Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Even a Mantis Shrimp Would Rock Smith Shades. Smith Pivlock V2 / V90 Review

A few weeks ago while driving home from the Iron Mountain Trail Race I was listening to a podcast about color and how the eye and brain interpret color. The podcast went in to great detail to describe how dogs have 2 types of cones in their eyes which allow them to see shades of blue and green. Humans on the other hand, have three types of cones allowing us to see red, blue and green. A species of shrimp called the Mantis Shrimp has 12 cones, enabling it to see colors we cannot even fathom in our pallete. Alas, I digress. How does sunglass lens color affect optical clarity and definition then? We'll come back to color in a bit...

Color is a complex topic, and often times when choosing sunglasses and lenses we opt for what looks sexy off the shelf and the frame which best fits our face. There is however a method to the fun task of grabbing a great lens for your specific sport. After searching high and low, I found the Smith Pivlock series of glasses to be a stellar choice for whatever your need.  They feature interchangable lenses in multiple colors and frameless technology for unobstructed optical clarity. (This means you won't be staring at the top rim of the frames atop your lens if you are tucked low in a cycling position! The perfect aero shade!)

The original Pivlock was introduced several years ago and has been my go-to shade for road/trail running and road/mountain biking as the interchangable lenses are bombproof thanks to the patented Pivlock technology. The temples snap securely to the lens and unlike other interchangable lenses, you don't feel like you're going to break your investment by swapping lenses. Why swap lenses in the first place you ask?

Back to color... The following chart displays how much light each lens in the Pivlock series allows in. On road runs and while road cycling, I prefer the Platinum lens on my Pivlock V2, and the Brown lens on my Pivlock V90's. Platinum and Gray lenses provide slightly less light to pass through the lens as opposed to the Brown lens. Gray and Platinum lenses also allow true color to pass through which means that even while wearing them you are seeing colors just as they appear, undistorted. Brown lenses may not always allow true color to pass through, but they do provide better contrast vision. Here's how to piece this all together; On super bright days I wear the Platinum lens. On days which aren't quite as bright I enjoy the Brown lens which provides better depth perception and contrast. My favorite lens in the line-up however, is the Ignitor lens. As a trailrunner primarily who spends about 15 hours on average per week on trails, I constantly find myself praising the Ignitor lens for its ability to provide contrast and definition to the surroundings along with aiding in depth perception. On the chart below Smith claims that the Ignitor lens doesn't alter color perception. I might disagree with that claim as when I take off the sunglasses after running for hours in the woods, everything seems green/blue immediately and washes together. When I put the shades back on, I have definition amongst colors and shapes moreso than is aparent to the naked unshaded eye.

Today I went mountain biking and on top of the protection that the large lens of the Pivlock offers my eyes while ripping down singeltrack at high speeds, I love their ability to aid in definition on technical trails while moving swiftly. All winter long, even on cloudy days I wear the Ignitor lens as it "brightens" the trail in front of me. It also provides protection from stray branches and from the cold and biting winds which cause the eyes to water on chilly windy runs.

The Pivlock series comes in two main styles; the original Pivlock V90 and the newly released Pivlock V2. Both models are made to fit small and medium faces but don't fret, if you have a big mug both models come in larger sizes under the name Pivlock V90 Max and Pivlock V2 Max. The biggest difference between the V90 and V2 is that the newer V2's offer an adjustable nose piece. The ventilation on the V90's was already pretty great. The nose piece on the new V2's add a little venting but the best feature is that the shades can be custom fit to your shnoz. I notice that the V2's and their adjustable nosepiece sit farther out on my face which could make them a better model for cycling as they seem to have more airflow. I prefer my V90's for running as they feel more secure on my face. I imagine that noth models are so secure fitting you could take a naster digger trailrunning as I've done before and not worry about the glasses flying off, or bite the road on a bike without concern of your sweet shades flying into orbit. Regarding weight, the V90's feel slightly lighter although both models are extremely light especially in relation to any other sunglass models offering multiple lens options with such vast coverage. It's all splitting hairs though, you can't go wrong with either model.

Smith lenses feature TLT, or Tapered Lens Technology, which means higher optical clarity and no distortions as the curvature of the lens tapers in the same way the human eyes cornea tapers for flawless light refraction. The Pivlock
lenses are also coated in a hydroleophobic lens coating. What this means is that the lenses repel dirt, grease, sweat, sunscreen, etc also providing scratch resistance in the process as these particles don't stick to the lens while cleaning.

To help reduce glare, Pivlock lenses contain a multitiered mirror coating. Sunglass lenses typically offer a mirror coating or Polarization. The purpose of using mirror coatings to deflect glare from the lens easing eye strain throughout the day. Polarized lenses can be troublesome in that they don't allow the wearer to see LCD screens or certain types of glass. I love jumping in the car and still being able to see through the windows and use the touch screen and radio while wearing unpolarized glasses. This isn't the case when I wear Polarized lenses. I can't see the screen and my side windows contain reflections I typically wouldn't see. Personally, mirrored is the way to go!

You needn't worry about angering the green party either with your purchase as Smith is on the forefront of eco-friendly production methods and even uses bio-based frame materials with its Evolve technology.

Locally, here in Louisville Smith shades are available at Quest Outdoors located in Shelbyville Road Plaza and also in The Summit Shopping Center. Since this is all mighty interweb however, most of you can find your nearest Smith retailer here:  SMITH STORE LOCATOR

Happy Trails, Roads and Beyond! Enjoy the view!


Monday, October 1, 2012

DNF- Smacking Me Back Into Balance.

Sunrise from Wintergreen Summit as seen from my condo.
I don't have a problem pushing myself. I have a problem backing off. This past weekend was the Ultra Race of Champions, (UROC), 100K. The race garnishes international attention and holds a $20,000 prize purse. It was a large focus of the year for me, and 8 miles into the 63 mile race, I DNF'd. It was however, a success.

The decision to quit a race doesn't come lightly. The choice to drop out of a race is especially difficult when the race was the focus of an entire year. The ability to see constant improvement as an athlete doesn't come easy. Making tough decisions based on seeing the whole picture is necessary. One must have the discipline and faith to put in easy days, and not always push hard in training.When you feel like crap, you need to back off. Training harder doesn't yield the biggest gains, its about training smarter. It's about balance. Its a tight-rope walk, and a juggling act.

Pre Race Elite Panel
Pre Race Elite Panel
Four weeks prior to UROC I ran the race of my life at the Iron Mountain 50 Miler. In learning from past mistakes I backed off my mileage the week after the race to recover. This season was nearly a repeat of last season and I figured I should have had time to recover for UROC. In the weeks leading up to UROC though I felt like I was in a daze. Outside of running I had little joy and excitement and normal stressors in life which usually wouldn't bother me became harder to deal with. I found the long hours of my job as an Urgent Care nurse harder to deal with. I'm always cognisant of overtraining as it has been a problem in the past. I cut my mileage back as I began to feel less motivation in life, and I became apathetic. If I wasn't running, I wanted to rest or sleep. I felt like my brain wasn't working right, and there were connections that just weren't being made in my head.

Ian Sharman answers questions by AJW 
When I have a goal like UROC I can cut out most extraneous details out of my life and focus on the main goal. I have a somewhat demonic discipline/drive and although a great asset at times, it can be the cause of my downfall. In the weeks prior to UROC, my fatigue levels began to increase and so I began to cut out the parts of my life which weren't directly related to the end-goal of a stellar performance at UROC. I was still tired. I cut down my mileage, but I was still tired. In the past my running was negatively affected when I was worn out but this time my running was fine. A week prior to UROC I had my Lactate Threshold tested at the University of Louisville sports science lab, and my LT was 95% of maximum heart rate. I was running better than ever but my head was fried.

In the past when I began to overreach in training, I became stressed out but this time was different. I just cut out whatever details could cause stress, so I was at ease. Maybe I have become too good at dealing with stress? Ha ha ha... This time I was just unhappy, plain and simple. Running was the only thing that mattered. To my detriment, I failed to recognize overtraining because I was not stressed out.

Anyone who aspires to be the best at something has to learn from their mistakes.

The general lackluster enthusiasm I felt in my life outside of running was due to overtraining, plain and simple. This wasn't my first foray into overreaching and I knew the symptoms by race day. This wasn't my first rodeo!

Shortly before the start, I told my crew, Stephanie that I would need extra motivation this race. I just didn't have it in me.

I was tired.

When the gun went off I charged ahead with the fastest runners in the sport. My stomach was in knots. It had felt like that for several days, and the pace at which we ran exacerbated my GI issues. Maybe it was the curse of the Ghost peppers from several days back! Maybe it was the mucous from the sinus infection I'd been battling. The nausea I had been experiencing over the last several days grew exponentially with each mile. I thought about DNF'ing by the end first mile.

But quitting is failure right???

The same brain that pushes me to train hard and push to the limit of my capacity is directly opposed to dropping out. In many races I have experienced success by crushing the voice which screams to quit because of pain and agony, but this time was different. With experience comes the ability to differentiate.

I analyzed the variables.

I could push hard in UROC. Since I felt horrific I could maybe squelch out a top 10 finish in the best scenario but in no way was I racing at the top of my game. I felt confident I could not reach the top 5 podium spot which held the prize money. Just to hit a top 10 spot if it was possible I would be emotionally and physically destroyed for the next several weeks.  In only 10 days my first child was due to be born. In 5 weeks I was slated to race in the Pinhoti 100 which would determine my racing future for the following year. I need to podium at Pinhoti as the top several spots are given entry to the Western States 100. Western States is the focus of my following year. Would I be fit for Pinohti with all the upcoming month held?

Pushing hard at UROC would have yielded uninspired results which failed to meet potential. I would be fatigued as a result during the birth of my daughter. Seriously, where are my priorities?

Over the course of the past few weeks I had finally began to recover from my busy summer racing schedule while tapering for UROC. Pushing at UROC would put me right back at square one, so I decided to call it a day. I was shot.

Hindsight is always 20/20, but that day was hard. I knew I had done the right thing. I had a stellar year of racing and raced frequently. I didn't have it in me that day, so I had to be smart and throw in the towel.

Already I feel great and mentally I feel like I am back to my good ole self. On race day it was brutal to watch the best in the sport make the final climb. I let my pride go though, and I took the punch and moved on. UROC was a pride issue. Pinhoti however affects the rest of my year. I also just flat out didn't have it that day. Maybe it was the sinus infection, maybe it was my stomach, maybe I was shot from so much racing. It was a blessing in disguise. Regardless, I learned a little bit more about racing, training and life.

Whenever I let other spokes in my wheel of life balance out the running spoke, I become a better runner. It's all about balance. I thrive when running isn't the only focus. Don't get me wrong, I am driven to continue to excel at my sport and continue to gain speed, but I know for certain, whenever it occupies to large of a slice of the pie that is my life, my performance suffers. I need balance.

October brings energy and life. I'll welcome my daughter into the world. With my choice to DNF UROC, she will get the energy and attention she deserves. Driving my choice to DNF was the ambition that I'll have more energy to devote to her wholly as a new focus in my life along with my other passions.

It's all a learning process, and this is one more lesson I won't forget.
UROC 2013 to be held in Vail!