Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mid-week humpday!

Per the plan tonight’s run was a simple six miler. Unlike 90% of the country the forecasted weather for today was perfect; high 60’s with a slight breeze, so I decided last night to get an early start at work which allows me an early finish. So my day rudely began at 4:45am, the good news was I was out the door by 3:00pm and on the trails by just after 4:00pm. I was also using this as an opportunity to try my new Go Lite shoes picked up earlier this month. I had recce’d a short up and down route in Red Rock Canyon which is just off Topanga Canyon and takes you, via a fireroad, up to Calabasas Peak and has about a 1000’ of climbing over 2 miles, so I knew I would need to go up and over some ways further and back again to get the mileage in. I set off, camera in hand, as, while it’s small it looked like is was going to be pretty dense photowise. I was pretty much alone other than some folks walking their dogs and a couple of mountain bikers doing their thing.

As expected I reached the summit after two miles and about 25 minutes so I pushed on for another mile and turned around, of course in the spirit of what goes up must come down I opened up the throttle and just let myself fall down the hill, I did take some pictures and some video most of which was blown out by the wind but these two seem to work...I think?

The view from the top...or why I run trails!

Thoughts on downhill running

Anyway here’s the MotionBased data and as you can see it was my midweek humpday and the photos are here.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Use it or lose it!

Yesterday I had the first of my ‘long’ rides; my plan has me alternating long runs and long rides over the next 6 weeks as well as two rides during the week. The rational on alternating is that running focuses your efforts on you hamstrings (and calves) ignoring your quads, cycling addresses the imbalance this creates by using your quads (and calves) and ignores your hamstrings, this is particularly important to me as I am prone to ITB issues, (see below), and from experience cross training like this has helped me avoid any serious overuse injuries like I had in 2007.

That being said it has been 3 months since I have had any serious saddle time and the plan called for 50 miles. The route I choose is a pretty standard loop through to the coast and back again, I hesitate to say that the roads are mountain passes but I did end up with 5750’ of climbing so they are clearly bigger than hills but in my mind they are smaller that mountains, so maybe just calling them big hills will do. It's been raining here for the last three days and it was going to be a bit chilly, at least by SoCal standards, and there was a lot of low cloud in the canyons and I was grateful for full fingered gloves and shoe covers.

The second canyon has the much more steeper and longer climb and I was reasonably pleased with the way I was riding especially when I managed to throw off someone who I had been on my back wheel for the last two or three miles before the top. My legs started to feel it around mile 45 and I really suffered on the final 100' of climbing back to my front door. Once again reinforcing how quickly you can loose any advantage that you spent weeks or months building up. I also find that it takes me a few good rides before I stop being "twitchy" on the descents and can get on the drops, off the brakes and really push through the corners.

On the ITB front diligent stretching and foam rollering twice a day is keeping the problems at bay so far following it’s unexpected appearance last weekend and I managed Wednesday’s 6 and Friday’s 9 milers without any issues, although I am wearing my strap.

And so Friday's run concluded last week’s training and Sunday's ride started this week’s; pretty uneventful but I’ll take that over drama any day of the week.

MotionBased Data is here and a few photos here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Oh Nuts!

Not me, but just in case…

January 19, 2009: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is conducting a very active and dynamic investigation into the source of the Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak. At this time, the FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state partners have traced sources of Salmonella Typhimurium contamination to a plant owned by Peanut Corporation of America (PCA), which manufactures peanut butter and peanut paste—a concentrated product consisting of ground, roasted peanuts—that are both distributed to food manufacturers to be used as an ingredient in many commercially produced products including cakes, cookies, crackers, candies, cereal and ice cream. In addition, PCA peanut butter is distributed to and institutionally served in such settings as long-term care facilities and cafeterias.

So what does this really mean, well some brands you may be familiar with have announced recalls:

* Clif Bar
* Luna
* Natures Path
* Zone Perfect

The recall has been going on for 10 day and the list is growing longer by the day, you can read more about it here, just be on the look out!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Uh oh!

Not the best of starts to my training plan, 10 miles into a 16 mile run and my ITB decides to rear it’s ugly head! As an improvisation I knotted off an arm warmer to try and immobilize it which worked to a point, sorta kinda! It worked enough at least for me to finish off the remaining 6 miles. I have no idea why this has sprung from, there has been no hint of it for months in fact almost a year, but now I have to deal with it, fortunately that’s something I do know how to do; foam roller, stretching and a liberally smacking of the offending tissue with the Stick. This morning at least it had eased off sufficiently to let me put in another 5 miles. That being said Sunday's run was not quite the route I had planned but conditions were perfect, I altered my plans and managed a circuit through Cheeseboro Canyon up along the Ridge Trail to close the loop and then a simple out and back along the canyon floor.

My next long run, 18 miles, is in two weeks time, for the first eight weeks I am alternating long runs and long rides, I have not been on my bike in any real seriousness since October; this has probably contributed to the ITB issue! So next weekend I’ll be in the saddle for a nice canyon ride through to the coast and back for a round trip of 50 miles or so.

I also picked a tweak in my calf swimming on Saturday afternoon, I am not counting this as training as Saturday is my rest day and I am not swimming non stop as it's a lesson so there is some instruction in between laps, of which I am guessing I bluffed my way through 20 or so. Actually I am pretty pleased as I actually managed a whole length freestyle; I have never been taught freestyle, ever and apparently my breast stroke is pretty good...go figure!

There are some photos here, blogger is loading them all sideways(?!?) and here is the MotionBased data from Sunday:

Friday, January 16, 2009

That's that then...

I am committed or as my wife said, I should be!

From the AC100 website (my abridge):

I wish to enter and participate in the Angeles Crest 100 Mile Endurance Run.... I am aware that this trail run of 100 miles is extremely difficult and hazardous...difficult mountainous terrain and spans great extremes of altitude and temperature...I should not participate in this even unless: a) I am in excellent physical condition, b) I have previously run ultra-marathon distances (50 miles) on rugged trails, and c) I have recently (in the last 12 months) had a complete physical examination, including a stress electrocardiogram...I am also aware...physical injury from a number of natural factors including snow...other hazards...lack of water, communicable diseases, wildlife...during the day or at night...risks include the fact I may become injured or incapacitated in a location where it is difficult or impossible for the Run's management to get required medical aid to me in time to avoid additional physical injury, even death".
...and so on!

What's an ultrarunner to do, I ask you?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The how for the what...

This is the how for the what.

I have only planned out as far as Leona Divide 50 on April 18th after that I'll take a month off and then start again for Angeles Crest 100 on May 3oth. It's very similar to the Twin Peaks plan but it just two weeks shorter, I was starting to go a bit stale towards the end so that's probably a good thing. Again there is a large portion of cycling; this I think really helped in keeping me injury free, not shown here is the weights that I be adding in, I need to work on my absolute strength and while I don't want to add a ton of muscle mass, having that extra strength will help with those long uphills. As always I am stretching pre and post run and I try to foam roll out the knots 2-3 times a week, an ounce of prevention etc. Also added into the mix will be swimming as a substitute when possible for weekday cycling in addition to the lessons I have over the next eight weekends. In case you wondering about the colors, I have 8 weeks of base building (purple), four weeks of speed work (green) and a weeks taper (tan), two week tapers drive me nuts and my weight tends to go up a little so 6-10 days is about my's been a trial and error learning curve.

I am still shifting Christmas puddin' so the goal is to get back to 165lb by mid March, that's a little over a pound a week, pretty doable I think.

For AC100 I need to complete a 50 mile race, as part of the qualifying criteria, within the preceding 12 months so finishing Leona Divide last April doesn't count, I have another bite of the cherry in August at Mt Disappointment if something goes wrong in April!

I emailed the Race Director yesterday about the need to have a qualifying 50 completed before I send in the entry and he replied saying as long as I had completed one by September 1st I would be in good shape, I have heard that the race is filling up pretty fast so tomorrow I'll be sending off my entry and the $225 entry fee, yes you read that right $225! Big bucks for a big race!

Click to enlarge

Look out for the Feet-to-the-Fireometer in the sidebar, this worked really well in keeping me accountable and honest to the plan.

He we go again!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Review: MyTach GPS Sport Trainer

In the spirit of my “review” post I thought I would follow up with my review about the MyTach GPS Sportwatch. I was contacted by the makers of the MyTach late last year and asked if I would be interested in reviewing it, I replied yes and several weeks later it arrived in the mail.

The MyTach is created by AIM, located in Milan, Italy they are better known for their on board telematic systems for racing cars, dragsters and karts and for after market upgrades to sport motorbikes.

From their website: “Established in 1976, AIM Sports is today a world leader in Biker sports and race data acquisition technology, electronics, instrumentation, dataloggers, digital displays, lap timers, stopwatches and gauges for performance and racing vehicles. AIM has set new standards in many application fields: from kart to car, from bike to dragster, from Formula1 Biker boat to snowmobile.”

This is certainly something that is evident in some of the data measurements that are available, but more of that later.

The obvious competition for this watch is the Garmin Forerunner in any of its more recent guises; 205, 305 or 405, other competitors could also include Polar or Timex GPS variants. While this is not meant to be a vs. the 305 review some comparison is inevitable by way of a benchmark, especially as I own a 305.

The box contains the watch, a standard USB cable, Instruction manual, the bike mount bracket, a wall plug and the charging cradle, the software is downloaded from their website, oh yes, there is a big sticker too!

From an aesthetic perspective the MyTach is more about function than form. As you can see from the photos it is large, comparable to the 305 in size but without the wrist wrapping curve, not such a problem on a large wrist but could be a problem for someone with a slimmer one, just as a comparison I also compared it to my day to day watch a Casio G-Shock (the tape is because the G-Shock has a curved strap and kept pinging off!), weight wise it does weigh less than the 305 but that is minimal. The strap is rubber and is unchangeable but there is a handlebar attachment to allow you to attach it to your bike although that it very bulky.

Like most Manuals this one is confusing, throw is some dodgy Italian translations i.e. instantaneous speed which is current speed, and your left scratching you head; that being said it does tend to make more sense once you’ve used he watch a few times and actually have some data to look at.

All the other things were pretty standard, you can charge it by way of the plug and USB cable or via the cable and your pc, it charge pretty quickly, 1.5-2 hours and has a battery life of around 8 hours, so it’s fine for short and medium runs but anything over 50k and you’ll be in trouble, assuming you’re as slow as me! One really noticeable thing is the speed it acquires satellites, literally 5-10 seconds and you’re good to go, none of this waving your wrist around at the moon, c’mon we’ve all done that right? Also the backlight is really effective.

So now let’s look at all this data, it’s actually quite staggering the amount you can have rotating through the watch as you move, there are two customizable screens that separate into four quarters and five standard screens with 1x1, 2x2 and 2x3 data fields so there is a maximum of 18 separate telematic data streams and the current time!

This really is a good demonstration of their motor racing background.

As mentioned earlier it helps to have some data in there first and I only discovered this more recently, in no particular order here are the options, at least this is what I set it to, I think there actually a few more that are available:

Clock time
Distance Miles (km is also an option throughout)
Speed MPH
Average MPH
Running Time
Slope in %
Dist Mil
Stop Seconds
Stop cm
Run TimeL

Ok so I am good through to Average MPH but the remainder is a bit confusing, although I quite like SpdUp which if taken at face value could be quite motivating!?! The problem here is that (unlike the Garmin) if you change the fields is does not populate them, so I will need to wear it again to see what FSpeedH means; maybe it’s like HTFU?

Personally I think this volume of data is a strength and a weakness; too little and you unsure of what or how you’re doing, too much and it’s overload, it’s testament to their motorsport heritage where 1000s or a second can make all the difference and where you need to have this information at the tips of your fingers in the pit lane to tell your driver what’s going on, but for the average runner, in fact for the elite runner I would suggest it may be too much.

Ok so now your set up and you want to run, well that’s pretty simple, firstly make sure it’s charged, it’s always on and therefore it's always draining the battery (the same as a 405 I understand), so now your battery is charged, well, you simply press Start and when you’re finished press Stop, once home you plug it into your pc and you can start to analyze all this lovely data.

In Summary here are the Pros and Cons:

+Weight; it’s lightweight
+Available Data streams; a lot
+Satellite pickup; very fast

-Size; it's big on your wrist
-Aesthetic design; form over function
-Battery life; at use and when idle is shortish
-Always on; see above
-Available Data streams; a lot

There are a lot more photos for review here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The drying ink...

So this is the plan redux:
Dec ?? High Desert 50k

There will be a few shorter races thrown in for good measure the most important of which will be the kids 1 mile run in March.

There are a few caveats, I need to complete LD50 to enter AC100 so that means I can't enter until April and I run the risk of not getting in if it sells out, as a standby there is still the DRTE 100. I needed to stick a stake in the ground and this feels like a good place to stick it. Training proper starts next Sunday so this week is prep week for then.

Monday, January 12, 2009

2009; a year in review!

Is it just me or is everyone being hit up to review products?

To be honest I actually feel very lucky, I blog for fun (that and my therapist told me it would be cathartic). I expect no financial gain or returns; in fact my Amazon badge has generated a whopping “don’t spend it all in one place in case they’re following you” $2.36 in revenue, (doesn’t anyone read anymore?). I did receive a $20 credit from Hammer last Spring, (c'mon think nutrition people!) so thank you to everyone on is actually reading the ‘my blog’ and not Google reader etc.

Review request #4 came in just last week! That’s one every two weeks or so. Trust me I am not complaining just giving you all a headsup that there are some more reviews coming your way. Of course now I have written this I fully expect things to dry up!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Xterra Boney Mountain 21k

Clear blue skies and temperatures in the 70s were the forecast for this year’s Xterra Boney Mountain 21k, along with 20-40mph Santa Ana winds; these are the warm winds that blow from the desert drying the air and creating hazardous fire conditions. Red Flag warnings had been posted but the race was still scheduled to go on.

Despite arriving some 45 minutes at the packet pickup by the time I picked up my number and got in line for the shuttle to the start there was only 15 minutes till the posted start time, erring on the side of caution I decided to run to the start; a little over a mile away and set off.

Ten minutes later I was there and I stretched after my unscheduled warm up, the RD called us to the start line and with a unceremonious 3,2,1 we were off. The course is really one of ups and downs after a few turns you on a tarmac road for a couple of miles where you drop down before hitting the trails proper. The downhill is pretty fast and furious and here I recorded my fastest mile by far; 6:47. At the bottom you turn right and start the first of two hill climbs, the winds were coming into play as we switchbacked our way up. Alternating between a tail and head wind, the headwinds were pretty strong here and the dust was swirling getting into your eyes and up you nose and the warmth of the wind dried out you mouth. I was struggling to find my groove I think the fast start had thrown me, that and the fact you can count the number of times I have run since Twin Peaks on the fingers of one hand and I think no music didn't help, iPods were banned!

I reached the top and started the two and a half mile decent to roughly the half way point where the second climb would start taking me to the 10 mile mark. By this time I was feeling more relaxed and I employed a walk 200/run 200 on the slope while running anything that was vaguely flat. The trail was much more sheltered and the winds were not an issue here. I was being overtaken by some and overtaking some others, but in my mind I was really just racing the clock. I reached the top of the second hill knowing that it was mostly downhill from there and headed for the finish. The final mile puts you back onto the tarmac it was here that the wind picked up so much so I was nearly blown off my feet, what started as a side wind became a headwind after a right turn. After a quarter mile or so there was some shelter from some trees, a left hand turn and the finish was in sight and reached after a 200m sprint…well it is a race right!

My Garmin time was 2:25:57 some 9 minutes slower than my target time of 2:17, I think that may improve a little, it was a chipped race but the results are yet to post. Overall given the blusterous conditions I was pleased, it’s a 5 minute improvement over last year and with hindsight I was probably a little too conservative on the course but it is also a sharp reminder how quickly the edge goes blunt and there’s a another 51 weeks and a couple of thousand miles left in the year!

No photos from this year as I ditched everything except a handheld; I am experimenting on how light I can travel in races and there was no need for a vest etc, I am trying to travel as light as possible to be as fast as possible when racing.

So that’s January’s race out the way, I have almost firmed up the plan(s) for the rest of the year it’s looking like, in summary; 5/6 x 50km, 2 x 50m and 1 x 100m but the ink's not quite dry.

Oh yes and Saturday afternoon I had my first swim lesson in, if my memory serves me right, 35 years! Suffice to say that triathletes have gone up, although they were already held in high esteem, another notch. Swimming is simply brutal!

Here's the MotionBased data:

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Bargain of the Year!

A pair of Go Lite Versa Force trail shoes, RRP $130 my price $30. Love or hate them it’s a good deal in my book! Pitched as “A multi-terrain runner built for high mileage runs, the Versa Force offers a dual density midsole for a smoother ride and increased stability off and on the trails.” That’ll work then! Check out the ultra funky soles and tread pattern, there’s a ton of info on their website if you’re interested.

A lot of shoe company's are "retiring" models so there are some real bargains to be had I also saw Inov8 Roclite 305s for $50 (RRP $130) and Asics 2130s and Kayano 14s ($90 and $130) at half price! Unfortunately the economy is not helping either, so support your local running store.

Talking of LRSs who's interested in another weight loss challenge I am struggling to shed those turkey and Christmas pudding pounds still, I am thinking of putting it on Runner+ or Buckeye Outdoors this time though...any takers

Anyway definitely the bargain of the year…but then it is only January 10th!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Mr Forgetful...

I have a race this weekend, oops! I am off to run the Xterra Boney Mountain 21K (I have no idea why they don't call it a Half Marathon?), anyway, I ran it last year and it's a real doozy! Nearly 4000' feet of climbing, forecast is for warm temps high 60s low 70s.

Plan: sub 2:30, idealy around the 2:17 mark, that will be a minute a mile faster than 2007. Fingers crossed; I nailed Castro Peak and down, (14 miles) which is a higher climb 2200' over 2.5 miles vs. 1250' over 5 miles, in 2:32 last weekend so I should be in pretty good shape!

Talking of plans my Napkin (well, ruled pad) is firming up, I should be confirming it early next week, thanks for all you kind support.

Review: ProWash Activewear Detergent

So the good folks at ProWash contacted me before Christmas about reviewing their laundry detergent specifically designed for sportswear and of course I said yes.

Here’s the pitch:

ProWash is a residue-free detergent designed to safely remove embedded sweat, odors and soap residue. Most detergents mask odors by leaving a layer of soap residue on your clothes. This soap residue is only a temporary mask which is why odors later return. ProWash cleans and rinses thoroughly and in the process, restores the fabric wicking. Your clothing is fresh, clean and looks like new!

Here’s the reality:

Three loads of stinking sports duds accumulated from a 14 mile trail run, an 8 mile road run and a sweaty hour on the bike trainer collected over four days. One measure of detergent, cold wash. A hour and a bit later I was pulling them out of the dryer (apart from my air dry only socks and CW-X tights). The washing results faired well, a gentle scent of, well, clean laundry. So far so good. The real appeal was the claim to restore the wicking ability of fabrics as I notice that after a while even the newest of shirts sometimes fails in this task, you know this is happening when you end up wetter than the shirt, and it’s not like I am a real sweaty betty per se. Anyway another two runs later in my ProWashed duds and I have to say I am impressed, while the recent cold snap has had me layering up at the end of each run I seem to have been ending up a bit damp and cold even while wearing copious amounts of Dri-Fit and the like and both times post ProWash I have been noticeably dryer.

When compared to our regular detergent; Woolite and having used Win for my running/biking clothes in the past I would say the ProWash certainly has the edge in laundry performance.

The detergent is a 2X concentrate and therefore it is more environmentally sensitive than most; less packaging etc and while it’s not the cheapest; 3 x 24oz for $22.64 vs Win 4 x 21oz for $18.99 on Amazon, (you can buy singles via and it’s also available at Walmart), personally I would sooner spend a little more on something that works. Get a coupon on their home page.

Will it make you run faster, alas no but it may make the smell of defeat or at least de-socks a little more bearable!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

As one door closes another one…

…doesn’t open!

Over dinner last night Ms Q says “you know if you want to you can find a 100k race that you have to travel to to replace Twin Peaks, but see if you can find one that’s before mid March”, I know you always have to travel to a race but in this instance this means planes and the like. The mid March reference is the time the in-laws depart back the spring thawed UK having hibernated in SoCal for 5 ½ months. So I am on the ‘net pounding the keys and do you know what I find…nada! Well that's not quite true, there's the Orange Curtain 100k which is a 10x10k on a mostly concrete bike path!

The search continues…

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Oh crap!

Or words to that effect!

Click to enlarge

Back to the Napkin for a rethink...

Clipped Wings!

New Year New Shoes; one of several pairs. My Salomon XT Wings bit the bullet, they had their last run on the first of the year and handed the mantel over to another pair of XT Wings, after all the effort I went through trying trail shoes I am loathed to go through that again and well call me a creature of habit. However this gave me an excellent opportunity to review the damage of 330-350 miles, I’ve yet to do the final math and my log is on another pc. Anyway if you ever needed a reason to switch out your shoes here is one, well several actually, click on the photos to enlarge. You can read my initial review here and my 150 mile review here.

By way of quick post mortem review the pros and cons of them:

• Comfort; right out of the box, 14 miles last Sunday no problem
• Weight; not super light but not super heavy…kinda perfect I guess!
• Color; c’mon they’re orange, but also available in red and green and (yawn) black!

• Breathability; this is actually really good but it lets the dust in
• Cost: $120 give or take
• Replacing a broken lace is a royal pain!

If you fancy winning a pair try the Challenge here, gotta be in it to win it!

Overall the soles are compressed; that's reduced cushioning folks!

Check out the compressed sole where the words are!

Down at that heel!

Can you say squished!

Friday, January 2, 2009

The back of my napkin...

Added to which I have taken the plunge and have swimming lessons booked so maybe, just maybe, there's a tri in there somewhere?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Day One Run One Fun One!

What a great day for the first run of the year. Cold, frosty, slightly hazy and best of all deserted. I ran around Paramount Ranch off of Mullholland Highway, it’s been used numerous times as a movie/tv lot. A nice easy hour to blow away the cobwebs and the first run using the MyTach GPS which I have been sent to review. I am back in the groove as of next Monday so this week is just for fun! Here are the best of the photos, the rest are here:

An early start with long dark shadows

Frosty trails and angel rays!

The sun burning off the haze

I've been told this is my signature shot, personally I think my arms are just too short!

Main Street USA circa 1850