Friday, October 23, 2009

Follow-up on Flowmeter

As a follow up to an earlier post I found some more beta on the new Flowmeter from Camelbak.

Apparently the flowmeter will do a bit more than tell you how much fluid you've consumed.  The display shown above reports how much has been consumed out of the total available.  The amount added to the reservoir needs be entered by the user.  I can't tell for sure bit it looks like that amount will be retained in memory so it won't be necessary to enter 70 oz. every time you fill you 70 oz. reservoir.

Using an advanced mode the user can input their weight and the flowmeter will calculate a PHG or Personal Hydration Goal.  The PHG can also be entered manually if you already know how much you need to drink per hour and can be adjusted on the fly.  Maybe you start in cool temps in the morning and make an adjustment as the temperature rises.  In line with this feature the flowmeter will also indicate how many ounces you still have to drink before reaching your goal.

Another interesting feature is the Estimated Time to Empty.  This figure is calculated based on rate of fluid that has been consumed over time.  A side benefit that comes with this feature is a timer that counts up from the last time it was reset.  Not exactly necessary since most people have their own timekeeping devices already but it another thing they can add to the list of features.  One thing that doesn't make sense to me is that the timer will reset once it reaches 24 hours.  It's not a limitation on the display so I don't understand why it couldn't continue to count upwards to 99 hours.  When your reservoir falls below 10% of the total volume the display will flash "LO" to let you know you will soon turn into a shriveled pile of bones.

The user also has the option to select between english or metric units and the display relies on a set of abbreviations that you'll have to get familiar with listed below:

  • AC: Amount Consumed
  • ET: Elapsed Time
  • PHG: Personal Hydration Goal
  • AG: Amount to Goal
  • AR/TV: Amount Remaining/Total Volume
  • ETE: Estimated Time to Empty
The battery that it uses is a CR2032 watch battery (coincidentally the same I use in Petzl E+Lite).  The device that is used to measure the flow is an impeller and looks quite susceptible to getting stuck.  Camelbak seem to have addressed this by allowing access to it so that it can be cleaned.  

That's nice but I doubt I'm going to stop mid-run or ride and clean it out just so I can get accurate measurements.  The other downside with the impeller is that a considerable amount of pressure needs to be applied to get them to spin.  This means if you don't suck hard enough on the bite valve the meter won't record.  Freezing temps are also going to present some problems but that's already an issue with keeping the tube flowing in cold conditions.  The weight of the unit is still a mystery but not the way it attaches.  It looks as though it uses two plastic rails that slide on straps used on Camelbaks.  So if you're going to use this with a different pack you'll have to figure out a way to keep it mounted where you want it.
At $30, I think I'm going to hold off getting one anytime real soon.  I want to see some initial reports before I take the plunge.  If you've tried it I would really like to hear about your experience with it, please leave a comment below.  You can check out the full instruction manual here if you're interested.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Mtn View Trail Half Marathon

I don't do speedwork.  It's not that I don't like running fast but when I'm training for 50 or 100 milers that go up and down mountains it just doesn't seem prudent.  That and I usually hurt myself in some fashion when I decide to run sub 7 minute miles for extended periods. Well, after coming back from a semi flat weeknight run with a PR and a big smile, Betsy talked me into running the Mountain View Trail Half Marathon that she had already signed up for.
As the race drew closer Greg helped me get ready by doing some focused training earlier in the week that involved post-holing in knee deep snow up Alexander Basin to Gobblers Knob.  The speedwork came on the way down as the weather turned on us and the temperature started dropping.  I think we were both moving faster than we had anticipated that evening.  In retrospect I am sure this is why I ended up doing better than I had anticipated.

On race morning we got there plenty early and I jogged around a bit so I wouldn't cause to much damage from running faster than I was accustomed to.  It was a beautiful morning.  The temperature was a bit brisk at first but as soon as the sun peeked over the ridge it felt perfect.  Betsy was walking around with a fleece and I urged her to ditch it in the car because I knew she would be plenty warm once we got moving.  While listening to the pre-race instructions from RD Jim Skaggs I ran into my friends Jeff Gerke and Ryan and Lindsay Lauck.  It was good to see a few familiar faces because most the people that were there I didn't recognize.  Kind of a road race meets trail event but it was all good.  Over at the start line I ran into Cory Johnson and chatted about future race plans while we waited for Jim to send us on our way.  Cory looked behind me at a tall lanky kid and asked him if he was going to win.  He was wearing a singlet and high cut racing shorts.  He just shrugged his shoulders and said something about being on the Weber State University cross country team.  Hmmm this could be interesting I thought.
Right from the start the pace seemed pretty fast and the two guys that had lined up with singlets were right there as we ran stride for stride toward the first climb.  Once we were on the slight grade I pushed the pace just a little bit to see who was going to hang around.  I have to admit I was having a good time mixing it up at the front and getting my legs turning over.
There was a little stretch of pavement at the top of the climb then we angled off downhill on the dirt road toward the singletrack.  I was a little bit surprised as we turned the corner and I saw the first aid station maybe two miles into the race.  I was even more surprised when I saw my friend David Hayes who happened to be working the water stop, hold up his hand for a high five as I came running by.  We blasted the descent then hit the Mountain View trail that would take us all the way to the finish at the Fielding Garr Ranch.  At this point I was running in 2nd place and decided to have a look around.  There were two guys behind me then a pretty big gap back to 5th place.  The four us swapped off taking turns at the front before Cody (eventual 4th place finisher) dropped off the pace.  Then a short while later I started to lose contact with the Tyson (WSU runner) and Kevin right around the 7 mile mark when we crossed the road for the 2nd time.  By the time I saw Greg shooting pictures, Tyson and Keven had put about 20 seconds on me, a trend that would continue for the rest of the race.  Cody stayed fairly close behind me for the duration and as I closed to within a mile or so of the finish I thought he might catch me as I had to slow down for a herd of buffalo.  In the end I was able to hold him off to slot in to 3rd at 1:28.07, as Kevin jumped around Tyson for the win in 1:25.17 (full results).  I was very pleased with my race since I didn't know what to expect going in and I went under my goal of 1:30.
I hung around the finish for a bit talking with everyone and distracting Aric from from doing his job taking finishing tags.  Soon enough I saw Betsy cresting the final hill, well ahead of her goal with a time of 2:17.  She's been making great progress and I'm super proud of her for such a great effort.
Before we left we grabbed burger from the BBQ and a most excellent homebrew prepared by Jim.  Thanks to Jim for once again running an absolutely flawless event and keeping his deal with the weather gods for one more race.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Seasonal Change

Back in June I did one of my favorite routes with Greg and Peter up the Bowman trail and into Mill A Basin.  Even though it was June we encountered plenty up along the ridgeline, especially on the Millcreek side after we circumnavigated Mt. Raymond.  That day the vegetation was a brilliant green and I snapped a few pics here and there when I got the chance.
This last Sunday we were on the same trail, only going the opposite direction.  Not unusual at all.  But what I did find unusual was that after looking at my pictures from Sunday I recognized the angle and scenery from another set of pictures, the set that I took back in June.  This was nothing that I did consciously, it just happened.  So after looking at the two pictures side by side I decided to see how closely they would overlay on each other.  The result is below.  The scene from June is the dominate green picture in both shots.  Animations below.

Click the two images below for the animation

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Grandview Peak Adventure Run

It's not the highest or gnarliest peak around, but I had my eye on Grandview Peak for quite a while.  I've been close to it several times, in fact the Wasatch 100 course passes within a mile and a half but I've never stood on top.  Bagging peaks is always rewarding, but really the peak was just part of bigger idea I had been working on since last year.  A point to point run from Big Mountain pass to the mouth of City Creek canyon, sticking to the ridge the whole way.  Whenever I mentioned the route idea to others I always got a funny look and a little bit of waffling when I asked if they were interested in joining me, especially from those that had done it before.  When I finally set a date I found that everyone was conveniently busy, so I would be attempting this one alone.

View Big Mtn to City Creek in a larger map

On the drive up to Big Mountain pass I noticed quite a few of big trucks parked along the road and once I arrived at the parking lot my suspicions were confirmed.  Opening day of the Elk hunt had arrived.  As I grabbed one of the last spots in the parking lot and headed off I got a few strange looks from hunters.  I suppose my attire was a little different than everyone else's, black shorts with a red shirt as opposed to the full camo kit with orange vest that seemed to be the trend.

From 2009-10-03 Grandview Peak
The storm that had come through earlier in the week had left a good 6 inches to foot of snow on the mountain.  Straight away I was on snow packed trail as I headed in the opposite direction of the Wasatch 100 route.  I must have passed 20 to 30 hunters in the first four miles or so.  One pair of hunters decided to set up camp right ON the trail, complete with a little fire, unbelievable.  After I got past Swallow rocks I didn't see another soul between there and the peak.  The trail junction was little hard to see because of the snow but I knew I just had to head out on the ridge toward the peak.

From 2009-10-03 Grandview Peak
As I got closer I could someone or something moving around on the peak.  Turns out it was a big bull moose.  I kept an eye on him as I made my way along the ridge and noticed he was making his way down the bowl that I intended climbing up to reach the summit.  So I decided to to stick to the rocky ridge until it became impassable then just wait him out.  He took his time coming down, stopping every now and again as I sat on a little band of rocks taking pictures of him and refueling.

From 2009-10-03 Grandview Peak
I finally reached the summit a little over 2 hours after I started, snapped a couple of pictures then made my way down the west ridge toward the City Creek north ridge.

From 2009-10-03 Grandview Peak
At the saddle between the peak and ridge I ran into a couple of hunters who had just come from the direction I was headed.  I asked them how foolish it would be to run the ridge down to Rudy Flat.  One of them told me it was "pretty" foolish, which I interpreted as definitely doable.  They both looked at me like they would be hearing about me on the evening news that night.  A little further down the ridge and I started to wonder if I might end up on the news as well.

From 2009-10-03 Grandview Peak
I knew there wouldn't be a trail for a few miles but the new snow just confounded the route finding and slowed my progress significantly.  The whole section between the peak and Rudy Flat was definitely a test of patience. The south side of the ridge was often to steep while the north side had a significant amount of snow.  I was ready to bail at one point and head down into City Creek after I realized I bushwhacked out on to the wrong branch of the ridge and encountered the Burro mine.  This little mistake cost me about 40 minutes and involved an unholy mess of a bushwhack.  I finally made it back on to the proper ridge and just about kissed the singletrack trail I saw laid out in front of me.  Now I was cruising with confidence and feeling good.  The trail dropped off the ridge toward Rudy Flat where I found a myriad of trails branching in different directions.  I was able to get a sight of the ridge I needed to be on and followed that trail.  I thought for sure it would be smooth sailing from here to City Creek and just about that same moment the trail just ended.

I desperately searched for a trail through the scrub oak, but there was nothing.  The snow was gone now that I was down around 7,000' so I didn't have trouble seeing the ground but there was no clear path.  No choice but to bloody the shins and just go.  Eventually I made it through and on to the south side of the ridge where I started going out of my way to avoid the patches of scrub oak that littered the hillside, my shins just couldn't take it anymore.  I even down climbed a few rock bands just so I wouldn't have to go through it anymore.  The 4wd double track that I had been waiting to see finally came into view and I finally got to run again as I dropped down toward the mouth of City Creek.  Approximately 22 miles and a little over 6 hours after I started I reached my destination where my lovely wife picked me up.  Even though it was a "downhill" route my watch recorded 5,100' of ascent and 7,700' of descent.  I know I could do this route faster without snow, I just don't know if I'll be attempting it anytime soon.

From 2009-10-03 Grandview Peak

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Rejoice! A Functional Gadget is Born.

I'm a former cycling addict and as a consequence I still watch races and occasionally keep up with new products that I can't afford.  Well, today I found a new product that was presented at Interbike (cycling industry product show).  John Bradley is at the show for Outside Magazine and reported on a great new innovation that will benefit anyone that uses a hydration bladder.

The Camelbak Flowmeter.

(Photo: John Bradley reporting for Outside Online)

According to John the flowmeter fits inline with any Camelbak hydration hose and should cost $30.  Finally, you will be able to monitor your fluid intake without taking the pack off and checking how full the bladder is.

My own observations: It's digital so it's going to need a battery.  The added weight will probably cause the hose to move (sway) more than usual.  Probably not a problem on the bike, but for running I'll need to figure out how to secure it.  I wonder how the internals will deal with anything other than water, such as Gatorade, Powerade, etc.  Hopefully it's water resistant and works in colder temps.

I perused the Camelbak website and couldn't find any signs of it, which is pretty typical with show stuff.  I would suspect we could see it in stores later this year or early 2010.  Any thoughts?  Too much gadgetry for the trail?  Is this something you've been dreaming of?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Post Wasatch

Well, I'm happy to report that the recovery is going well.  I've been out for a few decent runs and enjoyed some time off relaxing with the family.
I finally got around to posting a race report for Wasatch over here.  Just below my post is Erik's and Jay's who both had great runs.  Hopefully Peter will post a report a before too long, he nailed it as well finally catching the Cheetah with a time of 23:36!  In fact 15 runners broke the sub 24 hour mark this year, even with the heat (full results).
Next up for me is the H.U.R.T. 100 on the island of Oahu in Hawaii.  This one takes place on January 16th-17th, on some of the most technical trails found in a 100 miler.  Greg is doing this as well so it should be a good time.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

DIY Plumbing and Wasatch Taper

Another title I was considering for this post was "Why I didn't get my nap". At this point you have probably put the two together and figured out the answer to the nap question. I'll get back to that in a minute.

With Wasatch coming up I've been in taper mode or more aptly named, anxious mode. The extra rest has left my legs itchin' to run so I decided to join Greg for part of the Brighton marathon loop. I won't go into great detail about the route, but you basically circumnavigate Big Cottonwood using the Crest, Mill D, Days Fork and ridgelines. Greg picked me up at Mill D where I left my car (so I could bail halfway through) then we hit the trail from the Brighton parking lot. We gained the ridge via the Dog Lake trail on our way to Clayton Peak. We took note how Timp was hidden by dark gray rain clouds to the south, no doubt heading our way, but we figured we could out run them. Well, that didn't quite happen. By the time we made it over to Scott's pass the wind was howling and the rain was coming down in sheets. Only a few more minutes passed before we made the decision to bail down Guardsman.

With the run finished early I figured I had some time to knock out a leaky shower faucet that had been brought to my attention last night, easy enough right? Before I go any further let me say that I have tackled most of the common household plumbing tasks, by replacing or repairing just about all the fixtures that either produce or drain water. Having said that, the best DIY advice I can give is don't DIY, hire a plumber, rule #1.
If a plumber is not an option then at a bare minumum pick up the phone and call England Plumbing (801.485.3371 or a reputable plumbing supply store if you're outside SLC, UT) to make sure they are open before you start a project, rule #2. Should you decide to tackle the task yourself and England Plumbing is open, then take a good hard look at the problem to estimate the time you think it will take you. Got it? Now double that time and for every decade old your house is, add an hour. That should get you close to an accurate time estimate.
Now if England Plumbing is closed and you have no choice in waiting until they are open, then you will more than likely be going to Home Depot or Lowes, last resort #3. If this is the case double your last time estimate and make sure you have enough gas to make at least two if not three trips back to the alleged "home improvement" store. If your plan includes getting some advice while you're at the Depowes forget about it, they won't even pretend to know what you're talking about.

Now back to my simple little project. Since my job was "easy" I skipped rule #1 and didn't even think about #2 as I have committed their limited business hours to memory. Skip ahead and there I was pulling into the England Plumbing parking lot, happy to see I was the only car, only to discover they were closed for the holiday weekend (insert a long groan here). I was now left with bottom option #3. In the 5 minutes it took to drive to Home Depot I took some deep breaths and tried to put myself in a happy place. Once inside the store I knew all to well where to go and upon reaching the aisle I pulled my parts out of my pocket as I scanned the pitiful selection of valves. "Can I help you?" one of the friendly employees asked. "I doubt it" I replied under my breath before showing him the part I was looking for. "Hmmm, if I were you I would try and find the best match and if that doesn't work keep your 10 foot long receipt so you bring it back. You know you might consider trying England Plumbing". I was shocked, here was a Home Depot employee referring me to my favorite plumbing store. "Yeah, I already tried, they're closed for the holiday weekend" I told him. I eventually found my valves, folded my receipt 6 times so it would fit in my pocket and went home to finish the job. Valve #1 was extracted and replaced smoothly, however valve #2 was left with the locknut seized to the old valve body. Here comes trip #2. Back in the store I wander aimlessly looking for a new locknut to no avail. Again I am asked if I need some help, this time by a different sales associate. I explain my problem and he proclaims the same as the first, you should check with England Plumbing. Unbelievable.

And that is how I missed the ever elusive post run nap once again. The moral of the story? I think I would rather run 100 miles than fix a plumbing problem. BTW, in case you were wondering, the leak has a temporary fix applied until my favorite plumbing store is open.