Friday, December 31, 2010

Recommended Running Reads; Dean Karnazes; Straces; GoLite Footwear

Recommended Running Reads:

Running Through the Wall: Personal Encounters with the Ultramarathon, edited by Neal Jamison (2003, Breakaway Books). A good collection of essays showing just how diverse the ultra world is, from lessons learned from DNF to 100 milers under extreme conditions.

The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running, 2nd: Everything You Need to Know About Equipment * Finding Trails * Nutrition * Hill Strategy * Racing * Avoiding Injury * Training * Weather * Safety, by Adam Chase and Nancy Hobbs (2010, Falcon). An exhaustive study on myriad subjects relating to trail running, something for everyone from newbie to seasoned veteran.


Tickle, tickle, tickle

"Running is about finding your inner peace,
and so is a life well lived."
-- Dean Karnazes, ultrarunner, FOB (Friend of Beth)


We received a couple of pairs of Straces to try out - these were sent to me as a possible transition improvement, but I had a more immediate concern. I put them in my son's daily shoes, as they had the world's longest laces and it took him just about forever to get them tied and out of the way.

A couple of minutes spent removing the old laces, a couple more to lace up with the Straces and voila!

Definitely worth checking out as an alternative to other speed lacing systems. These are super simple to use, come in a variety of colors, and would definitely help get through transition faster. Find them on the web at

Here's a video showing possible ways to utilize the Straces:

(Disclaimer: Straces sent me these to try out free of charge. I did not pay for them, agree to give a positive review, nor received payment for a positive review. All opinions beyond anything gleaned from the company website are my own.)


The other night, a big box came from GoLite Footwear! Did you even know that GoLite Footwear existed? Until recently, I didn't, but once I found them, I requested a couple of samples - I got a pair of  the Flash Lite to try and Laima got the Micro Lites. (I'm trying to get her more involved, amp up the whole feminine factor of the blog.) Sweet-looking shoes, no? And this is what's coming in the Spring:

...inspired by the Tarahumara


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pure Bar: Product Review + Giveaway

Veronica Bosgraff's daughter was 6 when she told her mother she wanted to be vegetarian. Veronica noticed that there clearly was a lack of healthy vegetarian snacks in grocery stores, and decided to create one of her own. The requirements were stiff. Only use real ingredients, organic fruits and healthy nuts untouched by harmful herbicides and pesticides. No refined sugars, no chemicals, no genetically-modified stuff. We wanted ingredients rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and omega-3 fats. Most importantly, it had to taste amazing.

Pure Bar is committed to using its products and practices as vehicles for change. As a brand started by a woman to empower her daughter to pursue a healthy active lifestyle, they are committed to overall wellness. Pure is dedicated to enabling young men & women to realize their potential and provide them with the tools that can inspire them to have a lasting positive impact in their communities. Additionally, they hope to encourage these same young men and women to adopt a more healthy, active lifestyle.

Veronica Bosgraff

Ingredients: agave nectar, walnuts, almonds, cacao nibs, cocoa powder, wild blueberries, tart cherries, sunflower seeds, cranberries, apples, dates, rice protein, and nothing else! All ingredients are raw and organic to the extent possible.

Pure Bars are gluten-free and vegan. Note, however, that they are produced in a facility that processes soy, milk, egg, wheat, and peanut products.

Our tasting sheet

Tasting Notes:
  • Cranberry Orange
    • Kovas - very strong orange flavor; minimal cranberry; crunchy, chewy nut element
    • Laima - very orangey; not too sweet; crunchy and chewy
  • Apple Cinnamon
    • Kovas - good cinnamon smell; great texture and taste; stronger of cinnamon taste, but balanced by apple
    • Laima - cinnamony apples; chewy with bits of apple; also not too sweet
  • Trail Mix
    • Kovas - strong sunflower and chocolate flavor; tastes just like its name!
    • Laima - tastes like a handful of trail mix!
  • Cherry Cashew
    • Kovas - least scented; tarter cherries balance cashew; overall subtle flavor; good texture with crunchiness of nuts; my favorite flavor by far!
    • Laima - nutty; tart cherries; not too sweet
  • Wild Blueberry
    • Kovas - strong blueberry flavor and small; good texture with nutty crunch; strange aftertaste
    • Laima - strong blueberry scent; strange aftertaste; sweeter
  • Chocolate Brownie
    • Kovas - good cocoa smell; least amount of nut texture of all bars; unlike a typical chocolate bar in a very good way
    • Laima - less nutty; not too sweet; chocolaty
Overall Impressions:

Kovas - The first thing I noticed is that overall, they are pretty much a uniform color; probably from dates being the primary ingredient. Only the Chocolate Brownie bar was markedly different. These were, to a bar, good-tasting, felt like they were made of quality ingredients, and as my son Teo noted, if you were vegan you would want to eat these all day long! Simple ingredients, simple packaging, a product I am happy to recommend!

Laima - I like that they're organic and have protein. Also not too sweet overall compared to other energy bars. I will definitely buy for the kids and myself as treats rather than candy bars or other energy bars.

Check out our kids' review over at their blog, Kids Try Gear!

Connect with Pure Bar on Facebook and on Twitter, or visit the Pure Bar website.

For a buy-one-get-one-free coupon, fill out the form at

What better way to end 2010 than with a healthy giveaway? Winner win receive one box of  Pure Bar Snack Bars, in Chocolate Brownie or Cherry Cashew. To enter, simply leave a comment below, telling me one way you will make 2011 a healthier year for you. Giveaway runs through Thursday, January 6th, 2011; winner will be chosen using and posted on Friday, January 7th, 2011.


 (Disclaimer: I was sent this product for free to review on my blog - courtesy of Pure Bar, via Kate at Stanton + Company. I did not pay for these items, receive payment for this review, or agree to give a positive review. Aside from information gleaned from the company website, the opinions are my own.)

Have a product you'd like reviewed? Contact me at

Kids Try Gear: Pure Bar Snack Bars Product Review

Our dad, who writes the blog Midwest Multisport Life, recently got samples of the Pure Bar snack bars to review, and he asked us to help him out!

Pure Bar are organic, gluten-free, raw snack bars that come in 6 flavors: Cranberry Orange, Apple Cinnamon, Trail Mix, Cherry Cashew, Wild Blueberry, and Chocolate Brownie.

Our Tasting Sheet

Munchkin (age 3):
  • Cranberry Orange - yummy!
  • Apple Cinnamon - yummy
  • Trail Mix - It's yummy!
  • Cherry Cashew - yummy
  • Wild Blueberry - yum
  • Chocolate Brownie - favorite
I would eat them again. My favorite was Chocolate Brownie. Second favorite was blueberry.

Tazer (age 9):

  • Cranberry Orange - pretty good, tastes a lot of orange, not much smell

  • Apple Cinnamon - smells good, awesome, better than cranberry orange, both apple and cinnamon flavors, sweet, my favorite

  • Trail Mix - not much smell, good, better than Cranberry Orange

  • Cherry Cashew - not much smell, okay, a little bit of both flavors, not as sweet

  • Wild Blueberry - strong smell, okay but aftertaste is strange

  • Chocolate Brownie - very strong smell, awesome, less nut texture

  • I like these Pure Bars overall. My favorite was the Apple Cinnamon and did not have a least favorite. I'd eat these any time and would definitely recommend them to my friends!

    Guy-guy (age 8):

    My favorite Pure Bar was the Cranberry Orange. There were six Pure Bars and each one tasted a lot different. There was the Cranberry Orange (my favorite), Apple Cinnamon, Trail Mix, Cherry Cashew, Wild Blueberry, and finally, the Chocolate Brownie. The Cranberry Orange tasted kind of sweet, there was not a strong smell and I could taste more orange than cranberry. The Apple Cinnamon smells like cinnamon, I can taste both flavors, it's very tart and cinnamony. The Trail Mix I had to breathe in deeply to get a nutty smell, it has a little tinge of chocolate, has some nuts in it, so it has some texture. The Cherry Cashew is hard and chewy at the same time, there is a nutty texture and not a strong smell. The Wild Blueberry had a very strong smell, it was a kind of dark color, there were lots of nuts, and at the end sort of a weird taste. The last bar has a very strong chocolate smell, and is dark, dark in color. I recommend these to everyone. These Pure Bars are very good.

    Have a product you'd like reviewed? Conatct us at

    Wednesday, December 29, 2010

    MovNat: Paleo Fitness

    Erwan Le Corre by Emily Shur

    In the January 2011 issue of Outside magazine, Nick Heil writes about Paleo Fitness, or The Workout that Time Forgot. Erwan Le Corre is the leader of MovNat, sometimes called Paleo Fitness, which is based loosely on crossfit, barefoot running, martial arts, wrestling, and low-carb diets. It is a fitness regime that hearkens back to our caveman roots, and is intertwined with the Paleo diet, which shuns modern day foods, inlcuding grains and dairy.

    MovNat is based on an obscure training manual published in 1912 by Georges Hébert, a French naval officer. He also incorporates elements of Parkour, which combines running,acrobatics, and death-defying (sometimes) stunts. Adding in the Paleo Diet completes the picture. Le Corre teaches the training regimen himself through workshops and clinics, and has trained others to help spread the word. To explore more or to find a training opportunity near you, visit the website, MovNat®: Explore Your True Nature™.

    I'm not big on the Paleo diet, so that part I can take or leave, but the actual training looks like a blast! I will definitely search out ways to incorporate this into my own fitness plan.

    Tuesday, December 28, 2010

    The Runner in Winter: Ultrarunning Video

    "Running Times’ correspondent Joel Wolpert caught up with trail runner Anton Krupicka to see how he runs through the Colorado winter. As do all of Wolpert’s films, this one features local music: songs by Denver, Colorado bands The Lumineers and Paper Bird." (Original post at Running Times.)

    Interesting snapshot of an ultrarunning star as well as beautiful shots of the Boulder, CO area. Most interesting to me is how upright his running style is. His foot placement is so light, almost delicate. Love his amazing collection of shoes!

    Monday, December 27, 2010

    Midwest Trail: Greene Valley (Winter)

    Last weekend, I visited Greene Valley again for a nice winter trail run. In a very cool coincidence, Daniel of Tranquility in Every Stride was running there as well, though our paths did not cross. I did see a few other runners, but none that look like his profile photo, though that may be a glamour shot for all I know.

    Winter trail running has its own share of things to be prepared for, least of which is being able to park where you were planning to.

    The Du Page Forest Preserve has gotten funding to preserve the old red barn, which will eventually be available for community events. Like a trail race, maybe?

    This may have been the most beautiful December day imaginable around here, at least winter-wise, with sun and blue skies. Above you can see that, even in winter, this trail gets some decent usage. The trail was a few inches of powder covering several inches of thick, slippery ice. I am upgrading my review of the Treksta Evolutions from a really good trail shoe to one of the best I've ever used - NO problems with footing.

    Kind of surprisingly, after all this cold weather, the East Branch of the Du Page River had no ice. Either the current is just too fast or it's just too polluted to freeze. Either way, very strange.

    Finally - maybe not as sexy as Last Mile Lounge's Jamoosh or The Boring Runner Adam in tights, but this one's for all the mountain-man-loving women (or, to be fair, men) out there:

    Friday, December 24, 2010

    Run From The Heart; 52 Workouts/52 Weeks/One Faster Runner; Holiday Giveaway Winner

    "Sometimes, when not that fit or when I felt I needed to be competitive because much was at stake, or even when I let a fear of failure seep in, I would regress and try to run a "smart," conservative race. All, 100 percent, resulted in dismal races --- dismal times, dismal places (if I finished), and dismal feelings. Those races were not true to my nature. Sure, a lot of races I started hard in, I died, but the placing or finish is not what is important to me. My raison d'etre for running is to run from my heart, and I have never regretted a race where that is what I did. I have never had a magical race by pacing myself. A run doesn't even need to be a race to be magical. The excitement and competition appear to help, but mystical events can happen at any time. The only common factor in all my special runs is effort. They are all fast for me. The key is not in making myself run hard but in letting myself run hard, completely releasing the heart and soul to go. Who are the legs and feet to get in the way of the spirit?"

    -- Excerpt from an article by Eric Clifton (Sep/Oct 2004 issue of Marathon and Beyond )


    "Fitz," over at Strength Running, is offering a free book which contains a year's worth of weekly workouts that promises to:
    • Build monster endurance for the half and full marathon
    • Increase turnover and speed
    • Prevent injury and build stronger legs  
    • Keep running fun!
    Consider it my gift to you this Christmas - don't ever say I've never done anything for you. Head over to get your copy of 52, Workouts, 52 Weeks, One Faster Runner now. It's on me.


    By my count there were 44 entries; however, this was made more difficult by people like Em and Dawn, who could not grasp the 1 Comment limit imposed by our sponsor, the Endurance Athlete Project. I believe they are both blonde, could be blonde, have been blonde at some point, or just play one on TV. Moving on. Via the magic that is, the winningest comment belonged to Beth, at Shut Up And Run (the Sewer Lady).  Please follow Beth, she is struggling to attract followers and has resorted to writing scatalogical prose, posting pictures of herself in see-through bathing suits, and generally sought attention by any means possible. Beth, I've emailed you the promotional code for $35 towards your next purchase at CNS Stores. Enjoy!


    Thursday, December 23, 2010

    CLIF SHOT® Turbo Energy Gel: Product Review

    "CLIF SHOT® Turbo Energy Gel offers all of the performance upgrades of the new CLIF SHOT® Energy Gel, but also includes an extra concentrated caffeine kick for those days that require just a little bit more." CLIF has made some improvements to its gels, coming up with new formulas that offer better taste, a thinner consistency, and more electrolytes to fuel your performance. Also added are varying amounts of caffeine, with 25mg in the Strawberry and Citrus, 50mg in the Mocha, 100mg in Double Expresso and in the Chocolate Cherry, or no caffeine at all in the Chocolate, Vanilla, and Razz.

    I recently got to try all of these new flavors, excepting Vanilla. They are uniformly decent, with a few standouts in the Mocha and the Double Expresso. In fact, I would go as far as to say that the Double Expresso is my favorite gel of all time! These new CLIF gels have very natural flavors, excepting the Chocolate Cherry, which, while still an okay flavor, came closest to the chemically-tinged taste of the past. One other thing I really liked about these new gels is how easily they melted and mixed into water. I've been carrying gel flasks a lot recently, finding it easier to drink down the gels rather than squeeze them out of the tube while underway. CLIF SHOT® Energy Gel contains no animal-based ingredients so it is vegan-friendly. BONUS!
    CLIF has also added the "litter leash" to its packaging, which keeps the top attached after being torn off, resulting in less litter while exercising. That's one step closer to being more environmentally friendly. One other suggestion I would make is for CLIF to package their gel in multi-serving packages, so that people like me, who use gel flasks, can refill the flask from a single source, rather than opening a new package each time.

    It appears to me that CLIF has, for the most part, made great steps forward in this product. If you need a gel with good flavor and some extra boost from caffeine, give these a try. That they are vegan-friendly is a nice touch as well.


     (Disclaimer: I was sent this product for free to review on my blog - courtesy of CLIF, via Lisa at Double-Forte. I did not pay for these items, receive payment for this review, or agree to give a positive review. Aside from information gleaned from the company website, the opinions are my own.)

    Have a product you'd like reviewed? Contact me at

    Wednesday, December 22, 2010

    Race Across the Sky DVD + More Secret Santa!

    I was pretty excited about watching this movie, as I have a passing interest in mountain biking and a strong interest in the Leadville 100 (though as a trail runner). I was a bit disappointed in the movie, as I believe they missed a golden opportunity to really showcase the race and Leadville. I'm a fan of Lance's, for things he's done both on and off the bike, but this was simply a paean to Lance Armstrong, sort of follow Lance as he kicks the locals' butts movie. There were some amazing shots of the race course, others showing how tough the racing is/was, but very little of the race's history or the characters that inhabit it. That being said, it's still worthwhile searching it out, if only to get a small taste of this beautiful area of Colorado. That, and it makes you want to go out and ride.

    Race Across The Sky 2010 from Citizen Pictures on Vimeo.


    Yesterday I came home to a great surprise! MORE SECRET SANTA! Whitney, of Running With Whit, sent me an amazing blog gift exchange package. Unbeknownst to me, Jill had given my name to 2 other bloggers, as I had volunteered to send out 2 gifts. Whitney must have a direct pipeline to info about me, because this gift clearly had me in mind. S'mores cocoa mix, Flex-Tastic, a Glade scent pack (pomegranate
    açai - smells great!), and Balega trail socks. Besides the wine and Johann's writing at Run Tall, Walk  Tall,  the Balega socks are another South African product worth seeking out. Thanks again, Whitney, for a great and thoughtful gift.
    Oh yeah, the Flex-Tastic. To me it looked like my wife's pedicure thingy, but this product spreads the toes more aggressively, which "massages and relieves sore feet; straightens and re-aligns problem toes; and restores flexibility and circulation." I wore them for a half hour last night and they definitely affect the feet - reserving judgment on positive or negative, but that initial try was promising.

    Tuesday, December 21, 2010


    The Endurance Athlete Project is a dynamite idea, and it appears to be headed for great success, which is nice, because we all want our friends to succeed. Kind of funny, because even though we've never met, I consider Patrick a friend, actually a really good friend. We've had some great email exchanges, comment on each other's blogs, have even had a few phone conversations. It got me thinking about how amazing the Internet really is, connecting like-minded people who, while relating electronically, are able to build strong bonds with each other.

    Mary, The Running Green Girl, is one such person. It turns out she was my secret santa in our bloggy gift exchange. Jill gave me a heads up that there might be a problem with my gift, which made me wonder what it could be. On Friday, I received this email:

    "The Green Girl's Holiday Story To Kovas

    I am all about supporting local businesses. So instead of going online to get your gift, I searched for a running store in your city. I came across Runners Grove and tried to make a purchase online but realized I had to pick up the phone to place my order.

    I called and this nice little old lady answered the phone and I explained I wanted to get a $5 gift card and a few small items to put together a Secret Santa gift for a friend. She was kind enough to walk around the store and slowly describe each item she saw that might be appropriate. She would tell me what color a GU Chomps package was and she carefully described each Christmas ornament for me. She made suggestions based on the fact that you are male.

    A customer came in and she seemed flustered so I let her know she could help them and call me back. She called me back and we continued the virtual shopping trip around Runners Grove.

    When we'd finally found the items to add to the $5 gift card, she rang me up and I asked how much shipping would cost. And she said 'Shipping?' And I said 'Yes, I would like to ship this to the recipient' and she said they had never shipped anything before and there was no way they could ship. Ordinarily, I would've cancelled my order at this point but she was so kind and thoughtful that I couldn't bring myself to do that. So, there was an awkward silence and finally she suggested I just make the purchase and she could put your gift on the table where they put other phone orders for customer pick-up.

    After I hung up the phone, my coworkers all laughed at me when I told them the store couldn't ship. They were like 'this is 2010' - you should have cancelled the order right then and there!

    But, like I said, the lady was so nice and so kind and I could not have done that in good conscience.

    SO, instead of having your gift delivered to your door, I am giving you this virtual 'gift certificate' so you may go pick up your Secret Santa gift."

    You have to live in Downers Grove to understand how funny this is. Our city/village/town, while not small, retains many characteristics of the small town it once was. It makes perfect sense that Runners Grove would not ship items, as 99% of their clientele is probably locals, who drop in after visiting the library or the toy store or after a lunch or dinner out. This story affected me on so many levels: Mary going out of her way to put SO much effort into this gift and then being concerned that I would be put out having to go to the store to pick up my gift. As you can see from the photo above, Mary went above and beyond what was needed for the gift exchange. But, that's what friends do.

    Jill, of Running With Jill (or The Neverending Saga of the Heel), recently asked whether I'd be interested in taking a look at some clothes her sons had outgrown. Sure, why not? Friday an enormous box arrived,with clothes for my son, a book for my wife, and a book and jacket and sticker for me! Why? Because Jill and I have spent countless days trading emails, dreaming of our first ultras, scheming and debating on which one would be the perfect event to achieve the distance. We'll be there for each other, crewing or pacing or cheering, and why? Because that's what friends do.

    Emily and I have been fast friends since we first found each other's blogs. It was actually me who convinced her to run and succeed at Man Against Horse (yes, blame me for the endless buckle displays!). (Just kidding, we all know Em is beholden to no one.) We've had some fun ridiculing each other on our blogs and on others, via the comments section. So I was feeling a bit miffed lately, when her RUN EMZ shirts started popping up on other people's blogs, and not a one was to be found in my possession. I was merciless in my quest for the shirt, even going so far as to label them "so five minutes ago." That's me eating some crow in the photo above, by the way. As the saying goes, the first shall be last. Saving the best for last, that's what friends do.

    There are so many (too many) other similar instances to name in this (seemingly) neverending post. So once again I urge you to head over to the Endurance Athlete Project. Connect with blog buddies and make some new ones. If you're in the Chicago area, let me know, maybe we can meet up. Plan on San Francisco next December, where bloggers/runners of all denominations will be meeting up at The North Face Endurance Challenge. With races from 5k to 50 miles and everything in between, there's something for everyone, including the kids.

    P.S. Em let me know that KMA stands for Kovas the Mature Adult - thanks, friend!

    Monday, December 20, 2010

    RIP: Snukis (1999-2010)

    Snukis and Meškis
    Snukis entered our life 11.5 years ago, not long after Laima and I got married. He, along with his brother Meškis, was our first attempt at family. Like a child, Snukis alternately charmed and amused us, bedeviled and befuddled us, and brought copious amounts of anger and joy.
    He was not a perfect dog, nor always easy to live with. It was both his charm and weakness that he could not abide other dogs and small children. Only at the end of his life did he relax his guard, allowing our second-youngest even to approach him. Faults aside, we will miss him, for he still truly was a part of our family, and the first to leave.
    As I hugged him for the last time this morning, I selfishly wept, angry with the betrayal of his body. I also sincerely regretted each instance of angry words, impatience, and yanks on the leash. Dogs, like children, can bring out the worst in us, while asking only for affection, safety, guidance, and understanding. While I was not always there for him, he remained, to the end, there for me.
    Sleep peacefully, good friend.

    Saturday, December 18, 2010

    Running and Rambling + Holiday Giveaways

    Donald over at Running and Rambling is giving away 3 pairs of New Balance MT101s, probably the shoe that I currently would most like to try. Head over to and check it out.

    Over 100+ members and growing! If you haven't joined yet, do so right now and help build what will be the premier endurance enthusiast network. Don't forget, by doing so you can also have a chance to win a $35 gift certificate through my Holiday Giveaway.

    Friday, December 17, 2010


    Since I'm not a huge Macca fan, I'd be hard-pressed to agree that he is the "ultimate endurance athlete," but it is very cool that he has made the leap to mainstream recognition via Wheaties. "McCormack’s appearance on the Wheaties box will be accompanied by the cover of the Wheaties FUEL box, which was the official cereal and sponsor of the Ford Ironman World Championship because it provides balanced nutrition that helps athletes prepare to win. Wheaties Fuel provides a blend of carbohydrates: simple carbs for rapid supply of energy, complex carbohydrates from whole grain to provide long-lasting energy and help fuel working muscles, and fiber to help curb hunger while limiting feelings of fullness. B-vitamins help unlock the energy contained in the carbohydrates. Wheaties FUEL also contains an excellent source of iron. Iron helps transport oxygen to working muscles. The cereal was developed by a team of elite athletes in the various sports of triathlon (Hunter Kemper), decathlon (Bryan Clay), basketball (Kevin Garnett), baseball (Albert Pujols) and football (Peyton Manning), and a leading sports nutritionist (Dr. John Ivy, University of Texas) to help fuel wins. Proper nutrition is critical to reaching the highest levels of athletic performance. Each of us strive for our own wins every day. Wheaties FUEL can help you prepare for any challenge."

    "Wheaties FUEL recently unveiled Wheaties FUEL Prepare to Win nutrition tips from Ironman competitors all over the world. The first three videos in the series are available to view on the Wheaties Facebook page. The latest addition features nutrition tips from McCormack. The brand is challenging Ironman athletes from around the globe to submit their nutrition tips via video submissions to the Wheaties Facebook page in order to share their personal learnings with other athletes."

    The new boxes will be available in March 2011; very important media types like myself received them this week. Jealous?

    Of equal interest, to me at least, is that Wheaties FUEL is sponsoring the airing of the 2010 Ford Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii - debuting on NBC Saturday, December 18th.

    Thursday, December 16, 2010

    EMZ Toilet Paper, Live Gluten Freely, GoLite

    Just in time for the holidays,
    it's EMZ Toilet Paper!
    While It's Tricky, it's still fun for the whole family.


    Some time ago, I won a giveaway from Tracy at Our Life with 3 Guys and a Doll. Tracy writes about her family, food, and running, all topics near and dear to our hearts. Stop by her blog and follow, well worth the read!

    The giveaway was an enormous box of General Mills gluten-free products. "Gluten is a protein naturally found in certain grains such as wheat, barley, rye and some oats. Foods that are made with these grains also contain gluten - that includes foods like bagels, breads, cakes, cereals, cookies, crackers, pasta, pizza, and more.  About three million Americans suffer from a serious medical condition called celiac disease."  For some reason, in the back of my mind I thought being gluten-free meant a healthy diet. Clearly that is not necessarily the case. Cake and brownie mixes along with frosting, powdered pancake batter, powdered mashed potatoes, etc. aren't my idea of a healthy diet. That being said, it will all taste good and my kids couldn't wait for all the fruit treats coming their way. Thanks again, Tracy!
    celiac disease. For someone with this disease, eating gluten-containing foods causes damage to the lining of the small intestine (where foods go after they have been eaten and digested). This damage makes it very difficult for the body to absorb nutrients from foods. Over time this damage can lead to
    malnourishment and possibly other complications.


    Another nice surprise in the mail was a sample pack from GoLite, courtesy of Scott at OutsidePR. As mentioned before, I love visors, so that was a great addition to the gear closet. The long sleeve shirt is a must as a base layer as a Chicagoland winter runner, and I am always excited to try out a new hydration product, in this case a waist belt with bottle, pockets, and gel flask. Lots of treadmill and snowy cold trail running and then reviews on all the products forthcoming.

    Wednesday, December 15, 2010

    Holiday Giveaway!

    Need extra gift money this holiday season? Visiting luggage stores for Aunt Mabel's new carry-on? Maybe a hydration pack for yourself? Foam roller? Well, just before the shopping window runs out, you can win a $35 gift card from CSN. Really simple entries this go-around:

    Leave 1 comment and tell me how many entries you deserve (depends if you are naughty or nice):

    1. Be or become a follower of this blog AND a member of the Endurance Athlete Project. (Mandatory)
    2. Post about the Endurance Athlete Project on your blog and leave the link in your 1 Comment)
    That’s it and remember, only 1 comment per entry, or no soup for you!

    This giveaway will run through Thursday, December 23rd, 2010. Winner will be drawn using and posted Friday, December 24th, 2010.

    $35 Gift Certificate courtesy of CSN Stores. 1 Comment entry courtesy of The Road [A Multi-Sport Blog].

    Want your product reviewed or to host a giveaway> Contact me at

    Tuesday, December 14, 2010

    Triathlon transitions : mastering the 4th discipline: DVD Review

    If you are new to triathlons or an experienced racer looking to gain some precious minutes, this DVD can give you a leg up on the competition. Improve your all-over triathlon experience by improving your transition times, long considered the fourth discipline in the sport. Essential training techniques and drills from the pros will improve your transition times from swim to bike and bike to run. 45 minutes of useful tips and additional material accessible via CD-ROM, this is a DVD well-worth buying for yourself or the triathlete on that Xmas or birthday list. This is free time, takes minimal training, with nothing but upside.

    Monday, December 13, 2010

    Midwest Trails: Blackwell Forest Preserve (Winter)

    Mt Hoy in background

    This past weekend, my longer distance run took place in Warrenville, at the Blackwell Forest Preserve. This is another Du Page Forest Preserve, and once again consisted mostly of a wide, crushed gravel path that accommodates multiple uses. It being winter, the path lay under several inches of snow, though it had been groomed, so the snow underneath was packed firmly, with a softer crust on top, making for enjoyable trail running.

    Natural History

    Visitors hiking through Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenville walk on land that the retreating Wisconsin Glacier shaped 12,000 to 15,000 years ago. In fact, the glacier’s meltwaters left behind much of the soil that covers DuPage County today. After the glacier’s retreat, savannas with widely spaced oak trees formed on the higher ground while the lower-lying ground became home to marsh and prairie plants.

    Typical trail view

    Preserve History

    In the 1830s, Erastus Gary, one of Winfield Township’s first settlers and a founder of Gary, Ind., made his home on the land that is now Blackwell Forest Preserve. There, he operated a grist mill — Gary’s Mill — east of the West Branch of the DuPage River. 130 years later, the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County purchased the land and named the new preserve for Roy C. Blackwell, a former District president.

    The Forest Preserve District concluded that it could convert a quarry on the south side of the preserve into a multiuse area that would both retain stormwater and offer visitors a variety of recreational activities. The quarry became Silver Lake. Authorities later chose Blackwell to be the site of a new county landfill. The resulting Mount Hoy operated from 1965 to 1973 and provided valuable knowledge in managing solid waste. Today, Mount Hoy serves as a scenic overlook and popular birding site as well as a winter tubing hill.

    McKee Marsh from viewing stand

    In 1977, Blackwell made paleontological history when District employees working at McKee Marsh uncovered the 13,000-year-old skeleton of a woolly mammoth, one of the oldest finds of its kind in northeastern Illinois.

    The main path is the Regional Trail, which also connects to other forest preserves and the Illinois Prairie Path, so runs of almost infinite duration are possible. By adding two side loops (the Bobolink Trail and Catbird Trail) as well as 3 out and back sections (Regional Trail to Gary's Mill, Nighthawk Trail, and another unnamed and not on the preserve map), plus crossing over and running up Mount Hoy, I was able to create a loop of almost 11.5 miles, little of it on roads.

    Tubing on Mount Hoy

    Tubing fans can take a thrilling ride down Mount Hoy when 3 or more inches of snow covers the hill. District inner tubes are the only devices that may be used on Mount Hoy and can only be rented on weekends and school holidays December through February at the base of the hill. Call the Outdoor Report at (630) 871-6422 for hours of operation and snow conditions.

    Service road up and views from Mt Hoy

    Mt Hoy is an 856 foot hill, which is ideal for both tubing in winter and longer hill intervals year-round. I will definitely return for that very reason. Hoping to find a day when my wife or I can return with our 3 older children to try out the tubing fun as well.

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