Thursday, July 31, 2014

Product Review: Mizuno Kazan

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 Kazan trail shoe, I was beyond excited!

I’m not too much of a trail runner and I was surprised at the style when I opened the box (man are these shoes, um, colorful) but when I ran in them, it was like jumping back into a warm pool. You know the feeling I’m talking about, you’re comfortable, all sorts of goodness surrounds you and you’re feeling really good. That’s how I see these new sneaks.

I ran in the shoes for about a month before sitting down to offer you my opinion. I found that the shoes were versatile and adapted easily to the terrain (these are clearly must-haves for trail running).  The Kazans are the best of both worlds, a lightweight shoe with the protection and stability required for the ultimate trail running experience.

According to Mizuno, the decoupled X-groove midsole adapts to uneven surfaces as the X-lug outsole digs into soft ground and grips dry rocks or roots. Trail-specific upper design gives you the optimal balance of secure fit, protection and lightweight. I’m not sure what all of that means, but I can tell you the shoes gripped the trail, kept my foot stable and helped me run upwards of 10 miles on trails around my home.

Do I like them? Yes. Would I buy them? If I was more of a trail runner (and they changed the color scheme) – without a doubt!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Photo Essay: Cycling on the George Washington Bridge

I went for a glorious 60 mile ride with two buddies on Saturday.

I'm trying to dig myself out of the awful exercise slump I've been in for the last month or so.

It seems to be working, I felt PHENOMENAL at the end of the ride yesterday after pulling them both along the length of 9W up and back from Piermont at upwards of 29MPH. I'm hoping this will translate quickly into running as I have the Hood to Coast relay in about 30 days with Team Nuun and I want to make sure I'm not dragging ass during that race.

I had the GoPro attached to a seat mount and while these photos are commonplace for those of us the live and ride in NYC, I think we take for granted the awesomeness of the structure.

I've added some photos of Piermont, the virtual cycling Mecca 25 miles north of Manhattan.

Peter (in green) and Ben just before the George Washington Bridge
Ben on the approach
Through the first of the towers
With the first tower in the background
Coming out of the second tower (and finally smiling)
Bike parking at my favorite coffee spot in Piermont, NY (Bunbury's)
"Traffic" on the way back to 9W
Peter through the first of the towers on the way back
Final tower and almost home (Peter is clearly happy about this)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

I'm (almost) FAMOUS!

Earlier this year one of my friends mentioned that a local running store was looking for people to profile in its upcoming commercials.

As it turns out, this was the store that I wandered into and purchased my very first pair of running shoes. One could say that I wandered in there as a cyclist and walked out a runner.

So after filling out an online form where I essentially told my story, I was brought in for a screen test and ultimately chosen as one of the people to be profiled.

I'm pretty psyched to be part of the campaign. What's cool is that I've been getting random emails/Facebook messages/Tweets from friends who have seen me on TV. But the best part for me was watching the Tour de France today and seeing the commercial myself.

While my words were twisted a little in post production, I'm pretty happy with the way the ads came out.

There are two versions, one with just me:

And another, longer version where I'm profiled with a few others:

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Video: NYRR Queens 10K

Apparently I'm on a roll with the videos.

This past Sunday we hopped on the subway for the annual Queens 10K in Flushing Meadows, the park name which always makes me think of this:

But I digress.

I love this race, not only is it a qualifier for the TCS NYC Marathon and NYC Half Marathon, but it takes you past some pretty iconic spots. 

Don't believe me? Check out the video I shot of the race which includes scenes from the 1964 World's Fair, Citi Field (where the Mets play), Arthur Ash Stadium (US Open) and the Unisphere (my absolute favorite!).

So without further preamble:

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Photo Essay: NYRR Oakley Mini 10K

Twice a year the NYRR puts on women-only races. One such was last Saturday and since I can't be an official runner, I decided to make myself an official photographer (in my head anyway).

I set up the GoPro at 90th Street on the west side to grab pics of the women as they entered Central Park )roughly two miles into the race).

Here are the faces of determination I captured:

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Runner Spotlight: Ian Unsworth

One of the great things about writing this blog has been the people I've met in the virtual world. I've heard from experienced runners who have run more marathons than I'll ever be able to accomplish, super fast runners who qualify for Boston every time they go out and middle of the pack runners (like me).

But the most interesting and inspirational people I hear from are the ones who are just starting out. It wasn't too long ago that I was in that category. I remember reading everything I could online and being inspired by a lot of the stories I found.

Today I want to introduce you to one of the most ardent fans of this blog, Ian Unsworth from across the pond (yup, apparently I'm global).

I'm not sure how he found the site, but Ian did so while training for his very first marathon which he completed in April - The Virgin Money London Marathon. He's been a great inspiration to me and I thought you would get something out of his story as well.

Without further preamble, I present you with newly crowned London Marathoner, Ian Unsworth.

Name:  Ian Unsworth          
Age: 47
City/state: Wirral, England
Occupation:  Queen’s Counsel/ Barrister (Lawyer)
Twitter: @IanUnsworthQC


When and why did you start running?  
I started running a few years ago after my brother had been diagnosed with cancer. He was serving in the Army and at 36 years his life turned on its head. It was a wake up call. I was seriously overweight and had done little exercise for years. I just decided to change. I also decided I wanted to help in the battle against cancer. I therefore raised a lot of money for Cancer Research by losing 42 pounds in 3 months. In the process, I started to run. I began by running for a minute and then walking for a minute. The weight started to come off and I started to feel better.

As a runner, what are you most proud of having accomplished?
Without a doubt, completing the London Marathon 2014. It was my very first marathon and I just sneaked in under 5 hours at 4:57:08. The crowds were incredible, the sun shone and I helped to raise a lot of money for a wonderful charity called Beating Bowel Cancer.

What was the biggest hurdle to running and how did you get over it? 
Having hundreds of reasons not to run is easy! This was particularly so, when I started to run. Whenever this happens, I remind myself that I always feel better after a run. Not once have I felt worse!

How do you fit running in with your daily schedule?
If I am in Court, I try to run before breakfast. That way the run is done and I can get on with the rest of the day feeling alert and refreshed. At weekends, I try to fit in my runs around family activities; for example, my long run might involve running to watch a sporting event rather than driving there!

Do your friends and family support your running or think you are crazy?
My friends and family got me to the finishing line! My wife, Michelle and children have been incredibly supportive and have encouraged me every step of the way. I have a very close friend Jon who has been my running partner. I would really recommend finding someone to run with. His boundless enthusiasm has meant that I have had to get out of bed at 5am on a cold dark Winter’s morning for fear of letting him down. Other friends, including a professional triathlete, a GB age group triathlete and an elite ultra runner have been incredible with their offers of advice and assistance. I have a number of close friends who have been encouraging me in so many different ways. Many of my lawyer friends think I am crazy.  Some, however, have now been inspired to start running!

Have you ever been injured due to running?
I have suffered Achilles problems. Almost always this happens when I am trying to run too fast for too long or I haven’t carried out my post run stretches.

Any favorite motivational quotes?
Life is a Gift. Unwrap it.

What’s your favorite piece of running gear?
My Garmin Forerunner 910XT

What are your long-term goals (if any)?
To continue Marathon Running and to beat 4 hours! I would also like to complete an Ironman before I am 50. More than anything, I can now say “I am a runner”. I will always be a runner.

Do you use any music or run tracking devices when you run, or are you a “naked” runner?
I sometimes run to music and I always record every run. Using Strava has been a great introduction to the huge positive vibe that surrounds the running community and is a very useful way of seeing my progress.

How do you get yourself through the difficult parts of your runs?
I adopt the advice of Dean Karnazes and just take baby steps. I also fall back on thoughts gleaned from studying motivational books and videos. One of my favorites is Dirty Old Sneakers’s own video of how he got into running! I recommend it to all new runners.


Was the 2014 London Marathon your first?
Yes but it won’t be my last!

Did you follow a training program? If so, how closely did you follow it?
I followed Don Fink’s Book, “Mastering the Marathon – Time Efficient Secrets for the 40 Plus Athlete”. It is an excellent book. Work commitments meant that I couldn’t follow every aspect of it, but I tried to ensure that I carried out the 3 magic bullet sessions every week.

What were your goals (if any) for the race?
My goals were to finish and to see if I could beat 5 hours. At one point I thought I was on for a 4:30 to 4:45 run but the unusually scorching heat meant that I had to slow down.

Any interesting or unexpected things happen on the course?
I ran past a man running with a refrigerator on his back! The other thing that really hit me was the kindness of the human spirit. Thousands of strangers shouting and singing your name and handing you jelly babies just when you need them are a reminder that there is a huge amount of good in the world.

Did you run with a friend/running partner?
Unfortunately my running partner Jon was injured and so I ran by myself.  – I chose not to run with headphones and simply soaked up the atmosphere.

Did the race live up to the hype?
It was everything I dreamed of and more. If it isn’t on your bucket list, it should be

Do you think you’ll do another one?
Not for a moment, have I said, “Never again”. I am already looking at doing another one this year.


Are you raising money for a cause?
Yes, I ran for Beating Bowel Cancer ( ) It is a wonderful charity which is bringing huge focus to what is a taboo subject for many.

Why did you get involved in it?
Both my mother who died far too young and my younger brother who has been incredibly brave and who has received fantastic treatment have been affected by cancer.
Having bowel cancer in my family I wanted to do something positive to raise awareness and funds. I had a scare myself last year and although I’m fine I know how important it is to know the symptoms and get help if you spot any.

Tell me about your fundraising efforts.
I have cajoled, emailed, phoned, posted and tweeted as often as I can to gain maximum awareness. I have had incredible support from Beating Bowel Cancer who ensured my profile was high in local media. The support from family, friends and complete strangers has been out of this world. Early on in the campaign, I received an email from someone in Australia who has bowel cancer. His message of support and sponsorship was a driving force throughout the Winter! Another sufferer emailed me from his hospital bed both before and after his operation to wish me luck! These are incredible people.

Is there a URL you can supply for people to donate?
Yes, I have had amazing support but every single contribution helps.

What's the most rewarding part of being involved?
Knowing that I have helped in a very small way in the fight to beat bowel cancer. Knowing also that others have been inspired by my story and that they too are now taking up running. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Kanab Utah 5K Run/Walk

Last week I started a new job working for a national animal welfare organization.

As luck would have it, I started work the same week all remote employees get together at the Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah. The point of the week is really to just see each other in person and bond as well as an opportunity to volunteer at the Sanctuary. It was almost the perfect week to start a job for which I will be working from home (or a cafe with WiFi).

One of the events taking place last week was a 5K fun run/walk. And me being me, I couldn't resist the opportunity to carry the GoPro and film the race for a video.

You'll note a stark difference between this one and almost all of my others including the Brooklyn Half vid I posted last week. The major difference is that this one is more about the surroundings and the beauty of the course than the people running and cheering (there were only about 50 participants).

I learned a valuable lesson while running around Utah last week. Running at 5,000 feet, regardless of how in-shape you are is, in a word, awful. But with surroundings like you're about to see, it's easy to get over.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Video: 2014 NYRR Brooklyn Half

If you read my Brooklyn Half strategy last week you know that I was up in the air as to whether I wanted to race or just go out there and have fun.

Well, race morning I decided that the only person who was pressuring me to PR this race was me. And I wasn't as prepared as I wanted to be if I were to try for another PR.

I made the decision to go out and have fun, carry my GoPro and try to get the best footage I could.

I think this might be my best race video yet. What do you think?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

My 2014 Brooklyn Half Race Strategy

With just two days left, I think it's time for me to talk race strategy for the Brooklyn Half marathon.

I love this race, it's one of my two favorite 13.1 races on the NYRR yearly calendar. And not just because it's mostly flat. Or because I treat myself with a couple of Nathan's Famous hot dogs on Coney Island. Or because I can ride the Cyclone if I want.

No, I love this race because it runs through the borough of my birth and saw the birth of both of my parents. And, when running down Ocean Parkway, we run past my father's high school as well as other sights from my childhood that remind me of hanging with my grandparents. It's literally a run down memory parkway, if you will.

So my strategy. I've been thinking about it since the debacle at the NJ Marathon and to be 100% honest, I'm still not sure if I'm gonna race or just run.

Lying in bed this morning I was wondering if I have the capacity to just have fun and do some filming so I can get better footage than usual so I can edit a more creative video than I usually do. I'm not sure I know the answer to that yet. I think it's going to be a race day decision.

Since I'm not sure what I want to do, I still need a race strategy. And since I've been running this race for six years, and have been running the current course since the NYRR changed it two years ago, I think I know what to do if I'm feeling a PR on Saturday.

Miles 1 - 3.5: The race is huge. And it's crowded at the start. Miles 1 - 3.5 are a slight uphill and slight downhill. We run down Washington Avenue and U Turn onto Flatbush for an out and back at the Grand Army Plaza then onto Ocean Avenue and Parkside Avenue into Prospect Park. These will be fast miles, tempo pace but probably closer to threshold and slightly verging on my V02Max. I plan to be out of breath and unhappy for this part.

I get that this is counterintuitive to most race strategies, you usually want to start out slower but because this race is so crowded, I want to get as far ahead of the pack as I can so I don't get stuck in the park behind a big group of runners.
Grand Army Plaza
Miles 3.5 - 7: This is the only stretch of the race that has hills. When I first started running eight years ago, I lived a half mile from Prospect Park so I know the course really, really well. I know the hills and the flats so its a little like a home field advantage.

The biggest hill of the race comes between miles 5 and 6. I plan to keep my pace at tempo until I hit this hill when I'll just slow down enough to hit threshold. It's not long, maybe 0.25 miles, so I won't be slow for long. Once up the hill I'll speed back up to threshold and V02Max.
Entering Prospect Park
The best part of the park is during mile 7. This is the only significant downhill of the race and when I can back off a little and let the hill carry me.

After that it's back to work.

Miles 8 - 13: Flat, flat, flat. The second half of the race is pretty much a straight shot down Ocean Parkway. I will not forget my music during this race because I need as much help as I can get to stay out of my head. It's easy to look up at the street signs and continue to say the alphabet to yourself 1,000 times (the cross streets start at C and go all the way to Z).
I plan to run between tempo and V02Max for the entire stretch. If I'm going to PR, I'll need to make sure I'm on my game.
Running past the Cyclone
At just about mile 13 we wind around Surf Avenue, past the Cyclone and up onto the Coney Island Boardwalk.

Take it in, this is the most fun part of the race and it only lasts about two tenths of a mile. The boardwalk is springy and will only help with your aching joints so close to the end of the race.
2013 finish line on the boardwalk
My best tip for this race is to not skip the waterstops no matter how crowded you think the course is. I skipped the waterstops until mile 7 last year and paid dearly for it for the three days following the race.

If you're running, look for me at the finish line. I'll be there for a while after my race filming people as they cross for my video this year. Remember to smile and have fun!!

Speaking of videos, here's mine from last year:

Monday, May 12, 2014

A Weekend Full of Running!

It's Monday and I have a bit of a running hangover.

This past weekend saw the Congregation and I running two races with the New York Road Runners. Saturday was the annual Healthy Kidney 10K and Sunday the Japan Day four miler.

I set out to just relax, have fun, carry my GoPro and see if I got enough interesting footage and photos to cobble together a video. Turns out I ran my fourth best 10K and a far from recovery pace 4 miler.

That said, I did wind up getting some good photos and footage to put together a decent video. Now on the finalizing my training for the Brooklyn Half!