Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Training Run : Galloping Goose and Lockside Trails, Victoria, BC

On a recent week-long family trip to Victoria, BC I had the good luck to get permission from my wife to have some 'me' time to explore downtown by foot. I used this opportunity to explore two local trail gems called 'Galloping Goose' and 'Lockside'.

Specifically, I ran a 20 mile out and back from the Hotel Grand Pacific in downtown up Galloping Goose to Lockside then out north all the way to the Red Barn Market near Cordova Bay.  The trail is mixed road, trail and some single track with water stops and a couple bathrooms.  If you are a cyclist there are tire pump stations as well.  Lockside is a particular treat because the route is largely shaded by tree canopy.

The start of Galloping Goose is actually at the intersection of Harbour and Esquimlat Roads just outside the Johnson St bridge (purple).   To get to the start from Belleville St, simply follow Wharf to Johnson St (red). I doubt you'll get lost since you can see the bridge most of the way.  A couple important notes.  Once you leave downtown it will become harder and harder to find bathrooms so take care of business before you start out.  The last bathroom/cafe is Caffe Fantastico on the left side of Harbour St just before you cross the street to continue on the trail.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Training and Recovery : Massage Envy Spa of Pleasanton, CA

What could be better than being part of the 2014 San Francisco Marathon Ambassador team and finishing the marathon on July 27, 2014?  A complimentary post-race Sports Massage that's for sure!

I had been contacted a month before race day by Massage Envy Spa if I'd like to enjoy a Sports Massage in exchange for reviewing the experience. Heck ya!

For the record, I had a three month pre-paid massage contract early in the year (Jan-Mar, 2014) and had already found Massage Envy Spa in Pleasanton and had my favorite massage therapist (Charles).  But, I got busy with life and training and didn't renew.  Since March I've run two 50Ks, a road marathon, did one day of the Western States (WS100) training camp up in ForestHill, CA and paced the last half of the American River 50 mile race.  I was beyond ready for a professional tuneup.

Based on my post-race sports massage on Aug 7th, I have officially started my next three month contract (Aug-Nov, 2014).  Here was my experience.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Race Report : Skyline 50K, Sunday, Aug 3rd, 2014

The Skyline 50K is a local northern California Bay Area favorite which spans at least two great Parks : Lake Chabot and Redwood Regional.  According to the race website, the course is 31.3 miles long covering 4750 ft.of vertical climb.

This race is a typical 'trail' race in that is is small (~300 runners), laid back, very supportive with a very well marked course, Aid Stations (AS) and finishers table.  This particular race also features grilled hamburgers, hot links and BEER!

Bling consists of a finishers bag with socks and shirt imprinted with the race name. No, there are no medals except AG or overall top finishers.  Who needs another finishers metal to toss into a box anyway?

Product Review : Suunto Ambit 2R GPS sampling modes vs Garmin 410

If you would like very detailed analysis of various GPS watches then I suggest you read DC Rainmaker's reviews:
After running with both watches on a 50K trail race today, I'm specifically going to compare one of the Suunto Ambit 2R (2R) four GPS modes called 'OK' with that of the unchangeable Garmin 410 (1 data point every 4 seconds mode - Similar to 2R's 'Good' GPS mode).

The 2R has four GPS modes:

Mode Battery Life Sampling Frequency
Best 8h 1 sec
Good 12h 5 sec
OK 25h 60 sec
Off 160h N/A

The Skyline 50K trail course was 'measured' by the race director (RD) using Nike Tailwind and is believed to be 31.3 miles with 4,750 ft gain/loss (via USGS Topo! software) on the loop course.  Both numbers probably have 10% variance.

Here is what was measured by Ambit2R and Garmin410:

Skyline 50K ('OK' GPS Mode)Overlook 50K ('Good' GPS Mode)
Ambit2R Garmin410 (reference) Ambit2R (*) Garmin410 (reference)
Distance 27.3 30.2 27.58 29.64
Elapsed Time 6:52:32 6:52:42 8:13:12 9:03:05
Moving Time 4:41:13 6:43:20 TBD 8:05:44
Pace ?, 10:19/mi 13:38/mi, 13:23/mi 15:52/mi, ? 18:19/mi, 16:23/mi
Elevation Gain 6106 ft 4219 ft ? ft 6484 ft

Clearly the 2R only recording every 60 seconds in 'OK' GPS mode was having a difficult time determining distance and elevation gain.  From an end-users point of view, I found the displayed 'pace' value more than delayed by just a minute and was often frustrated waiting minutes for the watch to catch up to my actual pace.  I ended up using the Garmin for pace feedback.

It is a long distance trail runners dream to have a single watch that can log GPS data for 25 hours!  However, the 'OK' mode logging data every 60 seconds is mostly useless (for me).

I have another 50K coming up where I plan to wear both watches again but this time I will use the 2R in 'Good' mode which logs GPS data every 5 seconds (comparable to every 4 seconds for the Garmin 410) and the 2R has a reported 12 hour battery life (again compared to 8 hours for Garmin 410).  I will update this page when I have additional information to share.

Update :  I recently ran the Overlook 50K and ohh what a test of battery life that was.  The race was a point to point race with RD reported elevation gain and loss: 7,000' gain / 9,200' loss.  I took 9:10 to finish the 50K due mostly to the 98+ deg heat in the canyon and extreme dehydration.  The Ambit2R automatically saved the race and shutdown at 3% battery at about 8 hours; the Garmin 410 amazingly was still going after I finished, then died 10 minutes after.  I don't know if you can disable the 3% auto save/shutoff 'feature' of the 2R and am currently investigating that. However, I did NOT get the advertised 12 hours out of the 2S only about 8.  The Garmin 410 actually performed much better. There is no point in trying the Ambit2R in 'Best' GPS mode given I only got 8 out of the advertised 12 hours of battery life.  I have purchased a Garmin 310xt multisport watch because I mostly run, found my Garmin 410 to be solid tool and the Garmin 310xt is supposed to have very good battery life (>12 hours).  We shall see on my next 50K!

Update 11/02/2014: I just ran the Morgan Hill Marathon with both the Garmin 410 and 310xt and both performed flawlessly.  I started with both at 100% battery life and after 4:24 hours I had 26% battery left on 410 and 75% on 310xt. Time, Distance, Elevation Gain, AvePace are below and very similar.

Elevation Gain
BestPace  Battery%Left
Garmin 410
6:56  26%
6:48  75%

PS Both watches were charged to 100% full battery and after nearly 7 hours of running I had 13% left on the Garmin and 78% on the 2R.  Reducing the GPS sampling frequency truly has a remarkable impact on battery life.  These pics are from after the Skyline 50K race.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Race Report : The San Francisco Marathon 2014 : Not your typical race report.

"You're a [track, road, trail] sprinter / runner / hiker / shuffler / walker!"  What?  Life can be so confusing and limiting for those that label and identify themselves by their means of a workout and preferred race venue.  If you are a track runner and normally train and race on the track then what you are not allowed to run on the road nor hike a state/federal park?  Sure from an equipment point of view there are specific differences in equipping, training and planning for workouts/races on track but isn't it your goal and how you strive towards that goal that ultimately matters?