Does It Work: "Anti-Stink" Clothing

>> Wednesday, June 30, 2010

This past spring, I got to try out shirt made by New Balance (the "NBx Emmisive" long-sleeve) that had "X-Static" fiber woven into it. Click here to see a very similar version of that shirt. Here's a bit from the X-Static website that talks about what it can do:

X-static is a fiber made with layer of 99.9% pure silver, which is permanently bonded to the surface of a textile fiber. It has been used primarily as an industrial and medical product, servicing high-tech industries and the Department of Defense.

More recently it has been thrust into consumer product markets as a result of the need for a safe, natural and effective antimicrobial solution. X-static is a fiber antimicrobial, all natural, heat transfer, anti-static and therapeutic.

Antimicrobial. Eliminates odor causing bacteria and athlete’s foot fungus.

Anti-odor. Inhibits growth of bacteria and fungi and neutralizes ammonia and denatured proteins.

All- Natural. 100%. Safe and non-toxic, containing no chemical or pesticides.

Thermodynamic. Regulates temperature: cooler in the summer, warmer in the winter. Thanks to heat conductive body heat is distribuited and conducted to the outside air and thanks to heat reflective body heat is reflected back to the skin.

Anti-static. It has very high electrical conductivity.

So I don't know about you, but I read that as "this shirt won't start to smell like anus." OK. Lemme try.

Here I am wearing it as I set my current 5K PR (17:11) this spring:


Pre-race (with a cat coming out of my butt)


Near the finish line

Then I wore it a few weeks later when I set my half marathon PR (1:22:51) racing with friends in WI:


2 miles left... mustering a smile


Just after finishing. And yes, that's salt on my cheek to the right.
I look like hell, but the shirt looks nice.

Bottom line: it never got funky. Yes, my pits stunk after that half marathon, but shortly after taking off the shirt, it was only ME that still smelled. NOT the shirt. More importantly, it's comfy as hell and I like the way it "falls" on me. Pharmie thinks it's cozy. And if it can hold up for a half-marathon, it's alright in my book.

Side Note: I have a friend who's been falling in love with some "anti-stink" technology from a different brand (I don't think it's New Balance, but I can't remember). He's being a "guy" about it and seeing how long he can go without washing it. He made me sniff it a few months ago. (OK, so he didn't have to MAKE me.) He claimed he's worn it for 40-50 runs, and it just smelled like fabric. It didn't smell like pits, or swass, or chode. That makes me think that this "technology" is the real deal (albeit allowing guys to be gross).

New Balance Emmisive ("Anti-Stink") Shirt: Grade of A. It's a great running shirt, and it doesn't hold an odor. It's pretty thin, so it's a good spring / fall shirt, but it's way too thin to be worn during the winter. However, I suppose it'd work well as a base-layer during the coldest months.

p.s. I feel like any "name brand" promoting some sort of "anti-stink" clothing would work similarly. I'd just stay away from off-brands like Ree-bonk and Nigh-Kee. ;) Again, click here to be taken to OnlineShoes.com to see more about this New Balance NBx Emmisive shirt and / or to purchase it.

p.p.s. The term "anti-stink" is not an industry term. That's just a "Steve" term. Much like "bootylicious" before Beyonce stole it...

p.p.p.s. Giveaway news tomorrow! So stop back if you like food hearty food!! (Update [10:35 am] - the giveaway might be post-poned. I'll have more soon...)

(Click on the “Does It Work” tag to see all posts in this mini-series. I did a number of posts like this back in February.)

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Does It Work: CarboPro

>> Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Rachel tweeted me yesterday with a request: “@steveinaspeedo a post request: maybe you and pharmie could give your two cents about why you use carbo pro instead of heed or other stuff?” GREAT idea! Here it is.

Pharmie heard about Carbo-Pro as she was training for her first Ironman back in 2006. Therefore, I started using it when we trained for IM together in 2007. Carbo-Pro is a flavorless powder that you add to any beverage to add calories for long workouts. And that’s exactly why we like it. We usually make it with a little diluted Gatorade so it has a little flavor, but it’s not overwhelming.

Here are 2 photos from our first 100-mile bike ride in early August, 2006. We made some Carbo-Pro so strong that we used a blender to help get it thoroughly mixed. FYI: besides this time, we’ve NEVER had to use a blender. But being we were hoping to get about 1200 calories / water bottle, we grabbed a blender to help get everything mixed well:


1200 calories of Carbo-Pro waiting to be blended


Pharmie holding 2400 calories for our ride

Last April, Carbo-Pro made another appearance on my blog in my Ironman New Orleans 70.3 race report. The first image in that post is Pharmie getting some Carbo-Pro ready for the race and then shaking it in her bottle to mix it:



Nutrition is a VERY personal choice, and Carbo-Pro has worked for me for years.

I’ve tried Accelerade: can you say “cottonmouth?”
I’ve tried Heed: not enough calories for long distance training.
I’ve tried Perpetuem: it made my stomach upset 70 miles into a ride.

(For the record, I don’t really know if it was Perpetuem’s fault that my stomach was upset. But you all know that if you try a new product and that hampers your ride, you’ll most likely never use that product again. So I haven’t touched Perpetuem in nearly 3 years.)

Those photos above of 1200 calories in a water bottle are a little extreme. Usually, if I’m just going out for a 40+ miler, I’ll just throw in a few scoops to add a few hundred calories. Here’s a photo from IM WI 2007, and the water bottle on my seat tube (partially behind my foot) contained my Carbo-Pro mix:



Carbo-Pro: Grade of A / A+. It’s flavorless. It dissolves easily. It’s not syrupy (unless you’re making 16 oz of liquid into over 1000 calories, then it does start to get a little syrupy). It just adds calories to whatever you mix it with. How can you go wrong?

Click here to learn more about Carbo-Pro. That link is to a Canaidan site, so you can order through them if you live in Canada. Otherwise just Google it, and you’ll see you can order it from a number of different online retailers. There’s only 1 store in the Minneapolis / St. Paul metro area (that we’ve found) that carries Carbo-Pro.

(Click on the “Does It Work” tag to see all posts in this mini-series. I did a number of posts like this back in February.)

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Does It Work: The RumbleRoller

>> Monday, June 28, 2010

It looks like a foam roller on roids.



Here’s what their website says about how it’s supposed to work:

The surface of the RumbleRoller contains 200 specially designed "bumps". The bumps are firm, but flexible, much like the thumbs of a massage therapist.

As you roll over the top of the RumbleRoller, the bumps continuously knead the contours of your body, gently stretching soft tissue (muscle and fascia) in multiple directions. This action erodes trigger points, helps restore flexibility, and brings quick relief to common types of muscular pain. By design, the RumbleRoller's bumps are firmer than muscle tissue, but much softer than bone, so they deflect out of the way if they contact your spine or other bony protrusions.

Through simple techniques, you can control the amount of pressure the bumps apply to your body. The bumps are closely spaced to one another (< 2" apart), so several of them simultaneously contact your body during most exercises. However, with a slight shift of your body, you can reduce your area of contact with the RumbleRoller, which increases pressure and provides deeper, more penetrating relief.

Here’s a photo of my foam roller next to my RumbleRoller for comparison:



But does it work as they claim? And is it work the nearly $70 retail price? My answer: I think it works. The bumps have a little give to them, but they’re actually pretty hard. They work like a mini-massage to rub out sore, tight, pissed-off areas of your body. I was able to use the RumbleRoller on all the “usual spots” where I use a foam roller: IT band, calves, hammys, quads.

When I foam roll, I never feel like I can roll through my hamstrings enough - I don’t have enough body weight to put enough force on my hammys. But being the RumbleRoller is more “aggressive,” it works better through my hammys:


I DON’T always roll in my khakis, but I DO always roll with my cats

And on a hilarious / awkward note, I really enjoyed this image that came in the pamphlet that showed different ways to use the Rumble Roller. I can honestly say that I've never used a roller quite like THIS before:


I gotta try that. I think.

RumbleRoller for Beginners: Grade of C-. Yeah, it’s going to help work out those sore spots. But I don’t think you should START with a RumbleRoller. Start with a foam roller - either purchase one or get to be good friends with one at your gym. (Click here to go to my “Does it Work” post about Foam Rollers.) Here’s an analogy that I think fits in this situation: You need to own a pair of regular running shoes before you get a pair of racing flats. A foam roller is like the running shoes, and the RumbleRoller is like the racing flats.

RumbleRoller for Foam Roller Users: Grade of B+ / A-. If you’re used to a foam roller and you feel like you could use “more” (something more aggressive; something “deeper”), then the RumbleRoller is what you’re after. Click here to go to their website.

(Click on the “Does It Work” tag to see all posts in this mini-series. I did a number of posts like this back in February.)

Back with another “Does It Work” post soon. And they’ll be a giveaway coming this week too!

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Matt’s First Open Water Swim

>> Saturday, June 26, 2010

Yesterday morning, Pharmie, Matt, and I hit Square Lake. Matt’s working up his distance in the pool to be ready for this first triathlon this summer!! And we were about to treat him to his first open water experience!

We gave him all the pointers we could. We kept telling him about how we used to “freak out” during our first open water swims of the year to get him ready for a possible freak out. We kept telling him how swimming in a pool is very different than watching the sand disappear under you into black nothingness.

We reminded him to stay calm, and that we’d meet him at the first buoy. Pharmie and I watched him take off (much like proud parents must watch their child roll away on a bike for the first time) and commented that his form was pretty good! He was keeping his movements easy and controlled. Good. He was doing just fine!

We started swimming and met him at the first buoy. Matt got there with a mix of freestyle, side-stroke, and back-stroke. His first remarks once he popped out of the water were something like, “Shit, when the ground disappears under you... I mean... that’s just not stuff you can be ready for!” He understood our warnings pre-swim, but, like he said, you just CAN’T be ready for that. This is my 5th year of triathlon, and it’s only been the last 2 years that I HAVEN’T had a mini-freak-out when hitting open water for the first time.

We got out to the second buoy, chatted for a moment, and swam straight back in. I swam a bit quicker on the way back and grabbed my camera to get a shot of Matt and Pharmie coming in:


Pharmie’s arm in the center, Matt’s head to the right


Chatting in the shallows

The great thing is that we got Matt out for one more trip to the second buoy and back!! Nice work Matt!! Now, he knows what he has to work on, and he has about a month to do it. So time to hit the pool.

After the swim, Pharmie and Matt changed, and they planned on riding their bikes home. Here’s Pharmie getting sunscreened:



And here they are riding out of the park as I was about to pass them in the car:



CONGRATS on your first OWS, Matt!! I think we can all remember looking down into nothingness for the first time and feeling our heart beat just go through the roof! Nice work out there!

I sort of want to ask “does anyone have any good OWS stories for Matt of when they were newbies?” But really, I want to hear your early OWS stories! Do you remember watching the sand disappear and wanting to turn back? Do you remember brushing up against some dead creature face-first? Do you remember those irrational fears of killer beasts coming out of the depths after you? (I still have that one. Really. So why did I watch Jaws the night before the 2008 St. Croix Valley Sprint Tri? Am I STUPID?!?)

So give us your best OWS incident / story / moment! Thanks everyone!

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Friday Funny 98: My Wife’s Bra

>> Friday, June 25, 2010

If you remember back in February, I did a series of posts labeled “Does It Work” regarding different products I’ve used and my experience with them. One of the products was the Enell Sports Bra (reviewed by my wife). As I showed in this post about the bra, here’s a photo of Pharmie about to become an Ironman for the first time, and you can see the tell-tale signs of the Enell sports bra by the upward-curving lines over each boob:



In the original post about the bra, here’s what Pharmie said in her wrap-up:

Enell Sports Bra's Performance: Grade of A+. Quote from Pharmie: “Before I tried this sports bra, I used to get horrendous scabs in 'inconvenient' places from the chaffing no matter what type - or how many - sports bras I used. Now, with the Enell sports bra (and sometimes a little Body Glide) I rarely have a mark, even after a marathon. However, because it's so supportive, I can't wear it for all activities: I don't wear it during tris or while biking because it's too much pressure. If you need that much support during a tri, you can always order one size bigger so it's a little looser around your ribcage and offers more room to breath."

Enell Sports Bra's Comfort: Grade of A. Quote from Pharmie: “It takes a little getting used to breathing in this thing because it's a little tight around your ribcage. But wearing it is quite comfortable. The big shoulder straps and the crisscross in the back offer extra support during prolonged activity."

Enell Sports Bra's Appearance: Grade of C+. Quote from Pharmie: “There's no getting around it - it's pretty hideous. But I'd gladly give up looking like a super model in favor of making my boobs disappear and having a great workout!"

Well, guess what? The president / designer / head-honcho of Enell saw that post! She liked what Pharmie had to say about the bra's performance, but didn’t care for her thoughts on how the bra looked. The president of the company asked for her bra size, favorite bra colors (which I told her were pink and white), and our address, so I KNEW we were in for something good!! The president said she wanted to design something less ugly for Pharmie.

Well, late last week, we got a little package in the mail. It contained a handwritten note from the president that said this:

Hi Pharmie-

Your husband, Steve, was bad-mouthing us about having an ugly bra... so I decided to show him we can be pretty. A little "bling" should do it. Ha! Hope you like it. Not guaranteeing how long it stays on however. Have fun and remember... SUPPORT IS A BEAUTIFUL THING!!!

Renelle

Words cannot express the glory of what was in the package, so I’ll just let these photos speak for themselves:


Pharmie in the bra.


Close up. Pink and white.
Yes, those are rhinestones next to each clasp.


Right shoulder.


Lower left band.


Full back.


Close-up of the bling.

And BTW, in the last 2 weeks, Pharmie has turned 2 more people on to the Enell Sports Bra: one was one of her friends who’s dealing with bigger “new mommy” boobs, and the other is someone who e-mailed me and said “Your marketing works and my girls are under control now!” So big thanks to everyone at Enell for the one-of-a-kind “blinged-out” sports bra! (If you didn't see the original post about the bra that started this whole thing, click here to check it out.)

And just as a little “heads up,” I’m thinking about doing some more posts next week in the “Does It Work” series. So check back soon!

Happy Friday!!

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Bike Fitting at Gear West Bike and Tri

>> Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Or, “Goldilocks Gets a Makeover.”

The day before my “A” Race for the year (Liberty Olympic Distance Triathlon), I had my bike fit by Kevin O’Connor at Gear West Bike. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. “The DAY BEFORE?!? Is that smart?” I hoped it wasn’t a dumb idea. Kevin assured me that doing “just” an olympic distance tri would be fine the next day.

Kevin started by having me tell him about my bike - things like: “What do you like about your bike? What’s been annoying you about it? Why did you buy this bike?” Etc, etc. (BTW, my answers to those 3 questions were “I dunno. I wish it were faster. It was on sale.”) He then went on to tell me things HE liked and didn’t like about my bike. Then I hopped on.

Right away he liked how neutral and not rounded-over my back was. Kevin earned tons of credibility early on during my fitting: he noted the way my left leg (especially my left knee) was tracking, and he made a remark about that being due to tightness in my IT band. And guess what? I’ve had issues with my left IT band being too tight since high school. Boom. Credibility. "Do what you want to me, Kevin - I’m dough in your hands."

I wasn’t fit too horribly on Goldilocks, but Kevin noted that I could get more power output if I weren’t quite as “stretched out” on the bike. So that was job one. He opened a drawer under the platform that I was on to expose a ton of stems:



I thought that was impressive until Kevin opened up the draw next to that to expose even MORE stems:



Here’s Goldilocks as the “stem swap” was taking place:



And here’s my old stem in my hand, right next to the new stem on my bike. Notice the difference in length:



Kevin also asked why I had SUCH a crappy saddle on my bike. I told him I was a masochist and that I got off on not being able to feel my boys. He suggested a mid-range saddle that he uses and likes, so we swapped that out.



As part of making me more “compact” on the bike, he slid the saddle WAY forward. He also moved the aero bar pads farther back so the weight of my upper body would be correctly balanced over the pads. (When I told him my aero bars sometimes shift up or down, he wasn’t surprised, and said that moving these pads to the proper spot would help minimize that.)

Here’s a “before and after” without me in the saddle:


Original fit from Erik’s Bike Shop from 18 months ago


Shorter stem, aero pads moved back, aero bars tipped up, seat a bit higher, seat slid forward, and seat pointed farther down

And here’s a “before and after” animated GIF showing a still frame from when I was spinning (with my left leg at it’s lowest point in each image):



Notice my arms come closer to my body to a more powerful position, the aero pads shift back, and my butt shifts forward to be more on top of the pedals.

And as you can see in both images in that GIF, there’s a computer screen right in front of the bike. That’s showing me live video of myself as I spin, so as Kevin is talking about different ideas, I can SEE them taking effect on me right away. Kevin also has that computer FULL of videos of everyone (or nearly everyone) that he’s fit since about 2004. So probably about a dozen times or so, Kevin pulled up someone else’s video who had a similar “problem” as me, and he could show me how they dealt with it on their bike fitting. Here’s a photo that Kevin took of the screen in front of me: the right side is “live,” and the left side was video from “before:”



I was planning on getting the “Retul” fitting done as well, but Kevin actually talked me out of it. Here’s a quote from Gear West Bike and Tri’s website regarding Retul:

Retul takes 3D measurements via infrared markers on the cyclist while cycling. The measurements are accurate to less than 1mm and are taken while the cyclist is actually spinning as opposed to a static measurement. These dynamic 3D measurements also provide data to the fitter, which validates the changes the fitter has made during the fitting process. When you are finished you will have ultra precise measurements of your position. This will allow you to duplicate this position in the future, as well as a baseline for any future changes that are made to your position.

I felt very comfortable with the non-Retul fit that Kevin had done, and I’m not one to keep tweaking things and need to know they are within the range that someone has said is OK. So we didn’t find it necessary to do the Retul fit. (More about Kevin’s thoughts on Retul in my Examiner article about this bike fitting.)

Kevin threw a laser line on my legs, took some video from the front, and showed me how my knees were tracking. He then started adjusting my cleats based on what he saw:


Using the “business end” of a screwdriver to slide over my cleats

So, did the fitting help? I was very happy with how I performed at Liberty Triathlon the day after this fitting. I wasn’t sure about my bike ability going into the race, but I was able to take 5:02 off my bike on the same course from the year before! (And it’s not that I "over-biked" the bike, because I had enough left in the tank for a run that was over 60 seconds faster than last year at the same race.) So SOMETHING was working for me! The only slight issue I had during the race was being my tri suit was a little wet and slippery, I found myself slipping forward just a bit in the saddle. My knees sometimes caught the back edge of my aero bar pads because of my new, tighter fit. When I put up the post of race photos from Liberty Tri, I looked for signs of my “tight fit.” In this photo, you can see a slight red spot on my knee from brushing against my aero pads just below the “T”:



That’s the only issue, and it really WASN’T an issue. I think I’ll toy with the aero pads a little and try to give myself another 1/2 inch of clearance. Then I’ll call it good.

I wrote an Examiner article detailing more of what Gear West Bike and Tri can do with their different bike fitting packages, along with Kevin’s thoughts on a fit based on “comfort vs power,” and cost of these different fitting services. I also have a video of me on my bike before and after the fit. Click here to check out that article. It also has a lot more photos of Kevin working on my bike. (And if you've had a Retul fit, I'd be curious on your thoughts of Retul based on what Kevin says in the article, so take a look at it and let me know what you think.)

Thanks for reading! And thanks for a great fit, Kevin!! You’re the best!

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Chest Waxing Video

>> Tuesday, June 22, 2010

If you’ve been a follower of my blog for a while, you probably saw the video of me getting my chest waxed before the Lifetime Fitness Triathlon in 2008. Shortly after putting that video on YouTube, the audio was disabled because I used parts of “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley. Well, I wanted to put it back online, so here’s the original version with the “correct” audio.

Enjoy. (Oh, and don’t worry, it’s “Safe For Work.” So just hit play.)

video


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Instead of Working Out

>> Monday, June 21, 2010

Not much has changed with my foot. It’s SLOWLY feeling a little better, but not nearly as quickly as I’d hoped. So this past weekend, instead of working out, I went camping and canoeing down the Kickapoo River in WI with all of Pharmie’s family.

Before going canoeing, I iced my sore foot in an ice-cold creek. Can you tell which foot spent 20 minutes in the cold, cold water?



Before hitting the river, Pharmie helped her brother Matt make some sweet Daisy Duke’s:






Matt and Dean in tiny life vests

On Saturday morning, we hit the river. The best part of canoeing is stopping along the river at little “play spots.” Pharmie’s cousins and I love to jump in:


On a sand bar with 2 young ens


Running...


...flying...


...splashing.


Jumping with Ben...


...flying with Ben...


...splashing with Ben. How is HIS splash bigger?!?

Matt showed off his pale legs:



This next photo is maybe the best one from the weekend. Pharmie’s godchild had a broken leg, so she had a cast wrapped in plastic. Here I am with her on my shoulders, along with 2 of Pharmie’s siblings. Pharmie’s not even in this photo, but I STILL want this to be our Christmas Card Photo this winter:


Super Duper.


Pharmie and I


With cousins


Walking the slippery slopes back to the canoes

Then Ben and I found another place to jump:


Climbing...


How did Ben get up there so fast?...


Thinking about it...


...flying.


Pharmie and Matt after a long day on the river

Then, yesterday morning (Father’s Day), I manned the griddle on the camp stove and made pancakes for the whole gang. Here was my father-in-law’s order:


One of each: blueberry, plain, and chocolate chunk

I’m hoping to rest more this week, and then see how the foot pain is doing by this weekend. I haven’t done ANYTHING since the Oly Tri 9 days ago, and I’m getting a little antsy. OK, time to go stretch a little. Happy Monday!

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