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National Running Day!

Today is National Running Day in the United States, and active companies are tweeting up a storm about the day.

Even if you’re not able to get out there and run today, simply acknowledging that it’s time to get outside for exercise is a step in the right direction.  The hardest part of training tends to be the first few steps out the door – once you’re moving, though, hopefully you won’t want to stop!

Brooks had these tips:

1. Express Your Passion

Post a status update on Facebook or Twitter sharing your running plans for National Running Day and invite your friends to join you on a run. On June 6, our partner Competitor will also be providing a Facebook app that enables you to add your distance to a national mileage reel and the ability to post a custom National Running Day Facebook badge. For more details, visit

2. Set a Goal

Just like New Year’s, National Running Day is the perfect moment to set a new goal or renew an existing one. Whether you are attempting to set a 5k personal-record, or qualify for the Boston Marathon, setting and achieving running goals offers the opportunity to stay healthy, motivated and realize your full running potential.

3. Run!

It’s easy–just go for a run on June 6! Set aside some time before work or school, during lunch, or at the end of the day and go for a run around town or on a local trail. Better yet, meet up with friends and go for a run together. Don’t know where to start? Join a National Running Day group run.

Team Alameda had a bike ride around Paradise loop posted so I decided to join them.  It was an ice cream ride for them but it was fun.  We started out at the Sports Basement by Crissy Field and headed out to the bridge.  The west side of the Golden Gate Bridge is finally open to bikes!  I have been riding across the bridge for about 10 years and today was the first time I went across without construction equipment on the bridge.  It was nice.  The bridge was foggy and windy all day.  In the morning, the fog horn was sounding.  I like to listen to the fog horn when I cross the bridge.

After we crossed the bridge, we stopped to regroup and shed some wool.  It was 60 degrees Fahrenheit on the bridge and 75 on the Sausalito side of the bridge.  We cruised down to Mikes Bikes for another break and to chat some more then we headed off to Tiburon.  The temperature kept climbing as we went, topping out at 91.  The weather and views were stunning.  I feel so fortunate to live here and be able to go ride my bike in these beautiful areas.  Ride details can be found here.

When the group stopped in Tiburon to get something to eat, I rode on.  I intended to do the Alpine Dam loop but when someone at a stop light yelled out for a guide to the Rodeo Lagoon, I volunteered.  The wind was brutal and my tourist could climb like the wind.  He was also good at descending.  Because of my slowness, I got stuck behind a car and he totally dropped me and missed the turn.  I went looking for him to no avail so I headed back alone.  When I got to the GGB, I ran into Team Alameda at the re-group zone.

We talked for a bit then headed out to Sports Basement.  I ran into my tourist on the bridge.  I felt better, knowing that he did not head up the coast on Route 1.  It is hard to do but I worried all the same.  I asked him why he was on the bridge when he was going back to where he joined me.  He told me he did not know where he was going but it seemed like a good way to go.  I pointed him in the right direction while admiring his attitude.

It was great to get out for a social ride with Team Alameda.  Check out their site and consider joining them for a ride.  If not them, pick another group and go out for a no-drop ride.  It is a good change of pace from running all of the time.

Ride pictures are here.

Shopping for running gear

Shopping for running gear can be aggravating.  There are so many choices that you never know if it is worth the money for that small upgrade.  Several years ago, I was having knee pain from my IT band so I kept buying softer and softer shoes.  The more I spent for the soft shoes, the worse the pain became.  I went to Road Runner Sports to have my feet measured and my gait analyzed.  It turns out; I have high arches and a neutral gait which need additional support and firm cushioning.  It cost a little more for the shoes but they give you three options and you find the one you like best.  I paid about $150 for the first pair of shoes then waited for them to go on sale at Sports Authority and bought 5 pair.

I love Road Runner Sports.  They have great gear that is always of the highest quality.  I went there today (Sunday) to get some shoes for my son.  There were some workers at the shoe area helping customers and a lot of customers sitting around.  I asked a clerk how to buy shoes and I was told to sign in and it will be about a 20 minute wait.  I must be spoiled by being able to go to Sports Basement and try on my own shoes but I don’t like to wait 20 minutes to have a shoe salesman call my name.  Lombardi Sports on Polk Street in SF has store people wait on you and I never have to wait 20 minutes there.  If I do have to wait a long time, they have cool stuff to look at, while I wait.  Road Runner failed my patience test but they are a good store and worth wait if you need a gait analysis.

In the same plaza as Road Runner Sports, there is an REI.  Since I am a triathlete, REI is not really my type of store but I like it there anyway.  We went in looking for running shoes and wound up buying 2 bicycle helmets and some bike gloves.  They had Lance Armstrong Giro helmets on sale for $26 and I just had to buy the matching gloves for $25.  It is a good thing they did not have the cycle kit to match.

The next stop on the shopping trip was the good old Exchange on Coast Guard Island in Alameda.  They are a good consistent store that usually sells all sporting goods at 20% off list.  I bought 2 shirts and 2 pair of running shorts for about $100.  All of this shopping made us hungry so we went to lunch.  We went shopping for running shoes, spent about $250 and came home with no shoes.

My little story took us to a few stores in the San Francisco Bay area.  They are all good stores with their own strengths and weaknesses.

Road Runner Sports – As the name suggests, they are a running store.  They have good customer service and great products.  You usually have to pay list price for stuff.

REI – All around outdoors store.  Cater to high end customers who go to national parks.  They have a pretty good bike selection and a lot of that outdoors survival stuff.  They also have lots of cool lectures and classes.

Lombardi Sports – A great sporting goods store that is surviving on Polk Street.  The area is getting better all of the time as the time as gentrification heads south.  The developers would love to tear that place down and build some condos.

Coast Guard Exchange – No customer service, consistent discounts, quality products and no taxes.  I point this out because there are a lot of discount stores that have good stuff without the brand name for about half of what you would pay at a high end sporting good store.

There is so much that can be done to help the environment and the countless humanitarian issues that tend to be overlooked. It’s definitely worth a mention when we see a company stepping up and trying to make a difference.

A couple of college cross-country runners launched Janji, a performance clothing company aimed towards bringing attention to humanitarian rights in Haiti and Kenya.

“Janji’s shirts and shorts are both made out of 100 percent polyester fabric,” Janji told Competitor Magazine. “Although the feel of the fabrics are very different, they’re all moisture-wicking and incredibly light. We’re working with a producer, located in China, which has shown a commitment to fair wages, proper working conditions and ethical labor practices.”

Thanks to both runners from Washington University, a portion of the proceeds will aid starving families in Haiti and Kenya. Incorporating the national flags of each country, food, water, and medical supplies will be purchased using revenue generated by Janji sales.

A few dozen retailers are interested in offering Janji products, and that number will surely grow as they receive even more press.

The west side of the Golden Gate Bridge (GGB) has been closed for the last 5 months. It is finally scheduled to reopen on 5/18/12. The work is scheduled to end a week or two before the 75th anniversary of the the bridge.

The West side of the GGB is open, for bicycles only, on weekends. It can be scary riding on the west side of the bridge because so many people fly across the span. It is worse when all of the cyclists are on the east side. When I jog across the bridge on the east side the tourist were always difficult to navigate through. The cyclist are terrifying. They don’t care how fast they are going when they buzz by you, inches away. I hope that I am not like that when I ride across the bridge.

I have been avoiding the bridge for a couple of months now. Let the tourists have their fun. I can wait for the west side to open.

Here is the news release from the GGB recreational department.

GGB West Sidewalk Reopens May 18, 2012

First and foremost, your patience and cooperation during the recent construction work is much appreciated, and the end results will be enjoyed by all of us. The end is in sight as the west sidewalk will reopen on May 18!

Here is the status of the GGB sidewalks for the period from May 1 through May 17:


Remains closed for construction through Thursday, May 17
Reopens Friday, May 18 and will remain open for the foreseeable future


Open now for both pedestrians and cyclists
The 400-foot section of fixed scaffolding at mid-span is targeted to be removed by Wednesday, May 9, pending weather conditions, prior to Bike to Work Day on May 10
East sidewalk will serve as the access for May 10, Bike to Work Day with an Energizer Station at the Vista Point entrance to the east sidewalk

I went to the foot care lecture at REI on Saturday morning.  As you know, 11:00 A.M. on Saturday is a bad time for runners and a lousy time for cyclists.  Us runners are usually doing our post-run socializing until about 11:00 and the cyclists are right in the middle of their Saturday workouts.

The people training for a triathlon don’t even have a chance at making it.  I was there because an injury had me resting for the weekend.  Parking is also tough at the Berkeley REI.  There is plenty of meter parking around the store for $1.50 per hour.  The streets look a little rough but I have never had any problems with parking in that area.  Take standard precautions, I don’t leave stuff in my car.

Enough with the logistics,  I appreciate REI for putting on events like this.  John Vonhof knows his stuff and he has a good website .  John is not a podiatrist; he is a foot care specialist with a goal of keeping us moving on healthy feet.  When things go wrong, he helps us perform first aid and teach prevention techniques to keep us moving.  That being said, the lecture started with a talk about the benefits of shoe inserts.

He held up Superfeet in one hand and Sof Sole inserts in the other hand.  I am a firm believer in high quality inserts, and I think they help me keep my running mileage up.  I used to get all types of injuries before I started wearing inserts.  John pointed out the different types of inserts, shoes and feet.  We should try different things until we get things sorted out.

After insoles he moved on to talking about socks and blister prevention.  I found it interesting that he passed around some Injinji toe socks.  I used to get a lot of blisters on the hilly trail half marathons until I started wearing the Injinji socks.

He spoke about different types of socks and ways to prevent blisters.  One of the hikers mentioned using duct tape to help keep you going after a blister and for blister prevention in general.  John broke out some kinesiology tape and gave us some pointers on how to use tape to patch up our wounds and prevent injuries.  After primary prevention, he went on to discuss first aid for various injuries and types of prevention.  Visit his site for prevention tips.  It has a lot of good information for foot care.

I love to see companies like REI doing all of this community stuff.  These lectures are really informative and helpful.  REI is not a store where I buy running, biking or swimming stuff but they are a great store for warm stuff and stuff you want to try.  They have a good selection of electronics and are one of the few stores that let you return your electronics goods.  Sometimes, you can spend $500 for something and just hate it when you try it out.  Give their classes a try.  The free class was good.  I am thinking about taking the bike repair class for $150.  It seems like all of the pay classes are $20 less for REI members.  I wonder if the REI memberships cost $20?

Mike’s Note:  The street parking isn’t too bad in the immediate vicinity around REI, but don’t stray too far down San Pablo… parking in one of the residential neighborhoods can also be ideal.  Also, feel free to take a look at the REI membership perks, which should be great depending on your likelihood of shopping there.

Quality Gear… at a Great Price

I recently saw a few tweets from people looking for online stores to purchase their running, cycling and outdoors gear. I also have a friend simply looking for a pair of bike shorts and a tech shirt to wear during spin classes, but these sites have more than that to offer.

This is a short and sweet post highlighting a handful of sites you may want to visit.

LeftLane Sports (you have to register with the site) –road bikes, cycling gear, hiking daypacks, sleeping bags, bodyboards, and other outdoors products. Really good prices and a decent variety, so worth a look.

BlueSky Cycling — An online outfit that has a small selection of products, including cycling apparel, sunglasses, shoes, and shin guards and body armor. BlueSky also offers a variety of different accessories, ranging from helmets and hydration to skins and pumps.

Aero Tech Designs — manufactures bike shorts and cycling jerseys out of their western PA-based facility. In addition to regular cycling and mountain biking gear, Aero Technologies also makes jackets, fitness shorts, and cold weather gear.

Peak 1 Sports — a quality retailer for custom cycling jerseys and apparel. Unlike many other stores, Peak 1 Sports offers quality wind jackets, vests, arm and knee warmers, which can be harder to find than other cycling clothing.

Bike Nashbar — An old school favorite among cyclists and mountain bikers… Bike Nashbar has been around much longer than most online outlets, and provides a wide variety of products from high-quality vendors for a good price.

Feel free to get in touch if you have other sites you’ve had good shopping experiences with.

Happy shopping!

Some bike essentials

Now that bicycling season is upon us here in California, it is time for bicycle ideas.  It is the beginning of March so a lot of us are starting to go farther and faster on our bikes.  New riders take heed in what I say.  For you veterans, this is a reminder to do a pre-ride check.

Go say hi to your bike.  While you are there, take a good look at it.  The cob webs should be off by now.  If not, give the bike a bath.  Get some degreaser and clean the chain and sprockets real good.  Use a chain brush or a tooth brush will work.  It is important to keep your chain and sprockets clean because dirt and debris stick to the greasy buildup on your chain and act like sandpaper.  The abrasive action will wear out your chain and sprockets.  You will be amazed at how much it cost to replace your sprockets.  Most casual riders just buy a new bike.  It cost $200 to $300 for the parts and $100 to $200 to have a bike shop install them.  Be nice to your bike.  If you keep it clean and lubricated, it will last a long time and rarely need tuning.

Now that your bike is nice and clean give it a close look and make sure everything is tight.  Make sure your brakes still work and the tires are in good shape.  If you have any doubts about the tires, replace them.  If you look at your tires and think “they look worn but they will be okay” replace them.  Don’t go cheap on the tires.  Get good performance or Continental tires.  I am sure there are other good tires but I have had good luck with these brands.

Learn how to fix flats and replace the tires yourself.  There is nothing wrong with taking your bike to the shop to have the tires changed.  It is good to know how to do basic repairs yourself.  We do strange things on our bikes.  We will drive 100 miles out into the country then ride our bikes another 50 miles farther into the country.  If something happens in a remote place, you could be in for a long walk back to your car.  Be prepared.

I carry a bike pouch under my saddle.  I did an inventory today see what I really carry.  Here is my list of essentials:

  • Spare tube – Tubes are easy to replace and I don’t have to mess around with finding the hole and fixing it.  Every now and then, you will stumble across some poor soul with a flat and no spare tube or patch kit.  It is easy to give someone a tube and be on your way.  If you give away your patch kit, you are giving away some insurance.
  • Tire levers – Plastic tire levers make it easy to remove and install the tire in the event of a flat.  I like to carry plastic levers because they are flat and do not puncture my spare tube.
  • Patch kit – I am currently carrying a small glueless patch kit with 6 patches.  I usually carry a patch kit with glue but I am random when I buy a new kit.  I like to replace the kit every 1-2 years in the event the glue dries out.
  • Small tire pump – I have a push-pull style pump that pumps air in both directions.  The pump is good for both Schrader and Presta valves.  A lot of people like co2 pumps but I don’t like the idea of having one or two chances at repairing a flat.
  • ID in two pockets – In case I fall, it good for the paramedics to know where to send the bill.  I have about 5 road id tags but decided that it would be better to lose them then keep them in my bag.
  • Allen wrenches – 3mm and 5mm.  These are the main tools I need for my bike.  Most clamps and bolts are one of these sizes.
  • Roctane gels – 2 packages, in case I need some calories.
  • First aid kit – If you fall and get some skin flaps, it is so nice to be able to clean the wound and put a band aide on it.
  • $70.25 – It is good to carry some cash in case you want to buy some lunch or cool socks.  I usually carry $20.  I don’t know how I managed to get an odd number in my bag.
  • Spare car key
  • Safety pin
  • 2 twist ties
  • 2 zip ties


There are a lot of different opinions on what you need to carry.  You can to a web search for seat bag tire repair kits for more suggestions.  You can buy the stuff from an online retailer or your local bike shop.  I prefer the local bike shops.  A lot of times you can catch someone from the store to tell you about how to stock your pouch.  If the store is crowded, you might catch someone passing by to ask their opinion.  Either way, it is more fun to go look at the items in the store.

Running and health

Life is full of choices.  Most people who visit this site are people who choose to go do things.  Sometimes, we need to slow down and think about the consequences of our actions.  Here are two recent examples of my choices.  One good and one bad.  Neither of them are too terribly bad because I am here to talk about it.

Good Decision:
Now that winter is in full force, a lot of runners have to decide if they should run or rest because of illness.  I prefer to rest when I am sick.  I always read about the serious runners who never miss a run no matter what.  They get out and run with a fever of 102 f.  I am not a fan of running when I am really sick.  I mention this because I was not feeling well yesterday and slept for over 12 hours last night.  I got up this morning feeling a bit off but good enough to go for a run.  I got out for a 6-7 mile run with the run club and felt great afterward.

Bad Decision:
I also went out to run a marathon when I was not feeling well.  I knew I was sick, the day before the run.  I trained hard for the marathon and finally showed up for a big race healthy.  I was not healthy but I was not injured either.  At mile 22, I ran out of gas.  When the paramedic tried to check my blood sugar by pricking my finger, he could not get any blood.  I asked him how many times that has happened to him.  He told me it was the first time.  He then proceeded to tell me that my body was shutting down from the extremities in, that was why I could not run or walk any more.  Perhaps, I should have stayed in bed on this day.

I tend to err on the side of “Just do it”.  I knew that I should have stayed in bed on marathon day.  I chose to run and had a predictable race result.  Having your body start its shutdown process is not a good idea.  At least there was a lot of support on the marathon course.

In both cases, I knew what I should do.  My body tells my subconscious what is right or wrong.  Unfortunately, my conscious does not always listen.  Pay attention to your subconscious and rest when you need it.  I want you to come back and read my blog again.  I also like it when you complain about me not writing enough.

Running thoughts for the new year

The new year is here.  I hope everyone is working on their base training for the next running season.

Upcoming races:
Coyote Hills (Fremont) – 1/28/12.  This is the biggest race of the year for  We will be out in force for our local run.  Come join us, we will be out there rain or shine.  Sign up early because this one sells out.

Oakland Running Festival – 3/25/12.  I will be there leading the 2:15 group again for the half marathon.  Unfortunately, my photographer moved to Pennsylvania so we will not have a nice photo page this year.  I have my training plan here.  If you have any questions about the training plan, send me a message through the contact us link above.

I will be doing other events throughout the year.  These are my big two for the winter.  I will be out taking pictures at some Brazen events and riding my bike all over Northern California in preparation for the triathlon season.

I have been hitting the weights pretty hard in an attempt to build up my strength.  I am always sore from my sessions in the weight room.  It is amazing how quickly you can add weight to your sets in the weight room.  I am getting stronger and the time off from running is letting my legs heal.  It is nice to go out for a run and not be in pain.  I have been sticking with the off season training plan  and adding some P90X sessions in at night to keep things interesting.