Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Toes, Twitter, Feet and FaceBook!

image So a while back I was contacted by a company representing Toe Juice…would I be interested…you know where this is going don’t you. And so a week later I got a box of stuff. Not only did I receive two bottles of Toe Juice but I got a couple of Hog Wash also. I will let the product speak for itself:

Toe Juice® is a fast drying liquid, which refreshes, soothes, and softens dry cracked feet, in addition to stop itching, burning, and annoying irritations. Toe Juice® effectively remedies most skin problems like psoriasis, eczema, athlete’s foot, dry patches on the skin.”


Hog Wash infused with DermaVine is specially formulated to naturally promote new skin growth, leaving hands clean, soft and hydrated”.

Now my feet are…well runner’s feet, they’re not exactly Hollywood foot model caliber, a broken toe, insanely short toe nails, dry hard skin, Morton’s toe and the occasional black nail…you know the usual! So I figured the only way is up, right! To effectively review Toe Juice I thought I would simply document the progress over the next ten days and so I present Exhibit A: My left foot, well heel to be precise.

image Day 1, before first treatment

Yep pretty it ain’t! Now here’s the good bit, the folks at Toe Juice have put together a superb Prize Package for one lucky person and two lucky feet who really need it. So here is the competition, it’s the usual deal, you need to (a) follow them on Twitter here, then (b) follow them on FB here and then (c) post a comment saying you’ve done that, if you don’t do Twitter or FB that’s cool too, just say that in the comment…doing these things get you the right to enter the real fun. Then send me a photo of your foot/feet and then you the readers will decide who really needs the prize…the gnarlier the better! The competition will run for 10 days, as long as my foot experiment after which I will post the pics and you can all vote. Now if you want to know what you’ll be winning, here’s a most excellent photopshopped picture of the swag up for grabs!

ToeJuicePrizeWho says I don’t love you! So get clicking with your mouse and camera and email the photos to quadrathon@gmail.com and a big thank you Toe Juice for putting up the prizes!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Bottom up…

So right about now I am about halfway through week 4 of what I am calling pre-base, it lasts 8 weeks, you can see the plan here. I am firmly trying to stay Zone 2 which for me is 139-148bpm, this equates to around a 9ish minute mile, but the truth is I am not even paying attention to the pace. Now trying to stay in Zone 2 actually resulted in trying to stay under Zone 2, I set the alert on my 305 to chime when I go over and that has proven to be very effective.

This morning’s run really reinforced this “not going over” and when I looked at the data I saw that the percentage of time spent in Zone 1 (83.5%) was by far greater than Zone 2 (16.5%). Hmm as comfortable as it is cruising along in my recovery Zone it’s not the point, so now I need to shear up the bottom limit and have set the alert for that too.


Now moving forward I am sure I’ll be hearing a few more beeps but it also means is that my base is being laid down and dialed in one mile at a time.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Review; HydraPak Gelbot

If you have ever run with fuel and fluid you’ll know that you need three hands to open the gel and carry the handheld and get it in your mouth and not all over your hands or down the front of your shirt! A simple challenge but one that has bested me more than a few times! Enter the GelBot…a 21st century solution.

Now usually it’s this point in the post when I copy some text from the Manufacturers website, well this time there’s a video…so here you go, it’s only 89 seconds long:

And yes it is that simple! Ok so here’s the website blurb:

The Gel-Bot delivers two performance essentials, fuel and hydration, in one easy to use sport bottle. This patent-pending design lets you fuel or hydrate with just one hand. Perfect for racing or total gel addicts. All the Gel-Bot components can be taken apart and easily cleaned”.

There are two sized bottles 20 fl oz /3 oz gel $13.99 and 24 fl oz /3 oz gel  $14.99

So how does it perform…I love it, it does exactly what it says it should do! Filling it up is a doddle, especially if you have bottles of gel, it does all come apart and you can throw everything in the dishwasher. The plastic is soft enough to squeeze the fluid into your mouth, the gel take a bit of suck; and unlike some gel bottles it’s not like you have to suck a golf ball through a hose pipe, the plug in the gel cylinder creates a vacuum minimizing the pucker needed. It takes a bit of practice getting used to the half open/fully open valve but once you’ve got it you’re good to go.

Now there are some downsides. Limited capacity of gel 3.2 oz is about three gels. You could waste a bit of gel especially if you’re using a thicker type or its a cold day as the fluid will keep the temperature of the gel down and increase it’s viscosity, but this is a summer review so I had no issues using my gel of choice, Chocolate #9 which is the thickest gel I have ever used. One other issue could be that in theory you would be consuming a gel every 45 minutes and so you might get through the fluid at a faster rate than the gel? Of course you do not have to fill the gel cylinder up completely. I used the GelBot for running only but my assumption is that for cycling it’s even better; tearing open gels at 20mph is just plain dangerous.

As mentioned the bottle comes in two sizes, go for the larger one for $1 it’s crazy not to. They’re available through Hydrapak’s website or through your usual online sources including Amazon for a minimal discount.

Also I did see online the bottle can come with a waistpack which increases the price by another $20:00 or so.

All in all an relatively inexpensive way to take care of the nutrition/hydration issue in a single package. And if you don’t believe me check out the other reviews on their website or look at the list of sponsored athletes; including ultra runner Devon Crosby Helms and 3 times World Champion Rebecca Rusch.

This product was provided free of charge by HydraPak. See previous gear reviews in the sidebar on the right. If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me at quadrathon@gmail.com.

This is the fourth in a series that focuses on hydration, next is the Nathan X Trainer Mutation

Saturday, June 26, 2010

By the numbers…

Another week in the bag, books, bank and body! I hit all seven days and even threw in some weight training too! Total failure on the 40 hours sleep front, I’ll be trying that again next week, third times a charm as they say!

Here’s the deets from the week…by the numbers:

  • 9 workouts; 5 runs, 1 bike, 1 swim and 2 weights
  • 43:09 miles in total: 27 run, 15 bike, 1 swim more or less
  • 33.5% in Z2 and 50.8% in Z1
  • 7:34 in total time

I had a couple of awesome runs, really dialing in on Zone 2, it’s becoming a point of pride to keep it in the “zone” and even after only three weeks I am noticing a difference. I had one bad, not enough sleep and to much sun and it was an uphill struggle from the start. This data is from the best one of the week; 99.7% in Z1/2.

moorparkz2 7 miles at 5am

I have also discovered a very guilty pleasure, cycling.tv it makes an hour on the trainer fly by when you’re watching the Paris Roubaix, Giro D’Italia or Liege Bastogne Liege!

image cyclingtv

A couple of downspots while faffing with a towel about otherwise a pretty solid and very enjoyable hour on the bike, there's a lot to be learned just from watching the pros, if you want to be a cyclist think like a cyclist, that's very zen!

I have posted the Google doc on the endurance drinks, you can find my early results and thoughts on the first four posted below, sorry it's a bit small. The spreadsheet, which is more current will be updating as I go is online here.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Review; Salomon XT Wings 5 Running Pack

I like Salomon Wings kit, you only have to see the reviews in the right hand side bar to see the reviews on the XT Wings shoes to see that, so when I saw a Wings vest I jumped at it…unfortunately I should have looked before I leaped! But I am getting ahead of myself…anyway I am sure you know the form, so here’s the info from their website:

Double compartment, light weight pack with Airvent agility system for comfort and stability. New 4D system. Ideal for carrying essentials on trail runs. Weight: 1lb 5oz,/590g Dimensions: 53 x 19 x 8, Volume 490(ci)/8l”. There’s a bit more about the features on the site but this is about it.

P1020829So here’s my take from the top; literally. The pack is more rucksack based than vest based, there are the standard padded shoulder straps, these have two things not normally found; a whistle and a hooked bungee, the whistle for those of you more prone to geographical embarrassment or I suppose if the battery dies on your iPod. I’ll get to the bungee later. At the top of the shoulder straps there is a sternum strap which has four inches of vertical slide allowing he wearer to maximize the fit. There are also two open buckles, onto which you can attach a custom front pocket or bottle holder. At the bottom of the straps you can adjust the height of the pack on your back, these in turn attach to the waistbelt, yes this pack has a waistbelt. The waistbelt has a two point attachment and secures with a buckle at the front, there’s lots of adjustability. One downside is that there is nothing on the front, no pockets no pouches…nada. On the back side the pack has a handing carrying handle/loop at the top. There are two pockets, the larger has a vertical zipper and is divided internally it’s large enough to contain a 64oz bladder and you can feed the hose through the inside of the should strap to the front. In the other section there is a smallish (4”x4”) mesh pockets for keys, cash etc.

The lower pocket has a horizontal zip and is funnel shaped, it’s large enough for a waterproof jacket. It’s nestled between two smaller external open pockets which are large enough for gel bottles, armwarmers etc, these in turn are flanked by the “bottle launchers”, my terminology not Salomons! These are angled slots that house the two 24oz bottles that come with the pack, despite being compatible with a bladder there is not one included. The slots are structured to easily reached from the front but even with my long arms this was a challenge at times. The bottles, triangular in shape, are secured from bouncing out by looped bungees. There is some reflective stripping on the pack.


Now back to the bungee, this is designed to unravel and bungee something to the back of the pack like a cycling helmet or something of that size. There is also a system designed for hiking poles that allow you to secure you poles to the pack without taking the pack off, there are photos of both of these below.

In terms of fit, once you have all the straps adjusted the pack rides well but you have to have it pretty tight to minimize the bounce. One thing I would say is that this is a long pack, at 53cm it is 16cm longer than the UD Wasp and it does ride a lot lower on your back, that itself could lead to problems. Now for me the other issue is the waistbelt, which of course does not sit at your waist it sits around belly, it’s all a bit of a bad fit really, to long at the back with the waistbelt too high?!? And essentially there is its downfall. It’s very difficult to get a fit that would last all day.

Overall I think this pack falls between two stools, it’s not quite right for trail running, and it’s not quite right for hiking. Given the flexibility with poles and helmets etc, this could be the perfect pack for someone fastpacking or maybe even adventure racing, given the customizable nature of this pack the latter makes this a good choice.

Available all over the internet, a quick Google shopping search uncovered it for anything between $75-90.00. My good friend at WRC currently have a blow out on all their Salomon goodies with 20% of everything, that makes this pack $72.00.

This product was purchased. If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me at quadrathon@gmail.com.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Week end and weekend shenanigans!

Well another weekend is almost in the bag and I started Week 3 of training yesterday. I seem to have screwed up Week 2 and not put in enough mileage, I was about 4 miles short but the miles I did put in were pretty solid and it’s a 20+ week program so I am not losing any sleep over it (see below)! Seven days of training is not something I am used to even at the reduced volumes and I am sitting here with tired legs…it’s been a long time since I have has that feeling and it feels pretty good! Here’s the SportTracks summary for the week, some data is missing, there’s no HR info for the elliptical or swimming.


As you can see there is lots of Zone 2 work; 43% of the week in Z2 and 39% in Z1, this means lot’s of slow controlled miles, so controlled that I walking during runs in places where I would typically run through, it’s insanely frustrating but I know that it will pay off in the long run…pun intended.

This weekend I hit my local trails, but ran out of time, the downside of the walking! 8 was on schedule, I made just over 6 in 1:22, that’s a 13:12 minute mile. I am going to need to factor in more time rather than more miles. Here’s the elevation overlaid on my HR, can you see the walk breaks!

image Still the question is, was the juice worth the squeeze…well I think so, this trail system is not huge, but it’s literally 2 miles from my house! Hard to believe that I live in LA right!

P1020847I also wrapped up the photos for the Salomon XT Wings hydration vest, review to follow shortly. It’s a bit of an odd fellow…but I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag just yet. Talking of pack reviews the folks at Wilderness Running Company have really stepped up; I received three hydration systems this week from them!

Today I hit the pool again, I am alternating Sunday’s cross training between the bike and the pool and I swam my fastest mile ever 52:49, yeah I know…but I’ll take it! I have some new goggles, these things totally rock, I put them on and I take them off an hour later, zero leakage…awesome!

imageI’ve felt for the last couple of days that I am coming down with something but I am doing my best to shake it off. Getting 40 hours of sleep Mon – Fri last week was nigh on impossible, especially when you’re up at 5am! But I did get more than I usually do and I do feel better for it, better mentally too, a bit more chilled! I kept a log of sorts and averaged just under 7 hours per night, so this week I am going to try it again and see.

As mentioned I am bracketing out the hydration options and here they are, it’s all subjective but it makes it a bit more interesting, I need two more to fill out the brackets (I decided to leave out Clip2 as it is specifically for 6 hour + events). if you have any suggestions let me know…I am never ashamed to beg for samples and so I present the competitors. There will be an accompanying Google Doc which outlines the criteria for evaluation as well as the nutritional info etc, I am just finishing that off.

So it’s another week and much like the mercury is heading of late …upwards and onward as they say!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Foot and Mouth!

As mentioned in a previous post I am pulling together a bunch of alternatives for Summer hydration, I have got a pretty good mixture to go through, in fact I have already started, there’s quite a few of them. With the World Cup in flight it seemed appropriate (and a bit of fun) to set them out in brackets and let them fight it out among themselves. So in no particular order I present your (well mine) menu:

  • Cytomax
  • Succeed; Ultra and Clip2
  • Hammer; Heed
  • Nuun
  • Vespa
  • Hornet Juice
  • Amino Vital Endurance
  • CarboRocket
  • Gu Brew
  • Motor Tabs
  • Vitalyte
  • Zipfit – not in photo
  • Cliff – not in photo
  • Gatorade – G1,2,3 – not in photo

    Phew…need more links! Anyway I am sure there are few that you have never heard of and some firm favorites.

  • P1020811

    Of course it’s going to be a bit subjective particularly when it comes to taste, but I’ll also be looking at the component ingredients, carbs, protein etc and electrolyte content and of course overall effectiveness, I’ll be posting up the reviews as they go and will capture all the technical data in a Google doc so everyone can look at it.

    XTWings2 At the other end of the spectrum, well at the other end of my body, my feet, I am half way through a review on the new Salomon XT Wings 2. I was the glad recipient of a pair provided by OutsideMedia.

    Introduced earlier this year, Salomon have refined the ever popular original XT Wings that have been around for 2-3 years, it actually makes a change for a shoe have such a long time between facelifts, I am not sure if this is testament to the popularity of the shoe or it in general trail shoes are not turned around so quickly as their roady cousins.

    I have been slowly accumulating the miles on these on the local trails, yes that’s me in the photo, and with 50 or so miles on these puppies it’s time to share my initial thoughts, will they live up to their older sibling’s performance…well watch this space to find out.

    Have a great weekend!

    Tuesday, June 15, 2010

    My 40 hour week!

    I have said it before…lot’s of times; I am useless at going to bed at a reasonable time, I seem to become one with the sofa until such point when I really wish my superpower was teleporting! Unfortunately it’s not!

    Now here’s the thing when I get so tired that I am forced to have an early night I actually feel good the next day!

    Now there’s a lesson in there somewhere right!?!

    It’s not rocket science that sleep is important, from “How to sleep like an Olympic Athlete

    ….the question is, how can we sleep like an Olympic athlete?

    "Eight hours of sleep is the standard," says Mednick. "There is a range, but 7.5 to eight hours of sleep is the optimal amount."

    And from Peak Performance;

    What's known is that sleep can be divided into five distinct stages. Stages1 through 4 represent non-rapid-eye movement sleep; during a normal night of sleep they are usually followed by the well-known REM or rapid-eye movement stage (stage 5). Stages 3 and 4 produce brain waves which have a slow frequency; these stages are thus called 'slow-wave' sleep. Sleep scientists reckon that during a night of normal sleep, REM and non-REM sleep repeat in cycles of about an hour and a half, although age and the amount of prior sleep can alter this pattern.

    Slow-wave sleep is critically important for athletes, because it's the portion of the night when
    growth hormone is released from the pituitary gland at the base of the brain. Growth hormone stimulates muscle growth and repair, bone building, and fat burning, and is thus one of the key hormones which help athletes recover from tough workouts and improve physiologically. Studies show that when an athlete loses sleep, growth-hormone release diminishes. This may be a key reason why extended sleep loss can harm performance.

    Well I am no Olympian but in the spirit of self discovery I am going to try and get 40 hours of sleep during the week, that’s 8 hours a night! Monday night, check!

    Tuesday night, well, G’night!

    Monday, June 14, 2010

    Monday Adminstrivia…

    This is one those posts that covers everything and nothing all at the same time, so in shotgun bullet fashion here we go, a quick summary of the last week.

    image* Finished week one of training, missed one day but trained six so not all bad

    * I swam my longest swim ever 1825m (1.15 miles) in 1:01…yeah it’s not fast, but hey, I am a runner

    * Had a green smoothie everyday, (Naked Green, Acai juice, carrots, spinach, kale (or chard), apple (or pear), avocado and two big spoonfuls of spirullina…this replaced lunch and snacks during the day Mon-Fri and was supplemented by grain, nuts and dried fruit, it was…interesting! I lost zero pounds!

    * I finished this book and I am so confused I need to read it again, I also received this book which I ordered four months ago!

    *Managed to stay on average in Zone 2, although I did max out at 175 during a quarter mile TT

    * Nearly bought a new bike; torn between this and this or to keep saving for this…thoughts anyone?

    * Spent the weekend in the gym, so no photos of verdant vistas, see above taken by my wife of me wear testing the Salomon XT vest, I had the treadmill at 3%, for nearly an hour, and dropped in a couple of walk breaks at 14% at 27 and 40 minutes


    * Went to a spin class! First time in forever, the gym has a Kid’s Club and our kids love it so it’s a win-win all round

    * Remembered how much I hated SPD pedals, compared to my Speedplays

    image Speedplays on my road shoes vs. SPDs on my MTB shoes…no float!

    * Finished off the RW; How Fit Are You? Here are the results

    1. Core strength – hold good form while doing a plank; 1:49 – Good
    2. Upper Body Strength – as many standard push-ups as possible; 22 Great (by 1!)
    3. Lower Body Strength – squat down until your glutes graze the seat of a chair. Return to standing; got bored at 57! – Great
    4. Flexibility – how straight can you get one leg while lying on your back; Good, just I think…super tight hammies!
    5. Balance – how long can you hold tree pose, do each side and average; got bored at 2 minutes – Great
    6. Speed – 400m flat out; result 1:28, disappointing – Fair – lots of controversy on the message boards on this one!
    7. Joint Mobility – this is way to complicated to explain so here’s my lovely assistant demonstrating it…me I am only Fair


    So my results in total (the other two tests results are here) Good, Fair, Good, Great, Great, Good, Great, Fair, Fair…hmm so basically I am kinda great at pushups, standing up and almost sitting down and standing on one leg…whoop de f#$%^+*g d0!

    Ok enough of this nonsense and let’s talk about a real winner and some real results, yesterday I tallied all the entries into the Catalina Island Eco Marathon and worked it all out, I assigned each entry a number and then used the random number generator

    image Very hi tech, no?! image

    And so the winner is Lisa! Drop me a line Lisa to quadrathon@gmail.com and I will send you the entry code, congrats and I will see you in November! The runners up was Penny and third place was West picked in case Lisa has to drop out. Again a big thank you Amanda and Spectrum Sports!

    Ok that’s about it for now then, later!

    Saturday, June 12, 2010

    Review; Brooks Adrenaline GTS 10

    image If you have read this blog for anytime you’ll know that I fell out of love with my Asics Kayanos 16s back in February and after a couple of hours in Road Runner Sports I left with a shiny new pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS 10s. After four months and a couple of hundred miles across two pairs now seems about he right time to post a review.

    So first the technical stuff from Brooks’ website, the shoes offer several patented technical features; first midsole:

    HYDROFLOW®–Dynamic viscous fluid units for heel and forefoot enhance midsole cushioning—attenuating shock with industry leading dampening and comfort.
    BIOMOGO–We’ve taken the long-lasting cushioning of our MoGo midsole and made it environmentally friendly. How, you ask? By adding a non-toxic, natural additive to the MoGo compound that encourages anaerobic microbes to munch away once it hits the landfill.
    DIAGONAL ROLL BAR (DR B®)–A high-density post at the medial arch is engineered for pronation control and creates a smoother transition from the midstance phase into the propulsion phase.
    DRB® ACCEL –Enhances tunable torsion of the midfoot. Shank-like thermoplastic devices vary from single  units of a set modulus, to dual unit versions of varied modulus (tuned with higher stiffness for medial support, the lateral side less stiff to smooth the ride).

    Next the outsole:

    HPR Plus –A higher durability, abrasion-resistant rubber outsole compound that wears longer.
    EN GINEERED STABLE POD CONFIGURATION–Midsole and outsole components are engineered to set the foot up in an efficient, balanced position from heel strike to toe-off, offering maximum stability and responsiveness.

    And finally the upper:

    ELEMENT–Upper technology featuring superior microfiber construction to provide weather protection in a light, supple, quiet fabric that doesn’t sacrifice breathability, durability, or comfort.

    Yeah you might say, all that techo babble is great but how do they feel? Well the answer is of subjective and is inevitably a little in comparison to the Kayanos. But first off they feel light…really light. 11.1oz (vs 12.7oz for the Asics), despite being what I would call a distance shoe i.e. not a racing flat etc they make you pick up your pace.

    imageComfortwise, I sized up half a size and I prefer to wear cushioned socks, the standard width (D) fits my standard foot but they are available in B, D, 2E and 4E (and for women 2A, B, D and 2E). I have never needed extra widths and so I have never looked for them but this seems like broad range to me and combined with the half sizing should really allow you to dial in your fitting. I am not prone to blisters and have had no issues with hotspots of chaffing although to be honest if you are from any shoe it’s probably the wrong shoe for you.

    The temperature has been slowly climbing round here so I have been able to get a feel for how they deal with the heat (and sweat) and they perform well, if you remember my review of the Pearl Izumi’s they got really warm, performance was decidedly unnoticeable,meaning my fee were neither hot or cold, so in my mind if I am not noticing it as an issue, it’s not one.

    In addition to the their lightness these shoes are genuinely comfortable to run in, there is ample cushioning in the forefoot and heel and unlike the Kayano (16s) the heel is stable and the (15s) there is no sign of the forefoot going flat. They are a “Support” shoe and as a pronator they help me deal with that issue. I also wear them with my custom orthotics without issue. Obviously primarily a road shoe I did in fact wear them for my mid week trail run and the handled everything I could think of and in fact saved my toe a couple of times against some tree roots…of course they did get a bit dirty along the way!

    The shoes are available in red/grey and white/blue as well as pink/white for the ladies and black for everyone and you can pick them up pretty much anywhere from a big box store to your local Mom and Pop to online, now 6 months old expect them to be retired I would guestimate within the next 2-3 months so the prices are pretty good, a Google shopping search for “Brooks Adenaline 10” drove the sticker price down from $100 to $79.95 (another big bonus vs. the Kayanos which were $135). They also received the Runners World Best Update last December.

    All in all a solid shoe that’s comfortable, effective, efficient, well priced and kinder than some on the environment.

    This product was purchased. If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me at quadrathon@gmail.com.

    Thursday, June 10, 2010

    Not quite a four hour lunch break…

    …more like a two hour breakfast!

    So here’s the deal, every other month at work we have a big product release, this is software code and so we start to roll this out in the middle of the night and into the next morning, I'll spare you all the details but this means that the next day is a late start, late as in lunchtime. I stay at a local hotel, a 70 mile drive at that time of the night after a 19 hour day is the last thing I want. So with that in mind having gone to bed around 3:00am by 9:30am I was up and by 9:50am at the Canyon Park trail head…c’mon you know you would too!

    I actually missed the trail that I wanted and so I followed the waterfall trail, the problem was that after just under a mile it ended; albeit a very pretty ending!

    P1020779  Monrovia Falls,  hard to tell but these are about 30’ tall

    So I ran back to the start and ran up again…it was a great, a few streams crossings and a bit technical in parts with some really nice views:

    P1020755 When I got to the top I turned around and did it all again, and again A total of three times, I am pretty sure that the people I saw on the trail thought I was mad, in fact I know it because a very nice couple said so after I had seen them for the fifth time!

    P1020764 Anyway after just under 5 miles I was done, training day #5 in the bag and I managed to average in Zone 3! Here’s the SportTracks profile, the rest of the photos and a video of a downward leg, enjoy...I did!

    image I love that only 4’ was flat

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010

    Plan the work…work the plan!

    The next two months mapped out. It obviously started last weekend. Bare bones, run, bike, swim, weights, stretch! Keep it simple and get it done!


    Don't forget to post your entry to win an race entry to the Catalina Island Eco Marathon here and I’ll see the winner on the start line in November!

    Tuesday, June 8, 2010


    Fear not I am not about to tear down your local quaint Main Street and throw up a 1,000,000sqft Mall! What I am talking about is changing my zones that I posted about here. After posting them Wes from A Code Geeks Tail asked where I got my zones from and I pointed him in the direction of the website…and this is why I love being a blogger and the community of athletes that I know, he immediately offered to work out my zones properly and suggested I follow the 20 minute test, of course he didn’t offer to do the test for me!

    image Click on the image to go to the full article!

    And of to the gym I went, there was no point in trying this on the road, I work in the foothills, it’s all up or down.

    I set the treadmill at 1% grade and set off. A simple 10 minute warm up, 20 minutes at best effort without blowing up and then a cool down, average HR for the 20 minutes: 164.66, let’s call it 165. Not sure what the heart-fart is around minute 17 through? And I was surprised to see that I can still throw down some consistent  sub 7:00 miles, although it’s a ways off my 5k best pace.imageHere’s the GTC output, I emailed it off to Wes and overnight got the response…


    Woot! Just as a reminder, here’s what I had by comparison to the new ones:

    imageAs you can see they are a lot narrower in the spread and with the first three have a higher upper limit. I’ve reset my zones in GTC, on my 305 and in SportTracks and so now on with the show, Zone 2 here I come!

    Of course none of this was possible without Wes, so a big Big HUGE thank you to him.  If you haven’t checked out his blog you should, self described as: “A Neo Southern Gentleman from the Heart of Dixie, navigating the silver waters of the IT industry, IT Consultant, family man, marathoner, triathlete, Ironman. Come dance with me as I train for Ironman Arizona in November 2010...”

    So what are you waiting for…he asked you to dance!

    Sunday, June 6, 2010

    Standing on the baseline: Runner's World "How Fit Are You"? Results

    So having said I would be training in Zone 2 and 3, the first step was to get a baseline of where my fitness (both running and otherwise) is…or isn’t. I remembered reading in Runner's World a “How Fit Are You?" article, what the hell I thought, that will do. So Saturday I headed off to the gym to conduct the first two tests; the Endurance test and the Cardiovascular test.

    The Endurance test, was treadmill based and was similar to a tempo run, the instructions were as follows:

    1) Set a one-percent incline. Warm up at an easy pace for 10 minutes.
    2) Do a 30-minute tempo run at 85 percent of your maximum effort. This is a bit slower than your 10-K race pace--an 8 on a scale of difficulty from 1 to 10.
    3) Cool down for five minutes, and note the distance you covered during that 30-minute tempo run. (It might be easier for you to gauge that distance if you reset the treadmill after your warmup.)

    I set my Garmin to chime if I entered Zone 5, 167bpm and set off 50 minutes and an extra half mile later (I had a 6 miler on the docket) later I was done. The results were interesting and with the help of SportTracks I am able to really dig into the data.

    Tempo runThe first data set show my HR over the miles and and time, over 75% was spent across Zone 3 and 4, the 28% in Z3 probably means I should have been putting a little more effort into it, but as you can see from the red line trace my HR increase steadily through the session and I had to back off at the 32 minute mark. The next screen shot shows even more detail:

    Tempo run2So the splits are based on the first miles then at 10 minutes, then every mile thereafter through to 30 minutes at tempo pace and finally 5 minutes cool down, oh and 3 seconds fudge. The interesting columns are the Starting and Finish HR, you can really see the impact of easing off the pace has in mile 4 and although I eased off it seems that mile 5 despite being 32 seconds slower my heart rate crept back up?!? General fatigue…maybe, perception wise I was feeling it and would have rated the PRE here as and 14/15. Having poured over this data and analyzed it in both GTC and SportTracks I reconciled it to the results section of the test and officially I got a…wait for it; Good!

    The second test was pretty simple, step up onto a 12” step for 3 minutes and monitor my heart rate at the end of a minute of recovery, again I used my Garmin and got the following data:

    image At the end of 3 minutes I was at 138bpm, a minute later down to 110bpm and a minute after that (out of interest) at 98bpm.

    The results based on the HR at 4 minutes measure cardiovascular strength and uses a test you would typically not do for a workout, here’s the results table:

    image Alas for my age group I only scored a “Fair”! Even after two minutes I would only be "Good"! Clearly there is room for improvement. I’ll bring you the rest of the results in the next post…

    Saturday, June 5, 2010

    Getting into the zone…

    So I am working on my mileage base, lots of miles, lots of slow solid miles, I’ve worked out all my zones and so I am looking to be spending a lot of time in Zone 2 and 3, if you’re interested here they are:

    1. 93-111 / 2. 112-130 / 3. 131-148 / 4. 149-167 / 5. 168-190

    That’s going to work out very well in the short term with my lunchtime trail run which as mentioned before is all uphill turnaround then all downhill! This is the Sportracks data from Friday’s run of that route:

    image Zone 2

    imageZone 3

    Looks like I need to slow it down initially and focus more on the Zone 2 stuff, I have worked out the first 8 weeks of my training, which starts today.

    I finally made it to the end of the urban trail last Friday, and I was right, of course I could have looked it up on a map…but really! So at the end of the road is this! Jackpot!

    imageOf course all I need now is a four hour lunch break!

    Friday, June 4, 2010

    Review; Ultimate Direction Wasp

    P1020680 It seems fitting that I start at one end of the spectrum (hand bottles) and move to the other in one fell swoop! So here I offer my take on the Ultimate Direction Wasp. I have had my Wasp for nearly three years now, I have raced with it, trained with it, hiked with it, thrown it in the washing machine (cold water, air dry) a couple of times and generally used and abused and still love it!

    But I digress, let’s be a little more analytical.

    So first up some basic facts and figures: Storage Capacity: 390 cu. in./6.9L. Fluid Capacity: 64oz./1.9L Reservoir Included. Weight: 1lb. 5oz./595g.

    The Wasp is unlike your traditional running pack; which is more like a pack with straps, it is essentially constructed onto a vest that you wear rather than a pack that you put on, it’s actually quite difficult to explain but once you do put it on you get it straight away.

    The vest is secured with two straps across the chest, the straps are pretty high and this gets things off you waist, there are some really nice touches like elastic wraps the secure all the excess straps once you have pulled them all tight. The front of the vest provides plenty of storage; there are two pockets’ one zippered, one with a drawstring and two pouches which are a perfect fit for a 6oz gel bottle, small camera or the like. All of the front is made from ventilated mesh which minimizes the heat and maximizes the airflow. The front panels are connected by a loop and sliding straps which go towards the rear where they are fixed onto the rear pack, this provides for a flexible fit and minimizes the possibility for chaffing. Also on the front are two elastic loops, these are used for looping the bladder hose around, I also add two home grown things here but more on that later. The great thing about the front is the amount of storage there is and the fact that you do not have to take it off to have access to a lot of your kit.

    The back of the pack is all business too. It sits high, above you waistline and below your shoulders. There are several compartments, the first is where the bladder lives, there are two sections, so you can stash clothing etc in here too. There is a small Velcro loop that the bladder hooks onto, this keeps it uprights and stops it from slopping about or collapsing as it empties. From this section there is a hole where the hose feeds through, this allows you to zip up all the pockets. The next pocket opens to the side, inside there is a small pocket, ideal for a small flip phone (does anyone have one of those anymore?) your keys or something similar in size. On the outside there is a smaller zipped pocket ideal for a sun cream stick. There is also a mesh pocket with a cinch strap for a waterproof jacket etc. For the more ambitious there is an ice axe loop and walking pole loops.

    Out of the box the pack comes with a 64oz bladder but you can get aftermarket versions of either 96oz or a massive 128oz, the bladder hose is insulated, I have only had to use it in heat but I assume it works as well in the cold. At the end of the hose there is a bite valve which effectively keeps the fluid in when you want it in and lets it out when you’re thirsty. There’s a bit of sucking involved to get it flowing and a gentle squeeze on the pack usually does the job.

    Now there are a couple of small additions I have made, one of which is to add a Velcro loop to one of the loops on the front, I used a red cable tie; ‘cos it all matches! The reason for this is that the end of the hose has a Velcro wrap around it and a clip which you are supposed to clip onto the opposite loop, the Velcro just allows you to push it into the Velcro and the whole thing sticks together; easy! The second thing is the addition of a carabineer, this allows me to hook things onto me, most usefully is a handbottle, remember those really big loops on the UD FastDraw Extreme, perfect for when taking photos or scoffing a gel or PB&J sandwich! I have also at time looped a camera case through the front straps and that works well also, see the photo from above from the Calico Ghost Town 50K in 2008, the blue pouch is a camera case with two baggies…pretzels and M&Ms! Checkout the photo album for some close ups.

    Overall this is a comfortable, effective vest, it has plenty of options to get it to fit, and fit well. There is plenty, if not too much, storage, it’s very tempting to fill all the pockets up…bad idea! It can get heavy real fast! When moving the custom fit really comes into play and minimizes any bounce. I have worn my pack for long races (50km) and longer unsupported training runs (25m+) without issue. The only real downside is that the bladder realistically has a lifespan of about a year depending on the amount of use and abuse you throw at it, replacements in all three sizes are available from UD’s website.

    Recently a friend of mine Josh reviewed his Wasp, he has a newer version which is orange/gray compared to my red/gray one, you can read his review here.

    The Wasp is hard to find in a retail store but is available through several online outlets and retails for around $80, WRC has it available and ‘quad10’ at the checkout will get you a 10% discount…hey that covers the shipping if nothing else!

    Finally there is a female specific version; the Wink. The Wink offers a shorter torso length and women-specific "S" shaped shoulder straps with a narrower neck line and increased padding for optimal comfort.

    As mentioned this is at the other end of the extreme from handbottles but if you’re go longer, it’s getting hotter or you’re heading out into the boonies the Wasp or Wink could be a good friend to have along!

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010

    Memories from Memorial Day

    Some fun from the trails on Monday combined with some music I picked up at the weekend and 10 minutes spent messing about in iMovie.

    Don’t forget to enter the Catalina Island Eco Marathon, check that out here. And if you fancy a set of 21st century scales, the Withing wifi scales, check out DCRainmaker’s giveaway here!

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010

    Running with buffaloes!

    No sorry this is not a post about the University of Colorado cross-country team, the Buffaloes, this is a post on how you can run with the buffaloes, well maybe see the buffaloes while running! Back in February I posted my race report about the Redondo Beach Super Bowl Sunday 10k you can read that here. I was contacted by the race organizers to see if I would like to have an entry and better still give an entry away to the Catalina Island Eco Marathon…and of course yes please was the reply! I had always fancied this race but never really got round to it, it requires a boat trip and hotel stay the night before.

    The race is young; 2007 was it’s augural year but has had some great coverage and well know runners race it. Dean Karnazes ran it and had this to say “a truly stunning marathon course set amongst the hills and valleys of this beautiful island.  It was a memorable experience for all of us who ran the inaugural race, and as tough as it was, I saw nothing but smiles”.

    And here’s a few photos…see buffaloes! There’s an explanation as to why their there here!


    5eco-marathon-spectator 11Mile18

    Now before you leap in I’ll show you this picture and this is also why I am posting this 6 months in advance…training time; race day is November 13th, this is the elevation profile:


    Just so you know what you’re letting your self in for!

    Here’s a couple of teasers videos short one and long one, check out the landscapes and in case you’re wondering it’s 22 miles on trails!

    So here’s all you have to do

    1. Join the Facebook group here – that’s one entry
    2. Follow them on Twitter – that’s another entry
    3. Leave a blog comment saying you’ve done those two– that’s another entry

    Now for bonus entries  Tweet this once day for the contest duration “I just entered the @quadrathon contest for a free race entry to the Catalina Eco Marathon http://bit.ly/9j62mj

    That’s 17 possible entries (1 FB+ 1 blog comment+ 1 Twitter follow + 14 tweets)

    The final hurdle is this you need to donate $10 to the Catalina Conservancy to enter, cheeky; yes, good cause; hell yeah! I am not going  to check and I’ll use the honor system.

    The contest will run for two weeks starting today finishing on the 14th, when I will draw a winner and a second and third place…just in case. The winner will receive one free entry, you’ll have to make your own way there and sort out you own accommodation etc and in case you’re worried I promise that there’s no obligation to run with me!

    Finally a big thank you to Amanda at Spectrum Sports Management for the two entries, check out their other races including the Avalon 50, Disneyland Half and Trek Women’s Tri series here!