Saturday, January 30, 2010

Miles for Miss America

"She's got style, she's got grace..." Oh wait that's Miss United States from Miss Congeniality. But with Miss America 2010 being decided tonight, I'm not too far off, and I swear I saw a snippet of the Sandra Bullock flick on TV during the afternoon. Like the fictional Miss United States, Miss America has more than style and grace--she and all of the state contestants vying for the title have enviable bodies that seemingly make onlookers either drool or get jealous. They have some facts that separate them from the crowd, both those in this year's competition and previous ones. And my slightly selfish excitement stems from finding those with a fitness fact listed among their many accomplishments.

Take Miss California, Kristy Cavinder for example. Not only does she have dreams of becoming a doctor, but she's also training for her first marathon. She was also named the first runner up after Miss Virginia Caressa Cameron was named Miss America 2010.

Or check out the bio on Miss New Mexico, Nicole Miner. She serves as a run mentor with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training program. And we're not just talking about making appearances at events. Miner has run three half marathons and one full marathon with Team in Training and has mentored five women as they took on the challenge to run the P.F. Chang Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon in Phoenix two weeks ago.

Miss Hawaii, Raeceen Woolford, may not have the marathon miles like Miss California or Miss New Mexico, but she does have an impressive team sports resume--I wouldn't be surprised if I just couldn't dig up running accomplishments on her. This scholar athlete at the University of Hawaii - Manoa is simply high on active endeavors. She's surfed since she was 10, raced a triathlon, practices yoga and was a four-year letter winner at UH in volleyball. Love it!

Add another runner to the mix with Miss Indiana, Nicole Pollard. She ran cross-country for four years according to her bio.

But my favorite is a Miss America competitor from years past: Miss Utah 2007, Jill Stevens. The big news on Jill was that she served in Afghanistan, hence the nickname G.I. Jill, and ran marathons--coolness factor in my book since I always saw Miss America wannabes as women who had impressive voices, dance steps and musical talents and I knew nothing beyond that. Call me ignorant but I was enlightened--for lack of a better word (hey, it's late)--by the TLC show that went behind the scenes of the Miss America contestants in the weeks leading up to the competition. Talk about learning way more about the delegates than anything covered in the two-hour broadcast that selects the winner. Stevens' marathoning came up often in conversation that it was an easy fact to remember. She's fast too, clocking at 3:13 at the Deseret Morning News Marathon in July 2009. And that's not even her fastest time--she ran five minutes faster at the St. George Marathon in 2005.

Yeah, I'm a sucker for race results and random information. Gotta love finding who's involved in the sport--or any active pursuits, for that matter. I'm the dork who gets those "Ah Ha" moments when I find another runner or triathlete. For more details on the Miss America delegates, read about these at I'm sure I'm missing some runners among the 53 women. Photo grabbed from Posted by Kate

Monday, January 25, 2010

Fit-Event: Pedal Power

You could be riding like this (see left) indoors this winter. Maybe you're looking longingly at your bike, wishing for warmer days to hit the trail and pedal outside. Or maybe you're tired of aimlessly hitting the trainer to ride in front of the TV, doubting that you're still giving yourself a good workout. Or you're dreading the next spin class or treadmill run--they aren't even remotely fun anymore and you can't tolerate the cold outside--plus you're wondering how you're going to survive winter's finest indoor training.

One motivation? Stay on top of your racing. I already threw out that idea with indoor triathlons to keep you on top of your triathlon game, and the same holds true for cycling. Cyclists race time trials throughout the summer--just take some of the Tour de France stages--but their format is easily transferable to the indoors with a little help from modern technology and the CompuTrainer. Unless you're participating in a spin-a-thon like the upcoming Cycle for Survival, time trials are another option to keep you from a dull gym workout. And Vision Quest Coaching has one more to add to the event calendar for those eyeing the Mid America Time Trial Series.

It doesn't matter if you're a hard-core cyclist, a casual road rider, or a triathlete who's weak or strong on the bike. Mark your calendars for March 6 and head up to Vision Quest's Highland Park location at 1923 Skokie Valley Road to pedal your way to a fun-filled Saturday. Here's what the press release had to say:

Using CompuTrainers, riders will race 30 minutes on the 2008 Tour de France Stage 4 time trial course held in Cholet to see how much of the course they can complete. In true Tour fashion, the intense course includes a few rolling hills over 29K. The first race begins at 10 a.m. with time slots available on the hour until 1 p.m. Twenty-four slots are available per start time.

Not only do riders have the chance to best their friends and test their winter cycling abilities, but also they can compete for awards. The winner of the time trial will be the rider who amassed the most miles at the end of the race. MATTS custom medals will be awarded to the top five performers in a mixture of categories for men and women including: CAT 4/5, CAT 3 (men only), Open 1/2/3, and Masters age groups and top 3 for Juniors. Cash prizes are awarded to the three fastest men and women, with first place receiving $50, second place receiving $30 and third place receiving $20.

Registration is now open and will close once all of the slots are filled. The entry fee costs $25 per race for non-VQers, $20 for VQers and $12.50 for volunteers. If you want to race in another class the fee is $20 for the second race.

For more information, contact Vision Quest Coaching at, call 877-851-8787 or e-mail

Photo grabbed from The Swine King's blog. Posted by Kate

Friday, January 22, 2010

Saddlin' Up for a Cause

We've barely cracked the New Year, but admit it, some of those New Year's resolutions are already starting to look old. Especially those of the fitness variety: it easily gets boring bee-lining toward the treadmill or stationary bike each trip to the gym. Break the monotony and keep that fitness goal on target by giving that workout a greater purpose than simply toning up or losing holiday pounds. Equinox has just the answer, the Cycle for Survival, an indoor team cycling fundraiser that benefits the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

This popular fundraiser celebrates its fourth year in New York City, but will be held for the first time outside the Big Apple when it comes to Chicago on February 6. Equinox's Chicago Loop location at 200 West Monroe will host the cycling from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

According to a press release about the event, Cycle for Survival started in 2007 by Equinox member Jennifer Goodman Linn. She had been diagnosed with MFH sarcoma three years earlier and had received treatments at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Center, the world's oldest and largest private institution dedicated to cancer education, treatment and research. Throughout it all, Linn never stopped exercising and credits Equinox for helping her battle cancer. She's battled the disease four times in five years, and used cycling to push herself and draw strength every day. She says, "I believe that it saved my life."

With Linn's husband hailing from Chicago, she knew she wanted to expand Cycle for Survival to the Windy City one day. It only took four years before her dream came through. "Cycle for Survival could not continue to expand and grow without their [Equinox's] support, and I am extremely grateful," Linn says. "In the past three years, we have had over 2,000 participants raise more than two million dollars for cancer research through Cycle for Survival, so it is so thrilling to be able to expand our reach and open this great event to Chicagoans."

To participate, the Cycle for Survival is open to 100 teams, each with up to eight members allotted to one bike. The event's four hours will be divided into four 50-minute riding sessions per team, and the team decides how to divide the time among teammates. It is requested that each team raise a minimum of $500 for Memorial Sloan-Kettering. Participants can collect donations through team fundraising campaigns online.

Don't worry about getting bored when you're not on the bike. In addition to cheering on your teammates, wander the health club for other activities. The entire Loop location will be devoted to the event with yoga classes, stretching and massage therapy, kids' activities, and food and refreshments.

Need more details? Check it out and sign up at And if you can't make the Chicago event, plan to participate in New York City on January 31. Photo grabbed from Posted by Kate

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Take Triathlon Indoors

The swims might be minimal if you're bored in a pool, the bike might be on the trainer until the ground thaws (at least in this neck of the woods), and the runs might happen more on a treadmill than the trail, but that doesn't mean you can't try a triathlon during the winter. But swap the open water for a pool, your bike for a stationary bike, and a trail run for a treadmill or track, and you have yourself an indoor triathlon.

Forget putting triathlon on the back burner until the weather warms, leaves sprout on the trees and the days grow longer. Take the race indoors and give yourself an event that's as challenging, strenuous and fun as what you'll get outdoors. Minus some of the fears--or mine, at least--that come with outdoor racing like flatting or the crowded mess at the swim start. And for all of those who like to catch up on sleep on the weekends: You don't have to rise before the sun comes up for these races to get your gear in transition and claim a prime spot on your assigned rack. Not a bad way to stay on top of your sport, or try a new one, when you don't want to be outside.

Need a place to join in the action? Look no further than some of these races:
  • Where there's a Life Time Fitness, there's a way. From coast to coast--and the prairie lands between--these fitness clubs start racing indoors January 24 (in Tempe, Ariz.) and offer races through May 23 (in Eagan, Minn.). Races include a 10-minute swim, 30-minute bike and 20-minute run, with 5 to 10 minutes to change between events. Check out the details at
  • If you're in the Windy City, get your tri on at Fitness Formula Clubs. This only-in-Chicago four-part series kicks off with its first race January 24 at the Oak Park location. Plan on subsequent events at Gold Coast on February 13, Union Station on March 6 and East Lakeview on March 27. Participants test their limits and see how much distance they cover in a 15-minute swim, 20-minute bike and 15-minute run--or if that's not enough, they can double the distance. Visit Fitness Formula Club's website for more information.
  • New York likes to start the indoor triathlon season earlier than most and Jackrabbit's indoor series is already wrapping up its season. Two races took place before the New Year--talk about a great way to keep the holidays from messing with workouts--and two in January. Jackrabbit's third race was held January 10 at McBurney YMCA, but you can still sign up for its final event at Asphalt Green on January 31. Register and read more by clicking here.
  • More action in the Chicago area begins at the end of January with the three-race Midwest Indoor Tri-Classic Series traveling around the western suburbs. The Wheaton Sports Center hosts the first race January 31, followed by Edward Health and Fitness on February 14, and Health Track Sports Wellness on February 28. See how much distance you can cover during a 10-minute swim, 20-minute bike and 15-minute run, a know that a portion of your entry fee goes toward the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Find more details at
  • If you live near Springfield, Pa., or Pleasant Prairie, Wis., local gyms offer their own series of events to keep triathletes racing even when the weather is sour. Check out Springfield's Mid-Atlantic Multisport Series here, or the 3-Fitness series at the LakeView RecPlex here. In Pennsylvania, the third race of the series arrives on February 14. Meanwhile LakeView RecPlex's events start January 31.
Need more convincing? Not only are the indoor races good for staying on top of your fitness but they offer perks that outdoor races lack, at least in my book. If you're not a fan of having to race without your headphones, you might be better suited to the indoor races where most allow you to ride the stationary bikes and run the treadmill or track while blasting tunes in your ears. Racing outdoors in Chicago often means plopping down more than $100 for a sprint- or Olympic-distance race (they say triathlon is expensive but this can be a little overboard), but you can save a pretty penny with these series. Sure they might cost more than a 5K, but you're getting a longer event, facilities and equipment to use, and a place to store your stuff that doesn't require waiting in line. And if you yearn for motivation to leave the bed over the weekend and keep winter weight away, you'll rev that metabolism, keep the pounds from packing on and make it home in time for football playoffs. What are you waiting for? Sign up today! Photo grabbed from Posted by Kate

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bike Tech 101

Maybe your bike is in storage until the weather warms up and biking is far from the forefront of your mind. But tonight, you want to harness that bike energy or that lust for all things cycling. You can leave the bike packed away or hooked up to the trainer, just consider driving to Highland Park to check out some of the latest and greatest in bike technology. See it for yourself on January 21 at 7 p.m. at Vision Quest Highland Park, 1923 Skokie Valley Road.
Who doesn't want to go faster on the bike, especially if you've got a lot of ground to cover or a half Ironman or Ironman to tackle? Sometimes your legs can only take you so far and it starts to become a matter of bike position--especially nailing the aero positioning--and bike composition. And if you want to feast your eyes on the latest speed demon on the bike circuit--any cyclist knows this far surpasses what's debuting at the International Auto Show currently in Detroit and soon to stop in Chicago--Vision Quest has it tonight. Tyler Pilger and Nick Howe from Trek Bicycles are providing a sneak peek at the 2011 Trek Speed Concept.

The Speed Concept is the latest design from Trek and boasts the same aero design that powered Alberto Contador to his 2009 Tour de France victory and propeled Chris Lieto to the bike course record that he set at the Ironman World Championships in Kona. It's expected to be released for the 2011 model year and uses automotive aerodynamic technologies coupled with component integration. And not only can you gawk at this bike, but you can also learn more about triathlon bike development and how the 2010 Madone 6 series was developed.

But that's only the bike side of the evening's events. Vision Quest is also showcasing another technology that is aimed to help you recover faster: the NormaTec MVP (Most Valuable Pump). Created from collaboration between physicians and athletes, the NormaTec MVP is popular among triathletes and cyclists like Simon Whitfield, Lance Armstrong, Craig Alexander, Tim DeBoom, Levi Leipheimer and cycling's Team Garmin/Slipstream. NormacTec is compression at its finest and tailored to the athlete. According to its description it mimics normal physiology to help athletes recover quickly either from workouts, injury or surgery. And because it's based around physiology, the compression it offers helps to improve circulation and alleviate symptoms.

To learn more about these tools to make 2010 your best season and the January 21 event, check out Photo grabbed from nsr1986 at flickr.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Fit-Gear: To the Medal Stand We Go

The Winter Olympics may still be a month away, but we're getting into the action before the world converges on Vancouver. After all, many of the athletes have been preparing for the last four years to show down on the world's stage--the least we can do is get excited in the months leading up to the Games. And this time it's not a countdown to February 12.

I've been one to lust after athlete looks at the Summer and Winter Games. I talked myself out of purchasing the vest Team USA sported in Torino, but I have some Roots wear from the 2004 Athens Games. I remember hunting down the warm-up outfits the U.S. swim team wore in Atlanta in 1996 and the obsession with the Roots berets in Salt Lake City eight years ago. Luckily when the U.S. athletes top the medal stand in Vancouver, I won't have to play guesswork on who and what they're wearing. We'll see U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes decked out in Nike when they receive their hardware--a collection that's high on performance, sustainability and innovation.

Among the wears you'll find:
  • ACG Considered Design Waterproof Down Jacket--an 800-fill jacket that's warm and waterproof for those hours waiting in snowy conditions. (I'm just remembering Torino's snowy medal ceremonies in the town center.) Each jacket features a fade print for a unique, one-of-a-kind look.
  • ACG Considered Design Waterproof Pant--made from 100 percent recycled polyester, these are lightweight, breathable and waterproof to keep an athlete comfortable.
  • Nike Air Blazer ACG boot--an outdoor trail shoe combines with 1970s street style, and the Regrind outsole prevents slipping on the uphills and downhills.
Now comes the best don't have to be part of Team USA to score these items. We might have to purchase them rather than receive them upon athlete check-in, but Nike's retail version is already available in Niketown stores, select Nike retailers and online. Team USA will also offer some of the merchandise here. Stay tuned for more Olympics-related content. Photo grabbed from Nike. Posted by Kate


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