Thursday, June 30, 2011

Product Review - yurbuds

I've decided that I'm going to dive into the world of product reviews, from time to time.  There's tons of triathlon/endurance sports related products out there that I'd love to try and review, but unfortunately my reviews will be limited to what I own.  As I buy new products, I'll share with you how I use them, the good and bad of the product, and whether or not I suggest it.  So, for the first installment of the Product Review section, I bring you YurBuds.

If you've never heard of Yurbuds, think again, because you probably have.  Here's a recent commercial that they've been playing across the U.S. market:

To better clarify, they are earphone "covers" that prevent the in-ear style of headphones from falling out.

About a month ago, Schwaggle was having a sale on Yurbuds.  The sale was $50 for $80 worth of Yurbuds product, and free shipping.  The actual deal came with two options: either a pair of Ironman Yurbuds and another pair of Yurbuds, or a pair of behind-the-ear Ironman Yurbuds and another pair of Yurbuds.  I elected to go with the in-ear style (since they claim that they don't fall out, why would you want the behind-the-ear style?).  As I alluded to in a previous post, you can do a one-month trial membership of ActiveAdvantage, which allows you to save 15% on Schwaggle deals.  So, once it was said and done, I paid $42.50 for the deal.

The package arrived about a week later.  Inside the box, this is what I found:

The red bag was actually in the Yurbuds box, while the blue bag was separate
Inside the red bag, I found one set of red M-dot headphones and two pairs of red Yurbuds silicone covers, one size 5 and one size 7 (interestingly enough, there was no size option, which I'll get into later).  Inside the blue bag was a set of white headphones and one pair of blue Yurbuds silicone covers, also size 5.

The contents of each bag

A close-up of the M-dot earphones

These things are as good as they claim.  Luckily, I feel very comfortable in the size 7's.  The size 5's are pretty good too, but the 7's feel just a little bit more snug.  I have worn them for up to two hours worth of running so far, and could hardly notice them.  

During a couple of my runs, he heat was pretty extreme which meant that I was pretty sweaty.  The Yurbuds stayed in place, just like the company said they would.  I even tried shaking my head around to see if I could get one of the headphones to fall out.  I could not.

With the Yurbuds in place

A closer view of the Yurbuds in my ear

For comfort, I definitely give the Yurbuds a perfect score.

Sound Quality
This portion is based solely on the M-dot headphones that came with my order.  The sound quality is actually quite good.  I tried using the headphones without the silicon covers and didn't really notice any difference in sound quality.  One thing I did notice is that Yurbuds are not a sound canceling product (which they don't claim to be).  What does this mean?  It means that when you put the headphones in your ears and have no music playing, you can still hear everything else around you almost as well as you could without the headphones in.  When you turn on the music, your ability to hear outside noise all depends on the volume that you turn up your music to.  If you keep you volume at a moderate level, you will still be able to hear a fair amount of outside noises, which I actually appreciate because I think there is a safety issue when endurance athletes use headphones.

For sound quality, I give the Yurbuds 4 out of 5.  It would have been a perfect score, except that some people may not like that they are not noise canceling headphones.

Yurbuds are basically a silicone covers.  If the headphone portion breaks, you can simply replace the with a similar type of headphones and just transfer the silicone cover.  As for the covers, I've noticed that a light cleaning is recommended from time to time.

Everyone has ear wax (yes, even you).  Because of the design of Yurbuds, the tend to collect a little bit of ear wax, every so often (I don't think it matters how clean you keep your ears, it's still going to happen).  Yurbuds are designed so that there is an extension of silicone that goes further into your ear than normal headphones (click on the photo that shows the contents of each bag for a better understanding).  And since this portion of the Yurbuds is hollow, it naturally collects small amounts of wax which, over time, will build up.  It's a very simple cleaning job, but one that needs to be done periodically.  Not only for cleanliness, but to make sure the product performs as it is supposed to as well.

To clean, you can simply use a Q-tip and move it around until you are satisfied with the cleanliness.  Or, you can remove the silicone cover, invert it, clean it, and then return it to it's normal position.  A bit of caution while cleaning: be careful.  Don't force the silicone to stretch so much that it rips.  If it rips, I don't believe there is any fix, other than purchasing a new pair.

For maintenance, the Yurbuds get 4/5.  Why?  Yes, they are easy to clean, but I know everyone out there prefers a product that is maintenance-free.

As I said earlier, when I ordered my Yurbuds package, there was no sizing option.  Oddly enough, if you got to the Yurbuds website and elect to order a normal pair of Yurbuds, there are 6 different size options (5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10).

Where it says "Personal Sizing Option", it's actually a drop down box
The sizing process seems simple enough, and I'm not too sure why it wasn't part of my order process.  It appears that all you need to do is send in a photo of your ear with a penny next to it for reference.  For some reason, this was not a step in my ordering process.  Luckily, the size they sent me fits (and the smaller size fits The Wife...bonus!).

There's also a few different options if you order straight from the site, and each type of product comes with some different benefits.  For example, if you order the Ironman Yurbuds (in-ear style) from their website, you get the red headphones, 2 silicone covers, the red carrying case, and Ironman trading cards!  (ok, that last one is kind of funny).

So why did I decide to buy these?  You may remember a while back, I wrote a post about music and training.  I frequently have to get my running done on a treadmill, and during the winter I will be using the crap out of my bike trainer.  Having headphones that stay in place and don't cause any pain is going to make these "stationary" session fly by!

Overall, I give Yurbuds 4/5.  I definitely recommend picking up a pair, or two.  Keep your eyes out on the internet because it seems to be that they frequently have deals through various websites.  In fact, here is a current deal for members.  It's $50 for one pair of white headphones, and three pairs of silicone covers.  Try them out and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Uh, what just happened?

On Monday afternoon, The Wife and I, along with our daughter, met up with The Wife's mom for lunch.  During said lunch, I received a text message from Old Wise One (you may have seen some comments from this person on some of my previous blog posts.  He is The Wife's mom's husband...or more simply, step dad.  Make sense? Okay.).  In his text message to me, he wrote, "I just signed up for IM Coeur d'Alene...get on the web and join the party.  I will need the company."  I showed this message to The Wife, and received a very different reaction than what I was expecting.

I was expecting The Wife to give me the look of "Don't even think about it", but instead she gave me the raised eyebrow look, which is the universal look for "Is that something you really want to do?"  We began talking with The Wife's mom, and things just started to take off.  Once it was all said and done, it seemed as if this was going to be an opportunity that would be tough to pass up.  But would I be able to get registered?

Certain Ironman races sell out in a matter of minutes.  Ironman New York, which is going to be held for the first time next year, sold out in 11 minutes!  It was now about an hour after Coeur d'Alene had opened for registration, so I was a bit skeptical.  We went straight home after lunch, pulled up to find that sure enough, registration was still open!  I filled out all of the required info, paid my arm and a leg for the entry fee, and hit "submit".  So somehow I went from planning on racing Ironman Arizona every other year, to racing Ironman Arizona this November, followed by Ironman Coeur d'Alene in June 2012...crazy!

There's a few reasons why this opportunity was too good to pass up.  First off, I have always wanted to do an Ironman somewhere other than Arizona.  Having someone else that I know signed up for an out of state race was just the push I needed to pull the trigger.  Secondly, have you seen pictures of this race?  You should absolutely check them out.

Ironman Coeur d'Alene swim start
A small portion of the bike route
And a bit of the run
Probably the biggest reason that I couldn't say no to this race was the opportunity to not only race, but race with a bunch of The Wife's family members.  All together, there's going to be four family members, and The Captain (yes, The Captain succumbed to my peer pressure and signed up too!).  The full lineup of the people racing in our group:

Old Wise One from Phoenix
Pappy from the Philippines
The Music Man from Chicago
The Captain from Phoenix
and me!

It's pretty awesome that we're all going to meet up and do an Ironman together!!

As you can see, Monday was a pretty eventful day.  A bit surprising, but in a good way.  Everyone's pretty excited.  Now we all just need to keep our fingers crossed that we stay injury free and we all make it to the start line together!

Monday, June 27, 2011

IMAZ Training - Week 22

Week 21 went pretty well.  Nothing too crazy to note, except that it's now consistently over 100 degrees here in Arizona.  In fact, today when I got in my car at 8:00 a.m., it was already 95 degrees.  Having such high temperatures is going to take it's toll on my training.  Usually, it means that paces get a fair amount slower.  The best way to combat the high temps is by working out early in the morning, which only helps so much.  Other than that, things are going to much as planned.  The highlight of week 21 was running 13.3 miles on a treadmill.  Something about running that far/long on a treadmill is both encouraging and depressing...

Here's week 22:

Monday - Yoga 1:00.
Tuesday - Bike :30 on trainer with BRICK Run 1:00.
Wednesday - Bike 1:30
Thursday - Bike 1:30.  Run :30.
Friday - Swim 1:00.  Run 1:00 with hill repeats.
Saturday - Bike 2:00.
Sunday - Run 6 miles with 5 hills.  Bike 1:30.  Swim 1:00.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Adjusting your training plans

Each week, I sit down and try to map out a general plan for what my training will look like over the next seven days.  I have a year-long, master schedule that I go off of, just to make sure I stay on track, but each individual week requires a bit more planning.  Most of the time, I schedule in an extra workout or two, because I know my schedule is going to get busy and I'll end up having to miss a workout.  Other times, I will schedule some of my training around my training partner, The Captain, when he is available and our schedules allow for it.  Today was one of those days.

I had originally planned for a long bike ride to take place on Friday morning, after I left work.  This would have meant that I would be starting my long bike ride at 8:00 a.m. at the earliest.  And in Phoenix, it was already near 90 degrees by then.  If I were to embark on this long ride, I would be out until about noon, when temperatures would be well into the 100's.  In fact, I've heard of people spontaneously combusting while riding their bikes in the Arizona summer (unfortunately, no video evidence exists, so you'll just have to trust me!).

Thankfully, my plans changed.  Not only was I not going to do the long ride on Friday, but The Captain was going to be able to join me on Saturday!  But then his plans changed.  He got called into work and ended up not getting home until around 11:30 p.m. on Friday night.  Because of this, we decided to call an audible on our bike ride.  Instead of doing the really long ride, we would do a long-ish ride and try to push the tempo.  Well, that was out plan anyway.

Friday night wasn't so great for The Captain.  He didn't really get any sleep, so he didn't have much energy in the tank.  It wasn't really much greater for me either.  Friday morning, I did a time-trial type ride home from work, followed by a 6 mile run in the wonderful Arizona heat.  It was probably the hottest run I've done in a long time.  I was pretty beat for the rest of the day.  Then when the night rolled around, The Wife and I still had some house cleaning obligations to take care of in order to be ready for my cousin's baby shower.  I think I laid in my bed at about 11:00 p.m.  It didn't seem to bad at the time, but I sure felt it during the bike ride.

When my alarm went of at 4:00 a.m., the thought of canceling crossed my mind, but then I remembered that I just wrote a post about training with a partner to hold you accountable...I hate it when I'm right! (and the funny thing is that The Captain said he thought about canceling too, but also read my post and thought to himself, "Dang it Jason!  Why'd you have to write that post?")  About half way through our ride, both The Captain and myself were feeling pretty tired.  My lower back was getting pretty sore, not only from pushing the tempo, but it was sore from some of the bent over positions that I was in while cleaning the house.  On top of all of this, we never really seemed to catch a break when it came to the wind.  It seemed like we would have a tail wind, and then the wind would change 5 minutes later.  I think I felt the wind at my back for about 10 minutes during our 3 hour ride.

But, even with all of that, we were able to keep the pace high enough to average what we want to do for Ironman Arizona this November.  It was definitely a character building workout.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Weekly Training Tip - Schedule some workouts with a partner

My personal opinion is that training with a partner is somewhat counter-intuitive, as it relates to the world of triathlon.  I feel that it is such and individual sport, that there needs to be a huge amount of time spent training by yourself so you know how to perform on race yourself.  However, there are some great benefits to training with somebody, or a group of people.

The main benefit that I get out of scheduling a training session with a training partner (which is almost always The Captain, who just started his own blog!  Check it out here), is that it greatly reduces the chance of skipping a workout.  If you have someone that you are meeting up with, it's pretty tough to cancel on them, as opposed to when it is just yourself and you can make up excuse after excuse as to why you should skip a workout.  The other huge benefit that I get out of training with other people is that you may be able to push yourself a little more than you expected.  I know that if there's a day when I'm not feeling to into a workout, and I happen to be training with The Captain, it's very easy to feed off of his energy and I quickly find myself excited about the workout that we're doing!  Also, there's been a number of times where we find ourselves quietly competing with each other, but not acknowledging it.  For example, we'll push the tempo on a bike ride a little harder than we normally would to see who needs to pull it back first, which typically provides a really good workout!

What happens to work best for me is to schedule early morning workouts with my training partner.  The early morning in Arizona is probably the best time to get a workout in without the temperature reaching 110 degrees.  It's also the time of day that takes away the least amount of family time.  If I am not meeting The Captain, it's very easy for me to hit the snooze button and get that extra hour or two of sleep.  And as much as I know all of this, there's still times when I do hit that snooze button, and hate myself all day for doing it.  So again, my advice is to periodically schedule your workouts with a training partner.  And if you don't know any, let me know and maybe I'll be your new training partner (if you don't mind going for long bike rides starting at 5 a.m.!)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Team Marathon photo shoot

Don't get too excited.  This is most definitely not a professional photo shoot.  The back-story here is that part of the requirements for being on Team Marathon is that each member has to submit photos of ourselves in our new apparel.  So, the wife and I headed outside the other day to get this task crossed off of the list.

Here's the photos that I ended up submitting to Team Marathon:

The close up, of course

This angle makes my aero position look not so good.  This will be corrected with my new bike purchase!

I wonder who the sponsor is?

Turning the corner...

Nice angle for a picture (and my aero position doesn't look so bad this time!)

Time to get running!

And running...
There were also some other pictures that were pretty good that didn't get sent to Team Marathon.  Since I appreciate that you read my blog, I'll share those pictures with you:

There's my daughter, always stealing the show!

Our first bike ride together!
Soon enough, she's going to be faster than me on a bike!
Yes, while The Wife and I were out taking these pictures, our daughter was crusin' on her bike too!  She found herself, pretty often, in the background of the photos.  But it's alright, because she's so dang cute!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Is that me on YouTube?

In today's world, just about everything is either videotaped or has a picture taken of it.  With social media being so popular, you almost can't step outside of your house without risking the possibility of having your image captured and posted to some sort of media outlet.

A couple of days ago, I was searching around on YouTube for some Ironman videos.  I happened to search for Ironman Arizona 2008.  I scrolled through the first page of results and didn't really see any videos that caught my eye.  I began to scroll through the second page of results and there was a video that caught my eye.

This is what I originally saw, and right away I thought I knew this person.  Do you?
Bigger, but kind of blurry.  Can you tell who that handsome devil is yet?
If you remember my first Ironman race (<----that really just pertains to my wife!) then this person on the bike should look pretty familiar.  But I thought to myself, "I didn't put any videos on YouTube.  Is that really me?"  Obviously I had to investigate this further.

 Pay close attention to the picture at the 1:59 mark.

That is me!  Crazy!  I have no idea who took this picture, or where they got it, or who the person that posted this video is.  I do remember that this particular Ironman was pretty rough for me, so I'm almost positive this was taken fairly early in the race, as I'm still in the aero position (even though my setup wasn't really very aero...).  I did a lot of sitting upright later in the race.  But who knows, maybe I just spotted a photographer and decided to put on a show, rather than have photographic evidence to prove that I was sitting upright for a good majority of the bike segment.

That's it for today.  I just thought it was funny that I found myself on YouTube and wanted to share this oddity with you.  At least I didn't find myself on PeopleOfWalmart...yet!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

ActiveAdvantage trial membership

This is going to be a short post.  It's really just more of an insider's tip.  In fact, it might be illegal, so don't tell anyone.  Here's the low down:

If you've done an endurance events in the last few years, chances are that you registered using the site  Once you register, they almost always ask you if you'd like to sign up for the added-benefit group, ActiveAdvantage, for only $65/year.  In my eyes, that's a bit pricey.  I'm sure I could get my money's worth, but for this year, I've already signed up for my races, so I wouldn't save any money.

The sweet part of the deal is that they allow you to have a 30-day trial, absolutely risk free.  I know a lot of companies say "risk free", but this actually is.  When you sign up, you can enter into monthly drawings, save some money on each race that you sign up for, get discounts on merchandise items, and get extremely discounted race entry fees that are sometimes even free!  I signed up for the 30-day trial, tried to get into a couple of free races (at which I was not successful), and used my membership to buy a pair of YurBudz (more on these little guys later this week).  After about two weeks, I called and canceled my membership, no questions asked.  My credit card was never charged, and they never even asked why I wanted to cancel.

You can go to the site and look at all of their current offers before you even sign up.  Go here to check them out.  My advice is take a looksie, and sign up if you think it could be of use for you.  My only caution is please don't take my word for it.  My experience may have been some fluke deal.  I can not guarantee that you will have the same results as me.  But if you decide to try, then good luck!

Monday, June 20, 2011

IMAZ Training - Week 21

First off, thanks again to The Wife for doing a guest post yesterday.  I was feeling pretty lazy, and it was very nice of her to help me out.  And boy does she know how to butter me up!  She wrote such a nice post about me, I have the feeling that she's going to be wanting a big purchase in the near future.  I think her post deserves it!

Ok, on to the training.  This last week went pretty well.  I put in a lot of hours.  The good news is that was the final week of the BASE phases.  Now it's time for the ever-popular BUILD phases!  In these phases, I'm basically doing the same workouts, continuing to add mileage and time to my workouts, slowly.  I'm also going to be inserting short periods of higher intensity into each workout.  I'll start small this week, and slowly build for the next eight weeks before I do a small taper prior to the Disneyland Half Marathon.  Here is week 21:

Monday - Bike 1:00.
Tuesday - Run :55.  Swim 1:00.
Wednesday - Swim 1:00.
Thursday - Bike 1:30.  Run :30.
Friday - Bike 1:30.  Run 1:00.
Saturday - Bike 4:15.
Sunday - Bike 1:30.  Run 13 miles.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Guest Post from The Wife!

Today I was feeling a bit lazy, so I asked The Wife if she'd be interested in doing a guest post.  She said sure, but wouldn't tell me what it was going to be about.  I suppose I trust her enough to not tell you any of my special training secrets, so I'm just going to let her do her thing, and I'll read it for the first time once it's posted.  On that note, I present to you, The Wife!:

I actually have this & love it! (Check out
 Geez Jason! You are very possessive over this blog thing ; ) Thank you for letting me hijack it for a day!

I decided to write a post for Jason today so he could take a day off... for Father's Day! The question I have for all of you reading out there is, "How does he do it?" 

My husband is incredible. He is so committed to his very busy life. He is passionate about his job & is an excellent asset to the community. He has discovered how much he loves this hobby of triathlons, and has invested himself to learning all he can related to the training that is involved in this activity.  This is by no means a small task. Anyone who has a loved one who has the triathlon bug knows that the immense time commitment involved for these folks! So how is it that Jason is able to balance his work and hobbies, while simultaneously being such a fantastic father and husband? I'm not sure I will ever know. 

I do know that I am so thankful for the sacrifices he makes to ensure that his family does not get lost in the shuffle. Nearly every day, Jason wakes up at some ungodly time in the morning to train. He might tell you that it is because, if he waits, he might slow roast in the hot AZ sun. In actuality though... he does this so that his long hours biking and running are pretty much done by the time that our daughter  and I roll out of bed ; ) That way we get to spend lots of quality family time together!

I love him for providing such a good example to our daughter of a healthy, balanced lifestyle. And as much as I hate to admit it, it inspires me to want to be a part of it. I'll let you in on a little secret... I have committed, kicking and screaming, to run the R&R Vegas 1/2 Marathon with him! (Don't expect ANY records to be broken, since I am the black sheep when it comes to athleticism in this familia.) 

Our daughter's first "race" ... hopefully of many!
Jason also is very considerate of how his obsession.... oh, I mean "hobby"... affects our lives. Even though he probably could use better equipment, he is conscious of how financially straining these fun toys can be on a middle class family's budget. That doesn't mean that he won't drop hints frequently! LOL ; ) I know he would like to participate in an Ironman race each year, but has compromised by agreeing to do this awesome event every other year. I am very thankful for how mindful he is about the big picture. 

Most of all.... I am so proud of him! I love being an Ironman Wife! I consider myself to be a pro-spectator and really enjoy participating in the fun of his races. Jason has succeeded in finding something that significantly betters his life. He doesn't waste his time worrying about comparing himself with others. He instead sets personal goals each race and very successfully has been able to achieve them. My husband is always humble and supportive of everyone's athletic efforts, no matter their level. If you have ever met him, you know what I mean.

All in all, I want to wish Jason a very Happy Father's Day! I am your personal cheerleader and your biggest fan. I love you, and am so thankful our daughter has a man like you as her dad. I can't wait to see what else you are able to accomplish in this journey as a triathlete!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

I want this trainer and bounce house combo

Little kids love bounce houses.  Heck, big people love bounce houses too!  Unfortunately, it's just not that cost effective (most of the time) to buy one.  It's much better to rent one for the afternoon, and let the company that owns the bounce house do all of the set up and tear down.  But what if there was another option?  One that allowed for some cardio training as well!

The guy with "Whitfield" on his chest...that's Simon Whitfield

I introduce to you Simon Whitfield.  As you can tell by the enthusiastically clenched fist, he has won a triathlon or two.  In fact, he is an Olympic gold and silver medalist in triathlon.  He's pretty stinkin' fast.  I heard a rumor that he has been reading my IMAZ Training posts and copying my workouts in order to improve his fitness level.  Or maybe that's something I completely made up.  Anyways, he happens to have some little kids of his own.  And oddly enough, the love bounce houses too!  So what would you expect an Olympic gold medalist to do?  Find a unique way to get in a workout, while having fun with his kids.  That's probably why he is at the level he is at...he figures out how to get in his workouts, no matter what!

Let me set the stage a little bit.  Recently, LeMond Fitness came out with a new indoor trainer for bikes.  This trainer isn't like other trainers, which typically attach to the back of the bike and provide a never-ending rolling surface for your bike to spin on.  Instead, the entire rear wheel is removed, and this trainer is then attached.

The LeMond Fitness Revolution Trainer
The LeMond trainer, with a bike attached

In the first picture, or just the trainer, you can see a yellow fan on the back side of the trainer.  As the pedals are turned, the fan turns, producing resistance, and wind.  So many things can be done with wind.  Like blowing up a bounce house, for example. - "Yeah but can Cavendish do this?" (@markcavendish) from swhitfield on Vimeo.

I can't even begin to imagine how much more training I would be able to get in if I could blow up a bounce house for my daughter while I did a bike ride, and then continue to ride until she was done playing!  Maybe some day...

Friday, June 17, 2011

Weekly Training Tip - Save the nips!

This weekly tip is actually for the fellas, believe it or not.  And no, I don't mean "Save the ta-ta's".  I'm talking about probably one of the most painful phenomena to happen during a long distance running event...chafing of the nipples.

This is typically only a problem for the men, as women usually wear sports bras.  Men, however, usually wear loosely fitting tech shirts, which are constantly rubbing on the nips while running.

Did this guy spill ketchup on his shirt, twice?
I think this guy bought his shirt like this.
Yay for bloody nips!
Awesome.  I can't lie, I've been there.  It's not something that us guys usually take into consideration before a marathon.  It usually only happens when we get on the sweatier side, but in all reality this ego-shattering, laugh producing tragedy can strike at any time.

There's been a few different companies that have tried to capitalize on this problem, and come out with products to protect our very delicate nips.

NipGuards are pick and stick products that cover the nip
Other companies, such as BodyGlide, have products that are simply applied and are "anti chafing" products.  One product that I recommend against is Vaseline.  Vaseline is probably the most widely handed-out product on race courses, probably due to it's cheap price and bulk quantity.  However, if you use Vaseline, be warned: It will probably stain your shirt!  This might be even more embarrassing than having bloody nips, because now every time you run you will have discolored spots on your shirt where your nips are.  I've actually thrown away a shirt because of this.

My solution is much simpler, and maybe cheaper (I haven't really done the price matching to see, but I like to tell myself that it is).  I simply put a band-aid over each nip before a long run, if I'm at all concerned that I'll have some irritation.  During triathlons, it's not usually a problem, and likely the band-aids wouldn't stay in place during/after the swim anyway.  But in the run-only setting, don't forget the band-aids!

Just your generic, normal sized band-aid

Looks kinda funny, but it will save your life!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Team Marathon Bar schwag

Sitting around the other day, basking in a pile of Marathon Bars, I realized that I never shared with you the contents of my Team Marathon Bar welcome kit!  Now that was quite rude of me, wasn't it?!  I'm sorry.  To make it up to you, I will pass on some of the goodness that is Marathon Bars, as long as I have some on me of course.

Without further ado, feast your eyes on one of the best perks of being selected for an Active Ambassador's sponsorship:

Can you figure out what all of this wonderful stuff is?  I'll explain below...
That is a crap-ton of stuff!  And very nice stuff, might I add.  Inside the fifty-something pound box that was delivered to my doorstep was:
  • a Team Marathon running tech tee
  • a Team Marathon long sleeve running tech tee
  • a Team Marathon running singlet (I like to call it a muscle shirt, to show off all of my muscles...or lack thereof)
  • a Team Marathon jacket
  • a Team Marathon visor (or hat...I chose a visor since I have the hat from last year!)
  • a Team Marathon sweat band/ear warmer
  • a Team Marathon running short
  • a stack of coupons for Marathon Bars
  • Marathon Bar logo temporary tattoos (or is that Marathon Bar logo on my arm a real tattoo?)
  • my 2011 Team Marathon team manual
  • and of course, a bazillion Marathon Bars!
The difference between last year's kit and this years was that last year's kit had less running stuff, but included a bike jersey and shorts, and a tri top.  I actually like not getting the exact same stuff, as it provides more variety for me to sport the team colors!

So like I said, check out my race schedule and come find me at one of my races and I'll hook you up with some Marathon Bars, some coupons, and some tattoos (you can just use the temporary ones, unless you want to get a real one.  And if that's the case, I'm totally down to go get a tattoo with you!)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My longest bike ride of this far.

Last Monday, I embarked on a training ride that I was planning to make my longest bike ride of this season to date.  Usually when I extend the duration of my longest ride, I don't worry too much about pace.  My goal is to go out for a certain amount of time, and once I've been out for the given amount of time, I worry about pace the next time that I do that ride.  Of course, any time I happen to go a little faster than expected is an added bonus!

For this year's Ironman Arizona, my goal is to finish the bike portion, which is 112 miles, in six hours or less.  To do this, I need to average 18.67 mile per hour for the entire bike portion.  Up until about a month ago, 18.67 mph seemed pretty out of reach.  Lately, though, I've been able to keep my speed a bit above my goal.  Would I be able to do it for my longest ride of the season to date?  Maybe.  But again, it's not the priority.

The ride went fairly smooth.  I left my house at about 5:00 a.m., and met up with The Captain after about 6 miles or so.  From there, we rode together for a little under 50 miles before he had to Peele off (ha!) and head home.  I, however, had the great pleasure of continuing onward!

At about three hours and thirty minutes into the ride, and started to get a little antsy.  It was starting to get a little warm out in the Arizona sun, and my, eh hem, saddle muscles were beginning to feel the fatigue of the long ride.  But I was determined to complete this ride in it's entirety.  Once it was all said and done, it actually wasn't that bad.

The map of this most epic bike ride
The summary of the bike ride
And check out them apples!  My average speed, including "stop time" at intersections, was 18.8 mph, and 18.9 mph if you only count my "moving" time!  Wahooooo!  And the best part was that for the first 30 miles or so, The Captain and I weren't pushing our pace at all.  We were intentionally holding back and keeping the pace very relaxed.

And as an added bonus, if you read the post about my Garmin heart rate problems, my Garmin appears to have worked, for the entire ride!

No drop-out!
This ride was basically a huge step forward for both myself, and The Captain.  For me, it was the longest ride so far, and it was above my goal race pace.  I can't help but be excited.  In fact, I was going so fast that I burned the rubber right off of my rear tire:

Ok, so it's not from going fast.  Somewhere during this ride my rear tire pretty much wore through the rubber.  It's a kevlar tire, so if you look close enough, you can see the cross-stitching of fiber where the rubber is no longer intact.  Luckily for me, this little guy did not burst on me, which The Wife is a little upset about because she was hoping to cash in on my little insurance policy.  Maybe next time, honey!

Oh, and I know I don't always have the greatest photos.  But I need to credit The Wife with the good looking photos.  Basically, if it is a good looking, clear picture, The Wife took it.  If the picture is a peg or two away from even acceptable, I probably took it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The new way to walk your dog

I was on the last portion of a recent bike ride, riding through a development in Norther Peoria called Vistancia.  It's a pretty nice area, and an even better place to do some bike riding.  The roads are all very new, there's hardly any traffic, and it has some great rolling hills.  Anyway, I couldn't pass up telling you all what I witnessed.

I've seen laziness before.  Most of the time, it's not very comical.  More often than not, I just make a mental note of the display of laziness, and move on...hoping to never become the lazy one.  But what I saw took this to a whole new level.  At first, I didn't really believe what I saw.  I had to do a double-take to make sure I wasn't just hallucinating due to dehydration.  Sure enough, it was real.  Unfortunately, I wasn't quick enough to get my phone out and snap a picture as evidence.  Lucky for you, this apparently happens fairly often!  Here's a video I found on YouTube of the exact same thing that I witnessed:

What I witnessed took place at about 9:00 a.m.  It was a woman, probably in her 50's, driving her golf cart with the shepherd-mix dog running beside her, on a leash of course.  At first, I thought this was completely absurd.  But then I realized how ingenious this lady was!  Not only that, but I was way to quick to judge this woman...maybe she isn't able to walk far enough for her dog to get a workout, and so she figured out a way to get her dog the proper workout.  Who knows.  All I know is, the more I think about it, the more I realize that this lady is pretty stinkin' clever.

Monday, June 13, 2011

IMAZ Training - Week 20

The big two-oh!  Nothing big to say about this last week, other than I did an 11.86 mile run on Sunday morning, which was the farthest run I've done in quite a long time.  I've definitely lost a bit of speed, but hopefully I'll be able find that speed again in time for my upcoming races.  On that note, here is week 20:

Monday: Bike 4:00.  Yoga 1:00.
Tuesday: Bike 1:30.  Run :40.
Wednesday: Bike 1:30.  Swim 1:00.
Thursday: Run :30.  Swim 1:00.
Friday: Bike 2:15.  Run 1:00.
Saturday: Bike 1:30.
Sunday: Run 6 miles, including 4 hills.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Swimming with my Garmin 310xt, Part II

Apparently I'm getting forgetful in my old age.  In all the craziness that is my every day life, I failed to include some of the more important photos in yesterday's post.  So, as an added bonus, sort of, there's two posts today!  You can read up on Part I of "Swimming with my Garmin 310xt" before you continue on in this one, if you'd like.  If you'd already done that, then please, continue on!

As I described in Part I, I placed the 310xt underneath my swim cap, on the back of my head.  Here's a group of photos to help you better understand what that looks like:

My swim cap, goggles, and the 310xt
The swim cap, without the 310xt underneath
The swim cap, now with the 310xt underneath (the huge lump on the back of my head is not a growth!)
Me knockin' out some laps!
Alright, now maybe Part I makes a little more sense with these pictures!  Sorry I didn't include those the first time around...I had a brain fart!

Swimming with my Garmin 310xt, Part I

I've never swam with my 310xt.  It is a triathlon-oriented GPS watch, which basically means that it is water proof.  It doesn't mean, however, that the GPS signal works under water, or that the HR strap works under water.  When using the 310xt during a swim, it is basically a glorified stop watch.

There is one way to change things.  After doing some detective work on the internet, I found that the problem with the Garmin GPS signal is when the watch enters the water.  At that point in time, it loses the signal, and reconnects once exiting the water for the brief second that your arm is in the air during the recovery portion of a freestyle stroke.  The solution is to place the 310xt unit inside a swim cap, on the back of your head.  This places the 310xt in a position that is, theoretically, above the water during the freestyle stroke.

It's summer time, which means that the local high school pools are now open for public swimming.  My family was going to go there for an hour or so, so I decided to get in some laps while they played with the little kiddos.  I placed the 301xt in my swim cap, hopped in the pool and began my laps.  I wasn't too sure how this would turn out, but I figured I'd give it a try.  I only did 30 laps, but I figured that was a decent enough test distance.  So...drum roll is the resulting map:

It may look like it, but I promise, I was not drunk while doing this swim.
Basically, the GPS was having trouble locking onto my position during the swim.  And I didn't even do any flip turns! (<----mainly because I can't...)  All I did was swim back and forth over one of those little blue lines, 30 times.  My exact workout was this:

8 lap warm up followed by 1:00 rest
10 laps followed by 1:00 rest
10 laps followed by 1:00 rest
2 lap cool down

Here is what my 310xt recorded as my distances during each portion of my workout:

Splits 1, 3, 5, and 7 are the longer portions of my swim.  While splits 2, 4, and 6 were the rest intervals.
Maybe you noticed that the bottom line, "summary", shows a total distance of 0.85 miles.  That's because I went back and edited the total to show the actual distance that I swam.  If you add up the distances for each split, it only totals 0.23 miles...not even close to what I actually swam.  Splits 3 and 5 should have shown a distance of 0.28 miles, roughly.

For me, it was no surprise that the data turned out this way.  I was a little stunned at the distances being so far off, but I knew that having the 310xt go underwater periodically, and doing small back and forth laps, was going to cause some GPS issues.  I have read that the GPS does better during an open water swim, in which the GPS has more of a chance to "connect the dots" and make an estimation of your distance and path taken.  One of these days I'll head on out to the nearby lake (because we don't really have those all over the place in Arizona, there really is only one nearby lake that I can swim in).

GPS doesn't really matter when you're swimming laps anyways.  The only time it would be interesting would be during a race that is promoted as XX distance.  Hopefully I'll get it figured out enough to be able to take it into the swim during Ironman Arizona, and see how far I actually swim!

*I failed to include some key photos in this post.  To see those photos, head on over to "Swimming with my Garmin 310xt, Part II"!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Do you know who Matt Hoover is?

Some of you may recognize that name.  Matt Hoover was on The Biggest Loser, season two.  In fact, he won that season!  This post isn't meant to be an advertisement for Matt Hoover, but more a promotion of his determination.

Biggest Loser is a pretty awesome show.  I'm not 100% sure why I like that show so much, but I have one theory that I think is the best answer.  That theory is that I love seeing people taking control of their lives and doing whatever they can do to get healthy.  In my job, I see so many people who get in a cycle of unhealthy living, and do absolutely nothing to try and change their situation.  I guess I just think it's refreshing to know that there are people who are in a position where they could easily give up, and don't.

Anyway, I don't recall watching season two of The Biggest Loser, but the other day I found a video of Matt Hoover that is pretty motivating.  It's a pretty long video (6:58), but it's worth watching.  If you've ever done an Ironman, or any endurance event for that matter, or have any loved ones that have done an Ironman/endurance event, you will enjoy get the tissue box ready!:

I would just like to quote his last statement, because I think it's something that is worth repeating.  He said, "There's something about pushing yourself beyond your limits, that people need to do once in their life.  They need to take the chance one time, to see what they really can do.  And once you do it, you're never the same."  Well put, Mr. Hoover.

*If you want to follow someone along on their weight-loss journey, visit  Terey is a friend of mine, and an amazing woman who has been working her butt off (literally!) to get her life back and shed some unwanted weight.  She's already up to 170lbs of weight loss!  You should check out her story.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Weekly Training Tip - Rules of the Road

I find it interesting that most drivers out on the road think that bicycles belong on the sidewalk.  Actually, we don't belong on the side walk, thank you very much!  Here is some stuff I took directly off of the Arizona Governor's Office of Highway Safety:

Bike Safety and Laws
According to Arizona State law, cyclists have the very same rights and responsibilities as motorists. Respect for the rights of ALL road users will help you feel good about yourself and avoid accidents too.

Most crashes between motorists and cyclists happen at intersections. Most often, when the motorist is at fault, it is because they failed to yield the right-of-way to the cyclist. This usually happens when you turn left in front of a cyclist, or pull out from a stop sign or driveway into a cyclist’s path.

Bike Safety Boogie!  Yeah!

Arizona Bicycle Laws
  • ARS 28-644 Stop for traffic lights and stop signs
  • ARS 28-817 Always use a white headlight and a red rear reflector when you cycle after sunset or before sunrise
  • ARS 28-792 ARS 28-904 Yield to pedestrians at crosswalks and on sidewalks
  • ARS 28-756 Before you turn or change lanes, look behind you, signal to show your plan to turn or change lanes, and yield to any traffic already there. Cyclists may signal their turns by extending either their left arm for a left turn or their right arm for a right turn
  • ARS 28-721 Any vehicle moving slower than the normal traffic speed shall drive in the right-hand lane, or “as close as PRACTICABLE” to the right edge of the road, except when preparing to turn left or when passing
  • ARS 28-704 Any vehicle on a two-lane road that has five or more vehicles behind it must pull off at the first safe pullout to allow the vehicles behind to proceed
  • ARS 28-815 Special conditions that affect cyclists more than motorists are recognized in the law
  • Riding two abreast is permitted by law (A.R.S. 28-815)

You may ride far enough from the road edge to stay clear of surface debris, potholes, rough pavement, drain grates, and pavement joints, as well as to avoid pedestrians, dogs, parked vehicles, and other objects.

You may occupy any part of a lane when your safety warrants it. Never compromise your safety for the convenience of a motorist behind you.

Laws for Bicycle Riders Only
  • ARS 28-813 Every person riding a bicycle must have a regular seat to sit on
  • ARS 28-817 Every bicycle must have at least one brake that will make the wheel skid when applied
  • ARS 28-815 You may ride no more than two side-by-side, except on exclusive bike paths
  • ARS 28-816 You must have at least one hand on the handlebars at all times
  • ARS 28-814 You may not attach your bicycle to, or hold onto, another vehicle on the roadway

Bicycle Safety Tips
  • Before using your bicycle, make sure it is ready to ride. Always wear a bicycle helmet. It could save your life!
  • Inspect your bike to make sure all parts are secure and working properly.
  • Inflate tires properly and check brakes before riding, see and be seen.
  • Always wear fluorescent or bright color clothing when riding during the day.
  • Carry books and other items in a bicycle carrier or backpack.
  • Avoid riding at night; it is far more dangerous than riding during the day. If you have to ride at night, wear something that reflects light. Make sure that you have reflectors on the front and rear of your bike (lights are required)
  • Arizona Department of Transportation Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Share the Road Guides in English and Spanish (pdf) (Pima County)

Safe Bicycle Riding
Bicycles are considered vehicles, and bicyclists must obey the same rules as motorists. When riding, always
  • Obey all traffic signs, signals, and lane markings
  • Signal your moves to others. Be courteous to pedestrians and other vehicle operators
  • Most bicycle crashes occur at driveways or other intersections. Before you enter any street or intersection, check for traffic by looking left - right - left
  • Stay alert at all times. Watch out for potholes, cracks, wet leaves, storm grates, railroad tracks, or anything that could make you lose control of your bike
  • When turning left or right, always look behind you for a break in traffic, then signal before making a turn. Watch for left or right-turning traffic
  • Ride so other drivers can see you. Stay out of drivers’ blind spots
  • Ride far enough out from the curb to avoid the unexpected from parked cars (like doors opening)
Not listed in here is the infamous "3 feet" rule.  Not sure what I'm talking about?  Well, Arizona has a "3 foot law" that was passed back in 2000 (HB2625 during the 44th Legislature, 2nd regular session).

This is the actual sign from Phoenix, AZ.  I know where two of them are posted, but more should be posted...EVERYWHERE!
Here is what the law from 2000 says:

The main provisions which passed into law in 2000 are (not the full text):
ARS §28-735. Overtaking bicycles; civil penalties
A. When overtaking and passing a bicycle proceeding in the same direction, a person driving a motor vehicle shall exercise due care by leaving a safe distance between the motor vehicle and the bicycle of not less than three feet until the motor vehicle is safely past the overtaken bicycle.
B. If a person violates this section and the violation results in a collision causing:
1. Serious physical injury as defined in section 13-105 to another person, the violater is subject to a civil penalty of up to five hundred dollars.
2. Death to another person, the violater is subject to a civil penalty of up to one thousand dollars.
C. Subsection B of this section does not apply to a bicyclist who is injured in a vehicular traffic lane when a designated bicycle lane or path is present and passable.

Very interesting.  From what I understand, if someone runs me down while I'm on my bike, and I die, they will be fined $1000?  Pretty hefty fine!  Or, not at all.

In conclusion, if you're on a bike, stay to the right, follow all posted signs, and stop at all intersections.  The law doesn't protect you much, so always be on the lookout.