Monday, April 16, 2012

The BAA keeps teaching me lessons...not all of which are good...

The Boston Athletic Association (or BAA as its known to all the runner folk) is now doing a "Triple Crown" which consists of their 5k (in its 4th year), a 10k (in its 2nd year, of which I ran the inaugural event) and the half marathon (in its 12th year). If entered in the Triple Crown, you're entered in a points race, you get special bib numbers, you're pointed out at each race (I mean who doesn't want to feel like a cool kid?) and you get a special Triple Crown finisher's medal at the end of the "season". Now, having run the Boston Marathon and the inaugural 10k last year, I thought the triple crown would be awesome.

I arrive in Boston with about an hour to spare (as is customary with me), park the car and head over to the start. First thing I notice is that there are pace corrals marked so I wander over and stand in-between the 6 and 7min miles corrals thinking I'm probably gonna run a 6:15 mile. Now as I stand there I notice there are not a lot of people and I think "okay, people know where not to line up" and that this will be a race without the fight through the mass of humanity. Oh was I wrong my friends! As I stood there stretching and talking to J, I don't notice (because as per my usual pre-race, I was filled with butterflies, self doubt, wondering why the hell I'm racing and wishing I'd stayed in bed) that those open areas are filling up...with EVERYBODY. Five minutes before the start I look up to see a woman, weighing at least 80lbs more than I do, having taken residence in front of me. Look ma'am, you may be fast, but unless you're a freak of nature or have a rocket pack on under that Camelbak (yes, I said Camelbak...for a 5k!) you have no business in the 6min/mile corral! As we're waiting the announcer says that today's 5k has 6,000 participants. Wait...WHAT?!

A quick good luck to J and the race starts...the race starts...would the race start already!!! After the gun goes off it takes a minute and a half to cross the start! At that point I was already starting to feel like somehow those 6,000 runners had squeezed in front of me and that feeling didn't go away anytime soon. The course start is winding and while I can see the leaders (of us mere mortals not the 15min 5k'ers) there is just no place to go in order to get around the mass of humanity. And it was a mass! I've posted about this before but good lord people, if guys are zipping past you PLEASE get to one side of the road and stay there.

I was hoping to turn the 1st mile in 6:00-6:15. I did my best to weave in and out of the obstacle course of human speed bumps to hit the 1 mile Are you kidding me?! I was furious. I found some daylight and opened it up. Mile 2 came at a 6:18 and I'm thinking I feel good: legs are settled, nice turnover, no gasping for air...keep running. The turn to mile 3 came at the infamous Hereford-Boylston intersection that every Boston Marathoner knows and has a special evil place in my heart (read my 2011 Boston Marathon race report) but I need to push on and keep going. The Boston Marathon finish (and the finish for the 5K) was in sight. I hit Mile 3 at a 6:19 and kept pushing...crossing the Ugh!!! If I had been able to hit the first mile on pace, that would've been 20:07 race or even faster without the weaving in and out of bodies. I was in striking distance of my 5k PR of 19:54. For the first time in a while, post knee injury, I felt really good.

I tried to blow it off as a learning experience and the "it wasn't like I was gonna place anyway" reasoning but as time grew on I just got angry (this blog was gonna be titled "fueled by anger" remember?). I'm angry at myself for staying the pace corral and not moving forward, I'm angry at the BAA for putting 6,000 runners on a course that just really couldn't support them, and I'm even more angry at my fellow "runners" for continuing to disappoint me. Like the folks that pulled up, and started walking, in the middle of the road, BEFORE THE FIRST MILE MARKER!!! Throw in that the race, and the walking around after to take in all the marathon festivities, sights and sounds brought up all the memories of a year ago (yes, another blog post is coming) and it was a tough day. Well, nothing to do but use this as fuel to find another 5k and go crush it, right...right?!

Friday, April 13, 2012

My lululemon experience...yes, you heard that right....

First off, let me admit that I never thought I would ever have a blog that included me and lululemon. I'll be honest and say that until  recently I had a poor opinion of the brand. Now, that has NOTHING to do with the clothing or the stores themselves (I have always heard that their clothing was phenomenal) but more to do with the clientele that wears the clothes. It seemed to me that the only time I saw the Omega logo was on some attractive, well-to-do looking woman out at my local Starbucks or organic grocery store. I rarely if ever saw anyone actually WEARING the clothes to work out in. But...I am lucky enough to have a friend that is an athlete ambassador for them and she got me invited to a running clothing review session (wait, lululemon does running clothes? for men?!). To say my curiosity was piqued is probably the understatement of the decade.

I have purposefully not gone into a store for the aforementioned impressions and because I didn't think I had enough money to ever actually purchase a piece of clothing in there...but..I was getting invited, AND they wanted my opinion (which I'm never at a lack of wanting to share) AND I was given homework (which to my happiness I seemed to be the only one that did the assignment) of bringing in my favorite piece of running clothing and explain why its my favorite. After quick introductions of those of us invited and the store's staff, I was paired up with Jess, the beautiful (as you would expect all of the women that work in the store would be...very attractive, fit and athletic looking) store manager who has a half marathon under her belt and is training for her next and was all about wanting to talk to me about men's running clothes. She had me at "tell me what you think".
Now my favorite piece of running clothing are my Under Armour shorts, cut mid thigh, pocket inside the shorts AND a pocket in back, below the waist band at the small of the back. Those shorts never chafe, give me room for a coupe gels and are very light. Sadly, UA quit making those shorts and have moved into another style (which...I...HATE! Isn't that always the case, just when you start to like a product the company changes it?!). Now I spent the next hour trying on every piece of men's clothing in the store (getting happier with each piece of clothing) until I got to the shorts. To my amazement, lululemon makes a men's running short that is almost the exact same as my old UA shorts except a little shorter in the leg (which I love even more) that are soft (and I mean soft, like they could make a blanket out of the shorts material and I'd curl up and sleep like a baby in it), have a zippered pocket in the back and are so light I feel like I'm not wearing shorts at all. Seriously, I've put about 40 miles in this shorts so far and at one point I literally had to look down to make sure I was still wearing them!!! They are the "lululemon 4in light as air" shorts pictured above.

There are just some really great touches to the short that let you know they are made for runners/multisport athletes: laser cutout on the hips provides discreet venting, an elastic-ribbed drawcord for a proper fit at the waist, nice chafe-resistant flat seams and my favorite which is an athletic fit for a muscular posterior (that's what they call a hockey butt). Having been a cyclist all my life I have a larger butt and top of quads than most people and have a terrible time finding shorts that fit (jeans too for that matter). No such issue with these shorts!! closing...I AM SOLD!!! On the stores, the staff, the company and most importantly the clothes. These shorts are great and I cant wait to try out their running shirts next. Add in that they've approached me to lead local runs and I couldn't be happier. Here's to my being the new "Man" bassador for lululemon.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Now matter how bad it is...its about to get better

I suffer from crappy days just like everyone else. I would argue that sometimes, more than most...but no matter how bad the day is I know that when I look down and see this day is about to get better.

I don't know what it is about running, but all the trials and tribulations of the day seem to melt away with every foot fall. Granted, I am a cyclist by trade and grew up letting the world melt under my wheels but I have found running to be so much more cathartic now that I've gotten older. Running, is like life: You have to constantly put one foot in front of the other, slowing but never stopping, always running towards your final goal. Notice I didn't say destination. Those goals, no matter the size; making it to the end of your street, running your fastest mile, conquering that familiar route, setting a PR or just building base mileage or whatever are the things that pile up and make you a "runner".