My Blog

Ring of Fire 2017

The three day round Isle of Anglesey Ring of Fire trailrun was a great experience and ticked many boxes!

√ 135 miles / 216 kilometres / 4000 m+ beautiful and continuously changing scenery (90% through AONB):

  • Day one: rugged coastline with steep gullies.
  • Day two: more gentle farmland, villages, sandy beaches and forest
  • Day three: stunning rough rocky coastline with gorse and heather ending in a climb of Holyhead towards the finish.

√ My longest overall distance in three consecutive days and my first 100+ km day distance.

√ Sunshine, nice and warm on day one and two – horizontal rain and wind on day three.

√ Very relaxed and friendly organisation plus a super personal support team!

To be honest I was a bit frightened when I realised in full that I had entered a three day trailrun covering 216km with a 104km on day two. Maybe I need to read the fine-print earlier before entering,, just like reading the operator manual before trying to use something. However,  I was directly inspired by the name ‘Ring of Fire’ – that caused positive goosebumps! – the place; the Isle of Anglesey, the most northwestern point of Wales, and the whole idea of circumnavigating the island in three days (that is where islands are for, just like there are mountains in order to climb them).

Anyway, so there I went, supported by my whole family, camping at a lovely small, still Wifi free campsite Pen-y-Bont, which I could use for a toilet break at day three because the trail passes the campsite near Four Mile Bridge.


The start was on Friday 1st September at 13.00 from Holyhead Breakwater Country Park, all very relaxed, with 119 people of which 87 had signed up for the full circle and the others for only the ‘Firelighter‘ (great name), i.e. the one day trail option. I wanted to keep a slower than normal trailrunning pace in order to save my self for day two and three. A multistage trailrun is very much about balancing your energy and recuperate ASAP. I only partly achieved this I think, still feeling full of energy, enjoying the great coastal scenery and joining two other runners who had a nice pace we trailed and chatted along. The finish was at Amlwch (a more Welsh is probably not possible), 58km and 6.16 hours later. I felt rather tired, more than I wanted, and quickly changed focus to recuperation.

IMG_20170827_140806_984Back at the campsite a warm shower, huge plate of pasta, a litre RECUPRO (optimal mix of proteins and carbons) from TriSportPharma every hour and six hours of sleep should be enough – but the test would be tomorrow!


20170901_111801Alarm at 0440, children still asleep in the caravan, I quickly get dressed and jump in the car. While my spouse Lonneke races over the Island I eat a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. A ‘pacer’ guides us at 0600 through sleepy Amlwch back to the Isle of Angelsey Coastal Path. The path is well sign posted and combined with a GPS-track on my watch I hardly needed the printed maps during the three days,

DSC_0250
Honesty book

other than to see where the next Check Point is or Honesty Book (in order to proof you have reached an outpost you need to tear a page out of book – all ‘love stories’). These points became my motivational focus points. I counted the kilometres to the next ‘food point’ where I could enjoy with heart delight from many different bars, sometimes soup or coffee and on day three a breakfast bun made at the coffee shop of the parents of one of the organisers at Rhosneigr, Sandy’s Bistro (great place!). It is funny how you can motivate yourself with a wine-gum every kilometre, or chocolate bar when only 30 kilometres to go.

Day two showed another side of the Island: more gentle, more rural and near the end some larger dune and forest areas. Again sunny and warm, I enjoyed the views at a definitely slower pace than day one, trying to keep an average of 7.5 km/hour.

Other motivators this day are certainly my family who show up at unexpected places. With the GPS tracker they can easily follow my progress, find a good spot for a cheer, a cappuccino (mjam!) or big piece of brownie (double mjam!!).

Just before real darkness kicks in I luckily reach the finish at Aberffraw, 104km and 14.40 hours later. We quickly go back to the caravan to go through the same recuperation schedule which worked fine the first night. The good thing about the long distance and slow pace is that you can eat solid food much easier so I am able to keep eating and drinking (using electrolyte tablets to ensure enough mineral intake) to keep a relative steady energy load in my body.


IMG_0438Day three, again alarm at 0440, but what is that? Rain and wind, a completely different world today with horizontal rain from the west. So no cover from the land side with the trail following the western part of the island. Following the coast I sometime go head-on into the wind and rain. Luckily it is not too cold, 13-15 degrees Celsius so I dress in a long-sleeve merino undershirt, buff, short tights, tubes and my rain running gear which I got from INOV-8 to test (I will write a review later). I hoped that the weather maybe would not let me to test it :), but the weather gods decided differently, so it became a worthwhile test for 54km and 8 hours.

The atrocious weather made the rough coastline even more dramatic and after a (even) slower start than yesterday I got into a rhythm and actually enjoyed the rain, wind and views. Big swells let wave surfers do their tricks in some stunning bays.

I found out these days that I preform best at these long distances by continuous running (or maybe a better word for it: shuffling) at a slow speed of 7 – 8 km / hours.

Other runners have different methods I observe, for example changing regularly between walking and running.  Almost all of us decide for a swift (ahum) walk when going uphill. In the end you keep the same runners in view almost the whole day.

Towards the finish, after the climb upto Holyhead it even dried up a bit. Under the tones of Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash (the link will bring you to the original soundtrack – for every finisher they started the song again, it is engraved in my memory now, with very good memories). I crossed with my biggest smile ever the finish, full circle back to where I started three days ago. Writing this I am still smiling, feeling lucky, proud and privileged that I was able to join and finish … with great help of all the supporters, the organisation led by ‘Bing’ and ‘Q’and most of all my ‘private’ support team … THANKS!!!


Some statistics:

  • On day one 87 persons started with the Ring of Fire, on day three 51 finished.
  • I ended 11th overall and 9th men.
  • First runner finished in 23.15 hours, the last just within 40 hours (total cut-off time was 40.5 hours), first female became 5th in 26.37 hours.
  • My timings:
    • Day one: 58km, 6.16 hours, average 6.31 min/km.
    • Day two: 104km, 14.40 hours, average 8.27, overall average 7.43 min/km.
    • Day three: 54km, 8.09 hours, average 9.06, overall average 8.04 min/km.
    • My average speed was slowly rising every day, and showed that especially day one I went a ‘little’ too fast to be able to keep a steady average over three days.

On day one and two I wore my Compressport Trailrunning clothes (see my review elsewhere on this weblog). On day three, as already written I wore a long-sleeve INOV-8 merino undershirt, Compressport Buff, short tights, tubes and my INOV-8 AT/C Stormshell and Race pants (to test!).

I ran day one and two on my INOV-8 Trailroc 285 which did well of the winding, sometimes rocky but also dune sand trails. Most part of the trail was relatively hard ground so I enjoyed the cushioning and flexibility.

On day three I ran on my INOV-8 Roclite 305, more to have a different shoe and therefore slightly different use of leg and feet muscles than anything else. In the end I appreciated the more sturdiness of the Roclite 305 when battling into the wind and rain.

 

 

Compressport Trailrun clothing

Born in Switzerland
– Compressport Trailrunning Review –

I felt really lucky and privileged this year in April to dress myself in a new set of Compressport Trailrunning clothes. I always really enjoy new trailrunning clothes as others may be thrilled buying a new dress, or the latest jeans. And just as with new jeans, you start to appreciate them more and more when time progresses. It is now August and some 2000 trailkilometers later, time for a review …

Are the ”Born in Switzerland” compression clothes as good as Compressport states?

The most trailrun kilometers I wore a set of:

P.S. The links will bring you to the Compressport website to find out more technical details. My review focuses on my practical experiences of these technical details, did they work for me, do they actually add positively to my trailrunning?

During the longer trails and especially the six days multi-stage PirineosFIT 2017 Jaca Trailweek I used the 140 gram Ultrun Trailrunvest. During shorter runs, or runs were I knew I did not need that much to carry I used the FreeBelt. These two products I will review separately in comparison with some other trailrun vests that I have. The running gloves I will test during fall  /winter 2017-2018.

My Experiences – Summary

If you are looking for Trailrunning compression clothing I think you will not find any better than from Compressport.

It is not cheap but you get your money’s worth of very high quality clothing packed with a lot of technology and nice features.

As always the proof is in the wearing, and that is what I did for many trail kilometres. I hope my experiences will support your decision what to obtain to enjoy the trails …they are there to enjoy and explore.

My Experiences – Detailed

GREAT LOOKS

To start with the most important (not really):

the gear just looks great, has a soft touch and makes you want to keep running!!

IMG-20170703-WA0004To be honest, it is not important at all for the actual running how the clothes look like but for the psychological part of running it sure is! I think most of us, at least I do, will scan how other runners are dressed when in a race or just when passing during a training. For what reason? Partly to check the competition, assuming ‘well dressed’ runners are serious runners, i.e. FAST! Partly to see if there are new ‘goodies’ around.

TECHNOLOGY

The compression technology for which Compressport is well known I found most useful in the short and tubes.

DSC_0129This performance enhancement technology works well for me. Especially the Tubes give me good calve stability and Achilles support. Both are important for me, whilst I had some Achilles heel issues over the years and also the tendency that my calves were the first limiters during a long (marathon) race getting cramps. This is now very much reduced – for the Achilles heel also with custom-made orthotics.

The compression running short provides compression of your thighs: does it help? For this I am less sure than the tubes but it feels good and my own experience and mental proof is that I did not suffer any cramps in either calves or thighs during the strenuous six days PirineosFIT 2017 Trailweek where I ran a mountain marathon every day. The compression is stronger than for example the Raidlight Ultralight short.

The fabrics are a nice combination of:

  • softness, it feels pleasant to the body and does not create any irritation or chafing even after running eight hours in warm weather, sweating a lot whilst wearing a trailrunvest;
  • quick drying from sweat, rain or after a stream crossing – the Tubes are for example much more quickly dry than the Herzog Tubes;
  • breathable, especially the lower part of the shirt, the groin part of the short and the back of the Hurricane Jacket through the ‘compression mesh’. The mess width is large enough for pleasant cooling but luckily small enough not to become ‘see through’ which would be a little embarrassing for especially the short.
  • rubber frictions patches on the short to provide support for your sweaty hands when pushing you upwards to the mountain tops. These I used extensively during the World Championship Trailrunning 2017 in Italy.
  • rubber frictions patches on the the shoulders of the shirt providing support to the trailvest;
  • the sweatband of the visor cap is pleasant, keeps it in place even when in stronger winds and I like the ‘additional’ cooling for my head when compared with a normal cap;
  • lightness, especially the Hurricane Jacket of only 110 grams! The jacket is designed with a stretch mesh back for breath-ability and stretch so you can use it both directly over the shirt but also easily over the trailrunvest when wearing one.

Pockets:

  • The shirt has six pockets all around at the lower part. These are useful for light weight stuff like energy bars / gels but not so much for more heavy things like a mobile phone or a soft flask. The stretching mesh is just not strong enough to keep such heavier items in place when running.
  • The short unfortunately does not have any pockets on the sides or back although I think that would be a good place for mesh pockets for mobile phones for example (compared with for example the Raidlight Ultralight short).

Wear and Tear:

Overall the clothes still look great after several hundred of trail kilometres including several ‘stumbles’ on the rocks and interaction with bramble bushes and dozens of machine / shower washing. Only wear I experienced was loosening of the inner Compressport print in the short, maybe a wrong use of glue? However, this is not what you expect of a primary brand like Compressport.

SIZING

I had some issues with the size advice from Compressport.

Based on their advice I first ordered Tubes size two because I ended up just between size one and two and followed the rule to use the larger size when in doubt. When using these size two Tubes I felt too little compression so I changed them (without any costs) to size one which fitted much better.

The size advice for the shirt also troubled me. I started with size SMALL based upon the advice of Compressport. Although this size gave me a good fit around my chest it had the tendency to creep up around my waist when running, creating a split between the short and the shirt. Although maybe good for the suntan on my stomach it did not feel very pleasant. Unfortunately also MEDIUM had the same issue so I ended up with size LARGE (without any costs). This size was long enough to stay around my waist without creating a bare skin opening with the short. Downside of this is that the upper body compression is less and more importantly that the pockets and the lower part are not stretched enough to keep heavier items in place. Something to consider when acquiring this shirt.

THE OVERSHORT?

I think that Compressport has designed the Trail Underwear Short to be worn in combination with the Overshort. At least that is what is shown on the website. However, I found the Overshort of no added benefit to for example more quick drying of the short or to protect the groin area for any ‘see-through’. Also the Overshort had the tendency to creep up to my waist, above the waistband of the short. That did not feel very pleasant and also ‘looked’ a bit strange. I ended up not wearing the Overshort at all after the first few runs.

Other brands also offer two-layer trailrun short (like the INOV-8 Twin Short) but these are completely integrated as one piece complete with pockets etc. I am not sure why Compressport choose to split the two items.

Your Experiences?

I am really interested in your experiences of the Compressport trailrun clothing and also how it compares in your opinion with other high end trailrunning brands like INOV-8, RAIDLIGHT or for example SALAMON. Just drop an e-mail, 🙂 , CHEERS!

Great Trailrunning in the Spanish Pyrenees

Enjoying the trails in the National Parc Aigüestortes

DSC_0219Two weeks holiday and trailrunning in the Spanish Pyrenees came to an end with a great two day trail through the Parc Nacional d’Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici. Inspired by many day trailrunning trips and a family three day / two night Refugi experience I set out to run the Carros de Foc trail.

croquis_carrosdefocThe Carros de Foc Trail is a high-mountain route (most Refugi are above 2000m and the highest pass is around 2700m) with a circular itinerary of approximately 55km connecting nine mountain Refugi. There are many options and most people will take three to seven days starting at any of the Refugi.

Conclusion: Carros de Foc = Perfect for a two day / one night Refugi trailrun.

I choose to go counter clockwise based on my starting point, Camping Sol I Nue at Espot (great campsite by the way – relaxed, clean and very friendly staff) and advice that the 2700m mountain pass between Refugi Ventosa I Calvell and Estany Llong could best be approached from the West in order to climb (instead of descent) a very large big boulder field.

The reservation for the Refugi Ventosa I Calvell, more or less half-way meant that day one would be a little easier in distance and height than day two. This suited me fine because you need to be at 19.00 at a Refugi for evening dinner. With day two a little longer, ending at the campsite I was not in a hurry other than be ‘home for dark’.

Whilst evening dinner and breakfast was included for only 45 euros I could pack minimally …

DSC_0179… only taking summer running clothes, rain trousers, wind jacket, warm jacket, extra pair of socks, poles, rescue blanket, some plasters, head torch, phone, charger, extra battery pack, about twenty muesli bars, some electrolyte tablets and motivational Dutch candy, i.e. ‘dropjes’. It all fitted easily in my larger 24 litres Race Elite INOV-8 Trailpack. Good thing about running in the Pyrenees is that there are enough clear stream to take drinking water so I only needed a half litre soft flask.

DSC_0165Of I went at 0615, using the gravel road for the first slow ascend to Refugi Amitges DSC_0164(2310m) in time for a breakfast coffee, enjoying the ‘quietness’ of the sunrise only disturbed by multiple deer crossing the road. Although people use the trails, filling up the Refugis with about seventy persons every evening and many more day walkers I still enjoyed most of the two days in total tranquillity …

 

DSC_0173

… enjoying many times the ‘noise of nothing’ during a break or a single ‘Olla, Buenos’ when passing others.

DSC_0213Via the Colomers and two mountain passes of 2600m I ended the first day at the Refugi Ventosa at 1300. A bit early maybe, but it gave me the opportunity to relax / read in the sun, enjoying the beautiful views and just experience how nice ‘boredom’ can be when completely disconnected from the outside (social media) world.

DSC_0196All Refugi have a strict rhythm of evening dinner at 19.00, lights out at 22.00 and breakfast from 06.30. The quality and luxury differs quiet a lot with Ventosa being a ‘little harsh’ with no warm water, only one shower and two toilets for approximately seventy guests. As usual you sleep like ‘sardines in a box’ in a row of 35 people. Luckily I slept near a window because it becomes very warm with all those bodies in a small place. Dinner consisted of soup, followed by a salad, than chicken or a sausage and yogurt as dessert. All right but definitely not high cuisine and ‘just enough’ for hungry mountain walkers / runners. Breakfast was a good buffet with enough calories to get you going again for the day.

DSC_0212The next day started with a challenging climb through a very large boulder field and some snow patches to a 2740m mountain pass. I enjoyed my lightweight pack and flexible trailrun shoes (INOV-8 Roclite 305) scrambling my way upwards, feeling a bit sorry for any with more heavy backpacks and amazed by some younger children making their way.

This day I experienced both steep, rocky trails through large and small boulder or scree fields surrounded by rocky peaks and also nice forestry trails along lakes passing meadows with mountain cows grazing. Sometimes the trail followed ‘a path for giants’, i.e. rough tracks made to build the several hydroelectric dams and pipelines.

DSC_0207The extreme differences in terrain and views after every new mountain pass was what I enjoyed the most and inspired me to keep going!

These two days proofed again the adagio that trailrunning in the mountains resembles walking for inpatient people with an overall average speed of just 5 km/h (excluding long breaks, but including many photo stops!).

But who cares about time, no race, no finish, just yourself deciding when to run, walk, stop for a break.

DSC_0213Already having tasted the Spanish Pyrenees during the PirineosFIT 2017 Jaca Trailweek in June 2017 I would like to advise everybody to also enjoy these great mountain trails.

The Carres de Foc makes for an easy to organise yourself multistage trailrun, at a pace you like, with no ‘pressure of competition – just following your heart beat’ …

… according to my rough scale:

  • extreme = one day;
  • a bit strange = two days;
  • ‘normal’ people = three days.

Whichever category you fit in, I hope I inspired you with this story to also come and enjoy the Spanish Pyrenees, I am sure you will find and enjoy the trails.

Some final statistics (for if you are interested):

Day One:

  • Distance: 24km
  • Running / Total time: 4 / 6 hours
  • Height gained: 1500m
  • Height lost: 1100m
  • Highest point: 2600m

Day Two:

  • Distance: 38km
  • Running / Total time: 8 / 11 hours
  • Height gained: 2000m
  • Height lost: 3000m
  • Highest point: 2740m

 

Schoorl + Wijn + Zon = Réserve Naturelle Nationale des Dunes et des Marais d’Hourtin

Schoorl-achtige duin & bos plus Franse wijn plus zoet zwemwater en Atlantische golven levert een heerlijke zonnige vakantie / trailrun omgeving op.

DSC_0068Waar ligt deze mooie samenhang van de goede dingen van het (trailrun)leven? Op het schiereiland van Gascogne gescheiden door de Gironde zee inham van de Franse wijnstad Bordeaux (in het Franse departement Gironde).

Gelukkig geen doorgedraaide massale drukke campings rond Maubuisson maar ruim opgezette campings en huisjes in een duin/bosgebied doorkruist door fietspaden. Wij verbleven met de caravan op de camping Dune Blue, die ik zeker kan aanraden.

DSC_0060Het Schoorl – achtige duingebied is droog en bevat veel ‘zwaar zand’ paden, klimduin(tjes) en her en der ook sluip-door-kruip-door routes en mountainbike routes. Het strand is redelijk hard, breed en wordt continu aangevallen door grote golven die menig surfboarder probeert te beklimmen voordat ze kapot slaan op het strand.

Na mooie kriskras routes kan je dan afkoelen in een van de grootste zoetwatermeren van Frankrijk, Lac d’Hourtin. Erg lekker water, niet te koud of warm en zonder grondwater geur.

DSC_0062Meer naar het noorden richting Soulac sur Mer wordt het vlakker en minder interessant voor de trailrunner, meer vlak land zoals achter de Hondsbossche zeewering.

DSC_0070Naar het oosten ligt de andere schat van deze omgeving, de Franse wijngaarden van onder andere Pauillac. Wandelen langs de Gironde en de wijngaarden, wijnproeven in een chateau en elke avond een andere fles goede Franse wijn, het leven moet immers gevierd worden. Of het even goed herstelt als een proteïne shake is misschien voer voor nadere discussie, het beviel mij uitstekend en ik genoot op deze wijze van vijf trailruns in zes dagen.

DSC_0044Voor mij is de Gironde een gebied waar ik zeker weer naar terug zal keren.

Maar we gaan nu verder op pad. Mijn trailrun vakantie cadeautjes, een nieuw paar INOV-8 Roclite 305 en Trailroc 285 zijn ingelopen en gereed voor de volgende uitdaging deze vakantie: de Spaanse Pyreneeën, meer specifiek het Nationaal park Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici. Anderhalve maand na mijn trailrun avontuur met PirineosFIT 2017 mag ik weer genieten van deze prachtige omgeving.

IMG_20170730_203256

Geniet van de trails,

ze zijn daar al de hele tijd,

je hoeft alleen maar je schoenen aan te doen en …

op pad te gaan … veel plezier!

”Schema’s aan de kant en het avontuur tegemoet”

Interview in Running Magazine ‘Losse Veter’

Best wel een beetje trots ben ik op een interview met mij in de extra dikke zomeruitgave van het Running Magazine Losse Veter.

… ‘ Trailrunner Geordie Klein duikt letterlijk op’ …

Tja mijn professionele achtergrond als marineofficier bij de onderzeeboot blijft ruimte geven voor allerlei mooie vergelijkingen.

Ik vind zelf dat het een leuk artikel is geworden met een terugblik op de zondagochtend activiteiten met de Prins Willem Zeeverkenners bij Kraantje Lek in Overveen, de Adelborsten – Cadetten sportwedstrijden, de zelf gecreëerde Urban Jungle Runs tijdens de havenbezoeken, mijn huidige passie voor Trailrunning en mooie trailrun goodies van o.a. INOV-8 en Compressport.

Ik heb artikel bijgevoegd.

De Losse Veter is een leuk hardloopblad dus laat je vooral niet weerhouden om na het lezen van het interview een blik te werpen op hun website of misschien het blad te kopen of een abonnement te nemen voor nog meer … ‘uitgebreide achtergrondverhalen, fotoreportages, interviews, columns en adviezen op het gebied van training en voeding’.

Deel 1: Interview Losse Veter Zomernummer 2017 #18

Deel 2: Interview Losse Veter Zomernummer 2017 #18

 

INOV-8 Trailroc 285 Review

Flexible and versatile within limits

Lucky me!!

I was challenged by INOV-8 Benelux to test the new INOV-8 Trailroc 285

during the PirineosFIT2017 Jaca Trailweek.

Six days, six mountain marathons through the rocky Spanish Pyrenees are certainly a good testing ground for trailrun shoes called Trailroc not for nothing!

IMG-20170703-WA0007
Plenty rocky uphills …
19620925_1549645378443508_5039699591564347773_o
… and scree down hills

The new Trailroc do not resemble in the slightest the older Trailroc models, so it is more useful to assess these shoes as a new branch on the INOV-8 trailrun tree.

 

 

First the numbers and data – from the brochure.

  • The Upper:
    • Glued TPU overlays for extra protection on high wear zones.
    • Padded tongue and collar for added comfort.
    • Very breathable mesh lining, good in warm weather.
    • Medium fit ensuring the shoe allows for toe splay while lifting (and a good option for those with a normal to wide forefoot).
  • Midsole:
    • PowerFlow+ EVA cushioned mid-sole together with a molded, 6mm footbed creates light underfoot comfort.
  • Outsole:
    • Combination of three rubber compounds for maximum durability and grip on all hard rocky terrain.
    • Stone protection utilising the new 5th Gen Metashank.
  • Numbers:
    • Weight: 285gm (strangely enough my size UK 9.5 right shoe weighs 319gm and the left shoe 303gm – unsure where the difference comes from).
    • Stack: Heel 21.5mm / Forefoot 13.5mm.
    • Drop: 8mm (INOV-8 two Arrow indication)
    • Lug depth: 4mm (how deep are the ‘rubber points’ of the outsole).
    • Footbed: 6mm

My experiences

I divide my experiences in positive or negative. Obviously this is very much runner dependent. I will describe why I think a feature is + or –  but in the end

‘The proof of the pudding is in the eating’ –

Choose your own treat after running on these shoes yourself!

(Maybe Ice-cream)!

Positive features

DSC_0012
Stone protection plate

Flexible forefoot. The Trailroc 285 is a surprisingly flexible in the forefoot, becoming more stiff from the middle to the back of the shoe due to the stone protection ‘plate’. I like that very much and would place the Trailroc in between the very flexible INOV-8 X-Talon 212 and the stiffer Roclite 305.

DSC_0011
Three compound rubber sole with 4mm lug depth

Grip on dry stones, grass, forest ground. The trails around Jaca gave me every Comfortable fit, cushioning and ventilation. The comfort in the warm Spanish climate of 30+ degrees Celsius was the feature I was most pleased with. Enough room for your toes whilst I did not slip during steep up- or downhill and without the need to tie your shoes very tightly.

The 8mm heeldrop combined with the relative heavy cushioning gave me the comfort I needed for the daily 40+ kilometres: it is a long / ultra trail shoe.

DSC_0004
Toe protection

Toe protection. The rubber toe protection saved my toes on more than one occasion during the mountain marathons, a nice feature which does fortunately not degrades the flexible forefoot.

Negative features

Protection and grip on larger sharp rocks and scree. I found the protection on the limits for steep downhills on scree with sharp stones of with large sharp rocks. These sort of underground I found difficult to navigate on (realising I was still more a sturdy mountain cow than an elegant mountain goat) but was relatively common during the six days in the Pyrenees. For these sort of trails I would prefer a little stronger designed shoe, and was in my opinion passed the limits for the Trailroc 285. Maybe the Roclite 305 would have done better – there were some other runners using these shoes.

Wear and tear.

DSC_0005My shoes showed, not surprisingly, a relative large amount of wear and tear after 360 kilometres of tough terrain trail running, mainly on the sides of the shoes. This may be a result of my use of the shoes in a very harsh ‘shoe’ environment versus INOV-8 balancing sturdiness with flexibility and light weight.

Summary

The INOV-8 Trailroc 285 is an surprisingly flexible trailrun shoe with a comfortable fit and good cushioning even during steep ascents / descents and with good grip on smaller stone trails. For me I will put it between the very flexible INOV-8 X-Talon 212 and the more stiffer INOV-8 Roclite 305.

However, when running through more rough and sharp rocky terrain I found that I was at the limits of the (stone) protection given by these shoes. Also the grip on muddy paths (due to the 4mm lug depth) and wet stones is limited. These are all features that are runner and terrain dependent.

The amount of wear and tear after 360 kilometres of demanding mountain trailrunning was substantial for INOV-8 shoes. Maybe it has to do with my running style but something to consider before purchase.

What are your experiences, please let me know!

 

Multi-stage trailrunning

The ‘Secret’ of recuperation

I was asked a few times how I recuperated during my participation in the six days mountain marathon multi-stage trailrun of the Pirineosfit Jaca Trailweek. Combined with talking that week with other runners and triggered by a article about multi-stage trailrunning on the MudSweatTrails website I thought it may be interesting to write about my own ideas and hear your experiences.

So what is my ‘Secret’? Not really earth shattering but summarised:

Anticipate – Recuperate – Prepare

FB_IMG_1499455171453ANTICIPATE. It all starts already during the trailrun itself. You need to keep yourself well hydrated and energised. This will save your body to overcome first the shortages of that day before building up for the next day and it will also help your result of the race itself!

For this reason I ate approximately seven energy bars and four gels (from different brands, pending the appetite I preferred one or the other) in order to during the long days in the mountains and drank 1.5 – 2 litres of energy drink / water (depending the mountain streams available). This may sound a lot but consider what you normally eat during an 6 – 8 hour period a day.

Good and motivational moments for me to eat and drink where climbing not to steep parts and also promising myself a treat when reaching the top of a mountain or when reaching a mountain pass.

I had time to unwrap bars (leave nothing behind) and allowing them to digest,  drink something and maybe switch water soft-flasks – even adding some electrolytes tablets when I felt that I drank too much only water without any needed salt / minerals. This is all much more difficult when going fast down hill or really pushing your body. When i felt I needed something in those stages I took an energy gel (also from different brands pending my taste at the time).

RECUPERATE YOUR ENERGY SYSTEM. After finishing, besides celebrating the completed challenge of the day with the other trailrunners, recuperation was on directly on my mind. Focus was on drinking to first of all get rid of the build up body wastes and secondly to reload ‘a mountain of proteins and carbons’ by whatever I liked at that moment – indulging & motivating myself a bit.

I drank approximately 1,5 litres of sports drinks directly after finishing and continued drinking through the rest of the day / evening with a mix of carbo and protein drinks. The proteins drinks are needed to support the recuperation of the muscles. That is probably one of the most important things to do when recuperating. On average you need at least to take in 1,5 times your body weight in proteins grams. Just check the packing and you will find out that this is difficult to get only out of food in the few hours left before going to bed and be ready for the next day, also because just after finishing I am not always very hungry, although I really enjoyed the cold pasta salad they served at the finish.

I personally use a in the first few hours fluids to reload. At first TriSportPharma RECUPRO (an specific, optimal mix of proteins / carbons / Leucine especially made for quick recuperation) and later a mix of Vitagro carbo with tasteless Bodylab 100% whey

mix – these brands are OK for my stomach but everybody has to find out themselves what serves best, as long as it contains a high level of proteins and carbohydrates (check the links for more specific information).

DSC_0081
Ice-cream = MJAM!!

Solid food I like is the Icelandic SKIR yogurt or cottage cheese, both with a lot of proteins, together with fruit muesli, fresh fruit etc. And for my ultimate motivation I spoil myself with a large 1 litres Ice-cream with fruit! Maybe not the healthiest part but inspiring for an Ice-cream addict like I am.

RECUPERATE YOUR MUSCLES.  Besides the motivational Ice-cream, I took a nice long shower cleaning my running clothes from the sweat at the same time – I do not have sixsets of running gear -, put on after-sun cream, massaged and creamed my feet and self-massaged and foam-rolled my legs. I always felt a bit ‘reborn’ after these actions!

Deze diashow vereist JavaScript.

DSC_0078
Feet in the air – relax

PREPARE FOR THE NEXT DAY. Rest, drink and eat. For me that meant … feet up on bed, sleeping (with my calves lifted via an additional cushion under the mattress), reading, looking at the great pictures that where made during the trails, drinking carbohydrate / proteins drinks, eating and an occasional stroll in and around the hotel using the stairs or stroll through the town to stretch and loosen the muscles.

I ate quit a lot in the evening – things I liked where: Ice-cream, yogurt with muesli, sandwiches with cheese and chorizo – allowing my body to recuperate and reload during the night. The additional advantage was that I only needed a small breakfast of two coffees and two slices of toast with jam. I had breakfast around 0600, much later than for a one day (road)race. Normally for an 0800 start I would have breakfast around 0400 and don’t drink anything anymore after 0500. It also gave me two hours more sleep every night, which was really welcome!

The slower and relaxed pace at the start of the multi-stage days, literally be ready two minutes before the start (!), I used to warm up the muscles and let the digestion to continue – maybe with a ‘wee’ break. This is impossible in a road race where you have to go ‘max’ from the start.

 

IMG-20170703-WA0008
Pedro Marques

OTHER OPTIONS. My Portuguese roommate Pedro Marques did more or less the same but also had some interesting ideas. He finished in third place overall at the end and is a experienced ultra-runner so at least it works for him.

  • He used baby milk combined with a protein drink after the finish. This went well with his digestion system.
  • He ate some handfuls of nuts and tablespoons of honey.
  • He also ate some baby food products like fruit mixes. Again very light on the stomach and relatively inexpensive when compared with specialised sport supplements.
  • He made some ‘energy cakes’ in the microwave.

During some multi-day trailruns in the Netherlands I also really enjoyed the cakes directly after the finish together with the alcohol free Erdinger Beer. Both I think are good for general carbohydrates reload and motivation (!) but more specialised drinks and food are needed to fully and quickly recuperate.

There is no magic solution but some options are better than others – experiment, investigate, discuss … enjoy!

Pirineosfit Jaca Trailweek – Final Day Six

Return Jaca: Final(ly) a fast mountain marathon!

IMG-20170708-WA0001
FIT 4 Fantasticos with Ana, James and Pedro – READY for Day Six!!

Suddenly it is already the last day of the six days multi-stage mountain marathon of the Pirineosfit Jaca Trailweek.

It turned out to be a great day for me as ‘low land – no hills’ Dutchtrailrunner!

During the start on the Plaza of Jaca it started to drizzle a little, meaning: less heat, and luckily it stayed quit clouded and sometimes a little wet and windy during most of the race. Just my type of weather.

FB_IMG_1499519206057
Rainy start from the Plaza in the old part of Jaca

The track for this final mountain marathon was fast. The first 20km passed in just two hours cruising on wide tracks with not than many stony obstacles (which I am not good at – feeling more like a mountain cow than a mountain goat as some other runners). I found companion with two Spanish runners all the way to the top of the mountain overlooking Jaca. We pushed each other forward uphill but I had to let them go down hill racing via zigzags back to Jaca. The last few kilometres were great, knowing that I finished the challenging (for me first time) six day trail run, feeling well in body and mind, without any injuries and speeding at 3.40 km/minute into the old town cheered on by people shopping and enjoying coffee, finishing in 4.33 hours for 42km and 1700m height gain.

After the long and hard third day I was not sure if I would be able to finish in one piece with my left knee and Achilles a little sore. But the last two to three days brought back my spirits!

I am really grateful that I was able to join this adventure …

… exploring new trails in the beautiful Spanish Pyrenees with a international group of dedicated and partly mad / crazy trailrunners (especially the by coincidence due to driving to the different starts FIT 4 Fantasticos Ana, James and Pedro).

DSC_0102

A special thanks to the whole PirineosFIT2017 team who made this possible …

DSC_0099
Final Day = Paella Day – MJAM!!

… setting out the tracks, providing water along the way, making great pictures, serving tasteful salads (and paella on the last day) at the finish and always welcoming you and cheering you on with a big smile … THANKS!!!!

Pirineosfit Jaca Trailweek – Day Five

Return Canfranc: Zigzagging like a ‘Drunken Submariner’!

DSC_0064
FIT 4 Fantasticos ready for Day Five

The Day five Mountain Trailrun of the Pirineosfit Jaca Trailweek felt for me like being a ‘Drunken Submariner’. Being Submariner is easy for me, that is my profession. And I confess right away that I also have experience to really zigzag like a ‘Drunken Submariner’ in some foreign port.

But luckily I am not always drunk, especially not when trailrunning!

However, today started where we finished yesterday, Canfranc. And just as yesterday, directly after the start we pushed ourselves up the steep slopes using a 100+ zigzags.

Screenshot_20170707-173540
Multiple 100+ zigzags

Ending, after some last steep ‘technical’ climbing a 1000 metres higher just to go down again (as you tend to do with these events!), first over, for me at least, a difficult bolder field, but than ending in a nice winding track all the way back to Canfranc. There I left the half-marathon behind and started the second climb up the steep slopes on the other side of the village.

And yes … again 100+ zigzags …

Ending in a beautiful wide valley with a dozen eagles flying high up int the air.

Screenshot_20170707-171111 (1)
Day Five: up / down the slopes on both sides of Canfranc

It was warm (!) so I was really happy to find at the end point of the trail a ice-cold mountain stream. Refreshed and hydrated I started the last part: a nice and easy old road track, ending again … 100+ zigzags down to Canfranc.

I passed the finish within 6.18 hours with 37km and 2300 metres height gained. Not bad for another day out of the office.

All in all I felt much better than yesterday, even with the heat today. The trail fitted my running strengths better: endurance combined with a relative high ‘basic’ speed and ability to keep pushing uphill or against the wind. Today’s’ trail brought, via all the 100+ zigzags, longer parts with good underground, either up or down which allowed me to go faster.

The last zigzags through the forest I sped downwards as in a road race, really enjoying the chance from pushing up with trailpoles or carefully stepping down through a bolder

field.

I will never become a mountain goat trailrunner but slowly

after five races I am getting a bit more used to it …

five down … one to go … READY!!

Flipper
The Dutch Submariners badge, aka ‘Flipper’

Pirineosfit Jaca Trailweek – Day Four

Candanchú y Canfranc: A ‘Feel Good’ Mountain run with a Brutal end!

DSC_0049Day four of the Pirineosfit Jaca Trailweek started for me as a ‘feel good’ trailrun for many reasons:

  • We started relaxed down hill through a nice forest.
  • It was clouded with even for a few minutes a little drizzle, for me perfect. However my Spanish and Portuguese trail friends dressed themselves quickly with arm-sleeves and even wind jackets, for them it was really ‘frío’!

DSC_0050

  • My legs felt good, which was a surprise after the long and hot run yesterday.
  • IMG_20170706_130446506The route provided again amazing views of the high mountains, but also through a meadow full of cows, steep climbs and hard descends.
  • After 34 kilometres I had eaten all my gels and bars, drank approximately two litres and could see the road to Canfranc, i.e. the finish, but than it happened ….

The track did not go to Canfranc but …

… started a almost vertical climb of 500 metres …

BRUTAL!!!!

That was a bit brutal (understatement), a real test of my moral.  Something similar to a running drill in the armed forces. Just when you see the barracks you are told … ”another round boys!”.

Screenshot_20170706-182353
‘Brutal’ climb and 100+ zigzag

That is how I felt, but than again, it is a mountain trailrun, the organisation already showed the past days they are really good in finding hidden paths through the mountains end most importantly …

Nobody forced me to join this six days trail endurance …so stop moaning … keep calm, carry on and enjoy!

I took out my ‘emergency bar’, got some water along the track and continued. The vertical climb ended in a narrow traverse before descending finally towards Canfranc with a 100+ zigzag descend (at least that is how it felt). The descend was positive both in that it winded down through forest and most importantly, I did not feel anything at my left knee when speeding downwards. Both yesterday and today I felt a slight soreness in the knee when navigating through bumpy meadows and rocky trails. But not after 40km speeding down hill, HAPPY!

I finished just in 8:29:33 hours, i.e. just within the official cut-off time of 8.30 hours (!) for 41km and 2700 metres height gained.

DSC_0047
We did it again!

All of the instant-team ‘FIT 4 FANTASTICOS’ finished again without any major injuries. Just tired after four long runs in the heat. We are now passed the half-way mark, two more to go.

Yesterday I was too tired to go the shop for an Ice-cream but today I feel much better, probably due to the less heat … so ultimate recuperation time for me will start now …

 

ICE-CREAM TIME!!!!!!!!