Monday, December 28, 2015

2016 race race year in review

2015 is coming to an end which you’re either happy about or would like this year to continue.  One of the things we should all do is take an inventory of the year and see what we should keep, let go, or improve upon.  In terms of me taking stock of myself and what I personally need to work on, I will leave that to my own demons and work through myself and the wife.  To be upfront, there really isn’t anything life changing so nothing to worry about there.  Just some tweaks here or there to be a better person, husband, father, boss, etc.  However, the one thing I do every year is analyze how my race season went and see what I learned and what needs to be changed.  So here is the good, the bad, and the ugly

When looking at my race season as a whole, I think the concept that comes to mind first is it was the year of “what-ifs” and “almosts”.  I had a lot of strong races where I was in contention for podiums, good times, and things that would make me very happy.  But as I write this today, I have to look back and say there were too many things that went wrong in a race that caused me to have issues.

In my first race of the season, I was in 2nd in my AG and about 11th overall heading into the run at the Great Six Flags Tri.  Knowing I am a strong runner, I was looking to pick off some people and get on that podium.  Yet, at the first mile on the run, I cramped up, wasted about 4-5 minutes trying to figure out how my left hamstring would ever move again, and ultimately wound up 4th in AG and about 14th overall.  This 4-5 minute stoppage time cost me a lot.  Fast forward to my last race of the season (Challenge Poconos), and I was about 6/7th AG coming off the run and looking and feeling really good.  Yet about 4 minutes into the run, same issue and cramping stopped me for about 3-4 minutes now.  This ultimately led to me placing 4th AG by 62 seconds, in a race I couldn’t have been 2nd AG and higher up in the standings. 

I clearly need to work on nutrition and electrolyte balance, which I have started, but I have to view those 2 races as what if’s.  What if I didn’t cramp up and I put together 3 phases of a strong race.  Would I be looking at my season differently?

Then came Alcatraz.  The bucket list race.  One that I was excited for, up until the point the race started.  I really wanted to do well here.  I didn’t care about place or time or anything except enjoying the race, being part of history, and experiencing something not a lot of people do.  But this race was just not fun for me.  The swim stunk, and the bike was the most scared I have ever been on 2 wheels.  Instead of getting a chance to tell people about Escape from Alcatraz triathlon and how great of an experience it is, I know have to say I will never do it again and something that I was looking forward to being over and not I want to do again.

Throw in a tri in July where it was the hottest day of the summer and humid so they had to cut the course short and my tri season was something of an eventful and uneventful season all within the same year.  This was another race that coming off the bike I could have made some places up, but just ran out of real estate due to the shortened run.  Having known this on the bike, I could have raced differently and put myself in a better position.  File that into both, what-if and almost.

Lastly, let’s take the NYC Marathon.  I wasn’t supposed to do this race in the first place, but clearly drinking and registering for races don’t go well together.  The fact is I just didn’t put the necessary hours and miles in to hit my goal here.  Wanting to run sub-3:00 is a difficult task.  My training times were there, but the number of miles just weren’t.  Instead of hitting the wall and just slowing down and struggling to finish, my body just told me to pack it in and be done.  This was neither a what-if or an almost.  It was a what could have been if I did what was needed.

As you can see, with the exception of a few little things here or there, my race season would have been pretty good.  But racing is being able to put everything together and fight and deal with adversity as it comes.  I wasn’t able to do any of that this year. 

As I look forward to 2016, my race schedule is pretty much planned.  Now is the time to take what I learned from 2015 and use it to work in 2016.  Make sure that my nutrition/electrolyte balance is good so coming off the bike, I can be strong and not cramped.  I can make sure my bike fit is proper so I can take advantage of aerodynamics, and not have muscle imbalance.  I can learn how to swim train properly so when I get in the water, I can at least be a mid-pack swimmer and not back of pack swimmer where I need to work that much harder on the bike and run.  All of these little things make a difference so that when I write this in one year from now I can look back and say, I learned from my mistakes and am not doing the same things over and over again and complaining that nothing is changing. 

I’m confident 2016 will be a strong year.  I’m part of a great triathlon team (future post), I’m a lot smarter than I was a year ago, and I’ve got the ability to do what needs to be done. 

Keep training, and race on.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Runner's World The Runner's Brain Book review

As I have said a few times, being a blogger sometimes has perks that go along with it.  Some times its reviewing products before they come, some times it's getting invited to events, and some times, like in this case, I get to review an advance copy of a new book.

Recently I got to read the new Runner's World book, The Runner's Brain.  I was interested in reading this book in part because of the title.  There are many things that I have worked on over the years to improve my fitness, racing and so on, but never have I really thought about how the brain impacts all of these. I've always thought about positive reinforcement and those types of things, but never have I delved into the inner workings of the brain and running.

So without going chapter by chapter and what the book explains, I'll give a high level of it, plus I want everyone to pick it up and take it for a spin.  For the record, I don't get anything if you do.  I don't get a dollar, a free Runner's World magazine, or anything.  I am just a fellow runner who wants to help out other athletes.

The main thing that I really enjoyed about the book is that for everything that was explained, they backed it up with scientific studies explaining their data.  Being a nerd that I am, I enjoyed knowing that there was scientific proof to what was being explained.  This helps things to be believable.

Parts of the book explain how running affects the brain and how running improves memory, "age proof" the brain, and makes us happy after we run.  I'm sure we all knew this but having it explained really brings things out to the open.

Some of the most interesting and readable parts of the book are the explanations about superstitions (we all have them, right?), how to manage both pre-race jitters as well as post race blues, and a real in depth explanation about the "runner's high" and how to achieve it.  I'm glad I read that part since I have never experienced the runner's high so now I know how to achieve it, though I don't think I will even knowing what to look for.  

Other intriguing and helpful parts of The Runner's Brain is what to think about during your runs, both internal thoughts, as well as external ones.  These can help you get through your runs and how to deviate your mind in the times of pain.  This can also be helpful in long races where you "hit the wall" and need to find a way to break through it.  The book does a great job explaining the psychosis of hitting the wall, which is something we have all experienced.  

Without going in to more detail about the book, I found it a very quick and easy read to get through.  This book is about running so it's not like it's an intense read and since we all want to get better, what you learn in this book can definitely help.  There is also a reference to one of my favorite shows ever, "How I Met Your Mother" so that is definitely a plus in my book.  The first chapter was about the Boston Marathon 2013, which I have a connection to for running it in, but I think in some ways, I'm not a fan of everything being tied to that horrific event.  I understand it's a book about running, and no one can ever forget what happened that day, but I feel to try and tie this book into that day might have been a wrong call and turned me off a little.

The Runner's Brain is a very good book with a lot of scientific proof of why things work the way they do.  I think this book is perfect for the novice runner or intermediate runner. A veteran runner usually knows most of the things in the book because they have experienced it themselves, so I am not sure they would get a lot out of it, even though I took a few nuggets from the read.  The holidays are coming so it would be a great stocking stuffer for the runner in your life.  

Below is the link to check out the book:
Link to "The Runner's Brain"

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The good through Sports

We often hear about all the bad things about professional sports.  The billionaires vs. millionaires, the domestic violence, the performance enhancing drugs, how sports is a business, how teams don't care about the fans, and on and on and on.  But we as fans tune in every day, week, month, year for some reason.  There has to be a reason. Sometimes there is a connection to growing up, sometimes it's  family thing, or maybe it's just the sheer enjoyment of entertainment.  Either way we, as fans, love sports.  There is plenty of good that comes through professional sports but very rarely do we hear about it.

Most of my posts are about racing, raising Riley, training or something along those lines.  This one will be very different since I want to share how one of the most amazing experiences I have had was because of how generous a professional sports team was.

I have a friend (let's call him Mickey to keep his name private) who has had some issues this year.  It is not my place to publicly explain what they were, but Mickey has been through a very rough year and has basically gone through hell and back.  Mickey is a Buffalo Bills fan and I am a NY Jets fan for our respective NFL teams.  Every year we go to the Jets/Bills game and root on our teams.  We have a nice competitive streak and give each other hell but it is all in good fun.  We enjoy watching the game together and it is our annual event. As a result of Mickey's problems this year, we weren't sure that we would be able to take part in our tradition.  Let it be known that Mickey is probably the nicest person you will ever meet.  As in the type of guy who just gets under your skin because no one should be this nice and yet somehow he is.  He is the guy who puts everyone first and is more concerned with you than him.  Pretty much he is my total opposite.  So when Mickey went through his issues this year, I wanted to do something special for him.

I knew it was a long shot, but I reached out to the NY Jets organization explaining what the situation was and how I wanted to do something for Mickey.  I explained our tradition and wanted to see if they would help me with something.  Well, I got a response, and what the NY Jets did was something that I couldn't expect and by far and away extremely nice.

Sammy Watkins in action
After trading a few emails back and forth with someone in the NY Jets organization, I was emailed Game Day field passes and tickets for the Jets/Bills game.  More on the seats later, but Mickey and I were allowed to go on the field during pregame warm-ups for the Thursday night nationally televised Jets/Bills game.  We got to meet with the owner of the Jets- Woody Johnson, the GM of the Bills, in addition to the Jets 1992 draft class of Chad Pennington, Laverneus Coles, Shaun Ellis, and a few more.  Plus the country music star Jessie James.  We saw up close and personal the players which was extremely cool.  Take a look at these pictures we got.  No zoom needed.  In fact, Mickey got to see his favorite player Sammy Watkins and almost got him to sign his jersey.

These guys are biiiiiig

I have a whole new respect for how large these guys are.  Seeing Mario Williams up close and how big NFL players are is incredible.

Gotta love a personal escort to the field by Snoopy
After warmups, we were escorted to our seats.  Instead of just giving any seat possible, the Jets gave us the Coaches Club seats which were incredible.  We walk into this suite that is essentially a club with the most incredible food at a stadium.  Seriously, who eats Lobster rolls, shrimp tacos, 5 different kinds of wings, a sushi bar, ice sculpture with a raw bar, and on and on.  That is not stadium food.  That's a nice night out with the wife.  Yet, here were Mickey and I eating away while the Jets walked right in front of us from their locker room onto the field.

The players walking out on to the field right in front of us

These seats were great.  We were so close to the field.  Honestly the Jets went above and beyond.

Even though the Bills won the game (I am convinced the Jets lost because they wanted to do something really special for Mickey), this was an event that I am so thankful for.  All I wanted to do was give my friend something that would help him get through this difficult time, but the NY Jets organization wanted no part in that.  They understood what my friend was going through and decided it was important for them to help out also and make this night extra special.  This occasion wasn't about me. It was about my friend Mickey forgetting about all the crap he has gone through, and having one night that he can enjoy.

So for all we hear about all the negatives in sports, I want everyone to realize there is still good in sports, and the good significantly outweighs the bad.  I honestly can't thank the NY Jets organization enough.  They are a class organization who clearly cares not only about their fans, but also everyone in the community.  They didn't have to do this. And they especially didn't have to be as generous as they were.  I am not sure who appreciated it more, Mickey for the entire night, or myself seeing him get to experience this knowing what he has been through.

This was one of the most special nights I could imagine and I am thankful my friend "Mickey" was able to experience it.

Being on the field was the ultimate highlight and glad
"Mickey" was able to experience it

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

NYC Marathon race recap

This past Sunday was the NYC Marathon.  After last year’s race, I had no desire to run this race again.  Since the wife and I lived on the course for the past few years, we decided last year would be my last marathon for a while, and it was a great way to go out.  But when you’re drinking one night in February and an email comes in saying it’s the last week to register for the lottery, all decisions and inhibitions go out the window.  And realistically, I haven’t gotten into the lottery ever, so I didn’t think there was a good chance for me to get accepted.  So of course I registered.  And what happens is of course I get an email saying congratulations, you’ve been accepted in the 2015 NYC Marathon.  Great, just freaking great.

So let’s fast forward a few months since the spring and summer is my triathlon season and cut to end of summer and fall where I was training for NYC.  After moving out of NYC earlier this year, I still haven’t been able to find my “long” training runs so I have not been able to put in a good solid block of training in a while.  Setting up for excuses already?  Nope.  Just trying to lay a foundation here.  Other than that obstacle, my training was pretty good.  My weekly runs were crisp, fast, smooth and nothing to complain about.  My long run days weren’t the best runs, but at least they were on the pace I wanted to achieve.  However, as training went on, I was only able to get in 1 training run of each 18 miles, 19 miles, and 22 miles.  I usually do at least 3 runs of 20 plus miles heading into a marathon.  This year, it just didn’t work out like that.

As November 1st approached, it was race day.  Though the night before was Halloween and I had fatherly duties to attend to like teaching Riley how to trick or treat properly in the burbs.  My little fighter pilot did well and his candy take was impressive for a short amount of time 
My little fighter pilot walking his Plane, Thunder

I’ll save the normal pre-race stuff since it’s the same for everyone across the board.  Take the bus to Staten Island, wait 3-4 hours, strip down, pee on the side of the road, gun go off, Sinatra’s “New York, New York” plays, blah blah blah.  Every race report about NYC will have the same stuff.  Nothing special there.

Going into the race, I really wanted to break 3 hours for the day.  That equaled a pace of 6:51/mile.  All of my training was faster than this so I figured I was in decent shape.  Having doing the race last year, I knew what to expect and knew how to navigate the difficult parts of the course.

For the most part, the race was really really uneventful.  I didn’t realize it last week, but running through Brooklyn was soooooooo boring.  It is basically one long 8 mile stretch on the same road.  Nothing to keep you engaged with change of scenery, scrowds, hills, etc.  Just flat and straight.  It was right around mile 8 where I said to myself, things are looking really good but how bored am I?
At the half way mark, I was under goal pace and felt great which was very promising.  As we entered Queen, the temperature for the day kicked up to 60 degrees and became pretty hot.  Not ideal race conditions.  Having cramped up last year and a few times this season, I took in liquids every stop (every mile) and had my Base Performance Salt to keep me in check.  At the start of the Queensborough Bridge, it felt like I had too much in my stomach. Last year I attacked the QB and felt great doing it.  This year, the bridge just felt like it never ended.  I can’t believe how long this thing was.  Did the bridge grow?

Coming off on 1st Ave is usually a great time.  Last year was quiet, this year was loud.  I went over to the crowds since I felt I needed a boost of energy but I just couldn’t capitalize on it.  My energy levels were shot.  At mile 18 I just didn’t want to do it any more.  The wife’s brother and his girlfriend were the only spectators who were going to be on course for me that day.  The wife had to work and no one else was around.  They were right at the mile 19 mark and I fought my hardest to make it to them.  I did and about 2 blocks after seeing them, my body just said, thanks for the year, and “let’s go enjoy the offseason”

I just didn’t have anything left in the tank or in my legs.  I slowed my pace a little to catch my breath and mentally get back in the game, but it didn’t matter.  At mile 20 I was still under goal pace, but not having enough long training runs in me, I just couldn’t push any more.  I didn’t hit the wall for the race, I hit the wall for the year.

So for the final 5 miles I started playing the math game.  Since I knew I wasn’t going to hit the 3 hour mark, I said, ok let’s just get a BQ.  This allowed me to walk a little and have about a 5 minute allowance of walking for the final 5 miles.  That’s doable.  Yet, as the distance crept up, so did my walking.  I have never walked this much in all of my races combined.  I was running for 3 minutes, walking for 1 pretty much every mile for the final 4-5 miles. 

I wish I could write something on how I enjoyed the race, overcame adversity, or anything like that.  But I didn’t.  I was in such a fog that I just wanted it to be over.  It was the offseason or bust for me.
So I crossed the finish line in a time of 3:19, which was worse than my time last year, but I’m ok with that.  I didn’t hit my goal, I didn’t do anything I wanted to, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen.  I didn’t put the miles in and that’s my fault.  Normally, I would be upset, but I’m ok today.  I’ve learned a lot this year about my body, my mental approach to training, and what I enjoy in a race.  It just so happened that my enjoyment ended at mile 19 of a race that had 7 more miles to go.

Either way, the NYC Marathon is in the books and I say this gracefully and with respect, I won’t be back.  At least not for a few years.  My marathon days are over for the time being

The part of the race I felt good.  Looked good in my Fusion gear and Skora Tempo's

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The annual NYC Marathon playlist

Usually the most read and fun post that I do for everyone is my race-specific music playlist.  This isn't just some random mix of music put together to get me through my race.  This is a well thought out, time taken, thought provoking, course specific mash of music that is designed with every minute of the race taken into account.

I've done play lists for other people and they really appreciate the ebbs and flows that go along with putting a mix together.  There are things to consider such as, how long are you planning on running, hills on the course, how long flat sections are, where you think you're going to need to get a boost of energy or where you need to bring yourself back down and a whole lot other factors.

Looking at the NYC elevation profile on the link, you see that I have thought long and hard about my playlist and how I'm going to shoot for a sub-3 hour race this coming Sunday.

NYC Marathon Elevation

While the majority of the music I like is Top 40, there are other songs that have a weird meaning to me and just something different to lighten the mood.  It might not be for everyone, but below is the playlist that will take me along the streets of New York City.

1. This Town- OAR
2. She Ain't You- Chris Brown
3. Sick of Being Lonely-Field Mob
4. Up in Da Club- Marquees Houston
5. Stitches- Shawn Mendes
6. Danza Kuduro- Don Omar
7. Miss Independent- NeYo
8. Bailando- Enrique Iglesias
9. Price Tag- Jesse J
10. Where Them Girls At- David Guetta
11. Dip It Low- Christina Milian
12. International Love- PitBull
13. Don't Stop Believing- Journey
14. Bad Blood- Taylor Swift
15. Airplanes- B.O.B
16. On MY Mind- Ellie Goulding
17. Dangerous- David Guetta
18. Whistle- Flo Rida
19. Barden Bellas Final performance- Pitch Perfect 1
20. Let Me Love You- NeYo
21. Wild Wild Love- PitBull
22. See You Again- Charlie Puth
23. My Time- Fabolous
24. Pump It Up- Joe Budden
25. The Man- Aloe Blacc
26. Starships- Nikki Minaj
27. Rest of My Life- Ludacris
28. Raise Your Glass- Pink
29. Magic- B.O.B
30. Like a Warrior- Matasyahu
31. Good Feeling- Flo Rida
32. The Monster- Eminem
33. Ghost- Ellie Goulding
34. Break Your Heart- Taio Cruz
35. Stand By You- Rachel Platton
36. I Cry- Flo Rida
37. Right Now- David Guetta
38. Timber- Pitbull
39. Empire State of Mind- Jay-z
40. Talk Dirty- Jason Derulo
41. Let It Roll- Flo Rida
42. Fight Song- Rachel Platton
43. Dynamite- Taio Cruz
44. Time of Our Lives- Pitbull
45. Payphone- Maroon 5
46. Can't Hold Us- Macklemore
47. Give Me Everything- Pitbull-  Plan on Finishing on this song
48. Club Can't Hold Me- Flo Rida

Thursday, October 22, 2015

When the student becomes the teacher

Those who have followed my blog for a while know that my friend Leo and I often race together.  We have been doing it for close to 10 years.  But not many people know the true story of how it all started.  We became friends as a result of being neighbors.  However, Leo used to smoke, and I would refuse to hang out with him when he smoked.  This led to some weird nights where Leo would go outside to smoke and leave me at the bar.  Finally, I said to him that if we were going to hang out, then he would have to stop smoking.  He reluctantly agreed.  But over time he started to get healthier and began to run.  At first it was just a mile or so, but it ultimately we did our first Half Marathon together in Baltimore, and have built on it for the past 10 years.  Over time, it has been half marathons, marathon, triathlons, etc

That is a very general synopsis of our race history.  Why is that important, really it's not.  But to say how impressed I am with him is an understatement.  Leo basically turned his life around and is (almost) just as active as me.

Now Leo has become the teacher.  He has taken my lead and next week he is running the NYC Marathon for the 2nd time (maybe 3rd, I can't remember). But this year will be completely different.  He now is running with a friend from college for his first marathon.  Leo has taken everything that I have taught him and is using it to help coach his buddy.  In fact, Leo is taking it a step further and running the entire race at his friends pace.  Something that I have never done with Leo.  It takes a lot to slow down and run at someone else's pace, but Leo understands the importance of making sure his friend gets the training he needs, and that he enjoys his first NYC Marathon experience.

As a result of this great thing Leo is doing, Mizuno got hold of his story and is sponsoring both Leo and his friend for the marathon experience.  Leo has always asked me about my partnerships, but now he has this great opportunity as well.  Leo and his friend, Doug get to see what it's like to be pampered throughout race week.  Much like I did for Timex last year, they are filming spots of them running in NY, getting free shoes/gear, having a nice pre-race dinner, and some more great things.

Since, I feel like a proud papa, I wanted to help share Leo's story and experience this week.  I'll continue to post his link over the week leading up to the race and show his progress, pictures, videos, etc.  Though I am a proud Skora users and will be wearing them for my NYC Marathon (and for every run that I will ever do), this is Leo's first experience of getting some type of sponsorship, so I want share his excitement as well

Great job Leo.

Full video of Leo's journey

Nice shot of Leo's leg's and new Mizuno shoes

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

It's been 5 years

This post is a little premature by a few days, but this Friday is my 5 year wedding anniversary with the wife.  Usually my posts are about training, racing, products, or random things, but the truth of the matter is that none of it would be possibly without the support (cough, cough, most of the time), from the wife.

A little background on us is we actually met when she was 12 and I was 13.  I was her first slow dance ever, and I was actually her junior prom date back in high school.  She will admit that she had a huge crush on me throughout high school, so I like to remind her every once in a while that not many girls get to marry the man of their dreams, or at least their high school crushes.  We never dated back then, but we reconnected after about 15 years of not seeing each other and dated for about 2 years before tying the knot.  What's cool is that we have pictures from her junior prom (which there is no way I will post) and also have pictures from our wedding.  It happens to be a very nice full circle.

There are very few people in this world that can put up with me.  I tend to have a lot of moods, keep to myself, have little desire to socialize except for during racing/training, so the fact that we have been together for this long is pretty amazing.  The wife definitely puts up with a lot of crap and while I am not an emotional or affectionate person, she definitely deserves some type of award.  She is the one who allows me to travel for both work and racing, put the long hours in on the asphalt, and recognizes when I need to get out and just run to calm me down.

There have been some rough patches over the 5 years, but there has never been any between us.  Every couple fights, but we have limited ours to the most stupid things that are insignificant in reality.  I can't think of any drag it out, no holds barred, punches being thrown fits that we have had which is quite amazing if you know both of us.  We are both strong opinionated people, so the fact that we can somehow make it work is special.

The wife has taken care of Thunder when I travel for work, and has given me Riley, so life seems pretty good. And without her support, I could never have become the TriRunningDad so this anniversary is for her.  What seems to be very coincidental is that the 5 year anniversary present is considered the "wood" anniversary.  I'm going to use the fact that I bought her a house this year, and cash in that the house has wood as her present.  I think it definitely counts.

To the wife, thank you for the past 5 years, and looking forward to many more.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

HoneyMaxx New Flavor

It's new and it's taaaaasty
It is very rare that I can get excited about a gel flavor, drink mix, electrolyte supplement, or anything that I ingest for the sole purpose of my training.  However, that is exactly what happened within the past 2 months.  My take is that since we eat and take in all of these things for fuel and calories, they really aren't all that exciting to begin with.  Most gels taste roughly the same so it's really just a matter of what consistency you like or what agrees with your system during training and race day. And with the exception of a few drink/electrolyte supplements, every product is identical.  But HoneyMaxx has released their new flavor and I am super stoked that I got my hands on it.

Like I do with a lot of my reviews, I give the disclosure that I am not paid by any company and I typically pay for the products that I review.  I am a product Ambassador for HoneyMaxx and have been using their products exclusively for the past 2-3 years.  I'm proud to work with such a great company and race in their gear.  With that being said, it is my responsibility to be honest with my reviews and if I don't like something about their product, I will not hide my opinions.  The team at HoneyMaxx has not asked me to be positive just to be positive, which is something I respect about them.  They want their customers to be just as happy with their products as I am with mine.

So what is this new flavor?  It is HoneyMaxx Pomegranate Acai Blueberry.  Yes, that's a mouthful to say, but it is even a better mouthful to taste.  I have always grown up drinking and preferring some kind of Lemon-Lime flavor for my drinks, probably because it is the most common.  It is what I have been racing with for years, so I was hesitant to try something new, especially something so drastic as Pomegranate Acai Blueberry.  But part of the perks of being an ambassador is I get to try new flavors out.  In this case, because I was racing and didn't want to interrupt my training weeks before a race, I only got to stare at the bag of mix without trying it for weeks.  It was sitting in my training section of my house and I kept walking by it and wishing I could taste it.  Once my triathlon season was over, I ripped open the bag and mixed me a nice electrolyte cocktail.

So how does it taste? Different, good, clearer, tasty all are words that come to mind.  Let me explain a little.  If you have ever tried HoneyMaxx Lemon/Lime or Orange you know it has a great taste.  The taste builds as time goes on, but there is definitely a Honey tinge that you goes through your mouth. Obviously it's because of the main ingredient being honey.  The flavor isn't in your face obnoxious like most drink mixes and anyone who I have met who has tried HoneyMaxx is instantly converted because it is so much better than anything on the market.

Pomegrante Acai Blueberry is a very different and unique flavor to the sport drink market.  I can't think of anything that can compare so if you want something different, this is worth a try.  With so many boring flavors out there, it's nice to spice it up a little.

When mixing the flavor with water and taking my first few sips, I couldn't believe how clean this tasted.  Maybe I was expecting more of a kick in the face from the 3 flavors, but it wasn't like this at all.  Each one of the ingredients complimented each other but not over the top.  They were all very subtle individually, but collectively they all blend perfectly.  I wish I could come up with a better word to describe but as I sit here and write this, I'm drinking a glass of HoneyMaxx Pomegrante Acai Blueberry for fun, and clean still is the best word.  You just know what I mean when you drink this.  The taste is smooth, crisp, while being more drinkable than you can imagine.

The makers at HoneyMaxx have also fixed the "problem" of having the mix not dissolve easily.  I've often had to let my HoneyMaxx 1.0 sit overnight to dissolve, but with the Pomegranate Acai Blueberry flavor, they have incorporated the 2.0 mixture so once you mix it with water, it dissolves and you instantly have your flavor. They also added 100 mg more sodium than in previous versions, which is a welcome addition to someone like me who has experienced cramping problems in hot conditions.

As a whole, I think the Pomegranate Acai Blueberry is a great addition into a market that doesn't have a lot of variety.  By infusing the market with a different flavor, our taste buds are able to break out of the norm during those long tedious workouts and enjoy a splash of something to invigorate us so we can push through those barriers.

Check out this great flavor, and the originals, plus a BRAND NEW WAFFLE that even I haven't been able to get my hands on yet.  Don't worry, I'll be just as excited for that.

Keep on pushing past those limits!

These long summer workouts have been fueled by some great products,
HoneyMaxx has kept me going. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Challenge Poconos Race Report

I've been slacking on the blogs and race reports this season, but I think it's been hard to keep up with everything going on with the move to the new house, the construction going on at the new house so the wife, Riley, Thunder, and I are living with my parents for 2 months (help me), and with training/racing, it's been so hard to sit down and put everything into words.

But my final triathlon of the season was last week at Challenge Poconos.  I was originally signed up for the Half, but over the course of this year (and it started last year), I realized that I really enjoy shorter races compared to longer races, so I switched to the Olympic.  I have always wanted to race this course, from the time it was the Ironman race to last year when it was Rev3, to this year when it was Challenge.  It's close to my house, I used to snowboard in the region, they have a Nascar race in the region, and it is naturally a beautiful area.  So this year, Leo and I signed up and headed out last weekend.

In my experience, Challenge/Rev3 always puts on a great race.  They care about the experience and not just about making money.  I'm always disappointed when it comes to the race expo, but overall, its a pretty good experience.

Practice Swim with some Cobb Mobb gear
Leo and I got there Saturday in time for the practice swim and bike check.  I'll get to the swim course later, but the Expo/packet pick up/Bike check was a total cluster f%&ck.  They were in 2 different locations and trying to find parking at either was horrible.  It took hours to get from one to the other.  But we made our way to the practice swim and had some fun.

After that, we headed out for some dinner and an early bedtime.

Race Morning:
Getting to the race was a little logistical nightmare.  Since there wasn't a lot of parking near the venue, we had to park in the ski resort and they bused us to the transition area.  Not a big thing, but kind of annoying having to deal with it race morning.

Finally at transition, we checked our gear in, and I got to see an old friend who I went to high school with.  It was nice to catch up and spend some time talking.  We have been speaking for a while now since I've gotten him to use HoneyMaxx, Rudy Glasses, Fusion Gear, so I'm glad to see someone likes my recommendations.

Once we were ready to go, they Half athletes were getting under way, and the Olympic athletes were started a little while later.

The swim course was both good and bad.  The course went about .5 miles AGAINST the current, which sucked, no wait, it SUUUUUUCKED.  It was like swimming through quicksand.  What also happened was I got punched in the face twice.  I have never been punched in the nose during a race.  We all kicked, claw, scratch, etc, but I got a direct punched in the nose to where I had to stopped and check to see if I broke my nose and was bleeding.  Even the kayakers asked me if I was ok.  I was, so I went after it.
At the turn buoy, we finally went with the current. WHOA this pace changed.  I was flying.  Every stroke felt like I was being propelled through the water.  The about halfway through the return swim, the water got shallow and there was a wall of seaweed.  We all had to stopped and figure out a way to get through it.  It was crazy, but it hurt all of us and not just me.
Finally through the wall of seaweed, I got to shore and started my run through to transition picking off a lot of people.  What sucked was I lost my goggles on the run.  Boo, these have been with me for 2 seasons and I really liked them.
Swim: 30 minutes- not great but I was 8th in AG so the currents effected everyone so I don't care about time.

Having driven the course the day before, I knew what to expect.  The first 4 miles were uphills, and the next miles were easy rolling hills.  I grabbed my bike and headed out on the course.  I actually strapped my GoPro to my aero bars and filmed the entire bike course, so I'll upload my videos in a bit.

I didn't mind the hills of the first few miles, but the roads weren't paved so my arms were vibrating so much it hurt.  They closed the roads so it was great to open roads to go after everyone.  I found a guy who was riding about my pace and we worked together to pick off the field.  We were doing it legally, which was good because we saw a group of 4 in front of us get penalties for pack riding (more on that later).

The course was very scenic and fun to ride.  Nice rolling hills, but flat enough to really push the pace. Nothing special, which in my opinion was a good thing, so I got back to transition and was ready to roll.

Bike: 1:08- happy for the most part.  Probably would have liked a few minutes less, but I'm good with it.

I figured I was about in 6th in AG after the bike since I saw people in front of me on the bike on the turn around so I knew I had a chance to pick some racers off.  I was ready to go.

I also had my fathers GoPro in my tri kit so I was going to take some pics of me on the course, which I was excited for.

I guess I never learn from my mistakes.  About 1/2 mile into my run feeling good, my left hamstring cramped up.  Bad! I couldn't move.  It was the same exact thing that happened at the Great Six Flags Triathlon in May.  I was feeling good, in contention and boom, a huge knot forms in my leg.

Trying to take a pic on the run
So I was forced to rest on a tree and watch my competition go by while I'm just sitting there for about 3-4 minutes massaging the cramp out.

Finally after kneading the knot out, I got back on my imaginary horse and went to work.  My legs felt great and I picked up the pace to hit miles of 6:16, 6:21, 6:19, and 6:24.  I kept passing everyone who passed me while I was stopped and they were all shocked and how I recovered so well.

Just some (blurry) shots of awesome scenery
For some reason, I thought there was a chance I could still get on the podium, even after me stopping.  I kept passing everyone and noticing the ages on people's calves, and no one was in my age group.  So I sucked it up and gave it one last push.  I caught one runner about 1/2 mile from the finish and realized I couldn't get anyone else so I coasted in while taking a few pictures of me in the finishers shoot.

Run: 45 minutes- great run except for the 3-4 minutes I was stopped on the road

Post Race: 
I waited for Leo and my high school friend to cross the finish line and hung out. Due to them not opening transition for close to 3 hours, Yes, that's right, 3 freaking hours, after I crossed the finish line, there was nothing to do but wait.  This really needs to be fixed for next year's race.  It was so boring, nothing to do, and we then had to wait for shuttles to take us to our cars, then drive to the bikes, and this took a while because the roads were closed.

As the awards ceremony started, I said to Leo, if I lose out on AG podium by 3 minutes or less, I'm going to be pissed.  As my Age Group came, 3rd place podium was 62 seconds in front of me.  62 damn seconds.  Which meant I would have been up there sans cramp.  I was pissed.  I stewed for a good hour after that, and then kept checking the results and found out that the 3rd place AG was actually one of those who got a 2 minute penalty, so he really beat me by 3-4 minutes (though I saw him get the penalty and didn't really think he deserved it).  But knowing he beat me by that time, it helped ease some frustration because even though it would have come down to a sprint finish, at least I know he wasn't as close as I thought.

All in all, the race was great.  I think the transition, bike gear check, bike pick up, and timing could definitely be improved upon for next year, this race is one that I will likely do again.  I loved the course, I loved the atmosphere, as Challenge always puts on a great race.

Now that Triathlon season is over, it's Marathon season.  Let's get running people.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Finding that inner motivation

Over the past few weeks, it has been hard to find that motivation to fight the pain within and push through some of the harder workouts.  With moving into the new house and getting everything in order, and really not having an "A" race anymore, there just seems to be that inner conflict of pushing through those tough parts of the workouts that make you stronger.

Ever since last year, I started to realize that I enjoy shorter races a lot more, so I change my "A" race in August of the Challenge Pocono Half to the Olympic.  As a result, I'm already at the fitness level that I need to do well there, so it really is fine tuning my workouts for that race.  With Alcatraz being over, I'm ahead of where I need to be so trying to spend more time on the roads than I have to in order of building my base fitness is just something that I haven't been able to accomplish.  I'm finding that instead of running 14 miles, I'll cut it short to 9-10 miles, or spending an hour and half on the trainer instead of the 2 plus hours.  While this isn't a horrible thing, especially since the distance for an Olympic race is shorter than that, it's more of me not having that inner voice telling me to push myself.

I've always prided myself and making the most out of my workouts and pushing as hard as I can, but now when a hard part of the workout comes, I start to dread it instead of looking forward to it.  I always love going up hills knowing that they will make me stronger.  I'm starting to find routes that avoid the hills.

It could be the heat of the summer, it could be knowing that my fitness is relatively where it should be, or it could be something that I can't put my finger on, but I need to get on it and quick.  Pushing through the pain is a good thing to me, so I want to make sure that I get that part of my training back.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Finding new running routes

A few weeks/months ago, I wrote about how the wife and I bought a house and are moving out of NYC.  Well, that day came about 2 weeks ago and we are now living in our new house.  While there is plenty to get excited about, one thing that I am most freaked out about is now I have to find new running routes for all of my workouts.  Most people love to go and find new routes and explore, but I am the exception.

For over 11 years, Central Park in NYC has been my "home course".  I did the math and figured out that I have done over 2000 training runs there, 50 plus races, 2 marathon finishes in the park, a few triathlon/duathlon finishes in the park.  What this means is that I knew every step of that park and every way I could possibly train.  My training was dialed in for that day specifically and I knew exactly what I needed to do and how I can customize my route.  Now, I need to find new routes near our house.  Not exactly something I'm looking forward to.

I have been out on 5 runs since moving in to the house.  Not knowing the landscape, it has been a true try and find approach.  For example, my street is at the bottom of a hill, so that automatically means that every single run that I go on starts with a pretty decent uphill.  Bad for a warmup and first mile of a run and also not great for the finishing mile since it's all downhill.

Also, now I have to deal with streetlights, stop signs, cars, and pretty much what everybody has already figured out how to deal with over the years.  But this is all new to me.  Central Park is closed to traffic, has no lights that runners have to abide by and once you start, you don't have to stop unless you want to.  Now, I have to deal with all of this constantly.

Let me say that when on vacation or in new areas, I really do love to run and explore.  It's great to see a new place, see the views, get a feel of the culture.  But when I have to rely on all of these things for structured training, I think it's going to take a long time to get used to.  I said to the wife the other day that I just need to find my "go to" route.  Meaning the route that I can do whenever I need to get a run in, or if I need to judge my fitness.  Whether it be 5-6 miles, or 10 or whatever it is.  I need to have a fall back route that I can go to whenever I need it.  Because right now, it's just explore and find, and I'm not liking it.

It's funny what runners consider problems when compared to the other things going on in this world.

Friday, June 12, 2015

I Escaped From Alcatraz...barely

This past weekend was my "A" race for the year.  Well, kind of.  I thought it would be, but looking back, I probably could have done more considering it was my "A" race.  Either way, over the past weekend, I Escaped From Alcatraz.  At least I tried to.

Escape from Alcatraz is one of the bucket list races for every triathlete.  The fact that we swim from the fabled island of Alcatraz is something that every triathlete wants to do.  This year it was the 35th year of the race and I somehow got into the lottery back in October.  Given how hard it is to get into the lottery, I figured there was no way I was going to turn down this chance to race the course.

Being stupid and jumping in to the water with no wetsuit for a practice swim
So last Friday, the wife and I packed up and flew across the country to San Francisco for the weekend.  After spending Friday walking around and site seeing, Saturday brought a practice swim in the Aquatic Park and then race check in.  Swimming in the Aquatic Park was a necessary evil.  The water temps was 52 degrees so I wanted to see how cold it was going to be the next day.  Yeah, um, it was cold.  Like cold that I couldn't feel my hands.  After 10 minutes thought, everything was numb enough that I enjoyed the swim.

The race expo was a big long disappointment.  I thought with how big this race is that there would be more there but only a few exhibitors and it took 2 hours to wait on a line to sign 4 waivers that I wouldn't die by getting eaten by a shark, freezing to death, piss off a seal, or have my sperm count lowered permanently and everything in between.  I planned it so that I would be there for the race meeting which also turned out to be a let down.  Given the difficulty of the course, I wanted there to be more explanation on how to navigate the swim/bike and what to expect.  All I got was "watch the videos on the website", which I have done countless times.

After the expo, it was time to have dinner and get some sleep.

Race Morning:
Waking up at 4am is not fun.  But that's whats required to get to transition, to get on a bus, to get on the ferry, to wait.  I set my transition up pretty quickly and got to the ferry about 530 am.  So I settled in my seat on the floor, made some friends and hung out for the next 2 hours.  Its amazing to hear stories from other athletes. What is also cool is that most of the pro's hang out in the common folk section so we get to talk to them and hear what they have to say.  I had a chance to sit with Andy Potts who was looking to go after his 8th win.  It was also pretty cool we were wearing the same exact race kit.

At about 7/7:15 they start making announcements about the start so it was time to get my wetsuit on and get ready for the start of the swim.  Once 7:30 came around, it was go time.  There is no hesitation at all.  Gun goes off and they shoo all athletes off the boat.  Over 2000 athletes are off that boat in less than 6 minutes so it's a free for all and if you are scared to jump off the boat, you get pushed so you better do it yourself so you can at least expect when to go.   Looking down at how deep the the water is from the boat, I thought it would be worse.  So at least those fears were quelled once I got outside the boat.  I got out on the boat deck and was ready to jump.

Once on the boat deck, you have about 6 seconds to jump before either someone pushed you aside or fear gets in the way.  I waited for neither and when I saw clear space in the water, I went for it.  The good news is that it wasn't as cold as I thought.  Nice.  One thing went my way. That's about it for the swim.

Knowing swimming isn't my strength I just wanted to get through it and thought the current was going to help.  We are told to site at a few landmarks, but it was so foggy that it was hard to do.  I finally got my bearings and my first landmark and started to go.  The first few minutes were great.  I had a great rhythm and thought this might be my day.  Then I just had no idea what to do. I lost my sighting, realized this is a long swim, and didn't think I was going to finish it.  I had a panic attack without the attack.  I never thought I was in danger, but I kept wanting to stop.  I would swim for a few minutes, stop and tread water, think I couldn't finish and then start up again.  But I kept saying this is not a race I want to DNF on.

The one question a lot of athletes have in the swim is when to move on to the next site marker.  I had no idea so I was going after my first one for probably too long before changing my direction to the next one.  This probably cost me a few minutes but that didn't matter.  My swim sucked regardless.

I really thought I was going to DNF but I finally got my wits about me and made it to shore.  It's a half a mile run to transition area and I couldn't be more thankful for that.

Swim: 44 minutes.  Horrible.  Nothing positive to say about this.  This could and should have been 10 minutes faster.  No excuses but I really need to improve my swim.

Grabbing my stead and heading out to the bike
(in the far right in the white/yellow speed suit)
I got on my bike and just went.  I knew I had a serious deficit to make up but I also knew this was a tough and hilly course.  Once on the bike, I was going after it.  Surprisingly, the hills didn't bother me at all.  Maybe it was because I was behind so many people that I kept passing everyone who I am naturally faster than.  I thought the hills were going to be hard, but I was rocking them.  This really impressed me as it shows that my bike training paid off.  I was killing the hills and so happy on the bike.

What goes up, must come down.  San Francisco is not a flat town, so these huge ass hills I was going up, I had to come down.  Usually not a problem, but they were some steep hills and technical turns on them.  Let me say that I have NEVER been so scared on a bike before in my life.  EVER. not after my crash 2 years ago, not any time.  People were bombing down these hills at like 40 plus miles per hour.  I was not comfortable with this but in order to not get run over, I had to do this.

It's weird that I was looking forward to going up hills since I knew I could pass people, but I also knew I would be the most safe.

After 16 miles, the course became flat again and I made my way back to T2.
I saw the wife as I was entering T2 and she said I rocked the bike course.

Very happy after coming back form that rough bike course
Bike: 57 minutes

This is the only part of the race I enjoyed.  The run was just awesome.  You get some amazing views on the run.  Like the bike, it was extremely hilly, but I loved the hills and they didn't bother me either.   At the 1 mile mark, I saw Andy Potts running with the eventual winner Eric Lagerstorm and that was cool.  A few minutes later I saw Lauren Goss (my triathlete crush) and Miranda Carafree in the 2nd and 3rd positions on their way back in.

The only part of the race I actually enjoyed
The run course takes you on streets, trail, stairs, steps, beach and the infamous sand ladder.

I was cruising on the run.  I felt good and was pushing the pace.  The only thing looking back on is I probably could have pushed a little harder but not knowing the course, I didn't want to bonk so I stayed within a good zone.

After running on the beach under the Golden Gate Bridge, you get to the Sand Ladder, which is a 400 step ladder consisting of, you guessed it, sand.  Everyone is told to walk it, but I tried to do my best to run it.  The problem with being so far back is there were so many people on the ladder when I got there that it was hard to pass people.  I did my best and ran and walked the ladder.  After living in NYC, it wasn't as bad as I thought.

After the sand ladder, its basically 2 miles of downhills and flats to bring you home.  I really enjoyed this part and found myself running with another racer until I pulled away with about 3/4 miles left.

Coming into the finishers chute, I couldn't be more happy this race was over.

Run 54 minutes (including the sand ladder)

Total Race time: 2:44- goal was 2:30-2:35, so if I had a decent and normal swim I would have hit my goal

Overall thoughts:
This race was supposed to be enjoyable, but with me being miserable during the swim and the bike and scared on my bike, this was a total let down for me.  I thought I could do well, I thought it would be great, but all I wanted it to be is over.

I do recommend that anyone who wants to do this race should try and get in.  its a once and a lifetime event, and though I didn't enjoy it, I am glad that I got the opportunity to do it.  Swimming from Alcatraz was cool even if I hated it.  Not many people get to say that they did that.
Post race pic
Now that I survived Alcatraz, the wife and I are heading to Napa and Sonoma to enjoy some time off and drink this race away.
Enjoying some relaxation after a long race weekend

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?

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.

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

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

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

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.

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

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?