May 23, 2015

Product Review: Nathan QuickShot Plus Insulated Flask

The following is a repost from The Glutton Free Diet:

Staying hydrated is a vitally important task for anyone engaging in prolonged physical exercise. With most organized road races, there are hydration stations set up periodically throughout the course, so it's easy get your water or sports drink fix. But with longer training runs, or shorter runs on hot days, staying hydrated means carrying water with you, or planting water bottles along your route.

Hiding water bottles ahead of time is not an option with the route I typically run, so I decided to give the Nathan QuickShot Plus Insulated Flask (pictured above) a try, since I like the idea of being able to strap it to my hand instead of physically holding the bottle. One nice feature about this strap is the hole at the top which allows your thumb to fit through -- it really makes it easy to strap to your hand and forget about (almost). 

The reflective, insulated bottle holds 8-oz. of water, and the small zippered pouch is large enough for about two energy packs, Kleenex, and a few pieces of ID -- there's even a tighter fitting netting pocket that holds credit cards, etc. There is velcro at the bottom of the strap that allows for adjustment, so it will fit different sized hands. 

I do find that I need to move the bottle from my right hand to my left hand after about 5-miles to change things up, but after about a minute I usually switch it back -- and repeat every few miles after that. Some people may never be able to get used to it, so before you purchase one, you may want to try carrying a similarly sized item in your hand during a run and see if you resist the urge to throw it into the weeds.

After a month of extensive use, including two 13.1 mile runs, I can find no faults with the product itself -- it does everything as advertised. It doesn't leak, the zipper pouch is easy to access on the move, and it's easy to get the right fit on your hand. The only real question is whether or not 8-oz. of water is enough for your individual needs.

On my initial 13.1 mile run using this product, temperatures were quite cool, with a pretty good downpour of rain midway through; so the capacity was more than adequate. It was also up to task for the 8.5 mile run I did in warmer weather a week before the Volcano Half -- and in both of those cases I downed a single Honey Stinger packet midway through the run. 

On the day of the actual Volcano Half, temps started to climb into the upper-60's with full sunshine, by halfway through the race; and I definitely had to rely on the hydration stations on the course -- I would have needed to rely on them even more if I had decided to take two of the Honey Stinger packets during the race, as each packet needs to be ingested with a few decent gulps of water. 

I would recommend an alternative source of hydration if doing longer training runs during warm weather conditions, or for any hydration-supported road races longer than 13.1 miles. Other than those exceptions, I am very happy with my QuickShot Plus, and would highly recommend it.

May 13, 2015

2015 Volcano Half Marathon... I did it!

To read about my experience running my very first official half marathon, follow this link: The Glutton Free Diet: 2015 Volcano Half Marathon

It was tough, but I finished it!

April 6, 2015

The Glutton Free Diet: 1-Year Check-In, No Longer Pre-Diabetic

This is a repost from The Glutton Free Diet

Today I had my 1-year check-in with my doctor, who happens to be a runner himself (and he's running a marathon the same weekend I'm running my half). He was thrilled with my progress, and I have to admit it felt good weighing in 36-lbs. lighter than just 12 months ago.

It's obvious that what I have been doing has made a physical difference, and I know that I feel tons better with the weight gone, but the real test was going to be how my lab results came in this time. My doc didn't order any cholesterol numbers today, as those were under control a year ago.

The main concern was with the A1C numbers, as they are an indicator of average blood glucose levels over the last two or three months. As I discussed in a previous post, obesity can stress your bodies cells to the point that they won't allow insulin to efficiently transport glucose into them, and you end up with excess glucose in your blood.

Here is a breakdown of where my A1C levels have been the last two years, including today's visit. Note that anything 5.6% or below is considered normal, and anything between 5.7% and 6.4% is considered pre-diabetic.

2013: 5.7%
2014: 5.8%
2015: 5.6%

I am no longer considered pre-diabetic!

This is the news I wanted to hear, and one of the main reasons I have been working so hard. Now my goal is to maintain what I started, and see if I can gain a little ground in the blood glucose level department. If I can help it, I WILL NOT let this disease catch me!

To everyone who put up with all of my fitness posts over the last year, and those who encouraged, supported, and joined me in this battle for improved health:
Thank you!

For those who are just now stumbling across my blog, I hope you have found something to inspire or motivate you in your own battle to 'Thrive'. My doctor told me today that since I seem to have figured out the keys to good health, I need to share that with others, and encourage them to start their own journey to healthful living. So I hope to continue to post updates periodically -- especially with my first half marathon race quickly approaching.

Live well. Be well. Thrive.

April 5, 2015

The Glutton Free Diet: All Day Long

The following is a repost from The Glutton Free Diet

As I look back on the last four years (off and on) of trying to improve my health, I can remember the things that have inspired and motivated me. Sometimes it's a song lyric or beat, sometimes it's a saying, and sometimes it's an event.

I can remember having a head cold and thinking I couldn't go out and run, and then watching Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks play through an NBA Finals basketball game with similar symptoms; and I can remember getting off the couch after the game and going for a run. Nowitzki's incredible performance inspired me to get out and move.

I also found inspiration in the very first song that came up on my running playlist in 2011 when I first started running: "40" by U2. It's a song that has moved me since I first heard it back in the eighties, and it's a song about looking to a Power greater than yourself to pull you up from a pit of despair, and the lyrics are pretty much straight from Psalm 40:

I waited patiently for the Lord
And He inclined to me and heard my cry
He brought me up out of the pit of destruction
Out of the miry clay
And He set my feet upon a rock, making my footsteps firm
He put a new song in my mouth
A song of praise to our God
Many will see and fear and will trust in the Lord

Sometimes it's just a piece of a song that motivates me as I run, like "Every day, every hour; turn that pain into power" from the song "Superheroes" by The Script. Sometimes it's a combination of beat and lyrics, like "Marchin On" by OneRepublic -- there's no way I'm going to even think about giving up and walking when that song comes on Pandora.

During the short time that I have been doing half marathon training, a new phrase has been running through my mind, "All Day Long". This is a phrase that the Sensei at my son's karate dojo uses to inspire the participants during belt tests, and now it has become my slogan. All I have to do is find that right pace, breathe, and keep putting one foot in front of the other; and I feel like I could go all day long.

So, what motivates and inspires you? What helps you make it through when things get tough?

March 6, 2015

Noah's Paper Craft Designs

The following photos are various "paper craft" trains & ferries designed and created by my son, Noah. He did all of the design and artwork "in the flat" (in one piece, for most of them), and then folded up and assembled with scotch tape (shop building included). Some are based off of actual BC Ferries or Portland MAX light rail designs, and others are his own ideas.

Click on images to enlarge...

December 15, 2014

Mr. Beast Mode and Sherman

I have been a fan of the Seattle Seahawks ever since I was old enough to watch, and comprehend, the game of football on a television screen -- that would be back in the day when Jim Zorn and Steve Largent ruled the Kingdome. Needless to say, I was thrilled about the rebuilding that took place in the years leading up to last year's Super Bowl victory.

Two key pieces of that rebuilding puzzle were Marshawn Lynch, a strong, punishing running back who has dubbed himself "Beast Mode"; and Richard Sherman, a confident, outspoken corner back who backs up his talk with league-leading performance. Both individuals came from similar situations in different inner cities, yet there were some very distinct differences between their childhoods -- bigger than one being from Oakland and the other from Compton.

While watching Beast Mode highlight videos on YouTube today, I stumbled upon two very interesting interviews with these two players -- both produced by ESPN's E:60 show.

The often camera-shy Marshawn was the first interview that I watched:

You can watch a player run right through 250-lb. linebackers week in and week out and never have a clue about the individual behind the Darth Vader mask. I was struck by Lynch's response when asked if he considered himself to be a "thug". We can judge the off-the-field actions of professional athletes from an 'armchair' perspective, but we really should be asking how we might respond going from being very poor, to being able to buy anything we could possibly want. I'm not sure I would have done any better than Marshawn.

And then there's the man who is never camera-shy, Richard Sherman:

You can see some of the same themes in Sherman's story as you can in Lynch's. The key difference I noticed was that Richard had a father actively involved in his life, where Marshawn did not. Despite the fact that both players seem to have arrived at the same field of dreams, Marshawn's continued difficulty trusting others appears to stem directly from childhood hurts that have not healed. Maybe that's a part of what spurs on the Beast Mode on-field persona, and maybe that's why it's so hard for him to tell the rest of us what "Beast Mode" means.

As was mentioned in Sherman's video, he was under a lot of public scrutiny after his on-air comments that followed the NFC Championship win over the 49ers. My initial response when I watch on live TV was of shock over what had just happened, but there was also a sense of true, raw, unbridled emotion that one would expect from an athlete of that level who had just sealed his teams entrance into the Super Bowl. To me, it was a breath of fresh air compared to the stale, canned responses of "we took our game to 'em and did the best we could".

For his comments, Sherman was called a thug, among other things; and he had to go out and show that he was not just some uneducated kid off the street running his mouth -- this was an intelligent, Stanford-educated individual with a degree in communications. He should have been a top talent coming out of college, yet somehow he slipped to the 5th round. I guess you could say he had a bit of a chip on his shoulder, and he let the world know about it. The best corner in the game can do that, as far as I'm concerned.

Who knows if either player will be a Seahawk by the time the 2015 season rolls around, but after watching these interviews, I have a new respect for each person. The interviews only give me a glimpse of what they went through to get where they are today, but it's a better perspective than what I had before I watched them.

Jesus said, "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." — Matthew 19:14 NoahEmSillyBW.jpg

Verse of the Week

Blasting from my speakers

Marchin' On by OneRepublic


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