Monday, May 25, 2015

Garmin Vector Pedal based Power Meter Rebate before they sell out!

If you're into power meters and cycling, this is your chance to get in for an affordable price.

I've not dove into the power meter market other than the CycleOps PowerCal that's a poor man's power meter measured from heart rate.

But, I've been dieing to get into the pedal based meters like the Garmin Vector.  Well, the original Vector system is going off market since Vector 2 came out and Garmin is offering rebates to get rid of all Vector original stock.

So, follow the LINK here for the rebate form and check out Clever Training for great deals!

Garmin Vector S Pedal Set Single Sided Large 15-18T and less than 44W

Purchase a qualifying Garmin Vector or Vector S from May 1st, 2015 through July 31st, 2015 and receive either a $150 or $300 USD via mail-in rebate. Rebate submissions must be postmarked by August 31st, 2015. Limit two rebate submissions per customer. The product must be purchased in factory-new condition.

They are also sporting 20% of CycleOps trainers!  Get in while the getting is good before next winter for those indoor rides.

Cycleops Fluid2
Cycleops Fluid2
ENJOY!

Monday, May 18, 2015

2015 Atlas Race Obstacle Course Race Report - 4/25/15

What endurance season would be complete without at least one Obstacle Course Race (OCR) mixed in?

I found the Atlas Race OCR series on Facebook, and the timing, distance offered and early bird pricing was just right.  The race offers the "Boss" (3 to 5 miles) or the "Ranger" at 7 to 9 miles.  I was looking for something a little longer than the Warrior Dash or Ruckus Run to make the time to drive out to Lawrence worth the effort (named Atlas Race Kansas City, but actually held in Clinton Lake State Park).
 
So, Atlas Race KC it was for 2015 racing the Ranger course.
 
 
 
This will be a more about my experience racing the course, if you're interested in more of an event review, check out my Examiner article for the Event Review.
 

IT WAS AN ENDURANCE EVENT JUST TO GET TO THE START

Previewing my event review, I expended a lot of energy trying to track down check in, race bib pickup and event logistics in general.  Had a been a lesser driven person, I might have just chucked it.  The short of it was, the Altas organizers ran a loser ship than I'm used to with endurance events and organization.  It was a process just to track everything down and find a parking spot when I got there.
 

AND THEN IT RAINED 40 DAYS AND 40 NIGHTS

Not really... but we had some significant rain the days before the event and mist off and on race day.  It made for some sweet mud at the event, of which we would have had none without the rain.
 

WE'RE OFF

After figuring out what the order of events were, I made my way to the start at the 10am wave after some well timed port-a-potty stops.  All you endurance people know how key that can be when not swimming first off...  It was also disappointing to learn I could have raced an earlier wave and got back home sooner to miss less on the home front since I didn't see the need to drag the Mrs and the kids to this event.  But hey, it's all a part of the experience, right?
 
After racing 4 or so OCR events, I have learned it pays off to start in front and at east get out ahead of the large groups.  After you get 6 to 7 people waiting at an obstacle that only allows 2 at a time, you spend a lot of time standing around.  I wasn't interested in that.  I'd rather race unencumbered at my own pace.  So, I sprinted my ass off for the first 100 yards to get over the wood walls in the few first guys and pretty much stayed at the front for the entire heat.
 

THINGS WERE GOING SWIMMINGLY

I was doing well only trailing to one guy after the first mile.  Was I an OCR rock star?  No.  This race lended itself to cross country endurance runners more than OCR warriors.  There were only maybe 15ish real obstacles with only the end really involving any upper body effort.  Again, reference my event review and you'll see how most of the course was about trail running, which favors a long course runner more than an OCR meat head (no disrespect, maybe).
 
I took the lead after two miles and eventually got passed on the second loop.  What's ironic is that I passed the same guy because of confusion at the second lap entry and I think he did some obstacles he shouldn't have... or the volunteer told me to go the wrong way.  Either way, I was back in front and eventually he caught me again at the finish line.  Good competition.
 

IN THE END

I ended up coming in under an hour.  Pretty sweet for a 7-9 mile OCR event!  Too bad it was only 6 miles on the 910XT GPS.  So, I either skipped some course or someone got a little lazy making the course.  Even if I went around some extra obstacles, there's no way I would have added another mile.
 
 

BY THE NUMBERS

Here's how I stacked up vs the competition.
 
59 : 24 official time
17 / 186 Ranger Course Racers
3 / 28 Age Group
 
I kind of wished I would have signed up for Elite waves.  They were racing for money and I was pretty competitive with their results.  It was also key that attendance was probably throttled due to a first time event, questionable marketing outreach and the race was the same day as Warrior Dash.
 

FINAL THOUGHTS

I enjoyed getting out and doing some endurance outside of the normal swim, bike and run.  Trail running is good cross training, and OCR makes it even better.  I wished I would have gotten more course in.  9 miles for a 50 minute drive to the race would have been a fair trade, but at least I got in early bird and avoided paying an outrageous price for a short long course.  My review and this recap would have taken a different tone had I paid over $100 at race day reg.
 
I'm happy with my "performance".  As I mentioned with Rock the Parkway, my focus is Ironman Boulder and getting the work done for that.  I did not come into Atlas with any real goals other than a hard run and wasn't tapering or resting for a race effort.  Something to mix it up.  I wanted to get the heart rate up and not get hurt.  Those goals were met, no problem.  I do wish I would have looked at Elite a little harder, but since this was the first time racing Atlas, I wasn't sure what to expect.
 
Stay tuned for more recaps and previews as race season is in full force!
 
 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

2015 Rock the Parkway Half Marathon Recap - 4/11/15

A few weeks ago was the first official race event for me of the 2015 season... Rock the Parkway Half Marathon in Kansas City, MO.

I posted my preview thoughts a few days before the race, and to recap, the race just kind of snuck up on me with life going on.  I'm to the point where completing the race wouldn't be an issue, but I was not really focused on improving performance, setting a PR or anything resembling being competitive with myself or anyone else.

Mostly I just like the event, been in it one form or another since inception and they have a nice early bird pricing deal.  ;)

OFF TO THE RACES...

So, decided I would brave the race myself and leave the fam behind so the Mrs and the kiddos wouldn't have to sit around to see me at the start and umpteen minutes later at the end.  Kind of anti-climatic at this point for spectators.

As I have dialed in my eating habits, which translate into eating smart and not being a pig, I allow myself a day of the week to pretty much stuff whatever I want into my face.  This was that day and I delighted in trail mix with extra Reece's pieces mixed in.  Delicious.  So there I was munching mutant mix on the way to the start, not really paying attention to the fact I ended up eating too much that close to a race.  I had an hour to let it settle, but I didn't pay attention and ended up with too much to digest that quick.

So, I cut off the food after parking and sipped some gatorade while milling about the pre-race port-a-potty routine.  Hydrate, dehydrate, re-hydrate with some #2 mixed in.  Glorious.

Too bad I ate too much and didn't time my last pee break good enough before the race.

AND WE'RE OFF

Mile 1, feeling good.

AND WE'RE NOT FEELING IT

Mile 2, had to pee and trail mix was giving me problems.

AND WE'RE STOPPING

Mile 3, pee break at the first aid station port-a-potties.  Break for the tummy as well to stop sloshing at 165bpm heart rate.

AND WE'RE RUNNING AGAIN

Break neck speeds and 165bpm, just holding on for as long as possible.  I actually did not stop running again for entire race, opting to jog and sip at pit stops for hydration.  That's pretty rare for me.

It was a balancing act of aggressive running and gurgling trail mix in the gut.  Around mile 11, on the final stretch, I let it all hang out and drove for the finish line.  I've been more taxed after an event than I was at RTP 2015, but I've never been more happy to stop running with a stomach of half digested food.  I didn't barf, either, so there's a winner right there.

AND WE'RE DONE

So, my PR at the half marathon distance was 1:35:53 last year at the same race, same course.

2015 results were : 1:35:34 - a 19 second PR.  Not bad for not really paying attention to a training plan and overeating before the race.  I'll take it.


In all seriousness, I do believe the more attention I have paid to eating a better diet and eating to live instead of living and working out to eat has helped in my running.  I've permanently dropped a few LBS and that's made me feel a little quicker and lighter on my feet.  My philosophy is the less weight I have on me, the less punishment my joints take with workouts in general over the years.  I'm going for longevity, not the short term.

So, if I can come out and consistently stay close to my PR's in races, I'm pretty satisfied.

Glorious.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Q&A with Atlas Race OCR in Kansas City this weekend!

I've got a busy weekend coming up...

Atlas Race OCR on Saturday and Trolley Run on Sunday.

I raced Rock the Parkway a few weeks ago, and still owe a race report.  It turned out good and bad... more to come.

I really have no expectations for the OCR.  I've raced Warrior Dash and Ruckus Run, but they were only 3ish miles.  I signed up for the Ranger which is 7-9 miles.  The distance won't be an issue, but the obstacles will be a challenge with my limited strength work.

I recently had a Q and A session with Atlas Race, so read on for what's to come this weekend.

As you may know, obstacle racing is one of the fastest growing sports on the planet. Participants of all ages and skill level are invited to become a part of the obstacle course race movement in any number of experience categories including individual competitor, team or family entry in an event that inspires everyone’s “inner athlete.” It is a great way for the community to come together, build confidence, and have a positive attitude about health and fitness.

Course types are as follows for the Atlas Race series: “The Ranger”: A course ranging between 7-9 miles with 25+ obstacles “The Boss”: A course ranging between 3-5 miles with 20+ obstacles

Further information, as well as complete schedule of upcoming Atlas races can be found at http://www.atlasrace.com/.

Atlas Race is also part of the OCR warrior competition. OCR Warrior is a head-to-head obstacle race reality challenge show, developed by the founders of Mud Run Guide. Every episode, two OCR athletes battle through the knockout rounds to reach the finals, in each venue, only one male and female will be crowned OCR Warrior, and Kansas City will be a part of the series.

On to the Q and A.

Provided By Scott Gephart, Atlas Race


Q: What’s the attendance been like for the first races?
A: Attendance has been good, and nearly what we expected for our first few races. We've been happy, especially going into first year markets, and markets that don't normally get these types of events. The reviews of Atlas have been amazing!

Q: What's Atlas' plan to be sustainable and keep coming back year after year?
A: This is a tough industry. A lot of people think that they are going to come in and do amazingly well right out of the gate. It takes work. Our main road to success is to put on great events, give the race community something that leaves them feeling good about their accomplishment, and establish solid relationships with the towns and communities where we stage our events. By establishing those relationships we are able to create long term partnerships with those communities and increase attendance year over year when we return. We want to continue producing quality events, which means we aren’t looking to produce 40 to 50 races a year. We are planning our growth carefully for longevity.

Q: What made them choose Clinton Lake for the KC race since technically it's 30 miles west of KC?
A: Obstacle races require a certain type of terrain in order to build a course. Most metropolitan areas and cities don't have the type of land needed in order to properly build out a good obstacle race. Clinton Lake was the location that matched our needs to create the best possible event and experience for our race participants. To meet that criteria, many of our event locations are approximately 30 minutes outside of the race city, but naming the race by its closest city helps people to recognize its approximate location.

Q. What is 24 Hour Fitness’s involvement in Atlas Race?
A. Obstacle racing is one of the fastest growing sports. No matter what your athletic level, there is a way to participate. Atlas Race and 24 Hour Fitness have partnered to present the Atlas Race series because we provide programs that are available and accessible to everyone.. 24 Hour Fitness is the perfect partner to inspire new fans that can grow an individual’s fitness experience to the next level. And, as our exclusive partner, 24 Hour Fitness is offering a special 30% race entry discount to members. (The link to the Atlas Race discount offer can be found at 24HourFitness.com - CHECK THIS OUT WHILE THERE IS STILL TIME TO REGISTER ONLINE TO SAVE SOME CASH!)

Q. Course layout map to see what obstacles were placed, where, etc.
A. There is not currently a map online that indicates the obstacles. There will likely be a map available on site the day of the race.

Q. How do we check in? Morning of? Pre-race packet pickup?
A. There are two ways to check in: 1. Packet pick up will be held at the 24 Hour Fitness location in Kansas City. This is the recommended course of action so that members can take advantage of getting a pre-race workout in as well! 2. The day of the event (though this can be chaotic and is not recommended)

Q. Do we have to pay to get in to Clinton Lake State Park? We have raced several events out there and if it’s like the others, they require cash and the lines to get in the park can be LONG and frustrating.
A. Parking is usually a site/park requirement. Atlas Race will make sure to expedite the process in order to insure people aren’t waiting in lengthy lines Editor’s note - Clinton Lake State Park usually has a parking fee and only takes cash. Bring at least $10 in cash or they will not let you in and you will have to go 10 minutes back to Lawrence to the nearest ATM.

Q. When we check out the event info section on the site, the links go to generic parts about teams and non-site specific details. Will an email be coming out soon?
A. Yes, race participants will receive an email in the next 24 hours indicating your start times. We hope the rain comes in during the night as a muddy course is something that people should be excited about and look forward to in the world of obstacle course racing!

Atlas Race Stats/Facts:
  • Number of days it takes to set up the course: It takes 5-7 days to build a course
  • Number of volunteers it takes to set up the course, man the course on days-of-event, etc.: Approximately 10 volunteers to set up and approximately 50 volunteers to handle various responsibilities on the day of the race itself
  • Pounds of weighted items that participants carry/lift: It varies based on the obstacle, however the average weight for men is approximately 40 lbs., women is 20 lbs.
  • Height of the 24HF course obstacle: 10 -12 ft.
  • Bottles of water consumed on race day: 500-750
  • Bottles of other beverages consumed (non-alcoholic, energy drinks, alcohol): 1,000
  • Number of 24HF towels handed out at finish line: 500-1,000
  • Number of participants: Kids: 100 -200, Adults: Event average is 1,000, Teams: 10-15 teams per event
  • Miles of smiles at the finish line: 3,600 miles Average amount of weight in mud that each participant crosses the finish line with: 10 lbs.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

ASICS 33-M Running Shoe from CitySports.com Review

There’s so many ways to go when runners and triathletes are looking for shoes. We’ve tested several makes and models for which many manufacturers produce to address every category dreamt up, and some that have never been thought of until the shoe was made. Not all shoes are the same across a genre, and not all athletes can use just any shoe. Many learn painful lessons that just because a shoe is the latest and greatest and has the highest price tag, it doesn’t mean that’s the magic shoe to end all foot pain and running issues.

CitySports.com reached out to us to review their latest “natural” ASICS running shoe, the 33-M. The 33-M is built for the natural running experience to lessen interference from the shoe to the body’s running form, assuming it’s a normal pronation and doesn’t need any work per say. With our test pair, we logged nearly 100 miles over six weeks and you can read on for our take from an everyday age grouper on how the 33-M stacks up in the real world.


SPECS

  • The 33-M sports the following tech details:
  • 4mm Platform / Drop
  • Solyte Midsole with Amplifoam Layer
  • Comfordry Sockliner
  • Seamless Upper Construction
  • Natural Running Experience / Under and Neutral Pronation
  • Natural 33 - Heel Fit & Toe Box
  • 10.9 oz
  • Heel Height : 24 mm
  • Forefoot Height : 20 mm
  • Durasponge Outsole

 

 

APPEARANCE

At initial glance, the one stand out feature is the actual sole thickness at the rear supporting the 4mm platform drop. If you’re looking to squeeze in a few inches on your online dating profile, the 33-M is your shoe. You might feel as if the ground is a little further away with these bad boys, and you wouldn’t be far from the truth.

Aside from the robust soles, the ASICS 33-M’s we tested were the White / Flash Yellow / Navy style. There are other colors out there, however it appeared that City Sports carried this style in particular. The white is sharp and eye catching to say the least. We immediately got comments on how attractive and appealing the 33-M’s were. One drawback on the white is how fast they will attract dirt and smudges. Naturally if you run outside, you might run into some dirt, water or mud. With a white pair of shoes, it’s going to happen. If you are worried about keeping your shoe investments as pristine as possible, one option would be to limit usage to indoors on treadmills. Lets be honest, shoes are meant to run in and they will get dirty. Accept it. Even after 100 miles of street, track and treadmill running, our white 33-M’s were not any dirtier than other white running shoes.

The overall construction of the shoe is cohesive and doesn’t suffer when you enter the larger sizes. You big foots out there know what we mean when you order that awesome looking pair of shoes online only to get them and have them look distorted when in larger sizes than the nice pictures online. The 33-M’s don’t look odd in the larger sizes.

 

PERFORMANCE

If a running shoe doesn’t perform the function is was designed and purchased for, then that was a waste of money, right?

In our 100ish miles of testing, we ventured runs on streets, sidewalks, treadmills, long runs, tempo runs, easy runs, interval runs, brick runs and dog walking. We even ran in the rain with our 33-M’s and lived to tell the tale. We also stuffed the 33-M’s in duffle bags for travel and crammed them into airplane overhead bins. You know a shoe is resilient when it rebounds to it’s original shape after 10+ hours being in luggage.

Thoughts of note:
  • Sole degradation was minimal. Wear and tear on the sole and stitching was not an issue as not one seam had popped or piece of rubber had peeled.
  • Being designed for under or neutral pronators, the 33-M’s are aimed at a specific running segment, which means they aren’t for everyone. If you overpronate and roll your feet too much, the 33-M’s might hurt you in the long run. We have a tendency for overpronation and after long runs, we would experience hot spots on the balls of the big toe and in the arch area. No blisters came of it, but we could tell it would be an issue if this was our full time shoe. But, this could also offer a “cross training” opportunity for non-under or neutral pronators to use a shoe that works muscle groups left unaddressed by stability or motion control shoes. In moderation and under controlled usage, varying shoe types could potentially be used to promote strengthening of weaker muscle groups and ligaments similar to trail running and other variations of running. It’s not something to switch to 80% of the time, but may be a good option for one or two shorter runs a week to work on stabilizer muscles.
  • We are guilty of nasty heel striking. It’s just there after years of running and various PT sessions. We’ve coped with finding the right shoe combination and training regime that allows us to stay injury and pain free. One item of concern was the return of heel pain after using a non-stability shoe like the 33-M. We were pleasantly surprised that no heel pain was present after runs and non-existent the mornings after long runs, which was the worst times for heel pain. Also keep in mind that we did not switch to exclusive use of the 33-M’s, but rotated them in with our other trusted shoes.
  • The 33-M’s actually felt heavier than our trusted styles, but at 10.9 ounces, they were right on target or actually lighter than other styles we use on a consistent basis. For some reason it was deceiving while wearing the 33-M’s, and we don’t really have an explanation.

 

CITYSPORTS.COM EXPERIENCE

We would be remiss if we didn’t give some review love to the store that set us up with our test shoes. CitySports.com is an actual brick and mortar store in Boston that has developed into an online entity selling quality apparel. They shipped the ASICS 33-M’s free of charge (normally $6 for standard ground) and from order confirmation to shoes at our door, it was around 3 days to get our kicks. The box comes wrapped in plastic to protect is from the elements and comes with a printed receipt in the need of returning the shoes. They offer a 30 day refund policy for online buying as long as you meet their conditions for a return.

 

 

COST

The 33-M’s don’t come free. Depending on the source, the 33-M’s run from $125 to $139.99 before tax and shipping. That’s a nice chunk of change, but when you’re buying the latest and greatest in running tech, you’re paying for what you get.

 

SUMMARY

Overall the 33-M’s appear to be a solid shoe. They are reliable and have been built to withstand some serious punishment.

They are geared to a specific market. The natural running experience is their target, and that may not work for everyone. It’s not to say the 33-M’s wouldn’t serve a purpose, but it’s a large price tag to add a part time runner to your closet. But, ASICS and CitySports.com have several options to address your needs. We just reviewed one of them.

Will we continue to run with our 33-M’s? Yes. They offer the ability to target weaker running muscles groups, therefore proving useful in the war on triathlon. They may not serve as everyday race flats, but they made the rotation.

Would we continue to buy more 33-M’s after our test pair gets retired? Probably not. It’s not a knock on the shoe, but a testament that needs of runners are very unique to the individuals and not just any shoe will fill that need.

We would definitely recommend checking out CitySports.com for future purchases. They have been very reactive to our questions and concerns and seem to care about online customers. They want you happy with what you buy from them. The order process is smooth and it’s not a fly by night operation that may go offline at any time.

For those that made it this far in the review, reward yourself with 20% off the ASICS 33-M with code “TRI20” at CitySports.com.

* Writer's note - City Sports provided the products for this review at no cost and did not influence this review.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Running the first race of 2015! Rock the Parkway Half Marathon!

Holy cow has the time flown by and very little time to write on the old blog...

Case in point : I'm racing my first 2015 half marathon tomorrow and I never even wrote a recap for Ironman Chattanooga!  Yes, I finished.  Does that count?

But a few fleeting thoughts before running tomorrow.

1. I'm not really all geeked up trying to PR for a half.  Traditionally this has been my target race to PR the half, but this year had been hectic and I'm just happy to be trained up enough to run it.  I don't even remember what my current PR is, and I'd rather be in bed relaxing asap than looking it up.  Maybe I'll check back post race.

2. My plan is to just run like hell and see what happens... and avoid injuries.  I really have no idea what I have in me and this year I'm driving in instead of riding my bike to and from.  I didn't really taper since workout time is hard to come by, so I kept my regular workout routine and did probably too much the day before a hard race.  Oh well.

3. It's odd how my goals have morphed.  I'm not razor sharp focused on race dates, being tapered and ready.  I'm just more focused on being fit and ready for what the weekend brings.  Ya, I'll pay more attention to Ironman Boulder, Legends 100, but other than that, I plan on keeping a strong baseline throughout the summer to handle Olympic triathlons, half marathons and maybe a marathon.  Oh ya, the Atlas OC Race in a few weeks as well.  Endurance, check.  Strength work, not so much.

4. What I am focused on is my trail mix!  I'm jonesing for it lately and tomorrow I'm letting loose!

Check back and maybe I'll write a recap before the next race... maybe.  ;)