Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Saucony Triumph 10

Saucony Triumph 10

Tomorrow, November 1st, Saucony will release the new Triumph 10s to the marketplace. I was lucky enough to get an advance pair to try out. The Triumphs are a neutral, cushioned shoe, are incredibly light and, except for being slightly narrow (for me) in the arch, are incredibly comfortable. The 10s are an evolution of the Triumph 9s, featuring the same 8mm offset and PowerGrid cushioning, while supportive panels are under the mesh upper, along with an additional groove added to the forefoot to aid in toe-off.

I've only had a few runs in these shoes, but they will take a place in my rotation when I feel like donning a light, fast pair of running shoes.

Saucony invites you to
#FindYourStrong

(Disclaimer: I was sent this item for free to review on my blog from Saucony, 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, October 30, 2012

Bike Commuter Stats Infographic

American Bicycle Commuters

Pretty interesting infographic tracking bike commuters state by state. Not surprisingly, Illinois ranks pretty low.


Click image to open interactive version (via BikeGuard).

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Monday, October 29, 2012

1000 Mile Goals: 10 Weeks Left

Ted Corbitt Quote: Suffering

At the beginning of 2012, I set two goals for myself, to both run and bike 1,000 miles this year. There are times I've wondered why I'm pursuing them, and during those times I think of what Ted Corbitt said: "I wanted to quit because I was suffering. That is not a good enough reason." Motivational stuff!  As of yesterday, this is how things stood:
  • Cycling:  165.11 miles left.
  • Running: 317.43 miles left. 
Monday: Cycling
  • Quick half hour ride to beat looming rain, which, thankfully, didn't come while riding. I'm worried that this rainy fall means we're in for a lot of snow, bummer.
Tuesday: Run
  • 3 miles in new Saucony Triumph 10s on the TM, bit narrow, but will play around with socks and lacing to make more comfortable. Decent feel. 3ish miles in PureConnects, starting to feel a bit worn now. 
Wednesday: OFF
  • Another day at the office, went by pretty quickly, had some awesome BiBimBahp for lunch, then home for Survivor and an awesome Australian wine tasting - incredible stuff!
Thursday: Run
  • Finished "Immortals," decent entertainment, bit dark (literally) at times. 5 miles in the PureConnects, really starting to like these shoes more and more.
  • Second run: Another bizarre weather day, possible record highs, but cloudy and windy, with rain threatening, when I stepped out the door. Ran over to Hidden Lakes Forest Preserve and had some dirty running fun. Never did rain during my run!
Friday: Cycling
  • Cold, wet morning, then shopping, then suddenly it was afternoon and didn't want to ride. Them's the breaks.
Saturday: Run
  • 3ish miles in the new Saucony Triumph 10s, 2+ miles in the Skoras, finished watching "Red Eye," decent thriller, though somewhat unbelievable at the end. Treadmill has a strange smell lately, almost ozonish -- bought a lubrication kit, but didn't help. Hmmmm... 
  • Beautiful cold fall day, windy but not too bad in the sun. Ran to St Patrick's Cemetery, an old one set back off of the Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve loop. Have wanted to head over there for years, perfect today as a short run for Laima and me to try out our new Mammut trail running shoes. 
Sunday: Cycling
  • Finished up running miles for the week on the TM this morning, watching "The Break-Up," lots of funny stuff in this movie. Not a huge fan of Vince Vaughn, but he's pretty good in this one.
  • Somewhat grey, blustery day, but still pleasant to ride outside. Wish I had some warmer shoes, only spot that really needs some help - toes covers just don't cut it with my circulation.
Weekly Totals:
  • Cycling:  17.25 miles planned, 18.90 miles accomplished, 146.28 miles left.
  • Running: 32.5 miles planned, 32.26 miles accomplished, 285.17 miles left.
Bizarre fall weather continues, with 50+ degree swings overnight, rain, clouds and sun, and so much wind! Overall not too bad though, except the kids have had some tough soccer games -- Tazer's yesterday literally felt freezing.

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Duct Tape And a Can-Do Attitude

Duct Tape and a Can-Do Attitude

With duct tape and a can-do attitude,
There's little you can't accomplish.

Have a great weekend!

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Three Things Thursday

Leatherman Mako Ti

VERY cool design on the Leatherman Mako Ti bike tool, don't you think?

As the Crow Flies book cover

Look for an upcoming book review of the new book on Craig Alexander, As the Crow Flies -- gorgeous!

Mammut and Saucony Collage

Got my first runs in with my new Mammut trail shoes and Sauconys! Cannot wait to hit the trails and street and see how they perform outdoors.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Run Real: Skora Running

At SKORA we view Real Running as running how nature intended - efficient, effective and with ease. As the foot strikes the ground, contact is made in the middle of the foot, not at the heel. Running with a whole-foot gait results in less impact energy and force shock transmitted through the body than compared to the heel strike gait favored by conventional running shoes (built with large amounts of cushioning, support and a thicker heel).

At SKORA, we reject the terms "minimal", "natural", or "barefoot-style" when it comes to running. We believe there is only one way to run that respects our bodies — simply put, it is Real Running. Nothing more, nothing less.
Run Real.
When I first saw SKORA Running shoes, I truly did not know what to think. To say they look like no other shoes is an understatement – two things that come to mind are boat shoe and the phrase “funky but chic.” And yet, the fit is totally different than expected, slipper-like, semi-cushioned, wide but fitted. Almost indescribable – you need to wear them to understand.

SKORA Running Base Collage

Whether you are a longtime minimalist runner or someone just venturing into “barefoot-style” running shoes, these are probably the ideal shoe to add to your running gear. Long-time readers know I’ve dabbled with barefoot running, tried minimalist shoes and running sandals, and all were interesting, sufficient for running. (I realize that SKORA prefers not to use some of these terms, but they are a part of the running lexicon and at least somewhat understood by most readers.) I never thought that I'd find a pair of minimalist shoes that would truly work for me, both on a performance and a comfort level.

The SKORA Base (the model I received) is pretty funky looking, with crossing straps that use a hook and loop fastening system to secure the shoe more tightly to the foot. The actual shoe is a full slipper design, with the foot being slid into the upper. Something I overlooked initially was another hook and loop fastened strap at the back of the shoe, that can cinch the heel more snugly. Very cool feature and, as the shoes do not have laces, could not have been adjusted if it didn’t exist. Nice design. Overall a much more comfortable fit than might have been expected.

Fitwise, the shoes are probably different than most you’ve worn, at least that was the case for me. Initially I was worried about wearing these more minimal shoes, but I pretty quickly got up to 6 miles on the treadmill. These shoes had a nice balance of minimalist feeling with some cushioning for comfort. I finally got up the nerve to go outside a few times and was pleasantly surprised – the good feelings I’d built up about these shoes continued outside, both on paved and unpaved surfaces. One difference I immediately noticed was that my calves felt stiffer outside, a product of less cushioning between my body and the harder surfaces. This passed pretty quickly.

SKORA Running Let's Get Real

The SKORA Base is definitely a shoe I would recommend as a starter minimalist shoe – not being a veteran minimalist runner, can’t say how this shoe would work for them. The shoes definitely garner attention, so might not be appropriate if you’re a full-on wallflower. :)

Information can be found on the SKORA Running website,  by liking on Facebook, and by following on Twitter.

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

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

101 Winning Racing Strategies for Runners

Many people follow complex training plans, have running philosophies, agonize over shoe and apparel choices, but fall short when planning tactical racing. Jason Karp’s book, 101 Winning Racing Strategies for Runners (Monterey, CA: Coaches Choice, 2012), aims to change that.

101 Winning Racing Strategies for Runners

It’s a slim book, totaling only 84 pages of text. Those pages, however, are crammed full of tips to make you a better racer. Tips cover themes such as: How to run smarter races; Race strategy and tactics; Winning training for racing strategies; Winning pre-race strategies; Winning during race strategies; Winning mental strategies, and more. Nothing earth-shattering or maybe even new, but collected into one easy-to-use reference guide, nice to have.

The one aspect of the book that turned me off were a few negative tips. “#45: Say something debilitating to an opponent at the starting line. #55: Box in the opponent.” Maybe I’m not aggressive or competitive enough, but race strategies that rely on negative thinking or actions seem counterproductive to me. Plenty of other, more positive tips are available for successful racing.

About the Author: Dr. Jason Karp is a nationally-recognized running coach and award-winning personal trainer, speaker, writer, and exercise physiologist. He owns RunCoachJason.com, a state-of-the-science running coaching company dedicated to helping runners meet their potential and is founder and coach of REVO2LT Running Team™. He writes for international running, coaching, and fitness magazines and scientific journals and is the author of five books. Dr. Karp has taught USA Track and Field’s highest level coaching certification and is a frequent presenter at national coaching and fitness conferences in addition to hosting his own clinics.

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

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Monday, October 22, 2012

1000 Mile Goals: 11 Weeks Left

At the beginning of 2012, I set two goals for myself, to both run and bike 1,000 miles this year. Moving along pretty well -- as of yesterday, this is how things stood:
  • Cycling: 185.61 miles left.
  • Running: 349.91 miles left. 

Felix Baumgartner - Red Bull Stratos

Monday: Cycling
  • Pasquinelli Loop: Nice 11 mile loop with some rolling hills, bike path, and few large street crossings. Cold today, but just a gorgeous day to ride!
Tuesday: Run
  • Finished "The Kingdom," forgot what a bleak ending it has. Really a crazy, unknowable place the Middle East is for us, totally different culture.
  • Treadmill Tuesday #2: Started "Out of Time," pretty well-paced movie. I've never been a big fan of Denzel Washington, but he's decent in this. 6+ miles in the Skoras, will run in them outside on Thursday!
Wednesday: OFF
  • Headed up to Milwaukee to look at some space a client is having built out -- love that city, a mini Chicago, but more accessible feeling.
  • An evening full of wine, Laima and I tasted 11 wines (!!!), 7 sparklers and ice wines from the Finger Lakes in New York, and 4 from Chile. 
Thursday: Run
  • Fiveish miles on the TM, finished "Out of Time," makes me want to move to Miami, especially with winter coming up.
  • Laima's last run before Saturday's Zooma Great Lakes - cold fall day, beautiful leaves, 3 miles in the Skoras outside! Pushing the stroller makes me wonder if there is a CrossFit Stroller games, would be a cool idea for us parents.
Friday: Cycling
  • Between a wet dismal morning, work, Little Worker's eye doctor appointment, Laima getting ready for Zooma Great Lakes, and more rain, never got out to cycle.
Saturday: Run
  • 6 miles on the TM, started "Under the Tuscan Sun," fun escapist fare. Laima is off running the Zooma Great Lakes Half Marathon and I have a day full of soccer, so it will be busy, busy, busy!
Sunday: Cycling
  • Decided to run on the TM first this morning. Finished "Under the Tuscan Sun," such a beautiful part of the world, can't wait until we finally make it over to Italy!
  • COLD COLD COLD for a bike ride, 36 degrees, but it wasn't too bad, maybe because my core was heated up from the treadmill session. Definitely hate riding in the dark!
Weekly Totals:
  • Cycling:  17.25 miles planned, 20.5 miles accomplished, 165.11 miles left.
  • Running: 32.5 miles planned, 32.48 miles accomplished shorted myself!), 317.43 miles left.
A decent week, though disappointed I didn't get more cycling time and that most of the running was indoors on the TM, but progress is progress.

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday Fluff

Laima - Women's Endurance Gear

Laima is headed up to Wisconsin to run the Zooma Great Lakes Half-Marathon - good luck to her! Read about it next week over at Women's Endurance Gear.

Socctoberfest - Fearsome Foursome

It's soccer all weekend for me, as Munchkin and Tazer have their Socctoberfest Tournament Saturday and Tazer plays a game Sunday morning.

Orionids Meteor Shower

The Orionids Meteor Shower is set to peak October 20th - hopefully our unceasing rain will clear to let us catch a glimpse!

What are your plans this weekend?

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Building a Stronger Heart (Guest Post)

Fitness - kayak

Whether they’re at home using the best treadmill on the market or outside enjoying the free outdoors, most cardio enthusiasts and endurance sport fanatics understand maintaining a target heart rate during aerobic exercise is an integral component to improving total cardiovascular fitness. In fact, some fitness gurus may even argue it as the most important aspect to aerobic training. Period. But what’s the big deal? Well, let’s expose this question with a bit of imagery…

First, we need to put the heart’s work ethic into perspective. Considering a healthy adult’s resting heart rate, on average, is about 70 beats per minute, we can begin to estimate the number of occurring heart beats each hour, day, year or even lifetime. If you’re still trying to do the math in your head, here’s the breakdown: 4,200 beats per hour, 100,800 beats per day, 36,792,000 beats per year (excluding leap year), and as for a lifetime… to be determined. In a nutshell, the heart works consistently day in and day out.

Fun fact for those of you seeking a bit of inspiration: some of the world’s most efficient endurance athletes’ resting heart rates have been recorded as low as 28 to 40 beats per minute! They achieve these numbers by maintaining healthy lifestyles, committing to rigorous training regiments, and subjecting themselves to incredible exercise-induced lung burn. As a result, these athletes strengthen their heart muscles well beyond their “normal” human counterparts.

From a physiological perspective, a stronger heart directly correlates to a higher stroke volume, meaning your heart can deliver larger volumes of oxygenated blood to your body tissues with each pulse – hence the lower resting heart rate. Think of it like using a squirt gun as opposed to a fire hose when putting out a campfire.

Don’t lose hope yet; most everyone can improve his or her heart’s efficiency. One method to attain increased heart strength is by engaging in regular aerobic exercise, incorporating both moderate and vigorous intensities. Other, but not all, positive health-related benefits associated with aerobic exercise include cleaner arteries, reduced body fat, a stronger respiratory system, and improved skeletal muscle efficiency.


A good aerobic exercise goal for starters could be holding a calculated target heart rate at moderate intensity for 20 minutes straight. By keeping track of your heart rate during exercise you can set new goals and maybe even achieve a whole new level of fitness!

Author Bio: Andy Williams is a 23 year old fitness fanatic who enjoys spending the majority of his free time outdoors participating in endurance sports such as running, swimming, mountain biking, hiking, and kayaking.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Inside The Box Book Review

CrossFit: Hard work, pain, and sacrifice propelled by a group dynamic

Inside the Box book cover

Inside the Box: How CrossFit Shredded the Rules, Stripped Down the Gym, and Rebuilt My Body (Boulder, CO: VeloPress, 2012), by T.J. Murphy, is the first book I’ve seen on CrossFit, so it really piqued my interest. CrossFit has been in the back of my mind for a few years, though I’ve never really researched it, as it is seen as somewhat kooky in endurance circles (though not, of course, by all). But, being a middle-aged man with my fair share of creaking muscles, an activity that promotes overall fitness has to be considered.
CrossFit is the sport of fitness, a radical new approach to exercise that is turning the traditional gym workout upside down. Every day at thousands of CrossFit gyms across America, fitness seekers of all shapes and sizes flex their inner athlete by racing to finish fast-paced workouts. Each workout mixes weight lifting and gymnastics into an explosively effective and addictive new way to lose weight and carve out a new physique.
Murphy did not come easily to CrossFit, looking askance at the tattooed, ultrafit examples that we are all exposed to. But knee pain that threatened to cripple him and nothing to lose, he ave it a shot. It turns out he’s not alone, that there are many paths to CrossFit. His book explores every aspect of the CrossFit world, from what it’s like to be an affiliated box (gym), to its focus on movement and mobility, to a case study of one typical CrossFitter, an no, it’s not the type of person you expect. CrossFit’s “Two Oars in the Water,” an emphasis on diet and exercise in tandem has its own chapter, as does the community and sociological aspects of CrossFit (is it a church?).

CrossFit does not exist in a vacuum and its emphasis both on following the rules yet not having a corporate structure make it an unusual case. With Reebok’s entry into this activity, what is the future of CrossFit?

The book's appendix includes visual representations of some of CrossFit's signature moves, so you can try CrossFit at home!

For a Good Time Call Fran 21-15-9

Oh, and by the way, if you’re single, for a good time call Fran: 21-15-9.

If you’re into CrossFit, are thinking about CrossFit, or make fun of CrossFit, read this book. I had a hard time putting it down, reading it almost in a single sitting. Murphy makes a compelling argument that CrossFit is worthy of your attention, warts and all. If I had money, I’d be joining a Box right now.

About the Author: T.J. Murphy is a veteran journalist, endurance athlete, CrossFitter, and former editorial director of Triathlete, Inside Triathlon, and Competitor magazines. He is author of Triathlete Magazine’s Guide to Finishing Your First Triathlon and contributor to Start to Finish: 24 Weeks to an Endurance Triathlon. His writing has also appeared in Outside magazine and Runner’s World. He is a five-time Ironman® finisher and a 2:38 marathoner.

Get info and read more  about the book and CrossFiton the Inside The Box website  and on Facebook. Follow T.J. Murphy on Twitter.

(Disclaimer: I was sent this book for free to review on my blog, courtesy of VeloPress.  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, October 16, 2012

Got Milk? Infographic

Laima and I have an ongoing debate as to whether we should continue using dairy or not. We grew up drinking milk and eating cheese, and all of our children have as well. As a part-time vegan, I'd love to go dairy-free, but it's not easy, especially when my significant other purchases so much of it! Yes, I could be strong and not partake, but that doesn't always work out for me.

What's your take on dairy?
Pro or con?

Got Milk?

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Monday, October 15, 2012

1000 Mile Goals: 12 Weeks Left

At the beginning of 2012, I set two goals for myself, to both run and bike 1,000 miles this year. As of yesterday, this is how things stood:
  • Cycling:  203.71 miles left.
  • Running: 383.35 miles left. 

Hidden Lake Forest Preserve

Monday: Cycling
  • Laima and Gaigai were in Michigan overnight, so no ride in the morning. Instead, took the boys shopping and a for a quick hike at Hidden Lake Forest Preserve. Laima came home a bit late and by the afternoon I had no desire to go anymore.  Plenty of days left in the week to make my goal, so no worries there.
Tuesday: Run
  • One of my favorite runs,this 8 mile loop really shows me where my running is at, fitness wise. Lots of rolling, long hills (almost 650 feet of elevation change), and today a strong wind for the second half made bringing it home a bit tougher.
  • Unplanned Daily Double Run 2: Had such a good run this morning, decided to add 5 miles in the PureConnects on the TM. Started watching "The Kingdom," really sad what is happening in the Middle East in the war between oil and religion.
Wednesday: OFF
  • Trip into the city for work, nice to have the day off from an early morning training (though I didn't need it as I skipped the bike Monday). Went for a nice 3.5 mile walk at lunchtime, cold but a bluebird day, bright and sunny.
Thursday: Run
  • Started "Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift," slower paced than the other 3 I've watched recently. As much of a waste of gas and money that drifting is, in the hands of a skillful driver, it can be amazing to watch.
  • Daily Double Run 2: Five miles on the TM, finished up "Tokyo Drift," definitely the weakest of the franchise, but maybe the idea of HS kids in $100,000+ cars is just too far-fetched for me.
Friday: Cycling
  • Wasn't really feeling it today, not helped by the ambivalence of the weather -- warm, cool, cold, windy, sunny, overcast, all of the above. Tough to layer, but did a reasonable job overall, never too uncomfortable. 11 miles with the second half all into a wind, isn't that the way it always works?

Waterfall Glen - soaked
Thoroughly soaked!

Saturday: Run
  • Ran the Waterfall Glen loop with Laima in windy, cool, and wet conditions. At one point the rain came down and we got SOAKED, but finished it off and it ended up being not too bad. Such a great feeling to get home, crank the heat, and hop into a hot shower!
Sunday: Cycling
  • Rain stopped, so out I went, over to Maple Woods to ride a few loops. Hard to see the trails with so many leaves down, which also hid many of the roots. Lots of fun on a somewhat dreary morning!
I am really happy with my efforts so far, reaching for these goals. Just bummed that I didn't show the same dedication when I was training for the 50K. Discovering Daily Doubles has really changed my training, we'll see how effective it is in the long run.

Results:
  • Cycling:  17.25 miles planned, 18.03 miles accomplished, 185.61 miles left.
  • Running: 32.5 miles planned, 33.44 miles accomplished, 349.91 miles left.
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Friday, October 12, 2012

Instagram

Instagram Photo Collage KovasP

Do you use Instagram? It's a photo-sharing application, that also connects to other social media, spreading your photos far and wide. Much like Twitter, you can find people to follow, and, like Facebook, you can like or comment on the images. At first I wasn't too sure about the utility of this app -- there are so many social media options to choose from, that it's hard to know what might stick around. I'm kind of getting into Instagram now and I think what I like about it is that it's totally okay to go off-topic with it, it's one of the more wide-open apps out there - I post on so many of my interests, many of which never make it to my other outlets. I have a variety of followers that are into books, wine, architecture, the outdoors, and fitness, some overlapping, some not. If you haven't checked it out, you should, it's a lot of fun, but only for those with an Android or Apple device, sorry BlackBerry users. If you join or have joined, follow me at KovasP, I'll follow back!
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Thursday, October 11, 2012

National Distance Running Hall of Fame


National Distance Running Hall of Fame

Did you know we had a National Distance Running Hall of Fame? It’s in Utica, NY. Hard to tell if it’s still around, as the website looks updated, yet inductees are only listed for the years 1998-2006 and the copyright on the site is for 2010. I filled out the contact form, but tey never got back to me. Hmmmm...There is a news release listing Class of 2012 Inductees, so…who knows?
On July 11, 1998, a hall of fame was established to honor the sport of distance running. The National Distance Running Hall of Fame is dedicated to honoring the athletes who have made contributions to the sport of distance running, contributions that have brought distance running fame and recognition. From the sport's top runners and most decorated athletes to those who pushed the sport's barriers and eventually broke them, the Hall of Fame honors their talents, initiative and drive.

The only sport that is all inclusive, distance running can be enjoyed by everyone from the amateur to the professional. It is inexpensive and can be enjoyed throughout a lifetime. Running changes people's lives. Within the Hall, visitors will find the history of distance running shown through both the eyes of the runner and spectator. Pictures, memorabilia and awards decorate the exhibit rooms and pull the visitor into the runner's world, a place often inhabited by the runner who alone challenges and pushes the human spirit. The Hall of Fame celebrates the sport's greatest moments and bestows the highest honor on outstanding athletes in the sport - induction into the Hall of Fame.
Pretty neat. Past inductees include Ted Corbitt, Bill Rodgers, Joan Benoit Samuelson, Frank Shorter, Kathrine Switzer, and many more. Looks like an interesting place to visit!

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Showdown at Shepherd’s Bush


Showdown at Shepherd's Bush

With the current marathon era in full bloom, though slowly waning in favor of the half-marathon, it is sometimes hard to remember that we do not run in a vacuum. There are historical antecedents to the current craze, just as there will be for the next go-around.

Many of us read books about running to be motivated, to glean training advice, or to fine-tune our nutrition. It’s rare that many runners read about the historical underpinnings of our sport. Showdown at Shepherd’s Bush: The 1908 Olympic Marathon and the Three Runners Who Launched a Sporting Craze (New York, NY: Thomas Dunne Books, 2012), by David Davis, is a book worth searching out.

I had vague ideas about the 1908 marathon, with a near-dead Italian runner being helped across the finish line and subsequently disqualified, but I had no idea the story behind this singular race, the basis for so much of modern-day marathoning. So much of what I thought I knew was simply incorrect--like the idea that the monarchy changed the start and finish of the marathon so that they could see it better, a myth in both cases.

Davis brings back to life the heady days leading up to the Olympics, including the runners and their supporting casts, now mostly relegated to the dustbin of history. This book is a must-read for all of us who want to know where the sport has been, how it was the same in the past, and how it differs now. I just wish that we still stopped “…to swig champagne, hoping this will provide [us] enough lift to make it home.”

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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Rock the Race with Meb Game

Race with Meb

Rock the Race with Meb is an interactive digital marathon race. The race is social, fun, and there are tons of cool prizes, likea training session with Meb or a trip to a Rock n Roll marathon.

Here's how you play for a chance to win:
  • Visit the Race with Meb website  and connect with your Facebook account.
  • Accept the Rock the Race with Meb application, and then you're automatically entered for a chance to win one of three grand prize packages.
  • Pick 20 of your fastest Facebook friends and pass them a virtual microphone.
  • Your friends accept the mic and pass it to 20 of their quickest friends, and so on.
  • Get 55 friends of friends to accept and pass the mic and you'll be cruising across the finish line!
By participating each week, runners have a chance to win a W-series MEB Edition MP3 Player or a Sony Music Pass gift card with 25 song credits.

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Monday, October 8, 2012

1000 Mile Goals: 13 Weeks Left

First, a shout-out to TriMOEngineer, who has also set herself some end of year goals and continues Climbing Those Hills!

At the beginning of 2012, I set two goals myself, to both run and bike 1,000 miles this year. As of yesterday, this is how things stood:
  • Cycling:  222.28 miles left.
  • Running: 418.59 miles left. 
Monday: Cycling
  • Just a beautiful morning for a ride, overdressed slightly but better than the alternative. Except for the typical misguided drivers, a pleasant meander along my favorite 10 mile loop.
Tuesday: Run
  • 8 up, 8 down on the TM, finished "Fast Five," then went back to the start of the franchise with "The Fast and the Furious." Kind of cool to see how young they looked in the original and that so many were back for the 5th in the series.
Wednesday: OFF
  • After several nights when the Little Worker did not want to let us sleep,  I was feeling it this morning, and happy to have the day off from training. We celebrated our anniversary with dinner last night at Zocalo Chicago (worth a visit if you're in town), so tonight it was back to normal with soccer, piano lessons, and Survivor. We did have some bubbly, so it wasn't all routine. :)
Thursday: Run
  • Planned Daily Double Run 1: Decent morning for it, felt okay, nothing unusual about this run. Except that some yahoo yelled at me from a truck -- unfortunately, his voice was garbled, so I didn't hear his words of inspiration. Hasn't happened in a LONG time, I guess those kind of people never go away totally.
  • Planned Daily Double Run 2: 6 miles on the treadmill, finished "The Fast and the Furious," interesting how restrained it seems after just watching the fifth in the series. Vin Diesel hasn't aged a bit! 3 miles in the PureConnects and 3 miles in the Skoras -- thinking about taking them outside for a run, really getting used to them now.

Maple Grove Forest Preserve

Friday: Cycling
  • A crisp fall morning, leaves changing colors, a perfect morning to mountain bike in Maple Grove Forest Preserve! Rode 3 loops of the singletrack, changing directions each time. Came close to distaster once, in a panicked front brake clutch, brought the rear end up and sideways, nearly smashing my shoulder into a tree, but...safely continued. Love how mountain biking is so exciting at much lower speeds than road cycling, really a different experience.
Saturday: Run
  • Cold but beautiful morning, drove over to Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve with Laima, planned on doing the 10-mile loop. We ended up doing a 6-mile out and back, enjoyed the crunch of the gravel, the changing colors of the leaves, and the brisk wind that seemed not to stop (the last one maybe we enjoyed a little bit less than the others). 
Sunday: Cycling Run
  • Planned Daily Double Run 1: 5 on the TM, started "2 Fast 2 Furious," not one of the better ones, but amazing Miami scenery.
  • Planned Daily Double Run 2: 5 more on the TM, finished "2 Fast, 2 Furious," decent action, but definitely not one of the better ones in the franchise. 5 miles in the Skoras, definitely need to get them outside for a few runs.
Another good week towards my goals, colder weather will make the cycling goal ever more difficult, might start pushing that a bit before the snow starts, like it has in so many places already - beginning of October!
  • Cycling:  17.25 miles planned, 18.57 miles accomplished, 203.71 miles left.
  • Running: 32.5 miles planned, 35.24 miles accomplished, 383.35 miles left.
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Friday, October 5, 2012

UTMB Infographic

I admit I struggled a bit with the elevation change in my first ultra, The North Face Endurance Challenge 50K Madison. The 3,598 feet may not be much to some, but it definitely kicked this Midwesterner's butt. It truly is nothing though, compared to another North Face sponsored race, the Ultra Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB).

UTMB Infographic

One of Europe's better-know ultramarathon races, the UTMB is a circumnavigation of the famous mountain, visiting 3 countries. 62,000 feet of elevation change, just over 100 miles, really an amazing feat to finish!

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Janji: Run For Others

Janji Shirts

The global food and water crisis kills 1 child every 6 seconds and affects nearly 2 billion people worldwide. Now by simply wearing Janji's apparel, runners can help provide food and water to those in need. Janji is the Malaysian word for "promise." Janji’s promise is to combat the food and water crisis through the power of running.

By purchasing Janji’s Run for Haiti shorts you can help fight childhood malnutrition in Haiti. With your purchase Janji provides 8 packets of lifesaving nutritional medicine to a severely malnourished Haitian child. Janji’s Run for Kenya shorts provide Kenyan families with the water they need to grow their own food. With your purchase, Janji gives an average of 1 season's worth of water to a Kenyan family.

Janji Shorts

Janji sent me a pair of Run For Kenya shorts to try out and spread the word. The shorts are very attractive, work exactly as technical apparel should, but do run a bit small, in my opinion. Good products and a good cause, what could be better?

More info on the Janji websiteFacebook,  and Twitter.

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

Have a product you'd like reviewed?

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Fourteen

Fourteen is:
The number of days in a fortnight.
In traditional British units of weight, the number of pounds in a stone.
A number 'encoded' in much of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. Bach may have considered this number a sort of signature, since given A = 1, B = 2, C = 3, etc., then B + A + C + H = 14.
The number of points outlined by president Woodrow Wilson for reconstructing a new Europe following World War I.
The section that you go to when you die in the Grailquest books.
The number of legs on a woodlouse, as well as on Hallucigenia.
A common designation for the thirteenth floor in many buildings for superstitious reasons
The number of points in a proposed republican constitution of the United Kingdom.
The number of lines in a sonnet.
The Number 14 airship by Alberto Santos Dumont that was used to test the aerodynamics of his 14-bis airplane.
The number of the French department Calvados
A Storage server manufactured by IBM. It goes by name of "XIV" and is pronounced as the separate letters "X", "I", "V".
The Piano Sonata No. 14, also known as Moonlight Sonata, is one of the most famous piano sonatas composed by Ludwig van Beethoven.

(from Wikipedia)
Fourteen is also how many years Laima and I have been married today.


Happy Anniversary Laima!

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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

RaceReady Product Reviews

RaceReady was founded in Los Angeles in 1993 by accomplished runners and strives to live up to the motto that “RaceReady stands for excellence in running apparel.” Their promise to runners is to use ultra-lightweight and lightweight materials, use advanced moisture-wicking fabric technologies, provide value-added features such as UPF protection, odor-control and reflection in our products, and to manufacture 100% of their products in the USA.

In my ongoing attempt to try out as much endurance gear as possible, I knew it would only be a matter of time before I got my hands on RaceReady products. For this test, I received a pair of LD Easy Shorts and a Running Singlet.

RaceReady LD Shorts

If you are training for a marathon or longer distance, these shorts should be on your list to try. A 3M reflective logo improves visibility and thus safety at night. They feature ultra-lightweight MicroMove wicking fabric and a breathable, non-chafing CoolMax Liner. The 4" inseam means less fabric to chafe the thighs. 5 patented rear mesh pockets and 2 front pockets (actually on the sides) offer a variety of options to carry phones, iPods, and nutrition.

The shorts were really comfortable -- the inseam seemed longer than 4" to me, though it was never bothersome. My Blackberry fit comfortably in the velcroed pockets and felt comfortable on my hip -- I could feel it was still there, but it never bounced or bothered me in any way. Laima's iPhone was a much tighter fit, but she has a protective case, so she'd have to take it off for this to work.The mesh pockets in the back fir all sorts of things, even room for sunflower seeds I picked on a run (always looking for fun plants to grow!).

RaceReady LD Shorts + Running Singlet

Ultra-lightweight, moisture-wicking, odor control – that’s as basic as a singlet gets. Made of Readytech Aries Fabric, this shirt hangs comfortably and does not lose shape as it gets soaked. I felt the only negative was that my Large fit well in all ways except for length, I would have liked it to be a bit longer – a minor problem, and not really too short, just not to my preferred length. Otherwise a good addition to the running wardrobe.

I used my RaceReady gear in all sorts of weather, from hot summer days to cool and wet fall mornings, and it responded well on its own or as a layer under other gear. RaceReady makes simple, functional gear, and are a good option for everyone to try!

Get more information on the RaceReady website,  by following on Twitter, and by liking on Facebook

(Disclaimer: I was sent this product for free to review on my blog - courtesy of RaceReady. 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 websites, the opinions are my own.)

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Monday, October 1, 2012

1000 Mile Goals: 14 Weeks Left

At the beginning of 2012, I set two goals for myself, to both run and bike 1,000 miles this year. As of this week, with 14 weeks left, this is how things stood:
  • Cycling: 758.82 miles, leaving 241.18 miles, or about 17.25 miles per week.
  • Running:547.58 miles, leaving 452.42 miles, or about 32.5 miles per week.

First Fall Ride

Monday: Cycling
  • First ride in 3 weeks, definitely lost quite a bit of power, but, happily, my butt never became sore! Cool almost cold day meant plenty of layers, gloves, ear covers, and shoe covers, ended up being warm but not overly so. Felt good to ride again.
Tuesday: Run
  • Planned Daily Double Run 1: Watched the first part of Robin Hood, with Russell Crowe, really good so far. First 3 miles in PureConnects, then first time in Skora Running for 2 miles. Comfortable out of the box, will need to work on matching proper socks for complete comfort.
  • Planned Daily Double Run 2: Ran a bit with Laima, to help her get out of the house and to spend some time with her. Pushed the stroller so she could run the first half of her planned outing hands-free. Not sure what the stroller factor is when figuring out difficulty of runs, but it sure makes it harder!:) Added about 3.5 miles to my total for the day.
Wednesday: OFF
  • A good rest day, heeding MissZippy's advice! Looked forward all day to the new Survivor -- anyone else a fan? Plenty of irritating contestants that you can't wait to see gone this season!
Thursday: Run
  • REALLY did not want to run today, felt a bit better after walking the dog, but still did not want to run in the dark. However, I set off anyway, glad I put on the new armwarmers I received for participating in The North Face Endurance Challenge -- very comfortable and kept me warm! Overall the run ended up being really good, a comfortable 8 miles, though some ankle tendinitis and the same knee pain I've had recently made me aware of them. Still glad I got out.
Friday: Cycling
  • A bit of unexpected rain this morning made it seem like I wouldn't get to ride, but the skies cleared, the sun came out, and I had a great cool fall ride. First time mountain biking in a LONG time! Rode over to Hidden Lakes Forest Preserve, got on the singletrack and thoroughly enjoyed myself. A bit hesitant at first, after the first few log barriers I got more comfortable. By the end, with some trepidation, I was rolling over obstacles several logs high. So much fun, not sure why I don't go MTB'ing more often, though part of it is that there are only 2 forest preserves with singletrack within riding distance, and their loops are both quite short.  This ride made it 18.9 miles for the week, surpassing my weekly goal, so might add a running day Sunday if needed.
Saturday: Run
  • Creaky and feeling old this morning, cold out, not an auspicious morning for a run, especially anything longer. Bargained with myself, walked the dog, eventually decided to head out for a few miles and see how it went. Pretty good run actually, cut it shorter than could have run, because I'm still babying this knee, and once it starts acting up, I start thinking of stopping. Almost 5 miles, so not bad for this one.
Sunday: Cycling Run
  • Had my cycling miles in, so decided to run today, to get in those miles.
  • Planned Daily Double Run 1: Treadmill -- 4 miles in PureConnects, 3 miles in Skoras, all good, minimal leg pain. Watched "Fast Five," one of the Fast and Furious movies, really entertaining. Makes Rio look really amazing, even the favelas.
  • Planned Daily Double Run 2: As nice an afternoon for a run as you could wish for - 63 degrees, windy, trees changing colors, just gorgeous! 5.25 miles got me over my goal for the week and the leg pain is steadily diminishing with each run, yes!
There were days that I had no desire to run, but I got it done, and was really enjoying it by the end of the week. I think the one thing I enjoyed the most was that, since I'm not in training for anything specific, I could just listen to my body and run the paces I wanted to. While it wasn't easy, I'm glad I decided to get these goals accomplished -- it will be interesting to see how it goes once winter arrives and it's not so easy to get out, especially on the bike.
  • Cycling:  17.25 miles planned, 18.9 miles accomplished, 222.28 miles left.
  • Running: 32.5 miles planned, 33.83 miles accomplished, 418.59 miles left. 
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