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The Tour of California begins tomorrow from Sacramento, California, as some of the biggest names in cycling will blur by on Golden State roads.

Along with Peter Sagan, whose 10 stages tallies the highest in ToC history, will be joined by former Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins and sprinting ace Mark Cavendish.

From the Team Sky website:

Sir Bradley Wiggins heads the squad this time around and he will be aiming to make his mark on the overall standings. Ian Boswell, Joe Dombrowski and Danny Pate will also be aiming to impress on home soil, with Nathan Earle, Christian Knees and Luke Rowe rounding out a talented eight-man line up.

Whether you love him or hate him, Wiggins looks to be in great shape and wants to show everyone he is on form for the 2014 Tour de France in July.

(Image courtesy of Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

I am a fan of Team Cannondale rider Peter Sagan, one of the fastest cyclists in the European peloton.  Not only is he a talented rider, he is a popular draw among cycling fans.

To capitalize, apparel maker Sugoi has launched a custom Cannondale Peter Sagan jersey prior to the Tour of California.  The jersey should be available in the United States by June 15, with a $100 MSRP.

“I wanted a jersey that spoke to my inner drive to win, but also shows off my fun side. Working with Sugoi they quickly understood my vision, and I hope people love the jersey as much as I do,” Sagan said in a company press release.

I look forward to seeing Sagan at the 2014 Tour of California, where he will look to improve his leading 10 career stage wins in the Golden State.

I know the Alameda Runners have owned a few pieces of Sugoi gear over the years, and its products are simply incredible.  (You will pay for that quality however, so don’t get sticker shock!)

The 2014 City of Alameda Earth Day Festival is taking place this Saturday, and should be a fun time, especially for those of you with young children.

Kids will enjoy free activities, there will be Earth day games and exhibits, and stop by the farmer’s market stands! The event will take place on Saturday, April 26 at Washington Park (Central and 8th) from 10:00A.M. to 3:00P.M.

Thanks to event sponsors: City of Alameda Public Works Department, East Bay Regional Park District, Alameda Municipal Power, Alameda County Industries, Chinook Book, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association, Earth Day Network, and the City of Alameda.

Take a look at the flyer (PDF) or visit this link.

The 12th Annual Every Step Counts Run event takes place on Saturday, April 26, and benefits the Stepping Stones Growth Center in San Leandro.

From a statement sent to Alameda Runners:

“As you may recall, Every Step Counts is an annual fundraiser for
Stepping Stones Growth Center, and the $30 entry fee supports a wide
range of innovative programs for the nonprofit, including vocational
training, independent living and life skills. Runners participating in
this 5K run will be entered into prize drawings, and medals will be
awarded to the top first-run finisher in each age division, male and
female. Registration includes a t-shirt, goodie bag and refreshments.”

The race will take place at the San Leandro Marina and includes a 1-mile walk or 5K run – it’s an extremely flat, fast out and back course along the San Francisco Bay Trail.

Purist Insulated MOFLO water bottle

I did a review on Purist water bottles, by Specialized, a couple of years ago.  The review can be found here.  Since that review, I have used nothing but Purist and Camelback water bottles.  If I had more Purist bottles, I would use them exclusively.  Just like the last review, I was not very enthused about reviewing insulated bottles.  Every insulated bottle that I have owned was very hard to squeeze which caused a lot of frustration.  I took a Camelback insulated bottle to a triathlon to jettison at a water stop.  The bottle was so hard to squeeze, I did not get much water on that section of the race.  I was glad to be rid of the thing but the drama that I created during a race had me avoid insulated water bottles for a while.

The Purist insulated bottle is easy to squeeze!  It is so easy to squeeze that I had to examine the bottle after I tried it for the first time.  I could tell that it was insulated but I could not really feel the insulation barrier.  The volume of insulation makes the bottle one ounce smaller than the standard 24 ounce bottle but that is okay.  I filled the water bottle up with ice water at work one day and still had cold water when I got home 90 minutes later.  Every time I rode home from work with a standard bottle, my water was warm when I got home.  We had a very warm winter here with temperatures typically reaching the upper 50’s or low 60’s (14c-18c) in the afternoons.

In addition to the insulation the bottle has the standard Purist interior and cap.  I can’t say enough good things about the “Purist silicon infusion”.  I thought tea bags infused water with tea flavor.  I can’t imagine how Purist infuses silicon dioxide into or onto plastic.  It does not matter if I know how they do it, as long as it works.  My bottles are always clean.  The only time there is a left over flavor is when I don’t clean the cap properly.  The cap is advertised to pop off with a tug and a twist but that does not work for me.

What I like about the bottle:

  • It is easy to squeeze
  • The smooth interior that is easy to clean and does not hold odor
  • The cool cap that does not let water leak out.  You squeeze the cap to open a diaphragm to let the water out.  It works great.
  • The insulation works very well.  I have not tried it on a 100 degree day yet but time will tell.
  • The bottles are BPA free

What I don’t like:

  • The cap is hard to take apart for cleaning
  • The price is too high to build up a good collection

I really like this water bottle.  The standard plastic bottles always have me wondering about the plastic leaching into the water that I drink.  I don’t get that impression from the Purist bottle.

NEW YORK – February 6, 2014 – Pyle Audio®, manufacturers of outdoor recreational sports gear and home, car and pro audio equipment, announces the Bluetooth Heart Rate Monitor and Watch (PSBTHR70). Pyle’s Bluetooth Heart Rate Monitor and Watch measures heart rate, average speed, distance traveled, number of steps taken, lap speeds and calorie consumption. The data can then be wirelessly transmitted via Bluetooth Smart technology to a number of third party apps on compatible iOS and Android devices including RunKeeper, MapMyRun and WahooFitness. There are many reasons why people monitor their vital signs and with Pyle’s Bluetooth device, you can get accurate data in any environment and design your very own personal fitness regimen. Additionally, the watch and heart rate monitor are water resistant protecting the devices from rain or sweat. The Bluetooth Heart Rate Monitor and Watch from Pyle Audio is available in black, green, blue or pink for $69.99 at www.PyleAudio.com.

Full release available after the jump – and a few thoughts from Mike:  Read more… »

The German-based Team NetApp-Endura will ride the 2014 Tour de France this July, after the team received confirmation of a wildcard invite.  Expect to see its riders livening up the race by going into breakaways and trying to take any advantage if the ProTour teams stop paying attention.

Here is what Ralph Denk, Team Manager of NetApp-Endura (in a blog post)

“A dream comes true. We have worked towards this news since the first day of the team’s founding.  That our wish has now become reality is overwhelming, and will put the whole team into a euphoric mood. We could not have hoped for better news shortly before our season opening.”

It’s great to see a team like NetApp-Endura, which was founded in 2010, work their way up to a Tour wildcard invite.  Czech rider Leopold Konig picked up stage wins in the Tour of California and Vuelta a Espana in 2013 while Czech teammate Jan Barta won the country’s road race and time trial championships.

Best of luck in your quest to get to Paris!

Los Angeles, CA – Cannondale presented the 2014 team last night at the Canyon Club outside Los Angeles, California. During the night of revelry, that included major music performances and plenty of surprises for those in attendance, the team captains Peter Sagan, Ivan Basso, Elia Viviani, Moreno Moser, Damiano Caruso and the entire 2014 squad were officially introduced to an adoring crowd at the Cannondale Pro Cycling event followed by guests mixing and mingling with the team throughout the evening.

During the team presentation, attendees were given an exclusive look back at the amazing 2013 season and a sneak peek of what the upcoming 2014 season will bring.  After the presentation, guests rocked the night away to an epic concert by The Green Machine, a special Cannondale band made up of rock legends Curt Schneider on bass (Five For Fighting and Richie Sambora), Jared Shavelson on drums (BoySetsFirst and Purelove), Michael Ward on guitar (Gogol Bordello and The Wallflowers), John Rubano on the vocals (Jim Belushi and The Blues Brothers) and Matt Rollings on the keyboard (Fiona Apple and Richie Sambora).

Highlights of the event included a surprise musical performance by rider Moreno Moser who showed the crowd that his musical chops might just rival his skill on a bike when he popped up on stage to perform “Molly’s Lips” by Nirvana with The Green Machine. Also getting in on the action was Cannondale General Manager, Bob Burbank, who rocked the stage with the band for his rendition of the Bon Jovi classic song “It’s My Life.”

This year, to bring our fans closer to the excitement, Cannondale Pro Cycling partnered with select SoCal Cannondale dealers offering consumers the chance to win a Golden Ticket to the team presentation and launch party. The 50 winners each were able to bring a guest and meet their favorite riders live and in-person to share in the excitement of the team presentation.

The 2014 team promises fans an incredible year of racing coming off of the team’s successful inaugural season. The official roster will continue to develop a stable group of young, talented international riders with a flair for winning and world-class camaraderie. The “Green Machine” team boasts 28 riders including four recent signings, four neo-professional riders, and twenty returning riders from the 2013 squad.

“The entire team is getting ready for great things from Cannondale Pro Cycling for the next year,” said Peter Sagan, Cannondale Pro Cycling athlete. “I feel good about our squad and the quality of each rider this season. We want to give our fans a strong performance again this year showing our passion at being a part of Cannondale Pro Cycling, and having fun along the way.

The 2014 team presentation is part of a four-day team camp in Los Angeles, CA. The members of the Cannondale Pro Cycling team in attendance are training on and around the local roads of Thousand Oaks, preparing for the rapidly approaching start of the 2014 season.

“With the combination of the ‘best bikes in the world’ and the awesome talent of our Cannondale Pro Cycling team, we’re looking forward to an unforgettable 2014 season,” said Rider Ted King. “Kicking off the season with a sweet launch party event wasn’t half bad either.”

On the road, the Cannondale Pro Cycling season starts in just one week with riders heading to the Tour Down Under and the Tour de San Luis.

ABOUT CANNONDALE

Founded in 1971, Cannondale is a global industry leader with a strong heritage in design, development and manufacturing of high performance bicycles, apparel and accessories. With a reputation for continuous innovation and quality, Cannondale corporate headquarters is located in Wilton, Connecticut, USA, with offices in Brazil, Canada, Holland, Japan, Switzerland, Australia, United Kingdom, Taiwan and an assembly/manufacturing facility in Bedford, Pennsylvania. For more information, visit www.cannondale.com.

Cannondale is a premium brand of Cycling Sports Group, part of Dorel Industries, Inc. (TSX: DII.B, DII.A), a world-class bicycle and juvenile products company.Dorel creates style and excitement in equal measure to safety, quality and value. Dorel has annual sales of US$2.6 billion and employs 6,300 people in facilities located in twenty-four countries worldwide.

The long slow run

For those of you building up for a long distance race or event, I hope you are doing your long slow runs.  The long slow run is what helps us build up to the target distance without getting hurt.  I like to wear a heart rate monitor for my long slow runs.  I have learned that 120-130 beats per minute is my ideal range for the long slow run.  It is okay, if I go up to 140 BPM for short durations.  My long slow run for today was 8 miles long.  I maintained a constant HR of 133 for most of the runs duration.  I went up to 140 for the home stretch because I have that old horse heading to the barn mentality and pick up the pace as I get close to home.  When I realized my heart rate was at 140, I slowed down until my heart rate was 120 then I started to walk for the cool down portion of the run.  It is important to cool down for 5-10 minutes after a long slow run.  There are a lot of arguments about stretching for runners.  I like to gently stretch by bending over for 30-60 seconds.  I don’t do anything aggressive; I just bend over and let my arms hang.  How you want to stretch is up to you.  I recommend reading up on stretching and running and find something that works for you.

One of the standards for determining your maximum heart rate is 208-(age*0.7)
The long slow run is an aerobic run at 50%-75% of your max heart rate.  That is a huge span.  I recommend 50% max for beginners who are just starting to increase your mileage.  At 50% max hr you should be able to converse comfortably and joke around.  At 75%, you should be able to talk but joking around will be difficult.

Here is an explanation of the heart rate theories.  We like to call them rules but people are not created equally so things can vary a lot.
Aerobic training is officially 50%-85% of your maximum heart rate.  The long slow run is typically 50%-75% of your maximum heart rate.  As you progress, the lower number will gradually increase.  My long slow runs are usually at 65%-75% max heart rate.
Long slow runs are fat burners.  The long slow run trains your body how to burn fat.  As your long slow runs increase in time and distance, your body gets better at burning fat and other types of fuel.
They say, you officially start burning fat between 60-90 minutes depending on who you ask.  I don’t care when I officially start burning fat.  I like to look at my watch and tell myself how close I am getting to burning fat.  When I am in the fat burning stage, I tell myself “Burn, baby, burn”.
The higher your heart rate, the higher the risk for injury.

Heart rate example for a 52 year old.  Since this is general in nature, I will use whole numbers.
208-(age*0.7)
208-(52*0.7) =208-36=172 max hr
50%*172=0.5*172=86 lower aerobic hr
75%*172=0.75*172=129 maximum long slow run aerobic hr
85%*172=0.85*172=146 maximum aerobic hr
Ted’s long slow run at an hr of 133=77.5% of max hr.  When my long runs get longer than 15 miles, I will probably lower the max to a max of 130.

I don’t usually eat during any exercise that is less than 2 hours.  When the workouts are longer than 2 hours, I like to practice eating.  I don’t like to eat when I exercise.  That is very bad for endurance athletes so I practice eating all of the time.

I hope everyone who is training for a half marathon is getting out and logging the miles.  I have been doing this for so long I forget to mention how important it is to log your miles.  The miles that you run have to increase gradually.  It is normal to increase your mileage by about 5% per week and never increase by more than 15% per week.20

You can buy the Complete Runner’s Day-By-Day Log 2014 Calendar from amazon.com for about $10 now.  I have used these books in the past and feel they are worth the money.  It is handy to have a book that is designed for runners with little tips on every page.  The book encourages you to take notes and comment on your health and how you felt.  In most cases, you will not go back and read the notes but if you are injured or want to get faster, the notes will come in handy.  I use a plain old open source calendar that works for pretty much any word processing program.  You could draw something up on a piece of paper as long as you track your weekly mileage.

I harp on tracking your mileage because it helps your motivation.  The endurance phase is all about increasing your mileage so you are capable of making the distance.  To increase your weekly mileage, you have to get out and run 4 days per week.  It is okay to run 5 or 6 days per week.  No matter how many days per week you run, track the miles and increase your weekly mileage slowly.  If you are a regular reader, you know that I am training for a 2:15 half marathon in late march.  I am going to carry a pace sign and lead the group.  My training is going to be a little different from the standard plan but it will be close.  My long run this week was a 6 mile run at a 10:30 pace.  I could have gone faster and I could have gone farther but I did not.  It is not good to overdo things.  I am recovering from injuries (from over doing it) and rest (from finding excuses to take it easy).

Use your calendar and try to stay close to the plan.  When you look at your calendar and see a blank where there should be miles, it can give you the extra motivation to get you out for your run.  It works for me, it may work for you.