Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Adieu Cervelo P2

A few months ago I sold my Cervelo P2 tri bike.  It's kind of weird and uncomfortable parting with something you have spent so much time with.  If you think about it, when I was riding 15 hours per week, it's not unlikely that I was spending more 1 on 1 time with my bike than anyone or anything else!  So now I'm down to 2 bikes.  One is my Bianchi road bike, which is the first real bike I ever owned.  I raced a little on this bike in college and don't think I could ever part with it because it holds such high sentimental value.  The other is an older Trek mountain bike gifted to me by a great friend!  Here in Wilmington, that bike has now taken on the main function of a beach cruiser.

But, my P2 has not been completely outta sight/outta mind.  I have thought about it and wondered what it's new life is like...

Dear P2,
How are you?
Have you thought about me?
Do you miss me too?

What roads have you been on
Since you've been gone?
How 'bout your new owner,
Do you get along?

Are you collecting dust?
Starting to rust?
Or kept in fine tune
In your own special room?

And oh!
Mr. Adamo, 
I have to ask,
Are you making her fast
Or are you just chaffing someone else's ass?

We rode together for more than 3 years
Through cheers
Through tears
A little blood, lots of sweat, and all of your gears

Though you may actually have been one size too small
With handling like I was always about to fall,
I do miss our long days together
In sun, wind, and rain; warm and cold weather
On flats, mountains, descents, and rollers
Country roads, country stores, moon pies, & RC-Colas!

We had our good days
We had our bad
And letting you go,
I couldn't help but feel sad

But you're made for speed,
You're meant to race!
You'd be a waste
In a parking space at 0 m.p.h.!

Though I wonder if we were finally starting to gel,
Only time would tell.
Oh well.
I fare thee well.
You were a tough sell.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

What Should I Eat For Breakfast?

Getting up early in the morning to get ready for work is never easy.  Like many other people out there I've realized that if I skip breakfast I can sleep in an extra 15 minutes.  This is a good trade off, right?  WRONG.  Skipping breakfast is one of the worst things you can do, especially if you are an athlete and ESPECIALLY if you are an athlete doing multiple workouts per day. 

One solution that I have come up with and become quite fond of is going through the drive through at coffee shops and picking up a soy latte and an oatmeal.  So many places are starting to sell oatmeal, which is amazing because it's so much healthier than eating a meat/cheese/egg/biscuit or a donut!  I've tried a few different places so far and here are my conclusions:

Port City Java
PCJ sells Umpqua brand old-fashioned oatmeal in 4 different flavors:

1.  Kickstart - Blueberries, cranberries, sunflower seeds, & more.
     297 calories, 6 g fat, 54 g carbs, 8 g protein

2.  Jackpot - Raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, & pecans.
     270 calories, 5 g fat, 50 g carbs, 7 g protein

3.  RU Nuts - Walnuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, & flax.
     273 calories, 6 g fat, 48 g carbs, 8 g protein

4.  Not Guilty - Blueberries, apples, flax, & chia.  No added salt or sugar.
     224 calories, 6 g fat, 36 g carbs, 8 g protein

I've tried all of these oatmeals and I think they're all really good!  My favorite flavors are the Kickstart and the Jackpot; they are also the ones with the most carbs, which is good for me because I'm back to my high-carb, low-fat, whole-foods, plant-based diet :)  The baristas prepare the oatmeal for you by adding hot water and letting it steep for about 5 minutes.  All the fruit & nut goodies are already inside the container. 

Not to be outdone, Starbucks offers 2 different varieties of steel-cut oatmeal:

1.  Classic - brown sugar, fruit medley, walnuts
     400 calories, 12.5 g fat, 66 g carbs, 8 g protein

2.  Hearty Blueberry - agave syrup, fresh blueberries, fruit/nut medley
     280 calories, 8.5 g fat, 50 g carbs, 7 g protein

I've only tried the Classic flavor of this oatmeal and I will say it was delicious!  It has a thicker texture than the Port City oatmeal, which is more similar to a hot muesli.  For preparation, Starbucks adds water to the container & lets it steep for 5 minutes.  Then, it's up to you to add the toppings yourself, which, maybe I'm lazy but I'd rather not have to do that. 

Dunkin' Donuts
I was initially impressed that DD offered oatmeal and I tried it one day when I picked up 3 dozen donuts to take do a doctor's office.  There is only 1 flavor:

1.  Brown Sugar Flavored Oatmeal - dried fruit topping
oatmeal     300 calories, 4 g fat, 61 g carbs, 7 g protein

This oatmeal was a huge let-down!  As soon as I tasted it I could tell there was milk in it.  I immediately called DD and asked how they prepare their oatmeal and they said, "hot water with a splash of milk."  Needless to say this did not align with my tastebuds.  Not only that, it's potentially dangerous for anyone with a milk or dairy allergy.  However, if you find yourself at Dunkin,' the oatmeal is certainly a healthier option than their namesake.

I've never tried McDonald's oatmeal and I can't say that I plan to.  But, for the sake of comparison:

1.  Fruit & Maple Oatmeal - "We take two full servings of 100% natural whole-grain oats and add a touch of cream..."  Enough said.
     290 calories, 4 g fat, 58 g carbs, 5 g protein

Footnote:  For athletes who need to consume a lot of calories and carbohydrates per day to maintain energy levels for training, I'd also suggest adding any or all of the following to your breakfast:  100% OJ or other 100% fruit juice, banana or other whole fruit, Naked Smoothie, Cliff Bar, water.  These are all usually things that coffee shops tend to offer as a la carte items and are easy to grab and go when you've decided to sleep in that extra 15 minutes :)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Shoe Review: Mizuno Wave Elixir

How do you know when it's time to buy new running shoes?  The correct answer is to keep track of your mileage and once you reach the known life of your shoes, replace them.  I have not been following this protocol.  I usually run my shoes into the ground with reckless abandon.  Once I start to feel any sort of pain (usually in my knees) I know it's time to get new shoes.  This is a dicey strategy because while I have been able to get a lot more miles out of my shoes than prescribed, I have to replace them immediately upon feeling the ache or pain, otherwise face risk of serious injury and time off of running.  A few days ago I started feeling some foot pain after a run.  Stupidly, I ran 11 miles the next day and 9 miles the day after that.  The pain worsened, I had to take a day off of running, and I knew it was time to spend money on new shoes. 

Anyhow, on to the new shoes!  I first tried on the Brooks Pure Connect, Saucony Kinvara, and Nike Free 3.0.  I've tried on the Connect and Kinvara before and I immediately noticed the same thing I have noticed before about these shoes.  For me, there is too much material underneath the arch of the foot.  I'd say I have a medium arch, but I really don't like anything to be built up under there.  My take is that the natural function of the arch is to support your foot and help absorb the impact of your steps and I DO NOT like anything underneath it messing with the natural mechanics of that mechanism.  In addition, I found the Kinvara too wide, especially in the toe box; I have a narrower foot.  The Nike Free 3.0's felt decent, but there was not much cushion at all.  They didn't feel like they'd have the gusto to last muchos miles.

I then went to Trysports at Mayfaire (where I should have gone from the start and am embarrassed to say that I did not) and tried on the Mizuno Wave Elixir.  As soon as I slipped my foot into this shoe it felt fantastic!  I was pretty much sold before I even went outside and gave them a test spin.  Sometimes you just know when the shoe fits.  And when I did go outside and run in them, they still felt great.  My foot didn't even hurt one bit!  They felt like a minimalist shoe with just the right amount of cushioning to hold up over long runs and increasing training mileage.  I wanted to buy them right then and there. 

However, I obliged the helpful sales guy and proceeded to try on the Brooks Pure Flow, Brooks T7 Racer, & Mizuno Wave Sayonara.  The Flow actually felt decent, but didn't fit as snugly on my foot as the Elixir.  I've always thought the T7 Racer looks really cool and have wanted to try that shoe for a while now.  It felt like I could run a really fast 5K in those shoes!  They were super light and would be perfect for racing or speed training, but maybe not so ideal for marathon training.  The Sayonara's just felt awkward across the top of my foot and I didn't care for them.

So, of course I went with the Elixir.  I had my first run in them today and was super pleased.  They were lightweight, comfortable, and provided just enough cushioning.  I'm a very neutral runner and they allowed me to maintain my mid-foot strike.  I had no foot pain whatsoever and no blisters or hotspots.  I did a total of 10 miles at about 7:15 pace and felt awesome.  These shoes remind me a lot of the old Mizuno Musha that I used to run in and really liked.  They are also similar to the Pearl Izumi Isotransition, which were a dream come true shoe for me.  Definitely a solid shoe for anyone looking for a lightweight, minimalist, training shoe on which you can rack up some marathon miles.  Mizuno got this one right when they pegged the Elixir as "a performance shoe with just enough support that also delivers on longer training runs."  And as for looks, they may not be the prettiest shoes I've ever seen, but they do have a certain attitude about them, and I like that.