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Archives for April, 2012

Purchasing nutritional products can be an expensive proposition, even while looking to buy generic supplements bought in bulk.

If you’re looking for an interesting online resource, I strongly urge you to visit Muscle HQ is a daily deal site focused on offering one supplement product per day for a low price.

When something is posted on MuscleHQ that you like, you should place an order as soon as possible. It’s not uncommon to find that deals sell out before the 24-hour time frame is completed.

New deals are posted each night at 8:00 p.m. PST, and are available for 24 hours.

I went to the foot care lecture at REI on Saturday morning.  As you know, 11:00 A.M. on Saturday is a bad time for runners and a lousy time for cyclists.  Us runners are usually doing our post-run socializing until about 11:00 and the cyclists are right in the middle of their Saturday workouts.

The people training for a triathlon don’t even have a chance at making it.  I was there because an injury had me resting for the weekend.  Parking is also tough at the Berkeley REI.  There is plenty of meter parking around the store for $1.50 per hour.  The streets look a little rough but I have never had any problems with parking in that area.  Take standard precautions, I don’t leave stuff in my car.

Enough with the logistics,  I appreciate REI for putting on events like this.  John Vonhof knows his stuff and he has a good website .  John is not a podiatrist; he is a foot care specialist with a goal of keeping us moving on healthy feet.  When things go wrong, he helps us perform first aid and teach prevention techniques to keep us moving.  That being said, the lecture started with a talk about the benefits of shoe inserts.

He held up Superfeet in one hand and Sof Sole inserts in the other hand.  I am a firm believer in high quality inserts, and I think they help me keep my running mileage up.  I used to get all types of injuries before I started wearing inserts.  John pointed out the different types of inserts, shoes and feet.  We should try different things until we get things sorted out.

After insoles he moved on to talking about socks and blister prevention.  I found it interesting that he passed around some Injinji toe socks.  I used to get a lot of blisters on the hilly trail half marathons until I started wearing the Injinji socks.

He spoke about different types of socks and ways to prevent blisters.  One of the hikers mentioned using duct tape to help keep you going after a blister and for blister prevention in general.  John broke out some kinesiology tape and gave us some pointers on how to use tape to patch up our wounds and prevent injuries.  After primary prevention, he went on to discuss first aid for various injuries and types of prevention.  Visit his site for prevention tips.  It has a lot of good information for foot care.

I love to see companies like REI doing all of this community stuff.  These lectures are really informative and helpful.  REI is not a store where I buy running, biking or swimming stuff but they are a great store for warm stuff and stuff you want to try.  They have a good selection of electronics and are one of the few stores that let you return your electronics goods.  Sometimes, you can spend $500 for something and just hate it when you try it out.  Give their classes a try.  The free class was good.  I am thinking about taking the bike repair class for $150.  It seems like all of the pay classes are $20 less for REI members.  I wonder if the REI memberships cost $20?

Mike’s Note:  The street parking isn’t too bad in the immediate vicinity around REI, but don’t stray too far down San Pablo… parking in one of the residential neighborhoods can also be ideal.  Also, feel free to take a look at the REI membership perks, which should be great depending on your likelihood of shopping there.

I am still out with a knee injury.  To help fill up my Saturday morning, I am going to attend the Foot clinic at the REI store in Berkeley at 11:00am on Saturday morning.  This is a bad time for most cyclists and people on the bigger training days but it may work for the rest of us.  There are still 31 seats available and the clinic is free.  The Berkeley REI parking lot fills up fast but there is plenty of street parking on Saturday mornings.  I will be sporting my SFtri T-shirt.  If you see me there, come say hi.

Berkeley REI — Foot Care for Any Sport: Fit, Blisters & More
Date: 4/14/2012
Event Location: Berkeley REI
Event Fee: Free
Time: 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. (PDT)
Presenter: John Vonhof
Group Size: 50

Description: John Vonhof is an expert on foot care. An ultrarunner, hiker, and backpacker for more than 25 years, he has pushed his feet to the extreme. As a paramedic and orthopedic technician, he has treated athletes at top adventure and endurance races around the world. In today’s interactive class at REI Berkeley’s Footwear Festival, John will share his secrets for healthy feet, featured in his book, “Fixing Your Feet: Prevention and Treatment for Athletes”, now in its 5th edition. Come learn about fit, insoles, socks, toenail care, calluses, hot spots, preventing and fixing blisters, properly taping your feet as a prevention/treatment measure, and more. If you register for this free class at, we will hold a seat for you until the scheduled start time. Seating may be available at the door, even if registration is closed.

BikeAlameda, the long-established bike advocacy group in the City of Alameda, has sadly ended its valet bike service.

From BikeAlameda (courtesy of AlamedaPatch):

For the last 12 years, BikeAlameda has provided safe, secure, free valet bike parking at many Alameda events. Over the years we’ve parked thousands of bikes at hundreds of events throughout Alameda. We’ve proven there is a need out there for bike parking. Unfortunately, we are no longer able to provide it. BikeAlameda would like to have some enterprising group or individual take over this opportunity.

Over the years our costs (both financial and administrative) associated with valet bike parking have continued to rise, but the fees we charged and time we put into it were not able to keep up. It is a business with income and expenses that BikeAlameda never intended to run for this long.

Now that BikeAlameda decided to bow out, I’m unsure if a business or dedicated group will step up and help out. If not, it’s a tragic end to a great service that I’ve supported and utilized myself years ago.

There is a lot of confusion related to the human body’s need for carbohydrates, especially during longer, more intense workout sessions.

Why are carbs the ideal fuel for the body?

Well, to put it simply: Our bodies can utilize carbs to help generate energy during rigorous exercise without the aid of oxygen, and we can eat or drink some carbs during exercise to help keep the fuel levels topped off.

Also worth note: Carb depletion is right up there with not drinking enough fluids when trying to figure out why we sometimes bonk.

Before long runs or bike rides, the Alameda Runners love to eat pancakes (normally Ted’s terrific pancakes) with syrup,

For longer workouts, eating carbs days before will help ensure you have a sufficient level of carbs to help fuel you. Each night when we’re sleeping, our bodies use carbs to pump our heart, help keep our bodies breathing, and general physiological requirements that we sometimes take for granted.

Here is what a Runners World story posted a few years back had to say:

What you need are carbohydrates,” says Deborah Shulman, Ph.D., a sports nutritionist in Bellvue, Colorado. Carbs are a good source of glucose, a form of sugar that our brain, nerves, and muscles need to function. A small amount of glucose circulates in our blood, but the majority of it is stored in our muscles and liver as glycogen.

If you’re in it for the long run, consuming carbohydrates and keeping hydrated will give you the energy boost to run stronger during you half marathon or marathon. Many of us drink Cytomax, Gatorade, and similar drinks that have electrolytes, but drinks with carbs can help keep you fueled.

To sum things up: enjoying some carbs during your prolonged workout can help ensure you run or ride stronger with less likelihood of physically cracking. You should also keep in mind that protein and fats are excellent fuel sources, so you shouldn’t go too carb heavy with your workouts. (Alameda Runners plans on calling upon a local sports guru for some assistance related to properly fueling our workouts.)

To help explain further, I have some good reading material for you to quickly read:

Link courtesy of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Link (PDF) to the US Potatoes, discussing carbs, carbo loading, and other helpful information.

Link published by Stockton College, explaining how carbs help fuel athletic performance.

Happy training.


Editors note: If you can only exercise for 1 hour, loading up with carbs will not give you enough energy to exercise for 4 hours.  It takes time and practice to build up endurance.

ematic eSport Clip review

If you are buying a 4gb mp3 player with a camera and tuner for $22, you better bring your sense of humor with you.  I bought my eSport for $30.  I should have gone to Walmart and picked one up for $22 but it was worth extra money to not have to go to Walmart.  I have nothing against Walmart.  It is just the time it takes to get to the store, find the item, then pay for it, do not make it worth the trip to save $8.

Back to the review.  Since I had my sense of humor handy, I decided to get the pink model.  I like the color.  I think it sets my dark running shorts off nicely.

When I plugged the player into my computer, it worked!  It actually started to charge.  To make things better, my Linux Mint operating system recognized it.  I was so shocked my mouse hand went numb!  I opened up a random music folder and dropped the whole thing into the mp3 folder and the player took it.  When I looked at the folder, it contained both mp3 and ogg files.  Ogg is the open source music format.  Since it took the music so easily, I got cocky and drug an avi file over to see what would happen.  To my surprise, all of the music played.  As an added bonus, the Japanese music showed up on the display in Kanji.  The video did not work because I did not resize it.

The music player worked.  The buttons are extremely clunky but navigation is possible.  The player comes with a cheap little speaker that works.  It is kind of neat to clip it onto the back of my bike jersey and listen to poor quality music.  When I am going up the side of a mountain, it is nice to have a tempo to help set a pace.  I don’t really listen to the music but the tempo is there.  I listened to the player through some Bose headphones with satisfactory results.  It was not like listening to the music from a PC with a $200 sound card but the sound was okay.

The video camera works.  With 4gb of available memory, you can record for a while.  The camera works.  It has a flash but I am not sure it does anything.  Half the time when I take a picture, I am not sure if I took the picture or not.  ¾ of the time when I take a picture, I am not sure if I am in the camera mode.  The pictures and video transfer to my computer by drag and drop.

I am currently using it as my car mp3 player.  It has about 6 hours of battery use and still going strong.  When I turn it off and back on, it remembers the track it was playing.  Every time I throw it back into its hole for the trip, it changes the song from the touchy controls that are only sensitive when you don’t want them to do anything.


It is cheap
It works!
Very easy file transfer
Plays variable formats, mp3, wav and ogg.  I did not feel like looking for Apple files to drag over.
Lots of memory storage
Expandable memory
Nice colors
Comes with a cool video about a rabbit


It is cheap
It is slow
Navigation is frustrating
I can’t figure out where the buttons are located
It is big

Final grade – Pass

It is a $30 mp3 player.  It does what I want and some extra stuff.  It is easy enough to figure out.  I did not read the instructions and managed just fine.  The buttons do not work very well but they get the job done.  I will not cry when it breaks.  I bought a cheap mp3 player so I could sweat all over it and not cry when I get caught out in the rain.  Remember your sense of humor when use something like this.