Monday, October 17, 2005

New Energy Options

This weekend I did 27 miles at the North Shore Trail and I tried out two new energy food options: Clif Shot Bloks and Jelly Belly Sport Beans. This wasn't a scientific comparison but I'll give my thoughts below:

Clif Shot Bloks are intended to be a solid version of the Clif Shot Energy Gel. Right now they are offered in three flavors: Cran-Razz, Strawberry and Lemon-Lime (my choice). A single package contains six bloks; each serving is three bloks. The bloks are cubes a little bit bigger than a quarter. They have the consistency of gummy candy or candy fruit slices, not too sticky. The flavor is good without being too strong or sweet. A serving has 100 calories, 70 mg of sodium, 20 mg of potassium and 24 grams of carbs. For comparison, a package of Viva Vanilla Clif Shot gel has 100 calories, 40 mg of sodium, 25 mg of potassium and 25 grams of carbs. Bloks are also all natural and 100% organic.

I really liked the Bloks. They were easy to handle and weren't messy like gel. They were easy to chew and swallow and I didn't feel like I needed to chug a bunch of water to wash them down (I did drink sports drink afterwards). As far as I could tell my energy level increased after eating the blok (I also ate some Honey Stinger gel). The bloks are an easy way to take some calories with you and offer a not-too sweet alternative to energy gels.

The Jelly Belly Sport Beans have one serving per package, which contains about 14 beans. They have 100 calories, 60 mg of sodium, 60 mg of potassium and 25 grams of carbs. They come in two flavors: Lemon Lime and Orange (my choice). They had a pleasant flavor but were sweeter than the bloks. Also, since they are small and there were more in the package, it took longer to eat them and I almost dropped a few pouring them out of the package. A little while after eating them I felt a little queasy, and I didn't feel the same energy surge (I was still eating Honey Stinger gel). But to be fair this was the last 4.5 miles of a 27 mile training walk, so some of the queasiness and lack of energy could be due to this.

Both products seem like great additions to our endurance fueling options. I prefer the Clif Shot Bloks for the following reasons:

1. Good taste that is not too sweet.
2. Bloks are larger and easier to eat quickly.
3. There are two servings to a package so it easier to carry more calories.
4. They are all organic so they are good for you.

I don't think either of the other Blok flavors sound very good so I will stick with the Lemon-Lime. I'll post an update later after I've used them for a while.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

They did it!

Frances and Marla finished Heartland in 29:27 and 29:30 respectively. We ended up doing an extra two miles because we took a wrong turn during the night. I just drove all the way back from Kansas (seven hours) after 19 hours of walking and three hours of sleep. I'm beat! I'll post more details and some photos as soon as possible.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Off to see the Wizard!

In a few hours I'll be on the road north headed to Kansas and Heartland. If all goes well, I'll meet Frances around 5:00 PM on Saturday and race with her until she finishes, between 7:00 AM and 12:00 PM on Sunday.

I love preparing for an ultra; it's like preparing for a small adventure. I've got four bags:
1. My race day clothes: shirt, shorts, shoes, socks, hat, bandana, wristband, Garmin, watch, bandaids, duct tape, BodyGlide.

2. My extra supply bag: to be carried by Frances' boyfriend in his car. Extra shirt, shorts, socks, bandana, wristbands, tights, hat, gloves, jacket, blister care kit, sunscreen, more bandaids, etc.

3. My Camelbak M.U.L.E.: I'm carrying the larger MULE so I don't have to refill as frequently. Since my primary goal is to help Frances finish, I need to tend to her needs at the aid stations, not get distracted filling up bottles or my smaller Camelbak. In my MULE I've got small BodyGlide, lip balm, Advil, extra batteries, toilet paper and baggies, 1 1/2 flasks of my favorite gel (Honey Stinger), flashlight, headlamp, Succeed caps, camera and race plan (aid stations, mileage, splits, etc.).

4. Clothes bag for pre- and post-race.

It's a lot for a two and a half day trip, but you can't be too prepared. I'd rather have too much than not enough, especially since something I forgot could lead to a DNF (blister problems, fueling problems, hypothermia, nausea, excessive pain). My job as a pacer is to make sure Frances finishes; I have to be prepared so she can focus on the race.

I'm really excited--I haven't raced since June and even though this is not my race I'm looking forward to the challenge, the frustration, the people, the aid stations, the stars, and the pride of seeing Frances finish her first 100! I'll let you know how it goes on Monday and try to get some pictures up as soon as possible.

Lots of people are racing this weekend. Good luck!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Today's "Gravity's Rainbow" selection

Image hosted by
Dr. Porkyevitch stands on deck. Below, Octopus Grigori, having stuffed himself with crab meat, frisks happily in his special enclosure.
Page 189.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Crosstraining.......80's Style

My daughter recently joined the Brownies and last Saturday night there was a Girl Scouts roller skating party. Roller skating! I haven't roller skated in about 22 years! Man, did it bring back great memories! Some of my fondest memories of my youth occurred in a roller rink. Dark room, flashing lights, AC/DC on the speakers, video games, middle school girls.......those were the days. I even went roller skating the night my parents told me they were getting a divorce. Such escapism.

I had a great time skating! I skated the whole night, at first with my daughter because she'd never skated before. But after a while she became confident enough to tell me to "shoo shoo" so I just skated around goofing off with her and some of her friends. I can't believe how much fun I had. Lela said she wants to have her next birthday party at a roller rink and I think that's a great idea!

Last week and this week I'm tapering. I've only walked once and took it pretty easy. I'm going to do one or two easy walks this week, then Friday afternoon I'm leaving for Kansas and Heartland. I'm going to spend the night in Oklahoma City and try to get plenty of sleep because I'll be pacing Frances all night long (from about 5:00 pm until she finishes by noon on Sunday). I'm really excited about racing again, even though it's not my race. I'll be doing 57.5 miles with her and possibly one other friend, Marla.

So this week I'll be resting and reading and hanging out with the family. Then Saturday, it's show time!