Monday, April 29, 2013

Podcast - Mile 57 - Paper Towels

It feels nice to get back into podcasting. Now that my work schedule has relented a bit, I just might have the free time to get back to a weekly schedule. I know, I know, just what you didn't want to hear. Well too bad bitches, because this is for me. It's always about me.

This particular episode is just a usual ramble. I only remembered just now that I have a book or two to review so maybe I'll get those tracks laid shortly. Meanwhile, sit back, relax, and prepare to stab yourself in the ear. Hey, at least I didn't actually record myself taking a shit in the woods.

You can wipe yourself with this episode on Podbean or do it directly here.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Spring Has Sprung

Spring Has Sprung:
First run post @LWMtnUltraRun and it felt decent. My quads, hamstrings, and calves were still stiff and sore but I survived. Nothing too exciting along the way, just a pretty boring run. There have been a few reports of loose dogs but I saw nothing in the area that would be a cause for concern.


Temps started around 45F but warmed to 50F. The sun was out in full. Minor humidity. No wind.

Fluids and Fuel:
Breakfast was yogurt and coffee. During the run I had a bottle of water. Recovery was more coffee and a burrito.

Aches and Pains:
Other than sore legs, none really.

Took along my phone, GoPro, voice recorder, and a few other things. Wore my new T-Star Running Sniper shorts. Once I got them cinched up tight, they didn't fall down. Wore a long sleeve shirt that got a little too warm at the end. Also wore a gaiter as ear warmers but eventually took it off after the halfway point.

Took my large pepper spray and my knife. They traveled awesomely in my Sniper shorts and were easily accessible.

Mile 1 - 12:56
Mile 2 - 14:17
Mile 3 - 14:00
Finish - 41:15

Monday, April 22, 2013

Innaugural Leatherwood Mountains Ultra 50k Race Report

This past weekend I participated in yet another ultra run. My 6th 50k finish since starting in 2010. It was also my best and worst time. Back when I did my first 50k in 2010, I had practically no training and no knowledge of what to expect. I crashed early, started to walk, then got bad blisters before coming in with a time of 8:52. I was proud of that time, even though the course had maybe 500 feet of elevation gain. You could even put it at 1,000 feet to be safe if you wanted to. Fast forward a bit and I finish the Oil Creek 100k in 2012 with a time of 22:41. My first 50k split was about 9:30 and my second 50k split was about 13:15. But each loop of Oil Creek has about 5,500 feet elevation. Leatherwood has about 9,000 feet elevation for just the 50k. And that's a conservative estimate. So how does all this stack up? It means I toughed out a 50k course with more elevation than Oil Creek and pulled a respectable time out of my ass. Along with some mud.

The tough course is what makes this an attractive race. If you want to punish yourself, this is the place to do it. The views are great and compare to what I saw at Oil Creek. You're deep in the mountains and there's lots to look at, sadly though you spend a lot of time looking at your feet. I learned a lot about my training (I need to do more mountains), about race directing (seriously hard work), and about mental toughness (I finished).

Course Description
Okay, the course. It's hard. Seriously hard. Along the way I came up with a little slogan. You need to be tough as leather, hard as wood, and made of the mountains to finish Leatherwood Mountains. The course has hefty elevation, steep grades, and is pretty technical. Despite raining all day the day before, there were only a few sections with thick mud that made things tough, and most of those sections were downhill. There were about 6 to 8 stream crossings, but only three where you had to get wet. The others could be easily bypassed of jumped over. The trails were mostly horse trails, so fairly wide. There were also a few miles of gravel fire roads and some pavement. All around I was impressed with how dry the trail was after all the rain. Guess that's just proof that the hills were steep. The footing was sometimes rocky but mostly dirt. Only a few short sections were painfully rocky. The route was well marked and all the splits, aid stations, and turns were easy enough to navigate. You had a wrist band for each loop that told you what color ribbon you needed to look for. When I found a section I wasn't sure about, I looked around and almost always found a streamer that I had missed (once it was right above my head). Those rare times I saw no ribbon, I ran a few more feet and saw one. I never had to backtrack.

Aid Stations
There were two minor aid stations on the first loop, Bob's Branch and Split Rock. Both were well stocked but that early in the race you didn't need much. Rawhide, the third aid station was much larger and had plenty of things to choose from. The end of the first loop brought you back to the Start/Finish area at the stables and it was also well stocked and had everything you needed. The second loop put you through Rawhide twice more before going back to the finish. All in all, there was plenty of stuff and the volunteers were always helpful and nice. As usual, I limited my time there as much as possible until my last time through Rawhide where I actually sat down for about a minute before moving on.

Everyone that registered for a technical t-shirt and some ads in their bag. The 50k and 50 mile runners also got a pair of socks but no choice in sizes. Finishers got a pint glass. I have yet to see the photos but I'm sure they'll look great (even though we may not be smiling in the pictures). I didn't expect a lot of swag, especially for a first year race, but considering the price of the race and what you got, I think it's worth it.

In the middle of fucking nowhere. That's where the race is. If you do this race, I highly recommend you rent a cabin there. Well, they really aren't cabins as much as vacation homes. But rent one. Seriously. It took me a good 10 to 15 minutes to get from the house we were in to the bottom of the mountain where the restaurant/barn/start/finish area was. So unless you want to get up super-early and leave your hotel, get some friends together and stay in a house there at the Leatherwood Resort. Well worth it. The course is also in the middle of nowhere so don't expect a cell signal, GPS, or anything but radio to work. I could get cell service on the top of the mountain but not at the Start/Finish area. GPS worked in the mountains but without cell service, it was pretty useless. Despite it being in the middle of nowhere, you got to see some pretty country. Everybody waved to you and everyone was polite. You were very much in the South where tea is always sweet unless you ask for un-sweet.


Dinner the night before was tasty.

The start of the 50k.

Selfie before ...

... and after my fall.

Just some of the great views along the way.

And this was one of the three creeks you had to get wet crossing.

Temps were about 40F at the start and climbed to about 60F to 65F by midday before dropping to about 55F by the time I finished. The sun was out pretty much all day. The wind was moderate but would always come and go depending on which side of the hill you were on.

Fluids and Fuel:
Breakfast was toast and some coffee. During the race I had several bottles of Hammer Fizz, one bottle of double-strength Hammer Perpeteum, several Hammer Gels, lots of water, and two bottles of soda. I started the first loop (about 19 miles) with my hydration pack and two bottles. My second loop (about 12 miles) was just with handhelds. All of them worked out fine. Recovery was a beer followed by two giant burgers, two servings of fries, some TV, a shower, then bed. There was a hot tub available and I regret not using it but I was pooped.

Aches and Pains:
I'm stiff and sore after this one. Most likely because of the elevation but also because I skipped the hot tub. Really should have gotten in. Nothing really got injured but I did take a fall. Thankfully I landed in some soft mud instead of pointy rocks.

Like I said before, I started with my hydration pack then went with just handhelds. I wore my Altra Superior shoes and was impressed at how well they held up. They slid a bit more than my Lone Peaks did at the HAT 50k, but nothing terrible, just enough to notice. I started with arm sleeves, a buff, a winter hat, and gloves. The sleeves and hat came off quick enough and the gloves eventually followed. The buff stayed with me the whole time and alternated between keeping my ears warm early and late in the race and getting doused in water to cool my head during the afternoon.

N/A (I'm not testing during races)

Start to Bob's Branch - 1:30:30
Bob's Branch to Split Rock - 1:38:10
Split Rock to Rawhide - 1:35:42
Rawhide to Stables - 1:31:09
Stables to Rawhide - 1:31:54
Rawhide to Rawhide - 1:44:09
Rawhide to Finish - 1:19:06
Finish - 10:50:50

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Very distracted run this morning. Had a lot on my mind as I'm sure many other runners out there today. And while I could go on and on about my thoughts on Boston, nothing I say will be new or unique. It's already been said. Nothing I say will make a difference. It's already been done.

Went out to only Mile 3.5 because I just wasn't feeling it this morning. And I wanted to run on the other side of Comorn just to check out the trail. So I turned around and ran to Mile 4.5 before heading back to the parking lot. Nothing too exciting on the trail but I did manage to find a spike. I transplanted it to a safer spot instead of leaving it in the middle of the trail.


An odd purple leaf I spotted along the trail.

Temps were about 55F at the start and maybe 60F at the finish. There was a touch of sun but it was mostly cloudy and overcast. No wind. Humidity was light.

Fluids and Fuel:
Breakfast was yogurt and part of an iced coffee. During the run I had a bottle of watered down Hammer Fizz. Recovery was an iced latte and an apple fritter. Yay for healthy food!

Aches and Pains:

Wore tights, long sleeve shirt, and my buff. Took along my GoPro but only took one photo.

Took along my small pepper spray. I've found that it fits great when tucked under the bottom seam of my tights.

Mile 1 - 13:22
Mile 2 - 13:21
Finish - 26:44

Monday, April 15, 2013

Hammer APPESTAT Review

If anyone asked me if there were a magic bean or magic pill that made you get skinny, I'd say no. Diet and exercise are the keys to weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight. The exercise part should be regular in frequency and varied in type. And when it comes to diet, that doesn't mean starving yourself, that simply means control the quantity and quality of what you eat and drink. For extra credit, remember that it's harder to take weight off than it is to put on.

In one short paragraph, I've summarized everything you need to know about being healthy. If you eat shit and sit on your ass, you'll get fat and die early. If you eat right and exercise, you'll live longer and feel better. Easy, right? Wrong. For some of us, it's easier to say it than to do it. For me, I know exactly what I need to do. I need to quit eating junk food and I need to quit eating so much. It's just hard. Very hard. Yes, I can take charge and do things the way they should be done but I'm lazy at heart.

I know it sounds odd to call myself lazy, but I am. Despite how much running I do, I am lazy. If I have to cook food for myself, I'm more likely to go buy food that's already prepared than to cook it myself. I would be fine eating out every night for dinner. No dishes, no cooking, all eating.

So how does this all tie into what I'm reviewing? Well, I was hoping that Hammer Nutrition had a magic pill that would help me lose weight. Specifically, their APPESTAT dietary supplement. I know I just contradicted myself by hoping for a magic weight loss pill, but I've had solid results from other Hammer products. Their Gels aren't the best out there but are certainly comparable to what's on the market. Their Perpeteum and Recoverite though far exceed anything I've found when it comes to sustained fueling on long runs and recovering from a hard workout. I have had mixed results with their Soy products and a few other things that I've dabbled with but the Gel, Perpeteum, and Recoverite worked for me from the first use.

So I figured I'd give APPESTAT a try. I bought two bottles (90 capsules each) and started taking them as directed near the end of January. The directions on the bottle state to "Take 1-2 capsules 60 minutes before lunch and dinner. Use in a cycle of 3 weeks ON with one week OFF before starting another 3 week cycle." And for the most part I stuck with that. I did 3 weeks ON with the first and third week averaging one capsule per dose and the second week averaging two capsules per dose. I then took a week off as directed, started another cycle but had to stop due to travel. During this short, week-long cycle, averaged one capsule per dose. After an extended OFF period of ten days, I started a new cycle of three weeks ON with an average dose of two capsules. After my third week, I quit. I was seeing no progress and gave up.

In total I took 123 capsules over 70 days. My first cycle was 49 capsules, my second was 59 capsules, and I had an odd week in the middle of them with 15 capsules.

During the test, I did my best to keep my diet the same. The only major change to my diet was beginning to test Hammer Soy during the first cycle. I was not using it every day but still noticed that it caused weight gain. The odd cycle and the full second cycle had no Hammer Soy consumption. I neglected to weigh myself before the start of the experiment and my last official weight was recorded a full three months prior and was 220 pounds. This was not good for the test as I had no official starting point to measure myself by. Realizing my error, I weighed myself at the end of the first week of the first cycle and was 225 pounds. By the start of the third week I was up to 228 pounds. At the start of my odd cycle I was back to 225 pounds but was back to 228 pounds and 227 pounds by the second and third week (respectively) of my second full cycle. My weight at the end of the experiment was 228 pounds. So even though I didn't properly measure my weight at the start of the experiment, I think I can easily say that during the test, I saw no weight loss.

I did experiment with the timing of taking the capsule. The directions said to take an hour before lunch and dinner but I found that an hour and a half worked best. I saw the greatest decrease in appetite when I pushed it to 90 minutes before meals. But that decrease in appetite was very minimal. My appetite during lunch was normal and my appetite during dinner was only slightly decreased. Enough to be noticed but not enough to really make a measurable difference. Most days I ate roughly the same amount and on good days when the capsules appeared to work best I would only eat one serving during dinner. I was tempted to test how well it would work if I took a third dosage an hour before I usually snack at night but opted to limit my variables and just follow directions.

According to the label on the bottle, APPESTAT contains Zinc (15mg), Chromium (60mcg), and Iodine (113mcg). It also has their trademarked Enzyme Enhancement System (14mg), 5-HTP (20mg), and Hydroxycitric Acid (200mg). Other ingredients listed are Magnesium Stearate and Vegetable Capsules. I was careful to check the ingredients before I purchased the product because I have some odd food allergies. Nuts are my most common allergy, meaning that it's a big allergy for me but is common among other people. Common enough to be one of the top eight food products the FDA requires manufacturers to put on their labels. My more un-common-to-everyone-else allergy that is a big allergy for me is poultry. While Hammer does use nuts in some of their products, I don't expect them to use poultry. Another, more bizarre, allergy of mine is gourds (as in pumpkin, squash, etc.). As with the other foods I'm allergic to, I've never had an issue with Hammer products as long as I avoid the ones with nuts. The only dietary supplement I've had a reaction to in the past has been Saw Palmetto. I think it's related to gourds somehow because my reaction was almost identical (and yes, I tested that allergic reaction well enough to know it was the Saw Palmetto I was allergic to). With APPESTAT I saw no allergic reaction. In fact, I saw no negative reactions at all. No upset stomach, no gas, no bloating, no issues during running, nothing. As I've experienced with other Hammer products, it's very easy on the stomach and causes no GI distress.

While I had no negative reaction to the capsules, I did notice an odd change in how I looked at food. About halfway through my first cycle and for most of my second cycle, I noticed that the food would look just as appetizing and I'd usually eat just as much but I wouldn't want to eat as much sometimes. It was almost like taking the capsules reminded me that I needed to not eat as much as I was used to and I needed to snack less at night. As I went through the experiment my first impression was that the capsules were making me see this change but it was noticeable during my OFF weeks that I still felt this way. This leads me to believe it was just a placebo effect. The viewpoint change in food would come and go with no apparent pattern that would match my consumption of capsules. In other words, they weren't related.

In the end, Hammer APPESTAT did not work for me. I saw no weight loss, my appetite was barely reduced, and I could not feel it impact my diet. While the numbers show that I gained weight during the first cycle, I strongly feel that this was due to my consumption of Hammer Soy. Once I removed that from my diet, I saw my weight flat line, even during my second cycle. My appetite was reduced but not on a regular basis. I felt a reduction just large enough to notice but not large enough to make a difference. I also saw no impact on what I ate, how I ate, or how much I ate. So in the end, I can not recommend this product as I feel it simply does not provide measurable results.

If you'd like to read other reviews of APPESTAT, I've taken the time to consolidate some of them here. I haven't read any of them so I have no idea what they say. I would also like to clarify that while I love Hammer products, everyone is different and needs to find what works for them. While APPESTAT may not work for me, I'll still continue to use other Hammer products that do work for me.


Friday, April 12, 2013

Garden Update

Thought I'd give everyone an update on the garden. Certainly more positive than the rest of the crap life has thrown my way.

We have everything but peppers and tomatoes planted. Spinach was slow to start but looks healthy. Radishes have taken off like freaking weeds. The onions are a no-show so far. And the marigolds are slowly coming up.

You can see the marigolds in the middle two sections here, the radish on the far right, and the spinach on the far left.

Here we have red radishes growing super fast on the far left with some spinach (three different plantings) slowly making progress in the middle.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Took an extended lunch today and went for a bike ride to go get some lunch. Along the way I returned to the scene of my crime (the bird I killed yesterday) and saw the victim. I thought about taking a picture of his body but thought that wouldn't be polite so I kept going. From there I headed down the nearest BFH (big freaking hill) and back up the other side. Then I turned around and did it all over again. Then I wen to get lunch. Once I refueled, I turned back around and went home, this time skipping BFH. All in all, I felt pretty good during and after my ride. Riding on the roads was a bit nerve-wracking but I managed to keep off the busiest roads as much as possible.

I'm sure my bike shorts and sweaty helmet head got me some looks at Sheetz, but it was nice stopping for a break there. The strawberry banana smoothie was awesome. Except for the brain freeze.


Temps were probably 85F. Not really any humidity. Light winds. Full sun.

Fluids and Fuel:
Breakfast was two hash browns, iced latte, unhealthy burrito, and yogurt. As I got my food, a comment was made that I needed to run an extra mile because I got two hash browns. That stuck with me as I went through my day so I went out for a bit of extra mileage on my ride. During the ride I had a bottle of Hammer Fizz and a bottle of plain water. I refueled with a veggie wrap, strawberry banana smoothie, and Gatorade. No recovery.

Aches and Pains:
My feet fall asleep during my rides. I'm not sure if I tie my shoes too tight or if I pedal incorrectly or if it's normal.

Nothing too special but I did dig out my cycle jersey just so I could have some pockets for my phone and camera.

Took my large pepper spray and my phone. Both were easily accessible in the pockets of my jersey.

Outbound (7.75 miles) - 46:46
Pit Stop - 14:52
Inbound (3.95 miles) - 15:42
Finish - 1:17:22 (11.7 miles in 1:02:28)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Today's run got off to a dark start. I'm sorry mom, but I killed a bird. A Cardinal. With my car. But it was either me or the bird. If I would have swerved, I would have wrapped my car around a tree. So his sacrifice wasn't without cause. I felt about it but had gotten over it by the time I made it to the trail. The really odd part though? R. I. P. by Young Jeezy was playing on the radio at the time. I didn't kill the club but I certainly killed the bird.

The run was decent. Things were getting warm but I still kept my shirt on (I'm sure the squirrels appreciated it). Outside of that, I saw nothing exciting. The run went better than expected in that my pace was faster than expected. I did the first 4 to 5 miles at just over a 10 minute pace and while that was mostly due to no elevation, I was still impressed.


Temps were about 65F. Light wind. No humidity. Sun was out.

Fluids and Fuel:
Breakfast was iced coffee, yogurt, and a healthy burrito. During the run I had a bottle of Hammer Fizz and a bottle of plain water. Recovery was Hammer Recoverite.

Aches and Pains:
None really.

Nothing special. Just shorts and a t-shirt.

Took my large pepper spray. It fit nicely in the pocket of my T-Star shorts. It got a little sweaty but aside from that, it was great.

Didn't bother since this was via RunKeeper.
Finish - 1:09:12

Monday, April 08, 2013


Just a short run this morning. Slow and rough. Kind of like a lot of things in my life. Anyway, I posted new signs at three of the most popular trail heads and have another sign in the queue, ready to go. Never would have thought I'd be able to run a trail with a staple gun and signs in my pack but I was. A little uncomfortable but doable.


Pretty flowers.

Scary frog.

New signs.

Temps were about 55F at the start. No wind. Sun was out. Low humidity.

Fluids and Fuel:
Pre-run was yogurt and water. During the run was a bottle of plain water. Recovery was a healthy burrito and iced coffee.

Aches and Pains:
Outside of my left calf hurt. Almost felt like shin splints but wasn't in the usual spot. Outside of that, I just felt fat and slow.

Wore a thermal top with t-shirt but ended up being over dressed. Guess I'll call it heat training. Wore T-Star shorts, my buff, and my hydration pack (filled with signage tools, not water).

Since I forgot my usual items, I opted to use my cell phone for this one. Felt way under-powered but at least I could have called the cops if I needed to.

Mile 1 - 12:09
Mile 2 - 16:46 (includes hanging new signs)
Mile 3 - 14:14 (felt way too tired)
Finish - 43:10

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

The World Is Your Oyster

The World Is Your Oyster:
That's what I thought when I saw the oyster shells sitting in the ditch. It was like somebody had a meal of oysters and dumped the shells in the ditch. Sure, there were beer cans and beer bottles in the area but none looked as though they belonged.

Guess it's just another mystery of the backwoods where I live.

The run was okay but I felt sluggish out there. The headwind didn't help much. Nor did yesterday's run in the morning and bike ride in the afternoon. Nor did the news about my mom's pending surgery help. Yet I somehow got a good night's sleep last night. Must have been the fresh air I was dreaming about.

Side note about my mom, I'm not really worried about her surgery. I know she'll do fine. I think the worst part will be a stiff neck during recovery.

Temps were about 55F. Winds were moderate around 10 mph with gusts around 20 mph. The sun was out in full.

Fluids and Fuel:
Breakfast was a burrito, apple fritter, and iced latte. Lunch was a ham and cheese sandwich. During the run I had one bottle of Hammer Fizz and one bottle of plain water. Recovery was Hammer Soy followed by some apple slices and an iced coffee.

Aches and Pains:
None really. Had a small twinge in my left knee right above the knee cap but nothing major.

Shorts, t-shirt, arm sleeves, gloves, and buff. Also took my cell phone in my tiny fanny pack thing since I didn't have any pockets.

Took my small pepper spray today. It fit in my waist belt but came out a bit too easily when I heard the dog barking to I ended up shoving it into my shorts since they were tight enough to hold it. That seemed to work best.

Outbound - 33:37
Inbound - 35:34
Finish - 1:09:11

PS - Don't forget, if you want a discounted entry into the Run For The Dream 8k or Half Marathon, use code BLOG2013 for a discount.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Podcast - Mile 56 - Spring Broken

While many of you get a Spring Break either before or after Easter, I get nothing. In fact, I get no holiday between New Year's Day and Memorial Day. But I do get a shit load of overtime. All of this means that by the time you get to enjoy your Spring Break, I'm a broken man that has been worked hard and put away wet.

Aside from my complaints and the wind, in this episode I ramble on about the Leatherwood Mountains Ultra Run, my Asheville Marathon experience, and a few books. Books reviewed are Eat and Run by Scott Jurek, No Mercy by John Gilstrap, and Deep Sky by Patrick Lee.

You can break your Spring Break here on Podbean or break it directly here.