Lacking Motivation

Two weeks ago I sprained my ankle playing Ultimate and since then I have lacked motivation to train.  To try and get out of my funk, I did what any other red-blooded American would do, I went shopping.  Bring it on, Amazon.  Check out the new kicks I got…

Speedcross 3

All I can say is that these shoes are AWESOME.  After doing every race in my Brooks Glycerin 10s–which are great running shoes–I knew that I wanted the added traction of trail runners.  Strap a pair of these on and you’ll feel like you could run up the cliffs of Dover.  The Salomon Speedcross 3 is an adventure racer’s shoe for sure, light-weight, superior traction, speed lacing system and, well, just look at them!

The best thing about new gear is that it makes you want to go  and try it out.  So, if you’re lacking motivation, bust out that credit card and buy something.  You’ll be supporting our consumer driven economy and whipping your sorry butt into shape at the same time.  And that’s what I call a double win.

I plan on using these during the Dixie Conquest on Saturday.  Saturday!  Man, I am dreading this race.  It is 10 hours long and, like I said, my training has been lacking.  After the race, I’ll write up a longer review of the shoes and let you know how they did.  Thursday I might even give a brief write up of the pack we just purchased in preparation for the 30-hr Atomic.  It’s SWEET!

For those of you that may not have heard of Ultimate–the greatest game ever–here are some highlights from the 2013 MLU Season.

 

Ultimate Direction – PB Adventure Vest 2.0 Review

Peter Bakwin wanted a pack that could do anything from running to hiking, climbing to skiing. Featuring 11 L of volume and a variety of features, The Ultimate Direction Adventure Vest 2.0 allows you to stay hydrated and comfortable on any size adventure from quick outings to all-day expeditions.

UD Adventure Vest

After running our first few races in an old Camelbak that I retained from my Air Force days, and tired of the way it flopped around on my back while running, I wanted to find a better fitting hydration pack.  I knew I wanted the pack to be small and light weight for sprint-style races (5-12 hours), but I also wanted it to be large enough to hold a few items such as a rain jacket, Clif Bars, Energy Gels, etc.  We recently bought my wife a Nathan Intensity Vest that she loves and I was intrigued by the running vest concept.  After looking on the internet for a while and reading plenty of reviews, I settled on the Ultimate Direction PB 2.0 Adventure Vest.  The reviews for the original Peter Bakwin Adventure Vest were very good and I knew that Ultimate Direction was coming out with the 2.0 version so I waited and waited until it became available.  And let me tell you, it was worth the wait.

UD Adventure Vest back

For one, the vest just looks awesome.  I know you hardcore adventure racers don’t care about looking awesome, we run around in tights for goodness sake, but who wants an ugly pack?  Not me.  The most important thing to me was fit.  I wanted something that didn’t slosh around on my back and yet didn’t chafe.  Out of the box, this vest fit perfectly.  I’m 5’10” 160lbs with a 38″ chest and putting the pack on was like slipping into my favorite pair of socks.  It just hugs the body comfortably.  You can see how it sits on the body from the image below:

UD Pissed Off Dude

Now, I don’t know why this guy looks so pissed off, when I put on the vest I was all smiles, I just knew it was going to work great.  Who’s the happy adventure racer in the picture below…that’s right, this guy!

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The way that the vest sits higher on the torso means that it doesn’t get in the way when you run, cycle, or paddle.  In fact, during our training days that can last up to 6 hours and during the races that we’ve done, the vest is barely noticeable.  There are compression straps and adjustment straps all over the vest that allow the wearer to customize the fit to their body and depending on the pack contents.  I thought that having the bottles in front might be strange, but it wasn’t.  For my pack, I opted for the optional hydration pack so I have 70 ounces of water in the back and 2, 20 ounce bottles in the front that I usually fill with Gatorade.  I really like the hydration options this vest allows.  We’ve run races where we had just the bladder in the back with water and after about 3-4 hours, I needed something with flavor.  Plus, with extra bottles on my bike or in my gear bin, I can quickly replenish during transitions.

Closeup

The vest is loaded with pockets and I really like how they snuck in a few pockets for Gel packs right by the water bottles.  You can access the side pockets with a little contortion of the body but to access the rear pouch, you’ll have to take the vest off.

The build quality of the vest is top-notch and it is very similar in quality as the Nathan vest my wife has.  From the Ultimate Direction website:

  • Silnylon 66: Impregnating nylon with Silicon and Polyurethane creates this permanently waterproof fabric, and also substantially increases its seam and tear strength.
  • Hex Mesh: The Hex Mesh vest structure is completely breathable, extremely strong, and lightweight. Its inability to absorb moisture results in a drier, more comfortable wear.
  • Power Mesh: All pockets are strong and stretchy, made with heavy duty 340gm Power Mesh stretch fabric so the vest expands as you need it.

I can confirm that the vest is extremely breathable.  Since we train and race in Florida, this is very important.  The grey material is extremely stretchy but tough, so a lot can be packed into the pockets and pouch.  I haven’t been caught in the rain yet, so I can’t speak on how waterproof the fabric is.  I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before I can report on that.

bottle

The vest comes with 2, 20-ounce water bottles with a “Kicker Valve.”  Funny thing about the kicker valve is that I didn’t know how they worked when I first got the vest.  Seems you have to pull really hard on the red squishy part until it pops out, then suck and squeeze the bottle.  Kick the red part to one side and it pops back down, creating a leak-proof seal.

bladder

The optional 70 ounce bladder is very nice with a bite valve and fold-over top closure.  I’m a big fan of the fold-over top closure as I find it is easier to fill than the screw on tops and also easier to clean.  You can also unplug the hose, leaving it threaded through the vest for bladder refills.

Negatives:

  1. The hydration bladder is a pain to put in the pack when full although the side zipper really helps.  This really isn’t a big issue for me as I only fill it once before the race and with the additional bottles I have plenty of fluids.  I wouldn’t use the vest for long races +12 hours where I would need to refill the bladder since I don’t think the pack would be large enough to carry the extra gear I would carry.  But, I do like how there is a slot for the bladder and it can be held in place with internal compression cords.
  2. Price.  I think the vest alone is pricey and when you add in the optional hydration bladder (yes, you have to pay for this) then the pack gets down right expensive.  Given the high-end materials, the build quality and the overall form, fit and function of this vest, I think it’s worth it.

I plan on updating this review as I use the vest more.  If anyone has any questions, just post them in the comments section and I’ll update the post.

For now, I am extremely happy with the vest and very glad I waited to get it.

4/24/2014 Update – I have now used the Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest 2.0 while training for the past 1.5 months and I have used it during 2 adventure races, one was 6 hours long and the other was 10 hours long.  The vest has worked flawlessly and the more I wear it, the more I love it.  So far I haven’t found anything wrong with it at all and it continues to exceed my expectations with regard to comfort and utility.  For the 10 hour race, I strapped my rain jacket to the outside and carried a number of gel packs, cliff bars, and other snacks in the pockets.  I also carried my mobile phone in a waterproof container (safety requirement).  At times I wish the vest was slightly bigger, but then I would just fill it up with stuff I didn’t really need.  The small size makes me keep the contents down to the bare necessities and that makes me lighter and faster.I have yet to refill the internal bladder while racing because between the bladder and the external bottles I have had plenty of fluids.  I imagine that summer races in Florida may drive me to refill the bladder mid race, we’ll see.  So far, I have to conclude that you can not go wrong with this pack.  During the races, I hardly notice that I am wearing the pack.  The fit is perfect and it doesn’t flop around like my CamelBak used to.  I am 5′ 10″, 160lbs, medium build and wear a 38-40 jacket for size reference. I bought a M/L vest.

Round the Bay Relay and Ultra

LogoSince we missed the Turkey Burn AR and there weren’t any adventure races close to us between now and the Resolution AR in January, we decided to sign up for the Round the Bay Relay and Ultra.  Stu was visiting his family in south Florida and couldn’t make it, so we ran it as a 2-person relay.  The day prior to the race, the forecast called for 100% rain with up to 1 inch per hour and temps in the low 50’s.  Let’s just say that neither Ana nor I were very excited by this.  We live in Florida so we don’t do cold weather very well and we consider anything less than 70 degrees to be cold.  We made a late night decision to run to Columbia at Silver Sands Outlet to look for rain gear that we could wear during the race.  Ana got a sweet deal on the Compounder rain jacket and I chose the Tech Attack.  There are some really nice benefits to living close to an outlet mall as the prices were much lower than retail.  We also scored some new gloves.  Paired with our Under Armour cold gear that we got before Tough Mudder, we were set.

Our start time was 6:30AM.  The race course started at Fudpucker’s on Okaloosa Island and made a giant loop around Choctawhatchee Bay for a total distance of 36.77 miles.

map

Luckily for us, the forecasted downpour stayed away.  While it drizzled the whole race and the temps started in the 40’s, the weather was much better than it could have been.

I thought that the relay format was a lot of fun and we look forward to doing it again next year but with a team rather than a pair.  Not because the mileage is too much, but rather because we think doing it as a team relay will make it a lot more fun.

I don’t have our official time but looking at the Runtastic GPS time, it appears that we averaged an 8:30 mile pace, which for us is pretty good.  The best part is that supposedly we burned 2550kcal each and so I feel no shame having eaten the pizza, beer and Oreos post race.

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The Bestest Present Evah!

scalefromhellThe other day I gave my wife the bestest present evah!  I was so excited about it that I couldn’t wait until Christmas to give it to her so I gifted it a few days early.  I mean, who wouldn’t want a digital scale for Christmas?  Look at this thing, it’s stainless steel with blue backlighting…BLUE BACKLIGHTING!  I could see the tears of joy in her eyes as I told her how it measures not only one’s weight but also one’s body fat percentage.  Now, every morning we can instantly see how much fat our bodies are composed of…freakin’ awesome!  I couldn’t tell exactly what she was saying as she got in the car and drove away, but I’m sure she was so grateful that she was rushing off to WalMart to find my special Christmas present.  She didn’t have to knock over my new bicycle on her way out, but I guess that’s what love and excitement will do to someone.  I’m sure she’ll be back any minute now.

The main reason that I wanted to get a new scale was because I just finished reading, “Racing Weight: How to Get Lean for Peak Performance” by Matt Fitzgerald and one of his recommendations is to track one’s body fat percentage.  His main premise is that performance, i.e. speed, strength and endurance are optimized when athletes obtain their ideal racing weight.  Yes, I know, not quite the earth shattering discovery.  The book also gives diet and exercise recommendations for obtaining one’s ideal racing weight and also gives examples of the body fat percentage of elite athletes.  Now, I am in no way an elite athlete, nor will I ever be–beer, pizza, and chocolate being three reasons that quickly come to mind.  But, I am interested in increasing my endurance and speed, so I got really interested in finding out and tracking my body fat percentage with the hope of reducing it to a level that is optimal for performance without becoming a drag to maintain given my lifestyle.  The easiest way to monitor one’s body fat percentage is by using a digital scale that uses bioelectrical impedance to estimate it.

But, here’s one thing that you should know, it seems that all of these scales are incorrect and measurements made by the same person can fluctuate greatly depending on the time of day, amount of water one has consumed, wetness of your feet, planetary alignment, and a host of other things.  So why buy one of these scales?  Because, if the measurements are taken under nearly identical conditions; first thing in the morning, before eating or drinking and after using the bathroom, it is possible to get a good trend analysis.  So, even though the scale may say my body fat percentage is 17%, which it does–stupid, lying machine!  If I consistently take measurements over time, I should be able to see whether I am losing body fat or not.  Plus, it is a good motivator for me.  So, if you get a chance, read Matt’s book, get yourself a new scale, and start working on obtaining your racing weight for peak performance.

Oh, one more thing.  It seems that people tend to really underestimate their body fat percentage.  Here are two really cool website that talk about that:

Their suggestion is that the easiest way to estimate body fat percentage is to compare your own physique with photos of people with known body fat compositions.  So, here are a few pictures blatantly stolen from their website.

malebodyfat11menbodyfat2womenbodyfat1womenbodyfat3

Hey, thanks for noticing my picture in the middle of the top row.  Next time I won’t use so much bronzer.

Training Day

Team Disoriented hit Eglin AFB range today for some multi-sport training.  We didn’t have time to do any canoeing so we opted for trail running and biking.  While the grandparents watched the boys, we headed out to Timberlake for a couple of hours.  Since we didn’t know the area that well, we decided to run the mountain bike trails that we would later attempt to ride.  Unfortunately, Timberlake isn’t very well marked and it was somewhat difficult knowing where we were supposed to go until we stumbled upon the Stinky Creek trail, which was emblazoned with pink markers.  It was a lot of fun to run the trails as we have mainly ran on the street during our training.  I’m pretty much like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz when it comes to flexibility so running the trails was definitely a good workout for my knees.represent

Following the 6-mile run, we decided to try some of the energy gel packs we bought before heading out on the bikes.  I’ve read that these are good to carry when doing endurance events and I wanted to try a few to find the ones we liked prior to our first major event.  On today’s menu we had: Lemon Sublime, Tri-Berry, JET Blackberry and Mandarin Orange all by Poo, I mean GU.  I can’t believe that people actually eat these things.  They have the consistency of honey and the taste of dish soap mixed with a pound of sugar.  I will say that they seemed to have worked well as I never felt fatigued during the 16 mile bike ride that followed our run.  I’m really hoping that we find a flavor or two that we like as I’m sure they work great.  We have about 8 more flavors to try…I can’t wait…really.

Poo

We finished our 16-mile dirt road ride on our new Trek bikes and I must say that they are great except for the seat, which after 5 miles felt like the seat had fallen off and I was riding on the post.  The 29-inch wheels ate up the miles with little effort and I felt like we were flying compared to our old Schwinns.  The shifts were precise, the brakes were awesome, but my bum was screaming, “Get off!”  We’ll be back at Bob’s Bicycle shop first thing on Monday to look for a granny seat.  For adventure racing, I figure it is better to be comfortable and the extra weight will be well worth it in the end (see what I did there).

After the dirt track ride, we had a little time to kill before taking the boys to soccer practice so we decided to ride the trail we had ran a couple of hours earlier.  We set off and everything was going really well but I could instantly tell that the 29er was not as nimble as the 26er that we were used to.  I think that once we get used to the bigger bikes, and trail riding in general, that the 29er will handle just as well.

Ana and I were riding through the woods and we came across this big drop off.  I make it through fine and looked back in time to see Ana doing her best Superman impression, the bike was on the ground and she’s flying through the trees with her arms outstretched.  Luckily, she didn’t hit any trees or roots.  Most importantly, the bike wasn’t hurt at all.  I’m kidding.

crash

Ana handled it really well but we were out of time to ride any more, so we packed up our pride and headed home.  We’ll be back next week with our granny seats to tackle that drop off again.

Team Disoriented sponsors Trek

After many days and nights of indecision, Team Disoriented finally decided to contributed heartily to the financial well-being of Trek bikes.  This afternoon, Ana and I went to Bob’s Bicycles and asked the sales guy, Mike, if the shop would like to sponsor the awesomest adventure racing team in Northwest Florida by donating two X-Caliber 8 bikes to the team.  In hindsight I think Mike handle the situation quite well by laughing for only 15 minutes.  Once he stopped, we were able to work out an agreeable price and he was even kind enough to hand me a fire extinguisher to put out the flames on my credit card once the purchase was complete.  So there you have it, Team WalMart, I mean Team Disoriented has stepped up their game from this…

bike_old

to this…

bike_new

All kidding aside, Bob’s Bicycles is a great place to go if your looking for a new ride.  They have a great selection and really friendly staff to help you out.  No, we’re not sponsored by them, but we could be…wink wink 😉  If you go there, talk to Mike and tell him that Team Disoriented sent you.  He won’t know who the hell you’re talking about, but that’s what makes it funny.

Gearing up for the Turkey Burn AR

The Turkey Burn Adventure Race is 3 weeks away and we have been busy gearing up for it.  Since this will be our first night race, there was a lot of stuff that we needed to get…mainly lights.  I looked at a couple of different adventure racing team blogs to see what they were using and then I looked at my checking account and decided to go a different route.  I finally decided to go with all Fenix lights because they seemed to be quality made products that were within our budget.  Yes Ana, we actually have a budget.  Of course, having a budget and following a budget are entirely different things.

lighting

In the pic above you can see our new lights.  Aren’t they awesome!  Makes me want to go for a night run right now.  Well, maybe if it wasn’t so cold outside and I wasn’t so lazy.  Anyway, one of the reasons that I went with Fenix and chose these particular lights is because they all run on standard AA batteries.  I didn’t want to worry about recharging the batteries or finding exotic batteries during a race.  In addition, by selecting lights that all use AA, we can swap batteries between lights if necessary.

Fenix HL21 Headlamp – One per team member.  Small headlamp on the bike helmet.  Very light weight.  This is the light that we’ll carry on our heads most of the time whether running or biking so it needed to be small, light, and waterproof.  Easily mounts on the bike helmets.

Fenix HP25 Headlamp – One per team.  Large headlamp with the battery pack.  This is the light that the lead runner/biker will wear when the conditions call for additional lighting.  The other team members will follow behind using their small lights.  Has individual controls for spot or flood.

Fenix BT10 Bike Light – One per team member.  Small lamp with battery pack.  Dual distance beam provides simultaneous illumination for near and far objects.  The bike light also comes with a mount to let it be used as a helmet light.

Fenix LD41 Flashlight – One per team.  Small flashlight.  521 lumens and waterproof, this is the torch we’ll be bringing out when we’re looking for those difficult to find checkpoints.  This is a really bright light that uses AA batteries.  Fenix has a new variant that is even brighter, at 680 lumens, but it has less run time–so I opted for this one.

So far, I am very pleased with these lights but I must admit that we haven’t used them much.  In the next few weeks we should give them a run for their money and, after the Turkey Burn AR, I’ll do a review to let you know what worked and what didn’t.  If Fenix would like to positively influence this future write-up, Team Disoriented is taking donations of cash or gear and I can provide the appropriate shipping address…I’m kidding of course.

(wink…wink…IM me).