Fuel Belt Review

The other day, I had to switch cars for a week with Stephanie as hers was in the repair shop (my father's repair shop, to be precise).  One disadvantage to switching cars is that when it comes to triathlon training, you're really switching locker rooms.  That means bike helmet, cleats, pump, swim fins, gloves and hand pump. It also meant taking my Nathan two-bottle running belt. Somewhere between the time I took that belt and the time I got my car back, Nathan decided to up and leave me.  I'm pretty sure it had something to do with my GYST transition backpack I've been toting around -- looking like a tiny second-grader in the process.  The Nathan belt has a generous amount of Velcro and likes to attach itself to clothing or anything else nearby.  I'm pretty sure Nathan hitched a ride on the GYST Express and got off somewhere in my work parking lot.

Which leads me to Wildflower long-course triathlon, a little less than a week away. It's going to be hot that day.  Real hot.  Wildflower is the kind of place where 80 degrees will feel like 90.  So I'll need a hydration system of some kind for the dusty, sweltering run.  My wave starts at 8:35 a.m, meaning I'll be on the trails starting around noon, the heat of the day.

I chose to experiment with the Fuel Belt R30 for two reasons. First, the store I went to (Runnergy in Sherman Oaks) didn't have a Nathan three or four-bottle belt in my size.  Second, I've found that for two-hour runs or longer, a two-bottle Nathan belt (approximately 10 ounces per bottle) doesn't contain enough fluid for me to stay fully hydrated.  I need at least three bottles.

The R30 Fuel Belt gives me an extra 4 ounces overall, with each bottle being slightly smaller (8 ounces) though.  The challenge with a three-bottle system, at least with this Fuel Belt, is that all three bottles are positioned on the back part of my hips or directly on my backside.  That's inefficient from a running perspective and threw off my gait when I first tried using the belt this past Friday during my Griffith Park long run.

Further, the Fuel Belt has only a small square pouch on the right side for keys and possibly one folded gel.  You can add additional storage on the belt, but of course you're gaining further weight.  That's a touchy trade off.

I'm not that impressed with the R30 Fuel Belt.  The bottles aren't removed easily from their plastic holders, unlike my old trusty Nathan belt.  The Fuel Belt plastic almost feels more rigid, so that if you don't place the bottle correctly in the holder it won't slide into place. This was especially frustrating for me as I found myself twisting my hips and back more mid-stride focusing on putting the bottle(s) back instead of where I was going.  That's not safe on trails!

In short, I miss my Nathan belt.  If I could place a "Missing" sign with a reward for it, I would. I'll likely use the Fuel Belt at Wildflower because it's better to have extra liquids there, but after that I plan to return the Fuel Belt and wait patiently for a properly sized Nathan three- or four-bottle system to arrive in the store.

63 days and counting (re-calibrated to sync with the actual race day!)

Smarter, not Harder

Before I get started, my latest Lava Magazine Online column is now live.  It's all about defining and overcoming the Off-Season Training Blues (OTSB).  Tried to have some fun with it.  Hope you enjoy, and if you do, please don't be shy about passing it around the internet!  Here's the link Onto today.  Yesterday, I mentioned I was going to cram some killer workouts in today before my Las Vegas business trip.  Well, in baseball terms I was 2-3.  I ran for an hour on the treadmill at my office complex gym, slogging through 5x3 minute hill repeats in HR zone 5b.  That left me absolutely drenched in sweat, not to mention the treadmill.  It also served as a great warmup for my personal strength training session with Shannan.  She led me through a battery of agility drills designed to improve strength and flexibility in my hips and glutes.

At the end of both workouts this morning, I could feel myself getting stronger.  I feel like I've turned a corner in my training.  Despite my current hectic schedule, I do believe the worst is over in my recovery period -- mentally and physically.  While my speed may not be what I'd like at the moment, my form is improving and my legs seem more resilient.  That is a great sign.

This form of progress also allowed me to be more pragmatic in my training approach for tonight's scheduled Fortius swim.  After a long day of meetings -- OK one meeting that lasted seven hours -- I realized I just didn't have much left in the tank for a grueling coached swim workout.  I spoke with Gerardo, and we both agreed I should postpone it until tomorrow, moving my cycling time trial to next week.

That's the thing about training for a second Ironman though.  It's not about training harder, as was the case in my first Ironman odyssey, it's about training smarter.  I find that with the limited time I have now, I'm listening to my body even more.  If I don't feel like training, I try to motivate and push myself to rally. But I can sense the difference between fatigue and exhaustion.  The former feels like laziness or a lack of enthusiasm to push myself. The latter feels like an inability to do so even if I wanted to.

That's how tonight felt. So, I came home, packed my bags for another trip, and hung out with my lady.

The night ended on another positive note.  My review Newtons finally arrived!  I've been looking forward to this day for weeks.  I'm going to try the Sir Isaacs stability line.  They're pictured here.  What I immediately noticed was the increased rubber on the sole in the forefoot area, along with the...ahem...bold peach/orange colors.  Whether it's from an awkward stride or the coloring of the shoes, people will see me rockin' my Newtons from near or far.  I'll be taking notes in the coming weeks and month and will share my impressions via Lava Magazine Online.  Of course, you'll be the first to know when the story hits.

Off to bed, and another crazy day draws to a close.

133 days and counting.

What's the Catch?

Shannan, a genius of a personal trainer whom I credit for first whipping me into shape a couple years ago, gave me a magic pill the other day. Not that magic pill.

The pill is called beta alanine.  Apparently, it's an amino acid that helps build muscle, reduce fat and provides prolonged energy.

What's the catch?

Shannan swears by it, and I didn't find anything "bad" about beta alanine online.  You have to careful how many pills you take because too many can cause tingling of the fingertips and thinned blood flow.  Yesterday prior to my run/lift workout, I took a beta alanine pill.  This morning, 12 hours later, I had a lot more energy than usual when I dove into the pool.  I sustained that energy throughout the workout, and after a brief 20 minute powernap I spun on the trainer for another hour.  It wasn't until around noon today that I started to come down from my energy high.  No major crash. No jitters.  No side effects other than being wide awake at 5 a.m. after 6.5 hours sleep, resulting in a half hour of checking work emails prior to swimming.  Usually I need to be kicked out of bed -- almost literally -- by Steph at around 5:45 a.m.


Normally I'd say yeah.  But who wants to get out of bed at 5?  And I didn't know that prolonged energy was a beta alanine side effect until I emailed Shannan this morning.

Growing up, I was taught to believe that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

So what's the catch here?  I felt great, my heart rate didn't explode, I enjoyed sustained energy and better productivity and wasn't jittery in any way.  I'm asking around to see what other people know about beta alanine.  I'm afraid to keep using it as if it was a narcotic.  Something this seemingly helpful can't be good for you.  Can it?

I will probably pop another beta alanine tomorrow an hour before my Griffith Park brick.  I'll let you know how it goes. If anyone out there in blog land has experience with beta alanine, please let me know.

116 days and counting.

Wake Up Call

Well, I won't make that mistake again. "That mistake" was misinterpreting Coach Gerardo's directions this morning during the bike portion of our Vineman simulation brick workout.  At the first climb in Hidden Valley on Portrero Road (just shy of Sly Stallone's place), Gerardo indicated that once I got to the crest, I should come immediately back.  I thought he meant the crest of the entire climb, which would have been the peak of Portrero Road before the steep and tricky descent into Camarillo.

In hindsight, I realize how silly this logic was.  But, I was in a cycling groove, hypnotized by a consistent pedal cadence and from riding largely by myself -- though my teammates were nearby.  It's at those moments when I'm truly in a cycling trance.  Not really thinking about anything important, but rather the ride itself.  How I'm feeling, how the ride is going, what's next whether climb, flat or descent.

I had only realized my mistake when I returned from the second Portrero peak and didn't see teammates Jason, Richard or Karen anywhere, let alone Mike's sag vehicle.  It then became a frenzied solo journey back to Las Virgenes Road and Mullholland Drive.  To make matters worse, my cell phone died.  I didn't place it in the usual Ziplock baggie, and I finally paid the ultimate price.  While the phone itself turns on, it resets itself the moment I try to dial a phone number or punch in any key, for that matter.

Finally, after an added nine miles and 20 minutes of pedaling, I rejoined Mike, quickly changed clothes and ran into Malibu Creek State Park for a 6.6 mile workout.  The time was after noon, and this was designed to simulate the expected hot and sunny conditions we'll face at Vineman 70.3 in a couple weeks.  To better combat the elements, I tried a pair of DeSoto arm coolers.  It's hard to say whether they had a physical effect, but my arms were certainly cooler and my heart-rate remained closer to 160 bpm (low zone 4) compared to the upper 160s it had been while training in 90-degree-plus weather in Arizona.  I completed the running loop, which took me through rocks, creeks, scrub, and dust to the base of the Bulldog Trail, in just about 1:05:00.  It wasn't the fastest pace, but it wasn't the easiest terrain.

Like it or not thoughm, I'm about as ready as I'm going to be for a Half-Ironman.  I remember thinking during the run that the discomfort I was feeling at the end of the run is only going to be compounded on race day. Especially since I'd need to bang out another 6.5 miles before finishing, not to mention adding a 1.2 mile swim and nine more miles to my bike ride.

So while the physical aspects of today's training session were valuable, the most valuable aspect by far was the metaphorical splash of cold water on my ego that just because I can fare well in an Olympic distance triathlon...we're about to enter completely new territory.  What I've done in the past does not matter one bit at a Half-Ironman.

Wake up call received.

Just not from my defunct cell phone.

137 days and counting.

Hammerin' the Conejo

This morning, Team Fortius participated in the 26th annual Cruisin' the Conejo bike ride across the Conejo Valley.

My ride was closer to "Hammerin' the Conejo."  The whole cruising part just didn't work out so well today.  Not that you're really surprised.

The ride was a last-minute (but very welcome) addition to our training schedule.  And to get it out of the way up front, I recommend this ride for anyone looking to see the Conejo Valley at its finest.  The route is fairly easy for riders of all levels. We didn't do a ton of climbing, most of the ride was flat, the wind was moderate and the temperature never got hire than the upper 70s. The rest stops, course marking and organizers are first-rate.  And as far as organized group rides in Southern California, I'd definitely put it ahead of the Cool Breeze Century in Ventura.

David, my teammate and friend (and sports massage therapist) and I chose the 68-mile "moderate" metric century, which would take us from Newbury Park to Westlake, into Oxnard, Camarillo, through Moorpark and my hometown of Simi Valley and back to Thousand Oaks/Newbury Park.  The climbing was moderate, but the pace was not.

We started the ride at 8 knowing we needed to be back in Los Angeles by 2 p.m. since David had a massage client at 3:30.  We knew we'd make our deadline if we were efficient on the bike.  Had we not had places to be and things to do, I think today's ride would have been a lot more mellow.  That, and David had a friend, John, who joined us.  John was a big guy who, in David's words, "liked to go fast."  I didn't realize how fast until we quickly lost at least three packs of riders on the course with us.

In fact, literally not one person passed all three of us for an extended period.  And, of course, my competitive side coming out BIG-TIME, absolutely nobody passed me on the course during my ride.  Once we realized we were among the best cyclists on the course, David, John and I made a friendly gentlemen's pact that nobody would pass us.  All day.  My kind of challenge.  Our piss-and-vinegar approach manifested itself the most during a roughly 10-mile stretch on Las Posas Road coming from Camarillo into Moorpark.  We formed a pace line and seriously hammered.  Coach Gerardo will see this soon enough via my Garmin 310x data, but let me just note up front I spent way more time than I should have in zone 5 on the heart-rate monitor.  I was in a cycling trance today.  That's the only way to describe it.  When I expressed my concern to David that maybe we were pushing too hard, he calmly noted that "it's good to get in a little speed work every once in a while."

Noted.  And check.

We took the pedal off the metal in Moorpark and into Simi Valley, where I had a visitor pop by to say hello: My father. He met us on the same road I used to bike as a kid with a Haro mountain bike when I'd gather the nerve to venture from Simi into the next time.  I remember vividly those afternoons with Frank and Jeremy, when we'd think we were practically like Magellan wondering if the world was indeed flat.  What's beyond the next town? What if we don't make it back by dark?  What if we get a flat tire?  Oh, the excitement!  Oh, how it was only 13 miles yet felt like 68.

Oh, how nice it was to ride on that road again for the first time in 20 years and think about how far I've come, and how lucky I was to be able to enjoy such a moment with my dad.

After Dad left, we ambled up Olsen Road and battled a headwind before rallying for the last stretch down Thousand Oaks Boulevard and onto Hillcrest Drive.  One rider in an Amgen kit tried to stay with John and me.  I was having none of it.  Not that far into the ride without having anyone pass.  This guy tried to pass me twice and on both occasions I floored it, the second time looking directly at him, smiling and saying "nice push" before dusting him the final two miles into the parking lot.

We rode 68 miles in just about 3:46, or an 18 mph pace.  We were on our road bikes since it was a group ride, so I'm very eager to give my TT bike a go and see if I can improve upon that, minus the elevated heart-rate.

I know I need to curb this competitive fire right now.  I've got so many more months of training and it's all about pacing and patience.

But I just couldn't help myself today.  Fortunately, there were some great recovery tools available at the end of the race...err...tour.  I was stretched out by a chiropractor truck and then David, John and I were treated to electro-therapy for 15 minutes to restore blood flow to our aching leg muscles.  What a trip!  My legs looked like they had a mind of their own the way they were dancing from all the electricity pulsating through them.  But I can say it worked.  My legs feel fine, and I can also partially attribute that to the 2XU compression calf sleeves I wore on the ride.  I can definitely tell a difference now when I wear them in terms of recovery and stability in my legs.  It might be a little mental (hey, so am I!), but I swear the compression tech works.

It had better.  I've got a swim with the LA Tri Club tomorrow along with a 1.75 hour running session.  I will have to take it a little easy on the run, I'm sure.

Unless someone faster tries to pass me.

Just kidding, Gerardo.  Kind of.

201 days and counting.

Bit By Bit

When I was a kid, I was forced to endure my mother's obsession with all things Barbara Streisand. That meant seeing Yentl.  In theaters.

It meant listening to the soundtrack.  Over. And. Over.

And over again.

It meant listening to every Babs song ever made on road trips, and heaven forbid a quiet Sunday afternoon at home, because that meant watching KTLA-TV's movie of the week if Streisand was starring.

Oh, how that woman tortured me with her nasally charm.

I thought I had put those memories out of my head, but then along came this morning's Fortius team swim.

Once again, Coach Gerardo flooded me with information about all the things I'm doing wrong in my stroke.  (Side note: That's his job. I love the feedback!)  It was one thing after another following each set of intervals.  Cross-swimming. Not rotating the arms. Not gliding enough off the turn-kick. Reaching wider on each stroke. Stop clenching my hands entering the water.  Relax on the recovery stroke.

I'd fix one aspect and break another.  Then, I started to look like a mechanical bot on each stroke, trying to fix everything at once but instead looking like C3-PO trying to run (not a pretty sight).

As I started to get the hang of all these tweaks towards the end of the workout, Gerardo had me swim one more 100-yard set, this time all-out.  I was getting frustrated prior to that point because my 100's were consistently at 1:50 even though I was supposed to be increasing speed from 2:00 down to 1:45 over a set of four 100s.

I think Gerardo was getting frustrated too.

Then, I took off.  Everything clicked!  I glided along the water.  Almost effortlessly.  Almost.  I built speed and power with each 25, though my effort/output level remained largely the same.

And out of nowhere, a friggin' Barbara Streisand song popped into my head!  Seriously! I don't know the actual name of the song, but it's the one that has these lyrics: "Bit by bit, putting it together..."

Honestly, that's all I know.

Sorry mom.  But I'm serious.

I was building confidence with each lap while that annoying song was embedded in my noggin'. On the final lap, the music in my head grew louder as did the power of my stroke.

I hit the wall hard and leaped up to see the giant electronic clock confirm what I felt...a new personal record!

100 yards in 1:37.  I think I hit 1:40 once but I've certainly never broken through the 1:30s.  This also explains my Newport Beach Triathlon pace of 1:40 (wetsuit-aided, of course).

Gerardo looked at the time, and looked at me.

"Why did you make me work so hard for that?"

I couldn't help but laugh.  My teammates cheered me in the next lane, including Megan, our team's swim coach.

It was a nice moment.  Probably a little more special than the others I've enjoyed so far.  Hopefully it signals a breakthrough.

Putting it together.  Bit by bit.  I knew all those years putting up with Babs would pay off somehow.


Speaking of pay-offs, I had another nice one today courtesy of Jack Black Men's Grooming Products.  Thanks to Stephanie, I use this stuff every day.  Especially the All-Over soap, Beard Lube for shaving and Face Moisturizer after coming out of the pool.  Jack Black (not related to the actor, thank goodness) makes premium skin care products for men that truly are a cut above the competition.  The soaps, creams and ointments are good for your skin and work really well.

Jack Black was a sponsor of the Newport Beach Triathlon and had a booth at packet pick-up.  I visited with them and proclaimed my love for their lineup and how it's a perfect fit for triathletes.  (What a coincidence, since that's why Jack Black is sponsoring triathlon events.) The company recently released a new line of performance-based products geared towards athletes, including muscle rubs.  I bought the muscle rub product and applied for a raffle to win the full lineup.

Today, I got a call from Jack Black HQ telling me I won.  So, on top of a great morning in the pool, I had good fortune at my back.  This really offset the news that I wasn't selected in the Kona Ironman lottery for 2010.  I knew I didn't have much of  a chance, but a guy can dream, right?

My Jack Black prize pack should arrive in the mail early next week.  I'll let y'all know how I like everything.  Based on past experience, I'm sure it will be soothing, smell great and feel even better.

Man, this might be the most metro-sexual post I ever write.  Barbara Streisand?  Skin care products?

Surely there's a place for us crazy triathletes.

Sorry, couldn't resist.

223 days and counting.

Weekend Holiday

Why, hello Saturday!  I had almost forgotten what you looked like! Instead of the usual Ironman training regimen, I had an off day in preparation for tomorrow morning's 20-mile run from Universal City to Chinatown for the Firecracker 10k.  Here's a peek at the route.

To celebrate my morning of relaxation, I did what any reasonable person would do: I slept.  And slept.  Then, I slept some more.  Until about 10:45 a.m.  I needed that!

The rest of the day was fairly decadent, especially with the constant schedule I've maintained since this past November.  I enjoyed perhaps one of my all-time favorite breakfasts at Larchmont Bungalow.  People, you must try their Best of Both Worlds pancakes and brioche French toast.  Of course, I added scrambled eggs and chicken-apple sausage to it for balance.

Feeling fat and sassy, I headed to downtown LA to register for the Firecracker 10k, since I hadn't done that yet.  Then, I jetted back to Encino to Phidippides, a popular running store.  I'm replacing my Amphipod runner's belt with a Nathan, since I couldn't ever quite get comfortable with the Amphipod fit.  I also purchased compression socks and shorts to experiment for tomorrow's run.  Full report coming post-race, of course.

The highlight of the day though came tonight, at the Safe at Home charity event featuring Dodgers manager Joe Torre and my boyhood hero (make that every Jewish kid's hero), Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax.  Despite knowing I'd get home late and have less sleep heading into tomorrow's run, I needed to hear Koufax tell stories about his career since he so rarely grants public interviews.  Several heavy hitters in Los Angeles apparently agreed, as former and current Dodger players, Hollywood directors and actors, helped pack a nearly full house.  One of my favorite sports writers, LA Times columnist TJ Simers, moderated.  Simers was as feisty and crotchety as ever, but Koufax never bit, displaying his signature wit and class throughout the discussion.

Hearing Koufax' tales of tenacity during a career filled with injury, scrutiny and mystery certainly inspired me.  I will remember the pain he must have endured pitching nearly 600 innings over the last two seasons of his career as I labor before sunrise tomorrow during my run.  I will recall that in order to become a champion, you can never lose sight of your goals, but the core of your personality is even more important.  I will internalize that you can win while keeping your head down and building others up, that nobody has to suffer at the hands of your own triumph.

Yeah, I'd say it was a pretty darned good Saturday.

And now, I fade off to sleep and dream of breaking another milestone tomorrow: my first 20-mile run.

I can't wait!

269 days and counting.

Rough Night

Special edition daytime blog post, courtesy of the President's Day holiday. Is it possible to bonk 12 hours after training?

I had a terrible night's sleep.  First off, I was hot.  Not room temperature hot from a sunny day in California.  Hot, because my body temperature felt like I had a fever.  I was so hot that I woke up, grabbed a Blue Ice bag and kept it affixed to the base of my neck until I cooled down.

I fell asleep with it on.

Then, two hours into my sleep I awoke due to hunger pangs.

Am I pregnant or something?  Seriously, this is what I ate yesterday:

-- Oatmeal with almonds and raisins, along with some Vega Omega-3 oil supplement

-- Clif Bar and energy gel shots

-- Banana

-- 36 ounces of Heed

-- 16 ounces of Recoverite

-- Three-egg cheese, onion and chicken-sausage omelet, with fruit, potatoes and bread

-- Two pieces of meatloaf

-- Sushi, and lots of it

-- Yogurtland (yum!), with lots of Oreos, berries and chocolate chips

Then, at 12:30 a.m., add a second banana.

Then, at 2 a.m., add a half Clif Bar.

Then, at 4 a.m., add the other half of said Clif Bar.

And I still LOST WEIGHT last night!  To the tune of about 2.5 pounds.

Well, I did burn through 6,000 calories in less than 48 hours.  Guess I didn't put back in 6,000 calories worth of nutrition. I sure as heck tried though!  I mean, there's only so much I can physically ingest before I have more traffic "downstairs" than the 405/5 Freeway interchange at rush hour.  I'm already making more pit stops than Danica Patrick in her first NASCAR season!

I'm down to my lowest weight since I've been training.  I'm concerned, to be honest.  I hate looking too thin.  It's a source of insecurity rooted deep in a childhood hanging out with bigger, taller, faster kids and trying to keep up with them on the soccer field, basketball or tennis court. Or at the school dance on a Friday night.

It wasn't easy being the runty but funny short kid that all the girls wanted to call their friend while they asked if I could set them up on dates with my friends.  That stays with you.

But lately, as in the past couple years, I finally felt like I achieved the physique I had always wanted. Toned.  Cut.  Muscular.

It shouldn't matter, not years later, but it was a welcome ego boost.

Unfortunately though, I've heard from one too many good friends in the past couple weeks who have noticed that I'm looking "thin."  This is code for, "Dude, eat something.  Like, now!"  Of course, other friends and even my family have commented that I've never looked better. But, when it comes to something as sensitive as appearances, I tend to hear the negative more than the positive.

It's a little deflating, to be honest.  I'm training so hard.  And I've been feeling so good.  Damn good!  I'm eating everything in sight. I'm trying to keep on the pounds.  But sometimes it's not working.  I think I'm going to go back to the Jay Robb Whey Protein and milkshakes every day.  I was avoiding them after the Brendan Brazier seminar and trying his healthy but awful-tasting Vega products.

Time to get back on the good stuff.

I'm supposed to enjoy an off day from training today following this past weekend's killer regimen.  But, I have a trip to Las Vegas planned for work this Wednesday through Friday.  That means lighter workouts but less time to fit them in.  So, I'm going to trudge to the pool now and do some easy swim recovery laps so I don't have to tomorrow.  That way, I can do my 1.25 hour cycling test tomorrow without worrying about a second workout.

Maybe I'll hit a buffet (or two) on the way back.  Or at least I know of a few in Vegas!

Got anything I can eat?  My fridge is now officially bare.

281 days and counting.

Oh Dark Thirty

My body is adapting to Ironman training. I can workout hard during the day, go to sleep a little later at night, and wake up earlier the next day.  Take today, for instance.  I woke up at 5:20 a.m.  Well-rested.  Refreshed.  Not groggy.  On seven hours' sleep.  When my training ramped up in intensity last month, I was sleeping eight to nine hours a night.

Since I was awake so early, I decided to make a push for the pool and cram two workouts back-to-back.  Two brick days in a row.  The swim portion was pretty tough: 2,600 yards with 300 warm-up, 500 drills and then three sets of five 100-yard intervals at T-pace.  Throw in a 300-yard cooldown swim for good measure.  During the intervals, I established a new personal record for fastest 100, 1:48.  My T-pace is usually between 2-2:05.

My buddy Dustin showed up early too, which was nice.  He's been busy with work lately so we got to catch up for a few minutes prior to my workout.  One of my Fortius teammates, Lisa, was also swimming.  She's a rockstar though and had greater distances than me to cover.

After the swim, I quickly swapped clothes and bundled up for a 45-minute interval run.  The main portion consisted of five three-minute intervals keeping my heart-rate between zone 4-5a (up to around 168 bpm).  It took a few intervals to get there, but I did.

I also tried out a new product today: injinji's Performance series tetrasok.  My friend and training partner, Ann, swears by them. So I figured I'd give them a shot. Picture running on mittens for your feet.  The socks are designed to reduce blisters and enhance traction, best used for trail running.  Outside of a little awkwardness trying to fit my little toes into each individual opening, the socks performed fine.  I'll wear them again this Sunday on our group run and share my thoughts.

The best part of the day though, as usual, had nothing to do with the training.  For months, I've been frustrated by not finding a way into the beautiful man-made lake park behind the Calabasas Tennis & Swim Center.  It had what looked to be the perfect running path, but the gates are always locked.  What to do?

I found the entrance inadvertently, by running a much longer path around a block and a new stretch of road I hadn't explored before.  There, I saw the true entrance to the park, with no gates!  At last, I could run with a tranquil morning view of lakefront homes, geese, ducks, swans and the mist rising off the lake.  A beautiful sight indeed (pictured).

Sometimes it takes a roundabout journey down unexpected paths to find the view you've been seeking.

Seems like a running theme lately.

285 days and counting.