Monthly Archives: July 2008

Atayne Tackles the Mojave Desert – Installment #3

And finally the conclusion of Mike’s adventure through the desert. I know many of you are wondering if he survives. Well, I hope so because he is going to be supporting my ass for the next year.

Continuing from where we left off last time, from the mouth of Mike…

Mike on the Run

Mike on the Run

And the Running with the Devil Half Marathon begins. The first 3.1 miles were enjoyable – believe it or not. I approached the first aid station feeling confident. I refilled my water bottle, grabbed a salty snack, and I was off. Over the next mile or so, my confidence began to wane. The next aid station was 2.7 miles away and I hoped my water would last that long. I made it to the station, refilled my bottle, grabbed a salty snack, soaked my bandanna and hat in water, and ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I was then off once again, until I realized I had left my sunglasses at the aid station. Nothing could have been more frustrating than having to backtrack, especially on that course and in those conditions.

As I reached the turnaround point, I was really beginning to hurt. I pushed ahead for about another mile where I hit the aid station at mile 7.3. As I pulled out of that station, I faced a rather large uphill slog over the next few miles. I endured through the hill by mixing running with some fast walking/hiking. I finally got to the last aid station fully aware and confident that I would finish – even if I had to walk it out. I grabbed a banana, maybe another PB&J (I’m a little foggy here), refilled my bottle, and dunked my hat and bandanna in ice water. Only 3.1miles to go!

The final 3.1 were uneventful but incredibly tough. At mile 12, I got an unusual chill that told me to ‘take it easy’. I picked small goals like street signs and small bushes to reach. The soles of my feet were burning and sunblock was starting to irritate my eyes. The dry heat was doing a number on my lungs. I never thought I would have to pray for 110-degree winds – but then again I never thought I’d be in this situation. Never limit where running can take you goes through my mind again…

And He Survives

And He Survives

I finally crested the last remaining hill and made a feeble attempt at a ‘run’ for the finish. A group of gracious volunteers and faster runners greeted me with applause as I crossed the finish line. Oh, and a car nearly hit me as I approached the finish, but thanks to a loud yell from the race director, it missed me! DNF (did not finish) due to hit by car at mile 13.05 would not be cool…

This long story brings us to this, the post race “laboratory” results:

  • Wicking Ability – EXCELLENT
  • UV Protection – EXCELLENT (I’m Irish and I escaped unscathed from the blistering sun and 110+ degree heat)
  • Breathability – EXCELLENT
  • Odor Resistance – EXCELLENT (Especially considering 13.1 miles in the desert)
  • Weight – FELT VERY LIGHTWEIGHT, DID NOT RETAIN MOISTURE
  • Drying Time – IT SELF DRIED VERY QUICKLY FOLLOWING THE RUN
  • Fit – EXCELLENT, LIKE A GLOVE
  • Seams – NO CHAFFING, GREAT STITCHING

In closing (after this rather lengthy story), I would like to leave a few thoughts about this adventure. While I was running, I thought about everything that was against me that day – heat and hills I’m not used to, the course, limited crowd support, poor training leading into the race, and thoughts of my friends sitting poolside at the Hard Rock. Then I thought about what I had going for me – passion, attitude, heart, and wonderful support from family and friends.

This brings me to Atayne and the analogous nature of the two. Atayne will not fail even considering that we are up against monster corporations with a stronghold on the industry, tons of money, huge sponsorship and marketing budgets, mass distribution, and unlimited R&D budgets. Atayne will SUCCEED because Jeremy and I have the passion, heart, attitude, and emotional support necessary to make it a success. Jeremy is constantly saying, “If we do the right things, in the right way, people will support our company.” In my mind, that’s tough to argue. Running has taken me to the Mojave Desert and it will now take me to my dream of building a socially responsible business with my best friend that makes our families, friends, and extended running family proud. Bart’s nugget of advice rings loud and clear.

Advertisements

Atayne Tackles the Mojave Desert – Installment #2

Continuing from where we left off last time, from the mouth of my friend Mike:

Fast-forward a few weeks to Friday, June 27th. I arrived in Vegas, picked up my Atayne shirt that Jeremy had so kindly expedited to the Mandalay Bay, grabbed a bite to eat, lost some money playing craps (I have no idea what I’m doing), and then fought off peer pressure from my two friends to enjoy Sin City that night.

Later that evening, I found myself sitting in my hotel room bored and decided to fully investigate what I was getting myself into the following day (yeah, I know I should have done that weeks before). Here’s what I found out.

It’s only 35-40 minutes outside of Vegas, easy enough. Temperatures expected to be 110+ degrees Fahrenheit. Crap; I’ll need to buy sunblock, a bandanna, and chapstick. The race requires runners to carry 20oz of water at all times; at least I planned properly for one thing.

I then read through a few 2007 race reports, again something I should have done a few weeks ago. Here is a nice little sample from Laura Yasso (yes, Bart’s wife):
“The run, as expected, was beyond brutal”
“116 degrees with incredibly intense winds throughout the afternoon”
“I’ve rarely seen so much carnage on a race course”
“When three veterans of Badwater call it tough, you got to believe it”
“The hills were relentless as were the afternoon winds”
“Go to your kitchen. Preheat your oven to BROIL. Return 15 minutes later. Open the oven door. THAT’S what it felt like for hours and hours”

As I read through the reports I thought, what the hell did I get myself into this time?!? It was 11pm and I was scared – seriously scared. All that was going through my mind was – how can I get out of this one? I finally fall asleep hoping the next morning I would be mentally tougher. Yeah, not the case.

I woke and I was out the door at 8am to find a store to get all the stuff I had neglected to bring. I arrived at Lake Mead, parked, and called Jeremy. No answer. I decided to send a text. “Dude. Scared. Not sure if I can do it. 50/50. I might die.” I was secretly hoping he would let me off easy so I could safely return to Vegas and join my friends at the Hard Rock pool. I began to fantasize about cool waters, bikinis, great music, and tall slushy beverages.

Jeremy finally returned my phone call, and here was his response to my exit request. “If you really don’t want to do it, don’t. I won’t make fun of you, that much. If you’re not ready, go back to Vegas, BUT, it would be really cool to field test the top in these conditions and report on it. Just go out there, listen to your body, and take it easy. If you have to quit, just quit. Of course, I would never quit – remember the Chicago Marathon in 2007 – I finished, despite limited water and ridiculous heat and humidity. I won’t make fun of you too bad if you do not finish. Just remember, a couple of weeks ago you did a one-day 25 mile hike in humid, mid-90 degree Pennsylvania weather – how much tougher can this be?”

Knowing me for nearly a decade now, Jeremy knew he could get me to do it by threatening my ego (darn thing is always getting me into trouble). I rolled up to the registration area and signed the “I will not sue you should I die” waiver (always frightening). At that point there was no turning back: in two hours I would meet the Devil…

In the time preceding the race, I mingled with some of the other runners, drank a ton of fluids, and then did the weigh in. They take your weight so they can pull you off the course if at any point you lose too much during the run (ok, that was concerning as well).

For attire, I decided to pair my Atayne shirt with a pair of yellow shorts with red chili peppers on them. I figured I’d mock the devil and this damn heat…

Atayne Tackles the Mojave Desert – Installment #1

This post turned out a bit long, so I broke it up in three installments for your reading pleasure. I hope you enjoy and stay with the story.

A few months ago, I was making some retail visits to scout competitive products to the Atayne line. I remember looking at the hang tag on a particular shirt and reading how testing at the Human Performance Laboratory proved that the shirt I was holding performed better at moisture management than a cotton t-shirt. Oh really? Hasn’t every sports apparel company been telling us that for the past several years?

But at the time, I did walk away thinking I would need to conduct this type of testing for Atayne products. It would be very important to the success of the company to scientifically show that the Atayne line, designed and produced in a sustainable manner, performs just as well as the current, environmentally harmful offerings.

As time has passed, my feelings about doing this type of laboratory testing have lessened. The change in my mindset has nothing to do with my insistence on proving the high performance of Atayne products, but rather my thought on how you actually measure performance.

A question for all the active souls out there: when is the last time you had a race or trained in a laboratory? I am guessing 99.9% of you are saying never (I am leaving that 0.1% in case someone from the study referenced above is reading this entry). The reality is we do not perform in a lab. We perform outdoors – where weather, terrain, and other unexpected surprises impact our performance. I guess if you train on a treadmill or stationary bike you might approximate the perfect conditions of a lab, but if you are anything like me, you avoid any form of hamster wheel training like the plague.

I decided that to truly test the performance of our products, it needs to be done in the harshest conditions that one might find in nature. And this brings us to the first true test of Atayne products and the latest adventure of my good friend and soon to be business partner Mike. On June 28, 2008, Mike took off (donned in an Atayne top) for a 13.1-mile journey through the Mojave Desert in the blistering sun and 110+ degree temperatures. How did Atayne perform? I will let Mike tell you himself. I hope you enjoy the story, because I sure did.

—————

“Never Limit Where Running Can Take You.”
– Bart Yasso

I had the pleasure of meeting Bart Yasso a few weeks back while buying a new pair of running shoes at Fleet Feet Sports in Chicago. For those of you who don’t know of Bart, he’s considered by many to be the Mayor of Running. He has been a long time staple in the community and has recently released his first book My Life on the Run, which reflects on his life, adventures, and philosophies. Already eager to read his book, it was an unexpected surprise to run into him that day. He signed my book and inscribed the above quote on the inside cover. How appropriate that a couple weeks later running would take me to the Mojave Desert to participate in the Running with the Devil Half Marathon – thanks Bart!

You might be wondering how I got myself into this little adventure. I was sitting at home thinking about my upcoming business trip to San Diego and plans to spend the prior weekend in Vegas with a few work friends. All of a sudden, an email pops up from Jeremy with a “great idea.”

In exact words from the email, Jeremy wrote:

Hey Mike, check out this race on June 28th near Vegas – you’re going to be out there that weekend, right? I think this would be a really great test for Atayne and great experience for you. Why don’t you run it? Check out the description below – it’s supposed to be a “spectacularly scenic course” and I’ve heard a lot of fun.

“Most race organizers go to great lengths to ensure their races are held in ideal running conditions; 40 degrees, light breeze, overcast. Many aim to make their courses flat and fast, or even downhill to facilitate runners to smash their PR. Not this one! Held in summer in the middle of the day thru the dry Mojave Desert, athletes will be challenged to contend with extreme heat and unrelenting rolling hills as they traverse this spectacularly scenic course.”

What do you think?

Interesting how he pointed out the scenery. All I remembered after reading the description was MOJAVE DESERT, MIDDLE OF THE DAY, EXTREME HEAT, and UNRELENTING ROLLING HILLS. Oh, and nowhere did I see FUN EXPERIENCE. That said, Jeremy knows I love a challenge and oftentimes commit to things without fully thinking them through – so of course I welcomed the opportunity to challenge myself and field-test Atayne in the most extreme of circumstances. Real smart Mike…