Monday, December 31, 2007

That was the year that was...

As my bio states I have always been a runner sometimes off and sometimes on. The recent ‘on’ has been going since 2004, when after moving back from NYC to Los Angeles I decided that I really did need to loose those 45lbs gained in the big apple! So I laced up my shoes and headed out, 15 minutes in one direction and turn around, by the end of 2006 I had dropped 55lbs and was running 25 miles a week and could often be seen pushing my son in the stroller for our “long run” run on a Sunday morning along the beach path.

Well it was one year ago today that I set my sights on a 3:30 marathon; alas it was not to be. The closest I got was a 3:45:09, close but no cigar. However like the horizon as the year moved so did the goals, while I still harbor a desire for a 3:30 or better yet a Boston Qualifier (3:20) those targets, have for the moment, been replaced with lengthier ones.

The birth of this blog, in February, was as a result of a Nike+ challenge created by a fellow runner (Nike+ ID Snowcrash) called the Quadrathlon, four events; 1 mile, 5k, 10k and most miles accumulated during the month, with a scoring system designed to calculate the overall winner, the challenge is still going strong and celebrates its one year anniversary in January 2008. This blogs original purpose was as somewhere to post the results, however, it soon became my personal cathartic vehicle on my running adventures which are contained within these electronic ones and ohs.

So the summary for the year. I will spare you the high and low lights in any great length, but here’s a quick list, all of which are written about in excruciating detail in this blog:

  • Ran a sub 100 minute Half Marathon; 1:37:32 Wine Country Half Marathon
  • Completed first Marathon; 3:45:09 San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll
  • Finished first Ultra-Marathon PCTR Pt Mugu 50k 6:54:07
  • Missed both my ‘A’ race; San Francisco Marathon and ‘B1’ race; Bulldog 50k
  • Ran and biked the equivalent of traveling across the continental United States; 1650 miles ran, 710 biked, total 2360
  • Was injured for ten weeks with ITB syndrome
  • Turned 40 and experienced the joy of the birth of our second son
  • Learned more about running, cross training, stretching, nutrition, hydration and running gadgets than I knew existed!
  • Made a ton of new virtual friends, many of which welcomed me and some I welcomed into the world of early mornings, late nights, intervals, fartleks, Garmin data, RSS feeds, splits, pace, results, successes and disappointments that we all run towards

Looking forward to 2008, my goals are simple to state but difficult to achieve but I know that my RBFs and the communities that I visit as well as my family and friends will be there to support me (and no doubt sometimes question my sanity) as I attempt them.

So as this year draws to a close, as they always do, I wish each and everyone of you a successful 2008 may your goals be achieved and your horizons a little closer.

Friday, December 28, 2007

New Year = New Fuel

Anyone who knows me will know that I am a bit of a nutrition/ hydration nerd. My rationale is that there is no excuse for not taking control of these things as there are so many other things that can go wrong; it’s about minimizing the odds.

As I am sure you all know; if you are running or cycling or exercising at any intensity for more than an 60 minutes you should be refueling on the fly…you do know that right?!?

All this year I have been using Accelerade and EndoroxR4 as my primary source of during and post exercise nutrition/hydration. As my supplies dwindled towards the end of November I decided to change. Two things prompted me to change, the first was the discovery that Accel Gel contains HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup) and the second was that the taste of Accelerade had become decidedly too sweet for me, in fact a lot of foods seem to have taken on stronger flavors of late, I think this is a result of the Paleo diet which I have been following this month where I have eliminated all processed foodstuffs, salty snacks and sweets, my new snack of choice is an apple with a dollop of almond butter…yum!

Anyway I digress, having done a bit of research I decided to give Hammer Nutrition products a whirl. My preliminary conclusion; I am impressed. The flavors are flavorful but not sweet or strong, they are very gentle on your stomach; I have the constitution of a compost heap, but even so they are very palatable. My initial order was a tub of Perpetuem for during and Recoverite for post exercise, I also ordered a selection of gels. The package arrived promptly, they are located just up the west coast from me, and to my surprise contained a multitude of goodies; extra gels, gel bottle, sample sachets of Heed and electrolytes and energy bars as well as a newsletter and catalog. I am working through the “extras” but so far I am very impressed. The energy refueling has proven to be effective, I have two 20+ milers under my belt in the last 12 days and no sign of the wall. As mentioned they are very gentle on your stomach and very palatable.

If you fancy trying them, and I recommend you do, click on the above image and you'll be directed to “my page”, here you will receive a 15% discount on your order, in return I accumulate a percentage of your order towards my next order…hey that’s a win:win in my book.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Hills have ‘I’s Pt 2...I's losing my mind!

Last night was interval night and as per last week I ran the hill loop around my neighborhood, I knew I was going to be slower this week as despite my best efforts the holiday excess has taken a toll. More worrying was that I could not remember if I needed three loops or four; I would like to blame the alcohol but a glass and half of wine in a week is really not the culprit. Not to be one to scrimp I went for the latter. Whoops! The fourth lap was a killer and the time does not really illustrate the pain, but hey pain is just weakness leaving the body at least that’s what my old Sergeant Major used to tell me. The good news was that the downhill sections were faster but this I put down to the snowball effect, that is the rotund tum’ vs. gravity battle. Here are the numbers:

Tonight was Doug'sDay for tempo and I have my new tempo route but I also have the bodyaches /shivers/sore throat etc that precedes one of those stinker colds.

Honey & lemon, and off to bed! I'll pick up the slack tommorow.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Just how fast is fast enough?

Last week I concluded that my weeks training will now comprise a tempo run, a set of intervals and a long run, what I have been pondering since then is the pace that these runs should be at. The interval run is relatively easy to calculate as I have substituted running one mile track intervals for hill intervals and I have a baseline set of numbers from last week to measure and gauge my improvement against. However this left the tempo and long run.

After some research I have uncovered three sites;, and that provide equivalent distance pace calculations based on the input of your time and distance. Using my 5k time of 20:47 from the Santa Monica Classic in May this year I have been given the following paces for my tempo run and long run as well as predicted times for the half and full marathon.

The tempo pace is at the moment a little beyond me but it gives me a target to aim at, the long run is also quicker but only by 20 seconds per mile, the marathon race pace of 7:36 for a 3:21 finish is a challenge as that would shave 24 minutes off my marathon finish time of 3:45, obviously that’s nearly a mile a minute faster…but that’s the whole point, right! Interestingly my half marathon PR is just under 2 minutes slower the predicted finish time at 1:37:32.

On another note I registered for the Calico Trail 50k in mid January, I posted on the California Ultra Runner message board if anyone had any tips etc and got the reply that it would be windy or cold or both! Not quite what I was expecting but better than hot, I had a look at the projected weather for January and the average temperature is predicted to be 61f, the record is 77f, the average is just fine for me!

Finally wishing everyone everywhere and especially all my RBFs and their families a happy and safe holiday season.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Keplunk, chink, chink...

What’s that strange noise you may ask? Well quite simply it is the sound of the penny dropping, thanks to Doug and his words of wisdom: “The only way to run (race) fast is to run (train) fast!”

Makes sense right, of course but you know sometimes you just can’t see the wood for the trees, but last night I went running with my chainsaw, metaphorically speaking. It was to be a one mile warm up, three mile tempo and 2 mile cool down, but I went out fast and kept going. Here are the numbers:

There is a slight anomaly with the first two laps, I obviously was not running at 20mph plus and a sub three minute mile! (Can you say which way to Beijing!), in fact what had happened was my Garmin was full! Yes apparently they fill up with laps, workouts, distance alerts and waypoints etc so I had to delete some on the fly. The average for the two miles is 7:20 which makes them the fastest two miles however mile one is always downhill so the average is not a fair representation of the distance but the point is made. The sharp drop off at the end is a walking cool down.

Other than that, oh and the head-on wind that seemed to be head-on no matter what direction I ran it was a great run, so as an amendment to the training schedule Thursdays are officially “Doug'sdays” and will be tempo based, it really only makes sense, now I have a: tempo run, a set of intervals and currently one, soon to be two long runs a week with cross training in between.

Sounds like a plan to me, cheers Doug, I owe you one!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Hills have "I"s

Yes, “I” for Intervals!

So yesterday I ran hill intervals, I actually live halfway up a hill and there is a good loop that I can run around. My schedule called for 3 one mile intervals which I thought would translate into 3 loops…it didn’t. By the time I got to the bottom, the start point, and run two loops, plus a little bit extra to return an errant dog, who thought it would be fun to follow me, back to it’s owner, I was in for 3.8 miles so I called it a day after two, and cooled down with a brisk walk up the hill to home to round out on a total of 4.2 miles. I am concious of not over doing it and over training something I flirted with earlier this year. I get to do three loops next week.

So the ups were, well, up, pretty lung busting but not vom-inducing and the downs, once I had warmed up, gave my quads a pretty good workout. I was definitely getting faster on each lap which leads me to conclude that I really wasn’t leaving it all out there; something else to work on. I manually set laps on my Garmin as per the climbs and descents, they look like this:

The actually profile of the run gave me a pretty wavy line; this is of course a very technical term! See image above. Total ascent was 951 feet, the actual climb lasts 330 feet and as you can see it lasts just under three quarters of a mile.

So now I have a benchmark upon which to start improving against.

One minor milestone for this run, I broke the 1500 mile mark for the year!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

As Maverick said to Goose...

So it rained here yesterday…a lot. The are two fundamental problems with rain in Southern California; the first is that the roads have little or no drainage so the water tends to sit in large puddles by the side of the road; where I run and the second is that the typical LA driver who is typing on their Blackberry, while sipping on a decaf chai skimmed extra hot with no foam latte, while tuning in the GPS, shouting at the kids in the back and not actually being able to see anything that is less than 7’ tall in their ‘lifted’ Escalade, likes to go into a complete state of panic when it rains. I am really not sure if this is because they seriously do not know how to drive in the wet or it’s because their car is getting dirty after spending $150 having it's probably both!

Anyway what this meant was I was relegated to the treadmill. No problem thought I, my schedule called for 7 miles so it was going to be around an hour. I stretched and strapped on the usual gizmos; Garmin 305 and footpod and iPod/Nike+ and got going. Now during the last 5 months I have noticed that my pace has gotten slower and despite my gizmos I guess it had just not sunk in how slow I had actually become, it wasn’t until I glanced down at the dashboard that I realized I was plodding along at around a 9:30 mile! This is terrible I thought to myself, I increased the speed to 7mph or an 8:30 mile and to my surprise actually found that I had to work at it. I was shocked. The rest of the run I ran mile intervals between 8:30 and 9:30 with a penultimate mile of 7:41, with some aural support from the The Prodigy, until I had reached the target 7 miles, although my Garmin conked out at the 6.4 mark, I think I have a dicky USB port and it’s not charging it properly.

I checked back through my training log and specifically at the Santa Monica Classic 5k and The Wine Country Half Marathon I ran in May and the San Diego Marathon I ran in June; now while these were obviously at race pace I was shocked to see that the average pace for each of these races was: 6:38, 7:32 and 8:30 respectively and here I was struggling to maintain an 8:30 pace every other mile on a treadmill for only seven miles!

I really have no idea where this drop in pace has come from; maybe it’s the longer distances I am covering, maybe it’s the fact that I never got fast again after my injury or maybe it's something else but one thing is for sure if I want to complete the Leona Divide in under 10 hours I’ll need to work on my speed!

Tomorrow calls for mile intervals which really should be run on a track, the problem is the local High School track is being resurfaced so I think I will run hills instead and see what I can make of it…boy do I have some work to do!

I feel the need! Do you?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Wanna ziga zig ha!

Well that time of year is nearly upon us…burned hands from retrieving fallen chestnuts that were roasting in an open fire, the glazed-over-my lifeforce-is-being-sucked-out-of-me-as-the-camera-rotates-around-my -spinning-head-while-I-stand-in-the-center-of-the-shopping-mall look, the persistent sting of paper cuts from all the wrapping and the pseudo waxing from scotch tape. So when you manage to break free of the tractor beam of the mall, hit the internet 'cos there’s a bit of shopping to do! If you’re stuck for a gift for the runner in your life here are a few things that have caught my eye or put another way “I tell you what I want what I really want…

Nathan HPL 028 Vest, if you run with hand bottles but want somewhere to carry gels, chap-stick or suncream this lightweight vest will accommodate them and a little more with it’s elasticized back pocket where you can stash a jacket, arm-warmers etc. Talking of arm-warmers Moeben Sleeves overcome the “it’s cold now but I will get warm soon", plenty of fancy colors and a handy dandy pocket for a gel etc.

As it is cold for 90% of the country, it’s even got below 50f here in Southern California this week, most runners will be wearing tights of some description, to avoid the "clunking of the junk" us fellas normally end up with shorts on underneath, well comfortable it isn’t! The Asics Transitive Brief overcomes that…warning this is not the most flattering photo! However if you want to go and get all compressed CW-X Insulator Stabilyx Tights will keep you all neat and tidy as well as warm and supported, just to be fair, as cold legs is cold legs there is also a ladies version.

Thinking ahead to the spring thaw avoid unnecessary blisters and slushy shoes as best you can with Dirty Girl Gaiters, don't worry dirty guys can wear them to!

If it’s so bad you really can’t head outside, curl up in front of the treadmill with Ultrarunning - My Story, Mike Bouscaren’s narrative of his journey of self-discovery through Ultra running.

Finally if nothing else fails slam this in your stereo, you’ll be running before you know it!

PS here's a quick shout-out to Frayed Laces who conquered the Honolulu Marathon this past up and return!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Monday night bible study!

Monday night saw the start of my Winter 2007/Spring training cycle. One of the benefits of Southern California climate is that the winter is actually a really good season to train in, whereas conversely during the summer it’s just too hot. It’s been a long time since I have seen the inside of a gym and lifted any weights, apart from those I was told to do during my PT. I decided to go “home-style” and scored a good deal on a bench and rack and picked up some weights locally as well so I now have a mini gym in my garage. I recent trip to Barnes & Noble uncovered a great book (click on the book and you can read it on Google Books) that contains all of the exercises that I think I need to work things in the upper, mid and lower range and after reading through the various variations I have come up with what feels like a good all round workout, additionally I also have a medicine ball which I throw around and some small cones; these are used for jumping over and around to work out my core.

I’ll not bore you (or embarrass myself) with the reps, sets and weights but the exercises are:

  • Midsection: reverse woodchop, swiss-ball weighted crunch, a “Good-Morning”
  • Chest & Upper Back: bench press, incline bench press, pronated bent-over row, supinated bent-over row, pullover
  • Shoulders & Arms: military press, lying tricep extension, standing curl
  • Lower Body: Back squat, lunge, step up, side step up, standing calf raise

As it was my first session in a long time, I paced myself but I still managed to feel it this morning!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

First the the how!

Well this is the plan, its a modified Hal Higdon Comrades' Ultramarthon plan. I have shortened it by six weeks to avoid over-training, something that I flirted with earlier this year, and much of what I have read has advised that it is better to be undertrained than overtrained. I have also increased the cross training to focus on my ITB and avoid any repeat injury.

The shading is not only to make it look pretty it will allow me to periodize the training and compare period vs. period in terms of power output on both the weights and the bike, I have been looking at CrossFit as a means of cross training so where it reads weights this will not be a pure play on lifting but will build in other exercises as well.

Not mentioned but built in is the stretching routine that I have developed, this is done pre and post run and ideally one other occasion per day. The final thing is the nutrition and hydration plan; I am 90% through reading the Paleo Diet for Endurance Athletes and a lot of what I have read sits very comfortably with me so I will be following the guidelines of that diet and see where it takes me with a review of things after a month.

A race-pace of 9:30 will seem a bit slow compared to the road miles pace I usually run; around 8:30, but I hope to actually be training on terrain similar to that on my 'A' race (American River or Leona Divide, probably the latter due to geography; I can drive to the start line in a hour), that is hills, hills and more hills, and given that the pace at the Pt Mugu was north of 13:00 per mile I am actually looking for a considerable increase in speed!

At least that's the plan...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Running in Circles!

Ahhh, ok there I got it off my chest! What you may ask, feigning interest, well, pull up a chair, sit down and let me tell you. Races that sell out months in advance. So far this year I have been dinged by; Xterra's Topanga Turkey Trot & Crystal Cove races Santa Barbara 9 Trails, Twin Peaks 50K (although I found out today that this has been canceled due to the wildfires, which have, sadly, ravaged Orange County) and the Surf City Marathon, the latter two are not until next February!

Yes I know the argument is to sign up months in advance along with anyone else, but as I found to my financial expense earlier this year family and injury come way up the list and the thought of churning through more cash on planes unflown, hotels unstayed in and start and finish lines uncrossed is somewhat galling. Added to which I was going through the application for next years Angeles Crest and I will miss the cutoff for the qualifying 50M, so that’s scratched from next years agenda as well! Grrr..ok I am over it!

So here is a penciled in look at what I am planning in the first five months of 2008, trust me this pencil comes fitted with an eraser!

January: XTerra Boney Mountain 21k, Calico Trail 50k

February: Buffalo Run 21k

March: LA Marathon (hard) or Napa Trail Marathon (harder) or Catalina Marathon (hardest)

April: Leona Divide 50m or American River 50m

May: XTerra Malibu Creek 14m

April is my “A” race month for the first half of the year for obvious reasons, the others are only training runs, but it’s good to put some of the mileage in under “race conditions” both physically and mentally.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Pacific Coast Trail Runners; Pt Mugu 50K

Once again the sun didn’t rise; in fact it was downright foggy. The forty five minute drive to the parking lot at the Ray Miller trail-head on Point Mugu didn’t show any improvement in the conditions, this, however, I would appreciate as the day wore on. As per the XTerra Race I parked on Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) and walked across the road to the registration desk, there were significantly less runners than the last time I was here in October. I signed in and collected my number; 505, a sign I wondered (505 for a 50k?), pins and a route card showing the mileage points and aid station locations and headed back to my car to collect my gear. I laid in the trunk of my car (I have a station wagon, in case you're wondering) and worked my way through my stretching routine, well as best as I could given the limited roof height.

I taped my knees as is all the fashion for us ITB sufferers and headed over to the start line to get the brief. We were told that the aid stations would be located at the Start/Finish; which we would go through three times; 12.2km, 29.8km and 42km and one at the parking lot at the PCH end of Sycamore Canyon a turn around point; 20.9km. The stations would be stocked with the usual goodies, PB&J sandwiches, M&Ms, Trail Mix, Cookies, baked potatoes with dipping salt (these sound pretty bad but actually taste really good after a long day and the salt is much needed), Coke, Water, Conquest sports drink and a ton of other stuff that you really wouldn’t associate with running; trust me when I say that learning to run with food in you mouth and hand is a much needed skill for the longer distances.

Runners were divided into two groups per their distances 9 & 18kms on the right, 30 & 50kms on the left, 55 runners has signed up for the 50k and of them there were 4 or 5 myself included attempting their first Ultra and we sheepishly waved our hands when asked to identify ourselves. The gun, well the shout, “GO” went off at 8:30 and we were underway, this was the last I saw of the right hand group, many if not all would be at home in time for tea and medals long before I had finished. The 30 & 50ers headed out along the blacktop which soon ended and became trail winding it's way along the canyon bottom. There was little or no improvement in the weather and therefore no sign of what was to come although I was somewhat prepared from my XTerra run, however, we were heading along a different path. Slim breaks in the clouds provided ominous glimpses of what looked like nearly vertical canyon sides. During this time I had running through my mind the mantra; “pace; run your own race” and I did my best to run at an easy pace.

I was determined that I would have no reason for not finishing based on nutrition and/or hydration issues and to that end I was stocked up with 64oz of strong Accelerade (650 calories), 7 CarbBOOM gels (700 calories) that I had squeezed into a Fuel Belt bottle, a packet of SaltStick Tablets and a protein bar (250 calories, totaling 1600 calories “on board”), this would be in addition to anything that I picked up at the aid stations along the way, my plan was to ‘swig’ a gel every 45 minutes, drink as required, eat the bar around the end of hour 3 and finish around 6 hours, a 7:11km pace.

The course comprised of three loops and an out ‘n’ back for the final stretch. The first loop was 12.2km, the fog was still swirling and visibility was at times down to 30 or so meters, we climbed in single file up the first set of switchbacks, some of the path seemed cut from the stone face and we stepped up until the trail became well a trail! Onward and upward we climbed until finally reaching what felt like to top only to have to go up some more, the series of false summits continued for the first 6km until we broke through out into the pasture on the plateau. I had steadily been overtaking runners and walkers during the first hour and once out in the pasture I found myself on my own. The route had been marked by colored ribbons and at times I found myself wondering if I had missed a turn then out of the gloom a ribbon pegged to a bush would appear reassuring me I was heading in the right direction. I continued across the rolling pasture finally taking a sharp right hand turn along the side of a dried pond shortly after I started to head downhill, finally, after 1:15, I closed the loop and continued down the path I had come up. I exited out the valley mouth (1:35) running past the aid station feeling strong and heading towards the second loop that would take me over the ridgeline into Sycamore Canyon.

It took another hour to reach the second aid station, which according to my Garmin was at 21.2km, I spent too long here as I was searching through my pack for my Aleve tablets which were a last minute thought and I shoved them in somewhere instead of putting them in the pouches on the front of my vest, I finally found them and popped a couple, at this point I dropped my pack and buried the mouthpiece in the dirt! So having washed it off and put it back on I availed myself of some of the goodies on offer, a handful of pretzels and a mini protein bar washed down with some plain old water, which never tasted so fresh. I also switched out my hat for a visor as the sweat that was dripping off the brim was becoming a little distracting. I turned around and started to retrace my path. At the 22km we tracked left and headed up a long sweeping climb that gave us a pretty good view, when the fog broke, across and along the valley, which on a clear day would be a great sight, personally at this point I was becoming increasingly glad for the dull conditions and the low temperatures. At the 25km point the second loop was closed and it was at this point I was asked for directions. The runner, who I had seen stop at the junction had been in front of me for most of the way and was just about to head off back down the loop when he saw me and asked which way should he go, I pointed up and he sighed, thanked me for saving him an extra 6.5km and shot off up the hill.

Another 35 minutes later (3:40) I was back at the Start/Finish line for the second time having covered 30.4km (18.9 miles). It was here that I could bow out having run a good race but the scent of the fifty filled my nostrils and I pressed on only stopping briefly at the aid station for a PB&J sandwich, some more pretzels and a couple of cups of full caffeine and full sugar Coke (oh the things you can eat) I pushed on again with a distinct sense of deja-vou as the third loop was a repeat of the first. This time the fog was lifting and there was a glint of sun coming over the ridgeline, along with it an increase in the temperature. I pushed on up through the rocky section and was overtaken by a couple of runners who shot by me so fast that I was surprised that they were not in front of me already. At 34.5km I stopped to actually take some video footage of the views, you can just see the surf (after about 10 seconds) as and when it appeared through the haze, there was still an immense amount of cloud and mist loitering just on the shoreline, which rolled in to my defense a little while later cooling things down again. I broke out of the climb and trekked across the pasture which without the fog you can see on this video looked completely different. At 39km I stopped to take a stone out of my shoe and and adjust my socks which were pretty gunky by this time (I actually ended the day with one small blister that I didn’t even realize I had until I took my shoe off at home; not bad for C9 socks from Target) retying my shoes I headed back round the loop and had a distinct feeling of "what am I doing here" running through my mind, to be honest a lot of this loop was either walked; all of the uphills were, or run/walked where I would run 30-40 or so paces and walk 10; this was actually quite efficient. I had at this stage taken another 2 Aleve, and while they took the edge off, my hips felt like they were having broken bottles jammed in them at every step, however I had at least to get back to the Start/Finish line, that was, after all where my car was! During the final stretch the fog lifted some and I could see down the valley. Here's some video of the trail and view.

I was overtaken again around the 40km overtaken by someone who I can only assume took the wrong turning as I would have sworn that he had been in front of me earlier in the day. At 42.56 I was back at the Start/Finish line and I realized that I had it in the bag. The final stretch was an out ‘n’ back 8km up a partial way of the original second loop. Much of the climb was spent employing the walk and run/walk method and that allowed me to pull ahead of several runners who I had bumped into during the last and final aid station stop. The fog was coming in again and as I reached the top and the final ridgeline before the turnaround it was impossible to see who was where. At this point I was on the homeward and downward leg and I knew that anyone who I saw coming up would be behind me, I counted six runners then seven, then eight, I finally pulled around the last major turn and I could see the path virtually all the way back the Finish. I rounded the last corner and saw the Finish line crossing in 6:54:07, my Garmin moving time was 6:37:26 which eliminates the time stopped; aid stations, shoes etc with a final distance of 51.08km (31.93 miles).

Of the 55 runners that started, 41 finished and of those I was 27th. I hung around the Finish line talking to the organizers and other runners and after a cup of chicken noodle soup (when doesn’t that taste good?) and some snacks I headed back to my car to stretch off, gulp down some Endurox and head home for that ever inviting ice bath!

Having had time to reflect I am glad I completed the run, rather then ducking out at 30k, it now gives me the mental security that I can cover the distance and be on my feet for that length of time, it was not an easy run with 9,762’ of elevation gain (and loss; as my quads will testify to) over five major hills and while my time wasn’t great it really wasn’t that bad, the winner finished in 4:28:37, a new course record and there were plenty of people considerably slower with times extending out to 11:07:00. My next 50k the Calico Trail in January presents a considerably flatter course with an elevation gain of 3,893’ but the temperature will come into play more as it is located inland in the desert of Barstow. My hydration plan worked well as I still had some Accelerade left although it was less than 5oz, I had consumed most of my gel, my stomach held out well against the solid food, in fact I could/should have probably taken on some more as my total calories expended was 3845, fractionally beyond what I was carrying and my glycogen stores of around 2000. Despite an average pace of 12:23 my average heart rate of 168 was too high for the caloric burn to have been predominantly fat based so my nutrition and hydration meant that I would not bonk but I was pretty close, at least on paper.

Looking forward I have to finalize my training plan for the next 5 months to allow me to peak during the weekend of Leona Divide, mid April, my targeted 50 miler for next season.

Postscript. As I was running I was listening to several Podcasts that I subscribe to, one of them; The Dump Runners Club announced that on November 17th runners would run 5.5 miles in memoriam to Ryan Shay who collapsed at that distance during the US Olympic Trials two weeks prior, it seemed more than coincidental that my number today was 505, so, albeit a day late, I dedicate this race to Ryan and his family.

I have a bunch of photos, a few good ones and a lot of bad ones here, the blue hat is the first 25km and the red visor the last 25km. For some reason they loaded backwards, that is the start is the last picture?

Here's the Motion Based data:

Sunday, November 18, 2007!

Fuel for this morning:

6oz of oats and oat bran mix
Cinnamon and Raisin bagel; half peanut butter, half marmalade
Naked Protein Superfood
Tea, Milk and Splenda
3 BCAA supplements
2 Multivits
B Complex supplement
Omega 3 supplement

Extras I forgot to pack last night' TP and Aleve!

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Tool of trade for tomorrow's run:

Asics; shorts and shirt
C9 socks – don’t show the dirt!
Asics 2120 Trail
Oakley Flak Jackets XLJ
Garmin 305 watch and HRM strap
iPod Nano and Nike+
Quadrathon Visor and one of a kind blue hat!

1 Ultimate Direction Fastdraw Extreme 24oz with Accelerade Lemonade
2 Bottles Amino Vital one pre and one post race
48oz EndoroxR4 for post race nutrition

Ultimate Direction Wasp:

64oz Accelerade Lemonade
7oz water
6 Carb Boom! Gels and 1 Crank e-Gel
3 large band-aids and steri-wipes
Lipsalve, Bodyglide and Compeed
Insect repellent
SaltStick and Sports Beans
Camera; new batteries and clean flash card
Wet One singles
Cliff Builders Bar and Met Rex Colossal 100

And so we are off!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Hooj Choons!

You can take the boy out of the night-club but…

One good use for Flash is as a little (and usually the smaller the better) widget. As a constant blog tweaker I loved the idea of this little gizmo to let you know what I am listening to on my iPod Nano as I run.

Well enjoy this oldie but goodie; Goldfrapp's
Strict Machine (We Are Glitter Mix) on Sasha's Fundacion NYC album on Global Underground Ltd.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

More acronyms; FFF; Five Fun Facts!

Tag…I’m it! Cheers Doug, so here you go five fun facts for you!
  • I am an Honorary Colonel in the State of Alabama; yes a “full-bird” Colonel complete with brass eagles. I received this award while serving in the military and on an exchange visit from the UK to the Alabama National Guard. I am not sure what it really means, maybe a free drink or better yet a “get out of jail free” card if I get caught speeding…I’m not in too much of a rush to test that theory though!
  • I have two tattoos but you will only ever see one, even if I was standing there buck naked you would still only see one, and in case you wondering they’re both external…see if you can figure it out?
  • When I get drunk, a rarity these days, I dance backwards and have been seen doing backward laps around the dance-floor, at least that's my excuse for crashing into things as I go around!
  • Talking of crashes; I have had three motorcycles and three crashes and walked away from each one, I passed my driving test first time after three lessons, hey go figure the things in three thing!
  • I leaned to snowboard in June 2000 while on honeymoon in New Zealand…in wait for it three days...I crashed a lot!

So let’s see if this works, Diva, H-Monkey, kxux, essa and OneMiletogo over to you…

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

It's all about the acronyms; PCTR, TFL & Zzz

This weekend is the Pacific Coast Trail Runners (PCTR) Santa Monica Mountains Fall race. As previously posted I was unsure as to whether to run the 30k or the 50k, my mileage of late has been, well pathetic, almost zero miles in the last two weeks and I am still undecided what to do, the reasons for this; an ongoing underlying niggle in my Transverse Fibers Ligament (TFL) which is associated with my ITB issues and the one month of more or less broken nights sleep where I am probably averaging around 4 hours in a stint; a new baby in the house will do that to you. Trust me I am not looking for sympathy I am just telling you how it is.

I feel pretty confident in the 30k and I have checked with the Race Director and there is the opportunity to have a drop bag as the run is a series of loops and out-n-backs, so I can prepare myself as best I can if I decide on the 50k, so in summary it’s all about the acronyms …watch this space.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Turning outside things in...

It’s funny how external things always affect you internally.

WARNING, the following contains a whole diatribe that pertains to Nike+ and the 1999 movie Fight Club staring Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter, if you do not know or have no desire to know what either is you can skip the next two paragraphs.

I am in, well was – I just won it, a Nike+ challenge with kangator, the premise, a product of the warped mind of PMag; the challenge host, is along the lines of Fight Club, that is, you challenge another member and you fight or in our case you run, or well, you don’t but then you will typically loose, anyway I digress. Kangator had previously challenged me but I was allowed to tap out; stomach flu was raging; Fight Club Rule #4, of course I have actually broken rules #1 and 2 by just writing this, confused, just rent the movie and all will be revealed. Anyway I digress, so I re-challenged kangator, to "The Heinz-man Trophy"; the first to run 57 miles, this was a crude and, I thought, obvious play on Heisman Trophy and Heinz’, as in beans and soup, 57 varieties. Kangator proved to be a worthy competitor, he laid down over 26 miles in the first two days, I responded with 25 followed by an additional 13 by day four, at this point my eldest son, who is three years old decided that my iPod USB cable seemed of particular interest to him and made off with it and then conveniently forget where he had hidden it, this meant that I was unable to sync my iPod with the Nike+ site, a tad frustrating as by day six kangator had notched up 46 miles and was within sight of the 57 miles finish line. Day seven was a rest day for us both and it was looking like it was going to be a sprint finish on long run Sunday.

The arrival of our second son two weeks ago has had an accumulative affect on the amount of sleep I am getting; read "not a lot" and I find my energy levels are generally pretty low. The lack of sleep was taking its toll; I was tired; by the end of the challenge I would have run 150% (59 miles) the number of hours sleep (40 or so) I had got in the same amount of time. The tiredness was evident in my forth run, on Thursday; my hamstrings were tight and I felt lethargic in the closing miles, however Thursday’s upside was while looking for my son’s bedtime story book de’ jour I found my iPod cable, good news. Now to get around to the first sentence of this post, to recap I was tired, did I say that already? And I needed to run 8 miles before Sunday east coast time, we, as a family got home from a day out at the Santa Barbara Zoo around 8pm and we, my wife and I, went through the all signing all dancing performance of getting our eldest in bed, fortunately he was tired so resistance was minimal. I was not really looking forward to running late, Santa Barbara had been shrouded in fog and was cold, remember cold is relative in Southern California, the thermometer in my car said 56F, however by the time we had got home the good news was that the temperature had increased to 71F, much better and more good news. A quick check on my email; Hi, my name is SLB and I am an email addict, revealed that a project lead that I thought had gone stone cold was actually blazing away! More good news, not wanting to waste this run of good luck and the uplift in my emotional barometer and of course not to be outrun by kangator and bettered by the three hour timezone difference, kangator is in NJ, I laced up my shoes and headed out the door to run off the remaining 8 miles needed for victory. I set of on my usual route which allows me to run on autopilot and has me at mile 2.5 before you can say “crap, I forgot to start my ForerunnerI pushed on feeling, well actually pretty good, my glutes had been feeling tight over the last week but tonight everything was aligned, (well not the stars, according to my lottery ticket; maybe next week), and I was happily cranking out 8:45 or so miles and everything felt great, I reached the turnaround point at mile 5 and headed back home, I walked back up the hill, as is my modus operandi to the house and synced my iPod, the rest, as they say, is history. So the moral of the story is to make hay while the sun shines…that is don’t ignore the signs, if they’re telling you to go, then go!

On another Nike+ note the much awaited Q2K7 Quadrathlon hats and visors arrived from HeadSweats, they look great and they will, as anyone who has worn a HeadSweat product, I expect perform flawlessly. October’s Quadrathlon drew to a close, the winners will be announced soon once all the miles and points have been tallied.

OK that’s enough Nike+ tale telling. Time for a quick summary of last month.

My total mileage was 106 miles, some 37 or so miles less than the month before, however when you take into account that I had the stomach flu for 9 days and then we were dissuaded from running due poor air quality; a result of the many wildfires that really only left me 22 days for running, if you work out the month on that number of days and pro rate it for the month that would actually have been 149 miles which is more in the ball park that I need to be, although this will be increasing as my training plan will obviously increase my mileage over the coming months it still maintains my base.

Looking forward, I am still undecided about the 30k or 50k on the 18th, the consensus so far is to go for it, thanks to everyone who answered, there is, unfortunately no prize. I will make a decision by the end of the weekend/early next week. My participation in Iron Wil’s Through the3 Wall Challenge has been all over the place, we’re about to start week 5 and I have made some progress, the stomach flu forced my to unwillingly drop 6lbs, but despite my best efforts my actual weight has changed very little and my body fat has only moved around 1%. I did manage to find the bargain of the year in the multi-gym market, a bench complete with options for a lat fly and quad curl and 80lbs worth of weights for less than $100, this will help me maintain the work put in at Blake PT on my quads and hamstrings; essential if I am really going to stick to the trail side of things.

So I start another month, a third of the way through the final quarter of 2007, with lots of targets; most of them moving, as is often the case, hopefully I can hit some of them before the year closes out?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Answers on a postcard!

Oh what to do. This seems to be the week of open letter advice quests; both RunnerGirl and Relenting Runner both asked questions of their readers so in the “if you can’t beat them join them style” here we go. But first the prelude.

As you may have read last weeks half marathon trail race was canceled due to poor air quality leaving me with nothing much on the agenda race-wise; I have the Calabasas Classic 5 + 10k, I was going to run both for a total of 9.3 miles, on November 11 and the XTerra Topanga Turkey Trot 15k on the 25th. I was cruising along the information superhighway when I crashed into Cal Ultra Runners, oh how very cool, a site geographically specific to me and other “nut jobs” as a friend of mine put it “who want to run a weeks worth of mileage in a day”, and lo-and-behold I found the Pacific Coast Trail Runners who have a race on November 18th around Point Mugu, where I was on October 6th. They have various flavors; 9k, 18k, 30k and 50k, now in mileage terms that’s 5.59, 11.18, 18.64 and 31.07 - catchy distances! Anyway this is where the dilemma unfolds, do I run the 30k or the 50k. I am not in a training plan at the moment, I have delayed the start of my 50m plan until the mid November, based on what happened this year I want to avoid the possible repeat of over-training and I would sooner go into the race a couple of weeks under trained than over-trained. So with that in mind I really have been running distances that feel comfortable. Coming off the back end of my ITB issues I got my long run up to around 20 miles before having the stomach flu and then avoiding exercise due to poor air quality from the wildfires, recent distances have been around the 12-14 mile mark three or so times a week with no real problems. I am confident that the 30k is doable but the lure of the 50k is great especially after missing the Bulldog 50k in August also what appeals is the following from the PCTR website:

...."PCTR events are designed to encourage the enjoyment of trail running and emphasize personal achievement."

So it's sort of a race, kind of, which means no real pressure. Based on my previous times projected finish for the 30k would be a 3-3:30 and for the 50k a 5-6:00 this may seem long but there is a significant elevation gain 3200' and 5490' respectively and it is a trail not road run. They, PCTR, are offering support stations but I am not sure about drop bags. I am so tempted…what would you do? Answers on a postcard...well actually in the comments section please!

P.S. My Nike+ buddy Monk_Monkey is running her first 50 miler this Saturday; the ORCC Autumn Leaves Run, so I am sending all my good luck to the Pacific Northwest this weekend, I know she'll do great!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

There's no fire without smoke!

Finally the Santa Ana winds have stopped. This gives firefighters a much deserved break and will allow some cooler air to move inland from the ocean; today’s high was 94F tomorrows forecast is 78F. What remains now is the smoke in the air, the air quality is really quite bad, it is very deceptive because you cannot really see anything, although right now the moon has an orange tinge to it instead that granite white that we usually see, the photo to the left was taken yesterday afternoon and while today's sky was a lot clearer a lot of the particulate matter still remains. I did venture out this morning for an hour and once you start breathing deeply you can actually taste the badness.

You can see that the Air Quality Management District for Southern California rates the air quality for today and Friday as “Unhealthy” and according to their press release today "everyone should avoid all vigorous exertion, indoors or out".

I received the email as promised from the organizers of this weekends race advising us that this weekend event in Boney Mountain has been postponed, I am not really surprised and to be honest I am a little relieved, my recent stomach flu took a little more out of me than I thought and the thought of racing 13.1 miles with an elevation gain in excess of 2500’ was going to be a little challenging. So this weekend I'll confine myself to the treadmill and focus on regaining some of my base that was lost over the last two weeks.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Southern California Wildfires

It may not have escaped you notice that Southern California is currently under siege from over a dozen wildfires. The San Fernando Valley, and in particular the Northern end where I live, is surrounded to the East by the fires in Canyon Country and to the West by the fires in Malibu; home of my grad school alma mater; Pepperdine University. Despite living within a half mile of Victory Trailhead, which has been closed and is an access point into the Santa Monica Mountains, we have be spared any damage, we are however now victims of the resulting smoke. The sky to the East is obliterated with a thick black layer of smoke which turns the sky umber orange as the sun sets. The photo you see here I took from just down our street. Several local schools have been closed due to the high level of air pollution and the smoke is acting as a layer of insulation and is blanketing the heat in, as I write this at 8:30pm the thermometer on our porch reads 89F.

On the subject of air pollution I received an email from the Race Director of this weekend’s half marathon, Number 2 in the Xtrerra SoCal Trail Series at Boney Mountain, giving me a heads-up that they may have to postpone the race until air quality improves, they will make an announcement Thursday at noon. The short term weather forecasts that the Santa Ana winds will die down in the next 24 hours allowing the cooler ocean air to come inland and reduce the temperatures, they are forecasting possible rain at the weekend which will obviously help the firefighters and home owners in the affected and threatened areas. It will remain to be seen how quickly the smoke dissipates. Here's a satellite picture from Monday showing the smoke's footprint along the west coast.

Overall the devastation is hard to comprehend, due to the geological landscaping and the southland’s concerns over earthquakes most houses are built with a timber frame and nearly all are sided in timber, changes to building code that require materials to be used that have a higher fire retardant characteristics are due to come into effect but not until 2008 and 2009; too late for so many. As of writing this there are 18 fires ranging from Santa Barbara south to the Mexican border, San Diego and its surrounding areas are particularly affected, and as far East as Lake Arrowhead, over 800,000 people have been evacuated including mawz76 a fellow Nike+ runner from Fallbrook. Over 1000 homes have been burnt and at the last count the total acreage on fire exceeds 430,000, to put that in perspective a football field (including the in zones) is roughly an acre. Current estimates show at least half a billion dollars in damage and President Bush has declared a state of emergency in California, releasing much needed financial assistance to the state. Wondermom24, again a Nike+ runner is surrounded on three sides in La Mirada and likens the orange atmosphere to something from a sci-fi movie. Jessica in Orange County (OC) and a runner with the OCTR has seen several of her local trails go up in flame. Addy has friends and family in OC and is keeping a nervous eye on the news. There are another two months left in this year's fire season before Winter and we can start to think about the real possibility of rain in any substantial volume or on a regular basis, of course with so much devastation to the vegetation the next concern will be soil erosion and mudslides. The fires are so widespread it is hard to not know someone who has been affected; this part of the world is beautiful in many ways but can be so cruel in others.

My thoughts and best wishes go out to those affected and the brave souls who stand on the fire-line.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Warning. Enter at your own Risk!

Well a week has passed since being signed off by my PT and I have spent much of it in the smallest room in our house. The opening salvo of biological warfare brought home by our son from his germ mongering friends at pre-school has turned into an ongoing terroristic war of attrition, just when you think it is safe to poke your head up over the trench wall another salvo is let loose in you general direction! I am hoping that the currently enjoyed lull in hostilities is the precursor to a cease fire and that I am on the mend, mind you I have already been the victim of two broken truces. Hopefully I can don my running shoes and head out again, maybe over the weekend, dear God I hope so, I am starting to suffer from Cabin (for want of a better name for the room) Fever!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Appliance of Science

Two weeks ago I paid a visit to Diaz Human Performance for a VO2 Max and RMR test. The thinking behind getting them done was to establish a baseline of fitness prior to starting on my winter training program. I have discussed the RMR results in the Through th3 Wall Challenge post and there is nothing overly confusing with the figures although I am still surprised with the recommended level of caloric intake; 3074, still, as I am trying to lose some weight and some body fat using that number should help me achieve those goals. The only additional comments I can add were that the RMR revealed that my physiologiological makeup has left me predisposed to Type IIa and Type IIb or Fast Twitch; after some discussion about my sporting history my natural predisposition was further highlighted; track and field; long and triple jump, rugby and field hockey – all of which call for short sharp bursts of speed, although my best 1500 meters time from Secondary (High) school I remember as being in the five minute range, of course that was *** cough cough *** years ago. Of course this all bodes for some interesting times ahead as I look to extend my distance once again to the Marathon and beyond.

For the VO2 Max test I was strapped up in a face mask akin to a test pilot and was set off walking in a treadmill, the pace built up over 12 minutes until I was at a flat out sprint or at least until I was unable to breath and run at the same time, I signaled enough with a thumbs down.

After catching my breath we discussed the results. I “blew” a 49.5 ml/kg/min – what does that mean? Well to start the test measures the maximum capacity to transport and utilize oxygen during incremental exercise. For an age grouper like myself this result is classed as "Superior", world class male athletes, cyclists and cross-country skiers typically exceed 80 ml/kg/min and a rare few may exceed 90 ml/kg/min. Here are some people you might have heard of and their results:

• Steve Prefontaine, 84.4
• Jeff Galloway, 73.0
• Frank Shorter, 71.3

My result can be improved on over time and this test has provided me with a solid baseline from which to build. It is suggested that the test is repeated every 12-16 weeks, this will place me half way through my winter training plan and will allow me time to make any adjustments as needed. I have some more reading and research to do to full translate the results and apply them to my training plan which officially starts on October 21st. As they say watch this space.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Dare to be inspired!

Typically I am not one for gratuitous embeds from YouTube, to me it just smacks of laziness, however with this IronMan Hawaii, this is definitely one of the best videos I have seen, it’s enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and make you lace up your running shoes, clip in your pedals or rinse out your goggles!

Do I aspire to become a triathlete, maybe one day, would I like to do an IronMan, well if you to do something do it big, first though I need to overcome one major hurdle; I have the swimming characteristics of a very large stone!

Good luck to everyone this weekend, enjoy the video.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The road to recovery...Pt 11 (Journey's end!)

Well today was my last day of PT, I am officially signed off, fit for duty and ready to go; uphill, downhill, sprints, intervals etc, I cannot express my gratitude enough to the crew at Blake Physical Therapy, they have, as the t-shirt they presented me with, re-built me! I did in fact cheat earlier this week knowing that I had the last appointment today and put in a quick set of sprints resulting in the fastest mile split of 6:33, yay! Of course the latest and greatest news is that my son and his germ-factory school-friends have decided to fire of the opening salvo of Biological warfare and share a nice case of the stomach flu with everyone round here; the upshot of this is that the house now looks like a scene from the Crimean War, although we are somewhat lacking on the Florence Nightingale front. I curtailed this mornings 12 miler after 7, after my stomach and head colluded to just overwhelm me and it was a there ‘n back rather than a loop; discretion being the greater part of valor. So here is a list the lessons learned during my 10 weeks of recovery:
  • Stretching; stretching is your friend, do it before you run, do it after you run, do it in line at the bank…just do it!
  • Include the above into your “run time”, I now bookend each and every run with 20 minutes of stretching, once you add the extra time in you can calculate the whole workout time and you can plan your day accordingly.
  • Cross train: stretching’s best friend; running concentrates all your efforts in several keys areas; hamstrings, calves etc redress this balance by working on your quads and other muscle groups; cycling, weights and swimming are all good options.
  • You don’t have to run everyday, cross training keeps you fresh and helps avoid the hidden trap door of overtraining.
  • Core work; keep your core in check and you core will keep you in check.
  • You don’t need to spend a fortune in gym memberships or on equipment; a bike, swiss-ball, dumb-bells, exercise mat, foam roller, ankle weights and a stretching strap are all you need…well ok you do need to spend some money but think of it as an investment.

I’ll still be taping my knees for the foreseeable future especially with the trail runs I have coming up, some of it is preventative and some is psychosomatic…but hey whatever works!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Through th3 Wall Challenge...Iron Wil's will will hopefully rub off on me!

Newly crowned IronMan Iron Wil over at Through th3 Wall has thrown down the Gauntlet! The Through th3 Wall Challenge; the goal -losing the most body fat and gaining the most muscle by January 1, 2008, the prize - a Podiumquest hydration system and 9 tubes of NUUN! Well actually the prize it the goal but SWAG is always welcome! A lot of people will be using challenge to avoid the pitfalls of Thanksgiving and Christmas during the off season, in addition to that it is actually going to work really well for me as due to my injury during the Summer resulting in best part of two months off and forced me to miss my target 3:30 marathon in San Francisco, my revised season has me shooting for a 50k run; Calico Trail in January, a marathon; Los Angeles in March, and a 50 mile run; Leona Divide in April.

Superheroben at BuckeyeOutdoors is helping out and has created a challenge section, this is great for me as I already use Buckeye as my training log and I hate to retype the same data into various places.

To start I had to take a load of measurements, conduct some strength tests, calculate my Basel Metabolic Rate, the number of calories (kcal) I need just to breathe everyday, oh yes and the dreaded “before” photo. I have to admit to being one step ahead of the game here having had a RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate) test conducted 10 days ago at DHP, this is not so accurate as a BMR but will suffice for this exercise. So here are the numbers:


  • Chest 38”
  • Waist 33”
  • Upper Thigh 22”
  • Bicep 11½”
  • Calf 15”

Weight statistics:

  • Weight 174lbs
  • Bodyfat 16% (using a Tanita Innerscan 534), this saved me a whole hours worth of headache creating mathematics and is a 5% increase from June and pre-injury!


My RMR test revealed the following:

  • My Resting Energy requirement is 1915 calories a day, as mentioned this is the number of calories I need just to blink a few times a day and breath
  • My Lifestyle and Activity requirement is 573, this is the number of calories I need in addition to my Resting Energy for things like; working, walking to the car and eating etc
  • The Exercise requirement is 293 calories based on 30 minutes of moderate exercise, Richard Diaz estimated based on the fact that (1) I rarely exercise for 30 minutes and (2) nothing I do is moderate, estimated that I could conservatively double this on a workout day

So in summary the caloric input I need on a workout day is in total a whopping 3074!

I still have to carry out strength and rep tests, which I will do tonight/tomorrow and add them in. Right now I am about a week behind the curve mainly due to getting things ready for the new arrival, who is due next week....goodbye old body - hello new PR