Friday, November 18, 2016

New Balance

A few days ago, I found myself in an uncomfortable dilemma. I was finally beginning to feel like  immersing myself in my family, job, and training would help me alleviate my frustration over the current political turmoil, when a customer asked me if they should burn their beloved (perfectly fitting) New Balance shoes because the Vice President of Communications supports Donald Trump. Uh oh. Could that be true?  I’ve been a New Balance fan for years. I love that they maintain some manufacturing jobs in the US, and I just fell in love with a New Balance shoe myself (Fresh Foam Vongo) which has made running without ankle pain possible.  

Rather than posting a rant on Facebook with a photo of myself throwing away all of my New Balance shoes, I thought that I should take a few minutes to evaluate the facts first.  Running shoes have been the root of my job for the past 5 years, and New Balance is one of the companies that I have dealt with the most.  As a buyer, I’ve formed working relationships with their sales representatives and have spent time learning from some of the higher ups in the company.  As a sales person, I’ve worked side by side with their technical reps, and in my experience New Balance has exhibited a very positive and respectful culture in the running community.  However, I realize that my own positive experiences with New Balance cannot speak for the experiences of everyone else. So, I started researching.  

First: what did Matt LeBretton actually say, and in what context?  
It looks like his exact words were, “we feel that things are going to move in the right direction” under Donald Trump (ugh I don’t even like typing his name….he shall hereafter be referred to on this blog as Drumpf).  The quote was published in the Wall Street Journal.  Yikes, this looks bad, what was Mr. LeBretton talking about?  Turns out he was specifically talking about trade policy.  The TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) in particular. Mr. LeBretton was not talking about culture or policy outside of a trade context, and both Hillary and Bernie were against the TPP...and.. .and… and… Am I making excuses?  What about the vile blogger who called New Balance the “official shoe of white people?”

This is where I think things went off the rails.  I will not further hate speech.  So while I put quotation marks around the comment at the end of the last paragraph, I won’t give ‘credit’ to its source or elaborate on any more of its message.  New Balance would obviously not propose it, and had no control over being endorsed by a hateful person or group.  Did they?  Well, if the VP of communications hadn’t mentioned Drumpf in a positive way (even “just regarding trade policies”) none of this would have happened.  By providing a favorable viewpoint towards Drumpf’s proposed policy regarding the issue of American manufacturing, they are promoting terrible rhetoric, as well as racist, misogynistic, anti-semitic views, and a culture of hatred and prejudice.....Right?  

Maybe.  But Information taken out of context was used so much in the election campaigns to spread inaccurate and misleading crap that I need to go a little deeper before I boycott one of my favorite companies.

New Balance has five factories in the United states.  Like Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, it was not in favor of the TPP because it makes it even harder to compete in their market as the only manufacturer of American-made shoes. Their shoes are not all made in America, in fact very few actually are, but they do employ hundreds of people here in the states for those that are.  New Balance also has factories all over the world: “All New Balance apparel is made in contract facilities, primarily in the Americas and Asia, with some production in Europe and the Middle East.”~New Balance Responsible Leadership Report .  The more I looked into this the more I felt like I was falling down a rabbit hole.  Not because I discovered anything bad about New Balance (other than LeBretton’s comment), in fact they genuinely seem to exhibit fair, environmentally responsible, philanthropic, community building business and manufacturing practices--both here and overseas.  Putting the people who work for New Balance out of work because of one comment seems like it will do the opposite of promoting a tolerant and unified community.  It seems like one of the reasons that Drumpf was elected was because people whose quality of life was negatively affected by the loss of manufacturing jobs felt ignored and marginalized (and because we have a serious and deep problem with racism in this country). My confusion and sadness is from all the uniformed, hateful and destructive comments that were made by supposedly tolerant, educated, people online.  

This is what I know:  I love doing my job.  My job is to find the best possible fit for people looking for running, walking and athletic shoes.  New Balance makes it easier to help people who fall outside the average shape, width, and size of feet.  I don’t think their statement on Twitter was enough, but I’m willing to give them a chance to continue to try to make it right.  I may be naive, but I believe in the company, its 110 year history and track record, and their intention to avoid promoting anything that would further encourage hate and prejudice.  This doesn’t mean I think we should let the comment slide.  I think New Balance needs to focus its philanthropic efforts and  community building dollars very specifically on projects and organizations that promote unity, diversity and acceptance in the near future and beyond.  You can let them know what you think they should do by emailing  

Thursday, November 10, 2016

It's the End of the World as We Know it and a little bit of Chicken Fried

I've had some requests to share some cycling workouts and I thought I'd do it here. I'm calling these "sample workouts" instead of classes because the laws for licencing music for Group Exercise Instructors are complicated and restrictive so consider these my personal indoor biking workouts. Since I'm usually at the YMCA when I indoor cycle, I try to be respectful of language and content so I often use covers (these are also usually more in line with what's allowed legal-use-wise).

I couldn't resist a few political commentaries in song form though I wanted to keep things light and positive for the most part. Like many Americans I'm sad and confused by the outcome of this election. I really love my life here, and am grateful for this country, I think this country has been great all along (not perfect but great) and I am not convinced that the changes on the way are for the better. I don't want to be told "it will be ok" as I've seen enough of the effects of the hate mongering this election has wrought to know that that is just not true for many people. Here's to working out our frustrations in a productive way:

Cycling November 2016 "It's the End of the World as we Know it and a little bit of chicken Fried
Nobody But Me
Michael Buble
Warm Up Surges
My Way
Calvin Harris
Warm Up Climb
Still Falling For You
Ellie Goulding
It’s the End of the World As We know It
Long sprints 1:30 min on 0:30 off
Send Them Off
Long climb
American Idiot
5 seconds of Summer
Move Your Body
Andy Grammer
Seated accelerations (push 5-10 rpms harder at "pushing all my life" part)
Waste All My Love
Coleman Hell
Hard Tempo
Highway to Hell
Sprints or  Seated accelerations
One Republic
I Wanna Be Sedated
The Ramones
The Presidents Of the United states...
Hard Tempo
Grandpa’s Groove
Parov Stelar
Grow Up
Olly Muirs
Cool down
All we know
Chain Smokers
Cool Down 
18. Chicken Fried by Zac Brown leave on an upbeat note because I still love this country.
Thanks for checking this out.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

2016 Triathlon Season Recap

As winter approaches I have been looking to next year's race season and itching to sign up for some things.  Before I do that I want to look back at this past season and see how I could make 2017 even better.  I didn't race a lot but here's a recap.

I started this year with Troika Long Course Tri.  I felt under trained but my diet had been really dialed in.  My little sister's wedding was the next weekend and I had been following a whole thirty style eating plan with no sugar, lots of fruits and veggies, clean protein, and no grains.  I didn't lose any weight but I felt amazing.  For race and training nutrition I had switched to using Generation UCAN.  I don't eat dairy so I added vegan protein powder to the superstarch and UCAN Hydrate for electrolytes.  It worked like a dream for the half iron-distance.  I  rode Watson in our last race together and passed a bunch of fast swimmers.  The run was where I knew I would feel my lack of preparedness and sure enough it was painfully and much slower than I wanted to run.

I also got stopped by a train at mile 7 but the Eric with Nomadz adjusted for it as it didn't affect my age group placing (2nd).  It did however mean I beat David's time and I got to win our good natured rivalry.

Troika was my first ever long course triathlon several years ago.  This was my first time doing it since the course was changed and I really liked it.

Becky'd wedding was beautiful the next week but it did mean I stopped my great new  eating habits.  I'm still trying to get back to it.

I also found it a bit harder than I expected to keep my training mojo going.  I found that taking a break to hike or kayak instead of always swimming, biking, or running helped a lot with that.

Getting a new bike also inspired me to ride a lot more.  It is soooo awesome.  Thank you Wade and Julie and Fleet Feet Spokane!  My first race on it was Ironman Calgary 70.3 and you can read all about that in
my previous post if you'd like.

My next race was Plutonium Man, an olympic distance in Richland Washington.  This is what I wrote on Facebook:
First the price: $42.00 for an Olympic. That is pretty hard to beat. No medals and you can choose to buy your shirt separately but they did have post race food and drinks. Plus 42 is the answer to life, the universe, and everything in it. And my age.
The race now has a single transition which is always nice logistically. It's at the WSU tri cities campus so there is adequate parking and a really nice 3 mile run trail right there.
The swim was long (I swam almost 2400 yds) but it was with the current so I swam my fastest pace ever (1:18/1800 yds, a PR that may never be broken). The water was clear and the start was deep water which is kind of cool.
T1 was Boise-esque (long run up from the water) but without wet suit strippers. The weather wasn't Boise-esque, it was perfect if a little windy with some gusts. I got there early so I had a great spot right next to the only other Argon 18 in the race. He mentioned he was hoping for fastest bike split male and I was secretly hoping to do the same thing on the women's side.
The new bike course is fantastic. Wide shoulders, fairly good pavement, zero (yes zero) traffic, and just enough hills to be interesting. I moved into 1st place a little over half way into the bike, knowing with my lack of run training lately that it would be really tough to hold onto that spot but I would give what I could to keep it.
I managed to get my feet out of my shoes before T2 so that was smooth and quick.
The run isn't as pretty add the old one and is two loops (which I love but others aren't so fond of). They're were for aid stations on the loop though so that meant 8 total in the 10k. Combined with relatively decent temperatures this meant I could push my run fitness (or lack) to its maximum. I expected to be passed by another female at any second. I kept playing over in my head what I would tell Wade (coach)..."I held the lead through the first quarter mile..." then I was finishing my first loop...."I held the lead for the first half of the run"...there were some open stretches but the second part of each loop was slightly down hill for a long section. "I held the lead until the last mile..." with half a mile to go I peeked behind me as I rounded a corner and saw no women in view. It started to sink in that I might win this race. So with legs and lungs burning I started to tell myself "it's just one fast 400 like in Swifts practice." "I can hold this!"
One thing with a looped course and teams is people don't really know who is where on the course so no fan fare as I crossed the line. I thought I might have missed another female athlete ahead of me so I asked my favorite timing guy Eric Ewing of Nomadz if he could tell and sure enough I won! I also realized Ken (among a few others) had done an extra loop. 2400 swim and a 9 mile run, he almost did a half iron today :). On 2 hours sleep.
It turns out my rack neighbor and fellow Argon 18 rider had won overall. (Missed the fastest bike by 1 second). I did have the fastest female bike split and won $20 at their local bike shop.
So Titanium Man's relaxed atmosphere now has some great new digs. I recommend it highly. It's also a USAT sanctioned race.
I did Sunday Sundae a week later and while I love that race I only made it to mile 8 before my IT band once again spoke up.  Grrr.  I was not happy about it but I let it go and signed up for Valley Fest Duathlon.  

This tiny race is in its fourth year but only the first as a Duathlon.  I was the overall female winner and 2nd overall including the men.  My fellow Fleet Feet Racer and Ironman training partner from 2013 Jeremy Anglin was the overall winner.  

I really liked the race and it was my first duathlon so I hope it gains momentum as a race and is around for a while.  Did I mention it has a cheap entry fee?

The other highlight of my season was a race I watched rather than participated in.  I got to go to Kona and watch the Ironman World Championships!  It was amazing! I volunteered, cheered until I was hoarse, and got to rub elbows with my heros.  It was the experience of a lifetime.