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What SwimRun Gear Do I Need?

So you’ve been eyeballing swimrun.  You know you want to get into this crazy sport, but you have no idea what gear to get or why.  Heck, you may have even signed up fgor a race and NOW you’re trying to figure it out.  In this two-part video, I’ll go over swimrun gear beginning with wetsuits.  Yes, there IS a difference, so check out the video to find out.

Keeping Motivated, Coldwater Mountain and Improving Your Swim

Going into the holidays, it’s hard to stay motivated, especially with travel.  A few tips, a Coldwater Mountain trail highlight and some swimming Q&A… oh boy!  Grab your Santa socks and your eggnog for a quick vid…

Running Stuff from a Yoga Store? lululemon Product Review

That was my initial thought.  Back in 2005 or 2006 (if I recall the timeframe correctly), I’d heard of lululemon athletica and checked out some of their clothing when shopping for gifts, specifically, fitness clothing for my wife, Alba.  Back then, they sold predominately yoga clothing for ladies, or at least that’s how I remember.  So, when I won a gift certificate by winning a 5k in Birmingham, Alabama, I almost immediately dismissed it.  Honestly, I did.  Being one not to ignore a good deal on some free clothing, I said to myself, “What the heck?” and went to the store to check it out.

I met up with Alison Hoover, the Assistant Manager at the Summit Birmingham store where she gave me the run-down on the running gear.  I was very surprised to see some amazing pieces that were not limited to just yoga.  She had explained at the race that they had great running gear, and when checking it out at the store, I was amazed that it didn’t look like just your average pair of running shorts or shirts, but, instead, stuff that really had some thought put into it.  It’s apparent that this clothing was designed by athletes that were active in sport and not just big wigs sitting in a corporate office pushing paper around.  Alison helped me pick out some gear, I tried on several things and finally settled on the Metal Vent Tech Hoodie and the Surge Short 3.


I was super-excited to give them a try and had planned on running in them within a couple of days.  The only stipulation that I had when receiving the free gear was that I needed to provide them with honest product feedback.

I thought that was a good trade.

good trade

Unfortunately, me getting a chance to run in the gear was delayed since I started having issues with my calf.  To my dismay, this delay lasted almost a month.  In the meantime, I did some research on the company, checked out their Continue reading

Last Minute Stocking Stuffers for Athletes

By now you may be scrambling to find gifts for your friend or better half.  If that person is a runner, triathlete or biker, maybe I can give you a few ideas. To the untrained eye, these may seem a bit cheesy, but trust me, if you want to get them something that they need and will actually use, then think about these. Not only are they practical and show that you’ve put some thought into their love of sport, but may even add a few snickers on Christmas morning. You can find most of these at your local running or other sports-oriented store and maybe even online. I’m a firm believer of supporting local shops, so definitely try them first.  (Throughout, I’m referring to your athlete as “him”, but can be very well a “her”).


1. Anything GU – Most athletes are in need of nutrition and can always use more. So stuff a few Stroopwafels, a few gels, a package of chews or maybe a tube (or two) of GU Drink Tabs into their stocking. The electrolyte tablets bring electrolytes to water with minimal calories (only 10) and something I use EVERY ride and on runs when I carry fluids. If you don’t know what a stroopwafel is, check out this video.  You can even get creative with the nutrition.  On our New Year’s Day run, we break out with Jet Blackberry gel on mini, powdered donuts. Now THAT’s one good jelly donut. www.GUEnergy.com



2. Give them Warmth – If your runner or biker likes training in cold weather, then you cannot go wrong with arm warmers. These gems are great because they can be taken off and stowed easily during those long workouts when you start of in the cold, but the temperature rises as your workout progresses.  These are especially a favorite with ultra runners and even bikers.  Be picky with your choice and don’t go for just any arm warmer.  These arm warmers from Orange Mud are made from bamboo.  Why a bamboo arm warmer? From a sustainability perspective it’s a crazy fast growing plant that requires very little water and no pesticides to “grow like a weed”. When you chop down a bamboo plant, it doesn’t need replanting, rather it simply regrows for continual harvest. The plant is also fantastic for erosion control, and also feeding pandas. Yes, pandas. www.orangemud.com



3. Elastic Shoe Laces – If you have a runner or triathlete that you’re buying for, chances are that they may already be using these handy laces that allow them to get into and out of the shoes without untying. Even if they already have them, they can use an extra pair for when they buy another set of shoes. Not only do you relieve yourself from the hassle of tying, but as you run, especially long runs, your feet tend to swell.  These beauties will stretch as your feet swell, keeping your shoes comfortable but snug.  www.locklaces.com


4. Socks – Yep, you heard right. The same gift we used to dread getting when we were kids is a cool gift now. Well, they’re cool if you get the right socks. As long as they are for riding, then you can’t go wrong. There’s many to choose from out there, but the best ones come from DeFeet, Sock Guy, Sugoi, and Pearl Izumi to name a few. You score extra points (and laughs) if you get some with a cool saying or picture on them. Can’t settle on the funny ones? Go a little more practical with Merino wool socks from Orange Mud (great this time of year) or compression socks which aid in recovery after a long workout. Want to go with a completely American made sock? Then check out Farm to Feet.



5. Get Grippy – If they’re a biker, ESPECIALLY a mountain-biker, then get them a pair of ESI Grips for their handlebars. They’re the most comfortable grips on the planet. So much so, that I ride without gloves (unless it’s cold). They come in a variety of thickness and colors, but I prefer the “Chunky” ones. On most regular handlebar grips, manufacturers put raised logos, tread patterns and all other kinds of crap that just make them damn uncomfortable. That junk belongs on tires, not handlebar grips. The whole idea of putting something on your handlebars is to 1: improve your grip and 2: keep your hands comfortable. Forget other grips that don’t put these two things FIRST. And if they’re hung up on having their “lock-on” grips, never fear, I used to as well. But the only grips that slip are the poorly made ones. ESI’s grips have their priorities straight and theses puppies won’t move once installed. So get them this gift and they’ll love you for it. www.ESIgrips.com



6. Seal it up – For the mountain bikers in the bunch, there’s a good chance your loved-one is riding on tubeless mountain bike tires. If so, this is a great stocking stuffer. If not, this may motivate them to take advantage of swapping to tubeless and experience all the benefits. For you, if you’re not a mountain biker, this will score major points that you happen to know something about tubeless tires and the need to use sealant. This stuff seals up the tires making it possible to hold air without a tube. The best part is it also acts as an automatic seal should they get a puncture on the trail. Don’t settle for that sealant with some guys name on it. Instead, go with the orange stuff made from NASA technology. One 8 ounce bottle is good for a set of tires, but if you go with the 4 ounce bottle, get two. I’d recommend getting the first bottle with the injector. FYI, I’ll be riding a product review on this soon. www.OrangeSeal.com


7. Crankbrothers Multitool – You can’t get more handy or practical than a multitool. Necessary for trail-side or road-side repair of bike foul ups and tends to work better than a MacGyver twig and rock combo. Crankbrothers has many to choose from at different price ranges. My favorite is the mutli-17 tool since it comes with a chain tool. It even comes with a lifetime warranty. www.crankbrothers.com



8. Co2 cartridges – If he’s a biker of any sort, having extra Co2 cartridges handy will ensure he has a way to fix a flat. It may take a little bit of snooping to figure out if he needs the threaded or non-threaded type. Just check his current stash (usually in his seat bag or where he keeps the rest of his stuff). If you can’t figure it out, go with threaded. If it’s the wrong type, he can easily swap it out with the right ones at his favorite shop. Go with either 16oz or 20oz. www.GenuineInnovations.com or your local bike shop.


If you found this list helpful, please vote for me in the #RunUltraBlogger awards (please scroll all the way down to complete the vote).


If you’re in the Charlotte, NC area, be sure to come check out our 10th Annual New Year’s Day Almost Noon Almost 10k Unorganized Group Trail Run




Whelp, I’ve gone and done it.  I’ve made the short list for the 2017 Blogger Awards at RunUltra.  However, I need YOUR help to make it to the finals.  Will you PLEASE vote for me?  Of course, you could use the 2.21 minutes it would take you to vote for me in some sort of other valuable way like pondering why you’re coffee smells funny, acting like you’re actually working like your boss thinks you are or, better yet, picking your nose.  Aww, come on.  Help a fellow runner out and vote.  Please?



New Years, New Friends and Mud

For the 7th year in a row, we had our annual New Year’s Day Almost Noon Almost 10k Unorganized Group Trail Run.  After everyone arrived, even a few folks who still had race bibs on from the morning (literally running straight there from the race), we ended up with a total of of 22 runners.  I got to meet some great new people who I really hope to spend some more time with jumping, skipping and hopping the trails.


We loaded up on goodies from GU Energy and headed out.


The temp was per-fect-o and the trails in good shape even though there were a few Continue reading

XTERRA Panther Creek

I raced the XTERRA Panther Creek Tri back on August 1st.  I know, I know.  That was 4 weeks ago.  After some pestering from a few of my buddies who wanted the low-down, I figured I would post it anyhow.  Plus, with going into my next race, I have been thinking a lot about Panther Creek, as any racer should.  What went right?  What went wrong?  What changes should I make to improve?  You get the idea.  So since it’s been on my mind lately, it does make it easier to throw it on paper.  Well, uh, not really paper, but again, you get the idea.

For the second year in a row, it was a wet course.  It was on and off raining in the area the 24 hours leading up to the race.  I wasn’t overly nervous about it, as I had a pretty good race there last year and it was muddy as all get-out. 

Fred and I had chatted a couple of times leading into the race and we hooked up on race morning to talk strategy among miscellaneous small talk.  It was still on-and-off misting as you could tell from the foggy camera lens in the picture below.


Like last year, the bike course was modified slightly to prevent the racers from going through a slick boulder and bridge section.  It’s a fun, fun section when it’s dry, but could be very, very sketchy when wet.  Here’s a dry picture of the section that was cutout.


After getting transition all laid out and things ready for the race, Fred, Dan, and I decided to head out on the course for a little quick pre-race warmup.  This also gave us an opportunity to check out the course and to see if my decision to go gloveless would work given the wet conditions. It was slick as expected with every wet root acting like a gremlin to throw your wheels out from under you.  The ESI Grips worked well, even wet and even without gloves.  I was pleasantly surprised as I knew that going gloveless could save me time in transition, especially if it continued to rain. Have you ever tried putting on wet gloves? 

On a second lap of the section we decided to pre-ride, I opted to push things just a little too hard.  Inevitably, I crashed.  Not only did I crash, but I did so twice.  The second time down, my decision to go without gloves bit me.  While hitting the dirt, I tried to catch myself and both of my hands scraped across sharp, pea-sized gravel.  The result were cuts and scrapes to both of my palms.  The pic below was from post-race while cleaning the wounds.  Can you imagine what they looked like bloody?


Getting back to transition, I grabbed my Bellwether Scout gloves from my transition bag and placed them in their appropriate spot.  There was no way I was going through that twice.  I headed down to the water for a warm-up swim.  During the swim, as soon as I took off, the first couple of strokes were painful.  I expected the cuts to sting, but that wasn’t the problem.  The real pain came from the fact that my right palm was not only cut, but bruised quite a bit.  Matter of fact, it had already begun to swell and discolor.  “This is not going to be fun on the bike,” I thought.  After my warmup swim and RIGHT before the race start, I ran back up to transition and swapped my Scout gloves for a pair of the Bellwether Supreme gloves.  I normally reserve these for road biking because I favor full-fingered gloves on the mountain bike.  My decision to use them was based up the fact that they have a padded palm.  They ended up being saviors on the bike course.

The swim consisted of a 400 meter course of which we would have to two laps.  On the first lap I attempted to keep a strong, fast pace to stay ahead of the main pack.  I knew I couldn’t keep up with Fred’s super-fast pace, so rather than blow up trying, I just kept him in sight and settled into my own pace.  I was in 6th place coming out of the water and couple of minutes behind Fred (pretty significant on such a short swim). 

My transition went super smooth and I entered the trail in 4th place.  I passed another racer very early in the bike which put me into 3rd.  I held 3rd place for a good portion of the first (of two) laps.  That’s when my friend Dan caught up to me.  “Abracadabra,’ he says as he passes me.  We stuck together into the second lap.  About a third of the way through, I crashed again on slick roots, hitting more sharp gravel, taking a huge chunk out of my tri suit and my arse with it.  I shook it off quickly and kept on trucking.  About the time I caught back up to Dan, I heard Ryan Oconner behind us and I informed Dan that we had a tail.  Ryan kept his pursuit and eventually passes me once the trail widened.  Shortly after his pass, I tried to pick up my pace in an effort to keep on his tail.  It wasn’t long before the conditions took over and I crashed, AGAIN.  Same side, same area, leaving more arse on trail.  This allowed both Dan and Ryan to get out of sight.  I continued my pursuit to both catch the guys in front and to ward off anyone trying to catch up.  As I was about to finish up the bike leg of the race, Bence Roemer catches up and takes a pass. 


Sore and beat up, I entered T2 and ditched the bike gear as quickly as possible.  It went pretty smooth and I went into the run in 6th place overall.


After about a mile or so of technical single-track, the run course opened up onto a gravel fire-road.  I could see Bence in the distance and tried my best to reel him in.  Once we entered into a lolly-pop loop section of the course, I wouldn’t see him again.  Matter of fact, I didn’t see or hear anyone for the rest of the run.  I spent it all alone till the end of the race. 

Since the conditions were quite muddy, I was a little concerned that the Avia Avi-Stoltz shoes would get clogged up and lose grip.  Only in the most extreme, greasy mud did this happen (which any shoe would have had trouble).  The rest of the time, they worked like champs.  I held 6th place overall and first in my age group.


Great race and good times!

Congrats to teammate Fred Smith for taking 1st place overall!!

Full results:  http://www.xterraplanet.com/races/view_results.cfm?race_id=1088

Be a Warrior! 


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