Thursday, August 21, 2014

Under Armour SpeedForm Shoe Review

Triple Threat team member Matt Kucharski (Maryland) recently had the privilege of testing out two of Under Armour’s newest lightweight running shoes, the SpeedForm Apollo and the SpeedForm XC. 

Full disclosure: Although the shoes were provided at no cost, Under Armour did not require this review, nor did they influence it in any way.


Living in Baltimore, I’m always interested in the products coming out of the UA juggernaut, and these shoes are no different. In fact, half of my afternoon training runs take me right through their downtown campus, which was graced for a few weeks with a giant advertisement for the SpeedForm Apollo hanging from this footbridge.

If you’re a fan of bold colors like I am, and/or like being able to easily spot your transition area on race day, then you will love the look of these shoes. Whereas the Apollo comes in a lineup of more solid colors, the XC reminds me of a cross between some kind of vicious reptile and the fastest cheetah in all of Namibia. In short, a great combination that is sure to intimidate the competition!

The SpeedForm line is an innovative new type of running shoe, made in a factory that makes women’s (ahem) brassieres, leveraging manufacturing processes to create a one piece shoe construction. The appeal of this technology is that you end up with a lightweight shoe that is devoid of stitching and made from a single piece of material. This is a big win for triathletes who not only are looking for a lightweight race shoe, but are also often running sockless and need to worry about rubbing and blisters.



Tale of the tape:

Under Armour SpeedForm Apollo
  • A slimmer, athletic cut that delivers better mobility by eliminating the bulk of extra fabric
  • Innovative UA SpeedForm™ technology delivers zero distraction while running
  • Seamless heel cup with silicone grip for a locked-in, anatomical fit
  • Smooth, ultrasonic welded seaming with Bemis tape for next-to-skin support & comfort
  • Perforated upper with ultrasonic seal for durable breathability
  • Molded 4D Foam® footbed conforms to your foot's exact shape, eliminating slippage
  • Full-length Micro G® foam turns cushioned landings into explosive takeoffs
  • TPU curve at midfoot for extra support & stability
  • Anatomical outsole for natural fit & performance
  • Offset: 8 mm
  • Weight: 6.5 oz.





















Under Armour Speedform XC
  • A slimmer athletic cut that delivers better mobility by eliminating the bulk of extra fabric
  • UA Storm technology repels water without sacrificing breathability or adding weight
  • Innovative UA SpeedForm™ technology delivers zero distraction while running
  • Seamless heel cup with silicone grip for a locked-in, anatomical fit
  • TPU heel counter adds stability without piling on weight
  • Smooth, ultrasonic welded seaming with Bemis tape for next-to-skin support & comfort
  • Micro-perforated upper with ultrasonic seal for durable breathability
  • Molded 4D Foam® footbed conforms to your foot's exact shape, eliminating slippage
  • Full-length Micro G® foam turns cushioned landings into explosive takeoffs
  • Anatomical outsole for natural fit & performance
  • Traction lugs extend onto midsole, engineered for unrivaled off-road grip & stability
  • Offset: 8 mm
  • Weight: 8.5 oz.























After testing both pairs out over several training runs, here are my main findings:


Pros:

  • Shoes look awesome and definitely attract attention (this could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on the person, I suppose)
  • Although the shoes have a minimalist look to them, they provide just enough support that I was very comfortable in them
  • Super light (Apollo tips the scales at 6.5 oz while the XC weighs in at 8.5 oz)
  • The heel cup in both shoes definitely provides a “locked in” feel which keeps your foot stable with each strike
  • You notice the uniqueness of the one-piece construction immediately. The shoe feels super light and without any noticeable rubbing or pinching on the foot.
  • An additional feature of the XC is the UA Storm technology which repels water, creating a more “all conditions” shoe. This is even more impressive considering they didn’t sacrifice the weight or breathability of the material as a whole.

Cons:

  • While not an issue for me, those with wider feet may have trouble with the fit. The shoe worked great for me, but just a fair warning to those who can trace their family tree back to the Shire… this may not be the shoe for you.
  • From a sizing perspective, I actually think the shoes run about a ½ size big (if you prefer a snug fit like I do). I say this mainly in regards to the toe box. While my heel felt locked in and was stable laterally, I had just a bit of empty space between my toes and the end of the shoe. As with all shoes, sizing opinions will vary based on personal preference.
  • Lastly, due to the one piece construction, the tongue is pretty thin and can get folded over or bunched up if you’re not careful when lacing up

The Verdict:

In my opinion UA has a real winner with the SpeedForm line. These shoes out of the box are a top performer for true runners, both road and trail.

I would be interested to see if in the future, by making a few minor adjustments, a SpeedForm triathlon specific model could be offered. With the addition of a strap on the heel (for easy slip on access), some speed laces, and maybe tweaking the tongue, UA would have a race shoe targeted specifically at the multisport community. That said, t
riathletes everywhere will be very happy with these shoes in their current form.

I’d like to thank Under Armour for providing me with these shoes to test out. Post review, I am really looking forward to putting them to use in a race environment.



Check out the SpeedForm line and the rest of the arsenal at UnderArmour.com

Protect This House on Twitter @UnderArmour

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Jordanelle Race Report: Oh L'Amour!

Following my mystery injury from late June, I’ve spent the last several weeks gradually nursing my leg back to life. In addition to some sciatic nerve issues, I also had some tendon/ligament pain in my lower leg that took a while to heal. Thankfully the two biggest races on my schedule this year were both early season (St. George and Boise 70.3), but I still obviously wanted to get back to 100% ASAP. I’ve been digging deep into my bag of tricks in an effort to fully recover: stretching consistently, icing daily, busting out the foam roller, a heat pack before running, seeking out softer running surfaces, etc, etc.

Thankfully the only race I had to DNS (first ever) was a 10k trail run in July that was on the schedule just as a fun training run anyways. The last couple weeks I’ve been feeling 95% or so, and the Jordanelle Olympic, not far from Park City, was a big test to see how I’d hold up in the heat of the battle. Jordanelle is one of the toughest courses on my local scene, with a 12 mile low-grade, but steady incline section on the bike and an up and down run course on roads and rugged trails. In theory it’s a course that suits me, but for my leg’s sake, going into it I wished it was pancake flat.

The swim was largely uneventful. My right shoulder (actually more my “trap” muscle) has a tendency to tighten up from time to time. It did at this race last year, and this year to a lesser degree as well. To make a long story short, in the very near future I will be switching to a Roka wetsuit, but I haven’t been able to yet. In addition to winning numerous awards for “Best Overall Suit,” Rokas are known for being extremely comfortable, especially in the shoulders and arms… from everything I've heard and read, this allows for maximum range of motion and helps shoulder fatigue. Surely there are things I can do to mitigate the pain on my own (warming up more, etc), but I can’t wait to see how my Roka can help in future races. 

As a side note, halfway through the swim I randomly thought of Hawaii teammate David Wild’s comment “if a leg is in my way I will clobber it like seaweed. I will draft you until you can’t stand the tickle on your toes any longer” and literally laughed in the water.

Swim 29:15 (35%)

After a sizable run to T1, I set out on the standard 40k/ ~25 mi Olympic distance bike course. A few miles in I made a disturbing discovery, realizing that the 1986 Erasure classic “Oh L’Amour” was running around in my head on repeat (I did some post-race research to get my facts straight). The cause of my trouble was watching an episode of the absurd but often hilarious show Portlandia a couple days prior in which Fred Armisen does a memorable performance in a canoe choreographed to the song.



Ohhhh l'amourrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
Broke my heart, now I'm aching for you
Mon amourrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
What's a boy in love supposed to do?

I shook my head and tried to channel some Rage Against the Machine or other eye-of-the-tiger inducing theme songs, but a few seconds later, without fail….. 

Ohhhhh L'Amourrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Ohhhh well.

Other than that the bike was fine; a good kind of hurt. My knee starting acting up a little towards the end, and I knew the looming run would be a much bigger test.

Bike: 1:11:38 (19%)

Some races you find yourself in several mini-battles, running side-by-side with people, etc, but at Jordanelle I was pretty much running my own race. My legs were pretty spent, but I was elated how non-injured I felt. I noticed a 13-year old kid doing the sprint race, visibly hurting up a hill. One thing that’s great about TriUtah races is that kids 18 and under only pay $30 to race. Love that. I gave the kid a fist bump and said something like “Keep telling yourself you can do it. You're almost there!”

With less than a mile to go I spotted a guy in my age group on the horizon… I pride myself on being mentally tough and closing strong, but still thought “ahhh, crap, this is gonna hurt.” I figured I could catch him if I wanted to badly enough, and knew I’d regret it if I didn’t. Around that time a guy went past me, and I stuck to him to help bridge the gap to the first guy. We soon approached, and I settled in for a few seconds before being sure to make a strong pass by both. I held them off, but the finish line on some park grass was definitely a welcome sight.

Run 44:22 (17%)

Overall 2:28:28 (21st overall – 17%)

I thought my late pass might be enough for the age group podium, but alas, faster dudes than me showed up and I finished 4th. Overall I was very happy just to be racing again, in addition to a good solid race.

Sean immediately placed an order for some watermelon.
Also, love my new XX2i shades!





Thursday, August 14, 2014

Killer Value Award: Interview with XX2i Optics

XX2i Optics is a relatively new company that has developed a strong following in the triathlon and running communities, among other sports. Founder & CEO Paul Craig was kind enough to spend a few minutes with us to talk about this exciting new brand.



What’s the history of the XX2i Optics brand?

We saw an opportunity in the market to create a brand of sunglasses that over-delivers at a very modest price. As such, XX2i Optics was launched two years ago, and we believe it is absolutely the best value you can find in our industry.

What’s the story behind the XX2i Optics name?

XX2i is simply a play on words, where “XX2” refers to 20/20 vision, and “i” refers to “eye.” Besides that, we thought it was a unique, cool name that would stand out and catch people’s attention.


How would you describe your role with regards to XX2i Optics?

From a legal perspective, I’m the founder & CEO of RACE (Running and Cycling Enterprises), which owns XX2i Optics. My role is to set the strategy & culture of XX2i Optics as the premier value brand of sunglasses. Solving problems is core to us, and I love working with our people and our customers… we really strive to go the extra mile.

What differentiates XX2i Optics from the competition?

As previously stated, the main point of differentiation is what you get with XX2i Optics for what you pay. For example, XX2i Optics sunglasses come with additional nose and temple pieces (and a small screw driver), in addition to multiple lens options, providing a wide range of customization options. They come in a nice case, and the lens cloth included is truly one of the best around. Our polarized lenses are unbelievable, and also offered as “readers” that magnify the lower portion of the lens for those who need it. That way when you’re looking down while running or riding, you can actually read your Garmin!

Our warranty and service sets us apart as well. For example, XX2i Optics has a bumper to bumper lifetime warranty, no questions asked!

What is your favorite XX2i Optics style?

I’m super excited about the France2. Maybe I’m biased, but it fits me like a glove! My wife is a triathlete herself, and she prefers the France1.

What awards has XX2i Optics won?

XX2i Optics has only been around for two years, but is already receiving accolades. The brand was awarded Gear Institute’s “Best Value” award, as well as Outside magazine’s “Killer Value” award. We’re proud to have been recognized by these publications for what we set out to do in the first place… create the best value in the industry.

What are you most proud of with the company?

I’m most proud of the way we’ve delivered on our objective to create a tremendous value brand in XX2i Optics. It’s been wonderful to watch the brand develop the following it has.


Learn more at XX2i.com


Monday, August 11, 2014

Triple Threat Profile: David Wild - Hawaii

If your last name is "Smith" or "Jones", you're allowed to be boring... it doesn't mean you have to be, or you necessarily will be, but it's acceptable. No one will blame you for it. On the other hand, if you enter this world as a "Wild", you have a duty to fulfill. In a nutshell, live life to its fullest. It's safe to say that David Wild, a San Diego native representing Hawaii on our national team, has lived up to his obligations thus far with honor. Well done, Mr. Wild... well done.


What’s your background and how did you get into triathlon?

Growing up in the suburbs of a big city, my childhood was not unlike most middle and upper-middle class Americans. I skateboarded like a fiend with no regard for security guards and lived by the "Skateboarding is Not a Crime" credo. I didn’t ride bikes much other than a BMX with pegs for commuting purposes with my rascally friends. I ran only when asked to. Then I rode my first road bike with my dad in preparation for the Rosarito to Ensada 50 mile fun ride when I was in 9th grade. We did a sprint triathlon together shortly after that as my first foray into multi-sport in 2002. It was high school where I got more into endurance sports. I ran cross country and learned how to swim competitively. It wasn't until college at UC Berkeley, when I met some crazy ones, that I really wanted to ride road bikes. They taught me how to ride long distances, wear cleats, pack food, plan gas station breaks, and sleep on the sides of roads. After college, I worked at some start ups in San Francisco, pedicabbed along the waterfront, and traveled a lot by bicycle. The need for speed was creeping up on me, and my love for swimming in the Pacific Ocean, the Salmon River in Humboldt county where my Native American roots (of the Karuk tribe) is located, and the lakes of Berkeley and Oakland where I lifeguarded, all culminated into me becoming a full-fledged triathlete. I raced my first Olympic race in Pacific Grove in 2010. I bonked hard on the run, yet I loved every minute of being in a real triathlon. I caught the bug and I haven't slowed down since.

How would you sum up your 2013 and ‘14 season (so far)... what has been the highlight/lowlight?

2013 was an epic year. Although I had no coach and I was just pushing myself trying to break records on Strava (bad idea) and discovering the wonders of the foam roller, I was winning my age group and getting some overall top five finishes!

My biggest race was the Dolphin Club exclusive Escape from Alcatraz. I took the trophy away from the seven time winner from the opposing club, The South End Rowing Club. This race is the original Escape. Wetsuits are not allowed, and the race ends with a Double Dipsea. The Dipsea trail is a 7mi trail that ascends and descends Mt. Tam in Marin, CA. It was epic in that I took first overall, a feat I had never accomplished before. I want to take this moment to give a huge shout out to my ever supportive friend, Yael Franco, who drove me to so many races, carried my gear for so many transition areas, and made me so many good meals. Thank you to my mom, dad, and sister, and the Oakland Triathlon Club for making 2013 such an epic year!

David rocked a 4:44 & 5th OA at HITS Napa
This year, with my stellar coach, Mitchell Reiss, I have toned back the number of races and have included a lot more easy as well as more intense workouts in my training. Most importantly, I’m getting strictly structured. My highlight this year was competing in my first half ironman distance tri at the HITS Napa race in April. I placed 5th overall and felt incredible about that. The lowlight this year was my debilitating flu that I caught only 1 day before my first race of the year down in San Diego at the Superseal Olympic. I got a disc wheel and didn’t even get to use it! I’m still wearing the race t-shirt though to remind me that it’s good to know when to stop and listen to your body instead of your heart.

What personal accomplishments are you most proud of?

My biggest accomplishments are my cycle tours and academics. Since college I’ve cycle-toured the California coast, unsupported, 6 times. Most of the time I was solo. A couple times I escorted a female and we had a hoot taking our time, soaking up the sights. With a crazy friend from Berkeley, I've ridden from Reno to Las Vegas in only three days, ending with my first double century through the night. We and two others previously traversed from Oakland, CA to Malibu, CA in 52 hours, taking turns on a tandem road bicycle and motorcycle, leapfrogging our way there and never allowing the tandem to stop. I did my first tour in 2008 from Paris, France, to Utrecht, Netherlands, while studying abroad. With another friend, we spent six weeks touring from Auckland, New Zealand all the way down to Queenstown on the South Island.

After graduating from UC Berkeley with a Math degree, I felt that I could do anything. So I attempted and succeeded in riding from San Francisco to San Diego in three days flat, averaging 200 miles a day in 2012 (check my Strava for that one!), my biggest feat, however, is my 2011 ride from San Diego, California to Key West, Florida. On this “CaliFlorida” tour, I traveled solo with no support, camping most of the way, over 3,100 miles in exactly 28 days. I ended with three double centuries in Florida. I took no days off. I had the time of my life meeting the southern tier of the glorious USA. Only helping and friendly people did I encounter along the way.

David with his noble steed after riding from San Diego to Key West, Florida






Now, though, I think my greatest accomplishment is following my altruistic dreams of becoming a player in the movement of transforming America's education system. I got accepted into Teach for America last year, and just last week I started my first year as a Math teacher at an amazing school, Konawaena High School in south Kona, Hawaii.

What are your triathlon-specific goals for the future?

My big triathlon goals are to qualify for 70.3 Worlds. I also want to start a triathlon club at my high school and get more of the local youth population as amped on triathlon as I am! I plan to race in all of the Big Island races here and I am always hungry to get on that podium. Eventually, I will race in the coveted World Championship Ironman in Kona, but that may not be for another few years.

My final big goal is to do all of this without resorting to shaving my legs, arms or beard!

Rumor has it you have the mental toughness of Jack Bauer crossed with Russian chess icon Garry Kasparov and Michael Jordan in his prime... for example, you’re the only triathlete I know who implements “frigid water, non-wetsuit swimming” as a training tool. How’d you get into that and why?

I'm flattered for the comparison to some real legends! It was my strange friends who taught me how to tough it out with no supplies and little water in the middle of the desert, in the dead of summer, when riding from Reno to Las Vegas... there I learned I had some camel-like toughness. Cross country in high school really drilled that mentality into me as well. The instinct that comes with being raised in a safe and sound suburb my whole life would tell me, "no, don't do that crazy stuff!" but I learned that my body can take it and that if I dig deep and feel that animal inside of me, I can overcome so much superficial pain.

In 2012, I found my new favorite endurance club. The Dolphin Club in San Francisco is a historic landmark dating back to 1878. These old goats (as they call themselves) are still swimming into their 80's, with no wetsuit, some with cloth caps, and even a couple with wooden and glass goggles! They are the heros I want to be when I'm old and wrinkly. They taught me about mental toughness like no other.

When the water would hit 60 degrees Farenheit in the summer, they would complain about it being too hot. They taught me how to swim with the strong currents of the San Francisco Bay and how to navigate through angry sea lions and over-friendly seals. No one said that I could not wear a wetsuit, but no one in the Dolphin Club was wearing one. And in any race, if you wore one, your results didn't count. The sauna at the Club only felt good if you were going numb and lost all sensation in the extremities (or worse). So why would I want to miss out on that relief?





It's hard to find a place where you can swim an hour in 57 degree water where you see Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Fisherman's Wharf to the south surrounding you. The stinging face and ears remind you of how much the body can take. When those hot flashes of warm blood start circulating from your core to your fingers and feet, that's when you know enough is enough. The Dolphin Club taught me about cold water and the Bay, but mostly about myself.

How has your transition been so far from San Diego to Hawaii?

Hawaii is treating me very well. I'm actually writing this during a mandatory day off due to Hurricane Iselle. On the Kona side of the island, we're actually sitting quite nice compared to the ravaging going on in Hilo. I even went for a ride and run yesterday! Down here near Kealakekua Bay, I can train in the most ideal conditions with so few cars. I have a huge hill right outside my door and the most gorgeous bay to swim in. The water is almost too warm! But that makes those two mile swims so great. I saw my first two sea turtles last time out! I am loving the local food here. I eat poi, macadamia nut butter, tons of fish, and more tropical fruit than I ever would have imagined. The local coconut stands on my rides provide me with some rejuvenating hydration. Plus in this fertile environment, I live near so many coffee farms and small farms that I can get all my food from so close!

The only problem here is the bugs. I've had to kill and catch and release many of them since moving here. The cane spiders are huge, but benign. I caught a scorpion in a jar and dropped it off in a lava field last week. Yesterday I had to decapitate a centipede that was attacking me in the bathroom. Thankfully at this particular spot the mosquitoes are few, but it's the cockroaches that really did me in. The worst thing that has ever happened to me happened two weeks ago. I woke up with extreme pain in my ear. I could not figure out what was happening. It sounded like rumbling, so I looked and prodded and finally shined my camera light in there and there it was. I caught it all on film too—a cockroach flew out of my ear! Now, I sleep with earplugs every night.

What is it about David Wild that strikes fear in the hearts of your competitors? Break down your swim, bike, and run skills for us.

I look unassuming. I start out slow on the swim. I take no mercy though in that water. If a leg is in my way I will clobber it like it's seaweed. If you are right in front of me, I will draft you until you can't take the tickle on your toes any longer. I end up coming out of the water at the end of the first pack or start of the second. That's when things start to click. I like to breath loud for myself, but also to give my competition that shiver down their spine that they are the prey and I am the hunter. In the Escape from Alcatraz race, I kept that analogy going the whole time and I was the hunter and never let myself become the hunted.

Can you educate us on Teach For America, and what subject/grade have you been assigned to on the Big Island?

Teach For America (TFA) is a non-profit national organization whose mission is to ensure that all children in America receive a quality education. Teach For America brings a diverse group of our nation’s most promising leaders who make an enduring commitment to educational equity that begins with an initial commitment to teach two years in high-need, urban and rural public schools.
Our funders include school systems and governments at the local, state, and federal level, as well as a mix of individuals and public and private organizations. Teach For America recruits a diverse pool of professionals and recent graduates from more than 835 colleges and universities who have demonstrated the commitment and leadership ability needed to teach in low-income public schools. While only 25 percent of corps members considered a teaching career prior to their Teach For America experience, nearly 30% of our 37,000 alumni remain as teachers, and another third continue to work in the field of education. Our corps members and alumni see their students as among our nation’s most promising future leaders. TFA intensely prepares Corps Members (teachers) and provides training and support prior to our first year in the classroom and throughout our time in the classroom.
I was so honorably hired to teach on the Kona side of the Big Island. This was my first choice, and I could not be more grateful. As a true lover of mathematics who is grateful for all of the teachers I’ve had, I wanted to teach math as well, to pass along passion and knowledge to my students. I ended up getting placed at Konawaena High School, the oldest school on the Big Island, as the only Special Education math teacher on campus. It's a big duty and I'm blessed to have this opportunity. My students are teaching me as much as I am teaching them.






Is it inspiring living and training on the holy ground of Kona? How far are you from the IM World Champ course?

To be able to see the IM World Championship course almost whenever I want is definitely a blessing. Just seeing the historic signs that mark the start of the swim or the run make me feel that I am a part of something big. I never wanted to race an Ironman until coming here and feeling the energy from the Queen K highway. I feel the triathlon vibes all around me. The town and locals know and love the race (except for the traffic part!) I do not train that much on the course now that I live 10 miles south of Kona, up and down some gnarly hills out here in Captain Cook. These training grounds may even be better though since there are less people in the water and cars on the road!

In your team application you wrote that you’re an eccentric guy and known for your race day antics. What are some things you’ve done to loosen up the crowd pre-race?

Well, to be honest, I haven't done anything that crazy since my early days of racing a couple years ago. I would come to the race with my face painted just to freak people out and see what they'd say. It's not against the rules, right? I do still come to races pumped up with my boombox usually playing some trap music or South African rap that definitely scares some people. I don't mean to be aggressive, I just mean to be me! Look up the rap group, Die Antwoord, it may not be suitable for work, but it's definitely suitable for getting me going into 6th gear.















Follow the Wildman!

Twitter: @WildDavidWild

Instagram: @DavidWildDavid

Athlinks: https://www.athlinks.com/athletes/norbertiii/

Strava: http://www.strava.com/athletes/wildd

Link to David’s HITS Napa race report




Thursday, August 7, 2014

Don't Sign Up For An Ironman...


Until you read this! Here are some excellent questions to ask yourself and practical things to consider before taking the plunge, courtesy of Gina Shand. Gina represents Virginia on our national team, and is currently training for Ironman Chattanooga after finishes at IM Texas, Florida, and Mt. Tremblant.



So you want to go long?

Ironman. 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run. 140.6 miles in one day. That’s a lot, right? But to be able to say you are an Ironman, that is pretty cool. You have gone back and forth about it and you wonder, can I do it? Yes, you can. If you want to. I mean really, really want to. 17 hours is a lot of time. A huge portion of the preparation for an Ironman is mental. You have to be committed to the training and achieving that ultimate goal

My two cents on things to consider before clicking "Register" online -

1. Do you really want to do it? 

how badly do you want it??
I mean the training, sacrifice and mental torture of riding on the trainer for hours at a time? Signing up for an Ironman is like deciding to have a baby. (Bear with me guys) Signing up for the race is like peeing on the stick. You are so nervous waiting for the two minutes to go by to show you the two lines or in the case of a race, for the browser to refresh to see if you got in online. Woohoo! You’re in! You post on Facebook about getting into the race of your choice and becoming an Ironman in a year. The first trimester of training isn’t so bad, some aches and pains and first, but after a couple of weeks, you are sailing along.

The second trimester gets harder. Lots of things come in to play; injury, unplanned work trips,
weekends in a row at swim meets. 

Third trimester hits, and you realize, holy cow, this is coming and I can’t do anything to stop it. It is long, painful and you are so ready to get it over with.

Race day comes and I can’t describe how emotional that day is. Through the pain of the day, you swear you will never do this again and scream at those around you for getting you into this awful situation. Then you see the light of the finisher chute and all of that goes away. As you waddle into the Finisher Gear tent the next day, you have forgotten all of the awfulness of the day before and are ready to do it again.






2. Is your family supportive? 

I mean really supportive. It really helps if they are as committed to your training as you are. Workouts are easier to get in if you don’t feel guilty for doing them or pressured not to. I have had some friends try to sign up on the down low from their family and that has not worked out too well. The spouse doesn’t need to buy matching compression socks, but it helps if he/she respects your decision to be stupid.






3. No one has the time. 

You have to make the time. No one (that I know of) has an extra 13-18 hours lying around that they have been meaning to find something to do with. Getting in all of the workouts is hard, it takes creativity, dedication, and little bit of mental instability to do it all. Get very familiar with 4:30 am alarm calls, showing up sweaty and smelling of chlorine to places you never thought you would, having no clue what is on television, and showering in odd places. Yes, I am that creepy Mom riding my trainer at swim meets and in too many parking lots to name. You know it is triathlon season when you run out of shampoo in your gym bag before your shower at home.)

4. Get some training partners. 

Having someone waiting for you at the pool at 5:30am makes it more challenging to hit the snooze button for the fifth time. If you don’t have anyone locally, find an online group. There are some great forums out there. Even the strongest person will, at some point, need to be reminded why they signed up for this crazy event and/or talk them off the ledge. But be warned, they will probably also talk you into more races in the future. Peer pressure works for both good and evil. (Big shout out to Frances, Karin, and Melanie!)







Out on the course on race day, you see all shapes, sizes, ages, and abilities. Everyone has a story. Some are there for speed, some for accomplishment, others because someone told them they could not do it. I dare anyone to go to the finish line at a 140.6 mile race and not be inspired to take part some day. If the timing is not right to go long this season or next season, no worries! Going shorter and faster hurts too! At the rate the World Triathlon Corporation, Rev3, HITS, and others are adding races, there will be plenty of options for years to come.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Technically Cool: Interview with Rudy Project

Like most triathletes, our team isn't exactly new to the Rudy Project brand. That said, we learned a ton from this interview with Rudy Project North America CEO Paul Craig. In summary, very impressive... thanks for the time, Paul!


What is the history of the Rudy Project brand?

Rudy Project was founded in Italy by Rudy Barbazza in 1985, in part thanks to a bet. A friend basically said “I’ll pick a product, and I bet you can’t sell it.” Let’s just say Rudy won. As a bonus for the brand, that first year Bernard Hinault won his 5th Tour de France wearing Rudy Project.

I co-founded Rudy Project North America in 1998 after several years at Ray Ban and Bolle (where Paul was the VP of Marketing). At different junctures in my career I came across Rudy Project, beginning in 1993, and realized here was a family business, Italian made, with really cool designs, that basically had Oakley’s number in terms of unique materials and design. We tried to acquire them when I was at Bolle, and when negotiations broke down I said to myself, "this company is so good, let me approach Rudy with some US based business partners about becoming his partner in crime." The rest is history, and since 1998 I’ve worked with Rudy Project as a “super distributor” based in Denver, CO (and with a CA office in San Clemente) supporting the US, Canada, and the Caribbean.






Since the early days Rudy has been something new & different, offering features such as adjustability in the temple and nose, the ability to eliminate gaps (eg. preventing debris in the eye), and other innovations. The brand has just exploded, and we’ve worked hard to establish Rudy Project in the US as a serious competitor to Oakley and the dominant Italian brand for cycling, XC Ski & triathlon, among other sports.

In 2000 we released our first helmet for the US market, the “T-Rex,” and we’ve really come a long way since then. We’ve created a helmet line that most now recognize as holding its own or superior to the usual big companies on the market. Rudy Project was the #1 helmet brand worn at the Ironman World Championships, the holy grail of triathlon, for the past three years, and we’re also the official helmet brand of Ironman for North America. The fact that more Kona athletes have chosen Rudy over any other company is really flattering, and is a complete validation of the aerodynamics, comfort, and ventilation that the Wingspan, Wing57 and other helmets in our line provide.












How would you describe your role within the company?

From a legal perspective, I’m the Co-Founder & -CEO of RACE (Running and Cycling Enterprises), which owns Rudy Project North America. My role is to set the strategy & culture of the brand in North America. We also work very closely with Rudy Project SpA, the parent company based in Italy. We will hopefully approach half of all Rudy Project sales (coming from the US and Canada), and we take our responsibility as a partner very seriously.

One of the things I promised myself was that I would always be accessible and have a flat organization, without a lot of bureaucracy. We have a total of 25 employees between our Denver and San Clemente offices. It’s pretty impressive what we can accomplish between PR, advertising, athlete sponsorship, operations, service, logistics, etc. We have very committed employees who work very hard, and are the lifeblood of what makes the brand what it is. We bend over backwards to address every concern… if you have an issue, we’re going to solve it.

What differentiates Rudy Project from the competition?

Several things differentiate us from the litany of eyewear companies out there. Specifically with Rudy Project, we use unique materials that are light-weight, highly adjustable and customizable. For example, as a triathlete, you come into T1 and put your glasses on, but once in a good, aero position, you often can see the top of the frame (editor’s note: I can relate). With Rudy Project, you can squeeze the nose on the fly, which raises the frame so you see nothing but lens. Then, coming into T2 you can open them up with your thumbs to adjust back for running.

Rudy Project is a family company operating in a land of large, corporate-backed brands such as Oakley, Smiths, Maui Jim, etc, who operate as big companies. We operate to be very quick, flat, create the best products, and treat people the best way. This creates great brand loyalty. Rudy himself is in his 70’s and is a man of the people, very approachable, and the figurehead of the company. He can still be found working with the guys in the warehouse. In addition, quality is core to us. We will always manufacture our eyewear products in Italy. We have 2nd generation families working in our factories who are so good at what they do. The quality is amazing, and a key differentiator. On top of that, our warranty and service sets us apart as well. Rudy Project sunglasses have a 3-year frame warranty and a lifetime lens warranty, no questions asked.

What are your top sellers?

On the helmet side, clearly our top aero, triathlon/time trial seller is the Wingspan. The Wingspan was co-developed with John Cobb, and a ton of wind tunnel, aerodynamics, and ergonomic thought (eg. how do people naturally ride when they get tired?) went into it. To be honest it is one of the most comfortable, light-weight, ventilated helmets on the market. Even wearing the black model on the Queen K in Kona, you won’t overheat. The Wing57 is next generation. If you want to save time on mid to long distance races, the best bang for your buck is the helmet. On the road helmet side, the Sterling is our top seller – it offers a lot of ventilation and is super comfortable. It is also offered in fluorescent colors so you can be seen to ride another day.

the new Wing57






For sunglasses, top sellers are the Rydon, Noyz, and ProFlow models. We don’t typically promote the Rudy casual line as much, although we do currently have a deal of buy a helmet or sport shades, get a casual pair for free.

Lastly, a new transition bag will be available in a couple weeks. Honestly it’s the best transition bag I’ve ever laid my eyes on… it has everything you can imagine and more, and is built like a tank. It will put up with tons of transition abuse and last forever.


What awards has Rudy Project won?

We’ve been recognized by many big publications who have street cred and the responsibility to not give some bs product an award! It’s been really nice for our design team to receive several accolades.

Rudy Project is the only company to receive Outside magazine’s “Gear of the Year” award on two occasions: once for our Maskeryna frames, the perfect blend of performance and casual sunglasses, and once for a lens called ImpactX, which contains cutting edge polarized technology.

In addition, Men’s Journal has recognized our helmet with its “Timeless Design” award, and Bicycling and Triathlete Magazines have both honored us with awards. We’ve also been featured in Wired magazine, among other publications.


Andy Potts and Matty Reed
What athletes do you sponsor?

Rudy Project sponsors over 100,000 athletes worldwide and over 80 pro triathletes, such as Andy Potts, Pete Jacobs, Sarah Haskins, and Matty Reed to name a few. On the cycling side, we sponsor several professional teams and riders, including Team Cannondale and Peter Sagan in the Tour de France (Sagan just clinched his third consecutive Green Sprinters Jersey). Athletes are at the core of what we do, and we rely on their testing and feedback.

What are you most proud of with the company?

I’m proud of many things we’ve accomplished over the years: the fact that more gold medals were won at the Winter Olympics in Torino by Rudy Project athletes than any competitor. That, as mentioned previously, for three years in a row Rudy helmets have dominated the Kona Count. In addition, last year we were the 2nd most prolific eyewear company at Kona, after Oakley. I’m proud of our commitment to how we treat people, and being accessible to deal with things personally. It makes for long days, but I enjoy working with our people and interacting with our customers. I’m proud of how we’ve been on the cutting edge of technology in our manufacturing processes. I’m proud of our individual athlete and team successes, including Hinault, Miguel Indurain, Jan Ullrich, Erik Zabel, the US Postal Team and Peter Sagan at the Tour de France. Overall it’s been wonderful to watch the Rudy Project brand come into its own.


Check out the full arsenal of Rudy Project sunglasses, helmets, and other products at

RudyProjectUSA.com