Monday, March 30, 2009

Hammer Gels and Other Products

I emailed the directors of the GO! St. Louis Marathon last week to question them about what kind of performance enhancing drugs they will be giving out at the aid stations.  Ok, maybe not the same kind of performance enhancing drugs that Barry Bonds did NOT use during his stint with the San Francisco Giants (I'm not sure about his Pirates days), but the electrolyte gel/bean replacement product.  I needed to know if there was a chance my normal GU would be the favored product, and, of course, it was not.  They replied to me that they would be using Hammer Gel on the course.  I was very happy that it would be a gel and not those darned 'beans' that I could choke on, but was disappointed in that it would not be the GU that I'm oh so used to.  Frankly, I had never heard of Hammer nutrition and their beloved gels.  I wanted to get out and try them as I did not want to have to carry my own gels out on the course.  I figure the less I have to carry, the faster I will be.  Thus, I decided to buy some of their gels online, as it costs me less to have stuff shipped than to drive my truck around town.  

I ordered a 12 pack of their banana (I hope it doesn't ruin bananas for me) flavored gels.  One day later I got a phone call from Hammer telling me that they included a whole bunch of other items of theirs for me to sample.  When I filtered this call, I see that the area code was 406.  Yeah, I'm sure you've never taken a call from the 406 area code, but I have.  I have taken thousands of calls from this area code.  This area code is used for the state of Montana.  Yes, Hammer Nutrition is based out of Whitefish, MT.  I'm in love with this company already.  

Here is what they sent me:  

Hammer Gel Banana (12x1 Srv)
Hammer Gel Orange (1 Srv)
Hammer Gel Raspberry (1 Srv)
Hammer Gel Vanilla (1 Srv)
HEED Strawberry (1 Srv)
Perpetuem Orange-Vanilla (1 Srv)
Recoverite Citrus (1 Srv)
Hammer Bar Coconut Cashew
Endurolyte Samples (4 Cap)
Whey Chai (1 Srv) 1 0 1
New Customer Packet - MAG/PUM
Product Usage Manual - Red
Book - Endurance Athlete's Guide
Whey Unflavored (1 Smp)

I only ordered the first item.  They gave me a lot of stuff.  

So, I got the box today.  Why don't you and I sit on the couch, open it up, and see what kind of initial impression they will make on me.  Hang tight...

First I see that I have a magnet with my client number and ways for me to re-order.  Let's not get ahead of ourselves, Hammer.  

Endurance News, March 2009 issue.  Just flipping through it, it seems it's quite nerdy for the endurance athlete.  Me likey.  

The Endurance Athlete's Guide to Success-8th Edition.  Eh, a mini book telling me how I need to replenish electrolytes and such.  Basically an exaggerated advertisement.  Good bathroom reading.  

Hammer Nutrition Product Usage Manual.  I actually like this.  No more squinting to read labels (if I were my Dad, I have perfect vision.  No squinting here).  I will read it.  

Actual Products:

Banana Hammer Gel box.  Big and yellow with a slight dent.   
Comparing to my GU vanilla:

Serving Size:  G-32 grams   HG-36 grams
Calories:  G-100  HG-90
Sodium: G-55 mg   HG-30 mg   (This concerns me a bit.  Advantage GU)
Potassium: G-55 mg  HG-doesn't say 
Total Carbs:  G-25 g  HG-23 g
Sugars:  G-5 g   HG- 2g

All in all, I think GU would act as a better electrolyte replacement option.  Damn.

The rest of the stuff I may try, like the Recoverite after my 20 miler this weekend.  They all look interesting, but I don't think I'd spend any money on it.  Since I haven't used it in my training, I won't use any of it (except the gel) for the marathon.  I just hope that the gel works during my 20 miler this weekend...

Friday, March 27, 2009

First Trail Run

So I wanted to start some trail running since I've been getting pretty bored with running the streets of Nashville.  Well, I figured the first step would be shoes.  I asked some questions around the Running Ahead community and settled on the Adidas Adistar Revolt.  The reviews I received on these particular pair of shoes said they are good for all types of terrain, from rocks and tree roots to flat trails.  Of course, I would do minimal amounts of running on asphalt with these shoes.  

I check ALL over nashville and could not find a store that carried this shoe, and was pretty disappointed in the overall trail shoe selection.  I went on the good ol' internet and purchased them online, which is always a trail since I don't know how their sizing is going to work, although all of the reviews said they were true to size.

Fast forward to this morning when I take them out of the box.  They are an impressive pair of shoes, I think the coolest looking I've ever owned.  I love the pewter/red/yellow color.  They fit PERFECTLY, which was a very good relief.  I had decided I would go down to Leiper's Fork, TN, where the Natchez Trace trailhead is located.  If you have never driven part of the Natchez Trace, I would highly suggest you try it out.  Beautiful.  

So the weather said that rain would move in about 9 am, so I wanted to get there and finish before the rain came.  Well, when my alarm went off I wanted/needed some more sleep.  Whoops.  I got to the trailhead EXACTLY when the rain started.  ouch.  So for my first trail run I sloshed around in the mud and the rocks and the rain.  I LOVED it.  I didn't like the wet feet and the mud, but I can't wait until I can do some training when it isn't wet out.  I didn't do too much running because I have a 5k tomorrow, but it was enough to get a taste.  

I just opened another door.  Probably one I won't ever be able to close.  Uh oh.  

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Things That Will Ruin an Otherwise Nice Run

I was having a nice run through Percy Warner Park today when I began thinking what can ruin a perfectly good run.   Most (if not all) are from personal experience.

  • Inconsiderate Drivers
  • Hangovers
  • Not eating/drinking enough before running
  • Eating/drinking too much before running
  • Bad songs on your ipod
  • Getting pooped on by bird/squirrel  (you know who you are, I WILL get you)
  • Cramps
  • IT band issues
  • Knee/back/stomach/leg/foot/arm/pinkie/eyelid/head/toe pains
  • Cold wind when you didn't wear enough clothes, especially in certain college friends and I called it FPS, or Frozen Penis Syndrome
  • Prince's Fried Chicken, a Nashville tradition in what the call Hot Chicken.  I had some for the first time yesterday.  Big mistake.  Luckily there is a golf course pro shop halfway through my run.  Interestingly, my Garmin never lost satellite signal while I was in there.  Hmmm...
  • Bicyclists
  • Guys running with their shirts off when they have no business running with their shirt off
  • Counting the miles until you are finished
  • Rain/Lightning
That's all I can think of at the moment, but I'm sure there are more.  Feel free to comment anything that my ruin YOUR run.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I have a conundrum.  I like races.  I would think that everyone like races.  I mean it's great to actually run with a group of people instead of that little guy in your head when you head out alone each morning (unless you have a cool running partner like I do!).  Races are great because of the camaraderie between runners you haven't even met!  We all get together because we have the same problems: IT band, runner's knee, back problems, stomach issues, traffic, time constraints, weight loss, plantar fasciitis, running routes...

But we all experiences these issues, and we thus have a large network of people to give us encouragement.  Running is NOT an individual sport.  Running is probably the largest group sport in the world.  The Country Music Marathon will have close to 40,000 individuals running as one, from the elites to the walkers.  We're all the same.

Yes, I love races.  I have a rather important 26.2 mile race on April 19th.  The question is, do I run a 10k the weekend BEFORE the marathon?  Back in 2006 (was it that long ago?), I did run a 10k the weekend before, however I didn't have the knowledge I have know, and definitely did not have the base milage.  This particular 10k is flat, which would be an incredible chance to get a PR, something like 43 minutes or so.  The two things I'm worried about are fatigue and injury.  Fatigue I'm not worried about TOO much, because I'll be tapering already and will have a fairly easy week working up to the marathon.  Thus, injury is my largest concern.  I've not experienced an injury during a race to this point, but there is always a chance.  I would hate for 20 weeks of preparation go down the drain the week before a marathon.

What do I do?  What do I do?

Adios...I'm upset I have to watch the President again.  I mean, jeez, how much face time does he need?  I guess when you are trying to get over $3.6 TRILLION budget passed, you have to sell it...

My unborn children need a stimulus package.

(sorry about the political rant, but I just saw that Obama is having an hourlong 'speech' tonight)

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Welcome to my favorite day of the year!  I LOVE March Madness.  I love rooting for the little guys, the David's, the Santa Claras (look it up, first 15 seed to win over a 2 seed, oh, and they had Steve Nash and an ugly haircut), the Weber State's, the cheerleaders, oh, and illegal gambling.  Today I will be going on a trail run and then heading to Buffalo Wild Wings for 12+ hours of basketball watching.  I may get a protein coma, but I will have a smile on my face.

So, in full disclosure, here is my final four:

North Carolina

I heard on ESPN that this is actually the most common final four combination.  I have Pitt over Memphis in the championship game.  No real upsets in my pool.  

Do you love this time of year?  My favorite thing about it is Kentucky is NO WHERE to be seen.  Love it.

Oh, and Amy has Gonzaga in the final four.   Go over to her blog and laugh at her.  

Monday, March 16, 2009

Half Marathon Recap

Last Saturday was the annual Tom King Classic here in Nashvegas.  I did not run last year (my fat/lazy period), but I have heard harrowing stories of the cold/rain/lightning from those that did.  Two weekends ago, the Nashville Striders had their first 21 mile training run, and plenty of those that ran were a little cautious to talk about the weather for this year's King Classic.  

Well, I'm here to tell you that it rained.  I wasn't a hard rain, but rain nonetheless.  I woke up about 3 hours before the race to the sound of water draining down the side of my building, a good indication of what was about to happen.  I rose from my slumber and headed to the kitchen looking for some good pre-half food, and being the bachelor that I am, didn't have much to choose from.  I decided to eat a whole grapefruit topped with some sugar.  (Sidenote:  I just purchased fruit from whole foods last week.  They have a GREAT Chilean fruit selection right now.  The oranges, plums, and grapefruits were awesome).  I finished all of my pre-race activities while waiting for Amy to pick me up, and I was torn in what to wear.  The weather said rain with temps in the low 40's, perfect running weather if it wasn't for the rain.  I was going to wear simple shorts and short sleeve shirt, but at the last second I decided to bring my longsleeve running shirt as well.  I pinned my number to my shorts, put on my San Francisco Giants batting helmet (works GREAT in the rain, doesn't get my head wet) and away we went.  We got to the race about 30 minutes early, so we sat in the warm for a bit.  I goo'ed up, we went inside LP field (where the Tennessee Titans play) and waited a bit more under the concrete overhang.  We finally were able to talk to Stangluvr for a few minutes before heading to the start line.  Now here we are, huddled amidst about 1000 people waiting, and I did not hear them play the national anthem, give announcements, or anything.  Just BOOM from the horn/gun or whatever started the race.  I was a bit back in the pack, which made the first mile or so a little crazy with all the dodging and passing people.  I didn't really know what I wanted to do as far as a time goal was concerned.  I had run a half a month ago in 1:40:40 on a hilly course, so I figured 1:38 wasn't out of the question.  This sets up for a 7:28 pace.  I ran the first mile at 7:40, which was according to plan.  I wanted to start out easy and ramp it up as the race went on.  I paid special attention to making sure my feet were dry when I started the race, but about a mile in...SPLASH...puddle city.  I cursed out loud (sorry) went ahead with a wet right foot looking for another puddle to get ol' lefty wet too.  He didn't want to miss the party either, right?  Next mile:  7:16.  Little fast for my liking.  Now, I didn't wear my new Garmin (oh, btw, I bought a Garmin 305.  I bought it during my little blogging hiatus) so I didn't really know what my pace was until the end of the current mile, but I ran into a fellow Nashville Strider who I had met on the forum.  He was running at 7:30 pace which he carefully kept with since he WAS wearing his Garmin.  I latched on to him for a couple of miles to even out my pace.

The race course is interesting.  It's VERY flat, which is nice, but miles 3-10 are run on a greenway along the Cumberland River.  This greenway has an asphalt trail that is about 8 feet wide.  That's it...oh, and it's an out and back, so you have to pass people coming the other way.  Very hard to pass people and you want to wring people's necks who are running 2 abreast.  UG!  The cool thing was I got to see everyone who was running the race, from the elites to Amy, who attempted a high five with me as we passed each other.  She's blaming me for high five 'failure'.  Sorry, no refunds on high fives.  

So the race was going well, I was banking 7:20-7:25 splits.  I felt good, and was even chatting it up with a few fellow runners, which is ALWAYS a good sign.  I latched onto another runner at about mile 9.  He was doing 7:20 splits, so I just kept on his six.  

The cool thing about this race is that you finish on the field at LP field, ON THE JUMBOTRON.  It sucks that I can't pose for the camera and look at the screen at the same time, but I thought I gave a good pose.   Also, the Titans cheerleaders are there to put the finisher's medal around your neck.  I wanted to ask if she could keep me warm, but I kept my juvenile comments to myself, begrudgingly.  Oh, and I finished in 1:36:06, almost two full minutes ahead of my goal!  

Once Amy finished we headed back to the warm car, where I swapped my wet shirt for a dry one.  There is where I first realized a mistake I had made:  I had bloody nipples.  I had run in this shirt many times w/o getting chaffed, but the combination of rain and running did them in.  It'll be awhile before they get to 100%.

Oh, I then drank lots of Guinness, the world's largest black and tan, and about 6 Irish Car Bombs.  

It was a great post-race celebration...oh, and a good St. Patrick's Day party hosted by Amy, I suppose...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

New Half Marathon PR!

I ran a 1:36:06 this morning in rain/puddles!  New PR by over 4:30.  Details to follow Monday!

Off to Amy's St. Patrick's Day Party!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mid-Marathon Report Card

My marathon training hit it's midpoint a couple of weeks ago, culminating in my first 20+ mile training run.  I thought it would be a good idea to give myself some grades on parts of my training up to this point.  I had a few goals while using Hal Hidgon's advanced-I training guide:

  • Weigh 175 pounds on marathon morning
Grade:  A.  I started this training (roughly) in mid-December.  I weighed 189.2 on December 14th.  As of March 8th, I weigh 179.2.  10 lb loss without changing much of my diet.  I believe in order to make my weight, I will need to change up my diet just a tad.  The alcohol consumption will be taken out completely after this Saturday.

  • Do not skip any workouts
Grade:  B+.  It is tough to define what I skipped as there are some days that you may have 3 miles scheduled, but you need the day off.  Your legs and head both tell you that the muscles need some repair time.  I believe I only skipped out on Amy once and, if I recall, it was because I had IT-band issues.  The weather has been cold thus far in the training, but that has not deterred me.  I could improve with incorporating some weight-training.

  • Incorporate Speed/Hill workouts
Grade: B.  Hal's guide calls for speed/hill work once a week.  I've done pretty well with the speed work as I'm up to 7 yasso's on the track, however the scheduled hill work hasn't been completely adopted.  I run at Percy Warner Park that has incredible hills, but I don't measure off a quarter mile of hill and sprint up and down a half dozen times.  I just run the 11.2 and do the hills that way.  Eh.  I need to work on pace runs and some tempo runs.  

  • Diet
Grade:  D.  My diet has barely changed.  My portions decreased a bit, and I'm going out to eat less, but I'm still eating things I shouldn't.  I don't eat fast food anymore but I started drinking 2% instead of skim (I'll thank my mom for that).  I have stepped up the carb loading for long runs and races, but it hurts that I can't eat meat on Fridays and runs are on the weekends.  I like some protein with my carbs.  I hope to improve this the most.  

  • Enjoyment
Grade: A+.  It's nice to have a running partner and it's fun to run in groups for the long runs.  My first go around with this marathon business I had neither.  It's great this time around.  I'm looking forward to races and long runs, and even don't mind getting up at 5 for them OR skipping my Friday night debauchery.  

So there you have it.  I need to improve some aspects, but as I told Amy after our run last weekend, I'm very happy with my training.  My normal, without-thinking pace I run while I'm alone is roughly 8:40, which is a vast improvement over last year.  My heart-rate is down to about 143 while doing those miles.  I feel good.