Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Two Saturdays, two half marathons, two PRs and Enduropacks

A little over a month ago I happily announced that I was chosen to be an ambassador for EnduroPacks. I'm writing this as a 30-day review and will be incorporating two race reports into it.

Firstly, what is EnduroPacks?

EnduroPacks, as I've discovered through use, is not a supplement to fuel you through longer workouts. They are more of a recovery based line of supplements. The products they provide are EnduroMulti, Concentrated Electrolyte Spray, Essential Amino Acid Recovery Patch and Glutamine Recovery Complex.


This is the multivitamin of the nutritional set. A huge mix of vitamins, minerals and other wonderful things that you may or may not be getting in your diet. Even if you are getting a lot of them, there are probably some of these that you're missing. This fills in the gaps to help your body keep well maintained and working. Not only that, but it tastes freaking awesome, too. Remember those Flinstones vitamins you would eat like candy as a kid? Well, this is exactly like it, only in a liquid form so you still maintain that adult look.
Concentrated Electrolyte Spray:

See all those Gatorade, Powerade etc sports drinks that you can buy at a gas station, grocery store and
everywhere else under the sun? Basically they're all just Kool-Aid marketed with a different label. And personally, I think you shouldn't be able to purchase sports nutrition at a gas station. I've always preferred to bring just a bottle of water or two while I ride without all the sugar, my stomach and taste buds don't like all the sweet anyway. This is the fix. Squirt 5 pumps into your normal water bottle and go ride. All the electrolytes you're losing while working out will quickly and easily be replaced without you even noticing. Only while I've used it after a run workout have I been able to notice the slight change in flavoring that is not unpleasant. It adds a slightly salty taste that reminds me of a hint of lemon.

Essential Amino Acid Recovery Patch:
Amino acids are the basic building blocks of life. They help break down proteins in order to help
grow and repair body tissue. So why would you not want to have more to facilitate faster and more efficient recovery!? Especially when the little patch, once on the skin, is hardly noticable. I'll admit, at first I was fairly skeptical of this. So I tried it for a week which included a hard speed workout and a fast long run. Being used to feeling pretty drained the next day and ending up taking the day off after each workout that's exactly how I expected to feel. When I woke up the next day I was ready to do the speed work again, only harder this time. Now, after a few weeks of doing any workout and using this patch afterwards I continue to feel great day after day. The only catch with this is that you look like you're wearing a nicotine patch. This is something that a couple of the ambassadors from EnduroPacks have addressed, but all in all it isn't really a detractor. I find that where I place it isn't inconspicuous and therefore haven't been asked if I was quitting smoking.

Glutamine Recovery Complex:

Along with the Amino Acid patch, these glutamine pills are another great recovery tool. Glutamine is
a naturally occuring amino acid in the human body and under normal conditions the body is able to generate enough to recover the body from the day's activities. When you are working out and training for anything the body is put under more stress and takes longer to recover (obviously). The Glutamine Recovery Complex is another tool to pick up the slack that your body cannot produce. I can wholeheartedly tell you that with the Glutamine Recovery Complex my joints have felt better than they have ever felt while training for an event.
EnduroPacks simply works. They have all the medical research jargon on their website and you could read it and get all sorts of feel goods, but what it all boils down to is that I can train hard then get up the next day and do another hard workout without feeling like your muscles and joints hate you. I've always been a bit wary, so for those of you who are wary of claims put up by companies I understand where you're coming from. This stuff isn't a false claim. Enduropacks will help you push to higher levels of performance by easing the recovery. I've proven this to myself over the two hard races that I did last month.

Pricing: $75/mo for 1 mo - $69/mo for 3 mo - $63/mo for 6 mo - $59/mo for 12 months

The pricing is the only thing that I was a bit shocked about. It does run a bit steep. BUT, it's worth it. Trust me, even if you are just training for your first half marathon or going for the overall podium, the value provided by the help in recovery is worth the price.

Half marathon #1
Prairie State Half Marathon - 12Oct2013 1:40:20 6/41 AG 66/892 OA PR!
So, I've been training for a full marathon in January and my coach told me that of these two half marathons I could pick one to race. I chose this one since others from my recruiting battalion were going to be running it and I wanted to make sure I beat them! 

I started off comfortably around 7:00-7:15 pace and held it there. Talked to a few people along the way until they got too tired to keep talking and then I moved on. The course was great. I was expecting it to be a road half since I didn't pay attention to the race details online. It was a nice surprise when we made the turn onto the crushed limestone trail. And this is one of the few things that I'll give Illinois props for, their trail system is pretty incredible. The race was an out and back with 95% of it being crushed limestone, only times it wasn't was when we crossed under a bridge or on a wooden walkway. Once I hit the turn around I started pouring on the suffering to better my position, which may have ended up hurting my time in the end. about 2 miles to the finish the wheels started to fall off. I started walking a bit and some of the people I had been with at the beginning started to pass me up. Once I was within .5 mile I had to start running again, you can't walk across the finish line! I knew that I would PR with this race because in the past I hadn't been training at all and just ran the half. I was shooting for a 1:38, but wasn't too sad about the results.
After getting my first PR

Coming off of the race my coach had me do a really light week. I was just expecting an easy half, but after I told him how I was feeling leading into the race thanks to EnduroPacks he told me to race it, but faster this time. I was a little nervous about it because I hadn't done hard weekends like this in the past. 

Half marathon #2
Des Plaines River Trails half marathon - 19Oct2013 1:35:38 1/14 AG 5/250 OA
I started with a very slow, easy 2 mile warmup before we started the race and timed it to be completed within 15 minutes of the start. I'd been at the race since 0545 since my friend, Jeff Clinton, was running the 50 mile and I told him that I would drive.

The first mile was a lot faster than I planned on, 6:50. The three of us that were leading the race mentioned to each other that we were running too fast, but added "Where are all the fast people?" haha. Starting with a 2.3 mile loop south and then heading north through the trails to the half way. Two of the three passed me around the 3 mile mark and the overall winner came bounding by and crushed everyone. This race I tried a new fueling plan and I think that it helped out when I started to feel the drain about 5k from the finish. I had a gel 4.5 miles in and then again at 9 miles. Considering that I had done an extra 2 miles before the race I was very happy when I surpassed the 10 overall mile mark and then again when I was 5k from the finish. I could tell that I was walking the line between doing my best and blowing up, so I pulled it back a slight bit. My goal was to not run above 8:00 on any mile and I did just that. I kept it down below that mark. Like any race, when I came within the .5 mile mark I picked it up to push it across the finish. I didn't want anyone sneaking up on me to pass me at the last sprint. I had originally thought that I was sitting somewhere around 7th overall and had no idea where I was sitting in my age group, but when I crossed the line they told me I was fifth overall!! And when I checked the race results at home I had a good feeling about my age group, with the overall out of AG standings that meant that I had taken my first age group win!! That's what I call a GREAT race!!

AG winner!!
After I finished I had a quick bite to eat, got changed into my cycling kit and rode my bike on course to find my buddies, Jeff Clinton, Jon Kettley and Marcella Martinez. After finding Jon and Marcella (Marcella ran her first half marathon!!) I took off to find Jeff. I found him at his 31 mile mark, he was looking good. Overall it was around 40 miles on the bike. When I got back to the finish line I got back into warm clothes, put on my EnduroPacks Amino Acid Recovery Patch and took a nap. By the time I woke up I was already feeling good again. Good thing, too, because I had a little over an hour drive back home.

Overall thoughts on EnduroPacks and the races:
I've been running competitively for a few years now and I've always gone in a cycle of feeling great, training hard, body starts hurting and taking time off to recover. This "off-season" has been some of the hardest training that I've done since I started racing. Training for multiple half marathons, and the end season goal of the IceBreaker half AND full marathon on Jan25/26 and the Tour of Sufferlandria, also starting on the 25th has put my schedule full to the brim of hard work. Without a doubt in my mind I have been able to push hard continuously thanks to EnduroPacks. I wake up feeling refreshed even if I got my speed work done the night before and haven't had a full day of recovery quite yet. These races proved to me that the recovery assets provided are helping me to push harder and reach further in my athletic career. And this is only the beginning...

-Two PRs!
-EnduroPacks really works and keeps me feeling great after hard workouts!
-AG win and 5th overall! Plus, I didn't get chicked!
-Figured out a better fueling strategy

-Price is a bit high, but well worth it.
-That's really all that's bad!!

A huge congrats to my friends, Jeff Clinton, Jon Kettley and Marcella Martinez. Jeff finished his first 50-miler 6 days after running the Chicago Marathon, Jon did both half marathons with me and Marcella completed her first half marathon!

A huge thanks to my coach, Jason Restuccia, for helping me believe that I can push hard even when I feel like giving up. To my wife, Marnie for watching my little girl while I train and race. And to EnduroPacks for supporting my recovery and racing. Without them this would be a whole lot more painful!!

Check out the following link for 10% off any order from EnduroPacks and to see how they can help you achieve your next goal!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

ZOMBIES!!!!! A Run For Your Lives 5k Race Report!



Let me start off by saying this race is flippin sweet. I also didn't pay for this one, which made it that much sweeter. Thanks, Nicole for hooking me up with The RFYL team and the free entry.

So, I was forwarded an email by an affiliate of mine from looking for a couple bloggers who would like to run their race in return for a race report and to share a coupon code with friends and family to get them out for the fun event, too. I was more than happy to spread the word and get more people running. I started with the usual medium to spread the word about things; Facebook. Then I branched out to coworkers and friends face to face. Had a lot of interest, but due to the short notice was only able to get one coworker to join with me. William was pumped. 

So, Run For Your Lives zombie 5k. For those who are not completely aware of what it is, I'll put their main video below. Essentially you can choose to be a runner or a zombie. Runners obviously try and make through unscathed, zombies obviously try and prevent that. And if you dress cool while doing either, you rock.

The "Inedibles" haha

Sweet huh? The goal is simple, you have three flags (Think flag football) and it is your goal to make it through 3.1 miles of obstacles, zombie fields and general mayhem with at least one of those flags to be called a Survivor and to earn a Survivor medal.

Easy? Maybe. Depends on your strategy and how much you work with or use those around you. Are you the type to proverbially step on your friends to ensure your survival? Are you the friend who is getting sacrificed for the greater good?

William and I discussed strategy while driving up since it was a good 1.5 hour drive. We decided to take it head-on and just gun for it. We figured there would be very few of the zombies that would chase after a sprinter. We turned out to be right.

We started in the 12:30 wave and took right off. The course was located on a motocross track, so it was pretty "hilly" with all the jumps they had on course. Within 1/4 mile I had already ninja rolled while evading the first set of zombies and gave myself a pretty good scraping of skin off my arm.

Doesn't seem like much, but it's been over a week and a half and it's still bleeding.
From there was a mud pit with barbed wire overtop, which meant we were going to be muddy right off the bat. Nice! Ran around through a second zombie field, which was easy enough. They were spread a bit, but not so far that you didn't have to juke left and right occasionally. After a brief jaunt through a wooded area we came to the second obstacle, a large, smoke-filled tent with elecrical wires hanging from the ceiling. How do you know they were electrified, you ask? Well, you could hear them crackling as the fog machine filled the area. And it wasn't a faint crackle!

The first mud pit with barbed wire.

Dodging through those and ducking back out of the tent brought us to the longest zombie field we'd seen yet. This is where I lost my first flag. Our technique of just blowing past them was working until we found the first one who would actually chase after us. We each lost a flag, but I guess their rules are that they can only take one flag per runner per zombie area. Smart, as I can see people being upset that they didn't want to run and lost all three in a matter of seconds. Anyways, after I got my flag taken the zombies started cheering for us and we both gave a bunch of high-fives as we ran off into the next wooded area.

This wooded area brought us back out to where we could see the beginning of the course, where we saw the rest of our 12:30 wave. We were pretty far ahead of them and it wasn't much longer before we started passing people in the 12:00 wave. More zombie fields and more mud brought us to the next major obstacle. A particularly steep hill that had a pipe pouring water down it to make it extra muddy. Not too bad, I had my trail shoes on and there were ropes strung along it to help you pull yourself up. Not to make things too easy for us, there was a zombie group at the very top! Already with an elevated heart rate and breathing a little heavy we took off again, dodging, ducking and out-sprinting the zombies. We also passed a group of 12:00 runners and left them to their fate of getting flags pulled. We didn't feel bad, this is the zombie apocalypse!


After this group it was a sludge through trails running around the course and dirtbike jumps until we reached the final obstacle and the longest zombie field of the course. The final obstacle had a line waiting for it, so we were able to catch our breath for a short moment. From where we were standing it was a group of tires that had been chained together to form a ladder for us to climb up. Once atop the platform there was a 5 foot deep pool of COLD water. Some of the girls around me looked a little nervous about jumping in, so I helped them out by jumping high up and making a very large cannonball to splash everyone around. On a scale of 1 to completely shrunk I was a completely shrunk. Good thing I didn't ease into it!

We found Leia.
After I waded through that and climbed out I rejoined the group ahead of me. William followed behind me shortly thereafter. The group in front was waiting for more people in hopes to escape unscathed from the zombies by leaving their slower comrades to get their flags taken. Oh, the backstabbing!! At least William and I were upfront about it, they acted as a team up until that point. William and I took off, he went wide left while I went wide right. I found a longer area that was less infested with zombies and as I entered the home stretch to crawl below the barbed wire finish line a zombie lunged towards me and I caught a hand to the groin, which saved my flag because he, his fellow zombies and the spectators all let out an audible "oooooh..." in unison. I slowly made my way to the finish and crawled under to collect my SURVIVOR medal. William crawled under to be shamed by his INFECTED status.

We were the first two from the 12:30 wave to cross the finish line and considering I was a survivor, I would call that a major success. Take that World War Z!

William and I. He's ashamed having become infected.

Race thoughts:

Wow, what an awesome race. Having done the Warrior Dash this summer I was a little wary to what obstacles the race would hold and what caliber to expect of those who were zombies. I was thoroughly impressed with the land in which the event was held. A motocross park makes for a very good obstacle course, take note, Warrior Dash. On to the pros and cons

Best dressed zombie couple ever.

Cost - 2/10
course -  9/10
facilities - 5/10
goodies/swag bag - 7/10

- Free for me, and $20 off for my friends. Definitely made it worth my while
- Course, obstacles, zombies were incredible, well planned and well executed
- Great involvement with the racers before the wave started by the MC

- Very expensive for a 5k. It would've cost about $100 for just the race fee
- Parking $10, bag check $5. If your race is expensive, don't tack on extra fees, you seem greedy
-shower/change tent situation was not up to par for a muddy and cold event

Bottom line:
If you're looking for a race to do with your friends or if you're looking for a race for yourself DO THIS RACE. A very fun, very well run event and definitely worth it.

Thanks, RFYL, Nicole and a huge thanks to Marnie for dealing with a tyrant infant that was having a bad day.