Monday, October 31, 2016

Pearl Izumi Fall 2016 Cycling Gear Review



Pearl Izumi was started over 50 years ago in Tokyo, Japan by a father who wanted to make bicycle racing clothing for his son.  It has become one of the largest makers of cycling apparel in the world.  The name Pearl Izumi means “fountain of pearl” and was named after Izumi, which is an area of Japan known for its clear water and the gem, pearl.  They have been selling their gear in the United States since 1981 and have branched out into selling gear for running and triathlons as well. 

I have been using Pearl Izumi cycling products for over 15 years and have found that the quality of their gear is top notch.  The durability and design has never left me disappointed.  I have several different Pearl Izumi cycling shorts, bibs, and jerseys and love them all.  My favorites are the P.R.O. series shorts and bib shorts, which shouldn’t come as a surprise since they are Pearl Izumi’s top of the line products.  You can check out my recent review of the amazing P.R.O. Pursuit Bib Shorts and ELITE Escape Jersey (click here for my review).  I just got the P.R.O. Escape Thermal Jersey, P.R.O. Softshell Lite Glove, and the P.R.O. Thermal Skull Cap to test.

P.R.O. Escape Thermal Jersey

When you are looking for a quality fall or winter jersey, what do you look for.  There is a good chance that the P.R.O. Escape Thermal Jersey has all the right features.  The P.R.O. Thermal fabric is always working to keep you warm and dry.  There is nothing good about a cycling top that keeps you warm, but you feel like you are in a sauna suit.  The P.R.O. Escape Thermal Jersey has strategically placed ventilation panels that provide excellent breathability.  The temperature here hasn’t been too cold so I tested the jersey in temps around 60 degrees.  Even at that temperature, I didn’t feel like the jersey was too warm.  It did a great job of keeping me dry as well.

There are three large pockets in the back and a few smaller pockets ensure you can take your gear and fuel with you.  The pockets uses the new P.R.O. Softshell Lite material that protects your gear from splashes and mist.  The pockets not only hold tons of gear, but they do a great job of keeping your gear close to your body so nothing falls out (a common issue with loose pockets).

One of my favorite feature of jerseys has to be the silicone print that has been added to the bottom elastic area near your waist.  The P.R.O. Escape Thermal Jersey has elastic with the silicone grippers and the Pearl Izumi logo.  It does an excellent job of preventing your jersey from creeping up during your ride. 

There is a full length vislon zipper that makes unzipping your jersey and zipping it back up with one hand easy, even while riding.  This is important, especially if you are getting warm and need to cool off by opening the jersey a little.   No jersey is complete without a little bit of reflective material and this jersey has that too. 

While you are getting one of the best thermal jerseys out there, it does come at a cost.  The P.R.O. Escape Thermal Jersey retails for $155, which is worth the price if you can afford it.  The features and functionality are top of the line and you can feel the quality when you put it on.  You can get yours at the Pearl Izumi website or at a bike shop near you.

Pros:
P.R.O. Thermal fabric keeps you warm and dry
Softshell pockets protect your gear from splashes
Elastic silicone grippers keep your jersey from riding up
Three full pockets and additional smaller pockets
Full length zipper is easy to zip with one hand while riding
Reflective markings increase visibility

Cons:
Expensive, but well worth the price.

P.R.O. Softshell Lite Glove

The Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Softshell Lite Gloves are another great product that delivers some of the best moisture transfer technologies in the industry.  These gloves provide lightweight insulation the help combat against wind and water without creating extra bulk. 

The P.R.O. Softshell Lite Gloves are filled with 50 grams of Primaloft Gold insulation.  I just found out about Primaloft and was intrigued.  Primaloft Gold has a high warmth-to-weight ratio so you don’t need a lot of bulky insulation to stay warm.  It is water resistant and absorbs less water than other types of insulation.  Primaloft is extremely breathable and encourages the passage of moisture vapor to keep you from being cold and clammy.  It is packable, lightweight, and very comfortable.   

Like all the best gloves for running and cycling, the P.R.O. Softshell Lite Gloves comes with conductive synthetic leather on the glove’s index finger and thumb so you can use your smartphone or touchscreen cycle computer with your gloves on.  There is also Clarino synthetic leather on the palm that provides durability. 

The inside of the gloves are fleece lined and feel amazing.  There is a little bulk to the gloves because of the Primaloft, but it’s very soft and doesn’t restrict movement whatsoever.   The gloves have a 1:1 fit that ensures that you have the most dexterity and will be able to shift and break with ease. 

The thumb has a soft fleece wiping surface for when you sweat, need to wipe off rain, or have a runny nose.  One of the big differences between this glove and my other fall/winter gloves is the longer gauntlet design that goes further up your wrist.  This not only keeps your wrists warm, but prevents cold air from making it up your sleeves.  Last, but not least are the reflective elements to add extra visibility for low light conditions. 

The P.R.O. Softshell Lite Gloves retail for $55, which is worth the price.  While some people might say, why pay so much for a pair of gloves, you really have to try them to understand how great they really are.  These are the softest, most comfortable gloves I have every tried.  I’m not just talking about cycling gloves, but all gloves.  You can get yours at the Pearl Izumi website or at a bike shop near you.

Pros:
Primaloft keeps your hands warm and dry
Conductive material for use with touchscreens
Extremely comfortable fleece lining and wiping surfaces
Longer design to prevent air leakage
Great fit

Cons:
Expensive, but well worth the price.

P.R.O. Thermal Skull Cap

The Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Thermal Skull Cap is a simple design that offers so much.  The P.R.O. Thermal Dry fabric provides superior moisture transfer, reduces dry time when it does get wet or sweaty, and increases odor absorption.  There are reflective elements that make you more visible, which is always a plus.

It does a great job of keeping you warm while still being extremely soft and comfortable.  I tried the skull cap on at my house the night it arrived and my head got unbelievably warm in no time.  The cap itself fits really well and is designed to fit under your helmet without interfering with your helmet’s retention system.  There is even a pony tail port that allows you to wear the P.R.O. Thermal Skull Cap without causing the cap to get in the way.

The P.R.O. Thermal Skull Cap retails for $25, which is a great price.  This skull cap will keep your head warm and feels great.  It is perfectly designed to go under your helmet without breaking the bank.  You can get yours at the Pearl Izumi website or at a bike shop near you.

Pros:
P.R.O. Thermal Dry fabric keeps you dry and stink free
Fits perfectly under a helmet
Pony tail port provides a better fit
Great price
Reflective elements for low-light conditions

Pearl Izumi’s Social Media Links:

I have never been disappointed with the products that Pearl Izumi makes and that is especially true with these three products.  The P.R.O. Escape Thermal Jersey, P.R.O. Softshell Lite Glove, and the P.R.O. Thermal Skull Cap are all excellent products and I can’t wait to wear them more, especially since the weather should be changing quickly around here.  Each product is made with top-of-the-line features that make it easier to justify the cost.  For me, comfort and performance are the keys to having a fun and successful ride.  I would not hesitate to pay the higher price tag for such great products.  You can purchase these items on the Pearl Izumi website or at a local dealer near your (click here for locations).  I would love to hear what you think about these products, so please leave a comment and let me know.

Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Run Fast Eat Slow Cookbook Review



I love cooking, especially if I can find recipes that are healthy and will help fuel my next workout.  I heard about this cookbook that was co-written by Olympic medalist, Shalane Flanagan and her college cross-country teammate Elyse Kopecky. 

Shalane is a four-time Olympian, American record holder, and a world-class marathoner. She finished second in the 2010 NYC Marathon and ran the fastest time by an American Woman at the Boston Marathon in 2014 (2:22:02).  Shalane has been sponsored by Nike ever since she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2004 and typically runs over a 100 miles a week.  A key to performing at this level for her is having a focus on fueling for health and performance.  She currently lives and trains in Portland, Oregon.

Elyse is a chef, author, and nutrition coach as well as a runner and proud mother.  Elyse moved to Portland to work for Nike as a digital marketing producer after college.  Her career took her all around the world.  On her journey, she took cooking classes and started cooking to fuel her training. 

One of the lessons that Elyse learned was that by adding more fats to her diet, she was stronger and healthier than ever.  After 10 years in marketing, she moved to New York to study at the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts.  After finishing her studies, she moved back to Portland and reconnected with Shalane. 

While they were enjoying dinner one night, they were discussing the importance of “indulgent nourishment” and the idea for Run Fast Eat Slow was born.  The idea of how to nourish yourself for the long run. 

I was really excited to break open the book as soon as I got it.  There were so many recipes that I wanted to try.  The first recipe I tried was for the Blueberry-Lemon Cornmeal Scones.  To be honest, I didn’t have any lemons, but followed the recipe other than that.  I loved the texture and flavor of the scones and because it was right after a 20 mile run, I ate way too many.  My picky kids loved them too.

The next recipe I tried was the Make-Ahead Breakfast Burritos.  This is one of my favorite recipes because it’s healthy, provides plenty of fuel for my mid-day runs, and is perfect for a quick meal that I can make in just a few minutes.  The recipe made 6 decent sized burritos.  I used eggs, spinach, cheese, and black beans inside the whole wheat tortilla.  I wrapped them in aluminum foil and froze them all.  On days when I was running behind, I would pull out a burrito, unwrap it, and microwave it for 1 minute on each side.  I would throw it on a plate and take it to the car for a great on-the-go meal. 

Another favorite recipe of mine is the Swiss Muesli Bowl, which you make the night before.  I used grated apples, raisins, yogurt, vanilla, cinnamon, honey, almond milk, toasted almonds, and old-fashioned oats.  The recipe makes two servings so I would have it for two days in a row.  This is another great recipe to fuel my mid-day runs.  I put this in a Solo cup and throw a plastic spoon in so I can eat it on the way to work. 

The last of my favorite meals is the Race Day Oatmeal.  This is a super easy recipe that takes less than 5 minutes to make and is the perfect meal for an hour before my early morning long runs on the weekend or a few hours before a race.  I can definitely feel the benefits of this awesome fuel source that is easy on my stomach.  My go-to ingredients are quick oats, almond milk, banana, honey, salt, cinnamon, roasted almonds, and raisins.  I add the oats, salt, sliced banana, and water in a bowl.  Then I microwave it for 1:30 and mash the bananas.  I then add the cinnamon, honey, almond milk, almonds, and raisins and stir.  Like the Muesli, I throw it in a Solo cup and take it to the car on most mornings.  I typically eat this 3-5 times a week.

While I have mostly used the Run Fast Eat Slow book for breakfast, there are tons of great recipes for salads, deserts, snacks, and meals.  You have plenty of recipes to choose from and they all taste amazing.  The best part is that you don’t need to count calories and the food is easy to digest since the ingredients aren’t full of artificial ingredients. 

Authors’ Social Media Links:

I can’t recommend the Run Fast Eat Slow book enough.  You can train like an Olympian, but if your diet isn’t helping you, it is most likely hurting you.  Being able to fuel your body for success is one key to performing at your best.  With this book you get the knowledge of a dietician and a world class runner.  They have taken their love for running and nutrition and came up with a book that can help take you to that next level.  Be sure to pick up your copy at one of their book tour stops (click here for locations) or on their website.  Be aware though, eating better might just make you run faster, so be prepared.

Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.