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I am a fan of organic and natural foods.  I am also a triathlete with a lousy metabolism for endurance sports.  My body does not seem to be able to digest most foods and gels when it goes into endurance mode.  That is a nice way of saying I often get sick or bonk when I do endurance events.  I subconsciously know that I will get sick when I eat something, so I always avoid eating.

Skout Natural sent me a complete set of their products for review a few months ago and I just could not bring myself to write about them.  Every time I looked at the label, I felt that I should be in a Berkeley coffee shop drinking chai tea while writing the review on an Apple computer.  If you are wondering, I am at home drinking Starbucks coffee while typing on a Linux computer.  Sometimes, we need to shed our preconceived notions and move on.

Full review after the jump: 


A couple of weeks ago, we did an article about 110% Play Harder. I never heard of them but after editing the article, I was looking for my checkbook to try some of their products. They were kind enough to send us a pair of compression socks to review. I tried them out for a recovery run a few days after a 70.3 triathlon. It was love at first sight! I have link to their web site here so I won’t go into the advertised details. I will tell you what I think about them.  I love them.

They are an engineering marvel. When you pull the socks out of the pack, they look like a pair of high socks or stockings. (We are athletes, we don’t care what couch potatoes call our gear.)

When you pull the socks on, they form fit to your legs and feet without feeling tight. I can’t figure out how they do it but I am impressed.

The socks are comfortable.

The ice sleeve is built in much the same way as the sock but it is a bit thicker and sits lower than the sock and has openings at the heel and toe sections.

It is lower than the sock so you can have the ice packing hanging out over the top of the sleeve without the ice touching your skin.

The heel opening is for convenience when inserting the ice pack around the ankle and foot.

The toe opening is a bit uncomfortable until you figure out how to adjust the opening around your toes. It is there to assist in placing the ice around the feet and toes.

The ice packs come in sheets with little cubes for the ice. The sheets are shipped dry. They have to be soaked before they can be frozen. This is another marvel of modern science. Why doesn’t the water come back out after they are soaked?

The ice sheets come with instructions about trimming for use. I don’t recommend trimming the sheets until after you have tried them a few times. When you add water to the sheets, they swell up in height while contracting the length and width.

The socks are very comfortable for running. Compressions socks and working out can be a unique situation that is worthy of a separate discussion. It feels great to add the sleeve and ice right after running. I prefer a shower and compression afterward. For me the level of comfort is increased dramatically after a shower. For the recovery run, I wore the sleeves and ice for the commute home. The ice packs did not shift while I was walking and felt great while I was driving home. After a long bike ride, I wrapped my legs with the ice packs and lied down for a little while. The feeling on my legs while lying down was fantastic. After the ice melted, I removed the sleeves and ice packs and wore the socks around town. I went out to get my laundry and see a show while wearing my snazzy socks. See above picture.

These socks are really nice.  As soon as my wife stops complaining about my lost Maui Jim sunglasses, I am going to buy the shorts or kinickers to match the socks.

Pyle Waterproof MP3 Player

I have not been writing much lately so I was a bit surprised when a set of Pyle PSWB4BL Waterproof Neckband MP3 Player and Headphones for Swimming, Water Sports showed up on my desk for review.  I happen to be training for a triathlon and swimming every morning is part of my training routine.  I have a love-hate relationship with MP3 players designed for swimmers.  I love listening to music when I swim.  I hate the fact that all swim music players have problems.

The Pyle is one of the cheaper swim MP3 players around but it seems to have the fewest problems.  I like the plastic neckband, headphones and player all in one unit.  When I use other models with a clip-on MP3 player headphone cord, I have a lot of problems.  The plastic head piece is great.  It works under the band for my goggles.

The Pyle has to be the simplest MP3 player on the market.  I plugged it into a Linux computer, a window opened and I did the old drag and drop from a music library to the device.  No muss, no fuss… just drag and drop.

The player has an on/off button, a volume button and a forward/reverse button.  that is it, 3 buttons.  I am swimming.  When I swim, my arms are too busy to be playing around with buttons.

Here are some details from the Pyle web page with my notes under the Pyle stats:

4-GB Memory Storage
You can hold an obscene amount of music on 4-gb
High-Fidelity Sound Reproduction
I don’t notice if something has high fidelity when it is on MP3 format
Supports MP3 and WMA Music Formats
I put both onto the device with no problems.  I did not try OGG files
USB 2.0 Compatible For High-Speed File Transfer
I tried 4 different operating systems and it worked on all of them
Rechargeable Battery Provides Up To 10 Hours of Play
I have about 5 hours on the battery with no problems
Includes 6 Pairs of Earbuds (3 Sizes for Water & 3 for Land Use)
It is a good thing there are options.  I wear a medium in the left ear and a large in the right
Waterproof Rating IPX-8 For Submersion Up To 1 Meter (3.3 Feet)
So far so good.  I do knock the ear piece out, every now and then
Technical Specs
I don’t know much about the technical specs but I do know that you should rip all of your songs in the same bit rate.  the higher bit rate the better.  If you rip at different bit rates, your volume will vary and you will either blow your ears out or the music will dim.
Distortion: <0.1%
Lithium Battery: 190 mAh
Signal-to-Noise Ratio: >70 dB
MP3 Bite Rate: 8kbps ~ 320kbps
WMA Bite Rate: 32kbps ~ 192kbps
Frequency Response: 20Hz-20KHz
Earphone Output Power: 5mW + 5mW
Operating Temperature: 41°F – 104°F (-5°C – 50°C)
Sold as : Unit

Final thoughts:  I like the Pyle MP3 player.  I usually lose the sound in one ear after about 30 minutes for one reason or another.  I don’t let it bother me and continue to swim.  I suppose I could keep it going for a whole swim if I tried but it is not worth the effort for me.  I am happy that I can do flip turns and push off the wall as hard as I can without the ear buds coming out.

Review: Technogel Contour Pillow

Sleep is important for the rest and rehabilitation of the human body – it doesn’t matter if you’re an athlete needing muscle recovery time, or a full-time office worker sitting at the desk all day.

A quality mattress, comfortable sheets, and good pillow all help you fall asleep and comfortably, with research proving how important a good night of rest is, both physically and mentally.

I’ve had a pillow made by Technogel for a number of months now, and it has proven to be the best pillow I’ve ever owned.  The Technogel Sleeping Contour pillow is a product from a very respectable company that is gaining a stronger footprint in North America.

The first few days can be difficult as you try to learn the most comfortable position for your head on the pillow, because there is no  push-back on the shoulder for folks that sleep on their stomach. However, I prefer to sleep on my back so using the Contour is ideal, even if I don’t necessarily have neck, back or shoulder pain.

One of the best aspects I found about the pillow is that if I placed my head on the pillow, there were no general areas of indentations – the pillow molds itself so ensures the surface remains the same.

The cover is 100% cotton and the standard size pillow measures 26”x16”x4.5”, but please keep me in mind that the pillow have some bulk.

From Technogel:

“Note that our pillows are much heavier than what you may be used to, and what we classify as a ‘standard size’ is actually a full queen so I would only recommend a king size pillow if you have a really large bed.”

On a warm evening, the pillow does a good job of staying cool, offering a more comfortable surface prior to bed.

You can find the pillows at brick and mortar stores including Mattress Discounters and Sleep Train Mattress Centers here in Northern California.

This is by far the best – and most expensive – pillow I’ve ever owned, and sleeping on anything else now feels uncomfortable.  If you’re interested in learning about what Technogel pillow would be right for you, please visit to read about all of the company’s pillows.

I challenge any other pillow makers to take the challenge and try to top it.

If shopping for energy gels, the majority of athletes immediately think of Clif and GU, and disregard other products available. I understand the reasoning behind this decision, as gels are typically expensive and athletes often are creatures of habit.

If you’re willing to mix things up and give a new product a try, we may have found something of interest for you.

Vitalyte is a company that you may not have heard much about, but it’s a well established company with products ranging from energy gels and electrolyte supplements to chia seed bars. I recently tested out the Raspberry Vitalyte Chia Surge energy gel, and want to share my initial thoughts.

Full review available after the jump: 


The bamboo bottle is a really nice bottle.  I don’t know who came up with the idea of using bamboo to insulate a glass bottle or why it took so long but it is a great idea.  I like to use it as a coffee cup or a protein shake glass.  The nice thing about glass is that is cleans so well there is no taste carry over.  The glass is heavy enough to use as a weapon if someone gives you a hard time.  Here are my thoughts.  The sippy straw is not shown out of contempt.

  • The glass liner does not change the taste of my drink
  • The glass liner cleans very well
  • The lids form a tight seal without the use of an O-ring
  • Three lids – one for drinking hot stuff, one for cold stuff and one for sealing
  • It is made in the most environmentally responsible way possible with our current technology
  • It looks good
  • It has a sippy straw


  • It will make you feel dumb when you put it in the dishwasher with the bamboo insulator attached
  • You can’t carry it in a bike carrier or a runners pouch
  • The sealing lid does not seal very well without using an O-ring that you have to find yourself
  • It is small
  • The bottles are hard to find
  • It has a sippy straw conspiracy
  • There are 3 lids to keep track of.

I like the Bamboo bottle.  Sure it is heavy, bulky, hard to find, needs to be taken apart to clean and you have to find your own seals for the lids but it is nice.  The glass does not change the flavor and is the most environmentally friendly , insulated bottle on the market.

Back in the early days of triathlons, “PowerBar” was the name for sports nutrition just as Gatorade was the name for sports drinks.  With the popularity explosion of endurance sports in the 90’s, new players entered sports nutrition and raised the level of quality by leaps and bounds.  The new companies started out small with a customer first mentality while PowerBar acted like a big corporation treating customers like consumers.  For whatever reason, PowerBar decided to bring out some new products that people like and try a comeback.

When I received a package from PowerBar to try, I wondered how I was going to try the products.  I remembered the old nutrition paste product that I would stick to my bike for a triathlon.

I decided to go all in with PowerBar for a 20-mile run.  I took a picture of my three gel packs, energy blast pack and lone energy bar.  It is a bit more calories than I usually consume in a 3-4 hour run but it is always good to practice consuming calories for long distance days.

After running for about an hour, I started munching on the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip energy bar.  I had no problems digesting the bar and it tasted good.  It is always easier to eat something that tastes good.  I think the bar is designed for people who are not running and eating.  I had some problems with breathing while running and eating a product that breaks apart.

When I ran for about two hours, I tried a couple Strawberry Banana Energy Blast chews.  These things were extraordinarily good.  I’ve tried many chews that left me on the side of the road miserably ill.  These things tasted good, went down and stayed down.

I tried a Raspberry Cream gel a little while after the chew.  I usually choke down gels and hope they don’t make me sick.  The PowerBar gels are thin, tasty and go down really well.  I really liked the taste of the Raspberry cream.  I kept mooching the chews to help with the boredom of a long run.

Near the 3-hour mark, I had the vanilla flavored gel.  It tasted good and went down as easily as the raspberry cream.  About 20 minutes later, I had the double latte.  The latte flavor did not sit well with me but my run was almost over so I was not worried.  My total for the day was a 3:30 run while consuming all of the calories I carried with me.  I was tired at the end of the run but I felt nutritionally sound.

The PowerBar comeback is complete.  They came back in a big way with great products.  I have a lot of nutritional products to choose from.  The product that I grab first, are the ones I like the most.  After my PowerBar trial run, I always grabbed the PowerBar stuff first until it was gone.  The PowerBar turn around is an amazing surprise.

Hydrapak E-Lite Vest Review


Hydrapak E-Lite


Running long distances requires us to carry enough supplies to last the distances we are running.  I usually carry a water bottle in a fanny pack and stuff as many supplies as I can into the small pouch.  This works fine for runs less than 15 miles.  When I go longer than 15 miles, my nutrition requirements change and I need to carry more supplies and more variety.

The Hydrapak E-Lite vest has six front pockets to carry stuff.  The six pockets gave me enough room carry a Samsung Galaxy S3 phone, an iPod, one Payday bar, two energy gels, one pack of energy chews, and one energy bar with room for more.  Of course, it also carries about a liter of water in the back pocket.

Hydrapak front view

Take note of the hose location

The Hydrapak fits really well.  It is pretty cool how they use support material in the front straps as the main stability brace.  The side straps clip in and are easily adjustable by pulling on the thumb loops to tighten or lift the plastic retainer to loosen.  I like to clip both retaining clips together with the adjustable straps loose to put the pack on then tighten everything up after it is on.

When I start out the weight is evenly distributed between the front and back with a little more weight on the back.  A full pack of water rides higher on the back then drops down as the water is consumed.  You can drink almost all of the water in the pack with just a few ounces remaining.  The water does get warm on hot days.  I recommend a lot of ice in the pack.  Do not put the pack in the freezer as the hose connection piece will freeze preventing the hose from being installed until it melts.

Full review after the jump:


My list of items to review is starting to back up so I decided to get out do some reviewing.  I started out with a 1 hour weight lifting session this morning followed by a glass of chocolate milk for breakfast.  This left me pretty hungry before my lunch time run.  About an hour before my run, I ate a Lemon Honey Stinger Waffle.  The first time I had a lemon waffle.  I liked it every bit as much as the honey and vanilla waffles.  I have to admit that I was pretty hungry and in the middle of a stressful morning so the peace and the lemon waffle worked magic on me.
I carried an Osmo sports drink with me for this run.

The Osmo sports drink goes down really well.  Of all the sports drinks that I have tried, Osmo is the easiest to drink, by far.  I drank it cold on a very hot day.  Within 30 seconds of taking a drink, I could feel myself starting to sweat.  It goes down well but it left me thirsty after taking a drink.  The feeling went away after a few minutes but it was odd to feel thirsty right after drinking.  I ran for about an hour and drank a 24-ounce bottle of Osmo during the run.

My thirst was satisfied and I did not feel like drinking anything after the run.  I usually toss down a 24 ounce Gatorade after a run.  Today, I left it untouched.  The Osmo sports drink is low calorie so I carried a gel with me on today’s run.  Lisa from Osmo, tells me that calories should not be consumed from liquids.  That is something that moms have been saying for years.

I carried a Honey Stinger Organic Pomegranate gel and I loved it.  I don’t know if it was because I was hungry or that it was just good.  I usually take a gel and choke it down and hope it stays down.  The Honey Stinger tasted good, went down well and stayed down.  I don’t know how the Honey Stinger will work for long efforts but it does pass the short term test where I can eat it while tired and it stays down.  It also helps that it is mostly organic.

The Osmo sports drink and the Honey Stinger gel are both worthy of a serious trial.  I will be doing 3 hour runs again in September.  I think I will put these two products to the test during a big run.  The reason I try new products on a long run day and not a big triathlon training day is the distance from my car or house if something goes wrong.  Crashing on the bike when you are 50 miles and a big hill away from your car can make for a very bad day.

Timex Marathon GPS watch

I strapped on a brand new Timex Marathon GPS watch that goes for about $100 on  It is well documented how little I like to read instruction manuals on how to use a watch so I did not bother with this watch either.  I pushed the mode button until it said run.  It was searching for satellites so I figured that was a good thing.  It took a little longer to lock than the Garmin 405 but not much longer.  I had to hit the start button twice before the timer started.  After a couple of minutes of running, I looked down to see what the watch was doing.
It showed 3 readings, elapsed time, distance and pace.  I was happy and kept on moving.  When I checked again, about a mile down the road, I could not recognize the numbers.  It took me a minute to figure out what the numbers meant because they were in kilometers and I never monitor my pace.  At the 5 kilometer mark, the watch beeped and appeared to stop.  I pushed some buttons to get it going again and wound up starting a new lap.  In hindsight, the beep and stopped time was there to let me know the lap time and would have resumed, if I left it alone.


  • A GPS watch for less than $100
  • Can be operated without reading instructions
  • Light weight
  • Great battery life
  • Fits small wrists


  • Reads in kilometers out of the box
  • USB charger does not talk to a computer
  • No HRM but not expected at price

I like the Timex Marathon GPS.  It is a nice light GPS watch that does not break the bank.  It is worth the $100 price tag and the great battery life allows you to throw it in a gym locker for two weeks then take it out for an hour jog.