Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sugoi, So far, So good...

So earlier this year I applied to Sugoi to become a Brand Champion. I had seen someone I follow on Twitter announce they had been accepted, I looked it up online and read the following:

…..The main criterion for inclusion to the program is not always the people who are fastest in the competition, but it is the person who inspires other by chasing their own personal bests. Many SUGOI Brand Champions are podium finishers in major international events; many others are everyday athletes whose personal bests come in different forms other than winning. All athletes are successful at what is important to SUGOI: the ability to be inspirational and to make a difference.

This appealed on so many levels the least of which was the requirement to inspire, this is something I really hope I do, I am at best a midpack runner who is at an age which is past the halfway mark, but at the risk of sounding clichéd if I can inspire one person that with some training and time and tenacity their goal can be achieved then my clumsy rambling writings will have been worthwhile!

To be honest I forgot about my application until sometime later I got an email saying I had been accepted! Then I started a new job and new training plan for 100 in the Hood, got injured and every thing went on the back burner and before you knew it six months had gone by…fast forward to November and I am starting a new training cycle; my leg is more or less rehabilitated and it’s Winter. Now I know that a SoCal Winter is relative to someone who lives in say, Kelowna or Metro Detroit (you know who you are) but even so it gets a bit chilly and so out came the credit card (as a Brand Champion you qualify for some discounts) and away I went. They are still taking applications, you can apply here and you can read the Brand Champion's Blog here, it makes for a good read as there are a variety of sports covered; running, cycling; road, mountain and 'cross and triathlons and the writers are the Brand Champions themselves and whose abilities really span the spectrum, so it's 'written from the trenches' as it were!

I have owned a few Sugoi bits through the ages and was accustomed to their quality, both fit and function is good as well the attractiveness...gotta look good as you hunched over puking on the side of a trail (been there) or bleeding in a ditch or on the side of the road after an endo (done that)! After looking through their website I selected, with the colder temperatures in mind, a pair of conservatively (not!) colored armwarmers (one of the silliest and yet most practical garments ever invented), a skull cap to fit under my cycling helmet (cold ears are no fun) and a pair of Piston 200 compression tights (I love compression clothing!). Ten days later free shipping, yay!) they arrived, I tried everything on to make sure it fit and I love love love the tights, I can’t wait till it gets really cold; for here…today was 75f, yesterday was 62f so it’s a bit variable right now but in another month or so it will be down in the 50’s at run time...seriously, I can't wait!

Talking of running, Week 1 just ended and it proved to be an interesting one. Not surprisingly my conditioning is for crap! What does surprise me is that CV-wise I am a lot better the muscle-wise, I looked online and the consensus was in 3 months you could expect to lose 50% of your fitness; I did nothing for about 5 weeks and them swam twice a week for another 4 so my best guess I am down by at least 40% maybe more? I certainly felt it during my three runs this week; Monday; Intervals, Wednesday; short tempo and Friday; long tempo, done on a track! My pace is slow and it generally hurts, I am way off my prescribed paces, but, I can only get faster. Cross training-wise I got in my 1000 meters swim and I hit the bike for a pedestrian ride yesterday, I am about 3-4 minutes slower than I was during the summer on my regular timed loop. To be honest right now I am struggling to reconcile that during July, August and September I ran some 20 half marathons, 6 marathons and raced 100 in the Hood, now I am dying at 6 miles! It’ll come back I know but even so…

Anyway the good news is that in general my recovered leg is holding up to what I am putting it through, I need to be smarter as do some general strengthening as well, squats, lunges etc as well as some plyometrics and stretching and also be proactive about my ITB and runners knee that I had back in the Summer, but while early days so far so good! Oh yeah and a toenail fell about delayed reaction!

Don't forget to enter the Haiku Gu contest

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Haiku Gu, do you?

So if you read this post you’ll know I have a bit of a surplus of Gel, Drinks and Blocks! So in an attempt to share the wealth and in the spirit of the pending holiday season...and to be honest if they don't get eaten they'll go off, I thought I would hold a little contest to test your creativity and to give some away.

Somebody suggested that the best bonk story should be the criteria but I thought that that would be a bit wordy so I went to the other end of the spectrum and decided that a Haiku would be a good way to go.

So here are the rules.

* The contest will start today; Saturday 28th and run through to midnight December 4th
* Over the weekend of the 5/6th I’ll post a poll where you can vote for your favorite, voting will last through to Wednesday midnight PST
* The winner will receive a real mixed bag of stuff but trust me it’s gonna be worth winning!
* One entry per person…and if you enter you should vote even if it’s for yourself!
* All entries must be posted as comments to this post, no emails, Tweets etc please
* Oh yes and the Haiku must contain the word ‘bonk’ or real variations thereof i.e. bonked, bonking however bonkette, bonkodacious, bonkallisious, bonkdamndiggerdy or bonkcofragailisticexpealadocius are not allowed…well I don’t want to make it too easy!
* And finally I needs to actually be a Haiku; that is three lines, comprising 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables

For more info on Haikus click here. Here are my feeble attempts:

Momentum is lost
Death shuffle I am bonked
Empty barely moving

or on lighter note...

Wall I hit it hard
Solidly it hit me back
My head fell off bonk!

Go on and have some fun!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful for the Inspiration!

As we start the Thanksgiving Holidays here in the US, in addition to my wonderful family and friends, here are some of the things that I have seen and have been thankful to take inspiration from...

...what inspires you?

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Let you legs do the legwork (Pt 1)…

…and let your Garmin do the headwork, or put another way how to program your Garmin 305 with Intervals. As mentioned in a previous post this training cycle I am using the FIRST plan which calls for a Short Tempo, Long Tempo runs and Intervals. Programming your Garmin reduces the room for error i.e. forgetting how many you have done etc (been there done that!). I am assuming this will work with a 205, 405 and 310xt as I am using Garmin Training Center to create the workout. And so on with the show.

First you need to make sure you have the right pace zones in your profile, to do this Select User>Profile. Here you can confirm all your personal stats are correct etc. You need to adjust the settings in the Speed Zones, to calculate the setting you should use a Pace Calculator; the one at Cool Running is easy enough to use.

The First Plan gives you a HXX:MYY setting for the intervals so using the calculator convert this to a pace, mine is 5:40 for the 400 meter (that equals a 1:25 @400) intervals. My interval sets call for a Rest Interval (RI) so I also created a slower set; between 10-11:00 pace (2:40 @400m).

Once you changed the Speed Zones settings in GTC select New Workout. Here you are presented the blank template in which to create your workout. First name the workout and enter a description. I tend to use the obvious. Next select the first entry in the window, then in ‘Selected Steps Options’ give it a Custom Name; mine is ‘Warm Up’. Click the ‘When will the step end’ menu and select ‘after a certain time, then mark off you time; 10 minutes in my case.

Highlight the ‘Warm Up and click the big ‘+’ button to get the next step and name that one; mine is ‘Cool down’ repeat the above steps to enter the duration.

Ok this is where it can get a bit confusing so I have numbered the steps:

1. Highlight the Warm Up and click the two “++” button, this insert Step 2 and renumbers your Cool Down to #3.
2. Rename the interval, mine is 400m Int
3. Click the big ‘+’ button to get the next step and name that one; mine is ‘RI’
4. Highlight #2. and change the number of intervals to what you want; for me it’s 8
5. Highlight #2.1 and click the ‘When will the step end’ menu and select ‘after a certain distance, then mark off you distance I selected 0.25 miles (FYI 1 mile = 1,609 meters).
6. Click the ‘What is your target for this step” and select your Interval target
7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 for #2.2 remember to select your Rest Interval
8. Click ok

Now in the workout file structure in the left panel you will see your newly created workout, simply highlight it and drag it to the desired day. The final step is to connect your Garmin and sync. Once the connection is established click “Send to Device’, and you’re done…well, you still have to run them!

Up next; “Intervals; they’re on my Garmin somewhere…now what”?

Monday, November 23, 2009

OMFG! Every journey starts with a single step...but Intervals, really!?!

Well today I started the FIRST 10k plan; it was somewhat of a rude awakening. Tonight I had 8 x 400m intervals, easy to say, easy to type…just plain painful! Still the scenery made up for things! Without access to a track I use the beach path.

Obviously conscious of my leg I tried to walk the line between not overdoing it straight away and enough effort to make it worth the while. It’s given me a good baseline on my splits which are repeated in some form for the next 12 weeks. I also put the first 6 miles on a new pair of Asics Kayano 16s, so far so good, I'll be reviewing them in the future; probably at the 100 mile mark.

You’ll see below that I was averaging around 1:50…I’ve got some work to do I need to get it down to 1:25!

Afterwards I headed off my Chiropractor afterwards who spent some serious time working on my shoulders which were as locked up as Harry Houdini; must have been carrying all those gels and blocks around at the weekend! Talking of which I am putting together a little Holiday contest to share the this space!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

PCTR Santa Monica Mountains (Volunteer)

Today I was up bright and early a’ la race day, but for me no racing. I was heading off to Pt Mugu to spend the morning volunteering at the Pacific Coast Trail Runners Santa Monica Mountain’s race. This is the site of my very first ultra, a 50k, a scant two years ago!

As a runner PCTR races always have such a good vibe; friendly, welcoming and as much as a run with friends than a race. Being behind the scenes today proved no different plus it was a good opportunity to catch with some old friends; Billy and Sara and make some new ones; Evan, although I am sure the reason everyone else wanted to know me was the fact that I was in charge of the soup and chili rather than the quality of my conversation.

Anyway I always knew that being a Race Director was hard work but I have a new found respect; Sarah and Wendall are at it pretty much non stop all day, in addition to this race they put on another 30+ up and down the California coast and they’re talking about bringing more to SoCal; today was sold out; a first!

Other than the chili it was very rewarding for being thanked for 'being out there' something I try to always do to volunteers and the folks who man the Aid Stations and without whom a lot of these races would fall flat.

All the volunteers were kept busy so there are not so many photos; thanks to Billy for the ones of me and in fact most of those below.

As I posted on my Facebook profile; "....I was given a stark reminder of how I miss the trails...still I caught a good whif of runners funk and some salt air at Point Mugu this morning and that will have to do for the next 6 or 7 months while I pay my tarmac dues!"

Lori & RD Sarah

Three pieces of banana and one finger later!

What's not to like!

Soup or Chili or Chili or Soup?

Local runner Dominic Grossman took first in the 50k with 4:3o something...blazin' fast!

Great friends. Good times!

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Today my wife and I sorted through our garage, when we moved in in March we kinda threw everything in there with the intention of sorting it out at a later date…well that date came today. In the garage I have a little plastic tray thing that I keep all my gels etc but during the course of the year they have been dispersed into the kitchen, my running vests, my running bag and so today during the course of the tidy up I consolidated them…let’s just say I am banned from buying any more until I have used these up!

I dared not count them and this doesn’t include the three tubs of Cytomax, the tub of Amino Vital, the really large tub (albeit nearly empty) of Perpetuem in the kitchen and the three flasks of gel in the fridge!

And I don't even like Heed that much!

This is after sending Aron her Chocolate #9 as well!

My name is Stuart and I am sports nutrition junkie!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Well it would be rude not to!

Given that I live about 10 miles away I have no excuses! Hopefully October will be the date...

In case the picture does not enlarge this is the text underneath:

It's going to happen!!! Moeben will be putting on a trail 1/2 marathon, full marathon and 50 mile run in the early fall of 2010. I'm working on it so that the 50 mile can be a qualifying race for WS 100. I will announce the official date once we are certain, but we are looking at Aug 14th, Sept 4, or 18th or 2nd weekend in October. I don't want The Moeben "get dirty" trail races to conflict with others, i.e Mt. Disappointment 50k & 50 mile, Bulldog 50k and AC 100 so we are just waiting to hear back on race date confirmations. We will be doing something new with this race, and it will benefit a special charity, so more news to follow!

I'll keep you posted...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

First things FIRST!

Once again I am using the FIRST training plan. I really like the FIRST plans and I have used modified versions of them for the last two years with some measurable success, I reduced my 5k time by over a minute this time last year and my 50k time by over an hour using their speed drills in March of this year. Their premise is pretty simple; three quality runs a week; Track Intervals, a Short Tempo and a Long Tempo Run, with two cross training sessions in between and a day off a week, I really like the ability to have cross training included and with my propensity to ITB issues and the couple of triathlons scheduled I’ll still be able to keep up my swimming and re-start cycling which is my preferred form of cross training.

Looking at my schedule and looking at how they plan out their plans it looks like I’ll start training using their 10k plan next week for 12 weeks and then switch over the their 16 week marathon plan around the middle of February. My 10k time is pretty crappy (47:53) and while using their plan I unofficially dropped that during a 10 miler to around 42:00, so following this plan means I can pick off some low hanging fruit on the PR front. FIRST base each run's speeds on your current best 5k race which I am sure, for me now, is heinously slow, even if I use my current PR (19:42) I am still slow, I need to get it down by another 1:20 to hit my 3:00 marathon goal. A 19:40 gives me a 3:11 projected finish.

I’ll be starting in one weeks time, so that means I should be able to shake off this lingering cough…I’ve got a sneaking suspicion this is going to hurt; bring on the pain!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Nobody reads blogs at the weekend!

Nobody reads blogs at the weekend, right! I know this from my Sitemeter stats, everyone is out doing weekend stuff, it’s a well known fact that blogs are read (a) at work, (b) at home on a laptop while watching TV and (c) if you’re like me in the wee early hours while having breakfast during the week.

That being said I thought just in case anybody is around you might be interested in a few bargains I’ve seen over the last few days, it’s that time of year I guess with folks outing 2009 gear and ushering in the 2010 look. So in no particular order.

Hammer Nutrition are having their end of year blow out, pretty much everything is discounted; Perpetuem, which I have used for the last two years, their gels; again I used these heavily until finding Chocolate #9 as well as all their pills and potions. I picked up some excellent cycling outfits from them this time last year. Their kit is made by Voler. Voler is a US based cycling clothing manufacturer based in Southern California, I really like their clothing, it fits really well, is made really well and lasts really well!

Voler themselves are having a blow out on many items, and with in mind that I have two triathlons for next year I splurged (it was only a little spluge) and snagged a tri outfit. I am a firm believer that feeling the part is halfway to being the part, it’s a zen thing…what would a triathelete wear? It will also be a good incentive to drop some of the ‘I am injured but I am eating like I am running 50 miles a week’ weight gain otherwise I am going to look like a quart poured into a pint pot come race day!

Finally and sticking with the cycling theme Primal Wear are having a Veterans sale with their forces orientated outfits on sale, check them out and show some patriotism at the same time. They’ve also got some of their regular jerseys on sale.

But seeing as you’re all out doing weekend stuff you’ll not be reading this will you!

PS good luck to everyone running the inaugural Malibu Marathon and Half Marathon this weekend!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Going Short...

Something different for 2010; at least for the first 6 months; short and fast. The idea is to work through the distances progressively and get faster as I go... yes there are a couple of triathlons there, in fact they are reverse triathlons, strangely that's all there was; and yes you can all nod your heads wisely and say I told you so! .

In a strange way my injury has opened up a whole new avenue of endurance.

I still need to iron out some wrinkles and I hope to pick up some new PRs along the way but the ultimate goal is a sub 3:00 marathon...hey you have to aim high right!

Feb 2; Redondo Superbowl Sunday 5k

Feb 27; Race on the Base Reverse Triathlon

Mar 3; Pasadena Reverse Triathlon

Apr 26; 3nd Annual Gator Run 10k

May 3; Santa Monica Classic 10k

May 8; Santa Barbara Wine Country Half

May 31; State Street Mile

June 5; Newport Marathon or

June 6; San Diego RNR Marathon

I'll look to carry the speed over to the trails for the second half of the year. Maybe I'll see you out there?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Thinking ahead...

So with my leg now approaching working order it’s time to think about the rehabilitation piece. I have written the rest of the year off in terms of racing, I am volunteering at the PCTR Pt Mugu race at the end of the month. It’s the course of my first ultra, a scant two years ago! If you’re in the neighborhood come up, say hi and check it out, there are multiple distances starting at 9km. They’re great races, well organized and fun…seriously what’s not to like!

With the rehab in mind, I’ll be introducing the bike for the next two weeks, maybe three and then hopefully put on some running shoes and taking baby steps with a view to being back in the game to start training towards the end of the year/beginning of next. That’s in addition to the swimming, which if I confess to myself I am starting to enjoy and, if truth be told, getting a bit better at. Of course now I've got a cough that nearly turns me inside out, couldn't have caught when I was limping around...oh no!

I am starting to think about next year’s schedule and have some ideas about the first half of the year which will pull me off the trails, I need to work on regaining some of my speed back, I’ve not done speed work since the beginning of the year and it will carry over onto the trails later in the year I’ve got some lofty goals and I am working out the target races but it’s looking like it will be a busy six months!

So with that all said tonight was the drawing for the Chocolate #9 gels and the winner is…

Aron email me your address and I'll get them in the mail, enjoy!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The evolution of the revolution!

It's taken seven weeks of recovery but I can finally do a full rotation of the pedals!

I wouldn't say it's exactly smooth or anything, I am just glad for this right now!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Windmills in the water!

Another Friday night another trip to the pool. I managed to get there in good time this evening and didn't have the need to rush off early. I was hoping to get in 1200 meters for a 2000 meter week.

I've been swimming a lot of breast stroke; it's comfy but I need to move out my comfort zone and get on the freestyle wagon so without the time crunch I could spend some time practicing.

I also took my camera which has a pretty decent video camera and with a big enough SD card can just be left to run, I tucked it under my towel just to remove temptation and just left it recording. Unfortunately it did a great job of focusing very sharply on a leaf just in front of it and not much else, everything beyond that is blurred! That being said I was able to see how bad my form is, I was sharing the lane and the recording shows me, by comparison to my more efficient lane sharers, waving my arms like a windmill; very uneconomical. I managed the 1200 meters, so just under 2200 yards for the week. The learning curve continues...

Don't forget if you're interested in entering the draw for some Chocolate #9, add a comment to my previous post.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Review; Chocolate #9 Gel

I was first introduced to Chocolate #9 gels by a friend of mine who read my ‘gastric’ race report from the Leona Divide 50 Mile Run, earlier this year. In late April he contacted me and was generous and kind enough to send my a handful, in fact it was a large enough envelope, full of gels to last most of the summer. I was intrigued...a chocolate and agave gel....hmm well ok!

My taste in gels has migrated from CarbBoom to Accelerade and through Crank, I've dabbled with Gu, tried Roctane and learned to avoid PowerGels. Since the beginning of 2008 I've been using Hammer Products. While always being open to new things I am also a firm believer in the maxim ‘if it ain’t broke…”, but after Leona Divide something clearly wasn’t working so it was time to take the lid of the can and peer inside.

And so from their website:

Chocolate #9;
* Contains no refined sugar
* Is sweetened only with organic agave.
* Contains pure belgian cocoa
* Has been tested and certified as a LOW glycemic index item (e.g.,
* Because of its low glycemic index, when you use the gel you will reduce the negative effect of repetitive insulin spiking during sustained exercise (it's the reason you choose wheat bread rather than white bread, fruit rather than candy)
* Won't cause sugar low-bonk
* Is an excellent energy choice for athletes in general, and for those with diabetes, low blood sugar in particular, or those who want to avoid refined sugar
* It is vegan and low in fat
* Contains no synthetics, no unpleasant after taste.
* Contains two perfectly balance energy enhancing ingredients and nothing more!
* Ingredients: Organic Agave Nectar, Breakfast cocoa processed with Alkali.
* A note on ‘breakfast cocoa.’ Breakfast cocoa is a FDA term for the class of cocoa’s with the highest fat (energy) content. Using breakfast cocoa only made sense for an energy gel and lends to chocolate #9’s rich and smooth texture.

The premise they present is that as the gel is low on the glycemic index you are less likely to crash or bonk after taking it. Of course the fact that it’s chocolate is, let’s face it, a big selling feature.

If you’ve followed my blog for anytime you’ll know that this summer I had some pretty long runs and big days on the trail and so armed with them and obeying the golden rule don’t try anything new on race day I set out to try them out. And onto the resuts…

The taste test; duh well it’s chocolate! But seriously the taste is of high quality chocolate, the sweetness is not overly sweet, it’s not creamy like milk chocolate nor is it bitter like dark chocolate. It does have a rich smooth taste that’s very palatable. I filled a gel bottle with them and it came out as a solid ‘plug’ which could be rolled around the mouth or stashed in the cheek or under the tongue, this is stark contrast to typical gels which are usual sticky and cloy the mouth. Oh yes, did I mention it’s chocolate?

The service; having used them pretty much through the summer I felt confident enough to use them as my primary fuel source for 100 in the Hood. I had left it a bit late to place my order however through the power of Twitter I contacted them and they confirmed I would have them in time and they actually arrived the next day!

The results; for the ‘Hood I set my stopwatch for 40 minutes and took one at every chime of the alarm, the only exception being if I had literally just gone through and Aid Station. Unlike my experience with other gels I never got to the “ugh do I have to eat this again” point which is something that I have encountered before; it was, to be honest, a bit of a treat. If you have read my race report you’ll know that my nutrition plan really worked out, I had zero, absolutely zero issues with fuel, be it gels, drink or the ‘real’ food, additionally my electrolytes remained in balance for the event. Now it could be argued that this was because I was moving slowly, but I believe that whatever the pace I still needed to be fueled to move.

The proof, as they say, is in the pudding; almost literally in this case! Of course nutrition is such a personal thing I cannot categorically say that it will work for you; one thing to note is that a sachet is only 70 calories instead of the usual 90 or 100 that’s something you need to remember when planning a nutrition plan. Currently only available as sachets, I have heard that more environmental bottles will be available soon. There are several reviews available on the web and Chris Russell has interviewed the company owner on his podcast RunRunLive. Not the cheapest gel on the market you can buy an introduction pack of three for $4.95 ($1.65 each), a box of 24 is available for $32.49 ($1.35 each) bigger discounts are available for larger purchases reducing the price down to $1.04 each.

In summary if you’re struggling with the traditional gel or looking for a change or even for some variety this could be a good move for you.

I’ve got a bunch left over so as an incentive to help a fledging company I’ll send three sachets to a lucky winner, just leave your name in the comments section and I’ll pull a name out of the hat on Sunday for Monday’s mail collection!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Night Swimming!

Well I wasn’t expecting that! I had totally forgotten that it would be dark when I got to the pool. I was late getting out of work, caught by the door for an impromptu discussion on change management that lasted 30 minutes. As you can see it was dark and foggy; thick marine layer had rolled in from the ocean. The thermometer in my car said 64f; it wasn’t that cold, in fact the water temperature was warmer than the air temperature.

My knee (it's not actually my knee but you know what I mean) felt better with a wider range of motion; I feel like I am really in the closing stages of recovery. The recovery seems to have accelerated over the last week or so, fingers crossed it continues. I am going to give it another two weeks minimum before I lace up my shoes; just to be on the safe side.

I only managed 800 meters, I’ll do more on Friday; I’d like to do 2000 meters this week.