Saturday, May 22, 2010

iPad. I'm a sucker.


As a medical student I'm always looking for a good smartphone or smaller, utilitarian net book. Other than the iPhone, you can look to android for a decent phone iu. But... Androids market blows. It has not been fully accepted by the medical community, plus it's full of porn. I had been a disgruntled htc eris user, but frankly it was slow and buggy. Did I mention that the android market blows? I wasn't willing to go back to AT&T, since I literally had to press my head against the window to get reception in our apt. So I did the next much better thing.

I bought the iPad.

After a Lot of math and long introspection, I decided to go for it. After much longer pleading and whining, my wife broke down and let me go for it. Win, Win, Win if you ask me (name the reference and win, probably nothing tangible though)

As an outdoor athlete, I thought I could come up with a good arguement for and against the iPad as the outdoorsmen computing device of choice (I'm not comfortable calling it a full computer yet)

For:
The iPad weighs nothing and a half. It's light as turds and so easy to use that most grandmothers can jump right on up to playing with it.
I'm very impressed by the appearant computing power behind the iPad. Truly you're only limited to what developers come up with. Developers will come out with some truly amazing crap, so what you see in the App store isn't the only option indefinitely.
The 3G connection is an awesome addition. You can now backpack this thing in, and as long as there is some cell connection, you can access the web as necessary.
Plus, the battery lasts for 10 hours straight... RUNNING HD VIDEO! I have been able to routinely use the iPad for 3 days in a row (with heavy use) and not have to charge.

Against:
You're stuck on AT&T. See above statement about head pressed against the window
The keyboard can be unwieldy, but really you get used to it very, very fast.
The screen is pretty scratchproof, but really its not.
I don't think the iPad can handle a drop onto a rock. Of course, most computers can't. Hopefully companies will be coming out with much tougher cases in the future. They do have waterproof bags manufactured, both "made for iPad" and the normal ziplock.

I think the iPad is a welcome addition to any backpacker, climber, or expeditionist needing the utility of a computer but hates carrying the weight.
It's really only limited by what developers have put out (and it doesn't run flash... I think it's more a battery issue), so the utility will only grow. Can you imagine maps on this thing? GORGEOUS!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Mud and the Masochists


I'm not super impressed with the Montrail Mountain Masochists when in the mud. My previous assessment that the downward lugs where far too few. I found myself skiing down some nasty crap when running. Sure I love skiing, but I like doing it with skiis... and snow... call me picky.

Downhills and lateral movement where both at a deficit with these shoes. Oddly, I also have noticed that the shoes seem to stretch more when wet. This is the first time I've had this problem with trail shoes.

Check the pics and vid for how nasty the trail really was. It was the first long run of the season, and for a good long run, they felt pretty good. Even when sopping wet.

Check here for Masochist unboxing

And here for the first 3 workouts video

Running in the mud.


Mud presents a pretty difficult terrain type to attack. Here are a few methods to plan your way through a truly muddy, crappy spot

1. Try to sprint through. If you're not wearing Gore-Tex this can pretty much screw your feet for the rest of the run. Not fun.

2. Try to attack the mud like this!
-Get up on your toes
-cut from the outside in on the outer perimeter of the mud patch
-this will help you to direct your gait pressure outwards towards the most hard portion of dirt
-This should create a semi-vacuum directly under the shoe, helping you to keep from getting wet

3. Walk. Carefully.
4. Your greatest enemy, the root, is now your greatest asset. Use them for dry platforms.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Montrail Mountain Masochists. 3 runs. 3 conditions. ALL GOOD!


Wow. If you pronate at all, this is the trail running shoe for you. I'm actually about to embark on suckering Mrs. AK into letting me buy the gore-tex version also. They're sooooooo good at holding a line, and I have very few complaints thus far. I've run in them 3 times so far, all at 5 miles a piece.

(for the unboxing, look here)

Run 1: Warm and Dry
I love these shoes when it's warm out. They breathe like a champ! I felt like the padding was more than adequate for the hard dirt, rocks, and roots of this 5 miler. Everything from single track to horse trails, all were comfortable in the Masochists. One complaint, when going donwhill, they tend to force you into heel strike rather than mid to forefoot strike. I'm not a huge fan of this, as it tends to put more stress on your knees (the closer to 180 degrees when your foot strikes the ground, as compared to your hip, the worse the stress... in many, many magnitudes). With a little practice, I was able to modify my foot strike to minimize the superfulous stress.

Run 2: Mud, Grass, Flat as a pancake
While camping at Chain O' Lakes State Park, IN, Mrs. AK and I went for a run. I forgot how boringly flat Indiana is. Plus trails are mostly grass... and grass is dewy and muddy in the morning. The masochists did just fine, of course so would have my Mizuno road shoes.

Run 3: WET, pouring rain, Technical as you get in NE OH
What an amazing run! You can really judge the inteligence of a runner based on his or her decisions as what terrain to run in what conditions. Count me a fun loving idiot, because in a disgusting mess of a rain storm, I decided to go for the hardest, technical run I could find. My 5 mile run was full of sand, rocks, tree roots, hills, and some nasty, sloppy terrain. See the attached video for the insane traction these suckers throw up on the slippery rock. Albeit it was sandstone, yet still very, very slippery! So much fun to sprint up a 50 degree incline rock, for about 15 feet. They held a beutiful line and didn't let me slip until going back down and only when I hit the 70 degree decline. How in the world did these suckers manage to have such a great rock plate, beautiful grip, and breathe so insanely well? Well done Montrail



video

Cocona Fabrics

I've recently become a tester for Cocona Fabrics. They're a Colorado based company that specializes in coconut fiber infused synthetic garments. A few companies, such as Marmot and Mammut have begun to incorporate them into they're line ups.

I'm pretty impressed with the utility of the fabric. The fabric feels great right out of the box. The shirt I was sent is a basic 1/4 zip, black, long sleeve tee. Nothing was amazingly spectacular looking, just a pretty basic long sleeve tech shirt.

After my initial inspection, a few glaring errors came to light.
1. Who doesn't incorporate a chin guard into their zippers? This is pretty much inexcusable in a tech garment. This instantly put the shirt fairly low on my long totem pole of cold weather running gear. Plus, the neck, when unzipped, has just enough weight to not stay in place (or simply stay down in the first place) but manages to flip up over and over and over in the runners face.

2. The logo on the left sleeve is pretty subtle. I like that, looks good. What I don't like is that the fabric/stitching behind the sewn in logo is not backed to prevent chafing.

3. SEAM PLACEMENT! I see this mistake all the time in prominent label athletic apparel such as Nike and Adidas. These companies typically aren't concerned that their seams are obtrusive and downright annoying when wearing a backpack or camel-bak. These companies aren't really developing their sports apparel to the outdoor athlete, and that's fine. It's not fine when the shirt is obviously marketed toward the outdoor athlete.

4. It's not a make it or break it deal, but there are no pockets, anywhere, on this shirt. Even one pocket really opens up the possibilities for the shirt. A gel, iPod, or small cell phone can all be put into a shirt pocket, and are typically less obtrusive than running short pockets.

5. Sizing is a little off for a straight medium. It's a little too small, especially in the armpits. Just a tad short. I wear mediums in just about everything, and I would probably jump up to a large in this shirt.

Check back soon for the first few workouts.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Jet Boil Stove


I can't really add a whole lot to a large bank of reviews that people have come up with for the jetpoil pcs system. I think it'd be best to give the profile of a person who should consider the system.

1. Doesn't mind the "jail cell" you've put yourself in with canister based stoves. You're stuck with canisters, not the utility of multiple fuel type stoves. Kinda puts you in a bind if you're going overseas.

2. You LOVE the complete simplicity of canister based stoves. NO thinking, just catch it on fire and cook.

3. Likes to use ready made food, mostly dehydrated based food. That being said, still works with regular food (pancakes, meat, that kind of thing).

4. Loves accessories. Jetboil puts out a ton of them. Most of them are pretty well thought out and are good for what they're made for. Plus they all back into the stove itself. Pretty awesome!

Good stove, fairly light weight, but kinda pigeon holes you in a "fast packer" group.

Friday, May 14, 2010

transitioning

I've been slowly transitioning into running sans-dog. It's been an interesting process. I now don't have the some what frequent potty breaks to look forward, yet enjoy not having to carry dog poo bags.

A few things I've noticed
1. I feel less secure. I'm by no means a big wuss and am more than capable of taking care of myself, but there's just something missing.
2. I see more squirrels than I ever did before.
3. Did I mention how much I miss those potty breaks??? Seriously, a guaranteed 30 second break every 10 minutes or so!
4. No one tells me my ears look really cute flopping down the trail.
5. I don't have the fiasco of getting Scooter to ignore other dogs as we run by.
6. I'm now the best runner when I run. That dog would embarrass me constantly with how fast he was.
7. That last point only applies to me when Mrs AK isn't running with me. She's better than me.

Monday, May 10, 2010

protect the knees

Here's a quick workout to help strengthen the ACL, PCL, and genu collateral ligaments. These are all really important ligaments in the knee.

While standing on one leg, jump forward 10 jumps, then backwards ten, to the right ten, the left ten. You'll want to try to really get some distance every few jumps. Do the other leg, maybe repeat a few times. This will teach your muscles to compensate for any undue stress from whatever activity you're pursuing. You're training your muscles to protect the ligaments. Take your time, warm up fully, and you're doing a fairly dangerous exercise (as far as gym work goes).

Do it at your own peril, aka don't blame me if you fall.

But feel free to thank me when it saves your ACL from a nasty fall.

Mountain Hardwear Quasar Running Cap


This hat is great. I have literally one complaint.
1. It's a little deep. You really can't push this hat up very high on your forehead. This is a terrible complaint, but I had to come up with one.

The good:
1. SOOO much mesh
2. perfect sized bill, with just the right weight and stiffness.
3. real nice wicking band around the WHOLE head. I'm speaking to you bald fat guy that passed me on our first trail marathon and made me want to give up.
4. Let's face it, it doesn't look lame. It reps Mountain Hardwear without the obnoxious/firm "nut" they put on everything. They decided to use a decal rather than a fabric patch (why I hated my Mountain Hardwear beanie)
5. I forgot I was wearing it during my run.
And that's all you really need to know...

ps... Mountain Hardwear... I stole your pic straight up, my bad.

Montrail Mountain Masochists. Unboxing


The Montrail Mountain Masochists have won gear of the year for the past 2 years now. They come with super high marks, lots of good press, and a relatively new, but strong, following.

I bit the bug recently (and I think legally I'm req'd to tell you I got them on the cheap) and bought a pair for Mrs. AK and myself. I'll give you the unboxing, then a run down on the first five miler soon.

Unboxing:
1. I was sent the wrong color... bummer for about five seconds... and then I put them on. Very few shoes cradle and smooch your foot as much as these. The footbed is anatomically based, which may put off certain runners. For me personally, it's awesome, not so much for my wife. She didn't fall in love with them as much as I did first, yet she's willing to give them a shot
2. Lot's of mesh = great ventilation
3. double eyelets on the collar give some awesome tying options. This is a feature sorely missed on my La Sportiva Lynx's.
4. the heel cup has two rather deep wells for the malleoli, nice for road, not my fave for trails (not as secure for ankle protection)
5. Super aggressive toe bump cap. You won't be breaking a toe with these suckers
6. GREAT flex in the forefoot, crazy stiff midsole, very padded heel. I'll talk about that in a bit.
7. The tread is pretty darn aggressive with uphill lugs, with a surprisingly few (only on the medial side of the foot) downhill lugs.
8. I'm a big fan of the midsole lugs (only 3 of them). They give just the right amount of grip when pushing off a log.
9. Not the most impressive scree gaiter. Don't look forward to any running in sand with these. video

Saturday, May 8, 2010

RIP Scooter

Suffice it to say, today has been one of the hardest in our married coupleness. Due to an incredibly unfortunate turn of events, we had to put our running partner, best friend, and number one ear-licker down for the long sleep. Can't wait to run with him in Heaven.

In a recent post, I criticized dog owners for not taking responsibility for their dogs actions. I had to practice what I preach, and I don't like it. As of 8:40 this morning, baby Scoot went to run with Jesus. I hear Jesus is pretty fast. You may have read that in the book of Leviticus (like you've ever bothered to read Leviticus...).

That being said, I'm incredibly excited to share that we are expecting our first running stroller training buddy! This blessing excites us a ton, and we look forward to sharing running and training stories as Mrs. AK bears our child (codename Baby Beluga).

Stayed tune, the Montrail Mountain Masochist review is coming soon!