Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Gear Review: Timex Ironman One GPS+

As part of a blogger network I belong to I was chosen to take an early look at the Timex Ironman One GPS+. As a gear junkie, I couldn’t have been happier to be part of this. I’m always looking for the next big thing, or that metric I can record on my runs that I don’t get with my current gear.

Overall, I’m pretty psyched about the unit, it has all the features you would expect in a GPS watch but also included a few innovative solutions as well. The display is bright and easy to read in light and dark. While running, I was able to record my real time pace, average pace, splits (calculated automatically) overall time, heart rate (Bluetooth HRM is an up-sell option), etc. There are other run options, but those are my go-to’s.
Super bright display is easily seen day or night
I love that I can upload my runs to Strava (integrated in my settings) directly from the watch wherever I am. There’s a built in modem, which means no need to be in front of my computer or phone to get the run up and start getting those kudos!
Motivation hits you right when you start up the watch!
There is also a live tracking feature so my wife and family will no longer need to stand on street corners for hours to cheer me on in marathons. They just download the app, watch my progression and pop out when I’m near by. Pretty cool. I have a feeling we’re going to see this feature in more GPS-enabled devices in the coming year, but Timex has it now!

Additionally, if for some reason I DNF, there’s a way for me to contact my peeps and let them know where I am so they can come meet me and bring me sugary products. Could come in handy on those rare occasions when I bonk and feel like I can’t take another step.

But here’s what I really liked about the unit. There’s a 4GB, built in MPS unit where I can load my music and listen with Bluetooth-enabled headphones. I love a solution that helps me cut down on the amount of stuff I need to carry on a run, even if it’s just a small iPod. One less think I need to think about, you know?

There were a few things that I wasn’t thrilled with. 
  • The touchscreen didn’t always react as fast as I would have liked and not at all while I was wearing gloves.
  • In order to use the watch, you need to pay for a data plan. And while only $40/year, you still have to pay for a data plan, know what I mean?
  • It was kind of big (about the same size as the Garmin 910). I’m sure I’ll get used to it, but I kept noticing it while running.
I did compare the GPS recording to my current GPS-enabled watch and they were almost dead on in synch. Not an easy feat as I start my running on local NYC streets before I hit Central Park (think tall buildings in every direction blocking GPS signals). The watches found Sat. signals in comparable times and tracked about the same which means they had virtually the same strength GPS signal. Again, no easy feat in NYC.

Like I said, overall, I’m pretty psyched about the watch, if you’re looking for a GPS-enabled device, I give this a thumbs up!



Pausing for a breather while doing my best DC Rainmaker
wearing two GPS-enabled watches to compare recording
This post is sponsored by FitFluential.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Photo Essay: 2015 NYPD vs. FDNY 5 Mile Run

Saturday was the 38th Annual NYPD vs. FDNY 5 Mile Run.

I happened to be in the park on Saturday and caught some of the runners on my GoPro. I love the way the park looks as a backdrop this time of year, the bare trees are super dramatic, the sky is super blue and the colors the runners are wearing really pop.

Standing on the sidelines of a race is a completely different perspective. I loved seeing the diversity of people, it was truly inspiring!


Here are a few of the best shots:


















Wednesday, March 4, 2015

New York City Marathon Video

Did you get into the NYC Marathon yesterday?

I carried my GoPro during the 2014 race and shot this runners-eye view.

Here's what you can expect in 242 days!

(You can see my full review here.)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

My Experience: 2015 NYRR Washington Heights 5K

I used to scoff at this race. It's a 5K. I mean, who cares right?

It's not even worth getting my clothes sweaty to go out and run 3.11 miles.

Then we had a baby and everything changed.

I ran this race today for the third time. At this point in the year I'm usually close to peak if not at the top of a training schedule for a spring marathon so I would usually tack on a bunch of miles afterwards and it's a nice way to get in one of my 9+1's to qualify for next year's NYC Marathon.

But then we had a baby and everything changed.

So when I got up this morning, after being on vacation in a tropical locale for a week, and the temps were in the 20s, and my training has been in the dumper, well, let's just say that I thought about going back to bed. Oh, and even though I thought about it for a hot second, I decided there would be no extra miles after the race.

The thing about this race is, even though it's a short distance, it's hilly. And it's in a section of NYC where I never run. And I've learned over the years that the 5K distance is a pretty decent way to judge what kind of shape I'm in.

Spoiler alert, I'm in terrible shape (see multiple baby statements/excuses above).

But I went out and tried to have some fun. I need to find the fun in running again. This winter has been brutal with the record snow falls, the record low temps and my record lack of running. In order for me to enjoy the sport, I need to remember why I started in the first place.

I run because it makes me feel like a fucking warrior when I'm in good shape and can dig deep to finish whatever I've started.

So this morning I took the train up to Washington Heights, ran up the hills; ran down the hills; ran the loop in Fort Tyron Park; ran up the hills; ran down the hills and crossed the finish line.

Did I PR? Nope.

Did I I feel great at the end? Nope.

Did I finish the race? Yup.

Did I feel okay? Yup.

Did I find my mojo? That's going to take a little more time to figure out. But if I keep doing what I did this morning. And add miles. And be consistent. And stretch. And go to the gym. And eat right. Well, then answering that last question becomes easier.

I packed the GoPro with me this morning and snapped a few pics. I love how dramatic the trees look with no leaves and the pale winter sky as a backdrop.

Race leaders leaving Fort Tyron Park as I'm entering (they're about a mile ahead of me).

There are bands and musicians spread around the entire course. These guys were an awesome percussion trio.
You can just see the Hudson River on the other side of the runners and Jersey beyond that.

I wish I could capture how clogged the streets were with runners. Alas, this is as close as I was able to get. 
I ran into Mary Wittenberg (Pres and CEO of the NYRR) just after mile 3 when she jumped in to cheer on the runners.
And here's me and my son four days ago. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

In Need of Some Inspiration

It's been a LOOOOONG winter. While we're not getting hit as hard as Boston, NYC has been pretty miserable.

I've not been the most, shall we say motivated? person when it comes to donning a pair of kicks and heading out to the park to run in circles for hours.

At this point of the year, I'll usually be signed up for two marathons, one spring and one fall with an additional fall race to be name later.

Since I've been slacking, I told my wife that I would make a decision about a spring race after I see how I do at the NYC Half next month. If I stick with my current training plan, it's looking like my next big race won't be until NYC in November (my 9th).

So for inspiration I looked into my archive and came up with my two favorite race videos.

The first, from my first and only (to date) relay race last summer. I was excited to be chosen to be part of Nuun's Hood to Coast team. Here's what it looked like:



And the second, my all time favorite race video. I made this during the NYRR Brooklyn Half last year. I really think it's my best video work.



Hope this offers you from inspiration as well!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Product Review: Puma Ignite

I think we can all agree that treadmill running is kinda awful. I mean, there’s a reason we call it the Dread Mill.

But what if you were to run on one outside?

And what if that “outside” was in the middle of Times Square?

You’d be into it, right?

So when I was given the opportunity to run on a treadmill in the middle of Times Square in order to try a new pair of kicks, well, I jumped at the chance.

Puma, a brand I don’t have much experience with, launched its newest running sneaker, the Puma Ignite to much fanfare!

Picture this, something like 25 treadmills, a DJ, loud music, huge crowds (I did saw Times Square) and some purple and pink sneaks.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t psyched about the color scheme but when I slipped them on and started to run, I quickly forgot about the colors.

It was as if I was running in slippers, that’s how comfortable these kicks were.

According to Puma, the Ignite “features its most responsive foam ever.  You put the energy in and the Puma Ignite gives it back. “

Here’s what I can tell you from a tech perspective:

1.  ENERGY RETURN - Full length IGNITE FOAM midsole’s PU blend offers high rebound cushioning

2.  STEP-IN COMFORT - IGNITE FOAM provides instant comfort where you need it most

3.  LONG-LASTING PERFORMANCE - ForEverFoam is used in the heel to disperse impact and provide extra durability


I’m looking forward to a long run in these kicks, I can easily see myself running a 13.1 in my new purple and pink kicks.

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of PUMA.

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.