Friday, December 4, 2009

Tune into Ironman on NBC

Mark your calendars if you want to hold a viewing party, set your DVR and VCR timers if you already know you have to be out, Ironman airing time is just around the corner. As for when: Don't forget to tune into NBC on December 19 to watch the action and hear the stories from the 2009 Ironman World Championships at Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. The program is set to air from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., eastern time, but be sure to check local listings for the time near you.

The appeal may seem a little less exciting this year since Universal Sports has added Ironman to its television schedule--past World Championships and 2009 events at Coeur d'Alene, Louisville and China--and live airings online, starting with the World Championships. But really, there's far more to get excited about than the commentary by veteran commentator and narrator, Al Trautwig. Not only will we get to watch Craig Alexander and Chrissie Wellington repeat as World Champions, but we'll see stories from physically challenged athletes, military veterans, retired professionals and weight-loss successes who all fit the "Anything is Possible" mentality of Ironman. Some profiled athletes include Chris Lieto, Rudy Garcia-Tolson, Matt Hoover, Kyle Garlett and Mike Adamle. Lieto, a professional out of Danville, Calif., who has finished in the top 10 three times, second to Alexander in 2009, and typically leads at one point during the race. Garcia-Tolson is a double amputee who excells at triathlon and swimming as well as holding numerous world records; this is his first shot at the Ironman distance. Hoover was crowned the champion of the second season of The Biggest Loser; but after falling in love on the show and starting a family, some weight crept back on and Hoover decided the Ironman was a way to make him feel like a champion again, get lean and teach fans to achieve their dreams. Garlett survived lymphoma four times and received a heart transplant. Adamle, a former professional football player and American Gladiators announcer, often covers the sports broadcast on Chicago's NBC channel and returns to Kona for the second time.

If you ever need motivation to convince yourself you want to do an Ironman or just hear some awe-inspiring stories, this is it. For more details, check out Photo grabbed from espensorvik at flickr. Posted by Kate

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Avoid Holiday Over-Eating and Weight Gain

Thanksgiving has already come and gone--maybe you're still recovering--Christmas is less than 25 days away and before we know it we'll be ringing in 2010 and saying sayonara to what felt like a speedy 2009. Yep, the end of the year is nearing faster than you’d like to admit and you’re watching your calendar decrease in training hours and increase in social soirees. With those parties on tap, often inevitably replacing the workouts, you’re starting to wonder have you can have your cake and eat it too, without being unable to squeeze into your pants come January. Before you find yourself setting your New Year’s Resolutions to rebound from an overeating holiday season and lose 10 pounds, check out these five tips to avoid holiday weight gain.

  1. Balance your meals to avoid "glucose" overload. Eat 3 to 4 ounces of protein followed by three 10-gram servings of carbs along with a 5-gram serving of fat (zone diet) so that you stay satiated longer. This is a proper 3-3-1 balance that correlates to the Zone Diet: 20 grams of protein to 30 grams of carbs to 5 grams of fat.
  2. Drink one to two glasses of water prior to gorging yourself at parties or events. Not only will it help you stay hydrated, but you’ll find yourself feeling full before helping yourself to another round of hors d’oeuvres or cocktails.
  3. Add some turkey trots or holiday runs to your festivities. The temperatures might cool off but running is still hot in Chicago with runs from now until the New Year. Turkey Trots abound on Thanksgiving, rev your metabolism for the indulging and still get you home in time to put the bird in the oven. Not in the mood to race? You can still get out and run with any of the weeknight fun runs at running stores around the city and suburbs who run year-round.
  4. Seeing a hotel room more than your own bed this season? Pick exercises that are doable when you are away from your gym or house. Think cardio that you can do in your hotel room like plyometrics or a workout DVD you can play on a laptop. Portable fitness can make it easier to stay committed to maintaining your routine even when your schedule makes it seem impossible.
  5. Remember to eat and never skip meals. If you know you’re attending a food-filled party, that shouldn’t be your excuse to skip breakfast or lunch so you can pack in the calories later. You might think you can lose weight by skipping meals, but instead it comes back at you times two: Your metabolism can slow, causing you to store body fat because you limited your calories for too long, and you might binge-eat at night which leads to weight gain. Even in sticking to meals, you can enjoy those holiday treats, just in moderation.
And don’t forget that you can still have fun at all of this season’s activities without stressing too much about what’s going into your belly and how much you’re sweating off during exercise. For related articles, check out these links at WebMD, That's Fit,, and
Originally written for the Max Multisport monthly newsletter. Photo grabbed from CarbonNYC at flickr. Posted by Kate

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Daily Feed: Sites We're Searching 11/30

Technically I should call this post the monthly feed since it's the last day of the month--talk about November flying by--and a Daily Feed hasn't appeared since October. And I've found myself looking at some of these sites more than once during the month rather than just once on any given day.

With the exception of Chicago Marathon Sunday and New York City Marathon Sunday, Sunday afternoons this fall have been consumed by tracking race results. Seriously. Yes, it could be deemed a strange hobby but my problem is there's usually at least one person I know competing so I want to see how they did. And of course, this weekend was no exception even we did just wrap up Thanksgiving. Turkey gorging or not, there were marathons to run, an Ironman to complete and calories to burn. So here's what I've been checking out:
  • Just call November the month of Ironman. There was a full-distance Ironman every weekend in November with the exception of the 14th and 15th when the Ironman 70.3 World Championships took place. First it was Florida, then Arizona, and then Cozumel. Hard to believe that next year's World Championships already knows about 150 of its competitors.
  • Sandwiched in between those Ironman races are the runs, especially the continuation of fall's marathon mania. The ING New York City Marathon kicked off the month, followed by Richmond, Rock 'n' Roll San Antonio, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Seattle, to name a few. And before most of these even took place, the 2010 Boston Marathon had already closed registration, filling far quicker than usual--typically even January marathoners can slide in.
  • I promise this is the last of the results and events I'll list...the Turkey Trots had me perusing calendars to convince myself to run one and then checking to see how friends ran.
  • Get your ski on. I swore I wasn't going to get excited over the ski season as early as November since it leaves me wishing my annual ski trip came that much faster, but once again the Warren Miller movie put me in the mood and reading about resort openings and snowfalls only fueled the fire. In Colorado, Keystone and Breckenridge opened the first and second weekends of the month and by Thanksgiving they were joined by Vail, Beaver Creek and Steamboat, to name a few. That also means it's open season at Utah resorts like Park City, Alta and The Canyons with Deer Valley set to open this coming weekend. Uh oh, time to sharpen the skis and think snow. Some may say it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, but I'm thinking it's snow season in full swing.
  • And all of those shopping deals for Black Friday and Cyber Monday? I admit...I was cruising the online stores for end-of-the-season sales and gift ideas.
I realize there's not much hear besides random race information, retailers and ski reports but by now, most of the stories have probably already been read, appeared on Twitter and Facebook feeds, or seem like old news. Maybe not much excitement going on here, which I unfortunately think was a result of the business of the month. I'll try to make December better. Photo of snowmaking at Keystone grabbed from VailResortsNEWS@Twitter. Posted by Kate

Cyber Monday Deals for the Athlete on Your List

You know the drill: shopping in the wee morning hours the day after Thanksgiving to score store specials. Or opting to skip it when the thought of crowds and fighting over the last Garmin or the only jacket left in your size and color makes you sick (that's me). Whether you get wrapped up in the post-holiday shopping fever that hits or not, these Cyber Monday deals can help you save some dough when shopping for the runners, triathletes, hikers, skiers and other active folk on your list. Or just a little shopping to stock your shelves.
  • Under Armour. No matter what sport you play, or what type of activewear you need, you could probably find it in Under Armour's closets. Running shoes and gear, cold weather insulators, outerwear and underwear, compression tights and tops, and the list goes on. There's no shipping costs today regardless of the amount of gear in your cart. And if you want more savings, be sure to check out the outlet area--a great spot to stock up on warm weather wares.
  • SkirtSports. Skirtsports might be built around the idea of running, cycling and racing in a sport friendly skirt, but they offer so much more--and with several items up to 80 percent off on Cyber Monday. Choose from tops, sports bras, tanks, tri shorts, and of course skirts in a variety of styles. Tri shorts for $11.99? You can't get much better than that.
  • REI. Winter clearance ends today and you can save up to 30 percent on outdoor goods.
  • Moosejaw. From tents to hoodies, technical packs to jackets, you'll find just about anything for active pursuits. Rolling with that theme, Moosejaw's savings run the gamut from receiving five times the rewards points on items purchase to later shop at, to receiving a $51 gift card for free if you purchase a The North Face item more than $149. The site was down earlier and if that's still the case when you try to shop, you'll get another coupon for additional savings as a sorry-about-the-inconvenience.
  • The North Face. You don't have to have a minimum order to qualify for free shipping today. Perfect for anyone in need of a warm jacket, a windproof running top, gloves, snow boots and more. Unfortunately, I can always find something I want--and definitely don't need as my mom and husband can attest--when I'm at the store.
  • Garmin. may not be the retailer with the sale, but if you search online and check out Bing Shopping, you can find several retailers offering discounts on Forerunners--301, 201, 205, 305 and even the 405. Runners have claimed these pace, mileage and heart rate calculators have changed the way they run, and they're all-too-ideal for keeping you on top of your mileage when training for a race.
  • Campmor. Campmor's Hot Deals section is on fire today with savings across the board from footwear to apparel to outerwear. But grab them before they're gone or you'll be out of luck when the cold hits (or for us in Chicago, that could be sooner rather than later).
  • iPod or mp3 player. Know someone who could use some tunes while working out? It's back to Bing Shopping for deals in the music player category, specifically those that fall under $100.
  • Keen. You don't need to be active per say to fall in love with these shoes that meet the eye of various consumers from urban to sporty to every criss-crossing combination in between (after all, there are definitely sporty urbanites and country fashionistas). And today, all purchases will score you a cute Keen harvest tote.
  • Whether your swimsuits are shot from too many hours in the pool or you told yourself you'd swim more in the off-season after a summer wearing your tri suit in the lake, this site has plenty of swimsuits to choose from. Lots of brands, lots of sizes, lots of variety, you're bound to find something that works and at reasonable prices too--some suits cost as little as $19 to $20.
But time's a-wasting. Most of these deals are only good until midnight tonight, causing a mad rush online and pages taking longer than normal to load. But if you can find a deal on a gift, isn't it worth it? Meanwhile, I'm on the deal hunt for a Wii and Wii Fit--I'm the dork who's been wanting one for way too long. Photo grabbed from Images_of_Money at flickr. Posted by Kate

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ironman Cozumel Titles Go to Beke and Van Vlerken

In a land often reserved for cruise ship ports, Caribbean breezes, margaritas and beaches, this weekend was reserved for Ironman and those margaritas and lying on the beach were most likely waiting until after the race. Instead, the crowds flooded Cozumel to see who would be crowned champion at this endurance race. At the inaugural Ironman Cozumel, debuting November 29, in the Mexican city on the Yucatan peninsula, the men's winner was just decided with Rutger Beke crossing the finish line first in 8:18:40. And in the process of writing this report, Yvonne Van Vlerken wrapped up her final miles of the marathon and crossed first for the women in 9:06:58.

Cozumel, often referred to as a vacation destination, was announced as a new Ironman race site in August 2008, and filled to capacity shortly after. For Americans it's a destination just far enough away from home and it's date right after Thanksgiving can be viewed by some as the perfect excuse not to overeat on the holiday. And for others, the Mexican destination draws a homeland crowd, vacationers and those who want to add a new Ironman to their repertoire. According to a press release about the race, Ironman Cozumel has 50 qualifying slots for the 2010 Ford Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. And the $50,000 professional prize purse will be distributed among the top five male and female finishers. I guess you could say that Christmas came a little early for Beke and Van Vlerken.

Beke is no stranger to the podium, nor is he unfamiliar with finishing among the age-groupers rather than dropping out when his legs couldn't give anymore. The 32-year-old Belgian has won Ironman Monaco in 2005 and Ironman Arizona in 2007. And if you watch the Ironman World Championship coverage on NBC each year, you may remember Beke's struggle in 2007 where he walked the entire marathon to finish in a respectable amateur time. He then redeemed himself in 2008 with a stellar day, finishing in third place. But back to Cozumel. Beke worked his way to the lead after coming out of the water in 11th (46:38), hammering down on the bike to move up to second by the time he reached T2 (4:34:27), and then finishing up with the only sub-three-hour marathon thus far for the day. Beke also seems to have the fastest bike time, just seconds faster than Sebastian Pedraza.

Van Vlerken, on the other hand, knows how to race fast but she's unfortunately often pushed out of the limelight because of Ironman World Champion Chrissie Wellington. Van Vlerken finished second to Wellington at the 2008 World Championships, and she held the iron-distance record for a year before Chrissie Wellington shattered it. In July 2008, the Dutch triathlete beat Paula Newby-Fraser's 14-year-old iron-distance record at the Quelle Challenge Roth. Then Wellington came along this year and broke it. But after today's Ironman, Van Vlerken has one pretty special bragging right: She finished 10th overall, having only nine men cross the finish line before her. You could say Van Vlerken started a little behind on the swim, finishing in the second pack of females (51:06), but she tore loose on the bike and never looked back. The 31-year-old turned out the fastest bike of the day in 5:03:44 and just built her lead on the run, finishing in 3:08:04.

Congrats to these Ironman champions! So fast on land and water, especially considering Cozumel has been known to get walloped with high winds as was the case in the days leading up to the race when the swim area was closed for practice. A relatively calm day--at least sounding like it from the live feed I read--made for some fast 2.4 mile swims. And a flat bike course followed the Cozumel island main road for sightseeing while cycling.

Uh oh, I sense another Ironman urge coming on. I'm already signed up for Wisconsin, but the vacation allure has me sold on Cozumel for the future. Not to get all personal here, but I'd be scared to check out a first-time bike course mostly because that's where I have issues when I race, which is why I didn't jump at the chance last year to register (the $525 price tag didn't help either). But if you ever needed an excuse to skip a family Thanksgiving--or more reason to gorge on the turkey and trimmings knowing they'd be burned off a few days later--or check out for a Caribbean vacation with a race thrown in, this is it. Not too far from home either, little adjustment to the time zone, but give me a Computrainer practice course first.

Want some results? Check on the progress of approximately 1,900 age-groupers at, and follow along with the live tracker here. Photo grabbed from Posted by Kate

Friday, November 27, 2009

Turkey Trot Timing

Day-after Thanksgiving turkey cupcake anyone?
Did you give your metabolism a boost yesterday morning and head out to an area Turkey Trot? A Thanksgiving Day tradition almost as much of a ritual--or more so for some--as watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade or following the football games, the trots help get the Thanksgiving action started and rev the engine for the eating that ensues. Big or small, timed or untimed, Turkey Trots run the gamut in terms of race specifics, but regardless, they draw runners from near and far who are either looking to race or simply looking to run without caring about a finish line. If you did run and want to know how you finished, check out some of the Turkey Trot results posted below from races around the country. Just click on the event name to view the times.
This list is only a handful of the races that took place on November 26. posted results for roughly 75 different turkey trots around the country and that's still not all of them. Check out more race results at Active or The Running Network. Did you run on Thursday? Photo grabbed from kristin_a (Meringue Bake Shop) at flickr. Posted by Kate

Monday, November 23, 2009

Philadelphia Loves Its Running

Maybe you were hoping for some marathon loving from the city of love. Maybe a nice change of pace from gusts pushing against you in the Windy City or an Arizona heat wave or snow falling in the Colorado mountains. A Boston Marathon qualifier or a personal best? Or redemption to close out the marathon year after having a lackluster race earlier in the season. Whatever the case, you signed up to run the Philadelphia Marathon on November 22, started or continued training, and then toed the line to turn your marathon dreams into reality.

In return, Philly really turned on the charm. Not only did you get a tour through the historic city complete with Liberty Bell and Rocky statue (yep, it even donned a race tee for the occasion) but you also got a taste of pristine weather conditions--41 at the start and 58 for a high--and a flat course. Maybe not as flat as Chicago or downhill and nearly flat like California International, but it draws crowds, even some closed out of Chicago, Marine Corps or New York. Only problem was that Philadelphia was so popular this year that registration closed roughly 60 days before race day, so if you ran a fall race and wanted to redeem yourself a few weeks later, you couldn't unless you figured out a loophole to get in. Plus driving distance around the East Coast is reasonable if you live in New England or D.C. and flights from elsewhere tend to be inexpensive. Were you among the race's approximately 7,464 marathon finishers and 7,188 half marathon finishers? Did you run the 8K? Whether you're checking on your times or want to see how a runner did, check out all the results on the Philadelphia Marathon's website.

Unfortunately if you did register for the Philadelphia Marathon after a so-so Chicago (or insert-city-here) race in hopes of qualifying for Boston, you can't run online to to sign up the prestigious race's 114th running on April 19, 2010. The race filled earlier than usual this year and the two fast November races that normally draw those on the hunt for BQs, Richmond and Philly, fell after Boston closed. The California International Marathon on Dec. 6 has the same fate--drawing runners for its downhill and high BQ statistics. If you're in the mix, you'll have to wait until registration for the 2011 race, and 115th running (wow!), opens next September. But consider yourself lucky...when hotels start reservations for 2011, you can have prime pickings. Photo grabbed from the Philadelphia Marathon. Posted by Kate

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Ironman Arizona: A Fast First for Samantha McGlone

November 22 is a fast day in Arizona--if you're racing an Ironman. Samantha McGlone just shattered Michellie Jones' 2006 course record of 9:12:53 by winning the women's race in 9:09:19. And that's with celebrating as she neared the finish line, walking and slapping high-fives with the spectators.

You could say that McGlone was so elated over the win and record-setting performance because it's her first at the Ironman distance. She's no stranger to the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run race as she just finished fifth at Kona's Ironman World Championships in October, but until now her victories have only come at the international-distance and 70.3-distance races. In terms of local races, she won the 2006 Chicago Triathlon, then grabbed fourth the following year. This Canadian speedster also grabbed the 70.3 World Championship title in 2006, which granted her the opportunity to try her first Ironman distance race in Kona the following year. Since then, there's been no turning back from all disances for McGlone, aside from spending more time on the sidelines than at the races last year due to injury. And it makes you wonder if the pros are onto something in participating in endurance races close together--maybe that one makes you stronger for the next?--or if they're just as superhuman as they often seem.

But back to Arizona. The 30-year-old McGlone did not have a stellar swim by any means, leaving the water eight minutes behind (58:58) then-leader Leanda Cave (50:10). But it was on the bike where McGlone excelled, turning in the only sub-five-hour bike split (4:56:48) among the leaders and jumping near the head of the pack. With Cave ahead going into the run, it didn't take long for McGlone to pass her and take the lead on the run. But while Cave faltered, McGlone had to hold off second-place finisher Linsey Corbin who was quickly gaining on her as she aimed for a three-hour marathon. Had it not been for a four-minute penalty somewhere along the bike course, Corbin would have challenged McGlone for a sprint the finish as Corbin ran a 3:04 to McGlone's 3:10 to finish in 9:13:46, just 4:28 behind the winner. Kate Major nabbed third in 9:20:12, holding off Gina Kehr who pushed up to fourth over the run.

And an update on the men's finish: Turns out that Jordan Rapp's finish line also crushed a course record that was also set in 2006. Rapp's 8:13 bested Michael Lovato's 8:20:56. Congrats to the men and women at Ironman Arizona as the rest of the racers roll in! Check out the coverage here. Posted by Kate

A Rapp of a Race at Ironman Arizona

How could you say you spent eight hours and 13 minutes? That's an average night's sleep for some, or the hours spent behind a desk for others. Or you could say, "I ate breakfast, worked out, ran errands, had lunch, watched TV..." and the laundry list goes on. But for Jordan Rapp, he can say he spent the time racing Ironman and cruising to his second Ironman title and his first at Ironman Arizona.

The 29-year-old from Scarborough, N.Y., had quite the triathlon race day in Tempe. Tenth out of the swim (50:49), Rapp charged to the head of the pack on the bike and never looked back, only lengthening his lead on the run. His bike split for the 112 miles was 4:22:30 and his run was 2:55:45. Not that you can compare the two races on equal terms, but Rapp's 8:13:35 finish time in Arizona bests his winning time at Ironman Canada in August (8:25:13).

The crazy part about Rapp's win? He's getting married next week. Looks like this departure from the wedding planning was a smart idea though. Not only does he get his 2010 Kona berth, but he said that now he can take his almost-wife triathlete Jill Savege on a honeymoon.

Although Rapp continued to build on his lead over the 26.2 miles, he was being chased by T.J. Tollakson, Richie Cunningham and others. Tollakson mirrored his 2009 Ironman Coeur d'Alene finish by grabbing second in 8:20:22, but he didn't have the lead taken away from him in the final steps to the finish line. Instead he was able to hold off third-place finisher Torsten Abel, who crossed next in 8:20:39 after passing Richie Cunningham in the last miles.

As Rapp celebrates his win, the professional women are finishing up their marathon. Samantha McGlone is currently leading with Linsey Corbin pushing just behind her. Stay tuned for more or follow the details at Photo grabbed from thomas pix at flickr. Posted by Kate

P.S. I'm trying to finally get updated with some Fit-Ink love. It's been a rough November and not even from not wanting to write...I feel like it's the December holiday season already with either too much going on (or so it seems) or the hours flying by.

Friday, November 13, 2009

From Restaurant to Race Course, Rocco DiSpirito Does Triathlon

He preached healthy eating on The Biggest Loser, transformed from a chef flab to a chef fab most likely thanks to a healthier diet and activity outside the kitchen, but until earlier this year I never pegged Rocco DiSpirito as a triathlete. There's no good answer as to why--chefs who run are featured in Runner's World all the time and a handful just completed the New York City Marathon--but it just happened. Forget the reality failure that was The Restaurant, DiSpirito has easily been putting energy into his next triathlon venture as proven by his updates to Twitter and requests for training suggestions. And this weekend the training comes to a close when he arrives at the start line at the fourth annual Foster Grant Ironman World Championships 70.3 in Clearwater, Fla.

On November 14, DiSpirito joins more than 1,500 athletes who qualified at 70.3 races spanning the globe by finishing near the top of their age groups. They'll all swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles and run 13.1 miles in less than seven and a half hours.

"I am thrilled to have this opportunity to compete in the Ironman World Championship 70.3 event," DiSpirito said in a press release. "I look forward to participating amongst some of the world's most talented athletes."

This isn't DiSpirito's first foray at the 70.3 distance, nor in triathlon as a whole. He last competed the 2007 St. Croix Ironman 70.3 as well as the 2007 Nautica Malibu Triathlon (J-Lo and Teri Hatcher have competed in this one in the past).

The accomplished chef and author not only stands out in the kitchen, but also as an athlete. DiSpirito's triathlon experience consists of participating in a variety of events including the 2007 St Croix Ironman 70.3 and the 2007 Nautica Malibu Triathlon, presented by Toyota. How he does it while managing his schedule as a chef is beyond me. One thing is for sure: those post-workout snacks are some tasty feasts.

Track DiSpirito's race progress as well as the other competitors at Posted by Kate

Back in the Saddle

Whoa, there partner! This here is one hitching post I have to mosey back to. You could have posted a reward and gone empty-handed looking for me--going with the western theme, my horse was out to pasture (or is that a cow?). Nah, it's really this silly western theme that needs to be put out to pasture.

You know how you have those days--or weeks or months--where you can't drag yourself to the gym or through a workout to save your life? Well, take that scenario and apply it to me and writing. That blog block that I faced over the summer hit me again in the past few weeks, and as much as I tried to write, the words weren't coming. I rarely have the lack of workout motivation unless I have to tackle a long marathon-training run and usually end up at the gym in hopes of firing up the energy, motivation and inspiration to work on the other projects on the schedule. That run or ride works my leg muscles to fatigue while firing up the mind muscles. Except this time. Halloween hit and it's like the ghosts scared my writing muscles away.

Whatever the case, I'm back to the grind and back to Fit-Ink, determined to force words out of my fingers. I figured if I can push through tiring miles, combat the pain from tough uphill climbs or finishing a workout even when I feel sick, I can blast through the block. Plus if I let my writing go the way of so many fitness goals we have at the start of each year, Fit-Ink would be no better than those abandoned machines and less-crowded classes that fill each New Year. Scroll back in the next few days as I finish the posts I started after Halloween but couldn't publish. Photo grabbed from eric.surfdude at flickr. Posted by Kate

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Fit-Pic: Nike Human Race

When I first heard about this year's Nike Human Race, I was all over it, even though Nike wasn't holding a mass event in the Windy City this time around. It didn't cost a cent, unless I somehow missed something in the race announcement, and I could do it virtually if it wasn't being held in my city. Considering the race date, October 24, I could understand why it wasn't making a Chicago stop--it wouldn't make sense. This city's runners would have been burned out by the marathon held only two weeks before, and this new race date would be competing with some Halloween, fall festive mainstays. To me, I could care less. All I needed was my running shoes and I could go out and do the run on my own. And in a city that only gets more and more crowded with runners (hey, I'm not complaining about that, only about the lack of free parking spots at a city race site), I could do without the crowds. Not having to be clocked helped too because I doubted my abilities to be fast two weeks after running a PR.

But in the Human Race's 24 cities that did hold organized events, New York City being one of them, the runners came out in droves. Wouldn't you if you knew that other runners would be running on the same day and time? Check out this sea of red from Nike's Human Race, running the streets of Brooklyn.
 Lining up at the start line.

 More than 3,000 runners took to the roads through Brooklyn.

Finishing the 6.2 miles in the company of others at Prospect Park.

I think these runners finished far earlier in the day than me. I did my Human Race run virtually but had to cram it into a jam-packed day with my sister visiting from California. My non-running, thinks-I'm-crazy sister. So what did I do after gorging on dinner at her must-eat-while-in-Chicago spot? I hopped on the treadmill and went for a the dark, by myself. Did you run? 

Photos courtesy of Nike Human Race.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

New York Goes Hollywood

The paparazzi need to leave Tinsel Town for the weekend and focus their lenses on New York City instead. OK so New York has its own fleet of cameras tracking the celebs, but they'll need to be out in full force come Sunday's ING New York City Marathon. Why? Because one look at the race's roster and you'll recognize famous names from elites to age-groupers. People always say New York does things bigger and better, and well, this is definitely bigger. With a race cap of 40,000 runners, this race gets close to that number toeing the line on Staten Island (I'm convinced the lottery and race appeal helps with that). And among those 40,000 runners, you'll definitely find famous faces--like Puff Daddy/P. Diddy/Sean Combs/Diddy in 2003 and Katie Holmes in 2007. It's almost like hanging out in Hollywood. Keep your eye out for some of these names running the boroughs of New York on November 1.
  • Tara Costa. I was psyched months ago when Costa, a finalist on The Biggest Loser's seventh season, announced that she was going to run New York. Now I'm just as excited to see how well she runs--I'm hoping she beats her time from the race she ran on the show and am thinking it's a possibility since the last 26.2 only had four weeks of training and included running through the sand to finish.
  • Brian Boyle. If you watched the coverage of the 2007 Ironman World Championships or the 2008 Ironman 70.3 World Championships, you'll remember Boyle as the young man in the horrific car accident who was thankful to be alive after dying on the operating table eight times. He finished both of those races as well as several others in between those championships and since, too. I can't decide what I love more about Boyle: the fact that he recently released a book sharing his story or that the New York race will be his third marathon in less than a month. He ran the marathon at the Under Armour Baltimore Running Festival on October 10, then the Marine Corps Marathon on October 25 and now New York on November 1. No wonder he's titled his book Iron Heart.
  • Ed Norton. This actor admits he's never run a marathon before, also claiming that before now he's pretty much only run as a means to something else and not just to run. Running for the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust, he has already raised more than $280,000.
  • Anthony Edwards. The ER alum won't have to worry about a call schedule or medical emergency get in the way of his marathon dreams. But his thoughts won't drift too far from the medical field--he's raising money for shoe4africa to build the first public children's hospital in Kenya.
  • Alanis Morissette. She only ran her first marathon a few weeks ago at the Bizz Johnson Trail Marathon in northern California, but she must have enjoyed the distance enough to be a late-entry into this race. Man, it's good to be a celebrity and have that opportunity. Morissette ran her first marathon to raise awareness on eating disorders and this time she joins Ed Norton and running with the Maasai warriors.
  • Matthew Reeve. The name Matthew Reeve might not stand out on its own, but add Christopher and Dana Reeve to the equation and it does. Reeve is running and fundraising for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, and he'll sport bib No. 1275 to represent the 1,275 million people living with spinal cord injuries.
  • Peter Sagal. The NPR voice of Wait Wait Don't Tell Me has made his mark on the Chicago Marathon on numerous occasions and will surely have some tales after tackling New York.
  • Ryan Sutter. Famous as the guy the first Bachelorette Trista Rehn fell in love with, married and started a family, Sutter adds another marathon to his resume.
  • David Blaine. I'm not sure if or how Blaine might bring his illusion craft to a 26.2 mile race, but it'll definitely be one sure test of endurance. He's also running for the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust.
Other famous names include Donal Logue, Sarah Jones, James LeGros, Dan Jansen, Pat LaFontaine, Brennan Swain, Ian Rosenberger, Nikolai Fraiture and Pieter Christiaan Michiel. Camera worthy? For sure, especially if you're spectating. You could get more celeb glimpses in New York than Hollywood this Sunday. Photo grabbed from Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust. Posted by Kate

Friday, October 30, 2009

New York 09: Where the Elite Come to Race

You know there's always at least one recognizable name among the elite field at the major marathons--New York, London, Chicago, Boston start the list rolling--but never do you find a race as stacked as the 2009 ING New York City Marathon. Rather than lone rangers to watch for, you have elite armies and it's a question of who has the faster legs on November 1 that's deciding the victor. Celebrating its 40th anniversary, the New York City Marathon is holding nothing back. The loaded elite field has been touted by as the best elite marathon race in America, and a group of past race champions have been invited back to run a race that put them in the history annals. You can't miss these names running the boroughs of New York--most will be near the front of the pack.
  • Paula Radcliffe. Radcliffe has won New York before, most recently last year, and holds the world record for the fastest women's marathon, which she set at Chicago in 2002 and lowered it in London in 2003.
  • Ryan Hall. Hall-elujah fever hits New York and Central Park will be going crazy when Hall approaches the finish line, gunning for a winning race if all goes well.
  • Meb Keflezighi. Known for his bronze medal in the Olympics marathon in Athens, Keflezighi can turn out a good run on this course as he's proven so before.
  • Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot. This 2009 Boston Marathon winner has shown he's fast in the past and may have scared some of his competitors by being a late entry to New York.
  • Salina Koskei. She surprised everyone by winning this year's Boston Marathon and pulling ahead of Kara Goucher and Dire Tune in the final stretch.
  • Brian Sell. At one point it was announced that this 2008 Olympian would be making his NYC Marathon debut. Although most likely bothered by the heat and humidity in Beijing, Sell usually puts up impressive times, but he may have to run a personal-best if everyone runs fast on Sunday.
  • Abdi Abdirahman. Abdirahman's name frequently pops up as a fast 10-miler, but he's not snail at the marathon.
  • Past champions: Rod Dixon, Hendrick Raamala, Steve Jones, Orlando Pizzolato, Marilson Gomes dos Santos, German Silva, Gary Muhrcke. Raamala and Gomes dos Santos stand the best chance of capturing the $70,000 bonus for any returning NYC champion who wins this 40th running. Muhrke won the first running back in 1970 and returns to conquer the course again at age 69.
  • Lyudmila Petrova. Petrova is no spring chicken, but at 41, she's showing no signs of falling to the back of the pack. Last year she finished second in NYC and broke the world's best time for women over 40 with her 2:25:43.
  • Magdalena Lewy-Boulet. This 2008 Olympian ran fast enough in Boston in 2008 to make the Olympic team and stands as the U.S. hope for a top finish.
  • Joan Benoit Samuelson. "Joanie" as she's affectionately called by friends and admirers has paced for Lance Armstrong at this race while also running it on her own. And with the 40th anniversary of the New York Marathon coinciding withthe 25th anniversary of her gold medal performance in the first women's Olympic Marathon, Los Angeles in 1984, she's back.
And for those running--to say you shared the course with this field will make many a runner jealous. There aren't many races where so many top runners past and present make a presence--maybe Boston with its rich history and qualification standards. But the eye is on New York this time of year. Photo of Paula Radcliffe at NikeTown New York at the pre-race pep rally, courtesy of Nike. Posted by Kate

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Songs for a Spooky Spin or Sprint

With Halloween just days away, it's no wonder the costume store around the corner stays open later, the candy is flying off the shelves and haunted houses are the talk of the town. But it wouldn't be the holiday without a little theme music. And we're not talking about music playing on the car radio, at the costume party or through the store. Try during a workout--tunes to bring out the ghouls, witches and vampires on the run or the bike. My friend compiled these songs for a Spooky Spin planned at the gym tonight after searching the internet and Spinning websites for Halloween ideas. Maybe a few will make it onto your playlist?

Theme from 'Halloween'
Theme from 'The Exorcist'
Pearl Jam - Black
Nine Inch Nails – Dead Souls
Siouxsie and the Banshees – Halloween
Ministry – Every Day is Halloween
David Bowie - Scary Monsters
The Specials - Ghost Town
AC/DC - Highway To Hell
Beck - Devil's Haircut
Van Halen - Runnin’ With the Devil
Rob Zombie - Meet the Creeper
The Cramps - I Was a Teenage Werewolf
The Ramones - Pet Semetary
The White Stripes - Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground
Smashing Pumpkins - any song would work
Warren Zevon - Werewolves of London
Vampire Weekend - any song would work
INXS - Devil Inside
Limp Bizkit - Take a Look Around
Pendulum - Slam
Pendulum - Midnight Runner
Rolling Stones/Fatboy Slim - Sympathy for the Devil (8 minute version)
Beatniks - Sabre Dance
Gorillaz - Clint Eastwood
The Police - Spirits in the Material World

Michael Jackson's Thriller also comes to mind as a perennial favorite, but in light of his death might not be the best to play this year. And then I can't help but think about oldies like the Monster Mash.

But everywhere you turn, the spirit of Halloween lurks from the grocery store to the gym. The gym, you ask? Yes, it's an odd place to conjure up ghosts and goblins--unless it's haunted--but mine is one spot where the Spinning instructors decided it'd be fun to hold Spooky Spins. Calorie deficit to splurge on those spooky treats, fun size candy bars and handfuls of candy corn, and creative license to devise a costume that works while sweating or doesn't look odd while wearing cycling shorts. The music is the easy part for the Spooky Spin, it's the costume where I'm running into problems. Photo grabbed from manitou2121 at flickr. Posted by Kate

From Big Apple to Belfast

Running this weekend's New York City Marathon but already have your eyes set on running another 26.2 after the ground thaws? Not running in NYC but searching for a spring marathon to keep your legs busy this winter? Even if you can't answer yes to these questions, you might reconsider once you hear that Belfast, Northern Ireland's capital, wants you to run its Belfast City Marathon on May 3, 2010. So much so that runners participating in the New York City Marathon and across the globe will have the chance to enter to win an all-expenses-paid trip across the Atlantic.

NYC Marathoners can meet race organizers from Sport Northern Ireland at the NYC Marathon Health & Fitness Expo and submit their entry for a chance to win. Find the Belfast City Marathon at booth 108 in the Javits Center and enter any time during the expo's hours from Thursday, October 29 at 9 a.m. to Saturday, October 31 at 5 p.m. In addition to on-site contest entry at the Expo, runners everywhere can enter online at www.belfastcitymarathon. Two lucky winners will be announced November 9, 2009.

Still not convinced? Running in Belfast doesn't necessarily mean running another marathon. The race, celebrating its 29th running, prides itself on offering a marathon walk, wheelchair race, team relay and 3-mile fun run in addition to the marathon, although a 26.2-mile journey is never a bad way to tour a city (or at least this marathoner thinks so). Held on a Monday, May 3 is also a bank holiday, which means plenty of spectators for the 18,000 runners. Save 10 percent by signing up for the race at the NYC Marathon expo--perfect if you already know you want to run or know that you don't stand a chance at winning contests (that luck of the Irish just never goes your way) but still want to run and save some dough. And a vacation with a run built in--excuse enough for me--never disappoints. Maybe some soreness or blisters afterward but checking out Ireland's countryside makes it all worth it. Photos grabbed from Belfast City Online. Posted by Kate

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Short Report: Kate's Chicago Marathon

If your legs can be set on cruise control, mine definitely were dialed in at the Chicago Marathon. They kicked in as I crossed the start line on Columbus Ave. just after 7:30 a.m. and eased to a stop after crossing the finish line further south on Columbus after a roundabout city tour. No speed increase or sprint in the final 0.2 mile with the finish line in sight. No walking breaks through a water station, to catch my breath and reevaluate my strategy, or to stretch my tight calves. My Nike+ SportBand proves it too...when I synced the results post-race, my speed clocked at each dot on the screen (roughly each mile) was nearly the same across the board and formed one of the straightest lines I've seen when plotting race results. But no complaints because my race ended the exact way I thought was impossible after the season I've had. Instead of clocking a race that would only be special for the fact that it was my 10th Chicago Marathon in a row--something I was determined to notch even if I had to walk the entire 26.2--the race turned into my personal best.

And more than a personal best as shown by the time: weather conditions, physical well-being and mental toughness were more than on par. Cold weather--my favorite--and unnoticeable wind, if any. Even the sun stayed around. Leg pains that have ailed me since June were nonexistent. And hip pains aggravated by the pavement pounding never arrived. Hitting the mental wall and not wanting to run anymore never happened. And as shocked as I am to present it, these had to help with the 3:38:24, a Boston qualifier, on the board. Right?

I still don't know. I've over-analyzed, over-thought and over-examined the day's events in my head a million times to the point where I've over-exhausted the race and how I did or didn't prepare. It's only a marathon but yet all the forces collided for what I'd like to think was a near-perfect race day that I keep thinking that something had to go wrong somewhere but I just didn't notice it. And in hopes of keeping this success-track running, I'm writing it all down to repeat in the future (i.e. April's Boston Marathon where I've never had a good race although I partially chalk that up to training or lack of training through a Chicago winter). Or remember when I have another off training season. But I have to add a disclaimer not to try this on your own. I don't know how or why I ran as I did after not being able run--and barely walk--only a month ago after yanking my left left through 13.1 miles at the Rock N Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon. But while grateful and elated, something has to be amiss. Not sure as to what but this type of race strategy should be shunned.

But hey, Chicago Marathon No. 10 is in the books. From the pre-race 10 I displayed before darting into the start corrals (top photo) to what my mom likes to call the Miss America wave pose when I ran past my parents at mile 17 feeling far better than I had at that point in the last two years (middle photo). And then flashing that 10 again with my 10th medal around my neck and a smile on my face since I felt like I did the impossible (bottom photo).

As for all the details, I still have to wrap-up the long, drawn out version. But stay tuned as this is one race I want to remember. Posted by Kate

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Make Marathon Miles--Or Any Distance--Faster

Have a need for speed? Searching for more marathon motivation or a way to get to the finish line with your personal best? Want advice that can stick with you or three ways to prepare your body and your mind for the challenge? It's not every day a coach offers up free tips--while we wish it was the case, more often than not we learn through trial-and-error, a training program or personal coach, or reading material--but Mike Thomson of CoreFitness Chicago, a coach, leader of Core Running classes and a Boston Marathon-qualifier, has some speedy secrets. And he let Fit-Ink learn three key rules, applicable to the marathon as well as any race on your schedule.

Visualize. Racing is 10 percent physical and 90 percent mental, so you want to know the race inside and out. Learn the course, its turns, its hills, its hydration stations and picture yourself running the route before the race. Then come race day when you hit a steep uphill, brace for a descent, or know that you need to refuel at miles 6, 12 and 18, your mind has already been there.

Taper volume, not speed. In the week leading up to the race you want to keep your speed but reduce the amount of training. Keep the epic workouts at bay especially those long runs and century spins. But do continue at the same intensity so you'll have that speed on race day.

Ban the expo eating. Free food? Who wouldn't turn that down? Well, you might want to if you don't want to mess with race performance. All of those energy bars, gels and gummies are great for giving you energy during a race or long ride, but that sugar high can spike insulin levels and dump glycogen if you're just sitting around. Don't use the expo as a grocery store unless you're stocking up for during or after the race.

That's not to say that these are the three golden rules of a fast race performance. Training, sleep and a good diet have to be present too or you might find yourself drifting off pace in the final miles. Or start off too quickly because you feel great (maybe leftover sugar-high from expo nibbling) and then sputtering at the end. Whatever the case, it's all about smart racing and smart prep. Posted by Kate

Monday, October 26, 2009

Halloween Costume Find from the Race Course

Non-running friends always say running 26.2 miles sounds so boring, and then they ask, "How can you run and keep your mind occupied?" My answer? People watch, especially keeping my eyes out for the crazy costumes and get-ups that runners, walkers and even spectators devise. These costume-clad folk also provide great inspiration for Halloween.

So if you're still in need of a Halloween costume, especially so you don't have to whip out the same tired bunny ears or ladybug wings (that's me) for each party this year, consider these options. Heck, if someone can pull it off for 26.2 miles, surely you can wear it for a few hours.

Green man. Before I read about the "Green Man" phenomenon on ESPN, he ran past me at the Chicago Marathon. Here I am, running down Wells near Chicago Ave., heading back into the Loop, and green spandex comes flying by. I say flying because this runner was totally having fun out there with his arms and legs floating out as he moved by. And I couldn't help but think he had a smart wardrobe choice on that chilly morning with the extra tights layer--but he was sweating a bit down his back and I can only imagine that navigation could get a bit tough at times, having to peer through a green screen.

Cow. I swear this is one of the more popular costumes on the running path, I see at least one of these every year--maybe not always in a marathon but the cows definitely leave the pasture for one of Chicago's Halloween-themed races, Pumpkins in the Park, or the Trick or Treat Trot.

Banana. This is one peel you won't have to worry about slipping on. Maybe it's partially spurred by the Jamba Juice Bananaman, or maybe it's just an old promotion to see if you can run faster than a banana, but in the past I've seen pre-race announcements that encourage you to keep you eye out for banana runners on the course and to run faster than them. Some make the running look easier while others struggle to move their legs past a waddle with that peel confining their strides.

Male genitalia. Not the most glamorous costume but talk about eye-catching. I didn't believe this one until Time Out Chicago found a picture of a runner sporting this get-up in the Chicago Marathon. And at the 2007 race nonetheless where the last thing you wanted was to don a costume in the sweltering heat.

Bride and Groom. At the Las Vegas Marathon, brides and grooms can tie the knot at a wedding chapel along the course so it's not uncommon to see makeshift tuxes and dresses or the real thing. But you'll also spot couples donning their formal wear--or a similar shout out to wedding day attire--at other races too.

Liver. Not so much costume as mascot for the American Liver Foundation, this pink, felt-like organ replica sticks out along the sidelines at several Chicago races.

Soccer game. I wish I had a picture of this one, but this costume was on the Chicago Marathon course years ago and it stuck out enough for me to remember it. A man had constructed a miniature soccer game on a board game that he affixed atop his head, complete with mini players, a net and a ball. Think fuseball for a pretty accurate representation. I honestly can't remember the rest of the outfit beyond a soccer jersey I was so fascinated with the headpiece.

Kitchen appliances. This image says it's based off a Threadless T-shirt that features a refrigerator running, and the more I stare at it the less real and more PhotoShop'd it looks. But a big box and some construction paper could make for a refrigerator, oven and range, or a microwave.

Name That Super Hero. Superman, Captain America, Wonder Woman...if you need even more of an excuse to wear tights, the marathon is it. Plus you can wear a cape and stand out for the crowd. And if you didn't think you were super human already for running the marathon, donning the costume really solidifies the feat.

Elvis. If anyone wants to shed light on the running Elvi phenomenon, please do, but Elvis jumpsuits always make an appearance on the race route. Chicago has a 5K devoted to Elvis each August, Elvis Is Alive, and at one time the Las Vegas Marathon promoted the running Elvi mixing in with the throngs of runners. This Elvis even used his jumpsuit's belt as a fuel belt.

Chicken. You know you can ride a pony but how about a hen? This runner tried during the 2007 Chicago Marathon, and according to the Flickr caption he didn't even see this custom-made costume until just before the race. I wonder if he kept it to wear at Halloween parties because it's too elaborate for one-time use.

Yoda. Or any other Star Wars characters--Han Solo would be a relatively easy one--are always good for a costume. And like the superheroes can help to boost your spirits when you hit the wall, Yoda's fight scene moves (Episode II sticks out in my mind) can also strengthen those down miles. Plus isn't it too cool to get to carry a light sabre?

The Nina, the Pinta or the Santa Maria. I couldn't believe this photo when I found it on flickr, but at the 2003 Chicago Marathon, three runners donned boats and 15th century outfits for their 26.2. Let's just hope it didn't take them as long to finish the race as it did to cross the Atlantic.

Papa Smurf. I grew up watching The Smurfs on Saturday morning TV, so when I spotted this costume from the London Marathon, it needed a call out. I recognized Papa Smurf even before I saw the blue body paint. That's a dare alright--how would that blue not sweat off?

Any other fun costume ideas? I'm all ears, as I have both a Spooky Spin on Thursday and a Halloween Spin on Saturday to find costumes for. And the ladybug can't come out again--not only did I wear it last year, but the wings flap too much on the bike. Photos grabbed from Mike F., digital_grid, japx, Andrew Swanson, Fuzzy Gerdes, cshimala, greg kellerman, mrtopp, aL!!!, bobcaroline, MissKubelik, kyleroth and Blitzy72 at Posted by Kate

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Few, The Proud, The Marine Corps Marathon

Another major marathon rocked the nation's capital this morning--the Marine Corps Marathon celebrated its 34th running with a field of roughly 21,000 toeing the line, pretty good for a race that capped participation at 30,000 runners. I'm too focused on running Chicago earlier in October to take part in this east coast classic, but it's definitely on the radar screen.

My college friends have a knack for moving east, especially Washington, D.C., leaving me to learn more about the area and its events in hopes of participating when I visit. First it was my roommate, who after one year post-graduation decided it was time to go to grad school and packed up and moved to the capital. And for some reason I've always remembered two things she told me about the relocation: how there are a lot of Northwestern alums and that the D.C. running scene seemed so much different from the Chicago one. And this is before she became a runner, but even she picked up on the trend that left only a few road races able to run the streets of the capital city (although the Washington Running Report makes me think times have changed a little) and of those, it was nearly impossible to gain entry if you hesitated because registration closed as quickly as it opened. And D.C. folks can correct me if I'm wrong, but the Cherry Blossom 10 in the spring, and the fall's Army 10-Miler and Marine Corps Marathon fill in a heartbeat. But when race-day comes, that's thousands of enthusiastic runners, many of whom are local because they've learned these sign-up secrets, trekking the D.C. streets and reveling in a capital city tour.

That certainly held true this morning at the 34th running of the Marine Corps Marathon, a 26.2-miler that's gained recognition among the ranks of New York, Chicago and Boston as a must-do race. And for those that battled the heat and humidity during those summer long runs, they finally had a chance to show what their bodies are made of with much more desirable race-day temps in the high 50s and low 60s. Forget heat-altered performances like a Runner's World article explored this summer--talk about making a runner slogging through elevated temperatures at Chicago in '07 and '08, and Grandma's Marathon '09 feel better about a slow performance. The wind behaved itself on race day with gusts not pushing levels that Marine Corps Marathon runners have faced in the past--I remember a friend running the 2006 race and was going great until the final miles where she felt like she was running through a wind wall. I've been there on my bike this summer and wouldn't want to repeat it on my feet.

Anyway...for this year's classic, Andrew Dumm was trying to defend his 2008 title, where he crossed first in 2:22:44--in his first marathon nonetheless. But it was another first-timer who took home the victory in 2009. John Mentzer, a Navy lieutenant commander, crossed first in 2:21:47, just edging out Air Force Capt. Jacob Johnson. That's one cool part about races in the Washington D.C. area--both Marine Corps and the Army 10-Miler fill with speedy service men and women. For the women, Cate Fenster, who was also running her first marathon, won the 2008 race in 2:48:55 but was not toeing the line to defend. With the female field wide open, Muliye Gurme of Ethiopia won in 2:49:48, capturing the lead over Air Force Capt. Jayme Marty in the final two kilometers. Check out more about how the top finishers fare at the Washington Times.

As for what else happened as the 26.2 miles went down...I'll be adding to this report as I learn more, and check on the progress of how some Team in Training athletes did. Tune in for more, but in the meantime, check out the race-day results and news at Semper Fi! Photo of winner John Mentzer grabbed from the Washington Times. Posted by Kate

Thursday, October 22, 2009

How To...Dress for a Cold-Weather Marathon

Brrr, it's cold outside. When there's a chill in the air and you're supposed to be running 26.2 miles, it's no longer a matter of how to stay cool on the course but how to prevent those muscles from freezing or the entire body from chilling. It may seem like a hotter race would be dealer's choice, but as an article in Runner's World pointed out this summer, our bodies perform better when it's cooler. Maybe not at freezing temperatures--the information presented uses 50 degrees as ideal--but we can expect times to slow as the mercury rises.

Enough about mercury rising though, as most of the fall marathons are having uncharacteristic lows come race day. Chicago? 33 degrees at the start, warming to 36. Detroit? 28 degrees at the start, rising to roughly 41 by 10 a.m. Twin Cities? 46 at the start and warming to 50. And don't forget the snow that's already made appearances in Colorado, Minnesota, Massachusetts and more.

But with this cold temps the question becomes, what do I wear on race day? You need suggestions and we have answers.
  • Arm warmers. All the rage these days, retailers from Nike to Sugoi and Asics to lululemon have these sleeves on the shelves. Affordable, adjustable and available in various thicknesses for degrees of warmth, you can't go wrong with these on race day. Slip them on as an added layer when you get dressed in the morning and peel them down around your wrists when you warm up--forget fumbling with pulling a shirt over your head and tying it around your waist. Plus even the elite runners--Kara Goucher donned them at the Boston Marathon and Ryan Hall swears by his pair, promising to bring them when he runs New York in a few weeks--wear them during cold races so there has to be some merit, and cool factor.
  • Hat. You probably learned long ago that heat escapes through your head, so wearing a hat would be the obvious choice to keep you warm on a chilly day. Only problem is that after a while it can also make you hot, trapping in all that extra heat. Still a hat is easy to stuff into a pocket or your waistband, and easily replaceable without breaking the bank if you lose it along the route.
  • Headband. Is the hat keeping you too warm? Know that you're an overheater but get cold ears? Keep the head cool but the ears warm with a headband. Also good at concealing headphones, but luckily we don't have to worry about that as much anymore since the USATF raised the headphones ban and most races have welcomed them back into races.
  • Gloves. The extremities are the first body parts to get chilled. And handling all of that cold water and Gatorade/Powerade/Cytomax/etc. at the aid stations can make them even worse. You don't need to go all-out and get fancy gloves for the occasion--the $1 or so variety from the drugstore (the woolly kind) hold up to the elements and are easily replaceable if you drop one on the road. The only downfall is they make it more difficult to adjust an iPod's volume and dig for Sport Beans in a pouch. But warm digits are better than numb ones.
  • Sweats. I'm all about staying warm before the gun goes off, but I hate parting with a favorite sweatshirt or having to track down a replacement for the sweatpants I just left on the side of the road. While it takes a little planning--or spare time come race week or weekend, depending on how close to race day the weather takes a chilling turn--a visit to Goodwill or the Salvation Army for a discounted pair of sweats, or even a blanket, can provide cheap comfort at the start. And you're even doing a little recycling with whatever you leave in the start corrals and along Columbus Drive--the clothing is donated after it's swept up. Or a runner staying at my parents' hotel claimed he purchased his sweats for $4 at Walgreens around the corner. That's not a bad deal either.
  • Space blanket. Because I hate parting with my clothing and I never make it to the Salvation Army for a pre-race outfit, I've devised a different method that works for me. I come armed with a space blanket that I've acquired from a previous race. My mom thinks I'm nuts for saving them, but I only have one in my stash--and it folds up flat and tiny in the drawer--and I bring it out in the cold weather. It's wrapped tightly around my legs until I shed my fleeces and then I wrap it over my shoulders to cover my arms too. The only problem is tossing it to the side when I'm ready to leave it at the start line: this year I tried to toss it to the curb but the blanket flew up in the air and glided onto another runner's head. While it was great for this race, I think my mom tossed the one I acquired at the finish line, foiling my plan for the next chilly day.
Do you have other items that keep you warm before and during a race? Share your ideas in the comments. Photo of gloves grabbed from Posted by Kate

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I Heart CorePower Yoga

I never thought I'd be saying I was hooked on yoga. Not just any yoga though--it has to be CorePower Yoga. That's the only yoga I've ever found myself wanting to go to on a regular basis--and it's not just the free week of unlimited classes to first timers that has me hooked. The stretching? Feels sooo good, especially after crampy legs post-marathon. The sweating? Awesome, and gives me the type of workout I crave (one where I have to change my clothes afterward because the others are soaked). The moves? Challenging for this inflexible runner, but beneficial in the long run.

And this comes from someone who was turned off from yoga after a sour experience a few years ago where the thrill of having a class of two was ruined by an instructor who wasn't too keen about my inflexibility. I thought I'd be getting more instruction with only me and another student in class but instead I get singled out. Instructor corrects position. Glances at my feet and notices a round of dry skin and blisters that are part of marathon aftermath. Asks, "Are you a runner?" I answer yes, thinking this means I'll receive more help getting pushed into the right moves. Instead, "Oh, that explains everything." And I feel shunned for the remainder of class and want nothing more but to leave or burrow my head in shame, as I kind of do with each return to down dog, feeling instructor's eyes staring at my poor stance and feeling like trying doesn't even count. Sure I may have misinterpreted the instructor but I never wanted to return for fear it would happen all over again.

That's where CorePower Yoga comes in, bringing comfort back to those up and down dogs and making me feel less intimidated even when I'm sweating more than everyone in class and struggle through each move. Everyone is so focused on their practice--with the exception of the instructor whose sharp eye knows when to push my back into a proper down dog or suggest I slide my foot forward for more of a lunge and better balance--they could care less about how I'm three steps behind and making the sweat squeak as I slide my feet across my mat to warrior two. My sister keyed me in to CorePower's addicting forces over the summer when she started attending classes in San Diego. Knowing that I'll try just about anything involving fitness, she suggested I check out the Chicago studios. Due to my previous experience and reluctance about being embarrassed again, I opted to wait until Chicago's second location opened so close to my house I really couldn't avoid going.

But it was a blessing in disguise. Not only did I feel like I was sweating toxins out of my body (most likely thanks to rich desserts at the Cubs games the night before) at my first C2 class, but I could feel the moves stretching all of my trouble spots that sent me straight into physical therapy. Talk about feeling limber. And sore, too. My body often doesn't flow in those directions, and positions like boat work my core to the point of break down. Break down because before CorePower I fooled myself into thinking I had a relatively strong core thanks to running and cycling--so not true when I can't even mimic the rowing boat motion when my torso and legs without flopping over and giving up, or hold my legs a few inches off the ground and scissor kick, an exercise that came easily when I was 13 and doing the same exercise during drylands at swim practice. That's not even touching on my trust factor, which poses a problem when it comes to believing my hands and forearms can support my body weight in the crow position.

Even if I can't touch my toes and my dancer looks less graceful and more glued to the ground, C2 is strengthening my body. My ailing calf feels better like it does after a physical therapy session, my abs seem tighter thanks to all of those chairs and crunch-like moves, and my hips finally lost their stiffness during the warriors and lunges. I'll even take the cracking in the joints later in the day as a positive sign. But I'll admit I was relieved when the last few minutes of the hour or 75 minutes hit and it was cool down time--lying still on the mat and doing a few easy stretches never felt so good. No complaints, it's definitely a class to add to the repertoire.

Need more convincing? Stay tuned for the experts' insight on CorePower Yoga and its benefits. Photo grabbed from lululemon athletica at flickr. Posted by Kate


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...