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2013: Year-In-Review

Miles: 2,231.62
Max Distance: 37.83
Elevation Gain: 58,943 ft.
Time: 338:29:15

I was surprised I ran so many miles. Most of them were training miles and I rarely ran for fun (not that training wasn’t fun, but most of those runs felt forced). I only mention the vertical gain so I have something to compare my 2014 total with. I plan on running “up” a lot more this year.

Nutritionally it wasn’t the most healthy year. I ate a lot of fast food and drank lots of sugar. I think I would’ve felt better on more runs had I eaten the right kinds of food. I also depended too much on fueling during the run rather than fueling before.

I’d like to think I was physically strong during the previous year. I did a weekly routine of push ups, pull-ups, core exercises, and lunges/squats. What was missing was flexibility work and active recovery. I hope to do more preventative care while continuing body weight training in 2014.

Overall, it was a good year of running. I earned my first buckle, set a half-marathon PR, a few podium finishes, learned new training/nutritional techniques, discovered new trails, raced/trained with friends, ran alongside my wife, and was injury free!

Photo taken by MK.542732_482048085184070_1140172712_nIMG_0427

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Pocket Fuel Product Review

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I noticed a person tweeting about Pocket Fuel and I was intrigued. I love the idea of whole food nutrition in a small pouch. Usually, I use Clif Shot gels for runs longer than an hour. I was excited to try something different from my traditional gel.

Pocket Fuel uses nut butters as a base with the addition of various fruits, seeds, and natural sugar. It doesn’t have the typical gel consistency. It’s thicker and the consistency is textured and sometimes grainy.

I bought three pouches from REI: Banana Blueberry and Chia Goji Honey (both almond butter based) and the hazelnut butter based Chocolate Haze.

The first one I tried was the Chocolate Haze. I’m a sucker for anything chocolate. I took it out on an easy 12 miler. I followed the website instruction to squish and squeeze vigorously to make the consistency gooey and easier to consume on the run. After about 5 minutes of kneading the mixture, I left for my run. I held the packet in one hand and after seven miles I opened the cap to eat some. When I squeezed the pouch I first got a taste of oil before the hazelnut butter. I needed to squish the contents some more to mix everything up. I did this and it came out mixed, but in globs. It was cold outside and I was probably better off taking something that would not freeze over so easily, but I was excited to try something new! I sucked as much of the mixture out of the pouch as I could and resealed the with the cap. There was a good bit of the mixture left inside that I couldn’t squeeze out, so I took the rest home.

After this experience, I figured Pocket Fuel would best be used as a pre/post run snack. The package being bulky, the mixture thick, and the work you have to do to consume the content doesn’t make Pocket Fuel an “on the move” food source.

What I did for the other flavors was to spread it over toast before and after my run. I ran the pouch under hot water while massaging the mixture for a couple of minutes to get it to a spreadable consistency. The flavors I tasted were very good and satisfying. I can probably eat more than two packets after a hard run!

You have to give the folks over at Pocket Fuel a lot of credit for coming up with something that is so unique. I don’t think there is any other product out there that has the hunger satisfying properties of a fuel bar in an easy-to-digest consistency. Bravo!

Some challenges Pocket Fuel will have to address are the packaging, the ingredients and how they react to temperature change, and easing the user experience.

The hard plastic cap Pocket Fuel uses makes stuffing the pouch in small areas hard and uncomfortable. Also, while trying to get as much of the content out of the pouch, theres is always some that remain because you can’t squeeze past the plastic tubing tip. Sucking, as the website suggest, doesn’t work (partly because the contents have to be in liquid form for this to work).

I kept the pouches of Pocket Fuel on my dining room table for a couple of days. My house is kept at a constant 68 degrees. At this temperature, the nut butter base remained separate from the liquids in the pouch and hard. With the air temperature at 34 degrees during the one run I took Pocket Fuel with me, the contents separated and the bottom where the hazelnut butter settled into felt like a piece of stone. It took some effort to get it to a consistency I could squeeze through the pouch.

Understandably, using whole food ingredients will present some problems. We all know about oils separating from natural nut butters, and clumping of some fruits and seeds when mixed in liquid, but when something is marketed as “ready when you are” I don’t want to do much work when I’m ready for some food.

I hope they’re working on some changes because it’s a great tasting product with some unique nutritional benefits that are not often found in other fuel “gels.”

Some minor things I want to address:

-I don’t think the whole reusable pouch thing adds any value to the product. It takes too much effort to get the contents out and clean it. After that, what are we suppose to use it for? Gel consumers buy fuel gels for convenience, ease of use, and the ability to just throw them away. Perhaps recyclable rather than reusable.

-Not sure if this is a common occurrence, but I noticed every package of Pocket Duel sold at the REI location I went to was oily. Being sealed with a twist off cap it was easy for contents to leak out.


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What About Running?

It seems that I’ve been doing everything else except run recently, but I’m writing this post to reassure all of my fellow run nerds that I’ve been putting in miles. I took last week off because of back spasms caused by parkour and snow shoveling. I’m back at it this week, so far running one hour a day. Thanks to @mk_liveloverun for sharing some of those miles.

This week I’ll most likely hit 50+ miles on 6 days running. Next week I’ll be back to my base building schedule (the last two weeks!). In January I’ll be introducing some speed to my weekly runs before going all out February and March. I’m excited about my racing prospects in 2014. Looking forward to new PRs.

I didn’t race that much in 2013, that was intentional. I wanted to put in the kind of work in training that would carry me to a new level, being able to toe the line and know good things will happen. This current training plan is very aggressive on the miles. I feel that mileage is key to becoming a competitive racer.

I’m looking at my training from Camarillo Marathon to replicate a few behaviors and practices. It was my perfect race! I’m going to need to run with sub 3:00:00 peeps. I was also running about 20-30 miles of trail with 4,000 ft+ of climbing weekly along with Tuesday and Thursday speed work. Man, I miss those Gritty City runners!…and the San Gabriel Mountains!

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2013 Christmas Wish List

I like to think I have a very simple taste in running gear. I don’t necessarily fancy the newest and best gear. I gravitate towards things that give me the greatest value for the type of activities I enjoy.

socksSmartwool PHD Nordic Socks – These merino wool blend socks will keep your feet dry and warm during snowy runs. A bonus is they don’t stink after runs and can be worn multiple times without washing! I own a pair and they’ve become my go to for long trail runs in cold weather conditions.

 

clif-energy-gel_thumb Clif Shot Energy Gel – I’ve tried a lot of gels and Clif has by far been the best tasting. The consistency of the gel is not thick like other brands and it isn’t loaded with too much things (protein, vitamins, supplements, etc). My favorites are Chocolate Cherry and Strawberry if I need a little pick me up and Raspberry for sustained energy with the caffeine buzz. When racing I mix the shots with water in a bottle for easy consumption on the go.

mountainHW

Mountain Hardwear Integral Pro Mid-Layer – Mountain Hardwear is known for making durable, high-quality outdoor apparel. This mid-layer has a great fit, comfortable feel, and does a really good job at maintaining body temperature. I’m a fan of merino wool blends for their ability to wick moisture and keep you warm while maintaining a light profile. Versatility is what makes this piece a good value. It can be worn on it’s own (flat-lock stitching eliminates chafing) or with a shell for really cold runs.

PETZL-NAOI’ve never owned a Petzl, not because I didn’t think their headlamps weren’t any good, on the contrary, I think they make the best, but the kind I’ve wanted were too expensive. Since this is a wish list, the NAO has to be included on the list! This headlamp has everything you would want while running hard in the dark. It has a sensor that will automatically adjust brightness, a beam setting that is more like a theater spotlight, operate in extreme weather, and fit and comfort! I hate having to go through light settings while running. I’d prefer my arm to be free to help with my balance. This headlamp has programmable light settings and the sensor allows for hands-free use!


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December Playlist

More synthesizer! Music warms the heart and on long winter runs I hope it will help to warm the rest of the body as well. Toro y Moi has been on the running playlist the few months. Something about the sound and his voice that make me move.

Feel Good Track of Rosemead Family of the Year
Let’s Be Honest Family of the Year
Treehouse Family of the Year
Putting Money and Stuff Family of the Year
Stupidland Family of the Year
Summer Girl Family of the Year
Suprise Family of the Year
No Good At Nothing Family of the Year
Charlie Song Family of the Year
Intervention (Staple Jeans) Family of the Year
I Played Drums On This Family of the Year
Castoff Family of the Year
Psyche Or Like Scope Family of the Year
Let’s Go Down Family of the Year
Jamesy Family of the Year
Hero Family Of The Year
Chugjug Family Of The Year
The Barn Family Of The Year
The Princess And The Pea Family Of The Year
Stairs Family Of The Year
Down To The River Family Of The Year
Cast Off Family Of The Year
Summer Girl Family Of The Year
Surprise Family Of The Year
Psyche Or Like Scope Family Of The Year
Falling Haim
Forever Haim
The Wire Haim
If I Could Change Your Mind Haim
Honey & I Haim
Don’t Save Me Haim
Days Are Gone Haim
My Song 5 Haim
Go Slow Haim
Let Me Go Haim
Running If You Call My Name Haim
Okay Holy Ghost!
Dumb Disco Ideas Holy Ghost!
Changing of the Guard Holy Ghost!
Dance a Little Closer Holy Ghost!
It Must Be The Weather Holy Ghost!
For Edgar Holy Ghost!
I Wanna Be Your Hand Holy Ghost!
Bridge and Tunnel Holy Ghost!
Don’t Look Down Holy Ghost!
In The Red Holy Ghost!
Cheap Shots Holy Ghost!
Hold On Holy Ghost!
Talamak Toro Y Moi
You Hid Toro Y Moi
Low Shoulder Toro Y Moi
Chi Chi Toro Y Moi
New Beat Toro Y Moi
Go With You Toro Y Moi
Divina Toro Y Moi
Before I’m Done Toro Y Moi
Got Blinded Toro Y Moi
How I Know Toro Y Moi
Light Black Toro Y Moi
Still Sound Toro Y Moi
Good Hold Toro Y Moi
Elise Toro Y Moi

 


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November Recipes

As a runner I eat plenty of bananas, but sometimes I buy too many and they become overripe. This is a recipe I messed around with that actually turned out pretty good.

Banana Cream Cheese Cupcakes
8 oz softened cream cheeseIMG_1122
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 overripe bananas, smashed
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix eggs, sugar, oil, cream cheese, vanilla, and bananas together until well blended. In separate bowl mix flower, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Slowly incorporate dry mix into wet mix. Pour into muffin cups. Bake for 20 mins. or golden brown.

Risotto is actually easier to make and very versatle than what some people think. The only hard thing about making risotto is the amount of attention you have to give to build a creamy rice. You can add whatever you want to add flavor and texture to the rice. Personal favorites include bacon, edamame, peppers and sausage.

Butternut Squash and Mushroom Risotto
2 cups squashIMG_1182
1 cup white mushroom
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt to taste
black pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2  onion, diced
1-1/2 cup Arborio rice
6 cups (approximately) vegetable broth
1/4 teaspoon Turmeric
1 tsp. fresh rosemary (1/2 tsp. dried)
1 tsp. fresh thyme (1/2 tsp. dried)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Heat broth in a separate pan. In large deep skillet, heat 1 tablespoon butter and olive oil.  Add squash and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until squash is semi-soft, but not mushy. It will continue to cook when you set it aside.

After plating the squash mixture to cool, add remaining butter to pan and saute onions until translucent. Add rice. Season with chili powder, turmeric, and herbs. Mix for a couple of minutes to make sure rice is covered with butter. Add about 2 cups of heated broth to rice and stir. Cook down liquid before adding more broth a cup at a time. Continue this until all the broth is used. Cook rice down until soft, but not mushy. Before serving, season with salt and pepper. Add cream and cheese to the rice and mix well. Mix in squash mixture and fold into rice mixture gently.
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Wider The Foundation, Higher The Peak

Why is a solid foundation worth investing so much time on? Many exercises physiologists conclude athletes with more miles under their feet have a greater ability to absorb tougher workouts and are less prone to injury, leading to greater gains in speed. I’ve been very fortunate to not have been injured during my last few training cycles. I’ve yet to get a black toe nail! Maybe when I cross over to triple digit weekly mileage those will become regular occurrences. The last plan I developed I included a two month building phase. Not nearly enough compared to Lydiard’s three month suggestion, but I think with a high of 82 weekly miles, it was just enough to help keep the injury bug away.
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Below is my three month plan to build miles before I begin to execute technical workouts specific to my goal race in April. All of it is based on time with strength work executed on the same days as longer run days, but never on Saturday when I tackle the longest runs for the week. Forty-five minute runs are recovery runs followed by a stretching routine. During each non-recovery run I’ll have a form focus for at least 30 mins.(high knee, toe off, arm swing, upright, etc). Recovery miles will be run at least 30 seconds slower than my aerobic pace (8:15-8:30). Sundays I’ll most likely swim or do yoga (yeah, we joined a gym).

10/14 – 10/20 10/21 – 10/27 10/28 – 11/3 11/4 – 11/10
Monday 90 90 90 120
Tuesday 60 45 45 45
Wednesday 90 120 120 120
Thursday 45 45 45 45
Friday 60 90 90 90
Saturday 120 120 120 135
Sunday 45 45 45 45
Total 8.5hrs 9hrs15mins 9hrs45mins 10hrs
11/11 – 11/17 11/18 – 11/24 11/25 – 12/1 12/2 – 12/8
Monday 120 120 120 150
Tuesda 45 45 45 45
Wednesday 120 120 120 150
Thursday 45 45 45 45
Friday 90 90 90 90
Saturday 150 150 180 180
Sunday 45 45 45 45
Total 10hrs15mins 10hrs15mins 10hrs45mins 11hrs45mins
12/9 – 12/15 12/16 – 12/22 12/23 – 12/29 12/30 – 1/5
Monday 150 150 150 150
Tuesday 45 45 45 45
Wednesday 150 150 180 180
Thursday 45 45 45 45
Friday 90 90 90 90
Saturday 180 210 210 210
Sunday 45 45 45 45
Total 11hrs45mins 12hrs15mins 12hrs45mins 12hrs45mins
Monday legs/back
Wednesday arms/core
Friday chest/shoulder
Sunday cross train
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