Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Kiefer Team Backpack Review

Kiefer Team Backpack Review

The friendly people at Kiefer contacted me about reviewing some of their products. 

According to their website, Kiefer was founded in 1947.   Kiefer focuses on teaching and providing products to swimmers at all skill levels.  For 65 years they have been dedicated to providing great products to their customers. 

Let me start this review off with the legalese.  I do not work for or am sponsored by Kiefer.  They contacted me to do an honest review of one of their products.  And an honest review of the product I will provide.

Kiefer Team Backpack (Front)

The product they asked me to review was the Kiefer Team Backpack   This swim bag was designed to store all your swim gear.  It is the type of bag that you would see at a high school swim competition.  But don’t let that description fool you.  This is a great bag and for the sale price of $29.95 IT’S A STEAL!!

Kiefer Team Backpack (Back)
This bag is very well designed.  The dimensions of the bag are 19” tall 13” wide and 10” tall.  It is very lightweight.   It is made out a water resistant material.  The material, zippers and stitching are very good quality.  The bag comes in two colors, navy blue and black. The bag is also self standing (which is very convenient).

There are well thought out and placed zippers, pockets and organizers everywhere on this bag.  There is an approximately 6”x4” pocket in the upper left that is designed to hold a phone or mp3 player.  This pocket also has an ear phone port. 

Side of bag
Both sides of the bag have a 7”x9” zippered pocket that opens up very wide.  Each of these large and deep pockets have an external mesh pocket attached to them that is held closed by an elastic strap. 

The bottom of the bag has an 8”x12” zippered wet pocket item area to store your wet swim suit.

A long zipper on the top of the bag completely opens up the top of the bag to expose the inside of the bag.  This is a great feature because it allows you to see and find everything in the bag.   My one complain about this zipper is that sometime if you open it up all the way it can be a little difficult to get the zipper restarted  (but this is a minor issue and I am being nitpicky).

Inside of the bag

The interior of the bag also are also loaded with pockets, compartments and mesh areas.  The sides of the bag have two VERY large and deep mesh compartments.  There is non-mesh compartment in the back of the bag that has elastic at the top.   There is also a removable key ring clip to hold your keys (which is a really cool/unexpected feature).

Backside of flap with zippered mesh pocket

The entire backside of the bag flap is a mesh pocket that closes with a zipper.  The flap has room on it to add a team logo.  Unfortunately, mine came with a “US Masters Swimming” team logo on it.  But then again mine was a free sample bag.  I would assume yours would come with no logo on it.

Handle and straps
Another cool feature is the large, easy grip, hard handle.  I love handles on bags.  It makes them easy to carry and move.

Front Straps

There are two straps on the front of the bag.  I am not a “swim meet type” swimmer so maybe I am missing their purpose.  I would assume they are used to strap down a towel.  Either way, to me they are way too short to serve any good purpose.  The straps would be more useful if they were double the current length.

The padded straps are of good quality but not very well padded.  I would like to see more padded sawn into them.  The straps do not make the bag uncomfortable to carry but some extra padding would have been nice.

If this bag was slightly larger I would say it would make an AWESOME transition triathlon bag!!  You could still use it for one but it maybe a little too small.  Then again I am a pack rat so maybe it would be good for you.

To me, this bag is too nice to be a pool side bag.  I would not want to ruin the bag with all the water and chlorine. 

This is an AWESOME bag for transporting all your swim, running, triathlon, etc gear.  I used it this weekend to transport all my run stuff, changed of clothes, shoes, etc for the Space Coast Marathon and I loved it.  Even with all this stuff in the bag there was still room for more stuff.  All the pockets and compartments made it very easy to find and get to everything in the bag. 
  • The price!! At $29.95 it’s a no brainer purchase
  • Quality material, stitching and zippers
  • Massive amount of well thought out mesh, zippered and elastic compartments
  • Lightweight
  • Nice wet pocket for wet swim suits
  • It’s a self standing bag
  • Nice removable key ring in the inside of the bag
  • It's a cool looking, versitile bag
  • Straps could a little thicker and more padded
  • The top zipper that opens  to expose the inside of the bag can sometimes be hard to restart
  • The straps on the front of the bag should be longer to increase their usefulness
  • More colors other than navy blue and black would be nice
  • Mine came with a “US Masters Swimming” team logo on the flap.  But then again mine was a free sample bag.  I would assume yours would come with no logo on it.
Overall I would HIGHLY recommend this bag to anyone.  The quality of the bag and $29.95 price make it a steal.

The bag can be front here on the Kiefer website . 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Space Coast Marathon Review 2012

Space Coast Marathon Review 2012

Previous Years Reviews can be found here:
Darn, I've gotten too skinny!!

Yesterday, I completed the Space Coast 13.1.  This is always a great race.  If you are looking for a Boston qualifying race this is a great one for you.  It is pretty dare flat and a fast course.
Race decor

My version of Buzz Lightyear.

I’m not going to bore you with all the details of the race.  You can see the previous year’s reviews (see above) for all the details. 
Looks like I am about to rob a
bank but it kept me warm

This year’s race was a little cold in the morning then warmed up pretty good.  I found myself starting to sweet at mile 3 and had to start dropping layers. 
Proof I am a Star Wars nerd.

The one disappointment was the lack of real themed water stops.  It seems like every year they get less and less themed.   This year they barely tried.  This was a cool feature of previous years.

The other annoying thing about this race is it starts too early.  The race start time is 6:15 AM.  This is way too early for a race.
Sunrise over the water

Pretty water and palms

Very pretty race start

Overall this is always a great and fun race.  I recommend it to everyone. 
My finishing time was 1:53:39 with a 8:41 pace.

The award is huge!!

Yummy food.

Age group awards

Race Bling

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Rev3 Florida 70.3 Review

Rev3 Florida Review

This review is a little late but like they say “better late than never.”
Cool race bib.

This was the first Rev3 race in Florida and unfortunately it fell on the same weekend as hurricane Sandy was passing off the coast of Florida.  Needless to say this made for interesting (and HIGHLY challenging) race conditions. 

The massive waves
(although they look small in this photo)

 The water was really rough.  It was almost boiling it was so rough.  Waves were coming in from all directions and there were severe rip tide warning.  When the waves hit the pier it would shot up 6 foot splashes.  It was so bad that no one (even the professions were allowed to swim), so my triathlon became  a duathlon.

The winds on Saturday night before the race were a constant 40 mph.  On the day of the race I think the winds were a constant 25-35 mph. 

The race started very strangely.  They lined up all the age groups by number.  Then every 30 seconds they sent someone into the transition area to start the bike.  You were supposed to be dressed without shoes, socks, etc.  This was to mimicked similar conditions as getting out of the swim.  Many people ignored this and wore their bike shoes, glasses, etc.  There are always cheaters at races and I hate when they do not stop them.

Bonnie & Triston chillen.
The bike was a BEAST.  The winds were 25-35 mph constants.   The first 18 miles the wind was at your back.  Ever mile after that you fought massive headwinds and cross winds.  It was a nightmare.  Even the professionals said this was an extremely windy and difficult bike portion. 

About halfway through the bike ride I wanted to give up.  But what use would be giving up?!  I would have to get back on my bike anyways so I fought through the wind.  It is tough and frustrating when you look down at your speedometer and see low teens.
My famous picture that ended up on Rev3's homepage.
I told you I was famous.

The bike course was as flat as a pancake but very boring.  It was almost all major roadways.  The interesting part was the road was not shutdown but nearly no one rode in our lane.  The local police must have done an excellent job educating the public.  I hope next year they change the bike course.

I almost ate pavement on one of the bike water stations.  I missed the first water volunteer (and showered him in an exploding water bottle) but I got the next water bottle.  What I did not notice was the sharp 90 degree turn at the end of the water stop (stupid design).  The 90 degree turn also had a nice 12-18 inch raised concrete edge.   I only had one hand on the handle bars because the other had a hold of the water bottle.  So I locked up the front break and slide (nearly out of control) right at the concrete edge and a police officer.  The police officer said something about holy fecal matter as I nearly died and ran into him.  Somehow I was able to control the slide and regain control of my bike just in time to complete the turn (with water bottle still in hand).  I think the police office wet his pants.

The finish line at night was pretty cool in neon.
The run was nice and windy but the wind was nice and cooling on the run.  My legs really enjoyed being off the bike.  They quickly stopped feeling like bricks and locked into a nice (but slow) pace.

Overall this was a great and fun race.  I am disappointed that I did not get to do my first open ocean swim but Mother Nature had other plan.  Maybe I will try again next year.

The local volunteers were great.  They thanked all the participated and stated how great this was for their small, local economy.  That was a great feeling.
Front of the bling

Back of bling

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Miami Man 2012 - HIM Race #8

Sunday marked my 4th half Ironman race of the year.  It marks the 8th within the past two years. 

Sorry I do not have pictures but my phone went dead the night before the race and I did not bring my phone charger.

My swim caps from this year and the last.
This race was a little unplanned.  Several months ago Triston wanted to do the International distance race so I signed him up.  I also said “what the heck” I will do the HIM distance since I will be there. 

Well… Bonnie pointed out after I registered that the Miami Man race was ONLY TWO WEEKS after the Rev 3 70.3 Florida race I had already signed up for.  So much for recovery and taper time.  J

They mouse pad that was included in the HUGE swag bag.
There was also a beer pint, race shirt and water bottle.
The swim was not as nice as 2010.  The water in this lake is getter pretty nasty.  I think they are putting too much weed killer into the lake and all the dead plants are creating a debris layer.  It was not crystal clear like previous years. 

The bike ride was a beast.  Winds were higher than last year and you had to fight them the whole way.
Race times are printed out for you the second you
finish the race.  VERY COOL!!
The run was a nightmare for me.  My legs clearly were not recovered from the last race.  They were locking up for the first 5 miles.  It was not a pleasant experience.  But I fought through the pain and finished the race.
Swim: 40:06
T1: 4:21
Bike: 3:03:21
T2: 4:43
Run: 2:31:21
Total Time: 6:24:15:76
 Clearly this was not my best race but I had a great time.  My 70.3 race times are normally 5:50 – 6:10 but this race clearly not normal with only two weeks recovery.
The bling with the closed cage.

The bling with an open cage.

I will not bore you with a review of the race.  See the review links below.  They are still valid.  This was a GREAT race and is EXTREMELY well run.  Year after year this is the best run triathlon!!

Miami Man 2011 Review


Miami Man 2010 Review


Monday, November 5, 2012

Run a FAKE 26.2 Race

Have you ever wanted to do a marathon without the training or EVEN running the race.   If so, here is the fake race for your.  For a small fee and without any training what-so-ever, you can now register for marathon, get a race program, race bid, race bracelet, 26.2 race sticker, race T-shirt and a custom time listed on a "major race website.".  You can even be a fake sponsor (but that does cost you money). 

Hey, this is no so bad.  It's cheaper than the NYC marathon and like the NYCM you do not get to actually run.

See the kick starter program here.