Friday, August 31, 2012

Friday Funny: Wine and Running

This is a tough one...

Wine and Running = Happiness
Wine and Running = Happiness

...but happily, I can afford both.

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Belgian Hammer

The Belgian Hammer: Forging Young Americans into Professional Cyclists, by Daniel Lee, is a book that simultaneously makes you want to be a professional cyclist and also shake your head at what they go through.

Belgian Hammer book cover

Lee writes about what young Americans do to make it in professional cycling. “Top-level cycling is still very European, a sport played out in a culture as foreign to Americans as a Friday-night high school football game would be to a Belgian kid.” So our young racers head to Belgium to learn what it means to be a professional. The book follows Lawson Craddock of Texas, Benjamin King of Virginia, Taylor Phinney of Colorado, Daniel Holloway of California, and Tyler Farrar of Washington State as they race over a variety of terrains in different races, enduring crashes, cold rain, cobblestones, crosswinds, and culture shock. Since the book was written both Phinney and Farrar have shown they have what it takes to race at the top level, capturing stages at races around the world.

“Only thirty-six Americans have competed in the Tour de France since the world's greatest bicycle race began in 1903. That's not too many more than the twelve Americans who have walked on the moon. It's far fewer than the hundreds of Americans who have reached the summit of Mount Everest.” Pretty small odds for someone from the United States to make it to the top. One such rider is George Hincapie, recently retired, who wrote the foreword to the book. He first went to France to race with the US national team at 14 years old—that’s young to have to learn your sport in a foreign country.

The Belgian Hammer is a fascinating book and its strength lies in its focus. There are times when Lee appears ready to digress or head out on a tangent, but then he brings it back to the story of these young racers. If you’re a cycling aficionado or dream of being a professional cyclist, this is a good book to read about what it really takes to get to the top.

About the author: Daniel Lee is a passionate journalist and cyclist. In his early twenties, Lee raced his bike across Kentucky horse country, through mountains in Germany and over cobblestones in Belgium. He was even a professional cyclist—for one race—in 1991. He has worked as a reporter with the Indianapolis Star.

Disclaimer: This product was advanced to me for review purposes, courtesy of Breakaway Books. 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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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

JCORE Accelerated Body Transformation

JCORE Accelerated Body Transformation

A new workout system designed to transform your life by someone who has trained superstars such as The Real Housewives of NYC and 50 Cent. The complete plan includes a 6-set DVD Series featuring (5) dynamic workout programs, an easy-to-follow meal plan for your weight loss goal, optional nutrition supplements, and an optional USB drive (includes all videos and a PDF digital version of the 40-day nutritional meal plan) that means you can take JCORE wherever you can plug in the drive.

JCORE Product Collage

The JCORE Accelerated Body Transformation System is a hybrid conditioning and training program that blends incredibly effective cardiovascular, strength, agility and core balance exercises. Now, in just 20 minutes a day, 4 days a week — with a total workout time of 8 hours over 40 days. Sounds like a typical infomercial right? That was my first impression – the magic bullet. But I was so wrong (and Laima at Women’s Endurance Gear can back me up). These DVDs will kick your butt! Even better, this is really a full-body workout – this program really showed me how much I need to work on not just core strength, but balance, flexibility, and strengthening my hips and glutes as well. These DVDs did just that.

JCORE Nutrition Collage

JCORE also provides nutritional supplements, should you wish to immerse yourself completely in the program. ZERO-LITE is a metabolism boosting drink mix, BODY-LITE is a snack replacement drink mix, RECOVERY-LITE is for post-workouts, and MULTI-LITE is a multivitamin complex. We enjoyed tasting these products, especially the chocolate BODY-LITE (the family favorite). The only one that was truly not appreciated was the fruit punch RECOVERY-LITE, which tasted artificial and the lurid red color was a turn-off. The meal plan that is provided is simple and appears easy to follow, with several calorie options available. We did not follow the meal plan, simply because we already had some other experiments in the works.

Now, am I ripped, lean, and buff after 40 days? Not really, but, if I had actually followed the actual plan, completing every one of the workouts, eating better, and completely dedicating myself to this, I know that I would be a whole lot further than I am. I will definitely work this 40 day plan into my annual training calendar, using it on a regular basis throughout the year, but also adding sessions before more important events as well. This is highly recommended to anyone who needs a push to get a core/strength program going in their training plan. It still won’t do the work for you, but it definitely gives you the tools for success, if that’s your goal.


Products and info can be found on the JCORE website, on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.

(Disclaimer: I was sent this item for free to review on my blog, courtesy of JCORE, via FitFluential. 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, August 28, 2012

ElliptiGO

Ever ridden an ElliptiGO? Seen one? Then it’s an experience you won’t soon forget. I had an opportunity to try one out recently, courtesy of a friendly local dealer, Fitness Experts Chicago (forthcoming post on them soon).

ElliptiGo Transport and Set-Up Collage
Easy transport and set-up and look at that amazing color!

In 2005, Bryan, one of the owners, lost the ability to run for fitness because of hip and knee injuries. As a result, he started using the indoor elliptical trainer, but he hated being locked in a gym. To solve this problem, he decided to buy a low-impact running device he could ride on the street, but no such device existed. Several prototypes later, with one hiccup in that Larry Miller, the inventor of the elliptical trainer, had actually thought of it several years earlier and obtained a patent on the invention. A licensing agreement later, the ElliptiGO was good to go. In late February of 2010, they delivered their first product to the first customer in San Diego. They now deliver ElliptiGOs through retailers across the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland and throughout Europe.

ElliptiGO Features

You might remember the post I shared on Julie Culley, Olympic Athlete,  who used the ElliptiGO to continue training through injury. The great advantage of the ElliptiGO is that it isn’t reserved for outstanding athletes and Olympians – it accommodates the general consumer as well. The ElliptiGO offers 3, 8, or 11 speeds depending on model, so that the rider can adjust the resistance of the workout. As the owners discovered, it works especially well for those recovering from injury. Those who suffer from back or knee injuries, for example, can find relief exercising on an ElliptiGO, as it dissolves the pain incurred while running or biking.

Aside from the physical benefits, the ElliptiGO provides an aesthetically pleasing workout. The freedom to escape the barriers of the gym and ride out onto an open trail make the workout a recreation rather than a burden. Also, using an ElliptiGO burns 33 percent more calories than riding a bicycle, so the user can get a great workout in just 30 minutes. Whether you’re looking to reinvent your workout, recover from an injury while remaining active or aspiring to be an Olympian, the ElliptiGO is the tool to take your performance to the next level.

ElliptiGO Collage

We had a blast with our ElliptiGO, riding it around our neighborhood and through a forest preserve. Laima, Tazer, and I all got up and went, while Gaigai could not overcome her initial hesitation and never rode without my steadying hand. Munchkin got on, but was simply too small. We had the 8 speed model to demo and, for the most part, the lower gears were unnecessary, even to start. However, on a hillier course, I'm sure we would have been happy to have them! This was a lot of fun and a weekend just felt too short.

Even though I never got over the initial discomfort of feeling like I looked like a total dork (EVERYONE you pass stares!), the ride itself is quite a blast. Within 3 trips up and down the driveway, I was turning 180 degrees without having to get off the EliiptiGO. Tazer got on and rode away—we’re lucky he came back, he was having such a great time!

If Karno uses it, shouldn't you?

If you can run and ride a bike, you can ride the ElliptiGO, as long as you trust yourself and take the time necessary to get accustomed to it. I can see incorporating this into any sort of training schedule, injured or not—this is seriously perfect as a noncontact crosstrainer or for use as active recovery.

Sign up for a Test Ride at ElliptiGO.com!  Like them on Facebook  and follow on Twitter.

(Disclaimer: I was sent this item for free to review on my blog, courtesy of ElliptiGO, through the good graces of the Fitness Experts Chicago. 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, August 27, 2012

Week 17: The North Face Endurance 50K Training

Monday: Core/20 Mile Ride
  • Cool (55 degrees) and dark this morning, started riding  and realized that I just wasn't in the mood to ride in the dark, so cut planned ride in half, planning to ride second half at lunch or after work.
  • Lunchtime ride--beautiful sunny skies, warm, and, I kid you not, before I got 2 miles, the wind had picked up and the clouds rolled in. And then...thunder, rain, and hail (in August!). All very brief, no problems, but really ironic. Definitely still more pleasant than riding in the dark.
  • Last day with the ElliptiGo, took Tazer over to Whalon Lake to ride one more time before taking it back to Fitness Experts. Shame to see it go, a weekend really wasn't enough playtime!
Belmont Prairie and Maple Woods

Tuesday: 8 Mile Run

  • A bluebird day for it, warm and humid, with a slight breeze keeping it relatively comfortable. Ran through Belmont Prairie and Maple Woods, always nice to visit those two preserves. Dropped my keys at some point, just noticed upon returning home. Happily, only rode my bike about a 1/2 mile back before finding them, so did not have to retrace entire route!
Wednesday: OFF

  • Into work at the office today, cool morning but temps back in the 90s are promised. Summer is not done with us quite yet.
Thursday: 60 Mile Ride

  • Developing a phobia now about riding in the dark, not feeling confident about safety with the not-particularly-good drivers we have around here. Nothing specific, just a bad feeling. Planned on making it up Friday, when Laima and the kids went to Michigan for the day.
Friday: Strength/Core

  • No riding again today, as Tazer stayed home for some bonding time. Nice to have him around during the workday, went over to the library on my lunch, watched a movie together with dinner, a good, relaxing day together.
Saturday: Tempo 8 Mile Run

  • Tempo 8 it was - ran without looking at my watch, set a slightly uncomfortable pace and just ran. Felt really great to let it go after so much slower paced training!
Sunday: Speedwork/Drills

  • A planned family outing to the track never materialized, instead, errands were run and soccer tournaments played. Bad weather kept us indoors for the afternoon (except those who went to the soccer tournament), but I somehow didn't even think about the treadmill for speedwork.
(Training Plan adapted from Jeff Horowitz’ Smart Marathon Training)

Total Training: 36.89 mi, 3:49:00. A good week running wise, felt good on every outing. Too much life intruding to make any week a perfect training week, but that's just how it is. Hard to believe that the 50K is in 3 weeks, really excited for a fun weekend camping and running with the whole family!

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Friday Funny: The Gym

"The Gym"

"Someone should open a bar called "The Gym." Then, I could be one of those annoying people on Facebook that brags about going there every day."

Have a great weekend!

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Three Things Thursday: Giveaways!

CLIF MOJO Bars

CLIF is  celebrating National Trail Mix Day by giving away MOJO bars! Head over to Women's Endurance Gear for your chance to win!

SockGuy Beano Socks

Who doesn't love socks? Head over to Ilax Studio to win a pair of SockGuy socks, courtesy of Kim!

High Rollers Big Wheel Trike

Not a giveaway, but how cool is a Big Wheel for adults! I'm already trying to arrange a demo. :) Check out the High Roller website for more details.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Waxelene

Waxelene - the petroleum jelly alternative

If you’re a fan of petroleum jelly, and why not, it has a plethora of uses, but dislike that it’s base is petroleum, I have a great alternative for you!

Waxelene creates the same waterproof barrier that doctors recommend petroleum jelly for but contains no petroleum or hydrogenated oil. Non-hydrogenated, non-GMO, and of the absolute highest quality certified-organic soy oil is full of anti-oxidants, soy isoflavones, and unsaturated fatty acids. Beeswax also provides superior and lasting chafe/friction prevention for sports such as running, cycling, and surfing. A touch of Certified Organic, non-GMO Rosemary Oil rejuvenates skin by providing natural anti-oxidant properties and improves blood circulation. Distilled from non-GMO soybeans, natural unrefined Vitamin E oil lends its renowned anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to protect and regenerate skin cells.

I’ve tried this in a variety of situations lately, including for training, by replacing my normal products for running (anti-chafe) and cycling (instead of chamois cream). In both cases, this product replaced my accustomed brands without a problem. Plus, the beeswax smell is just amazing, makes it a pleasure to put on!

More info can be found on the Waxelene website, Facebook, and Twitter.

(Disclaimer: I was sent this item for free to review on my blog, courtesy of Waxelene. 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, August 21, 2012

BabyGanics Shoo Fly and Cover Up Baby

Laima and I really attempt to keep ourselves and our children healthy by using healthy products both in our home and in/on our bodies. Enter BabyGanics.

Most people don’t think twice about the everyday products we use to clean our homes, to wash and moisturize our skin and to keep our children healthy and safe. The truth is that many common household and personal care products contain questionable ingredients and substances that can easily be avoided. By taking the time to learn and understand the options we have available to us as parents, we arm ourselves with information to make smarter choices that benefit people, pets and our planet! Kevin and Keith are BabyGanics founding-fathers — compulsive, clean-freaks but also family guys! They read other ‘green’ labels and think “Whoa. That’s harsh!” Safe for the planet should include people, right? So, they make products that work like crazy and are safe around babies: earth safe, people safe and picky mother-in-law safe.

BabyGanics Collage

BabyGanics sent us 2 products to try out: Shoo Fly and Cover Up Baby, the former a bug repellent and the latter a suncare product.

Shoo Fly Uses the non-toxic power of Peppermint, Geranium, Soybean and Citronella to safe keep pests at bay! NO Parabens, NO Sulfates, NO Phthalates, NO Toxins – no worries! It has a really pleasant smell, and the pump nozzle allows for easy coverage. Once on the skin, this is not sticky or greasy. We haven't been bothered by bugs when using this, so it really seems to work.

BabyGanics Cover Up Baby Sunscreen Spray protects skin from UV rays. It has a light, clean and powdery fragrance. It sprays on as a cream, but rubs in quickly and easily. No Paba, Parabens, Sulfates, Phthlates, Nano-Particles or Retinly Pamitate, with 50 SPF, this is good to go!

Simple ingredients, healthy for us humans and our environment, this is a good company to have found!

BabyGanics shipping
Overkill shipping for 2 smallish bottles

I do have to call BabyGanics out a bit on their shipping, though. For the two, relatively small, bottles we were shipped, a whole lot of packing material and an enormous box was used to get it to us. Seems like they could work a bit on reducing that sort of stuff. A minor quibble.

More info can be found on the BabyGanics website, on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

(Disclaimer: I was sent these items for free to review on my blog, courtesy of BabyGanics. 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, August 20, 2012

Week 16: The North Face Endurance 50K Training

Monday: Core/20 Mile Ride
  • Rain in the morning meant no ride; for some reason not ready to get on rollers in the basement, maybe need snow and cold weather. That will happen soon enough...
Tuesday: 8 Mile Run
  • Beautiful morning for a run along Lake Michigan. No lights meant some very dark sections, a bit worrisome after yesterday's storm and possible branches down. No problems in the end. Really worked on staying relaxed, not pushing the pace, ended up being a really good outing.
Wednesday: OFF
  • Truly a nice day off. Started lakeside with the family, water pretty cold, but Tazer, Gaigai and I swam a bit to help them prepare for their triathlon Sunday. The actual swim will be in a pool, but OWS practice never hurts. Lunch was at the Greenbush Brewing Taproom in Sawyer, a place I've wanted to try for some time now--great beer and yummy sandwiches! Over to Gravity Winery, a new place on the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail--unique in that they serve their wines in flights of 4, whites with cheeses and reds with chocolates. Beautiful location and a friendly vineyard dog made it a good family outing.
Thursday: 10 Mile Run
  • Beautiful morning for it, felt a bit creaky at first, but after warming up, it was a nice run. Decided to do a double today, 5 this morning, 5 later today. Chose a hillier route, out and back through a neighborhood with curving streets and minimal traffic.
Friday: Strength/Core
  • A pool day at the in-laws, cooler than expected, but spent some time with the 2 year olds (Little Worker and Cousin), diving for toypedoes and dive sticks, over and over and over. :) Incredibly relaxing day!
Saturday: 30 Mile Ride
  • Sent Laima off for a Zooma training run at Busse Woods; she came back aglow, feeling good with a successful 10 miler done. Could have ridden before she left, but woke up with a muscle strain in lower back, used that as an excuse, but mostly lazy. Played with the ElliptiGo today, forgot my Garmin, so not sure how far in total, interesting machine!

Downers Grove Hill Run

Sunday: Speedwork/Drills
  • Hills today - ran to the end of my neighborhood, then down to the tracks and back up again, alternating streets. 337 feet of elevation difference, not much, but a nice run on a fall-feeling morning.
(Training Plan adapted from Jeff Horowitz’ Smart Marathon Training)

Weekly Totals: 22.13 miles, all run; 3:36:34. Felt like I did a lot more than that, but with no cycling, both time and mileage very low, considering. Add in some swimming, Elliptigo, and running around with the kids, and overall a good week. Really feeling comfortable with the running now, forcing myself to relax and slow down has made it more pleasant again, not an all-out race effort every time I lace up the shoes.

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Friday, August 17, 2012

Where Do Trails Come From?

I love spending time on trails, be it running, riding a mountain bike, or hiking with the family. The most beautiful trails sit perfectly in the landscape, seeming an inevitable part of nature. But the truth is that trails are incredibly hard work, both to create and to maintain. Not always, but often it is mountain bike groups who take on this burden, at least around here. The following image is a nice reminder of where trails come from, courtesy of the International Bicycling Association (IMBA).

Where does a trail come from infographic?

Who do you have to thank for your local trails?

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Julie Culley, Olympic Athlete, and The ElliptiGO

Julie Culley collage

As you watched the Olympic games, you may have seen Julie Culley. She’s a 30-year-old distance runner from New Jersey that pushed past her odds for injury and used an ElliptiGO to take her the distance. The ElliptiGO is a high-intensity cross-training device that allows its users to stay active on a machine while outdoors. Culley added the ElliptiGO to her workout regimen, putting in 20 to 30 miles a week with the unique workout device, declaring that she is in the best shape of her life. She said, “I’ve had the best year ever leading up to the Olympic Trials. I’ve managed to avoid injury, which has allowed me to train at a higher level for longer.”

Culley’s training philosophy was a key factor to getting her to the 2012 Olympics. She believes that all heavy stress days need to be followed by recovery run days. She understands that pushing too hard is what leads to injury or illness. Culley uses her off days to exercise on her ElliptiGO. It stretches her legs and gets her blood flowing. She also uses the ElliptiGO on her long run days; the ElliptiGO adds additional miles without putting extra strain on her legs. She says, “It’s a gateway to getting the time in without the draining effects of those last few miles.” Culley used her training to compete in the 5,000-meter event at the Olympics on August 10, 2012--she finished 14th!

Julie Culley ElliptiGo collage

Another great advantage of the ElliptiGO is that it isn’t reserved for outstanding athletes and Olympians – it accommodates the general consumer as well. The ElliptiGO offers 11 speeds, so that the rider can adjust the resistance of the workout. It works especially well for those recovering from injury. Those who suffer from back or knee injuries, for example, can find relief exercising on an ElliptiGO, as it dissolves the pain incurred while running or biking.

Aside from the physical benefits, the ElliptiGO provides an aesthetically pleasing workout. The freedom to escape the barriers of the gym and ride out onto an open trail make the workout a recreation rather than a burden. Also, using an ElliptiGO burns 33 percent more calories than riding a bicycle, so the user can get a great workout in just 30 minutes. Whether you’re looking to reinvent your workout, recover from an injury while remaining active or aspiring to be an Olympian, the ElliptiGO is the tool to take your performance to the next level.

To learn more about the ElliptiGO, visit www.Elliptigo.com.

Elliptigo provided this article, images, and will be providing me with an opportunity to demo an Elliptigo -- no other compensation was requested or provided.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Gatorade G Series Pro Carb Energy Chew Kit

Gatorade G Series Pro Carb Energy Chew Kit

Over the years, some Gatorade products have struck a chord with me, others, not so much. For the most part, they've been too sweet, too fake-tasting, and overhyped. I'm part curmudgeon, so when someone tells me to be like Mike, I'm apt to run the other way. In recent years, however, it seems like Gatorade has made a concerted effort to simplify, to create new products that improve on what's out on the market. The interesting thing to me is that, since they have such a huge fan base, they don't have to replace products, but rather just add to their lineup. The Gatorade Performance Series (GPS) is one such innovation.
The Gatorade Performance Series (GPS) is a unique set of products formulated to help athletes train and compete at their best. By meeting hydration, nutrition, recovery and energy needs, each scientifically formulated product in the Gatorade Performance Series plays a specific role in helping athletes before, during and after training and competition.

With 31g of carbohydrates, G Series Pro Carb Energy Chews are convenient gummy chews that provide an energy benefit prior to the start of training or racing, and during prolonged activities to help athletes perform at a high level. The smooth texture is easy to chew and swallow, so fueling up won’t slow you down.
Energy chews are tough. Too sweet and they just taste like gummy treats. Too chewy and they stick to your teeth while exercising. Too soft and they melt in your pocket or hand. The G Series Pro Carb Energy Chews are unlike any other chews I've tried. They have a dry surface texture, are slightly chewy, and have a gel center. The scent and initial taste are a bit sweet, but there is a whole bunch of tartness that make these a pleasure to eat. The gel filling means these melt quickly in the mouth, so no sticking to the teeth. Gatorade has a winner in these!

(Disclaimer: I was sent these items for free to review on my blog, courtesy of Gatorade. 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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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Lola Papers

The Lola Papers book cover

The Lola Papers: Marathons, Misadventures, and How I Became a Serious Runner is an entertaining read, following author Amy Marxkors’ journey from running newbie to newfound racing success. With a coach/mentor and running buddy along for the ride, Marxkors writes about typical trials and tribulations facing most new runners. For the most part humorous, there is also quite a bit of introspection as well:
“William Wordsworth spoke of the truths imparted from the common things around us. These truths, he said, are the harvest of the quiet eye. That is the gift of running. It gives us a quiet eye, a quiet eye to find truth in the everyday.”
Ultimately, this book is about what it means to be a runner. How fortunate we are to be able to participate in this activity. How it’s a time not just for physical exercise, but time to think, to relax, to reset our internal clocks. ”I had forgotten that running is a privilege, not a chore…Simple was better. Simple is how running is supposed to be.” Definitely a worthwhile read and a good addition to your running book library.

More information can be found on the Lola Papers website and Breakaway Books.

About the Author: Amy L. Marxkors grew up in the rural outskirts of St. Louis, Missouri, a precocious youngster who spent her days climbing trees, building forts in the woods, and reading Nancy Drew books. Always the optimist, Amy had no doubt she would one day discover a hidden talent that would land her in the Olympics or the encyclopedia. In 2007, Amy began working for FLEET FEET Sports, a specialty running store. It was during her tenure at FLEET FEET that Amy fell headfirst into the world of competitive distance running. She has since logged thousands of miles and committed herself to one day running a sub-three-hour marathon. Amy would still like to go to the Olympics. And the encyclopedia wouldn’t be so bad either. Follow her on Twitter!

Disclaimer: This product was advanced to me for review purposes, courtesy of Breakaway Books. 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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Monday, August 13, 2012

Week 15: The North Face Endurance 50K Training

Monday: Core/20 Mile Ride
  • Pushed a big gear today, made it to 15 miles before legs started to complain; second wind almost immediately and a nice ride home. Another cool morning meant it was a pleasure to ride.
  • Putting off core this week, due to daily training at the office, so minimal time to get regular training in let alone core, so this week I'm giving myself a pass.
Tuesday: 8 Mile Run
  • Not sure why it took so long to figure out, but I realized this morning that I am trying just way too hard, not enjoying my training, focusing on the end pint rather than the path. Once I realized that, several miles into this mornings run, I relaxed and really eased up, and the mojo felt like it was coming back. A very cool morning also meant I could test out a new Brooks Running long sleeve top I had been recently sent--nice to have on a cool morning and still felt decent even after soaked through with sweat. No chafing issues a definite bonus!
Wednesday: OFF
  • With training in the city all week, it was nice to have a morning when I could just relax, drink my coffee, and not try to fit in training before hopping on the train.
Thursday: 20 Mile Run
  • Knew this wasn't going to happen today, with an early train to make, but knew I could make it up on Friday or Saturday, depending on how I felt.
Friday: Strength/Core
  • Bike ride planned, but Little Worker opted not to sleep several times during the night. After walking the dog, fell asleep on the couch and missed my window in the morning. One of these days I'll get back into afternoon workouts, maybe.

Waterfall Glen Pond showing drought conditions
Waterfall Glen pond showing drought conditions

Saturday: 20 Mile Ride
  • Ran down to Waterfall Glen, some trail time, then home. 1st 10 miles were really nice, felt comfortable. Last 10 on and off okay and a struggle, but no problem finishing. This run makes me realize I could finish the 50K, just not sure if I am going to enjoy it.
Sunday: Speedwork/Drills
  • No way, just too sore and beat up after the 20 yesterday.
(Training Plan adapted from Jeff Horowitz’ Smart Marathon Training)

Turned out to be a decent week, though eating-wise I am far away from where I need to be. Hopefully core will make a reappearance at some point--even though it was hard work, I was enjoying the JCORE Body System, so will try to make that happen again.

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Friday, August 10, 2012

Up For Drinks This Weekend?

Love this--have a great weekend of training!

Drinks this weekend

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Three Things Thursday


Anybody tried GearTrade.com? It seems a pretty neat concept, a kind of eBay for outdoor junkies, though prices are fixed rather than an auction style. It grew out of a realization that that there was not an efficient marketplace for the distribution of closeout and used outdoor gear to the masses. GearTrade overcomes these inefficiencies and streamlines the entire process of bringing all the sellers and buyers of used and closeout outdoor gear together on one web site. This new marketplace is helping specialty retailers, manufacturers, and independent sales reps enhance their relationships with outdoor enthusiasts and with each other.

Horseback Riding

Tuesday Laima and the kids headed off to go horseback riding in a forest preserve not too far from our home. Unfortunately, I am in training for work all week and couldn't go--so jealous! Looks like a beautiful place for a ride.

La Madia Pizzeria

One of the things I've really been enjoying about my other blog, 50 States Of Wine, is all the restaurants that Laima and I have enjoyed recently. I got hooked up with a couple of restaurant PR firms who have been sending us out to try various places. We also try to find new restaurants to try on our own, when possible. Tonight we were supposed to head to La Madia, a contemporary pizzeria and wine bar (18 different pizzas and more than 75 wines by the glass!). Unfortunately, Little Worker came up sick this morning and we have to reschedule. Can't wait. To read about that as well as our other outings, check out my Restaurant Reviews page.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

InView Designs Medal Display Cases

One of the fun swag pieces you can get after participating in an event is a commemorative medal, but the big problem is storage. Our medals, both Laima's and mine, as well as the kids, are scattered throughout 4 levels of house. One of my greatest regrets is that, over the years, I either lost or gave away my finisher's medal from the 1995 Chicago Marathon.

InView Designs Medal Case

So, what to do? Some people hang them straight on the wall, using nails, or pushpins, or some other jerry-rigged system. Nice as a memory, but lacking in the design standpoint. Cut wood or metal hangars are nice, but might be too rustic or industrial looking for some tastes and home decors. They also don't have a really professional look sometimes. Enter InView Designs, beautiful wood display cases handcrafted by an endurance athlete.
“In View display cases are a special way to remember where we came from, what our struggles were, and also a gentle reminder for the next race or competition. These displays are also a great way to encourage your children that what they are doing is important and significant while developing long term goal setting behaviors; a must for successful accomplishment of any endeavor.”
InView Designs Medal Case with medals

The Loved-It design, which I got, is offered in 4 wood finishes: Walnut Stain, Chestnut Stain, Ebony Stain and Black Lacquer. I opted for the Black Lacquer, as many of our photos are framed in black wood. As you can see above, the medals case displays the medals beautifully, lending them a patina of grandeur, though earned with sweat and toil. As you can see, there is plenty of room yet for more medals -- can't wait to add my North Face Endurance Challenge 50K finisher's email in September!

Henry 'Tad' Cole personally selects the solid red oak frame with American maple plywood panels that enhance your awards, hand crafting, hand sanding, and hand finishing the case. With a streamline, low profile design (extends 2 ¾" from wall), this can go just about anywhere (it’s ready-to-use out of the box, including wall hangers). The cases come with a durable plexiglass viewing medium. With 4 kids in the house eager to handle the case, it's reassuring that damage will be limited when it (inevitably) gets dropped. Fingers crossed it doesn't happen.


Beyond the fact that these are amazing pieces of workmanship, handcrafted in America, I want to thank Tad (the man behind InView) for his service to our country—thanks for your 25 years! "Ready to Lead, Ready to Follow, Never Quit"

More information can be found on the InView Designs website,  and by liking on Facebook.

(Disclaimer: I was sent this item for free to review on my blog, courtesy of InView Designs. 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, August 7, 2012

Dragonfly Organix Odor Eliminator

Dragonfly Organix makes natural products for the home and garden. Their mission is the ultimate safety of children, pets, wildlife and planet, all things near and dear to my heart. Dragonfly Organix Products are biodegradable, chemical-free and earth-friendly. Dragonfly Organix is a division of OSM Inc., a public company dedicated to "green" products, ideas, and information.

If you wear any sort of technical material, you know that it collects odor like nobody's business and laundering doesn't always do the trick to ameliorate the situation. Some products that remove the odors are harsh and chemical, not really something you want to put on your skin afterwards. With 5 of the 6 of us now being active, sweaty, and stinky, foul-smelling clothes, shoes, and athletic equipment are a constant around the house. Enter the Dragonfly Organix Odor Eliminator.

Dragonfly Organix Odor Eliminator

Non-toxic and biodegradable, Dragonfly Organix Odor Eliminator uses a unique plant-based formulation that eliminates the toughest odor problems, including smoke, footwear, sporting equipment, pet and waste odors. What a simple list of ingredients!: water; non-ionic surfactants derived from corn, palm or coconut oils; Anionic surfactants derived from palm oil; lemon oil; preservative less than .02%.

We used the Odor Eliminator on one of mankind's most egregious examples of toxic funk, our children's soccer cleats. A week of hot, sweaty summer soccer camp was the perfect breeding ground for all kind of nasty aromas. A couple of quick squirts of the Odor Eliminator made them not just bearable, but fresh-smelling. This stuff really works!

A product that works and is kind to people, pets, and the environment? Yes, please! Definitely recommended.

Dragonfly Organix

More info can be found on the Dragonly Organix website and by liking them on Facebook.

(Disclaimer: I was sent these items for free to review on my blog, courtesy of Dragonfly Organix. 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, August 6, 2012

Week 14: The North Face Endurance 50K Training

Monday: Core/20 Mile Ride
  • Nice cool morning for it, really pushed first 10 miles in a big gear, paid for it around mile 15. Not too much traffic, minimal wind, really a nice ride.
  • Day off for JCORE.
Tuesday: 8
  • Lightning, thunder and rain this morning, so opted to run on the treadmill. Watched Olympics, always a pleasure. Ran 4 miles, will run 4 this afternoon - my first double. Have read about them for years, will be interesting to see how I feel.
  • Somehow never made time for core--miss a few days and right out of the habit...
  • First daily double run!
  • According to what I recently read, the second daily run should be 5 or more hours after the first. That meant I could run no earlier than 3 PM - since I worked until 4, that worked out well, except...by 4 I had no desire or motivation to run. Plus, it was hot and humid. Luckily, I had to take Munchkin to soccer practice and had the option to wait the hour. What better to do during that hour than get in a run, right? Turns out, plenty of things could be better, but a run it was. Glad I did it, ran too fast at times, ended up averaging about half a minute faster than I wanted. Oh well, pacing is definitely not my strong suit.
Wednesday: OFF

  • All day training for work meant that, without an early early wake up, I couldn't get anything in even if I wanted, and I wanted, but nothing doing.
Thursday: 60 Mile Ride

  • Not sure what's happening, apart that I'm petrified of these long rides. Even thought of doing 30 in the morning and 30 in the afternoon, but ended up doing nada.
Friday: Strength/Core

  • Woke up early, walked the dog, lay down on the couch and suddenly it was later than I wanted. Doctor's appointments throughout the day - could have run on the treadmill, but never did.
Saturday: Tempo 8

  • Family morning - went for a walk in the Danada Forest Preserve, hot and humid morning.
Sunday: Speedwork/Drills

  • 10 min warmup
    Tabatas - 20 secs high 10 secs recovery
    10 min cooldown
Definitely wish I could get this week back -- not sure what happened to my mojo, but somehow just was not finding motivation when I needed it.  Never felt bad, but also slept a lot more this week than usual, not sure why. The funny thing is that I feel pretty good nonetheless, feel physically on track. Mental toughness is the big question mark for the ultra, 50K seems somewhat daunting at this point.

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

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Friday, August 3, 2012

Mission Athletecare

Launched in 2009, Mission Athletecare was co-founded by a premier group of world-class athletes. Their Mission: Develop products that solve problems unique to athletes. Used and field tested by top athletes, this is a company that has products for cooling, sun, anti-chafe, skin, and more. They recently sent me the 5 Hour Anti-Chafe Stick and some Enduracool Towels to try out.

Mission 5 Hour Anti-Chafe Stick

5 Hour Anti-Chafe Stick

“Nothing wreaks havoc on an athlete more than the constant burn and slow torture of skin-to-skin and clothing-to-skin friction, blisters and irritation. [The] Allantoin, Dimethicone and silicone-based 5 Hour Anti-Chafe Stick keeps your skin friction-free and helps prevent those pesky irritations. Insufficient formulas require extra applications, resulting in lost time and performance. This proprietary 5 Hour technology lasts twice as long as the leading competitor, and infused with natural oils, moisturizes while it protects. Safe for wetsuits, Chamois and bike shorts, the 5 Hour Anti-Chafe Stick is perfect for chest, thighs, groin, feet, underarm and bra.”

Probably a bad idea, but some of the ingredients make it sound good enough to eat!
Active Ingredients: Allantoin (.05%), Dimethicone (1%) ; Inactive Ingredients : Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Beeswax, Cyclopentasiloxane, Stearyl Alcohol, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Ozokerite, Talc, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A), Pyridoxine HCL (Vitamin B6), Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3), Zea Mays (Corn) Oil, Phytonadione (Vitamin K), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Euterpe Oleracea (Acai) Seed Oil, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Seed Oil, Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Seed Oil, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Lycium Barbarum (Goji) Fruit Extract.
Yeah, maybe not.

I have to say that, with our recent uptick in extreme heat and humidity (severe weather even for the Midwest), I’ve been suffering from some chafing, specifically the nipples. Some mornings I even ran without a shirt! Now I don’t want to subject the public to a shirtless spectacle (those runs were done in the early darkness), so I was eager to try this out and see how it worked. Know what? It does work. Since starting to use it, I had not a single problem with nipple chafe while running. Well, almost. Laima and I trail ran for almost three hours one morning and, unfortunately, I could feel the protection starting to fade. Three hours is not bad and, I would suspect, most people won’t put it to that kind of test. And hey, for some people (maybe everyone except me), maybe this would give 5 hour protection.

Mission Enduracool Towels

Mission’s Enduracool Towels

“Mission’s Enduracool is made from a proprietary performance fabric (80% Polyester, 20% Nylon) that instantly cools when wet with water or sweat, wrung out and snapped in the air to activate the sustained cooling properties. Use during or after competition to provide sustained cooling on your neck, head or other hot zones.”

Kind of funny, the first time I used the towel was on a near pitch-black, super-hot morning, so I didn’t read the directions. I soaked the towel, wrapped it around my necks, and proceeded to get drenched, but, oddly enough, it didn’t cool me. Failed product. Not so fast. The directions actually tell you to wet the towel, wring it dry, then snap it to activate the cooling effect—eureka! It actually worked. Mission sent me both the large and small towels—while the large towel would certainly have its uses, I preferred the smaller, or Regular, size, as it was the perfect length to wrap around my neck, tuck it in, and have it stay without having to hold it. Win!

Towel Dimensions: Large - 12.25" x 33", Regular - 6.125" x 37"


Both these products seem incredibly well thought out, come in simple packaging, and do as advertised. If you suffer from chafing of any sort, the Anti-Chafing stick should help you out (maybe even for 5 hours), while the Enduracool Towels can help you keep cool mid-workout or cool you off afterwards.

For more information or to buy your own, head over to the Mission website,  like them on Facebook, follow on Twitter,  and subscribe on YouTube.

(Disclaimer: I was sent these items for free to review on my blog, courtesy of Mission Athletecare. 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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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Bottled Water vs Tap Water

We have an ongoing debate in our household about the merits of tap water versus bottled water. As we're both runners and cyclists, Laima and I drink our fair share of water, often from reusable water bottles. Laima doesn't like the taste of tap water, so she filters it--I'm not that discerning, so straight from the tap is just fine for me. I don't think Laima's pro-bottled water necessarily, but I know she appreciates the convenience.

With 4 children, we're always hauling around snacks and drinks and what have you, and usually keep an emergency stash of bottled water in the car. Lately though, it's really been bothering me to even  have those around. I came across this infographic recently and thought it raised some interesting points.

Bottled Water vs Tap Water

I know there will be times when we just won't have a choice, we'll turn to bottled water in a pinch. The facts above, however, makes me want to be ever more vigilant!

Do you buy bottled water?
Will the facts above change your mind?

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

GOLD: A Novel

Gold by Chris Cleave book cover

Gold is a story of two women. Not just two women, but two Olympic cyclists. And not just two Olympic cyclists, but two best friends.

Zoe and Kate met met at nineteen trying out for the national training program in track cycling. Many years and several Olympics later, Kate has an eight-year-old daughter Sophie, who is fighting cancer. Zoe is intense and completely narcissistic, never retaining friends or companions beyond her long term friendship with Kate.

Now it's the 2012 Olympic Games in London, and the tension is heightened even more by the Committee deciding that only one representative from each country may compete in track cycling. Will Kate tamp down her maternal instincts to train and compete for that spot (likely her last Olympics?), leaving Sophie at possibly her lowest point? Will Zoe take this last chance away from Kate, possibly severing ties with her only remaining friend? You'll have to read to find out!

About the Author: Chris Cleave lives in London and is the author of Incendiary and Little Bee (in Canada and the US, titled The Other Hand in the UK). Gold is his third novel.Cleave has been a barman, a long-distance sailor and teacher of marine navigation, an internet pioneer and a journalist. He can be found onTwitter and on the Chris Cleave website.
Disclaimer: This product was advanced to me for review purposes, courtesy of Simon and Schuster. 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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