Thursday, January 7, 2016

Happy and Healthy 2016!!!

Hard to believe another year has already gone by!  I kicked off 2015 with a bang, and am looking to do so again for 2016!   With a full year of blogging since that post, I can't tell you how much fun it has been. I've really enjoyed reviewing and sharing running gear that I really like, and also doing what I can to share healthy eating related topics and recipes.

And, I have really appreciated all of you that have been following my blog for the past year, following on Twitter, and liking the Barefoot Inclined Facebook page. Which is why I am so excited to host the ultimate giveaway to get 2016 off to a great start, showcasing my favorite gear and vendors from 2015, and the amazing things from those companies I represent as a proud ambassador!

Southpark Trail Marathon HPRS

But, before I jump to the giveaways, I just wanted to give a little recap of the year.  I had a number of goals for the year, but first and foremost was to continue my journey to better health through clean eating, and also to continue participating in trail ultra marathons.  Over the year, I've maintained my weight, and continue to eat clean.  I've lost more pounds than I care to think about over the course of my life, but it has always come back. This is by far the longest I've maintained, and that feels great.  How did it happen? Simply by no longer dieting.  Dieting implies a short term plan, whereas a change in lifestyle is forever.  I know I have a ways to go, but focusing on whole, organic, non-processed foods as much as possible has made this change possible. My goal for 2016?  I am hoping to move forward another step by slowly working my way down another 15 lbs or so... I know I will certainly feel that in my quest for longer distance running.

Chase the Moon 12 Hour.. 41.2 miles done! 

Back in 2011 I never dreamed I would develop a healthy obsession for running, but somehow that has happened and in 2015, I continued my quest to see how far I could go.  I ran the Frozen Dead Guy 50 K Fat Ass with Human Potential Running, Southpark Trail Marathon and Half, Greenland Trail 50K (2nd time), Chase the Moon 12 hour (solo), Tommyknocker 105K, and the Pikes Peak Road Runners Fall Series trail runs.

TommyKnocker's Ultras 105K HPRS

I had really hoped to hit my goal of a 100K in 2015, but instead I had two "firsts"...   my first DFL (last place), and my first DNF (Did not finish.. or did nothing fatal!)  The DFL was at Southpark, which was a tough climb! I loved it though, and was well rewarded in the Human Potential Running Series fashion with the leftover aid station moonshine, and $50 gift certificate to Runners Roost!

The DNF was during my first attempt at 100K...  made it just short of 45 miles, and made the call to drop after overheating and freaking myself out..   more on that HERE.

 So what's up for 2016?  Longer of course!  Besides a number of 50K's, I have my mind set on getting my 100K distance (and hopefully more) at the 24 Hours of Palmer Lake in April, and then seriously look for my first 100 miler!  Of course I'll be back at several HPRS races because they are just too much fun to miss.... Southpark, Tommyknockers, and Indian Creek are on the list :-)

Oh... and how could I forget! In 2015 I had the great fortune to spend the year representing Carson Footwear, Fuel 100, Switch Sunglasses, Orange Mud, and Human Potential Running Series as an Ambassador!! I can't tell you how great it is to be involved with these companies, the amazing products/races they have, and the incredible fellow ambassadors I've got to know...   I am very lucky indeed :-)

Ok ok... enough about me and the blah blah blah... let's get on with the HUGE giveaway to kick this year off!

Below are brief recaps of some of the reviews I've done over the last year, and an opportunity for me to give back, thanks to the generosity of all the great folks I've worked with and represented over the last year.   I have a separate giveaway for each, so you have tons of opportunities to win!

Each giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. (and in some cases, Canada or elsewhere, and will be noted).  I will run these until 10PM MST, Friday January 15th, 2016... so enter early and often!

First up, Carson Footwear!!  I did my first review on the Carson Footwear Iguana's just about a year ago, and you can check it out HERE.   What can I say... I love these shoes.  So comfortable and the perfect trail runners for me.  In addition the the Iguanas, I've since added the Stingers above, and the Red Zombie Racers!

And, thanks to Everett Carson, and Carson Footwear, I'm giving away one pair of Carson's in the style of your choice, so check it out!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

As you already know, I love being an ambassador for the Human Potential Running Series.  Sherpa John is an awesome race director, and is truly building an ultra running community here that embraces all of us... check out more in my past blog post HERE.

That being said, I am really excited about the new format for the TommyKnocker Ultras this year.  Read all about it HERE, and also make sure to enter below for a free entry to the race ($95 value) and come run this crazy fun 12-hour event with me!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Ah yes... Switch sunglasses.. I never leave home without them! The interchangeable lenses on the H-Wall's and the weather protection of the Storm Riders are awesome... love these on the trail and anywhere outdoors.

I love being part of the Switch team, and I'm stoked to be able to give away one pair of any design they offer (non-prescription), so enter below and start checking out your favorite style!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Salty/sweet goodness! Love Electro-Bites from Fuel-100 as part of my fueling for the long haul.  As an ambassador, I really loved spending time at the Estes Trail Ascent Conference last October talking to folks about Electro-bites and handing out samples.  And I got to hang out with co-founder Michelle Halsne, and fellow ambassador Chuck Radford!

Anyway, thanks to Fuel 100 Electro-Bites, I have a baker's dozen mix of Electro-Bites for THREE lucky winners, so enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ok... if you've been hanging around with me long enough, you know that I never seem to shut up about Orange Mud! I was an ambassador before they started the program! :-) My go to pack for hydration, for short runs or long hauls... Orange Mud has me covered.  In addition to the Hydraquivers (Single, Double, VP2), OM keeps me rolling with great accessories/bottles/headgear as well!

Thanks to Orange Mud, I've got a terrific beanie for you.. just like the one above... well, not all artsy like that.. but one like THIS.  So enter right now!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Ok... now it's time to shift over to the "huarache" portion of our program!  I love to run in sandals, especially in the Colorado summer time.  I've reviewed a lot of different sandals over the years, and there are really a lot of great choices out there!

First up is Earth Runners..  I've worked with Mike since he started his company way back in 2012 when I tested his original Quantums... and most recently, the Circadian-X's last February.   I just found out that some new laces are about to be released at the end of the month, so Mike has offered to provide a new pair of sandals in the style of your choice, with the new laces at the end of January! Thanks Mike and Earthrunners!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also last February, I reviewed the Mountain Goat and Warrior sandals from a new company, Shamma Sandals.   I was happy to reconnect with Josh at Shamma recently, and to hear that things are going well for Shamma.  As a matter of fact, I am trying out a new lacing system and footbed from Shamma now with a review to come later.  Also, they are working on a revamp of their website which should be completed soon as well.  Josh has offered up a pair of sandals in the style of your choice with the new laces... thanks Josh!

And lastly (but only alphabetically ;-) ) is the latest from Xeroshoes.   Xeroshoes (Invisible Shoes then) were my first pair of minimalist runners and I will never forget the impression they made. Steven Sashen has come a long way with his company and products and I've loved working with them over the years.  Last year they released the Z-Trek Sport Sandal, shown above which is a really terrific sandal... but don't take my word for it...  enter below to win a pair of your own, courtesy of Xeroshoes!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Still with me?  Getting tired from all the entering?  Push on.. you can do it!  But if you get so tired, you drop your phone, no worries if you have a case from Beeline! Last May I reviewed these ruggedly awesome cases for iPhones.. check out the review HERE.

These cases are not only rugged, they provide the utmost in drop protection by NOT letting your phone HIT THE GROUND!  Ingenious...   get yours!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And... speaking of phones, mine always has a pair of ThinOPTICS attached!  Yes.. it's sad to say that my "over 50" eyes struggle with up close reading... you laugh, but it's going to happen to you too! When I got my first pair of ThinOPTICS more than a year ago, I was sold! Check out my review HERE.  But since then, I am even more impressed with this company.  My earlier pairs had some issues, and over time they broke at the bridge. I heard from the company that they we working on improvements, and replace my pairs at no charge.  And the latest versions seem to be bullet proof!  I love having my readers always available, and I don't lose them!

And... I've just learned that I am able to giveaway not 1.. not 2.. but TEN (10) pairs of ThinOPTICS to you all!  And, each pair comes with the life time replacement, so the last pair you will need! Trust me.. if you use reading glasses and have a smart phone.. you will love these!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Woo hoo! The finish line is in sight!! Two more to go!

As you know, I had an amazing time at the US Trail Running Conference in Estes Park last October, and you can read about it HERE.  This was the third annual conference, hosted by Terry Chiplin and Active at Altitude.   And, the 2016 conference looks to be even better!  Terry let me know that they are in the midst of a re-brand and a new website which hopefully will be up by the end of the month.  I can't wait to get back there this year.  The Conference will run from Sept 28-October 1 2016 and Terry has been kind enough to provide me with a 1 day pass for Saturday October 1st...  I'll be there, and hope to see you there as well!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Speaking of trail running, Greenland Trail 50K was my first ultra back in 2014, so I have a lot of great memories. I also ran it again last year and wasn't disappointed.. a great race for a first ultra. But don't take my word for it... if you want to give it a go (50K, 25K, or 8M), enter below for a free entry courtesy of the great folks at Colorado Runner Events

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wow... there you have it...   a wrap on 2015 and a huge kickoff to 2016!   Thanks again for tuning in.. I am really looking forward to another great year of running and blogging!

Happy trails!


Saturday, January 2, 2016

Maxx Staxx Reduxx: Altra Lone Peak 2.5 and Altra Lone Peak NeoShell Review!

Hey!  Happy New Year!!  

Now, if you've been following for a bit, you know that I generally kick off the new year with a huge "Happy and Healthy 20XX" year end wrap up and killer give away.   So don't worry, I still have that in the works... just ironing out the details on ALL of the amazing gear I have to give to you!! So stay tuned for that in the next few days!

So.. what's with the ginormous tool box?  Well.. back in July I did a review of a collection of new shoes that almost met all of my requirements of a "minimalist" shoe...  check out the original Maxx Staxx review by clicking HERE.  While my preference is for as low a stack height shoe that I can run in, I know that different shoes are like different tools... and sometimes it pays to have a great toolbox for whatever ultra running may throw at you.  Well, in that review of the latest cushioned (or higher stack height) low or zero drop shoes, the Altra Superior 2.0's came out on top..  For a thicker shoe, I really liked their performance and overall design.

Altra Lone Peak 2.5

Altra Lone Peak  NeoShell

Well, after that review, the folks at Altra reached out to see if I would like to dig a littler deeper into their line of trail shoes...  to which my answer was..."uh.. Yeah!!" 

So.. here you go... a twofer review of the Lone Peak 2.5 and the Lone Peak Neoshell!

First up are the Lone Peak 2.5's.   Now, not only had I heard a lot about Altra's in the past, but I have a few friends that ran in them, and I kept hearing about the Lone Peaks.  So I was excited to give the latest edition a go.  

Making the transition from the Superior 2.0 to the Lone Peak 2.5's meant picking up a few more ounces at 10.6 oz, and 4mm more stack.  The Lone Peaks come in at a generous 25mm stack height... still lower than some other maximalist shoes out there, but a good bit of cushion.  However, some decent flexibility remains... I wasn't straining to take the pic above. 

The same Gaiter Trap feature is included in the Lone Peaks, which is great, but I noticed that the tail rudder, that was more prominent on the Superiors, as shortened a bit as you can see above.  I kind of liked that stability feature on downhills, so I hope that perhaps it may grow back in the future?

Otherwise, all of the things I liked about the Superiors carries over to the Lone Peaks.  The toe box is terrific.. I love the room to splay my toes. Traction is really good, and the overall feel of the upper is pretty nice.  A little bit structured inside, but I was ok with it.  Ground feel is muted, as to be expected in a higher stack shoe, but I never felt off balance or unstable.  Again, more shoe than I need, or at least that I would start a race with, but I would be very happy to have these as a backup for ragged feet in the later stages of a long one.   

If you are looking for a cushioned zero-drop trail runner, these are tough to beat.  The Superiors are terrific as well, but if you prefer a more cushioned shoe, but aren't crazy about marshmallowy Hoka's.. these may be your shoe.   If you have any other questions about these in particular, just give me a shout!

Ok.. now on to something a bit more different.  Next up are the Lone Peak NeoShells.  What makes them different? Well.. for one thing.. they were rated the "Best Weatherproof Shoe" by Competitor in October 2015. 

The Lone Peak NeoShell is based on the Lone Peak 2.0, so they are a little different than the 2.5's. They come in about an ounce heavier at just under 12 oz, and as you can see they have a slightly stiffer sole.  Otherwise, similar stack height, toe box, and fit as the 2.5's.   

However, the biggest difference by far is the NeoShell upper.  This design and fabric created the first fully waterproof shoe that doesn't utilize an inner "booty" to keep your foot dry.  Very unique...  and hey.. it works!  I took these out and stood for 5 minutes in the creek on one of my favorite trail loops.  Initially I thought they may have leaked a little, as my feet felt cold, but I realized it was just the temp of the water, and not any leakage! Very cool...    Now, of course, if I stepped deeper, the water would crest the top of the shoe and seep in.  So, I did do that to allow some to come in on another run.  Good news is that the NeoShell's drained fairly well.. as well as many other shoes I have, so that was nice to see.  On a side note, I did get a chance to chat with Altra founder, Golden Harper, when I was at the Estes Trail Running Conference, and he mentioned the development of a gaiter specific to the NeoShell to help raise the bar on deep water trudging! 

So, living in Colorado, my next thought on the NeoShell's was snow running of course!  Since the snow arrived not long after the Lone Peak NeoShell's...  I thought.. screw these... and lets get out there!  

The 25mm stack provides plenty of room to drive in some sheet metal screws for traction on ice, so that's what I did.  And the NeoShells are now my runners when traction is going to be an issue.  On top of that, the tread pattern provides great snow traction, and the waterproof upper is a definite plus.  And, my feet have stayed pretty nice and warm so far.  The trade off of course is the muted ground feel and reduced flexibility, however all the other things I look for in a shoe are there, thanks to Altra's design. 

So.. there you go.  Hopefully I've been able to share some better insight into these models from Altra if you have been curious.  Great company, and great shoes.  But, before you think I've forsaken truly minimalist shoes.. have no fear.  I am still happiest in the lowest stack, least structured shoe I can run in, and it will be tough to tear me out of my favorites, BUT.. I also know that we are all an experiment of one, and what may not be my go to shoe, might just be yours...

As always, if you have any questions/comments/rude remarks... leave them below, or comment on my Facebook Page... I always love hearing from you all.  

AND.. stay tuned... next up will be my "Happy and Healthy 2016" kickoff, with awesome stuff to giveaway.. and lots of it!

Happy New Year and Happy Trails!