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.