Saturday, August 25, 2012

Injinji Compression Socks Review and Giveaway!

Ok... the more I look at the picture of the lone floating leg above, I can't help but think of the leg lamp from A Christmas Story!  If you don't know what I'm talking about, you are really missing out... so check out the DVD :-)

Anyway, distracted before I even started.  I've done a few reviews on Injinji Toesocks before... covering both the Performance Series and the Outdoor Series.  Injinji's are basically the only sock I run in (when wearing socks) just because of the great performance and the comfort of the toe sock style.

That being said, I was happy to have an opportunity to try out the their compression toe socks.  AND.. even happier to give away a pair to a lucky reader, but more on that later.

I hadn't really heard about compression socks until a friend said she used them to recover after runs.  I wear compression type shirts and pants in the winter, mostly to keep warm.  So, I posted a question to the Barefoot/Minimalist Runners group on Facebook, asking if anyone ran in them or just used them for recovery.  The question I asked was "Over the calf compression socks..who uses them, and do you wear them for running, for recovery, to look stylish in Bermuda shorts and Birkenstocks?"    It was kind of a mixed bag as some people wore them for running, but most used them for recovery only.  The best answer came from Barefoot Ken Bob Saxton who said  " I was told they would help me recover between two marathons I did in 2 consecutive days. I wore them on the plane ride (1st marathon was in Indiana, 2nd was in California) and while sleeping. Not during the marathon. It didn't work. I failed to achieve my goal in the second marathon. I had planned to run a little more than 5 hours, but I finished in a little less than 5 hours."  Ha! that cracked me up. 

Well.. the gist is, wearing compression socks as a recovery tool can help increase blood circulation and help with soreness and overall recovery of your legs.  

Yeah.. my wife digs this look...
So...  I decided to try these after a particularly rough run... I think it may have been my first run over 10 miles.  I did find that when putting them on, the compression provided a certain soothing comfort... enough so that I wish they were waist high!  I do most of my running in the early morning, and then stand at my standing desk while working all day.  So, having these on while working was very comfortable.  Personally, I do feel a difference when I wear these after longer runs or when my calves are sore.  And of course, with the Injinji individual toe sleeves, my toes were happy as well.

Here are the specs and details on the construction from Injinji:

  • Coolmax/Nylon/Lycra blend
  • 65% COOLMAX freshFX     15% Nylon      20% Lycra
  • Reduces Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (Doms)
  • Accelerates Recovery Of Muscle Force Capacity
  • Machine wash on warm or hand wash your toesocks after each use, and line dry

 You can find a pair of these at REI, or on Amazon, and the retail for around $38.  Yes... a little pricey for socks, but as a recovery tool (and fashion statement), I think they are a good value.  Granted, I have not tried other brands of compression socks, but I was a really happy with the fit and the results. 

So... would you like a pair?  I have one pair to giveaway to a lucky reader.  Unfortunately I only have one size, so if you wear a Mens size 8-10.5 shoe, or Womens 9-11.5, these are perfect!  

I'm also trying out Rafflecopter for entries, so I hope this makes it easier for all to participate.  Follow the instructions on each option below to earn entries.  Contest will close on Saturday, September 1st, at 10PM MST.  Winners will be selected at random from all entries using   Contest limited to residents of  the U.S. and Canada. 

Good luck and happy trails!!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Guest Blog! Merrell Kids Trail Glove Review...

Merrell Kids Trail Glove

So, this week I'm excited to provided you with a quick review of the Merrell Barefoot Kids Trail Glove from a guest blogger, Aimee Darling MNT.  Aimee is a good friend of ours and a Nutritional Therapist in Las Vegas, NV.  Aimee is also a runner, so we always have something to talk about and recipes to share. Check out her blog for some really great recipes here.

Aimee had let me know that her kids are both wearing the Trail Gloves from Merrell (one of my favorite minimalist shoes), so I asked her to share her (and their) thoughts on the shoes.  Below is her guest review!

"We’ve been looking into barefoot type shoes for some time. Summer was coming quick and we needed to get new shoes for my daughter and her first 5k. We decided to go with Merrell because they had a ‘trail’ type sole and didn’t require my children to stuff their toes into separate slots. We also wanted to encourage the kid’s feet to have closer contact with the terrain. We’ve had great luck with recreational shoes from Merrell and decided to get our daughter the Merrell Barefoot Trail Glove. Our son tried them on and liked them so much; we got him a pair too.

We’ve had them for four months and my daughter has competed in a 5k road race, climbed many rock trails, walked all over the streets of Vegas and jumped in puddles galore. My son has climbed trees, worn them with and without socks, and played indoor soccer. He won’t be kicking in them again; it hurt.

Here are the pros and cons according to my children:

Both kids have found the shoe to be light weight, easy to put on by themselves and quick drying. Neither one of them have had issues with gripping the surfaces they play on. So far the shoes have held up well in the brutal heat conditions we have. We haven’t tried to wash them and they are black from the oil around Vegas.  Beyond a flip flop, they are both children’s primary shoe.

It took a couple of weeks wearing them on and off to get used to the low heel. My daughter complained that her feet hurt towards the end of her 5k. I think she wasn’t ready to wear them running and could probably do the same race now without that issue.

Overall we have been pleased and will be buying the same or similar shoes when it’s time."

Thanks Aimee!  I too have heard a lot of great things about these shoes, and they are a great minimalist choice.  I could kick myself for not grabbing these at Dicks Sporting Goods when they were on clearance for $39.99!  Ah well..  I'll keep looking.

Happy trails!


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Vivobarefoot Breatho Trail Review..

Ok... so I'm probably one of the last to put up a review for the Vivobarefoot Breatho Trail... but better late than never!  I've had these since late May, and so I've probably logged more miles in them than I normally do before putting up a review. Summer kind of got away from me... road trips, forest fires too close for comfort, and the usual distractions.  So, working on getting caught up on reviews...

One thing I noticed right after the Breatho's arrived was that I was having some cool color coordination going on, purely by coincidence.  I'm digging the red/black/white/gray combo of Bedrock, Vivobarefoot, and Injinji!

Anyway... getting distracted already.  This is the second pair of Vivobarefoot shoes that I have reviewed. Back in December, I reviewed the Neo Trails here.  When the Breatho Trail was first announced, it was positioned as a warm weather version of the Neo Trail.  I really do love my Neo Trails, but they are certainly a cold weather/snow running shoe.  The Breatho Trail is similar to the Neo's, especially with respect to the proprioception, the sole and tread pattern.

 However, as you can see above, the outer is certainly lighter weight, and much more breathable (hence the naming convention I am sure!). They really do drain pretty well.. I had no issues after stepping into a creek or two with them drying out (of course the lack of humidity in Colorado is a plus)  Also, the Breatho's don't have a separate tongue like the Neo Trails, but instead are constructed with in a one piece style.

Also, the lacing is similar to the Neo Trails, but the Breatho adds a "Lock-Lacing" system shown above to help secure the tension of the laces after you have set them.  I found that this worked pretty well, however, just like the Neo Trails, if I didn't double knot the laces, they would almost always come untied during a run. Not sure if it is due to the slickness of the material, or the fact that it seems the laces are too long.  Regardless, its a minor issue.

The tread pattern is the same as on the Neo Trails...  I really love the lugs on these.  They grab really well.  However, I wouldn't run much on pavement with these, aa it seems it doesn't take much to begin wearing them down.  We'll see how long they hold up with just trail running.

As for specifications/features, below are the details as posted on the Vivobarefoot site:

  • Upper: Breathable Mesh: Comfortable and lightweight, this mesh allows ventilation and airflow around the foot
  • Lacing: Lock-Lacing System: Zigzag webbing eyelets make sure the foot is secure in the shoe
  • Collar/Panel & Lining: Dri-lex: Lightweight, performance lining for moisture wicking and superior comfort
  • Insoles: PU Insole: 3mm insole with hex-flex moisture management system
  • Sole Construction: Off Road: Rubber outsole specifically designed for off road surfaces with directional lugs to maximize surface contact for superior barefoot traction
  • Outsole Thickness: 2.5mm with 4.5mm lugs: Offering maximum proprioception with protection and ultimate grip
  • Toe Guard: TPU Toe Guard: Protects the foot and prevents scuffs for additional durability
  • Weight: 272g/9.6oz
  • Eco Credentials: 100% Vegan

  • As far as the sole goes, my only wish is that Vivobarefoot would incorporate some kind of rock plate, similar to that in the Merrell Trail Glove.  For longer runs, and especially on rough trails, I've grown to like just a little bit more protection. A 1mm rock plate wouldn't take much away from the proprioception, but would help disperse some of the shock from nastier terrain. But, it's not a show stopper for me... just a nice to have. 

    Like the Neo Trails, the Breatho Trail includes a 3mm removable insole. I removed them in my Neo Trails, however I chose to keep them in the Breatho.  Why?  Well.. to my chagrin, there is a sizing discrepancy between models.  My Neo Trails are a size 43.  A good fit, but on my right foot, my second toe is just a tiny bit longer, and it had a tendency to rub and push on the front of the Neo Trails...  only bothered me when walking, and not as noticeable when running. So, I thought I should order the Breatho one size bigger to alleviate that issue.  Well, I missed the notation on the Vivobarefoot website that says the Breathos run one size bigger, so order down one. So, the result is, this pair is probably a tad too big for me. So, to compensate, I kept the insoles in, and I also wear a slightly thicker (original weight) Injinji Toe Sock.  So the moral is, pay attention when ordering! 

    Before run... so clean!

    Based on my prior Vivobarefoot experience, I took a chance on these and went on my longest run to date at that time.  I ran 10.5 miles on Waldo Canyon Trail.   As you may know, this trail is now closed due to the terrible Waldo Canyon Fire that started on 6/23, just days after my run.  So, I'll always remember that run as a first for a double digit distance, and as my last opportunity to get a glimpse of a truly beautiful trail run.

    one of my favorite views of Pikes Peak from the trail
    The run went really well...  I really appreciated the traction of the lugs on the steeper climbs on loose gravel.  Also, overall, the shoe felt very comfortable.  Again, my only negatives were that they came untied once (I forgot to double knot), and I nailed a few really good rocks with the ball of my feet, and even with the raised lugs, it smarted pretty good. Hence, my wish for a simple and effective rock plate.  But beyond that, my feet stayed really cool (I ran with Injinji lightweight socks), and I didn't develop any hot spots at all.  Didn't run into any water on this one, but as I noted earlier, the Breathos handle that well also.

    Love the quartz outcroppings...

    And of course, the Breatho Trails have made numerous trips up the Manitou Incline, and back down Barr Trail.  Right now, the Barr Trail is very busy with runners getting their last training runs in before the Pikes Peak Ascent, and Pikes Peak Marathon this weekend...  the Marathon is on my list for next August... and who knows, the Breatho Trails may be the shoe to make that run with me.

    Sunrise at the top o' the Incline... 

    So, overall, I am really happy with the Breatho Trails as a great warmer weather minimalist trail shoe.  I highly recommend them if you are looking for a minimalist trail shoe with great traction and proprioception. They retail for $90 on the Vivobarefoot website, a pleasant reduction from the Neo Trails which now retail at $115. My guess is that these shoes will continue to work well into the cooler fall, but when the snow flies and gets deep, I know I'll be back to the Neo Trails :-)

    As always, if I've missed anything or you have any questions please let me know!

    Happy Trails...


    Tuesday, August 14, 2012

    Georgetown to Idaho Springs Race Report

    Getting ready to go!

    1/2 Marathon complete!

    So Saturday, I managed to make my way to the end of my first 1/2 marathon, and my longest run to date.  As I noted, I wasn't sure how it was going to go, due to the ITB issues that were plaguing me a week before the race.  After madly foam rolling and stretching (and not running) all week, I was able to go the distance.

    Really cool clouds.. 
    The Georgetown to Idaho Springs 1/2 is a point to point race, that starts at 8500 feet, ending up around 7500 feet at the end, so overall it is downhill, but had its share of rolling hills.  The course follows Clear Creek, and I-70.. working its way along beautiful scenery, and some cool old mining buildings and equipment.  Most of it is on paved roads or paths, but about 2 miles of it was on dirt/trails.

    This year was the biggest turnout, with over 3,300 participants.  Also, this was my first race with pacers, and I thought that was pretty cool.  I lined up with the 2:30 pacer and managed to stay ahead of them for the first 10K or more.  I wore a brace to help take some of the tension off of my knee, and things were feeling pretty good. BUT.. of course that didn't last... right about the time I was reveling in how everything was feeling really good was the time my knee started twinging... shifting to a sharp weakening pain that quickly brought me to a fast walk.   Ugh...  I was dreading the thought of limping it in for another 6 miles..   for the next 1-2 miles I walked more than I ran... but concentrated on stretching/loosening my knee up and assessing what was really going on..   fortunately, I was eventually able to get running again (albeit slower than earlier), and kept it going to the end.

    I had to laugh during the run because I could pick out all the trail runners...  we few were constantly running on the 6-10 inch strip of dirt/gravel along shoulder of the asphalt....  that really felt good... and instead of complaining, we thrived on those 2 miles of loose dirt/rocks/bumps etc...

    Normally, I take in more of the scenery of the race, and this one had a lot, but this time I think I was more focused on working through my knee pain issue and trying to make better time, so I know I missed a lot.  Guess I'll have to run again next year...

    Another big highlight of this race was having my family there to cheer me on.  They were there at mile 1, and then again on the home stretch.  Above, one of my sons gave me a big high-5 which was awesome...   What was cool was that the race had a great area set up on the football field (with bouncy houses) for families to hang out at while waiting for their racers..

    So..2 hours and 35 minutes later, I completed my first half marathon.  I had hoped for 2:15 or better, but I'm happy with it because I finished, and overall I had a blast.  Here is a quick video of mile 1, and the end.

    So... now that this is done, I am searching for a marathon to train for...  but, is this how it works? I did a 5K, then a 10K, then a 1/2 marathon.... do you keep doubling the mileage?  So after a marathon, am I looking at a 50 miler?? :-)  sure.. why not!    Anyway, what is funny is that I am seeking a marathon, strictly to get a qualifying time to have a shot at running my bucket list race, the Pikes Peak Marathon next summer... So... if you have any suggestions of a good marathon between now and March 2013.. let me know!!

    Happy Trails...


    Wednesday, August 8, 2012

    Hail Mary Half Mary...

    Ok... so as you can see by the ticker over on the right, I have just over 2 days until the Georgetown to Idaho Springs 1/2 Marathon.. 

    Yikes... this race will be my longest run to date.  I'm not too worried about the distance, as I've run 10 several times, and 11.5 on Sunday... BUT Sunday's run welcomed me to the world of ITBS.   Those of you that run a lot are probably familiar with this, but being a relatively new runner, I had yet to experience the joy of this issue...

    I had been having knee twinges and pains in runs leading up to Sunday for about a week, but figured it would pass.  On mile 7, it hit me hard... a nasty stinging and weakening pain in my knee..   felt ok walking, but running.. not so much.  I tried a number of stretches and changes in gait to get it to fade, but no luck.  Hobbled along with a run/walk for another 4.5 miles ( I was determined to get my longest run in, so I had to go over 10.5).  Clocked those around 14-15min miles :-(.

    I had no idea what was going on, all I knew was I was frustrated and mad.  Everything else was feeling great, and I knew I could make the 14 no problem....  And, my biggest concern was how it would impact my 1/2 this Saturday.  Fortunately, I have an amazing daughter, who also happens to be a Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC), and soon to be physical therapy assistant.  She called me (after I texted her because that how it works for folks her age) and I explained my symptoms..   eventually arriving at everything pointed to ITBS.
    So naturally, that meant rest at a minimum.  How I wish that translated to kicking back in the hammock, but its hard to relax and stop running.  I also got a foam roller and have begun working that two or three times a day.... OUCH!  But, it seems to be working... things are loosening up and the pain is fading...

    So... my plan is to run this race and see what happens...  I'm hoping for a final minute hail mary pass to bring me through to the end of my first half mary...   here goes nothing!

    My original goals were:  A) under 2:15  B) under 2:30  C) Finish...   now I'm adding D) not permanently damage myself!  

    Anyone running a race this weekend?

    Happy Trails!


    Friday, August 3, 2012

    California Dreamin...

    Ok... time to work on some new posts.  Sorry I've been such a slacker, but it's summer time and I've just been trying to enjoy it.. hope you have too!  Yikes, just looked at my ticker to the right..  one week to my first 1/2 marathon!  Look for a race report here soon :-)

    Speaking of enjoying, we took a 2 1/2 week road trip to California in July.   What a GREAT trip.  It's the longest vacation I've taken in a long time, and certainly one of the longest road trip for the boys (they turn 8 later this month).

    We left Colorado and headed to San Francisco for 5 days...   here are a few pics from this first part of the trip.

    One of what seemed like a hundred pics of the Golden Gate :-)

    You know we scored some chocolate

    Goofballs at the top of Lombard Street
    Parking garage in Chinatown.. they all had fortunes :-) 

    San Francisco was so much fun...    I even found some time to run while I was there...   I couldn't pass up the chance to run with a lot more oxygen than I am used to!  I got several beach runs in...  we stayed right next to Ocean Beach and Golden Gate Park..  I could get used to early morning beach runs!

    From San Francisco, we worked our way down to San Diego, driving as much as possible on PCH1, hugging the coast.   Spent some time in Monterey, saw some Redwoods... and just enjoyed the casual drive down, and the spectacular views.

    Steam train ride through the Redwoods... really cool

    Pfeiffer Beach near Big Sur... what a great find for a lunch spot!

    Nepenthe restaurant, near Big Sur.... talk about a view!
    Eventually we made our way down to San Diego, where I have family, and we spent another 5 days there... so relaxing..

    Cabrillo National Monument

    Toured the USS Midway with my dad (retired Navy)

    Yep.... vacationing is hard work!
    I did manage to log more miles in San Diego.  Primarily in the Mission Trails Park system.  There are some really great trails in the area, including a run up Cowles Mountain.. the highest peak in San Diego.. ok, that's not saying much, but it was a good climb and a fun run down the back side..

    On the way up Cowles Mt

    I was told if you didn't touch the rock at the top it didn't count..

    Bedrock sandals worked great!

    View of the trail heading down the backside, into Santee
    Ok... finally it was time to head home, but the trip wasn't over yet!  We decided to head home via the Grand Canyon.  That was really exciting as I had not been there before, and it was the first time for our boys as well.  We stopped there, and also spent some time at the Petrified Forest/Painted Desert, and Gallup NM of course.

    Grand Canyon.. and a goofy foot

    Painted Desert, AZ

    Wish we could see this lit up..
    Driving along the old Route 66 was a treat

    In Gallup NM of course.  And yes, we're related to the railroad paymaster that the town was named after... :-)

    So.. there you have it.  That is how we spent a good part of our summer...  hope you all are having a terrific summer as well!

    Stay tuned as I have a few more reviews that I am behind on, but will get posted soon.  Included are the Vivobarefoot Breatho Trail, GU Energy, Nathan QuickDraw Elite, and Injinji compressions socks... along with some give aways!

    Thanks for following and reading...

    Happy Trails!