Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Just shoot it

Ladies and gentlemen, probably the best photography advice ever published: Just shoot it.

Against all odds - after all, their motto is 'DREAM IT. PLAN IT. DO IT.' - I came across this gem in National Geographic Adventure's recent blog entry called The Adventure Life With Steve Casimiro Adventure Photography: Stop And Shoot The Roses. Yes, it's probably one of the worst headlines ever, but please check this one out anyway - the article is short and to the point.

The bottom line is, your worst photos will be the ones you didn't take. So when you get out, be ready. You don't necessarily have to dream or plan anything, just keep moving forward and keep your eyes open. Sooner or later something interesting will happen, and then you have to act at once. If you fail to capture it right there, the moment will be gone forever. Life is not like the Groundhog Day

The only advice I'd add is this: If you can't stop to take a photo, get a camera with a decent image stabilizer and shoot it (and blog it) anyway. Good luck! 

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Runtographs are what I call photographs which have been taken while running. There's no need to sprint, but you are not allowed to stop or walk when you press the button. Those are my rules anyway.  

Both of these photos, sorry I should say runtographs, were shot with my new Casio Exilim EX-Z200 (see previous post for more) - obviously with the CCD-Shift image stabilizer turned on. 

By the way, I ran about 16 km (10 miles) today, which is pretty much average for me. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Casio Exilim EX-Z200

I've been looking for a new compact camera that would be ideal for someone like me, who likes to take snapshots on the run, but won't stop for it - especially not during a race.

Finally, after lots of googling, I settled for Casio Exilim EX-Z200, because it seems to be the only one out there that can provide all of the following features:
  • wide angle 28 mm lens (with a 4X zoom to 112 mm)
  • light weight (about 150 g/5.3 oz. with battery and all)
  • H.264 video (30 fps at 640x480), for iMac (via USB to iPhoto and then drag & drop to iTunes, where it can be easily transferred into iPod)
  • effective image stabilizer   
  • large (2.7"), clear and bright LCD display
  • supports SDHC memory cards (I've got a Transcend 8GB)
  • relatively inexpensive (in case I break it)
  • simple design and easy to use.
I'll post sample photos later on.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

17 down, 35 to go

I ran 62.8 km (39 miles) today in 7 hours and 5 minutes. The weather was awesome: sunny and calm but not too warm.

Actually I planned to run a bit longer than this, but unfortunately the battery of my Suunto T3 watch died when I happened to be near my home. I went inside to replace the battery, and didn't feel like continuing after that.

17 ultramarathons down, 35 to go in 2008! 

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

16 down, 36 to go

Today wasn't as warm and sunny as I had hoped for based on weather reports. It was quite ok though and I ran 53.8 km (33.4 miles) in 6:28. I climbed lots of hills and navigated some muddy single trails.

16 ultramarathons down, 36 to go!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Goggins smashes McNaughton Park 150

David Goggins (age 33) won 2008 McNaughton Park Trail Runs 150-mile race last weekend. His time was 33:36, which translates into average pace of 13:27/mile. That's a great improvement over his 2007 performance, when he placed second in 40:26. 

Ryan Dexter finished second in 36:33. Last year he came in third with 40:40, so he should also feel relatively happy with the results, although Goggins beat him almost by three hours.

Paul Stofko was third with 37:15. His 2007 winning time 35:22 was much better, but even that would not have been enough for a victory this year.

Charlotte Vasarhelyi was first woman in 46:21.

MPTR course consists of a ten-mile loop. There were three race distances: 50, 100 and 150 miles. Complete results can be found here.

The video of the top 150 guys walking in the park above is by Brian Gaines, check out his excellent 50-mile race report.

It will be interesting to see if Goggins can also make an equally dramatic improvement in Badwater in July. Last year he was third there, and the year before that fifth. Go David go!  

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sennheiser MX75 sport headphones

I like to listen to music, podcasts and audio books while running, and I've tried various headphones over the years. 

In practice most of them didn't fit my ears very well: either they didn't feel comfortable, or they didn't stay in place, or both. Also in most cases the sound quality was not that great. 

Many of them have broken down in just a few weeks, so I've learned to keep my eyes constantly peeled on new interesting designs.

Clearly the best ones I've found so far are Sennheiser MX75 Twist-To-Fit In-Ear Stereo Sport Headphones.

The following features make these perfect for me:
  • innovative holding system and a great adapter set - a very comfortable fit, much better than any other design I've tried,
  • balanced and detailed sound - I can hear everything even at a lower volume,
  • rugged materials - they are not likely to break easily, and they are somewhat sweat/water resistant,
  • extremely lightweight (also the cable is ultra light) - they will stay in place forever, absolutely no need to adjust or worry about anything while running.
Although I'm happy with MX75, Sennheiser has also a few other sports headphone models available, with slightly different designs and features. You can't miss them as they all seem to come only in bright green, and they all are certainly worth checking out.   

Friday, April 11, 2008

Tabata intervals

I tried the so called 'Tabata intervals' today for the first time. 

The protocol consists of eight 20-second maximal sprints, with a 10-second recovery period after each sprint. So the whole exercise takes only four minutes. 

Naturally you should reserve time for a warm up and down in addition to this tough exercise.

Tabata intervals are based on the famous 1996 study lead by Dr. Izumi Tabata in Japan. The study showed that this simple and short exercise is very effective for raising your VO2max.

Also in this blog there was a posting about the same subject recently.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The return of the Trail Tarzan

An exceptionally well-written article about ultra trail running appeared today in Denver Westword News: Ultrarunning gets younger - and faster. The article is mainly about 24-year-old Anton Krupicka, who won the American River 50 on Saturday, to qualify for the Western States 100.

Tony is well known for running maximal mileage with minimal gear. No drinking system, no food, no shirt, no socks, no cap, no backpack, no phone, no camera, no sunglasses, and definitely no iPod - you'll get the idea. 

He does wear shorts as well as running shoes - well most of the time, kind of. You see, 'Trail Tarzan' (Running Times called him Tarzan of the plains) races with New Balance Men's 790, but because they are obviously way too heavy, he prefers to do some of his training in Five Fingers or even simply barefoot.

Speaking of training, let's take a look at his week 13/2008 running log:
  • Monday, March 24: 15+8 = 23 miles
  • Tuesday, March 25: 20+5 = 25 miles
  • Wednesday, March 26: 24+4 = 28 miles
  • Thursday, March 27: 28+5 = 33 miles
  • Friday, March 28: 11 miles
  • Saturday, March 29: 32 miles
  • Sunday, March 30: 32 miles
That's 184 miles (296 km) in one week - freakilarious! 

Somehow I'm not at all surprised to learn that Tony has been often injured in the past years. On the other hand, when he is able to race in any ultra trail competition he chooses, he is likely to win it. So I bet Trail Tarzan will be the king of WS100 on June 28 - if he will be able to start.  

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Chrissie Wellington wins third straight Ironman in Oz

Chrissie Wellington of Great Britain captured her third straight Ironman triathlon victory at Ironman Australia

Wellington's triathlon career has been unbelievably successful so far. No one paid much attention when she decided to become a pro triathlete in 2007, although winning her Ironman debut in Korea in August certainly raised some eyebrows. 

That victory allowed her to take part in Ironman Hawaii World Championship in October. Everyone, including herself (according to her blog), would have been positively surprised with a top ten performance. Amazingly the rookie won the WC title, shocking the triathlon world.   

Wellington's 9:03 performance on Sunday left no room for speculation. After swimming 3.8K (2.4 miles) in 53 minutes and 27 seconds, she finished the tough 180K (112 miles) bike course in 5:08. Wellington's 3:01 marathon split was the third fastest of the day - including male runners. She finished the 140.6-mile race ninth overall, beating Australia's Kate Major by over five minutes. 

Chrissie plans to race at Ironman Germany in July. Then she will focus on defending her WC title in Kona in October. This time she will be the favorite.

Monday, April 7, 2008

15 down, 37 to go

I ran 44.0 km (27.3 miles) today in a kind of strange weather: it wasn't raining, but humidity was 97%. It was cloudy and foggy all day. The temperature was +7 degrees C (45 F).

Total time 4:23 means that my average pace was just under 6 minutes per km, which is quite ok, considering I ran lots of hills. I even conquered the biggest hill in town, which I've named the beast. It's not a real mountain, but the steepest sections can provide nice challenges for tired legs.

My new Salomon XT Wings feel definitely faster than the North Face Arnuva 50 Boa, which I should have thrown away a long time ago - they were completely wasted after 1800 km of winter running.

15 down, 37 ultramarathons to go!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

DK wins AC

Dean Karnazes won Atacama Crossing today. His total running time was 31 hours and 49 minutes. 

AC is a 6-stage 250-km footrace across the Atacama desert of Chile. Each competitor must carry his or her own gear, food and clothing in a backpack. Only water, tents and medical care are provided for the competitors by the organizers.

Dean attempts to complete all four desert races in the 4Deserts endurance series in 2008.  

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Runner's World Best Debut

Also Runner's World seems to like the new Salomon XT Wings (see my previous post for more). Here's their video review of this Best Debut shoe (2 min 16 sec). 

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Salomon XT Wings

I've got new running shoes: the XT Wings by Salomon. The video below shows how cool they look. 

They are not lightest ones out there, as my pair weighs 800 g (28.2 oz) for size EUR 44.5 (US 10.5). However, Salomon's weight distribution concept seems interesting. The XT Wings are said to be the result of tests which showed that the total weight of the shoe is not as important as the weight distribution from heel to toe. Salomon claims that while most shoes have a 50/50 weight distribution, it's definitely better if the back of the shoe could be lighter than the front section, and XT Wings are designed that way. 

It's too early for me to confirm any of that yet, but I did a 15K test run today both on asphalt and dirt and the shoes felt pretty good.  

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Marathon des Sables on its way

The mother of desert stage races, Marathon des Sables, started for the 23rd time on Sunday. 

According to the runners it's been a tough race with huge dunes - and plenty of hot temperatures around +40C (104 F) of course. 

Stage one was 32 km and stage two 38 km. Today's stage will be 41 km. I bet it won't get any easier for the runners after that.

Among the 820 runners my favorites to win are Marco Olmo, the 59-year-old Italian who has won UTMB twice (12. after stage two) and Ian Sharman from London, England (16.), who holds the current marathon world record dressed as Elvis.