Sunday, July 31, 2011

Citrus Classic Zest for Life 5k

imageI think quite possibly this will go down as the oddest race I have ever run…but I will get to that in a minute. I hadn’t planned on running a race before my target Half Marathon at the end of August but I have been on or under my target training paces and I also needed the confidence booster so I signed up on late Thursday, strangely this was the only race across three counties, LA, Orange and Ventura, an almost perfect storm!

Despite less than stellar reviews on I was out of choices, that being said I was really there on my own agenda and set my expectations of the event low. I should add that the race was being run in conjunction with a balloon festival.

I’ll spare you all the pre race stuff. I arrived parked and signed in, despite registering online, my entry was missing, the website had crashed I was told! No problem it’s not like I was going to bandit it! I was asked if wanted to buy a race shirt; buy? No thanks, white cotton shirts I do not need.

I started talking to another guy in a singlet and we ran off to find the course, we found some signs and followed the arrows but we were a mile or so short! When we got back more people had signed in, there was a lot of confusion about where the start was which was only added to when they announced over tannoy that there would be a 10 minutes delay. Eventually we were given a briefing and then a little farm truck drove up…we were told to follow it; WTF? At this point I really just wanted to get going as I had been there nearly an hour! Eventually we were told to line up and so we did behind the truck, with a 3..2..1 we were off.

I had set my Garmin with a 6:15-6:30 alert spread, within the first 1/4 mile it was chiming, yeah a 5:47 pace would do that I guess! I eased off and found a comfortable groove a little under 6:30, the course wound its way through orange orchards, there were some sharp right angle turns and mostly the path was dirt or sand, not the best but it was what it was. I consciously did not wear my iPod I wanted to make sure I was focused on the running, here are the details:


As you can see it was a bit short, I was really running the tangents so I suppose that accounted for it! I had passed one other runner and then in the last 1/4 mile I was passed by two, I kicked too early for the finish and faded with them beating me by 5 seconds or so. And then the fun began…there was no real time keeping other than someone calling out the times and someone trying to write them down and catch everyone’s numbers’ easy when it’s one or two but when ten runners come through it was impossible.

Ultimately the whole timing thing was a complete cluster and I ended up helping trying to identify the Age Group winners, with the guest runner Gary Tuttle and his wife, the organizers were nowhere to be seen.image

How not to organize the results…too much ganga!

The website noted that there would be awards three deep per age group and it appeared that I had come third! We had to wait till the last runner had finished of course and she crossed the line a fraction under the hour. After that we were directed to the stage where the awards would be presented…but first we treated to 20 minutes of the band:


Sorry but they were not good…can you tell by the fan base!


A marriage proposal…she said yes, well actually she said “'yes I'll take him”! Romantic!


And the vintage tractor parade!

Finally 75 minutes after I finished, they started handing out the awards…to the Age Group Winners only…i.e. One Deep oh and then I found out was bumped into 4th! Well the sun had come out and I was enjoying that!

So in the end I was 12th overall and came fourth in my Age Group! The good news I finished in an official…well as official as some calling it out, 19:11 a new PR by 31 seconds. I am really pleased given the twisty nature and surface and now I can revisit the training plan with a current 5k time to recalibrate my training paces for the next four weeks till race day.

In case you’re wondering I won’t be going back next year!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Race Sim’ & Hay Gathering!

So my blogging has been distilled down to training recaps and product reviews! I suppose this is inevitable as this is really my main focus, the training plan that is! So with five weeks to go before race day I thought I would try a race simulation…hey why not! There’s enough hay in the barn* to see how much more I might need and enough time to go and get a bit more…anyway enough of the farming talk! image

Room for some more….we’ll see?

So Saturday I dropped my family off at LAX as they departed on their vacation, I will be joining them in three weeks time! From there I headed to my old training ground of Will Rogers State Beach just north of Santa Monica, I used to train here a lot, nearly everyday and it would serve as a perfect simulated route for race day course: pancake flat!

The idea was to hit the 13.1 miles at a 6:53 pace and finish with seconds left to run a 1:29:xx time. That was the plan…here is the reality…this didn’t go as well as I hoped, here’s the deets:

1m 7:35 131bpm 87rpm – warm up
1m 6:41 162bpm 92rpm
1m 6:52 171bpm 92rpm
1m 6:43 175bpm 92rpm – HR redlining!
1m 7:00 176bpm 91rpm
1m 7:13 171bpm 90rpm – had to back off
1m 7:20 167bpm 89rpm
1m 7:22 170bpm 90rpm
1m 7:22 169bpm 90rpm
1m 7:25 172bpm 91rpm
1m 7:34 173bpm 89rpm – there goes one wheel!
1m 7:40 162bpm 89rpm – now I am going backwards!
1m 7:24 169bpm 90rpm
.1m 0:46 176bpm 91rpm – push at the end

Final tally 1:35 and change, so the good news is that this is actually nearly 2 ½ minutes faster than my actual HM PR, the bad news is that I still have some work to do and to an extent I do know what went wrong; which is also good news:

  • Went out too fast post warm up
  • Underfueled; I started some 4 ½ hours later than I normally start
  • No hydration; rookie mistake, but runningin the cool mornings I just don’t need it
  • I overheated; running later in the day meant that it was just a lot hotter than I am used to, I have lovely HR strap tan lines!
  • All I had was coffee which added to my overheating

So what to do well all of these are addressable so the thing to do is address them…, so let me think, errr steady my pace, eat something, and drink something…see easy really! Oh and run faster next time; 311 seconds faster to be precise, that's 24 seconds a mile faster!

Obviously I need some more hay!

*On a side note, looking for the image to steal, borrow use I googled “hay in a barn”…people are weird is all can say!

Monday, July 25, 2011

RFP Book and Walkman Winners!

Ok so I am a day late (well three) in posting this but I did actually make the draw on Friday but then got distracted getting my family off on their vacation on Saturday morning and then there was the Tour to catch up on, some running, a bit of cycling and before I knew it is was Monday morning!

So without further ado here are your winners…drumroll…

Relentless Forward Progress goes to….Mike!

The other Sony Walkman W series goes to….Peter!

Thanks guys, email me; quadrathon at gmail etc, or DM me on Twitter your mailing address and I will endeavor to get them to you before Christmas!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Review; Relentless Forward Progress

imageThere are not that many books about Ultra Running and that list gets even smaller once you remove the biographies and autobiographies. As for books that actually provide you any real “how to” information my list stood at at grand total of one, the stoic One Step Beyond, a 500+ page tome which I have owned for four years now and sits dog eared on my bookshelf. Well recently that number just doubled with the publishing of Relentless Forward Progress.

Written by Bryon Powell, the owner and main contributor to the excellent website the book provides a no-nonsense introduction to Ultra Running covering such topics as:

* Why run an Ultra Marathon?

* Time vs. Mileage vs. Trail Mileage

* The Dish on Chafing!

* Dream It, Do It!

In addition to Bryon’s writing , there are contributions from such luminaries in the “scene” as Geoff Roes, Krissy Moehl, Ian Torrance, Dr. David Horton and Karl King, not that Bryon is no slouch, this year he finished Western States for the forth time! My fellow Blogger has interviewed Bryon, you can listen to that here, and he also reviewed the book here as did Donald from Running and Rambling.

So why should you buy this book well, there are three things I really like:

1) It is written for the everyman, new to trail running, there’s a ton of info, been trail running for years, there’s something that you have never heard of to consider

2) It actually offers some realistic training programs, realistic as in they account for the fact that for 99% of the population we have jobs, family and all the other day to day stuff in our lives and as much as we would like to be Pros we’re not…in fact even most of the Pros have real jobs too!

3) It’s out and out inspiring, think you can do, want to do it, this book will help you to do it!

Available through the website you can also pick it up through as a book or download it on your Kindle, I was fortunate to have been sent two copies, I gave mine away; I am banned from anymore running books…so I downloaded it onto my Kindle. That leaves me one copy to give away to a lucky reader. This is simple enough and is the usual form for all my giveaways:

Show some Facebook love will get you an entry.

Post about it on your blog will get you another.

Tweet “I just entered the @quadrathon win a @irunfar #RFP competition you can too ” and you can have three.

Finally let me know how many you entries you need by leaving a comment on this post for your fourth and I will draw a winner on Friday…I also have a Sony Walkman left so the runner up can have that!

Monday, July 11, 2011

No rest for the wicked!

image Sunday rounded out another week of training. The last two weeks have seen a big jump in my total mileage but that’s mostly been due to bike miles and the fact that my running time has been limited, with my wife travelling for work I am limited to hitting the gym on the way home when she is away.

This week I probably bit off more than I could chew with a planned double of Friday, 90 minutes on the bike before dawn and Long Tempo run on the treadmill in the evening, which got bagged as I got bogged down in traffic on the way home and was then deferred to Saturday which nixed my rest day and has set me up for 12 day no rest stretch.

That being said even with the reduced running miles I am seeing some improvements across the boards, paces are easier to reach and maintain, distances are getting longer and when I compare run vs. run over time there is an improvement! So the week shook out like this, oh and excuse the (italicized) copy-n-paste from Daily Mile:

Monday – 3 x 1600m intervals, with a warm up and cool down. It was July 4th so we did sign up for a local Independence day 5k race, I planned to run with the family…planned!

Dropped family off and had planned to run with them, lost them at the start, waited for the whole race to go through through the start line, then ran through the race thinking they might have been faster than I thought, came back around to the start after a mile and waited 2-3 minutes just in case, then went back out on the course. Saw a guy on the side of the road who had had a heart attack getting CPR as the medics/police were getting there. Ran on and finished the 5k in 27 something which was more like 4miles with the extra loop, then started to reverse run the course and found my family after a mile and then ran back with them crossing the finish in 59 and change with our 3 and 6 year completing their first 5k!

No Garmin, no watch, no numbers!

Jeez what a way to start the day, followed by breakfast at Dennys (the Diner of champions of course!) now to the beach!

Happy 4th y'all!

Oh and the winner was on track for 14:30 until he got misdirected and ran another half mile! I need to move somewhere where there are significantly slower people, the top 3 in my age group were all sub 19:00!

Tuesday – woke up late (hate that!) Bike 20.6m 1:10 (ave 17.6mph) Clearly running late is incentive for me to get my ass into gear on my bike!

Wednesday - Short Tempo (5m@7:28) - 1 m w/u 5m @7:28 (Long Tempo pace) 1m c/d, set Garmin on a 7:15-7:30 bracket

1m 8:41 132bpm 85rpm w/u
1m 7:14 147bpm 89rpm
1m 7:15 155bpm 90rpm
1m 7:01 150bpm 90rpm (downhill)
1m 7:10 158bpm 91rpm
1m 6:53 163bpm 92rpm yeah about that!
1m 8:31 144bpm 86rpm c/d

So the moral here, re-check the plan before you head out, it should have been 6 miles not 5! But all things considered my average was a fraction slower and the w/u and c/d miles made up the distance, I didn't have the time for any more as I needed to be back home for 6am so I'll take it. Left quad a little niggly.

It's going to be pretty warm today, I walked out the house in nothing but shorts and shoes!

Thursday – back on the bike this time on the Trainer with IronMan 2 27.02m 1:44, wanted 2 hours but started a bit too late

Friday – started on the Trainer again, this time with Black Hawk Down (awesome movie, I have seen it 6 times) 23.03m 1:30, Friday Night Long tempo….yeah about that, was in bed by 9:30pm! Unheard of for me!

Saturday -  Long Tempo 11m @ HMP+30 (7:23) 11 mi 01:19 + 1 m c/d

I should have run this yesterday but I was really tired so I went to bed at 9:30pm and hit the roads early (5:30am) conditions were great, low cloud, cool almost damp. The miles clicked off although by the end of it I was feeling pretty tired, I set the Garmin to a 7:15-7:30 bracket:

1m 7:29 145bpm 87rpm
1m 7:22 149bpm 89rpm
1m 7:03 149bpm 90rpm
1m 7:12 158bpm 91rpm
1m 7:08 157bpm 91rpm
1m 7:16 156bpm 91rpm
1m 7:02 164bpm 92rpm
1m 6:56 165bpm 92rpm
1m 7:09 164bpm 90rpm
1m 7:04 166bpm 90rpm - 10 miles in 1:11:44 new PB by 4 seconds!
1m 6:53 160bpm 92rpm

So yeah I was too fast overall but I will take it, it's very reassuring to know that the speed work and three quality runs using the FIRST plan is working, that being said the scary bit that I need to still take another 16 seconds off per mile to hit race pace...and add another 2.1 miles to meet race distance and there is only 7 weeks till race day!

Sunday – Trail Run

imageHad to bail on the early start as one of the kids was sick during the night. So I finally went out later and for only 2/3 of the distance I had planned for.  It was already in the early 80s when I started and closed to 90 at the finish, just focused on my hydration and keeping moving, walked some of the hills as that was just more efficient than running them, but was pleased that ones that were runable I mostly ran.

The nice thing is that I was a minute faster and a mile and half further than when I ran this route two months ago, I'd call that progress.

Also thrown into the mix 3 x the P90X Ab Ripper sessions and some foam rolling.

Final deets for the week:

Total miles 109, Running 38 , Biking 71 Miles

Total time  11:20, Running 5:31, Biking 4:24 and the rest was core etc

And just like that we’re back to Monday again…and a whole new week to be wicked!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Review; Salomon XR Crossmax

I have run in Salomon shoes for over three years now, first the XT Wings, reviewed here, then the XT Wings 2 reviewed here so I was thrilled to be asked to review the newest kick on the block the XR Crossmax. Pitched by Salomon as the shoe that allows you to transition from road to trail and as a high mileage shoe I was keen to to get them dirty and so a hundred or so miles dusty, dirty, muddy miles later here’s my review.


About 120 miles worth of embedded grim, the clean uppers show the power of gaiters

But first some info from Salomon:

The Salomon XR Crossmax Neutral trail-running shoes provide an ideal platform for high-mileage runners looking for a single pair of shoes to take them from the street to the trail and back again.

  • Nylon mesh uppers feature Sensifit synthetic leather overlays that wrap and secure insteps for a precise fit
  • Quicklace lacing system takes just 1 pull for a perfect fit; lace pocket hides lacing away
  • Protective toe and heel caps guard against bumps and abrasion
  • Neutral last ensures the shoes work with the natural shape of men's feet, enhancing greater comfort and efficiency
  • Advanced OS Tendon frames run along the soles of the shoes to facilitate better heel-to-toe transitions as you run
  • Triple-density EVA midsoles isolate you from trail impacts, and thermoplastic urethane inserts provide a barrier against sharp rocks underfoot
  • Contagrip LT® and Contragrip HA® combination outsoles provide solid traction and tenacious grip and conform to feet for improved lateral fit
  • The Salomon XR Crossmax Neutral Trail-Running Shoes sport reflective detailing to increase your visibility in low light

And so on with the review from the ground up. The sole has a fairly shallow but effective tread pattern, it’s directional to help you when you are on your toes going up and need a little heel help when braking (although midfooters might not use these)! The heel section is made from High Abrasion material. The most noticeable thing is the “OS Tendon”, this is a strap that is inlaid into the sole and loops round the heel, this promotes some “snap” as your foot transitions from landing to toe off. I have to be honest and say that there was little or no real “snap”, this is in part I am sure to my transition to mid/forefoot running. The shoes are offered in a Neutral or Stability versions, I had the former, the latter have a dual density posting.


The OS Tendon is the green lines, it extends around the heel (Photo from

Moving upward there is a toe cover for that inadvertent stubbing action that you can find on the trails, coming further back along the shoe is the Sensifit feature. Sensifit is a rubber cover that sits on top of the fabric and acts as, well I can only call it a corset, it wraps around your foot ensure that you do not slip around in the shoe, it takes a little getting used to but like most shoes once you have some miles on them they fit without issue.


SensiFit and Quicklace Systems

Salomon have stuck with their Quicklace system which is simple and effective, cinching you in nice and snugly, the excess lace is tucked away in a pocket on the top of the tongue. There is no asymmetrical lacing so wearing gaiters with them is easy. The tongue is partially sewn in  this ensures is does not slip off and is a pretty standard feature on trail shoes these days.

Inside Salomon provide their own Orthilite insole which is effective and comfortable, I have no issues with it and since transitioning to lighter forefoot shoes I have stopped wearing my custom orthotics, since October last year. There is a comfortable cushioned heel cup and that pretty much sums up the shoe.

As for the ride they are very comfortable, coming in at a slimmer 22.6 ounces 0.64kgs compared to their cousins the XT Wings 2; 26.8oz, 0.76kg, you can feel every ounce that has been shaved off. Mostly my trails hard pack or dust but I have made an effort to take them through their paces and these were the shoes I wore during my Boney Mountain adventure a few weeks ago. A couple of things to note: they do not keep the dust or water out so if you want to keep your feet clean and dry these may not be the shoes for you.

Overall Salomon have designed a comfortable and effective shoe. A little more weight loss would be nice but all in for anyone looking for a new trail shoe that they can put on and just go these could be the shoe for you.

Available is several colors and some nice female specific ones these shoes are now available through multiple retailer via clicks or bricks, a quick Google search turned them up at as low as $104, although $130 is the average. If you want another opinion check out this review from Rebecca.

There are a few more photos here:

This product was provided by Hillary at  Outside Media If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me at

Monday, July 4, 2011

Things to do list…

image Come the last weeks of July I am going to be at a loose end with myself! My wife and kids are leaving town for a trip to the East Coast and then onto the UK. I will be joining them in the UK but I have 2 1/2 weekends completely at my disposal! What to do? Here’s a shortlist:

R2R2R – Grand Canyon, could I knock out 46 miles in one day…maybe two days?

Tour de Big Bear – 50m bike ride at around 8000’?

Hike Mt Baldy – tried that a couple of years ago and blew up!

SF Half Marathon – I know loads of people doing this! SOLD OUT!

Mammoth Quake and Shake Half Marathon – 13.1 miles at 8000’?

A 5k or 10k…there are a few of those.

Spend a weekend lost at the Spearmint Rhino…ok this one maybe not!

Any other suggestions, I am willing to travel a bit too, which is good as there really is jack going on in SoCal, it's too hot?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

June’s deets…

Pretty solid month:

  • 364 total miles
  • 41:22 time, so about 10 hours a week
  • 177 miles running in 25:37
  • 177 miles cycling in 10:54
  • 10 miles and remaining time was hiking, stretching, foam rolling etc
  • Longest ride 42 miles – 2:37
  • Longest run 15:89 – 3:02 (trail)
  • Starting weight 177lb ending 173lb (from 187 at end of April)
  • Three rest days

So as July starts I am actually 6 weeks into the plan and haven’t missed a workout, I was .25 mile short yesterday after a burpy/farty run (not good)! Other than that I am hitting the distances and the paces. I think I need to reevaluate the actual paces I need to train at as it was an amalgam of my target race pace and my last 5k, I have some family free weekends coming up so maybe I will find a 5k and see what I can do there to reset my 5k time to the plan. I am training using reverse engineered HM pace of 6:53 to go sub 1:30 but this actually gives me a 5k of 19:25…I wish!

For July and expect the volume to be similar, probably rounding things up a bit to 200 miles per discipline, the intensity will increase, the Long Tempo runs will get longer, the plan actually has me going up to 15 miles and my weekend trail runs will be getting up to and around the 20 mile mark so I should start to see some consistent 50+ miles per week. Of course the time required will increase, that’s always the hard one to keep in balance! So onwards and upwards!

And to all my American readers have a great July 4th weekend!