Sunday, August 31, 2014

SCM Week 4 (Step Back)

This week was a step back. It’s pretty standard practice to build for 2 – 3 weeks and then step back to rest and capitalize on the gains. The fact that it coincided with the kids going back to school and my Birthday was also a bonus and having the extra time during the week was nice.

So this is how it shook out;

  • Monday. Off. With the Bulldog 25k on Saturday my Back to Back run was on Sunday
  • Tuesday. 5 miles. Ran this as a pyramid. I am enjoying throwing in some simple speedwork like this and getting my splits into the early 7s is very rewarding
  • Wednesday. 3 miles. Easy run on the Treadmill, I ran one of the built in runs. The first 15 minutes were uphill and the second 15 minutes downhill.
  • Thursday. 5.4 miles. Another Pyramid, this time I was a bit more accurate than Tuesday’s run with the coming down splits!
  • Friday. 3 miles. Easy run on the Treadmill
  • Saturday. Off!
  • Sunday. 14 miles. Knocked these out on the road as my next big race is actually a road marathon so getting some solid black-top miles is good for the legs. Also broke out a new pair of Kinvara 5s without any problems, my old ones had 240 miles on them, not bad seeing as I had predicted a life of 250 miles!
image image
Tuesday Thursday

So no Trail miles this week, the split between the Road and Treadmill was;

  • Road; 24.42 (78%)
  • Trail; 6.80 (22%)

image image

Back on the trails this week, I am hoping to get a chance to get out onto the Xterra Pt Mugu course which is 6 weeks away. This coming weekend’s long run is up to 16 so my mileage will be back in the early 40s.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Review; Yurbuds Inspire Pro

Kit usually can be categorized into two buckets; stuff you wear (shoes, clothing etc) and stuff you use (water bottles, GPS etc). There are, however, some things that fall into the very thin gray area in between, headphones…to be more specific ear-buds are one of those items. Clearly it’s a thing you use but you need it to fit your body otherwise all end of problems can arise!

IMG_9430 The folks at Yurbuds hit me up to see if I wanted to try out a pair of Inspire Pro in-the-ear headphones. Becca is a huge fan and has been using them since she picked up a pair at the Portland Marathon in 2011Ironman and they have certainly been round the block a few time which speaks to their robustness. The other nice things is that they come with a bag, I love products that come with something to keep them in. The Ironman branding is pretty standard as they are an Ironman event Sponsor, not to be confused with long course non-Ironman triathlons. Basically there are three main features;

  1. The newer versions are fitted with a built in mic which allows you to not only control the volume of the speakers but also allows you to use Siri or other voice control features. The inline mic is also water/sweat proof which is crucial if like me you tend to keep you cables inside your shirt.
  2. The other key feature to note is that the Yurbuds have is “TwistLock”, this is a feature that is designed to embed them speaker into your ear and not let them fall out when exercising, clearly this would be a pain.
  3. Finally the other feature is sound quality, it’s no good having all these bells and whistles when the sound quality is poor. I am obviously not equipped with a laboratory to measure decibels, overall sound quality and the like and so it’s subjective and really based on my, well, ears!

So in reverse order here are my thoughts;

  1. I have worn these for the last three months while running and cycling. My listening range varies from talking books to Podcasts to streaming Artic Monkeys from Spotify. The sound quality is great, bass is nice and deep, mid-tones clear and high notes are crisp.
  2. I have had to take an occasional phone call and no doubt that the inline control is easy to use. Using the Siri feature I have also been able to make a call or two when required just by asking. One thing I would say about the mic is that it’s a bit bulky, is significantly larger than your typical Apple product although some of this is due to the “ruggedizing” of it. The bulk also adds some weight so there is a little tug on your ears, more so on the run than when on the bike.
  3. Finally the fit. There is no doubting that they do not fall out, the TwistLock feature works and to be honest it works almost too well, these thing are in your ears and in there good and proper. They came with two sizes of silicon covers #5 and #7 I have really tried to make the 5s work but they are just too tight for me, finally this week I reached out to Yurbuds to get a smaller set but I am waiting to hear back (no pun intended). I don’t think I have teeny ears, quite the opposite in fact, but I just find them a bit uncomfortable. I am hoping that a smaller size will work, if not I know that Becca has her eyes on them for sure!

Here are some photos, the final one compares them to your standard Apple headphone and my other headphone of choice Sony’s now discontinued and hard to find MDRED12LP Headphones.

image    image IMG_9433

Available online or through multiple brick based retailers these will set you back $59.99 a pair, given the features that’s not a bad price although a smaller mic would be nice and hopefully I can resolve the Silicon cover issue. I’ll update about smaller covers when I get a response.

These headphones were provided free of charge by the good folks at Yurbuds. See previous gear reviews in the tab above. If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me at

Monday, August 25, 2014

SCM Week 3

This was a big week, last build week before Week 4 which is a step back, it was skewed as it actually was 6 runs when normally I would have 5. That being said I am not having any issues from the volume and hopefully it will remain that way. This is how is broke down.

  • Monday. 5 miles Recovery. Nice and easy around a local loop.
  • Tuesday. Off.
  • Wednesday. 7 miles easy. Should have been 6 but rounded the time up to an hour and hit 7 in total.
  • Thursday. 6 miles easy. Nice and chatty with Becca at 5am.
  • Friday. 5 mile pyramid. Happy with this, was working for sure but pleased to see a low 7 minute mile, see the data below.
  • Saturday. Off.
  • Sunday. Bulldog 25k Race.


Totals 6 runs, 6:55:19, 43:11 miles

  • Road; 28.26 (65%)
  • Trail; 14.85 (35%0

With a down week this week it looks like this month I should tap out just over 160 miles, so far so good. I’ll be springing for a new pair of shoe as my Knivara 5s will blow throw 250 miles and they’re feeling a bit flat. This week’s long run will be on the road so that should just about kill them.

IMG_9956 IMG_9958

In other news this month I hit 120 posts for the year so 2014 becomes the 4th blogiest year since this blog started in 2007!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Bulldog 25k Trail Race

This race wasn’t on my original revised race calendar that I posted back mid-July. I think I saw a post on Facebook that reminded me about it and I didn’t sign up for it until I ran the course (kinda…I missed the last 3 miles) at the beginning of the month as a “dry run”. Since then I had been following my training plan and getting in some solid trail miles but however you slice or dice it my run base was a little thin as noted in the post about it. Given that my expectations were pretty low and I thought that my finish time would be anywhere between 3-3:30 hours. While the trail would remain that same much of the time added could be a factor of the weather. That being said it was a training race, somewhere I could get my long run under my belt and have some fun.

Without any hoopla. I arrived picked up my number, said hi to a few friends, listened to the brief and was off.

The weather was clear but not too hot and my strategy was to get to the top of the main climb, within reason, as quickly as I could. From there keep a steady pace along the top and downhill saving a little for the last climb. After the first 3 miles that ran mostly along the canyon floor the climb starts proper and the tried and tested method of “purposefully walking” set in. I passed some people and few people passed me. Mostly I was with the same group of folks and we seemed to be an “unspoken pace group”. I am not a chatty runner, beyond your typical “good job” I don’t tend to strike up conversations with people. I blew past AS1, wearing my Wasp pack meant I was pretty much self-sufficient for the day. Around the hour mark I sucked down a Gu gel. At the top of the climb (almost Castro Peak) the main descent led down to AS2. I had to stop a couple of times during this to simply to wipe the sweat and sunscreen from my eyes. Ever thinning top cover requires a pretty liberal smearing of SPF50 on my head and of course that combined with sweat resulted in an look from my eyes that I had been chopping onions for the last hour!


A couple of cups of water rinsed most of it away and I was on my way for the second half of the race. It’s not quite true to say that the second half of the race is downhill. You roll along the summit ridge before dropping down back towards the canyon floor. The downhill is not easy running, it’s steep! Steep can mean a good place to fall and it can be somewhat punishing on your quads. With that in mind I took it reasonably easy going down. It takes a fair amount of time building up to a point where you can fly downhill. A couple of people flew past me only to be picked up again once we got to the bottom. On the way down I chewed up a bag of PowerBar chews around the 2 hour mark.

At the bottom there was some zig-zagging and I was at AS3, a cup of water was all I wanted with a fist bump from the every cheering Jimmy Dean Freeman I was on my way for the last climb. Before I started the uphill I stopped and sat on a log to get a stone out my shoe. Experience has taught me early intervention is best? I ran walked…mostly walked up the last hill and then ran the rest of the way down the other side. The trail spits you out onto a road which you follow back towards the check in area and finish line.

With that a slight pickup of pace…actually I was trying to catch the woman in front. So with my nose streaming the last remnants of a 48 hour bug from earlier the week I crossed the finish line, took my medal and flopped onto a chair to catch my breath.

I was aware from the halfway point that I was in good shape for a PR, the last time I ran this race was in 2008 and I finished in 2:55:13. This year 2:43:03! AG 15/56 and OA 69/297. Needless to say I am happy. Charitable conditions certainly helped but running a sensible race and following my strategy made the biggest difference.

I didn’t stop for any photos along the way although I got this rather good one after I sat down. I call it Headsweat!”

image image

Oh in case you’re wondering why it’s a 2011 Tshirt, there was a SNAFU with the printer, 2014 shirts are on their way!

This is a great local event, it’s well planned and is now in it’s 23rd year. The Race Director is renown for running a tight ship and puts together a top notch event. While not the easiest of races it has a generous cutoff time to allow for the elevation and season. It takes an army of volunteers to put on any race and a trail race adds complexity to that but yet there was no shortage of people there to help!

Up next, well in 7 weeks, is the Xterra Pt Mugu 18k

Friday, August 22, 2014

How not to run a Marathon…

Got this funny Info-Graphic from Pro-Form, how to not run a marathon. How many of these mistake have you made...I know I am guilty of a few!
Proform - How not to run a marathon infographic

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A chat with Linsey Corbin and Tim O’Donnell

You are invited to join Clif’s Facebook chat Monday, August 25 at 12 p.m. ET / 9 a.m. PT hosted by triathlon elites Linsey Corbin and Timothy O’Donnell

Linsey and Timothy will answer any and all questions related to triathlons, running, cycling and swimming (from first-timers to seasoned veterans). Ask questions and win prizes, including a CLIF SHOT Toolkit packed with SHOT products and gear for training and race day. Anyone who posts a question during the chat will have a chance to win a Toolkit as well as gain valuable information from these triathletes.

Save the Date and start thinking about the questions you would like to ask.


These are a lot of fun and there is always some valuable information to be had…and doesn’t need an excuse to spend some time on Facebook!

Monday, August 18, 2014

SCM Week 2

Check! While not to diminish Marathon training, it is by comparison to triathlon training, well a bit of a doddle! Becca will hate me for this, I get reminded many times a week how jealous she is of my training as she battles to keep balanced and coming back from her bike crash in preparation for Ironman Arizona. Gone (for me) is the struggle of pool times, car drivers when cycling and the general faff (faph?) of kit. So with that said my week shook out like this:

  • Monday. 6 miles Recovery. Nice and easy on the Treadmill. The joy of the treadmill is consistency, and these splits just reinforced that; 8:12, 8:12, 8:11,8:08, 8:05 and 8:09
  • Tuesday. Should have been off, but went out with Becca for a nice 6 miler.
  • Wednesday. Tuesday’s off day
  • Thursday. Back on my local trail 6 mile run. With a rest day the day before I had a spring in my step and was able to run the entire circuit, including the 40% incline!
  • Friday. 5 miles nice, steady in the afternoon heat. Was aiming for a 8:30 average, came in at 8:31
  • Saturday. Off.

Sunday. Hot and hilly 14.5 miles on the Backbone Trail. I need to get my ass in gear earlier on the weekend to avoid running in the midday sun. I know it was going to be hot and paced myself accordingly. I still ran out of water with a couple of miles to go. A fair bit of walking for sure! Very happy to have an “at-home” massage booked for later in the day!

So the weekly numbers tally up as so; 5 run, 6:42:23 and 38.11 miles. 4734’ of gain 

  • Road: 11.52 (30%)
  • T’mill: 6.1 (16%)
  • Trail: 20.51 (54%)

Happy to keep the trail running to >50% although it’s been pointed out that I should do some long runs on the road.

Here are the best of the photo stops from the weekend;

IMG_9784IMG_9821IMG_9844 IMG_9842    IMG_9823 IMG_9837IMG_9834 IMG_9849   IMG_9848 IMG_9824

Onwards to Week 3. Bulldog 25km on Saturday and cold coming on…perfect timing!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Review; RecoverEase (#tbt)

I have been writing a blog long enough that I can dig through some of my posts and pull out a post for a “throw back Thursday”. Additionally I have reviewed a ton of stuff during this time and while some things wear out or are versioned and retired (clothes and shoes) or were a bust and are never used again (EnergyBits) Others just keep going and are used over and over (ProWash). With that in mind I was drawn back to something I had used a lot of in the past and had just forgotten about; RecoverEase!

So rather than rewrite here is the post I posted in July 2008…over 6 years ago! As a disclaimer, back then I applied for some free samples. This time around I purchased them. Do they still work…yes they do!

Note Where possible I have updated links from the original post as they were broken, this is the link to the original review. Also this post has a new photo.

I first came across RECOVER-ease through; pitched as used by Michelle Barton and Keira Henninger two Southern California ultra runners who are tearing up the local 50k and 50 mile trail races and Rob Cowan who had a monster 2007 race season completing 27 races of marathon distance or longer (in fact most were longer!). As well as the eternally attractive offer of "Free Samples",(Marcy!) I fired off a quick email. Within a week my freebies were delivered and I was good to go. I received from memory about forty tablets split into blisters of four.

IMG_9744So first here’s the sciencey stuff. RecoverEase is a proprietary blend of L-glutamine, L-leucine, L-valine, L-isoleucine, papain,bromelain, beta-sitosterol and bioflavonoids, the serving size is 4 tablets and equals 2900mg. And here’s the marketing blurb: Accelerates tissue repair, Reduces muscle soreness, Reduces muscle breakdown, Improves hormone function. Also it contains no stimulants hormones or USOC/IOC/NCAA banned substances. Of course as a supplement none of this has been evaluated by the FDA.

Here's the science pitch:

BCAAs & Glutamine: The proper 3:1:1 patent-pending balance of BCAAs (branched chain amino acids) with Glutamine (in a patent-pending research-proven 3:2 total AA ratio) benefits athletes by maintaining immune function and reducing URTIs (upper respiratory tract infections).

Beta-sitosterol: Normalizes the ratio of cortisol (a stress hormone) with DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), to reduce muscle breakdown & accelerate connective tissue repair (muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage).

Proteolytic Enzymes & Flavonoids:Reduce inflammation and oxidative free radical damage, resulting in less exercise-induced tissue damage, accelerated rates of tissue repair, and reduced post-exercise pain & stiffness.

Ok so this is my translation based on some web research:

  • L-glutamine is a non-essential amino acid it has for the last 10-15 years been associated with muscle growth and development
  • L-leucine is an essential amino acid which has been shown to slow the degradation of muscle tissue by increasing the synthesis of muscle proteins
  • L-Valine is considered critical to glucose metabolism, protein synthesis, and regulation of the immune system. It is needed for muscle metabolism and tissue repair
  • L-Isoleucine is important in hemoglobulin synthesis and in the regulation of blood sugar and energy levels. It also increases endurance.
  • Papain is a protein-cleaving enzyme derived from papaya and certain other plants, it has multiple uses but for our purposes it effect on inflammatory processes are the more pertinent
  • Bromelain is a mixture of enzymes found naturally in the juice and stems of pineapples. Called a proteolytic enzyme, bromelain is believed to help with the digestion of protein
  • Beta-sitosterol appears to reduce cholesterol levels by blocking absorption of cholesterol, the purported benefits of Beta-sitosterol include boosting immunity and normalizing blood sugar, relieving inflammation, healing ulcers, enhancing uterine tone, and alleviating cramps. However, these health benefits of beta-sitosterol have not been substantiated by scientific evidence.
  • Bioflavonoids are a class of water-soluble plant pigments. While they are not considered essential, they do support health as anti-inflammatory, antihistaminic, and anti-viral agents

Some other information: there are 8 essential amino acids + 14 non-essential amino acids that can be fabricated by the human body from the eight essential amino acids. From these 22 amino acids, being combined & arranged into varying specific chains, all amino acids are fabricated by the human body. Simplistically the distinction between essential and non-essential amino acids is that the human body can produce some amino acids from other amino acids. There are also conditionally essential amino acids that under certain conditions (hard exercise) that cannot be fabricated in sufficient quantities from other aminos. All essential amino acids may be obtained from plant sources.

So if you read through the list of ingredients there is an emphasis on amino acids; good for muscle development and recovery, protein digestion, boosted immunity and anti inflammatory properties.

My usage: I have slowly used up my free batch. I took 8 tablets after my century (read 88 miles) bike ride and the next day had zero aches and pains the same for several 50 mile bike rides. I have typically taken 4 tablets after long runs (which in fairness aren’t that long) ranging from 1015 miles and have had little or no soreness etc the next day, having said that I do make an effort to stretch before and after a run and have been giving my foam roller some summer lovin’.

My conclusion: I have to say I am impressed, while there is no golden bullet for recovery; this seems to come pretty close, minimized soreness, aches and pains after long runs/rides is always a benefit allowing you to turnaround quickly and get out training again. Previously I was taking Recoverite from Hammer Nutrition which I think is a great product with the exception that its taste is really, well to be honest, not good, additionally there several other advantages of tablets; easy transportation, no need for refrigeration and quickness. I definitely recommend that you check them out, at a minimum to see if they are still sending out samples, to see if they will work for you.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

SCM Week 1

Week 1 in the bag, nothing much to report to be honest. It follows two weeks spent transitioning to a running based program. Wetsuits and bikes are now gathering dust in the closet which is more than can be said for my trail running shoes. Given that long term I am targeting an ultra in the Spring, (yes the Spring) , I am trying to get as many miles as I can on the trails along with elevation and decent!

So this week broke down as follows

  • Monday; off. Sofa so good!
  • Tuesday; Road. 5 miles recovery…yeah that 7:56 pace, not so recovery!
  • Wednesday; Trail. 6 miles 1125’ gain. Nice local run which has 4 miles on a local ridge trail, yeah I wasn’t quite a STRAVAsshole but I pushed hard for the KOM and that’s fair, right?!
  • Thursday. Treadmill. 6 miles easy, my Garmin and TM miles always disagree so I tend to go a bit long on the ‘mill and it’s set to 2% incline
  • Friday. Road. 6 miles. Hot and slow, mad dogs and Englishman and all that, started around 4:30pm and had to stop several times to get my HR down!
  • Saturday; off. 2 rest days in a week…marathon training is easy! 
  • Sunday; Trail. 12.14 miles long and slow(ish) local trail with some solid climbing over a 3-4 miles, another 2293’ of gain in the bank

Totals; 5 run, 5:41:37 and 35.25 miles. 4074’ of gain 

  • Road: 11.02 (31%)
  • T’mill: 6.01 (17%)
  • Trail: 18.15 (52%)

I’ll be happy if I can keep the trails above 50% of the miles on a per week basis.

Here are a couple of the best photos from the weekend;


IMG_9675  IMG_9691 IMG_9692

Week 2…coming up!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

King of the World!

Well a small hill near my house. There is a small trail near my house that I have take to running during the week. It starts with a mile on the road which is a nice warm up. Then there is a short sharp climb for a third of a mile. It’s pretty steep, it averages 11%, parts of it are nearly 40%. I have to walk some of it but those sections are getting smaller. This week I managed to push it and steal the Strava KOM.


As you can tell I was working, I’ve ditched Strava Premium so this is the HR data from, the segment is in the rectangle;


Here is the link to the Strava segment, I have no idea while it’s in KM;

Monday, August 4, 2014

That’s the Plan!

Nice and simple, slightly modified to allow for reality, long run on Saturday just not happening, but on Sunday followed by Monday is very doable.

Based on the 40m-62m plan on 50 miles per week from Relentless Forward Progress by Bryon Powell, coincides nicely with SCM in 13 weeks with a 24 miler on the Sunday. It doesn’t quite fit with Sean O’Brien 50k which is in 26 weeks so I will just repeat weeks 24 and 25. Leona Divide is a staggering 34 weeks away so I can repeat the last 10 weeks or so allowing for tapering, injury or boredom, I have a finite attention span but I feel invigorated to get back on the trails having been working on triathlon and cycling predominantly since November 2011!

imageA bit of strength training in there too and I should roll up to LD in pretty good shape…that’s the plan at least!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Dry Run…

This weekend I headed to Malibu Creek State Park to run one loop of the Bulldog, there is a 25/50k in two weeks and I wondered if I could “fake it till I make it” round the 25k loop! The 50k is two loops. I have only run this race once before, back in 2008! I finished in just under 3 hours, sounds pretty slow right! Well it is but when you consider there is upwards of 4000’ of gain it’s a pretty tough run.

IMG_9588Ironically the weather was not all dry, but it was perfect with cloud cover most of the way and even sprinkles of rain here and there, this is very unusual as normally you would expect clear blue skies and temperatures in the 80’s or even 90s. The run starts out of a parking lot and so for the first few miles there are plenty of hikers and families. You run past where they filmed M*A*S*H and there is a little display with a couple of the old rusted hulls along with some newer more recognizable things. Most people turn around here, it’s about 3 miles in.


Once past this site you make a left hand turn and start to climb. The climb lasts around 3 miles and then you ridgeline along the bowl until coming back down. There is a funky little twisty bit at the end which leads over a small climb to the finish. I couldn’t find the trail so I ended up a bit short than the 25k/15.5 miles, no worries. It was a push to get around, my running base is thin and my trail miles are practically invisible. Cardiovascular fitness is there it’s just that the body is not used to the pounding that the trail will dish out, especially on the long down hills! These are the sections that kill your quads and stub your toes!

IMG_9598 Coming downhill and looking west along Malibu Canyon and out the Pacific Ocean, the white dot is a car

My time wasn’t great but I wasn’t expecting to be, in the end it took 3:15 some 20 minutes (and a mile or two) less than race day six years ago!

So will I sign up. Yes I will, I am long enough in the tooth to get it done without too much issue, will I be racing, probably not. It’s just miles in the bank!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Clif Shot; Electrolyte and Recovery giveaway winners!

Drumroll…and the winners are!

  • Mike Hebert
  • Joseph McLean
  • Frank Malott

Send me you mailing addresses and Clif will be sending you your goodies!

As always a big thank you to Clif for the SWAG!

Friday, August 1, 2014

July Summary

And another month passes by in the blink of an eye! So with a forgettable Vineman completed early in the month, which was preceded by a taper and followed with basically a week off, July’s totals are somewhat skewed to the second half of the month although it was actually almost a five week month!

So the final tally

  • 28 workouts, 358.24 miles in 22:12:04, not the smallest month, not the biggest
  • 5 swims, 2:0:48 6033 yards
  • 9 bikes 15:02:14 263.22 miles
  • 14 runs 16:08:02 91.59 miles

Run mileage is by far the biggest this year, and it’s only set to increase. The last two weeks have been about finding my run groove and that’s been well and truly found. With nearly 13 hours and 63 miles of running in from July 20 through the end of the month. Not big miles really but by comparison to the first half of the year they are and they are putting down a pretty good foundation. I am trying to get onto the trails and get my trail legs back as quickly as possible, that resulted in a very uncomfortable couple of days after the first long run but slowly they are coming back. And of course I do get to stop and smell the roses or at least take some photos!

skySunrise over the Conejo Valley

 IMG_9528 IMG_9542 IMG_9525
Orange sky, kicks and dirt…ok that last one is a stretch!

It’s 12 weeks to the Santa Clarita Marathon and while I am not running for time only for distance a reasonable showing would be nice to have!