Monday, October 30, 2017

"Never Loose Again!" Lacelocker Review and giveaway!

Photo Credit: Homophones, Weakly

Ok... I will admit that when I saw "Never Loose Again!" as part of the LaceLocker logo, I cringed a little.  But, I realize that is just me.  When folks use the word "loose" when they mean to use the word "lose" it drives me crazy!!   But I know we all have those pet peeve grammar mistakes of one sort or another!

But, after learning more about LaceLockers, it made total sense!  No more loose shoe laces!!

LaceLockers are super simple, and super effective way to keep your laces tied up and secure.. a huge plus for runners, especially ultra-distance trail running.  Any little thing can magnify over long distances and time on your feet.  The last thing you need to be doing is tripping on laces, or readjusting your fit.  LaceLocker has solved this issue.  No more double knotting!

I always double-knot for my runs, because I have a tendency to have them come loose, especially when snagging on stuff along the trail.  Also, double-knotting shortens up the excess so I don't get that lace rubbing on the inside of my ankle thing once in a while that can be bothersome.  However, I hated undoing the double-knots, and often just pull my shoe off... I know, not the best tactic.  And then I just delay the undoing of the knot to when I need to put them on again.  Lacelockers solve that problem. By simply unfolding, and tucking the tab shows above under your laces, you are ready to say goodbye to double-knotting or loose laces.

The instructions are super simple..  once on the shoe, you just tie up as you normally would, than then tuck the loops/lace into the locker, and lock it down.  Boom.. done.  The laces don't budge, and no extra lacing flopping around.   And better yet, when done, simply open up the Locker, and untie.. no more double-knots to fiddle around with.

Now, the instructions say to slide the tab under 2 or 3 rows of laces.  On my Carson's, my laces tuck through some tabs in the tongue, so I really only have one open row of laces.  But, no problem!  The LaceLockers still work great.  In the pic above, I hadn't figured out to tuck all of my lace into the locker, hence the extra bit out the top. Now I tuck in the loops and lace ends together, and that leaves a really nice clean top, and the laces don't budge.   Set it and forget it!

Anyway, I love finding cool little inexpensive tools like these.  They really make a huge difference in the annoyance factor!  You can find LaceLockers by clicking HERE, and then follow the links to buy online and see all the cool color and design options.  At $7.95 a pair, these are a terrific value.  They will be on my feet for all future training runs and races!  And, thanks to the cool folks at Stash Sports/LaceLocker, I get to give away two pairs to one of you!  Enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy Trails!


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Born to Run Ultra 100M 2017 Race Report

Cool shirt

Hey, everyone...  I figure I had better get this race report up while things are still relatively, and painfully fresh in my mind.

On Friday, May 19th, was my first 100-mile race at Born To Run Ultras, in Los Olivos, CA. And, spoiler alert... I didn't reach my 100-mile goal, but this event is really cool.. highly recommend it. Luis Escobar puts on an amazing event, and the support staff and aid stations were top notch. What follows are all the gory details from my attempt, and a review of this event, as it was my first time attending.

Highly detailed map of the venue, courtesy of Luis Escobar, Race Directo
Now, before I get into the details and highlights, I want to make it very clear that I understand the reasons I DNF'd (Did not finish), rest solely on my shoulders. I just don't want my recap of this race to sound like a laundry list of excuses I'm making..  I know exactly the errors I made in training, and in strategy, and have gone over it many times in my head, and, like from any DNF, I'm turning that experience into learning for my next attempt... and yes, there will be another... although at the time I dropped from the race, I wasn't sure...   anyway, get some popcorn, get comfortable.. you know I love to ramble on...   here we go..

I love LA Traffic

The adventure began by flying down to San Diego on Wednesday night.  My parents live in the area, so it was good to visit with them a bit, spend the day Thursday rounding up food and other necessities that I didn't bring with me.   Friday morning, I got up and hit the road around 430 am to head up to Long Beach and meet my friend Chris who was heading up to the race as well.  Got a nice tour of rush hour traffic in LA as we made our way up to Los Olivos.

We arrived sometime around 1030-11am..  the race is all run at the 8,000+ acre East Creek Ranch, and we found a place to park along side part of the course.  The course was comprised of two loops.  A 10.8 mile Pink Loop, and a 10 Mile yellow loop.  The plan was to run 5 of each beginning at 6pm that night.

After checking in and parking, I wandered around the start/finish area...  all around were cars, tents, RV's and tons of cool people.  I had looked forward to this race as it gave me an opportunity to meet several Facebook friends in person, and make some new friends as well.

I wished I had taken a few more pics with folks, but it was cool to see everyone...

After that, I grabbed some lunch, and then focused on trying to get some rest before the race.  I  REALLY wanted to sleep, and hoped I would after getting up before 4 am that day and driving up.  But.. it was hot, I was nervous and keyed up about the race, so it was difficult.

Running the AC... it was HOT

View back towards the start/finish

Pretending to be asleep
Try as I might, it just wouldn't happen.  I had hoped that just laying quiet was going to help, but an hour or so of sleep would have rocked..   eventually around 4pm I gave up, and started to get taped up, loaded up to start the race at 6.

Finally, it was close to 6pm and time to get rolling.  Fortunately the breeze had picked up and it felt a little cooler, but I'm guessing it was still in the high 80's...   Luis Escobar, the Race Director made the course marking directions VERY clear... having us repeat it back several times.  Blue flags = bad, Pink loop, keep the pink ribbons on our right, yellow loop, keep them on our right.   Striped flags combined with pink/yellow meant a turn to follow.   Seems very straightforward, but I know that later on, after sleep deprivation and heat exhaustion, this could become difficult to remember! 

And then, at 6pm, we took off with the crack of a rifle announcing the start.  My plan was to take it slow on this and future laps.  I knew I had plenty of time to finish the race (42 hour cutoff), so I just wanted to just keep moving, hydrate, eat right and get it done.   The first loop (Pink) was mostly on the dirt roads that meandered through the ranch.  The landscape was beautiful... tons of cool trees (I only get to see a few kinds in Colorado), golden meadows, valleys and ridges to climb...     climbing... I knew there were some hills to negotiate in each loop, but I had not expected as much climbing as there was on both of these loops.  After 20 miles it was apparent to me that I didn't train to climb nearly as much as I should have.   My legs felt good, but the tendons on the front of my ankle were not happy with all the tilting back going up and tilting forward going down.. they were not happy. Lesson #1 learned.

During the first pink loop, the sun went down, and the air felt great.  Managed to snap a few pics of the sunset..  so much better in person of course.  The yellow loop had some very intense and long climbs, and also included a single-track section that runs up and down some of the very exposed ridges... I ran this loop twice in the dark overnight, and each time I was thinking about how hot these exposed climbing sections would be the next day.

Photo courtesy of Scott Smuin and Born to Run Ultras

Night time was simply spectacular... it was around 50 degrees (perfect for me).  Aside from my lower shins, my legs and feet felt great..  my breathing was great (as it felt like I had a boost from the low altitude).  I stopped a few times for bio breaks... switched off my headlamp, and the sky just exploded with stars...  so awesome... and so peacefully quiet.   The loops were such that they overlapped a few places with yellow and pink running different directions, so I had the opportunity to say hello to folks during the race, but there were also very long stretches of solitude. By the time the sun came up, I had 4 laps completed and was feeling ok...  tired yes, a little sore, but kind of the "normal" for 40+ miles in.

Things, of course, began to heat up once the sun was up... and heat up quickly.  I had planned for this, so in between loops, I switched to a cooling shirt, hat, and towel for my neck.  Items I could get wet to enhance the cooling off process.  I reloaded on sunscreen and made sure to eat more as well.  During this race, I'd been fueling with a variety of things...   usually carrying a bottle of Tailwind, a bottle of water, a variety of sweeter snacks (Honeystinger waffles, Moon pies of course etc), and also some of Jason Koop's super secret rice balls (which you can find HERE).  I made them with rice, eggs, bacon, green onion, parmesan, soy sauce, and a little honey.  Theses things were perfect... never got tired of eating them, and kept me fueled well the whole time.  Just snagged another pack each time I passed by the truck/cooler etc.

So, as I was somewhere between mile 45-50, I made a critical error.  It had really started to heat up, so I was going through my water/Tailwind more rapidly.  I hit one aid station out on the pink loop, and iced down my hat, towel, head.. you name it.  I grabbed a few things to eat and then headed out again.  It wasn't until a mile or so later that I realized I only refilled one of my two bottles.  The other only about 1/4 full of water.  Lesson #2 learned.

Ugh.... and at this point, it was well into the 90's (I heard later it was close to 100 most of the afternoon).  I tried to meter out my sips as I pushed forward, but I could just feel myself burning through what water I took in.  My hat and towel were drying out quickly, and I was feeling the heat. For every small sip of water I took, it seemed I could cover maybe 100 yards or so and then I just lost all energy, felt sick, and was getting dizzy.  All signs of impending heat exhaustion, that I learned to recognize at my first DNF at 100K (Tommyknockers Ultras 2015). I knew I had a few miles to the next aid station so pushed on but then ran out of water. I was really fading fast, and trying to limp along between patches of shade along the trail, only to then stop and rest in the shade hoping to recover.  At this point, I asked a few runners as they passed for any extra liquid to get me through.  And as ultra runners are, those that weren't out themselves were happy to share a little.

I stumbled into the next aid station and collapsed in a chair..   the crew there were just amazing.  They went right to work on helping me get my core temp down and get rehydrated.   There was even a new delivery of ice happening at that time and I held a few 20 lb bags of it on my lap!  I also had the pleasure of finally meeting Barefoot Ted McDonald (of Born to Run and Luna Sandals) at this station.  He was awesome.. even taking time to fan me with a giant aluminum tray!  Such a great guy, and better yet, he was zipping up and down the trail helping supply the aid stations on one of his Solo Wheels...     so cool.. but I'm getting sidetracked..

After barely surviving my 5th loop... I jumped in the truck... fired up the AC and tried to get my head together.

The heat seemed to be peaking at this time, so I took more time to just try and recover and prep myself to head out there again.  I took this pic as I began my 3rd go at the Yellow loop (mi 54-64), and I was feeling positive, telling myself I could do this.  I just needed to survive the next two loops.

Well, I felt ok for two miles or so, but then the wheels began to come off.  Again, it was the climbing that took its toll.  My lower shins were on fire, which slowed me down, and I hit the exposed single track sections that sapped me even more.  I was trying to drink at an even rate, although I just wanted to chug it all quickly...  I wished I had brought a third handheld bottle to supplement the two I carry in my pack. I was concerned I would not get to the next aid station without running out. Also, the lack of sleep was hitting me hard here, making my head swim a bit and my vision a little unclear at times.

Needless to say, it took me over 1.5 hours to cover the 4 miles, and progressively getting slower and feeling worse.  My focus became just surviving to the next aid station, where I would try to cool down and then finish the lap and call it a day.  I was sad thinking about it, especially after being so up at the start of this lap, but common sense and my body told me I was done.

I got to the aid station, and as before at the other aid station, the folks there were absolutely amazing! I got my towel and hat dipped in ice water and draped over me as I sat.  Ice cold coconut smoothies (made from fresh coconuts) were handed to me as I worked to regain some of my faculties.  I think I sat there a half hour or more just recovering, and replaying everything in my head up to that point.  I so wanted to finish my first 100 miler, but I know my body well enough that even if it cooled off right there, I risked injury if I pushed on.

So, I picked myself up and focused on walking the last 3+ miles or so to the Start/Finish and drop there at 64 miles.  This section starts with a very long climb. Not super steep, but just a long steady grind upward.  I buckled down and just focused on moving my feet and staying hydrated.  It didn't take long for my ice water soaked towel, shirt, and hat to begin drying out quickly in the superheated sunlight.

Not a hallucination!
Now... it is this part of my day that, in retrospect, I find very amusing.  Having been awake now for over 38 hours, and abusing my body for most of that time, my brain was pretty mushy.  I knew that for this race I would be awake and moving longer than I ever had, and hallucinations were commonplace.  I just had never experienced them before.  And the trails at this race were ideal for hallucinating! All the cool oak trees, landscape, ranch equipment along the trail already looked odd, to begin with, with all the shape, shadows, and branches moving in the breeze etc.

I kept telling myself it could happen, and I needed to be aware.  For the most part, things that caught my eye, I quickly realized were just parts of the landscape.  Yet it was still disconcerting as I kept seeing people out in the trees and grass, many of them waving at me.  Blink my eye, and it was just a small tree. Then the faces began appearing in mounds of dirt and grass.... creepy... but it didn't freak me out.

The best of all however, was a little further down the trail pictured above.  The road was tree lined, so lots of shadows and light etc.  I looked down the trail and noticed a big John Deere tractor parked along the side of the trail.  Not uncommon on a ranch, I just hadn't seen it before.  I noted how bright green it was... hmm.. must be brand new.   Really big too... almost like a combine.  I'd have to check it out when I got closer.   Looked up again in a few minutes and poof.... gone.  Just like that.  Just like my mind... lol.

On another note, for some reason, my Garmin decided to corrupt the tracking file, so I don't have a record of my run!  Ugh.. maybe for the better.  Anyway, I found the above from a 3 loop 32 mile run, so I basically did the above twice.  Looking at the elevation, you can see that there was little to no "flat" sections.. either going up.. or down.   Over the 64 miles, it looks like about 9,000 feet in climbing, and my legs still feel it today!

Ok... well, there you have it.  All the gory details as promised.  I am still moping a bit, but I know it was the right call, as hard as it was.  Live and learn... and I learned a lot!

I also wanted to give a shout out to folks that sponsor me as an ambassador.  I appreciate their support so much.   Carson Footwear got me the 12/12 Stingers pictured above, overnighted to me so that I could have them for the race.  This is a brand new sole, due to debut in July, and I was so excited to give them a workout in this race.  A full review is coming, but let me just say they performed flawlessly!

Also, thank you to Liberty Sport/Switch Sunglasses, Orange Mud, Fuel-100, and Thin Optics for their support as well. Couldn't do it without you guys!

Ok.. thanks as always for tuning in, and all your words of support.  When I started training for my first 5K 5 years ago, and couldn't make it one loop around the track without multiple breaks, I never imagined I would end up here. If I can do it, you can too :-)

Happy trails!


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Xero Shoes Ipari Prio Unboxing!

Ipari Prio!

Wow... so today the new Ipari Prio has launched at Xero Shoes! Not only are they on sale, but you can also enter to win a pair too! So click HERE  to check out the launch and enter to win!

Also, I just shot a video of the unboxing of my pair, so you can see my initial impressions as well... and stay tuned of course for a full review after I log some miles!

Happy Trails!


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Cool and Casual Shoes II: Lems Primal 2, SOM SPL3, and Altra Desert Boot Review

Lems Primal 2

Altra Desert Boot

Ok... so, I'm guessing most of you don't wear running shoes ALL the time...  I'm guessing you spend a lot of time barefoot, in sandals etc.... But there are those times that a casual shoe is great to have.  I am bad about wearing my trail runners or huaraches most of the time when not barefoot.

BUT... I do think it's great to have some more casual styles of shoe..  for the weekends, walking, easy hiking etc.  And to that end, I have a review of three pretty different types of minimalist casual shoes.  Before I jump into the reviews though, I have to sheepishly admit that I've had the Lem's and SOM's for a very long time, and have been remiss in getting a review up, so my apologies to the great folks at those companies and thank you for your patience.

Ok... first up are the Lems Primal 2's.  Now.. if you can remember way back, I did a review of the original Primal back in October 2012.. which you can check out HERE.   Also, I did a review of their Boulder Boot, which you can see HERE. 

First and foremost, I love the Cardinal Red color!  Let me tell you.. these shoes stand out.. and in a good way! They are very similar to the original that I reviewed, but with a few changes.  Most noticeably is that the upper seems to have a little bit more structure, which is nice.  Weight wise, they are pretty much the same, coming in at 6.9 oz, but they feel much lighter on the foot.  And as with the original Primal, I could certainly run in these, but I love these as a casual shoe.  A terrific shaped toe box, and responsive 8mm air-injected rubber sole.  They come with a 3mm insole, but I removed those as I like the feel of the shoe without them.  Lem's have come a long way from when they originally started as Stems!  If you are looking for a comfortable casual and minimalist shoe.. you can't go wrong with Lems... check out all of their products here:

Next up, is the SPL-3 from SOM (Sense of Motion) Footwear. SOM is a cool, local Colorado company that was from the desire for a better shoe that didn't exist.  A little more than 2 years ago I tested the original SPL and you can read that review HERE.   Before I jump into the review, I have to let you know that SOM is gearing up to release some new stuff!  That being said, if you go to the website you will see that available sizes on the SPL-3 are limited.  BUT... my guess is that the new release will be even better, so take what you read here, and assume more improvements!

So of course, I had to compare the SPL-3 to the original SOM's I had.  As you can see the sole includes more reinforced stitching, but otherwise much of the same feel.  The BIG difference is that the SPL-3 was much lighter. I believe about a full ounce was shaved off between the two, but it sure feels like a lot more! 

Much like the original SPL, I found these shoes to be very comfortable, and probably one of the roomiest toe boxes I've seen.  These truly allow your feet to feel free, and they function as great casual hikers and every day shoes.  The traction is decent, and the water shedding upper is comfortable and durable.  

Anyway.. if this sounds good to you at all, I would highly recommend you visit their web page and sign up for the newsletter so that you know when the new release is out..  check them out here as well as follow them on Facebook by clicking HERE.

And to wrap up this Cool and Casual shoe review, is the Altra Desert Boot.  As you know, I've been testing out a variety of Altra shoes, and I do have more reviews to come.  But this is kind of a neat departure from their traditional road and trail running selection. 

Ok.. as I've noted on prior Altra reviews, some folks may not consider these true minimalist shoes, primarily based on the stack height.  The Desert Boot comes in at 28mm stack, but of course are zero drop, and have a nice foot shaped toe box.  What is interesting is that this boot is basically the Torin 1.5 (Road running shoe) for those of you familiar, but on top is a cool leather boot style upper.  And of course, being a Seattle Seahawks fan, I do love the blue, neon green, and gray color combination! But if thats not for you, you can get them in light gray or black.  

So, even though it's a thick stack, the shoes do bend somewhat, and overall they are very comfortable.  I don't mind a higher stack in a casual shoe, provided the upper is comfortable, which these are.  A little beefy at 10 oz, but again, not an issue for me for casual wear.  If you love Altra's, and are looking for a fun casual shoe, I think the Desert Boot is worth checking out! 

Ok!  Thanks as always for checking in.  Stay tuned as my New Year's resolution is to get caught up on reviews and stay that way!  So... more to come. 

Happy Trails!


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Brrr.... C2 Extreme Tights and Elite Half-Zip Wool Review

Credit to Gde-Fon

Brrrr!  It's that time of year again...  And for folks like me that always seem to need to be training in the winter for races in May...  time to become that Winter Warrior!

Sure.. I could find a treadmill and workout inside.. but what fun is that?  Besides, I need to start logging some long miles, and I would never last inside...

So.. the question then becomes.. how do I stay warm and comfortable?  As you know, I've tackled this by testing and reviewing a variety of winter wear products, and for this season, I'm taking a look at a company called C2.  Heard of them?  I hadn't before, but I am glad I have now!  C2 is a small New England business started by Jane Hayes in 1993.  C2 came about from a passion for finding the right performance clothing for being outside, even in challenging weather. As you know, I love smaller 100% made in the USA companies that came about from the desire for something better.

C2 Elite 1/2 Zip Power Wool and Extreme Tights
So, since I knew I would need to be logging a lot of trail miles in Colorado's beautiful, but frigid winter, I was more than happy to give the C2 products a test.  So, what I tried out is the C2 Elite 1/2 Zip Power Wool top, and the Extreme Tights.

Ok.. so first up is the Elite 1/2 zip top...  forgive the goofy guy in the pic, just wanted to get a pic of the top while it was on.   

So, this top features a blend of 65% Polyester, and 35% Wool, as the Power Wool option, but you can also get it in a Power Dry all synthetic option if you have issues with wool.  

It is marketed as a next to the skin, all day adventure base layer, designed to wick moisture, keep you warm and comfortable, and to be very durable.  I found it interesting to see the waffle-like pattern of this fabric blend.  For me, it felt just a little bit itchy against my skin, but not too much.  I determined it worked best for me wearing it over a thin compression shirt.  Doing that, it was super comfortable and breathed really well.  And, most importantly, kept me warm when out walking and running in temps around 20F.  I am quite certain it would work well at even lower temps.

I generally wear just synthetic poly materials, but it was nice to have the feel of natural wool in this fabric.  It stretched nicely, so easy and comfortable to wear. The quality construction is apparent as well as you can see in the solid stitching and zipper construction.   This piece retails for $89 on their site, but it's one of those pieces of gear that is a good investment, as my guess is it will hold up through a lot of wear and tear.. and who doesn't like to be warm and dry?

Now for the Extreme Tights.  I was originally going to review their Performance Tights, which look awesome, but when I saw these I thought... now there is something different...   and who can pass up a name like Extreme!!

So what makes these unique compared to all the other winter tights I've tried is the composition of materials.

As you can see by the pictures I've shared, these tights have two distinctly different (yet similar) materials.  On the upper (above the calf), the material looks and feels like Polar Fleece.  But I've learned it is much more than that. The upper is a Polartec Power Stretch double velour, which is 94% Poly and 6% Lycra. The result is a fabric that is baby butt soft, and stretchy.  So comfortable that you don't want to take them off!  I loved how they don't pinch or constrict around my waist.. they feel like pajama pants. But, my immediate concern was that the material was too light and that the wind would blow right through it.  But I've learned that this material was developed for wind and abrasion resistance, water shedding, moisture wicking, all while being lightweight and insulating!  

As for the bottom section, it is made of a similar Polartec Power Stretch (88% Poly, 12% Lycra), but with something called a Hard Face coating.  So here you get something that is still stretchy but with a little more structure.  I really liked the feel because for me that section worked a bit like calf compression and felt great.  Also, it shed snow very easily. 

And, the zippers make it very easy to put on socks of various heights etc, handy for runners, skiers and bikers alike. 

As far as performance goes.... superb!! I have a feeling I will spend most of the winter in these pants...   I spent 8 miles running single track (pic above) in temps around 20F and my legs were happy.  The Extreme Tights held out the wind, shed snow, wicked moisture and kept me warm.. you can't ask for much more than that to keep you training and outside all winter!

The Extreme Tights retail for $149, and again, a solid investment.  You can easily spend that on a good pair of trail shoes, and my guess is, these tights will outlast them for sure.  

So, to wrap up, I am really happy to have learned about C2.. another great Made in the USA company that is delivering some top quality and high-performance winter wear.   Check out all of their products by going to this link  and check out their Facebook page by clicking HERE.  AND, just for you, if you use the code "barefoot16" on your order, you will get 20% off orders over $50 through 2/15/2017!

Thanks again for stopping by... good luck with your winter training!

As always, if you have any questions, comments, feedback, just drop me an email, leave a comment below, or message me on the Barefoot Inclined Facebook page HERE.

Happy Trails!


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received C2 Elite 1/2 Zip and Extreme Tights for free from C2 in consideration for a gear review