Friday, January 23, 2015

Ty the Ambassador

Sultan of Swat, Theodoric of York Medieval Barber, Prince of Bel Air, King of Late Night...all titles with absolutely nothing to do with each other, but then again, what's in a title? I've had some impressive and confusing ones myself over time such as Global District Manager. That one made no sense, but it showed up on a box of business cards. My latest title is "Ty the Ambassador."
Not "that" kind of ambassador

I haven't exactly basked in anonymity, but I have largely wrote about running because I love running and re-discovered a love of writing. I have never really sought out endorsements of any sort, or ambassadorships. Perhaps that bike accident changed something. Since then, I won the GotChocolateMilk Recovery Contest and after failing once before, I applied and was accepted to the local running store's triathlon race team with Runner's Roost for 2015. Admiring other bloggers and their affiliations, I applied for upon advice from a friend to become a FitFluential Ambassador. This last week I received word that I was selected indeed to become "Ty the Ambassador."

I had all sorts of word association that swirled in my head with the word ambassador, so I Googled it. The predominant search result was from a really bad-ass looking car from the 50's. Nice association. Then I thought of the diplomat version and saw lots of receding hairlines of old dudes shaking hands with sheiks and aristocrats.

No, I'm not any of those, but part of a team representing health and fitness and tweeting, Facebooking, and Instagraming about products that fit my running lifestyle. Clearly, they didn't do their research as many of their advertisers might find some of my posts offensive (Rudolph's Misfit Running Toys, Gym 101 Rules, or Why Triathlons Are Like Frat Houses.) Or maybe they just see someone with a slight imbalance with an obsession with the Boston Marathon and figuring out how to corner a bike in a triathlon.

Regardless, I'm excited about wearing the badge of Fitfluential Ambassador. Thank you for the vote of confidence. It gave me confidence and I'll try and live up to it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Gym 101 Rules

Whether you are a religious outdoor runner despite the weather conditions or a fair weather athlete that resorts to the treadmill at the first whiff of snow or cold weather, all marathon runners are in and out of the gym during training. For me, I don't mind the "dreadmill" and with ribs that still hurt, I'm not about to try a tempo run outside in icy conditions. My run coach also has 3-4 days a week of conditioning and I rotate in swim and bike cross-training on top of my running. Like you, I'm experiencing the gym's annual "rookie season" as many with New Year's resolutions take to the gym to take the pounds off in January.

Now before you get all up in my grill, I APPLAUD all those that are taking the first step towards healthy living or better yet, those that are taking up the healthy addiction of running, but it doesn't mean that I can't share a little first time (or getting re-acquainted) etiquette of the gym. With that, the top twelve things rarely discussed but shared here as a public service on what NOT to do in the gym.

1) While the gym should be a judgement-free zone, you can start with many clothing taboo topics starting with "Jorts" (aka jean shorts.) I'm not sure who/when/where this is acceptable, but definitely not in the gym.
2) Do us all a favor and think about what you ate last night before sweating it out in the gym the next day. Yes, the gym is filled with odors, but I can barely handle smelling myself. If dinner smelled nasty the night before, it's gonna be worse pouring out your sweat glands.
3) Overuse of the word "Bro." Perhaps you've seen the Rob Lowe DirecTv commercials with the "Meathead" Rob Lowe? look like that douchebag when you throw around "Bro" around the gym...unless that's what you're going for...gym, tan, laundry.
4) Brown pants, black belt? Seriously...are you shopping for used books or did you get lost heading to ComicCon? You don't need to match put I'm not sure brown pants belong in the gym--especially matched up with a black belt.
5) Never utter the words, "that smells good" in the men's locker room especially when referring to a man or his cologne...especially if it's Brut cologne. (#truestory as all these are.)
6) Stay off the phone. I'm mainly referring to phone calls especially if it's your lawyer, ex-wife, or talking to your lawyer about your ex-wife. We go to the gym to escape work and stresses in life.
7) Banned list of locker room cologne. Drakkar Noir, (previously mentioned) Brut, Old Spice, and Polo. Put it on in the car. No one wants to smell anything you can buy a replica of in a gas station bathroom.
8) Keep the nipples under wraps. I'm mainly referring to men here. That muscle tank that is more like a tank "thong" is downright nasty. #tanktini I don't want to see your hairy nipples and I'm guessing most women don't either. If I want hairy nipples, I'll head to the simian section of the zoo. As far as the females, anything I'd say on this topic will just come out wrong unless you also have hairy nipples then same rule applies.
9) (Men) Avoid Rocky Balboa plain grey sweats. I'm okay with the hoodie, but head to toe grey cotton sweats leave nothing to the imagination. Not that I'm checking you out, (trust me, I'm not,) but nobody wants to see your "junk" profiled behind "hide nothing" cotton. #puptent
10) Toenails and bandaids can be removed at home. I really don't want to see you clipping your nails or step on your "skanky" used bandaids in the shower.
11) Headbands are for women only. Wear a cap if you need to unless you are planning on time-traveling to an aerobics class in 1984 with your matching leg warmers.
12) Keep your ham off the bench. This is more for you than me, but I'm not planting my skinny ass on a gym locker room bench. #youdontknowwherethatsbeen

This is clearly written from a men's perspective and many carry over to women. My boyhood fantasy of seeing the inside of a women's locker room has never been fulfilled so I don't know what goes on in there, Perhaps some of the female readers can list their locker room and gym pet peeves in the comments section below or on my Facebook page.

My daughter and wife added these bonus rules for the ladies;

1) Wear your hair up and shed the make-up. It's a workout, not a pageant.
2) If I'm wearing headphones, I don't want to talk to you. No offense.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Sending Out an SOS

When to fuel, how to fuel, how much to fuel, and how "not to bonk" are some of the toughest areas for me when training for and racing in a marathon. Out of all the marathons I've run, I can only think of one where I didn't "hit the wall" and certainly have had plenty of long training runs where I questioned "why do I run, how many more flippin' miles do I have left," and "I'm dreaming of a giant burrito."

Assuming you have a good coach, training plan, and the right work ethic, you're almost there but what to eat and drink prior to and within a workout is often left up to "trial and error." It also obviously depends on the length of the race. It always cracks me up when I see someone with a fuel and water belt lined up for a 5k race. I won't knock anyone for trying or just starting out in a sport, but please leave the fuel belt at home for the 5k, but if you choose to, go ahead and put your bib on your back to make it complete. #rookie

As always, I digress and back to the topic of fueling. I have found a few things that work and a few that don't. No offense to Honey Stinger, but I call it "Honey Stinker" as in, honey is known to be a
natural laxative. It did not agree with my system is the best way to put it. Heed energy is nicknamed "Heave" in many circles as it takes a certain constitution to stomach that stuff. In terms of gels, I'm quite keen on Hammer gels (same folks that make Heed) and PowerBar Gel Blasts (the later are smaller and I have tended to ingest in more frequent intervals during a race.)

The latest product I've tried out is SOS Rehydrate from SOS Hydration. While I've yet to use in a race greater than a 5k, I have introduced into my training cycle over the last sixty days as I've ramped from "gimp out of the hospital" to training for the Boston Marathon.

The packaging and preparation is pretty slick as each box has five individual serving packets with a powder concentrate intended to mix with 500ml (16.9 oz.) Powder is the right word as it mixes easily versus other energy and performance products I've used.  I've been using the citrus flavor which resembles a Gatorade drink and the comparisons should end there. A few facts about SOS Rehydrate;
  • Six times the carbohydrates than the typical sports drink
  • 75% less carbs than the typical sports drink
  • More effective than most as they have the right combination of electrolytes and glucose
Getting back to the Gatorade comparison, I have generally steered away from their products as they didn't strike me as the best products to be pumping into your body despite their near-monopoly status. In 2013, they put their (Tiger) tail between their legs and removed the controversial ingredient, BVO, from Gatorade. What's BVO? Google it. It's bromated vegetable oil which is used in flame retardants. No thanks...catching on fire is the least of my worries around mile twenty of a marathon.

That's a lot of science talk for an ex-art major, but the real "proof in the pudding" is how I've felt during my workouts as of late. Nearly seven months ago, I was laid up in a hospital for eleven days unsure if I could return to the podium form I had earlier in 2014. While SOS can't help broken ribs or a collapsed lung, I hit the podium in my second race back since I've started training again. I've been using SOS on long runs and on my speed days. If I charted my recovery and energy since I started up speed work again, it's improved exponentially over the last month. While much of that I attribute to my maniacal obsession with returning to my previous conditioning level, SOS has been a welcome addition to my training portfolio.

Take that Keith Jackson and the Gatorade sports lab!

I will continue to use SOS as I train for my fifth Boston Marathon this April. Keep track of my training here and on;


What has and hasn't worked for you?

Friday, January 2, 2015

Seeking Boston Marathon 2014 Year in Review

What a year. This one had a little bit of everything; my fourth Boston Marathon, a 5k PR, and my first DNF. I had a legitimate excuse for the later as a wicked crash in my third triathlon of the season landed me in the hospital. With that, here's the retrospective on Seeking Boston Marathon's 2014 season, but first a look at the year "by the numbers."

4th of July podium day
Five: Qualifying at the 2014 Boston Marathon, I will race in my fifth Boston Marathon this coming April.
Four: Number of broken ribs from my crash in July.
Three: The number of ribs completely snapped in that crash.
Sub twenty: I hit one of my goals for the year by breaking twenty minutes in a 5k at the Lucky Laces
5k in March.
19:21: My new 5k PR set this year.
8 out of 11: Number of podiums this year (not counting Boston.)
200,000: Number of page views my blog reached this year.
Eleven: Days spent in the hospital as a result of my triathlon crash.
1575: Total miles in 2014. Far short of the 2200 miles in 2013. (I revised this number when I realized I never posted the swim or bike leg of that infamous crash race.)
71: Blog posts in 2014.

From a social media standpoint, I had a fun year with a couple of notable events. I came in 2nd in the Got Chocolate Milk Recovery contest. This was the contest to win as it included three Garmins and a $500 Nike gift card among other goodies. Thanks again to the good folks at Rodale, Runner's World Magazine,, Got Chocolate Milk, and Men's Health Magazine for that one. My other highlight was being profiled in RunChat's Run Blogger Month (HERE.)

Of the seventy one blog posts I had this year, here are a few of the highlights.

Funniest Post of the Year

While the event this post was based on was anything but funny at the time, "A Run With Runs is no Fun" was much funner to write and illustrate and got some of the best comments of the year.

I'll skip the details.
The smells and exhales.
But I left there much lighter.
My bung no longer tighter.
My hole no longer corked.
My cheeks no longer torqued.

A close runner-up to my bodily fluid mishap post was this month's "Rudolph's Island of Misfit Running Toys Holiday Wish List" which included sheer white running shorts. There's a reason they don't make run shorts in white.

The Post No One Read 

The other satirical post I had fun with did not get the response I'd expected, but life imitated art as "The Interview" movie was originally shelved by Sony over the holidays. I also mocked North Korea in my "Axis of Evil" marathon post, "One Race I Won't Run if I Don't Get Into the Boston Marathon." One reason I shared why I wouldn't run in the North Korea Marathon, "First place, firing squad (someone with a funny haircut is supposed to come in first,) second place work camp, third place, you don't want to know."

Most Useful Post for Bloggers 

Wanting to understand what works and what doesn't in the "blogosphere," I polled a number of fellow bloggers to get their input on growing readership in my "Blueprint for Building a Run Blog Brand." Even if you're not a blogger, these are some great runners you should follow.

Most Ambitious Post

In 2013 I had a 30 day photo challenge leading up to the Boston Marathon. I had a lot of fun with that engaging a number of other bloggers who were racing that year. In 2014, I decided to document each day leading up the 2014 Boston Marathon over 100 days. I had a lot of fun snapping the photos and

filling in the ten by ten matrix in photoshop. My journey to Boston included detours to California, Boston (a couple times before the race,) Mexico City and the Super Bowl in New York City. The video recap can be seen (HERE.)

Worst Race Director of the Year Award

I take full responsibility for my crash in July. A parent of one of my son's teammates reached out to the race director to let him know I was in the hospital and how serious my injuries were. The same friend encouraged him to "check in" to see how I was doing. Due to potential legal ramifications, he told the parent he couldn't contact me. Once home, I emailed him asking if he'd mail my brand new goggles I left in transition. He said I could drive (the hour) to Colorado Springs to pick them up. I told him I was on pain meds and unable to drive. "Okay, I'll mail them to you." I'm still waiting.

NYC Brooklyn Bridge in Feb.
Best Race of the Year

This is a close one with four options; 1) Returning to Boston a year after racing the previous year when the bombing occurred, 2) having my daughter see my podium performance at the Slacker Half Marathon (1:30,) 3) my fastest 5k ever finally breaking twenty minutes in March, 4) my return to the podium this month.

All of the above are great memories, but after my accident and three months without running, it could be my last race of the year at the Santa Stampede 5k. While it was far off my PR in March, I finished the year with 2nd place in my age group. I could feel my ribs are still not quite right especially in the cold temps and my (re-inflated) collapsed lung stung with the same cold air. Regardless, it was a great way to end the year and start 2015 with optimism when it looked in doubt a couple of months ago.

What were your accomplishments in 2014 or goals for 2015?

About Me

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Average guy w/ an above average appetite for marathon racing and triathlons. Ran my 5th Boston in '15. 3:21, 1:29, 19:21 PR;full/half/5K Opinions & wit are mine