Sunday, October 2, 2011

Hawk 100 Blog Post and the Usual Pablum From Me

I'm going to start by giving a plug to Gary Henry's blog about the Hawk 100 race that took place a couple of weeks ago. We are so fortunate to have an event like it in Lawrence that I'll probably plug it a few times a year. Check out his take on the race as both a race founder and participant here:

So anyway, this past week, after a brief return from Baltimore, I jetted off with my compatriot, Marisa, to the Golden State's Inland Empire (Ontario, California, actually). We were there to launch our vegan, gluten-free veggie burgers in So. Cal. While we were successful in that endeavor (look for us in Mother's Market and a bunch of other stores, initially), I was less successful in finding a place to run. I had to use the dreaded treadmill. Honestly, the better I get at running, the more I despise those things. I'd like to own one to have for about 10 days a year when it is just too icy or snowy to run outside. But otherwise, they don't do anything for me. I had done a couple of good runs before I headed out west, so the week wasn't a total bust. But it was kind of light on miles.

Today I awoke around 6 and waited until dawn before popping out of my back door. I cruised along the SLT trails until I hit the Clinton Dam. I used that as my turnaround point. The Fall colors were starting to show. The sun slowly warmed me. And, as I ran out to the overlook at Clinton, the path I was on was lined with small, blooming sunflowers. They all faced east to catch the same rays I was after. It was a really joyous moment.

On the way back I was kicking myself for not bringing more sports nutrition. I had planned to do 10 miles, but about 7 miles in, I wanted to add another 10k to the run. My choice had to be made at the 8 mile mark. Because I hadn't brought enough gels I didn't want to risk another calf cramp attack. I reluctantly submitted to my own better judgement and ran home. The pace was a leisurely 9 min/mile. I clocked the last one at 8 just to give myself more of a feel of a workout for the miles I had missed. All in all, this morning's run was a really nice experience.

Now for some product updates. Anyone who's been reading this blog for a while knows that I love Vega products. I like that the products work, are vegan-friendly, and made by vegans. But let's be honest, I will admit to not being fond of everything the company puts out. To begin with what I do like: I love the post-workout vanilla protein mix. It is a mixture of vegan proteins (no soy, yay!) and it tastes great. I mix in a banana and a couple of ice cubes and I'm refreshed. I also love their bars that you consume during a workout. I have taken their mocha and an acai berry bar on two long 10+ mi runs, and have been really surprised at how great they taste, and at how good they make me feel. They are pretty raw, and have a much better mouth feel than most of the other bars on the market. Also, I studiously avoid anything acai - I normally cannot stand the flavor. But in the case of the Vega bar, I have to admit I actually liked it.

So now onto a couple of products that don't add up for me. I tried one of the Vega berry-flavored pre-run/workout drinks. I really don't know... I guess I'm just not that into taking something right before a run other than my own food - cereal, oatmeal, smoothie. I don't think there is anything wrong with it, but it wasn't for me. I'd give the flavor passing marks, but it wasn't anything special. The Vega Electrolyte Hydrator product (mine was lime-flavored, I believe) is something I really cannot recommend based solely on flavor. Honestly, on first taste I thought, here is a product that actually has full-flavor when added to a bottle of water. The problem is that the flavor is so sickeningly sweet that it overwhelms my palate, and makes me wish for a plain water in order to rinse the sweetness out of my mouth. Honestly, I think Vega could make an easy fix on this product merely be lessening (or just completely removing) the amount of sweetener added.

So two big winners and a couple that haven't yet stacked up for me. I'll try to review one of the post run bars at some point. I never feel like eating a sports bar after a run, however. And, while I'm sure that Vega's post workout chocolate protein is as good as the vanilla, those of you that know me well, know that I'm not a big fan of chocolate, so my review would be clouded by that (for most people, just the fact that I'm not big on chocolate clouds their impressions of my reviews;-).

OK - Final product review: I have now finally (and it has been tortuous) broken in my Nike Lunar Eclipses (I swear I will not put in another pic of my cat lying on them). My thought is that they are a really great pair of shoes. I don't know if I would ever recommend them due to the crazy length of time it took to break them in. But I really like the feel of them. They somehow seem very cushioned yet give a massive amount of road-feel at the same time. It is somewhat contradictory to write the previous sentence, but they do perform two opposing functions well. I am no longer afraid to take them on longer runs or on varying surfaces.

Until next Sunday....

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