Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Running in the Rain

By: Maggie

Finally getting back into a training routine. It helps having A TON OF NEW GEAR! I got to really break in my new Altra Lone Peaks on a muddy trail run. I also just got my Suunto Ambit2 and can't overstate how excited I am to have a badass GPS watch. I could track my heart rate, my pace throughout the run (average and at any point), my elevation change… it was… AMAZING.

The run started of innocuous enough in light mist and rain. I love Redwood Regional Park! Great rolling climbs and awesome views. Running on the West Ridge today, the mist was blowing over the ridge and was thick as I came down off of it. Such a great run!

After about an hour of magical running in what could have been Narnia, things got all Blair Witch REAL QUICK. Owls were hooting, some guy came out of the fog and passed me, and my heart rate jumped to like 200 (thanks, Suunto).

All in all, a great way to kick-off another great training season! Bring on the rain!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Brew: Oskar Blues Ten FIDY

Today went pretty well running-wise, and because I logged a tough 15 miles, I decided to treat myself to some liquid gold, Ten FIDY. Oskar Blues Brewery hails from the great state of Colorado and produces a number of mouth-watering beers, which until now, have been difficult to track down in NorCal. Previously, I've had to stock up while visiting my mom in Massachusetts, but thankfully the local Whole Foods has my back. Keep an eye out for it over the next couple months, as it's only released in the fall.

This is seriously one of my favorite beers. I'm a sucker for thick, boozy imperial stouts, and Ten FIDY doesn't disappoint. When I first cracked the can open (canned beers CAN be good!) sweet roasted malts slapped me in the face. It pours a deep black, viscous like motor oil, with a one-finger, mocha colored head. 

The nose is out of control in the best possible way. Huge amounts of roasted malts intermingle with dark chocolate, making for one of my favorite smelling beers. There's something reminiscent of ripe raspberries mixed with dark stone fruit.

Sipping on this is just as pleasurable as the smell. Loaded with dark malts and grains, this heavy-hitter coats your mouth and lingers. The 98 IBUs (a way to measure the bitterness of beer) are hidden surprisingly well by sweet caramel and are mostly noticeable in the finish. Touting a huge 10.5% ABV, Ten FIDY goes down way too easy. All the more reason to drink it up while it lasts! The flavor profile becomes more pronounced as it warms, so don't be afraid to let it sit for 15-30 minutes.

If you enjoy stouts, specifically roasty, thick ones, then do yourself a favor and find Oskar Blues Ten FIDY. It's a delicious dessert beer and pairs well with salty and sweet treats alike! 

Saucony Kinvara

By: Maggie

So at the recommendation of this crazy runner guy I know and love, my first pair of trail running shoes was the Saucony Kinvaras. I liked them so much, that I bought another pair (not pictured). I just bought my third pair to kick off this spring training season, and I'd like to reflect on how much I love this shoe. And I took some photos of a new shoe next to my oldies.

I started running last year, like, maybe 10 miles a week, if anything at all. I ramped it up to around 30 miles a week, eased into the 40s and peaked at a couple 50 miles weeks. Not much to some, but a big deal to me. Anywho, I'm guessing I racked up about 400 miles on the first pair of Kinvaras this fall. And even though they're a little dirtier, have some holes in the sides, and have lost a bit of traction, they still feel great.

Enough with the life story, here's what I love about them. I CAN WEAR THEM SOCKLESS. My feet like to be naked. The shoes were great from day one- no blisters, no rubby hot-spots. I still prefer to wear them sans-socks unless it's cold or wet (yeah, yeah I'm not some tough ultra shmuck). I did get a chance to wear these in the snow, and they (understandably) were a bit slippery. I have never trail run in ice and snow, so while it was fun, I felt like Bambi on ice.

I also liked that the shoes were LIGHT. Like SO light- I am used to running in shoes like the Asics Nimbus- which, while cushy and pillow-like, now make me feel like a Clydesdale. The Kinvaras remind me of soccer cleats- they are supportive and have enough cushion that the bottoms of my feet weren't sore on the longer runs BUT they still let my feet really connect with the trail. It's just me, my foot, and the Kinvara making magic out there.

One complaint, and I'm not even sure if this is really an issue. But the laces are a LITTLE short. I had a hard time tying a double-knot until that crazy runner guy showed me how to tie my shoes. So thankfully I can manage, but Saucony, if you're reading this 1) Hook a sister up with a sponsorship. If you think about it, slower running = more advertising time on the course!! 2) Make your laces like 5" longer.

P.S. Are you there, Saucony? It's me, Margaret. I'd also accept a position in your legal department in lieu of sponsorship.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Trail: Wildcat Loop + Upper Meadow (Rancho)

By: Maggie

It was a beautiful morning for a run at Rancho San Antonio today! This was one of the first places that I ran on trails, and it's perfect for beginners because you will never be alone out here, which can be eerie before the sun comes up. That being said, it can be SOOOOOPER crowded, especially on weekends. The lower dirt parking lot (marked as my start/finish) is usually full by 7:30am, so get there early or go on a weekday (ideal!)

It's also great for beginners because it has a nice diversity of trails, all of which are hard-packed dirt with few or no obstacles like rocks and roots. There are some wide fireroad trails that stay fairly flat, and there is even more "single track," narrower trails with a lot of tree coverage. There are two summits: the top of PG&E (about 1200' of climbing) and Black Mountain (about 3000' of climbing). And there are plenty of trails in between!

This is a regular route for me because it's not as steep as the PG&E trail, but I get the same overall elevation gain AND it's more mileage- yay!  I've seen a lot of people doing laps out here, but there are so many trails I don't see the point in repeating the same loop twice. 

The view from the top is always worth the climb :) My route climbed up the ridge to the left (north) of the powerlines. The PG&E trail climbs up the right (south) ridge.
Heading down the Wildcat Loop trail to the Rogue Valley trail is a series of switchbacks - fun to run fast! But definitely have to watch out for hikers and walkers. Keep an eye out for lots of deer, bunnies, and wild turkeys. Fun trails- I just wish there were a good breakfast place nearby!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Brew: Belle Bier Brut

By: Maggie

BREW: Belle Bier Brut
BREWERY: Devil's Canyon
BOTTOM LINE: Great beer! I want about 8 cases on ice for my first summer boat trip. Or maybe my first summer Sierra run ;)

LOVE IT: It is light, crisp, and has a refreshing tang to it. It reminds me of another beer I love- and am drinking tonight- Allagash White Ale. Just sour enough to make itself known, but sweet enough to remind me of champagne. In comparison to Allegash, it doesn't have the rich floral taste at the end, but is almost, if not equally, satisfying. The smell is really subtle. At 6% ABV, it's a little low for my usual suspects, but I could drink this all day. Me likey.
LEAVE IT: I love this. BUT if I had to improve on perfection... I'd bump up the ABV and saturate the flavors a tad more. No real complaints. I will be looking for this to take home! I also love that it's a local San Carlos brewery. Bartender said they're moving soon- I'll have to scope them out!
TRACK IT: Brown Chicken Brown Cow in Campbell with an order of spicy BBQ chips!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Brew: Drake's Denogginizer

By: Stevie

This week's liquid treat comes from Drake's Brewing Co. -- located in San Leandro, CA -- which is one of my all-time favorite breweries. An impulse buy at Trader Joe's, it was well worth the $7. I've had Drake's Denogginizer (Imperial/Double IPA) more times than I can remember, both on tap and in a bottle, but it's always refreshing to revisit beers.

9.75% ABV - It's a heavy hitter!
I'll start with the appearance. I didn't have my usual arsenal of beer glasses since I'm Maggie's apartment in Oakland, but a wine glass did the job perfectly. It pours a rich amber hue with a two-finger, khaki white head that clings to the glass, leaving a heavy lacing after it finally settles.  

The nose is what really excites me about this brew. Sweet grapefruit and orange take the forefront, followed by piney hops and bready malts. It's mouthwatering.

I didn't find the taste as appealing as the smell, but it's by no means bad. It has a pleasantly rounded flavor characterized by sweet malts, grains, caramel, and citrus. I'm missing the heavy hops noticeable in the nose, but they're present towards the end, which is followed by a subtle alcohol burn.

A medium mouthfeel and solid carbonation keep you coming back sip after sip.

For the price this is one of my favorite beers, and since it's readily available at TJ's, I always keep it in rotation. It's on the milder side for a double IPA, but those who don't want to get kicked in the teeth by hops (as Maggie's puts it) will find it approachable -- and delicious! 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Brooks PureCadence 3 first glance

By: Stevie

These are only my initial observations. I haven't had the chance to put any serious miles on these...yet.

$120.00 (8.6oz.)

We just received our shipment of the Brooks PureCadence 3 and, wow, what an update! Part of the PureProject line, the Cadence 3 blends the benefits of a lightweight, low-drop (4mm) "natural" shoe with a touch of support, resulting in a plush yet responsive ride.


The stiff heel counter provides noticeable support and locks my heel firmly in place without feeling overly snug. The lateral sides of the heels feature a unique design in which the corners are rounded, reducing initial pronation. I've worn the shoe sockless multiple times and am pleased with how soft the materials are; however, the forefoot is a bit stiff, and I can feel the overlay dig into my toes when it flexes. Hopefully this will work itself out after a few runs. Built on an anatomical last, it opens up into a roomy toe-box, and although it's narrower than the previous model, there is still plenty of room for toe splay. Probably the coolest feature, though, is the widened Nav Band which wraps the midfoot to provide mild support for over-pronators. 

Less important, but still worth noting, is the color! The aqua blue (which I've dubbed Blow Pop Blue) looks fantastic. It's a shade rarely seen on running shoes.


The cushioning is noticeably softer than most other shoes I've tried in this category because of Brooks's use of Biomogo DNA, which is an eco-friendly biodegradable midsole. This is especially important since I burn through the PureProject line fairly quickly; around 200 miles.


A wider platform in the forefoot allows you to strike evenly without having to overthink your stride. The flex grooves are well thought out and provide a smooth transition from heel-to-toe. It'll probably handle just fine on hard-packed firetrails and loose singletrack, although I wouldn't trust it so much in wet conditions.


I'm really excited to put some miles on these, but without being able to justify a new pair of shoes right now, that'll have to wait. Brooks doesn't spare anything when it comes to form and function, and the PureCadence 3 is a perfect example. It'll work well for neutral and over-pronators alike and is the ideal option for those looking into a more natural ride.

Trail: Strawberry Canyon

By: Maggie

Took a couple hours between classes to run up the Strawberry Canyon trail from the Berkeley campus. This is definitely one of my favorite runs because it's accessible right from campus, but also because it has a nice butt-kicker climb within the first mile and then evens off to an easy, level fire trail. It also connects to the Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve a couple times. Both the Strawberry Canyon and Claremont Canyon trails sit between the larger parks of Tilden (to the north) and Sibley (to the south). You can reach both parks from this trail. 

There is a dirt parking lot just up the Centennial Drive from the UC Berkeley football stadium. Not a lot of room in the lot, but it's hardly ever busy. You can keep driving up the road and park/run up in Tilden, too. Or just park near campus and run up the gravel path along the road. No bathrooms or water on the trail, but there are both at the rugby field on Centennial Drive.

Love my Saucony Kinvaras! I ran my 50k in these shoes in December, but they still feel great. Sides are getting torn out a bit, but I'm planning on keeping these in my shoe rotation. Socks optional! :)

Wilder and Santa Cruz!

By: Stephen & Maggie

Sunday morning run (not so successful) out in Wilder, followed by a trip to the Santa Cruz Patagonia outlet (much more successful!) Thanks to Stephen for showing me all of these trails around his stomping ground.

Stephen modeling some of the gear!  We both ended up with some great steals!

Ain't no party… like a panini party!

Made AMAZING portobello mushroom paninis, with dijon mustard, veganaise, and pea shoots. Yummmm!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

ALL the time

By: Maggie

Nike Allover Flash sneak peek

What it looks like in the daytime/full light
Same location and lighting as picture above but with camera flash
By: Stevie

Recently, I was fortunate enough to inherit the Nike Allover Flash jacket ($500) from my boss at The Running Revolution. This thing is insane. The entire outside of the jacket is made from glass-beaded material, resulting in 360 degrees of 400-candlepower reflectivity. The photos below show just how powerful the light-reflecting properties are. The first picture was taken under fluorescent bulbs that light our store. The second picture is the exact same conditions, but with the flash on my coworker's iPhone turned on.

I haven't had the chance to run in it yet, but I'll post a more thorough review once I do. Just from wearing it around the shop I've noticed that it doesn't breathe very well, but I'll confirm that on the trails!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Brew: Uinta Brewing - Monkshine

By: Maggie

BREW: Monkshine
BOTTOM LINE: I was drawn in by the stylish simplicity, but totally turned off by the way-too-simple taste. Probably a decent beer for a hot beach day, but nothing special (sorry Uinta!!)

LOVE IT: Organic - YES! All beers should be organic, right? I appreciate the simple label and simple marketing. Belgians- yum.
LEAVE IT: Too simple. It doesn't taste like a lot went into this, which is a shame since it seems like it did! I wish it had more of an aftertaste or great smell, but it doesn't. I guess I appreciate complexity more than I thought.

Brew: 2012 Stone Imperial Russian Stout

By: Stevie

Poured from a 22oz bomber into a Deschutes snifter. Do this beer justice and serve at room temp!

A: Pours a thick, deep black with a 2 finger mocha colored head. Nice retention that dissipates slowly, leaving a good amount of carbonation bubbles around the side of the glass. Alcohol legs are definitely present.

Sm: Huge amounts of roasted malt on the front. Coffee, and chocolate dominate, followed by fruity esters. A hint of caramel and vanilla. Alcohol is subtly present.

T: Almost spot on to the smell. Roasted malts are the key player here. It's so much like sipping on a freshly brewed cup of dark coffee that you could crack it open to have with breakfast. The finish is smooooth, and the bitterness is well balanced by the sweetness of the malts. The 10.5% ABV is well hidden and only briefly noticeable as it warms on the way down.

Mf: Full bodied all the way. Deliciously thick and creamy with just the right amount of carbonation to keep you interested.

O: Another gorgeous beer from Stone and an RIS at its best. I'm excited to try this with a little age on it.

Altra Lone Peak 1.5

 By: Stevie

Working at a running shop has its perks. Flexible hours, inspiring aspiring runners, geeking out on the latest-and-greatest tights, and most importantly, free shoes. During the 4 years that I've worked in speciality running, I've been lucky enough to acquire an unhealthy amount of shoes from nearly every imaginable, and reputable, company. Reps often seed shoes to sales associates in specialty shops in order to encourage the staff to run in their products, making us more knowledgeable, and thereby growing brand awareness. Because I've run in a broad spectrum of shoes, ranging from the highly cushioned, highly supportive Brooks Trance to the brutally minimalist Vibram Fivefingers, and everything in between, I thought it would be fun to do some write-ups on my favorite products and those which have fallen short.

$115.00 (9.9oz.)
A few weeks ago the new NorCal sales rep for Altra approached The Running Revolution (where I've worked for the past 3 years) and asked if we would consider opening an account with them. I had the pleasure of trying an Altra 2 years ago, the original Instinct, and while I wasn't entirely impressed with the shoe – it felt clumsy and an update away from being viable – the idea excited me. Flash forward to the end of November 2013, and I'm singing a different tune. I'm pumped to have found one of my favorite pieces of footwear, the Lone Peak 1.5.

Altra, as a company, impresses me for a variety of reasons: 1) As an extremely young competitor in the speciality running shoe industry – 3 years young – they are number eight in sales 2) Although they have a solid concept, there is nothing revolutionary or gimmicky about it 3) They look great. I'm not one to (always) match my shoes to my outfit, but damn, do they make it easy.

So, let's talk deets.


Because I do the majority of my runs sans socks, a comfortable upper is essential, and the Lone Peak 1.5 does not disappoint. While not completely seamless, it does a fantastic job of staying practically frictionless. I've done multiple 10+ mile trail runs in these sockless and have never once felt a hotspot or chaffing, which bodes well for longer distances. The materials, while airy and breathable, have so far been durable; oh, and they're vegan friendly for those counting. :)

The heel counter is fairly flexible, resulting in a very pliable, plush fit, and although the heel has never felt sloppy, it does tend to allow my heel to slip, most noticeably when climbing. It hasn't been a hinderance, just more of a nuisance. The shoe widens noticeably through the midfoot into an expansive and roomy forefoot, which allows for ample toe-splay and swelling during long runs. An asymmetrical lacing pattern provides additional support and helps to relieve pressure on the top of the foot. Another cool design feature is the use of velcro on the heel to which you can attach gaiters. I love thought-out products!

There are almost no overlays on the upper, except for a protective toe-bumper and semi-rigid synthetic rubber panels on both the medial and lateral sides, which makes for an excitingly flexible feel.


The entire Altra footwear line utilizes a zero drop design, meaning that there is no difference between the height of the heel to that of the forefoot. In theory, a zero drop shoe helps the runner land more on the midfoot, increasing efficiency while decreasing impact. More traditional shoes, in contrast, are designed with a heel-to-toe differential of 10-14mm. Because I run the majority of my miles in the Saucony Kinvara (4mm drop), I wasn't expecting to feel a difference. The first run proved me wrong. My calves were noticeably more sore than expected, but after a few weeks my muscles strengthened and the pain receded. 

Another benefit to the Lone Peak 1.5 is the wide platform upon which your foot sits. They utilize a full-contact sole in order to provide more ground contact, which improves stability without the use of traditional medial support. The downside, however, is that I've found the shoe to be a bit unresponsive descending technical trails. There's a lack of precision that isn't as noticeable in other narrower, more form-fitting shoes. It's still a sweet ride, regardless. And, the 23mm stack height provides enough cushion for pounding out mile after mile.


Constructed with a one-piece outsole, the Lone Peak 1.5 has an interesting repeating triangle pattern that digs in well to most terrains. The lugs provide a sense of security in wet conditions and are spread far enough apart to shed mud, although I did find them slipping a bit on loose gravel. They've sandwiched a rock plate between the midsole and the A-Bound layer (a cushioned layer under the insole) instead of between the outsole and midsole which makes for a softer, less stiff ride. My biggest gripe: I only have about 100 miles on them but have already shredded a few of the lugs on the lateral side. 


I love Altra, and I love my Lone Peak 1.5's. While they probably won't be my go-to for every trail run or race, I am pumped to have a cushioned zero-drop option. For anyone curious about experimenting with a more natural ride designed specifically for trails, these are for you!

It's serendipitous that Maggie decided to review Monkshine at the same time I wrote this because the shoes actually pair well with this brew. While they both lack a certain technical quality, they are solid performers and will be reliable on any given day. 

On the Pacific Crest Trail!

Maggie's First Ultra: Woodside 50km

By: Maggie

Woohoo! Finished my first 50km ultramarathon right at the end of 2013 - Woodside 50k. Loved the training, loved the race, and am looking forward to more in 2014. It was a fantastic way to end my first semester of law school at Berkeley, and I loved exploring the East Bay trails and parks.

I couldn't have done it without FIRST being totally inspired by Stephen, having his guidance in training and diet, and finally having his support on race day. It was a lot of work, but it makes it more fun to share it with someone else :)

Goals for 2014!
  • Don't ditch class to go running :)
  • Learn French
  • Add in swimming, weights, and more yoga!
  • Canyon Meadow 50k
  • Grizzly Peak 50k 
  • Find a great summer law job
  • Maybe hit up a 50 miler (??!!)
  • Drink more good beer

Friday, January 3, 2014

Brew: Harry's Hofbrau

If you are looking for a great place to go with plenty of delicious beer, I highly recommend Harry's Hofbrau in San Jose. The bartenders are super nice and super knowledgable about beer. The bar has "tap takeover" nights with great breweries, and on normals nights have a great selection (and wide varieties) of beer. The crowd is mellow, and there is a well-priced buffet. It's funky, fun, and laid back. If you haven't been, go.