Tuesday, May 29, 2012

If Tomorrow Wasn't Promised, What Would You Give for Today?

This video's been making the rounds over at Slowtwitch, following Jordan Rapp's disclosure that it helped propel him to his victory at Ironman Texas a couple of weeks back. Go ahead, watch it. I'll wait.


...back yet?

So, I've been thinking a lot about this speech as we go into race week again here, with the Rev3 Quassy half on Sunday. And particularly these couple of lines from Mr. Lewis:

Leave your legacy. And it is found through effort. Wins and losses come a dime a dozen. But effort? Nobody can judge effort.
Effort. It's the one thing that is controllable. Other variables will stand in the way, whether we are talking about racing or life in general: the decisions of others; the circumstances that will arise; varying conditions throughout the day, week, etc.

But your effort? Well, you can always give effort. You can always pour your heart and soul into something, give every fiber of your existence to what it is you are trying to accomplish. Whether that will translate into something greater than that is, often times, beyond your control: in racing, your best effort may not result in a high finish simply due to genetics, training volume, injuries, and others; in life, you may still fail in an endeavor because you did not have sufficient knowledge, circumstances beyond your control, etc. But you can always be proud of what you DID accomplish, which comes through how much you give.

This is much like being able to step into the proverbial pain cave: are you going to be willing to suffer, to push yourself to your limits, to not falter despite your body telling you, please, please no. You'll need to soldier on, no matter how hard it is, in order to give your best effort on that particular day. You can control what you can control, and no more. This might result in a phenomenal time. It might take execution through some of the worst circumstances imaginable. But it all remains the same.

It all took effort to get there.

One of the final lines of the video is, "I'm pissed off for greatness. 'Cause if you ain't pissed off for greatness, then you're OK with being mediocre. And there's no man in this room that's OK with being just basic."

How do you get there? Effort. You only achieve greatness by being able to give that effort, to be willing to give all you have, no matter how much nor how little that may be. Greatness is a relative term in an individual sport; a 6-hour effort will be a spectacular failure for an athlete capable of more, but a smashing success for another who has given all that they had to give.

So, to all of my fellow Rev3 Quassy athletes: be pissed off for greatness. Because if you're not pissed off for greatness, then you're OK with being mediocre. And there's not a soul toeing that line Saturday or Sunday morning that is going to be OK with being mediocre. Your efforts will result in greatness.

See you out there.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Drivers, Cyclists, and Data Collection

As you've heard in this space before, I've been hit by a car twice, and had my fair share of near misses out there. As such, what I'd like to do is try and help improve the relationship between cyclists and drivers.

In the case, I have a brief survey going regarding the law and best practices for drivers and cyclists alike. 10 questions. Super short.

Please take the survey, and be honest. I'm going to report back with my findings next week.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I Swear I'll Never Give In, No I Refuse...

Just some tough sledding around the Crashing the Boards offices as of late...

With all of the stress that I'd accumulated over the past couple of weeks, factor in an increased training load and partnered with plenty of work as well...I've earned myself a lovely head cold. It was one of those inevitable moments; in the back of my head, I knew that I'd probably wind up either sick or overtrained just with everything that's been going on. So once this settled in, I decided to take today off from training. Just needed to back off, settle down, let the body heal up.

As much as I'd like to say that this meant that my mind did some healing too...well, you don't know me very well. I typically thrive on situations that require lots of juggling. I'm a logistics person, so having the entire day to kill has been...well, me just crawling inside my own head to attempt to deal with everything that's been going on.

And well, the cruelest blow of 'em all: there's two cracks in Kermit the Felt. One's in the non-driveside chainstay, the other in the driveside seatstay. Not a good place to be when you've got Rev3 Quassy in a couple of weeks. So the past few days have been novel attempts to figure out how to get finances in order for a new race whip. (The insurance that was allegedly going to cover this type of thing? Well, let's just say that the policy was about as valuable as the piece of paper that I printed it out on.)

One way or another, though...I'll find a way to make it work. It always seems to come together. Hence the title, from (yet another) Foo Fighters song...I will find a way.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Gear Review: Swiftwick Aspire Zero Socks

My feet are finicky.

No, seriously: I have some serious issues when it comes to footwear. I think it's partially due to working in the running business: I'm almost hyper-aware of anything when it comes to things that go on board.

This is particularly true with socks. I've had very limited success with most running socks. Whether it's a tighter or looser fitting brand, or an acrylic versus merino wool sock, or single-layer to double-layer variety, it's been an issue to be comfortable. I'd pretty much relegated myself to the fact that no matter what I have on my feet, I'll probably have a blister somewhere while running.

And that brings us to Swiftwick socks, and my experience with them.

The TechnoBabble
Swiftwick is an interesting company in the performance apparel industry. By that, I mean that 100% of the work for their products is done in the United States. To wit, they put it pretty bluntly on their website:

We decided to make all our products in the USA. Not some. Not most. All.
If you are a proponent of "Buying Local" or "Buying in the US," well, I'd argue you can't do much better than that.

Swiftwick's socks feature 200 needle stitching. What does that mean? Well, it's the highest density that you can get into a performance sock. This gives you an extremely tight-woven pattern to the sock. This, Swiftwick claims, will prevent debris from penetrating through the sock layer and creating a friction point that could, coupled with moisture, cause a blister.

This stitching also gives an extremely tight, almost second-skin feeling to their socks. The closer something is to the body, the better job it can do at moving moisture away. But also, this will prevent the sock from potentially bunching and generating friction in that manner. Less friction and less moisture means less blistering for feet.

Swiftwick uses both acrylics and merino wool for their socks. Acrylic socks feature, generally, a 75% to 25% ratio of water soluble and water proof materials. This allows the sock to gather moisture off of your foot, and then expel it into the moisture-management system of your shoe. Acrylics also provide the elasticity to wrap the foot well and create seams that you can barely feel. Merino wool, on the other hand, is a natural thermal regulator, attempting to keep your body temperature constant. Merino is also naturally anti-microbial (less bacteria, less stink!), and can move moisture while it's still a vapor.

Swiftwick has an extremely extensive product line. Your personal preference on material thickness and tightness will determine which of their line you would prefer. The Aspire tested here is their tightest fitting and thinnest sock; the Vibe is slightly thicker and looser (and far more colorful); the Pursuit is their merino wool product line; and the Performance is their original sock. Swiftwick also manufactures custom compression lines with their Vision product line. (Yes, this is the brand with the awesome argyle compression socks.)

Each product line also has a couple of different heights to the sock, denoted as Zero, One, Two, Four, Seven, and Twelve (referring to the length of the sock above the ankle). The Zero here is the lowest sock of the line.

Swiftwick Aspire Zero (image courtesy of Swiftwick)

The Run: How do they work?
How can I put this without it seeming a little, well, over-the-top...

They're, simply put, amazing.

The first thing you notice when you receive a pair of Swiftwick's is how small they look. I took a look at the sock, and then my foot, and went: uh-oh, did I get the wrong size? Fear not. There's so much elasticity to the sock that it gets on quite well.

Once you get the sock on, it's immediately noticeable how that 200 needle stitching worked out. These are extremely plush, wrapping the foot in a pillowy-soft material. Generally, this would lead to a pretty loose-fitting sock on the foot. But instead, these sit exactly true and contour to your foot. There's no gaps of material between your foot and the sock; it just seats true.

Out on the run, it's more of the same. The elasticity of the sock still allows your foot to properly splay out, unlike some other tighter-fitting sock vendors. There's a plushness that eliminates any seaming issue from the interior of the shoe; it makes up for a deficient interior of a shoe. Shoes that I have traditionally always blistered in? Nothing with the Swiftwick's.

The true test? This is the sock I ran Boston in. I ran in a pair of shoes that, traditionally, I'd always get a blister just forward of the arch on my left foot, especially if there was some extra moisture involved. Well, there was PLENTY of extra water kicking around, given the approximate 8 gallons of water that I dumped over my head during the course of getting from Hopkinton to Boston.

When I got to Copley Square and meet up with my family post-race, I kicked off my shoes and socks to get ready for my favorite post-race shoe: Birkenstock Arizonas. I had figured that, with the amount of pain in my legs, that I'd simply ignored any issues with my feet. After all, with that much water, something had to have been wrong with a blister, or something.

I inspected my feet closely, and was absolutely astounded:

No blisters. Not one. NOTHING.


The only tip from a purchasing standpoint: just ensure that whatever height you purchase will come above the heel collar of the shoe. This wasn't a problem with my Aspire Zeros and the particular pair of shoes that I ran Boston in, but it could be depending on your shoe. I'll be keeping a mix of Zeros, Ones, and Twos kicking around, just to make sure I have a pair that can be worn with any of my running shoes.

All my other run socks? Relegated to work sock status. I'm never going back. Well done, Swiftwick.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Like the Sun We Will Live and Die, and Then Ignite Again...

My apologies for a lack of updating in this space as of late. Lots of stuff going on in life.

You know the saying, "if it weren't for bad luck, you'd have no luck at all?" This has been an adequate description of the past few weeks around the Crashing the Boards offices.

I'd been delivered some relatively frustrating news just before Boston, but with all of the training that was involved with doing the race, I don't think I had taken the time to actually process any of it. It hit me out of left field and just knocked me on my rear end. Coupled with the physical and mental toll of the race itself, and well, you've got a recipe for emotional burn-out.

Mind you, this is all before the more recent developments around these parts. I'm not going to dive into the heart of the issues, mostly because a.) it's really, really close to me and considering the way that I pour myself into these things...it's not something I can do yet and b.) well, it's a family thing. Couple that with loss, a couple other things on the plate, and well...

I just haven't had the space to write yet. I have things I want to do; I have a review of Swiftwick socks on the horizon, as well as some other topics of choice regarding training and retailing. But I also need to put myself first, too.

This is where the title of this has been coming from. If you haven't noticed by now, I'm a bit of a 90s alternative geek, so having Soundgarden back is kind of...well...awesome. "Live to Rise," although a bit derivative and having some cohesion issues (the intro, and other parts of the song, just don't seem to co-exist well with one another; perhaps tension purposely developed for The Avengers), has an absolutely clutch Chris Cornell chorus:

Like the sun we will live to rise
Like the sun we will live and die,
And then, ignite again
Like the sun we will live to rise again...again...

It's truth. You have control only over the things that you can control; try and do those things that put you in the best position to succeed whatever the circumstances that may arise and throw you for a loop. It's a tough lesson for me, personally, because I always feel like you can control everything when, in fact, you can't. But I can control the reactions to such circumstances; I can control the things that I do in those situations. It's how you respond to adversity. It's igniting, sparking, moving forward.

But without a doubt, it's continuing to plug along, move forward, and do what I can to be the best I can on any given day. For that, I'd like to thank anybody and everybody who reads this page. All the friends, the family, the co-workers, the sponsors, the entirety of Revolution3...I can't thank any of you enough for standing alongside, being a part of my life, helping me along. You're all more than I could ever ask for.