Friday, December 2, 2016

A practical gift guide for the runner in your life!

You know a runner? Are married to one?  Have a brother runner? Know a couple old mother runners?  If you do, check out the following gifts for that person, or yourself.  When I think about what to include on my gift list each year, I keep it simple.  I promote the stuff I use/love because I think others will feel the same.  I won't say that everything is cheap, but I won't be promoting a $300 jacket or sunglasses that cost $250.  I think there is a place where affordability meets quality and that's where I like to be.  I also like to promote brands or companies I believe are good for the sport, or products simply good for the runner's soul.

If you have anything to comment on or want to add on, leave it in the comments.  Here goes.  Find something on the list and go check it out.

1.  RoadID--It will always be number one on the list, every year.  I think it is is the single most important piece of equipment every runner/cyclist should own and wear 24/7.  It is cheap, easy, and may save your runner's life.  Go here for a chance to win a gift card to RoadID.

2.  Optic Nerve Sunglasses--Also will be a list entrant every year.  Great sunglasses that work well for leisure or for sport.  Two things I don't like about sunglasses, high $ and when they bounce or move during activity.  Optic Nerve sells pairs that range from $30-115ish.  I wear them during running, softball, and everything I do with my kids during sports.  They stay on, period.

3.  Top 3 books for runners--

Running with the Buffaloes- non-fictional season with the Colorado Buffaloes Cross Country team.  It is an amazing book, following the team, coaches, relationships, tragedy, triumph, and more.  My favorite running book of all time.
Once a Runner- fictional tale of running, it's a cult classic among runners.  The sequel, Again to Carthage is good too, although not a top 3.

A Race like No Other- Non-fictional book about the 2007 NYC marathon, the book tells the story of several professional and non professional runners, each on a quest towards something great.

4.  Augusta Active Circuit Pants--God I love these pants.  Augusta Active is great all around.  I have tees, pants, jackets, water bottles from them and love everything.  Why specifically the pants then?  They are comfy, fit well, and with this week's code, Cyber40, are only like $16.50!  Most brands charge like $50 for comfortable sweats with pockets and open bottoms.  These are awesome!  Plus, I can't handle the new skinny leg sweats rage.  It's weird.

5.  Aftershokz--These headphones are a game changer.  They go in front of the ear so no need to
worry about fit, and you care hear your surroundings as well!  Safer listening and running!  Plus, at $30-$120, they won't kill your wallet.  There are wired and wireless options.

6.  Gift card to one of the following stores.  We runners are picky about sneakers, clothing, just about everything related to, well, running.  No runner every got mad about a getting a running gift card!

Running Warehouse
Road Runner Sports
Zombie Runner
Gone for a Run

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

11/30/2016 Wednesday's Workout, a little HIIT time

Well, since the marathon, I have been the poster boy for post marathon lack of motivation.  It happens to even the best, a total lack of motivation.  I did however, have a major motivation factor for eating in these recent weeks.  Yikes!  I'm fat.  That being said, I am feeling the motivation coming back, not only to run, but to be fit again.  Consequently, I decided to reverse my normal course of action today and workout rather than go for a run.

I do feel good after running, like I accomplished something.  However, knowing that I do not love to cross train, when I get that in, I really feel good about it.  It's like I have overcome a major obstacle.  So, for 23 minutes today, I was the man!  Ha, kidding.  I need to keep at it.  I am a little weak these days.  

Today's workout, as I like to keep it with cross training was really simple, but challenging.  I warmed up with 5 minutes of jump rope, then did 2 times through the following circuit.  I finished up with a 10 minute walk at the end.  Total time was 33 minutes.  Short and sweet.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Just in time for the holidays, win a free $35 gift certificate from @RoadID @DeanKarnazes

Every year, I write up a gift guide for the runner in your life, or cyclist, whatever.  At the top of the list, is a product that every single active individual should wear.  The RoadID could be the most cost effective life saving device you could own.  It is an ID bracelet, shoe strap, neckwear, pet, anklet, or watch accessory that provides your personal information in the event that you cannot give it to someone yourself.  The RoadID pictured is the Slim model, the one I wear.  There are several variations in size, color, and also shoe versions.  RoadID now has the identification badge available that connects to the watch band of some of the more popular active watches/activity monitors.  These include, AppleWatch, VivoFit2, VivoSmart, Fitbit Alta, Fitbit Blaze, and more.
RoadID Slim

In addition, RoadID sells accessories for your ID as well as visibility gear for safely enjoying your favorite activity with some piece of mind.  Check out some of the accessories here!  

Purchasing your RoadID is simple.  Go to the website, pick out the model you want, and fill out the corresponding information for the ID, complete your transaction and in a few days, you have your product.  The folks at RoadId were generous enough when I contacted them to provide me with a $35 gift card to the website for one lucky, US reader.  Please enter the Rafflecopter (starting midnight 11/30) below and check out the website for more information or to purchase your RoadID today!  Once a winner is chosen, I will email him/her the gift code I was given by the company.

I was provided nothing for this review, except for the gift certificate to giveaway.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Race Report, Philadelphia Half Marathon by John Altieri

The following is a race report by a friend at work, John Altieri.  He has a good perspective and has a wide range of races under his belt.  I am happy to share his view of the Philly half marathon and look forward to sharing his future races as well, even if he doesn't know it yet :)

Philly Half Finisher's Medal
Last month, I decided to do one more half marathon before the end of the year. Through September and October, I had been joining friends as they trained for other races, including marathons (big thanks to you Gary!). Talking about everyone's racing plans was great motivation to get out there for another day. I had the long runs under my belt so signing up for Philly was an easy choice.

It's great to see how many people will come out to run far; big city races give you that. This was a solo trip for me, though you're really never alone at a race. Friendly folks in Philly, lots of cheering and some great signs. A good one said "Motivational Sign." Just true.

Heading to the center of a big city for packet pick-up, you may know, isn't the easiest, so staying somewhere downtown, or making a night of the pick-up can make it much easier. I guess I wanted to make it a little harder on myself (easier on my wallet) so I stayed just outside of town. Friday night, instead of keeping my parking spot and getting dinner in the city, I made a trip out to the "Fermentaria" at Tired Hands Brewing Company for some "carb loading" and a bite to eat. The next morning I drove into town. Parking was really easy considering how many people were racing. One of the pay lots listed in the race guide was open with plenty of room just a few blocks from the start. $10.

Not long after that, standing in the first corral, the race started only a couple minutes late. Folks were really upbeat and a whole lot of cheering for wheelchair athletes and the police out to support the event.

Elevation Chart
There were a few changes to the race this year. I had done the full marathon here a few years ago (without training... ouch!) and really enjoyed the course. One change for 2016 was that the half was held on Saturday rather than having the half and full on the same day. With so many people and the road being tight at the start, it was good to give each race a day.

Another change is the new course. We did 5k of racing downtown before the course brought you north of the city, leaving more mileage in the parks along the Schuylkill River. It would've been nice to spend more time downtown, but the change gives the course a new feel. At the 5k point we came back around and passed the starting line. I heard them sending off the penultimate wave of runners 20 minutes after the first wave. The "waved" start seemed organized and helped the foot traffic on the course.

Soon I came to a well known hill people speak of just north of town. I took it easy-ish. I was not expecting the three other solid climbs a little ways after that. One climb reminded me of trail racing, and had me thinking that a lot of us would be walking had we been on trails. This race sure put the "hilly" in Philly! ;-) My hope of breaking 1:30, usually a very doable goal, was in question.

With a mile and a half to go, the 1:30 pace crew caught up to me. I was slowing down. My mile-by-mile calculations that put me just under 1:30 weren't so accurate. My math abilities might have been compromised by my high heart rate. Hills! I heard the pacers discussing how the course was running long (I ran 13.4 based on my Garmin) and that the hills were slowing people down. I kept those guys in sight and came to the finish line in the usual red hot, huffing pain / joy. Finish lines are great thresholds.

Official time was 1:30:00. Ha! I didn't break 1:30 - but it's a nice round number. A rewarding day. Results put me in a usual spot percentage-wise, so I wasn't the only one hurting on the hills. This is not necessarily a PR course, but still a really nice challenging race. Water stations were done just right, volunteers well trained and supportive, and the course was well marked, although a bit long. If I head back next year I'll probably stay in town. Thanks, Philly!

Race Report: Team Never End the Fight at the USR 5K

It's been awhile since we heard from Justin Macaluso and his team of runners, Never End the Fight.  Thanksgiving Day would provide the team with a chance to race together at a local, popular 5K Turkey Trot in Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.  Here is a quick recap of the race by Justin.

Thanksgiving morning, Never End the Fight was back at it for the second year in a row at a large, local 5K.

The race, formally known as the Dick Meighan Memorial 5K Run, is now called the Upper Saddle River 5K.  The race was in Upper Saddle River at Cavellini School.  There were just about 2000 runners this year.  It was great weather to run in, with the temperature at around 40 degrees with no wind.  The course certainly proved to be difficult with multiple hills along the way.  The race starts with about a third of the mile on a long uphill incline.  Team Never End the Fight was 5 strong in Upper Saddle River with myself, my father, William Rice and Steve Greenblatt and his wife Gere Ann Waters all on the course. 

As a team, Never End The Fight took 21st out of 69 teams with an average time of 25:29. Individual times are listed below.

Justin--  20:42
85th overall and 15th out of 78 in age group

William--  25:33
355th overall and 16th out of 41 in age group

Steve--  30:12
872nd overall and 68th out of 121 in age group

Jim--  30:53
951st overall and 50th out of 102 in age group

Jere--  43:26
1732nd overall and 66th out of 76 in age group

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Bananas and potassium right? Here are 6 common foods that beat the banana at it's own game

So, coming off marathon week and the necessary build up of potassium in the body, I was reminded of an article I had read about the banana and how it is synonymous with potassium, even though it can be easily beaten in by quite a bit of foods.  Consequently, I did some research and came up with some of the most common, tasty alternatives to the banana.  You have to remember, not everyone is into bananas and their consistency.  A banana provides about 9% of the recommended daily amount of potassium.  For most, it's a love/hate thing.  Here are some choices that trump the yellow guy:

1.  Sweet Potato-  There are a lot of people that dig these babies.  A medium with skin, about 10% RDA.

2.  Tomato Sauce-  This obviously can vary, but the red stuff can give you around 16-18% of the RDA.

3.  Watermelon-  My favorite of this list.  It is about 14% of the RDA for a couple slices of watermelon.  A bonus is all the lycopene in it too!

4.  Black Beans-  This bean is a superfood if there ever was one.  The list of positives is long, especially the 16% RDA of potassium in a cup.

5.  Frozen Spinach- Not only cheap on the wallet and easy to deal with, frozen spinach packs about 11% in a cup.  Toss it in a shake or even your pasta sauce!

6.  Edamame-  The soybean is a plant-based protein wonder.  Add to that its 14% value of potassium and it just got better.

There are a number of other foods you could go for as well.  I just picked these as they represent a variety and are common in every store.  I'm not big on having to go to a tiny specialty shop just to get healthy food.  Feel free to comment on a healthy addition to this list!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Featured Post: Product Review & Giveaway! @AugustaActive Avail rain jacket

Recently, I was provided with an Avail pullover rain jacket from the good people at Augusta Active.  The details of the jacket can be found here.  After joining them as an ambassador and reviewing a few products, I was sent this to try out.  

I was able to wear the jacket a few times in the rain, for running and casual wear.  Here are some of the things I noticed.

First, it is clearly well made, stitched, put together, etc.  Although it doesn't come with the price tag of the big name brands that I will not mention, it does come with as much, if not more craftsmanship.  The zipper, cords, hood, stretch elastic are all well done and comfortably in place.
Check the zipper placement

Second, a BIG deal for me, was the zipper placement.  I LOVE that the zipper tops out at the neckline, with the hood behind, unobstructed by the zipper being closed.  I cannot stand when jackets have the zipper completely closed in a higher position like in the mid neck or chin level.  I find it constricting and uncomfortably lost in Neverland.  Also, when the zipper is that high, it can cause the hood to be bothersome when putting it up or down.  The Augusta brand does a nice job placing the zipper at the top of the neck and it is less restrictive, while also allowing the hood a full range of motion to go up or down.  

Finally, the performance of the jacket in rain conditions was spot on.  It was 100% able to resist water on a run and when used in casual conditions.  When I took it off when I was done being in the rain, I shook it off and all the water was off.  I found the medium size true to fit and it was a comfortable jacket to wear.  In hind sight, I may have ordered a small to wear on a run so that it was a little more fitted, but I do like the medium's feel.  I found the jacket enjoyable to wear on a run and it looks nice enough to wear casually as well.  Sometimes, running apparel can be limiting because of style, color, or fit to the primary purpose.  I like the dual ability of the Avail to kind of go anywhere.

The company was nice enough to extend me the ability to offer one lucky reader a free Avail jacket as a giveaway on my blog.  Please fill out the RaffleCopter below.  I was given the product for my review and received no compensation what so ever.

a Rafflecopter giveaway