Reading in 2019

Of all the books I read in 2019, the following deserve a mention. Did you read any of these? Or do you have some recommendations for my 2020 reading list?

  • In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto – Michael Pollan
  • Outliers: The Story of Success – Malcolm Gladwell
  • Small Fry: A Memoir – Lisa Brennan-Jobs
  • Black Klansman: Race, Hate, and the Undercover Investigations of a Lifetime – Ron Stallworth
  • The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery – by Ian Morgan Cron, Suzanne Stabile
  • Shortest Way Home: One Mayor’s Challenge and a Model for America’s Future – Pete Buttigieg
  • Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor E. Frankl, Harold S. Kushner (Foreword), William J. Winslade (Afterword), Isle Lasch (Translator)
  • When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi
  • Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church – Rachel Held Evans
  • David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants – Malcolm Gladwell
  • Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis – J.D. Vance
  • I’ll Be Gone in the Dark – Michelle McNamara, Gillian Flynn (Foreword), Patton Oswalt (Afterword), Paul Haynes (Contributor), Billy Jensen (Contributor)
  • Becoming – Michelle Obama
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking – Susan Cain
  • Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption – Laura Hillenbrand

Lightweight Running Mittens from Turtle Gloves

Disclaimer: I received a pair of Turtle Gloves Lightweight Running Mittens to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

While mittens can look like sleeping bags for my hands, don’t be fooled, Turtle Gloves convertible mittens are more functional than they first appear!

If you don’t know already, mittens are generally considered warmer than gloves. This is because our fingers can generate quite a bit of heat when they are together rather than separated by fabric.

If you don’t know already, mittens are generally considered warmer than gloves. This is because our fingers can generate quite a bit of heat when they are together rather than separated by fabric.

The drawback with mittens, is that you don’t have full use of your fingers. Well, Turtle Gloves has solved this by introducing mittens that can convert quickly to expose your fingers.

This is an easy procedure that can be done on the run without the need to stop. I had to do this on practically every run, not because I needed my fingers, but because they were too warm!

I have tested the gloves in temperatures ranging from the mid-twenties to late forties, so the fact my fingers got too warm is amazing because these gloves are so thin.

The particular model I was testing is not available for purchase yet, we were fortunate to try out the prototype. They are made from Polartec Power Dry fabric, which means they are lightweight, moisture wicking, fast drying and water repellent.

And bonus – you can safely machine wash and tumble dry them!

The gloves go up the arm, covering my watch, so I ended up wearing my watch on top of the gloves. This wasn’t an issue at all, since the material is very thin.

I definitely plan to continue using these gloves for the remainder of my winter training. I run outside a lot, and the flexibility of these mittens avoid me having to interrupt an interval session to remove gloves and store them in my pockets. With Turtle Gloves, I can just flip them over and roll them back as needed.

I have a discount code that will take 15% off at turtlegloves.com. Just use code TURTLEGLOVESBR when checking out.

ROAD iD Goes Wherever You Go, and with it Peace of Mind!

Disclaimer: I received a Road iD Sidekick ID to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

Nicely packaged with a personal touch

What is Road iD?

Road iD is an engraved tag that you wear when you go out for a run (or any other outdoor activity). It contains your emergency contact details and any important medical information, should anything bad happen to you.

I know it’s not nice to think about such scenarios, but when you can bring peace of mind to yourself and those that love you so easily, Road iD makes perfect sense.

Sidekick ID

I’ve known about Road iD for quite a few years, and have always meant to pick one up. My friend had one she would wear on her ankle. I always thought it was a great idea, but that if I had to strap it on every time I left the house for a run I would eventually forget it.

Fortunately I would never (ever) leave the house without my Garmin. I mean, does it really count if I can’t post it to Strava and the socials?

I should have been a hand model

So when the chance came to test a Road iD Sidekick ID, I jumped at it. The Sidekick ID slides on to my Garmin strap. It has my name, my wife’s number and son’s number on there, should anyone need to make a call on my behalf.

You can also add medical information if applicable, so that first responders can react more efficiently.

Now my Road iD goes with me everywhere. I may forget every other piece of safety gear from time to time, but at least I’ll have my ID on my wrist.

If you’re reading this post on Black Friday (Nov 29th), then you can get a Sidekick ID for only $15.99 with Black Friday savings!

It’s #blackfriday! Get up to 60% off sitewide during the Black Friday sales on RoadId.com! #deals #roadidbr #bibchat

It literally takes minutes to fully customize and order your Road iD, and shipping is so fast. When I ordered mine it was done with the engraving process within the hour and shipped a couple of hours later. Amazing service.

Please Stop My Garmin

I wrote a little poem that I’m going to share with you.

If you hit me with your car
because you swerved too close
before you think to turn and bolt
do please stop my garmin

If you find me off the trail
my face down in the ditch
don’t you dare just pass on by
please first stop my garmin

If you find me in the snow
blue and fully frozen
please defrost my arm out first
so you can stop my garmin

I hope we never meet like this
but if we ever do
my name is on my road-id
my contact details too

So if you have some extra time
please call the ones I love
but I am thankful most of all
that you stopped my garmin

Just to be clear, while I do put grave importance (no pun intended) on stopping my Garmin when I’m not running, in any of the above scenarios, please seek medical assistance first! Thank you! 🤣

Race Recap: 2019 Race Across Durham – 10 Miler

First off, Race Across Durham is one of my favorite races of the year, and it’s right here in Durham, minutes from where I work everyday.

Waiting for the race to start!

This was my third year running RAD, and was a much better race for me than 2018 — mainly because I felt ill on race day and struggled to enjoy the experience as I knew I would have otherwise.

2019 made it all better. Zach and I hadn’t done much trail running to get ready for this race, and were thankful to the course preview runs set-up by Bull City Running and Life Skills Foundation. I believe the second preview run may have been the first time on the Eno in 2019 for us.

Still, we’d decided our number one priority was to enjoy this race, so once the race had started we settled into a conversational pace and did just that.

You never remember the hills until you hit the bottom of it and then exclaim, “yeah I remember this hill now”. That happened multiple times along the course.

The route meanders through the trees, alongside the Eno River, gradually increasing in elevation as we head toward the Eno Rock Quarry.

Aid Stations were well stocked!

Around mile 4 we hit the first aid station and stopped for a snack, a drink and a photo. I’m not sure we’ve ever ran a race this relaxed before, and it felt good.

Even though it had rained the day before, the trail was in good shape, not really any muddy areas that I noticed.

At mile 5 a surprise awaited us. There was an unofficial aid station set up with a box of beer sitting on a table. Everyone was just running past. Crazy, I know. Not us — nope. We stopped for some “trail magic”. Thank you very much to whoever left those out.

Surprise find in the woods!

So we were half way there. The next aid station was not until mile 8.

In 2018 we were missing a bridge or two due to some flooding. This year the bridges were restored, although I kind of enjoyed running through the stream last year.

The last hill up toward the quarry is probably the toughest hill on the course, but it leads up to one of my favorite sections of the course — running over the stepping stones and then along a ridge between the quarry lake and the river.

We stopped and posed for the photographer before crossing the river, and were promised we’d “make the cover” — not even kidding. Maybe even modeling careers might be launched from this. Who knows?

However, it looks like the photo didn’t make the cut to the website, never mind the cover of anything! 🤣

The out-and-back section from 2017 was added back into the route this year, and while the section is not very technical we were beat by that stage and were glad to reach the turning point and run that last leg back to the finish.

We ran through the finish line together, my belly giving me a 1 millisecond advantage over Zach’s time. Lots of snacks and drinks available there while we waited for the shuttle bus back to the after-party. The oranges were amazing!

We didn’t have to wait long to get on a bus. I felt really bad for the driver though as she had to smell multiple bus loads of smelly trail runners all morning.

RAD 2020, we’re coming for you!

Treadmill Intervals and Progression Runs with Zwift!

Disclaimer: I received a Zwift RunPod (to assist me in my review of Zwift Run) as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

I tested the Zwift platform back in December of last year. I declared it was the greatest thing to happen to treadmills, and I still stand by that statement.

This time I have jumped deeper into the Zwift virtual world and have come away with even more appreciation for this form of training. In fact, I am considering buying a treadmill just so I have easy access to Zwift at home.

When testing last year, we had arranged some vitual 5Ks together, and that was fun, but it was only when we started running intervals and progression runs this time around, did I fully realize how effective this training platform could be.

We have been taking part in weekly training sessions on Zwift, called “Turn It Up Tuesdays” (Tuesdays at 7am EST), and these have been amazing.

Instead of just a steady treadmill run, these are interval runs (short intervals were you run faster, sandwiched by recovery periods) or progression runs (starting off slow and ending fast).

Within the virtual world, your route has “check-points” that you run through to complete each part of the training. It will then instruct you what speed to change your treadmill to for the next section. It could not be more straight-forward.

The last Turn It Up Tuesday workout we did was called “6×800 Hill Repeats”. I didn’t think anything of it until the first interval started and I was prompted to adjust treadmill to 2% incline, then 3%, then 4%, and so on.

I saw where this was going and was hoping the gym treadmill would not incline more than 5%. Unfortunately it did, and the final interval was at 7%. It nearly killed me.

I always have that “WHAT a great work-out” feeling after we’ve finished and I’m totally energized and ready for work! I’ve never really had the motivation to work that hard on a treadmill before. It feels more like an interval work-out that I’d have outdoors.

Zwift (@gozwiftrun) really is an effective training platform. I have no doubt about that.

Instead of struggling to view my iPhone screen, I’m using an iPad this time. The bigger screen definitely improves the experience. If I ever get a treadmill at home I plan to run Zwift on an Apple TV and put it up on a big screen in front of me.

The treadmill speed at the gym seemed to align very well with the speeds reported by the Zwift RunPod ($29.99 on the Zwift store) attached to my shoe. So much so, it made sense to use Zwift exclusively to update Garmin and Strava and not use my watch at all (you can connect apps to sync with using the Zwift Companion app).

This approach uploads a map of the virtual area in which you ran. I was able to fool many of my friends into believing I was in New York, running in Central Park. You can check out how the run looks on my Strava profile by clicking the map below.

Click on map to see run on Strava.

Zwift will not control your treadmill. Instead, directions appear on the screen, “Increase treadmill speed to 6.2mph”, “Increase incline to 5%”, etc. You have plenty of time to make the adjustments for each part of the workout.

Free To Run

Zwift is still free for runners, so the RunPod (or some alternative footpod) will be your only cost — provided you have access to a treadmill already. If you have a bluetooth enabled treadmill, you may not need a footpod at all.

It does appear at some stage Zwift will introduce a subscription service for running, similar to the model used for cycling. There is no pricing or time-frame information at the moment that I can find.

Zwift Apps

There are two apps (both available on iOS and Android) that you need to run on Zwift. One is “Zwift Companion”, and the other is “Zwift”. Search for the on your app store of choice. They are free to download.

The companion app is for account/device management and also for signing up to available events — like “Turn It Up Tuesdays!”. You can also give “Ride On”‘s to other Zwifters (the platform’s phrase for passing on encouragement).

The Zwift app is the actual “game” itself. It pairs with Zwift companion when apps share the same network/wifi connection.

Wouldn’t it be cool if…

While there are ample options for customizing your avatar, I wish there were more options to make you more unique and easily identifiable to your friends online.

Or what about allowing users to take their photo and super-impose it on the avatar’s face — see first photo above. 😉

Instead of “Ride On” — something more specific for runners would be very cool.

I was trying to follow along with someone and they took a different path and I lost them. So what about a way of indicating which direction someone else is going so you can follow!

What would you add here?

I think the Zwift (@gozwiftrun) platform is amazing, but wouldn’t it be cool if <insert your idea here>!

2019 Bull City Race Fest, AKA Bull City Rain Fest

If I got washed away in a flash flood, my dets were on my Road-ID.

I think I’m just about dried out now from running Bull City Race Fest back on October 20th, 2019.

This was easily the wettest race I have ever participated in. The rain was coming so hard at the beginning of the race, that the road at the start line was a literal river, soaking everyone’s socks and shoes.

I’d ran Bull City Race Fest a couple of times before and have always had fantastic weather. Not this time.

Waiting in my poncho for the race to start

There was a poncho in our race packs, which I picked up the day before. This was very thoughtful, thank you! I did wear it while we waited for the race to start, and then threw it away when it was time to run.

I hadn’t run 13 miles since running a marathon back in March. The most I’d ran was 11 miles a couple of weeks prior to the race. So there was a little apprehension as to how I would perform.

Would I be able to run the distance? Would my injury come back? Could I finish it within 2 hours? Why did I not stay in bed? All these questions were running through my head.

You can see from the photo above, I did not manage to finish in under 2 hours. In fact, I was 15 mins slower than the previous year’s race, and 20 minutes slower than my half marathon PR.

In saying that, I was still OK(ish) with the 2:10 finish, and feel that without RunCanvas’ help, it would have been a lot worse. Janell’s coaching prepared me well for this race and I found it very beneficial.

Happy to have finished!

The rain pretty much washed out the usually great after party as well. All I wanted to do was go home. So I grabbed my beer and off home I went.

The rain was not the only disappointing part of this event. I did not like changes to the course this year. There were several turnarounds added deep within a Durham neighborhood. It felt like I was on a training run trying to fit in a couple of extra miles while staying close to my house.

I used to love this race because the route was mainly through the city streets, and it kind of lost that feel this year. I can’t see myself signing up to run it next year, which is a pity. Time to try some other races.

Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “practice makes perfect”. Well I’ve found that this is not entirely true, especially if you’re doing it wrong to begin with.

But it’s just running, right? Put one leg in front of the other and keep going. You’ll get better and faster very soon, you’ll often hear.

Nope. The reality is, you’ll see improvement for sure, but after a while you’ll most likely plateau after, or end up injured like me.

Where I Went Wrong

There I was, an amateur runner, training for a marathon with a plan I found on the internet. It seemed to work well initially, but my body started to show signs of fatigue. I stared to skip sessions to recover but then pushed myself on the weekend long runs.

I believe this was my downfall. I did not have enough miles in my legs to be running the scheduled weekend distances. Seven weeks before the marathon my peroneal tendon really inflamed to the point I could not comfortably run over 4 miles.

To make it worse, no-one was able to convince me to hold back, readjust the plan or delay my marathon attempt. Heck, I’d put in all this work already, I was going to run it anyway.

If only I had used a coach to guide me through my first marathon. Someone who could provide a range of strength and core exercises to support my running. Someone who could adjust my plan based on my feedback (good and bad).

Coach Janell

It was a few weeks after the marathon that Janell from RunCanvas Coaching reached out to me. Janell is a VDOTO2 certified coach (and also a fellow BibRave Pro), and offers coaching plans via the VDOT platform.

At the time, I had still some penance to endure in the boot, but I was convinced that this was the perfect opportunity to get me back on my feet. In exchange for some online publicity, Janell offered to coach me for an upcoming race. We decided to focus on a half marathon that I’m running on October 20th (Bull City Race Fest).

I filled out Janell’s questionnaire and was sure to provide all the details of my injury, expected recovery and what races I had in my calendar. Janell crafted the first couple of weeks of my training schedule, with full consideration of the injury included.

Avoiding Injury

My biggest fear was pushing myself too hard and ending back in the boot, and to be honest, initially the plan felt like it was pushing me above my comfort levels. I just had to trust my new coach and run with the plan.

It’s safe to say that Janell knew what she was doing. With nearly two months of training complete, I can say my injury is healing very nicely. It’s not 100% yet, and I’m not back where I was fitness or speed-wise, but I still have 6-7 weeks before the race.

Strength Training

Aside from the running aspect of the training plan, I love how Janell incorporates strength training, with exercises specifically aimed at strengthening my peroneal tendon. You don’t get that level of detail in a standard plan you download from the internet!

Flexibility

Janell was also a very flexible with my many “life happens” moments. She was able to rearrange my training schedule as needed, to work around those unforeseen events that can get in the way of training.

RunCanvas Coaching

I’m in no way a pro runner — not even close — but I want to get better at it. I used to think this could be achieved on my own, by simply running more and more. After this experience, I am now a firm believer in getting some help from a certified coach. I’ve seen it drastically improve the running abilities of friends, and as I’ve mentioned above, it has helped me get back on my feet with renewed confidence.

So without reservation, I have been recommending Janell from RunCanvas to all my running club friends. If you are looking for coach, look no further — speak to Janell today.