Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Two Shoes to Two Wheels!

It was after Vineman 70.3 last July that I hung up my bike. Ironically after I crashed on my Tri bike in January the first thing I could do was get on the Trainer. Running hurt and swimming was out of the question until my face healed. St George 70.3 was scratched…again! I covered nearly 3000 miles the bulk of which was completed before Vineman.

The rationale for hanging up the bike was I wanted to go back to something simple. Running seemed like a good place to head and with that I planned out a course to get me to Leona Divide 50 mile race in the following April, next month! Since then I have run 1436 miles, by the time I finish LD50 I will break 1600 miles and will have raced a 25k, a 30k, a Marathon, two 50ks, one 35 mile and one 50 mile race. With that in mind and my legs feeling the mileage I decided to change it up again. Last month I applied to be a Brand Ambassador for Pactimo.

Pactimo makes cycling clothing. Correction they make great cycling clothing. I wrote a review on one of their kits here. It’s the same kit I used for the 6 Hours of Temecula race last June. Late last week I was notified that I had been accepted! WOOT!

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So what does this mean for the rest of the year? Well obvioulsy more cycling…a lot more cycling! The first event has me heading to Colorado in June to ride the Pactimo sponsored Golden Gran Fondo.

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Other than that I am looking at some other options for Gran Fondos, Century rides, some MTB racing and even Everesting.

Let the next chapter begin!

Monday, March 23, 2015

SB9T Week 5

After last Sunday’s long run I started to feel crappy. I was achy and cold and generally felt like I was coming down with something. I was in bed by 7pm with a hoodie on and thick blanket over me and was shivering. The next day I peaked a temperature of 101f. I was benched. I took Monday off from work and literally spent the entire day in bed. I can’t even begin to remember the last time I did that!

Tuesday I felt a bit better and worked from home, I am super lucky that I can work from home when my meeting schedule allows. Wednesday I was back in the office for a long day and felt pretty crappy. General consensus from my colleagues was I should have stayed at home but I had several important meetings to host that required my in-room presence. Thursday and Friday I worked from home again!

Amid all of this work stuff there was, not surprisingly no running. I was swigging Dayquil, Nyquil and Mucinex like it was on a fire sale and sucking throat lozenges by the handful. With all that said come Saturday morning with the exception of lung twisting coughing episodes I was more or less off the bench

I even managed to get on our new rowing machine Friday night. I had planned for 10,000m and after 3,000m realized how much that was and dropped to 5,000m instead.

Saturday was spent mostly all day at the kid’s Track & Field meet. My long term plan for Sunday had been to get up and get out to Santa Barbara and run the remaining Nine Trails course. This I saw as the “easy” middle half, roughly 17-18 miles from the Gibraltar Road Aid Station to the Romero Canyon Trailhead and back. To be honest information has been a little sparse. This is a storied race that dates back to 1990 but it’s on a new course as fires burned a lot of the old course several years ago. It’s not a race that attract 100’s of runners either due to the overall toughness so Race Reports are pretty hard to come by. I was lucky to find a Strava map, but that took a bit of hunting. As of writing this there are only 56 entrants this year, last year 71 entries with 43 Finishers. That’s a 40% DNF rate in case you were doing the math in your head.

So with all the said I headed to SB to run these miles and put to bed any unknowns about the course. First off I dropped some water at the turnaround, just a couple of bottles. Then got funky directions to the Gibraltar Road AS location which is the start of the Cold Springs Trail. This took me way out of my way and as a result I started nearly an hour behind schedule. Fortunately the weather was co-operating and there was gray flat low cloud all day. From Cold Springs Trail it was roughly 8-9 miles to the turnaround and back. I had run the first 1.5 miles of this with Becca a couple of weeks prior and knew that it was all down. We hadn’t made it to the bottom, this time I would. 1100’ straight down only ever means one thing; up! I wasn’t disappointed. 800’ up followed by 900’ down, 500’ up, 300’ down, 500’ up and 700’ down. This was the turnaround point 8.75 miles, 2:41 in time and lots of climbing behind and ahead of me.

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The trails on this section of the race were very different from those that would be the first and last 25% of the race course. You start by dropping into a wooded canyon down Cold Spring Trail. At the bottom you cross the stream and head back up the other side of the canyon. Eventually you pop out onto a saddle and you have a view of the coast. Here you use a connector (left turn for 100 yards then right turn down 200 yards then turn left) to get to the start of the Edison Catwalks. These are so called, it later dawned on me, as they provide access to the Edison Electricity Pylons (power towers). Of course they are minimal signs ranging from the ever useful general “Trail” to rusty cutouts that have Trail name cut into them. These Catwalk trails are fireroads and you basically roll up and down these for 3.5 -4 miles. It’s hard going, there is no flat at all, most of it walking up and an easy careful run down. There is one section called The Wall, it has a 35% grade. At the end of one section the trail then drops into a downhill single-track and here you link up with a sharp left onto the Buena Vista Trail. 17 Switchbacks up and you pop out onto a fireroad which ends in a T junction. Turn right and in a mile you are at the Romero Canyon Trailhead…easy right!

After missing turnings in weeks prior I had done some research on Apps I could put on my phone and had installed one called Topo Maps. At $7.99 it’s most expensive App on my phone but was worth every penny is it had saved me a couple of times on the outbound leg. The downside was that it had drained my iPhone 6 battery down to 40%. I switched my phone to Airplane mode to conserve the rest of the battery and headed back the way I came. These are screenshots from my phone. Money well spent!

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Three hours later I was back at the car. Not of course until I had paid my trail dues and face planted on a technical rocky single track section. My Ultimate Direction Handheld broke my fall and I got a refreshing 30oz of Skratch in my face! Two words of thanks, OtterBox, my iPhone was some 6 yards ahead of me and while being a bit muddy was fine! As for this being the “easy” section…erm yeah about that!

At the end I had covered 17.76 miles, 5889’ of gain in 5:42.

So with the exception of a probably less than two miles I have run the entire outbound course one way, and I have covered half the course on the return leg.The first 6-7 miles I have run twice. I have a pretty good understanding of where I have missed so I am feeling confident that I won’t make the same mistakes on race day.

These are the best of the photos from the day, pretty much any trail you can see in the photos I ran out and back on.

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So having covered as much of the course as I can my only objective for race day is to finish. UltraSignUp.com has a forecasted time of 10:25, that puts my just below halfway down the field. If that happens I’ll be chuffed! I think realistically based on my experience it’s going to be closer to 11 hours, if it’s hot maybe 12 hours…hopefully not much longer. The last cutoff is at mile 25 at 5pm, that’s 11 hours after the 6am start! Sunset is at 8:11pm!

All that’s left is to try and degunk my lungs over the next week and put in some easy miles and I am all set for Sunday.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Review; Saucony Triumph ISO

Hot on the heels (no, these didn’t give me blisters on my heels) of the Peregrine 5 review is the new Saucony Triumph ISO. I have put nearly 50 miles on these shoes, not that these have been ignored it’s just that a lot of my time recently has been on the trails. Runs have varied from 5 to 11 miles on both the road and the treadmill. They have included both recovery runs and tempo runs.  

Just some backstory; I have been running on the roads in the Kinvara 5 since they came to market last April, I am now on my fourth pair, the new 6s should be out soon! Before that I ran through three pairs of the Kinvara 4 since June of 2013, typically they last 240-250 miles a pair. 

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With all that said I was interested to try to the Triumphs. They share some of the characteristics of the Kinvara, they are a neutral shoe and are engineered for neutral pronators and they have both been Runner’s World Editor’s choice shoes. The most significant differences are the volume of cushioning and the increase in drop. The Triumphs have an 8mm drop (vs the 4mm or the Kinvara or the 0mm of the Virrata). Specifically the Heel Stack Height is 29mm and the Forefoot Stack Height: 21mm.

I was particularly interested to try these the day after a long trail when my feet and legs feel pretty beaten up. Saucony describe the ride as plush, in fact it’s the “most cushioned running experience that they have every created”. To create this plushness they have used three main technologies;

  • iBR+ Injection blow rubber; a proprietary compound that is 33% lighter than standard blown rubber.
  • ISOFIT; an ultrasoft inners sleeve constructed of stretchable air mesh fabric that cradles the foot.
  • PWRGRID+; used for the midsole, it is 20% lighter than then other mid soles and allows for a fluid movement during your footstrike.

Out of the box he shoes looked big, but big does not always mean heavy and these shoes are not heavy, weighing 292 grams they are only 74 grams heavier than the Kinvaras. The additional weight is not noticeable. The first few runs were with the standard OEM laces. I had a problem with the eyelet on one shoe that was too high and was rubbing some on my foot, nothing major but just a niggle. The ISOFIT essentially separates the two layers of the shoes upper into to (1) a cocoon for your foot and (2) the overlay. The lace holes are constructed within the overlay and it’s where the collar of the shoe and this met that I was having the problem. It was easily resolved by unlacing by one eyelet in the short term and in the long term with the fitting of Yankz laces, this is something I do to all my road running shoes. Once fitted and adjusted you never have to touch them again! The snugness of the ISOFIT took a few runs to get used to as well as the overall increase in volume of the upper, again this is when compared to my Knivaras. The collar is well padded and despite my opening sentence no blisters or rubbing etc. was experienced.

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What you can’t see from the photo is that the black overlay is essentially an exoskeleton for the shoe. It is single piece that wraps around your foot, including the lace eyelets and by default extends to the laces. It also includes the heel cup. At the heel there is supportive clear plastic which reduces the overall look of the shoe.

So as with most things the proof is in the pudding, which in this case is the running! I can say that they did get some getting used to. Both the cushioning and the increase in drop took some adjusting. Overall the shoe is flexible and as mentioned pretty light. You can pick up your pace without feeling like you have anvils at the end of your legs. The cushioning is really nice, when I say really nice I mean REALLY NICE! It is firm enough to be supportive but not in a structured shoe way. As I hoped these are great shoes for that Monday run after you have had a tough Sunday.

A video posted by Stuart (@quadrathon) on

Available in 3 different colorways for men and women, these shoes are now one of the flagship shoe offerings from Saucony, with that in mind they have the associated price tag; $150.

In summary, these are a medium weight, highly cushioned (not soft or spongy) shoe. They have no corrective traits and allow your foot and gait to remain neutral. While I remain a big fan of my Kinvaras and I am not expecting to migrate to these shoes full time they are an excellent pair to have in your closet and in rotation.

These shoes were provided free of charge by the good folks at Saucony. 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.