Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Customer's Letter of Complaint--and Ski Bag Gear Review

My battered--and taped--Rossignol ski bag
Dear Rossignol,
I love--and I mean love with all my heart--your skis, especially my side-cut 80 Voodoos that travel with me on every ski trip for powder, crud, ice and groomers. But I'm no longer a fan of your gear bags, namely one in particular, the Super Haul 2-Pair Wheelie Ski/Board Bag.

I want to love this bag as affectionately as I love my skis--in fact, I planned to do so when I purchased it. It looked sturdy, it offered plenty of space for all our gear, it featured more bells and whistles than its predecessor, it received good reviews from other purchasers, it was a bargain buy at Sierra Trading Post

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Fit-Pic: It's an Alta Christmas...on Skis

To quote a popular tale this time of year: Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night! And what a merry Christmas it was for this girl. I got to spend it on skis in one of my most favorite places on Earth: Alta, Utah. Don't get me wrong: I can ski just about anywhere, but there's something special about Alta--or more my memories of it. I skied it for the first time exactly a decade ago this December (man, time flies!), back when Utah had an early season dumping--not this year unfortunately--and Alta's vast terrain felt like a true winter wonderland. The history buff in me is fascinated by its past, how it was the first of the Utah resorts to run a chair lift and how it looked back in a vintage 1974 video.

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Culinary Skiing Adventure

Serving up delicious food at the Keystone Culinary Festival
I think it's safe to say that I love food just about as much as I love sports, especially skiing, running and triathlon (if I had to pick three). So when I heard about a new event that combined food and sport in one weekend--and in January, no less, when I'm always yearning to get out of the Windy City and take some turns in the mountains--my mouth started to water.

OK, you caught me. Skiing or not, it also helped that I remembered my experience at the Keystone Culinary Festival where my taste buds were satiated with gourmet goodies that I probably wouldn't order off a menu, but was so glad to have them forced upon me. I had to get my ticket's worth, after all, and that meant trying everything on tap at the March event. Good thing I skied all day. But if I could mimic that experience again, I'd try to drop everything to do it. Yes, it was that good.

And I have a feeling that the Beaver Creek Food & Wine Festival, slated for January 26-28, 2012, could easily match those expectations. It's the first of its kind at the Colorado resort. It's full of locally and nationally renowned chefs. It's skiing and food--what's better than that?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Fit-Pic: Christian Vande Velde Visits Garmin

How's this for a holiday greeting? Christian Vande Velde, a professional cyclist who races with Team Garmin-CervĂ©lo, answered questions, talked cycling and signed autographs at the Garmin store on Michigan Avenue. He has turned in some impressive finishes this year: 4th overall at the Tour of California and 2nd overall at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. Vande Velde grew up in the Chicago area, and lives and trains in Libertyville, Ill., most of the year--he was out riding his bike this morning with Bo Jackson, and Robbie Ventura and Dave Noda of Vision Quest and says that he'll ride outside until the temperatures dip below 20 degrees. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A P90X Primer: What You Need to Know

I couldn't name the first time I watched the P90X infomercial. I couldn't tell you if it was before or after I watched the one about Insanity or Jillian Michaels or the Total Gym (you know, that apparatus that Christie Brinkley and Chuck Norris peddle). But I can definitely attest that I was skeptical at first. Could these people really looked that ripped after following a program in their living room? Was it a  scam like the weight-loss pill infomercials where the spokesperson gained weight to film the before shot that was filmed after the "this is what I looked like after taking X pill" (so I heard)? Could you really get an effective workout at home, doing P90X?

I let those inhibitions go this summer, cracked down and bought myself a copy of the 90-day program. But it wasn't until I had the opportunity to talk to Tony Horton, the motivator behind the 12 workouts to rotate through, that I really became a believer. Sure, one hour of Core Synergistics was enough of a  butt-kicking--I was ready to collapse during a set that Tony flew through effortlessly while I had to pause and regroup--but I wasn't ready to quit yet. Far from it. Bring on the muscle confusion. Bring on the workouts that are tough even before adding the weights or resistance bands. Bring on the blood-rushing, sweat-inducing, breath-panting torture--and ensuing pain and soreness.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Top 11 Stocking Stuffers for Triathletes

Are your stockings hung by the chimney with care? Are the triathletes you know waiting for them to be filled courtesy of St. Nick? It's easier to create a triathlon-themed stocking than you might think, even if you're waiting until the last minute to do your shopping. Blame it on the trifecta--where you have the freedom to think about three sports instead of just one.

Following in the footsteps of runners' stocking stuffers, we ran through our picks for filling a triathlete's Christmas stocking. For a sport that's often labeled as expensive, you might be surprised to find several stocking worthy items that won't break the bank.
  1. Sport stickers. M dots, 140.6, 70.3, 26.2. You name the number or symbol and chances are you've seen at least as many of these car stickers tacked on the rear as you've read "My child is an honors student at...." You can't wrap a sticker in gift wrap unless you place it in a box, but you can slip it into a stocking.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Who's Going to Win The Biggest Loser 12?

We watched them arrive on The Biggest Loser Ranch morbidly obese, waddling their way around the gym, and sporting body ages that nearly doubled their real age. We watched them in the gym week after week--or maybe we missed one here or there but caught up on the blogs--as they shed pound after pound. We watched them run all, or most of, a marathon, something that seemed completely impossible at the season's start when even a mile looked like the greatest endurance challenge ever.

I always get excited about finale night on The Biggest Loser. I want to see the transformations, or a near lack of as past seasons have proved (sorry but I know I've seen a contestant or two who's arrived at finale night shedding only a small percentage of weight). I want to hear the stories about how they fared or failed at home and having to deal with life after the Ranch. I want to see the numbers posted from the giant scale and see how they contestants stack up. And I want to see who is going to take the at home prize (please let it be one of the women after the all-male trio up for the big bucks) and who is going to win the $250,000.

Don't ask me why but a familiar line from a Black-Eyed Peas song came into my head when thinking about my prediction: "I've got a feeling...." I've got a feeling that John could be the winner. He's shattered records all season, he's thrilled to be up against Antone because the former NFL-player motivates him to work 10 times harder, he cut himself off from workout distractions when he went home before running the marathon. But then I also have a feeling that it could be one of my season favorites, Antone or Ramon. Antone laid down a challenge last week and said something to the effect of bringing out his NFL beast (my interpretation, anyway). Antone's like a big teddy bear

Well, the scale won't lie tonight and I'll just have to wait and see. But in the meantime, weigh in on who you think will be shedding the largest percentage of weight--between Antone, John and Ramon--and winning the title of The Biggest Loser. And then stay tuned to NBC at 9 p.m. (or 8 p.m. if you're in CST like me) or follow along during the Fit-Bottomed Girls live tweet (hashtag #BL12).

Monday, December 12, 2011

Top 11 Stocking Stuffers for Runners

Confession: my mom still fills my Christmas stocking. The toothbrush, the calendar, the gum, the handpicked ornament representing some highlight from the last 365 days? It's all still there in some way, shape or form. If we're together for the holiday, the "kids" still have to shut their eyes and wait for the stockings to be filled Christmas morning. If we're not, Mom mails a "stocking in a box:" all the treats that Santa would want in the stocking but delivered, and opened, before the official day (shh, don't tell Mom).

Now I'm all for tradition, and I'm certainly not complaining about the treats that I do get because my mom is creative to no avail when it comes to stuffing these suckers year in and year out. But sometimes I wonder what else could be found in my stocking Christmas morning (I can still act like a kid on December 25, can't I?). What if Mom were to stray from tradition and offer up a stocking with a running theme? A stocking is just a larger version of a sock, after all. And if that's the case, here are some picks to fill a runner's stocking come Christmas--or Secret Santa exchange, White Elephant party or Hanukkah.
  1. Feetures! socks. Any socks would fit into a stocking, but I'm currently digging my Feetures pair. They're soft and bright white--even after multiple washings--and they're holding up to the abuse I put most socks through. I'm always losing a sock in the wash, poking holes in their toes, or finding strays in my sock drawer. And what runner couldn't use a new pair of socks? Certainly not me.

Friday, December 9, 2011

What to Love About the Craft PXC Storm Tight

Sometimes blogging just doesn’t go your way. It’s kind of like running when you have a race outcome that you’re not completely satisfied with. You wish you could remember where you went wrong, you wish you could remember the good parts instead of all the bad parts, you wish you could banish the negative energy.

Now transfer those thoughts over to writing and you’ll find my current position. I’m sitting in front of my computer, trying to recount the phrases that ran through my head during last night’s Spinning workout. There’s something about me and biking—and Thursday night, only Thursday—that revs the creative juices in my brain, giving me oodles (yes, oodles) of thoughts to run back home and jot down. Except last night I needed secret powers or magnetic energy, anything, to transfer my thoughts to paper before class ended. By the time I got off the bike, all the phrases I tried so hard to remember as I pedaled through climbs, headwinds and sprints weren’t coming together as well as they had during the sweat session. I can remember keywords like REI fleece pants, snowshoeing, slipping on ice and doubling up, but ask me to connect them all together in carefully crafted prose and I’m stuck in my tracks.

You see, all of those phrases are supposed to explain my affinity for the Craft running pants I modeled at the Fleet Feet Fashion Show last month. I’m practically as clueless as you, reading this for the first time, figuring out how I meshed them together in a cohesive, rational thought, which I swear I did but needed a notebook next to the bike so I could hop off and jot it down. Let this serve as a long-winded introduction to the Craft tights pictured above.

And now onto the review.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Train Now, Ski Later

Slackline? I can't even balance on a plank.
Nothing compares to a ski day on the mountain, unless you can't get there. The fresh air. The sun or the chance of a snow shower and fresh tracks to be had. The workout without really trying--not exactly, but I can easily eat more and feel my looser in my jeans after skiing.

The only problem is that I can't walk out my front door with my skis in hand to take some runs before hitting my desk for the day (boy do I wish I could). And if I hopped in my car to spend a weekend in Vail, or Keystone considering it's a few miles closer, I'd be forced to turn around before buckling my boots because it'd be time to head home upon arrival--or there could be strong winds on Interstate 80 and I'd be stranded somewhere in Nebraska (that's a nightmare in itself). And my mountains? Well, around here we call them glorified garbage dumps (sorry Wisconsin and northwest Illinois, but you haven't convinced me to return yet). Yeah, it stings a little when you live 1,000 miles from your heaven on Earth, the Rockies, and the only snow you'll be seeing in the near future falls under the snow globe variety.

But I know that I'll be making it onto my skis eventually, it just takes a little longer than for others. I'm just giving the snow a chance to settle so I don't scratch my skis on a stray rock or branch (and sob about it later). I view it as more time to get in shape before I get there--Christmas cookies out of the system, training plan back on track (not counting this week), holiday distractions pushed to the backburner--so I'm not catching my breath every two seconds on a blue run the first day or cursing my husband for taking me on perfectly shaped moguls and feeling the after-effects when I'm buried in the gully and my ski is halfway up the mountain.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Thrills and Chills at Beaver Creek Resort: Birds of Prey

Looking up a BC run, presumably Golden Eye
The male ski racers on the World Cup circuit took to it last week. The female ski racers will be racing it tomorrow. It'll be part of the FIS World Alpine Ski Championships when they land in Vail and Beaver Creek in 2015. And it's one of the 13 runs you have to ski from top to bottom, lift opening to lift close, at the annual Talons Challenge. Don't ski it early and you could easily be looking at a scary sheet of ice.

To some, including the World Cup racers, it's known as the Birds of Prey downhill course at Beaver Creek Resort in Colorado. To others, you'll find it listed on the trail map as Golden Eagle. The double black run can be accessed from the Birds of Prey lift or the Cinch lift, which takes you to the summit, follows a blue trail out of the start gate, and then picks up speed, near drop-offs and jumps before it turns blue again and ends where the Birds of Prey, Grouse Mountain and Larkspur lifts converge.

I forgot just how steep and scary this run can get until I was watching the Universal Sports' coverage of the World Cup men. Bode Miller made the run look easy until you saw him panting at the bottom and still catching his breath when he was being interviewed. He eventually took the race but not before other favorites like Aksel Lund Svindahl and Didier Cuche got their skis handed to them on some of the course's wily turns. Turn too early, turn too late and you could be done for. Lindsey Vonn, who calls Vail her hometown, warmed up on the run today in preparation for tomorrow's race--a super-G that was switched to Beaver Creek after there wasn't enough snow in Val d'Isere, France. Chances are that she's making it look just as easy as Miller.

The Biggest Loser's Marathon Mission

Maybe it's just me, but tonight's episode of The Biggest Loser is one that I've been looking forward to since Ramon and Jessica were eliminated. Jess because she was the quiet champion, in my eyes, who lost weight fast and looked athletic from the get-go, but unfortunately was viewed as a threat (if you do the math, she'd look like a waif if she lost half her body weight by the finale to stand up to the 400-plus dudes at the start, Antone, John and Vinny). Ramon because I liked the energy he brought to the show each week and rooted for him to make it to the finale with Antone, my other favorite.

My money is on one of these two, Ramon and Jessica, taking the win and finding themselves automatically into the finals, with a cash incentive to boot. They're younger than the other competitors, they've been training together post-show, they always looked like the least likely to break down during a physical challenge or Last Chance Workout, and they said they were determined to take the marathon win in their exit interviews.

Monday, December 5, 2011

To the Olympics (Trials) They Go

Overbeck at the Chase Corporate Challenge
I always knew the California International Marathon was fast. I once wrote it down on a list of marathons that were good Boston Marathon qualifiers. I ran it in 2008 when I desperately tried to chase a second Boston qualifying time so I could run with Liz in Beantown the following April. I may not have qualified as I had hoped--note to self: don't try to run another 26.2 after finishing your first Ironman and a hotter-than-ideal Chicago Marathon--but I ran faster than expected, given that I could barely finish 10 miles two weeks before the race.

But could California International really live up to its fast reputation when several speedy female runners needed it to as they gunned for their Olympic Trials qualifying time in what would be their last chance before the January event in Houston? (How's that for a long-winded sentence?) The answer would be a resounding yes. For some runners, December 4, 2011, will go down as a day in history, the special Sunday when they reached one tough cut-off on the road to Olympic glory. And for a few others, they'll hopefully forget that Sunday just wasn't their day. It pains me to write that, since I silently cheered for several Chicagoans after learning of their Olympic attempts over the summer. It helps to meet filmmaker Wendy Shulik, who's been chasing the women as they try to qualify and filming them for her Miles and Trials documentary, and who will get you as excited (or close to it) as she is for Trials' tribulations.

Kate Gosselin Runs Sin City

Kate, minus her 8, ran along the Las Vegas Strip
She's famous for the reality television show Jon and Kate Plus 8, and then Kate Plus 8, that showed her raising a family of multiples. She's famous for the subsequent book deals and appearances that landed in her lap after becoming a reality TV star. She's famous for a shaggy, spiky haircut that was a popular Halloween costume one year. She's famous for dancing with Tony Dovolani on Dancing with the Stars. And now Kate Gosselin is hitting the headlines once again for running, and finishing, the Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon, a race that took over the Strip on Sunday night.

Her time? She finished her first 26.2-miler in 4:59:21, which rounds out to a pace of about 11:25 per mile. Not bad considering she looks half-frozen in the picture published and that a majority of the race was run after the sun went down.

But "killing it" as Gosselin was quoted in People? I'm not so sure about that. She ran her first marathon faster than Katie Holmes (5:29:58 at the New York City Marathon), Ali Landry (5:41:41 at the Boston Marathon) and Valerie Bertinelli (5:14:37 at the Boston Marathon). But she didn't beat Oprah, who ran her first and only marathon in 1994, finishing with a time of 4:29:15, and there are plenty of other famous women who've run faster, too. Yes, a marathon is commendable, but watch what you say in that post-race euphoric state especially when the race technically had a time cutoff of 4 hours and 30 minutes, and you finished 29 minutes beyond that. Just sayin'.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Hot Chocolate Epic Fail?

And I thought the haters in Chicago were bad. I'm not so sure after the all-out rage that exploded in the Washington, D.C., area yesterday after--and perhaps during considering my friend texted status updates from the starting pens--the inaugural Hot Chocolate 15K and 5K. The race has been held in Chicago for four years and as some would say to varying degrees of success. But from the looks of this social media movement, the race's first appearance on a national level (Dallas and San Diego are next, followed by San Francisco and Phoenix--and I swear Denver was in the mix at one point, too) did not go well.

The race started late...not just by a few minutes, or 15 minutes because of a last-minute course reroute when a truck got stuck in Chicago, but 35 or so minutes. The traffic was horrendous and the cause of the delay--the cars were on the course. The 15K may have been short. The carpool situation wasn't ideal for a Maryland resident--per my old roommate who lives on that side of the District.

Now this is all hearsay, but still, it doesn't sound good. Runners created a Facebook page to voice comments where they're sharing race reports, complaints, pictures, and demands for registration refunds. Ouch to RAM, the race organizer, but at the same time, maybe they just shot to high for a first time race? How large are the other big races in D.C. like the Army 10-Miler and the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler, and what do they do to get it right, or seemingly so, time and again?

Sound off, runners!

Friday, December 2, 2011

'Tis the Season to be Jolly: Santa Hustle 5K

Not a fan of cold weather running? Me either. Last week’s Turkey Trot was cold enough for me—and it wasn’t even that bad in retrospect—but between that and the simple fact that my legs are tired from running, and recovering from injury, since March, I’m ready to hang up my sneakers for the year. Not even some reasons to run this winter could convince me otherwise. You see, I’m also a skier, and a slightly neurotic one at that, and the minute the hat, gloves and warm boots come out around here, I’m poking around the internet for travel deals to Colorado.

But not so fast. There’s a race that’s been gathering a bit of publicity that might just pull my running shoes out of winter retirement. It’s only a 5K, perfect for whatever Mother Nature decides to throw at us—snow, sleet, wind or warm temps. It involves holiday merriment, something I could definitely use considering my Christmas decorations are still in storage and I’ve been called Scrooge more often than not in the last month. It has offered a pre-registration discount, $5 off if I registered by Nov. 21 (oops, missed out on that one). And you can find it featured in the December issue of Runner’s World and on The Rachael Ray Show.

It’s the Santa Hustle 5K, happening this Saturday, December 3, at Montrose Harbor in Chicago. And December 11 in the Great Smoky Mountains—Sevierville, Tenn., to be exact where a half marathon is also on tap. And December 17 in Indianapolis.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...