Gimbal not Gambit

After seeing the footage from our Greenleaf 30K I decided to look into ways to making that better and I settled on a Feiyu Tech G5 Gimbal.   In just some quick playing around with it it works fairly well.

I’m going to have to 3D print some shells though to use 18650 batteries as the 22650 it comes with is just super hard to find and I have a bunch of 18650’s for flashlights of various purposes.

It’s heavier than I thought but the craftsmanship is pretty good.

I picked the G5 for a few reasons, looks, it’s just a cleaner look than the other one I was looking at, it has a ‘selfie’ button that makes it easy to do a 180 of the camera, and it was $50 less than the other one I looked at.

Also DC Rainmaker has several months of use with this model and he didn’t say anything bad about it so that’s a big plus.

And a big reason to get a gimbal, a powered one anyway, is I just like toys.  All kinds of toys.   I could have 3D printed a weight based gimbal that would have helped.  But I needed a compact one that I can easily stow in my pack and this one fit the bill.

Altra Escalantes – Final Thoughts

Last post on the 2017 Altra Escalantes.   To wit, still love them after 200 miles.  For me about 200 miles is pushing it.  The insoles are pretty much flat where the front balls of my feet hit the ground. But do understand I’m a super heavy #notarunner even at my current 253# at the time of this posting.

I added a pair of Super Feet orange insoles I had laying around to them but the difference in thickness is just enough to throw off the fit for me.  I’ll keep these around for shorter runs but I’m going to swap in my back up pair of Escalantes for long runs.

I’ll pick up another pair or two to get through this year and then next year when they go on sale due to the 2018’s dropping I’ll very likely pick up 10 pair or more to get me through 2018 and 2019, and possibly 2020.

Final thoughts?  Try them, buy them, love them.  But at least try them.


Altra Escalantes

So as part of my first week back after a 2 week break to deal with ITBS (not 100% successfully) we made a road trip to another town to try the Altra Escalantes.   The two of us who went to look ended up buying them and frankly we both like them.

I’ve put 9 miles on the, 3 outside the store and another 5+ yesterday.   As a big boy runner the cushioning isn’t such that I’d want to run super long distances in them right now. A lighter runner, someone more average will probably be fine in them and a large number of people who are average in size who’ve run in them seem to validate that guess on my part.

The shoe is very light, both in weight and in feel.  It also runs long for Altras.  Which means it runs about true to size.   I had to get a size 14 in paradigm’s as my toes were hitting the ends of the 13’s.

In the Escalante I have a full thumbs width between my toes and the end of the shoe, tons of room for swelling.

The reason I wanted to try the Escalantes is the moderate cushioning on top of the 0 drop (negative really) will help me with changing my gait/stride from heel to mid/fore foot.   And it does.  Pain is a great tool for teaching.  Not a ‘good’ one but it is up there on effectiveness.

Landing on my heel in Escalantes is not what you’d call enjoyable so the body not liking pain strives to not do the thing causing the pain and thus it reinforces my desire to land mid/fore foot.

The shoes are seemingly well made, no obvious defects in my pair.   I like the color in the grey, the only option I had, it could work as a casual every day shoe without any problem at all.

General comfort level was high, even better than my Lone Peaks.  Better mostly due to the fact that my foot fits the Escalantes better yet.   After running in the Escalantes and then putting my LP’s back on, what had seemed like a super comfortable shoe kind of paled in contrast.

The shoe has an even number of eyelets and a heel lock hole.  This is important to me as I prefer parallel lacing and typically like the way the heel lock works for my feet. Parallel lacing doesn’t work as well with an odd hole count.

Running on them has been mostly a good time.  As much a good time as it’s possible for me to have while pushing my body at speeds and distances it doesn’t like in the least.

I say mostly with the reservation that I’m in the middle of changing gait so that adds more than big of stress to my runs.  Trying to remember how to land and take off, how to hold my posture etc. makes it more difficult to just enjoy

It’s a very flexible shoe, if you’re used to overlays and heel cups you won’t find them here and you may not like the shoe for that reason or you may find it doesn’t work for you for that reason.

But at the end of the day, if you can work with a 0 drop shoe, the Altra Escalantes are definitely worth trying out.

Stryd’ers on the Storm

The title of this post is a play on a play of words.  Back in my younger days when I had more free time and less demands on what time I did I was both a geek and a nerd.  i.e. I played roleplaying games.  The kind you do with several people.  That’s probably not clarified enough, the kind you do with several people, with your clothes on.  Okay maybe that’s still debatable.  The kind you do with several people, using rule books and dice, with your clothes on and there are no orgasms involved.

But as one of the bigger clydesdales in the herd”

Anyway there are these things called Driders which are a combination of a kind of elf and a spider in a centaur like blending.   In one particular session our heroes were at a placed called Storm Shipping and Receiving when they were attacked by Driders.  This of course by necessity generated the phrase “Drider’s on the Storm”.

Which is a long way to go about explaining a title that makes sense to now one.

Anyway….  I bought a Stryd foot pod as the pacing and distance from my watch wasn’t as precise as I now want it to be.  I was also intrigued by the ‘train using power’ metrics that are being floated around.   The Stryd foot pod calculates how much energy/effort you’re expending on each step you take to move your body mass forward.  It analyzes all kinds of data from each step and gives you a picture of running motion.   It takes into account slopes, go up hill and burn more power, downhill burn less.

The idea is to run so that you burn a specific amount of energy for distance and to go into specific burn zones, i.e. energy output bands, to achieve your training goals.  Certain bands and types/timing of training are good for certain things, lactate use, vo2 max increase, physiological changing of the body for running etc.

Now that I’ve finished my half marathon training using the Garmin Heart Rate Zone based plan I’m going to try the Stryd marathon training plan.   It’s interesting, the first month is a lot of long slow distance or LSD’s with some sprints, Stryd calles them strides, at the end of the shorter ones.   The speeds are slower than I’ve been training with so far for long distances so it’ll be interesting to see the results.

I did a 9 mile run on Sunday at the recommended speed which was about 90 seconds per mile slower than I’d been running long distances and I was a little surprised at how difficult it did feel by the end of the run.  There are extenuating circumstances, in the previous month I’d run my first half marathon, normal training, a 5k race on Friday, 2 5K obstacle courses on Saturday and then the 9 mile on Sunday.  So there may have been a wee bit of reason as to why 9 miles slow felt kind of tough by the end.

It runs through to mid September over 4 months of training.   It’s 3 days a week, starting with 16 miles a week for the first week and ramping up to around 40-50 miles a week at the peak of the training.

But as one of the bigger clydesdales in the herd for distance running long and specifically slow may be what I need at the moment to help clear up a nagging knee issue.

Altra Paradigm 2.0

I’m afraid my Altra Paradigm 2.0’s aren’t working out.  This is due entirely to sizing, not anything else.   I measure a 12.5 and wear a 12.5 to 13 in most shoes.  I bought my Paradigm’s in size 13 and they’re just kind of short.

but jab into anything long enough and things will start to hurt.”

For short runs 5K’s especially as long as I wear thin socks they’re okay length wise.  But I ran my first long run in them on Sunday and by mile 7 my feet had swelled just enough that my two longest toes on each foot were hitting the end of the shoe.   I wasn’t wearing thin socks that day though but a thicker set of Balega’s.

I may be able to adjust a bit by really locking down the midfoot to keep my foot from moving forward at all but I’m just not sure it’s going to be doable.

It felt kind of like repeatedly stubbing your toe on velvet but jab into anything long enough and things will start to hurt.  By close to mile 9 I was seriously wanting to be done with the run.

To go up a size though, because no one makes half sizes past 12 means I have to get them in 14’s which I worry will be like clown shoes on me.

So I may have to give this model a miss or just use them for short runs with thin socks or barefoot.

The shoe overall I really like, the cushion is maximal but not marshmallow.  The midfoot is secure and the heel pocket is good for my foot.   The tongue is cushioned but not too much so.  Laces are long enough for traditional lacing, if you go parallel lacing you’ll have plenty of lacing.

The styling is good (for an Altra).

The only two big issues is sizing and availability.  In anything other than the most common sizes it’s hit or miss being able to find a pair in any color much less the color you might want.

Jaybird X3 Update

So I finally with my one communication a day maximum back and forth with Jaybird got them to accept an RMA from me.   This did require me to have the reciept for my purchase.   Tip for you, when you buy an expensive piece of electronics put your receipt in the box and keep the box for at least the length of the warranty.

there had better be a zombie horde chasing me and having music on that run would be the least of my worries”

They finally acknowledged that the device didn’t work and had me ship it back to them so they could test it.  I assume once they test it and find out it’s broken they’ll ship me a refurb unit to replace it.

At this point though I’m calling it a lesson learned and I’ll keep it for secondary usage.   The Plantronic Back Beat’s for my needs are better in all ways including price and are demonstrably more durable in terms of weather.  Due to me dropping them getting out of the car they were totally submerged in rain water for about 12 hours with no signs of an issue.   The day I run 12 hours in torrential rain there had better be a zombie horde chasing me and having music on that run would be the least of my worries.

FWIW one of the #runners I know his Jaybirds died this week with no output from the left earpiece.   I wished him luck in dealing with Jaybird CS.

That’s 2 for 2 first hand experience with failed units on the Jaybird X3’s.   We could be outliers of course but the laws of averages and normalization indicate that the Jaybird’s may have some issues in QC or design.

And neither of us have ever run in the rain or gotten these units wet.  Mine literally were working fine one run and the next time I tried to use they were dead.    The other person’s were the same way.  They were working at the end of a run and at the start of another one the earpiece was dead.


hoME Improvement?

So my new fancy Stryd after 3 runs is telling me I have a few areas to improve on.  The problem is how does someone who’s #notarunner build a training plan around these recommendations?  That’s one thing I’m running with the Stryd and any advanced data/metrics is “Okay I have all this data.  Now what?”   My leg stiffness is X.  Yay?  Boo?  My ground contact time is XXXms.  Okay?

where I can get the best bang for my buck.”

Stryd doesn’t as far as I can find offer any information on what these numbers mean, if they’re good or bad or indifferent, and if they’re bad how to improve them.

Now some data is obvious like GCT or ground contact time.  The less time you’re in contact with the ground the faster you’re going.  Duh.

Interestingly I found some data on some of these numbers in an article that just mentions them in passing.   But they outlined that some vertical oscillation is good, too much is bad.  Same with GCT where most runners fall between here and there.   And leg stiffness is actually a good thing within a certain range as it increases running economy.

I have a Garmin based marathon training plan that kicks in after my half marathon this weekend.  But now I need to work on using that as a base plan and then incorporate targeted workouts the Stryd is telling me where I can get the best bang for my buck into the Garmin plan.

My thought is keep the Sunday long run obviously.   Then add Hills, Fartleks, Intervals etc as the other training each week and just keep increasing the times/repetitions.   The problem is that’s tedious grunt work and I hate tedious grunt work.  I like that I can select a plan on Garmin and then set a start date and hit ‘send to watch’ and done.   I sync the Garmin calendar to my Google calendar, turn on notifications and get a 24 hour heads up about what I’m doing the next day and I can print the calendar to show my week.   No muss, no micro managing each workout.

Another thing I’m not real sure of is what is a “High Volume Easy Run” versus a “Long Run”.   Do you just run a lot of easy runs but at what distance?  Should I stick a Z1 run of 3 miles in on all my current off days?

Anyway this is all in my road to doing either a marathon or a 50K this fall.  The bad part is I’m training for a marathon or 50K distance during Oklahoma summers in the middle of climate change madness causing hotter than normal temperatures.  But what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger is what I hear.

Jaybird X3 – Warning

So I have a pair of Jaybird X3’s, bought the first couple of weeks they were available.  The sound quality IMO was decent but Bose Sound Sports sound better.   The Plantronics Backbeat Fit sounds better IMO.

Yes I get asked to do the very thing I’ve already told them I’ve done several times.”

But the Jaybirds were oh so highly rated so I bought a pair.  You can probably tell where this is going right?

After at a guess less than 2 full charges worth the headhpones were dead when I went to use them last Sunday.  They’ve never been wet and given I was using them in 30’s and 40’s degree runs they didn’t even get sweated on.  And remember they’re rated for water.

I assumed the battery was dead so I plugged them in for 15 minutes to get me enough battery for a run.  15 minutes and they still won’t turn on.  So I assume the manual is lying to me about 15 minutes will get you an hour’s worth of run time and leave them on the charger and go run.

I get back and check them.  Still dead. Ooooh kay.   I put them back on the charger and try turning them on.  THey come on.  I take them off and they immediately die.   I put them back on and long story short while on the charger they will turn on and act normally with the exception that the right ear piece is dead.   They do their normal OMFG loud startup sequence “Powering on.  Blast of eardrum busting music.   Searching for Music Device.  Fully Charged.”

I can change the EQ using the app on the phone.   I can play music, only through the left ear piece.

So I google and you’ll be shocked to hear there are a lot of folks with the same problem.   I open a case with support and explain everything in detail.

I get asked if I tried turning them off and on.   And to try using a different USB port.

I respond back and tell them I’ve tried the soft reset of go into pairing mode and press the power button twice, the hard reset (that everyone says does nothing) of pressing the power button 8 times, pressing for 5 seconds, and doing that twice more.  I reiterate that the headphones appear to be fully charged, at least they say they are and the power led goes green indicating a full charge.   I reiterate that there is NO sound in the right earpiece and that the thing ONLY works while it’s on the charger.

I get a response back to try pressing the power button 8 times, holding for 5 seconds and doing that twice more, then putting it on the charger and letting it charge.   Yes I get asked to do the very thing I’ve already told them I’ve done several times.

So… knowing I’m wasting my time in doing this… I do it again.  And knowing I’m now wasting my time I re-state everything I’ve already stated twice for the third time.  Emphasizing that it has been reset, that the right ear piece doesn’t work, that the headset doesn’t work at all unless it’s on the charger.

It’s safe to assume at this point that they’re using the delay, irritate and drag the issue out till the customer gives up method of customer support.   And knowing there’s little chance I’m going to get a working set of headphones out of this any time soon if ever and I have a half marathon this weekend and don’t want to run it listening to my own breathing I found that Costco has Plantronics Backbeat Fit for $50 right now with instant rebates.

The Backbeats are pretty highly rated and to my ears they sound almost but not quite as good as Bose Soundsports and with better bass than the Jaybird X3’s.

So there you go.  If you’re considering the Jaybird X3’s then at this point assume they’re disposable and consumable and you might get some unknown number of months out of the or you might get some few hours like a fair number of people based on the views and public support cases on the Jaybird support forum and googling jaybird x3 battery issues, jaybird x3’s won’t turn on, jaybird x3’s won’t charge, jaybird x3’s one earpiece is dead.

Girl Power

Yesterday we both, my running partner, also known as a running wife apparently, got back on the trail.  Not a trail literally, just a jogging path.  I used a pair of Nimbus 18’s which I’ve put a few hundred miles on that model of shoe without any obvious issue.  This is just to help reduce the number of factors that might have lead to my knee issue.

It felt hard to me, harder than it has been in awhile”

We also took a mostly flat path, very little elevation change except for one tiny incline/decline.   My partner has been off with a case of foot problems for a week and in spite of that break she ran her fastest 4 miles ever at 11 minute miles.  You go girl!

It felt hard to me, harder than it has been in awhile at least even though I ran two 10k’s are the same or faster pace just this last weekend.   Maybe that’s why it felt hard.  Or that since I wasn’t running I was ‘running’ on about 1300 calories a day.   Not so hard I couldn’t have gone on further but hard enough I was glad enough to have the 45 minutes roll up on the ol’ watch.   The knee was twingy most of the way but not ‘too’ bad.  We’ll see how my next run works out.

Today is a crossfit day. Which turned out to be a mow the lawn and some basic yard work.   Nothing like getting your exercise and a slightly more presentable yard.

The next run is Sunday with a 105 minute Z2 run so about 11:30 minute pace.

The half marathon is only 3 weeks away.  I have no doubt, barring injury, we should be able to finish it.  I would like to finish it in a reasonable time, for a #notarunner.  Right now I’m not sure what I’m going to run it in.  The clifton’s?  The nimbus 18’s? Nimbus 19’s? Or…?

I have a pair of Altra Torin 2.5’s coming in.  I may have already mentioned that.  They have a score of 87/88 on and I guess there’s a new model out or coming out because they’re on pretty deep discount everywhere.  I really like my Lone Peak 2.5 trail shoes, I wear them as daily shoes.

But it’s possible that no drop shoes aren’t for me or at least not yet.  In spite of my having spent most of my youth barefoot.  And quite a lot of my first decade as an adult to be honest.  It wasn’t till I hit 40 or so that constant wearing of shoes got the calluses down on my soles.  Elephant hide should be so tough.



So I’ve missed my second scheduled training day in the last 10 months. I ran a 10K race on Saturday (setting a new PR by 6 minutes; go #notarunner). I’ve felt a couple of twinges in my left knee on a few of my last runs, nothing major, just enough to make you go “hmm I don’t care for that”.

putting a cold pack on it twice a day trying to encourage shrinkage”

Then Sunday I had a 10K training session. Now leading up to the training run my knee was doing okay after the 10k, no major ouchies. But from the very first running stride on Sunday my knee went straight from a 0 to a level 3 pain (out of 10). I of course being me did the run and if I hadn’t already set a PR for my 10K the day before I’d of set it on Sunday just not as fast.

But not being totally dumb I decided to give my Tuesday run, a 45minute Z3 run, a pass. One could say I’d already done it and then some between Sat and Sun’s runs. And then some. But I don’t want to risk doing greater damage because honestly if I’m out for any significant length of time I don’t know that I’ll start up again. I don’t enjoy it, it’s taken me 9 months to get from the couch and 2 minute runs to being able run for 2+ hours. Not sure I have the enthusiasm and energy to fall very far and have to climb back up.

In regards to the injury I’ve gone so far as to putting a cold pack on it twice a day trying to encourage shrinkage and increasing my intake of turmeric and tart cherry extract/juice as well as nsaids. All anti-inflammatory. I also now own KT tape and use it as directed on the off chance it does what it says. There’s no science that I could find to back up their claims and their benefits could easily fall under the psychosomatic category but for a few bucks I’m willing to give it a shot.

The pain site and symptoms all say ‘runner’s knee’ which is inflammation of the attachment points of the tendons. Not sure if there’s a specific cause, we’ve added more mileage, more hills and on top of that trail running. I don’t ‘think’ it’s shoes since I’ve worn three different pairs of shoes during this time frame, Nimbus 19’s, Topo Terraventure and Hoka Clifton 3’s.

I think I’m going to add a pair of Altra Torin 2.5 or Paradigm 2.0 to my line up. Luckily with 3 kids, ages 14, 12 and 12 who are all over 6′-2″ any shoes that don’t work out for me I simply give to them as daily shoes.

Tomorrow is another training day. I may either due Tuesdays run 45m z3 or Thursday’s run of 7 minute sprints followed by 90 second recoveries x 3. With a 10 minute warm up. Not sure which is going to be least stressful.

Sunday is 105 minute z2 run. We’ll see how it goes.