Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Product Review: Asics Gel Kayano 20

I've done my share of shoe reviews on this blog. It's kind of a no brainer for shoe companies to contact me and ask my opinion given the name of my blog.

Usually what happens is I get contacted, agree to review the product (or not), wear the shoes for a day around the city to break them in, go for a run and then write up what I think.

It's a formula that works. By wearing them around and breaking them in, one run is pretty much all I need to form an opinion.

But, what I'd really like to do is wear the shit out of the kicks and see how long they last, how my knees and hips react when they have 250+ miles on them, what the treads look like and how beat up they look.

Well, I was given that opportunity.

Back in July Asics sent me a note and asked if I'd be interested in trying a pair of its kicks. I had never owned a pair before but I know a lot of folks that are dedicated Asics wearers and was very interested.

I was given a code and told to head over to the website and order any pair I wanted (and while they paid for the shoes, opinions here are my own).

If you're given the opportunity to wear a pair of Asics, what are you going to go for? The heritage brand, right? I ordered up a pair of Gel Kayano 20.

At first I was taken aback by the retail price ($139.00) but when I got them and finally slipped them on my feet, I understood why.

There's a reason Asics has been making this shoe for 20 years. They're pretty damn great. They're sturdy, good looking, well designed and (here's the kicker) lasted me well over 300 miles. It's been more than five years since I've had a pair of kicks go longer than 225 miles for me without experiencing some consequences (hip or knee pain, etc.). 

When I put the Gel Kayano 20 on for the first time, they already felt broken in -- a friend mentioned that she doesn't break them in before she runs in them, I've made that mistake before to my detriment. So I wore them to work for a day before my first run. From there, I stayed smart, my first run was a 10K, then a five miler, back to 10K until I finally ran a 13.1

Once the 13.1 was under my belt, I was loving the way they felt and decided this was the pair in which I would run the NYC Marathon. 

There's a lot of marketing speak on the Asics site about these kicks, the FluidFit uppers, the Heal Clutching System, something called the Guidance Trusstic System (which according to Asics, This Trusstic System® integrates Guidance Line® construction for enhanced gait efficiency while providing midfoot structural integrity.  

Courtesy of Asics

Um, okay, but do they make me run faster? (That's a joke.)

While I commend Asics for adding a ton of R&D and technology to the 11.3 oz strapped to my feet, for me it all comes down to how they feel when I run.

The strongest endorsement I can give a pair is that I want to wear them for a marathon. 

I wanted to.

And I did.

And I wasn't disappointed.

I've been rotating through a few different shoes since NYC but I will, without a doubt, be back to Asics soon enough.

As a side note, my Asics have 320 miles on them and they're still going strong. I'll Tweet when I finally retire them. 


Monday, December 1, 2014

Finding Time to Run With a Baby in the House

If you read this space, you know my wife gave birth to our son four days before the NYC Marathon. 

I would tell you that we're both overjoyed with parenthood, that our son, who is perfect, is the fulfillment of all our dreams, that each day dawns with the glimmer of anticipation for what's to come and ends with a satisfying sigh as we smilingly gaze, arm in arm at our son who is peacefully sleeping in his crib.

If you have kids, or know someone who does, you know that what I just wrote is complete and utter bullshit. 

My son is one month and one day old today. And while we love him, our days are not so super joyous right now. We're learning the ropes and just getting through each and every 24 hour period.

You know what I've learned in 32 days? Here's the short list:
  • I've learned how not to get pee'd on while changing his diaper
  • I've learned to wait an extra five minutes after he's finished nursing to change said diaper lest I have to change it again right away (which is easier than say, cleaning the changing table, the wall, the floor, and my clothing that he just pooped all over)
  • I've learned I can function reasonably well on four hours of sleep (night after night after night after night)
  • I've learned that if I really want to, I can make a decent dinner every night for my wife
  • I've learned that FreshDirect has incredibly good heat and eat meals
  • I've learned that an item available on Amazon Prime can be the difference between a fight and a loving gaze from my wife
  • I've learned that marathoning sitcoms at 3AM is a lot different when you have a fussy baby who won't go back to sleep
  • And I've learned that, so far, my wife and I are capable of keeping our son alive and reasonably happy.
What I haven't learned is balance. 

My wife is a saint. When I do muster the energy to go for a run, she always encourages me to do so. But I haven't really figure out how to be consistent. But I know what to do in order to get on track. I guess I just don't want to admit it.

See, I'm late to the game. I'm 44. And while parenthood is a young man's game, having your first baby at 44 means I have a lot of friends who have already been through it. Some actually have teenagers in the house. This all means that I have a huge knowledge base from which to learn.

The best piece of advice I've been given so far (running wise) is that I need to make running a priority. 

When I first started running eight years ago, I would set my alarm for 4:45AM, do my workout and then have a full day.

And while the thought of waking up at 4:45 in order to be in the park running by 5 is nauseating, I don't see any way around it.

So who's up for an early run in Central Park?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Staying Fit While Injured Just Got a Little Easier!

Last week I attended a preview of the Zero Runner by Octane Fitness.

To be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect. A zero gravity treadmill? Some sort of new gym torture device? 

None of the above.

I was pleasantly surprised when I walked into the room to sign in and Tara, the marketing person for Octane Fitness knew exactly who I was – actually repeating some of my story back to me – this wasn't lip service. This was a company that sought out a group of people who they really wanted to reach, whom they thought would benefit from their product and whom they were seeking help with to get the word out.

We listened to the requisite marketing speak, the R&D, the background of the company, the former professional runner, the older, injured runner who wasn't able to run anymore (until he got on the Zero Runner that is). But as a marketer myself for a living, what I was most impressed with was the research this company has done on its consumer.
Carrie Tollefson talks to about how she trains on the Zero Runner

I've been exposed to a lot of small companies as a blogger and I can tell you that 80% of them have no idea who they are marketing to. Octane Fitness does not have that issue. As Proctor and Gamble would say, they know who their "Who" is. I'm not going to get into it, but suffice it to say, the research has been done.

So if you fit one of their profiles (and if you read this blog, you do), this product is for you.

At first glance, the Zero Runner looks like a fancy elliptical. But it's not. The machine mimics actual running but reduces the stress on your body by removing the impact. Runners actually use the same muscles as they do in outdoor runs, with a full range of motion and at their pace – there's no belt to help you along. Whatever pace you run outside is the same pace you'll run on this machine.

It takes a while to get used to, and as one of the speakers stated, if you stop thinking so much, it becomes easier to run on it. I tried it and while I'll never be a huge fan of an indoor running apparatus, I can tell you that I enjoyed it.

Because it felt like running.

And because if I was injured or recovering from a big race, I can see how it would be helpful.

And you know I'm a fan of the numbers -- anything that I can measure, I like to record and look at when I'm done. What I liked most about the machine is what they call Stride Tracing which is built into the Zero Runner Smart Link app. Explained by them, The Zero Runner also features stride tracing so runners can monitor the health of their gait throughout workouts. This way, they can ensure that form isn't compromised so that they are as strong at mile five as they were at mile one. It's literally a chart that shows your gait over the course of your run so you can see where and when it changes and train to keep it consistent. 

Brilliant! How has no one else thought of this yet?

Check out more about the Zero Runner here or on Octane's social sites Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

This post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Octane Fitness.

Monday, November 24, 2014

I'm Rededicating Myself!

My son was born in late October.

He's perfect in every way. He's cute, he's healthy and while he wakes up a few times a night, he's a champion sleeper! The only downside is that he's made me lazy. Champion sleeper or not, I've slacked on running since he was born.

Yeah, I ran the NYC Marathon the four days after he made an appearance, but since then, I've run a total of four time.


That, my friends, is not enough.

So here I am saying it in public, posting it on the Internets for all to see and judge, I am getting my ass back into it!

I will run four to five times a week. I will do my best to cross train at least once. Regardless of the amount of sleep I get, I will drag my lazy ass out of bed and run before I go to work.

With you as my witness, I hope to make this happen (starting two days ago - which puts me on a roll already).

And no better time since I'm in the throes of the Men's Fitness/Shape Magazine Blogger Challenge! East v. West (to see who can log more steps/miles in a month).

Our challenge this week? Tack on an extra 20 minutes to a workout, run or training session to increase overall steps and distance travelled.

Challenge accepted (follow our progress here).

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Men's Fitness & Shape Magazine’s Fitbit Charge Blogger Challenge!

It's on!! It's a coastal showdown! It's time to show those warm-blooded west coast wussy's what the east coast is made of!!

I'm kidding of course.


Here's why I'm all fired up. Men's Fitness and Shape magazine have joined together to challenge 10 east coast and 10 west coast bloggers to test out the new Fitbit Charge. And your humble writer is one of them!

Each team will track total distance and steps taken to compete in winning the title of the most active coast!

I think we all know who's going to win this one, no?

You can see each costs progress on a live tracker on both Shape and Men's Fitness respective websites.

And I know we're only a few days in. But, ahem, look who's out front already:

Make sure you check in every week and enter the sweepstakes for a chance to win your own FitBit Charge! One winner will be announced each week.

Week One Challenge:
This week, we've been challenged to take our workouts outdoors and discover new trails and hiking spots. With the Polar Vortex in full force, this is a bit more of a challenge than I was prepared for but I'm up for it if for nothing else than to show the west coast who's boss :-)

Keep an eye on my Instagram for my updates on this challenge!

This post is sponsored by the Shape/Men's Fitness FitBit Charge Challenge.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Post Marathon Blues Are a Real Thing

So you've spent the last 18 weeks of your life preparing for and training to run 26.2 miles.

It's all you talked about with you friends and family, you changed your eating habits, you changed your social life, you woke up earlier on the weekends than you do on weekdays to get in your long runs. You waxed poetic on neutral vs. stability shoes, you talked about the nuances between using nip guards vs.  BandAides, and you dreamed about that one speed session you had at the beginning of your training that set the stage for a perfect race day.

The day came, you got up at the crack of dawn, followed your plan to a T and crossed the finish line. You then regaled in the kudos you received far and wide. You wore your medal around town. You posted myriad pictures on social media of race day, wearing your medal around town, or even, ahem, your new baby boy wearing your medal. And you relived race day with your running group talking about different aspects of the race, the crazy weather, the crazy naked guy at mile 18, the hills, the hills and the hills.

And then, all of a sudden . . .

It's. Over.

Now what?

For me, Post Marathon Blues sets in around 7 days after the race when all the hullabaloo end. I no longer need to wake up early on the weekends. I find myself with hours and hours of awake time not feeling sore or reliving a great (or awful) training run. I no longer get the endorphin rush from a speed work session or the satisfaction of completing a 20 mile run (or a 75 mile week).

And my friends and family are so sick of hearing about the race, they run in the other direction when they see me coming.

So how do I deal with it? I sit down with my laptop, pull up Google and find another marathon to participate in. Don't get me wrong, I live in NYC, possibly one of the greatest running cities in the world and thanks to organizations like the New York Road Runners and NYC Runs, I'm already signed up for 13.1s, 5-milers and 15Ks through March.

But I need to be training for something that my body is going to hate me for in the short term (but love me in the long).

I need a new goal. I need to be pushing myself and looking for reasons to wake up early, strap on my kicks in the dead of winter and go out for a run in the snow.

In short, I need another marathon.

My advice to you? Find another race ASAP. It doesn't have to be tomorrow, it can be in six months, or even a year. But give yourself a reason to eat 10 pounds of pasta; a reason to go out and buy a new pair of kicks; a reason to strap them on and get your ass back out into the Park (or wherever it is you train).

Nothing beats the post marathon blues like starting the cycle all over again.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Video: 2014 TCS NYC Marathon

Last Sunday I ran my seventh NYC Marathon.

My 7th marathon in my home town. I can easily remember going to Central Park on Marathon Sunday, standing there watching in awe of the runners going past the 72nd Street Transverse. I had mixed emotions. At once I was impressed by the display of endurance, tenacity and, to be completely honest, the crazy.

I remember telling a friend that one day I would be one of those crazy people -- but I didn't really believe it.

Yet here I am with seven NYC Marathons along with other iconic races under my belt (including Chicago and Boston). And I've actually become one of those people who has a list of races I want to run around the world.

But I digress -- before I even start.

The 2014 TCS NYC Marathon was a rough race. Weather predictions for the week leading up were getting worse and worse. We ended up with wind gusts of beyond 35 MPH which, for some reason never seemed to be a tail wind. It was like the universe was working against the runners. From the very start, crossing the Verrazano Bridge, I had to hang on to my hat, literally. And there were a few times that I actually thought the wind was going to blow me off the bridge.

I'm not going to get into a play-by-play of this race - suffice it to say that my goal this year was to cross the finish line. And that's exactly what I did.

I love my hometown race because it's a 26.2 mile party. The energy in the City that crescendos on Marathon Sunday is unlike like anything I've experienced in another race city.

If you're a runner, you HAVE to experience this race. Period. Full Stop.

As usual, the GoPro was in my hands and I captured some of what I hope was the essence of the day. You be the judge.

Do I have the marathon blues after this race? It's hard to think about, watch my race video to the end and you'll see why I was more excited than ever to reach the Park and get back home.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Product Review: Mizuno Wave Rider 18

If you read this space, you know I love me some Mizuno sneakers. So when I was asked to participate in a sponsored campaign to review the new Wave Rider 18 shoe (a neutral runner), I was beyond excited!

I think Mizuno scored huge with this shoe. In comparison to some of my other neutral light-weight shoes I've worn, I like the way these feel on my feet. And believe it or not, I can feel the fact that these are just over an ounce heavier than the Sayonara. But not in a bad way. What I mean to say is that they feel a little sturdier, like they will last past 300 miles. 

I'm a huge fan of the colors too. I wasn’t too psyched with the color scheme of the Wave Rider 17s but I felt that as these came in time for Halloween, it was the perfect color scheme. But that said, color doesn’t mean that much to me. At the end of the day, if it fits well, feels good and performs well, I'm a fan of the shoe. And this one seems to hit all the categories.

My first run
As I walked up to the park for my first run in these sneaks, I knew I was going to like them. I was in the depths of training for the 2014 TCS NYC Marathon and very close to the taper so I was a little weary of putting someone new on my feet so close to the race. But when I kicked off I immediately knew it was going to be a good run. The Wave Rider 18s felt light and sturdy with just the right amount of cushy. Cushy in the sense that I felt like my foot wasn't striking the ground hard, the shoe was absorbing the majority of the impact but I could still get a good feel for the road. 

According to Mizuno’s marketing, the company adopted the inspirational influence of the Japanese concept of “Hado,” the intrinsic vibrational life force energy that promotes powerful transformations. Hado is executed in the Wave Rider’s sleek, dynamic design relaying the power and kinetic energy of running, harnessing the transformative possibilities of every run.

The new Wave Rider 18 provides the ideal balance of fit and performance, making it the choice for runners seeking a smooth ride in a sleek, lightweight daily running shoe. Mizuno’s patented Wave Technology® delivers maximum responsiveness and a harmonious feel, providing “just enough” support for your run. The Dynamotion® Fit™ upper and a modified outsole pattern gives the shoe added durability and an improved underfoot feel.

What’s New
  • Refined toe-spring delivers a smooth, effortless toe-off
  • Upgraded premium sock liner provides more rebound and resiliency at every foot strike
  • New outsole design with added durability and shock attenuation
Did I like them? Yes, I would totally recommend these shoes to my friends. The Mizuno Wave Rider line has been and remains one of my all time favorite shoes.

DoS Disclaimer: DirtyOldSneakers was compensated for this review and provided product at no cost. All opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Final Preparations for the 2014 TCS NYC Marathon

In less than a week, I will wake up at 4AM, eat a hearty breakfast, shower, dress and make my way to the start of my 13th official marathon, the 2014 TCS NYC Marathon (my seventh time on this course).

Prepping for a marathon is always nerve wracking. While this isn't my first time at the rodeo, I think a little bit of nervousness about a race is healthy. If I get too cocky, I could easily go out too fast, hydrate incorrectly, or one of a hundred other things happen that are well within my control.

Running a marathon or any other long race is all about focus and for some a change of life. One of the inspirational posters at the ING NYC Marathon in 2012 year stated "The Finish Line Is Only The Beginning." Not just an inspirational quote, but a truth that a lot of endurance sports enthusiasts know is a basic truth.

While getting getting ready for the Big Dance, I started thinking about all of the things I need to prep other than miles and miles under foot in order to toe the starting line at 9:40AM on November 2.

The weather in NYC in early November is not consistent. Since 1999 it has ranged from 37 to 68 degrees. I've come to learn that when running a long distance race, I need to take into account the projected high for the day and add 20 degrees (about the temp your body will generate while running). This year, weather predictions are for a high of 48 but a low of 38. So what does this mean? Well, it means I'll need to have some throw-away clothes at the start (good thing I have a closet full of old sweat pants and shirts that I save just for this occasion). I'll be wearing these over shorts and a short sleeve shirt.
Pre-Race Eating
This is something I always struggle with. Pre-race there are a million theories for how to prepare, a large, carb-heavy meal the night before; heavy carbs for lunch the day prior and then dinner of lean protein and a balance of carbs the night before; introduce 20% more carbs for the two weeks leading up to the race at each meal and don't increase your caloric intake. These are the theories I've been reading about. I'm planning to do what I always do: Eat a lot and then run as far and as fast as I can.

I made my mix last week and have been fine tuning it ever since. I've been listening while commuting, while working and driving my wife nuts listening to it at home. I won't listen to it the entire time as I'll be filming part of the race, but I've made it long enough to get me from the start to the finish just in case.

As I mentioned in another post, I've almost doubled my water intake. I'm at the point where I'm thinking about just setting up shop in the bathroom since that's pretty much where I spend most of my time anyway. The payoff will be on race day when I can hit every other water station and not worry too much about dehydration.

I've also been drinking less caffeine since it's a diuretic. And since I'm increasing my electrolyte intake, it's the perfect excuse to drop a few Nuun Watermelon flavored tablets into my water a few times a day. I'm not a huge fan of sports drinks (I think they have way to much sugar) but I can't seem to get enough of Watermelon Nuun!

Now all I need to do is figure out how to sleep the night before the race.

See you on the course! Look for me, I'll be the guy with the GoPro!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Tapering for NYC and How to Spread the Cheers!

We’re getting down to the line folks! The TCS NYC Marathon is in 10 days. 10 DAYS! I wait all year for the excitement in my hometown to crescendo around this race and it’s evident everywhere I look. Street banners, bus and subway ads and the bleachers set up already in Central Park!! It’s only a matter of time before the statue of Fred Lebow (founder of the race) gets moved to the finish line so he can continue to watch all of the runners as we cross the finish line.
Fred overlooking the construction of the finish line last year
At this point, like most people I have one long-ish run left to do. I’ll set out with my running buddies this weekend and do an out and back across the 59th Street Bridge (three miles) and then follow the last 10 miles of the race course. 

This is technically part of my taper and there are a few things I like to keep in mind while doing so:
  • Even though I’m not running as much as I have been, I need to keep my caloric intake at roughly the same level. It’s okay to drop it a little, but now is the time to pack some carbs into your diet. Rather than going out for that one HUGE pasta dinner the night before the race, add 20% more carbs to your daily intake.
  • Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate! I’m pretty good at hydrating, but the week before the race, I’ll practically double it. I get to the point where I think about just setting up shop in the bathroom since that's pretty much where I’ll spend most of my time anyway. The payoff will be on race day when I can hit every other water station and not worry too much about dehydration.
  • I sleep every chance I get for as long as I can! Now’s not the time to be out partying at the clubs. I like to bed down early and train my body to wake up at the same time I will on race day (which for me is EARLY since I’m Wave 1 and Staten Island isn’t the most convenient place to get to).
  • Lastly, I’m preparing for the Expo to GET PSYCHED! I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to being in a giant room with fellow crazies who are just as excited as I am for this event.
Speaking of the Expo, I’ve partnered with Poland Spring, the official bottled water of the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon, to help kick off its “Poland Spring Cheers” campaign. The idea is to thank the millions of New Yorkers who helped make local spring water from Maine the #1 beverage brand in the big City.

So, how does it work? Poland Spring is inviting all of us to stop by its video booth at the Expo and record a personal “Poland Spring Cheers” video - essentially thanking our family and friends who supported our Marathon journey.

And you know, at the very least they deserve a thank you. I mean how many hours have they spent listening to your marathon strategy? How many pasta dinners have you forced them to eat with you? How many nights out were cut short because you had a long run the next morning? And how many weekend afternoons were shot because you were just too tired after that long run?

So stop by the TCS New York City Marathon Health and Fitness Expo on 10/30, 10/31 or 11/1 to create your own video. If you can’t drop by, you can still create your own video and share it on your social channels using #polandspringcheers

I leave you with a question, who are you going to thank?

Disclaimer: This post was created in partnership with Poland Spring. All opinions are my own.