Posts Tagged ‘Marathon’

12 days of sporty gifts — Day 9 — Basket full of joy

December 21, 2010

So you’ve left your holiday shopping to the last minute and are running out of time, but you still want to get a personal gift (not a gift card).  So what can you do?

How about a basket full of sports drinks, supplements and accessories?  It’s like one of those gourmet foodie baskets, but with the athlete in mind.

Instead of bottles of wine, buy bottles of Gatorade, Powerade and/or Vitamin Water.  Skip the chocolate and instead go for protein bars and energy bars.  If you’re shopping for an endurance athlete, throw in some packets of Gu or Cliff Shot Bloks.  You might also want to add a pair of running socks, a hydration belt, a water bottle, some muscle cream or one of those books from Day 6 to round things out.  Arrange it in a basket, slap on a Christmas bow and voila! you have a gift any athlete would be happy to receive.

And remember…you only have 4 shopping days left!

12 days of sporty gifts — Day 6 — The gift to top all gifts

December 18, 2010

If you’re really looking to impress that sporty person on your gift list, look no further than the Garmin Forerunner 310xt.

At it’s core, the Forerunner 310xt is a heart rate monitor.  But oh is it so much more than that!

Garmin, as I’m sure you’re well aware is known for it’s GPS navigators.  And they’ve packed that GPS technology into the Forerunner.

No more mapping outdoor running or biking routes.  All you have to do is get outside and go, the Forerunner takes care of the rest, tracking your mileage as you travel.  Not only can you use it to track your runs and rides, but it’s also waterproof which means open water swimming practices are now completely accurate to the foot or meter.  (You can set it to standard or metric distance measurements means you can forget about converting that 10k into miles).  Also, you can set the Forerunner to beep or vibrate at whatever distance interval you prefer making it easy to be track and also (and this is huge for cyclists) allowing you to  keep your eyes on the road!

The battery life on this thing is long, lasting upwards of 20 hours on one charge which means you don’t have to worry about it dying during the middle of one of your long workouts or training sessions.

My absolute favorite feature is the virtual pacer.  Set it to the miles/km per hour you want to keep up with and the Forerunner will beep or vibrate to let you know if you’re keeping up.  I used the pacer during my last triathlon and it helped me turn in my best time ever.  It’s like having a trainer there with you yelling at you to pick it up.

Another noteworthy feature is the back to start map option which means you’ll never get lost.  If you get so into a run that you lose track of where you’re going and how to get back home, simply select “Back to Start” and the Forerunner will guide you back home via the way you came. — Awesome, right?

In the few months Garmin let me test out the Forerunner, I really only came up with one con.  The thing is huge…about the size of wearing two wristwatches next to each other.  That also means it’s a little heavier than most heart rate monitor watches, but the extra weight is hardly noticeable.

But you don’t have to take my word for it.  Check out this review from a marathoner friend of mine who used the Forerunner in the final months of his training for this year’s New York City Marathon.

One run with the Forerunner was all I needed to erase any concerns I had and convert me forever. It was supposed to be a post rest 4 miler, a brush up after two weeks of pool running, but quickly turned into a 6 miler. What impressed me right off the bat were the vibrating mileage alerts. Set at a beep every half mile, the alerts made the run feel quicker and broken in down into segments, so as opposed to a 6 mile run it was more like 12 half mile runs rolled into one. The real luxury of the Garmin turned out to be the heart monitor. I never knew what my heart rate was, let alone even cared, and felt any monitor was just another tool to bog a runner down. Yeah….I was wrong. The addition of a heart monitor in the final month of training, including three 14 plus milers, was invaluable. It felt like that 3 digit heart rate was a tiny digital coach. When my rate went to high, I knew I needed to slow down. When it dipped to low, I knew I could speed up. I was now running at my goal pace and removed any post run questioning, such as did I push too hard? Did I go to slow?

 An obvious attribute is the GPS. I don’t even need to spend much time here and can sum it up with one sentence. No more logging on to ‘Google Maps’ or ‘Map My Run’ and trying to remember what street I turned down when figuring out my day’s mileage.

As race day approached, I became more reliant on the Garmin and started to realize how foolish I was for questioning anyone who spent money on one. On race day, I wish I had spent it years ago. I didn’t try do anything different from my training runs, but as mile 21 approached and the inevitable wall loomed, I caught myself staring at it every few steps. Looking back on the race, I don’t even think I was staring at my pace, but my heart monitor and became lost in it, an ultimate distraction. And in a sport that can be full of external distractions, it really helped me focus.

 I finished 2 minutes under my goal pace.

 It’s been a month of running without the Garmin and its back to Google maps and choppy paces because I can’t target my heart rate on my own. You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.

 I’ll end with one quick note, the watch does not feel as big as it looks. I always thought people with Garmin’s looked like Inspector Gadgets niece, Penny. It fits like an Ironman and after a few miles you forget it’s even on your wrist.”

So as my friend alludes to, the Garmin Forerunner 310xt carries a weighty price tag, retailing for around $399.  But trust me, the athlete on your list will remember the gift for years to come.

Only 6 shopping days left until Christmas!

12 days of sporty gift ideas

December 13, 2010

There are only 12 shopping days left ’til Christmas and if you have an athlete on your gift list, fear not.  Between now and the big day I’ll have 12 great ideas for the active person(s) in your life.

Seeing as it’s still early, you can still get away with ordering a gift online and having it delivered in time for December 25th.  With that in mind, why not gift some branded athletic gear for the next big race on that athlete’s schedule?

Whether she’s training for the New York City triathlon, a marathon or an Ironman, the race is bound to have T-shirts, sweatshirts, bike jerseys, hats and other accessories stamped with the race logo. 

My favorites tend to be the ones that have “In Training” stamped on them (like this one).  I’m also a big fan of the NYC Marathon gloves that list the names of the five boroughs on the fingertips.

I’ll also let you in on a little secret.  These clothes are something we’d love to buy for ourselves, but often don’t because we have too many other things to pay for like entry fees, sneakers and extra tire tubes. 

Here are links to some of the biggest online race stores:

New York City ING Marathon

Nautica New York City Triathlon

Ironman Gifts

Still looking for that perfect gift?  Don’t worry…I’ll bring you another idea tomorrow.

Making the NYC Marathon run smoothly

October 20, 2010

The New York City Marathon is just a few weeks away and while it’s too late to actually run the race, there’s still time to help run it.

That’s because the New York Road Runners Club is still taking applications for race day volunteers.

Assignments include staffing the The ING New York City Marathon Health and Fitness Expo at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in the days leading up to the race, giving out water to runners along the 26.2 mile course and even handing out medals at the finish line in Central Park.

If you ‘re interested in making Sunday November 7th run smooth, head here to become a volunteer.

And who knows, maybe you’ll be inspired by the millions of runners and decide to enter the race next year.  And don’t worry, you’ll have time to decide.  The lottery for next year’s race isn’t until sometime in April 2011.

Take the money and run

October 5, 2010

Over the last few years, I’ve entered in a handful of races.  They’ve all been competitions I’ve wanted to participate in, but I’ve noticed something of late.  They’re getting expensive!

 Take, for example, the Disney Princess Half Marathon which is scheduled to happen in February at Disney World.  If you were to sign up for the race today, it’d set you back $140.  $140! 

Want to run in the prestigious New York City Marathon?  If  you can snag a spot, you’ll have to cough up $185 dollars to run 26.2 grueling miles.

And over the past three years, I’ve paid upwards of $500 to compete in three triathlons.

Now, I understand it costs a lot to put on races of such magnitudes, but come on.  I shouldn’t have to break the bank to run in a handful of races every year.  If the logic is that without all that money I wouldn’t be able to get a free T-shirt, a banana and maybe a medal at the finish…then I say keep the trinkets.  (Although I guess you could argue I’ve saved a lot of money by not having to buy PJs, since I have all those T-shirts).  But seriously, just let me compete!  I’ll even pay for the banana and bagel.

Does women only mean men aren’t welcome?

September 29, 2010

This is my last week of training before competing in my first half marathon on Sunday.  And this won’t be any ordinary 13.1 miles.  The race is a women’s only event…a growing trend in the running world.

In recent weeks, a lot of ink has been devoted to these types of races.  The Wall Street Journal had an article about how some men are entering women’s only events because they stand a better chance winning.  A few even admit they do it to meet women. 

To avoid legal issues, these races don’t outright ban men from participating, but some, like the one I’m participating in on Sunday, do all they can to keep the men from signing up.  The organizer for the Long Island Diva Half Marathon tells the paper:

                      “We had four men signed up, but two dropped out when they heard about the  firemen,” says Mr. Pozo, the race organizer. “We’re making this race so girly that men won’t want any part of it.”

The firemen.  I should explain.  At the finish line, bare-chested firemen have been recruited to hand out the finishing medals, which are decked out in bling.  There are also tiara and feather boa stations on the course.  Not sure how I feel about draping a feather boa over my sweaty shoulders, but I’ll take the tiara.  And for the record, I’ll be wearing aqua, not pink.

Some blogs have taken issue with these gimmicks.  I don’t have a problem with them.  They’re just perks.  I signed up because I wanted to challenge myself and be surrounded by strong women looking to do the same thing. 

Every race I’ve ever done has been overrun with men. (I don’t have a problem with that either, I mean have you seen what some of these guys look like! Hot!  But I digress.)  In a field of mostly men, the race atmosphere is tense and serious and super competitive.  When competing alongside women, the mood is generally more social and encouraging. 

When the chain slipped off my bike in the middle of my first triathlon, it was a woman who stopped to help me.  When running up a particularly rough hill during my second triathlon, it was the company of two other women who kept me going.

Look, I’m not trying to say women aren’t competitive.  I am.  And I’m going out there this weekend to post the best personal record I can, but I’m no elite athlete and for me the race is about finishing and enjoying myself along the way.  I see nothing wrong with making a race attractive to only women.

As for those men who enter these races specifically to beat girls, I say, grow up.  To those doing it to meet women…  I’ll give you points for creativity, but not my number.

When a marathon isn’t enough

September 7, 2010

Most of us only ever dream of running a marathon.  Some of us actually do it.  And then there are those for whom 26.2 miles isn’t enough of a challenge.  The ultra marathon exists for those athletes.  An ultra is loosely defined as any race longer than a traditional marathon, but most range between 50K (31 miles) and 100K (60.1 miles).  And did I mention you’d cover all this ground in one day? 

No thank you! I’m currently struggling through my the last half of my half marathon training and don’t think foot races longer than 13.1 miles are in my future.  But in case you’re interested (and you’ve got a couple regular marathons already under your runner’s belt)…here’s one to aim for:  The Coyote Ridge Trail Run at Muir Beach in Marin, California on December 26. 

That 50K race is 16 weeks away, which (I’m told) is enough time to train for an ultra if you’re an experienced marathoner.  Registration for the race is $55.  For those of us with lower mileage goals, there will also be 7 mile, 10 mile and 20 mile races.  Entrance fees for those races are $30, $30 and $40, respectively.  Bagels, snacks, a free T-shirt and a huge sense of accomplishment await you at the finish line.

Monday Music Mayhem

October 26, 2009

The New York City marathon is this Sunday.  In honor of those 40,000 runners and their attempt to cover 26.2 miles in just a few hours, this week’s playlist features songs with the word “run” in the title. 

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Born to Run — Bruce Springsteen

Ready to Run — Dixie Chicks

We Run This — Missy Elliot

Running On Empty — Jackson Browne

I Ran — Flock of Seagulls

And for those slowpokes: 500 Miles — The Proclaimers