Sunday, June 30, 2013

Review; Saucony Kinvara 4s

This review is a bit overdue but then my blogging this year is a bit hit an miss. Anyway on with the show.

So the good folks at Saucony sent me an early release pair of Kinvara 4s back in April, they went on general release in May and now I have about 100 miles on them so it seems like a good time to post my thoughts. I have run in Kinvara 1s and 2s so I had a fair idea what to expect and these shoes well and truly exceeded my expectations.

The big change is in the sole, runners who are familiar with the earlier versions will understand what I mean when I say that after a while they felt a bit flat, Saucony have addressed this by changing the heel compound from ProGrid to PowerGrid which is more resilient than the previous version, they have retained the consistent triangle sole grip pattern. Additional updates also include an improved upper with “FlexFilm”, carried over from the Kinvara 3s with a nice toe bumper, the FlexFilm is very light and breathable. In terms of fit, there is a roomy toe box and solid fit around the heel. Personally from my triathlon experience I switched out the laces and put in some Yankz, they are my go-tos now.

They ride is light (7.7 oz. / 218 gm (size 9)) and easy, they soak up the sidewalk without any issues, and for me the 4mm heel to toe drop (22mm heel and 18mm toe) allows me to maintain a comfortable midfoot strike. As mentioned they are well ventilated and there is no concerns about you overheating. I will be honest and say that I have not run any real distance in these due to my training, the longest run being only around 8 miles but these have plenty more miles in them and from experience I would see no problems up to a marathon.

So in summary another solid offer from Saucony which will keep the Kinvara die hards more than happy. Available in a multitude of colors in both men’s and women’s specific versions you can find these online for around $100
These shoes were provided free of charge by the good folks at Saucony. See previous gear reviews in the sidebar on the right. If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me at

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Sherpa thoughts…

Last weekend I was out Sherpaing for TriBeccaTO while she raced the Breath of Life Tri in Ventura, being a Sherpa can be lots of fun, you get to help someone, which takes a lot of the stress of them. I would say that on the whole triathlon is a pretty selfish sport and giving yourself over to run around after them, carry bags take pictures and tell them to “hurry up, I want to go home” is a pretty neat way of supporting them…well maybe not the last one, (joke)!

Of course you get to see a whole bunch other folks doing some pretty cool stuff and some pretty crazy stuff too!

Here’s are some thoughts and observations on stuff I think is cool, wish I had thought of or is generally awesome and of course stuff which is stupid, crazy or just plain dangerous

  • Riding and running in a tutu and insect antenna!
  • Wearing an aero helmet and a cotton t-shirt?!
  • Running with your friend who is having a really tough time…the last two ladies on the course!
  • Smiling and enjoying it…unless you are competing in which case it’s game face all the way!
  • If you want some crowd support wear a kit with something on it that people can shout, I usually generate “Go Hammer” from my kit and I like it, it’s also easier to shout that as a spectator rather than “go blue Orca kit with white trim and yellow shoes and red visor”, plus that’s a horrible clash!
  • We’re all familiar with the “nearly there” but I heard it being shouted at mile 1 on the run…only 5.2 to go!


This is when you say nearly there!

  • Four 32 ounce water bottles on a bike for a 24 mile ride on a cloudy and cool day; that’s an extra 8lbs you just added in weight after you spent $5,000 and another $3,000 on Zipp wheels to get the bike to less than 16lbs!
  • Mounting the bike and then stop 10 yards into the ride to squeeze your tires to check the pressure
  • Causing a crash and then riding off…yeah that happened!
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  • Following the course markings, I saw someone riding on the wrong side of a divided road into head on traffic
  • Finally as a competitor thank all the volunteers! No volunteers no race!

So if you get a chance be a Sherpa, it’s almost as much fun as racing…almost!

Wordless Wednesday…

Love this pic…

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

TDBB; Week 3

Week 3 was big! One extra day of riding and a few more miles…here’s how it shook out!

Monday – rest, ahhhh!

Tuesday – Triple day, to and from work commuting and once home the bike straight went on the trainer for Sufferfest Local Hero, by the end of the day I had accumulated over 3 hours and just under 50 miles!

Wednesday – my local loop, as mentioned last week I need to extend this to 75 minutes

Thursday – back on the Trainer for 50 minutes of the Sufferfest Wretched, this ride is a race sim described as “A pure, attacking, climbing, fighting Tour de France stage”…I would agree, here is the TrainerRoad output!


Friday – I managed to extend my local loop to 75 mins well actually 86 mins (whoops my bad) with the addition of a couple of Cat 4 climbs it’s now a real treat…so I just need to get faster to get it to 75 minutes! The good news is that Grades up to around 7% are becoming very doable…beyond needs some more work!


Saturday – off, boo yah!

Sunday – TribeccaTO was racing the Breath of Life Tri in Ventura, about 30 miles from home, so the plan was to Sherpa for her in the morning and then ride back home, I set off and only made one bad turn, the first 38 miles were pancake flat along the coast on many of the same roads that I trained on for IMAZ last year. Then I turned inland and upward, upward and upward; two Cat 2, one Cat 3 and two Cat 4 climbs and I was home, 63 miles, over 4 hours in the saddle and 3600’ of gain. My legs checked out around mile 52 so that’s a good benchmark for the weeks to come. I am definitly feeling stronger but have some ways to go yet!


Here’s the digits;


Week 4 is a rest/step back week so everything will be down…including my weight which is creeping south!


Monday, June 17, 2013

TDBB; Week 2

Week 2 was a build on week 1, similar schedule but with a little more load and volume.

Monday – off, yes I have this nailed now!

Tuesday – Sufferfest Blender, just to remind you your day off was well and truly over, this is 1:43 minutes of trainer bliss! 3 Interval Sets; Set 1: 5 x Mixed Longer Intervals Threshold/VO2 Max, Set 2: 18 Short/Intense Power at VO2 Max and Anaerobic Capacity and Set 3: 3 repeats of 4 minutes Threshold (RPE 7-8/10)/ 1 Minute Recovery

Wednesday - I was out early carving up a local loop that I have mapped out, this needs to be extended as it should be a 75 minute ride and I am getting it done in around 64 minutes, I have some ideas on where to extend to add a Cat 4 climb into the mix!

Thursday – commuted to and from work for an extra 28 miles and 200’ of gain

Friday – Sufferfest Hell Hath no Fury, UCI Carbon Chicas, whipping my ass for 1:12 and another 20 miles in the bank


The Sufferfest - Hell Hath No Fury - Trailer from The Sufferfest on Vimeo.

Saturday – off…phew!

Sunday – Long Ride, headed out with TriBeccaTo and added another 49 miles with 3200’ feet of gain!


All in all a solid week and good build from week 1


I also upgraded my Membership on Strava so I get some fancy HR stuff like this, I am still playing with it for now;


The goal for next week, stick to the plan, add 10% more mileage and start throwing in some big hills


Monday, June 10, 2013

TDBB; Week1

Ok Week 1 is in the books. Nothing to troublesome but like most training weeks I had to mix it up to get it to all fit in, this is how it all shook out;

Monday – off, check, managed that no problem

Tuesday – The Sufferfest ; Angels, this is all about climbing, a short warm up and some over/unders and then it’s 3 x 8 minute climbs

Angels Ad from The Sufferfest on Vimeo.

Wednesday – Tempo ride; I rode a local loop that has an easy start, some rollers in the middle and then a short sharp climb towards the end. As it’s local it’s something I can rinse and repeat and measure some progress against

Thursday – off, if you say so!

Friday – commuted to work. I am co located between two offices, one is 50 miles away and the other 14 so with a bit of planning I can ride to the local one and use their showers etc. to clean up, there are a couple of nice hills going either way and it’s a good way to get some extra saddle time in without having to do it at 5am or 9pm! This is the ride to work, obviously the ride home is just the reverse


Saturday – The Sufferfest; The Hunted, another climbing ride the meat of which is a solid 20 minutes

The Sufferfest - The Hunted - Trailer from The Sufferfest on Vimeo.

Sunday - a new loop which connects some of my old cycling rides for a 35 mile ride, followed by another 7 miles on my mountain bike as a cool down riding along with TriBeccaTO as she ran. This is the longer ride some nice hillwork in there.


So the totals for the week;





Elevation gain


No real problems with this, it’s just about time in the saddle and riding terrain which matches the Tour…hills! The only real challenge is that we are currently having our kitchen remodeled and so a lot of the kitchen is in the garage so there is a far amount of set up the trainer and the break down the trainer, it’s a short term issue as a we are getting towards the end of the remodel but it reinforces the “have your kit ready” to use!

Finally no week goes by without something new a shiny catching my attention and this week one of these arrived on my doorstep.


I have yet to unbox it due to the complete lack of space in garage but it will make carrying the mountain bikes an absolute doddle!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The next challenge…

So next up on the agenda is something a little out of the blue, I have signed up for the Tour de Big Bear. It’s a Century ride which in its self is not too onerous, what will be the challenge is that it is at altitude, mostly around 7000’, the website blurb is;

The CLIMB – 100 miles – 7425’ Climbing

Southern California’s most challenging century, this course will duplicate The Grand Tour route over the new bridge, across the Arctic Circle to Snow Valley, back across the Arctic Circle, across the north shore of Big Bear Lake and Baldwin Lake, up and over Onyx Summit, but will extend down the backside of Sugarloaf Mountain into the spectacular Santa Ana River Canyon.  The ride continues down past the Seven Oaks turnoff and turns left and loops up along the edge of the San Gorgonio Wilderness and Jenks Lake.  The return up the backside of Sugarloaf Mountain will test even the most seasoned climbers with a 15 mile ascent before reentering the Big Bear Valley and continuing toward the finish line. Just when you think the climbing journey is over, its back up into the hills as you climb to upper Moonridge with the last short ascent up at about 15% grade at mile 93!!


I obviously need to work on my cycling fitness and need to get some serious miles on my road bike. Given the restrictions I have on time I am using a plan published by The Sufferfest, the only modification will be extending out the long rides on the Sunday to get me some serious saddle time. I am almost at the end of Week 1, I will be posting updates and you can follow my progress on Daily Mile, Garmin Connect and Strava!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Vineman Monte Rio Olympic Triathlon

So I did this race last weekend and you know what it actually went pretty well!

My partner, TriBeccaTO, (wait you knew that right? Oh well buy me a beer and I will tell you all about it one day) had signed up for this way back in February. It’s a new race put on by the group that organizes the Vineman 70.3 and if you signed up early enough it gave you a guaranteed spot to the 70.3 race in 2014, this is a real bonus as that race usually sells out within 10 minutes on line, and as we are both thinking about doing another Ironman next year this is a perfect work up race, any way I digress.


I will spare you all the pre-race and travel details but suffice to say much fun was had during the 600miles, find my Facebook or Instagram feed and you’ll see what I mean!

Anyway race day morning came and thanks to our VIP enrollment when we signed up we got a primo parking spot right next to the start, so it was just a case of final bike prep which always takes longer than you think, a quick, well actually a lot of wriggling into the wetsuit (an additional 10lbs or so has crept on since IMAZ last year and no real training this year hasn’t helped any!) and we were off to the start!

Our plan was for me to be passed by Becca on the swim (she’s a much better swimmer than me) , I would catch her on the bike and then we would run it in together...that was the plan!

Anyway my swim wave went and she was 5 minutes behind me, I splashed my way up the Russian River lamenting that my previously bad swim was now worse! As planned I was passed and finally I exited the water in around 45 minutes, I wasn’t too unhappy as my best Olympic swim time is just over 40 minutes. The run up to T1 was a little challenging, through a parking lot and up a rough road made it a ginger and long run, but finally I was there, wet suit off etc and off on the bike.

We had driven the bike and run course the day before so we knew that the section from M2 to M8 was a pretty rough road and it was. It was here also that I had to stop and adjust my brakes as they were not properly seated on my race wheels and were rubbing, not really a “mechanical” but something that cost me a couple of minutes and evident in my bike splits. Better to stop and fix it rather than lament breaking my wheels etc further in. After this I settled in to the ride and despite a lack of any real aero training it was all very familiar. I saw Becca heading back the other way and she was about 3 miles ahead of me as I approached the 13 mile mark so it was going to be a challenge to catch her at this point. I managed to escape off the bike only being passed by three riders and passing many more although . A reasonable T2 and I was out on the run.

image image

The run was a simple out and back and was along a very shady lane. Despite any real running of late (are you detecting a theme?) I stuck to a pace that was comfortable and just ran, my Garmin 910 was suffering from technical issues and was not displaying any data and so all I had to go with was RPE which turned out to be just fine. At my 2.5 mile mark I saw Becca at her 3.5 mile point so it was unlikely that I would catch her and as my goal was simply to run the entire run section I was happy to stick at my pace and keep going. Again I was picking off people although that thinned out towards the final mile and I was only passed once on the run. With a kick at the end I finished and was done. Of course one advantage of having a faster than you girlfriend is that you stand a good chance of an awesome finishers photo!


So despite any real training I was pleased with my overall performance and now I have a slot for next years 70.3 if I want it.

A few words on the race itself. It’s very well organized as you would expect from folks that put on one of the most popular 70.3s in the country, you get a nice tech shirt and medal. There is a hot breakfast post race which is so welcome! It’s a pretty laid back vibe and while they are very professional they don’t take themselves to seriously. The volunteers are great and there is pretty good sponsorship with Cliff laying on the “on course” goodies. The Russian River is at best shallow. If you are weak or wary swimmer it’s perfect and there are lots of places where you can touch the bottom, in fact some of it is so shallow you have to walk. The ride is pretty with some rolls but no real hills, it’s a bit bumpy in places, but the bulk of it is on freshly laid blacktop and the run is shady and pretty the former, in my mind, is much more important than the latter!

So here are all my details;


As you can see, the swim was meh, the bike better and the run pretty good! Overall from the swim exit to the end of the race I passed over 150 people…it’s not a real surprise but it’s given me food for thought for the next time; duathlon!?!