Our Everyday Adventures

We are not adventurers by choice but by fate – Van Gogh

Last Minute Stocking Gift Ideas

Need some last minute gift ideas for your athlete friends and family?  Veronica and I have some great ideas for you.  Below, we’ve listed some of our favorite gear for biking, running, and races, all way less than $50!

Detours Bike Bags: Particularly the Goodie Bags.  Retails for $30, they are easy to find at your local bike shop.  Veronica and I LOVE these bags and use them constantly.  They sit on the top tube of your bike for quick easy access to snacks, energy bites, camera, ect…

 

Nite Ize Lights:  Nite Ize makes a pile of PERFECT stocking stuffers.  From the brand new Bug Lights at $12.99 to the tiny two pack of spoke lights at $6.99,  there’s definitely a few products everyone would love to find in their stocking.

Hestra Bike Gloves:  Hestra has been making gloves for decades but just started making bike gloves.  these gloves are perhaps the warmest, nicest winter cycling gloves I’ve ever owned.  Well worth the $30-$40 for a pair of cold weather cycling gloves.

Energy Bars and Drinks:  Always a great Idea for the stocking.  Our favorites are Nuun hydration tablets, Hammer (huckleberry flavored) energy gel, Gu products, Honey Stinger bars and chews, and Odwalla Bars.

Socks!  Athletes can never have enough nice socks. Some of our favorite run and bike socks are Teko, and Pearl Izumi

Hydroflask water bottles:  Veronica and I got to sample one of these a year ago and have loved them so much we just bought a pile to give away this winter to friends and family.  These are the Mercedes Benz of water bottles.  Not too heavy, they are insulated stainless steel (like a thermos, but WAY better) and they keep cold drinks cold and hot drinks REALLY HOT.  They are awesome, and are very worth the $20.

First Aid Kits:  be creative and put together some first aid products (band-aids, sharpee marker, gauze rolls, ect…) Fun, and easy to put together a nice kit for around $20-$30.  If they travel a lot – don’t forget the imodium.

Travel Guide Books:  If your friends/family are planning a big adventure, guide books are always a good idea.  It can never hurt to have two or three good guides for an area.

Headlamps:  Just like water bottles, tape measures, and socks, you can never have too many headlamps.  Headlamps are getting cheaper and cheaper too.  You should be able to find a good Black Diamond Headlamp for around $20.

 

 

 

 

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Our Next Tri and Summer Outdoor Retailer Show

Post by:  Jake
6/22/11

Apparently we did catch the Tri-bug because today Veronica and I signed up for our next sprint triathlon.  The Bountiful Reverse Triathlon on August 6th.  It’s a unique reverse sprint-tri where you start with a 5K run followed by an 11-mile bike and then a 350-yard swim through a pool.  The pool swim has me scratching my head as apparently it’s held in an indoor 25-yard pool in a “snake style” fashion.  All competitors jump in the pool following their bike ride, and we’ll all swim down one lane, cross the line, back down the next lane, and so on 14-times.  With a cap of 400 participants, and the swim coming at the end of the race, hopefully the pool won’t be too terribly crowded.  

We signed up for the Bountiful tri just outside of Salt Lake City because we’ll be down in the neighborhood that week anyways for the Summer Outdoor Retailer ShowThe Outdoor Retailer Show is a bi-annual outdoor industry gear expo that hosts over 1,000 sporting good manufacturers and vendors.  We’re excited to participate in the event again this summer.  You can check out our show review from the Winter Outdoor Retailer Show here.  Sporting goods manufacturers consistently debut their newest and most innovated products at the OR shows,  We’d LOVE to hear from you about what brands interest you most, or if there’s any questions in particular you’d like us to ask any brand at the show.

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Off to the Races

Post by:  Jake
6/13/11

Six-months ago if Veronica would have asked me what I thought of doing a triathlon or running a 10k I would have laughed (to myself) and then probably would have given her a look of “are you crazy?” Then I probably would have asked, “Why on earth would you want to watch me suffer in agony like an ant getting burned under a magnifying glass?”  Well, six months later I’ve not only completed my first sprint triathlon, but have also raced in the Black Bear Challenge adventure race, and have run a 3-mile and a 10k race!  I wasn’t in all that bad of shape last January, but since then I’ve lost nearly 25-pounds and now am in close to the best shape of my life.  It’s such an amazing feeling of accomplishment every time I get to cross the finish line at one of these races.  I genuinely feel strong, and I continue to surprise myself at how far (and fast) I can run.

We just finished the Governors’ Cup 10K on Saturday morning.  I posted a time of almost exactly 55-minutes, and Veronica was just a few seconds over 50-minutes.  I like to start the races near the front of the pack, while Veronica prefers starting a little further back.  My first mile is always my fastest as I try to separate myself from the crowd a bit.  I can’t stand not running at “my” pace simply because there are so many other people around me.  That makes for a fairly depressing rest-of-the-race though as I get continually passed for the remainder of the mileage.  Saturday’s race was no exception.  Between mile 3 and 4 I got passed by not one, but TWO old guys pushing strollers!  Talk about a blow to the ego. :-)   I just try to stay focused on running my race, and keep telling myself that “I’m not competing for first” and “I can’t imagine doing this 6-months ago with an extra 25-pounds”!

So what’s motivated me to keep going?  To lose the weight?  To get back into top shape?

1.)  Having a goal in mind certainly has helped keep me working hard.  First it was, “I need to keep working to get in shape for the adventure race” then, the triathlon race, and so on…

2.)  Having a group to workout with and a rigid workout schedule has been a huge help.  It has kept me on track by giving me structure instead of simply guessing at what I should be doing to workout.  And it’s been great to socialize and see each other progress throughout the weeks.  Each day I look forward to the social aspect of the workouts.

3.)  Rewards.  Knowing the rewards of getting into shape have certainly added to my motivation.  Backpacking trips are easier.  I can bike harder and go further.  Really, everything is easier, including yard work.

So, while I’m still far from an elite athlete, I’m certainly enjoying being in shape.  Knowing I lost the weight the right way (lifestyle change instead of a fad diet), I’m convinced that this will be lasting.  The rewards are too nice to give it up and go back to the shape I was in back in January.  It’s FUN being in shape! :-)

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Julbo Sunglasses

Post by:  Jake
6/13/11

Julbo sunglasses are perhaps some of the best fitting and most functional glasses made.  I’ve long been a fan of Julbo’s super dark lensed glacier glasses, but recently I got to demo a pair of their new Pipeline glasses with photochromic lenses.  In just 28 seconds the lenses can turn from a light category 2 shading to a dark category 4 shading.  Very handy as 1 pair of sunglasses can be used in nearly any type of environment.  I used the pipeline glasses on several training days and for 2 races.  During the adventure race, the weather was super bright and sunny, and while on snow it was absolutely necessary to have the super dark Cat.4 shading.  Using the same glasses, during our recent triathlon, the weather was super overcast and dreary, but glasses were still necessary on at least the 12-mile bike portion of the race.  The light Cat. 2 shading was excellent and didn’t impair my vision at all.  Julbo’s engineering is excellent, and I’ve never tried a pair of their glasses on that didn’t fit very well.  I highly recommend a pair of Julbo glasses, and for something versatile that works in all conditions, go with a pair that has their photochromic “Zebra” lenses.

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I TRI with a little help from my friends

Post by:  Veronica
6/7/11

Twelve weeks and countless hours of workouts later, I can finally say that Jake and I proudly completed our first triathlon.  YAY!

Just a small sample of the first-timers. Waiting by the finish line to cheer on later heats of athletes.

For three months, we have been meeting regularly with approximately 20 other first-time (or relatively “beginner”) triathletes and our three coaches—sport veterans who wanted to share the “tri-bug” with the rookies.  Such AMAZING people—I’m going through withdrawals now that it’s all over.  Seriously, all I wanted to do on Tuesday was head to the pool right after work for social hour and swim practice! (Which is saying a lot given my lack of excitement for that leg of the sport!) Instead, Jake and I got a few chores checked off the to-do list and are planning to head to the pool for an anti-social pool workout later this week.  Not nearly as much fun.

Looking back, I wanted to reflect on how awesome this experience was.  In addition to the technical benefits of the clinic (I can confidently say that I swim MUCH better than I did before) the whole experience was enlightening for many reasons:

  • It confirmed my belief that the best way to get into something new is to join a group with similarly-experienced individuals that you can learn with. Now that the tri-clinic is over, I’m looking forward to attending a beginner-intermediate women’s group that meets Monday nights to bike (switching between road and mountain).  Groups provide a great outlet to meet people and provide the structure and support to keep you going.
  • I realized that although perhaps intimidating to begin with—experienced athletes, who are passionate about what they do, love to see new, excited people get involved.  And it’s a great community to be a part of.  The triathlon we did was geared toward beginners, but there were lots of veteran triathletes that volunteered or just came to cheer everyone on.
  • I learned that my body is much stronger than my mind sometimes believes.  And if you just keep kicking or putting one foot in front of the other, you can accomplish much more than you once thought.
  • It helped me to remember to celebrate what I do well (and yes, we all have our strengths) and remember that everyone has something they struggle with.  In our clinic, we had strong swimmers who weren’t so excited about the run and bikers and runners who felt like drowned fish at swim practice (Me!).  It’s really the beauty of multi-sport events like this.

As part of the triathlon clinic, we got a t-shirt that so profoundly states:  “I TRI with a little help from my friends.”  Great training buddies = a very rewarding experience. So shout-out to our clinic teammates and coaches—Congrats and thanks for such a great experience!

 

 

 

 

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Our First Triathlon ~ Queen City Tri

Post by:  Jake
5/30/11

May 21st, 2011 marked our first triathlon, the Queen City Tri.  Since mid-January Veronica and I have been training nearly every single day for this event.  We signed up for a beginners triathlon course at our local health club, Crossroads Fitness, and with about 18 other people we’ve been learning to swim, running together, and taking out the road bikes together.  The class has been incredible and has certainly provided the motivation, accountability, and structure we’ve needed in order to get in shape for the tri.  It’s safe to say, Veronica and I are in nearly the best shape of our lives because of this class.

The triathlon we chose to make our first was the Queen City Tri.  It’s a “sprint” tri designed for newbies like us.  Registration was limited to 90, and we heard that although the race filled up super quick, 57 of the 90 participants were first timers.  Pretty cool to see so many new triathletes considering Helena is a fairly small town and this is a pretty “local” event.  Registration is capped at 90 because the swim component of the race is done in an outdoor heated pool with capacity for 10 swimmers at a time.   The distance of this tri was a USAT sanctioned “sprint” meaning, 1,000-yards of swimming, 12-miles of biking, and 3-miles of running.

1,000-yards of swimming didn’t sound like that much at the beginning of our class. That is, until I tried to swim just 500-yards and felt like my lungs were going to explode.   All of a sudden, 1,000-yards felt unattainable, and I realized quickly this would be the most challenging component of the race.  Even after countless hours in the pool doing swimming drills, and endless laps, the swimming leg did prove to be the most challenging for me.   The outdoor pool was heated to a hot-tub-like 83 degrees, which felt nice initially since it was a cold, overcast day.  The heat certainly began to wear on just about everyone, and from what I heard from the pro’s it slowed everyone down quite a bit.  After about 23 minutes of swimming, I was out of the pool and onto the bike.  Veronica finished the swim in about 26 minutes, although our transition times were a bit screwed up, so I’m not sure what our “actual” swim times were.

Going through the transition from swim to bike meant a brief barefoot run, down a sidewalk and through some soggy grass to get to our bikes.  We had setup our bikes hours earlier, and placed all our gear on a towel below our suspended bikes.  Sunglasses opened, laying in our helmets, socks rolled to go onto our wet feet easier, speed laces in our shoes… all these things were little tips we learned to help the transition go a little quicker.  Once on the bike, we sped through town as fast as possible, weaving through the pot-holed streets of East Helena.  With heats of 10 people, the course quickly becomes deserted as people get spread out very quickly.  This is a bad thing for me, as there’s no one to “chase” down, or no one coming up on my heals to provide a little extra motivation to pound it out a little quicker.  I was simply out there on what felt like a leisurely peddle through the countryside.  I felt like I could go quicker with a little extra motivation, but coming off the swim, the motivation was just gone…

12-miles later, the biking was done, and it was on to the trail running on a rocky cobble/ dirt trail.  Getting off the bike feels good, that is, until you take your first step to start running.  My legs felt like iron tree trunks, and everything inside of me screamed to stop running.  Even my brain was saying, “it’s ok to walk a little… there’s no one behind you, go ahead and walk…” But I gritted my teeth and kept running.  At about 0.75-miles I glanced back and saw someone coming up on my heels.  I told myself I would not get passed, and kicked it into high gear to prevent that from happening.  I ended up passing someone on the run, and crossing the finish line with a total time of 1-hour 31.43-minutes, good enough for 3rd place in my age group.  Only 1-minute off from my goal of an hour and a half.  Veronica raced two heats ahead of me and finished with a time of 1-hour 39.4-minutes, placing 4th for her age group.

People keep asking us if we’ve got the Tri-bug, and when’s our next race… Although there are several other races this summer, there’s also so many other adventures we’d like to have, from backpacking to rock climbing to simply traveling.  Our weekends are filling up fast.  I do think the triathlon class, and this race were exceptional experiences and were perfect timing in our lives.  It’s motivated us to get back into shape, and getting in shape all winter has opened the door to a summer full of high-energy pursuits.  We will certainly do other triathlons in the future, but for now, there’s nothing else on our calendar for this summer… That could change tomorrow though.

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Mastering the Art of an Active Recovery

Post by:  Veronica
5/1/11

Jake and I have been in full-swing triathlon training for about eight weeks.  That’s two full months of swimming, running, biking and core weight training in some combination 6-7 days a week—except for the two active recover weeks we’ve had—or supposed to have had…

Technically, we’ve cheated.  Not in the way that seems logical—we’re not cheating ourselves by skipping workouts.  Actually, we’re cheating ourselves by adding extra workouts (hitting the pool or going for a bike ride on days off) and failing to give our bodies (not to mention minds and emotions) a break.

Why would the extra workouts be bad?  Isn’t the old mantra—practice makes perfect?  Actually, I’ve always preferred the revised version—perfect practice makes perfect.  Something that is hard to come by when your body and mind are exhausted.

The underlining fact is:  when I take advantage of rest days or recovery weeks, my mind and body is ready to push harder in the more intense days or weeks of workouts.

An active recovery is an important component to any training regimen, because it:

–Boosts the body’s ability to perform during key workouts

–Allows the body to replenish its energy and nutrient levels

–Allows the body to repair damaged muscles and tissues

–Allows the mind to rest (an equally important component to physical recovery) and gets the athlete ‘out of their head’ if their mental energy has gotten in the way of optimal physical performance

When I had the idea to write this post, the active recover week hadn’t yet began.  But I wouldn’t let myself write this article until I’d actually done what I wanted to preach.  There will be no pot calling the kettle black!

So here I am, at the end of my active recovery week—mentally and physically rested and ready to tackle the competitive phase of my triathlon training.  Yes, I followed the recover week workouts, dropping my time and intensity.  My legs (which needed a rest after a 7 mile run last weekend) feel great and I’m ready to push myself harder in this next week’s tough swim and brick workouts.

“Sometimes the most urgent thing you can possibly do is take a complete rest.” –Ashleigh Brilliant

I found these articles on Active Recovery to be interesting/helpful:

http://trainforeverydaylife.blogspot.com/2011/03/importance-of-rest.html

http://www.strengthspeedagility.com/sport-and-exercise-muscle-recovery

http://www.bodyresults.com/e2activerecovery.asp

 

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Triathlon training week two–What am I doing here?!

Post By: Veronica
3/15/11

In the middle of the timed two-mile test I was running for the Triathlon clinic, a girl next to me asks, “So are you a mountain biker or a road biker?”  Taken aback by the fact that she was able to think of anything other than the burning in her legs AND could muster up enough oxygen to utter a complete sentence, I shook myself out of my running trance and answered, “Not really either.”  Then I thought to myself,  ”Actually, I don’t bike, I never learned how to swim and I’ve never been a distance runner…what am I doing here!”

One week later, as the “Adaptation Phase” of our training comes to a close and we’re finally getting the hang of things, I feel much less out of my element.

From spandex to swim caps--my new athletic gear is taking some time to get used to. We're no longer on the volleyball court Toto!

For our training clinic, the group meets three times each week with the coaches.  Tuesday and Friday we are in the pool and Wednesday we’re on the track for a run.  The rest of the week, we bike, lift and usually do another run workout on our own.  Originally I thought it odd that we never meet for our bike workouts, and instead have two swim workouts as a group.  But I soon realized that I was not the only one in the group who felt least comfortable with the swimming component of the race.  In fact, the majority of our group had signed up specifically to improve their swimming comfort and ability.

You see, the beautiful thing about a multi-event sport like a triathlon is that everyone has a component they are confident with and everyone has a component they struggle with.  For example, someone can be holding their own in the pool workouts, fall behind and hate the run days, but then when you see them in the spin room…they are in their element, in the zone.  Personally, I come out of swim class like a drowned rat, am so-so in a bike workout, and am (to my own surprise) loving the run workouts.

So the question could be raised, “Why don’t you just stick with what you like and/or are good at?”  Fair question.  Personally, being pushed out of my element is helping me grow, both mentally and physically as an athlete.  Every day works a different set of muscles and for the first time in my athletic journey, I am genuinely excited to master a weak skill.  Seriously, I’ve spent hours watching YouTube video after video on swimming techniques.  And practicing the motions in my living room!  From mastering the stroke, to figuring out how to breath.  And, when I start getting frustrated about not catching on as quickly as I’d like, I get a confidence boost at the run workout the next day.

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And The Beat Goes On…


Post By: Jake
3/12/11

Week two of Triathlon training is now behind us!  Our first actual training event was a swim trial, to help sort the group into “like” swimmers.  Our instructors split the group of 20 into 3 tracks, Fast, Faster, and Super Fast. Although I didn’t feel like I was any of these,  I chose the “faster” group since I knew how to swim, and once upon a time (nearly 20 years ago) I was on a swim team so I knew the basics. Our instructors yelled to us to do a quick down and back however we wanted… 7 people in a lane designed for 1 must have been comical to watch us bumping into eachother, swimming into walls, and overall getting in eachother’s way (much like a triathlon I imagine). Our instructors then told us to keep to the right, give eachother a few seconds lead time and swim down one side of the lane and back the other… and do it again… On the second lap I looked up and realized I wasn’t catching the person in front of me, and quickly realized the person behind me was about to catch me, I kicked it into high gear and by the time I got back, I was ready to be done for the day, out of breath and satisfied with my workout for the day. On no… it continued for another hour, back and forth, back and forth… I didn’t think I had it in me, but by the end I smiled, realizing I had been pushed further than I was comfortable, and I lived.

Day 2 was the running trial.  We were to run a timed one or two mile route (our choice) to establish our baseline speed (which assumedly it would get faster throughout the training). The course was a bit snowy and icy, and the air was pretty brisk (30 degrees), not exactly conditions we’d expect to be setting  speed records. “GO!” was shouted and we all took off. Initially I sped up from the pack a bit just to get away from the pack. I am NOT a runner.  I told Veronica the other day, if God would have wanted me to run, he’d have given me longer legs. But there I was, legs a kickin.. I was fully intending on running the one mile course, however when I got to the turnaround point, no one was there. Not knowing where the turnaround point was I kept running, only to be told I was doing the full two mile course! My goal quickly shifted from “turn in a decent one mile time” to “try and simply run the two miles without passing out.”  At about a mile I nearly fell over dead, but managed to struggle on, and miraculously by 1.5 miles I was catching a second wind and actually increasing my pace.  I ended up at 16 minutes 10 seconds for the 2 miles, by far my personal best (although, I haven’t run a timed distance in probably ten years).  Proud of my achievement, I walked home… while Veronica ran.

 

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Adventure Races, Triathlons and getting my butt kicked!

Post By: Jake
2/28/11

Out of the blue, Veronica and I saw a poster titled “Intro to Triathlon Training Course” at our local gym and without hesitation we signed right up.  I had been interested in “something new” for quite a while and although I knew it would be tough work, I knew I needed to do this.  Over the past few years of career life, I’ve slipped further and further out of shape and after hitting the gym in January for the first time in I can’t remember how long… I knew I needed to get back into shape.  What better way to motivate me to get into shape then a goal.  All my life I’ve been goal driven.  Without a goal I fall into complacency and quickly become bored.  But if I set a goal for myself, I’m focused and absolutely driven to complete it.

 

So there it was, my name on the signup sheet, a new goal.  I quickly went home, hopped on the computer and started searching for local triathlon races.  It didn’t take long before I started re-thinking my decision… What did I get myself into,  Swim nearly a mile in open water with dozens if not hundreds of other feet kicking me in the face, then hop on a bike (while wet) and pound out a quick 25 miles, and if that doesn’t kill you, get off the bike and run 6 miles!  As it sits now, I’m pretty sure the 6 miles of running alone will kill me.

 

Well, I haven’t signed up for a triathlon (yet) but I did find something that’s been getting me very excited, an ADVENTURE race!  The minute I found it I knew I was doing it, alone, with a team, didn’t matter–I’m there!  I talked to a few friends about it and quickly found a partner.  My cousin Adam and I will be competing in our first ever Adventure Race and we couldn’t be more thrilled!  We have two months to get into the best shape possible before we take on the GrizzlyMan Adventure Race,  well ok, not the full race,  just the Black Bear Challenge, but hey, give us a break, it’s our first one, and at least we’re getting out there!

 

Over the next few months I’ll be updating the blog regularly with the intro to Triathlon training.  I’ll post how we’re doing with the Adventure Race training, and (since I’m a huge gear head) I’ll be posting about the gear we’ll be utilizing to get us across the finish line.  Stay tuned and share in our Adventure!

 

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