Thursday, October 1, 2015

Introducing Team ASICS

Over the past year, I’ve worked with a lot of different running shoe companies. I’ve reviewed a lot of new sneaks, offered my opinion and shared my experiences with you.

During that time, I worked with ASICS a few different times. I reviewed the Gel Kayano 20 (and wore them to run the TCS NYC Marathon); I wore a pair of GT-2000 to celebrate National Running Day; I helped launch the Gel-Quantum 360; ASICS helped me celebrate my very first Father’s Day as a dad and ASICS was the sneaker sponsor for my Ultimate Marathon Training Package Give-Away with two pair of kicks (the GT-1000 4 and the Gel-Cumulus 17).

Well, we’re formalizing our relationship! The brand team must have liked what I’ve been doing because I’ve been asked to join Team ASICS for its first official ambassador program.

So you’re going see me in some new places this coming year with the potential to contribute to the ASICS blog, participate in a Team ASICS blogger challenge during a major event (maybe I'll finally get to cross the LA Marathon off my list?); Invitations to act as social media correspondent for select sporting events and exclusive parties/gatherings (can someone say interviews with Deena Kastor?) and from what I’m told, “random surprises.”

It also means that you’ll get an early look at some of its newest products (some with giveaways).

I’m super psyched to be part of this team of 15 bloggers for a great brand! Check out the rest of the team:

I can’t wait to see what the coming year brings and look forward to bringing you along for the ride!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

NYRR 18 Mile Marathon Tune Up

Did you run the NYRR's 18 Mile two weeks ago?

I did, in fact, I've done this race for the past six years (I skipped it the two years I ran NYC). I find that it's a great way to determine my fitness for the big dance and it's historically been a great predictor for how I'm going to do that day. Meaning, how will I preform and how I will feel when I cross the finish line.

On that note, one of the things that I love about being on Strava is that when you run a course more than once, Strava knows it and will offer you the ability to compare the runs in terms of time (not quality).

So when I finished this race and uploaded it, I saw that since I've been on Strava, I've run this race five times (and before you ask, I wasn't on Strava the first time I ran this).

You'll see from the graph below that the run from this year was 24 seconds/mile slower than my best pace.

On the surface, this stat bummed me out. I've been training, I've been feeling good and then to find out that this was my slowest time was a little heartbreaking.

But then I thought about the quality of the run. When I finished, I was sore (it was 18 miles) but I was feeling good. I probably could have run more. And look at my splits. I was pretty consistent throughout. And in fact, I was able to speed up at the end.

And I was able to run the following day in the past. And in fact, the next week, I picked up more miles, when traditionally I needed to take some days off and lower my weekly milage following this race.

So, what does this mean? Considering what my running life has bee like since my son was born, I'm pretty damn happy with how I ran this race and I can't wait until the big dance on November 1. I'm finally excited and no longer feeling like it's going to be the same nightmare it was last year.

As I mentioned, this race is three laps of Central Park. So creating a video isn't super easy. I put together a quick look at the race using some photos from the NYRR, some footage that I shot and some music that motivates me when I race.

I also shot the Bronx 10 Miler last weekend and will put that video up very soon.


Monday, September 28, 2015

The NYC Marathon is Coming! The NYC Marathon is Coming!

I ran my third 18 mile (in as many weeks) long run yesterday. Which can only mean one thing, it's MARATHON SEASON!

In just over a month, I'll be waking my ass up long before dawn, probably still full from a carby dinner to choke a big breakfast so I can make my way to the Staten Island Ferry, Fort Wadsworth and the start of the 2015 TCS NYC Marathon.

I've got a few things up my sleeve to talk about as we get closer to the race and will start to share some videos from my final training runs leading up to my official video from the 2015 race. In the meantime, I thought it would be a good idea to post my videos from both the 2013 and 2014 races.

I started carrying a GoPro with me while running in late 2012. In fact, I was inspired to get one when I saw someone running in the park the day the 2012 NYC Marathon was cancelled (my friends and I ran 26.2 in the park that day).

Since then I've filmed more races than I've created final videos for and carried those cameras to some pretty cool places and races.

As I said, I've got more up my sleeve, but in the meantime, check out the two videos I created for my favorite hometown race:

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Gear Review: PUMA Ignite XT

I’m almost at the top of the arc training for the TCS NYC Marathon. Side note, this will be my eighth running of the race and the first time I’m feeling like I’m really not ready. Well, that’s not fully true, but I ran the 18 mile Marathon Tune Up on Sunday, and it was the slowest I’ve ever run it. More on that in a bit.

But I digress.
The reason I bring up the marathon is that when I’m this close to a race, I don’t usually like to change out my shoes for any reason. But, given the opportunity to review a brother to the Puma Ignite was too much to pass up (if you remember, surprisingly I really liked that sneaker).

This is a TRAINING shoe and NOT a pure running shoe. Not only can I wear these to run loops in the park (and at this point in my training, it’s loops, not loop) but to recover after the runs. PUMA is constantly innovating to produce new standards for fitness and fashion and they’ve hit it with this pair of kicks.

So why would these be right for you? Key features include enhanced traction, support, agility and energy return (via IGNITE foam):

Check out for more information and the ability to get your own pair.

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of PUMA.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Race Review: 2015 Hood to Coast Relay

My friend Chris ran the 2015 edition of the Mother of all Relays (better known as Hood to Coast). It was an epic race this year in that the actually closed the finish line due to rain and high winds. I asked Chris to guest blog his experience and review the race. 

It's a long one, but it's worth it. Here's what he has to say:

Down the mountain and through the wood to Seaside we shall go.  We will not be stopped! No rain, or hail, or hurricane force winds shall stop us!  Hood to Coast 2015 (H2C) was an epic battle against nature for the runners and walkers participating. 

As with any other race, I began watching the weather two weeks out from race day.  Portland has had an unusually warm summer by their normal standards.  Being from Southern California, I wasn’t worried about it being hot.  Their hot is my casual!  As I began studying the forecast it began to show rain Friday through Monday.  This didn’t really worry me; I’d run in the rain plenty before.  I actually enjoy it.  When we got to Portland the local news was talking about heavy rain and wind gust up to 70 MPH on the coast. 

I’d packed my rain gear, but I left my hurricane gear at home!

The night before the race I met the other 11 members of team Rev Up. Our host and team captain Julie (a Portlandian) had worked tirelessly organizing every single minuet detail of our race. We really just had to show up and run!
Team Rev-Up at the Hawthorne Bridge awaiting runner #12 Chris
From right: 
Jonathan, Nikki, Annie, Joanna, Julie, Brian T., Victoria, Jamie (our driver), Michael, Mandy, Brian R.
Oh…. and don’t be late to an exchange!

The morning of the race we went to the airport to pick up our second vehicle.  Vehicles for H2C need to be reserved a YEAR in advance.  This relay race is an Oregon institution much like the Boston Marathon is to Massachusetts.  We get back to the house and Van 1 is getting loaded up and decorating their van.  There is an excitement in the air and not a cloud in the sky.  They fill the Igloo cooler with ice and water and fill the ice chest with food and six tall Rolling Rock beers.  Van 1 set off for Mount Hood!

Being in Van 2 has it’s advantages.  We get to sleep and rest before we need to head to the first major exchange.  The rest of our van begins to arrive at the house at around noon.  We need to leave at around 12:45 in order to meet Van 1.  At this point Van 1 is flying down the mountain.  Their first 4 runners had put us 18 minutes ahead of schedule.  Which meant we really needed to get a move on.  Nikki our #10 runner was going to be late.  She would have to meet us at the beginning of her first exchange…

We start the journey to St. Helen’s High School.  As you’re driving in a big relay like H2C you always wonder if your heading in the right direction.  We soon begin to see vans with creative pictures and slogans.  Then we begin to see runners.  Everyone in our van is beaming with excitement.  We roll our windows down and cheer on the runners as we drive by them.  We pull into the exchange and pile out of the Ford Expedition.

The High School is packed with runners and vans. We meet up with Van 1 of team Rev Up!  We high-five each other and ask about their routes and how they feel.  Everyone is still beaming with excitement.  We were quickly all corralled by our team captain Julie to the runner exchange.  Our #6 runner Bill R. would be arriving soon.  So our #7 runner Victoria was watching the path the runners would be coming down.  The volunteers would stand about 50 yards from the exchange and call out the bib numbers as they began to arrive.  Within five minutes we heard the volunteer shout “720”! We shoved Victoria out onto the course, they exchanged the baton (a slap bracelet) and Victoria is off! Van 2 was underway!

It was now time for Van 2 to head out and get to the next exchange.  This is the most unnerving time for me.  Not only because Victoria is my girlfriend and I worry about her while she’s running (she tends to get lost often…navigation not being her strong point) but I never want to be that runner at an exchange waiting for there team to arrive.  We all pile into out Ford Expedition and head to the next exchange.  We see Victoria running along the road and she is all smiles, powering up the rolling hills. 

Victoria was all smiles powering up and down the rolling hills in the Oregon countryside.
A few hours later it’s my turn to run.  Being runner 12 in a relay (the last in Van 2) has its ups and downs.  It makes for a long day when your watching everyone else run.  But it’s fun to run into a major exchange with your entire team cheering you on. 

My leg began on the Springwater trail, which is a 40 mile paved trail around Portland.  It’s a great run.  The trail is lined with bushes, shrubs, and tall trees.  Every few miles I would run over a stream or under a tall street-crossing bridge.  It’s a very peaceful route.  I then turned off the trail and ran through a residential area.  Little kids were standing outside in the street with hoses to soak the runners down.  I ran through every spout of water and high-fived each kid. 

At about 5 miles into my 6.8-mile route there were some college students standing on the corner. As I approached them the had a sign on the ground which read “Beer & Brats!”  Naturally, I stopped and indulged in 2 beers.  It was sooooo refreshing at that point.  It really helps in battling the humidity.
Joanna hands the “baton” (slap bracelet) off to Michael in a speedy exchange.
After the beer my route turned back onto the Springwater trail.  This time my view was the Willamette River with the Portland skyline in the backdrop.  At a few points in the last two miles I found myself way off pace because I was sightseeing more than I was running.  If you’ve ever been to Portland you can understand that this is easy to do! I was running to the Hawthorne Bridge (below it).  I was about 0.3 miles away from the exchange I could hear music and loud cheers.  I knew I was close.  As I rounded the final turn I was met with a wall of people and cheers.  It was deafening, and completely gets you pumped!  I was handing off to our team captain Julie.  Luckily, Julie is very easy to spot because she has purple hair.  I met Julie and slapped the bracelet on her wrist and she was off. 

Now it was our turn to rest.  Our driver Jamie rounded us all up!  We went to eat at a vegan/vegetarian grocery store/restaurant called Proper Eats in St. Johns.  At this point we were all starving.  I had a Ruben made with tempeh (I wouldn’t say it was as good as a Ruben in NYC though) and Victoria had a vegan grilled cheese.  Everything was great!

Van #1 have some fun with the decorations.
After eating we decided to go to the next exchange and just wait.  Try and sleep and relax.  We headed to exchange 18, which was at the Columbia County fairgrounds.  It was basically a dirt field.  The field/parking lot was filled with vans and other SUV’s.  We parked next to the largest landmark we could find. It was a Ford Econoline van with a huge pink tiara on top. 

We were told there would be showers and a place to sleep at the exchange.  What we failed to realize was that those services were at a high school 5 miles down the road.  We felt it wasn’t worth it to backtrack.  So we decided to stay at the fair grounds.  Just as we were getting our sleeping bags out to sleep in a field, it began to rain.  The rain had finally come, that’s what we thought.

Trying to sleep in a Ford Expedition can be tricky or impossible.  For me it was impossible.  Five minutes here, five minutes there, it just isn’t comfortable! After about 2 hours of this tossing and turning it was time to get Victoria ready to run.  Running at night can be a challenging; it requires all this extra gear. A headlamp, reflective vest, red flashing light in front and on your back.  Oh yeah, and it’s raining, there’s no cell phone reception where we are, add in unfamiliar roads on a 2-lane mountain road and it can get a little scary pretty fast.

We were at the exchange waiting to hear “720” called out by the volunteer.  Next thing we knew Bill R. was standing in the exchange!  I gave Victoria a quick kiss, told her to be safe, and have fun! She was off into the night.  We piled back into the Expedition and set off for the next exchange. 

Driving from exchange to exchange was a bit tedious because off the traffic congestion.  It was a challenge of patience at times.  Luckily we never had our runners waiting for us, though we did see many runners waiting for their teams.  The key during this portion of the race was to get your runner off and drive to the next exchange ASAP! 

As I was getting ready for my second run, it had begun to rain a bit harder and the wind was picking up. Every few minutes you would see a flash of lightning and the sky and countryside would light up.  It really was amazing. 

When it’s my turn, I get anxious and excited.  I’m ready to get out on the road and do my part.  I get out of the Expedition and wait in the rain for our runner Mandy.  I figure I’m going to get wet regardless.  After about 20 minutes I hear the volunteer bello “720”. Mandy hands off the slap bracelet and I’m off into the night!

It’s windy, raining, and no real shoulder to run on.  As a runner you are taught to run against traffic so you can see the vehicle coming at you. Being night and the rain headlights are just blinding.  Thankfully there wasn’t much traffic.

At this point I’m kind of enjoying the rain and lightning.  Running in the rain can be so refreshing.  This leg (#24) is somewhat short at only 4.9 miles long.  Just as I get warmed up and into my run, it’s over. 

The exchange lights up the night sky, though there is less screaming and yelling for us the incoming runners.  It’s still exciting to see my teammates who are braving the weather to watch me come in and send Julie out on her last leg.  At this point I’m a bit tired and hungry again as well as jealous, because Van 1 will be finished in a few hours.

At this point it’s really starting to rain hard and the wind is picking up.  We have no choice but to drive to the last major exchange and wait for Van 1.  Our driver Jamie did an amazing job of navigating around tree limbs, runners, and other debris that had fallen in the road from the heavy wind and rain.  I really felt bad for the runners of Van 1 having to run in this weather.  It really is no fun, even if you love running.

We all try and sleep as best we can.  But we really don’t.  We can’t sleep outside because it’s pouring rain.  As cell phone reception begins to come back we start reading about the weather in Seaside (finish line).  They were reporting rain and wind of 75 mph gust.  I’ve only experienced wind like that once in my life, when I was volunteering with the Red Cross for Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita was about to make landfall in New Orleans. 

We meet up with Van 1 and they look exhausted but elated that they are done running.  Now it’s our turn to close this race out.  It’s 7:45 am and we are ready to do this.  The rain is off and on with small patches of blue sky.  But the wind is still kicking.  The wind hits you in every direction, which makes it difficult to run.  Bill R. comes flying into the exchange and Victoria is off!

We say goodbye to Van 1, we will see them in Seaside.  We drive to the next exchange and wait for Victoria to finish.  After a few minutes I can see her striding toward the finish line.  She has a huge smile on her face. She hands the bracelet off to Joanna. I walk over to Victoria wrap her in a towel and ask her how she’s doing.  Victoria says, “I’m going to be sick” in her English accent.  Victoria learned a valuable lesson; never eat a kale salad before you run. 

Exchange after exchange we get closer and closer to Seaside.   With leg 35 and 36 to go we receive a text message and video from Julie.  The finish line is closed and the race director is telling teams to finish at your own risk!  The video is of the finish line on the beach.  The tents are toppled over, debris everywhere; huge waves crashing on the beach.  It looked like an East coast hurricane.  After seeing that video we told Van 1 to head back to Portland and we would catch up with them later. 

We had a decision to make; stop due to the weather or keep running.  As a team we decided to keep running as long as we felt safe.  We sent Mandy (leg #35) out on her last run. We drove to the final exchange.  The wind was fierce.  There were porta potties lying down to prop up the others.  At an earlier exchange one had blown over, luckily no one was in it. 

Editor's note: Here's what the finish line looked like in 2014 (for comparison):

The parking spot we got at the final exchange was perfect.  They were selling beer and wine right next to us.  I got Nikki, Joanna, and Victoria a glass of wine. By the time we carried the glasses to the car the wind had poured half the wine out.  It was the effort that counted! As I finished getting ready to run, the rain had stopped but the wind was still whipping around.  I said “good-bye” to my team, gave Victoria a kiss and said “see you in Seaside”.

Waiting in the exchange was a bit nerve wracking.  The finish was so close I just wanted to run.  Mandy came running in, she looked exhausted.  I took the slap bracelet from her and I was off.  The first mile of my route was a trail.  I was slipping sliding around.  After the trail I had a mile climb up a hill.  It was a brutal climb, and not because it was a huge hill, but because the wind was pushing me sideways, then it would be at my back.  I felt like a pinball running up the hill!

As I crested the hill I could see the ocean and Seaside below.  This totally pumped me up.  The wind died down for 30 seconds than it hit me like a wall- the wind was at my face.  At one point I couldn’t even run the wind was so strong.  I really felt bad for the volunteers still stationed on the street corners directing traffic.  Each time I passed one I said “thank you” and gave them a hi-five. 

As the wind became stronger and the taste of salt in the air became denser, I make the turn onto the boardwalk. I was looking for my teammates. The boardwalk was still lined with people cheering and telling the runners “you’re almost there”. Then I saw my fellow van mates standing there cheering me on. I collected them and we ran the final 200 yards together and crossed the finish line as a team, some had tossed aside their flip-flops and ran in bare feet as by now they were dressed in non-running clothes. 
TOP- Team Rev Up striding toward the finish line. Even the hurricane force winds couldn't stop them!
Chris, Michael,Nikki, Mandy, Victoria, and Jamie

BOTTOM- Chris (me) finish up his first leg at exchange 12.
The finish line had been moved to a street just opposite the normal finish line on the beach, due to the weather, the beach finish line and party had been cancelled.  Still, it felt amazing to cross that finish line with my teammates and enjoy our accomplishment. 

Team Rev-Up Van #2 enjoying their hard earned medals!
Michael, Chris, Joanna, Victoria, Jamie, Mandy, Nikki
I would recommend this race for anyone lucky enough to do it. They are well organized and very professional. They put runner safety above everything. Each exchange is well marked and organized. The volunteers are terrific. They are well informed and they all had a smile on their faces, even at 4 am!  Racing in Hood to Coast 2015 was truly a remarkable and memorable experience!

And just for fun, here's my video from the race last year.

Man, I should do this again!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Ultimate Marathon Training Package Give-Away!

It's time to get real about training for my all time, absolute favorite marathon of the year.

2015 will mark my 8th journey from Staten Island to Central Park in the NYC Marathon (and my 14th marathon in less than nine years).

If you follow this space, you know that my running journey over the last year has been, well, rougher than in years past. And to say I had a tough NYC Marathon last year is an understatement.

But I'm back.

I've been consistent for about a month - hitting my weekly running goal of four runs and this week I’ll start putting in more “respectable” mileage. (If you're really interested, you can follow me on Strava here). And I’ve even added some cross training in the pool (side note, swimming is freaking hard work).

Everything I've been doing up until today has been to get me in shape to train (training to be in training as a friend of mine once called it).

And I'm ready.

I'm excited, I'm feeling good, I'm loosening up by the run, I'm going longer and getting faster, I’m dealing with the humidity and I'm feeling stronger every day (cue Chicago here).

And now, I want to share that excitement and preparation with you. I have something get you excited to train for your fall marathon (hopefully it's in NYC, so if you win, we can meet up when you come here to race).

I’ve put together two fantastic packages of what I’m calling the Ultimate Marathon Training Package – and I’m giving one each to a male and female reader of this space.

A few weeks ago I reached out to some of my favorite running and fitness companies and asked them if they were willing to participate in the Ultimate Marathon Training Package and they all said YES!

And here’s the kicker, these aren’t products that were foisted on me by brands I don’t know or have never used. Nope, each and every product is one that I not only believe in, but that I spend my own hard earned money purchasing so I can use it in my training.

I’m grateful to each of the brands for participating. So without further preamble, I'm excited to present, what I think is an awesome training package for your fall race (in alphabetical order):


ASICS GT-1000 4 or ASICS Gel-Cumulus 17

Champion CSX

Compression socks of your choice




Four tubes of Watermelon and 21oz hydration bottle

Red 11 Sport

Container of Anti-Chafe Balm


Six month premium membership

TCS NYC Marathon

Training Plan and Swag


Smart Body Analyzer

Details about how to enter are at the bottom of this post.

I ran last year’s TCS NYC Marathon in the very first pair of ASICS that I ever owned – and I loved them for more than 300 miles. ASICS has generously donated two pair of its latest kicks to help you run all those miles. Check out the ASICS GT-1000 4 and ASICS Gel-Cumulus 17 (winners will choose the size).

Champion CSX 
Champion CSX contacted me in the late/winter early spring to see if I wanted to check out a pair of its compressions socks. At that point I hadn't really found a compression sock that I liked and all I can say is, I have now! I used the 20-30mmHg compression in Red on Black to recover from the Brooklyn Half and I’ve been using them ever since for recovery from long runs. Winners will choose size, style and amount of compression.

When I first started running back in 2007 I went to a local running store and randomly purchased a pair of shorts and shirt from Mizuno, not realizing what I was purchasing. Since then I’ve tried a lot of other kinds of apparel but the one constant in my running wardrobe has been Mizuno – from tights to jerseys to shorts, I love me some Mizuno! And my contact over there has graciously offered to outfit each winner with some apparel!

I've been a fan of Nuun since 2006. A woman I used to cycle with introduced me to these magical electrolyte tablets and I've never looked back. Triberry was my first love, but when Nuun introduced Watermelon a few years ago, I found my new favorite. Nuun has generously supplied eight tubes of this elixir (four per package) and two of its 21 oz. bottles.

Red 11 Sport 
We’ve all been out running and have seen that person with a blood streaked jersey, right? I cringe every time I see it – and surprisingly I see it a lot. A few years ago I saw a video online that caught my eye. I contacted Red 11 Sport and have been using its Anti-Chafe Balm on some sensitive areas ever since. I’m including one container (per package) of Red 11 Sport’s Anti-Chafe Balm.

I’ve been an athlete on Strava since 2011. I wasn’t happy with the site built by the company that made my GPS watch. It didn’t have a few of what I thought were no-brainer functions like gear tracking, or the ability to follow other athletes. So I went looking for a better website to upload my workouts and came across what I like to think of as a social network for athletes. Not only can you upload your workouts, but you can offer encouragement to others in your circle (via kudos or comments). I’m grateful to Strava for offering two six-month premium memberships as part of the give-away!

TCS NYC Marathon - Training Plan and Swag
I’m get asked all the time how to train for a marathon. My standard answer is to go online and find a training program that works for you – there are literally thousands of them out there. Last year the NYRR started offering training programs for some of its marquee races. I used the plan for the Brooklyn Half but not the Big Dance. If I had, I’m sure things would have turned out a lot different. Either way, the organization is giving two training programs and a credit to buy yourself some training swag!

Three years ago my wife bought me a Wifi-enabled scale that not only records my weight (and sends it to an app on my phone), it reads my body fat, heart rate, tells me about the air quality in my bedroom (where we keep the scale) and what the weather’s like outside. Kinda comprehensive, no? Proper weight race is important for a marathon and Withings has generously donated two Smart Body Analyzers for the training package.

So how do you enter?

It’s super easy.

Leave a comment below; tell me what race you’re training for this fall. Or don’t, you can just leave the letter B, or if you prefer, the letter L. I don’t care – just leave a comment (and make sure you leave a method for me to get in touch - email, Twitter, etc.).

Then, follow me on Twitter and ReTweet this and follow me on Facebook and like and share my post or video

And for bonus points, follow me on Instagram and tag two friends in the comments of the video I created for the give-away.

I’ll choose two winners (one male and one female) at random Friday of next week (7/17).

Good luck!

*DoS Disclaimer: Prizes subject to availability. All prizes have been provided free of charge. I did not accept monetary compensation and all opinions expressed are my own. If you win and reside outside the 48 contiguous United States, you will be responsible for shipping costs and will have five days to provide payment, if you don't I choose another winner. I will never use your contact info for any purposes.