Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Product Review: Headsweats Supervisor

Sometimes, some things are so obvious and apparent that they go unnoticed.

That's how I feel when I ask myself why I haven't done a review of a product that I've used (near daily) for years now.  On 100% of my training runs, oftentimes backwards on the trainer, in races, on paddleboards, and oftentimes just around town - I can be found wearing a Headsweats visor more often than not.

FOREWARNING:  I am in the Headsweats ambassador program - so this is will obviously be a positive review (why would I be an ambassador for a product I didn't like?).  However, I have to say that I went to Headsweats to apply for this program (since I used the product daily and truly believed in it) and was absolutely stoked to get accepted to it.  So, with that said, please realize that while I an ambassador for this product - it is a product I've used for years (well before I became an ambassador or even knew that they had a program) and would give a stellar review of anyway.

My backstory:  When working out, I've ALWAYS been a sweater.  A very heavy sweater.  An extremely heavy sweater.  It was to the point where sweat would get into my eyes, sting, and inhibit my run.  That badly.

It was like rain whenever I did anything active.
I tried nearly everything.  Headbands, bandannas, hats, etc - and nothing seemed to work - I still had sweat pouring down on my face, getting into my eyes.  It made running a miserable experience (although that didn't stop me).

My solution came one day when I got a free piece of race SWAG in a goodie bag for a half marathon I was doing.  It was a Headsweats visor.  I remember slapping it on, using it on my run, and being shocked at how dry my face generally was.  It was the solution to my problem!

And it's been the solution ever since.  Since then, I've owned COUNTLESS visors from Headsweats and used them near daily on all of my runs and races.  The only time I am not wearing one in a race is if it's a short enough race that I won't be sweating much (i.e. a one mile race) or if it's a triathlon and I've forgotten it in transition (some of the shorter tris that I might be in).

On the run portion of a triathlon with a Headsweats visor

In any case, it's a product I truly believe in and feel would be a benefit to anyone who is active.  Not to mention that, but they look pretty cool too!  Anywho, on to the review:

As with all my reviews - I use what I call CCPP - "Crappy Cell Phone Pictures".  I feel this does two things:  1)  it gives readers a look at the actual item in lieu of the showcase photos that you see on manufacturer's websites and 2) it's incredibly easy for me rather than setting up lighting and begging my wife to take photos.

For this review, I elected to use the plain white visor in an effort to illustrate the visor itself (without logos from a race, fancy lettering or triathlon logos, or anything else taking attention away from the product).

There's several features I love about this visor (and pretty much all of Headsweats visors):

Elastic Band -  This is one of the best features you'll see on the visors (and some of the hats) Headsweats makes.  What makes this so good is that it allows a customizable fit - regardless if you have a gigantic melon for a head like I do - or if you have a normal sized head like my wife does.  Unless you're Beetlejuice (when his head got shrunk), these visors will fit you and fit you comfortably.  The elastic does a very good job in stretching to just the right distance to create a perfect fit for your head, which equates into comfort.  Oftentimes, you won't notice that the visor is even on your head - which means it's doing its job perfectly.
Elastic band offers a wide range of adjustability.
The elastic is pretty durable as well.  I get quite a bit of usage out of a visor (even if I run in one specific visor and do not switch them out).  Over extended, extended periods of time (as in - a visor that I used on its own for six months, shelved, and then brought out for a run a year after the fact) - I've noticed that the visor does have a tendency to stretch a bit.  Not enough to render the visor useless - but enough for it to be noticeable.  However, keep in mind that this was one visor (and I have dozens), so that definitely hasn't been the norm.

Visor Material - The material on the "head" of the visor is comfortable against the forehead - to the point where you don't even notice that it's there (which is a good thing).  Even after long hours of wicking away sweat - it's still comfortable and doesn't scratch or irritate the forehead.

The exterior of the visor is made from a durable material that doesn't scratch or tear easily.  Most of my visors look pretty much new - even after a ton of use.  I think this is a testament to just how well made these visors are.  

Outside of the durability - the visor just flat out looks cool.  

Functionality - The visor is extremely functional.  Most of the visors I have have some form of reflective accents on them - which is pretty useful when running.  Anything to make myself more visible is a plus in my book. 

In addition, the brim is positioned in a way that allows the visor to be ridden with a low profile while still wearing eyewear (sunglasses, prescription, etc).  This is extremely important for me - as eye wear is a must for me on any race over 10k.

Just the right amount of coverage and still remains low profile.

The Headsweats logo embroidered.

Reflective accents can be found across the visor.

I would rate this visor as a "must have" for any endurance athlete.  I find I use mine daily on nearly every run that I do, and oftentimes I'll throw one on backwards while riding my bike trainer in my garage.  I've also worn these backwards on runs to hold a headlamp in place if I'm doing a long distance trail run and the sun isn't quite out yet.  The band works perfect for that.

Headsweats created the perfect solution to control sweat for the endurance athlete.  I would highly recommend this, or any of their other products (they make some pretty sweet cold weather beanies and some nice hats too).

Check them out at the Headsweats website and use code LAMB25 for 25% off of your order.

Headsweats Performance Beanie.  Great for chilly morning runs.

Baby approved!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Race Report: HITS Triathlon Championship Palm Springs

It's not often I get to do a race review as a spectator, but this happened during this race.  My wife decided she wanted to do her first triathlon - and she scheduled it while I was on my "year end break".  So things kind of worked out perfectly.

Since having our son in March, my wife has been getting back into shape via crossfit and a light amount of running.  She swam when she was in high school (in the Philippines) but has - more or less - not done anything triathlon related for a long time prior to when she decided to do this triathlon (which was in October).  Looking at a triathlon calender - she chose the HITS Palm Springs Sprint Race in December - mainly because my brother in law wanted to do the Olympic and we would be able to make a quick family trip out of it.

So....two months of training and a bunch of crossfit to get ready for her first ever triathlon - a sprint distance (750 meter swim, 14 mile bike, 5k run).  Her goal was just to finish - and, since I think that ANYONE on the planet can "just finish" a sprint - I encouraged her to train enough to make herself comfortable and just have fun and enjoy it.

My brother in law - on the other hand - wanted to have a race where he performed better than he previously had.  Also, he was hoping to end his stroke of bad luck that has plagued him in races.  He was primed for a good result - and I was stoked to be there and see it happen.


When we were driving to our hotel from Los Angeles - we noticed some seriously ominous looking clouds and drove through some pretty heavy rain.  This was on Saturday (the day before the sprint and olympic races - but the day of the half and full races).  All I could think of while seeing that was "Man oh man - there are some MISERABLE people on the course right now if this is the weather in Palm Springs".
Well, that turned out to not be the case and - while I have no doubt it was cold and they got rained on - the conditions looked alright for most of the racers.

When we arrived at the race to pick up our packets - there was people trickling in from the half distance to the finish line - which was a cool thing to see.  It got my wife excited because she was going to be able to cross that same finish line - and seeing the gleem in her eye when she said she couldn't wait to do that was pretty cool for me.

Me and Brucie getting ready to brave the cold and go root Mommy on!


I woke up early to drive my wife and brother-in-law to the race start - then I would go back to the hotel to pick up my son and grandparents (who also made the trip with us).

We arrived to the venue and it was dark.  And cold.  And not very pleasant and I could see the look on my wife's face that basically said "What the hell have I gotten myself into?"  I helped her over to transition, wished her luck and headed back to the hotel to pick up my son and grandparents (hoping to make it back before her swim started).

Well, that didn't happen for a couple of reasons.  For one, my 9 month old just doesn't cooperate with schedules like he's supposed to.  Apparently, my grandparents don't either.  On top of that, there were closures with the road (for the triathlon, as expected) and a metric shitton of people trying to park.  We managed to make it there just in time to see my wife head out onto the bike course.  She seemed in good spirits - so that was awesome.  By the time we got out of the car and over to the lake - the swim had just started for my brother-in-law for the olympic distance race.


The swim for this race was kind of odd.  It was pulled really close to the shore (which I later learned was because of a lack of volunteers to properly put manpower to provide proper safety protocols).  This ended up doing two things:  1)  It made the olympic course a two lap swim course and 2) it made one length of the swim so shallow that a competitor could simply stand up and walk.

The first wasn't so bad (swims with multiple laps are common), but the second caused a bunch of problems.  You ended up with beginners (or people who were overreaching) who would swim too fast while going out, then get tired, and then simply stand up and walk.  If one or two people do this - it ends up not being a big deal.  When a bunch of people do this - it creates a wall which prevents people who are swimming the course (but pacing themselves) from being able to continue to swim.  So the have to slow down, which creates a ripple effect, which pretty much slows down the entire swim (since even the fastest swimmers have to come back around and deal with the wall of people).

As a competitor, that had to be extremely frustrating.  As a spectator, however, it was really fun to watch.  The crowd was merciless with the "walkers" - and began "booing" people who were walking any significant distance (which there were plenty).  It got to the point where one guy (who was way in the back of the pack and obviously not ready for this swim) simply started to walk while bended at the waist and pretend to swim.  This drew a round of laughter from the crowd (and people started cheering him on).

I heard the water was extremely cold and there were rumblings from people coming out of the water that the swim was too long (result times seem to agree with it being a long swim - unless everyone is just a slow swimmer like me).  My brother-in-law came out of the swim in pretty good condition, and was ready to hop on the bike.

Missed my wife's swim - but she seemed to do pretty well.  This is the only photo we have it (capture from my brother-in-law's phone).

My brother in law coming out of the water (capture from his phone).

My brother in law running to transition from the swim exit.  The run was pretty far!


Keep in mind I didn't see ANY of the bike course (outside of coming into transition and going out of transition) - so I don't have a whole lot to go on other than what I heard from contestants.  My wife, who is brand new to riding, said that the roads were extremely bumpy in some spots and uncomfortable to ride on.  She reported a lot of flat tires too (keep in mind she was only doing the sprint).  My brother-in-law didn't think it was to bad, but he also said it could have been better.  He felt as if the course was compressed due to not getting clearance for the street closures - and was kind of bummed that you shared a bike lane with people instead of having the full road closed.

Wife not utilizing the aerobars >-<

Wifey was pretty stoked on the bike!

Surprisingly, she did the dismount without clipping out of her cleats.  I was impressed!

Wifey running into transition off the bike.
My brother-in-law on the bike.

My brother in law heading out of transition and onto the bike course.


The transition area was pretty cool and one of the allures to this race in my opinion.  They had individual stalls with your own chair and area for your transition bag/gear.  Pretty cool stuff, as it completely eliminated one of the annoyances of triathlon (which is crammed transition areas).

Judging from what I saw - the staff appeared to do a pretty good job of organizing the flow of traffic in and out of the transition area, and security seemed pretty tight as well.  It was very viewer-friendly in that you could sit right at the outside of the area and see everything (there were benches right by the transition area).  Convenient for non-participants like myself.

My brother in law running his bike into transition after his ride.  Gives you a good look at how HITS did the stalls in transition.


Coming out of transition - they had you run along on the grass until you hit the road where they had the paths lined up.  A LOT of people were complaining about this - but I actually thought it was a pretty cool feature.  For me - it would be a chance to liven up before you start "pounding" and it seemed like it would provide a pretty fast finish too (they had the finish line set up in the same general area - so you had 300 yards or so of running on grass when you went down the finish chute).

My wife super stoked to cross the finish line!

Brucie was stoked with her!

With her well deserved and well earned medal!

This is how my brother-in-law wants to be remembered crossing the finish line.  With style.

THIS is the behind the scenes footage as soon as he thought the cameras were off of him.  hehe (He's going to kill me for putting this on here).


The finish line was pretty good - and it looked like there were plenty of goodies to snack on for the finishers.  There wasn't anything cooked or hot (i.e. no hamburgers or pasta that I saw for the finishers of the longer triathlons the day before) but still plenty of food.

The medal you received at the finish is pretty cool - but the same medal everyone gets for every HITS event (save for the strap - which indicates which venue you were at).  Not necessarily terribly bad (and my wife was still stoked!) but it would be cool to have individual medals for individual races.

One thing that struck me on the finish line was how the announcer made sure to say everyone's name who crossed and treated people finishing the sprint in 2 hours with the same enthusiasm that he did with the race winners.  That goes a long way to creating a good race environment in my opinion.

 All in all, it was a fun race to watch.  The vendors were pretty cool to kill time at, and the weather - while a bit chilly - was very good for an event (no downpouring rain or anything).  I thought the race was pretty well organized, and very solid despite not having the glitz and glamour of some of the bigger races.  Due to their partnership with EnduroPacks, I plan on doing a couple of HITS races next year myself.

My wife finished her first triathlon (sprint distance 750 meters, 14 mile ride, 5k run) in 1:43 - which is a great time for her (her goal was sub 2 hours).  Not record breaking by any stretch - but I was incredibly proud of her.   My brother-in-law set a PR on the olympic course for him - and he was pleased although his time was longer than what his previous olympics would have been (had he not have flatted, etc).  They both did a great job!

That wraps up 2013 for me.  First race of 2014 will be the ITRYathlon on February 6 in Laguna Nigel put on by the good folks at Renegade Race Series.  It will be my wife's second go at doing a triathlon, and - since it's a reverse triathlon with a pool swim in the end - I think she'll do even better at this one than she did at HITS.  I'll be participating too, but not in a too competitive way (as it will be the first race of the season).

Be on the look out for some upcoming reviews on this blog before the 2014 race season works into full swing!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Race Report: Renegade Racing Turkey Tri

My final race of 2013 was to be the Turkey Triathlon put on by Renegade Racing.  This triathlon is a perfect late season triathlon held in Bonelli Park in San Dimas, Ca.  As my training has been winding down - I figure that this would be a perfect race to do before I start my 2 weeks of complete boredom....I mean, complete rest and recovery.

We got up super early to make it in time for the race (which is about an hour's drive from my house).  We arrive to Bonelli Park to see a ranger station and a guy telling us that it will be $10 to park.  This was completely unexpected, as we rarely carry cash on us.  "Um...is there an ATM machine around here somewhere?"  The ranger groans and goes "I don't think so man, listen, just say - very loudly - that you're here to drop someone off and will be coming back, and then just go park."
So that worked out pretty well.

We get parked and start the long haul to the transition area.  There was a bike demo going on with several different bike vendors (Specialized, GT, Fuji, etc) before we even arrived at the expo.  Once at the expo, I was able to set up my transition area (which was wide open and not at all crowded) and head to the lake for the swim.

Transition area.

Brucie and I before the swim start.

The lake and the "swim out" portion before the event started.

The swim for this event was 800 meters (ish) and was a small loop that went about 300 meters out into the lake, 100 meters over, and then 300 meters back to shore.  Water was basically 0 underwater visibility (as most lakes are), but wasn't too cold and the weather was pretty great for a swim.  They ran the swim with wave starts, and I ended up in the second wave.

Swim went ok for me, with a few hiccups.  First, as soon as the gun went off and my wave went, I was kicked in the face.  This doesn't really bother me (It's triathlon, getting kicked in the face is gonna happen), but what DID bother me was the fact that water started getting into my goggles (I wear Swedish style goggles).  I stopped for a moment and felt a small crack on the top of the goggle.  To remedy this, I simply did the first half of the swim or so with my right eye completely closed.

After turning passed the second buoy - and feeling thoroughly like a pirate at the time - I decided I would just be better off swimming the last few hundred meters with my head above the water.  This is mainly because I breath solely on my right side (I'm just more comfortable that way), and with my right eye closed - it was next to impossible to properly sight my swim path.  I figured that 300 meters of "mega pulling" wouldn't hurt my stock too much - and it didn't.  I went from ridiculously slow to ridiculously slow.

Finished the swim in 90th place overall - which is about what I expect these days.

Coming out of the water and to T1 was somewhat daunting.  After what was a rough swim, I had a 500 meter hike up a hill to get to the transition area.  I made the decision, as soon as I saw the looming hill, that I would casually walk up the hill.  The minute or so that I lost wouldn't kill me in my time, and I'd rather get to the bike with somewhat fresh legs than have my quads burning before I even started.

Outside of the hill - T1 went pretty quick and was fairly uneventful.


Hopping on the bike - I felt pretty good and felt I would push my power a bit higher than what my normal 20k time trial power would be.  The bike was a two loop, 7 mile per loop course and I figured that - if it was flat - I'd be able to go pretty hard and still retain power to run to my potential.

Well, the course was NOT flat.  It had some hills.  Not super hilly, but hilly enough that you had to do some climbing and couldn't just power your way through on your 11t.  This threw me for a bit of a loop - and I decided I'd ease up on the bike a bit in order to completely save my legs for the run.

I passed nearly everyone in my wave and the wave ahead of me, and was overtaken by only two people that I passed (around the time I decided to ease up).  This led to me coming in to T2 with the 10th fastest bike split of the day - and heading out on the run in the 6th position on the race (2 people in my age group ahead of me and 3 from the previous wave ahead of me).

About the bike course - it was well supported.  There were two aid stations (I skipped them both times) and that seemed plenty for the course.  There were a couple of really rough areas on the road at some of the turns, but complete road closures made it pretty easy to handle.  All in all - a well done bike course considering where it was at.

T2 went pretty quick, with the two people from my age group taking off just before me from transition.  I wasn't really worried though - as the run is my strongest part of my triathlon and I figured I'd be able to easily catch them.


The transition out of the transition was a bit sketchy.  You ended up running down a flight of stairs before taking off on the walking paths through Bonelli Park and around the lake.  The run itself was a beautiful course with lots of shade and a great view of the lake in Bonelli Park.  It was a 4.5 mile loop that was an out and back with a few aid stations sprinkled in.
At the top of the stairs on the run.
I ended up jumping down the stairs and took off - seeing three people in my sights (two people in my age group that passed me on the bike, and another person from the previous wave that was further down).

As soon as my foot fell once I was off the stairs and away from transition and on the actual running path - I knew this was going to be a good run for me.

I made pretty quick work of the two people in front of me and set my sights on the third guy.  I ended up passing him right before the turn around, and kicked it up a notch.  I had a pretty good turnover at this point and was hovering around the 5:15 per mile mark for the last 2 miles.  I heard the first person cross the finish line (from the previous wave) and saw the second guy as he was barreling down the chute.  I kicked it up a notch and came close to catching him - but couldn't.  Rather than be "that guy" that tries to blow past someone at the last second, I elected just to pull up and cross right behind him in the finish.  Third across the finish line (but ended up finishing 6th overall on the day due to people who had a faster race that went in a later wave).  I did have the fastest run split of the day - at 24:58 for 4.5 miles, which is a 5:33 per mile pace  - which, ironically, almost mirrored exactly what my Garmin had (24:56 at 4.61 miles).  NOTE:  I'm actually listed on the results as having the second fastest run split - but the girl who had the fastest run split (who was in the high 200s on her placement) is listed as having run a 2:38 per mile pace - so that's either an error, she didn't run the full course, or she's the fastest living creature in the universe...either of those three options I'm ok with.

I ended up placing 6th overall and first in my age group.  Not a bad day at all.

Bruce and I accepting my award.


I thought the race was incredibly well run and there isn't a whole lot to complain about.  I wasn't thrilled about the transition area being so high up (the hill to walk up to it is a pain in the ass and the stairs coming down for the run is begging someone to fall on them and get hurt) - but it was different and kind of unique to this triathlon.  The roads had some very rough areas, but there's only so much a race director can do to control that.

On the flip side of the negatives, the race was incredibly well supported with a bunch of volunteers and a great set up of finish line vendors.  The awards ceremony was fun and quaint, and not overly done to the point where it becomes a burden.  Not to mention the swag was pretty cool.  You get a nice tech T-shirt and a really cool medal along with a bag of goodies.
The medal is pretty cool for this.

Things I could have done better?  My swim, as always, has a ton of room for improvement.  If I can just get that on a level where I'm consistently in the 1:30 to 1:40 per 100 meters range - I would be winning a lot of these triathlons and be competitive in larger events.  In addition, I "pulled back" on the bike and I can't help but think that I reeled it in a little too much.  When I finished my run, I was hurting - but I wasn't exhausted to the point where I left everything I had on the run course.  Now, I'm not saying I could run any faster than I did - I think that's about at the peak of how fast I can run - but I do think I could have pushed it a bit more on the bike and still have maintained the ability to run like I did.  It will take some experimentation to figure out where the compromises come into play for that.

So what's next?  Not much.  I'm shutting things down for a couple of weeks and then going to Palm Springs for the HITS event to support my wife (who is doing the sprint - her first triathlon) and my brother in law (who is doing the olympic).  It will be interesting to do a race report as a spectator and not a participant.

My first triathlon for next year will be the ITry Triathlon sprint with my wife in February, and then possibly the Bayshore 70.4 in March.  I'll probably do a 10k or two beforehand in December and January.

In the meantime, check out some of the great races put on by Renegade Racing and, if you're interested in any of them, shoot me an email for a discount code.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Event Reviews: Dino Dash Bike Tour and Veteran's Classic One Miler

The season is winding down, which means that I'll often sandwich smaller races and events and do them more or less "for fun" as a "cool down" to the competitive season.  This will include shorter races like 5ks, group rides, time trials, cyclocross stuff, etc.  Nothing big and nothing overly competitive.


This is a pretty big event put on by Renegade Racing that has a few different bike tour lengths, a 5k, and a 10k.  It benefits the Tustin area schools and is a pretty fun time.  Most of Renegade Racing's events are all top notch and first class - and this one is no exception.

The bike tour is an untimed "fun ride" that is not competitive.  My brother-in-law and I both signed up for it looking mainly to just get free SWAG (some cool bike socks and a bike jersey that was really just a tech T Shirt) but also to have a good workout in the challenging Trabuco Canyon path the tour ran on.

Also - this would be the longest test to date for my "budget road bike" that I built up.  I rode it previously at the Fearless Super Sprint Triathlon, but that ride wasn't as long as this one and didn't have as many hills, turns, etc.  So I figured that this would be an excellent test for the bike and getting used to it.  As a forward, I found that the bike performed well for me.  My saddle, as always, was top notch (Cobb VFlow) and worked extremely well with the bike.  So far, I'm impressed with my "budget build" and in no rush to upgrade.

As is always the case, "non-competitive fun ride" quickly turns into "Let's blow through these guy and crush this thing!".  It's just how it is.  We had a good ride and were ahead of everyone (after starting in the second wave).

The only picture of us from the bike tour.  That's me in the pink and my brother-in-law right next to me.
 When we found a guy who somehow managed to make it out front of us (he must have been in the first leg), it became more of a race and stayed that way until the end.

One note - the bike ride was incredibly well supported (almost overly so, as I only stopped at one aid station to replace a bottle that I forgot at home).  A lot of time and effort went in to having the aid stations up and running for the entire ride - so I applaud Renagade Race Series for that.

The only downside (for the cyclists only) was that there was little to no pictures taken of the bike tour.  For the runners (5k and 10k runners) that wasn't a problem.  There's thousands of pictures of the people who did the running races in all shapes and sizes.  I can see why it would be difficult to get pictures of the bike tour - mainly because of how long it is and how it would be a bit cumbersome to have a photographer waiting around for hours to get everyone.  However, pictures at the finish line would have been easy enough to do (since they had volunteers there already).  That might be something to look into for next year.

The finish line festivities were top notch too.  You got a meal ticket to get a free meal from one of their many vendors and there was lots and lots of stuff to do outside of that.  All in all, a great time and a fantastic event.  Not to mention that there is a great little medal that everyone gets for finishing - which is pretty "kidsy" but that's the point.  My son enjoyed it for the .04 seconds he had it before trying to shove it in his mouth (in which we promptly took it away).

Getting our grub on after the race.  They gave me an extra medal and socks because I crossed in first place (which I gave to my son).  Please note how much nicer my brother-in-law's bike is compared to mine.

The medal is super cool.  It's small, but I liked it a lot.


This is a great event that's in its second year.  It's a short, cheap (only $15.00) race that precedes the Veteran's Day Parade in Long Beach, Ca.  

I did the race the year prior and placed second - being beaten by a guy who was just faster than me (and a bit older as well, but I won't mention that too hard - as it makes me look bad and makes it seem like I'm poking fun ;) hehe).  Last year, I took off in the lead, ended up running a bit too far due to a confusing turnaround spot, and just lost steam towards the end (where I was passed and fell to second).

This year was more or less exactly the same.  I took off in the lead and held it until the 3/4 mile mark where I was passed (by the same guy, btw).  Second place again with a time of 5:08 and that's about as good as I could have done on that day, so I'm satisfied with it.  I DID take first place in my age group though - and got a "large" medal as apposed to the smaller finisher's medal (as shallow as that sounds).

In the lead at the turn.

Still holding on to the lead....
....and I lost it.

Finished pretty strong though.

Yes, I did a running race in my ITU suit.  It's the most "Veteran's Dayish" thing I had.

The race itself was pretty cool though - and I'm baffled as to why there isn't a lot more people lining up to do it.  For one - there isn't a whole lot of one mile races outside of high school and collegiate track meets - so it's something that's completely different from the norm (in terms of running races).  Secondly, it supports the Long Beach Neighborhood Foundation which is a great organization that is the very definition of "giving back to the community."  Third, there is a really cute kids' half mile race afterwards that I can't wait to put my son in (as soon as he can walk).

For an event that costs next to nothing, gets you a T shirt and a finisher's medal, and takes 30 minutes of your time - it's a no brainer to attend in my opinion.

My baby boy with my finisher's medal.

So what's next for me for the rest of the year?  I have the Renegade Racing Turkey Triathlon on November 24th, and then I'll do a couple of smaller running races to close out the year.

My wife will be doing the HITS Triathlon in Palm Springs, Ca in December - but I will be going strictly as a spectator and to root her on in her first triathlon.  

I'll have a blog post with my race schedule and plans for next year sometime in December or very early January.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Product Review: EnduroPacks Monthly Nutrition

Before I begin this review, let me say up front that I've entered an ambassadorship with EnduroPacks. However, that decision had no impact on my review or thoughts on the product.  Like with most reviews I do - I explained to the guys at EnduroPacks that I would not and could not represent a product that I didn't have experience with and could honestly say was something that worked for me.
We agreed, at that point, to give me 30 days to use their nutrition and I would put together a review of it and provide some constructive feedback.  If it worked out for both parties, I would become an ambassador.

Suffice to say, I was incredibly impressed with their product.

Initial Thoughts:
Before receiving the product, I had some general misconceptions and predispositions regarding their product.  I assumed that it was "snake oil" (meaning that I felt it was something that wouldn't work). I couldn't have been more wrong - but those were my initial thoughts.
After doing some research and seeing some other reviews, like this one here, I began to see that there was more to it than "this stuff will help your recovery, just use it and don't worry asking what it is."

Like most age groupers with a full time job, training for triathlons and races leaves limited time for recovery when you are trying to find ways to squeeze in everything else in life (time for the family, general errands around the house, non-training activities, etc).  Sleep is undoubtedly compromised (especially with a newborn in the house), as is time to just rest and put your feet up.

My workout schedule is mostly twice a day on the weekdays (one hour swim/ride/run at lunch and then an hour to two hours run/ride in late afternoon/nighttime).  On the weekends I have easier (less intensity) but much longer duration runs and rides.  The way I handle recovery has always been that if I'm feeling extra tired or burnt out - I take a day or two off.  Usually, I will miss a workout during the week because of family related stuff anyway, so I get some form of recovery there too.
What my evening workouts typically look like.
What I'm trying to illustrate is that I, like most age group athletes who are competing in triathlons, put a ton of time into training and when combined with everything else in life - something has to give.  Usually, for me (and a lot of other people) it's taking the time to properly recover.

Now, I'm not saying that this product replaces a good recovery period.  It doesn't.  However, if you're in a situation where you're not getting as much recovery as you probably should and need a bit of extra help - I think this product will do absolute wonders.

With that said, let's get to the details of the product itself, and the results of its actual use for me.

Unboxing and Use:
EnduroPacks comes straight to your door in a box filled with four different components.  It also comes with a handy instruction card explaining how the stuff is supposed to be taken.
Handy Dandy instruction card.

Its components are:

Liquid Multi-Vitamin:

The multi vitamin right out of the box.
I've never been a big multi-vitamin guy and the closest thing I ever came to taking multi-vitamins was the gummi-vites that I would steal from my niece and nephews when I was babysitting them.  In addition to that, I'm about the furthest thing from an M.D. that one can be - so an analysis of the ingredients that make up this liquid vitamin will NOT be coming from me.  With that said, my wife (who is a nurse) said that this was some "good stuff" and seemed pleased that I was actually taking something like that.  So there's that.
What I can give feedback on is how it tasted, its ease of daily use, and what results I found from taking it for a month.
I felt the taste was pretty good for a "mediciny multi-vitamin."  Whenever I see anything liquid that isn't juice (or similar), I pretty much instantly think of that cherry taste that came with the awful cough medicines.  This was nothing like that.  It went down pretty smooth and didn't interfere with whatever meal I was taking it with.
In terms of how easy it is to use - it's a no brainer.  It doesn't get much easier than to simply fill up a tablespoon and down it with your breakfast.  I still took it in the morning, even though I technically only have 2 morning workouts each week (on the weekends).
As for its effects, I feel it works well for me.  Considering I came from taking no multi-vitamin or vitamins of any kind - I have noticed that I feel more "vibrant" (for lack of a better term) with my daily workouts.  Again, I don't know the technical ins and outs of exactly how it has effected me - but I feel a lot better than before I was taking it.

Amino Acid Patch:
The amino acid patch.  Patches are a light peach color and adhere well.
This patch was one of the bigger concerns I had when I first did my research.  It just seemed preposterous to put a patch on after a workout.
Well, I was wrong.  This is one of the most useful items that come in the pack.
I chose to apply it on my underarm and towards my back.  This was just to keep it out of sight as when I had it "out in the open" - I would get questions from people ("I didn't know you smoked Bryan!  How is quitting going?" or "Wow Bryan, trying not to get pregnant, huh?").
With that said, I was able to apply it after my lunchtime workout and my evening workout would always go a lot smoother.  There was no more dragging myself downstairs to get on the trainer and just slugging through a workout.  I did feel more fresh (in both my evening workouts and when I woke up the next day) while using the patch.  So I would call that a success.  I found that the patch stayed on pretty well, to the point where I was having to peel it off at the end of the day (although several times I simply forgot it was on there and didn't notice that it was still on until I went to put a new patch on the next day).

Electrolyte Salt Spray:
The salt spray.  The bottle is about the size of a small cologne bottle.
This is recommended to be used during your workout and sprayed into your water bottle.  The problem with that, for me, is that I pre-make my drinks during my long rides and am not a big fan stopping or getting out of the aero position to spray stuff.  During runs, there was no way that I would be able to use it.  I tend to run without carrying anything - water bottles included - on my long runs.  That meant, initially, that this product wouldn't work for me.
Where I found that it was extremely useful, however, was while I was riding on the trainer in my basement.  While doing long trainer sessions, I was able to reach over to a barstool (where I set my fan), grab the spray and spray into my drink.  Just a few sprays is all it takes and it works like a charm.
I'm a "Gatorade hater" in that I hate the taste of sports drinks and how they make me feel.  They just never have jived with me.  This spray is a solution to that.  It doesn't alter the taste of the water to a degree where you feel like you're downing a sugary sports drink (although it does have a slightly limey taste - but in a good way).  I could see people using this if they carry race belts on their long runs or do not have a specific hydration system on the bike (where spraying into the water becomes inefficient).

Glutamine Recovery Complex:

The night time recovery pills.
This was probably my favorite thing in the box and what I feel is most responsible for what I perceive to be a dramatic increase in my recovery time.
While this pill is not a replacement for a good night's sleep - I did find that it helped with the soreness I normally felt the next morning that typically comes on with my late night workouts.  
The instructions say to take two capsules in the evening before bed, and it really couldn't be any easier to do.  The pills go down easy and they just plain work.  Also, my wife (the nurse) was really impressed that Glutamine pills were included in the packet.

Overall Thoughts:
There's no doubt that using this product over the last month has positively helped my training.  Whether it was one specific product that worked and the others helped - or a collective effort - I have been able to get in more workouts with less fatigue and soreness.  What this means is quality time while working out which equates to quality gains in performance.
I did a decent amount of racing in October, and these products were a life saver in terms of keeping me fresh.  Recovery was a major, major concern of mine when looking at my late season race schedule and I'm less concerned with it now after seeing how taking these supplements has worked for me.
Keep in mind that this is simply my experience with the product.  I can't speak towards the specifics for anyone else (or even for me outside of how it made me feel), but I can give it my highest recommendation.
EnduroPacks offers these for $75 for a one month pack.  The price gets lower (down to $59.99 per month) if you subscribe for a longer period.  I think this is a great value considering how if you walk into a GNC to get supplements you'll spend about that much on a multi-vitamin alone.
With all the stuff that triathletes spend their money on (and I'm as guilty of this transgression as anyone), it seems like common sense to use something that would allow you to effectively train better throughout the season.  For me, EnduroPacks is that product.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me below or shoot me an email.  If interested in purchasing, you can use the discount code Take10OFF for $10 off your purchase for even more savings.  Shipping is free.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Race Report: Fearless Triathlon Double Super Sprint

I don't often race in back to back weekends.  This is for a variety of reasons - but the first and foremost is that I'm not a big fan of racing "just to race."  If I go to a race - I want to win.  Now, whether that means coming in first place ahead of everyone else, making it to the podium, finishing in a specific time frame, etc - is something that's dependent on the race itself.  However, VERY RARELY will I race "just to race."

This race was an exception to that rule.  I had a couple of things going against me going into this race.  1)  I just finished the Lifetime Oceanside race six days before.  2)  Somehow during the week after Oceanside, I sprained my ankle and, while I was able to run on it, it was uncomfortable bordering on painful.  3)  This race was in Mission Bay, San Diego - which is about a 2 hour drive from where I life and we would have to drive there the morning of (which meant waking up at 3 am).

Regardless, I signed up for this race knowing full well it would follow an "A" race for me.  Why would I do such a thing?  Simply put - this race is very unique.  It uses the standard swim, bike, run format - but then has you repeat the entire thing over again.  It's like doing two mini sprint triathlons one right after the other.  For me, that was something I wanted to experience - so I made certain I wouldn't miss it.

After the Olympic distance race the week before, I immediately begin thinking about how to go about doing this race.  From the course maps, the bike course looks pretty wavy with lots of turns, so I decided to use my road bike.  Also, the pro race is draft-legal ITU style, so I figured if the pros are using road bikes - I probably should too (I fully realize that this type of logic makes no sense).  My brother-in-law and I have also recently built up a road bike for me, so that was part of the motivation to use this bike in lieu of my tri bike as well.

Here's a picture of my fun, little road bike build.  I'll do a blog post on the build another time.
In addition, I decided I was going to use the Xterra Lava Pants that my wife purchased for me (despite them NOT being ITU legal - which contradicts the logic I used in choosing my road bike).  My thought behind these would be that they would be easy enough to take off after the first swim and easy enough to throw back on for the second.  Long story short:  I liked them.  I'll do a full review in a future post.

Picture of the Lava Pants I took after the race.

The videos of this race are, to say the least, pretty epic.  The pro race (which is a bit different from the amateur race) looks like it's amazing fun and highly competitive.  It's very different from the "get your pace and hold on" that longer distance triathlons are.  This one is more "go as hard as you can until you finish the run - and then go harder the second time" type of deal.  The video below does a good job in showing how someone would be super interested in this race.

Pre Race:
The drive down to San Diego at 3 am to be able to pick up my packet and set up transition before race time was long, tiresome, and exhausting.  And when I say "long, tiresome, and exhausting" - I really mean that my wife drove the whole way and I passed out.  (I love you honey! haha)  
We arrived to the transition area and got registered and set up in transition, where I was able to find a primo spot.  None of the vendor tents were open yet, so we just hung out in the transition area until the announcement was made to start corralling people towards the swim start.
Transition at 0-dark-thirty.
The Swim (1):
Swim was a mass start for 375 meters.  Instantly, I could tell that this was going to be an interesting start.  The course was an out and back course, taking a left around the first buoy about 150 meters out, then 75 meters over to the next buoy, and then taking a left around that buoy and back to the dock to head to transition.  
It seemed simple enough and looked like it would be a pretty fast swim.  Everyone was bunched up in the middle of the ramp (even though the first buoy was more off to the side), so I went off to the side towards the dock to wait for the start.  My thought process was that I would be out of the way of most everyone and have a somewhat calm swim.
As you can see, I was somewhat tired.
Well, I was dead wrong.  The moment the gun went off, everyone just kind of shifted over right on top of me and I felt like I was in one of those fish circles.  Don't get me wrong, I'm used to swimming in a crowd and I normally don't mind it when things get a little bumpy.  The problem with this one was that there were people who WERE NOT used to this, and they were grabbing people to stay afloat.  Somewhat dangerous.  In any case, I managed to swim my way out of it without being kicked too many times, and once I was in less crowded water my swim went pretty good.  Swim 1 time:  8:07 That's about on pace for me considering that there was a pretty lengthy run to transition that I basically walked because of my ankle.
This is a very, very rare creature.  An actual photo of me swimming.
The Bike (1):
Coming out of transition was pretty easy since I was racked so close.  I didn't have my shoes previously clipped in (mainly because I heard someone over the PA say that it wasn't allowed, although a ton of people were already clipped) but that wasn't too big of a hindrance.  
This was my first time riding a road bike in a long, long time and was the first real ride on this bike since it was built (I ride my time trial bike 99% of the time).  I went pretty hard, but was very careful to pace myself on the bike (as I knew I would be riding again).  I didn't use a power meter (I brain farted the night before and forgot to switch my Stages to the bike - which would have been easy enough to do), so I went by feel and kept an eye on my speed.  I managed to keep it around 22 mph or so, which is plenty good for me on a bike I wasn't used to.  The bike course was the Fiesta Island Time Trial course (just one loop) and is a beautiful course that's fairly flat.  Simply a stellar venue for a triathlon in my opinion.  
I have one regret about the course and that was not using my time trial bike.  For one - the "twists and turns" I mentioned before were not that bad.  I feel I would have handled them easily on a tri bike.  Also, it was driving me nuts that I was giving up time to guys on triathlon/time trial bikes based solely on position and me not being used to the road bike (I'm not a roadie by any means).  Bike time:  18:28
I feel weird looking at how weird I look like while riding a road bike.
The Run (1):
I had low, low expectations for the run - mainly because my ankle was the size of a softball and I didn't feel I would be able to put any serious pressure on it.  My thought for the run was to just take it easy and not push it.  Since the distance was so relatively short (only 1.5 miles for each run leg) - I didn't think I would do any lasting damage.
Transitioning to the run took a bit longer because I had to squeeze my shoes on (I didn't think of bringing shoes that were slightly bigger for this race).  
The run course was really nice.  Just an out and back right by Fiesta Island.  Nothing fancy to it, but still a nice run all the same.
Like a knucklehead though, I found myself pushing a little harder than I should have during the run, running around a 7:00 pace when I was really leaning more towards a 8:00 easier pace for both legs.
Run time:  9:51
The run felt pretty good , despite the swollen ankle.  This guy swam, biked, AND ran his first leg in those Lava Pants.

Run course is pretty.
The Swim (2):
Coming out of the run and back to swim again is a really, really crappy proposition for someone who isn't a good swimmer.  I had every intention in the world of putting my Xterra Lava Pants back on for the second swim, but was kind of out of it and trying to rush when I got to transition.  So I just dumped my run gear, threw on my swim cap and goggles, and bolted for the water. 
To my surprise, I was the only one in the water at the start (which meant that I had ran past most of the people in my pack and was well behind the people in the front of the pack).  I jumped in and started stroking.
Unfortunately, my swim arms just weren't there.  I was having a tough time on the second swim and going slow.  People were passing me and I was trying my best to keep up - but just didn't have it in me to keep a good position and stay streamlined.
Soon I found myself surrounded by a pack of people, and I realized any advantage I gained from the bike or run was quickly lost.  I ended up coming out of the swim way slower than than my first one - once again reminding me of the massive amount of work I have to do in the water in order to be competitive. Swim 2 time:  10:18 (which had to be among the slowest of anyone in the race).
Hopping in for the second swim completely solo.  Just wasn't face enough to come out that way.

No, I'm not wearing black socks. My feet are just filthy.
The Bike (2):
I came out of transition pretty pumped.  I wanted to make up some lost ground on my competition and pass some people now that I was on dry land.  My ankle was hurting a bit by this time so I figured any chance I had to overtake some people in position would be on the bike.
Coming out of transition.  I should have just clipped in with everyone else, but an announcement made before the race start had me sketched out.
I came out of the bike pretty hard.  Too hard.  The second go round I passed a bunch of people very quickly - pushing forward like a freight train on pure power.  I was hitting the 24-25 mph range for most of the stretches and had it in my mind that I would just keep this pace and then hold on as much as I could for the run.

Nope.  (LOL@ME)

About halfway through I dwindled down and struggled to keep a 20 mph pace.  I kept with that almost to the finish and prepped for the run.  Bike 2 time:  19:01

The Run (2):
The second run was almost an exact duplicate of the first.  Literally.  The same people I found myself running with on the first run were right there on the second run.  I ended up pushing myself a bit too hard on the run - as my ankle was in a lot of pain afterwards.  The price I pay for egotism and vanity I guess - I just didn't want people to beat me.  Still pretty slow on the run, but a bit better than the first go round.  Run 2 time:  9:11

I look absolutely miserable in this picture.

I kicked it up a notch when heading in to the finish chute.

Complete time:  1:20:08

This race was very, very well done.  There were a few slight snags (like having the run course changed mid race because someone set the cones slightly wrong - which diverted some of the first people to that area of the run to run only half the course), but nothing that effected anything too bad.  Lars Finanger and company put on a hell of a race, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a new challenge or just something different.

I do feel there are some things I could have done better.  The obvious is my swim - with some work on that I feel I could be a lot better than I am.  Maybe not front of the pack - but I think I would be fast enough that I won't be giving the race leaders a 5-6 minute advantage on me out of the water.  On the bike - I feel that I would be faster in transition if I would have clipped in prior (which isn't a problem for me).  Also, I'm obviously more comfortable and a lot faster on a time trial bike - so being on that would work better for me unless the race specifically calls for otherwise.  The run wasn't a huge deal for me - I had a hurt ankle and there's not a lot I can do about that.  I can't wait to come down for the next one fully healthy and in the right mindset and see how I fair.  I truly feel that this is a race I can compete in once I get my swim in check.

Now, it's time to recover (using my daily EnduroPacks) and relax and let my ankle heal up.  I'm going to take a week or two off from running, and concentrate on my swim.  Only one more triathlon this year (The Turkey Tri from Renegade Race Series), and then I'm shutting it down until January (race-wise).  

Final Verdict on my performance from my son:
Not Impressed.  Oh well.