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Archives for July, 2011

I love listening to music while I do my tempo runs.  I usually wear Bose ear buds so the bar is set a little high.  I was a little apprehensive when Mike handed me a pair of Zippearz for review.

I did not want to try them out.  When I did put them in my ears, I liked the way they felt.

The cord is incredibly thin and lightweight, which is something other companies can learn from.  When I turned on some techno music for tempo, I found the bass to be incredible.  How can these $25 ear buds have so much sound?  I liked the sound.

Unfortunately, I live in Alameda (Bay Area city located on the waterfront) , where it is usually windy.  The wind goes right through the ear buds.  The sound drove me nuts at first but after a few miles, I got used to it.

The ear buds also came with ear clips to help hold them in my ears but I did not need them.  After I got sweaty, the wire stuck to my skin and started tugging on the cord.  I had to keep reaching back to pull the wire up my shirt.  I wish they came with a clip to hold the wire on my shirt.  Just like all athletes running with an MP3 player, you’ll find a way to keep the cord out of the way comfortably.

The good:

  • Zippearz cost $24.95
  • The sound is incredible
  • They are nice and light
  • The around the ear holders are cool

The bad:

  • The wind going through the ear buds
  • No clip to hold the wire to my shirt

The bottom line – I really like the Zippearz.  They are worth $25.  They knocked a pair of $100 Bose out of my gym bag for stationary bike work outs.  I got mine as a review pair.  I highly recommend them for people who run in areas where it is not windy,  at the gym, or as a solid pair of backup earbuds.

Mike’s Note:  I know many envious people (or audio snobs) like to bash Bose for being overpriced and overrated, but the Bose products I’ve owned have always been great.  Keep in mind I review a lot of different products – if Ted says these make a great backup pair of earbuds following his Bose, then that’s a strong indicator of how solid these earbuds are.

Moving up from international (Olympic) distance to half Ironman distance triathlons is a big leap.  It can sometimes mean going from 2 ½ to 3 hours for the event up to 6 to 7 hours for the event.

When you are training for a half Ironman or 70.3, you can do an international distance triathlon on Saturday and still have to go do a long training day on Sunday.   To maintain a happy family life, I had to make a deal with my wife that Saturdays would be my training day and Sunday would be my day for her.

The time commitment is huge.  I had to invest a lot of time and effort to finish in 6 ½ hours.  If I want to finish in 5 ½ hours, I would have to make another huge time investment.  Make sure your significant other and family understand the time and dedication required to successfully complete a 70.3 event.

Finishing in 6.5 hours was a big success for me.  I started serious training six months before the triathlon.  When I started training, I could do all of the events individually.  I could not do them back-to-back but I could do them.  I started out by building for three weeks and resting for one week.  The rest week would be about 50% of the total workout time of the training week.

Swimming – A typical week would entail of mornings swims four or five times a week varying between distance and speed work for a total of four swim miles per week.  I would occasionally add a weekend long swim in the bay to keep the open water swimming skills up.

Running – I would run at lunch from Monday to Thursday varying the distances from four-to-eight miles per day.  Some weeks, I would forgo the long run and do a faster tempo run instead.  On Saturdays, I would do a long run of 6-10 miles followed by a short bike ride of less than 50 miles.  Some weeks, I would do a half marathon with no bike ride after.

Cycling – I am a reluctant cyclist, so I always looked for an excuse to get out of riding but I forced myself to do a long bike ride on Saturdays.  I usually did 50-100 miles per week on the bike.  I never did speed work.  I just got on the thing and rode.

There is a lot to training for a half Ironman.  I woke up before 6:00 AM, almost every day of the week.  Some Saturdays, I would leave my house at 8:00 AM and get home at 8:00 PM.  During the week, I was in bed before 10:00 PM.

To learn how to train for a long triathlon, I read a lot of books on training and nutrition.  My physiology likes to stop eating while I am doing long distance training.  Poor nutrition on long training days has bad side effects.

Cadel Evans Wins 2011 Tour de France

Congratulations to Cadel Evans, the first Australian winner of the Tour de France, as he overcame a brilliant tandem attack from Andy and Frank Schleck.

Here are the top five overall:

1 Cadel Evans — (Aus) — BMC Racing Team 86:12:22
2 Andy Schleck — (Lux) — Leopard Trek 0:01:34
3 Fränk Schleck — (Lux) — Leopard Trek 0:02:30
4 Thomas Voeckler — (Fra) — Team Europcar 0:03:20
5 Alberto Contador Velasco — (Spa) — Saxo Bank Sungard 0:03:57

I’ve criticized Evans in the past for being a rider that is too hesitant to go on the attack — but he played every card right during this Tour de France. In addition, his BMC Racing squad showed they had the ability to help keep him in the right positions when any type of issues popped up on the road.

The Schlecks will be back in 2012 (and beyond) to continue fighting for the top podium in Paris, both brothers confirmed. Spanish rival Alberto Contador’s fate related to a failed doping test will determine whether or not he’ll play a role in any immediate races.

(Image courtesy of brilliant race photographer Graham Watson.)

I recently completed the Vineman 70.3 half Ironman distance triathlon.  I finished in 6 hours and 32 minutes.  I was so happy to finish, I crossed the line with a jump for joy.  I then leaned on the guy taking my ankle strap off so I did not fall over.

I picked a great event for my first long distance triathlon.  Vineman had so many rules, the explanations drove me nuts.  They sent out e-mails with threatening instructions just about every week.

They also made us sit in a mandatory meeting telling us the same instructions from the e-mails.  They told us about the penalty tents along the course.  I assumed I would get a penalty during the event.  One of the instructions was “no dogs allowed.”

When I walked out of the mandatory meeting, there was someone with a dog walking around.  Another rule was “no drafting allowed.”  For an age group guy who was just hoping to finish, I did not understand all of these rule explanations.

Out on the course, there were people taking advantage of the slower riders using the slow rider line as an excuse to draft.  I went from being mad at the event organizers to giving them a pass on the rules to feeling badly for them for having to enforce the rules so desperately.

It is a shame to see so many people behaving badly to the point where the race organizers are forced to sit everyone in meeting to explain the rules.  Most of the people in a triathlon are age groupers out to have fun.  We occasionally bunch up and say hi to each other but we are not really drafting.  It is sad that race officials have to come yell or penalize us.  When money is on the line, things change.

Once the leaders cleared out, the event was really fun.  The volunteers were great.  There were aid stations all over the course with friendly cheering people handing out water and other goodies.

The people racing with me were great.  I was in a tight group on the swim.  Every time we swam over each other, the other guy would stop kicking.  It is really nice to swim into someone’s leg and not get kicked.  The people on the bike were nice but I noticed a lot of expensive accessories on the side of the road from things not properly installed on the bikes.

The run was fantastic.  Because of the rolling hills and aid stations every mile, the same group of people kept passing each other and chatting along the course.  We were all best friends for the moment.  Every time I tried to walk, one of my new best friends would encourage me to run again.

The streets were loaded with people cheering us on.  The last half mile was unbelievable.  People were mostly waiting for their family and friends to finish but they were cheering everyone on.  After 6 hours on the course, it was so nice to finish to cheers.

We finally get a Safe way to cross into Oakland.  Most of the routes from Alameda into Oakland are really tough.  The most bike friendly route into Oakland is through Bay Farm past the Oakland Airport into Oakland on the south side.  We will soon have a good way to get into downtown Oakland.  Please read the following post, compliments of

The City of Alameda is pleased to announce the establishment of a new, no cost shuttle service to commence operation on Monday, August 15, connecting the west end of Alameda to Oakland/BART. To celebrate this exciting new alternative transportation option, the public is invited to attend an official ribbon cutting ceremony at 10:00 a.m., on that day, at the Ralph Appezzato Memorial Parkway shuttle stop in front of the College of Alameda.

The Estuary Crossing Shuttle service will be available for passengers to board and alight at the College of Alameda’s Ralph Appezzato Memorial Parkway frontage, at 860 Atlantic Avenue, and in Oakland, on Madison Street near the Lake Merritt BART station and Laney College.  The service will operate at 30-minute intervals from 7:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, and will utilize a 36-foot, compressed natural gas (CNG) bus with capacity for 24 passengers and 13 bicycles. The project is funded by a one-year grant from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and, depending on the success of the shuttle, will be eligible for a second year of funding.

“Providing pedestrians and bicyclists with an alternate access to the Posey Tube has been a goal of the City of Alameda for many years,” said Alameda’s Mayor Marie L. Gilmore. “I am very pleased that the Public Works Department was able to bring this shuttle to the west end without using any General Fund monies and by successfully partnering with the City of Oakland, the Peralta Community College District, BART, and Bike Alameda.” Further information can be found at

I recently received some Icebreaker running gear for review.  I was a bit concerned about wearing wool running stuff, but it was pleasantly comfortable.  The run shorts felt a bit odd and scratchy for the first few runs but it is surprising how comfortable wool running clothes can be.  I only wore them for short runs at first because of the scratchy feel.

They are not scratchy like the old wool army blankets but scratchy compared to synthetic shorts.  After a few washings, the scratchy feel went away and it was just that unique wool feel that I liked.

The Run Ace Crewe running shirt was similar to the shorts with the unique feel but after one run, I converted the shirt to a casual/under shirt.  I really like the way the shirt feels.  I won’t wear a regular running shirt as an everyday shirt because they are expensive and they don’t wear very well.

I don’t know anything about scientific facts but everyone knows that wool makes the most durable clothes.  It is pretty neat that they can make wool T-shirts comfortable.  I like the way the wool shirt feels after I sweat a little bit.  Synthetic shirts really spread the sweat and make it uncomfortable where it does not seem happen with the wool.

All of the clothes come with an ID code to trace the origin of the wool.  It is pretty neat to see how global the economy really is and the web page is top notch.  I really like the Icebreaker gear.  I have been wearing it for the last couple of weeks and suffered no rashes.

Alameda Runners Weekend Update

Things are slow around Alameda Runners this weekend — but that’s because Ted will be rocking his way through Vineman 70.3 shortly.

We have reviews, interviews, and post-Vineman thoughts planned for this week, so follow along!

Wool-based manufacturer Woolmark wants to make a bigger clothing splash by helping generate new interest in Australian Merino wool.

Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), Woolmark brand owner, has a great website that describes the growing, harvesting, and manufacturing of clothing. I’d highly recommend browsing around

You know, wool seems to fly under the radar when compared to other materials, though Woolmark, SmartWool, and other companies are sharing knowledge. It has advantages over traditional tech clothing materials, but still has a long way to go before it’s more widely accepted.

Have you ever wondered how to properly clean your water bottle or hydration pack? Proper cleaning and storage is important, so we wanted to chat with some specialists about this tricky subject.

We recently caught up with Hydrapak, an Oakland-based hydration company, that helped give us a great new idea about how to clean our reservoir.

Sometimes you’re going to buy a bottle or hydration reservoir that has a plastic taste that is rather unpleasant the first time you use it. Some people rinse it out several times, while others may even try to use bleach or hydrogen peroxide to clean packs.

“The lemon and freezing is the best for those sensitive to plastic taste that can be most prevalent on the first use. Citrus is great because it won’t stain like a sugary drink, like Gatorade. There may be other concoctions that could be attempted, but I haven’t tried them since the lemon works so well.”

Trying to figure out how to properly clean your water bottle could be an entirely different issue. Hydrapak offers three general tips you could use if you want to wash your water bottle – hand washing, dishwasher, and cool mountain spring.

Cleaning (and more importantly) drying your reservoir is important to reduce the possibility of mold and bacterial growth. This is most important for those using mixes or sugary drinks that accelerates the ‘grunge factor.’ The Hydrapak reservoir reverses and is therefore superior because of its ability to dry.”

If you have a specific question for Hydrapak, I’d recommend following the company’s Twitter account. Despite being a relatively small group of dedicated athletes, the staff wants to help and make sure athletes are using their products safely.

Alameda Runners plans to catch up with other companies, and will help you learn more about properly cleaning your water bottles, hydration packs, and similar products.

A rider from the Katusha pro cycling team riding in the Tour de France has tested positive for a banned substance after stage 5.

The rider in question, Alexander Kolobnev, reportedly had hydrochlorothiazide, a diuretic that also is used as a masking agent. In a rather confusing mess (just like usual from pro cycling organizers), it’ll be up to Katusha management to send Kolobnev home.

From the UCI press release:

The UCI Anti-Doping Rules do not provide for a provisional suspension given the nature of the substance, which is a specified substance.

However the UCI is confident that his team will take the necessary steps to enable the Tour de France to continue in serenity and to ensure that their rider has the opportunity to properly prepare his defense in particular within the legal timeline, which allows four days for him to have his B sample analyzed.

Hopefully this is an isolated case, and we won’t end up with multiple doping controversies like in years past.