Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Muscle Milk Machine Update

It's official.  I have made a mistake.  I know, hard to believe, but it is true.  Well, maybe not, I guess.  What am I talking about?  I am officially registered for the Mount Lemmon half marathon!  I had the option to register for the full marathon, but decided to roll with the half, due to my goal race (Ironman Arizona) being about a month after this ridiculous race.  Why was it a mistake?  It actually shouldn't be.  It is going to be a tough race, but I'm planning on doing it with pretty much no goal in mind.

Last night, I made my way down to one of the local Roadrunner Sports shoe stores and signed my life away.  The waiver had a lot of mumbo-jumbo on it about seizure, coma, death, blah blah blah.  I just signed it grabbed my free Muscle Milk shake and high-tailed it out of there before I could change my mind!  Alright, so there was no such waiver.  It was merely just a typical sign-up, same as any other race would be.  But there most certainly was free Muscle Milk!

This is what they gave me, except I asked for vanilla.
I'm actually still pretty excited for this race.  The timing may not be perfect, since I'll have to hold back quite a bit to make sure that I don't ruin my Ironman race, but it's still going to be a lot of fun.  It will be the first half marathon that I'm participating in that isn't a "mainstream" race (Rock 'n' Roll, Disney, etc.).  I'm secretly hoping that the spectators will be somewhat like what is depicted in this video:

So if you happen to be near Mount Lemmon in late October, get all dressed up like a crazy person and come cheer us on!

As for 311 month, it's almost over, sadly.  I leave you with one last video:

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Who you honkin' at?

The other day, I was enjoying my beautiful 6:00 a.m. bike ride to work, when someone drove by honking their horn very erratically.  Now, I'm not 100% sure, but I am quite certain that they were honking at me.  When the car passed, I first tried to figure out if they were, in fact, honking at me.  There was the absence of another car directly next to the perpetrator, so I can assume he/she was not honking at another car.  There was also the type of honk that was used.  It wasn't a long, angry sounding honk.  Just a few little taps as if to try and get someone's attention, without making them think that something is wrong.  After I logically figured out that this person was honking at me, I next tried to figure out if I recognized the car.  I did not.  So this left me wondering what exactly this person was honking for.

If you've ever been on a road bike and tried to turn and look at cars that are passing you, then you know that there's a very slim chance that you will see the driver.  What about recognizing the car?  Well, that's possible.  But I have to be honest, most of the time when someone honks, I'm not sure which car it was, and I would rather focus my attention on not crashing my bike than looking at all the cars to see if I possibly recognize one.

And along with honking comes yelling.  Usually this happens when the car has some super cool high school kids in it who, for one reason or another, think it's funny to yell at a cyclist as they go whizzing by at 20 miles over the speed limit.  You know what's actually funny about it?  That 9 times out of 10 the cyclist has absolutely no idea what you've said!  You go flying by in your car and yell something out at the top of your lungs and it's completely incomprehensible.  But, you sure do look cool in front of your friends!

Occasionally, there is the instance where the cyclist will recognize the car, and a very warm and happy feeling will fill the cyclist's heart.  But the majority of the time, that's not happening.  So why do it?  What's the point?  Are you trying to point out that you're moving faster than the cyclist, and therefor getting to your destination quicker?  Are you attempting to spook the cyclist in hopes that he or she will lose control of their bike, and you can witness an ultra funny moment when the cyclist crashes?  Maybe you're also a cyclist and a giving an air-horn "fist bump" to the cyclist as you drive on by, saying "Pedal on my brotha".  Or maybe you're just really friendly, and honk at every person on the side of the road?  Everyone has their reasons for honking, and I'm sure it's going to continue for all of time.  More importantly, the real question here is, do you really recognize my backside so well that you can tell it's me, even as you are driving by in your car?

All of these cyclists are "cracking" smiles just for you!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

IMAZ Training - Week 9

My new schedule seems to be working out a fair bit better.  Although, maybe that's because the sun is up a little earlier these days, and I'm slightly more willing to start my training at 5:30 a.m.  Either way, I was able to get a lot of training in during week 8, and the weeks only get longer from here!

Week 9 will see a slight increase in total workout time (not including some of my bike rides to/from work).  So here's what I have planned for this week:

Monday - Bike 1:00
Tuesday - Bike 1:15 and BRICK Run :45
Wednesday - Swim 1:00 and Run 1:00
Thursday - Bike 1:30
Friday - Run 1:00 and Bike 1:00
Saturday - Bike 3:30 and Swim 1:00
Sunday - Run 1:30 and Bike 1:00

I know there's a crap ton of biking in this plan, but some of them are to or from work, so they won't really be a workout, but more a very, very relaxed mode of getting from point A to point B without paying those ridiculous gas prices!

In regards to what I said the other day about photos not showing up in emails, I've been told that they do, it's just the videos that don't show up.  So, whatever.  If you don't see photos and want to, you'll have to come to my home page.  If you see them in your email, great!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I don't want to talk right now

Being a triathlete, or at least someone who pays to compete in a race that involves a swim, there is a need to train to swim.  And in my case, learn to swim.  I never took swimming lessons, and have yet to attend a master's swim class (supposedly the thing to do if you want to get better!).  I just try and pay attention to how my body feels in the water, and watch videos on youtube all day long that demonstrate good swimming technique.
I think this guy is called Mr. Smooth.  He's a virtual swimmer that apparently has been given perfect technique.
Like most swimmers, I have to do just about all of my swimming in a lap pool at my local big-box gym.  Now, I don't know about anyone else, but that chlorine water does a number to my skin.  I usually come out of the pool feeling fine, but once I'm all dried off, I notice that my skin is really dry.  To try and combat this, I make sure to take a shower at the gym immediately after I get out of the pool.
If you've ever been in a big-box gym locker room before, then you know all about the awkward things that some people do there.  I'm not too sure about the women's side, since haven't been over there for quite some time now, but on the men's side, it seems like there's always at least one guy who feels the need to make himself at home.  And really, why?  Is that really what it takes to feel good about yourself?  There's no fitness competition going on in the locker room today buddy, sorry.

I do this pose frequently when I'm in deep thought.
Since when has the locker room been a place that indecent exposure is accepted?  I'm sure everyone has seen someone standing naked on the scale.  My question:  Is that pair of underwear really going to throw off your weight by that much?  No.  Then there's the guy who uses the blow-dryer.  No big deal, right?  Well, he's not using it to get the hair on his head back into the perfect Justin Bieber mold.   He assumes the wonderful Captain Morgan pose with one foot up on the counter, and proceeds to make sure he dries every possible drop of moisture.  Then there's the show-and-tell talker (I made up a few other names, but though they are pretty funny, they are quite inappropriate.  Just for example, one rhymed with "walkie-talkie".  You'll laugh when you figure it out!).  This is the guy who walks around naked, really with no purpose in life, and just starts conversations in the locker room.  This is the guy who I had the most unfortunate pleasure to meet.
I had just finished up my shower, made my way back to my locker, and got my skibbies on (thankfully), when this older gentleman, probably in his early 60's, started commenting on one of my tattoos.  I turned around to reply, and nearly lost my vision.  This guy was slightly over-weight, and stark naked.  And the worst part?  He had a towel draped over his shoulder!  Just wrap the dang thing around your waste buddy.  So, he continued to talk to me about my tattoos as I replied with one-word answers and comments, hoping he would get the point that I was in no mood for talking.  He did not.  He continued to talk my ear off until I was fully clothed and standing with my bag in my hand, waiting to leave.  Finally, we said our goodbyes and he walked off, presumably to find his next victim that he could expose himself to.
If you're wondering, this all really did happen about a month ago or so.  I have since contemplated giving up swimming in fear that I might get cornered by this guy again, but I know just carry pepper spray instead.  So please, if you're one of those people who likes to flaunt your goods in the locker room, don't.  Save it for when you're in the confines of your own home, or at least wait until I'm not at the gym.
If the naked locker room guys had their way, they'd be using the equipment naked!


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Easy Rider

First off, I've noticed that if you read my blog through email, you miss out on seeing all of the fantastical photos that I use to really draw the reader in.  I'll try and always note if there is a photo, so when you're reading the email you'll know that you've missed something exciting.  At that point, you can choose your fate: either go to my blog's home page and get the full experience, or just make up your own image in your head.  Either way is good!  On to the post!

My wife and I have been taking some steps to make ourselves financially free.  More specifically, we paid off all of our debt!  Not including our mortgage, of course.  We followed the Dave Ramsey plan.  One of the things that we made sure to do was get some sort of long-term disability insurance.  Whether or not you agree with buying this type of insurance is probably based on your personal situation, and obviously everyone is in a different situation.  For us, without getting into all of our personal reasons, we felt that this was important.

One of the reasons why we felt this was important is because I frequently ride my bike out on the open road (I mean, it is called "road" cycling).  And a during the summer months, I usually ride my bike to and from work, during rush hour.  I can count the number of close calls I've had on one hand, but that's still to many for my liking.  If one of these close calls became and actual accident, chances are I would fair very well.  I was always a little nervous think that if I wrecked my bike, and was out of commission for any lengthy period (more than three months is what I consider lengthy), there's pretty much nothing I could do about it.  Now that we have this long-term disability plan, I basically ride my bike with my eyes closed because I know that if I get hurt badly, it's no big deal!  Heck, I don't even use headlights, tail lights, or a reflective vest any more!A  Besides, I'm usually pretty tired on the way to work anyway, so riding with my eyes closed is my way of trying to catch up on some needed sleep!  (Ok, so I still use all my safety stuff, and probably too much of it!)

Like I said, whether or not you agree with me is your opinion, and that's fine.  We just felt that we have worked hard on our finances, and don't want to take any steps backwards if something happens to one of us.

On a lighter note, do you know what this picture is?:

Don't be jealous!
Yes, those are my super sexy chicken legs.  More importantly, I'm showing off my great fashion sense.  I'm fairly certain that the plaid shorts, calf compression sleeves, and flip flops look is going to become the next new fashion craze.  It's far better than this guys look:

Justin Bieber at the Grammy Awards

Those shoes were a bad idea.  What I'm showing you in the photo of my oh so manly legs is my typical running recovery technique.  I leave those bad boys on for twice as long as I ran, and I feel fantastic afterwords!  It's that time of year again that my running frequency picks up, so I'll pretty much be living in these compression sleeves (sorry Wife!).  So, if you find yourself being sore after a run, you might want to try out some compression garments.  That's all for now!

Again, Happy 311 Month!

This is a live video from the recent 311 Cruise...I wish I was there!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Shoebacca Redemption!!!!

Ok.  Let me start by saying that throughout all of this shoebacca stuff, my intention was not to spread complete hatred for shoebacca.  As I said in prior posts, I had ordered from them before and had absolutely no problems.  It just so happened that this particular order brought along multiple problems, for whatever reason.  The good news is, I was contacted by shoebacca and they cleared the whole thing up for me.

First, I was surprised to find out that someone besides my wife, my mom, and Eric Byrnes read this blog. According to an email that I received today, Shoebacca came across my blog at some point. during this fiasco.  Unfortunately for them, I was not making positive comments about my current experience with them.  They tried to figure out what order I was referring to on my blog, but were unable to since only my first name is on my blog.  They tried to contact me through this blog, but somehow that message never came through.  I sent another email to Shoebacca, and then they realized that I was the person with the blog!  I'm not sure if by reading my blog they got a better understanding of my side of the story, but they at least felt the need to reach out to me one more time, even though more order has been completed.

The email I received was from a customer service manager named Mary.  In her email, Mary explained how they continually check blogs and Facebook to make sure that their customers are having a positive experience.  And I must say, I've look around a bit too, and it seems my experience is pretty unique.  There's not really any bad press out there for Shoebacca.  Mary explained to me that due to the problems that were involved with my order, they issued me that $50 code I wrote about yesterday.  This solves the mystery of whether or not I should use the code!  Unfortunately, for anyone else reading this, I will be using it and not giving it away.  She also said that, through my blog, they learned that they had some flaws in their system and are working on implementing new procedures when it comes to price-matching (sorry if this screws up price-matching in the future for anyone!!!).

Now that this is all over, I have mixed feelings about it.  On the one hand, I feel a little bad because I was definitely not being nice to Shoebacca.  However, I did not have a good experience with them, and I was simply voicing my opinion.  I stand by everything that I said.  On the other hand, I think that Shoebacca ended up coming out on top, and am quite happy about that.  There was a ton of different ways Shoebacca could have played this.  They could have never granted the price match, they could have shipped me the shoes and moved on, or they could take the extra step and follow up.  It is definitely good to know that they will take the time to set things right.  So thank you Shoebacca for taking that extra step.  I now look forward to applying this new code to my next order with Shoebacca, and reporting back that I had another flawless experience with them (as my orders prior to this one were!).

New Shoes and More Shoebacca confusion...

After what seems like an eternity, but was really only a couple of weeks, my new shoes have arrived!  Here they are:

I haven't run in them yet, so I can't quite comment on how freakin' sweet they are.  But I'll definitely be sharing my opinion on these new works of art some time next week.

As for Shoebacca, I'm not sure what they are doing out at their headquarters, located in Unorganizedville, TX.  I never had any problems with them in the past.  It just seems like my order this time around is too complicated for them.  I mean really, who orders two pairs of shoes at one time?!  So to recap this great American tale, I ordered two shoes (same shoe, different colors) on two separate orders (one shoe per order).  I used one Groupon for each order, as well as submitted a price-match comparison for each order.  My price match was initially rejected, after they waited a week to do the comparison and the competitor website ( was sold out.  After a lengthy conversation with what I'm sure was one of my friends playing a joke on me (otherwise it was just completely embarrassing customer service!), I was able to come to an agreement that I would exchange my shoes for the next size up, allowing me to get the price match.  So much work!  We now continue on this adventure...

I sent my shoes back to Shoebacca on Friday, March 11th.  As soon as I got home from dropping them off at my local UPS Store, I sent off an email letting them know that the shoes were on their way, as well as the info for the price match.  I was granted the price match (finally), and was now waiting for my new shoes to arrive.  One week went by, and it was now Friday, March 18th.  At 11:37 a.m., I received an email from Shoebacca that started off like this (a direct quote by the way): "We're sorry that your recent order# XXXXXXXX didn't work out for you. We’ve processed your refund..."  I had to look around for the candid camera.  I thought for sure my wife was setting me up and some Ashton looking goofball was going to come jumping out.  Nope.  Shoebacca is that dumb.  I immediately called them and, oddly enough, spoke with the same customer service person that I last spoke to about my shoes (and the one who ended up granting me the price match refund).

For some reason, she knew exactly who I was by my name.  Did I make that good of an impression?  I told her about the email, and that under my personal Shoebacca account, my order was listed as "exchange".  She had no idea what had happened (big surprise!), and said she would be giving me a call back.  A couple hours went by, and no phone call.  I checked my email again, and sure enough, I had two confirmation emails explaining that my exchanges had been received/processed, and I would receive another email when they shipped.  Later that same day, I did receive a call back from my go-to-person at Shoebacca telling me that my shoes were being upgraded to overnight shipping and would be here Saturday night.  Awesome!  I thought that was very nice of them, and thanked them for doing that for me.

Done right?  No.  This is where the saga either ends, or continues.  In the "return" email, there was also a new Groupon code.  They had issued this code to me because my order was apparently refunded, even though it never really was.  Just out of curiosity, I entered the code on the Shoebacca page to see if it works.  And it does!  So, now I'm at a crossroads.  I can either forget about the code and be done with all of this.  Or I can use the code and buy another pair of shoes.  I know it's probably not right for me to use the code.  But was it right for them to give me such a hassle?  Is this extra coupon a sort of payment for what happened?  I'm not sure.  Shoebacca sure had no problem trying to keep a few of my dollars.  Is it wrong if I keep a few of their dollars?

What would you do in this situation?  Just to put it in perspective, it is a $50 code.  That's a pretty good chunk of change.  If you don't think I should use it, do you want it?  Who wouldn't want $50 for free?  My point is, Shoebacca gave me such a hard time, I can't even decide if I want to use a free $50 coupon code!  Well played Shoebacca.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

My Daughter's Bike Ride

We have a library that's about a couple of blocks away from our house.  Just the perfect walking distance.  We make use of the library a lot...we basically use it like a Blockbuster.  We search for what we want online, submit a hold request, and they let us know when it's ready.  Simple as that (and free!).

My daughter inherited a little bike with trainings from one of the neighbor kids a couple of weeks ago, and has since become quite the pro at cruising around on her little bike.  She doesn't normally ride too far, just up and down the street.  We had a few items ready and waiting for us at the library, so we decided to walk, while my daughter rode her bike, to the library.  It worked out great!  Once we picked up the goods, we decided to take a slightly different route home.

This different route took us along a major road.  We were on the sidewalk, so don't get all judgmental on me.  Anyway, at one point during our trip home, my daughter started playing "red light, green light" with the actual stop light that was ahead of us.  During one of the red light times, a fellow came riding along on his bike, in the bike lane on the road, going the opposite way of traffic, without a helmet.  As he approached, he yelled out, "She has good safety!"  Well heck yeah she does buddy.  This guy decided to stop and tell me his life story.  I'm not quite sure what it is about me, but this actually happens quite often.

He started off by telling me about one of his daughters falling off of her bike when she was younger and hitting her head on a gasket.  He said she was ok now though.  And yet he still was not wearing a helmet!  Then he started explaining to me the reasons as to why he was riding on the wrong side of the road.  The summarize, he felt he was able to look into the eyes of the driver as the run him over.  Great!  The last thing you can see before you die is some person talking on their phone, or texting, or putting on makeup.  Never mind that the cyclist would be at fault here for riding the wrong way.  After I fully understood his crazy thinking, he moved on to the recent news of Sally Meyerhoff being struck and killed by a car.  I don't know much about the story, other than she was the female winner of the  Rock n Roll Arizona 2011 Marathon.  He told me that she was training for the Olympics, as was he.  The kind fellow then let me know that he ran 16 miles today, rode his mountain bike to work, and was now riding home before he plans on running another 8 miles.  Fair enough, I thought.  Maybe this guy is doing the Olympics, maybe not.  Who am I to judge?  I tried to end the conversation there by saying, "Well, good luck with the Olympics," as I started to walk away.  Sure enough, he began to slow-pedal right next to me as I worked my way to catching up with my wife and daughter who had moved on and left me for dead.

This guy continued to talk my ear off about various things, including, but not limited to: his family waiting seven years to get their papers in order to come into this country, America not being safe, everyone keeping their children inside because America is not safe, people driving 70 mph in a 40 mph zone, what shoes my daughter needs to wear while she rides her bike with training wheels, and how America is bad because you work your whole life to pay for the government and banks.  I'm not 100% sure of everything he said.  I mostly said a lot of "uh huh" and "yep" and "sure".  Also, he had some accent.  I think he was Romanian, but that was one of the things he didn't tell me.  Shocking, I know.

The lesson learned today?  If you see a guy riding his bike on the wrong side of the road, without a helmet, don't let him talk to you.  You'll never be able to get away from him!  Maybe that's not fair.  He was a nice enough guy.  And plus, he's a future Olympian!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

IMAZ Training - Week 8

Short Saturday post.  Week 7 is done, and Week 8 is just getting started!  I'm changing up my training schedule slightly.  My week is now starting on Monday and ending on Sunday.  Monday is almost always going to be a rest day, except for when I need to shift a workout due to scheduling conflicts, which just so happens this week.  This is the last week of the PREP phase, so here it is!

Monday - Swim 1:00.  Yoga 1:00.
Tuesday - Run 1:00.  Bike 1:00.
Wednesday - Bike 1:15 with brick Run of :30.
Thursday - Bike 1:15.  Swim 1:00.
Friday - Run 1:00.  Bike 1:00.
Saturday - Bike 2:30.
Sunday - Run 1:30.

All of these workouts will be including drills, and all will be done in a moderately easy pace (Zone 2 for anyone out there that cares about heart rate).

Friday, March 18, 2011

Are 2 hearts better than 1?

My in-laws recently sent me a book for Iron-distance triathlon training.  I've read a few other books, but this one was more geared toward the time-strapped triathlete.  Some of the info that it contained was relatively similar to other books I've read.  And some of the info was new, or another way to look at certain training aspects.  The book is called "Be Iron Fit", and overall, it was a good read and I recommend it for anyone that is busy and trying to train for an Ironman.

This is the cover of the book "Be Iron Fit", as it says pretty clearly.

  One of the topics in this book was training based on your heart rate.  Why is this so important?  Well, in iron-distance races, as opposed to other triathlons such as sprints, you need to keep your heart rate at a certain range in order to make it through the event.  Some people can function with their heart rate higher than others, and some people can work much harder and keep their heart lower than others (look at Lance Armstrong for example...that guy's heart rate is probably lower when he is cycling than mine is when I'm sleeping!).  The goal is to find your "aerobic" heart rate range, and do the majority of your training in that range to prepare you body for the race.

Through training, your heart will adapt and improve, and eventually you will be able to go faster or work harder and maintain a lower heart rate, or be able to function more efficiently at a higher heart rate.  There's a whole bunch of other heart rate things to consider as well, include anaerobic threshold, functional threshold, perceived exertion level, etc.  There's tons of info on the internet if you want to read more about it.  I won't bore you with that now.

As you know, I did quite a bit of training for the Goofy Challenge and my quest to qualify for the Boston Marathon.  There's plenty of people who will disagree with how I trained, but obviously it worked out just fine.  During that training, however, I never really paid any attention to my heart rate, other than looking at the pretty little graph on Garmin Connect after I finished my workout.  I knew most of my higher intensity runs had me at a heart rate around 170ish.

After reading all of these books, I decided I should maybe start using my heart rate to train, especially since I'm about to start my BASE phases of training.  So after comparing the three books I currently have, I decided on one bike test to perform and one run test to perform.  After completing these test, I would then be able to use the charts provided in the books to find my different heart rate training zones.

I thought about checking my heart rate like Mr. Phelps here, but my Garmin is so much easier!
So, both tests were completed and it was time to look at the results.  For the run, my average heart rate for the specified test was 171 bpm.  This meant that 171 bpm is my function threshold for running.  With this number, there are different ways to find the other heart rate zones, but I just used what was already laid out in one of the books (all three books were pretty similar).

The results of the bike test were a little different.  My average heart rate for the bike test was 156 bpm.  This is quite a bit lower.  It's not really that big of a deal, just interesting.  The part that really got me interested was where this test put my aerobic training zone.  It's a range of 126-138 bpm, as compared to my run training zone which is 146-156 bpm.

I'm almost positive that this difference is due to all the run training I've done in the past.  I'm definitely in better running shape than I am cycling shape.  These numbers just prove that I need to improve my cycling.  I also understand that running is a "harder" sport and requires less to elevate your heart rate than cycling does.  But, there's one other possible answer for this difference.  Maybe I have two hearts?  It's not that crazy.  I have one that kicks in when I am cycling, and one that kicks in when I'm running.  My running heart is in better shape, since I've done more of that in my lifetime.  And when I'm swimming, I don't think either heart works, because I really suck at that.  I'm going to make an appointment with a doc to get checked out, and if there's two hearts, I'm going to have them take out the cycling one so I can just use the running one when I cycle.  I'll instantly be in better cycling shape!

And as 3/11 month continues, here's another 311 video to tickle your ears and eyes (this is a live video from 311 Day 2010, the greatest concert ever!!!!):

Saturday, March 12, 2011

IMAZ Training - Week 7

It's that time of the week again...another weekly training update.  This last week was actually a lot closer to on-track than some of my other weeks have been.  I still feel that my legs are quite a bit tired from the Goofy Challenge and the Ragnar Relay, so I'm taking it a bit easier on the run that I normally would.  I'm still putting in the same amount of time, just not pushing the tempo quite as much.  I'll probably continue to hold off on the run for another week or so...I have a lot of training ahead and there's no sense in causing injury already!

If you forced yourself to read week 6's schedule, then week 7's schedule might look oddly familiar to you.  That's because it's the exact same thing!  Like I always say, this is just the skeleton of what my week will hopefully look like.  I am always going to have to shift a couple workouts either forward or backward by a day or so to make things work.  I guess that's just the price I pay for choosing a time consuming hobby when I already have a career and family and numerous other things I'm involved in (can you hear the pitty party violin playing in the background?).  Alright, enough rambling.  Here's week 7:

Sunday - Run - 1:00 steady endurance run.
Monday - Swim - :30 easy with drills.  Bike - 1:00 with rolling hills.
Tuesday - Run - 1:30 fartlek running.
Wednesday - Swim - :45 easy with drills.  Bike - 1:15 with drills and rolling hills.
Thursday - Run - 1:30 steady endurance run.
Friday - Swim - 1:00 easy with drills and endurance swimming.
Saturday - Bike/Run brick - 2:00 endurance biking followed by :30 tempo run.
On a side note, I'm very happy that it's starting to heat up in this lovely desert wasteland called Arizona.  It's starting to be the perfect temperature to ride my bike to work and be able to run or ride at any time during the day.  But in another couple months it will be miserably hot out during the afternoons and the only time to train will be in the mornings or at night.  Pretty much the exact opposite of what it's been for the last couple of months.  Guess I gotta get used to waking up early again.  CRAP!

And here's two videos that never get old....

This first video is a real news story...seriously.
This second video is this guys awesome interview, autotuned and put to some music.  AWESOME!!!

M & M, and M

A few days ago, I was doing what all super cool twenty something year old's do...I was wasting time on Facebook.  I came across a new "friend" of mine, who goes by Rae at Ragnar.  We became friends because when I did Ragnar Del Sol, somehow I ended up with a women's XL t-shirt.  I contacted Rae about getting a new shirt.  All I can say is, Rae did not attend the "Shoebacca school of customer service".  Not only are they getting my the shirt that I ordered, but their sending it right to my house!  Take note shoebacca.  Back to the story.  Rae had a post about the Mount Lemmon Marathon and Half Marathon, and a possible free entry.  Obviously, this caught my eye and I applied immediately.

I didn't know anything about this race when I sent in my application for the free entry.  Maybe I should have done some research first.  Apparently, this is the "The Toughest Road Marathon in the World and the Only Uphill Marathon in the US." according to the races website.  Here's the proof:

This might be hard to see, but it's completely uphill for 21 miles.  The elevation gain from start to finish is 5250 ft!

Fortunately for me, I'm doing Ironman Arizona a month after this ridiculous Mount Lemmon race, so I'm only planning on doing the half marathon.  Not to say that the half marathon will be a breeze, because it won't be.  It is still an uphill race, but only about 2,000 or so feet up.  It basically goes up for 8 miles, then sort of has rolling hills until the finish.  The only real question I have about this race is, who is going to carry me down the mountain after I run up it?

So what's the deal with the free race entry?  Well like I was saying, Rae at Ragnar posted a link on Facebook.  This link was to a post by Muscle Milk - Arizona.  From what I could gather, Muscle Milk just became a major sponsor of the Mount Lemmon race and was forming a training group of 80 athletes to run the race.  It was going to be on a first come, first served basis, and opened up on 3/7/11 at 8:00 am.  I didn't see this post until the afternoon of 3/8.  I thought for sure it would be filled up, but I figured I'd do it anyway.  Well, it wasn't filled up, and I was selected!  Booya!

This group that Muscle Milk formed is called the "Muscle Milk Machine (MMM) Training Group".  As part of the group, I get some freebies!  I have yet to attend our official team meeting, but according to the Facebook page for the race, Muscle Milk will be providing me with:

The Muscle Milk Machine Training Group includes:
o Entry for the Marathon or Half Marathon (a $95 dollar value)
o A seat at the Mount Lemmon Marathon Pre-Race Dinner
o Hotel Accommodations for one night prior to the race ($159 dollar value)
o “In Training” shirt (provided we are all registered by March 30th)
o Muscle Milk Product to train with
o Muscle Milk Machine Branded Item for the 2011 race
o 7 E-blasts with training schedule and tips provided by Epic Fitness

At this point, I'm very happy that I created a Facebook account.  Not only did it lead me to a season with Team Marathon (who is currently accepting applications by the way), but it led me to the Muscle Milk Machine!  Who knows where else it will take me...

Oh, and when Muscle Milk sent me the confirmation email to be on the team, they still had 13 slots available.  Once it fills up, they will be forming a waiting list based on the order that they received your emails.  My advice, send in an email right now!  Here's what you do:

Simply email with your:
o Full Name
o Email
o Phone Number 
Good luck!  And let me know if you get selected...maybe we'll run (or most likely walk up this stupid mountain!) together!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Wouldn't it have just been easier...

Though my anger has calmed since dealing with, my opinion of stupidity has not.  After I sat down and wrote my last blog, I decided I was just going to have to accept not receiving my price matching refund.  I fully assumed that by the time I sent my shoes back, and shoebacca did another price match (probably taking another week or two...), that my price-matching website would be sold out again.

Well, I was at work yesterday morning, and I just happened to pull up the other website, which is, in case you're wondering.  Sure enough, they now had one of my shoes available in the size that was sold out, causing my price-match to be refused!  So I fired off an email to the customer service agent that I had such a great conversation with yesterday (can you sense the sarcasm?  If not, trust me, it's there.).  About twenty minutes later, I had a reply...with an approved price match!  I was awarded a refund of $22.04!  That's a lot of money (at least for me!).  So here's how the new cost of my red-soled Saucony Progrid Kinvara's played out...

89.99 (shoebacca list price) - 50.00 (prepaid Groupon) - 22.04 = 17.95!

In reality, I paid $42.95 for the shoes because I had already paid $25 for the Groupon, but still, that's more than 50% off!  My coupon-master-of-a-wife was very proud of me.  For the second pair of shoes (I ordered a red pair and a green pair), I sent those bad boys back in the mail as soon as I got home from work today.  Once I had dropped them off, I fired off another email to by new friend in customer service land at shoebacca to let them know that the shoes were on their way back to be exchanged for a larger size, and currently had 3+ pairs available in my new size.  As I was writing this blog, I got another email from shoebacca approving my second price match!  So I ended up getting two pairs of the Kinvara's for the price of one!

My new green pair
My new red pair

Which brings me to the obvious question:  Wouldn't it have just been easier to grant me the price match in the first place, rather than making me jump through all of these unnecessary hoops?  I'm glad I finally was awarded the refund (though I'm still waiting for it to show up on the ol' credit card).  It ended up being a total of $44.08, which means I can now afford to buy groceries this week!  Next time, though, I will think twice about ordering through shoebacca, especially if there is a price-match involved.  And besides, seems to have pretty good prices.  I might just make the switch to their site anyway.

And one more thing...

HAPPY 311 DAY!!!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Blast you!

A little while back, there was a Groupon for, which was awesome because that is where I purchased my current pair of running shoes, the Adidas Adizero Tempo.  This deal was $25 for $50 worth of merchandise.  SWEET!  So I bought two (I bought one and my wife bought one) of the Groupons, and tucked them away for later use.  Like I posted a few blogs ago, I was in the market for some new shoes, and because of these Groupons I had, I was definitely going to be using  Unfortunately, they didn't have my size in the Tempo's any more!

This led me to do some searching for a new set of kicks.  After all of my researching, I landed on the Saucony Progrid Kinvara.  I did some price searching online, and actually found a website that sold the Kinvara for $69.95, compared to Shoebacca's $89.99.  Well, Shoebacca has a 110% price-match guarantee.  Now, I know I'm not that bright, but I read through the price-match requirements and I was pretty sure when I made my purchase that my orders would qualify for the price-match guarantee.  They were the exact same shoe, size, color, width and style on both websites, and the other website had 3+ pairs available at the time that I made the purchase.  I thought for sure I was going to be getting a smoking deal on my new shoes.  Not only was I going to save $25 from my Groupon, but Shoebacca was going to price match, and refund me an extra 10%!

This is the point where I got upset, which doesn't happen very often at all.  I made my order with Shoebacca about a week ago, and submitted my price comparison form about thirty seconds after completing my order.  I received an email from Shoebacca today (about a week later) saying my price comparison had been denied, because there were no shoes currently available on the other website.  I called Shoebacca and was immediately greeted with stupidity.  Maybe that's a harsh word, but these people are screwing me out of about $40!

The first person I talked to just kept repeating that there were no shoes available, so they can't do the price match.  I kept arguing that when I made the order, there were shoes available.  Finally, after realizing that this "customer service" person was getting me nowhere, I asked to speak to the person who sent me the email.  Again, I was initially speaking to a brick wall.  The only option I was given was to return my shoes, or find another website to compare with.  She said, "I can see about having the price-match guarantee extended to give you time to find another website."  Are you freakin' kidding me!  I replied with, "Well you already waited a week to do my comparison.  Why don't you just wait another two weeks until this other website has the shoes in stock again?"  Better yet, since the other website says exactly when they are going to have the shoes back in stock, just give me the stinkin' refund!  I was about to give up and tell them that I'd never do business with them again, when I looked on the other website and saw that they did have my shoe available, a half-size up.  So I said, "Can we just agree that I'll exchange my shoes as soon as they get here for the next size up and you will redo the price-match?"  This employee said that this was acceptable to them.  So, as soon as my shoes arrive, which is hopefully tomorrow so I can do this return crap before the website sells out again, I have to put them right back in the mail and send off an email to have the price-match redone.  What a freakin waste of time!

I'm sure some of you are thinking that I'm making a pretty big deal out of nothing.  Well, $40 is a lot of money!  Especially when gas keeps going up.  I kept asking the "customer service" person what else I could have done to get the price match, and they just replied, "Unfortunately, it just depends on when we do the comparison.  We really don't turn down comparisons very much at all."  Well, why is it that the only comparison I submit is the one that gets rejected?  If you would have done the stupid comparison when I submitted it, we wouldn't even be having this conversation!  Even stupider, when I made the order by phone, I specifically asked what would happen if the shoes sold out before they did the price-match, and the person I made the order with said it was no problem!  Of course when I said that in today's phone conversation, they just said sorry, that person was wrong.  What a load of garbage!

I could probably go on about this forever, so I need to cut myself off.  Even if this works out, and Shoebacca gives me the price-match, I probably won't shop with them again.  I just don't appreciate being screwed over and having to argue my way through an online order for shoes!  I understand the economy is bad, but there's no need to screw over customers who followed your guidelines Shoebacca.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

IMAZ Training - Week 6

Week 5 (the first week of my PREP period) was basically a total bust.  I ended up needing more recovery from the Ragnar Relay than I was expecting, so I didn't do any runs.  I did get in a couple of bike sessions, but no swimming.  I'll just go ahead and pretend that week 5 was a recovery week.  Ha!  Here's to hoping that week 6 is a little, or a lot, less busy and that I can get in some good quality training.  Starting tonight!

Here is roughly what week 6 is going to look like.  As usual, I'll probably have to shuffle a few things around here and there, but this is my basic outline.  I'm not planning on writing out any specifics of my workouts (such as interval lengths) because most people don't care.  If you want to know exactly what I'm doing, just contact me and I'll be happy to let you know!  On with the plan...

Sunday - Run - 1:00 steady endurance run.
Monday - Swim - :30 easy with drills.  Bike - 1:00 with rolling hills.
Tuesday - Run - 1:30 fartlek running.
Wednesday - Swim - :45 easy with drills.  Bike - 1:15 with drills and rolling hills.
Thursday - Run - 1:30 steady endurance run.
Friday - Swim - 1:00 easy with drills and endurance swimming.
Saturday - Bike/Run brick - 2:00 endurance biking followed by :30 tempo run.

Just to explain the times quickly.  I put together this training plan using Joe Friel's "The Triathlete's Training Bible", second addition.  There's a section in the book that helps you to figure out how many training hours per week you can achieve.  My weekly hours will slowly peak at 18, but that's not for some time.  Joe went ahead and broke down the weekly hours into descending times to make it easy to schedule other workouts.  I'm simply taking the longest workout and applying that to my longest bike workout, and spreading the other times around as I see fit.  This weeks planned total is 11 hours, which is up from the TRANSITION period that only had 9 hours per week.  As the weeks go by, each workout will gradually increase in duration.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

What a coincidence!

Yesterday, I wrote a nice, long post about my more than wonderful Team Marathon experience.  Well, today it officially ended with a bang!  

I wrote about all of the perks that came along with being chosen for the team...the racing kits, the possible cash bonuses, the Marathon Bars, etc.  One thing I forgot to mention was the bonus that I received half way through the season.

At the half way point, Team Marathon sent out an email with a mid-season survey.  All I had to do was complete this survey and I would get a $25 gift card to one of three stores.  I chose Sports Authority, and used that card on the day after Thanksgiving to buy some running gloves, some Power Gels, and some gum.  And because it was they day after Thanksgiving, I received another $10 store credit gift card to use at a later date.  Sweet deal!

Well, since I did what I agreed to do, which was compete in four races and sample the bars on at least two separate occasions (plus fill out race reports and sampling reports for each of these six events), I was given a year-end bonus!  I think it's pretty crazy that they gave me a bonus for doing my job, but I suppose that's the type of world we live in now, where a lot of people expect a bonus for doing what they're expected to do...nope!  It's just what you're normally paid to do!  But that is a whole other subject, and one that I'm not going to get into on this blog because I would probably make a lot of people mad.  Anyways, back to the bonus that I completely expected Team Marathon Bar to give me because I did my job (<-----written with total sarcasm).  I received a $50 Visa gift card today!  How funny that I wrote that post yesterday and got a little bonus's like they were reading my blog! (99% sure that the only people who read this are my wife, parents, and of course Eric Byrnes).

This year-end gift solidifies what I wrote about in my last post.  It was such a great experience, and really was a great deal for all athletes involved.  There's really no reason to create a profile and apply for any and all ambassadorships that come available.  Just know that you'll have some competition, because I'm going to be applying to every single one!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Active Ambassadors

Last year I received an email from about this other website they have,  They wrote about "sponsorships" for the average athlete, which sounded right up my ally.  I checked it out, and sure enough, it looked like a good deal.  They would get companies that wanted to have a large group of amateur athletes represent them at local races.  So I created a profile to see what it would lead to.

I  waited, and waited, and waited.  Finally, after about six months, they started posting some opportunities.  There were multiple sponsorships that I applied for, but most of them I wasn't actually qualified for.  There was one company that selected me to represent them.  That company was Marathon Bar.

I have to be honest.  I hadn't heard of Marathon Bars until this opportunity was posted.  Once it was posted, I started doing my online research, as usual, and found out that this is actually an older bar.  They are going through a revamping period and trying to get their name back out there.  And what better way to do it that by having a bunch of athletes wear and use your products at local races?

I wasn't entirely sure what all the deal would include or require.  Once they sent over all the paperwork, it became pretty clear.  All they were requiring of me was to compete in four endurance events of my choice between July and December of 2010.  Easy enough.  I would also have to sample the bars to other athletes on at least two occasions, and take pictures of any time I was out there spreading the word.  The real question was how were they going to compensate me for my time...

These are the two flavors they sent me.  They sent me almost 300 bars to use for training and sampling!
In return, Marathon Bar was offering me some pretty sweet things.  First off, they were going to be providing me with racing attire, to include a bike jersey, tri jersey, running shirt, bike shorts, running shorts, a hat, and a jacket.  On top of that, they were sending me a crap-ton (which technically means 288) of Marathon Bars to not only use during my training, but to hand out at races.  I estimated all of this stuff to be worth at least $500.  Heck, the bars alone cost about that much!  And the racing attire that they sent me was absolutely phenomenal.  It was all really quality stuff.

Here I am getting ready to hand out Marathon Bars at the Disneyland Half Marathon Expo 2010
An unknown Team Marathon Bar member showing off the cycling kit
Unknown Team Marathon Bar members showing off the tri tops
They even sent us temporary tattoos! Not my foot by the way...
Throughout the course of our "partnership", Marathon Bar had little incentives for the team members to go out and get noticed.  They had cash bonuses that we could earn if we earned any media attention, with the value being based on the type of media outlet we were in.  I had a chance to earn some money during the Disneyland Half Marathon.  I received a comment on my old blog site that a woman recognized me when I ran by the camera during the morning news!  I called to get a copy of the clip, and they wanted me to pay $75 for the clip.  Well, I was only going to earn about $50, so I said forget it!  Oh well.  But, one of my pictures did get selected my Marathon Bar to be used on their website.  I think it's a pretty funny picture, because I was just goofing around when my wife took it.  If you want to see it, you'll have to go here.

Being part of Team Marathon Bar was pretty fun.  I didn't get together with any of the other local teammates, which may have made it a little more fun.  There was supposed to be a group of us doing the Soma Triathlon here in town, but the dam lake, er, the lake dam broke, causing the race to be canceled.  It was fun handing out the bars at the races I participated in.  There was a couple of times where people just saw me holding the boxes and wearing my jacket.  They approached me and asked if I was a rep for the company and would be handing out samples.  My response was, "Sort of, and yes.  Here you go!"  That actually happened in an elevator, so I think they were going to take those bars one way or the other.

Why am I telling you all of this?  Because I want you to know my whole life story.  And because Team Marathon is going to be recruiting again pretty soon!  I'm not sure exactly when, but they sent me an email that they are for sure doing it.  This year is going to be slightly different though.  When I was on the team, they used all sorts of athletes (triathletes, runners, swimmers, adventure sports, etc.).  This year, they have some sort of deal with the Rock'n'Roll series and are only going to be sponsoring runners who live near one of the Rock'n'Roll events.  Which is great for me!  I can't speak for what the perks of this years team will be, or what the requirements will be.  All I know is that it was well worth my time last year, and you better believe that I'll be applying to be part of the 2011 team...meaning I'll be adding this race to my schedule if I get selected...

I suggest you head on over to and create a profile.  You never know what other companies might be looking for someone just like you!

Oh, one other thing.  I use a website called to keep track of all of my race results.  It's free and very convenient.  After you finish each race, you go to the site and look for your results and add them to your profile.  It really helps in cases like, where you will need you past results any time you fill out a sponsorship application.  It's also much easier to look at old races and compare with more recent ones.