Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Don't Call it a Comeback: Training Week in Review

Another video blog update from yours truly. For some reason, a good friend told me that I shouldn't call my comeback a comeback...perhaps because I never left, but I did. Regardless, here's my last week's training update from the video machine of Seeking Boston Marathon.

And don't forget, you can vote DAILY for me and my run buddy Liam in the Runner's World Cover Search contest HERE.
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Friday, May 13, 2016

Vote for Ty in the #RWCoverSearchContest

One of my online run buddies made it to the finals last year in the Runner's World Cover Search. I thought it was a novel idea to profile a mere mortal runner on the cover versus the usual elites (or models) that grace their publication. The stories of the finalists all had some inspirational tale. While there are some far-more interesting and deserving individuals, I figured, why not "make a run at it myself." My story is a bit unconventional as I was asked to create a hashtag to describe myself and I chose, #improbableBQrunner.  I also figured I would use it as a platform to talk about one of my run-related passions and that is the IRun4Michael organization. IR4 essentially matches up runners with individuals with typically severe health or disability issues who can't run. I've been matched up with Liam for a year now. Liam suffers from hydrocephalous, is blind, and has degenerative bone issues so he will never run. I run for Liam. My story about Liam and how you can become a run buddy is HERE.
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If you could, please take a moment today and vote for Liam (and I) in the Runner's World 2016 Cover Search Contest. You can vote HERE daily, and voting is open for another 68 days as of this writing. 

My bio as listed on Runner's World;

I like to consider myself the most unlikely of marathon runners. When I was thirteen, I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis—a form of arthritis. I was embarrassed to be the last kid that completed the lap around the baseball field. I put sports on hold for several years and even made fun (in jest) of my friends in high school on the cross country team. In 2000, I was going through some life changes and decided to “get in shape.” I found the treadmill in the gym and became addicted to fitness. With my (AS) under control, I quickly discovered that they had races for adults and got hooked. In 2007, I got the “bug” to try and qualify for the Boston Marathon. It became my passion and obsession. I finally qualified for Boston and ran in 2010 while raising money for Leukemia. I have also raised money for the Arthritis Foundation, and for lung cancer research. Feeling fortunate that I’m able to run, I’ve decided to “give back” and run for my buddy Liam through the Irun4Michael charity. Liam suffers from hydrocephalous, is blind, and has degenerative bone issues so he will never run. I run for Liam.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Mixed Emotions on My First 2016 Podium

I'm not even sure where to begin. Perhaps to start with a question, "is there ever an asterisk on a podium finish?"

Let's back up a minute. I realized last week that I hadn't pinned a bib to a singlet in nearly eight months. I literally kept counting the months on my hand thinking, "this can't be right." Sure enough, my last race was last September at the Highlands Ranch Half Marathon. That was supposed to be a tune-up race prior to the New York City Marathon on November 1, 2015. The foot stress fracture phone call a week before New York, put that and my foot on ice.

Since then; it's been the walking boot, the time off, the physical therapy, the strength work and lots of swimming and biking. Perhaps being somewhat superstitious, I've been a bit quiet about my "don't call it a comeback" with respect to running. I finally decided, I need to put my "big boy pants on" and "shake the rust off" with a 5k.

Start of the 2015 Girls on the Run 5k
In parallel, my college-aged daughter has started to run more and asked if we could run a race together. My answer was an emphatic "for sure!" We talked about doing the infamous Bolder Boulder Memorial weekend, but as usual, I was going to be out of town. We settled on the Girls on the Run 5k in Denver. Her sorority is one of the race and volunteer sponsors and she's helped out the last three years. Last year, I "crashed the party," and helped fill water cups in the rain for the race.

For starters, Girls on the Run is a fantastic organization promoting fitness and introducing run racing to (largely) young girls. Their mission is to "inspire girls to be joyful, healthy, and confident using a fun experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running."

Sounds perfect, but this is where the story breaks down a bit. Above-said daughter said she wasn't going to run this year, but volunteer again. Nevertheless, she lives out of town, and I wanted to see her. Her youngest brother needed a tune-up 5k for his upcoming triathlon season and his manager (aka Mom) signed him up for the Girls on the Run 5K Denver.

Son came in first, daughter and second place dad.
I debated back and forth between volunteering again, or racing with my son (and daughter handing me water from the water station.) I went to the race website the night before and the image of the race is inspiring, but there's a sea of young girls lined up for last year's race and ONE GUY with his fingers on his Garmin ready to bolt out of the start.

This is a good time to point out, I've tried to chose my words carefully writing this post without sounding like a complete jerk.

I decided to race based on the following; my daughter will be there, my son will be there, and I need to get over my fear of racing again. I figure all the right reasons and just go out and have fun. My son and I line up for the race and it looks just like the race website. Ton's of excited little girls; some racing with mom, or dad, or their volunteer coaches. This definitely (no offense intended at all) had the makings of a 5k run, not a 5k race. My son and I didn't even inch up to the front of the start leaving probably 50-75 young girls ahead of us.

Once the gun went off, I forgot it was a run, or that there were a lot of young girls perhaps racing for the first time. I careened off to the side and slowly moved to the front of the pack. There was definitely some rust as my breathing was off, I was sore, and overall felt pretty sluggish. My son jumped out front around the one mile mark and I slowly slid from sixth, to fifth, to third by mile 2.5-3. The other adult runner that was racing in the second spot missed a turn and ran straight through a row of cones.

I was thinking, forget that I'm beating 2,000 little girls, this might be the highest placement I've ever had in a race. In the last three tenths of a mile, the guy that wandered off, had caught back up to me and passed me. He was (in a playful manner,) looking behind and slowing down and speeding up taunting me a bit. At that point, my race adrenaline kicked in, and I sprinted the last stretch towards the finish. Like some kind of idiot, I leaped across the finish line mats. Perhaps I was thinking of the Kentucky Derby that would happen later that day. Red Zinger wins by a nose!

In the end, I forgot who I was racing against, and was happy to have crossed my first finish line in eight months. I'm hoping there was no video as I think I did the "washing machine" and "Charlie Brown" dance. No, I wasn't gloating about being faster than the largely young girl entrants, but thrilled that I ran a race again. Son came in first, dad came in second. My highest overall placement in a race with my slowest 5k time in a long time, but a near-perfect day.

Catch my BibRavePro review on BibRave HERE.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Travel Tips for Runners

My day job (no...it's not running,) takes me all over the world which presents some fantastic running opportunities. Who could forgot the local Moscowvites mumbling "Americano" as I ran through "Red Square." While there are many trips that present great opportunity, there's quite a few more that present challenges. With that, my VBLOG on "Travel Tips for Runners" including the five things I keep in my travel bag at all times.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Meme Motivation Monday: Ida Rocks at 100

Friday, April 22, 2016

Shades of Blue: XX2i Bermuda1 Sunglasses Product Review

"Disclaimer: I received a pair of XX2i Bermuda1 sunglasses  to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!"

I’ve talked about this before…one thing runners can’t have enough of are shoes and sunglasses. I’m tough on both. When I’m not losing sunglasses, I’m always on the lookout for what’s new. While I’m not the Imelda Marcos of sunglasses (in her case it was 1000’s of pairs of shoes,) I own probably nine pair of sunglasses. Most of them are for my run world. Some are for work or play, but it’s tough to find a pair that transcends across all aspects of my life.

My favorite new sunglasses company is lessor known XX2i Optics. Lessor known means you won't see them advertise during the Super Bowl (yet) but they are winning over athletes with their quality and value (as they are considerably less expensive than other well-known brands that have expensive marketing budgets that drive up the price of the product.)

I already own two pair that I use for running (USA1’s reviewed HERE.) They are light, have fantastic lenses, nose grips (for those long sweaty runs) and don’t slip on your face.

Last time I checked, the sun is shared everywhere around the world, but my hometown of Denver is not called the Mile High City for it’s liberal policies, but is indeed a mile high…and closer to the sun. We also sport more sunny days than most cities in the U.S. Native Coloradoans like everyone outside of Colorado to think it’s snowy and gloomy nine months out of the year to keep it all to ourselves. That combined with my history of sun damage means that I’m always wearing a hat and sunglasses when I run, and almost always in a pair of shades when I’m outside.

With that, I was able to test drive XX2i’s latest pair of sunglasses being launched with BibRave's twitter #Bibchat on April 26th at 9PM ET—the Bermuda1’s. Join the #bibchat and you can be the first to hear more about these new sunglasses, how to buy them, and their 50% off promotion!

Here is the info we received about the Bermuda1:
“As XX2i’s first casual model, the Bermuda1 is the ultimate go-to sunglass that goes easy on your wallet. Available in classic Matte Black, Matte Tortoise, White & Black, and Crystal Black, the Bermuda1 is the perfect accessory for adventure, whether that be a trip to the beach or a quick walk with the dog. Using the same advanced materials as XX2i’s performance models, the Bermuda1 comes standard with polarized lenses that employ 4K optical technology, ensuring the utmost frame durability and lens clarity.”

I found the Bermuda1's to have a bit more casual style than the typical streamlined racing or running shades (their USA1’s or FRANCE1’s) that can fit into your lifestyle AFTER the run. Not that you can’t wear running sunglasses everywhere, but depending on the social situation you may opt for something that doesn’t look like you just logged a training run…believe it or not, I also don’t wear my running shoes to client meetings (in my day job as a technology geek.) I know you love your wraparound racing sunglasses, but does your sister want to see them in her wedding photo?

The Bermuda1’s have the same amazing set of polarized lenses my USA1’s have with a larger frame. I have the tortoise shell version with a light matte frame and blue lenses. I can wear when I'm active, at work, or at play. Like the rest of their sunglasses, they come with a lifetime warranty (no questions asked) and an amazing price point given the high quality. Best part yet…with this blog post, use discount code XX2iRocks to get 50% off!

Hope to see you on #bibchat and out on the trails in your XX2i's!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Dear United Airlines...You Suck

You've heard of the play, "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change?" United Airlines version is "I Don't Like You, You're Less Than Perfect, You're Awful, You Have to Change." My open letter and trail of frustration to Ms. Linda Jojo. Linda is the current and third CIO of United Airlines since their merger with Continental in 2010. I'm sorry to have departed (poor choice of words) my running blog for an airline story, but many of my run adventures require flying the friendly skies. Who can forget my camel ride in Cairo or running (like an idiot) in front of the Kremlin.
United "pushes" their priority boarding card...everywhere...

Let's start with I'm a million mile flyer (approaching 1.4 million miles) with United Airlines. I don't want a medal, but I got a nice paper certificate that went into a folder. I have been flying for work since 1985. I "dated around" with other airlines, but towards the end of the 80's (back when I had "big hair") I began my loyalty and "love-hate" relationship with United. I have lifetime "gold" with United, but 600,000 miles away from lifetime platinum. I hope to be retired before I hit that ugly number (2 million miles.) By comparison, I was an early loyalist to Hilton hotels, but switched halfway through my travel career to Marriott. I am already lifetime "Platinum" on Marriott which has incredible perks. Lifetime gold on United? Not so much.

But that's not my biggest beef (nearly unattainable lifetime status worth anything on United.) Bear with me...I'll get there. Prior to 2016, I was a back-to-back 1K member on United. With my accident
A typical Boarding Group 2 line
in 2014, injuries and surgeries in 2015, I dropped to "gold" status on United. While it may seem by name that it still has its privileges, it does not. At least for me, the biggest "perk" on United is pre-boarding. Why? I don't check bags as I want to get in and out of the airport as fast as possible. United has seen more of me over the years than my own family has. I'm not asking for sympathy on that front, but that's why getting my bag in an overhead bin could mean getting home for dinner with my wife or hearing about the school day that evening. It's a big deal.
Trying to tell United their feedback site just doesn't work.

That brings me back to my not-so-great gold status. United in their infinite wisdom has a credit card promotion--you've seen the ads on t.v. With a United credit card, you get priority boarding. For United, that means boarding group #2. If you've flown recently, that line is longer than the free Justin Bieber concert ticket line at your local jr. high school. So essentially someone who has never flown a single mile on United can get the same status overnight as I do. Cats (yes, the domestic feline versions) have been offered credit cards unknowingly by credit card companies--in other words, any idiot can get a credit card and rub elbows with million mile flyers. You too can do that without the loss of hearing I have from thirty years of flying, countless missed plays, first words, and dinners. Each time I've boarded this year, it's bothered me that it didn't somehow feel fair so I took my grievances and suggestions to my twitter account.

I "bitch" to United over the twittersphere. They have (I'm assuming) a platoon of people that reply to such tweets. They replied right away. Timely and polite I might add. I had some ideas about how they might change the boarding, rewards, and priorities. United politely pointed me to a feedback site which "flat out" does not work. Yes, I've tried different browsers, and different machines. It has that handy "reCAPTCHA" button to avoid spammers. Their version prompts you to identify which photos show food, flowers, or bridges. I've tried a dozen times.

One of my attempts to try and communicate to the "Black Hole".
I follow up with tweets.
They send me to another website to input to customer service.
I then get another boilerplate email saying they've notified IT of the issue.
Three weeks later, I try the original feedback site again. I pick the pictures that have flowers, and once again, I get errors saying "this field is required" for fields I've filled out.

At this point, I don't know what to do as I'm sitting in my crappy middle seat in the back of the plane with my bag that couldn't get in the overhead bin so they checked it...on the day of my wife's 40th birthday. Yes, the dinner will be cold if and when I get home.

My idea or input was rather simple. Perhaps have a simple criteria that awards a different (higher) status for a million mile flyer that "hit" at least gold miles the previous year (which is still a lot of miles.) Simple enough feedback, but I am unable (Linda--I'm now talking to you) to merely input the idea to any of their systems.

The more I write, the angrier I get. At least Marriott "gets me" and rewards me. Perhaps Linda would too if I could ever figure out how to get ahold of her.