Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Saucony Triumph ISOs...comfortable, light and FAST!

Disclosure: FitFluential provided me the Saucony Triumph ISO to review...my opinions, which should come as no shock to you, are my own...


As we head into the winter "base training" time of year...building those miles that will lead to happines and PRs in 2015, we're always loking for shoes that will get us through the cold weather, long miles and dare I say it...treadmill runs required for the winter.

Well, lucky enough for me, I got this awesome pair of to the Saucony Triumph ISOs in the mail. Ok, can we just talk about how AWESOME this packaging is?! When you open the box...it actually says "whoa" from this little embedded music chip in the box. Hilarious!!!

The shoes themselves just look fast. I love the color combo and I LOVE the construction. Saucony built the shoes with an inner sleeve (read no tongue) out of this stretchy mesh. When sliding your foot into the shoe...it feels less like a shoe and more like a sock. The interior sleeve molds around your foot. Rather than a traditional "outer shell" with lace holes, Saucony went with a "support cage" over the 1 piece sock-like interior.  What does that mean for the wearer? It means it makes one darned comfortable shoe!

The shoe has a number of key features to give you better "run feel": the support frame of the shoe locks your heel in place (no sliding front to back in the shoe while your running which means no more blisters on the front of you toes while maintaining a snug fit!), the 8mm offset heel to toe helps out us mid foot to heel strikers (with cushioning built in to better absorb impact), and the shoe ONLY weighs 10.3 ounces! Add all the aforementioned up...and the result is a cushioned shoe that's light weight and forgiving...which leads to a comfortable foot strike...with allows quicker turnover...which equals a FASTER YOU!!!

Ya, that's my WHOAface right there. Not a bad 10k time at all.
Now if you've been following me, you'll know that I haven't been able to run the distances/times I want, or even run outside because of some heart issues...and I been hamstrung to...the...dreadmill! However, I found that the Triumph is the ONLY shoe I've ever worn that is as comfortable on the treadmill and it is on the road!!! Speaking of, there's a 10k I run every year and in spite of what I feel like has been the lack of mileage I normally have at this point and the heart stuff, I just couldn't bear to miss it. How'd I do? Well, I didn't run a PR (45:32 isn't slow, but its slower than my usual) but I did run faster than I thought I would given the breaks in my run training. I attribute a good portion of the to the shoes. The snug, comfortable fit coupled with the lighter weight meant I got my feet up and down quicker and maximized my effort. That meant all I had to do was focus on pushing myself to the finish. I'm looking forward to seeing how these shoes perform at longer distance (I really think the cushioning will pay off on those high miles weeks and at the 13.1 and 26.2 distances) and how much faster the make me as my fitness comes back.  Certainly a shoe I'd recommend to other runners...and more importantly...a shoe I'd go out and buy with my own hard earned money!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

I look legit! Thanks to lululemon.

I consider myself extrememly lucky to have been selected as a lululemon ambassador two years in a row and now enjoy the title of "alumni ambassador". I prefer to think of it as regal title moving forward...instead of a nice way of saying I as put out to pasture. LOL. I still stop by the store and keep up with people and product but lululemon has moved on to a new set of ambassadors, all awesome in their own way.

Well, imagine my surprise when I was approached to do a photo shoot for an upcoming product newsletter. Honestly, it couldnt have come at a better time. Dealing with all my heart issues and not being able to train the way I'd like, but still trying to train hard nonetheless, I've been a little down in the dumps lately and have been struggling with the way I look and my "return to form".  I was taken aback that I'm still considered "picture worthy".

Screencap of the email that went out
We shot pictures out on the trails at local Wellesley College. Which I have to admit is a great area to run in. The trails are normally groomed/cleared year round and its a little gem just off the 135 Boston Marathon route.

It was in the high 30's so perfect for winter running gear. I was wearing: the Sweat Session 1/2 zip with reflectivity on the neck and arms which you can see in the photo (a cool aspect is the reflectivity is built into the seams so you don't see it unless struck by light) with thumb hole sleeves to help keep the cold out, the Surge reflective tight (which is the best fitting, most comfortable tight I've ever owned with a brushed interior, pockets on both hips AND a zippered pocket in back) and the Pace Gloves which not only are perfect for the around 30's temp but also feature 'tech friendly fingertips' so you can use your smartphone for tunes or to catch the perfect run selfie.

Huge props to lululemon photographer Melanie because in just a short amount of time she amassed some pretty awesome shots and made me look like a rockstar!

Monday, December 1, 2014

It's disheartening...ya, that's the best I got

So the day after Thanksgiving finds me at a new cardiologist. Seems that I'm suffering a "tachycardia upon re-entry". That means my heart short circuits after extended high level use and that's what kicks off the rapid heart rate spikes I've been suffering from....until I either stop and the heart rate slowly comes down...or while I run the heart eventually "resets" itself and returns to normal.

After a lengthy discussion with my new cardiologist, I have two courses of action: take medicine and stop being active (ya, like I'm gonna do that) or get the event recorded and have it ablated. 

The cardiologist says it's a positive thing that these HR spikes haven't done any damage...or killed me. If I was suffering from any syndromes or were in poor health this would be a much different discussion. However, I'm in great shape (and so is my heart) ...so the doc thinks I'm ok short term. Now we need to "catch" the event. For the next seven days I get to wear an event monitor (think pager hard wired to me, that connects to its own cellphone to transmit my heart rate data to the docs). "Catching" it allows the docs the ability to confirm the type of tachycardia and where it's located in my heart.

Sadly, that's not the end. Next stop is to have the tachycardia ablated. That means I go in for surgery consisting of snaking a device through my femoral artery, up to my heart and with an electric shock they burn out the short circuit. 

Ya, I'm more than a little agitated about another surgery...but to wipe this thing out for good and let me get back to training and racing is worth the effort. Now to make as many spikes happen as I can over the next week...

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The 30th annual Army 10 Miler...ya, there was NO way I was missing this one.



Pre-race as the Golden Knights jump in

I went into this year’s Army 10 Miler with loads of anxiety and trepidation. It would be my first race post surgery (and not at the fitness level I wanted to be at because of it) and I’ve been dealing with these heart rate spikes but there was no way I was going to miss another race this season, much less the 30th anniversary of one of my favorites. I resigned myself to the idea that I’d walk it if I had to but there was just no way I wasn’t completing and getting that cherished finisher coin this year. All I could think to do was focus on proper form/body position/gait and listening to my body while trying to run a decent (hopefully) time.
 
One thing I do have in my favor is that I know this course pretty well (except for this year’s last 1.5 miles but we’ll talk about that later) so I just needed to focus on the running, not the course. A funny side note, as I walked into my corral I ran into my friend Steph who has run a few Army 10 Milers herself but is usually seeded WAY behind me. The charity she runs for gave her a number in the first corral and the childlike glee/wonder she had from "being upfront" at the start of the race was a welcome change to the nerves and second guessing myself that normally transpires. I just kept trying to focus on going over the course in my head...until the cannon goes off and we start the race.


Miles 1-7:22, 2-7:08, 3-7:21
I would love to say that I was gonna start out easy and jsut "see how it goes"...but if you know me...you know that'd be a flat out lie. Instead I took off at the start and tried to settle into a pace I thought I could hold. I hit the 1st mile on a 7:24 (30 seconds slower than last year...CRAP) and I felt ok so I figured I'd pick it up for the 2nd mile. I hit that second mile on just over a 7 and realized I would not be able to hold that pace. Ok, ok...lets get comfortable and focus on passing folks for the next few miles.

Miles 4-7:18, 5-7:19, 6-7:31
Post race realizing I did my best
I know as I hit mile 4 there'd be a slight rise to mile 5 (and a cacophony of sound from supporters and bands because this is a key are to watch runners) then the "loop" to pickup another mile then it was all down hill from there (figuratively of course). I didn't feel good...but more importantly I didnt feel bad. As I hit mile 6 and the 10k mark I could feel myself slowing down and whatever speed I did have was bleeding off. My mind just started racing. Was my heart rate about to blow up? Was I out of calories? Was I overheating? Is this the first sign of onset of Ebola I picked up on the flight?! What?! At that point I wasn't ruling anything out!

Miles 7-7:31, 8-7:31, 9-7:40, 10-7:21
The "loop" is the part of the course is where the race turns on itself and you quickly hit miles 5, 6, 7 before hitting the dreaded 395 highway. As much as I love this race...I HATE running 395! The elevated highway with no crowds and no noise, just makes you feel like you're in the middle of nowhere and it looks like it goes on forever. The last 1.5 miles changed this year and instead of coming off the highway and right to the Pentagon, it took a left off the overpass and made this circuitous stretch to get to the finish...so I jsut gave whatever I had left in my legs to get across the finish.
That coin finisher coin means a lot to me!
I can say this...I might not have been fast this year but as I crossed the line I had nothing left in the tank and finished in my customary bent over, dry ehavinig position. I crossed the line in 1:15:30. A whole 5 minutes slower than last year. I remembered when I finished last year's race I was so excited to get a new PR after having such a bad crash at Timberman 70.3 a few weeks prior that my mind was already racing about how fast I could be with better training and staying healthy. I was hoping for a 65min 10 miler this year...but then family illness, death, divorce, personal health struggles, a DNF at the Patriot 70.3, a DNS at Timberman 70.3, emergency appendectomy surgery, recovery and then this heart thing all put me on a different path. Wow, writing that and saying it out loud makes me realize what a crazy year I've had. You know what? I was happy to finish and get that 30th Anniversary "Finisher coin"...but now I'm proud to have it. In spite of everything over the last few months, the trials and tribulations and huge bouts of my own personal self doubt...I still managed to turn in a decent time and am working hard everyday to stay in track and get back to MY level of fitness, training and racing. Now for the Marice Corps Marathon...




Monday, September 29, 2014

Two sides of the coin...I should flip more often

The last few weeks have been difficult mush less the last few months. I've been battling health issues that have been attributed with causing my poor performance in training and races and resulting in my emergency appendectomy. I've been trying to get back on track with training but to be honest, life is kind of kicking my butt right now. 

Throw in that last weekend I had to stop at mile 8 of a 10 mile training run because my HR spiked up to around 230bpm and I was sincerely concerned I might be having a heart attack. WE won't even go into how angry I was that I had to stop before logging the mileage. This past week was spent with normal training and I had no HR issues other than having to go slow on the run and bike in order to keep my HR in the prescribed zones from my coach. So, flash forward to yesterday where I'm supposed to get in a 12 miler. I knew the run wasn't about pace or effort, it was all about mileage. J was out for an 18 mile run so I figured I'd drop in for the last 6 or 8 miles as company and then get the rest of my miles alone. Well that was a great plan until around mile 3 when had a HR spike of 230bpms again. No pain or numbness of the face and hands like last week, this time it just felt like there was a machine gun going off in my chest. Ok, well start walking and let it come down. My HR dropped quickly back to normal so I figured I was fine and started running again...only to have it spike back up to 230bpms within 20 or 30 strides. Sonuva! Nothing to do here but walk home. I saw that my HR was dropping quickly again so calling an ambulance or even going to the ER would be fruitless because I'd show up and my HR would be normal (I've had a few EKGs up to this point and they've all come back clean).  Well, time to call the docs again (I'm getting a little tired...and stressed out from trips to the docs) and schedule a stress test or another EKG or whatever tests they decided. I sat down, upset and beyond frustrated thinking that if I've had my "had two good years of training and racing" and now gonna start falling apart...I'm gonna lose my mind.

I went through the rest of the day trying to be positive and even managed a nap. I woke up to my mind racing. What the hell?! I went from this high speed-low drag-wired for sound triathlete who was fit and thin and doing 20+ races a season and could do anything...to this fluffy, filled with doubt, worried about my own mortality, not racing or training hard, "athlete". I'm heavier than I want to be...WAY heavier. The best way to explain it is its like the fact is this thick heavy coat of grime that I can never clean off. It weighs me down, mentally and physically and I'm not dealing with it anymore. I'm going back to being me, only two ways to finish...across the line or on a stretcher. I'm the guy that knew I was having a heat stroke but refused to quit an Ironman race because I was going to finish. The same guy that crashed and cracked ribs at another Ironman race but would be damned if I'd quit. That is my core being. I talked to the doc and yes while I need a follow up with my primary physician I have been been training with no issue except for last Sunday and on my first attempt of the run. I should be ok to keep training but if I have a HR spike or pain I should stop ASAP. Ok, that I can deal with. I went back to find the clothes I ran in earlier in the day (a terrible idea in hindsight because the salty clothes tore right into me...but I was trying to prove a point) reset, took a deep breath and went out for a run again. I have a 3 mile loop that I normally run so I figured I'd do one loop, see how I felt and watch my HR. If there were no issues, try another loop...then another with the goal of getting in 9 miles to complete my mileage on the day. The 9 miles went by without issue and while I didn't push hard and constantly watched my HR on my watch, I got it done and finally...FINALLY have a feeling of accomplishment.Ya, I got my 12 miles in...now to get back to training like I know how...

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A good meal doesn't have to be that hard...

A "super salad" is an easy way to make a nutrient rich, meal quickly. This is my "10 Minute Taco Salad"

- Mixed greens (either available at your grocer or I like to make my own from iceberg and romaine lettuces)
- Rice. Any brand instant will do. 1 cup in a bowl with water for 3 minutes will do the trick. For this recipe I like to use a dash of little taco seasoning (I like the "Old El Paso" brand)
- Ground turkey. Remember that taco seasoning for the rice? Well, put a 1/2lb of turkey in a hot pan with a little olive oil, the taco seasoning, some pepper and a couple finely chopped pieces of cilantro. Brown the meat, drain off the excess juice/fat. Use half of it here and save the other half for later.
- 1 cup of cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 of an avocado
- 2 tablespoons fat free ranch dresing (any brand will do)

Assemble and voila! The perfect pre or post workout meal. Its not just good...its good for you!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

OHIO



After watching the documentaries "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead" and "Food Inc" I was reminded of absolutely how out of touch our mass market food sources are. In this day and age where you walk into a supermarket and have no idea where your food comes from...or how it's been treated/handled/harvested...or you find out that companies responsible for pesticides and Agent Orange like Monsanto are in the food business...its time to get back to food you know! 

I'm rapidly becoming a fan of OHIO (only handled it once) food. Get on the internet and do a search for local farms. Go visit them and look in their "stores". I love opening the door to their food case and asking where the items come from...to have the owner point outside to pens, coops and fields and say "right out there". Not only is it "made" there but...its FRESH! Local farm bureaus and co-ops share and sell each other's food. And it's good, really good. Ya, that's milk from a local dairy...in a GLASS bottle. Order what meat you want ahead of time and mass raising in feed lots go away (one of the major attributed cause of the issues with our mea
t sources). Change the way you shop and what you're eating. Take the time to know your food source and support local farmers