Thursday, December 11, 2014

Rudolph's Island of Misfit Running Toys Holiday Wish List

FAIR WARNING: This post may contain adult material unsuitable for children (which means at least one four letter word.) Read at your own risk.

Even though I've seen it dozens of times, Rudolph came on t.v. the other night and my channel surfing stopped to take in the Christmas classic. It's timeless and always takes me back to my childhood when I looked forward to seeing Rudolph, Frosty, and the Grinch once a year as my favorite holiday approached.

One of my favorite scenes is when Rudolph, Hermie, and Yukon Cornelius escape the clutches of the Abominable Snow Monster and land on the Island of Misfit Toys. Plenty of symbolism there, as Rudolph is a misfit himself as is Hermie and the more I think about it, so is Yukon Cornelius--do you ever wonder why he licks his pick after striking it on something? Talk about odd...

As I often do, my imagination started to run wild and I came up with my runner's version of the island. I have done my runner's shopping wish list blogs before, but far more interesting is Rudolph's Island of Misfit Running Toys Holiday Wish List. These toys won't make it to the popular running blog wish lists, and will likely remain on the island with the train, spotted elephant, "charlie-in-the-box," and "Dolly." With that, my top ten misfit running toy list.

1) Copper Mountain Chili Gel Pack. The energy companies continue to come out with new flavors to make you go the distance. They went too far and this makes you go in the wrong way. Cases never sold and landed on the island.
2) Free entry to the Axis of Evil North Korea Marathon. I previously wrote about why I'm not racing (HERE,) but I'm not the only one that doesn't want this in their stocking.
3) Hostess "Twinkie" fuel belt. Before Hostess went under and sold their assets, they tried to jump into the fitness energy market. Fuel belts equipped with Twinkies was their desperation idea that sealed their fate for good. Maybe after a race as a "cheat food" or reward, but this will guarantee projectile vomiting in a race.
4) DumbWool Racing Singlet. Wool socks make a lot of sense. Wool on the torso is an itchy hot mess.
5) Runner MILF on a Shelf. The mother of the mischievous and infamous "Elf on a Shelf" is equally mischievous and that's about all I can say about her.
6) Lee Nails Black Toenail Cover-Up kit. Right problem, wrong solution. Runners do not want to hide their badges of honor. One of many inappropriate Instagram posts of mine show off my ugly feet. Be black and be proud!
7) Shards of Fiberglass Compression Socks. Have you ever installed installation, or accidentally rubbed up against it in the crawlspace or attic? Attempts to compress and keep your legs warm went awry with this product gone bad. Combine with the race singlet and you're one itchy mutha.
8) Maximilist Lead Running Shoes. Minimalism in the running shoe market has a hot segment including the ape looking Vibram FiveFingers. Going the opposite direction, these shoes are the heaviest on the market with lead weights in the soles. Only fit for Hermie on Misfit Island or Jimmy Hoffa going for a swim.
9) Nipple Glue. An attempt to take market share away from BodyGlide, Nipple Lube was nicknamed Nipple Glue and never sold since they discovered that the lube combined with sweat and heat would adhere nipples to clothing. You wouldn't have the dreaded bloody nipples at the end of a race, but you would once you ripped your shirt (and nipples) off.
10) Sheer White Run Shorts. They look okay on the rack in the running store, but anything over ten minutes when the sweat starts producing and they magically leave "nothing to the imagination." If you've ever considered a nude 5k, but were afraid to, wear these and the matching top and you will have entered one accidentally by the end of the race.

Whatever your religious affiliation is this season (Christmas, Kwanzaa, or Hannukkah,) here's hoping that UPS doesn't deliver any of these to your doorstep. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Turkey Hangover and Ten Things I'm Thankful For

Since everyone was hopefully "offline" either running in their turkey day 5k or indulging in football or the Thanksgiving feast, I've got my post-Thanksgiving "Ten Things I'm Thankful For" post. I had a lot of people I hadn't seen in awhile that I ran into over the long weekend. The most common questions were;

"Are you running again?"
"Are you all better?"
"Tell me about your accident?"
"Did you really meet Kate Bosworth?"

Yes, kind of, long story, and yes are the answers.

Last night, my ribs woke me up at 2AM and my sleep hasn't quite returned to normal. In terms of everyday life, I'm around 90%. In terms of running, I'm perhaps 70-80%, but working hard at it. Regardless, there are many things I am thankful for with my glass more than "half full." My top ten thankful list.

1) The gift of life. While I still occasionally "sweat the small stuff," I feel like I have a whole new outlook and appreciation of life. Nothing like waking up in the hospital with a "we're losing him" look on a nurse's face to have you appreciate each day.
2) The gift of running. While I've only been back at it for the last few weeks, I am thankful I'm able to return to the sports of running and triathlons.
3) A return to "speed work." I have only had two sessions the last two weeks respectively and have a
long way to go, but good to use the word "Yassos" (1/2 mile repeats) in my vocabulary again. I pushed myself to just over a six minute per mile pace. A far cry from where I was in July, but progress nevertheless.
4) My family. I'm fortunate to have lots of family in town and around the country that I'm very close to. I'm especially happy to have a phenomenal wife and three kids that deal with me, my range of emotions, and my obsession with this sport.
5) Kate Bosworth. Had to get number four in ahead of Kate. After a million miles on United Airlines
largely sitting next to smelly businessmen that don't know the rules around sharing of the armrest, I won the lottery on my last flight before Thanksgiving. Not only did I get the first class upgrade, but actress Kate Bosworth sat next to me. Far more beautiful in real life and crazy nice. I neglected the urge to say, "Aren't you that actress,?" and shared small talk, a flight of champagne, and hand holding the rest of the flight. Okay...I made up that last part, but she is crazy nice.
6) Thanksgiving Day 5ks. I love racing on Thanksgiving morning and have made it part of my holiday ritual. The problem this year, is I was nowhere close to being 5k "race ready" and I don't know how to jog, or "run for fun." My desire to put a bib on for the first time since my accident in July far out-weighed the fact that my body wasn't ready so I signed up for the local Highlands Ranch
Turkey Day 5k. I went out fast, settled in on the second mile knowing, that it wasn't going to be a podium or PR day, and had a "kick" the last half mile to give me fifth in my age group. If I knew first place was a mere 18 seconds ahead of me, I would have found a way to try and close the gap. This 5k result was a full three minutes slower than my PR set in March, but I'll take it. 22:39. Great to be back out there!
7) I didn't sink. I had to look this one up. When was the last time I swam a mile? My birthday on July 14th shortly before my triathlon crash. If you know anything about ribs and swimming, broken ribs are not a swimmer's friend. On Sunday, I took to the pool for the first time (upon recommendation of my physical therapist) and the (separated) shoulder felt great. The bigger surprise was my conditioning felt decent despite the long water layoff. I should "thank" Steadman Hawkins for helping rehab that shoulder to get me where I am now.
8) Team work. Right before the holiday, I was notified that I made the local Runner's Roost Triathlon Race team. I had applied before, but did not make the team. They must have lowered their standards (#sarcasm) as I made it this time around. Super excited about wearing their race gear and being an ambassador for the sport and their stores.
9) Close to pain free and off the pain meds. I'm not an expert, but my doctor hopefully is. He was reluctant to renew my last prescription for "oxy." I had no choice at the time as aspirin didn't cut down the pain at all, and sleep is a bit of a necessity. Weaning off oxy after three months is no trivial manner, but I went "cold turkey" (no pun intended) after Halloween. There were three "nightmarish" nights, but my desire to return to the sports I love again out-weighed any desire to take another pill.
10) My running and triathlon blogosphere. I have made some great friends over social media who have been a source of encouragement as I went through the accident, long layoff, and continued rehab. My blog surpassed 200,000 page views in the month of November which helps me maintain accountability towards my goals. Giving up is not an option, and I'm sincerely thankful for all that help motivate me with "Likes," "tweets," and the like.

Here's hoping your holiday was filled with running, love, and lots of good food. I look forward to continuing the journey in December as I start training for the April 2015 Boston Marathon here in a couple weeks.

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

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.


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

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.