Tag Archives: Reviews

Retail Therapy: Nabee Compression Socks

During long runs last summer, my feet would swell a little. Usually about the 3-mile mark, and not a lot, but it was uncomfortable. This spring, as the temperatures started heating up, I thought I’d try compression socks.

Nabee Socks are cute and support at 15 mmHg. (That kind of science the orthopedic doctors know better than me, but I know this … you can’t get much higher compression in products sold over-the-counter.) The toe box and wide opening at the top are pride points for the company.

Nabee Bubbles Compression SocksThe socks are thin and I wondered how they would do after a mile or two. I’m in Texas, after all. Where would all that foot sweat go without thick, soft cotton socks to absorb it? That concern was unfounded. The socks breathe and my feet never got hot.

They also compressed my feet so well that my feet weren’t quite as snug inside the shoes. I wondered, with that extra wiggle room, would I get a blister? That concern was unfounded, too.

After a run, I usually peel off my socks as fast as possible, but not this time. I kept them for an extra 10 minutes or so to help in recovery.

They did the job. My feet didn’t swell. I know I’ll be tempted to wear them on shopping days and days when I know a lot of work is ahead.

Web Site of the Week: The Run Down

Website Review

Tired of boring and dull race reports? Then you need to make your way over to The Run Down. This growing site with talented writers puts a whole new spin on race reporting. Currently the site recaps ultra-marathons (and only in California so far), but as the audience grows so to will the scope and variety of the reports.

Site excerpt: “In a way, I feel sorry for the lead runners. How many times do they have to say ‘looking good’ to half-dead zombies going the opposite direction? It’s really like telling a migrating salmon you know is going die to have a nice day. It doesn’t really make much sense, though I understand the good intention. Akos is the consummate professional but you know he sees some of us and thinks, ‘Maybe lawn bowling would be a good sport for you.’ Now, after also winning the Lake Hodges 50K, I wonder if Akos will be going for the San Diego Triple Crown by winning the San Diego 100. Being the big-purse sport that ultra running is, I’ve heard that winning all three ultras gets you a digitally re-mastered copy of ‘Howard the Duck.’ Wow, what motivation.”

Some recent races The Run Down has covered include:
PCT 50 Mile
Leona Divide 50 Mile
San Juan Trail 50K
Lake Hodges 50K

The Run Down may be entertaining, but it is also informative. It is a great stop to find out what REALLY happened at a race, and maybe to do a little research on an event you plan on running. There is nothing like doing a little homework and getting some laughs in the process!

Taking 100 Kids to Bloomsday

Now that I have your attention, I will explain….ok, where do I start?

Well I guess I will begin with “What is Bloomsday?”

Bloomsday is a 12 km race that first began on May 1, 1977, and runs through downtown Spokane, Washington. Over 1,000 runners participated in the inaugural Bloomsday Run, which was billed “Run With the Stars” in posters announcing the event. Olympic gold and silver medallist Frank Shorter crossed the line first, followed by Herm Atkins of Seattle and founder Kardong. In the following years the Bloomsday field continued to grow, reaching 57,300 in 1988. In 1991, Bloomsday took another jump to 60,104, and in 1996 the event reached its all-time high of 61,298. During its history, the Lilac Bloomsday Run has added prize money for top runners (1982) and wheelchair racers, and the event consistently attracts the world’s top competitors. Bloomsday has been a member of the ARRA and PRRO circuits of major U.S. running events, and in 1996 Bloomsday hosted the first PRRO World Road Running Championships. Over the years the race has been featured in Runner’s World and The Runner magazines, as well as on television on ESPN, CBS, Fox Sports Northwest, and the Outdoor Life Network.

Anyway, a few years ago the high school I taught at decided to take a group of students to Bloomsday by bus. Because the school had an extensive video arts program, phys-ed and video arts teamed up to run the race as well as make a documentary of the experience. We took about 40 students.

This is my fifth year as a supervisor to Bloomsday, but this year was different for two reasons. One reason was this time we took two busses and the second was that at the beginning of this year I began teaching at a new school. My new high school is much smaller and no one really knew what Bloomsday was so I reserved 11 spots on the busses from my old school and began the “building year.”

We began the four day trip by loading the busses and departing at 1:30 am Friday. Since we had 16 hours of driving, (we are up north in Alberta, Canada), we thought this year we would try to do some of it in the dark and let the kids sleep. At about 8 a.m., we arrived at Radium Hot Springs for a swim and to stretch our legs. From there we continued on and arrived at the hotel located in downtown Spokane about 3 p.m. The hotel is in a great location because it is attached to the race expo and only three blocks from the start and finish line.

From this point we got the students checked into their rooms and then had a team meeting in a boardroom, which we have exclusively for the weekend. From there we released the students and allowed them to rest, to hang out and swim.

In the morning we all went to the race expo, followed in the afternoon by shopping at a mall and then headed back to the hotel for a short run. After the run along the river of Spokane, we all changed and went out for dinner at a buffet place. The group then headed back to the hotel and got ready for the big race the next day. The students were all in their rooms by 9 p.m., ready to sleep (yeah, right!).

Race morning we woke up early, got to the starting line and then ran 12km. After this the students got back to the hotel to compare war wounds and stories. From there the students had the rest of the day to relax and just “hang out.” The next morning at 5 a.m. we loaded the bus and headed for home. We arrived back Monday at 7 p.m.

It is pretty hard to summarize this trip and do it any justice. For many students this was life changing experience it. I know, for me, running a 12 km race when I was 15 would have been a huge (impossible) accomplishment. For days after, the students talk about it and often return the next year to do it all over again. I am hoping to take 30 next year, so wish me luck!

A View From the Top: Governor’s Bay Bridge 10K

The Governor’s Bay Bridge 10K Race (Md.) was cancelled for the 4th time in six years last week. This is a race in distress.

The race, put on by the Annapolis Striders, is a point-to-point 10K race that leaves at 8 a.m. from sea level at the start of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge on the Eastern Shore in Maryland.

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It runs westbound over the bridge to Sandy Point State Park on the other side, where runners leave their cars when they board buses at 6:45 am to take them across the Chesapeake Bay to the start line.

The Bay Bridge is a 4.3 mile long double structure spanning the Chesapeake near Annapolis. The two parallel roadways were built at different times so they differ from each other slightly. The bridge curves gracefully to the north as it approaches the western shore, giving motorists a sideways look at the elegant structure which elongates the pleasing view of the twin-spanned bridge stretching across the wide expanse of water. The top of the long bridge is in the middle of the broad bay where the bed of each roadway rises to its highest point between twin towers.
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The bridge is 186 feet above the water at its top so during the race, that’s the height runners climb to in the first 2.1 miles once they leave the Eastern Shore. Then they run 2.1 miles downhill back to land on the western side and finish off with 2 miles of flat running to the park where the race ends. There’s a nice post-race festival in the park after the race, with food and beer on hand and a spectacular view of the Bay Bridge from ground level. The last time the race was actually run, finishers’ medals were handed out.

The view runners encounter on the bridge is stupendous. The horizon lies far off in every direction. The environment up there is exhilarating. Ocean breezes cool the runners off as the tangy salt air washes over their bodies. The run is bracing, a thirty minute heady dash high over glittering water followed by twenty minutes of hard charging across the flatlands to the end.

The Bay Bridge 10K would be a good race to try to PR on. You run uphill in the first two miles while you’re still fresh. You recover and pick up speed on the 2.1 mile downhill length. If you can push the pace on the flats during the last two miles after all of that recovery, you might have a great time.

The race has to be on a short list of Mid-Atlantic must-do 10Ks, along with perhaps Ukrops Monument Avenue 10K in Richmond (all of that history), Darcars Pike’s Peek in Rockville, Md., (198 feet net downhill), the defunct St. Patrick’s Day 10K in downtown Washington, D.C. (currently an 8K) and perhaps the Justice-Columbia Masonic Lodge #3 Veteran’s Day 10K at Haines Point (need to run by The Awakening statue before its slated removal).

The race is also a top entry in bridge runs. The Annapolis Ten-Miler in August (hot, hilly, and humid) has its memorable two trips over the hulking U.S. Naval Academy Bridge. The ING New York City Marathon runs over five bridges (you cannot top starting out a race with a two-mile traverse over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge). The Wirefly National Marathon (D.C.) runs over the Sousa Bridge and the Douglass Bridge which are pretty nice spans. Regrettably the Bay Bridge-Tunnel Marathon, with its 17-mile trip across the lower Chesapeake Bay via roadway and twin tunnels is no more.

Four cancellations in six years has to bode ill for the future of the Governor’s Bay Bridge 10K. It was cancelled due to high winds this year, although they did improvise a 5K run at the last moment within the park. In 2005 construction on the bridge caused cancellation of the race. In 2003 security concerns shut down the race, and in 2002 rain and lightning caused cancellation. Hopefully the race will go on despite these numerous setbacks.

Web Site of the Week: Athlinks.com

(We did a quick review of Athlinks.com a while ago. Here’s a closer look.)

Athlinks.com is a unique and useful Web site for runners, multi-sport enthusiasts, or endurance athletes. The site combines the very popular social aspects of the Internet with race results and event listings.

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Some of the main features of the site include:

My Profile:
After a short registration process, you can create a profile that is unique and personal to you. Your profile includes your age, location, a picture of your choice, and a short blurb describing you and what you are doing.

My Results: When you register, the site combs through race results history (over 31,000 races and 13,000,000 results) to find events that you have taken part in. These results are then associated with your profile and can be found by looking at your profile.

Gear:
You can input any gear you use. For example, I have input my Polar F6 Heart Rate Monitor watch and my Asics as well. You can upload pictures of your gear and include as much detail about your favorite gadget as you like.

Photos: You can add multiple galleries of photos to either share with your friends, make public, or keep private.

My Friends:
If you find someone you know (or even someone you don’t) on Athlinks, you can ask them to be your friend and then easily track their race results and progress right along with them.

My Rivals: Athlinks knows other athletes that you have competed with at least three times and will list them as rivals. Then, like friends, you can track their progress and have a little friendly competition.

Search: Search the Athlinks database by name, event, or use the advanced search to combine a variety of criteria to find people and events that are important to you.

Overall, I really like Athlinks.com. The event results provides a very valuable service and helps me keep all of my event results in one easy to find place. The nicest part about this is that you don’t really have to work too hard to find the results—in most cases, they find you!

Take a look and let me know what you think!

Featured Web Site: MapMyRun.com

logo_mapmyrun.gifThere is a new—or at least a totally redesigned—player in the route mapping Web space. MapMyRun.com has been online for quite sometime but has just recently released a new and improved beta site. Route mapping sites have become an essential part of my training plan and I think—after a brief review—that this is my new favorite. This site features vastly improved functionality over the old version and other route mapping applications. It features great running specific features that will keep you coming back to the site for more than just mapping a run. Continue reading Featured Web Site: MapMyRun.com

Retail Therapy: Epiphany Stretch Short by Brooks

retail-therapy.pngI’ve been a Nike Tempo shorts girl for some time now. But recently at a trip to my local running store, the clerk suggested I try the Epiphany Stretch Short by Brooks. I did and I love them! This is my new favorite running short!

unknown1.jpgThe mesh panel along the side increases ventilation and the side-split fabric makes a sexy swishing motion that is too fun! The fabric is super soft, shell is made of a moisture transfer blend of polyester/Lycra Spandex. Which creates the best part – THEY STRETCH! Got to love the stetchability.

I normally wear a medium short, but I bought these in a large – size up ladies. Available in seven colors, and I want them all. Price, $36.00. Inseam, 3.5″. Available at most running stores, or you can order online at Brooks Running.

Adeo Attitude

I’ve spent the last several weeks testing a clever little device called the Adeo, a combination GPS receiver/chronograph that works with any MP3 player, and I love it. The idea may sound familiar, but I believe that the folks behind the Adeo have it all over the Nike + iPod system. If you’re in the market for a device like this, I’d put the Adeo at the top of the list.
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The Adeo is about the size and shape of a package of Chicklets, and probably weighs less at 2.1 ounces. You can either use it alone or in conjunction with an MP3 player, and once it’s set up, it’s amazingly simple to use. As you start your workout, the Adeo begins tracking your time and distance and announces your elapsed time, total distance covered, elevation above sea level, calories burned and current pace every quarter mile. It also has the ingenious capability to sense when you’ve stopped for a few seconds, like at an intersection, and automatically pauses your workout.

After your workout, you can connect the Adeo to any PC or Mac via a USB connection and upload your data using the included MotionTrak software. The application is intuitive and blessedly simple to use and also gives you the option of storing your workouts on the company’s servers so you can see aerial views of your running routes and keep an online training log. The Adeo can hold up to 10 hours of workout data, so you don’t have to go through this process but once a week or less if you choose.

In practice, there are a few minor drawbacks to using the Adeo. If you’re using it with an MP3 player, as I did with an iPod Mini, you are compelled to wear a fairly large neoprene belt that has slots in the back for the Adeo and the MP3 player. The belt is much like the water-bottle carriers many runners use on long runs, and it shares their annoying tendency to ride up and end up under your rib cage after a few minutes.

The other problem I encountered was with the battery. The Adeo has a rechargeable lithium ion cell, which the company says has a life of six hours after a charge of four to six hours. However, several times I went for runs of an hour or a little more and by the next day, the battery was completely dead. Having to charge the battery after every run got to be a bit much.

But overall the Adeo was simple to use and the GPS receiver worked in a number of areas where my standalone GPS watch often loses its connection with the satellites. At $149 the Adeo isn’t cheap. But when you consider that an iPod Nano and the required Nike + kit cost $230 minimum, the price doesn’t seem out of line.

Give it a look and I think you’ll be impressed.

Retail Therapy: Brooks Vapor-Dry 2 Hoodie

retail-therapy.pngI don’t know about you, but it seems like winter is never going to end. Heading to your local running store for a little for something new might be just the pick-me-up you need to help you hit the road on a cold day. I sure did and found a very versatile and functional jacket: the Brooks Vapor-Dry Hoodie.

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I didn’t buy this jacket for the sleek look, music-friendly design or moisture wicking fabric but only for the adorable fold-over, built-in mittens. How cute is that?! Not to mention functional. All vanity aside, the shirt is warm, moisture wicking and trimmed with sleek reflective panels. Although I found this jacket a little on the pricy side at $78.00, it will definitely become a winter wardrobe essential that I can wear year after year.

Read more about this jacket at Brooks Running.

If you own this product and would like to add your opinion, leave me a comment.

Book Review: Chasing the Hawk: Looking for my Father, Finding Myself

book reviewAnyone who has run for any length of time knows the name and legacy of Dr. George Sheehan. Dr. Sheehan is considered by many to be the father of the running phenomenon that started in the late 70’s and continues to this day. Most runners have at least heard of Dr. Sheehan’s New York Times bestseller, Running & Being: The Total Experience (if you haven’t read it, you should) and also know that Dr. Sheehan was also one of the pioneering writers for Runner’s World magazine. (See his site here.)

chasing the hawkThe author of this book, Chasing the Hawk: Looking for My Father, Finding Myself,is Dr. Sheehan’s son, Andrew Sheehan, a self-described alcoholic and drug abuser. This book is more than just a chronicle of growing up in large family in the shadow of a famous father. This is the story of a struggling son and a struggling father working together (sometimes voluntarily, sometimes not) to find peace not only with each other, but with themselves as well. After a lifetime of anger, denial, and feelings of abandonment, a father’s love and a son’s admiration comes through.

Along with being a solid book on recovery, forgiveness, family, and faith, it also gives a backdoor view into the world of Dr. Sheehan and his family. It shows him, not as an infallible doctor, guiding the masses to fitness, but rather as a faulted, vulnerable human being. The author works hard to ensure that the many facets of Dr. Sheehan’s personality are shown and the reader gets a full impression of what Dr. Sheehan was about—warts and all.

If you are looking for a running-related book that is about more than VO2 max or heart rate training, this is the book for you. It covers enough running specific information to stay interesting to the avid runner, but also makes great strides in personalizing an icon and delivering a message of love, forgiveness, and hope.

I give it 4 out of 5 stars

Have you read this book? What’s your rating? [ratings]

Book Information
Paperback: 304 pages
Title: Chasing the Hawk: Looking for my Father, Finding Myself
Author: Andrew Sheehan
ISBN: 0385335644
Publisher: Delta; Reprint edition (October 1, 2002)