Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Last Chance Half, and thats a wrap

Sunday November 13 was the Last Chance Half Marathon and my last race for the season.  Starting the season with the Calgary Police Half Marathon, and finishing with the Last Chance Half Marathon was a great way to bookend the season and see how far I've come.

Game Face! No, not really.
Coming into this race I was excited to have fresh legs, probably for the first time since August 28, the day before Ironman.  After Ironman I raced the Subaru Banff Tri as a cyclist for a relay team, and a few weeks later I ran Melissa's Half in Banff with my fiancée, and about two weeks after that I was running again to get ready for LC.  Being fresh I put a little more pressure on myself and decided that this would be a race where I would take some chances and try and hit the elusive 1:30 HM mark.

The race started and right away I was running with a quick start around 4:10/km.  For the first bit this felt fine but after about 2km I figured the pace wasn't sustainable.  Already starting to get some negative feedback from my legs I decided to back off the pace a little and just go by feel.  I backed off to about 4:30/km which was a bit slower than I wanted, but then I came across another runner who I've raced against before and started pacing off him.  That helped to get my mind off the clock, but at the same time helped push me along a bit.  I actually struck up a conversation with him and said (maybe a bit too crypticly), "You raced the Police Half right? We've done this before".  What I was referring to was playing cat and mouse with each other for km after km.  I'm glad I introduced myself and he knew exactly who I was, we struck up some conversation and it turns out Ron is actually a great guy and a very impressive athlete.

I kept pushing but not feeling great until around the half way mark.  Up until I was calculating splits and times and thinking about what my finish time would be if I blew up, not the best frame of mind.  But after the turnaround I started seeing teammates, friends and my dad.  I had about 45 minutes left in my 2011 season, so I  figured "damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead".  I re-passed a lot of the people who got by me after I backed off the pace and I pushed right until the end.

My old man and I post race
My finish time was 1:33:51, beating my previous PR of 1:39:10 (which had snow on course which probably cost about 3-4 minutes to be fair).  I'm super happy with the result and I believe it was a great way to finish the season.  I firmly believe that the goals you set should be a little it out of your reach, if its something easily within your grasp then your goal becomes an expectation, and with expectations we have no incentive to push beyond what we're capable of.

The best part of the day though was my dad running his first Half Marathon on his 59th birthday.  His finish time was a strong 2:05, and his first running race was the Calgary Police 5km back in April.  So to say he has come a long way this season would be an understatement.  He's already becoming a competition minded age group athlete and is pretty excited that next year when he turns 60 he'll be in the young end of his age category.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Holiday Gift Ideas for the Athlete in Your Life

Egg Nogg Lattes are back in Starbucks now, so as far as I'm concerned its now that time of year.  I pretty much buy all the coolest gear I can get my hands on, so I've decided I should impart some of that knowledge with you folks, so here I've put together my first annual Athlete's Holiday Gift Guide!

Stocking Stuffers (Under $25)

Toasterz Reusable Heat Pack ($6.75 available at MEC.ca)- These are very cool... er... warm.  For runners, skiiers, and boarders who spend lots of time outside through the winter this is a reusable chemical (not the dangerous kind) heat pack.  You simply click the disk and it creates some sort of chemical reaction that provides warmth for when the cold starts to get to you. Once its cooled down, just boil it and its ready to go for next time.

The Stick ($20-$40 available at most running shops)- This pretty simple little tool is a must have for anyone who puts serious mileage in but doesn't want to pay for a massage every few weeks.  It works similar to a foam roller but is smaller and harder.  Great on smaller muscles like your calves, but can definitely tackle larger tissue areas like your IT band.

Gifts for someone you like a bit more (Under $100)

Lululemon Vinyasa Scarf- ($48 at Lululemon)- Gentlemen, if you're not sure what size pants or shirt to buy you lady friend, or you don't trust your own judgement in color/design and don't want to ask the friendly staff at Lululemon for help, then a scarf is the perfect gift.  The Vinyasa scarf is a tres versatile gift that can be worn on the way from the gym, on the way to work, or on a cozy drive out to the chalet in Kimberley.

Lululemon Beach Coast Hoodie ($98 at Lululemon)- This is a safe bet for the guy in your life and is a pretty tried and true gift idea .  Its street enough that if he's one of those guys who's still holding out from wearing Lulu based on some misguided principal, he might be willing to convert.  If your guy already wears Lulu stuff, then you can bet he wants one of these.  These always have cool designs and the thick cotton is good to keep you warm on the drive back from the ski slopes, so this one is a staple in my coat closet.

CEP Compression Socks ($60 at most run/tri/ski/snowboard shops)- My mom always used to get me socks for Christmas.  I probably would have appreciated it a bit more if they were CEP Compression socks.  I've always strongly encouraged boarders/skiiers to wear the appropriate socks for their boots when they hit the hills.  As a runner though I wasn't a convert to compression until recently.  I've got a couple pairs of CEP running socks and use them for recovery or travelling and don't go to a race without them.

Nike+ Sportband ($69 at most running stores)- This is a very sweet piece of equipment.  Using the Nike+ sensor you put in your shoe, which is basically an accelerometer, this device tracks your time, speed, pace, distance.  The cool thing is that its not GPS based, so you can use them indoors or on the treadmill and its a fraction of the price of a more expensive GPS watch.

Louise Card/ Sunshine Card ($85/$99) at respective websites or local ski/snowboard shop)- Free ski days, and discounts the other day? Yes please.  If you ski or snowboard but not enough to warrant a season pass, these are for you.  They pay for themselves basically after about 2 uses so you can't go wrong.  Plus with direct to lift you can skip the ridiculous lines at the ski hills when you get there.

Who Needs a Bonus Anyways? (under $500)

Rudy Project Sun Glasses ($150-$300 at www.e-rudy.com)- There's shades for the sun, and there's shades for the snow.  Heading into winter now a lot of people generally wear the same sunglasses that they use in the summer.  Even if they're sport glasses though its important to realize there are different lenses for different lighting.  There are plenty of times I've been outside where I needed shades to deal with blowing snow, or glare from the ground, but my dark Oakley shades made it difficult to judge contrast.  This impairs depth perception and results in things like skiing off cliffs... okay thats never happened, but who doesn't want a new pair of shades.

Olympus TG-610 ($249 at Bestbuy)- If you've got an athlete in your life, or are one yourself, you know that the need for a camera 15 feet below water is pretty likely, and that when its freezing cold outside is precisely when you'll want that perfect shot, and after you're done all this you'll just drop you camera on the pavement.  Well with this cool little camera has got it all. Another feature I like is its "tap control" which allows you to tap the camera from different sides to control operation, ideal for underwater use or when you're on the hills wearing ski gloves.

Garmin Forerunner 910xt ($390 at outdoor stores and bike shops this December)- Yeah so this is awesome. Bear with me while I have a geek-gasm here. The Garmin 910xt takes your standard GPS watch functionality and adds ANT+ compatibility to read power from devices like a CycleOps Powertap, Quarq, or the upcoming Garmin Vector.  Beyond that, it offers extensive swimming metrics such as distance, stroke count, stroke type, and efficiency. Whats cool about that is that its accelerometer based, not GPS based, so you can actually use it in a pool.  Its a bit expensive, but its the last computer your triathlete friend will ever need.

CycleOps Fluid2 Trainer ($389+ online and at your local bike shop)- Its winter, and if you're SO has a sweet road bike, and no trainer, then the CyclOps Fluid2 trainer is exactly what you should buy him/her.  Secure your bike to the trainer with the straightforward latch system of the Fluid2, get on your bike, put on a movie, and you're ready to go.  I prefer fluid trainers to magnetic and wind trainers since they're comparatively quiet, and you can put down a lot more power and still have realistic road feel.  If you're buying one for a petite lady friend who rarely puts out over 250 watts, the Magneto or Mag+ isn't a bad bet either, and its a bit cheaper at the mid-$200's.

Playstation 3 Uncharter 3 Bundle ($299 at Futureshop)- Yeah thats right. I just added a video game console to the Athlete's Gift Guide.  They're athletes, the goal during the off season should be to get them OFF the trainer and ON the couch.  Hot games this season include; Batman Arkham City, Assassin's Creed   Revelations, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3, Battlefield 3, and Uncharted 3.  You won't thank me later.

Dream On (You're not going to get this)

Santa would deliver presents far faster with this
Specialized Venge ($8000 for the frame)- What does a bike frame that costs as much as a Kia look like? It looks like this.  The Specialized Venge is the brainchild of bike manufacturer Specialized, and Formula 1 race team Mclaren.  Let me say that again, the Venge literally is the baby of a wicked fast bicycle, the S-Works Venge, and a McLaren Formula 1 car.  Differences in how the carbon is cut, and how the frame is molded mean the bike is lighter, stiffer, and more aerodynamic than every other bike on the road.

Well thats all for now folks.  Maybe if the mood strikes me I'll write up another gift guide before the holiday season really gets into swing.  I'll keep you posted (pun).



Thursday, November 3, 2011

Lululemon Run Club

So as some of you may have heard me talk about, I'll soon be co-leading the Lululemon 17th Ave/4th Street Run Club.  I'm very excited to be a part of the Lululemon team and am super excited to be leading the club with rockstar marathoner and fellow ambassador Andrea Rice! (check out Andrea's blog here, she's running the NY Marathon next week!)

The run club will be for runners of all levels but one of our main goals for the group will be to introduce new participants to running.  So whether this is your first run or 101st run, we'd love to see you out there.  For experienced runners, think of this as your easy recovery run, for new runners, think of this as an opportunity to run outdoors in a safe, welcoming atmosphere.

Each run will meet at 5:15 on Tuesdays at the Lululemon on 17th (by Melrose) and we'll spend 15 minutes talking about things like gear, training, staying motivated, etc.  We'll then head out at 5:30pm and run for 30 minutes from the store.

Lastly, don't be intimidated by the weather, we'll tell you all about proper running gear into the cool winter months, but part of this is showing people how refreshing it can be to run in the cooler months.  Also, you can check out my Cool Running post (below) for some extra tips on... cool running.

See you Tuesday at 5:15pm!