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.


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