Monday, May 18, 2015

Great Six Flags Triathlon Race Report- When everything goes perfect...until

Yesterday was my first race of the season.  I was super pumped for it.  I couldn't wait to see how all the hard training I did this past offseason was going to pay off.  Having Alcatraz coming up in a few weeks, I knew I needed a prep race to get all the kinks out.  I signed up for the Great Six Flags Triathlon, which as the name implies is held in Six Flags Amusement Park.  Pretty cool, right?

The Kingda Ka as a backdrop for our race is pretty cool
Going into this race, I had a pretty good idea that I was going to podium somehow.  Either overall or at least in Age Group.  I have raced this series before and knew that I could really go after the top prize.

So how'd it go?

Pre-Race:
I got to the venue at 5:30 am, which is really weird.  Think about walking down Times Square or the Vegas Strip at like 5 in the morning.  Everything is on, but no one is there.  To see all the roller coasters and games all lit up with no one around was pretty cool.

Minimal transition ready to go
I checked in, racked my bike and set up my transition.  Looking at my transition, I realized I was completely minimal for the first time in a while.  All I had laid out were my Skora's, race belt, and Rudy Project Sunglasses.  Everything else was on my bike and ready to go.

The race directors warned us that we should bring a second pair of sneakers to the swim start since transition was literally gravel.  Not soft gravel, like hard gravel, plus the run from the swim to T1 was about .5 mile and it was on that bumpy type of amusement park surface.  Did I listen?  Of course not. I brought 1 pair of shoes and walked timidly to the swim start.

Swim:
The swim was held in the lake in the amusement park where they do all the water shows, fireworks, etc.  It was cool, but since it wasn't a lake that had access to fresh water, it was the cleanest.  It made swimming in the Hudson River feel like I was in the Maldives.

After changing my stroke this past offseason, I wanted to see if I really got faster.  Or even if I didn't, did I swim easier.  We got to warm up for a few minutes which was cool, and then then got us all ready in a time trail start.  I'm liking the new time trial start most races are doing now so everyone doesn't get run over.

Once I crossed the timing mat, it was on.  I got into a rhythm and went out to the first buoy.  Once I got there, a bunch of us realize the race director didn't tell us about the "hidden from view" buoy so instead of taking a smart route to the buoy, we now how to redirect and go in a different direction which probably added some time.

The swim was a 2 lap swim, so once I got the first lap down, I actually picked up pace and had the proper route so it seemed like I found something in my stroke.  I used this to pass a lot of people on the 2nd loop.

Coming out of the swim and the run from T1, I realized the shoes were probably a smart move.  I passed a bunch of people who were looking for their shoes and I didn't lose any ground, but it was a hobbled and hurtful .5 mile to my bike.

Swim: 28 minutes
For me, not bad. Would have liked 26 minutes or so, but also first open water swim and didn't know about one of the buoys

Bike:
The bike was great.  The course had a lot of stretches of roads that didn't have a lot of turns, so any time you can stay down in aero and go after it is really fun.  The course had some rolling hills, but nothing super bad or anything that I thought was that hard.  Maybe that's a good sign for Alcatraz.

I was wearing my new Rudy Project Wing 57 helmet with the visor.  I love the visor.  It's awesome and cool looking.  However, for the first 6 miles or so, there was so much condensation on the visor that I was basically riding through a fog.  After taking my finger and wiping the dew from the inside (why didn't I think of that earlier), it was clear sailing.


Since the course had both Olympic and Sprint going off on the same course, whenever I passed race volunteers and asked them how many people in front of me, I kept getting different answers.  One time, I was told 25 people ahead of me, the next I heard 5, then 10, and so on.  It was until about mile 22 that I only saw people with "S" on their legs so I knew I was in pretty good shape when the race director told me I was in 5th.

The only bad part about the bike was that my Garmin Vectors weren't reading power on the left pedal so I was getting half data so I have no clue how hard I was riding other than by feel.

As I was coming into T2, I was feeling good and happy.  I started humming the theme song to Jaws since I knew I was going out for the hunt on the run.  I made a few people laugh when they heard me

Bike:
1:10- 21 mph avg. Wanted a little higher but it'll do

Run:
Now it was time to have some fun.  I threw on my Skora's and went to town.  I got into a good rhythm and my file mile was tracking at 6:16 pace.  A little faster than I wanted, but I knew I could hold it and calm down for the next 5 miles.  At the first mile marker, there was a water station and once I got there, everything just went.  My left hamstring cramped up, and I couldn't move.  It was just one big knot in my leg.  I tried to rub it out, I tried to hop, and make it relax.  But nothing.  I was stopped for a good 3 minutes.  3 FREAKING minutes. I was really contemplating calling it a day right then and there.

After the cramp subsided, I continued on the run.  I stopped feeling great and now just wanted to get through the race.  I didn't know how many people passed me, but I kept passing people on the run and thought maybe there still might be a chance for an AG podium.  I really had no clue what to expect, but there was only one way to find out.

I crossed the finish line with a 10k time of 46 minutes.  I was pissed.  I felt like I could have gone under 40 minutes that day, and then boom.  My race blew up.

Post-Race:
I checked the results and looking at them I found out I finished din 13th Overall place and 4th in my AG.  The difference between me and 2nd place in AG was 36 seconds.  36 freaking seconds.  I would have easily had this and probably a 7th place finish without that damn cramp.

Overall, my race was good.  I'm both happy and mad at how it went. Without the cramp and my stoppage time, it would have been a very good day at the office.  But, not everything happens in a vacuum, so I have to take what I can get. I'm not bummed I missed out on a small little trophy, but I'm upset for not doing well for all my partners.

Thanks HoneyMaxx, Skora, Cobb Cycling, and Rudy Project for being there with me.  The results weren't there, but I'm thankful for all the support.

Next up is Alcatraz.  Let's hope there are no setbacks there and I got them all out of my system here.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

What all the fuss has been about

Over the past few weeks and months, I have posted about things like how to deal with stress, who to go to when making decisions,  and a few other things like that.  So why all the cryptic posts and messages?

I am happy to announce that the wife and I have purchased our first house.  It was kind of like announcing we are pregnant or not.  At first, we could only tell a few people, and then once we finally closed on the house, we could announce it to everyone.

With the closing happening yesterday, I can't believe that I actually own a house.  I really never thought I would own one.  I always loved renting, and never bought into the idea of how owning a house is a good investment.  But things just happened so quickly that it was a great deal, so now the wife and I are homeowners and have all that pressure on us that comes with owning a home.

But none of that talk for right now.  Give me a week to enjoy this. Right now, the wife, the kid, the dog, and I are going to be moving to the suburbs and out of NYC.

This is the American dream right?


Standing in front of our new family home 


Thursday, April 16, 2015

How do you deal with stress?

Over the last few weeks, I have had some stress in my life.  Nothing huge, but last night the wife said out loud that "you just can't deal with stress".  I completely disagree with her, while also agreeing with her completely.  Does that make sense? Well, it shouldn't.

Basically, I have decided that for normal things that stress us all out, I do extremely well handling my emotions.  To those who know me, I basically don't have any emotions, so it seems like I can handle stress very well.  Typically, I'll just throw my stress into my workouts and have a killer swim, bike or run.  I won't take it out on anyone, I won't let it affect my everyday life, and everyone will be none the wiser.

Where I become a crazy lunatic is for things that I find just ridiculous and I can't control.  Note that this is very different than normal things that I can't control.  I learned a while not to care about those things.  If I can't control it, then no point in getting stressed over it.  But for things that are plain out ridiculous and they affect me in any way, then I lose my sh#$t.  Like really lose my sh#$t.  This past week while on the phone with a friend who is helping the wife and I with something (and is doing an amazing job), he is explaining to us about something and I don't like what he has to say.  It's not his fault and I never once thought it was, but I threw the phone at the wife and said I can't deal with this, "you do it".  The problem is that my friend didn't know I wasn't mad at him so he felt I was taking it out on him.  I wasn't, but I just couldn't listen to anything anymore.  I didn't care about anything.  I wanted off the phone, I wanted to stop hearing anything, and I wanted things to be different.  I was screaming at the situation but not at that.  If it was possible, then my skin would turn green, my shorts and shirt would get torn off, and I would turn into the real life Hulk.  That's how bad I am.

It usually is caused by something that has to do with money, but there are other triggers involved.  Riley has known to cause a few of my Hulk-ings, the wife definitely has, yet Thunder and work have never (weird).

So when it comes to handling stress, I would say that I do a very good job of handling the normal day to day stress that we all have and is unavoidable.  But when things happen that affect me that I can't control and is just so insanely annoying, I freak out and do a bad job handling emotions.

How do you handle stress?

Friday, March 20, 2015

SKORA Tempo Review

SKORA Tempo's
photo credit: Steven Stam



One of the benefits of being an ambassador for SKORA is that I get to wear test some of their shoes before they are released to the public.  I get sent either a pre-production style and ask for feedback on how the shoe can be better or they send out shoes right before they are released so if any questions come up, I have experience running in the them.  About 2 months ago, I got my hands on their new style the SKORA Tempo.  Realizing that I love most of the SKORA styles on the market I was super excited.

Before I get into my review, I want to say that just because I am a SKORA Ambassador, I do not have to say that I love the shoe if I don't.  In fact, SKORA wants honesty because they want to get the most accurate information out to help runners make smart decisions.  Their ultimate goal is to help runners run and be comfortable.  So if a shoe isn't right for someone, they understand that. If you have read my reviews in the past, you know that I am brutally honest, even if I don't like something.  All I want to do is help runners get the best possible shoes on their feet.

Let me say that what first brought me to SKORA a few years ago was their bright yellow SKORA Base style.  I loved how yellow the shoe was and had to try them out.  Let's be honest, we're all vain when it comes to running gear and want to look our best.  Yellow is my favorite color so I'm always drawn to shoes that are bright.  So when I opened the box containing the Tempo's, I was immediately in love with the love of them.  They were BRIGHT YELLOW.  Just the way I like them.  Taking away from their color (though it is hard to do), the shoe has a wider toe box than normal, the upper material is a very light mesh, and there seemed to be more cushioning than other of the SKORA styles.

I honestly think the shoes lasted less than 2 minutes from when I opened them up to when they were on my feet and I was out of the door for my usual 6 mile Central Park loop that I test all shoes for the first time in.

How did they fit?
Tempo in action
In one word: comfortable.  Like super comfortable.  For those who are not a fan of shoes that essentially have zero cushioning, these are a far cry from them.  They aren't as cushioned as other shoes on the market, but they feel like they are.  The new material on the sole of the shoe is extremely hard, unlike other SKORA models.  I could instantly feel the difference between the Tempo's and other styles.  I have worn the SKORA Fit's for about a year now and those feel like slippers on my feet.  The Tempo's are a little harder when my foot came in contact with the ground, but not in a bad way.  They have a different design and material on the sole than what most people are used to so it took about 10 steps to get used to them.  Everything after that was just amazing.

The one thing that I had to get used to was how light the mesh was on the upper material.  Being that it was in the middle of the winter when I first got the shoes, running outside in them often left my foot freezing.  I had to wear warmer socks with them.  Not that big of a deal, but it was something I noticed, especially in this past brutal North East winter we had.  The flip side to this is that in a few months during the hot summer months, my feet wont be as hot.  They will be well ventilated and will cool faster than other shoes.  It will take some getting used to, but that's the only thing I could say was out of the norm for me.

One of the strangest things that I found with the shoe is how fast I am in them.  Since it's my "off-season", I try not to tax my legs so much and try not to do really fast runs.  Well, this is actually impossible in the Tempo's.  Because of the harder soles, I feel like I "bounce off the payment" and my stride was so much faster than normal.  I noticed this on hills.  My cadence was faster going up the hills, but on my descents, I felt more controlled, while going faster than normal.  I thought maybe I was just excited for my first run, but as I have put hundreds of miles in them over the past few months, it still continues to be the case.  I have even asked other SKORA Ambassadors on their opinions and they feel the same as me.  This shoe is ridiculously fast, even when I'm not trying to be fast.

The Tempo's are designed for putting high mileage on them and long training runs.  But for every run I go on now, I'm constantly reaching for the Tempo's.  They can be the for everything shoe if you want them to be.  I used to wear the PHASE's for speed work, but the Tempo's are allowing me to have faster runs, so I'm using them for that now.  The FIT's were my everything shoe last year and I worn them in the NYC Marathon.  Having the Tempo in my arsenal complicates things a lot for me because I think SKORA has hit it out of the park with the Tempo's.  When I am rotating my shoes for my runs, I find myself missing the Tempo's if I am not wearing them.  The wider toe box, the cushioning and the increased speed that I am getting from them are very noticeable when I don't have them on.

If you want a little more cushioning than a traditional minimal shoe, the Tempo's are perfect for you.  If you want a shoe that has a little less cushioning than a traditional shoe than the Tempo's are for you.  The only person this shoe is not perfect for is for the person who doesn't want to enjoy their run.

I really can't find a reason that someone won't enjoy this shoe.  It drops on Monday, April 6th, so be sure to get yourself a pair

Check them out for yourself at www.skorarunning.com

RunReal everyone


Fact Sheet for the Tempo's to get you familiar with this awesome shoe

Sunday, March 8, 2015

What do I wear?

One of the many benefits of having partners, sponsorships, and being a brand ambassador is that you get race gear to wear.  However, when you have more than one company to help promote and you have more than one race outfit to wear, how do you decide which race kit to wear and when?

For example, on the right of this page you can see how lucky I am to have some great product and company partnerships.  Out of that group, I have race kits for HoneyMaxx, Cobb Cycling, and Fusion Sports USA which I am expected to wear during my races this year.  So how do I pick which race to wear which race kit?  Do I put their names in a hat and then decide that way?  Do I rank my partnerships and then compare to which races I am doing and then have the more important races get the more important race kits?  There really isn’t a way to make this easy?

Some products are easy.  Since I only run in Skora’s, these will be on my feet regardless.  My sunglasses and helmet are all Rudy Project, so that solves that problem.  Headphones aren’t allowed on the course, so I can’t wear my X-1 audio gear.  Likewise, I can and still will be promoting all of the products since my fluids will be HoneyMaxx and my saddle is Cobb, as well as I have visors for all of these brands which I’ll be wearing.

But the big question is how do I pick which race outfit to wear for each race?

Right now, my schedule includes an Olympic Distance Tri in May, Escape from Alcatraz in June, and Challenge Pocono Half in August.  I’m sure there will be one or 2 more added this season.  In terms of importance, Alcatraz is a bucket list race so I am excited for that, and Poconos is a Half Iron distance so I can call both of these my “A” races this season.  The May tri is a prep race for Alcatraz, but I am expecting to be on the podium for it. 

So where does that leave me with what I should wear?  I want to get as much publicity for each brand as possible, but I also want to be as comfortable and fast as possible in each race.  It’s a great problem to have, but it still begs the question:  What do I wear and when?


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

When making decisions, who do you go to?

Everyone in their life at some point has to make a big decision. What those decisions are change all the time and vary depending on where you are in your life.  They also change on who makes those decisions with you.  For example, the biggest decision I had to make when I was younger was which stuffed animal I was going to sleep with for that night.  As time went on, the decisions got more and more important.  What sport I wanted to play, what college I was going to attend, what my profession was going to be, who I was going to date (though some times those decisions were taken out of my hand), and was I going to propose. 

Once that final decision was made, then I was no longer able to make decisions by myself. My decisions became a “we” decision with the wife having to have some input because they would impact both of us.

Recently, the wife and I were faced with a big decision to make.  What the decision was is unimportant. But we found ourselves asking for others to help with this decision. 
So my question is who do you go to when you have to make big decisions in your life?  Do you go to your family because they might have had to make similar decisions in their lives and can help with guidance.  But then does it become your decision or theirs?  Do you go to someone you trust and gives you guidance over the years?  Sometimes these people are great for superficial things, but really don’t help with the big time needs.  Do you talk to friends?  Friends are great as a sounding board, but how many times do you tell a friend something and they are either jealous or they try to bring you down?  Is this something that you want to deal with.

So there are plenty of people to go to when you have important things going on in your life, but is there ever a right person?  I’ve always said “advice is something you ask for when you know the answer, but wish you didn’t”.  So when the wife and I had this big decision, we took everyone’s thoughts and opinions in, but ultimately came to the decision ourselves.  We’re very happy with the outcome and will be able to share in a short amount of time.


But it got me thinking of who we all go to when important decisions need to be made.  Do we make decisions ourselves or do we take advice from others?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

New Team Partnerships

Around the end of each year and into the beginning part of the new year, brands start to put out their applications for ambassadorship programs for athletes to become part of their teams.  Over the past few years, I've been very lucky to have some companies want me to part of their team and race with them.

For those who don't understand how this works, I am not a professional athlete.  Duh.  But when I say that, I mean I don't make any money racing.  You'll never see me on a podium receiving one of those big Happy Gilmore checks.  However, that doesn't mean that companies don't want to partner with an athlete just like me.  Ambassadorship/Sponsorship programs vary by company to company.  Some give out free gear for you to use and train with, others make you join a team, pay an annual membership but you get gear, some just give you some type of discount for their products. In return for this, you are a very integral part of that company.  You don't just get gear and be done with the company.  These type of partnerships don't last long, and frankly, I don't enter into them.  What these companies expect of you is for you to get their product out there more.  Whether it be on social media, blogging, telling friends/family/teammates about it.  One special way is to race in their Team Kits.  So when race day comes, you are representing these brands  If you are lucky enough to finish on the podium, you can wear their shirts, hats, sunglasses, shoes, hold a water bottle, etc. These companies are investing in you, so you should do your part to help them make money in return.  That is the only way these partnerships are successful and can continue.

I take my partnerships very serious.  I will not become part of a company's team just to become part of one.  I also wont promote products that I either don't use myself, or don't fully believe in.  All products that you see on this blog are ones that I use regularly or am interested in.  I am always happy to answer any question about certain products and always happy to help promote the brand.

Some of the brands/products I have discount codes to share, while others I don't. Feel free to message me and I will be happy to share what I can.  I'm always up for helping someone save some money.

So in 2015, here are the brands and teams that I am lucky enough to represent:

Skora:
Anyone who has read this blog knows how much I love their shoes.  They are the most comfortable shoes I have ever run in and I will continue to train and race in them for a long long time.  Even if I wasn't part of their team, their shoes would still be on my feet.
www.skorarunning.com

HoneyMaxx:
HoneyMaxx and I have been partners for the past 2 years.  I have had trouble with nutrition throughout the years, but when I found HoneyMaxx, everything changed.  I love the taste of their drink mix and use it for all my racing needs.  They have gotten me through so many hard training days without cramping up.
www.honeymaxx.com

Fusion Sports USA:
Fusion is a relatively new company to triathlons.  They are a European company, however have a presence in the US.  Last year I was part of their team and they have some of the most comfortable clothing on the market.  I am big on compression wear for racing, and I think theirs is the best on the market.  You saw me rocking their shorts and calf sleeves at the NYC Marathon last year, and you'll see me on some triathlons with their gear.
www.fusionsportsusa.com

X-1 Audio:
X-1 has gotten me through more pool workouts than I can think of.  They make waterproof headphones, cases, and products.  So now when I go to the pool, I have my ipod with me and can stop staring so much at the boring black line at the pool bottom and can listen to my music.  I've been with X-1 for going on my 3rd year now.
www.x-1.com

Rudy Project:
Sunglasses are my jam.  Yes, I just said that.  I have more sunglasses than I can count and will continue to buy no matter what the wife says.  Rudy Project sunglasses are the most comfortable and lightest glasses I have ever run in and have been wearing them for 2-3 years now.  They also are the top Aero helmet on the market which always helps with free speed.  Seeing that I have been wearing their products for years, I am lucky to be in my first year with them.
www.rudyproject.com

Cobb Cycling:
John Cobb is essentially the father of cycling aerodynamics.  Everyone knows who he is and the contributions he has made.  He has partnered with companies to develop their products and make them better.  In fact, he and Rudy Project have worked together for a lot of their helmets.  A few years ago, he started his own line of cycling gear.  His biggest hit (in my opinion) are his saddles.  When you're on the bike for hours at a time, it is important to be comfortable and not chafe in those "special areas".  Cobb saddles are amazing and I know they will keep my tush and other areas feeling good on the roads.
www.cobbcycling.com

Team Rev3/Challenge:
I have raced numerous Rev3 races over the past few years and  they truly believe what a race should be and feel like.  They embrace families and the journey to get to the race and not just a company that collects your race fees and has a start and finish line.  Their races are class act.  Last year when they merged with the Challenge race organization, I knew it was going to be special.  While I don't have a product to represent, I am part of their ambassador team to help continue to spread the word on how great their races are.
www.challenge-familyusa.com