Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010 Lessons

Go where most don't, you'll be rewarded.
Grand Traverse of Baxter Park
When you run a certain race enough times, you look forward to the little things.
Moose at the Mid-Winter 10 Mile Classic - that is Hard Core in Maineglish
Never miss an opportunity for a beauty break...
Daicey Pond, Baxter State Park
...or to skinny dip with friends in northern Maine in March.
Yeah, it was cold, but totally worth it.
Trust your crazy ideas, they just might take off (here's to you Fatty, you sure know how to get us to do crazy stuff to fight cancer).
I rode 100 miles on my trainer. 5 days before a marathon. Yup, I am a nimrod, and I am doing it again!
Caratunk has superwomen. 
Beth and I, Sugarloaf Marathon, my favorite marathon.
Nothing is better than getting greeted by a friend after a cold 16 mile run.
Bailey greeting me after one of my colder training runs.

When you get the opportunity to do the right thing, even if it seems small, do it.

Hummingbird rescue

If you can't get into an ice bath, take a stream bath.  The effects are similar, except your mind recovers more than your legs.
My private pool
Riding with friends is awesome.
Scouting Timberman bike course
Being at an Ironman start is hands down one of the most exciting things I have experienced.  Ever.
Ironman Lake Placid swim start
I am glad I took the left.
Crossroads - left means Ironman, right means...something else.
206 days until Ironman Lake Placid!!!
It was worth standing in line, right Jon?
Meat beaters after an 80 mile ride are a sign of love and support. 
My 87 year old grandmother, still there cheering me on!
Patience is a virtue.

I have a hard time waiting to recover after a race, Bailey is all about waiting.
We are pretty small in the scheme of things.
Hamlin ridge, Baxter State Park
Getting up at 3am and climbing a mountain in the dark in order to summit before everyone else - totally worth it.
Katahdin, looking toward Pamola Peak, Baxter Park Maine
Sometimes you have to get really close to something to feel its power. 
John and I, Grand Falls, Dead River
Hold on tightly to the ones you love.
Me and Pop
If you give something a try and think positively - good things happen.
I am on Team Trakkers!! YEAH YEAH YEAH!

Be thankful for all of your gifts...
Nana under ware and all
Wishing you all a safe and Happy New Year! 

Monday, December 27, 2010

Muttley Monday - Nap Time

To date, my favorite picture of Bailey with a santa hat on:

It isn't easy playing Santa though, Bailey was pretty tuckered out.  Here he is sleeping with his buddy (and my man) John:

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve...

John and I always go to my parents on Christmas Eve, then to his parents for Christmas day.  So I got to open up presents today!!

The good....

Amazon Kindle with my most wanted book loaded...psyched!
The bad....

Bailey went a little wild on the present opening...as did his buddy Kenny (seen to the left)
 And the ugly...

Mothers just should not pick out underware for their daughers...
 I am offline for most of the rest of the holidays, so I won't be getting to your blogs to comment - but I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and the Happiest of Holidays.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

ICESPIKE Review

For the majority of the winter, I (like most people who live where it is snowy) run on icy, snowy, slippery surfaces.  Traction can be a real problem when you are running on this for 4 months:
Main Street, Caratunk
Or check out last week's post for pictures of the road conditions when I run in the woods.  The thought of slipping and maybe pulling a muscle or something more serious is always in the back of my mind. Over the years, I have tried numerous over the shoe type devices (I am not naming names) and have been mostly unsatisfied.  I personally find these products not all that durable and kind of slippery if you get on an icy side slope. 

My friends at Mesh Marketing put me in touch with the folks at ICESPIKE, who asked me to try out and review their product. 

About ICESPIKE
I am going to be a little lazy here and copy right from their website:

ICESPIKE is a semi-permanent traction system that can be mounted on any running or walking shoe, hiking or work boot, quickly and easily. Take any pair of new or gently used footwear, attach ICESPIKE, and enjoy outdoor fun and peace of mind on any terrain in any season! 

Don’t be fooled by imitation spikes (hex head sheet metal screws) that can be bought at hardware stores. ICESPIKE is specifically engineered of cold-rolled, tool quality steel to maintain hardness and integrity of grip ten times longer. ICESPIKE WILL NOT DAMAGE YOUR SHOES!

(Find out more about the ICESPIKE screws HERE)



Ummm. Wait. You mean actually I have to screw these things INTO the bottom of my running shoes? REALLY?  I needed to think about this.

I finally decided to test them out on an older pair of running shoes.  It wasn't so much that I didn't trust their claims that ICESPIKE does nothing to the shoe, but...for me screwing spikes into the bottom of my shoe was hard for me to jump right in and do.

The Installation
ICESPIKE screw

The ICESPIKE kit comes with 32 spikes plus 1 "Precision tool" - that is a fancy name for a hex screwdriver, but it does come in quite handy.  Besides having a hard time (mentally) screwing these into the bottom of my shoes, installation was easy. The instructions were easy and straight forward.

I think it took me 10 minutes at most to put the screws to both of my shoes.    See?
Not a lot of sneaker pictures here because I am changing brands...

The screws seem to only go into the rubber part of the sole of the shoe, not any deeper as to affect it's overall structure.  Here are some more pictures of the actual installation from the ICESPIKE website:


Testing them out
I have tested these numerous times in various conditions since I have gotten them.
  • Ice and Snow - They are really fantastic on snowy or icy surfaces, I really felt more secure running up and down the icy hills around town.  There is no question of the difference the ICESPIKE made for running in snow and ice, it gripped well on packed snow, ice, and fresh snow.  I do not feel they added any weight to the shoe at all, the spikes are fairly weightless.  As far as how they felt - when I was running on the ice and snow, I didn't notice them at all and really liked the extra traction they provided.
  • Bare Pavement - I am not in tune enough with my running style to tell you if it affected my gait or not, but I really don't think it did affect it at all.  They gripped well on the pavement, I did not have any problems with sliding or anything on the pavement like I do with other products.  I have read a few reviews that claim to not notice them when running on pavement.  I personally did notice they were there.  Besides the clack clack clack on the pavement your shoes make when wearing them, I could also "feel" them there.  Not a big deal on intermittent pavement/snow/ice but on a straight pavement run it did bug me just a little.   
OK I said various conditions. Those are the only 2 conditions I have right now. 

Taking them out
ICESPIKE claims that their use does not damage your shoe, and that you can take them out after use and use the shoe without them.  Multiple reviewers agree.  I decided to check it out myself.  I took the ICESPIKE out of one of my shoes to see what I thought.  There was a tiny hole the size of a toothpick, so it really didn't look like the shoes were damaged at all.

As a final test, I ran in them, and they didn't feel any different to me then they did pre-spiking. Taking ICESPIKE out left minutely small holes, I didn't feel any damage, and the shoes didn't feel changed to me. This being said, for me personally, I am usually ready to trade out my running shoes after a winter of running. They just get beat with the miles and if I do not trade them after so many miles, I end up injured.  This has nothing to do with ICESPIKE except to say it will be hard for me to really test this same pair of shoes in the spring because I will be on different shoes. 

Regarding my initital hesitation to screw ICESPIKE into my newer running shoes? After testing, I do not have a problem putting these on any shoes I want traction in the winter.

Pros/Cons of ICESPIKE

Pros - These are great for what they are made for - traction on ice and snow.  The traction from these is superior to other products I have tried over the years, the installation is easy and quick, the screws are very light and durable, and you can not feel them when you are running in icy/snowy road conditions, except that your traction is greatly improved.  These also work really well in mixed conditions, where the road is mostly icy/snowy with patches of pavement.  Installation does not appear to damage the shoe from what I could tell.  They were much more comfortable than other traction devices I have used in the past when on pavement. 

Cons - While these are great for running in slippery road and trail conditions, I do not recommend them for consistently running on pavement, as for me personally, I didn't like the "feel" of them.  In fairness, these are not made to be worn on pavement full time anyway.

Bottom Line
If you spend a lot of time running in slippery conditions, ICESPIKE will keep you secure.  ICESPIKE has turned into a key piece of running gear for me so far this winter.  It is a great product when used as it was designed for - traction on snow and ice - and I highly recommend ICESPIKE for that purpose. 

Want to get ICESPIKE now?  Check out their webpage HERE.

Disclosure: ICESPIKE was provided to me by ICESPIKE at no cost to test and review.  The above review is my honest opinion of the product.  If something is good, I will say so; if it sucks, I’ll let you know that too. That said, I probably wont waste my or your time writing a post about something that sucks, unless it's really that bad.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday Random Stuff

  • I had a lot of fun being part of Jill's gift exchange.  Thank you so much to Chris from BQ or Die for my favorite thing...CHOCOLATE!  You rock, and I am pretty sure since it is a present it has zero calories! Now could you also send me some San Diego sunshine? It was below zero here this morning.  Thank you again Jill for organizing the exchange.
  • I loved the Kona coverage last night and as usual, I choked up a few times and found tremendous inspiration from the age grouper stories.  I mean, the pro stuff is neat and all (if I have to hear from Macca how great he is one more time, I might just puke), but I want to hear more from the everyman, because, well...that is you, it is me.   Seriously, if your heart didn't break for Kyle Garrett when he couldn't finish the bike, well, I don't know what to say.  I was cheering for Clayton Treska (even though I cheated and looked online during the commercial to see if he finished), and his story of walking around the corridors of the hospital while on chemo just to keep active were unbelievable.  I could go on and on...What was your favorite?
  • I think Lew Hollander is probably going to make it to 120, what do you think? And he has the best endless pool ever, hands down.
  • I was at the pool yesterday and there was a lady in the lane next to me.  I grabbed the kick board and noticed she had just grabbed her kick board too. My first thought?  We are racing.  She didn't know this, so I figured I had the advantage.  I took off as fast as I could, and after a while looked over at her.  She was dead even with me and not looking like she was working hard.  She was smiling and looking around.  At the wall, I got about 3-5 feet ahead of her (winning!!!), and I was busting my butt. Kicking and kicking and kicking.  I couldn't believe it, she looked like she was hardly putting out any effort.  Plus, it looked to me like her hips were down, I was working hard to keep mine up.  At the next turn around I noticed she was wearing flippers.  Oh.
  • A few of you asked what I wear on the icy/snowy roads I run on.  I use ICESPIKE if I need traction.  I am going to post a review next week (Wednesday) and will give you all kinds of info about them.
  • 216 days until Ironman Lake Placid!

Weekly numbers
I forgot to post my numbers last week. Ooops.  Here is where I am this week:
Swim: 2200 yds
Bike: 106
Run: 18
Weight training: 1 hr
9hrs50min

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Seen On The Run

Today I had a great run.  I decided to run on the Boise Road, a dirt road that is sometimes plowed in the winter.  It is my favorite place to run in the summer because it is remote and quiet and there is very little traffic.  In the winter, if I am lucky enough, the road gets plowed or snowmobiled (packed down) so I can run on it.  Actually, right now we haven't had enough snow to need plowing, so it is good to go at least until the next snow storm.

For me, today's 7 miler was one of those runs to put in the books.  I ran it in 1:09, which isn't bad considering my quick "beauty break" photo stops.  I know, I know, but I really couldn't help it, there were a lot of really cool things going on. 

What made it great?  I can't really describe it.  It was just one of those nice quiet winter runs, with nothing but the crunch of my shoes in the snow. I love the way my eyelashes freeze from my breath and feel cool on my cheek, it gives me this strange sense of pleasure.  Kind of like frozen nostrils.

What? Doesn't everyone like that?
So this doesn't count as a photo stop. It is the starting shot.

Does anyone's butt cheeks NOT get cold in the winter?  Seriously, I sometimes wonder if I have a circulation problem down there, because I always get cold "cheeks" when I run in the winter and the temperature approaches zero.  It makes me wonder if there is a ThermaJock for your butt?

I digress. This was about pictures.  No. I don't have a picture of that. But I have a picture of a turkey butt print. See:
OK, so it is a turkey tail, not a butt. I was going with the butt theme.
So the tracks I was most excited about seeing were these:
Big kitty tracks

More big kitty tracks
Canada Lynx tracks.  These guys are endangered in Maine and are very rare to see around here, as this is really the very southern edge of their range.  I am really psyched to see that they are here.  For the record, they eat bunnies, not bigger things, like say, short, spunky running girls. We short girls tend to be a little tough anyway, bunnies are much more tender and less stringy.

I wish I saw the Lynx, (I have seen a lot of them up in The County in northern Maine) but I am really happy just to know they are around here.

After the excitement of seeing the Lynx tracks, I really focused on running, and I really got into a groove for the last 2/3 of the run.  I wish I had a way to tell my splits, because I am sure I ran the last part much faster than the final time shows. 

It was cool enough today that my clothes, hat, and face hairs (my face isn't that hairy, honest) were covered with frost by the end of the run.  I always feel kind of like a bad ass when I get into my truck covered with a thin layer of white ice crystals after a run. I couldn't wipe the smile off of my face.

I mean really, with an ending like this, how can you not be happy?
Pleasant Pond Village, Caratunk, ME

Monday, December 13, 2010

Muttley Monday - Snow Day

Bailey loves the snow, and snow days are his favorite for going to work with me.

Checking the skid trails, looking for moose (and doughnuts)
Supervising my work.
Resting up after a tough day at work.  Yes, I sit on the floor.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Flashback - Smashing the Excuse Demon

Flashback to December 18 of last year. I think MAYBE I had 5 followers and I had just started my blog.  I was thinking a lot about my races in 2010. Oh, and it was %$# cold.  Anyway, this is one of my favorites so I thought I would re-post. I left it as I originally posted it (note reference to upcoming races in 2010), with a few oh-so-minor edits.

Smashing the Excuse Demon

Every now and then when I am training, this small imaginary guy pops up on my shoulder and whispers, "You don't have time for that..." or "Oh man, you have tons of time before your next race, take a day off.." Today he was whispering, "It is way to freaking cold to go for a run."

I had to admit, this little dude had a point. This morning when I got up, my thermometer read -10 and the wind was howling. Welcome to winter training in Caratunk, Maine. It isn't the coldest I have trained in by any means (last year we had 2 weeks of between -30 and -40), but last week I was running in shorts, so this change was a little shocking to say the least. Since I was working at home, I moved my morning run to my lunch hour, hoping the temperature would creep up to at least zero.

As noon approached, the excuses creeped into my head. "You have too much work to do, you really don't have time..." and "Run tomorrow (which then turns into run tomorrow...then run tomorrow...)," and "Did you see it was -5 IN THE SUN you moron?"

That excuse demon was trying to work his way into my head, and he isn't easy to ignore when he speaks what is logic to most people.

As I was starting to give in to the reasons why I shouldn't run, I reviewed my goals for 2010. Granted, this one 5-mile run won't make or break my 2010 season, but whether or not I do it does set a precedent for my off season training. I want a solid base going into 2010, with a spring marathon and a late summer half iron man planned as key races, and this is just a piece of the foundation. I do not need the excuse demon to squeeze into any part of my training; I want him to be a spectator who eventually fades into the crowd.

So I bundled up, laced up my sneakers, and stepped outside. My nostrils froze instantly, and the thought slipped through my head, "Most people don't even ski in this weather, no wonder your neighbors think you are a freak."

Shrugging off the easy out, the excuse that would send me running back inside diving under a blanket with a big cup of hot cocoa and a good book, I pulled my scarf up over my face, put my head down into the wind, and started running. After 5 minutes, I was comfortable. After the first mile, I was warm and enjoying the view of the icy Kennebec River flowing by, not imagining being anywhere else but right where I was, running in the freezing cold with a big smile on my face.

Mandy 1, Excuse Demon 0.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Buff Seamless Headband Review

Before I delve into this review, I want to give a big shout and say Thank You to everyone for all of your kind words and support after my last post.  I really appreciate it.

The super generous folks at Buff Headwear and Mesh Marketing recently gave me the opportunity to review 3 Buff Headwear products: the Buff Seamless Headband, the Merino Wool Buff, and the Reversible Polar Buff.
I will be reviewing the Buff Seamless Headband today and review the two other Buffs at a later date.  Although the products are similar, they are actually each a unique product with different uses for various conditions, and I feel they each deserve their own review.

About Buff Headwear
Anyone who has watched the CBS Television series, “Survivor” has seen a Buff. It is essentially a tubular hat made of a thin, stretchy, seamless synthetic (or merino wool, or polar fleece) fabric that hugs your head to wick sweat, keep you warm, or keep the sun and wind at bay.  They are lightweight, multi-functional items that can be used during outings that range from ultra-endurance races to long bike rides to nightly jogs through the busy streets of Caratunk. I plan on taking mine on all of my winter back country trips this year.

Seamless Headband
This is a new product that will be made available in Feburary 2011.  I feel very fortunate that I got the opportunity to take a sneak peak at it.

The Buff Seamless Headband is about 8"-9" long, which is half the length of the Original Buff.  It is made of Coolmax fabric, is lightweight, soft and comfortable.  The Seamless Headband has 95% ultraviolet protection and active odor control to boot.  I am all for odor control.  I have been testing it for a few weeks now, and I find myself rarely leaving the house without grabbing it before a run or a ride on the trainer.

The Review
To be completely honest, when I first got this, I scratched my head for a bit, wondering what I was going to do with it (obviously I didn't look at the packaging at first.  I am the girl that opens something up and throws the directions across the room and starts playing with the new thing immediately).

After I played with the Buff for a while, I found the package and saw that the nice folks at Buff list a variety of used on the back of the package: 
Foulard? That is a new word for me!

I thought I would test out all the uses and tell you what I think.

Helmet Liner
I tried it out.  On my trainer since it was 6 degrees this morning:
I am such a geek.
I know, I look like a moron riding my trainer with a bike helmet.  The things I do for you guys.

First, this was extremely comfortable under my helmet. The seamless design of this product makes it super comfortable.  I really wanted to know how this works when you are hot and working hard.  It wasn't bad, I get hot really easy (did I just say that?) and I didn't overheat when wearing it.  I did get warmer than I would have without it.  It really helped to keep the sweat and hair out of my eyes, and I really loved that feature.

I would think on a really hot day it would be difficult for me to wear unless I dunked it in water every now and then (which actually sounds pretty awesome now that I think about it.)  I didn't try that, it is December in Maine.  But there are days when just my helmet feels hot, so adding a layer, no matter how thin, might push me over the edge on the heat index.  That said, I LOVE the way it keeps the sweat at bay and the hair out of my face.
 
After the test, I feel that I will use it on most of my rides in 2011 as a helmet liner. 


Foulard
Yes that is the same shirt.

When I learn a new word I try to use it as often as I can in a sentence.  I have been wearing the Buff as a foulard regularly on my trainer rides.  It keeps the sweat and hair out of my eyes.  Wearing it this way I do not feel any hotter like I did when wearing the helmet.  Actually, I delay rides to find my Buff if I can't put my hands right on it.  That is how much I like it.


Hairband/headband
I am not a hairband/headband person.  I look ridiculous wearing a headband or a hairband.  I mean, look at me:
The tough girl look

The sweet girl look (batting my eyelashes..)
Sorry to do that to you guys.  But you had to see it.  I will say, this would work great as a headband or hairband if you swing that way.  It isn't bulky and stays on your head really well.  I tested the "it stays on your head" theory out by shaking my head really hard like I was jamming at a concert.

Mask/Neckerchief
I am all warmed up now.  Note Merino Wool Buff on head.

This is how I have used this most often on the run.  I never go without it actually.  It is just cold enough (5-15 degrees) right now to want a thin layer to cover your face when you head outside.  Then as you get warm you can just let the Buff drop around your neck.  It doesn't bother me letting it hang there at all, and when the wind starts blowing it is really nice to tuck your face into.   

Scrunchy
This didn't work for me.  It didn't hold my hair enough to do any activity, like say, walk.  I have super fine hair and scrunchies in general do not work for me, so it is no big surprise.  I would go with wearing it as a foulard to do that.

Wristband
It fits on your wrist perfectly well. See:


And your wrist turns out to be a really good place to hold it until you are ready to use it for other things.  That's all I have to say about that.

Bottom Line
Pros: I find this works great as a liner for my bike helmet, as a foulard (new words!), and as a face mask.  I think the feature I like most about this product is its versatility and comfort.  It has numerous uses for me as a triathlete and as a backpacker, hiker, and back country skier.  It is light enough to take on every adventure.  I have washed this numerous times and it still wears like new. 

This has definitely turned into a go-to piece of gear for me. 


Cons:  As a scrunchy, it definitely doesn't work, at least with my hair.  If you are a person who gets hot easily when working out, using it as a helmet liner on a super hot day might not work for you. 

Where can you get a Buff Seamless Headband?  It will be available from the Buff Headwear website February of 2011. A big thank you to Buff Headwear and Mesh Marketing for giving me the opportunity to test this product.

Disclaimer: This product was given to me by Buff Headwear to test and review.  This review is my honest personal opinion of the product after testing it in various conditions.