Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Triathlete's Thanksgiving

As we all enjoy Thanksgiving this year, I thought it would be interesting to write about what a triathlete is thankful for.  Before anyone wants to jump down my throat and say how unappreciative this post is, let me first say that it is meant strictly as entertainment.  The obvious being thankful for family, friends, health, the freedoms we enjoy every day, etc are all implied.  I don't want to take away from that.  But as a triathlete, there are plenty of things that we are thankful for which to the "normal" individual thinks we're crazy. 

Here is a lighthearted post to all my swimming, biking, running friends for what I am thankful for this season:

  • Temperature around 55 degrees when we want to go for a run and then about 75 when we want to go biking-Those perfect days really make working out a pleasure, so when they coincide with our training plans, it makes a world of a difference.

  • Skin tight Tri Suits- Come on, we put all that hard work in, isn't it great that we get to wear something so tight that it shows off our curves.  And by curves, I mean body and muscles to all those who didn't get that.

  • Split-nosed saddle for our bikes-  The "boys" are thankful as well.  They appreciate the alleviated pressure in the nether regions during all those long training rides

  • Compression calf sleeves- Helping to reduce all the muscle vibrations and soreness during both long runs/races and then the day after to help recovery so we can go right back at it again.

  • Body Glide- chafing, blisters, bloody nipples are all not enjoyable.

  • A swim course that is well marked with bouys and the ability to site away from the sun-  It's hard enough doing open water swims. It's nice to be able to see where we want to go

  • Warm water, but still wetsuit legal- We love our wetsuits and love racing in them, but we don't enjoy the water so freezing that we have to internally heat our suits ourselves.

  • Lock Laces, Yankz, Boa Dials, Velcro straps, etc- It's so annoying to tie laces.  Thank you to the companies that take away this huge hassle

  • Caffeinated gels- That immediate "pick me up" is a nice welcome when our energy is fading

  • Rimless Sunglasses- We can't wear them for anything that isn't triathlon related, but on the course, they are awesome and we don't mind what they look like.

  • Aero wheels and helmets- Yes, we look stupid wearing them, but they sure make us go faster.

  •  A large and individual transition area- Specifically the ones Rev3 and HITS gives us.  Fighting for a piece of small real estate and having to step on other people's crap doesn't make it fun during a race. Having our own area is a welcome addition.

  • Cool race swag, nice finisher's medal, moisture wicking shirt- We train so hard for races and it's all over in a matter of a hours.  Having something cool that we can remember the race, even if it's just a medal that we put in our drawers, makes it all worth it. Yes, we do race for medals.

  • A significant other who let's us work out as much as we do- Notice I didn't say doesn't complain that we work out as much.  That's a whole other thing that I hope to put on this list next year.  But our better halves do allow us the ability to put the time in and log all those miles. Without them being as understanding as they are, we couldn't do what we do.

  •  Holidays such as Hannukah, Christmas, and our birthdays- All this gear is expensive.  I don't think I have received a normal present in at least 4 years.

And lastly,

  • The ability to eat as much as we want and not feel guilty, especially on days like Thanksgiving since we know we have a work out planned for that morning, that afternoon, and the next morning, and both Saturday and Sunday.  We're putting in the time, let's enjoy the food.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  I'm off to eat turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, pumpkin brownies, pumpkin walnut bread, gravy, corn bread, and some pizza.  Yes pizza. I have it around 2pm to make sure my stomach is in full expansion so I can wolf down as much food later in the day as possible.  After that, it's a 11 mile run the next morning and a 1-2 hour bike ride.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Is my Off-Season really and Off-Season

We all have that time immediately after our last big race of the season where we shut it down and call it our off-season.  We take a few weeks off to rest, recover, indulge in some of the things we have been given up for months due to our commitments. I referenced it being called my "cupcake season" a few weeks ago.

There are so many studies and reports that show the benefits of adding weight back on during the off-season.  Not to bore you with all the science behind it, but basically by putting weight on forces your body to work harder during training.  So when you start to drop weight and get down to "race weight", the body is used to working a little bit harder due to being heavier.  As a result, the body recognizes the change and it's more efficient with the lighter weight. The science shows that you should add about 7-10% of your race weight back on.  For me, that's about 10-15 pounds.  Personally, I cant justify gaining that much weight, but I definitely want to put on about 7-10 pounds back on.  Anything more for me is a little too much and I'll start to feel sluggish.

Since my last race I have been trying really hard to put this weight on.  But it's sooooo hard. I know that sounds horrible, but it's not as easy to gain weight when I work out as much as I do.  During the off-season, we're supposed to rest more, take breaks, not work out as hard or as long so we can give our bodies the necessary recovery we need.  I haven't been working out as hard or as long, but I have been working out as often.  I'm still running, biking, and swimming at least 6 days a week plus I'm doing more weight work to put the pounds back on and to build the lean muscle mass that I lost this season.

The wife reminds me every day that I need to stop working out.  She even yells at me to stop working out.  The problem is that I hate NOT working out.  I feel horrible, cranky, tired and just like a big blob if I don't.  Trust me, you don't want to be around me if I'm not working out.  As much as the wife yells at me not to work out, after about a day or 2 of not doing it, she's yelling at me to go AND work out so I can be more enjoyable to be around.

I haven't weigh myself in a while but I can tell that when I look in the mirror I still have a ways to go to put the pounds on.  Having the science background that I do, I know that I need to take in 3500 more calories than I use to add just one pound.  I just don't think I can do this seeing that I'm still doing a lot of cardio for my workouts. 

 I'm really looking forward to the holiday season so I can make sure that I take advantage of all the food and drink offerings that are around this time of year.  I need to make sure that I take time, smell the roses, or whatever flowers bloom during the winter, and give myself a better off-season.  Because come the new year, I have a big race in May that I'm going to need to kick it in high gear for.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

My Skora Rotation

There are currently 4 models of Skora's, and I am lucky to own at least one pair of every style.  I used to only have just 3 out of the 4 styles, but I couldn't resist and had to buy a pair of the awesome Phase-X. The 4 styles of Skora's are The Base, the Core, and the Form, and the Phase.  I’m lucky that I can rotate all of these pairs however I like, but I have found that each shoe actually performs and suits individual parts of my training.  As a result, my rotation isn’t based on what shoes I want to wear, it’s based on what type of activity I do and where I do it.

note: I wrote this post a few months ago when I only had the Base, Core, and Form, but I have updated it somewhat to include the Phase 
Here is the breakdown of the rotation.
The Phase
To be fair, I have only been running in the Phase for a few weeks now.  I have about 100 miles on them, and a full review of them is coming soon.  In the few weeks that I have been in the Phase, I have decided that these shoes are just flat out amazing.  I originally got them because of the Phase-X and reflective technology and how cool they are.  But after my first run in them, I ran my fastest 10k in 4 years with taking it easy. 
The soles on the Phase make me bounce off the ground faster than any other shoe I have run in, and I'm finding out just how comfortable they are.  The Phase have become my go-to shoe for outside training during the past few weeks due to how comfortable they are and how fast I feel in them.
I'll let my full review on them give more detail, but I love these shoes.

Phase-X reflectability

The Core

Before I switched to the Phase, Skora's Core did most of my day to day training.  In an average week, I was probably in this shoe 4 days since the majority of my training is done on the road.  I’ve found that for everyday training, the Core gives the most feedback from the ground and is lighter than the other 2 styles.  The shoe responds extremely well and is extremely comfortable. 

The Core is the most flexible of the 4 shoes that I run in so being able to bend my foot is definitely an advantage.  The R02 system with the IBR (Injection Blown Rubber) gives off an extremely light feel to the shoes but also significant ground feel when running.  I feel that I can react quicker in these shoes.  So if I need to pick up the pace, make a turn, go up or down hills, this shoe allows me to feel the ground and react accordingly. 

My stride turnover is noticeably higher in the Core, just as it is in the Phase.  For this reason, I enjoy wearing them for my normal training.
I have been alternating the Core and Phase for the past few weeks, but since the Phase is a bit newer, I have been wearing them a little bit more.  Not a reflection on the Core, but I just wanted to try out the "newer toy"
Outside in my Core's.
And no, this isn't Corey Haim, but I do wear my sunglasses at night, even when running

The Base

The Base was the first shoe that I tried from Skora so it will always have a certain bias with me.  The Base is my race shoe and also my long run shoe.  I feel extremely comfortable in this shoe and can wear it for hours on end.  Before I got the Core, the Base was my every day trainer and I have already put on over 1000 miles on this shoe and continue to wear it. 

The synthetic material gives breathability to the shoe that I need during all of my races.  For running races, the shoe does not get hot and keeps my feet cool.  During my triathlons, the shoe allows me to run without socks comfortably and not have any rubbing problems which would cause blisters or be uncomfortable.

Because the Base was my every day trainer before I started wearing the Core, I tend to use the Base for my long runs as well.  I was training for the Boston Marathon before I got any other of the styles and as a result, I've stayed with the Base's since I am the most comfortable in the Base than any other shoe during my weekend long runs.  

I like to separate my race shoes and not wear them so much so I only get to wear them once a week and on races.  In some ways, it’s upsetting to me because I love them so much but I know I’m doing it for a purpose and look forward to the days I get to wear my Base’s.
A very typical Base action shot

The Form

I have a hard time finding shoes that feel good when I run on a treadmill.  Typically the shoes that I run outside with don’t feel as good when I bring them inside during a treadmill run so I am in a constant battle trying to find a comfortable shoe to run on the treadmill with.  This is where the Forms comes in.  When I’m forced to move inside and hit the treadmill I grab my Forms. 

I like a little more cushioning on my shoes when I run on the treadmill and the Form has more cushioning than the Core and about the same as the Base but I can tie up the laces and keep the shoes a little tighter with the Form' so this is why it’s my go to indoor trainer.  I have found that with other shoes, they often make me land on my heels, which is exactly the opposite of what Skora is designed to do.  With other shoes, I heel strike too often on treadmills and this ruins my stride.  Even with other Skora shoes, when I’m on the treadmill I’m still heel striking.  However, with the Form's, the cupped heel forces me to land properly mid foot so this is a huge benefit for me when I am forced to go inside on my runs.

I also like the material of the Form for indoor work.  The shoe doesn’t get too hot and allows for good ventilation on the shoe which is perfect for indoor running.
Form's on the treadmill (and me trying not to laugh)

Day to Day use:

The 2 main shoes I wear for casual purposes are either the Core or the Phase.  I don’t like to wear my racing shoes so as much as I would like to, I don’t wear my Base’s for casual purposes.  Both the Core and the Phase are extremely comfortable to walk around, especially in New York City so I’m happy to put them on for day to day wear. 

So that’s how I rotate my Skora shoes.  I like how each shoe has its own purpose and function for me.  It allows for a natural rotation of the shoe so I don’t wear any of the shoes down too much.  It also makes it very easy for me to figure out which shoe I’m going to wear and why.

 I strongly suggest getting a pair of Skora's.  No matter what type of training you do, there is a pair that is perfect for you.  Click on the link on the right side of the page and grab an awesome pair that fits your running style

Run Real Everyone!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

It's a party...and another one..and another one...and

It's party time…let's shake 
The title of this post is a little misleading.  One would think that it would be a good thing to have all these parties.  But these aren't the parties that are exactly oh so fun to be at.  Now that Riley is getting older, he has all of his friends 1 year old birthday parties.  Let me repeat that.  He's got 1 year old birthday parties.  Like a lot of them.

These aren't the birthday parties I remember going to growing up.  These are who can show off the most, who can give out the cutest party favors, who can have the best kids musicians there.  Who's going to have it a better place.  Its crazy.  I remember growing up and going to a batting cage, arcade or some place like that, having pizza and ice cream.  Now I'm going to these parties at a restaurant with a full buffet, Sunday morning brunch with bagels, cream cheese, all the type of salads one can think of.  Mimosa's and Bloody Mary's (won't complain about that part).  I'm showing up at a temple where they rented out a ballroom.  It's like who can one up the next party.

It's not that I don't enjoy going to these events, but the problem is that they are every weekend day for like 6 straight weeks.  I counted and here is the breakdown, 4 out 4 straight Saturday and Sundays, 5 out of 6 and that day off was for the NYC Marathon so its not like anyone could get anywhere or go any place.  Plus, well, its the marathon, an important event and one that takes over NYC.  Then 11 out of 12 Saturdays and Sundays I have a party.  It just never ends.  This doesn't even include the 4, yes 4, Halloween parties that we had to go to.  It's like the moms don't understand that there is football on Sundays and they schedule a party from like 12-3 Sunday.  Really?  Or that sometimes, it's just to sit on the couch all day and do nothing.

At these parties, all the dads take care of the babies and all the moms get together and talk/gossip.  I kind of understand this, since without trying to sound sexist here (so don't yell at me), the fathers work all week and don't spend as much time as the mothers so this is the time for fathers and babies.  And its great.  I don't really fit into this mold since I spend some of my days working from home so I get to see Riley more than most fathers.  Something that I am definitely not complaining about.  Its awesome.  I'm not complaining about spending time with Riley, but it's like the moms ship off the husbands to Babies Island with puppets, musical instruments and bubbles while they get to sit and talk, relax and have some time off.  They expect us all to like each other when we've never met before and the only bond we have is that our babies play together during the week.  And its both days on the weekends, with the same people.  It's a lot to deal with.

So instead of being able to do long runs or bikes on the weekends, I have to be back by a certain time so we can get ready, get to these places, and then spend the day there.  Thankfully it is my off season and I can afford to cut a few runs short. 

When did parties become such a production?  When did it become My Super Sweet Sixteen, but for 1 year olds.  1 year olds who don't even know what's going on.  I mean come on, last week Riley entertained himself for like an hour with a Red Solo Cup and an empty bottle of water.  These kids don't need a face painter, balloon guy or anything that I have seen at some of these events.

I miss the good old times when parties were just parties and not a time to show off.  I'm really missing my race season, so I would have an excuse to either be late or not be able to come to some of these events.  Party season is getting tiresome.  I want to get back to being tired because I worked out hard.  Party time is not for me.

A halloween party with all the babies

Riley as a boxer with gloves, and a championship belt

Sunday, November 3, 2013

NYC Marathon race report from a spectators point of view

Today was the annual day of fun for spectators in NYC as the NYC Marathon was run.  The race was widely anticipated due to last year's cancellation so there was a whole lot of build up for it.  Of course, everyone got into the action.  This race report is not going to be about the actual racing part, but more about a spectator's (mine) view of how the race unfolds. 

As I've said before, I didn't run this year but was definitely excited, and upset for today's race. 

This year was the first time in a while that I didn't have anyone in particular to cheer on.  I knew people running, but it wasn't a close friend, someone I coached, the wife (I can't wait until she does one), or anyone like that.  That still didn't stop me from taking in the day of festivities.

Because I live on the wrong side of 1st Avenue in NYC and we got an extra hour of sleep last night from daylight savings time, I was up early and at the gym at 7am because I needed to get back to my apartment or I couldn't cross the street because the race would be going on.  So I got a quick bike workout in, grabbed some coffee, and was home by 8:45am to put the TV on and watch everything.  The race coverage started around 8 am with stories of Hurricane Sandy, specific runners, past races, the Boston race this year, so there was definitely plenty to watch.  After about 15 minutes of watching, I felt like there should be a drinking game created from all the times Hurricane Sandy was referenced.  Every other minute the reporters mentioned the cancellation of the 2012 race and things surrounding the events.  I know this race was closure for a lot of people, but at some point its time to stop looking back and start looking forward.

The first 2 hours of the race was me sitting on my couch watching the women's and men's field. My initial thoughts were that the 2 women who took off to start the race went out too fast and this is going to hurt them in the end.  Side note- I was right.  Deba faded down the stretch and was later caught around mile 23 in Central Park.  My initial thoughts for the men was that I can't believe Meb was leading the race for the first 6-8 miles.  I thought this was a bad strategy and he won't be able to keep up with the likes of Mutai and everyone else. 

In addition to watching the race on TV, the wife and I started plugging the names of the people we knew were running into the computer to track them.  We tried to calculate what time they would cross our apartment so we can go watch them.

As the lead women approached our apartment, we all went out to watch the race and cheer people on.  You can see here our view and the groups of runners together.

Lead women

Wheelchair athletes are just as strong during this race
The lead pack of the men's race

One thing I did notice was the increased security.  There were cops everywhere, including on the rooftops.  There was a sense of safety in the air, but definitely the tragedy in Boston was on the minds of everyone.  Even with Riley in my arms, I wanted to see the people we wanted and get back inside just in case something happened.

Cops on roof decks about every few buildings
For those who have watched this race on TV, let me say that the coverage of the 1st Avenue experience is about 1000 times better in person that what TV makes it out.  In my opinion, running on 1st Ave in this race is the best experience in road racing anywhere in the world.  The energy is flat out crazy and loud.

Regular runners coming down 1st Avenue
After coming back inside, the wife and I continued to track the runner's we knew on the computer since the pro's races were over at this point.   We found that a lot of runners times dropped off significantly.  1st Ave drains a lot of energy, and with the hills in the last 5 miles of the course, we noticed the times continue to get a lot slower.  As the day went on, everyone we knew crossed the finish line and the day was coming to an end.  Plus, all the football games were starting so you can only watch people run for so long.

But the day doesn't just end when your runners pass you and finish.  Nope.  1st Avenue remains a loudspeaker of noise and cheers, and fun.  The final runner wont pass my apartment until about 5pm so there is cheering until then.  With Riley trying to nap in the afternoon, I feel guilty wanted them to shut up, but now the father on me kicks in. 

The NYC Marathon is an experience for everyone involved.  Yes, there were 0ver 50,000 runners this year, but there were also over 2 million spectators along the course.  It's days like this, that I feel lucky to live in NYC.

Next year, my race report will be of me running and not spectating. 

Congrats to all the 2013 runners

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Runner's World NYC Marathon kickoff

As part of covering the NYC Marathon for Runners World, I was invited to a kickoff event hosted by the magazine. I didn't want to go alone so I invited Leo to come with me

The event was held at the Providence nightclub Friday night from 730-1130 pm. Kind of odd being so late since a lot of people there were running on Sunday. And since I wasn't running I didn't care how late it was.  At the event, there were a few celebrities from the running community.  Bart Yasso, Ernie Johnson, Dean K the ultra marathoner to name a few.  All were in attendance to show support. 

I didn't know what to expect when we got there since we weren't really told anything about it beforehand. So Leo and I walked in and it was packed. So many people there which was nice. We headed straight to the bar, ordered drinks and were then told it was an open bar. Nice surprise. Doesn't everyone love free drinks? After a few cocktails we took some pictures in front of the Runners World banner.

I'm not really as fat as this picture makes me look

There was a nice spread at the place which included pasta, sushi, spring rolls, dumplings, salad. Definitely a nice set up.

After getting some food in me and walking around, the editor of Runner's World grabbed the microphone and thanked everyone for coming and made a nice speech on the marathon, and how the running community has come together in the wake of last year's cancellation and this year's Boston tragedy.  It was a nice speech and reminded everyone how important being part of the running community is.

Next up was the highlight of my night.  Throughout the club, there were these monitors and a movie playing with people just working out.  I thought it was nothing and just a loop of people training.  When this next guy was introduced, it all came together.

Brogan getting the crowd excited
All of a sudden this guy grabs the mic and starts talking to all of us.  You could tell he was just a cool dude.  He gets us all to high five 5 different people, then give bear hugs to 5 other people while screaming out "Fuck Yeah".  I had no idea, but this was something cool.  He starts explaining to us what him and his partner started last November.  A workout that started with the 2 of them just to keep in shape during the winter months.  Instead of me explaining, check out this video

If you can't get hyped up and excited watching that then you shouldn't be reading my blog at all.  I kept leaning in to Leo and telling him that I want to do this.  The guys who started this are awesome and incredibly motivating.  One of them is running the marathon on Sunday. 

I plan on contacting them and see if I can be part of starting a NYC chapter.  That's how cool it is

After Brogan was done, the event went back to people hanging out and drinking.  All of a sudden, I feel this tap on my shoulder, and it's Amy, the person who introduced me to Runner's World in the first place. We spoke for about 10 minutes and I'm glad we got a chance to catch up.  I was looking for her all night but couldn't find her.  If you remember, we met back in April on a train up to Boston and started talking about running.  Her husband is running in the race, so I'll be cheering him on as well.  We spoke about how it's more difficult to watch and spectate for someone than it is to actually run the race itself.  I couldn't agree more.  So after catching up for a bit, it was time to head home.

Not before taking a pic of my Skora Phase-X in front of the Runner's World banner. 

Phase-X making a showing at the event
More on these shoes in the coming weeks since I have about 100 miles in them already and will be putting up a review on them soon, but they are just flat out cool.  They are super reflective and gather a lot of attention. 

Leo and I decided it was time to head out so we took off and headed home.  I stopped to get some cupcakes for the wife, grabbed a cab and went home.

All in all it was a fun night and I was happy to be invited.  Runner's World throws a good party.