Sunday

Bait and Switch: Is MoviePass penalizing its most loyal subscriber base? Offers more expensive take it or leave it plans to existing customers.

My wife and I both have MoviePass subscriptions but I somehow am the only one to receive a take it or leave it option to more expensive plans, they also don't offer me the lowest priced subscriptions  currently provided.

In the light of this experience, we are confused and disappointed by the way MoviePass has decided to treat their most loyal customers. We don't watch more than 5-8 films a month and sometimes during cheaper matinee shows. This experience is disappointing being supportive subscribers with MoviePass for the past 2 years. Recently the app has broken where it doesn't support hybrid theaters where a portion of the seats may be D-Box seating only.

The strategy they are using is to track their subscribers usage (and perhaps average ticket price) then force the subscriber to pay more for less. Part of the problem is likely that the theaters and production companies don't need or want MoviePass's user data so the only way for MoviePass to be profitable is to hope that their subscribers watch less than 6 movies a month in the deals they've made with theaters and distribution companies.

We will have a discussion and decide whether we want to cancel our subscriptions and use the money towards online content such as HBO Now, Amazon Prime, and Netflix. A subscription to HBO Now and Netflix is only about $30 to $40 a month compared to the $75 for two subscriptions to MoviePass.  We can also get tickets online through AAA for $8.50 that are good for any 2D movie at anytime, even peak weekend hours. So we may go out the movies less but we'll be saving money not just on movies but eating out as well. Eating Thai delivery and watching the latest episode of Boardwalk Empire doesn't sound bad at all.

*Some subscribers claim only being offered $45 to $50 for (6) movies a month or only the $99 a month plans. So the practice is even more aggressive against high volume users of the MoviePass service.

Still want to experience more?
View this email in your browser
Dear John,

We started MoviePass to make it easier to see more movies in theaters and encourage the exploration of cinema.  We constantly strive to provide the best service to make this possible, and as a result, we are making some adjustments to our membership plans.  
Below we have 2 new plans to choose from.  The Premium Plan now features any large screen format.  In addition, we now have a Standard Plan that offers a total of 6 2D movies per month.
Once you’ve had a chance to review plan options, as well as read and approved the updated Terms and Conditions, please select your new plan, which will begin on the next billing cycle on 07/26/2016:

Your plan will take effect at the start of your next billing cycle. You also have the option to cancel at no charge.  If no decision is made by your next bill cycle, your account will be placed on hold.  We look forward to providing you the best theatrical subscription service on America’s largest theater network.

For more information check out our blog post here.
Select Plan
Thank you for your continued support and love of cinema.

The MoviePass Team
Copyright © 2016 MoviePass, All rights reserved.


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Thursday

Beware of possible Uber Scammers as well as late Lyfts.


My wife had a flight booked from San Francisco back south to Los Angeles, she gets on Uber and an Uber driver is just around the block who accepts the request for service. HOWEVER, the driver then claims the ride as being picked up and in the car then continued to drive away from her to downtown San Francisco. My wife watches helplessly as the Uber drives all over San Francisco, while on the phone with my wife, and all the while collecting the fare.

At this point, since the driver seemed crazy or lost, then making her late for her flight. So we've decided to request a Lyft. After 20 minutes of requesting a Lyft, the original Uber driver shows up,(Lyft, where were you? Late?) who then continues to tell my wife they would keep driving after they dropped her off as to offset the fare? WHAT?

A prompt email and call was made to Uber about this experience and that they need to refund some of the fare as she wasn't in the vehicle when the driver originally started the fare. I guess this just shows how easy it is to take advantage of the Uber and Lyft apps, leaving consumers exposed to types of malicious fare charging behavior.

Otherwise, we've had good experience when the driver is able to do their job and understands the service.

Sling TV, HBO Now, and others unstable on Amazon FireTV Stick. Stable via Chromecast.

UPDATE: 2016

SlingTV and HBO Now are fairly stable on Android and iOS devices but on the Amazon FireTV Stick, it seems to be a blackhole of freezes and resets. I'm coming to the conclusion that Amazon FireTV is good for one thing and that's Amazon Prime and Amazon provided content. Third-party apps are unstable consistently.

HBO Now and SlingTV are so unstable on Amazon FireTV and much more stable via Chromecast from my Android phone and iOS tablet that I have to have both connected to my television and I switch inputs sometimes.

Saturday

Cutting the cord with the Sling TV app and Amazon Fire TV Stick Review (Sept. 2015)

I recently decided to cut the cord to cable TV. I purchased an Amazon Fire TV Stick for Amazon Prime and subscribed to SlingTV. However, the HBO Now and SlingTV apps are so unstable on Amazon FireTV Stick, I will opt to use my Chromecast for those apps and cast them from my Android or iOS tablet.


Equipment:
Amazon FireTV Stick - current equipment

PROS:
- Cut cable bill from $155/month to $87/month for 300Mbps/20Mbps internet connection. Saving of $68/month
- Sling TV subscription includes log in for WatchESPN app in addition to it's 20+ channel line up and additional subscription packages.
- Amazon Prime is now on the 56" TV and Amazon Videos work nearly flawlessly.

CONS:
- On Amazon FireTV Stick the SlingTV app freezes and drops video streams consistently. It's an annoyance and disruptive. But on iOS an Android devices, SlingTV as well as other apps are much more stable.

Conclusion:

Amazon Prime on Amazon Fire Stick works nearly flawlessly and provides a very good experience so far.

However, Sling TV, HBO Now, and WatchESPN apps on the Amazon Fire Stick both drop video streams often enough and disrupt the viewing experience.

Can I live with this? SlingTV, HBO Now, and WatchESPN work well for the most part on the iOS and Android tablets and phones but through Amazon Fire Stick it's pretty unreliable.


2013 - Mavic Aksium Wheels seams that look like cracks

I  noticed that there are cracks in the wheels directly across from the valves. I first thought they were broken and possibly manufacture defects. However, I found out they are simply non-welded seams. One of the seams are a little uneven and I'll have to see if that's why one of my brake pads are wearing oddly but they are there by design just in case you were wondering too.




Tuesday

Sparkle Athletic (Team Sparkle) Virtual 5k for Rett Syndrom Awareness





I am a little late to the game but help support my friends and their efforts to help find a cure for Rett Syndrome and raise awareness.

http://sparkleathletic.com/shop/teamsparkle-virtual-5k/

Participating is easy:

1. Sign up for the #TeamSparkle virtual 5k. Registration is open 2/9/15 – 2/24/15.


2. Run/walk/roll at least 3.1 miles (5k) anytime between now and Saturday, April 11th, 2015. However, we’d suggest you complete the 5k the weekend that we are running Ragnar So Cal (April 10th-11th). YOU will be receiving a real, actual bib AND a beautiful, sparkly, die cast #TeamSparkle medal the week of April 6th.


3. Share your pictures with the rest of #TeamSparkle on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter using the hashtags #ragnar4rett and #TeamSparkle. Post pics of your #flatsparkle (the clothes & gear you are rocking), your medal, your run, and anything else you want to share. Although you may be racing virtually, by posting your pics to our Facebook page, or using the hashtags on Instagram and Twitter - we can cheer everyone on! -


See more at: http://sparkleathletic.com/shop/teamsparkle-virtual-5k/ and sign up!

2014 - Asics vs New Balance vs Brooks and more

I ran 500 miles in few months this year and put some miles into some shoes. It's been 3 years since my first examination of Asics vs New Balance and my observations haven't changed. This time I'm adding in Brooks and Merrell Barefoot shoes into the mix.

Asics use gel soles with some of their Blur series using light, supple foam. Uppers are still ample and high quality. 
New Balance uses their Abzorbz Foam technology with light, durable fabrics in their newer and light shoes.
Both still do the job well, both offer a range of supportive to neutral running experiences. When comparing their newer lighter offerings, they become similar in many ways.

Asics still provides subtle gel-cushion, protective shoes with lighter than ever materials while keeping their snug wrap around feel. The latest Asics Kayano 20 are light, supportive, and probably the best rendition of the Kayano I have ever tried and I've been a fan since the Kayano 16s. I have a problem with pronation so after about 120 miles the cushioning became lopsided. I'd recommend these for 150 miles of running. Might last longer for those with less pronation or suppination (landing on the outside of the foot). They are on the higher end of shoe prices but the technology speaks for itself. You can often find last year's models on clearance. They still make the ultra cushioned and supportive Cumulus and Nimbus for those with a need for more cushioning.



New Balance 890s are still a public and triathlete favorite with a generous heel and nice mid-to-forefoot rake. I'm more of fan of the RC1400 and RC1600v2. These are minimally cushioned, flatter, neutral running mates. They do come in a little narrow so you'll need to try them on. I found them to be ultra light, provides just enough cushioning (my best 1/2 marathon of 1:46.43 was in the RC1400), and they are more neutral as they don't have an aggressive heel-to-toe rise. It's subtle and feels natural.

RC1600v2
This year I ran 208 miles in a pair of Brooks Cadence 2. They are into their 3rd version of the shoe and they are cushioned, light, and the integrated tongue is great so it never drifts to one side. These shoes lasted me about 200 miles on pavement before I had to stop wearing them. The tread was still decent but again with my weight bearing on the outside of the foot, it wore it down at about 175 miles into them. Fresh and new, these are a great set of shoes and I can see why people love Brooks.
Brooks Cadence 3
Merrel Road Glove 2





Recently I started running in Merrel Road Glove 2 minimalist shoes. Been loving it, only running about 12 miles a week.









Merrel Trail Glove 2



I also ran the Wild Wild West Marathon/50k (3rd oldest trail marathon in the USA) in a pair of Merrell Trail Glove 2.






New Balance RC1400 Glow
I'll be running next week at the Dumbo Double Dare at Disneyland (10k+1/2 Marathon) in a pair of New Balance RC1400s (the glow in the dark ones).

So go out there, try on some shoes. Have fun and let your feet and body be happy.




Monday

Goodbye heel strike! Hello neutral strike and good running form!

I've been hampered by a hamstring strain since October but kept running on it and finally got my gait checked out and been seeing a physical therapist for the past 3 weeks. Since October, I've turned to a high veggie diet, started working on core strength, hip strength, leg strength, and foot strength.

First was watching a video of my bad gait. My right foot obviously landing oddly. Then last week the PT found my left foot is pigeon toed. Foot strengthening and ankle strengthening is supposed to help correct this issue. With the hamstring, increasing hip strength, glute medius and maximus, while increasing core strength is supposed to aid in this new running form I'm trying to adopt.

I'm learning it takes time, lots of practice, and many hours put in running to develop the muscle memory and the muscles in the right places to support a good running form. It's actually more work than I thought which has made me realize how inactive so many other muscles were in my bad running form.

I'm also reading the Cool Impossible by Eric Orton (He coached Christopher McDougal who wrote Born to Run). The book is filled with feet, leg, and core strengthening exercises all aimed at strengthening running. It's been almost 4 weeks, I'm feeling a little stronger, a little better in form, and running isn't painful anymore, just hard work! One my moments of realization was landing each step with the core and starting the knee drive from my feet to my core and hips. So much to work on...

I've also switched to zero drop shoes. I'm feeling a little weakness in my feet but slowly strengthening. I'm running in Brooks PureFlow2 which are cushioned zero drop and RC1400 racing flats. My next purchase may be a pair of Altra which run about a half-size small.


Richard Diaz of Diaz Human Performance giving me a gait and VO2 analysis.

Friday

The Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend- 2014 Dopey Challenge - 48.6 Miles COMPLETED!



Last weekend me and my girlfriend completed the Walt Disney World - Dopey Challenge which consists of a 5k, 10k, 1/2 Marathon, and Full Marathon on consecutive days. The total is supposed to be 48.6 miles but with the extra walking to bathrooms, pictures, and side things it came out to about 50 miles on my Garmin.

Firstly the events are fun and if you stay at the Disney World Resort at a Disney Hotel they provide the transportation to the hotel/resort and all the events, including the runDisney Expo. Also if you stay at a Disney World hotel you get to their new MagicBands! This becomes your room key, park tickets, credit card... nearly everything!

Transportation from the airport

Magic Bands!



We arrived Tuesday night, had a nice dinner at The Flying Fish on the boardwalk (took a taxi). Great food, we really liked this restaurant. It was the best fine dining experience we had all weekend.



On Wednesday, took the shuttle to the Disney World ESPN Sports Complex to pick up our runner packets, drop bags, and jersies. We also picked up a Dopey Challenge commemorative pin and a couple other small items. It was all really well run and in the lines were smaller and moved quickly in the other buildings compared to the main expo center. They had a lot of new runDisney themed shoes too. Notice the little Mickey symbols inside the shoe!

Wide World of Sports



runDisney booth

runDisney Expo

runDisney New Balance shoes


We stopped and talked with our friends at Sparkle Athletic where my girlfriend picked up a pair of their Shwings (little wings that attach to your shoe) and also picked up a pair of Altra shoes where they had a nice expo price for them. We had a late lunch appointment at Fulton's Crab House in Downtown Disney and then tickets to Cirque du Soleil's La Nouba that evening so headed down there.

Fulton's Crab House is the boat


La Nouba theater


So... the running events... waking up and going to the 5k was not so bad. We got these cute pluto medals made of rubber. We spent the day at Animal Kingdom and returned to our room early in the evening. We went to bed as usual and made it to the 10k the next morning a little tired. After completing the 10k we headed to Epcot and spent the day there. We made it a point to return to the room early and get to bed by 8PM and wow it worked wonders because we were getting up at 3AM each day for the events.

1/2 Marathon start


We ran the 1/2 Marathon without issue. It went through Epcot and Magic Kingdom, ended early enough and we spend the day napping for a couple hours then headed off back to Epcot for the Pasta Dinner Party, we started walking back around 8:30 (since it opened at 7PM) and it started to pour! Wow! We got drenched and made it back into bed by about 10. Next time we are going to skip the pasta party since we really need the sleep to get up at 3AM each day, so we learned something. Excellent! However after getting our pictures with all the characters, we got back a little a later than intended. We only got about 5 hours of sleep before waking up to go to the full marathon.

Pictures with all the characters each event is themed with


The full marathon was grueling but not as bad as anticipated. We ran through all four parks and I was tight and a little sore from the 1/2 marathon the day before. So I went it at a slow pace but it was great running through some incredibly cool areas of the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. I tried all I could to keep up with the 4:45 group but ended up finishing at 5:11ish.

Walt Disney World Marathon start

Disney Speedway (we got to run around the whole race track and they had lots of cool cars to take pictures with)

Overall we had a great time running the events, it is really well organized and the bling was worthy of every minute running. We got to visit all the parks and even spent time with a friend, all on this trip. Will I ever try the Dopey Challenge ever again? I really don't think so but it was a wonderful experience to run the Inaugural Dopey Challenge and the Inaugural 10k to get those limited edition keepsakes. Thanks runDisney, Disney World, and all volunteers and workers that made this a really cool event!


Epcot during the 5K
Thanks for the magical memories!







Thursday

Are New Balance 890 v2 and v3 good?

New Balance improved the 890 models with the v2 making them possibly the best triathlete running shoe for 2012. I personally feel they are one of the top running shoe choice out there right now.

The New Balance 890v2 includes huge improvements upon their previous v1 models. New Balance has improved the tread and the shoes are especially designed for neutral runners with little heel to toe rise. The treads are grippy and more durable, the shoes feel lighter, and somehow they encourage neutral gate running. Also they are well cushioned and their light weight let's the legs cycle through easily.

With the release of the 2013 890v3, which are just as good if not better than the v2s, you can find bargains on the v2 models at stores now.  On a side note, they do fit like they are 1/2 a size smaller but they break in over time fit snuggly like an extension of foot rather than over supportive clogs. They definitely are my current favorite running shoes.


Wednesday

2013 Asics vs. New Balance - Running Shoes


Asics Gel-Cirrus33 2
Asics use a gel like cushioning they call Gel. They are well known for this and many people prefer them. New Balance uses a foam based cushioning which is just as effective and most of the time, feels lighter. Other brands include Nike, Brooks, Saucony, Reebok, etc. but this article is about Asics vs. New Balance for 2013.

My shoes from 2011 kept up so well during 2012, I didn't have a chance to write about anything new in 2012! However in 2013 it's a different story. Just a reminder, I link to the men's version of the shoes most of the time but they are available in women's models as well.


The 2013 Asics Running Shoes  product line includes a whole line of Asics 33 standard shoes. Remember they started off with the Blur33 and Rush33 in 2011? Now they have over 12 combinations of Asics33 models. They still have the Blur33 but now in the company of the Cirrus33, Lyte33, Neo33, and Excel33. No longer is the Rush33.

Asics GT-2000 GTX
The second generation or 2.0 models of the Asics 33 Collection still come with the gel like cushioning and good quality uppers. The Cirrus33s provide maximum cushioning and flexibility while the Lyte33s offer a lighter and faster option. These shoes work for me really well with bare feet, that is without socks on.

Asics continues to manufacture some of the most popular running shoes in terms of support shoes and cushioned shoes. The Nimbus 14 and Cumulus 14 continue to be the their highly cushioned shoes.


New Balance 890v3
For support shoes, the Kayano 19 and GT series are still the meat of their line-up. My favorites are the GT2000-GTX series with trail friendly GoreTex and treads since I'm on the trails and run in wet weather. The GT-3000 series are for serious over-pronators and the GT-2000 are solid as always, they are just a tad lighter than the Kayano but still provide that keen support. The Kinsei 4 is an even lighter alternative at 11.4 ounces. Asics continues to selection of trail and cushioned shoes as well on the Asics Running website.

So what about New Balance? They've been busy too, in addition to the 890v3, the 3rd version of my favorite mid-support shoes and they've also been evolving their Minimus line as well. 


New Balance Leadville 1210
Some of my favorites are the specially themed shoes, like the Men and Women's limited edition 990 NYC shoes. Still available are the Women's Leadville 1210 editions.

New Balance uses foam technology that does a great job and to me, perhaps not to everyone, have a lighter feel. My 890s are some of my favorite mid-support running shoes, the 890v3 are essentially the same rendition on a great model. The 860, 990, and 1080v3 models remain popular choices as well.


New Balance Minimus Trail 20v2
Back when New Balance revived their athletic shoe status with the Minimus brand a few years ago in the cusp of the minimalist running movement, they gained popular traction with runners everywhere and they continue to evolve the Minimus brand with the 10s, 20s, 20v2, and Zeros. Also in the line-up is the Minimus Ionix 3090. For those who want minimal to very little padding, these are the most popular and well received shoes in the minimal category next to five-fingers.

Thursday

Gu vs. e-Gel vs. Clif Shots Gel vs. Hammer Gel

Update: April 19, 2016
I received a message from Mike at e-Gel with some updated information about their products.

"We took all the colors out of e-Gel about three years ago and all flavors are natural with the exception of vanilla strawberry slam which is natural and artificial. The alternative to make this last flavor all natural would have been to add dairy which causes problems in lots of people. The other five flavors are all natural flavors and sweeteners and no color."
Thanks for the information Mike.

Update: February 2015
I've gone through my supply of e-Gel and as much as it helped with cramping late in runs with it's copious amount of sodium and serving calories, I decided the artificial coloring and flavoring were big enough factors to stop using them. I seemed to get a sour stomach much quicker during 4+ hour runs. So I've been using Salt Stick Caps and Clif Gels and Honey Stinger gel for the most part lately with Xtend BCAA in addition to a mostly veggie diet with high consumption of bananas and chia seed. No cramping and my recovery times have improved as well as the intensity of the recovery process. I just ran a 5k, 10k, 1/2 Marathon, and a Full Marathon on back to back days and only took 2 days to recover and go on a light run. Cheers! I've started to cycle a lot now and stick to Roctane, Clif Shots, Clif Bloks, and Honey Stinger gels. I'll take Salt Sticks on crazy hot days and I also use Nuun and Skratch on weekly metric centuries.

I tried to use Cytomax protein carb mix but I can't take the flavor and texture.

Original Post:
After many cramps I've finally settled that e-Gel and Salt Stick Caps are superior and typically a better value in terms of performance when it comes to cramps. Why? Simply by pure comparison, they both provide more salt and electrolytes per serving than their competitors. While Gu, Hammer Gel, and Clif Shots Gel may assist with performance, e-Gel and Salt Stick Caps can stop cramping in it's tracks by packing the most punch. Purely by ingredients, Clif Shots and Honey Stinger gels seem to be the most free of artificial ingredients.

Why am I geeking out on gels? It's because cramps got me in the last mile of 3 trail races (18k, 15k, and 11k) in a row. Greatly frustrated, especially since good runs turned into bad ones at the last mile even with Gu, Gatorade, and water. I had even trained well for the races. Discouraged at this point, I started looking into what I could do to avoid another bad day.

After months of experimentation, I now use gels and salt caps in most if not all my runs. I typically use Gu, Hammer Gel , and Clif Shots Gel for daily runs, however when I need heavy support, I turn to e-Gel and Salt Stick Caps, all with water of course. These latter two products are superior in Sodium, Potassium, and Magnesium (Salt Stick) supplementation.  I used to be a non-believer but in conjunction with strengthening, stretching, massages, and using a roller, Sodium, Potassium, and Magnesium are very useful elements when it comes to muscle cramps.

So I know that these products work very well for me after trying just about all tricks, but don't listen to me and simply look at the ingredients and the amount list provided by each product manufacture:


e-Gel vs Gu: 4x more Sodium and 2x more Potassium than Gu


e-Gel vs. Gu Roctane: almost 2x more Sodium and Potassium at 1/2 the price.


Salt Stick Caps ingredients:

Saturday

Evolution Solution - Infinitize/Refinitize Product Shoot

My friend and owner of Evolution-Solution asked me to provide him with some product shots. They make a performance supplement and a recovery/protein supplement mixed with water or any other fluids you prefer. Both look promising!

Infinitize is marketed as premium endurance sports supplement designed for athletes to sustain stable energy and mental focus while preventing cramps and muscle burn during activity in their Berry Chill flavor. It's packed full of BCAAs, Taurine, vitamins, and minerals to keep the body willing during extended workouts.  Want to know more? Here is the supplement breakdown.

Refinitize is their protein recovery supplement which includes whey protein, BioAstin antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and additional amino acids to aid with recovery and muscle development post work out in Chocolate flavor. Want to know more about what's in it? Read here.

Both products can be mixed in water, milk, or any liquid of your preference.
Infinitize - Performance inter activity supplement

Refinitize - Post workout recovery supplement

Monday

Best Sunglasses for Running (Oakley, Tifosi, Optic Nerve)

Tifosi Pave Polarized Fototec Lens
I've seen people run with anything from your cheap gas station to high fashion aviator style sunglasses, so in the end it probably really doesn't matter but a few companies do market their wares to the consumer with an active lifestyle.

There are a number of popular choices when considering sunglasses for running. Let's look at what athletes look for in sun glasses, which is shielding from the sun, rain and elements, while fitting well and looking at your best. They should stay off cheeks and be stable running, jumping, bouncing and even when taking a fall.

Many runners prefer light frames that grip and will endure the elements during the activity. Popular models seem to be sun glasses with the bottom half of the lens exposed. This allows one's vision not to be obstructed by a frame at all, giving them full vision of the ground.

Nike Miler
Polarized lenses eliminate the glare away from wet surfaces, reflective surfaces and snow. Hydrophobic coatings allow moisture to run off the lens without streaks or smears.




Oakley Flak Jacket (LiveStrong edition)
Many runners profess their loyalty to Oakley. I am one of them. The polarized versions of Oakley Half Jacket and the Oakley Flak Jacket are two of the most popular among runners, triathletes, racers, and most everyone exposed to their marketing. The Flak Jacket does have additional benefits as they have a hydrophobic coating which repels moisture and also has a lighter frame.


New Balance (women's)
Also popular are Tifosi Optics which are popular with cyclists, Optic Nerve Sunglasses have gotten a lot of good reviews, then of course the big players Nike Running and New Balance provide some eye wares as well.

Sunglasses are not going to make anyone faster but you can look good and protect your vision getting to the finish using polarized lenses and get a hydrophobic coating kit.



Thursday

2011 Bulldog 25k and 50k Ultras Recap

Preparing for the 50k start
This year's Bulldog goes down as one of the toughest races ever, seriously. On August 27, 2011 the 20th anniversary of the Bulldog 25k and 50k Ultras took place in Calabasas, California on one of the hottest days of the year. The 50k race started off without a hitch at 6:30AM and the 25k at 7:30AM. Many did not finish but I've read that some competitors finished the 50k under the 9-hour cut-off. Congratulations! It was no easy task!

According to mapmyrun.com, the 25k course was over 15.7 miles with 2500ft of accumulated altitude gain, double that for the 50k. On fire roads, through dried out creeks, hopping through smooth boulder out-crops and along engaging single track switchback trails, this course literally has it all. The views along the ridge overlooking Hidden Valley and the Pacific Ocean on the opposite side was a sight to see. Each aid station was well stocked, supported and sight for sore eyes after each segment. The final aid station was located in a shaded grove right next to a creek crossing a couple miles from the end of the course turning out to be a good place to take a dip and hydrate before continuing with the rest of the course. However, before one could finish, they had to get through the deathly hot single track switchbacks where it hit well over 100 degrees before coming out the hills towards the home stretch.

Getting ready for the 25k start
The heat was present in full force as it took it out on participants in numbers, causing many DNFs this year. I brought two 20z running NF bottles but only took one with me which turned out to be much too optimistic. After 2 hours of climbing uphill my left calf started cramping. Looking back, there's a lot of should have's, like I should have brought up both water bottles and spent more time at the aid stations. I had to bear down between aid stations as I ran low on water twice and with mostly exposed trails, it was one of the toughest runs I have ever encountered. It pushed me to my limits.

At one point along the last stretch of the single track switchbacks temperatures hit above the 100s which only increased my resolve to finish the course, as quickly as possible since I had crossed the 3 hour point. I simply couldn't get my body temperature down to continue at pace and early leg cramps had slowed me down already so I tried to enjoy it as much as I could. As I jogged/walked the last couple miles I could hear a number ambulances coming in and two helicopters in the air above me. Through all the heat, dust and 15 miles, I was able to smile as I passed a group of park rangers on horseback sweeping the trails. This Bulldog was well worthy of becoming a major accomplishment.

The 2011 Bulldog has become a conversation piece in the community. The volunteers, ambulances, the helicopters, the sweepers, the rangers and race director supported the event incredibly well. I tell my friends at one point towards the end I thought I was going to be in a really bad spot and had pushed myself harder than I thought I possibly could. I am constantly surprised by how strong and compassionate people can be in the trail running and ultra running community. Looking back at it all, I can't wait to do it again. Everyone who finished worked hard for their medals and those who didn't can still say they did something that most would claim is simply crazy. Next for me is likely the XTerra Trail Run series which start off on October 16th, I'm already itching to run it.

Dave's blog at Wonderful World of Dave also recaps the 2011 Bulldog with more pictures. 

Saturday

Asics Blur 33 vs. Rush 33

Asics Blur 33
The Asics Blur 33 and Rush 33 are available. Finish Line has them in multiple colors and Road Runner Sports is taking orders too. I just happened to go by the local Sports Authority in town and they have two colors of the Blur 33 in stock and one color of the Rush 33.  At the store, I had a chance to try both the Blur 33 and Rush 33.

First, both Asics 33s have minimal to no heel to toe drop. They feel different from typical running shoes where they are supposed to feel natural and free. They are Asics answer to the minimalist running movement, however, they aren't very minimal. The Blur 33 is plush, includes gel cushioned soles and feels similar but not exactly like the Nike Free. In fact, my Kayano 16s feel stiff compared to the softness of the Blur 33s. There is good flex in the forefoot and the tread grips nicely. However, they are not as light as advertised and I am wearing the US9.5 Men's which come close to 11oz each. The shoes are true to size in length and fits a bit snugly around the midfoot with socks but they fit perfectly barefoot. The Blur 33 feel good running and have grown on me with the plush cushioning comfort without any the heel to toe drop. I've also been running in Kayano 16s and New Balance 890s which seem firm after running in the Blur 33s.

Asics Rush 33
The Rush 33, Asics low mileage minimalist shoe is a bit of a surprise and not in a positive way. They are stiffer across the outer sole and has no cushioning. On the ground, impact is not softened, the feel comes through. The Rush 33 are $20-$30 less than the Blur 33, however, the lower cost isn't all positives. It translates in to some attributes that make them seem less. The upper mesh is not very breathable nor does the materials used seem to be as of high quality. The Blur 33 is simply built better, breathable, comfortable, and uses better materials compared to the Rush 33. However if you're looking for a stiff, close to the ground feeling ride, the Rush 33 will deliver. The Rush 33 will make a great gym shoe because they are flat, complimenting a natural stance and help with stability because you can feel the ground through the non-cushioned soles. Two very different shoes in the same Asics minimalist line up but both can serve a purpose and they come in some great colors.

In conclusion, running in the Blur 33 proved they are well cushioned with a very soft, gel feel for those looking for cushioning in a shoe but prefers no heel to toe drop. The Rush 33, the closest to a minimalist shoe that Asics has produced has no cushioning, feels stiff and makes a good gym shoe but it could be improved by using the same light and breathable upper mesh material in its bigger sibling Blur 33s.