and citrus notes, and has been a staple in Italy for hundreds of years. The bar delights taste buds with a flavorful blend of 23 ingredients, including many new to CLIF Bar but typical in Italian Panforte, including crunchy hazelnuts and pistachios, sweet figs and pears, citrus peel and hints of cinnamon, ginger and coriander.”

We had the opportunity to try GARY’s PANFORTE—the kids loved them! I personally found them reminiscent of Christmastime fruitcakes, not necessarily bad, just unexpected. This is definitely not your typical energy bar—the spices set it apart. Definitely don’t wait to try these – they’re being released in a limited edition and remain available only while supplies last.

For more information, visit the Clif Bar and Company website,  check out their Facebook page, and follow on Twitter.

(Disclaimer: I was sent this product for free to review on my blog - courtesy of CLIF, via Double-Forte. I did not pay for this 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, June 20, 2012

A Life Without Limits

A Life Without Limits: A World Champion's Journey (New York, NY: Center Street, 2012), by Chrissie Wellington, is a fun read, and very surprising in that it completely matches her public persona, the girl-next-door. The girl-next-door that is a world-record holding triathlete who competes mostly at the long course distance of course. Not in my neighborhood.

Wellington is very self-effacing, puncturing any ego-inflating experiences by referring to herself as “Muppet,” a childhood nickname earned by her clumsiness.
”I need to address some of the flaws in my personality…[o]ne of them is my tendency always to try to gain the approval of others. I guess it’s a reflection of my lack of self-confidence—needing constant reassurance. Strange, because I am sure that that’s not the perception most people actually have of me.”
Wellington is very candid about her longtime struggle with an eating disorder, with an ongoing struggle to accept it and move beyond it. It is triathlon that helps her through it, with a gradual acceptance of her body and realization that food is the fuel that will improve her athletic performance.

Plenty of race experiences are shared, but those looking for training plans will come away disappointed. As Wellington rightly notes, each person needs to come up with a plan that works for them.

The thing about this book that is most pleasing is that it does not come across as a cocky champion lording it over the have-nots (as other world champion triathletes have done in their own books). Wellington really does come across as a normal person, although most people will never reach the levels of accomplishment in triathlon that she has. She’s a good example of a well-rounded person who just happens to be at the top of her particular athletic focus.

Chrissie Wellington is a quadruple World Ironman Champion (2007, 2008, 2009, and 2011). Prior to her athletic career, she worked for the UK Government (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - Defra) as an advisor on international development policy.

(Disclaimer: I was sent this book for free to review on my blog, courtesy of Center Street. 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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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Warrior Dash Illinois 2012 Race Report

These 2 photos say it all

Laima and I were pretty excited about this race – we don’t get to train or race together very often, and this race just promised a good time. Saturday afternoon we dropped the kids off at Laima’s aunt and uncle’s house, stopped off at the Lemon Tree (an upscale grocery house near home) and got some interesting stuff for dinner (lemon and pepper pasta being the most unusual). Add sparkling wine, pleasant company, and a guaranteed nice evening ensues.

Read Laima's Warrior Dash Recap over at Women's Endurance Gear.

Meteorologists had forecast extreme heat for Sunday, and warnings then arrived from Red Frog Events,  the race organizers. Happily, a storm Saturday night cooled things off for those of us who got early and arrived for the 9:00 start. Oddly enough, there were no wave starts on Sunday, just show up, head to the start line and go! Seemed to work out.

Due to the higher temperatures expected, the race organizers had changed some of the obstacles, incorporating a lot more water. This also had the effect of creating a lot more mud, which just added to the fun factor. Since were there for the experience and not to “race,” the sometimes longer waits at the obstacles were not that frustrating and, when we felt like walking, we walked. The course, run on a family farm in Channahon, IL, had plenty of ups, downs, forests, and streams to keep things interesting. We even got to run by a graveyard!

Most of the obstacles required minimal strength and could be completed relatively easily using some of the help built into them. That being said, I definitely felt some soreness in my core and hips the morning after. One thing I found interesting about this event is that the organizers are attracting people who probably would not enter a typical running race. Some folks were walking pretty much from the get-go, clearly there to have a good time and challenge themselves, but not necessarily run. That’s really cool.

Things They Got Right:
  • Endless fun, obstacles relatively close together, variety of scenery.
  • Well-organized, huge number of volunteers, police coordination.
  • No long waits at registration, ID check, or gear check.
  • Horned helmets are unique race mementos, shirts and medals were of good quality.

Things I Would Change:
  • The information packet said that parking would be $10. It was $20 – not cool to double the fee, especially without warning.
  • No recycling? In this day and age, that’s just not acceptable; especially when so much of what was served post-race could easily have been separated.
  • No food? Granted, I wasn’t that hungry, but it seems an event of this magnitude could have some bagels and bananas post-race. Or team up with an energy bar company and the like.
  • Miller Lite? I know I’m spoiled, but Miller Lite just doesn’t taste that good at the best of times, let alone 10 in the morning. Get Miller to give you higher quality beers.

Overall, this was a really well-run event and I’m sure we’ll participate in more from Red Frog. If you haven’t participated in a Warrior Dash or something similar, I highly recommend it – we had a blast!

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Week 7: The North Face Endurance 50K Training

Great start to the week as we headed for the family cottage in Union Pier, MI. We had outstanding weather, which was nice and Lake Michigan was not cold, which was a shock, as it's often late summer before we can swim. Week ended with the Warrior Dash, really a fun race. Even though I'm skipping pretty much all the core and strength days, I'm not overly worried. While strengthening those areas is definitely a boon, this middle-aged body needs more recovery than is within this plan.

Monday: Core/20 Mile Ride
  • Rode up Red Arrow Highway from Union Pier to Bridgman, enjoyable yet tough ride, feeling tired again after so many days of training. Saw a deer, squirrels, and lots of birds.
  • Skipped core yet again, but sort of on vacation, so didn't care.
Tuesday: 8 Mile Run 
  • 4 miles out and back along the beach. Windy, water coming in, not an easy run on mostly softer sand. Return trip just ran through the water, final mile barefoot. Very satisfying run due to beautiful setting.
Wednesday: OFF
  •  A day that went by quickly and suddenly I was home, not even overly worn down, as sometimes happens at the office.
Thursday: 10 Mile Run
  •  Though the numbers were no different than usual, this run seemed a lot tougher. Initially I felt like I was stuck in low gear. After 3.5 miles of slow, grinding running, I started feeling a bit better. By mile 5.5, I was starting to relax, and by 7.5 I felt decent. The funny thing is that this was all mental - my splits were very even.
Friday: Strength/Core
  • To celebrate Father's Day with Laima's dad, we spent the day hanging out by his pool, amazingly warm enough to swim in and it's only June! Ate and drank too much in lieu of training.
Saturday: 20 Mile Ride
  • Really had no desire to ride today, no route planned, so just pushed off and went. Ended up being really enjoyable, bit warm, but definitely not hot. Always nice to ride new neighborhoods and towns.
  • Came home for breakfast to a nice surprise - as part of the all-weekend Father's Day celebration, today's gift was a new Garmin 200 Edge for my bike! Love it.

Sunday: Speedwork/Drills
  • Laima and I headed out to the farmland to participate in Warrior Dash Illinois. Have no idea what our time was, results were sporadic and incomplete. I will say that if you have not done of these mud/adventure runs, you really should - we had a blast! (Race reports tomorrow.)
Weekly Totals: 62.07 miles, 6:07:04.

(Training Plan adapted from Jeff Horowitz’ Smart Marathon Training)

Monday Weigh-In -- Original Weight (Day 1): 209.6, today 206. I have to admit, even though I know I eat and drink too much, I'm surprised that the weight is not coming off, with all the miles I'm putting in. A good lesson for the younger folks.

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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Cabin Fever Book Review

Glen Ellyn, IL is about 8.5 miles from my house. Sawyer, MI is 7.5 miles or so from Union Pier, MI. Interesting to me, because Tom Montgomery Fate, the author of Cabin Fever: A Suburban Father’s Search for the Wild (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2011), mentions both in the book. The former is where he lives, while the latter is where he heads to get away from home. What are the chances that both locations would be less than 10 miles from where I live and vacation? Small world.

Cabin Fever is not at all what I expected. In my mind, it was a Dave Barry-esque comedy about building a cabin in the woods, encountering country folk and animals along the way, misadventures ensuing. Instead, this is a book about being alone, about connecting with nature, through a meditation on some of Thoreau’s works. “…what many of us do want, and what this book is about, is finding a deeper connection to Nature in our ordinary lives—by seeking relationship and refuge wherever we find ourselves—whether it be on a walk through a forest preserve, on a family camping trip, or catching grasshoppers in the backyard.”

While many of us may envy Thoreau his solitary life in the woods, few have the opportunity or lack of ties to society to be able to do it. “How would his fierce commitment to leisure and his stubborn idealism have endured his children’s late-night sickness, or his partner’s request for him to get a job and earn a bit of money? How would the immense patience he shows in the woods—his intense listening to all the voices there—have translated to the dinner table?” I know there are many times when I wish I could disappear for a weekend, to reconnect with nature and take some deep breaths, but it just can't happen.

One point that really stuck with me is his pointing out of one of Thoreau’s credos: “…the point is not perfection, not arrival, nor answers, but the journey—the imperfect truth of daily life.” It’s something we can all relate to and need to be reminded of. All we need is right here, wherever we are.

About the Author: Tom Montgomery Fate is the author of five books, including Beyond the White Noise and Steady and Trembling. His essays have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, Orion, and many other publications. He teaches creative writing at the College of DuPage in Illinois, where he lives with his family. His cabin is in southwest Michigan.

(Disclaimer: I was sent this book for free to review on my blog, courtesy of Beacon Press. 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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Friday, June 15, 2012

Warrior Dash Illinois

Warrior Dash Illinois

3.19 miles, 14 obstacles including fire, mud, cargo ropes, and others - Laima and I will be enjoying ourselves Sunday at the Warrior Dash Illinois. What a great way to enjoy Father's Day! Race reports next week here  and over at Women's Endurance Gear.

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Headsweats Perspiration Technology Headwear®


The most popular visor in the triathlon industry and trusted companion of thousands of Ironman® finishers. Boasts classic styling with Eventure™ elastic band for fast moisture transfer and a comfortable fit along with a quick drying COOLMAX® Fabric shell. A COOLMAX® Fabric terry headband keeps the perspiration out of your eyes and this visor provides ultra-light comfort, weighing in at less than 1.3 oz. My only complaint? The elastic is so strong, that, on my melonhead, it eventually felt too tight on longer runs. I’m sure if I cut my hair, this problem would go away.


Headsweats Dry Visibility fabric keeps you dry and comfortable during your workout, while a reflective stripe across bill and crown adds a measure of visibility. A hook and loop closure and ponytail friendly rear opening makes this a go-to hat for all. The fact that it’s machine washable is a real bonus. Incredibly comfortable, light on the head, and kept sweat out of my eyes, an awesome hat.


One of the hats I was most excited to try was the Cadence Cycling Cap – not many hats are geared towards cyclists, and this is based on the classic cycling cap you see in the old photos. Made of Coolmax knit fabric with Eventure elastic back makes this comfortable for cycling. Worn under the helmet, the cap keeps the sweat out of your eyes and off your face. On cooler days, it also keeps your head warm. (Our 2 year old LOVES this hat and grabs it at every opportunity!)


When I shared a video about the TIMEX Multisport Team, they sent me a TIMEX headsweats Race Cap - it's definitely one of my favorites due to the cool colors and design. The Coolmax ® Fabric shell and COOLMAX® Fabric terry headband create maximum air flow and moisture transfer. INVISTA® certified sun protection offers protection, feels light on the head at less than 2 oz. Features an adjustable rear buckle with ponytail portal, with Women’s sizing and colors available making it a good option for the ladies. Incredible how similar looking this is to the dry visibility hat, yet the performance was markedly different.

Get more info from the Headsweats website, by following on Twitter, and by liking on Facebook

(Disclaimer: I was sent these items for free to review on my blog, courtesy of Headsweats, via Darby 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.)

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tailwind Nutrition

Athletes sometimes suffer through upset stomachs (and worse), cramps, undrinkable tastes, and juggling drinks, gels, pills, and chews. Nutrition should be simple to use and get the job done so you can focus on going fast. That’s why Tailwind was created--made for endurance athletes by endurance athletes. Tailwind’s dextrose fuel is a form of clean glucose (the fuel that powers muscles and essential organs). It minimizes digestive effort and enters your system quickly, avoiding the stomach pile up that complex sugars and protein can cause.

What Tailwind hears from their customers:
  • "They love that this is all they need – they can just dump it in their bottles or hydration packs and go. Tailwind contains all of the calories and electrolytes so you don't need to supplement with gels, chews, gu's, food, etc.
  • Any stomach problems they were experiencing with other sports nutrition products are gone. This is due to the fact that Tailwind doesn't contain any protein and uses dextrose (glucose) as its energy source vs. a complex carbohydrate (maltodextrin).
  • They love that it's not sweet and syrupy, but instead has a mild taste that gets better the longer you do your activity."

I would agree with Tailwind’s other customers. Apart from the powder easily escaping the pouches in a puff, this is a simple product that does what it advertises. I really appreciated the minimally sweet, minimally processed flavor. Laima thought she could detect the sea salt, which I didn’t notice, but you can read her whole review over at Women’s Endurance Gear. I think what impressed me the most about Tailwind was that it tasted uniformly good when a minimal amount was used as well as when a stronger flavor was desired. The kids seemed to gravitate towards the lemon flavor the most, while I though the lemon and mandarin orange in a strong concentration was my favorite. The berry flavor, while quite tasty, just wasn’t distinctive enough to overtake the other two flavors. The fact that they are organic is a tremendous bonus, as we really try to eschew things with harmful ingredients.

The Tailwind Challenge:

If Tailwind doesn't blow you away, they’ll pay your race fee. Just order the Tailwind Challenge pack—four large containers in your choice of flavors at 10% off the individual price—train with it, race with it, and if it doesn't blow you away, mail them your race entry fee receipt for a refund.

More information available at the Tailwind website, by following on Twitter,  and liking on Facebook.

(Disclaimer: I was sent this product for free to review on my blog, courtesy of Tailwind Nutrition. 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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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Eat and Run Book Review

Scott Jurek’s book, Eat + Run (New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012) was a very pleasant surprise. While Scott has long been an inspiration to me, not just finishing but succeeding ultra-endurance feats, he has done so as a vegan, which allayed any fears I might have had about becoming a vegan. The book is truthful, funny, inspirational—it even includes recipes!

We, in fact, tried the rice milk recipe from the book. Very simple: 1 cup brown rice, 4 cups water, 1 TBSP oil, pinch of salt, place in blender and blend for 2-3 minutes. Super easy, but, unfortunately, none of us liked it. Oh well. :)

Scott grew up as a hunter and woodsman, and definitely without a lot of extra money. He never considered himself an athlete growing up, but became a strong cross country skier and, to build endurance, started running. Over the years, he became attracted to veganism, but resisted, initially because he thought he needed animal protein to succeed, but becoming more sure it was the right path for him as his successes in ultrarunning mounted.

There is plenty of philosophy as well, a lot of which I agree with and found useful. I especially liked: “But whether you get what you want isn’t what defines you. It’s how you go about your business.” With cheating so rampant in sports, this sort of thinking could go a long way to fixing those problems. Naive, maybe, but one can always hope.

Though known for being a successful ultrarunner, Scott is primarily known for being a vegan—he shies away from the term as he feels it’s preachy, but it’s pretty well understood by everyone at this point, so it will probably stick. Through the book, the process over many years of his move towards plant based nutrition is presented in a clinical manner, with support for his decisions as he moved along. It might not inspire you to give up all animal products, but will definitely make you think about it.


For more from Scott, follow him on Twitter and like on Facebook.

This is a well-written, inspiring, and enjoyable book—I’d recommend it to anyone who has an interest in ultrarunning, veganism, or both.

(Disclaimer: I was sent this book for free to review on my blog, courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 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, June 11, 2012

Week 6: The North Face Endurance 50K Training

Compression is back, baby!

Monday: Core/20 Mile Ride
  • Nice morning for it, just a bit cool, decent ride, very little traffic. I don't think I'll ever understand the mentality of a driver who, on a deserted 4 lane road, feels the need to share a lane with me, passing by barely entering the other lane, and returning right just as soon as they are past me. Bizarre.
  • I have  a feeling core is not going to be a prominent factor in this training plan. Still keeping it on the schedule though - it could happen.
Tuesday: 8 Mile Run 
  • Not sure if it was the lower mileage last week or starting to wear compression sleeves again (not sure why I ever got away from that), but my legs feel much better overall. First longer run in Velocity 2.0s, felt really good except for a rubbing on right large toe - surprised by how good these shoes feel!
Wednesday: OFF
Thursday: 16 Mile Run
  • I was so impressed by the Vasque Velocity 2.0s on my 8 mile run Tuesday that I decided to push it and wear them for my 16 miler today - not a bad choice, definitely in the running for the 50K. First 12 miles to day were comfortable, not easy but doable, but last were tougher, seemed a lot more hilly. Glad to have that done, somewhat hard to believe that I'll be running twice as far come September. Didn't notice during the run, but some chafing issues will need to be dealt with. Really need to start working on nutrition on the run, will help in these longer outings!
Friday: Strength/Core
  • Today was Strength on the training plan, so I'm going to assume hiking nearly 3.5 miles with a 30+ pound baby on my back and almost 1,000 feet of elevation change, mostly via staircases can count. :)
Saturday: 20 Mile Ride
  • Beautiful morning for it. Legs felt a bit tired this morning, maybe from 16 miler Thursday and hike yesterday. 351 feet of climbing, so reasonable amount around here. Rode Dupage Greenway and then back through Greene Valley Preserve.

Sunday: Speedwork/Drills
  • First speedwork in quite some time, first time for this training plan. 8x400 meters, 200 meter recovery jog. Felt pretty consistent and, towards the end, relatively comfortable.
Weekly Totals: 72.45 miles, 8:56:57.

(Training Plan adapted from Jeff Horowitz’ Smart Marathon Training)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Before They're Gone Book Review

Before They're Gone: A Family's Year-Long Quest to Explore America's Most Endangered National Parks (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2012) is a book about global warming, seen through the eyes of the author and told by his experiences over the course of a year visiting National Parks with his children. Michael Lanza is a veteran freelance outdoors writer and photographer. He is the northwest editor of Backpacker magazine, where his articles about the impacts of climate change on Montana's Glacier National Park and other wild lands helped Backpacker win a National Magazine Award. He runs the website TheBigOutside.
"We've designated and protected national parks because we need these places. They bring out our best as individuals and represent our highest aspirations as civilization. They express our humility, our ability to step outside ourselves and acknowledge the inherent worth of leaving distinctive pieces of our world alone, instead of measuring their value only in resources we can consume, as humans have done over much of the Earth's surface."
An inveterate explorer, Lanza returns to places visited before and is aghast at the changes he finds. Research shows him that global warming is destroying our national parks and that they could be gone or at least very different in just a generation or two. Since his children are still quite young, he embarks on a one-year voyage, to introduce them to these wonders before they are gone. While the following is regarding an experience in the Everglades, I think it's fair to say that it nicely sums up Lanza's reasons for heading out to the national parks with his children:
"All the efforts to protect natural reserves and vulnerable species are partly about preserving experiences like this one, when a parent and a child can share a big drink from the cup of wonder and remember the taste for the rest of their lives."
It's not all gloom and doom, however -- what exists now is still quite amazing and, with changes, could yet still be saved, at least for the short term:
"In one generation, we changed attitudes in America toward smoking cigarettes, driving while intoxicated, and wearing seatbelts--in part because we recognized that changing our behaviors was a demonstration of love and caring for our children. Driving less, reducing energy consumption at home and work, and demanding that our leaders support converting from fossil fuels to clean energy--these are a powerful expression of concern for our kids."
Much like the frog who is placed in cold water and then slowly boiled to death, we don't notice that our natural world is in serious trouble around us. Lanza's book is a well-written, non-preachy call to arms. It has inspired me to dust off the camping gear and start planning some overnights with our kids -- something we always talk about, but haven't done.

(Disclaimer: I was sent this book for free to review on my blog, courtesy of Beacon Press. 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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Friday, June 8, 2012

Family Time, Unplugged and Outdoors

Family Time at Starved Rock

School's out, I'm off work today, it's a beautiful spring day, so we're packing up the family and heading to Starved Rock State Park, a family favorite. We love getting the kids outdoors into true nature, but it happens far too rarely. If you're headed out with kids this weekend or this summer, it never hurts to have some tips for travel:

Memories are Made on Vacations; Tips for the Road

Don’t worry about record-breaking gas prices – the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates prices to be $3.79 a gallon this summer, less than in 2008.

That’s good news for families considering reviving the tradition of a road trip vacation, one of the best experiences parents and kids can share, says Michael DiLorenzo, author of Adventures with Jonny: Road Trip to the Parks! (

“This is a shared experience, and one that will be talked about during family gatherings for years to come,” says DiLorenzo, a father of three. “For busy parents, this is a time to savor their children’s youth. As moms and dads eventually find out, they grow up fast.”

It’s also a chance to get children outside and away from their computers, he says. Children today already have a deep-rooted interest in technology, which is why a road trip to a natural, outdoor destination is an opportunity to “give your child the gift of the outdoors, which is a gift for life,” says DiLorenzo.

The journey to a national park in the United States or Canada – perhaps Yellowstone in Wyoming or Banff in Alberta – is as bonding an experience as whatever happens at the destination.

“And there are parks in every state,” he notes. “If you don’t have the time or money to go cross country, pick a park closer to home.”

DiLorenzo offers these helpful tips for the road:

• Games, games, games!: Yes, there is ample entertainment for both drivers and riders in cars these days. BUT, the goal is to bond with the family, so consider a fun, albeit off-color game like “Road Kill Round-Up.” A point system might break down like this: two points for the first to spot a poor critter; three for whoever first correctly identifies the species; two points subtracted for a false road-kill call; three points subtracted for misidentifying the kind.
• Beware of dairy drinks (and other smelly snacks): A spill in the backseat can eventually create quite a stink during a summer road trip. But do pack plenty of healthy snacks to save on pricey pit stops and avoid all the sugar and salt in junk food.
• Avoid big-city rush hours: When traveling through metropolitan areas, consider the busiest traffic periods. Whether you plan to stop and check out the city or simply zip through it, bumper-to-bumper traffic is something to avoid. A bit of consideration can save your family hours of grid-locked misery.
• Tech help: Various apps and websites can help drivers find the cheapest gas prices, food options, hotel rates and travel routes. Also, don’t forget a music mix that appeals to the entire family on one of these devices. (Remember, leave work at home – forget about work-related calls, texts and emails! Use a non-work-related smartphone, if needed.)
• Schedule pit stops: Being in a hurry should be left for the morning commute; vacation should be different. When traveling across states and provinces, consider local culture. For example, barbecue in South Carolina is very different from Missouri’s version. Enjoy diners and unique attractions, and don’t be afraid to take notes.

“The greatest family memories are created in shared adventure,” DiLorenzo says. “Outdoor recreation is filled with these memories just looking for a family to bring them home.”

About Michael A. DiLorenzo: a married father of three living in the outdoor-rich environs of Michigan. He created the “Adventures with Jonny” series to entertain and educate children (and parents!) about the activities available in the great outdoors.

What are your plans to get outdoors?

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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Flashlite Belt

When you run in the dark as often as I do, one critical item to consider is safety. While I’ve long worn reflective gear in bright colors, it never hurts to add yet another layer and illuminating the path is another consideration, especially running on trails. When I saw the Flashlite Belt, I was intrigued, because it did all these things and also added storage and hydration – truly “Your All In One Hydration Belt!”

This belt was clearly designed by an enthusiast and not a know-nothing designed knocking something out – so many clever ideas and it really includes everything you could need for shorter distance runs. Ray Samuels created the belt while training for the 2011 Ironman Canada event.

The belt comes in three sizes - small (26”-30”), medium (30”- 36”), and large (36”-40”), with a velcro belt attachment so that it is adjustable for comfort. Race number attachments remove the need for safety pins, while the neoprene pocket can hold your phone, keys, debit card, gels etc.—I thought the pouch seemed somewhat small, but both my BlackBerry and my wife’s iPhone both fit in with no problems. Two quick entry molded holsters hold a pair of BPA free bottles – since they only hold 10 ounces each, they are sufficient for only shorter distances, in my opinion. The belt is adorned with reflective squares and also has reflective piping on pouch, resulting in 360 degree visibility. A front and back LED light are both clipped on yet removable, so can be used with other products if desired. One thing I really appreciated is how closely spaced the two holsters and pouch are—they really fit snugly into the small of my back, which resulted in a complete lack of sway. Nice detail.

The one negative in my eyes was the water bottles, which were too rigid for my taste as it was hard to squeeze liquid out of them.

You can purchase the belt with everything included or the front and back lights on their own, which was a great idea. If you’re in the market for a hydration belt, these are high quality, well designed and manufactured, and come with the added bonus of the 2 light sources. Definitely recommended!

Get more information at the Flashlite Belt website, by liking on Facebook,  and following on Twitter.

(Disclaimer: I was sent this product for free to review on my blog, courtesy of Flashlite Belt. 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, June 6, 2012

Are You Ready To Go Minimal?

If you're a fan of Amanda's over at Miss Zippy (and who isn't?), you know she's written about how much Dr. Mark Cucuzzella from Two Rivers Treads has helped her out. Like minimalism or not, it's definitely part of the discussion nowadays and definitely impacting shoe design. For a relatively well-balanced look at minimalism and running injury-free, check out the book Tread Lightly.

From the Two Rivers Treads website: "Mark Cucuzzella, M.D.: The founder and owner of Two Rivers Treads is Mark Cucuzzella, M.D., who is a Family Physician at Harpers Ferry Family Medicine and Associate Professor at West Virginia University School of Medicine. As a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force Reserves, he is coach and captain of their marathon team and designing programs to reduce running injuries in military personnel. He is the chief medical consultant for the Air Force Marathon ( His passion for health extends beyond the walls of the clinic into the medical home’s “backyard”– the trails and open space that create the arena for optimum wellness. He is also the Director of the Natural Running Center. Mark has been a competitive runner for nearly 30 years, completing over 60 marathons and ultras, and continues to compete as a National level Masters runner. His marathon best is 2:24 and has run in 23 Boston Marathons; in 2011, he went 2:37 at the age of 44!" Dr. Cucuzzella attributes his longevity at the highest level to good running form and espouses minimalist running.

The April 2012 issue of Running Times has some feature articles about minimalist running, including one on the best way to know if you are ready to move from a cushioned, supportive shoe, to one that will allow you to run in a more natural, minimalist way. Dr. Cucuzzella has 4 simple self-tests to asssess your readiness: Dorsiflexion of the Ankle, Dorsiflexion of Big Toe, Isolating the Big Toe, and Single-leg Balance.

Dorsiflexion of the ankle

Test Number 1: Dorsiflexion of Ankle
Sit on a chair so that your knee and ankle are both bent at 90 degrees. Keeping your foot in the same place on the ground, slide your hips forward so that the front of your knee is just past your toes. If you can't keep your heel on the ground in this position, your Achilles is too tight.
Dorsiflexion of the big toe

Test No. 2: Dorsiflexion of Big Toe
Keeping your body in the same position as the end of test No. 1, reach down and grab your big toe. While keeping the ball of your foot flat on the ground, raise your big toe up (keeping it straight) until it's 30 degrees above the ground. If you can't raise it to 30 degrees, or find that the ball of your foot comes off the floor while trying to raise it, your plantar fascia is too tight.

Isolating the big toe
(like how my cat snuck in for this photo?)

Test No. 3: Isolating the Big Toe
While standing, drive your big toe into the ground (plantar flexion) while slightly elevating your other toes (dorsiflexing). Make sure not to roll your ankle in or out to compensate. If you find that you tend to bend the joint in your big toe so that your toe curls, it's a sign that you're dominating with muscles up in your shin and not able to isolate specific muscles inside your foot.
Single-leg balance

Test No. 4: Single-leg balance
Get in good posture and balance, then lift one leg and balance on the other foot. Try not to shift to the side. A triangle between the inside ball of your foot (first metatarsal), end of your big toe, and outside ball of your foot (fifth metatarsal) should remain in solid contact with the floor. Good balance means you can stand on one leg for 30 seconds with full foot contact and a quiet upper body. Taking any part of your foot off the ground makes you less stable. Flailing arms and a wobbly trunk mean that you're using other strategies to get control, ones you can't use when running effectively.
Are you ready for minimalist shoes?
Take the tests and find out!

For the original article and tips on how to improve, check out the magazine or the Running Times website.

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