Monday, July 29, 2019

Guardians of the Night 5k - Running Montage

This is the result of running the Guardians of the Night 5k with a GoPro Karma Grip in my hand and recording with a GoPro Hero 6 Black.











The Guardians of the Night K9 5K Race/Run is a true night event that offers a fun, flat, fast-paced race -- giving runners the opportunity to run alongside Richland County Sheriff's Department K9 Deputies and their own K9 partners. This year the event moves to a new venue - the South Carolina State Fairgrounds. This is a certified race course and chip timing will be used for scoring. Awards will follow along with the opportunity to meet and greet with the K-9's and Deputies. This annual event raises funds to benefit the RCSD K9 team. These funds pay for the dogs' food, medical care, safety equipment, collars, leads and the very costly ballistic vests they need to do their jobs.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Everything I know about the Cloud Edge Moon



On's Cloud Edge Moon, Collector's Edition Shoe

***19 JULY UPDATE***
If you sign up for their email, On will make the purchase for the Cloud Edge Moon available at the following time on 20 July:
9:00 am Pacific Time
12:00 pm Eastern Time

You can check out more from them here: On's CLOUD EDGE MOON Pre-Order



***Original Post***


  I received an email from On this morning that they would be releasing their first collector’s edition shoe, the Cloud Edge Moon to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.  I bought the regular Cloud Edge when it first came out over a year ago as a limited edition shoe, so my interest peaked when I saw this, especially since the Cloud Edge is such a durable shoe that I still wear to this day.

A closer look


 From what I’ve learned so far, the Cloud Edge Moon will be limited to 999 pairs available and will only come in white and metallic gold. 
The Original Cloud Edge


 Since the shoes are based off the Cloud Edge, now known as the Cloud Terry, they have a great foundation. You can see my initial review of the Cloud Edge here:



and my follow-up review of them here: 



Back to the Cloud Edge Moon, the shoe is mostly white with a metallic gold tongue and gold back heel pull tab.  The white and gold shoe laces are the speed laces that are typical for the On Cloud and the Cloud Edge/Terry.  That means that you don’t tie the laces, but instead you do the initial adjustment before putting a knot at the end of the laces to keep them in place.  I love these laces and wish more shoes would use this design. 

  There are two spots that On added a Velcro tab, as inspiration from the astronauts’ gear.  The front Velcro strap will feature the number of the shoe along with the total number of shoes made. So, if your order was 573, you should see “573/999” printed on the front strap.  The back strap is for some sort of personalization that you can send to On when you order the shoes, but I don’t know the number of characters can be used.


  One of the features is a great nod to the lunar landings, but not everyone will see it.  On the inside, the sock liner has a partial picture of the moon, earth’s only natural satellite printed on it.  That’s pretty cool, but again, how many will see it unless you take the shoe off to show people?

You could be stepping on the moon
when you wear these.
  Of course, this wouldn’t be an On shoe without their Cloudtec pockets, and it looks like the Cloud Edge Moon is definitely aligned with the On Cloud's outsole. 


  The only issue I have with the shoes is the price. At 250 U.S. dollars, these are definitely a collector’s edition shoe, but for that price I could own two pairs of the On Cloud or even get that Nike Vaporfly 4% that everyone has been raving about for the past year.  Still these shoes look phenomenal from what I’ve seen, but it would be very strange to casually race in them or wearing them every day on non-special occasions.



Sunday, July 7, 2019

The On Cloudstratus Review: A Week of Testing


Anyone who has known me for the past two years or so will know I love trying and wearing On’s running shoes.  Earlier this year, On released the Cloudswift, their first shoe made with their own Helion superfoam and now On has made their second new release shoe available, the On Cloudstratus. 



Cloudtec pockets in action
  When you look at the Cloudstratus from the side, the double layer of Cloudtec pockets look like they are designed specifically for heel striking runners like myself.  However, if you were to watch any of On’s videos, you’ll notice that every one of their model athletes are mid-foot strikers.  So these shoes are good for either type.  The Cloudstratus’ pockets will provide support and comfort no matter how you run. 


 The Cloudstratus combines features from other models of On’s shoes and makes them its own.  The Cloudstratus is also the first shoe to have a dual layer of Cloudtec pockets.  When I first heard about On doubling the Cloudtec pockets, I immediately thought of the razor business where shaving companies would add layers of blades “for the closest shave ever.”  It did sound a little gimmicky, but the thought of having two layers of Cloudtec pockets beneath my feet sounded great with comfort and cushioning.

  So on 20 June, I ordered a pair of the On Cloudstratus.

  I have worn these shoes every day since I received them in the mail.  I’ve done several runs and even a four mile race in the Cloudstratus.  I wore them every day at work, and considering I work in a seven story building and I have to be on my feet for the majority of the day, I think I broke them in for my running.

The Cloudstratus is built for medium to long runs on road-like surfaces. Besides the double layer of Cloudtec pockets made with On’s Helion superfoam, the Cloudstratus also has a speedboard built in it, uses a modified version of the On Cloudflyer’s star lacing pattern system, features an asymmetric front and back, has a ribbed insole, and oen of the more breatheable uppers I’ve seen for a running shoe.



  In an unusual move for On, the Cloudstratus has an 8mm drop. I’m used to On shoes having a 6mm drop, with the Cloudswift going with a 7mm drop instead.  I don’t think one or two millimeters will matter, but eventually they add up, so hopefully On doesn’t go any higher on the drop distance.

  The Cloudstratus is the heaviest of all the On shoes I own.  I don’t have a weight for the Cloudace shoes that I tested when I did a demo run with Fleet Feet, but my US men’s size 10 Cloudstratus shoes weigh 11.7 ounces or 337 grams each.  My Cloudswift are in second in terms of weight with each shoe weighing 10.75 ounces.  Compared to my Cloudflyer at 9.5 ounces and my On Cloud at 8.6 ounces, it would seem the Helion feature allows for more substance to be added, thus increasing the weight of the shoe.

  Back to the dual layer pockets, On’s Helion foam is supposed to be light, yet durable.  I can easily say that the Cloudtec pockets are doing their job with collapsing and bouncing back.  But on my second run, I did notice little cracks or creases forming on the underside of my shoes. I fully intend on keeping an eye on that area to see if anything happens. Also, I already sent a message to On’s customer service along with the picture you see here. 


  The On Cloudstratus has a speedboard built into it, just like the Cloudswift and most other models from On. The speedboard acts very similarly to the spring board found in the Nike Vaporfly 4%, but the Cloudstratus is less expensive and a good alternative for that.  The speedboard is supposed to help propel you forward so you use less energy with each push off the foot.  It may be the hype, but I did feel a little more spring in my step when I sprinted in these shoes.

  On made the front and back in an asymmetric pattern so that the shoe would be more fit to the foot and to keep the foot more stable as you run.  The star lacing pattern that I love on the On Cloudflyer makes its return here, but in that aforementioned asymmetric design.



The back of the asymmetric shoes have a hardened ridge that helps keep the ankle and back of the foot upright and where it needs to be. 



The insole has a special ribbing where the arch of the heel meets the shoe.  On touts that this feature helps with proprioception, the act of improving sensory feedback and aiding the body in know where it is in space.  All I know is that I feel better with the ribbing there because it grips my sock and keeps my feet from sliding about.

As for the actual running, here is how they went. 

  The initial test run felt great.  The back part of the shoes cushioned my feet so well, I thought these shoes were better than the Cloudflyer.  The front felt alright; it was still cushioned, but not as much as the back.  That was a 2 mile run. 



  The second run I did, I ran a little faster, and had a sprint session towards the end.  This was also a 2 mile run.  The back area still felt great, but this time the front felt a little more cushioned.  Maybe it’s because I kept breaking in my shoes by wearing them to work and walking around all, but the front was a lot better the second time around.  The sprinting felt a little faster, too, and either that’s me believing the speedboard helped or the speedboard actually helping. I did notice the creases at this point, though.



  The third run I did was a slow 1 miler in order to get my dog ready for an upcoming 5k race at the end of July.  I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary with the shoes while I was running at a much slower pace.

The fourth and final run I did the Born in the USA 4 Miler.  This race had hills, people as slow-down obstacles, a few water stops, and a downhill sprint.  I started a steady pace, but would have to slow down and then speed up as I passed groups of people.  I stopped during the water breaks, mostly because of the humidity.  But after trudging up the hills and enjoying the downhills, I finished the race and I can easily say that the Cloudstratus performed better than expected.  I did look at the bottoms of my shoes afterwards and the cracks are a little bigger than before.  Again, this is something I need to have On address.  So far, they don’t look like they are hampering my performance, but still it’s something I am going to keep a close eye on.








The Cloudswift with a hole
One other issue that is a concern for me isn’t from the Cloudstratus, but from the Cloudswift.  I bought the Cloudswift three months ago, and a UK Youtuber, Chris Ford of “Fordy Runs” noticed that his pair developed a few holes in the heel area.  Several people commented on his video and in other social media platforms.  I took a look at my shoes and saw the holes forming on the inside of my shoes as well.  This is something I’m not used to.  My old On Clouds and my Cloudflyer never developed fabric tears like my Cloudswift.



  I don’t like to paint the shoes in a negative light because overall they are doing their job well and they feel great. They provide a lot of cushioning, perhaps even more than the Cloudflyer.  My only concern right now are the creases that formed on the Cloudstratus, but I will have several updates in the upcoming months regarding this. 






Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The On Cloudstratus: A First Look







I got the On Cloudstratus because it looked like a good alternative to the Cloudflyer, my favorite running shoe from On.  The Cloudstratus features a dual layer of Cloudtec pockets and has a composite make-up of Helion superfoam mixed with another type of foam that On likes to use.

  I will have a more in depth article on the On Cloudstratus after I run in the shoes more, but in the mean time, go ahead and check out my video above to see and hear more about the latest offering from On.

Friday, June 21, 2019

The On Cloudstratus has been released!



On Cloudstratus crushing it



On 20 June, On released their latest shoe, the On Cloudstratus. It is a running shoe that has a double layer of Cloudtec pockets, contains On’s latest superfoam called Helion, and incorporates elements from other On shoes such as the star lace pattern from the On Cloudflyer and the asymmetric upper that I’ve seen on the On Cloud shoes.

On Cloudflyer's star pattern lacing system


  I’ve been a fan of On and their shoes for almost two years now. I’ve owned several of their shoes and did reviews of them on YouTube. I even bought a pair of their limited edition On Cloud Edge last year, which is now known as the Cloud Terry, and I still wear them to this day because of their comfort and durability.







a hole formed on my Cloudswift...
  But recently, On has had an issue come up with this year’s shoe models that have gotten several groups and fans a little upset: the heel interior’s fabric will rub and form a hole when your heel will come in contact with the shoe. A hole may even form on the top of the shoe at the heel area. This all sounds like the fabric has friction problems. My On Cloud Edge has this issue, but it’s from me wearing them almost every day for everything.  My On Cloudswift are only three months old and they have formed a hole in the inside. Nowhere near as big as Chris Ford’s On Cloudswift.  This is definitely an issue that On needs to address, but I honestly don’t think it will be fixed until they release next year’s models of running shoes.





...and on the other shoe as well
  In the meantime, I did debate on getting the On Cloudstratus. While the hole was a concern, personally it was mostly a cosmetic one, even though no one can see it unless I take the shoes off. Also, On has never disappointed me when it comes to the durability and comfort of their shoes.  As a fan of On, I can overlook the shoes’ ability to collect rocks and burrs because I know about it and can adjust my running habits (and routes) accordingly. 



  And I’m hoping the On Cloudstratus is another good substitute for the On Cloudace, arguably the best cushioned On shoe.  The On Cloudflyer is a very good alternative to the Cloudace and I want to find out if the Cloudstratus will rank there as well. I’m still a fan of On and their shoes, but I don’t want to blindly follow them and buy everything they have (and praise all that they do without checking and testing it out beforehand). I’ll have something on it shortly after the shoes arrive in a few days.

  In the meantime, check out my review on the Cloudswift and Cloudflyer running shoes.





Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Five Things to Know About the Cooper River Bridge Run Before You Sign Up


  The Cooper River Bridge Run takes places in Charleston around April each year.  It’s one of the most enjoyable road races out there and has consistently drawn in over 25k runners for the past decade.  In fact, the Cooper River Bridge Run is one of the top ten 10k races in the United States according to several sources to include Runner’s World, Active.com, and BibRave. I’ve participated in the race the last four years and there's a bunch of reasons I come back each year. 

  Before you decide for the Cooper River Bridge Run, here are five things you should keep in mind.





1.     Sign up as soon as possible.  The registration window opens about a month after the last event, and operates on a timed tier throughout the year.  While the most expensive registration is still cheaper than a lot of races I’ve been to, I’m fairly certain people want to save money.  Below, you can see the pricing for the 2020 Cooper River Bridge Run and the time frame for each registration fee. (screenshot the registration prices)









2.     Hotels book up quickly several months before the race.  The very first year, I waited until about two weeks to book a hotel.  That didn’t go well, because my family of five ended up at a budge motel about 10 miles from the transportation site.  Since then, I’ve booked a hotel near the North Charleston Convention Center each year months in advance and haven’t regretted it once.  In fact, several hotels, restaurants, and a large shopping plaza are all within walking distance of the Convention Center, which also doubles as transportation hub for the day of the race (more on that later).  With roughly 30k people taking part in the Cooper River Bridge Run, it definitely pays to book a hotel in advance.


3.     The 2-day Expo is one of the largest you will attend.  As I just mentioned, the Cooper River Bridge Run Expo takes place at the North Charleston Convention Center.  It happens on the Thursday and Friday before the race.  Most “locals” go to the Thursday event, while the out-of-towners, and people from out of state and even out of country, attend the Friday event.  Last year, my wife and I managed to go early on Friday to the Expo and we were surprised at some of the free samples and extras vendors gave away.  We ended up with a couple of moisture wicking shirts, a few leggings, and little to no lines for the various alcoholic vendors, such as Deep Eddy Vodka, Hooch mixture, and wines sampled by Harris and Teeter.  Showing up Friday after 1 PM, though, will have you see large crowds, long lines to try things, and certain vendors run out of their best wares.



4.     Plan accordingly for race day transportation.  The Cooper River Bridge Run is a one way race, meaning that the start line (in Mt. Pleasant) and finish lines (downtown Charleston) are in completely different areas.  The race organizers have arranged for transportation, and in at least one of the places, free parking for participants.  At least four designated bus shuttle areas are available for free. For a small additional cost while registering, one can choose to take a boat shuttle to cross the river from Charleston to Mt. Pleasant.  Every year, I have chosen to take the bus shuttle from the Charleston Area Convention Center.  The Convention Center is probably the most popular shuttle area since it has a very large parking lot, is close to the Charleston International Airport, and about a dozen hotels are within walking distance of the shuttle pick-up and drop-off point.  Check out the CRBR shuttle information here: https://bridgerun.com/bus-boat-shuttle/

      There is no parking available at the starting point, but in the past couple of years, some of my friends have done ride-sharing, i.e. Uber, Lyft to get to the starting line from where they stayed the night before. 


5.     You have a voice in next year’s shirt design. I don’t know how long the race organizers have been doing it, but the past few years, they solicit people to vote on submitted artwork and the winner’s artwork becomes the poster and t-shirt design.  For 2019, the artist received 1,000 dollars as well as 100 posters and 24 shirts (presumably to give away to friends, family, fans, and as giveaways).  For participants, it makes you feel even more a part of something big.  You can read up more on the CRBR blog page here: https://bridgerun.com/submit-your-vote/




These are five things you should know before you sign up.  Unlike a local race, it does take a little planning in advance to do the Cooper River Bridge Run, but it is well worth it.  I live 90 minutes away from Charleston, and with a little bit of foresight in advance, I make sure I’m ready for race day.



Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Splash and Dash Adventure Race Recap





Splash and Dash Adventure Race - Bridging parts together

 The Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission recently held the Splash and Dash Adventure Race on 18 May. Originally scheduled for September, Hurricane Florence upended any activities planned that week. Thus the ICRC postponed the event with the aspirations that it would happen in the Spring. 

  I became aware of the Splash and Dash Adventure Race in April. I eyeballed the South Carolina Governor’s Cup race which would take place the same day, but I could not pass up doing a three part event with my wife.  The ICRC advertised the Splash and Dash as a two mile trail run, a four mile bicycle trek, and a one mile kayak paddle in Saluda Shoals Park.

These trees were spared by any bad weather

 It definitely sounded different than running a 5k or a half marathon, but still offered cardio exercise through the entire duration. It also meant I work together with my wife.  Teams could be two or three people, with “early” pricing being 25 dollars per person before the fifth of May, and regular registration costing 35 dollars per person afterwards until the day of the event.

  Our only preparation involved bringing our own bicycles, preferably mountain type, and helmets for the race. The ICRC would provide the watercraft, paddles, and life preservers.  I ran several races in Saluda Shoals Park before, so hearing this would be a trail race, I got excited because it meant I could wear my On Cloudventure shoes again.  Both of our bicycles are hybrids, so lowering the tire pressure a little, should set us for the race.

  Saturday morning, while pretty much every runner headed downtown to take part in a fantastic race Amanda and I joined just over a dozen others in our little adventure.  We parked on the east side of the park and picked up our packets.  We then proceeded to move our bicycles to the transition station about 100 feet or so away.  Amanda is the triathlete of the family, so she tried to prepare her bicycle on the bike bar as she normally would, but someone built the bar too high, so she positioned her bicycle underneath facing outward for easy transition. I followed suit, but noticed most others did not.

Taking Off
  We head back to the start line and listen to the overall scheme of events, the safety brief for the course, and how the ICRC had to adjust the course due to recent rising water levels from Lake Murray, thus modifying the run route, adding half a mile to the bike trek, and preventing us from paddling a mile on the river. Instead, we would paddle a canoe through a set of obstacles in Saluda Shoals’ pond. When the announcer tells everyone that she will count down from “ten” and that’s when we would start, people start going when she gets to “seven” (anxiousness, I suppose), so she released all of us then started the official clock.

The 1 mile turn-around
  The crowd starts running, but Amanda can only walk and we trail behind. However, never count out a walker, especially one who can clocked in a 12 to 13 minute mile pace during our 5k and 10k races.  We start down the road, but the course transitions into a trail route for almost the entire trek. Once we hit grass and dirt, I felt relieved that I wore my Cloudventure for this. The two mile course ended up being a mile out and back because the river swelled up and consumed a part of the return route from the original plan.  So as Amanda and I hit two-thirds of the first mile, we see a dad-son team run past us.  About two minutes later, we see the rest of the pack coming at us.  We do make it to the one-mile mark and turn around, and scoot back. Along the way, we cross the paved road a few times, and see a team on bicycles as we finish up the first leg of the race.

Had to walk up this hill. It was too steep
  We make our way back and get to the bicycle transition station. Our bikes sit alone, but once we reach the area, Amanda and I quickly pop on our helmets and pedal off. The bicycle portion consisted of part road biking and part trail riding. Before the race, I set our bikes’ tire pressure to 65 psi because I wasn’t sure of the terrain we would traverse, and I think 60-65 psi overall was a good choice. 

  We take off and follow the white arrows to a path. We weave in and around on the trail before we hit a couple of hills. I didn’t think Saluda Shoals could pack in such elevation spikes and dips along the trail, but I was wrong. In fact, a few times I hopped off my Cannondale and walked up steep inclines, with one time for a decline.  Part way through the trek, Amanda and I got lost. That sounds crazy, especially since at that point we rode on a paved trail, but somehow we missed signs for crossing the road. Instead, Amanda and I veer right and pedal up to the main entrance.  After wildly looking around, we circle the Environmental Center’s parking lot. Thanks to a friendly patron, we head back and retrace our steps. Once we neared the Broad River Road, we see an event volunteer and cones along the road. We ask him where to go, and Amanda and I made it back on course.

Wrong turn! Wrong turn!

Paddling is harder than it looks
  Once we finished the second leg, we reach the pond. They had a two person canoe ready for us and informed us we had to maneuver three obstacles. I’m not the best seafarer, but I can at least navigate a one-person kayak. A two person canoe is a different story. I take the front and try to steer the canoe, but it was more comical than anything else.  According to Strava, we paddled the course in 3 minutes and 18 seconds. Not bad for a very amateur uncoordinated person.


  We finish up by cycling back to the finish line, which was about 300 meters away. While we were the last to cross, and our time was 1:17 and some seconds, the ICRC awarded Amanda and me for our efforts. We each received a glass with the “Splash and Dash Adventure Race” logo on it and we each received a certificate to redeem for either for a one hour canoe rental or a two hour tube rental. Combine that with the t-shirt we got, and the Adventure race definitely seemed like a good deal.

 
The spoils of the race

Monday, May 13, 2019

WHEN YOUR BODY DOESN'T LIKE WHAT YOU DO




  When I was in the Army, especially the last ten years or so, I could almost always run off of 4-6 hours of sleep a night.  I regularly did physical training, usually on my own or in a small group.  I could take a 10-15 minute power nap in a chair during lunch if I had a particular rough day.  But retired life has shown me that I cannot do that anymore. 

  I have been trying to keep up my old set of waking hours with my current job, but I run into an issue with sleep: it gets interrupted part way through, so that sets everything else I have planned for the day off schedule. 

  Now I work at a university and I see that as a chance to make an impact in the next generation’s lives.  Granted, my job is not teaching, but usually I am surrounded by college students and I get to ask them what they studying, what they plan to do after college, and how they will either improve themselves or make the world better.  However, working there means that I had to take the afternoon to evening shift, not the normal 9-5 day shift. That means I get home around 12:30 AM and cannot fall asleep until between 1 and 2 in the morning, and the only time I get to see my youngest is in the morning when she gets ready for school.  So I get up at 6 AM to help her.  Sometimes, I take her out to the bus while other times my wife will. But once my daughter leaves, I head back to bed… with the full intention of getting up an hour or two later to go run. 

  That doesn’t happen.

  Lately, or rather the past two months have shown me that my body craves sleep more than anything. I have slept through alarm clocks, notifications from my Alexa Echo Dot, my phone blaring music and messages, but unfortunately, not from robo-telemarketers.  This “need” for sleep has reduced my speed and is bringing me back to cardio levels from when I threw out my shoulder and couldn’t catch my breath after the second mile. 

  On the positive note, though, my work does involve me moving about and with summer approaching, my daughter will be on summer vacation in a month.  Once that happens, I should be able to get back into working on improving my speed and endurance more.  In the meantime, I need to focus on maintaining what I have and definitely watching what I eat.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

That Time I Ran Two Races In One Day


 You may have seen my running videos. Usually I do a race every week or two and upload a montage of it later that day or the next, but there are the rare days where I record two events on the same day.  March 9th was one of those rare days.

  When I usually sign up for a race, I look at my calendar to see if I’m free that morning, pay the fee, and block that date out.  But for March 9th, two races were scheduled, and both supported great causes. 
the start line

  I first signed up for the March for Meals 5k, supporting Senior Resources Inc. and their Meals on Wheels program.  I’ve done this particular race off and on since 2015, mostly because Army commitments would prevent me from running each year consecutively.  Besides the opportunity to donate and help senior citizens, this race takes place in one of my favorite running areas: the Timmerman Trail.


Wooden Foot Bridge
  It’s a pretty relaxing paved trail that spans over several wooden foot bridges and a few concrete & iron bridges as well.  The March for Meals 5k starts in front of an activities center and has you running on a road for the first half mile until you get to the Lexington Medical Center’s administrative building parking lot. 



  It’s a very nice, scenic path through the woods and overlooks a few creeks along the way. While the 5k route didn’t allow us, there are parts of the Timmerman Trail that also run alongside part of the Congaree River for a bit.  



 
  The race itself was nice, the medals are pretty distinct from others in that place winners get a plate or a medal spoon. I did well enough a few years ago to earn one, and it is still one of my more treasured trophies.  This year, Senior Resources showcased their newly acquired taco truck and all participants received a free taco, be it beef, chicken, chorizo, or veggie.  This was a big bonus for doing the race. The shirt was an improvement this year as well. In previous years, the race shirt was a long sleeve Hanes t-shirt. This year, the shirt was made of a thinner material.


The crowd. Just beyond them was the parking area.
  In fact, the only issue with the race is the parking, and how to get to the parking area. Each year, participants end up driving through the start/finish line to get to the dirt parking lot.  Most times, this is not an issue, but as it gets closer to race time, people gather at the start line and you always have one or two cars show up to park, in which everyone has to get out of the way.  There is another way to the parking area, so hopefully, volunteers at next year’s race can direct people to go that way instead. 

  As for the race, I ran a decent 8:15 average mile. There were a few hills in there, but nothing like downtown Columbia, Charlotte, or even Atlanta.  However, I didn’t expect to push myself since I had a race that night and halfway through the morning run, I decided that I should range-walk or jog the second race.  That didn’t happen.

The Run for Her Life 5k Opening Ceremony


The Start
   The second race, the Run for Her Life 5k, was a charity race for the Lighthouse for Life to raise awareness regarding domestic underage human trafficking.  And this race was a glow race which took place in Saluda Shoals Park. There’s something about glow races that brings people out of the woodwork.   It was packed, but I could hear the DJ playing in the starting line area, packet pick-up went great, and the race shirt was a tech shirt (a big plus in my book). 



  The race took place well after sunset and they modified the course a little due to the rains from the previous night.  As usual, I started in the back, but my wife and youngest started in the middle. And let me say that I planned on running slow,
but once the horn went off, I got swept up in the enthusiasm, eagerness, and festive mood from other people and I started to run faster.  My daughter wanted to run as well, so she brought off from my wife.






 
High Fiving at the the finish line
I didn’t catch Tori until about half a mile into the race because of the crowds.  Once I got alongside my youngest, I stayed with her, and she was such a trooper.  We enjoyed the glow lights along the course, partook in the water stations, and most of it kept each company.  While I averaged a 10:15 mile with my daughter, the important thing was that I ran almost the entire race with her.






  Tori walked a little, but she kept going and finished strong. I got to see my little 10 year old cross the finish line with the heart of a lion, and she made me so proud.

My Tori



  If you would like, you can see both race videos here:





Thursday, February 21, 2019

Running Shoes and AAFES: Now a Good Option


Under Armour. They make decent running shoes now
  For the vast majority of my military career, I would go to the local Post or Base Exchange, PX for the Army and BX for the Air Force, and just buy the cheapest pair of running shoes that would fit my feet. I didn’t pay attention to tread, didn’t know about quality, and definitely only cared about how little they cost. I knew about brands such as Nike, Reebok, and Adidas and in my younger days figured that name recognition would take care of quality.  I heard all about how to take care of my feet from the Army’s fitness trainers, serious runners, and teammates who competed in high school and collegiate sports, but figured that I wouldn’t worry about my feet and legs unless they started hurting.


New Balance. The first good non-Big Three shoes I would wear.
  My thought process changed about 10 years ago when I realized I was no longer the youthful, energetic person I was at 17 and that while I had been more fortunate than most of my military friends when it came to injuries, I need to take care of my body to keep going.






Brooks. Even more models and colors than I expected
  Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with Nike, Reebok, or Adidas, but the local military exchange used to carry some shoe brands that looked like running shoes but I never heard of before. And it was about a decade ago, that I noticed the Army and Air Forces Exchange Service (AAFES) started carrying running shoe brands that the running world was familiar with. I saw Brooks, noticed Asics, glanced at New Balance and it was the New Balance shoes that I started using because I remembered some of the faster runners in my unit wearing them.  I also discovered that New Balance wasn’t as expensive as I thought they would be.


Asics, a very good brand that gets overlooked
  These days, the local Base and Post Exchanges carry a good variety of running shoes. Running shoes with name brand recognition and a reputation of performing well for runners.  Durability, quality, and comfort need to be emphasized and the shoe section comes out swinging. 


Brooks running shoes a plenty
  I recently visited the local post exchange and saw a various of running shoe brands that would give your average running store a run for its money, no pun intended.  Besides the usual suspects of Nike, Reebok, and Adidas, I came across Brooks, Mizuno, Saucony, New Balance, Under Armour, Hoka, and Asics.  While I have yet to try running in Under Armour shoes, I know several cross fitters who swear by them for their short distance running.  In addition to road running, I also noticed that AAFES carries trail and hiking shoes by Merrell. I’ve worn their gear before and love the traction.

Salomon. Not a brand I was expecting in AAFES

  The one brand that I did not see, and I absolutely love is the On running shoe company.  But to be fair, I’ve only seen three stores in my city carry them and one of them isn’t known for selling running shoes.


 Shoe prices ranged from 40 dollars (USD) to over 120 dollars, with most shoes hovering around the 80 dollar price mark.  Because shoe companies seem to offset their yearly models from other companies’ schedules, you can find some shoe brands models on sale or even clearance.  While most AAFES employees don’t have advanced knowledge on the various shoe brands, they are able to help determine if you need a neutral, stability, or motion control shoe and there are even a few minimalist shoes as options.  I recommend that if you don’t know what type of shoe you already need, you should bring along a friend or someone from your unit or group who knows quite a bit about running shoes to help you.


  And the best part of getting running shoes is that you do not get charged tax, which can save you even more.
 
Merrell. For those who like to go off the road

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Building a Linkedin Profile for When You Leave the Service




  Linkedin has been around for several years, and a few of my former colleagues have likened it to “Facebook for Professionals.”  But it is much more than just another social network; it is a tool to help you find gainful employment, build a network, and at the very least aid in recommending subordinates, co-workers, and teammates in their future job hunts.

  Years ago, I created a Linkedin profile solely for the purpose of endorsing my Soldiers who had completed their time in the Army. My profile was very bare bones, but I had a skeleton of job titles and dates of employments.  As I thought more about retirement, I fleshed out my profile and added more meat and substance to my profile.

  In my year of casually looking for employment, I noticed that my Linkedin profile was key to applying for several jobs in the private and public sector, so I want to share what I have learned or told other military people about Linkedin profiles.

  If you don’t have one already, the first thing you should do is create a profile. Besides the reasons previously mentioned, a Linkedin profile helps you remember previous job assignments and duty responsibilities… as long as you remember to add them. I have used my Linkedin profile as my reference tool on several occasions when I tweaked personalized job resumes by seeing which duties and responsibilities fit and matched the specific job requirements.

  The next thing you should truly consider the privacy and public viewing settings for your profile.  I know several people in the service who set their Linkedin profiles to private. I understand the need to keep lives private, but when it comes to recruiters and job seekers, your resume and parts of your life should be available. I’ve known people who worked at some pretty obscure jobs who made it almost impossible to find on Linkedin, which makes it that much harder to connect and build networks and endorsements.  On the other hand though, if you don’t want your picture out there for Google and other search engines to show anyone searching your name, you can set your profile up to not show it to unregistered users. I do.

  I cannot stress the importance that you have to have a good portion available for recruiters and head hunters to find you.  Your privacy settings also help Linkedin find potential jobs that line up with your job skills or interests.

  Speaking of pictures, you should make sure your Linkedin picture is somewhat professional looking. Or at least, avoid all efforts to put in your favorite picture of something blowing up in the background and you looking surprised. A good photo should have your head and shoulders.  If you are Active Duty, having your profile picture depict you in uniform is not a big deal, but once you get out of the service, change it. You don’t need to wear a tuxedo or a suit and tie, but you wearing your favorite band t-shirt is not going to help your prospects of landing that supervisor job with the county or state.

  When you think you have your Linkedin profile built, Linkedin may suggest a “summary” as a part of your profile’s introduction. I recommend building it yourself. I recently started a new job in the library. Linkedin thought my summary should read as


“Veteran Library assistant with 25 years of experience in supervision, management, and team building.”  While those words are true, individually or in phrases, they depict that I’ve been working in a library for decades rather than a month. So, be careful when letting Linkedin or any website autofill or complete your information.

Linkedin is a great tool, and it will help you find jobs in cities you’re looking in.  And from what I’ve seen in my previous job searches, Linkedin does not questionable job offerings that I’ve seen on other websites such as Indeed.com and glassdoor.com (though they are still ranked among the best in finding job opportunities).  At the very least, use Linkedin to keep an account of your military accomplishments (take bullets and key parts from your NCOER or OER), and build out your professional profile so that when you are no longer wearing the uniform you will have a good start on that resume. And use Linkedin to take care of your subordinates and teammates by endorsing their relevant and corresponding skills.