Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Product Review: EPSOAK SPORT Pure Unscented Epsom Salts by San Francisco Salt Co.

EPSOAK Epsom Salts feel great in the tub and help you recover for your next run.

Disclaimer: I received a container of EPSOAK SPORT Pure Unscented Epsom Salts by San Francisco Salt Co. to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to find and write race reviews. 

I've been using epsom salts to help my muscles recover from the stress of running for the last several years.  I have always loved a hot bath and epsom salts make it so much more comfortable.  Therefore, I jumped, (figuratively, not literally), at the chance to try EPSOAK Sport Epsom Salts by San Francisco Salt Co.  As they note, in addition to recovery, epsom salts are great for reducing inflammation and detoxifying the body.  I received a large 8.5 lb. canister of unscented epsom salts along with a little bamboo scoop.  The scoop looks so small compared to the size of the container.  On the side of the container it said to use 4 scoops.  Hmm...I wondered if maybe there was a bigger plastic scoop in the tub, but I didn't see one and nothing appeared when I moved the salt around a little.  Therefore, having used epsom salts quite a bit before myself, I decided to use around 16 of the bamboo scoop servings for a bath.  That seemed about right to me.  And today, when the plastic scoop finally appeared halfway into the use of the container, that was about equal!!!  LOL!!!

The small bamboo scoop and the large plastic scoop.  I'd say 4 of the former is equal to roughly 1 of the latter.
EPSOAK says that they use premium quality epsom salts and I will say that I definitely feel the difference in the tub.  They seem to be a little bit more tingly/salty, like you might experience in the difference between taking a freshwater swim and a saltwater swim.  My legs definitely feel more rejuvenated after an EPSOAK tub.

Some of the info. that came along with my test product. 

In addition to the unscented salts, EPSOAK also has a Soothing mixture that includes lavender and an Energizing mixture that includes eucalyptus and peppermint.  The former sounds pretty good when I am thinking about sleep and the latter sounds pretty good when I still have a full day of activity lying ahead of me!!!

8.5 lbs. of salt takes a big canister as you can tell in these pictures.

Epsom Salts are sports therapy and San Francisco Salt Co, has produced a great product in EPSOAK.
If you've never soaked in an epsom salt bath, give it a try, especially after a hard long run or race.  I think you'll find you feel a bit more relaxed and your legs especially will thank you for it.  If you have a chance too, check EPSOAK out online and give them a try!  They are currently running a sale: http://www.sfsalt.com/epsoak-sport.  Enjoy!!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Product Review: Generation UCAN Protein Drink Mix

Enjoying a Chocolate-Strawberry-Banana UCAN Protein Shake while I write up my review!!!

Disclaimer: I received a sample package of UCAN Protien drink mix to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to find and write race reviews. 

This is my third product test for a Generation UCAN product, and they continue to impress. I received both chocolate and vanilla cream protein mix samples and have thoroughly enjoyed them.  As usual, this UCAN product has their revolutionary SuperStarch carbohydrate that is natural and slow-releasing in order to help keep steady energy levels for the individual consumer.   

A banana-blueberry-vanilla cream-peppermint protein drink! One of many flavors I came up with for this test!

Both flavors are gluten-free with no sugar added.  The vanilla cream tops out at 160 calories and 11 grams of protein, the chocolate is 200 calories and 13 grams of protein.  I found that the thickness/consistency of the shake when blended with fruits/vegetables/etc. mostly has to do with how much water you add.  But, whether it was a thinner more water based drink, or a thicker shake consistency, I found I enjoyed the taste of both flavors even while I mixed them with things as different as peppermint, carrots, spinach, blueberries, strawberries, and bananas.  In addition to the recipes I created, there is a booklet I received of 30 recipes of how to mix up your protein shakes with all types of ingredients whether as a pre- or post activity drink, a drink for during activity, or a healthy snack.  If you aren't competent on how to mix things up, then just use the book, and you'll do great.  If you are an old pro like myself, then have at it...you can't really go wrong as the Generation UCAN products have a great taste and blend well with most fruits and vegetables.

Banana-Blueberry-Spinach-Chocolate.  Sounds weird, but you don't even taste the spinach!

I generally feel pretty solid after a Generation UCAN product and have plenty of stable energy, even after I have exercised and have to work an 8 hour evening retail shift.

Strawberry-Carrot-Spinach-Banana-Vanilla Cream.  It tasted great!

Right now, if you go to their site and use code "BIBRAVE" you can save 15% off all UCAN products!  Enjoy!!!

Friday, December 9, 2016

2016 Racing Season: Mendon Trail Run 20K, Mendon Ponds Park, Honeoye Falls, NY, November 5, 2016

The parking lot is full for the Mendon Trail Run 10, 20, 30, and 50K Races.

The Mendon Trail Run 10, 20, 30, and 50K races were run on November 5, 2016 in beautiful Mendon Ponds Park, Honeoye Falls, NY.  Some of the trails included in this race were from one of my earliest blog posts back in 2014, East Esker Trail, Mendon Ponds.  I enjoyed running those trails back then, and I thoroughly enjoyed going back and racing them in the 20K.

A note on why I chose the 20K distance:  For the last four years in the Fall, I have raced either a trail marathon or 50K, (one year attempting to do both but acquiring my first DNF as they were too close together with a 15K PR sandwiched in between!), but this year...has not been the last four years.  I knew I could do the 10K pretty easily, the 50K no.  That left either the 20 or the 30.  I figured based on my training and lack of long runs, I would be able to do the 20K, though even it might be a stretch, but the 30K...not so sure this time around, so I stretched to the 20, but decided not to push it.  I am glad I did so.  The 10K would not have been worth it, the 30K might have been possible, but the third loop might have been tough.  Like Goldilocks, the 20K on this day, was just right.

It was a beautiful day, cool, but not too bad, shorts and long sleeves.  The leaves were still brilliant, golden in some places!  The course was a 10K loop, starting and finishing at one of the lodges. While the 50K races had started earlier in the day, the 10, 20, and 30K racers all started together.  I saw several people either in the events or as spectators from the local trailsroc group that I knew.  

Taking pics while moving is always hard, I tried to stop and slow down, but this still has that warped look!

The sly thing about Mendon Ponds Park is that because it is located at the edge of a large city, you might be tempted to think it isn't very hilly...and you'd be very wrong!  The course description for the race said that it had 1000 ft of climb per loop.  My Garmin would drastically disagree with that, being closer to around 400+ ft of gain and around the same loss per loop, for maybe a total of 16-1700 ft of total change for 20K.  But whether I am right or the race organizers are, that's still a fair bit of "rolling hills" tucked back in those woods.

As I noted above, I chose the 20K, primarily because I really have not had very many long runs or any type of solid consistency to my running this year as we moved half way across country and started new careers.  In fact, this race was probably my 2nd or 3rd longest run of 2016 which is totally opposite 2015!  But, this was a fun 20K...I simply went in with a good attitude and a desire to run, race, and enjoy it, especially as it was kind of a birthday present from earlier in the week.

Nearing the aid station on loop 2.

Back to the course:  the 6+ mile loop is very rolling and mostly secluded in the woods.  Most of the course is wide or double-track.  Very little if any was wet.  There are stretches where you have to watch your footing due to roots, rocks, and the fact that the leaves were falling, but it's not too bad in terms of tripping hazards.  But, as I noted back in 2014, one of the great things about running an esker is that you often feel like you are higher up in altitude than you actually are in reality.  I always feel like, (maybe it's my imagination running away with me again...), I am running in the mountains. That feeling, combined with perfect weather, and awesome fall scenery, made this a fun day.

Sorry for the blur again, but you can tell it was golden out there!!!

It was also a fun day, because I knew much of the course even though I hadn't raced it before, yet it wasn't so fresh as to be boring.  I was able to keep a fair pace, and down the final stretch I actually had enough left in me to sprint it out.  I came in 48th out of 72 for the 20K and was satisfied with the day.  It was simply a great day to race and I loved it.  This race was more about just enjoying the chance to race along with the beauty of the day, and the challenge of the course.  Praise God for an awesome time!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Product Review: BUFF® Merino Wool Rooibos Tea Dye BUFF®

The Merino Wool Rooibos Tea Dye BUFF® is great for late Fall/Winter Running.
Disclaimer:  I received a Merino Wool Rooibos Tea Dye BUFF® as part of being a BibRave Pro.  Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

Late Fall and Winter running usually have me pulling out different headgear than I tend to use for much of the rest of the year.  While I have one Polar BUFF®, that's obviously not enough for multiple runs during the week.  But, recently, my cold weather arsenal grew with the addition of a merino wool BUFF®.  The name is pretty cool, it's a "tea dye," (since the name is Rooibos Tea), or tie dye, each one unique as they are completely dyed by hand. Awesome!  I noticed today after my run, that the parts of the BUFF® that get sweaty wet appear darker than the rest, just like a tea bag that darkens as water first hits it...awesome!!! (Or maybe gross...depending upon how you look at it I guess...)

It is also ecofriendly, "produced with renewable resources following a respectful animal process" that minimizes the effects upon the ecosystem.  It "is a mulesing free product" and the merino wool originates from Australia.  The merino wool BUFF® offers thermal comfort especially in the 32°F-68°F range, (0°C-20°C).  It of course offers odor control, wind protection, and moisture management.  Check them out at http://buffusa.com/shop-buff/men/multifunctional-headwear/merino-wool-buff/bb1e0a0a0a.  

Getting ready to run with my Rooibos Tea BUFF®

But how does it work and wash?  The same as all of my other BUFF® headgear, simply, efficiently, and excellently...(is that a word?)  You put it on, of course in any number of ways as the back of the packaging displays, wear it, run in it, ski in it, whatever, bring it home, throw it in the wash, (I do tend to do it with my other running gear on "delicate"), then repeat.  BUFF® headgear doesn't fall apart, doesn't go out of style, (I have some originals from years ago), and simply works.  

The merino wool BUFF® is not as warm as the polar BUFF® that I have, but that's actually perfect.  This one is great for those days when the polar would be too much, yet you still need more than the standard, original BUFF® for warmth and ear protection.

The merino wool BUFF® could even be used as a sort of facial wind protection, or for reenacting old western bank robberies.

The BUFF® merino wool rooibos tea dye headgear piece is a welcome addition to my collection.  BUFF® products are one of three pieces of gear and/or nutrition that I typically use on almost every run I do during the year and it's been that way for the last couple of years.  I have never had a problem with any piece of gear that I have from them. Sometimes a simple product well made comes along, and BUFF® headgear is one of them.  As with all the other pieces of their line that I have reviewed, I'd definitely recommend this one to you as you run during these colder months of the year.

Warning: Silly pictures in BUFF® headgear follow...

BB-8 knows a good thing when he sees it, especially when travelling to Hoth.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Product Review: The Ginger People Gin Gins

The Ginger People Gin Gins come in several flavors including: (top row, L to R), Original, Peanut, Spicy Apple; (bottom row, L to R), Super Strength, Double Strength (Hard).
I have had the privilege since 2015 of being an Authentic Ginger Tastemaker for The Ginger People. One of their flagship products that I have been using for the last several years, even before I was able to be a product ambassador for them, is their great ginger candy, Gin Gins.  I continue to take and eat at least one Gin Gin on most of my runs and several during my long runs and trail races.  In addition to their great taste, (they come in several flavors), they are also great for helping with nausea. (Cf. Ginger and Nixing NauseaGinger Found to Ease Nausea of Cancer TreatmentGinger and Morning Sickness.)  That is key for long distance trail and ultra running where your stomach can turn on you at anytime.  

Now, how about the actual review of the product and taste!  I have had 6 of the Gin Gin flavors and enjoyed each one of them.  They are made of very few ingredients, (i.e., the original is simply cane sugar, ginger, and tapioca starch), and each have a slightly different yet wondrous ginger flavor.  Let me start with the only one I am currently out of because my teenage boys ate them all:

Coffee: Is there much more to say?  The coffee Gin Gins taste like a hot cup of coffee spiked with ginger.  You will feel a bit of ginger heat as you enjoy these, so they are perfect for cold weather runs in the winter , one of my favorite times to eat them.  Alas, as I mentioned, I am currently all out and we just got a foot of snow!!!

Peanut: This one actually tastes like fresh peanuts and has little tiny pieces of ground peanut in them. They are even better and more enjoyable that many similar chewy peanut candies out there in the marketplace.  Plus, they are good for you!!!  

The original flavor Gin Gin.  This one is still my favorite.
Spicy Apple:  This was the second flavor of Gin Gin that I ever tried.  It took me a little while to get use to it as I am not always a big apple/cinnamon type of guy, but it has definitely grown on me over the years to the point where I consider it one of my old standbys along with the Original Flavor Gin Gin. Similar to the coffee, this is another nice one to have on a cold winter run, especially if you like hot apple cider. The taste of delicious apples will great you as you enjoy this treat!

Double Strength: These are a popular one for me to start a run with as I can suck on the hard candy and get my juices flowing, especially if I am feeling a bit dehydrated.  I will almost always have a couple of these on me during a major race.  They pack a punch in the ginger meter, but it's so good to have something to enjoy like this, especially early on in the run/race.  They are also a great digestive aid in the first few miles in addition to a "throat lozenge".

My current stash of Gin Gins.  It's actually pretty low...I need more!!! 
Super Strength:  These pack 30% ginger in the candy!  They are also the only one that takes the form of a ginger caramel type candy.  You can suck or chew on them.  They are a bit smaller than some of the other flavors, but the punch they pack more than makes up for it.  As they melt in your mouth, you can actually get a feel for the ginger itself that is packed into the candy.  If you are new to ginger candy or to ginger as a main ingredient in any product, this might be a little over-powering at first, but you will learn to love it!

Original:  Why would I leave Original Flavored Gin Gins to last?  Usually most people review an "original" flavored something first and then go on to the other flavors.  I saved it for last because it is my favorite flavor and no wonder, according to The Ginger People's website it is , "America's #1 Selling Ginger Candy."  Literally three ingredients.  It's a special time during a long run when I pull out an original flavored Gin Gin.  Many times I take the other flavors with me instead because I don't want to go through my originals too fast.  I kind of like to hoard them!  (I'd probably do the same with the coffee flavored ones if my two teenage boys would stop taking them!!!)  I can't really describe them other than that they are delicious ginger chewy candy and they just feel right in my mouth and my stomach, especially mixed with a great trail run.  They taste great, they work for nausea, and they give me just 20 calories each, a nice little pick me up.  Plus, as with all the flavors, they are super easy to store and take with you where ever you go and for whatever you are doing.

Gin Gins are tasty and healthy candy for anytime use, but for me, definitely excel when I am out running on the trails!
As a disclaimer, and as I mentioned earlier, I am an Authentic Ginger Tastemaker for The Ginger People, and they have given me additional Gin Gins to try and review.  But, I also want to say this, even if I weren't an Authentic Ginger Tastemaker, and even before I was, I love these things!  Get yourself some, especially for long distance road or trail running.  If you find it hard to eat certain things after a period of time during a run or if you get nausea, Gin Gins might be perfect for you. Enjoy!!!  

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Product Review: XX2i Brazil 1 Matte Black w/Polar Grey AR Lenses

The XX2i Brazil1 sunglasses are for going "cas".

Disclaimer:  I received a pair of XX2i Brazil 1 Matte Black w/PolarmGrey AR Lenses as part of being a BibRave Pro.  Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

I continue to enjoy wearing the sunglasses that XX2i comes up with to meet various consumer needs. The Brazil1 fits the need of "cas" or casual wear sunglasses.  (Yeah, I might have made up "cas", as in "caswear," not to be confused with "cashmere.")  The fact that they named them the Brazil1 is cool with me too, since I've been to Brazil twice to aid and train people there, and it is a wonderful country of wonderful people, that I could see totally wearing these ultra-hip sunglasses.  

Now at first, they might look a bit boxy...but, in a way, that's the point.  These are casual sunglasses to more or less cover your eyes fully while out enjoying the day, as opposed to streamlined glasses like the USA 1 or Australia 1 that I have reviewed in previous posts.  They have a nice bluish polarized lens, have small silver accents, and fit comfortably.

The Brazil 1's are a rock star!  

As usual, these glasses come with both a soft and hard case, as well as a sunglass wrap you can attach so you won't lose them or have them fall off.  In addition they are fully Rx-able and have a lifetime guarantee.  They come in both men's and women's with a few different choices of color combinations. 

Chillin' w/my moose!
XX2i will be the sponsor of Bibchat on November 22, 2016 and a special code will be dropped that week, Thanksgiving week, that's is only good for 72 hours, so look for it on Twitter and I'll see you there! 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Product Review: SPIBelt Performance Series

The Performance Series SPIBelt is lightweight and easy to use.

Disclaimer: I received a Performance Series SPIBelt as part of being a BibRave Pro.  Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

Who wouldn't like an extra pocket to go running with occasionally?  There are those runs, year round, Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring, where sometimes, often due to the shorts, tights, pants, etc. that we are running in, that we think, "Why didn't they include a pocket?" Or..."Why didn't they make the pocket bigger?"  Or..."I don't really want to take a whole pack, I just need a pocket for...my keys, a piece of candy, some TP, etc."  

Enter to the rescue...the SPIBelt Perfomance Series Belt, https://spibelt.com/shop/spibelt/spibelt-performance-series/.  Weather resistant and able to hold some of the larger phones out there, this is that pocket you need when the one included in your kit just isn't big enough or simply doesn't exist. It's very light, and I hardly feel it on at all.  (Maybe I would if I put more stuff in the pocket, including my phone?)  I typically stuff in a couple of Ginger People Gin Gins, a baggie of TP, and my old school (the square chunky one) iPod Nano.  There is a ton of room left over after this and adding a phone would be no problem. Nor would gels be a problem since there are 4 gel loops on the belt.

Getting packed up to go run!

The SPIBelt is made to be worn with the pocket on your front.  But, it can be worn in the back...which is good, for some of us have been wearing gear with the pockets in the back, (think fanny packs) for a very long time, and wearing the pocket in front...seems like a violation of some natural law...so, as a trail runner who often has to learn how to adjust things on the fly, I have with the SPIBelt...I wear the pocket in back...

For those who may be wondering, the belt fits waists from size 29"-52" and has no bounce when running.  It's a basic black, with the zipper being your only color option, (7 choices).  Here it is on me before I went for a 5.5 mile run this morning.

If you are interested in trying one out, you can save 20% right now until 11/18/16 with code: bibchat2016.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Product Review: First Impressions of the LEGEND Compression Performance Socks

The LEGEND Compression Performance Socks in blue.
Disclaimer: I received a pair of LEGEND Compression Wear Compression Performance Socks to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to find and write race reviews. 

Over the weekend I received a pair of LEGEND Compression Performance Socks to try out and review.  I threw them on yesterday for my first four mile run since getting injured last week.  Usually I wouldn't wear a compression sock for such a short run, but I wanted to try them out and see how they performed.  I was surprised by how easy they were to put on compared to many compression items I have had over the last several years, including some socks that actually would rip if they were not put on right because they were so tight.  LEGEND has a saying, "Compression done right not tight."  There compression socks are more moderate compression having a therapeutic effect during exercise.  They are much, much easier to get on and off than anything I have used and I had no fear of ruining them.  

I am looking forward to trying them at work as well since I am often on my feet for an 8 hour shift on hard floors, so these might also get some time there, especially after a hard run before work.  The socks seemed a little big to me, but we will see how they are after a wash or two.  So far, so good.  I think these might be a nice addition to my footwear arsenal.  More to come.

P.S. Get 15% off with code "bibsave".

Monday, October 10, 2016

2016 Racing Season: Ready Set Glow Trail Run, Dryer Road Park, Victor, NY, October 8, 2016

Watching the finishers, (lights), come in at the end of the Ready Set Glow Trail Run, Saturday, October 8, 2016.
I run a lot in the early morning, so using a headlamp is pretty common for me, especially this time of the year.  But, typically as I run, the sun is coming up and so by the time I am done, I am in the light and have often seen the sunrise.  But, the Ready Set Glow Trail Run was a different experience Saturday night.  Instead of running into the coming daylight, we'd be waiting for it to go down before we even started and then would head off into the woods where there were lots, (LOTS!) of tripping hazards!!! Normal, daytime, trailrunning has the same tripping hazards, but at night, you have to watch for them with the eyes of an eagle while running at the speed of a gazelle...or in my case, perhaps a fast elephant...

One of my boys and I drove down south of Victor, NY, to Dryer Road Park and arrived as the sun was still going down. The Ready Set Glow Trail Run is a race put on by the Trails Roc running group that I have run with several times this past summer.  Eric and Sheila Eagan head it up and had plenty of solid volunteers helping them in the dark.  Now I've directed several races, and there are always a ton of things to be concerned about, but directing a race in the dark, with very little natural or artificial light to help you, that's an additional challenge, and I'd say based on my experience, Sheila and Eric did a very good job Saturday night.

In our BibRave Orange waiting for the sun to go down and the race to start @ 7:35pm.  Headlamps are mandatory.
The race started in the soccer fields, the opening lane being "flagged" by flashing glow sticks.  The rest of the course was continually marked by orange flags, as well as the occasional glow stick.  That said, it was very easy to go off course in the dark since you can't plant a flag every few feet over a 5 mile course nor expect staff to do so.  Therefore, you really had to pay attention out of the edges of your periphery vision for flags while also looking directly in front of you for tripping hazards, especially roots and short stumps, while also looking down the course and at the person/people in front of you.  

Once we got onto the trails, it seemed like the roller coaster of ups and downs was pretty continuous with a lot of switchbacks. Note the map below:
The course for the Ready Set Glow Trail Run, courtesy of www.trailsroc.org

Even after the "Upper Field" stretch of open field as we dove back into the forest, people were going off course.  I found myself jumping up several people due to this and actually running by myself a little bit away from a smaller group of people.  Running alone in some ways that first mile or so might have been good, as I could just concentrate on my own race without pressure ahead or behind me.  This would change as I got closer to one of the other runners in front of me.  

The two of us ran together for probably a couple of miles of the course, with him stumbling a few times, as well as myself.  This seemed to occur more as the train of lights on a large group of people seemed to ever near but never catch us for what seemed like an eternity.  With all the switchbacks, we kept seeing the group behind us and I thought for sure they'd catch us in all the hills, switchbacks, and tripping hazards, but we held them off for quite a while.  I think it was on the Owl's Maze section (or maybe it was Juicy Bacon) where we would not only switch back and forth with the group right on our heels while also going up and down in every turn like a banked race course.  Somewhere on one of the flatter sections, (which there were few of), I hit a root/stump just right that I caught my balance but felt like I hyper-extended my back.  (It literally felt like my back stretched along the spinal column.)  Shortly after that, I could feel it in my right upper hip and then my right foot, where I have had some plantar fasciitis recently, went numb off and on a couple of times.  My running uphill seemed like shuffling occasionally, especially as we climbed up the elevator.  The group behind us seemed fine with the two of us in the lead hiking rather than running it.  We almost went off course once, but caught it quickly.  Then, at the top of the hill as we exited the forest, we unfortunately started to turn back into the woods at the top instead of going into the fields. Again, we caught ourselves withing 30 feet or so, but I ended up behind the whole group I had been helping to lead and lost several spots!!!  All the time I felt like I had had this train of lights behind chasing me and we had held them off until almost the end, and then have it get messed up with less than a mile to go!!!  Ugh!!!  I think I would have finished around 15th +/- if not for that.  Oh well!!! 

As we came through the final section of forest, we ended by running through the sports fields once again and racing down the black top to the finish line.  My son was already done and came in 4th place!  I was 21st out of 87 and attribute much of that to good route finding in the first 4 miles.  If I'd been quicker to catch the flags at the top of the final hill I might have been as high as 13th.  Next year I guess!  Amazing, considering I think my pace was like 13 min/mile!!!  2016 Ready Set Glow Trail Run Results

Thanks to the Trails Roc group for putting on a great race!!!  Definitely a different nature of a race when you running in the dark!  Pretty cool!  Try it out some time, you won't notice the hills as much because you'll be looking for flags, stumps, and lights more than anything else!!!  Enjoy!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Product Review: 2Toms StinkFree Sports Detergent & 2Toms StinkFree Shoe & Gear Spray

Getting ready to spray my current trail-running shoes  with 2Toms StinkFree Shoe & Gear Spray.
Disclaimer: I received a sample of 2Toms StinkFree Sports Detergent & 2Toms StinkFree Shoe & Gear Spray to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to find and write race reviews. 

I have always wanted to try those sports detergents that say they will get the stink out of your clothes and gear.  So, when there was a chance to try some products from 2Toms, I thought I would give it a go.  This review is for two products from 2Toms, the StinkFree Sports Detergent and the StinkFree Shoe & Gear Spray.

First, the detergent.  

A 2 pack sample of 2Toms StinkFree Sports Detergent.

The first load I did with the 2 Toms product didn't come out as I thought it would, and I believe that is my fault.  Laundry detergents have become more concentrated as they turned from powders to liquids, and I think I filled my washer too full for the amount of soap I used in this case based upon rereading the instructions afterwards.  That one's my fault.

Make sure to read the directions clearly so you use the right amount of soap for the appropriate sized load of laundry.
So, the second load, I sized appropriately and the load of laundry came out fine.  There was no smell. Now, that's important, for we live in an age of overly perfumed expectations of laundry soap...what? What does that mean? It means, that 2 Toms uses no perfumes. So the load of laundry not smelling like a dirty sock, or a "summer breeze," or "alpine meadow," is all equal.  Just not smelling bad and not smelling like perfume, means it's golden!  It worked. Remember that as we come to the second product...

Second, the spray.

Just like the detergent, the spray should make things not smell bad, but they won't smell like a "mountain fresh stream," either.  That means it's working!

The spray also leaves no scent when it is working.  You know it is working, and that you've either used enough or sprayed it enough times, when your shoes simply stop smelling...like stinky road or trail shoes.  This took a few applications for the main pair of shoes I did my testing on, but it did work. However, I ran in them today, and because the shoes get dirty, your body sweats, things are wet in the early morning, guess what...you've got to spray it again in order to keep the smell away.  The instructions say you will have to do this, and it is a normal expectation of the product.  But, oh...what some people would do to make shoes not smell like...you fill in the blank_____.  Some of my kids' shoes smell worse than my trail runners!!!

Overall, these things work, but you do need to understand how they work and adjust your expectations.  Right now, you can get 20% off with code 2Toms20 on any 2Toms products through the end of 2016!!!  Enjoy!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Product Review: Generation UCAN Snack Bars

Generation UCAN Snack Bars are made with a SuperStarch Carbohydrate.

Disclaimer: I received a sample package of UCAN Snack Bars to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to find and write race reviews. 

I enjoyed the Generation UCAN SuperStarch drink mix so much, when the chance came up, (as a BibRave Pro), to try Generation UCAN Snack Bars, I jumped and said, "Pick me!!!"  UCAN sent me 6 bars, 2 each of chocolate and coffee bean, and 1 each of cinnamon swirl and peach passion.  

The Generation UCAN Snack Bars are not made to be a protein bar per se, but a "steady energy bar," according to the company.  The SuperStarch carbohydrate that the company has developed was made to deliver steady energy resources throughout the day.  These bars are smaller than many bars from other companies, and seem to range from about 170-190 calories each.

The Chocolate UCAN Snack Bar, 180 calories.

I remember when the first sports nutrition bars, made by another well known company, first came out in the late 80's/early 90's.  They were like eating (more like tearing and chewing tar) flavored dog food/cardboard.  Things have changed in the last 25+ years.  These bars are great.  They start just a little dry in the first bite, but then start to melt in your mouth.  They are very soft once you start to eat them and very strong flavored.  Some may feel that they are overly strong, but I think that actually that is the olfactory system kicking in along with the taste buds.  I actually found that the strong sense of flavor was quite pleasing on a mid-range run.  Being hungry, the taste/smell sensation worked to please my desire for a good tasting food and left me happy to have eaten the bar.  One note, the coffee bean flavor may throw some people as the taste for many of us is actually more akin to raw cookie dough...which still rocks!!!

Prepping for a trail run with my Generation UCAN Snack Bars.

I liked these bars a lot.  They tasted good, but weren't overly filling.  They weren't hard to chew while moving, and they seemed to do what they promised, keep my energy levels steady.  You can enjoy them now, (Generation UCAN Site), and get 15% off with code BIBRAVE.  Enjoy!

Devouring my last Generation UCAN Bar earlier this week!

Monday, September 26, 2016

2016 Racing Season: Walworth Festival in the Park 5K, Walworth, NY, July 23, 2016

Back home after the local town 5K in Walworth, NY.
I hadn't run a road race since 2011.  After burning out on running that year, when I came back in 2012, I not only did my first ultra, but pretty much converted back to trails only, even though I had to run on roads to get to gravel roads, trails, etc.  At the time I burnt out on running in 2011, I had placed in my age group in each of the previous 3 road races I competed in going back to the fall of 2010. But, since then, as I added longer and harder trails runs to my quiver, my speed on and off road had deteriorated.  So, adding a road race and running with my son would be an interesting adventure, especially in a year where we have had so many changes and my training has not been very consistent or full fledged as in the previous years.  In addition, we have gotten to that interesting stage where my son is faster than I, but I still have the endurance advantage.  We'd see that in how the race unfolded.

The Walworth Festival in the Park 5K was held not far from our house and started in the Ginegaw Park, just below the hill that immediately climbs up to one of the town buildings.  So, not much more than a 1/10th of a mile into the course, you are heading straight uphill and for some of us, myself included, that meant a fast paced hike on the pavement.  After ascending the top, as I descended the other side, I started running on the unpaved shoulder of the road as much as possible to lessen some of the pounding and save my legs.

It was a hot and humid July day and I was pretty sure some runners would succumb to that even in just 5K.  As I got my pace figured out and continued,  I was slowly able to start pulling back some runners.  There was one more short, steep climb in town where I took to a fast hike, and then not too long after that, someone was standing by the side of the road with a hose misting people.  Instead of just passing through it, I ran at an angle into it in order to get the best spray down and cooling affect. Praise God for small miracles!!!

As we went through town, we came to a section with a couple of quick turns sometime after my GPS watch told me we had passed over 2+ miles.  That was when I saw my son who was racing with me, taking the turn ahead of me.  There were 2 people in between us and I was determined to try and overhaul them so as to get to my son and see if I could also reel him in before or at the finish line.

Like I said, it's been a while since I've raced on road, but I remember all the strategies of cutting the angles and thinking about when to push, etc.  Eventually the first one of the two between us stopped to walk in the heat/humidity and I got a little closer.  Then as we headed down the final hill, I was able to eventually haul in the second person.  As the road turned back into the park, I knew I was going to have to push it in order to catch my son, but I didn't want to alert him to much to my presence.  As we made the final turn to the finish, I realized there wouldn't be enough room to catch him, but that at the very least, we would come in one after the other.  He beat me by 10 seconds and we finished 32 & 33 out of 68.  (Walworth Festival in the Park 5K Results, 2016)  Prizes only went 1 place deep, my son was 3rd in his age group and I was 4th.  Not too bad, especially since my time was nothing to write home about compared to my 5K PB.  But, all in all, it was a great little re-introduction to road racing!  (But I think I still prefer the trails!!!)

Thursday, September 8, 2016

2016 Racing Season: Charlie's Old Goat Trail Run, Victor, NY, June 25, 2016

Race swag included a shirt, bottle of champagne to all finishers, and I won a raffle!!!
Two weeks after I had one of the worst racing experiences of my life, I came back determined to run better at Charlie's Old Goat Trail Run.  The website presents the race this way:  

"The challenging course will take you through rolling open meadows, into wooded single track, up and down a few hills, and across a creek or two.  All proceeds go to Ganondagan, [an art and cultural center of the Seneca Native American community], to help them maintain their picturesque trails that are free to the public all year long."

I had inquired about the race at one of the trailsroc.org runs and found out that instead of it being a 7 mile trail run, it was rumored to be closer to 6 miles.  [At the end, my GPS watch had it at 6.04 miles.]  The day before, desiring not to repeat my disaster at the the Ontario Summit Trail Races, I flooded my body almost to the point of nausea.  Probably not a good strategy you'd think, but maybe I was dehydrated, because all the extra water and Tailwind seemed to do the trick.  I paired that with a good mental attitude and lots of prayer...and had probably the best racing experience of 2016 thus far. While I only came in 87th out of 117 finishers, I truly enjoyed this race.  I am getting to the point in my racing/running career, where while every new race/trail is unique, they also remind me of others I have run.  This one reminded me of races I'd run in Iowa, Minnesota, and Montana, while definitely being a local Western New York State race all it's own.  It had everything in the description noted above and the hills were no slouch.  I hiked some of the ups and flew down the descents as best I could.  There really was a great variety of terrain.

And hey, how many races does the RD, (Yeah, Charlie), hand you a bottle of champagne? Afterwards I headed down to the post-race refreshments and found out I'd won a $10 gift certificate to a local sporting goods store.  Then I partook of gazpacho, brownies, pizza, and other goodies while talking to a young man who happened to be the overall winner.  As I ate and drank my champagne, he told me about his race.  While he was a collegiate runner, including cross country, he had never really run a trail race.  Well, he did a fine job that day, winning in 39:15 by 42 seconds.  Then an older couple joined us, and we all talked about our races.  The wife and I had passed each other a few times during the main climb.  She told us about her triathlon experiences. Quite an active lady at her age, I hope I can match her as I get older!!!

All in all, I was better prepared, had a positive attitude, and trusted it all to God with the result being a great morning out on the trails.  Cheers!!!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Athlete Interview: Shawn Crafford

An Irish Lephrechaun: Shawn Crafford
A couple of years ago via social media, aka Twitter in this case, I "met" Shawn Crafford. He is one of a group of runners that I interact with daily. We say hello, jibe each other, check on each other, and encourage one another. Shawn is also a fellow Runner's Tea ambassador, our Irish connection to those across the pond. Shawn recently had a great opportunity to run the Great Wall Marathon in China and so I caught up with him to talk about his running and this once in a lifetime event.

Brad Zinnecker/Trail Running Faith: Shawn, welcome Dude! Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into running.

Shawn Crafford: Most of you know my running background but for those that don’t, I was introduced to running in my boarding school days when I was in high school. I was seriously obese and took up most of the sport’s on offer. Basketball, athletics, swimming, tennis, and even squash. It wasn’t until later in highschool that I took up cross-country and loved it because it was a great way to keep fit for rugby and all the other sports I played. My high school was also based in the town in South Africa where the Comrades Marathon starts or finishes every year and so I started helping with that which inspired me to one day run this iconic ultra marathon.
Brad: Wow! Shawn, Comrades is a pretty big deal! Earlier this year, you raced another pretty significant event: the Great Wall Marathon.  Tell us how you made the decision to run such an epic race?
The Great Wall of China
Shawn: The decision to run the marathon wasn’t made lightly. Funds were non existent last August, (2015). The race director offered to pay me a commission for each runner or walker I got to enter The Great Wall Marathon and that did allow me to renew my passport and pay something towards my visa. By that time, I had made my mind up to go to China but just didn’t know how I was going to get the funds together for flights and spending money. I eventually decided to suck in my pride and get a Go Fund Me account and within three hours of opening it a very good friend basically covered my flights...
Brad: That's so cool Shawn. As you got ready for the Great Wall Marathon, what challenges did you have in prepping for it and how did you overcome them?
Shawn: My biggest challenge was coming back from injury. Most runners have been through some sort of injury before at some point in their running career. I tore my right abductor in September, 2015, after doing way too much mileage. I would have probably healed a lot quicker if I had listened to the doctors and physio, but like the passionate over zealous runner that I am, I ignored them until I couldn’t run at all. I started from scratch again in February of this year with the help of a team from @Mpg_Coach, aka #myprogramgenerator. When I got to the race start, I was about 60% fit.
A view of a valley from the Great Wall of China.

Brad: What did your wife/kids/friends think about you running such an adventurous race way overseas!?!
Shawn: My wife couldn’t believe that I was going because things are tight at home. The kids were super excited for me because they knew how much effort I had put into getting myself over to China. I don’t think I have ever been so driven in all my days. There were days when I literally walked around like a zombie and once or twice I even didn’t go on social media.
Brad: GASP...REALLY??? :) I'm not sure that's allowed in this day and age is it? Anyway, when you landed in China, what was your first thought/impression?
The Olympic Stadium in Beijing.  Shawn is on the left in orange, Mark Pattendens is in the green.
Shawn: The first thing I noticed was the heat. We landed at 9am and had lost at least 6-7 hours of sleep. I really don’t sleep well on planes and I was really totally hyped up. The smog was brutal, even worse than described in the books I read before going to China. However, as you leave Beijing, it isn’t quite as bad, (though not a lot better).
Brad: Tell us about the course for the Great Wall marathon?  How much of it is on the Great Wall?  Elevation Change?  Number of stairs?  Terrain on the wall?  Height of the steps?  How many runners?  What was at the aid stations?  Give us the lowdown...

Shawn's Strava screenshot of the elevation change during his run in the Great Wall Marathon.
Shawn with the runner he helped on the Great Wall of China.
Shawn: As you can see from my Strava screenshot, the incline is crazy and the descent is really scary. In some spots it is a shear drop... I actually ended up helping a first time marathon runner and we only managed 14 kilometers in 4.5 hours. There were 60 people entered in the marathon but only 17 completed the full marathon distance. It was seriously challenging and very hot. To be honest , I would love to attempt it again but not for a few years! This marathon was not as well organised as it should’ve been because water stations were few and far between. If I hadn't had my Camelbak, I think we would have been a seriously dehydrated. It was also the first time that the marathon was held on this wall so it wasn’t well known and really dangerous in spots.
Brad: What did you enjoy and what would you do differently?
Shawn: I enjoyed the tour that was organised by Mark Pattendens (the amputee) tour guide. In addition to the marathon, we also travelled to the Forbidden City and got to see the Olympic Stadium. What an amazing piece of modern engineering. There was so much to see and just not enough time to see it all. I would definitely love to travel the length of China and do a lot more exploring. It is such a fascinating place.
Group of runners for the marathon.  Shawn is towards the back right, in blue.
Brad: What’s the number one moment you recall from the race?
Shawn: There were so many moments throughout the race and even after the race. During the race it was definitely all the struggles along with helping someone else who had never done a full marathon. Even though we didn’t complete it, it really felt like we had. Meeting Mark Pattendens in person was humbling and totally inspiring. If you are lucky enough to meet the man in person you will understand what I mean. I am very glad to call him a friend and I can’t wait to catch up with him again in the future.
Brad: What do you think is the connection between physical and spiritual endurance, especially for a race like the Great Wall marathon?

Shawn: In every run I have done in the past there has always been a connection made between the two. The Great Wall Marathon was no different except for the very physically demanding stairs that never ended and the sheer drops! One thing that I was very spiritual was the history of the wall. This very wall we were running on had once been manned by many soldiers and some of those soldiers would have lost their lives in battle or possibly fallen to their death. History ooze’s from the Great Wall.
Brad:  Thank you Shawn for sharing your story with us.  I'm glad to call you my friend and that you were able to go.  Pretty neat that people from all over the world could come together and get you over there for this once in a lifetime event.  You represented us well. The willingness to help another runner when it might impact your own result is always an act of selflessness.  Keep up the good work!  

Thanks for reading about Shawn's adventures and enjoy these final pics below from China!!!

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