Preparing for a ‘Real’ Ultra

Having successfully finished two 50k races now I can officially call myself an Ultra Marathoner. Unlike some I feel that the additional 4.868 miles of a 50k over a marathon counts as an Ultra. It’s like doing a Marathon plus a 5k race and then some.  It counts. Period.  The reason I think so it that personally it takes more effort and planning to crank out 31+ miles over marathon. No it is not the same effort as a 50 mile, but it is still requires a little more fuel and hydration, extra time on legs and most importantly the mental strength to go just one more 5k and even more so to go beyond that.  That’s my take on it anyway and frankly I don’t give a rats rear if you’re an elite 50 miler who doesn’t think a 50k qualifies as an Ultra, because it does so there. :p

That said I am not going to lie, I am more than a little terrified to face my first ‘real’ ultra 50 mile race. This weekend’s Go Longer 50k in the subfreezing temperatures and winds reminded me just how horrible the pain can be during a race and at the end of 31 miles; now add on top of that another 19 miles and I am frankly challenged to wrap my mind around how I’m going to be able to do that.  Saturday was a real struggle for me. I hurt, a lot, mainly because of the cold. My head was in a bad place due to fear of some unknowns and the cold wind just made me feel absolutely miserable. It was my turn to be down and need support and that is exactly what I got. Trex was more than upbeat and cheerful the whole way and helped me not to sink too far into the doldrums. I am grateful.

So if I have learned anything from this journey it is to trust my training, stick to the plan (as best I can), lean on your partner if needed, and remember that with every distance the accomplishment is going past the wall, and the wall comes when it comes.

So that’s all there is to it. Right? I mean really it’s just tackling a little less than two marathons back to back. Right? As if one marathon isn’t hard enough?!!! Why am I doing this? (((Begin Panic Attack)))

…..  10 minutes later  (((End Panic Attack)))

Okay with that over and done with I can resume my plans to pack and prep for Rocky. I have exactly one day off every year, today, MLK Day, when my kids are in school, the spouse is at work, and it’s an observed company holiday for me. So after I write this post I will make the most of my time and pack and plan for my race. I actually enjoy packing and prepping for a race, so it will be nice to do it without constant interruption. But before I start packing I am reviewing what I learned from this weekend, revising my To-Do and packing lists, and making notes to ensure I prep and pack having gained more insight. So here’s a list of things I learned from this weekend:

I learned that I can’t eat nearly as much food as I planned, but that having it sorted in go bags was brilliant and saved time. Some tweak need to be made to how label/number by bag sets.

I learned that a combo of Spring Energy fuel with some Huma and PB, Hot Chocolate and Hot Broth sprinkled in does a body good.

I also learned that subfreezing temps slows me way down at the aid stations because my whole body is stiff and my hands are shaking and ridged. Let’s hope it’s not this bad at Rocky.

I learned I should have remembered to use handwarmers on my exposed bottles to prevent freezing. If it hadn’t been below freezing and the straws on my bottles hadn’t frozen I could have saved more time in and out of rest stops.

I learned I need to have rubber gloves or a dry change of gloves so I can more quickly refill my bottles without having to expose my fingers in extreme cold temps.

I learned I am going to have to use the volunteers at the aid stations and need to have an efficient method for handing off my bottles and drink mixes so that the required communication and time are minimal. For this I plan to separate my food and drink mixes and I plan to rotate 4 bottles in my pack and have pre-filled bottles in my drop bag. Two full and two empty so I can easily add mix to empty bottles and just hand those to be refilled. I actually had this setup ready for this weekend but I failed to execute my plan due to a few issues. First I still had water in my front bottles when I arrived at the car aid stations. So rather than swap them I opted to refill them. Two I struggled with getting to my empty bottles stored in the back because the rear storage in my Nathan Vapor Krar 12L is nearly inaccessible without taking the damn thing off or having Trex help me retrieve stuff. I find this to be dangerous on trails as I am likely to trip doing this, especially in the dark. Which is the reason I just bought a Salomon Advanced Skin 12 Set. I lucked out and it was on sale today so it should arrive just in time for the trip.

I learned that sticking to Trex’s well planned out pacing workouts does the trick, except for when one of us decides to break pace and “reel-in” some other runners with whom we were not technically competing since they weren’t even doing the same distance as us.

I learned that Altra Men’s Paradigms sort of fit my feet. Remind me to rant about shoe sizing in a later post.

And most of all I learned that I am very very lucky, fortunate, and grateful to have a wingman like Trex by my side.

Spring Fueling

Although it’s kind of late in the game we’re trying out Spring energy fuel/food as one source of fueling for our first 50 mile race. It was highly recommended by Ginger Runner and overall he and I tend to like the same things. We have the same opinion on the shoes we have in common, the hydration vests etc.

I know the age old wisdom don’t change anything pre-race but we’re 6 weeks out and we have time to test this option out and make sure it agrees with us physically and mentally.

Spring energy gels are ‘real food’ and not just an assortment of sugars. Now I, so far with 2500 miles under my belt and in my belly, get along with pretty much anything. I’ve not done extremes like cake icing and Coke but I’ve tried a vast assortment of fuels out there from Gu’s pure sugar to cheese Quesadillas real food and none of them had disagreed with me in terms of digestion. There are a number that I don’t care for in terms of flavor or texture but I’ve eaten them all without a problem. I’ve also consumed loads of ‘real’ food on long runs and races without any problems.

Spring gels fall into the “let’s take real food and turn it into baby food” in a lot of ways. The primary ingredients are basmati rice, bananas and then some variety of add ons such as coconut oil, coconut water, fruits, peanut butter, honey, chia seeds, citrus and so on.

They have a system for fueling. Pretty much all other fuels I’m aware of in gel format and frankly most of the bar types like Picky and RX are the same basic blends but different flavors. And for some, the ones based on date puree the flavors are so close together for me because they’re all very ‘datey’ that they might as well be the same.

Spring has 5 types of fuel each in one flavor and one drink mix to supplement those. Each type is aimed at one type of output. Pre-race or when you need a boost, long slow burn, caffeine laced for a bit of pep up, recovery etc.

It’s certainly an interesting approach. Flavor wise they’re okay to me. The most popular one, Canaberry so named after Sage Canaday and Strawberries isn’t super fruity to me. It tastes like what it is, pureed rice and banana with some natural sweeteners and a hint of strawberry.

I think because they’re kind of bland they may agree with most but I doubt few will actively look forward to them? There’s not going to be a “Yay! It’s been 30 minutes time for another of those delicious yummy gels.” for me at least.

One thing with the Spring fuels though is IMO you really have to make sure you’re consuming enough electrolytes. Their system is balanced and includes their drink mix (which is a peculiar blend of flavors, I’m not yet sure if I like it or I can tolerate it). If you just use the fuels and you’re not ingesting electrolytes some other way then you’re risking getting out of whack on basics.

I plan on using their hydration but I’ll be rotating it with Ultima (Lemondate and Pomegranate) and PediaLyte (Orange) as I like those flavors and feel the mixing things up will help over 50 miles.


Altra Trail 2.0 Shorts (Mens)

Altra Trail 2.0 Shorts

In my seemingly till now never ending quest to find a pair of shorts to go really long in I’ve come across the Altra Trail 2.o Shorts.

I ordered them in the Extra Large (of course) size just on the off chance they would fit.  The official sizing is for a 37 to 41″ waist.   I’m happy to report they fit at the waist just fine for me at 6′-4″ and 240lbs.  YMMV of course.

#GingerRunner likes them and they made his top 5 shorts lists for 2018 and I’ve found over the last couple of years that we tend to have the same opinion on various pieces of gear that we have used in common.

Overall the fit is good, loose but not baggy. Which was a relief.  Although I did buy them from Running Warehouse which has a good return policy.   The waistband is slightly elasticized and there is a drawstring that ties on the outside in the front.  That means no knots, bows or strings inside your shorts to cause a potential chafe point.

The material is soft and on the light-medium weight side.

There are two slanted mesh pockets on the sides that are rectangular and about the size of an iphone 5-6.   They are stretchy so you could stuff a fair number of gels in them.   In the front left is a shallow horizontal pocket that’s big enough for a credit card, a key or two or something of that ilk.  But this pocket has no closer on it, no zip, velcro or overlapping flap.   Use it at your own peril.

In the back is a open sleeve that could be used to hold a light jacket or a pair of gloves or arms sleeves or something like that.  Under the sleeve is a zip pocket that holds a Pixel 2XL quite easily.

One minor thing I found is because the waistband is soft and only a little elastic after 5k my phone had pulled the shorts down a bit after the material had gotten soaked through with sweat.   This could be fixed by tying the drawstring tighter.  BUT… because it’s your typical string based drawstring this might cause a potential chafe line for you if you really load down the shorts with loot.

These trail shorts have a built in boxer liner which I like and the ends are hemmed just right for my quads to be tight enough but not too tight so that the liner doesn’t ride up.   Pretty important for someone like me.

I ran them for the first time today, just a 5k though.  But other than near the end that after sweating them through and them stretching a bit that they were getting pulled down by the weight of my phone they really just disappeared during the run.  And pending issues showing up on a long run these look like a very real candidate for being my 50 shorts.

I also have a pair of 2XU compression tights that I’ll be testing to see if they will work for me for long runs.   With the potential temps of the Dead Horse 50K we’re doing in November ranging from 30 to 50, dressing appropriately may be tough.   I have a feeling it’s going to be a cold start and being a bit underdressed so as to be comfortable for most of the run.   Still not sure if I’ll be doing shorts or tights for it, probably take both.

The Running Industry is Biased Against Plus Sized Runners…

It’s not a serious title as I’m fully aware that my body size and shape is in the 1% of the 1% of folks trying to be long distance runners. I know that myself and the few other folks like me are not a profitable sector for anyone making running clothing.

But seriously what the hell is up with running clothing apparel makers sizing being so out of sync with the rest of the clothing industry?   For example a “XL” in running shorts is roughly a Medium or at best a Large and that’s being generous.

Literally my hip bones without any of that flesh and muscle that goes on them is too large to fit these.

I’m trying to find long long distance running shorts.  The same thing that every other long distance runner looks for, chafe free, fast drying, light weight, pockets for the key things etc.   But primarily shorts that are comfortable and can go long without leaving a person screaming in the shower after their super long runs as the water hits the chafing.

You find all these articles and videos for the top recommended shorts and…. I can wear none of them.

Right now I’m going to end up running my first 50K in a pair of UA Launch shorts that I cut the liner out of and a pair of UA compression shorts.   What’s the problem you ask? Well those compression shorts soak up sweat and end up weighing a bazillion tons.  The waistband ends up chafing me after about 15-20 miles.  Their so called ‘flat seam’ technology also ends up chafing me in other locations that should not be chafed.


I’d really like to try some of these awesome no seam having, no chafing after 100 miles, super light, fast drying shorts with the cool pockets but alas, I’m stuck with stone age technology.   Which I guess a dinosaur should be used to after all…

There’s no real point to this post other than to piss and moan a bit about things if you’re a runner you’ve probably never had to deal with.

 

Olympus 4.0 Followup

I took my Olympus 4.0’s out on Carl yesterday and have a couple of follow up observations.

Carl is pure vertical and technical vertical at that.   It’s a ‘granny gear’ slope of typically 45 degrees or sharper with loose shale, slick rock and loose rock.

After 4 loops I came away less thrilled with the grip of the Olympus. Granted these were rough conditions.   But in general I found them to be slightly less sure footed as my Lone Peak 3.5’s.   Slightly more slippage on loose material and I partially slipped twice while descending on large rocks (boulders).

At the end of the day I came away feeling less sure on bad surfaces than I do in my Lone Peak’s.   This isn’t necessarily a bad thing since it makes me more aware of footing and balance and potentially avoids over confidence that my LP’s might put me in.

Part of the problem I think is the Vibram outer ring on the Olympus is harder material and while I’m sure really durable, it seems less secure on smooth hard surfaces at dramatic slopes that may not be as dry as they could be.

They’ve also had more stretch to them them I’m used to in a trail shoe and after lap 2 I had to retie them, starting at the base of the laces all the way up to get them to lock back in.   This ‘should’ be a problem that resolves itself over time as all the stretch is taken out but the increased volume this is causing in the midfoot has me pulling the eyelets closer and closer together.

I’m going to have to get a pair of the Lone Peak 4.0’s sooner than later so I know what I’m going to be training with from now till spring.

Altra Olympus 4.0’s

6.2 down, 293.8 to go.

[Follow up here]

Ran my Olympus 4.0 from Altra for the first time yesterday.  Just a short 10K on mostly single track dirt paths with a few moderate technical sections.

My prior trail shoes have been Leadville V3’s, Altra Lone Peak 2.5’s, Altra Lone Peak 3.0’s, Altra Lone Peak 3.5’s.   My current trail shoes are the Lone Peak 3.5’s that have distances up to a full marathon on them.

Sizing Note:  I wear anywhere from a 12.5 to a 14 in Altra shoes.  In Lone Peaks I’m a 14, Paradigms a 13, etc.

I initially ordered 14’s in these but they were just clown shoes so I swapped them for 13’s.  For trail shoes with descents the 13 is about right.   But in a 13 they’re noticeably longer than my size 13 Escalante 1.0’s when you put them next to each other.   One thing that is rather annoying about Altra’s is how flexible the ruler is they use to measure their shoes.  Because no one typically carries much above a 12.5 locally I almost always have to order shoes either though the local stores or online and just hope that a given model fits me in the size I ordered.  I’ve had to send back half the new to me Altra’s I’ve ordered because I guessed wrong on the sizing.

Initial impression was “Wow, soft and wow, I feel tall” after putting them on and walking on them.

Over the course of the 10K I was left with a fairly pleasantly neutral outlook on them.  While I didn’t walk away with a “OMG these are amazing.” I certainly didn’t walk away with a “These are going back.”

Honestly after the first couple of miles I kind of forgot about them and, again honestly, isn’t that a good thing?

By the end of the run they had loosened up a bit and if the run had been much longer, say a half+ I’d of likely stopped to tighten the laces but it wasn’t enough to be an issue.

Grip wise they handled everything, sand, dirt, mud, rock that I was on and I always felt like they were stuck to whatever the surface I was on.

The lugs I think are wide enough that they probably won’t cake up as badly as my Lone Peak’s do going through exceptionally thick clay type mud that we occasionally encounter, the type of material where you gain 2lbs, per shoe by the time you’ve gone 20 feet over it.

The laces, a bit of a pet peeve, weren’t too long nor too short.   I was able to double knot them without an issue and there wasn’t enough dangling to bother me.

The arch support was just about right for me, if you have flat feet these shoes may not be to your liking so try them before buying them or may sure you can take them back.

Overall, with only 10k on them, I think they’ll do to replace my 3.5’s when they wear out.   My current pair has about 150 miles on them and I have another pair LP 3.5’s NIB waiting their chance to come out and play but I’ll be rotating these Olympus 4’s in as well.

At this point barring any surprises in durability or fitment coming up I can see myself in a new (but broken in) pair of these for the at least half of Dead Horse 50K, if not the whole thing.   A race I was worried about as I still have 600 miles or so of training to do before them per our schedule and a pair and a half of Lone Peak 3.5’s isn’t going to get me there and leave enough to do 50K in.

Tape and Taping and Quality Control

I’m really honestly not sure if KT Tape / Rock Tape provides ANY real benefit per science.  The claims border on questionable to say the least and smack of witchcraft and voodoo.   “It lifts the skin away from the muscles and fascia to promote blood flow”  Uh… huh…

But… with that said I can’t say it doesn’t work.  And mentally for me, and your mileage may vary, it doesn’t hurt anything and potentially could help so… why not?  And sisters and brothers I need every speck of assistance I can get.   Other than your giving money to someone for something that may be a waste of money.

With all that said the last three rolls of KT Tape “Professional” that I’ve purchased over the last year have all sucked at adhesion.  Two from a local sporting goods store, one from amazon, all purchased at different times and in three different colors.   I apply them in the standard per KT positions to assist with ITBS on my left leg.

The roll or two I had prior to that from 2016 stayed on not only for the full duration of a run but literally days and 2 or 3 runs and it was only after they started to look a little faded or I thought it was time to let my skin breath did I take them off.   And peeling the tape off took effort.

Not so much with these new rolls, within a half hour they’re loose at the ends, within an hour or two they’re flapping  and by hour 3 on a run they’re just dangling and annoying so I pull them off.

Now it’s possible these days I could have legs covered in petroleum jelly or astro-glide but you’ll have to take my word that’s not the case.  The tape goes on clean dry skin, I’m not any more hirsute than I was before.  So the logical answer by Occam’s Razor is the adhesive on the newer issued rolls is not as good as the older ones, or quality control has gone to hell.  My money’s on KT as manufacturer finding some way to save money to increase profits for the tippy top of the profit sharing food chain by using a lesser adhesive.

Last week I ordered a roll of Rock Tape through Amazon and picked up another roll at one my local running stores to try out.

A couple of immediate observations, Rock Tape isn’t precut strips, just one long roll.  Secondly a new roll of Rock Tape doesn’t quite fit in a KT tape plastic container indicating the tape or center spool is thicker by a fraction of a degree.

I cut three strips out of it, the usual size I use with KT tape, one precut strip cut into two for an X and one precut strip left whole to go over it.  The method as offered by KT in their videos.

Another observation is the edges all stuck down well pre run.  With the KT tape I’ve been using there was always a little bit of ‘not quite’ sticking going on at the ends.

I ran a 5K this morning right around 30 minute pacing in warm humid as water world hell setting and then took a shower.  So far the tape is remaining stuck down on all edges.

I’ve got another 5K this evening and obviously a shower after that so we’ll see how it goes and I’ll post an edit on this afterwards.   But so far while more expensive $19 versus $16 the Rock Tape is even with just a single short run’s results sticking far better, much like the 2016 versions of KT Tape Pro did.

Brooks Running Bras Stink

I have owned two Brooks running sports bras since I started running just under two years ago. I started with the Juno model two sizes ago, and now I am into the Rebound Racer. These two bras alone have hugged my girls and kept them nice and snug for all of my major races and long distance runs.  I also own and use a C9 (Champion Target Brand) and a SheFit, which I use for day to day running mostly, choosing the Brooks because they have softer materials and fit better as they are quality bra’s, but they are not without their issues.

Brooks Juno & Rebound Racer Pro’s & Con’s (The short version): If you want a bit more back story read below the bulleted lists for my personal experience in each of these areas.

Pros:

  • Good soft materials – doesn’t really cause chaffing (with the exception noted below) during distances up to a Marathon.
  • Durable materials – has taken almost daily washings and been worn for over a year (Juno) and a half (Rebound) without showing visible signs of wear and tear (one major exception also noted below).
  • Snug fit – my girls don’t bounce and the front tacky strap adjustment helps synch them in nice and tighten on the fly.

Cons:

  • Stinky Fabric – After about 3 months of summer wear, both models have a breakdown in the materials and begin to trap odors which are released while wet. NO it’s not just me, or my laundry routine.
  • Outdated Design – Sports bra’s should be easier to get on and off. Especially when one is wet with sweat! See below for my opinion on the matter.
  • Price – are you kidding me? I paid full retail marked up price for mine at local running stores, and if they were perfect I would happily pay that price. But come on, I get almost as good support and coverage from my Target bra and it never stinks!

All in all I would recommend these bra’s for fit and comfort for longish and short distance, mainly because I haven’t found anything else that I like better. But for the price I would like something I love and I don’t love these bra’s. I use them because I bought them and I like to get my monies worth. But given the issues I have had with them I am on the hunt for a better bra for my Ultra distances.

More In-depth experience:

To begin, as mentioned before in other posts, I am rather sensitive to the feel of the material against my skin, so it is EXTREMELY important to me that the materials be soft (to me). I don’t like rough seams or scratchy edges, or stiff materials. And as I am upping my distances chaffing is going to be a HUGE concern.  So to be noted, with the Juno I occasionally had a problem of chaffing just above my breast plate where the fabric sagged into my cleavage. It started happening during my first marathon and happened a few times after that. My guess is that my boobs shrank just enough to allow this to happen, or I simply hadn’t run far enough for it to happen before that time. Either way I don’t like the burning sensation it caused during my post marathon showers.  Since boob shrinkage is a real thing thanks to running, I had to move down a couple sizes and purchased the Rebound Racer, and I have not yet had this chaffing issue, instead I have had a different problem.

With my Rebound Racer the straps compress over my collar bones during long runs and have left bruising on both side after races. Of note this occurs primarily when I have to wear a my Nathan Vest. Now you could argue this is the vest’s fault and not the Rebound, but I wore my vest with my Juno during Little Rock and didn’t have this problem. The fact is that the strap material of the Rebound feels thicker and doesn’t seem to absorb/compress softly enough over my skin and bones to prevent this from happening. Not sure if this is the Bra’s fault but worth noting nonetheless as it is a BIG factor in why I won’t be using it for our 50k.

My next complaint with both of these Brooks Bras would be the design. I don’t know about you but I HATE, with a passion, pulling a nasty sweaty sports bra off over my head. Not to mention wrestling into one before my runs. While you have the options to unstrap the shoulders on these models, I tend not to because they are a PITA to re-thread through the eyelet due to the velcro.  I also HATE the old fashion hook and eyelet adjustments on the back. I find myself looking like a contortionist every time the hooks catch over the fabric and won’t find the eyelets!  I would seriously like to see an open front option, and a velcro back adjustment maybe like my SheFit; the key here would be for the fabric and materials would have to be just right as to not cause chaffing or pressure points, I haven’t found my SheFit to be perfect in this department hence why I still wear the Brooks.

But so far my number one complaint about these two bras is that that they stink. Literally. About 3 months of wear during the summer months and both bra’s developed a stink that is released after they get wet with sweat. A smell like dead rotting vegetation wafts up into my nostrils and is most unpleasant during my runs.

Now before you jump to the conclusion that I have poor hygiene or don’t know how to wash clothes let me explain. First I don’t and have never had this issue with any other bra or sports equipment for that matter.  My husband is also a runner and his stuff doesn’t stink.  I wash our running clothes immediately after use in a detergent (Nellies Natural Laundry Soda) which I used to wash my babies dirty cloth diapers and my Roller Derby pads, so I know it is NOT my laundry routine that is the problem.  Again it is only these bra models I have ever encountered this problem.

With the Juno when the problem occurred last summer I tried using Biokleen Bac-Out before washing, as it is an enzyme based odor remover, but that didn’t help. The only thing that has helped is Bleach, which seems to kill whatever bacteria is able to develop by the way the fabric traps in sweat.  I did a sniff test yesterday after I ran in my freshly washed Rebound and it seems to be the mesh fabric that traps the smell. It wasn’t the fabric that lays over my breasts, but the waffle woven dry fit fabric that surrounds the padding on the inside, which I thought was interesting.  So into the bleach it went. Problem solved.  I am sure Trex’s nostrils will thank me. He’s never said anything but I am sure he’s just being polite.

So my search continues. I guess one plus of moving into the ‘itty bitty’ category is that I don’t need quite the support as I did before, so I can move away from these thicker fabric models. Wish me luck in my endeavors to find a replacement for my first Ultra.

~B

NOTE: I purchased all of the products mentioned in this article at retail price, from retail stores, for my own personal use. I have no affiliations with any retailers, company, or suppliers. This is strictly a user review of these products.

Scosche 24 Heart Rate Band

I picked up a Scosche 24 HR band back in May and for the most part it’s been okay.   There are some runs where the readings are questionable (pretty sure I’ve never hit 208 BPM in my life and that it would kill me to do so now) and some runs where there was a lot of drop outs, especially if my watch and my scosche were on opposite arms, and a few runs where it just shut off in the middle of a run.

Hmm you know it sounds like maybe it’s just barely been ‘okay’.

In the last 3 weeks I’ve gotten significantly shorter battery life than it was giving me prior.  And I’ve been very careful after the first unexpected ‘no charge’ incident on my 5th run after a full charge to keep an eye on it and make sure I’m not leaving it on.

Today things took a turn for the worse though.  While out on a run I was getting a high reading on my watch.  My Scosche was on the outside of my forearm so I pulled the strap to spin it where I could see if it had turned off and “Pop” it flew off my arm.

I picked it up and saw it was missing a watch pin (the spring loaded pin that the bands hook on).  Well crap.  I finish the run and come home and the spare pins I have from my Fenix watches are about half a MM too long to fit.  So I google “Scosche 24 pin failure” to find out what the size is, thinking I’d just pick one up and replace it, and I start seeing post after post on Amazon from other people saying they’d lost a pin and theirs was because the case had cracked as well.

Sure enough I put mine under a strong light and one of the pin mounts is cracked.  Well double crap.

This particular area doesn’t seem all that well designed to me.  The screws that hold the top and bottom case parts together are in such a position it forms a natural weak point due to lack of material in this area.  And although I’m not a destruction testing scientist, nor do I play one on T.V., the material for the lower half of the case has that shiny ‘snap like a twig’ plastic look to it.

Maybe it’s a QC issue, bad choice in materials for the case or just bad design but whatever the case it’s unusable at this time.   I might be able to design and 3D print some kind of cage to put the unit in and that will attach to the 24 band or possible one of the old version’s velcro bands.   But that’s not going to be an option for 99.999% of their customer base.

I’ve dropped them an email explaining the situation, hopefully there will be a happier outcome but at this time I’m not sure I can recommend the Scosche 24.   There’s no android app to check firmware, I’m getting random shutdowns, battery life seems to have broken after 3 months and now I find you apparently have to really baby the case putting it on and off or you’ll crack it.

I’m hoping these things get fixed as I really, really, like the Scosche, it’s far more comfortable to me than a chest belt, the readings are almost, for me, as good as a chest monitor and in general it’s a good piece of kit, when it works and doesn’t break.

Week 2 Long Run AKA as SNAKES AND SPIDERS

Week 2 of our 50 plan has come and gone and we did our back to back long runs over the weekend.  One of the things I’ve put in our training schedule is one weekend a month we do both long runs on the same day, one in the morning, one around 9:00 p.m.

This weekend we did the night run on the Snake trail at Turkey.  There’s a reason it’s called the Snake trail.  We had to shoo off, go around or jump over about half a dozen copperhead snakes between 18″ to maybe 30″ long.   Copperheads are typically non-aggressive and rarely fatal although they can leave you with some pretty nasty tissue damage.

The snakes were somewhat easy to spot in advance, it was the giant spiders constantly spinning webs across the trail as we did the multiple out and backs that were really annoying.   Being the slowest #boatanchor member of the group running I ran in front mostly to set the pace and as a result I got to clear the path of all the spiders and webs as we ran.  Mostly by running through the webs.

On week 5(ish) of dropping carbs from the diet and I’m still feeling the hit to some degree.  My pace is off by a fair bit for one, heart rate still on the high side for any given pace and in general just don’t feel ‘fast’ not that I ever did but it’s worse. A factor in this is that I don’t really have a ‘low intensity’ speed so converting stored fats to fuels is slow for me.

One semi-interesting thing is that even though we’d already done one 9 mile run that morning the second 9 miles that evening didn’t feel much different than the first one.

On a more useful topic is lighting.  Running Wife #1 forgot her headlamp and I didn’t have the spare I normally carry with me so I loaned her my headlamp and used the backup backup light I carry in my bag.  It’s one of many flashlights I’ve carried for a few years now, a Quark / 4 Sevens light, I’d give the model but you can’t get them anymore.   On medium which I used it puts out about 160 lumens OTF which I found very usable.  Not great at that setting for spotlighting far up the trail but I didn’t need to see that far out.

The biggest take away is that a light that’s not in line with your face is far more useful in terms of spotting hazards that might trip you up due to the sole fact that it casts shadows you can see unlike a light 1″ above your eyes.

As a result I’ve been doing a fair bit of research on lights, specifically L shaped lights I can use to attach to a belt or vest or carry easily and more naturally in my hand as I run.

I have some very specific needs though which makes it tough (impossible) to get a perfect light.

I’m currently looking at the following (no direct links as they are likely to go dead over time)

WowTec A2S ($30 on Amazon at the time of this post)

Skilhunt H03 ($30 to $45 depending on where you get it)

Skilhunt H03 RC ($55 various places)

Zebralight 600 Mark IV ($85 from vendor)

Armytek Wizard ($65 from vendor)

Armytek Wizard Pro ($80 from vendor)

I’ve ordered the WowTec A2S, got it today actually and a Zebra to test out.  Will likely pick up a Skilhunt as well.

Here’s the bigger problems I have – None of these lights are programmable so you have to use the settings they come with.

None of them have the perfect light levels for me.  I’d like a medium or high around 250-300 lumens to get the best efficiency at that level for me.   I’d like another setting in the 150-190 lumens range.   One that’s around 20-30 lumens and a ‘moonlight or firefly’ mode.

I need them to have a decent spill as well as okay spot but without a hot spot and I need it in a warm color range to make it easier to spot things like snakes that are almost the same color as the dirt I’m running on.  Warmer lights to me make it a fair bit easier to distinguish smaller color changes in greens and browns.

The TURBO!!!! modes I have no use for personally.   I just don’t see a point in having a light that in theory can throw 1100 to 2500 lumens for all of 30 seconds before the temp controls cycle it down significantly nor having a light that on the highest sustained power that doesn’t burn it up lasts an hour.

“Why don’t you get a dedicated trail running light?”

Good question, best answer I have is that Trail running specific vendors are lagging behind lighting technology and in general aren’t cutting edge in technology.   Not that bleeding edge is necessary or even a great thing but when it comes to a light the fewer batteries you have to potentially carry, the tougher the thing is, the more light it throws per watt, these are all good things.  And frankly most of them are pretty expensive for what you’re getting compared to the rest of the lighting world.

As I test these various lights specifically as options for trail running at night I’ll post my thoughts of each one, stay tuned.