Back in the day (\”the day\” being the late 80\’s to about 1995) I swam a lot. I was in the water about probably eight or nine workouts a week. With that much pool time, my teammates and I went through practice suits like crazy. Once a suit would tear or become see through, did we throw it away? Of course not! We just got another suit and put the old one over top of it for drag. Often, this resulted in a strange tapestry of four or five different suits, each managing to cover a very important bit of flesh. The unfortunate byproduct of this was that, in any particular workout one would take a look at the people in the pool and think we were a bunch of swimmers who had just been through some sort of odd battle with a swimsuit hungry enemy.
Fortunately, fabrics have been developed today that result in much higher wear times for swimsuits. My suit of choice for the last year has been the Sonic Spliced square leg from Speedo. This suit is made of Speedo\’s Endurance+ fabric and I wanted to see just how much endurance it had.
Endurance+ is a chlorine resistant fabric that is made to dry quickly while retaining its shape and elasticity. The fabric feels much more dense than the traditional swimsuit material. It\’s weigh does not, however, contribute to any loss in freedom of movement. I have been swimming in the same suit for a year now and it doesn\’t really show any signs of wear at all.
The suit itself is the first of the square leg variety that I\’ve worn. In the past I have always been someone who wears either jammers (just above the knee length) of the stereotypical \”speedo\”. It does take a bit of getting used to but once you\’re over the normal on the crotch, low on the leg feel it\’s really very comfortable.
I\’m not sure when I\’ll need a new suit for everyday pool workouts but when I do this one will certainly be at the top of my list.
When I first began running in earnest I wore what I had to wear. This included cotton t-shirts (shudder) and shorts made from that basketball short material. Almost always the shorts came to at least the top of my knee and weighed a ton. It took me a while, but I finally came around to actually wanting to show off my über-pale thighs in some shorter running shorts and realizing the freedom of movement that they allow.
The Infinity running short from Pearl Izumi gives it\’s wearer the minimal design and light weight but is well thought out and chock full of goodies for runners. The 4 inch inseam, ELITE Transfer Fabric is super light and flows easily with the runner. Underneath lies one of the more important features, the liner. Made from PI\’s Minerale fabric, this liner dries 50% faster than other performance polyester liners. This is thanks to the larger surface area of the fabric (on the microscopic level) being able to spread moisture out more and thus, allow it to evaporate more quickly.
The Infinity short also features a zippered back pocket with plenty of room for a phone or mp3 player. The backside of the short features plenty of reflective elements for safety. Rounding out the short is a smooth front waistband for added comfort as well as a stretch drawstring.
For me, it tends to be the small things that stand out. Yes, the Infinity short is a really great run short. It offers ample movement with the side cutaways and its roomy pocket holds things still instead of bouncing off my butt for an entire run. the thing that most stood out to me in the inside of the waistband. That\’s right. Generally, the waistbands of running shorts have that \”crinkled\” thing going on. This often becomes uncomfortable and can feel insecure after a while. The waistband in the Infinity is smooth. It\’s a soft fabric with a completely smooth front side and is incredibly comfortable. I also noticed that the fabric of the waistband picked up the sweat that was pouring down my stomach and back and, rather than transferring it to the body of the short, it moved it to the outside of the waistband where it evaporated.
These are a great offering from a brand that has a reputation for thinking ahead of the game and trying to address the needs of athletes before the athletes even know it.
There is a time when we find ourselves outdoors and in need of something a bit cooler or a bit warmer or maybe something that can keep our skin protected long after sunscreen has abandoned our pasty hides. Pearl Izumi has come at all of those scenarios head on with this very versatile top.
The Infinity In-R-Cool long sleeve top brings comfort and fit right to the forefront when it\’s put on. ELITE transfer fabric combined with In-R-Cool allows the top to act as a second skin. As we know, our body cools itself by evaporating sweat from our skin thus cooling us down. Likewise, the fabric technology in this top allows for the sweat generated to evaporate keeping the body cool, even in a long sleeve top.
For additional cooling the top also includes a Direct-Vent mesh panels running from the base of the neck, down the back and to the bottom of the shirt. An eight inch zipper with an ergonomic pull allows for further, adjustable venting on the chest. The semi form fit makes for a top that moves with the athlete and become hardly noticeable.
Pear Izumi cycling has a series of ads comparing wearing their gear to being naked (see picture at right). Putting on this top is kind of like that. The fabric is extremely light weight and supple and it really did disappear to my touch shortly after putting it on.
What interested me the most about this top was seeing how it would hold up in warmer weather. One of its biggest selling points is that it offers full UV protection, but along with that comes a price in many tops. The warmest day I\’ve been able to run in with the Infinity top was about 73 degrees. Normally in that temperature I am in shorts and a sleeveless top but I wanted to see what the In-R-Cool fabric could do.
The cooling effects of the fabric and design did their jobs very well, keeping me sweaty but comfortable (which I would have been anyway). After opening the zipper to further cool myself, there was a bit of flopping of the collar. I tried to remedy this by tucking the collar under but since the fabric is so supple and silky it wouldn\’t stay.
The cooling effects on my arms, which were the most obvious place to pay attention, was significant. The wicking action of the fabric did a great job dissipating heat. The thing I missed most was the air on my skin. I know this sounds like it may be turning into some weir prosaic novel but it\’s true. While I fully admit that it is a point of preference, I am one who prefers to be free of sleeves of any kind in warmer weather (PI does make an Infinity In-R-Cool singlet that looks flippin\’ awesome).
This top delivers and would be amazing for those with super sensitive skin that needs constant and consistent sun protection. This is a versatile piece that is perfect for transitional seasons and is a welcome addition to my running wardrobe.
For many cyclists, bib shorts (or tights) are one of those things that once you try them, going back to just shorts is just not in the cards. The most obvious of these advantages is that the interminable pulling up of your waistband is eliminated. Alos, your chamois doesn\’t shift and the lack of a constricting waistband allows for more airflow.
Sugoi has a line up of four levels of bib shorts. Right at the top of the heap is their RSE bib short. Launched in Spring 2010, the RSE line is a step up on Sugoi\’s award winning RS line. These shorts use the top end FXE chamois which is a big statement maker in the chamois wars of the past couple years. Made with Meryl Skinlife antimicrobial knit synthetic, the FXE has a welded center channel to aid in ventilation as well as pressure relief because, let\’s face it, the last thing you want on a six hour ride is moisture and numbness in your crotch!
On top of the fabric and channels in the chamois, the FXE has two 3D mesh exhaust panels, one af the rear and one at the front. These vents run straight into the welded channels and funnel air in several different directions to maximize air flow. These things combined with four-way stretch side panels and intelligent deign features like the v-notch on the back side to add flexibility and still more air flow.
These RSE bib shorts marked my first ever endeavor into the world of shoulder supported cycling bottoms. The first thing that caught my eye and more than that, caught the attention of touch was the chamois. This thing is lightweight but wonderfully firm and cushioned. In my experience some chamois\’s (is that the proper plural?) aim to be comfortable by being super soft and cushy. The problem with that theory is that often the lack of firmness results in the collapse of any channels and contours. The firmness of the FXE keeps everything pleasantly padded and allows the contours to work as they were intended. My first impression of the mesh exhaust panels was that they were probably a gimmick that wouldn\’t be able to work as advertised. I was wrong. The front mesh in particular allows for a good amount of air to get where you need air the most.
The front of the RSE has quite a high amount of rise that at first appears to be a bit much. I tend to be a massive fan of high-ish fronts on bibs. It really gives a nicely secure and well fitting feeling that makes for an even more worry free and comfortable ride. The flat-seamed, ten panel outer body of the RSE gives a wonderful amount of temperature regulation combined with the advantages of compression technology; all this combine into a wonderfully sleek looking and feeling bib tight.
Sugoi\’s RSE bib shorts are perfect for lots of miles any time at all but truly excel in the heat. If you haven\’t tried bibs of any kind yet, this is a great place to start. Yeah, they make bathroom breaks a bit tricky sometimes but they\’re more than worth the trouble.
Bulk is rarely good. Sure, you have your insulated, puffy coats that are amazing at keeping you warm, but during many activities you don\’t want something getting in your way and hindering your performance. People looking to keep their warmer weather workouts and activities going through the winter need friends in this department and Sugoi has aimed the Firewall 220 Zip squarely at this target.
Sugoi\’s Firewall fabric is made from a three layer laminate with the outer surface being made of a high-gauge knit as opposed to being woven which tends to be what we find most often. This allows for a very supple and very quiet fabric that moves well with the wearer. Firewall 220 is also quite stretchy which further allows for a fitted feel, but allows for freedom of movement. The outer shell is also coated with a long wearing water repellent that beads and sheds water.
The middle layer of the 220 fabric is a monolithic film that is waterproof but breathable. The top two layers provide the warmth while the innermost layer provides a moisture dispersing, wicking layer that pulls moisture from the body and spreads it out through the fabric allowing for quicker evaporation.
The body of the Firewall 220 Zip features ergonomically shaped sleeves with 3M Scotchlite reflective bands. The sleeves do extend longer than one would expect to accommodate a cyclists extended arm position. The torso is athletically fit and has two outer zippered pockets. The zippers have a weather seal on them to keep out moisture from what would have otherwise been a chink in the armor. The full front zipper extends to a high, two inch neck.
When you go to Sugoi\’s website, the Firewall 220 Zip is found under both the run and bike categories. When I tested this jacket, I did so on both the bike and while running to make sure that it belonged.
On the run, the 220 Zip came through with flying colors. There was enough room and give in the fabric to allow for plenty of layers when heading out into more extreme temperatures. Even with those layers (which, for the record, were also close fitting and flexible) the 220 Zip remained soft and didn\’t hinder any movement. The wind-breaking prowess of this jacket came in to play on several cold runs, but none more so than one particular night when the outside temperature was 15° F with a windchill around -5° F (that\’s about a 30 mph wind).
Heading directly into this wind and cold, my face, which was startlingly unprotected, protested but my body remained in a well balanced temperature stasis. The high, snug neck sealed out and air leaks from above and the zippers all held out the cold air from other openings. The sleeves which are longer than some might be used to stayed well out of the way with their snug fit as well. In fact, the sleeves extra fabric on the bottom served to cover the cuffs of my gloves and help to seal that hole as well.
On the bike, the slightly elongated tail of the Firwewall 220 Zip provided ample coverage. The sleeves extended a good amount and didn\’t leave any errant wrist skin exposed to the wind and chill. Due to the windy nature of being on a bike, layers is the name of the game, but as I mentioned before, there was ample room and give to allow for plenty of layers.
The Firewall 220 Zip is a bit on the high end of the price range, but we have to look beyond that. The versatility, conscientious construction and well thought out features make this jacket a great, long-term value. This will last far more than one season and will hold up to just about any weather you can throw at it.
I know that by now we\’ve probably all read a thousand lists like this, so I figured I\’d add my voice to the chorus of advice. This winter, the bite of cold air and snow is making its way to parts of the world that aren\’t used to this much cold and I\’ll bet that some of those people are wondering what to do since it\’s not quite as balmy as usual! I could probably write a huge list of tips but for now I\’ll limit myself to 10. So, here we go:
Some good gear for cold weather running on the Today Show this morning. Take a look at what shows up at about the 2 minute mark!
Technical base layers are a garment that, when done right, can make an amazing difference in the overall feel and enjoyment of outdoor pursuits. The GT200 Sprint Zip from Icebreaker steps up to the plate and nails it.
Following the welcome trend of sustainable, natural fabrics, Icebreaker\’s Merino wool is as far from the typical itchy wool of your typical Bill Cosby sweater. Merino wool itself is taken from the Merino sheep (go figure!) and is renowned for its fleece. One of the coolest things about Icebreaker is that each garment can be tracked to it\’s point of origin using a unique BAAcode (get it?). Mine was tracked to one of 4 stations (out of 120) in New Zealand. Here\’s what it looks like:
Upon entering your BAAcode the results come up and you can see a lot more about each station.
More about the garment itself; coming in at 270 grams (9.6 ounces), the GT200 Sprint Zip is plenty light. Now, wool like cotton can can absorb 1/3 it\’s weight in water. Unlike cotton however, wool hangs onto its warming ability making it ideal for wearing during activity. The GT200 Sprint Zip also has gusseted sleeves, (thumb holes) that keep the sleeves in place and help to keep out cold air. It has a tight fit though not so tight as to be uncomfortable and still allows for complete freedom of movement. The 12 inch zipper on the front allows for venting if needed and caps in a 2 inch high neck further keeping out cool air.
The most recent run on which I wore the GT200 Sprint Zip was one that met me with an air temperature of about 19° Fahrenheit and windchill around 7°. I wore this top as it was intended, as a true base layer, right next to my skin with nothing in between. For the duration of the run, the soft feel and NON-itchiness of the wool held up. Since I was going for a fairly quick 10 miles, I had plenty of sweat to throw at the top and I was never once chilled nor did I feel clammy since the fabric was also wicking away any moisture like a champ. The fit and feel is equal to it\’s performance roots and it has a great, sleek look to boot.
I would recommend this top to anyone who gets outside in the cold, especially those that are going to be doing some heavy sweating and need a solid layer to keep the cold out, the sweat off and the warmth in.
10.06.2010– SAN LEANDRO, Calif. — The North Face, the world’s premier supplier of authentic, innovative and technically advanced outdoor apparel, equipment and footwear, and Polartec, LLC, the developer, manufacturer and marketer of Polartec performance fabrics today announce The North Face Kishtwar Jacket was awarded “Gear of the Year” by Outside magazine. The Kishtwar is crafted of ground-breaking Polartec Power Shield Pro, which delivers the best combination of weather protection and breathability ever offered in a single fabric.
\”The Kishtwar just might be the ultimate soft shell. It’s made with a brand-new fabric from Polartec that somehow manages to be impressively breathable but also remarkably tough, windproof, and water-resistant,’\” said Sam Moulton, Buyer’s Guide Editor at Outside magazine. \”Add it all up and you\’ve got a versatile soft shell for everything from backcountry skiing to cool-weather hiking.\”
The holy grail of softshell jackets, the Kishtwar Jacket is designed for highly aerobic endeavors in foul weather. Polartec Power Shield Pro allows a high rate of air permeability that significantly improves moisture transport compared to softshells that do not allow airflow, while offering superior water resistance. The hydrophobic, microporous, polyurethane membrane stops water from penetrating while still allowing airflow. The Kishtwar features high abrasion resistance, four-way stretch and non-restrictive fit.
“The Kishtwar is a revolutionary solution to adventurers who, until now, often had to choose between breathability and protection,” said Philip Hamilton, Vice President of Product for The North Face. “Working closely with longtime partner Polartec, we were able to create a solution. We are honored the Kishtwar stood out during Outside’s intensive testing process.”
“Serious outdoor athletes and guides have been asking for a fabric like Polartec Power Shield Pro for years,” said Nate Simmons, Global Director of Marketing for Polartec. “Recent breakthroughs in membrane technology have finally made this combination of water resistance and air permeability possible. The North Face created an all-business jacket with the Kishtwar that will answer the needs of the most demanding users.”
Outside magazine’s Buyer’s Guide features the latest and greatest of outdoor product and gear, as the ultimate guide for outdoor enthusiasts. Outside’s testing team looked at more than 50 of the best new jackets, and put a dozen through the paces on a wide variety of conditions, activity and terrain, including a mountain climb in Iceland, a trek to Mount Everest Base Camp in Nepal, and an adventure race in Patagonia.
The North Face Kishtwar Jacket was also awarded “Gear of the Year” by National Geographic Adventure. http://on.natgeo.com/9ellZK
For more than 40 years The North Face athlete team has defined the limits of what is humanly possible, and continually works with The North Face Research Design and Development teams, creating innovative designs that push new technologies and inspire cutting-edge products.
Watch the Kishtwar in action – video: http://tnfvideo.com/video/kishtwar-jacket/
For more information on Polartec, visit www.polartec.com
For more information on The North Face, check out www.thenorthface.com
Visit Outside magazine at www.outsideonline.com
As outdoor lovers and athletes we all know that versatility is key to being comfortable in any situation. We\’re also not big on having a bunch of overly bulky, uncomfortable and unnecessary \”stuff\” weighing us down. Cyclists in particular are sticklers for this type of thing. I cannot tell you how many times I\’ve headed out for a longer ride where temperatures have started off too cool for just a short sleeve jersey and have rapidly gotten far too warm for a long sleeved jersey of jacket.
Having a good pair of arm warmers in your gear, whether for cycling, running or whatever, is one of the smartest and most affordable things you can do. I have been using SmartWool\’s arm warmers for the past few months(excluding Summer, of course) and am in love with them. Honestly, like a lot of people, you hear \”wool\” and itchy comes to mind. I\’ve worn and continue to wear SmartWool socks all the time, but my arms seemed like they would be something much more susceptible to itchiness. I was wrong.
The thing about these arm warmers and most of SmartWool\’s stuff is that it\’s so lightweight but you don\’t lose the insulating factor. At the same time, it\’s super breathable and you don\’t get that potentially closed off feeling. The welt at the wrist and upper arm (the thing that holds them in place) is hardly noticeable and has no silicon or other gripping material to annoy your skin. Even when I\’ve left these on longer than I should and they get a bit sweaty, the weight of them when I take them off is so super light that I don\’t notice them, whether they\’re down around my wrists or in a pocket.
The only possible drawback is a tiny bit of shrinking that occurs length-wise after washing. My arm warmers shrank maybe three quarters of an inch and that was easily remedied by doing a quick stretch before using them.
I would highly recommend SmartWool arm warmers. They\’re a versatile and lightweight option on days where the temperature keeps you guessing.
[box type=\"info\"]MSRP: $25
With the introduction of the new Thermal Midlayer (TML) series, SmartWool launches the SmartWool® Layer Up System for Fall 2010. Cold weather outdoor enthusiasts will be able to layer head-to-toe in SmartWool® material, offering the most effective and efficient layering system in complement with breathable, waterproof outerlayers.
SmartWool’s® Next-to-Skin (NTS) Baselayers are the foundation of the SmartWool® Layer Up System. Moving the moisture vapor away from the skin, NTS keeps the breathing process going by allowing the vapor to pass through its fiber out to the Thermal Midlayer. The NTS Baselayer also manages any moisture build-up on the skin, absorbing it into the wool fibers away from the skin. The TML acts as the insulation layer, providing extra warmth without added bulk. The TML is also critical in keeping the layering system breathing; passing the moisture vapor through its Merino wool fibers where the breathable outerlayer can release the moisture vapor to the outside atmosphere. Wearers stay drier, warmer and more comfortable when wearing a complete layering system of Merino wool Baselayers and midlayers.
SmartWool continues improvements to the fit, functionality and finishes of its Next-to-Skin Baselayer line. The increased hem width on the cuff and waist; rolled forward side seams and added underarm panels simply add to the comfort. New fun colors and bright striped patterns plus all the moisture moving benefits of 100% SmartWool® Merino wool fibers, makes this an everyday “must-have” for hours spent playing in the snow. And, all NTS pieces are easy care – machine washable and dryable. Other finishing details and overall designs for both men and women include: chin guard on zippers; contrast neck taping; subtle flat lock stitch detail; and the introduction of seamless shoulders in the midweight collection to reduce chafing.
As the second layer in the system, the new SmartWool® Thermal Midlayers (TML) provide the necessary insulation and aide in the body’s breathability process. The TML continues to move perspiration in its vapor state, transporting it to an outer layer before it condenses into a liquid. A buffer of air is trapped in between the NTS Baselayer and the Thermal Midlayer creating a thermal insulation zone, providing warmth. This keeps the wearer dry, warm and comfortable, so activities can continue. New Thermal Midlayers are available in three weights: TML Light SportKnit, a warm, light midlayer sweater ideal for three-season aerobic and stop and go activities. TML Light is a warm, light, midlayer to help make transitioning through the seasons extraordinarily comfortable. The TML Heavy is the warmest insulator for active pursuits and stop-and-go activities in very cold weather. TML – the SportKnit has a looser weave and allows for more breathability. It’s good for high aerobic days or warmer days. An additional benefit of layering all in Merino, you get the warmest system possible, without bulk giving the wearer maximum mobility. With three weights in both NTS and TML, as well as multiple fabric construction options in the TML users can mix and match for the optimal layering system. The overall benefit here is that users can really fine-tune their dressing system – for their body, their activities and the weather.
For more information visit: http://smartwool.com
Continued from: 2010 Ironman Mooseman 70.3: Race Report Part 2 – Race Morning…
Beach starts in triathlon tend to be a full contact affair. This is especially true just behind the front of the pack. If you\’ve placed yourself in that spot, there\’s a decent chance that you\’ll get kicked in the face by the guy in front of you and/or punched in various parts of your body by the guys on either side of you and/or dunked and swum over by the guy behind you who may be faster than you. All accidents, of course.
Since I expect to be one of the faster swimmer in any race I enter, I always place myself at the front of the pack in both water and beach starts. In triathlons I\’ve done that have pool swims it is incredibly frustrating to be relegated to swimming behind people who\’ve WAY overestimated their speed, and having to pass them. So, for this race I was at the front of the pack when the horn sounded.
The run into the water was fairly smooth with the bottom dropping off to swimming depth in probably about ten feet. The pack broke up quickly and myself and a few others pulled away off the front. The swim course itself was a rectangle (see picture) and was protected from and waves kicked up by wind by the shoreline to the East. As we reached the first turn, quite a few waves appeared, I have to assume because we had come around from the lee side of a point of land, and the wind was now kicking up a bit.
At about the halfway point, I noticed that another swimmer from my wave (I could tell from his powder blue cap like mine) and I seemed to be staying right with each other. Shortly after I noticed this, my opponent disappeared and I assumed that I had dropped him. By this time, I had been swimming through swimmers from waves that had gone off ahead of me from about the 1/4 mark on. Every now and then, either I would accidentally run into one of these swimmers or they would run into me. This is when I noticed that someone kept hitting my heels. I snuck a peek back and saw that the swimmer with whom I had been dueling had taken a comfortable spot in my wake and was now drafting along and taking it easy. While drafting is illegal in the bike leg of a triathlon, there is nothing wrong with drafting in the swim. I guess I didn\’t mind so much and I wouldn\’t have even known the difference if it weren\’t for the fact that my heels were getting tapped every thirty seconds or so. Annoying.
The concern I had coming into this race with regards to my neck never really came to fruition. To be honest, I was being a bit conservative (which is evident by my less than stellar time) and definitely felt fatigued in my shoulders more than I usually would, but true pain never affected me.
Swim time: 27:17
Swim pace: 1:25 per 100 meters (boo)
Age Group Place: 5th
Overall Place: 28th
Most of us are aware of the potential dizziness that comes with standing up too fast. I have even fallen over several times because of this. In a triathlon, the same thing takes place. You\’ve been swimming for however long, thus you\’ve been essentially laying down. All of a sudden, you ask your body to stand up! This problem can be compounded by the fact that your upper body is doing most of the work on the swim and so most of your blood is hanging out there to supply your muscles. Further, if you\’re wearing a wetsuit, there is a bit of compression being applied to your lower extremities which keeps your blood even more focused in your upper body. So, when you then stand up to run out of the water, all that blood suddenly drops, and sometimes you do along with it!
As I stood, I was ready for the dizziness and I was not disappointed. Upon exiting the water, there was about a 20 yard (if I remember correctly) run to the wetsuit strippers. This is not some weird, wetsuit fetish exotic dancing area but rather, a group of race volunteers whose job it is to get you out of your wetsuit as fast as possible. All you have to do as a racer is flop on your back on the ground and they will grab your wetsuit and peel it off of you in a flash. The problem with this is the dizziness thing. You\’ve just come out of the water, gotten dizzy and then after a few seconds, you throw your body back to being flat again for a few seconds (legs in the air, mind you) and then pop up AGAIN. This makes for a rather world-spinning few minutes.
I made my way into the transition area and found my belongings in fairly short order. By this time, it had been raining for about thirty minutes and everything was wet. I removed my socks from their dry sanctuary inside my cycling shoe, inside that grocery bag I spoke about. Now let me paint you a picture of what I was doing. I was trying not balance on one foot at a time, while my head was spinning, putting dry socks onto wet feet (try putting on sock directly out of the shower some time), while desperately trying not to step into the mud and puddles that now surrounded me. All this time, my head refused to stop spinning. Good times. I eventually got my crap together, even having to literally DUMP water out of my helmet, and was on my way out of transition. Slow.
Transition 1 time: 4:14 (Dear LORD, that\’s awful)
To be completely honest, a lot of the bike portion of the race is a blur. It rained the entire time, often very hard. For the beginning six or so miles on the bike, I let my legs warm up well, pushing, but not pushing to the point of exhaustion. At about mile seven or so, the climbing began.
Leading up to this race, I had checked elevation charts and was not prepared for what I encountered. The first, largest and longest of the hills that we encountered was awful. First, we were climbing this hill in the rain, which gave you the appearance in spots of riding upstream in a river with an asphalt bottom. Second, this hill went to gradients of 16% for large sections at a time. To give you an idea of what a 16% grade is, the famous Mont Ventoux in the Tour de France has an average gradient of \”only\” 8.9%. Many people were forced to walk this hill and I must admit that I glanced at them with envy, but I stayed on my steed.
Several of the descents on the course were long and sweeping and gave you time to rest your legs. Other descents were so dangerous even without the rain that the officials had told us the day before that they would be strictly enforcing a 35 mph speed limit.
Apart from the 16% S.O.B. hill, there were a couple other climbs in excess of 10% as well as some deceptively \”flat\” sections that seemed to sap energy from the legs. The road conditions were only OK. You were forced to stay constantly aware of the pavement in front of you due to the fact that for 99% of the course there was a large crack (hastily patched but still pitted) meandering across both sides of the road.
Somewhere around halfway through the bike, my Garmin 305 went haywire. I went to take a peek at my heart rate and the screen was flashing from display to display, and not making any sense. I tried to turn it off and couldn\’t. So I took it off and put it in my jersey. Now, for the rest of the race, I would have no idea where my pace of my heart rate were. I would be running purely on feel and perceived effort.
The toughest part of this bike course was grinding through it the first time and knowing you had to come back and hit it again. 16%\’er and all. My nutrition, which if you know me, you know I have struggled in the past with this, was perfect. I had three hours worth of my \”blend\” from Infinit Nutrition in my Speedfil and rotated water bottles from aid stations in my one bottle cage. I finished my Infinit blend with about six miles to go on the bike, so, just to be safe, I grabbed a bottle of Gatorade Endurance Formula and dropped a bottle of water into my Speedfil. I also grabbed a banana at some point during the bike (can\’t remember when) just because I knew it wouldn\’t affect me adversely and it just looked good.
I didn\’t do exactly what I wanted to do on the bike, in terms of speed, but I was consistent and I think that is just as important. I also learned a lot of what I need to do moving forward.
Bike time: 2:57:16
Bike pace: 19 mph
Age Group Place: 44th
Overall Place: 217th
By the time I hit T2, my feet had been soaked for over three and a half hours, but were holding up fine (I actually have a lot to say about my Sole insoles on the bike that I\’ll write about later). However, I though it would behoove me to put on dry socks. This was frickin\’ stupid. It was still raining and I was still surrounded by mud and puddles. I have no idea why I thought that changing my socks would make a single bit of difference, bu I did anyway, and again, I had a terribly slow transition.
I grabbed all my gear, which wasn\’t that much after I got my shoes and dry (dumb, dumb, dumb) socks on. This included my new Fuel Belt H2O, which was holding two bottles of my Infinit blend, each with an hours worth of nutrition. As I ran out of transition, my shoes were wet and muddy within thirty seconds.
Transition 2 time: 3:26 (Oy to the vey)
I was really looking forward to this run. I have been running really well off the bike and I planned to make no exceptions on this run. The course itself was quite beautiful, albeit seen under cloudy skies that were still ridding themselves of any moisture they held, much to our detriment. It was fairly flat to rolling. The biggest obstacle(s) came in the form of a nasty little hill that was about 1/3 of a mile long at about mile 2 or so and again at about mile 8.5.
Because my nutrition and hydration had been so good on the bike, I had to pee almost as soon as I began to run. I waited until the first aid station at mile one and stopped to answer nature\’s call. I actually ended up having to pee twice, and it bears mentioning that it went well (it bears mentioning due to my previous experiences during races when I\’ve stopped to pee).
The course was two loops of an out and back that had as it\’s outside turn around point, about a half mile of dirt (read: mud) road that ended in a cul-de-sac. On this stretch of \”road\” there were some incredibly nice and supportive volunteers and even a barbershop quartet in one of the driveways serenading the runners as we went by.
I felt great on this run. I did struggle a bit with not being able to tell my pace of heart rate. Because of this, I laid off a little on the third quarter of the run, before picking it back up a bit on the home stretch. I didn\’t want to wind up completely gassed for the run in. I passed a lot of people wh had passed me on the bike and that was quite good for my morale. The rain never really let up, but I felt solid nonetheless. I truly think I would have been able to do more on the run had I known where I was in terms of pace.
Run time: 1:35:08 (1/2 marathon PR by 12 seconds)
Run pace: 7:15 per mile
Age Group Place: 22nd
Overall Place: 104th
(more detailed splits to come once they are available)
Overall Time: 5:07:21
Age Group Place: 34th
Overall Place: 132nd
I\’ve been in need of new running shorts for a while now. Especially since warm weather is officially here and rotating two pairs of shorts, one of which feels far too long, is becoming a bit tedious. It literally took me a day to decide which shorts to get from the Sugoi lineup.
Ultimately, I decided on the Sugoi Spearhead Short. When they came and I took them out of the packaging, it was like I was holding tissue paper! They are so incredibly light, but just be sure that I wouldn\’t bust through them at first stride, I gave them a firm tug. Sure enough, the Hexlite fabric the shorts are made out of felt as strong, yet supple, as anything I\’ve gotten my hands on before, if not far more so.
On my first run in the shorts, the only thing that told my that I wasn\’t running down the road naked was the also super light mesh liner. The length of the shorts is perfect for my taste; not too short and not long at all. They gave a perfect range of motion and offered now resistance to my legs at any point during my run.
One thing I will point out that may be an issue for heavy sweaters like myself is that, with fabric so light, if it gets wet with sweat, it tends to stick a bit. I noticed this on my first run, which was a rather hard tempo of ten miles. On my second run, which was much longer, coming in at 20.5 miles, I was wearing my usual compression liners which had been absent on my first run. This time, there was no sticking at all and the shorts continued to wear like a dream.
I\’m sure that I\’ll have more to say about these shorts as I get many more runs in them under my belt, but for now, if you\’re looking for a super light, comfortable and strong running short, this is a great place to begin and end your search. [LINK]
Mother\’s Day is just around the corner and flowers may be the old standby, but why not get the mothers in your life something they can really use this season. Here are a handful of the newest women\’s offerings from the Backbone Media client roster. Media samples are available for all of the products below as well as high res images. The contact for each brand is also listed alongside.
Cloudveil Women\’s Canopy Shirt
Made from PACE bamboo fabric, this soft and lightweight sun shirt has natural anti-microbial fibers and a wicking finish for high-octane workouts but soft enough to hang out in all day. It also has a UPF rating of 30+.
The Lilypond Switchgrass Carryall Backpack
This bag is perfect for moms running to the farmer’s market, picking up kids from school or just for a day in the park with the family. This bag can be used either as a backpack or a tote and has one exterior and one interior zippered pocket and plenty of pouches for organization. With two great colors, this bag is great for moms on the go.
1% FOR THE PLANET-Hillary@backbonemedia.net
1% for the Planet: The Music
Forty-one artists have donated tracks to be in included in this compilation, of which all proceeds go to 1% for the Planet member non-profits. Artists are incredibly varied and include Jack Johnson, G Love, Grace Potter, and Josh Ritter, among others. The digital album can be purchased online or via eco download card in retailers across the country.
Insulated WIDE bottle-This new double-walled Kanteen keeps hot beverages hot for up to 6 hours and cold ones cold for up to 24. Can be used as a food container well. Available in 3 sizes.
Also check out the Klean Kanteen New Spring Colors
Arc’teryx Caliber Hoody Vest
MMade from Polartec® Classic Micro Velour Cord fleece, the Caliber Hoody Vest features a relaxed fit, casual styling and articulated athletic patterning for a versatile garment that’s lightweight, warm and breathable.
SOLE Sport Flips
The Sport Flips are accepted by the American Podiatric Medical Association and feature a wear moldable footbed, a metatarsal support pad, adjustable arch support, a deep heel cup and a hidden toe ridge.
The Tirra was designed specifically for a woman’s foot in order to provide unmatched comfort and performance in the water. With its unmistakably feminine strap configuration and multiple adjustment options for a secure fit, the Tirra can tackle any obstacle with ladylike grace – just like you. $70.00
Lake CX170 Cycling Shoe
All leather, all BOA, all race….
Closure: Heel mounted push/pull BOA lacing system
Upper: action leather
Outsole: Competition fiberglass-injected nylon sole.
Compatibility/Drilling: Three hole compatible with optional SPD® compatibility.
Hydrapak Chute pack
A light minimalist pack with our smallest reservoir for 1 – 2 hour excursions.
Storage: Small zippered pocket on front flap w/key clip. Main compartment holds reservoir.
Other Features: Slider Buckle Chest Strap Ready
Fixed Reservoir Tube Connector
Top or Bottom Tube Routing option
AxlsCloset.com is a brand new one-stop shop for busy mom\’s looking to shop for stylish clothes for their kids from all of the top brands in the outdoor, surf, skateboard and active lifestyle markets. Axl\’s Closet combines youth collections from high-quality and stylish brands like DC, Patagonia, Volcom and Roxy with unique, hard to find youth pieces from the art, music and fashion communities. Through its 1% for Kids program, Axl’s Closet will also feature one unique children’s organization every month and use the site to raise funds and awareness to support that organization’s mission. For more information, go to www.AxlsCloset.com.
Consecutive Days Run: 81
Runner: Brandon Wood
Shoes: La Sportiva Wildcat GTX
Location: New York, NY
Type of Run: Quickie
Time of Day: 5:56 PM EST
Distance Run: 1.37 miles
Time Run: 00:11:14
Average Pace: 08:13 per mile
Weather Conditions: Nasty (54 degrees Fahrenheit), Muggy, Raining
Link to Run Detail: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/27789266
About the Run: Quite honestly, today was a \”getting it done\” day. The weather outside combined with my mood being off because the pool was closed for my workout earlier this afternoon, made for a kind of \”blah\” mood. I got home, once again in the holding pattern that my as yet unborn daughter seems to enjoy, and walked the dogs with my wife.
Back from the walk, I suited up in what I thought would be good attire considering the rain. I was a bit off. It was pleasantly cool out, but the humidity lingering in the air quickly let me know that, even though I was in shorts, the long-sleeved top I was wearing was not the right thing to be wearing. Clothing is a tricky thing for me due to my sweat production. I would almost always rather be too cold than too hot.
The run itself was fine. Nothing special, though I must say that my lower legs were far more tired than I expected after yesterday\’s 18.6 mile run. I sure hope this weather breaks soon!
In the spirit of the Olympics, and to make up for the fact that the United States laid the smack down on our good friends to the North AND because they have some simply amazing gear, I think you guys should check out this Canadian themed gear from Sugoi!
Consecutive Days Run: 43
Runner: Brandon Wood
Shoes: Newton AW Trainers
Location: New York, NY
Type of Run: Quickie
Time of Day: 6:28 PM EST
Distance Run: 2.01 miles
Time Run: 00:16:39
Average Pace: 8:17 per mile
Weather Conditions: Cold (34 degrees Fahrenheit), Windy, Sunny
Link to Run Detail: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/24538745
About the Run: If you are reading this thinking I have some super secret coverage of the Vancouver Olympics, I am sorry to disappoint. Rather, this is my own tail of clumsiness and the generous outpouring of not-giving-a-crap by the wonderful people from the New York City Sanitation Department.
I headed out this evening, planning on getting in a nice easy run and then coming in to settle down and watch the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics. I expected to see plenty of snow and ice on sidewalks as we live in a neighborhood that is not quite as busy as Times Square and thus, probably falls a bit lower on the list of priorities.
I didn\’t run into anything significant until about the .5 mile mark. As luck would have it, this is also the point in my usual route where I hit the first of a few hills. I shortened my stride and made sure to stay safely on my forefoot, as always, and ran across everything from loose snow to snow that had become compact and turned to sheets of ice…without a problem.
As I came down the hill on Staff St. (see details link above) and went to turn right on Dyckman St. my right foot went out from under me. I fell hard on my right knee and onto my shoulder, rolling into the street. As I pulled myself together and began to stand, I noticed an SUV from the Department of Sanitation parked about thirty yards away from me, with two men inside. I cannot say whether or not they saw me fall or if they even saw me picking myself up, regardless, nothing was said. I then turned to see, only about fifteen yards away from me, a large bulldozer that was being used to move snow, lights on and pointed directly at me, idling, with someone at the wheel. Again, not one word of, \”Are you ok?\”.
I looked down at my leg to see that the right knee of some of my favorite tights, my Sugoi Firewall 220\’s, had been torn wide open. My knee underneath didn\’t look much better. I could already see it becoming slick with blood. I stood for a couple of minutes, realizing that I was FAR more upset about my tights than about my knee, and then I headed home with my tights torn, my ego bruised and a confirmed sense of loathing toward any and all New York City agencies, especially those with powerful and abusive unions.
“Supporting the La Sportiva Mountain Running® team is one of many ways in which we aim to improve the vitality of the sport,” says Laura Fryer, La Sportiva’s Marketing Manager. “Ever since our Mountain Running® team’s inception in 2003, our goal has been to provide a network of support to regional race directors, volunteers, talented athletes and quality races throughout North America. We are very grateful for the assistance that our associate sponsors will be providing in 2010, as this mission would be impossible without their help.” La Sportiva’s running team roster includes over 25 athletes from around North America and includes such ultrarunning notables as Karl Meltzer, Luke Nelson, Leor Pantilat as well as the 2009 La Sportiva Mountain Cup Champions Matthew Byrne and Megan Kimmel. New additions to the La Sportiva team for 2010 include Andy Jones-Wilkins of Ketchum, Idaho, Nathan Yanko of San Francisco, CA, Ellen Parker of Seattle, WA, and Natalie Simms of Chattanooga, TN.
Associate sponsors for the 2010 La Sportiva Mountain Running® team are Greenlayer Sports and First Endurance with support from Ultimate Direction and Petzl. Additional sponsors include Julbo, Headsweats and DeFeet.
Melissa O’Kelley, Greenlayer Sports Marketing Director, states “Sponsoring the La Sportiva Mountain Running® team is a perfect fit for us, not only because of the high caliber of athletes on their team, but also because of pro-environmental philosophies that exist between our brands and the loyal following of active enthusiasts we both share. We hope that our inaugural partnership with La Sportiva will raise awareness about the environment and help shape a better world where we all live and run, locally and globally.” Greenlayer will serve as the official apparel sponsor of the La Sportiva team.
“At Ultimate Direction, we sponsor only the most passionate running teams and dedicated athletes. La Sportiva’s team roster for 2010 includes some of the best endurance athletes in the world,” states Sue Edmiston, Ultimate Direction’s Marketing Manager. “Water is an essential element for peak training, racing and performance. With our innovative array of hydration products we plan to keep Team Sportiva running fast in 2010.”
Huntington Beach, Calif. – January 29, 2010 – TYR continues to expand its elite roster of world-class athletes with the signing of triathlon “King of Swim” John Flanagan. The Hawaii native competed in the company’s Sayonara swimskin when leading out of the water at the 2009 Ironman World Championships. He will continue to race in TYR’s line of swimskins, apparel, and accessories, as well as the newest addition to the Triathlon line, the Hurricane wetsuit.
“All of us at TYR are thrilled to have John Flanagan as one of our flagship athletes,” said TYR Triathlon Sales and Promotions Director Ryan Dolan. “John has been a long time member of the TYR family. He coaches TYR teams and has represented the company in national and international open water swimming events. We look forward to him racing in our new premier wetsuit, the Hurricane.”
Flanagan proved his swimming strength at many national and international triathlon races in the past year. In addition to his 47:42 split at the world championships during the 2.4-mile swim leg, he set the swim course record at the 2009 Ironman Louisville race, averaging roughly 1:10 per 100 meters to clock in at 44:45. His success is rooted in over a decade of competitive swimming including a 2001 national title, an NCAA team title for Auburn University’s Men’s Swimming and Diving team, and four years as a Team USA swim member.
“I use TYR products everyday for either training or racing,” said Flanagan. “The Sayonara swimskin is the fastest suit I have ever swam in and helps me get out to a good start in my races. I also look forward to competing in cold water races this year so I can use the new Hurricane wetsuit!”
Flanagan joins the world’s greatest triathletes on Team TYR including Chrissie Wellington, Andy Potts, Sarah Haskins, and Julie Dibens.
“TYR is committed to the success of it’s athletes, and I want to continue to be a part of it,” Flanagan concluded.
Consecutive Days Run: 29
Runner: Brandon Wood
Shoes: Newton AW Trainers
Location: New York, NY
Type of Run: Quick, short
Time of Day: 7:19 PM EST
Distance Run: 2.18 miles
Time Run: 00:15:52
Average Pace: 7:17 per mile
Weather Conditions: Cold (24 degrees Fahrenheit), Windy
Link to Run Detail: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/23497693
About the Run: Today, I ended up leaving work early due to the fact that I was simply exhausted. I\’m not sure why, but I think it has something to do with the cumulative busy-ness of the week. So, I came home, had some lunch and proceeded to take a two hour nap. It was awesome! I usually try to avoid naps due to the fact that they often prevent me from sleeping later that night, but this one was SO needed!
My run tonight was a good one, save for one little issue. As I was on my way back home, I was running up what is a nice little hill that I hit almost every day. Ahead of me on the hill was a couple walking their dog and as I approached (I\’d like to add that I was wearing my Black Diamond Sprinter headlamp which is VERY bright, so I was quite visible) the dog got a bit tangled around them and they were laughing and stumbling a bit and almost right into me. So, as I came upon them, and was almost run into, I said, in a completely friendly tone, \”heads up!\”.
After passing them the guy in the couple said something along the lines of, \”Sorry, $#@, I don\’t want to slow you down.\” purposefully loud enough for my to hear him. So, I stopped and said to him, \”No, you don\’t\” and I turned and began to run again. As I did, this guy AGAIN, made some unnecessary remark to which said, \”look, we could sit here and trade smart remarks all night, but I\’m just trying to run, you don\’t have to be rude\”. As I turned around and headed off this person once again decided to open his mouth and say, \”You have to have the last word, don\’t you?!\”. I said nothing and kept going.
So, dear sir, should you see me again running along, please say something again so I know who you are and I will take the time to spend the rest of my run following you running in place behind you not saying a word.
Other than that, my run felt great! It is really cold outside and even the inside of my nose hurt from breathing in the super cold air. I must say, in an absolutely shameless plug, that my Sugoi Firewall 220 tights were so fantastic on this run! This weekend is going to be pretty cold in general, so I\’m sure this won\’t be the last time I mention it! I am very excited though, to be doing some trail running in the Bronx in Van Cortland Park on Sunday, so if you want to come along, let me know!
Consecutive Days Run: 28
Runner: Brandon Wood
Shoes: Newton AW Trainers
Location: New York, NY
Type of Run: Recovery run
Time of Day: 6:10 PM EST
Distance Run: 2.04 miles
Time Run: 00:15:40
Average Pace: 7:41 per mile
Weather Conditions: Cold (28 degrees Fahrenheit)
Disposition: Good, Tired
Link to Run Detail: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/23438720
About the Run: After a big race, I find that my legs go through stages of recovery. I also find that these stages come with varying degrees of speed and discomfort. I know that many reading this are probably going, \”Duh.\” and that\’s to be expected. Doing this streak, however, give me a unique perspective on how my legs progress through the many different stages of repair.
Tonight\’s run was apparently the part of my personal recovery process whereupon I begin to get speed back into my legs. Usually, immediately following a race, I can go out and run a what seems like an inordinately fast pace. For instance, the day right after the Manhattan Half-Marathon, while my run was short, it was done at a relatively blazing fast 7:39 per mile. The next two days, my pace fell to 7:51 and 8:41 respectively. Today, however, I went out feeling lighter and faster than I have since the race! I can\’t wait to begin to tack some distance onto my speed!
As I headed out this evening, an Arctic cold front had already begun to make its way into the NYC area. This morning we had quite a bit of snow and I was honestly looking forward to getting out and running in some of the falling white stuff this evening. Unfortunately, the snow stopped and all we were left with was cold and an accompanying wind. The wind was such that coming up to my one mile point, I was blown back a bit and at the same time, chilled to the bone. It really didn\’t help that the tights I was wearing were NOT thermal as my CW-X Insulators as well as my amazing Sugoi Firewall 220\’s were in the laundry!
A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to get a close up look at this stuff and it is simply amazing. So versatile and flexible and I cannot wait to get my hands on it!
The \”Run Don\’t Walk\” line of gear from Cloudveil is not only for the athlete who is based in the high reaches of the company\’s home base of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Nor is it some utilitarian line of unattractive gear that works well, but looks awful.
When I got my hands on the Run Don\’t Walk vest, I had never run in a vest before and didn\’t quite know what to make of it. As it happens though, it really fits my M.O. very well because my arms and hand tend to get extremely warm when I\’m running, even when it\’s very cold out.
The first time I went to run in this vest, I think it was about 25 degrees outside, if I recall correctly. the first thing that struck me was the weight of the vest, which is to say the LACK of weight. Coming in at a ridiculously minuscule 7 ounces, I honestly couldn\’t believe how light it was in my hands! This lightness carried over to the feel once I put it on also.The odd thing is, the thickness of the fabric by Polartec belies the weight but gives a comforting prelude to the protection that the garment provides.
Being that I am a singer and am somewhat obsessive about my throat/neck being covered, the high neck on this vest was really perfect in height. It cam right up to my chin, keeping my entire neck warm but never falling onto my skin enough to offer any kind of chaffing or annoyance.
I can honestly say that I was and remain taken completely aback at the performance and warmth of this vest! While it is still cold outside here in the Northeast, and with an arctic front bearing down on us for this coming weekend, I am looking forward to revisiting this review when things begin to turn toward the spring to see just how versatile this thing is!
For the past week or so, much of the United States has been in a deep freeze. Even places that are not accustomed to cold temperatures are feeling the bite. Here in New York, it\’s been pretty bad, and it has been especially cold by the time I do my daily run. This requires a good bit of gearing up to keep from freezing to death. So, partly inspired by Ari\’s post on his winter gear, and partly inspired by the fact that it takes me about ten minutes to get dressed, I thought I\’d list my favorite winter running gear.
Under Armour HeatGear Sleeveless T (compression layer to prevent chaffing)
Lower Body Layers:
I also wear a hat which is an off brand
(Pictures to follow)
So, what do you wear when it\’s SUPER cold out?