About the author  ⁄ Andy Thul

I have mentioned before that I have a pretty sedentary job, like most people. I am also a consultant, so I spend a lot of time traveling to client offices in Southern California.

I average 300-800 miles per week in the car (or on Metrolink, Amtrak and Metro). This translates to 2-6 hours per day in the car – that’s a lot of sitting. It also leads to a lot of meals on the go, snacks, skipping meals, etc. I’m not going to lie, Peanut Butter M&M’s definitely start calling my name as I head for the car in the afternoon when I am heading back to the office or home.

Sometimes I go to client offices for project meetings (I am an engineering consultant,) sometimes I go for business development and client relationship building. My job involves a lot of business lunches, coffee meetings, lunch presentations, after work social mixers, happy hours etc. I love it and this is probably the part of my job I enjoy the most…If you are anywhere in LA or Orange County, I can point you in the direction of a great restaurant you’ve never heard of.

This, though, can be problematic for maintaining a reasonable level of fitness.

Something you need to know about me: I am into exercise and I have really never had a problem staying pretty consistent at the gym or outside, but…I am HORRIBLE at tracking and recording workouts, eating and progress. I have tried everything. I have probably started and re-started a food log and workout journal 20 times in the last 4 years. I will do good for 2-3 weeks, them just stop recording.

I think some of the reason is how often I am on the go, out and about. Tracking was easy at home, but I wasn’t doing a good job bringing a notebook with me, I would miss a meal, a workout, a day, two days, 6 weeks…You get the picture.

So, about a year ago, I decided to go pretty much paperless at work. All my project notes, meeting minutes, reminders I put on an IPad (Mac fanboy here!). It worked great, because I got some sweet apps to assist (most notably Evernote).

It only took me another year to have the great idea that I could probably do the same for my workout and food log. So I got a couple more apps – here is what I use:



I use this app to track all of my non-gym activity. It does a great job tracking walking and cycling. Based on the GPS location on my iPhone (needs cell service to work) and the accelerometer, it tracks, walking, running, cycling and time in transit. I love it because it is simple. It tracks steps, mileage, etc. It is very basic, so don’t expect it to do elevation like a Garmin or cool “fuel points” like Nike. I have found it to be very accurate, it even counts my walk to get coffee across the office. There is a great visualization tool for long term tracking. Also, it is free.

There are only three downsides:

1. You have to carry your phone (obviously). If you can live with some missed steps each day, no need to be OCD about it, but there are definitely times I don’t have my phone and I kick myself for missing a good walk. This usually happens when I am walking to a meeting in Los Angeles and I carry only my work phone (i.e., didn’t bring my briefcase) so I don’t have two phones bulging out of my pocket like a total nerd.

2. There is no synching between devices (this goes together with Issue 1). So there is no way for me to load the app on my personal phone and my work phone and have them communicate. This would solve the first problem in nearly all circumstances for me (unless I just leave the phone at home).

3. Battery drain! Because the app uses GPS and the data signal to track your position it seriously reduces battery time. I could get through an 8 hour day without charging, but barely.


I use Evernote as a workout log. I can input from my phone or iPAD and put it all in a dedicated virtual notebook. It will synch to all devices and allow you to organize the, by date created and tag the, for future review and search. This is a fantastic app that I use for all my work projects, fantastic for teams and sharing as well.

There’s not much more to say about Evernote…if you aren’t using it at work or as a fitness log, you should be!



This app is a really great way to track food intake at the macronutrient level. It has one of the best food libraries I have seen in an app like this. It also allows you to create your own foods (I put in my favorite yogurt). It also lets you designate favorite foods and meals for quick entry. This app was out together by Sanof; my Dad (who is a Type 2 Diabetic) turned me on to it. If you’re diabetic, you can also track blood glucose levels.

So, what’s great about it?

1. Food library is super good (as I mentioned above).

2. Macro nutrient break down gives you a full picture of what your calories came from (I shoot for 100g of carbs, and the rest of my calories from fat and protein) so the pie chart helps me visualize it.

3. Has a graph feature to track long term trends.

What’s not so great?

1. You can track activity in the form of calories burned, but it doesn’t offset your daily caloric intake needs based on activity completed (if you’re OCD this will drive you nuts).

2. It shows food consumed on the graph in terms of calories of fat, protein and carbs, not in terms of grams of each. I would like the option to view both ways.

If you are like me and constantly forget/misplace your log or just aren’t that motivated, give ese apps a try.

Have fun out there!

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Last week I wrote a race recap for the Over the Hump race series being held at Irvine Lake from a spectators point of view. I figured it was only fair to do a follow-up from a racers perspective. So I entered this weeks race.

I used to mountain bike a lot and I raced in college, but I haven’t been on a mountain bike in about 5 years (since moving to California from Colorado). I tell you this because I debated, pretty heavily, what class to enter – Sport or Beginner. I ultimately went with the Beginner class, because I doubted that my fitness level could handle 3 laps as opposed to 2 (this turned out to be a very good choice).

Pre-Race Logistics


I sold my only mountain bike recently (it wasn’t much of a race rig anyhow), so I reached out to the man behind the curtain, Matt at Over the Hump. He was kind enough to hit up the folks at Jax Bicycle Center and have them ear-mark a demo bike for me. To my delight, I showed up to find a Gary Fisher Superfly Al Elite waiting for me. What a sick bike. As I told the guy at the Jax tent – if I was going to get my soul stolen during the race, it wouldn’t be the bikes fault!


The mechanic quickly got me squared away, installing the pedals I brought and tweaking the seat height for me. I pocketed a couple sample packets of Gu Roctane and was off to complete registration.


Registration was a breeze, the people working were friendly and gave me the whole run down on pre-riding the course. There was also a pre-race chip check (to make sure the system was recording things right for the electronic timing). A great idea, although it removed “system error” from my list of excuses. One bonus was that The Path was handing out free water bottles at the chip check. Had to go with hot pink!


The Course

Last week, I said the course looked “fast, dusty and moderately technical. Definitely not epic single track”. Which I found to be true, but that is an over simplification and sells the race short by a pretty good margin. I had a lot of fun racing. The course had moderate climbing, some good single-ish track sections, quite a bit of off-camber riding with some loose rock and deep silty sections as well.

During pre-ride, I noted some sections (turns) that I thought would silt-out into a deep loose mess by the second lap, turns out it only took the start of the race to get there. It would be nice to do a bit of trail work and get these sections wetted down and turned to rock gardens instead of dust-pits. But it was only two parts of the course. No real complaints.

I was really impressed with the courses ability to use some natural and man-made features to keep things interesting on corners. One particular corner featured a tarmac curb-drop during a descent into a 90 degree turn (I think a few racers failed to notice the 6-inch drop, as I saw a few go down).

The middle of the course had a succession of climbs and descents which really got me to red-line (thought I was going to puke in my shoes a couple times!). Downed a couple of cherry-lime roctane to get sorted out – helped a ton.

The last third of the course really shined. It had some steep, fairly technical sections but still allowed for racing and passing with some fast descents into the finishing straight.

Again, I sold this course short last week. It was FUN!

Two laps was enough for me today, although it is worth mentioning that I was a little disappointed because the beginner race didn’t include some of the more technical sections that sport/expert/pro had (understandably). But as a technically proficient but out of shape mountain biker I found myself wishing for a “good bike handler but lazy” class or a “parents with kids under 10″ class, which would include the more technical sections, but only be two laps.

My race felt like this: Pain, More Pain, Going to Puke?

Then an amazing thing happened, I got to lap two and it felt like: Even More Pain, Going to Puke?, Not So Bad, Why Am I So Slow?, Almost Done!

Post Race/Vibe/Sponsors

I was also impressed with the turnout of local shops and sponsors. It was family night, which was great. It’s super fun to see a mountain bike community that knows and understands that families want to participate together. The kids races each week are also a nice touch.

Because it was family night, there were balloon animals, face painting, a bounce house and other diversions for the kiddos.



What was also cool is Oakley showed up tonight (their headquarters is in Foothills Ranch, just a quick jaunt down Santiago Canyon) and were offering free lens upgrades! Seriously. I got brand new Black Iridium lenses for my Radars for free.

There were a ton of other supporters/sponsors and exhibitors out too: Bahati Racing, Kenda Tires, Fizik, Troy Lee Designs, several Local Bike Shops t(o name a few), all demo-ing and selling gear and clothing. It was great.


Should you take the time and make the effort to race? Unequivocally, yes! It is a great race, lots of fun and a good way to get some suffering in without just pounding out another workout.

What’s in it for you if you come out? Grass-roots racing, developing a community, being a part of something that doesn’t happen everywhere. Having the opportunity to live a life that has a bit more excitement in it. Showing your friends and family how much fun an active outdoor lifestyle is.

And…some free swag. Seriously, when is the last time you got ANYTHING for free (or the low-low price of $25)?

Tonight, I got new lenses for my glasses, a free water bottle, to ride a sweet bike, have some fun, feel some pain, (yep, I’m still alive, thanks for the systems-check lungs, heart and burning quads), boosted my immune system (eating dirt does that, really), and provided my daughter with an example of healthy activity and had fun being outside.

What a good experience it was.

Have fun out there!

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Alright, it’s time for our first Weekend Round-Up.

This is where I’ll talk about the weekend activities, what went well, what didn’t, how races were (if I raced), how events were (if I went) and general thought/insights on being outdoors with family and friends here in beautiful Orange County. Should be humorous, serious, thrilling and disappointing.


Saturday was pretty solid, although it started off a bit iffy. I wanted to get a decent bike ride in because my Dad and I are going to ride the Solvang Autumn Double Century in October (we’ll talk more about goal setting/adventures/perspective on Thursdays during Thul’s Corner). The ride is about 200 miles with over 10,000 feet of climbing. (I am relying on youth and pulling the kiddo during training to act as a substitute for volume).

It didn’t start out well, we HAD to watch two episodes of Little Einsteins after breakfast before we could ride. So we didn’t get rolling until almost 10:00 am. It was beautiful out Saturday, sunny and about 75 degrees. We hit the Mountain to Sea Trail (Map) from Irvine down to Newport Backbay.

It was breezy, the trailer behind me made riding out a bit like when drag racers deploy the parachute to stop (I was looking forward to the ride home). Audrey was great, rode like a pro in the trailer, as I rode along I heard “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to the circus! Next up is Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang!” Both are currently fixations at our house.

As we rode the trail we saw ducks, a white egret and great blue herons. There were plenty of people out making use of the trail. Here’s a shot of Audrey in the trailer at the Back Bay.


I apologize for breaking two bike picture commandments, (“Though shalt not lean thy bike at an angle exceeding 10 degrees from upright” and “Though shalt not photograph thy bike on the non-drive side”). I didn’t want to scrape the carbon of my beautiful Fuji SST, but I have no excuse for breaking the second commandment. (For more on the rules of cycling, check out The Velominati.)

We eventually turned around at the Back Bay Science Center, where we had a small snack.


This brought our total ride to about 35 miles by the time we got home.

I was reminded of a couple things:

1. Riding from 10-12:30 kinda sucks. Try to get out earlier.
2. Eating one bar on the ride (90 calories) does not make up for the 2,000 burned! I bonked hard at the end of the ride.
3. There is such a thing as into the wind both ways (wind direction changed halfway through).


Sunday was pretty mellow. Knocked out a quick 45 minutes with my neighbor on the bike in the morning. Then the family and some friends spent the next 12 hours wandering around the San Diego Zoo. We had fun, but the traffic was horrible!

Have fun out there!

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Kaenon Calais Sunglasses


If you’re a woman (or super-fab guy) pick up these glasses for yourself from Department of Goods for 50% off. If you’re just an average joe, score these for your wife, girlfriend, sister, mother, daughter…whoever. Department of Goods is a “members” website (so you have to give them your email though; based on my experience the screaming deals are well worth it.)

Why these glasses? Look at them. Also, Kaenon sunglasses are designed in Newport Beach and are one of he few brands not owned by the Luxxotica conglomerate. Their polarized lenses are world glass great for riding, paddling or sipping ‘Rita’s by the pool. Not into this style? Check out Kaenon’s other shades here. My wife has been rocking Kaenons since we first got into Stand Up Paddling (she bought them at the Battle of the Paddle. Loves them.

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The family and I decided to head out to Irvine Lake last Thursday, to check out the Over The Hump race series. We have been avid mountain bikers since college (I raced for the CU Cycling team, and Kristin and I rode a lot together.)

We weren’t sure what to expect from the event or the venue. I had been up to Irvine Lake for the Orange County Beer Fest several years ago, but couldn’t imagine what the race course would look like.


The course looked fast, dusty and only moderately technical. Definitely not epic single track. However, the race is close to home, cheap ($25 entry and $3 parking) and well attended. It was refreshing to see an event that’s about having fun and building the sport. There were tons of first time and rookie racers. If you’ve never raced before, this is a good series to check out. If you’re experienced, it’s a good series to get race fit and work on tactics.

The Pro/Expert classes showed up with their race faces on. The sprint for the hole shot was pretty intense and no one seemed to let off the gas the entire race. When the likes of Rahsaan Bahati is making excuses before the race, you know the pace is going to be turned way up. For what it’s worth, he turned in a respectable 7th place finish.

The action was equally intense all the way down the ranks to the “True Beginner” class. Everyone got after it, mixed it up and had some fun. The women racing were seriously fast as well. Good racing all around,


What I liked about the race was the number of local shops and teams present and representing. A lot of community and people who seem to be in it for the love of the sport. There is also a high school race series that makes these events part of the series, which is great. It’s a nice way to offer alternative sport options to high school kids.


What the kiddo liked most was free stickers and a Popsicle.

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My family and I loaded up and headed down to Doheny State beach yesterday for some fun and SUP time. Usually we hit Baby Beach in Dana Point Harbor, because its easier to SUP calm water with a 3 year old on the board. My skills are pretty limited!

But, we got a bit of a late start and didn’t make it down to Dana Point until about 11:30.

As I have mentioned before, our goals on Sunday are pretty modest:

1. Get Outside
2. Be Active
3. Have Some Fun
4. Set a Positive Example for Our Daughter
5. Don’t Get Injured

Pretty simple right? Yesterday, we hit 4 out of 5. We didn’t account for the grumpy kid factor. So, what is the plan when things go south in a hurry?

1. Distract
2. Team Work
3. Distract
4. Stay Calm
5. Execute the Escape Plan

Four of those are easy, and hopefully are second nature if you have a kid or two. Staying calm is probably theist difficult part (yesterday I was on the receiving end of a rock heaved with fantastic accuracy at my knuckles while I wasn’t looking!).

The most difficult part is cutting your losses and executing an escape plan. Really for two reasons, it’s a total bummer to only get a quick 15 minute paddle in and only two hours at the beach after packing and driving for an hour or so; and, the escape plan can be long, difficult, tedious or all three.

Luckily, as I said, we hit Doheny State Beach. Which, if you head south from the main entrance has parking literally 10 feet from the beach.

So when we hit DEFCON 5 and the melt-down was in full swing, it was quick to pack things up, get Audrey in the car and head out.

As a parent, I try to plan outings with feasible escape plans that don’t take too long to execute. However, not every beach is as easy as Doheny. As such keep a look out for a detailed post on planning adventures in the near future. Adequate planning can definitely keep things from getting out of hand (whether you’re outdoors alone or with family and friends).

Have fun out there!

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I love new gear! I enjoy the whole process: internet research, testing, “visiting” it at the store, buying. I get amped up just walking into my garage to survey, organize and clean/pack gear when we’re getting ready to go out (a good amount of this excitement is knowing that my family and I are going to go out and make memories and set a good example for my daughter). But also, I just love gear.

Let’s face it though, most of us have limited gear budgets. Being a relatively young guy with a growing family, I am no exception. In order to feed your (and my) appetite for new gear, I am hoping to point you in the direction of some great deals every Saturday. It is NOT my goal to just point you to a deal website. It’s my intent to showcase some good deals on specific equipment that you can get out and use.

One quick note: I fully believe in shopping locally, living sustainably and supporting small businesses. However, I also live in the real world where this isn’t possible all of the time (for many different reasons). So it is my goal to link to small local shops, national chains and *gasp* internet deal/wholesale websites. I know there is a sub-set of people who believe that the latter are killing local businesses, but let’s try and be rational. Unless someone wants to mail me fat stacks of cash, then I will buy only from small local shops and pay full price!

Paddle Surf Warehouse – SUPCO 14′ Race Board

This is a great deal to get into a high-performance carbon race SUP with a new paddle. They also have the 12′-6″ on sale for $100 less (also includes paddle). Why is this a good deal? It is about $600 less than the original price and the paddle saves you another $200-300. Plus, the Rojas board is sweet looking. Also PSW and SUPCO are local OC businesses.

Rock n Road Monster Sale

Rock n Road, with four Orange County locations, is currently running its Monster Sale. There are some sweet deals to be had AND the sale runs until LABOR DAY (plenty of time to save your pennies. Get 20% off helmets, shoes and apparel or score yourself a Monster Deal on a new bike.

Go out and help the economy recover.

Have fun out there.

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Disclaimer: It’s not my goal to regurgitate everything I read in books and on the internet. Additionally, I am not a physical therapist, kinesiologist or personal trainer. What I post here on Fitness Fridays is intended to be informational and based on what I do in my normal fitness routine and daily life. You may want to try it to see if it fits your active outdoor lifestyle, or you may not. All links here are sites and information I regularly read and think critically about. I encourage you to do the same.

Most of us live fairly sedentary life’s (even the most active among us). Compared to even 50 years ago, we sit more in daily life. Check out this info graphic, put together by medicalbillingandcoding.org.


We could talk for ever about the issues with sitting all day and many have. (See this discussion at Mark’s Daily Apple)

But this post is more about how to deal with the side affects associated with sitting and how to deal with it so it doesn’t hinder our fitness goals, functional life and overall mobility! It is especially pertinent to me as, although I have a stand-up desk, I also spend a lot of time in the car going to Client meetings and offices around Los Angeles (this week I spent over 12 hours in the car!).

So what are some (meaning my) typical symptoms from sitting?

1. Tight Lower Back
2. Thoracic spine impairment/loss of mobility
3. Weekend/elongated hamstrings
4. Tight Ankles/Reduced Ankle Mobility
5. Stiff neck/Shoulder hunching

So, what are some options for addressing these issues? Strength and conditioning definitely helps (overall fitness can counteract some of these issues) but I have found the following mobility exercises to be really helpful in addressing the, head on:

1. Ball Work for the Lower Back (You will probably see me link to Kelly Starrett a lot, he knows his stuff AND gives a lot away for free!)
2. thoracic Spine Extension (My favorite foam roller is TPT’s The Grid)
3. Glute Ham Bridge (double points for this video being shot at CU-Boulder Go Buffs!)
4. Unglue Your Sticks (again KStarr – check out his book)
5. PVC Dislocates (not only for Crossfitters!)

Hope you find these exercises useful. We’ll talk more mobility in the future.

Please note, I have no affiliation or financial incentive to link to the sites and products above (although I’d gladly take some!). These are things I use daily to keep myself in shape.

I would; however, like to take a second to plug a friend and affiliate of this blog – Natalie at Pure. She has been helping me with shoulder and lat mobility issues…it hurts so good!

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As weekend warriors we’re accustomed to stacking up our weekends with races, activities and recovery. Maybe, though, we should consider some mid-week excitement to balance things out.

The Over The Hump race series brings mid-week mountain bike racing to Orange County. Races are held on Tuesday evenings. If you have a little bit of flexibility (or can sneak out the back door without the boss noticing), it may be time to head up to Irvine Lake. The series is half over, but there’s plenty of racing left. Below is a list of the remaining races and the sponsor shops (stay tuned for my upcoming bike shop review tour!).

Tuesday, August 6 Two Wheels One Planet
Tuesday, August 13 The Path Bike Shop Family Night
Tuesday, August 20 JAX Bicycle Center
Tuesday, August 27 Rock N’ Road Cyclery Season Finale

The schedule for race nights is as follows:

4:00pm Gates open- registration
4:30pm Preride course open (must have number plate first)
5:00-8:00pm Baja Fresh Dinner (available for your purchase, bring cash)
5:30pm Pre-riding closed
5:30pm Kid’s Race
5:45pm Stage at start (all categories)
6:00pm Race start (Stage start in waves, by category & class)

Results are posted shortly after last racer finishes

I plan to attend the August 6th race as a spectator, so expect a race recap with plenty of pictures. If I can wrangle up an XC Bike, I’ll try my luck at the August 13th race.

Registration is only $25.00, a pretty sweet deal!

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Hello! I am the newest blogger for OC Outdoor Fitness. You have heard about me before, I am married to Kristin. I want to give you a brief introduction to who I am and what you can expect from me.

I am sneaking up on 30, father of one (soon to be two) and a black lab owner. I love cycling, stand up paddling, swimming, mountain biking, rock climbing, running (sort of) and hiking. I am always up for an adventure and enjoy the occasional epic.

I will be blogging about upcoming events, providing race reports, product reviews, trail reviews and information on forth-coming OC Outdoor Fitness meet ups. I will also be providing you a look at my life outdoors and how I train for the adventure. You see me struggle, be lazy, re-dedicate and crank out some pretty fun outings. You’ll also get to watch me balance family, work and fitness.

My goal is to make this an active online community where we can put our fitness and love of the outdoors to use. I am hoping this will be more than a place for information and serve as a way for outdoor fitness enthusiasts in Orange County to meet and make lasting friendships.

I will also be tweeting from @Andy_OCOF

Let’s see where this takes us!

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