Monday, September 17, 2012

Keeping up with my Mom, almost

The genes are similar, but my facial drag makes this match-up unfair.
Surgery +23 weeks. My mother came to visit me for her birthday this weekend. She pretended that a visit to my house would be relaxing and a nice break from the daily hustle of work. She said she missed me and had not visited for awhile. I know better. She came to run me into the ground. She came for payback. I talked her into the Camp Croft trail 1/2 marathon for our annual race in 2011. She trained on sidewalks in South Carolina and I trained in Umstead on Company Mill trail. She had never run single track and I let her run it in street trainers. We scouted the course the day previous to the race and found a lovely park trail 3 feet wide and paved with bunny fur. I assured her it would be fine. I helped her calculate her pace. We were conservative and targeted for a time 10 minutes faster than her most recent street 1/2 marathon PR.

Just fun.
The Camp Croft 1/2 start ran right past the bunny fur lined trail and dumped us on a bridle trail last maintenanced before I made the switch to solid foods. As soon as I decided she would be ok on it, we switched to non-stop singletrack cut into a mountain, imported specially for the race. My mother's training had peaked at a 14 mile long run 3 weeks prior on a sidewalk tracing HWY 81. Near mile 1, and with large unblinking honest eyes, I told the sweet woman who gave birth to me that she would be fine. That race almost broke her. At the finish, she looked a little like Rocky after 15 rounds with Apollo in the first film. She finished on will power and had nothing left in the tank. She had IT Band issues for months after the race. And just like in a Rocky film, she rebuilt herself stronger and hungry for another bout. She was pretty much back to her normal millage and race schedule when I had my tendon repair.

Just yuck.

As I lay on my back following surgery, my mother montaged. I elevated my foot to combat swelling, she jumped rope. I dragged my booted foot to the kitchen, she moved to Siberia and ran through 2 foot thick snow. Short one arm for balance, I learned to shower with one hand, she did one handed push-ups. I heard she raced on a beach in sweat pants. I know she chased a chicken. I am pretty sure she was drinking raw eggs from a jelly jar. 

She waited until I got my long run back up to 6.5 miles and, then unable to hold back vengeance any longer, she pounced. Under the clever guise of a birthday, my dear mother who dried my tears as a child, arrived ready for her 11 miler in Umstead. We parked at the new equestrian lot and were able to run a piece of almost every bridle path. I wore an Umstead marathon shirt to intimidate her. I made it 8 miles before throwing in the towel. We finished back at the lot and she ran the 1 mile one-way loop 3 times to finish her long run. My mom, who helped me with homework for years, literally ran 3 victory laps as I walked a cool down in the opposite direction. I have 5 weeks until we run the Spinx half marathon in Greenville, SC together. I have decided to beat her. I am going to cheat. I am thinking about using feral Whippets for shoes? Perhaps an ACME jet-pack? If she is the Rocky character, I guess that makes me Apollo. How did he make out long term anyway?

They are trying to resuscitate me directly behind the fire engine.  

It was great finally getting up to 8 miles. It was fantastic to have great company. I love running with my mother. While training, we have talked about the most significant aspects of life and sometimes the most inane. Sometimes at the same time. We live pretty far apart. I realize how lucky we are for these few opportunities and try to enjoy them to the fullest. This run was 65 degrees and nearly perfect. As an insulin dependent diabetic at this distance, I have to pack a lot of gear. And bonus, my mother is a T1 diabetic too. As veterans of handi-capable running we can carry enough insulin, testing supplies, and fast acting carbohydrates to equip a small country hospital in a belt the size of a tube sock. It can get a bit noisy as you rattle down hills, but somehow we still saw 2 deer on maintenance road. We fjorded the water at Cedar Creek. And then read the warning on the other side advising us of the 90,000 gallons of spilled sewage upstream. We shared the coldest low carb beer I can remember after her victory laps. A pretty perfect day, at my favorite place to run, with my mom, the woman who ran me into the ground.

My mom stopped to pose as she lapped me.

We had so much fun, we came back the next day to hike Sycamore trail in the rain. Happy birthday Mom!


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Yowza Sanibel elliptical review

Fonzy bear proudly presents: Yowza Yowza Yowza!
I find it a wee bit ironic that my first running equipment review is for an elliptical, but I have compelling reasons. Primarily, to date, I am incapable of spelling elliptical. After retyping every red underlined misspelling for the next hour, I expect to place in my age group at this year's Scripps National Spelling Bee; obscure workout equipment bracket. Secondarily, I read a lot of reviews in my search for the perfect elliptical by elliptical salesmen, elliptical saleswomen, elliptical mechanics, and elliptical aficionados. I found very few critiques from a runner's perspective and none from an injured runner, rehabbing an injury and bravely fighting crippling handsomeness. I have decided to fill this small void in an attempt to perfect the internet and to pad my resume as an unpaid, less than celebrity endorser. The site I found most helpful appears to be pretty neutral as long as you agree ellipticals are awesome.

My Yowza Sanibel elliptical arrived the first week of May, 2012, allowing me to test it for just over 4 months. Yowza was launched with a factory direct business model by a former Smooth fitness hireling. The promotional hype says this allows you to get more value as you don't pay for advertising and middlemen. The advertising part is definitely true.  I found this manufacturer only after delving deep into internet reviews. I never found their products in the stores I included in my search. I quickly discovered that whomever you buy from, your guaranteed to save at least 50% because this industry routinely lists all of their product msrps at double the selling price. I never found an elliptical selling at full price. I think the elliptical sales model may have been directly adopted from an Iranian bizarre. Try demanding the infidel price. The Sanibel model I purchased lists as $3999.00, but is always on sale for $1799.00. I monitored the site for over a month and found the price to occasionally drop to $1499.00. With my purchase, I negotiated with the factory direct salesman. He offered me a mat for the unit and either free financing or a $100 discount. I asked to think it over and called back 5 days later. We agreed upon $1399.00, free mat, 6 months interest free financing and a Polar heart rate monitor that wirelessly links to the unit.

Yowza Sanibel, a medical device for injured runners.

This was a very large outlay for me financially. After reviewing the math, I have to elliptical 5596 miles to get the same value I get from my running shoes. Breaks down to about 58.3 days of use ellipticaling 24 hours per day. Of course, I will have to elliptical barefoot so as not to wear out shoes and increase the per mile ellipticaling price. That is a bit too sweaty and kind of gross, as the their are no drains on the foot pedals, so I will have to wear socks, but I am not including the costs of said socks, because I am bored enough to blog, but not bored enough to continue to do 8th grade math story problems for you. If you are that bored I usually elliptical in injinji toe socks currently priced at $14.00. I expect to use 1.36 pairs over the indicated 58.3 day time frame. 

Not as fun as running Turkey Creek, but better AC.
I wanted an elliptical to help me rehab. After my peroneal brevis repair surgery, I was allowed to elliptical after only 6 weeks. I was not supposed to run any distance for 3 months. I can replicate a runner's heart rate on an elliptical easier than on a bike. And it just feels like a closer representation to a running motion  than when I am hunched over handle bars. The gained 6 weeks were not enough to justify the purchase, but I had also made a solemn vow not to tear any more tendons when I resumed my running schedule. My over trained weak tendons were accessories in the ankle roll that severed my brevis. To this end, I lowered my 5 days per week running schedule to 3 days. I plan on using the elliptical's low impact characteristics to fill the subtracted 2 days. For me it also isolates the quads and the glutes, muscles opposite of the calves and hamstrings that long distance running tends to over develop. Keeps things pretty balanced.
I picked the Sanibel for a couple of features I could not find at this price point in other models.

It is roller-less. I don't want to grease rails or replace rollers. I want to treat this like my running gear by throwing it in a sweaty pile next to the washing machine and then expecting performance after a quick cleaning.

It has electromagnetic breaking. Less moving parts and quieter. I don't want to strain trying to listen to Sonny's diatribe on General Hospital.
It uses a Counter Rotational Core Motion. Instead of 2 arms, it has 2 T-bars that are in opposite cadence to your legs. If you choose to use it your core is assaulted. This motion is patented and specific to the Yowza manufacturer. It could be a draw back if you rely on the typical arms of an elliptical. I usually use the stationary bars with a 1 finger grip, so as to look cool and slightly disinterested when in the gym, like a Frenchman smoking outside the Cannes film festival. I have incorporated the T bars and have almost eliminated sit-ups throughout the week. It works very well.
It has rear drive. To me this feels closer to a running motion than a front drive unit.

Max weight is 400 lbs. I doubt this, more like 300. It feels very stable with my 160 on it.

Features that commonly cross over into other units at this price point include:

ipod doc. I am surprised how much I use this feature.

fan with direction blade. I am not surprised how much I use this. Nice feature.

Polar heart strap wirelessly indicated on display with calorie count. I am a data freak and happy to have another set of numbers to look at when General Hospital has a commercial on.
Water bottle holder to hold my remote control.
16 resistance levels. A lot like Spinal Tap's speakers that peak at 11, it comes down to easy enough, medium enough, hard enough. I typically ride it at 9 and am in risk of heart attack at 13, so it has 3 more levels than it needs to kill me. 

21 inch stride. Even at 5'8" I think a runnercentric customer must have a 21 inch stride. Anything under 20 is shuffling, but does allow for you to elliptical in a bathrobe. 

Digital console. Probably the weakest feature. The display is adequate. It resembles Spock's science console or maybe an expensive Japanese toilet controller. Its space-agy in a 1985 kind of way. I do scan calories, speed, heart rate occasionally, but usually I am watching netflix on my ipod. The layout works, but the blue lights are a bit much.

The always natural stance of an elliptical.
Assembly was reasonable. It took me 55 minutes and only 3 colorful metaphors. Full disclosure, I am a machine technician by trade. Make sure the bolts on the front arms are tight, but not overly tightened. At 236 pounds, your wife must be home to help you get it up the stairs to your office/workout room. The weight does make it feel nice and sturdy and its svelte when compared to my commercial treadmill that weighs in at 383. Components are steal and powder coated. Its footprint is reasonable and I think it would fit in a standard room with a queen sized bed. It has handles and two front wheels making it easy to move around. It is the sexy color of a hospital bed which allows it to fade into the background and not outshine the Norfolk Pine in the corner. I had an issue with an overly tight bolt and contacted customer service. It took almost 3 days for me to get an email response. The phone technician was efficient, which is to say he was helpful without mentioning the weather. They offered to send another bolt and receiver if the instructions they emailed did not fix the issue. (the instructions worked)

I like to open the windows and elliptical nude. Keeps the gangsta rap down outside as nobody will voluntarily park in front of my house. If over 18 click link for uncensored version.

I am pretty sure I got one of the best deals available to the private consumer with this elliptical (which I still can not spell without a red underline). I also considered the Sole E55, Smooth CE 8.0LC, and the Precor refurbished commercial units. Anyone who appreciates the stability of running while intoxicated after a head injury will value an elliptical. If you are honestly considering dropping near 1500 greenbacks for a low impact hamster wheel, this one will not disappoint you. On a personal note, I now use it routinely to bring down any unexpected blood sugar spikes after dinner. Even on a long run day, the 20 minutes required to bring down a spike is not too hard on already spent legs. I find that on any elliptical my feet routinely go to sleep after an hour. I have avoided this by limiting my exposure to 59 minutes at a time. Go buy one, or go buy 14 pairs of Merrell Trail Gloves, or 1400 McDouble cheeseburgers.