Thursday, November 20, 2014

Blue Shoes

The back of my Land Rover looks like a mobile running store. I have three canvas bins that have run gear, tri gear, and an overflowing supply of running shoes. I can almost always piece together a complete ensemble to go out for an impromptu run and always have additional layers for colder weather. For the second time since my accident in July, I was going to attempt some speed work inside. Don't be a treadmill hater--the temps were crazy low, and I'm not about to take a spill on the ice with a set of ribs not quite healed. Nevertheless, I got to the gym with a set of clothes I'd packed in my gym bag along with come Generation UCAN to fuel my run. All set, or so I thought.

At the gym, I started to change into my run gear, and realize I had no run shoes in my bag. I have forgot run socks before and improvised with black dress socks, but you can't substitute run shoes. In this case, it's a good thing I have a mobile running store out in the parking lot. I head outside and sort through what shoe matches the workout I was thinking of. I have at least a dozen pairs of running shoes; some with worn tread, some for long distance, some for speed, and some race flats. My most everyday "go to" pair of shoes lately are the Adidas Energy Boost shoes--I love them, but both pairs were at home. I pull out a pair of Adidas Adios Energy Boost shoes--built for speed.

As I start putting the shoes on inside the symbolism hits me. The last time I pulled these out of my bag was for a race, but they never made it on my feet. They were lined up on my towel in the transition area of the Rocky Mountain State Games. Yes, that race where I made it out of the water, onto the bike, and crashed so hard it sent me to the hospital. The only other time I'd worn them in a race was earlier that month at a 4th of July 5k. That was a much better day as I came in second in my age group.

Perhaps with a mixed set of emotions, I strapped them on for my speed work. This week was four months from the crash and I've only really been running for the last few weeks. Baby steps. After a two mile warm-up, I decided on Yasso intervals. In later stages of normal training, I would do eight to ten 1/2 mile Yasso intervals. Today, I was thinking 4-5 and mustered only four. While the time on my feet running has progressed and my heart rate has stabilized a bit on running in a 9:12 per minute pace, running fast is just not there. Interval paces wound up being; 6:30, 6:15, 6:30, and 6:15. I probably could pushed a bit faster or tried another 1/2 mile, but my conditioning is just not there yet. Four months earlier, I could do several of these and was pushing myself well below a 6:00 per mile pace. At times, I was critical of my performance on this day and frustrated that I was so winded. Then I remembered that the crash collapsed one of those lungs, and I spent eleven days in the hospital.

"DON'T BE SO HARD ON YOURSELF,!," I mentally muttered to myself.

The ribs are not entirely healed and a dull pain still radiates along my right rib cage up to my right shoulder which was separated. The good news is that I have been diligent with my physical therapy at Steadman Hawkins. I still go there once a week, and have daily exercises I perform religiously. My P.T, John, has me now doing six different band exercises and planks. When I first went in, my right scapula "floated" around my back. This last Monday, he told me he was impressed with my progress and added in some plyometrics catching a weight ball and flinging it back. I cringed when he told me what we were going to do, but my shoulder was able to handle it. Progress!

Anyhow, next week is Thanksgiving, and I've got mixed emotions about my normal ritual of racing in the local 5K. Race is probably the wrong word to use. We shall see if my stubborn competitive self can strap on the blue shoes and try and "run" the 5k versus "racing it."

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Like a Glove: Eddie Bauer Run Gear Review

Everyone owns a little bit of Eddie Bauer. A shirt, winter jacket, or a pair of gloves in the hall closet. For me, there's a duffle bag that's been all over the world and a pair of gloves that are guaranteed for warmth. Eddie Bauer is known for quality and durability, but they've never been a place I'd shop for my run gear...until now.

Eddie Bauer is now marketing their First Ascent line for running.  Many of the qualities I would expect are found in three products I recently tested. Being based in Colorado and entering the cold part of the season, there are many long runs ahead as I start training in December for my fifth Boston Marathon in April. I have a love-hate relationship with the elements. A light rain is nice on a warm day, but a downpour in a race is not fun. Light snowfall can be a religious experience, but sub-zero temperatures combined with wind will tempt your faith.

I tried out three products in the Eddie Bauer line. A 1/4-zip pullover shirt, Hangfire Pro Hooded Jacket, and Men's Touchscreen FluxPro Gloves.

Pullover Shirt

The Ascent 1/4-zip pullover shirt as they say, "fits like a glove." I normally wear a large-sized shirt in a dress shirt, but when I'm running, I don't like a fit too tight, or too "blousy" either. Too tight combined with the wrong seam can literally rub you the wrong way over a twenty mile training run
1/4-zip pullover shirt
or race. No pun intended, this has an "athletic fit" and was extremely comfortable. Eddie Bauer states, "Next-to-skin crew features exclusive FreeHeat™ Pro polyester/spandex. The cutting-edge fabric actively generates additional heat when worn against the skin by harnessing kinetic ultraviolet energy." Silky smooth, this is one comfortable long-sleeve shirt that will get a lot of miles this winter.

Additionally, the shirt features

FREEDRY™ ADVANCED MOISTURE MANAGEMENT. Wicks moisture. Dries faster.
MODIFIED RAGLAN SLEEVES. Excellent range of motion
STRATEGICALLY PLACED SEAMS. Prevent chafing when layering or running long

And two of my favorite features in a winter long-sleeve shirt; thumb holes and a mock-turtleneck zipper to keep the neck warm.

Hangfire Pro Hooded Jacket

I wrote a post awhile back called the "Sore Nipple Calculator." In that post, I summarized what type of clothing I'd need based on the weather forecast for the run. I have gone "long" in Colorado in blinding snow and single digit temperatures. When it gets that cold, you need a good shell jacket.
Hangfire jacket, 2014 Boston Marathon Cap, Fluxpro gloves, Adidas Energy Boost, and Oakley Sunglasses.

The Hangfire jacket sports many of the same features as the 1/4-zip pullover; soft, breathable fabric with extra attention to detail on seams, a drawstring hood that works, thumb holes, and an iPod eyelet inside the chest pocket. Additionally, the jacket boasts;

Ultralight Flexion four-way stretch performance shell of nylon/spandex/polyester offers superior flexibility and breathability, and is wind- and water-resistant. StormRepel® durable water-repellent (DWR) finish beads water so it doesn't soak into the fabric. Streamlined design eliminates bulk while allowing full range of motion.

Depending on the weather, I will opt for race hat, light wool cap, or heavy wool for my head. When weather turns during a run, it's nice to have a jacket with the hood to add a few more degrees of warmth, or to protect the head when precipitation starts to fall.

Men's Touchscreen FluxPro Gloves

Back to my point of the "Sore Nipple Calculator," I currently have various weights of gloves I use depending on how cold it is outside. The Eddie Bauer Men's Touchscreen FluxPro Gloves are crazy comfortable and feature a fully-conductive palm fabric that has a grip you would expect on a pair of NFL receiver gloves. Taking the above picture in Roxborough State Park in Denver, the snow was falling lightly and temperatures dipped to 14 degrees. The touchscreen gloves actually worked when navigating my phone to capture the pictures--many gloves boast this claim, but these worked with the phone without having to remove them.

As I write this post, the trees outside my window have turned crimson red and and golden and have started to Fall. Temperatures are in the teens and expected to go lower. The mornings are getting cold, but I've got a few more tricks in my bag to keep me warm on my way to the Boston Marathon.

Note: The products above were provided for review. There's no compensation for this post other than the words above. As always, I will tell you whether I like the product or not. In this case, very impressed. If you doubt this disclaimer, you clearly didn't read my review of Nike's latest Gyakusou.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Three Things Thursday

I'm starting to feel like a broken record. Slow going on the recovery, but depends on whether you view the glass as half full or half empty. A few thoughts on a gorgeous autumn day in Colorado.

Speed

I've now had a few runs in my rehabilitation since my accident in July. I have yet to really open up the carburetor...until this week. When I'm in training, which is most of the year, I spend 1-2 days a week with an aggressive run with Tuesday or Wednesday as a speed day. Perhaps a bit too early, but I tried a few intervals indoors this week with my typical routine; warm-up two miles, strides and drills, intervals, and a cooldown. I wound up with two 800's, 400, and a 300 ranging in pace from 6:15-6:30 minute per mile pace. While those numbers may sound encouraging, I left the gym a bit discouraged knowing that pre-accident, I was running 800's comfortably at a 5:30 or faster pace. My lungs just aren't there yet.  Some big video of the strides in the gym.



Good Mail Week

A boost to my running mojo this week did come in the mail with my Confirmation of Acceptance
into the 2015 Boston Marathon. Oh happy day, and oh panic day. This means I have another month to build some level of conditioning to formally start my typical 16 week program sometime mid-December. #gulp

Question of the Week

This was a good one from a reader who asked me, I haven't trained for my upcoming marathon, and the furthest I've run is 13 miles, I need some "professional advice." My answer was you made two mistakes, not training, and using me and professional advice in the same sentence. I am not a coach nor do I claim to be (but I do play one on T.V.)

After giving it some thought, I DM'd my email and plan to talk by phone. My thoughts are;

1) This is not recommended.
2) How much did you pay? Can you defer (probably the best answer.)
3) When was the last time you ran 20 miles? (I think I know the answer.)

Regardless of the answers, you certainly can't "RACE" this marathon or have any speedy goals. Having said that, we have all seen marathon runners who come in at the five hour mark or slower. Some I've seen don't look like they've trained at all yet finished. I think it is possible if you slow it WAAAY down close to a walk. Take a bunch of pictures along the way, and insert plenty of walk breaks.

How would you answer the question?


Friday, October 31, 2014

How Far I've Come in Fifteen Weeks

A look at how far I've come since my triathlon accident ended my 2014 race season and put my quest for the 2015 Boston Marathon in jeopardy. 

By the numbers.

7-19-14: Triathlon Accident
4: Broken Ribs
3: completely fractured ribs
1: Collapsed Lung
1: Separated shoulder & torn Labrum
11: Days in the Hospital
2: Days I thought I would be in the hospital
50%: Blood oxygen level Sun. Night in the hospital
80%: Blood oxygen level considered dangerous.
3: Days in ICU
6: Pain Killer refills
1.5: Average number of hours of sleep WITH painkillers in the first month home.
54: Days without a run outdoors from the date of my accident
2009: Last time I took more than 54 days off from running.
30: Days I thought it would take to resume training.
10-29-14: 4 Mile Run.
9:00: Minute per mile pace
7:30: 1/2 mile interval pace inserted mile 3-3.5. An ambitious marathon goal pace considering I have no lungs at the moment.
20: mins. of Strength Work
170: Days until I run the 2015 Boston Marathon.
0: Regrets (other than taking a different angle on that downhill corner in my last triathlon.)


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I Outran A Security Guard

Things are picking up for me. This week I outran a security guard. I'm no longer limited to out-walking the walkers in my neighborhood.

Overall, this was a fantastic week. On the work front, I headed to Kansas City for meetings. Most of my work trips are booked last minute and this was no different other than the fact that I couldn't figure out why I couldn't get flights in and out of KC which is normally pretty easy. Oh yes...a little thing called the World Series was going on. This meant an extra night in the land of barbeque, but I decided to take advantage of it.

My brother passed away this last July and his wife was still obviously grieving over the loss of her husband. She also wanted to attend the Shawnee chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) as he was a happy and recovered alcoholic when he died. Linda wanted to bring a pie, but wasn't sure if she had the emotional strength to see his friends. I enjoyed a lovely dinner with her and the following meeting nearby.

There were some gut-wrenching stories including the man who spoke of drinking binges when ended with him literally in his closet while his young kids were in the other room. Heartbreaking and inspirational. Equally rewarding was the conversation over dinner with me as usual trying to insert some laughter to take tension out of the situation.

After a fantastic customer meeting, I had an extra day to work out of the hotel room. After a productive morning of calls, I decided to use my lunch hour to take in nearby Kauffman Stadium where the Kansas City Royals won game two the night before. The skies were overcast and the temperatures were cool. I thought this was perfect for trying my second outdoor run since my accident in July. I was in my second week of physical therapy on my separated shoulder which was building up strength, but also increasing the pain in the area. A little sore, but I didn't want to turn down the opportunity to run around the area--as they say, when in Rome...or when in Kansas City.

Aside from my passion for running, I am more than a bit of a sports nut so checking out the Royals' ballpark adjacent to Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium was a hoot as I'd never seen either park. With both stadiums in adjoining parking lots, it laid out a perfect non-traditional run route for a short run. I wound up running a mere three miles and ran it much faster than my ribs probably wanted me to running my first sub-eight minute miles since July. Perhaps Royals adrenaline, cool Fall weather temps with accompanying grey skies and gold and crimson leaves dotting the isolated roads around the stadiums.

There were plenty of breaks for selfies and snapshots of the area. I posted to Instagram my #InTheMoment pic. Ironically, on the heels of my Matthew McConaughey MKC commercial, Runner's World Magazine PR sent me a blogger promo for #InTheMoment. Post how you live in the moment and you can win a trip to New York City, San Francisco, or Chicago.
Moments before the security guard chased me off
#RoyalsRun

After my #InTheMoment selfie, I circled Arrowhead and spotted the Chiefs practice facility in the distance with a couple camera guys in the tower. Figuring they were practicing, I veered off that direction with nothing but a empty beer can and several hundred empty parking spots between us. As I approached, I saw a man get out of his car parked overlooking the practice going on. As I got closer, he looked like a Chiefs employee and he was looking my way. As I got even closer, I realized he was a security guard so I pulled out my headphones. His body language indicated he didn't like where I was headed especially with the Chiefs playing the the Rams on KC on Sunday. The conversation was brief, "you can't be here," he said. "I'm just a tourist," I said. It reminded me of the same time I got shooshed out of the Stanford Campus track field during practice. I ran fifteen feet away, stopped to snap just another selfie, just has he said, "you can't..." and I took off. "Try and catch me" I thought.

A great few days on the road and on the road to recovery.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Beauty and The Beast: Nike Gyakusou and Tracksmith Review

Winning the recent Chocolate Milk, Men's Health and Runner's World Magazine Recovery contest, I've had a $500 gift card for Nike burning a hole in my pocket. Considering I haven't been running due to injury, I haven't been in a huge rush to spend the money, but have been building a "Wish List" with the Nike
account I created. I have to be honest with you, I keep expecting to be dazzled by Nike, but I continue to be disappointed. The word "Fugly" comes to mind. That could be the other reason I haven't spent the five "Benjamin's." I keep wanting to convince myself that Nike with all their Beaverton connections and history with the first waffle iron running shoes has got products I'd be dying to spend my new good fortune on, but as McKayla would say, "not impressed." Don't get me wrong...there is some cool stuff to be found, but I don't know who's on the design team, but it's overpriced and in some cases, downright ugly.

I once again got my hopes up this morning when I saw that they had a new line, "Gyakusou" coming out. WOW! Cool name, but it also rhymes with "vomit suit."

Perhaps Mike Parker (Nike CEO) is overthinking it, his Fast Company "Most Creative CEO" moniker went to his head, or it's tough living in the shadows of Phil Knight. The Gyakusou running shorts sell for $130 and resemble a Hefty garbage
bag. The symbolism is stark. Like many of their products, they're extremely over-priced and in my humble opinion are downright ugly.

Keep clicking and keep looking and it doesn't get any better. the Gyakusou Four-Way Stretch Hoodie is an equal disaster. I can overlook that perhaps it's not meant for my demographic, but not sure the twenty something metrosexual will find this worth spending money on either. It looks like an Oompa Loompa men's speed-skating suit. No wonder the model to the right looks bored. No one will run with him. Not the look I was going for, and being "on the shelf" for three months due to injury, the skin-tight fit won't be flattering. I won't be spending my Nike dollars on Gyakusou.

Across the country, there's a small company called Tracksmith that is so hot that many of their products are sold out, and my subtle overtures to getting some swag to review or "do you have an ambassador program" are overlooked because they're too busy cranking out really cool retro running gear for men. Like Kara Goucher, my innocuous requests to bond over the social ecosphere have gone unanswered, but that's okay. With this weekend's football bet winnings (I don't condone betting, but I have to do something when everyone else is racing marathons) I have the Tracksmith "BQ Singlet" in my shopping cart. To purchase the BQ singlet, your name has to be on the 2015 Boston Marathon registered runner list. They have a similar one for the New York City Marathon.

Yes, a bit pretentious, but marketing brilliance. They earned my coin.  Equally expensive (their longboard shorts are $90 and the race shorts are $60) but if Mick Jagger ran marathons in the 60's, he would have worn this stuff instead of the garbage bags from Nike.

Yes, I just committed blog suicide by dissing Nike, but unlike Asics, they follow me on twitter and engage in conversations with mere mortal runners like you and me.

Like trying to get into a cool nightclub, I have to wait, after checking out, the just announced BQ Singlet is on backorder. Without speed work or warm weather right now, it's worth the wait.

"Twas beauty that killed the beast."

Thursday, October 16, 2014

MIKA

I was going through my briefcase today in my office looking for something. As a traveling sales guy my briefcase is a bit of a black hole with a collection of everything; aspirin, phone cables, even emergency sewing kit--you never know when you are going to "pop a button" an hour before a big presentation. I pulled out a tube of something that looked out of place. 
"Mystery" balm I discovered

It resembled something you would find in a woman's purse...some kind of lip balm with the words "lavender," "in your dreams" and "MIKA" in bold letters as the product name. I had no idea what it was or how it got there. I ask my wife who was sitting nearby if it was hers or knew what it was. It seemed like a cliché...a man asking his wife what a mysterious woman's item was doing there admitting innocence over an innocuous item. She informed me the "other woman" was my sister. 

My sister Kim is a nurse and spent many evenings visiting me the second half of July as I sat in my hospital bed writhing in pain. Daytime was rough enough but evenings in the hospital were more like a nightmare. Kim offered MIKA as stress relief and something that might calm me before I attempted a couple hours of narcotics-induced sleep. A gift of love and kindness. A smile came to my lips when I remembered getting the balm then and why I had it in my briefcase. It made me once again reflective of all the love and support I've received since my accident.
Day 1 of PT at Steadman Hawkins

It seemed to be a fitting symbol that got me to where I'm at in my recovery. I made great strides in the last week with my MRI diagnosis of a torn labrum, separated shoulder,  and "sick scapula." The later is not cool skateboarder lingo, but a term for "really jacked up" shoulder blade floating without the expected muscle structure and range of motion without pain. I have begun physical therapy at the world famous Steadman Hawkins clinic (hey...if it's good enough for Missy Franklin and John Elway, it's good
My first run since July
enough for me) to strengthen that area and felt strong enough to throw a mile and a half of running into my long walk on Saturday. I took it a step further and ran a full three miles yesterday. Yes, I RAN! Significant in that this was my first running since the middle of July. I ran the three miles at around a 9:40 pace and the lungs, ribs, and shoulder seemed okay. Far from my 5K PR pace of a 6:13 mile, but I was happy that my lungs could manage three miles a mere three months after my right lung collapsed. Yes, last night and today I was quite sore combining the running with the twice-a-day shoulder exercises. I'm certainly not ready for 5-6 days a week knocking out 50+ miles, but I'm thrilled to label myself a "runner" again versus a walker (not that there's anything wrong with walking.)

I will continue to take it slow in "ramping" this up and "listen to my body." Yes, it's stressful to not be where I was at in early July hitting the podium in my last run race over the 4th of July. Yes, it's stressful to watch the fall marathon results come in as I'm envious that I'm not out there. Stress? It's okay...I have MIKA.