Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday; Five Favorite Photog Fings !

Pardon the alliteration…I couldn’t resist it!

IMG_2582 Making fresh tracks in the morning dew…


My Sugoi Piston Compression shorts…I don’t leave home without them

imageMy Garmin Forerunner 305…3 1/2 years old and still going strong!


Santa Monica Mountains…my backyard playground


You guys…I am a bit behind but you really are!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

So what the heck is this Intense Debate comments thing?

Go to IntenseDebateNow let me first say I am an out and out comments whore! And it’s ok; chances are you are too! I have to say of late it’s been a bit one sided but I am catching up honest!

The problem is I am, for reasons unknown to me, plagued with Russian and other Eastern European comments on various body part enlargements, free software, pictures of celebrities and so on, dozens a day!

My comments have always been monitored but I have never censored them; good bad and ugly I have published them. That being said life is too short to monitor them so I have decided to change things and rather than turn them off completely I borrowed an idea I saw on Frayed Laces called Intense Debate, it allows me to easily respond to individual comments either in the comment section or via email and it also allows you to respond to other comments.

Comments can be threaded so you can carry on your own mini conversations about topics within the comment section and you can subscribe to email alerts if someone directly replies to your comment. If you're on Twitter, you can also choose an option to simultaneously send a tweet when you comment on a post.

The main difference is that you need to login. You can either sign in as a guest, create an intense debate profile, or use your Open ID account. I created a Intense Debate profile and stay logged in and it works seamlessly, you even get a reputation score which increase the more you use it…know any Type A competitor types? If you already use Google or Blogger, you have an Open ID account. Click here for info on how to use it.

I think it’s a change for the better but I am always open to feedback so leave me a comment. Love it? Hate it? Let me know! Oh and if you suffer from the Russian Spamia you might want to check it out too!

Tuneful Tuesday…

I like to run with an iPod, 99% of photos you’ll see of me running (or riding) will have me jacked in. I mix it up some and it a variation of podcasts, talking books and music. I used to be somewhat of a musciphile, I still have a CD collection back in the UK of somewhere north of a 1000 discs as well as a few boxes of vinyl, and as I look at my Mac I have another 25GBs on there. I am not sure what it’s indicative of that most of my my more recent music purchases have come from either (a) soundtracks to movies, (b) commercials on TV or (c) So You Think You Can Dance! Let’s just say commercial radio just isn’t what it used to be.

So here are a few more recent purchases that getting me moving:


Movie; Knight & Day

TV Drama; Covert Affairs

TV Commercial: Apple iPod

This is one you have seen before, it’s from a Sufferfest video but it’s a kick ass tune! Adrenaline by Phantom Black

Kicking it old school back to my teens!

All of the above you can get through iTunes except Phantom Black which you can buy online here. If you’re looking for something free and have a penchant for tearing up Dancefloor, these next two I highly recommend also.

Above & Beyond, Trance Around the World and HousenationUK both have excellent free podcasts which you can subscribe to and download through iTunes.

What’s playing in your head?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

An Ice Cream recce’!

Saturday the fam’ loaded up and headed off to Marina del Rey to cash in on some Groupons that we had acquired for a days trip to Catalina Island.

I’ve been to Catalina several times before, once by boat bringing my mountain bike and riding up to the Airport in the Sky and the second by plane landing at the same airport. The ferry ride over was uneventful although there were two rather alcohol enthused girls making complete asses of themselves.

What was interesting for me, cos’ I am anal retentive like that was to be able to see the islands profile up close, well at least a bit closer than the mainland, there was no real reason other than I wanted to put some color to the elevation profile for the Eco Marathon in November, this is the elevation profile and experience has taught me that profiles while being accurate never really convey that sense of ‘up’!

image So I snapped some photos and decided that yes they were indeed up!

image We then set off to slowly eat our way around the island by way of a stop off at the glass bottom boat trip, the ice cream shop, hand made candy shop and few others…you get the picture! Talking of which there are a bunch below.

The return trip was only marred by the failure of one of the boat’s engines which added another hour onto the journey…needless to say that went down well and it was well past 10:00pm by the time we got home!

Oh an in case you’re wondering what a recce is?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thinking ahead of myself…

Training with a purpose, I am really not sure if I didn’t have a race (or races) on my radar that I could drag my self out of bed in the wee hours and get things done. I have always been an outcomes based kind of person, give me a target and I am totally up for the challenge, doing it for the sake of doing it doesn't’ really fit! Maybe it would but it doesn’t fit like it does with a race entry filled out.

I have mentioned in the past that I am racing the Catalina Island Eco Marathon in November and hope to pace a friend to her first 50k finish also in November, I’ll not mention her name but she likes to run with her dog and lives around these parts. But I am starting to think about a few others that I can build out around them that will carry me into next year; there's this one; DRTE in Santa Barbara in October and/or the Over The Hill Track Club High Desert in December; the 50k option for both. My season is totally messed up with me peaking in Oct/Nov but it might actually work out if I can double dip and peak in the spring too which will set me up for a return trip to finish off some unfinished business at Twin Peaks, and Leona Divide…again! Neither of which I had a good showing in the last 18 months one due to weather the other my stomach. You can read the reports here; Twin Peaks, Leona Divide.

Anyway am I thinking ahead of myself, maybe, but I always did wonder what was the other side of the horizon.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Therapy on a budget!

We all know the importance of stretching, sticking and foam rollering and all that good stuff, the next thing in that litany of self loving is a massage. Often overlooked due to time and cost…well I may be able to help out with the latter. Enter Groupon and fellow sites, so far this month I have picked up four massage vouchers for a grand total of $110, that’s near five hours of massage therapy. There’s can sometimes be a bit of hit and miss as to the quality so when I saw the Sports Therapy Clinic that my wife goes to had one I snapped it up and my wife got one too; 75 minutes for $39.00!

They are of course geographical but Groupon has nationwide coverage in the major US cities. The links below take you to the ones I use:

Groupon Los Angeles

Conejo Valley Deals

Living Social San Fernando Deals

The only catch of course is to now find the time to take them! Happy deal hunting!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Double Figures...finally!

I finally made it into double figures for hours training last week…it feels like it’s it been a long time and in looking back through my training log I found out it’s the first time this year and given that I was broken for the last three months of last year it’s been really long time. My last big week for total mileage last year before 100 in the Hood was at the end of July where I trained for 23 hours, I actually hit a couple of 75 mile running weeks but with less cycling…shit those were the days! Still the only way is up right!

Here’s the comparison/breakdown:




image A bit slower on the bike this year and a lot faster on the run but with less on the trails so it’s no real comparison, check out the Average Heart Rate though…that looks promising! And the increase in variance; weights and elliptical is all going to help long term…too much just running makes Stuart a broken boy!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Review; Nathan X Trainer Mutation

P1030026 I was always a bit cautious about wearing a waistpack, my early experiences were with something from Nike that slid about and the bottle bounced up and down. I have run two marathons with a Fuel Belt but the weight is distributed around the belt much more than a single bottle belt, that being said I was more than pleasantly surprised with this pack, but I am getting ahead of myself.

First here is some of the technical blurb from Nathan’s website:

Evolution to minimize detection.

The X Trainer takes on features of other race products to emerge lighter and more comfortable, offering even greater ease of access and creative capacity. Horizontal bottle positioning offers a minimal footprint and bottle stability and security while climbing and jumping.

  • Dual XTS Cradles, reinforced with ultra-light Tech Mesh
  • Insulated holster allows access from right or left side
  • 22 oz. (650 mL) Hydration Bottle
  • 5 oz. (150 mL) Nutrition Flask in horizontal side holster
  • Dimensional Power Stretch Mesh pocket expands to hold items snugly in place
  • Shock Cord with one-pull tension lock for jacket or gloves
  • Lightweight, breathable Wall Mesh with soft perimeter binding back panel and waistbelt feels great against skin and won’t damage technical apparel
  • Limited-stretch elasticized waistbelt
  • Fits 26” to 42” waists

I’ll talk about the belt first then the bottle. Like most of the country summer has finally arrived in Southern California and the mercury has been up and over 100 most of the last week. It’s inevitable that if you put something on your body in a constricting fashion its going to add to the sweat creation even around your waist somewhere you might not associate with ‘being sweaty’, despite this the waistband handles it well, it doesn’t overly absorb the moisture and doesn’t lose its shape when wet, mostly it seems to wick as best as it can.

It secures at the front by way of your typical plastic buckle and you can cinch it in to tighten it, the actual strap is partially elastic and so this allows you get a snug but forgiving fit. One thing it could do with is a couple of loops to fit the excess strap through as they tend to flap around a bit although you can tie them up with electricians tape or cut off the excess if you really wanted to, I would class my waist was average but would imagine if you were slim you would have quiet a lot of excess especially as it can fit up to and around a 42” waist. Moving clockwise there is a 5oz gel flask which sits parallel to the ground, it’s securely mounted within a mesh net pouch with a draw cord to stop it from falling out, of course you can remove the flask and add what you like; keys, camera etc if you want to.

The bottle container is essentially a semi rigid cradle, again its sits parallel to the ground and this means you can access it with both hands, a snug partial cover keeps it from bouncing our and around, I was a bit dubious at first but this works very effectively Underneath there is a drawer string for you to stash a jacket, arm warmers etc. There’s a loop to hang it up with on the top and some reflective piping.

Finally on the left side there is a small pocket, it’s large enough for keys, camera etc but at 4.5” it’s too small for an iPhone (‘cos I know you were about to ask, but a newer Blackberry fits). Inside there is a little hook to attach keys to so they don’t drop out unknowingly…that would be very bad! Interestingly both the pocket and the gel flask are not sewn all around so you could stash an extra gel or two behind them, of course you run the risk of then falling out but the option’s there.

The bottle is your standard 22oz bottle it has a rubber nipple so it’s a little more forgiving than you usual cycling bottle and it has a handy spring clip in case you need to hang it of something in a hurry. A nice wide mouth means you can minimize the wait time at the Aid Stations.

So in summary. Having used this for a while now I am almost convinced it could replace handholds for me, I am only almost because I haven’t gone anything over 90 minutes with it and it is only one bottle; so it depends on the space in between Aid Stations. It’s comfortable, fits me well with no bounce or slosh from the bottle, the partially elastic strap allows me to get it to sit on my hips rather than around my waist and that’s perfect for me. My only real negative is the color, light grey stays light grey for not very long when you’re on a dusty trail.

Available online through multiple outlets this belt including the two bottle retails for around $40. If you choose to pick one up check out Wilderness Running Company and don’t forget using ‘Quad10’ at the checkout will save you 10%.

There are more photos here:

This Belt was provided free of charge by the good folks at Wilderness Running Company. See previous gear reviews in the sidebar on the right. If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me at

You can read my other Hydration product reviews here:

Up next is the FuelBelt H2O

I am also working my way through the Endurance Drinks, you can follow my thoughts here.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sole entry…he’ll win!

Pardon the extreme punning!

Here are the results for the Toe Juice giveaway or should I say here is the winning entry from Josh.  Josh’s tired dogs look like they really need some lovin’. Not surprising really he’s has just piled on a 300 mile month, was pacing at Badwater the past few days and will be toeing the line at AC100 this August!

jspector both feet jspector right foot

Seriously in need of some lovin’, a good pedi and a angle grinder!

So I have been using Toe Juice for the last two weeks, a fairly easy regimen, evenings before bed and after a shower, so that’s up to three times a day in total, just dabbed on with cotton wool, easy peasy!

And so for the results, drum roll please…

image[10] image

Before 14 days of treatment on the left and the after on the right

As you can see there is a significant improvement, the cracks have healed/repaired , there’s definitely more moisture and less dryness and an improvement overall, so I would say a success.

Josh email me your mailing address and I’ll hook you up!

A big thankyou to Toe Juice for providing the goodies! Check ‘em out and you could have hush puppies rather than rough dogs in two weeks too!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Review; CEP Running O2 SportsSock

If you have read my blog for any length of time you’ll know this is not the first review on compression socks (or sleeves). I am a big fan of compression clothing both for recovery and for during. You can read some of my previous reviews are here, here, here and here. And so on with this review.


From CEP’s website:

For all Runners and Endurance Athletes: The scientifically optimized pressure flow provides your muscles with the maximum amount of oxygen and energy during performance and recovery.

The times are over where the sole purpose of socks and stockings was to protect feet from blistering. The CEP compression sportsocks are the first functional sport socks with a unique compression profile that provides a scientifically proven increase in blood circulation and a consequent increase in performance.

  • Achilles Tendon Support: Additional support of the Achilles tendon protects and prevents irritable tendons.
  • Padded Foot Soles: The special support of the foot sole prevents irritations caused by pressure spots.
  • Ventilation Channels: For a pleasant foot climate.
  • 3-D Fit: The socks adjust to the anatomy of the leg and foot for a perfect fit thanks to the three-dimensional manufacturing process.

I have been wearing these during the last 3-4 weeks, my mileage is not so high at the moment but I am running five days a week so I’ll take any assistance in recovery or injury prevention that I can. All told these have somewhere between 100-120 miles on them now and they have been the subject of multiple wear, wash, dry repeat cycles. I use ProWash and air dry them in case you were wondering. They return to their usual shape and size without issue.

So here’s the nitty gritty…I suppose that would be the knitty gritty! The socks are foot specific and have seamless toes. They have super dense cushioning under the sole and heel. The cushioning extends over the toes and up the heel beyond the usual height of the Achilles notch. There is ribbing that runs parallel to the foot and calf to the top where the seam is neatly hemmed. The is a nice vibrant logo at the top. The compression is good, this may seem a little obvious, but compared to some these hold their tension well. I have run in them and used them overnight for recovery; they held their own through the night and were good through to the morning.

Overall the comfort level is high and there is no ‘itchiness’ that you can get from close fitting clothing. In terms of their effectiveness, well they fit, tight; that’s the point right, the compression lasts and they work, so that’s a three for three in my book! While CEP may not be the brand for you, you need to buy compression clothing; and that's the bottom line!

Available in three sizes depending on the diameter of your calf and in black, white, fuchsia and lime they are available at multiple outlets online for $60.00.

These products were provided free of charge by CEP. See previous gear reviews in the sidebar on the right. If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me at

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Le Tour Le Sale!

Just stumbled over this site which is having a monster sale on a bunch of stuff. Want to look like you belong in the Peloton, no sweat,  International orders, no problem, Free Shipping to the US and an addition 10% off if you order online, they have some stuff up to 70% off including helmets, hardware, hydration, lighting, lycra or lube or components, clothing and clinchers.

PBK Sale!

The sale ends on Monday…happy shopping

Friday, July 9, 2010

Busy busy busy…even in my sleep!

It’s been one of those weeks, on the back foot all the time, trying to catch up and always one step behind. Lack of blog writing, lack of blog reading, my reader is at 300 and counting! Three working lunches in four days put the kibosh on hitting the gym and I have been up at dark o’clock getting the miles in even before my wife leaves the house for her 6:00am Boot Camp class!

It’s mostly good and I am more or less hitting my training goals, well with the exception of yesterday, unscheduled rest, I am on schedule. I need more weights work. The mileage is increasing slowly and I’ll break through into the 30’s permanently in the next week and be staying there moving forward!

The Heart Rate zone work is really dialing in and now I have shored up the lower limit I am seeing the improvement in my pace, what were 9:00 min miles and now 20 seconds or so faster! But I am sticking to Zone 2 for the immediate future and putting the miles in the bank.

I am seeing a lot of folks switch over to the Garmin 110 and 310XT recently and since I adopted my wife’s 305 last year, it was too big and complicated for her, my need to change has fallen way down the list, in fact I am still using my original 305 from 2007 which is going strong. Actually having two will be great when I hit those longer longer runs that are in the future. The only downside has been I am using up the battery life in the HR straps, the second one died this week and so I switched out the battery from a small torch and it still wouldn’t start! Crap I thought I’ll need to get a new one, a somewhat unnecessary $70! But no, a new battery ($3.29 from Target) did the trick! And so while changing the battery and charging a watch I decided to run a sleep baseline on my Heart Rate, I did this 2-3 years ago and have long since lost the data, but thought this would give me another baseline for this training cycle. So I shut off all the Alerts and Auto Pause on my 305, left it on the nightstand and voila!


Can you tell how fast I fall asleep! What I think is fascinating, are the peaks and troughs, a low of 34 seems very low and a high of 76 a bit high, who knows what causes them, interestingly I used to suffer from sleep apnea, I had some surgeries (this one and this one, oh yeah fun times!) and now it’s a lot better but clearly there are somethings happening to cause the spikes! Of course if you were to believe the GPS tracking I am simply running around the house and garden like my hair is on fire!

As always I am an experiment of one!

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Ten trail miles in ten photos…

I hit Cheeseboro Canyon this morning in the gloom of low cloud! Gotta love an El Nino Summer! Enjoy…

P1020908           Mile 1, low cloud and empty trails

P1020909 Mile 2, on a sunny day the shade is very welcome


Mile 3, I don’t remember ever moving that fast!

P1020923Mile 4, I can’t help but think of this when I see this sign


Mile 5, more unneeded shade…hey I’ll take it!


Mile 6, greenery and Spring flowers


Mile 7, calves like Lance Armstrong…I wish!


Mile 8, high towers and low cloud

Mile 9, a little video of the trail

P1020961 Mile 10, looking back over my shoulder

P1020971 Mile 11, I named this crow Horton!


Mile 11.33,  home…well the car!