Monday, April 28, 2014

The good is in the woods!

The Hemlocks - bouldering area
The weather has been really good and I've been running (a lot) and climbing (a bunch).  The climbing has mainly been bouldering with Laura and the local squad.  All kinds of new stuff is being explored and established.  Here are some photos from the last couple days here in SWPA!

Awesome Boulder Right - center view
Awesome Boulder Right - left end view
We first climbed this one Easter Day
Overlook on McCune trail
The River Valley in Ohiopyle State Park
Carolina Spring Beauties blooming on Sugarloaf
A cool boulder out in the woods. A little scrubbing is all it takes
Laura on Red Hill Rest Block
The steep approach trail up to The Campfire Problem
Laura eyeing up The Campfire Problem
Laura in front of  Dead in My Head, Fear and Loathing Block
The super fun, One Toke Over the Line on Fear and Loathing 
Our next stop...
This last boulder doesn't look like much in the photo.  I assure you it's taller than it looks.  I'm pretty sure it'll produce some real gems.  Can't wait to get on it when it dries up from all the rain.  I'll post some photos that do it justice next time.  

PS Lots of ticks out in the woods recently,  make sure to check yo self after playing outdoors...

Saturday, April 19, 2014

RUN to the boulders

The Main Block
I've primarily been focusing my training on running recently due to upcoming challenges I've laid out for myself.  Despite being running focused, the woods are beautiful right now.  The rocks are dry, perfect for climbing and calling my name.  The other day I decided to take advantage of both and go for a run to some local boulders where there's a crash pad stashed, have a session, then run home.  I loaded a small pack with shoes, brushes, chalk pot, and some refreshments for breaks between boulders.  I  took the long way which turned out to be about 45 minutes of road running.  It was at a quick pace considering the gear I was carrying and definitely enough cardio to get my heart rate up.  I pulled out my stashed pad and had an awesome afternoon session revisiting some old classics we established in the early 1990's.  

Here's a video of the classic problem my good friend Matt Johns and I put up called Cheesypoofs - V4.  Enjoy the vast amount of exposed leg... running shorts work well for bouldering (alone)

Cheesypoofs V4
Main Block, right side
The Pyramid
The best thing I can report is that if you watch the video, I stick the lip using my right (bad) shoulder.  Slowly, but surely its getting healthier.  I hope the healing continues and I can once again use my shoulders like I did before they were injured.  Climb High, Run Far...

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Altra Lone Peak 1.5 review (400+ miles)

The Lone Peak 1.5
Let me start by saying that I was a HUGE fan of the original Altra Lone Peak 1.0.  I gave them awesome praise in this 600+ mile review last year and was sad to see mine wear out after about 1200 miles.  In short they were durable, comfortable, fast, long distance, trail running shoes.  I was beyond excited to try the latest version, the Lone Peak 1.5.  I thought wow, this amazing new shoe company hit a home run with the first version of this unique trail running shoe.  I'm sure the 1.5 will be an improvment on an already great shoe.  I'm almost late in this review with the new 2.0 coming out later 2014.  The solidity of the original Lone Peaks are what caused a delay in my purchasing of a pair of the Lone Peak 1.5's and this late review.  

Trail Love... Lone Peaks Him ver 1.5, Her ver 1
Here's my thoughts after about 400 miles trail running in the Lone Peak 1.5's.  Out of the box they felt stiff as expected.  The day the UPS man dropped them off at the door, I was like a kid on Christmas morning.  I tore open the box to check out my new kicks.  First thing I noticed upon checking them out was that the stitching on the gussetted tongue was flawed (not sewn) as well as other lining stitching.  I was going to just "go with it", but decided to test the customer service of Altra.  Laura called them up and explained the sewing blems and Altra happily shipped another pair, with an RA# and prepaid shipping to send the flawed pair back.  A+ for customer service Altra.  The new shoes were blem free and I started to put on the miles.  I switched between my new 1.5's and version 1's trying to work the "stiff" out of the new pair.   First thing I noticed is that the 1.5's seem to run smaller than the 1's.  My toes in both new pair of 1.5's seemed to bump the front.  I'd suggest to upsize a 1/2 size for the1.5's if ordering online without trying them on.  Many changes were made to the 1.5's.  Like I said in my review of the 1's, I loved the heel in the original version.  The 1.5's now have a tight, narrow, stiff heel that might appeal to those runners that like their heels locked into place.  I myself prefer my shoes laced to "slip on" and my heels free to roam where they may.  Points lost for the 1.5's in my eyes.  

The new heel cup, a little snug for my liking
The red and black options are fine despite some runners comments I've read.  My real complaint is that the new upper material is weak as shiit!!!  Numerous holes are forming at the hinge point across the instep.  I'm expecting them to rip through and across most of the toe box any day now.  

Upper deterioration after roughly 400 miles, Poor compared to the ver 1

Ready to blow after only 400?
What a major disappointment after the durable and flexible mesh of the Lone Peak 1's.  On a positive note the toe cap issue has been resolved thus saving me the weekly trouble and expense of shoegooing them down.  Thanks again Altra! 

Now this is much better
It's great that the toe cap stays glued to the upper, but sucks that the upper wears out around 500 miles.  Weak compared to the originals.  I've also read the 1.5's drain better...  I never seemed to have problems with the 1's draining?  The new uppers seem to breath less, which is better for cold winter runs, but bad for warmer weather which is most of the year.  The sole pattern was unchanged, but I'm guessing the sole compound is.  I like the lug pattern used on both the 1 and 1.5's.  Oddly enough I've been ripping the lugs off of my 1.5's, something that didn't happen with the black soles on the originals.  

The red lugs are chunking off, not cool
Not sure why, but the colored soles seem weak and inferior.  In a nutshell I Iiked the LP1's quite a bit. Altra addressed some of the problems in the 1's, but still have bugs to work out of the current model. As much as I enjoy Altra shoes, it kinda makes me hesitate on the Lone Peak 2.0's debuting soon.  I'm planning on going for the longstanding 70 mile Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail "double", 140 mile FKT (Fastest Known Time) in June.  I hope my Lone Peaks are up to the challenge and not worn out by then.  I thought my body would be the weakest link and my shoes would be the reliable Altra Lone Peaks I've come to love, but with the quick deterioration, I'm really rethinking which shoes to use come June.  I can train my body better, but can't make my shoes any tougher.  Yikes!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Beginning the long road

The lingering winter kept me fired up about climbing and neglecting running.  Not a bad thing says the climber inside me.  The runner in me that plans to run the LHHT "double" this June is saying what the hell partner, you better get those soft legs a little firmer, and right quick.   Since the first of the year I've only been out running several times.  It was time to get training before it gets too late.  Off to the trails I went to shake out the cobwebs...   Here's a couple highlighted runs from the last couple weeks.

March 15th Victor Sousol and I ran a "Gate to 8" on a windy but pleasant day.  This was my first outing with Victor as well as his first time running on the LHHT.  He's signed up to run the 70 mile Laurel Ultra in June and wanted to check out the opening hills and familiarize himself with Ohiopyle a bit before race day.  He managed to stumble onto my blog and decided to email me to see if I'd like to meet and run with him.  I only had time to run Gate to 8 once that morning, but Victor went on to complete a "Gate to 8X2" for a total 32 miles of Laurel training.

March 25th I turned 42.  I thought it would be fun spending my birthday running my age in miles on the LHHT.  Laura dropped me off at Beam's Rock at 7:00 AM for the start of my run.  
Good morning legs
She provided excellent crewing after meeting me at 7 Springs.  She provided me with the normal food and liquids as well as birthday surprises, delights and plenty of laughs along my run to Ohiopyle.   
First aid stop, Seven Springs Ski resort
Crossing the slopes of Seven Springs.  I met several curious folks here
42 and still spry coming into route 653 trail head
Heading out for the last 11 miles from Maple Summit parking lot
It was a chilly 28, with plenty of firm ice on the trail.  I had some knee issues begin during the descent at mile post 8.  They persistently became worse, slowing movement down within a half of a mile.  Descents especially were slowed to a crawl with me going down backwards a large portion of the time.  Laura met me at mile post 3 with a down coat and some much needed support as I was in serious pain by this point.  I successfully limped into town completing my goal.  
Limping past the overlook at mile 2.7
After 2 days of rest, my knees recovered and have felt fine since.  This run doubled my yearly mileage to this point.  Which I'm sure was the cause of the knee swelling and pain.  Even with my 8 miles of snail pace factored in my average pace came out to be 13:35/mile.  A very fun and memorable birthday.  Thanks sweetie!

March 31st  I ran the LHHT again from 653 trail head to Ohiopyle to see if my knees were just adapting to the rapid increase in mileage on my birthday run.  It had snowed about 6" a couple days prior.  The temps rose above freezing turning that fluffy 6" into a sloppy nasty trail mess.  The air temperature was around 50, but my feet were sopping before I even hit the main trail from the blue blazed access trail.  By the time I hit mile post 18 I was debating calling Laura to have her turn around and pick me back up at 653.   The runner in me refused and I put my nose to the grind and slogged the 18 miles to Ohiopyle with only a few miles being snow free, but muddy none the less.  I surprisingly hit the Gate completing my run in 3:18, without any knee pain.  A reasonable time considering the condition of the trail.

In the Hemlocks, my favorite section
Blazing new trail on the LHHT
Sloppy conditions for running
From whence I came.  Bluebird snow day on the trail
April 1st Laura and I had a wonderful "date" run.  She's planning a birthday run on the 16th.  She's going to run from mile post 30 to Ohiopyle while I provide crew for her as she did for me.  We decided to run from the gate to 5 on the LHHT to avoid the snow still present above 2200'.   We had a wonderful sunny day to run together.  We took a couple breaks to enjoy the weather and nature.  We had several Eastern Phoebe's calling at one break and at another we spotted 8 Ruby-crowned Kinglets flying through the tree tops.  Several Monarch's were moving north along the ridge as well.  Spring is definitely making a showing and we were embracing!  What a great way to spend a few hours with your honey...

Spring has Sprung!  See you on the trails...