Friday, July 29, 2011

Oh, oh, oh...Oh no.

If this doesn't turn you off golf, I'm not sure what would... (Actually, it's kind of funny and cool that the new young superstars of golf would be such goofballs.)


Have a great weekend all!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Kids Run Lets Kids Run a Marathon a Little Bit at a Time

Here's a press release I thought was worth sharing, for those of you living in the Midwest with kids:


The organizers of the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon are trying to encourage kids to seek healthy lifestyles by getting active and running their own special marathon this summer.

According to Kristine Hinrichs, race director for the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon, “The ‘Kids Run’ is a special a non-competitive marathon race that was created by the organizers of the annual Lakefront Marathon to specifically promote physical activity for kids ages 5-14, and to also hopefully foster a love of running by having them run a marathon (26.2 miles) a little bit at a time.”

To participate children must commit to running 25 miles prior to Friday, September 30, pay a $5 entry fee and complete the run’s registration form at Lakefront Marathon Kids Run 2011.  
Upon acceptance into the “Kids Run”, each child will receives a training t-shirt and logbook where they and their parent, teacher or coach need to input the portions of the 25 mile run that they complete in either 1/4 mile, ½ mile, ¾ mile or 1 mile increments.

Then, on Saturday, October 1, 2011, all “Kids Run” participants will be required to turn in their completed logbooks prior to finishing the last 1.2 miles of the marathon together on the actual Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon race course at 3 p.m. They will be crossing the same finish line as Lakefront Marathon participants. One parent or guardian will be allowed to accompany each child. Upon completion of the full marathon, every “Kids Run” participant will receive a 2011 Lakefront Marathon Kids Run medal, cinch sack, and finish line T-shirt.

“We’re really hopeful that this program will help to educate our local youth about the importance of good health and being active,” adds Hinrichs. “We’d really like to see it have a positive impact on many families in Greater Milwaukee.”

Questions regarding the Kids Run can be directed to kidsrunlakefrontmarathon@yahoo.com.


The 31st annual Lakefront Marathon is scheduled for Sunday, October 2, 2011 in Milwaukee. The race is the premier event of the Badgerland Striders running club, and annually fills hotels, restaurants and the streets of Milwaukee's North Shore each October. Every year, more than 3,000 marathon and relay runners come to Milwaukee’s Lakefront for its runner friendly atmosphere. For more information, visit www.milwaukeelakefrontmarathon.org.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

GoLite Footwear Flood Lite Sandals


The Men's Flood Lite Sandals from GoLite combines plush with rugged in the perfect performance sandal. This shoes adjustable, waterproof leather and neoprene straps dial in the fit, while its waterproof pigskin leather footbed adds exceptional comfort. These sandals give me a quasi-European vibe - I feel I should be sitting at an outdoor café after having spent the morning viewing art in a museum.


That’s not to say that these sandals aren’t up for more serious pursuits – the toe bumper, sticky sole, and adjustable straps mean you can pretty much do whatever you want in them, including running, bouldering, wading streams, or anything else you have on the agenda. The sticky soles gives plenty of confidence when stepping on slick rocks and quick-drying materials keep your feet comfortable. I was initially skeptical of the leather footbed, but it has worked surprisingly well and I’m looking forward to it molding completely to the shape of my foot.

The Flood Lite sandals come in brown, fossil, or black. As with other GoLite Footwear products, the sizing runs quite large and roomy, so size down at least a half-size, if not a full one.


A complementary women’s version is the Stream Lite. It shares the same good looks, though lacks the additional straps and toe bumper – I guess men are more prone to stubbing their toes. For a review of the women’s version, head over to Women’s Endurance Gear.

GoLite Footwear makes high-quality, attractive footwear, making it a company well worth checking out - for more info and to keep up with new products, check out their website, like them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter.

Disclaimer: This product was sent to me for review purposes, courtesy of GoLite Footwear via New England Footwear. I was not compensated in any other way for the review, was not obligated to give it a positive review, and all opinions are my own. Some information in this review was taken from the company website.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Buffalo Rock Shooting Range + Tracy's Rowhouse


This past weekend I had the opportunity to go shooting with a coworker of mine, out in Ottawa, IL, which is near Starved Rock State Park, a great place to hike. We headed out bright and early and were the first ones there. Plenty of range officers meant we were scrutinized at all times and, since they don't allow phones or cameras, I couldn't get any pictures of us shooting. The layout is pretty basic, spartan accommodations (i.e., none), with a rifle range crossing a shotgun range (kind of dangerous, I thought), a handgun area, and then a pit, where pretty much anything is thrown in and then shot at.

We started at the shotgun range (covered) and shot a bunch of clays using my buddy's Remington 870 Police Magnum. It was something I really enjoyed and would do again and, for a beginner, I felt like I did pretty well.


Wandering over to the pit, we tossed in some plastic bottles and shot a Colt AR 15 rifle and a Colt .45 handgun, as well as the Remington shotgun again. I really enjoyed shooting the AR 15, but was really surprised at how heavy it was - hard to believe our soldiers hump these around. Next up was the Colt .45, somewhat familiar to me in its resemblance to the Glock .40 I shot at the police academy. Of course familiarity breeds laxness, so I suffered my only injury, catching the tip of my index finger in the slide. Lots of blood but not too much pain, beyond the embarrassment. The Remington's barrel was switched out for a shorter one and we used slugs rather than shot - I didn't enjoy this nearly as much, as the recoil was pretty powerful and my shoulder quickly got sore.


Tiring of shooting down into a hole in the ground, we returned yet again to the clays, both agreeing that it was by far the most pleasant type of shooting. I can't imagine actually shooting birds, but tracking the clays and actually hitting them was a great experience. Announcing my last shoot, I went 4 for 4, ending the day on a high note.

Apparently, in the past, they were less strict about cameras at the shooting park, as I found multiple videos over at YouTube. Here's a short one that gives you an idea of the pit area:


After shooting we headed over to Buffalo Rock State Park, hoping to hike over to the Effigy Tumuli. The Effigy Tumuli earthwork consists of five geometrically abstracted animal forms, created on old mining land along the Illinois River. Now a state park, the sculpture is in flux, parts eroding, parts overgrown, others nearly bare. It is one of the largest artworks in the country, and the shapes are so large that they can only be discerned from the air. On the ground, one experiences mounded earth, paths, interpretive signs, drainage control gullies, and patches of grass, shrubbery and exposed earth. Michael Heizer was commissioned to make the sculpture in 1983, by the president of the Ottawa Silica Company, who had an interest in art and whose company owned the site. The property had been strip-mined for coal, and was a polluted and eroded barren landscape, with highly acidic soil. For this "reclamation art" project, instead of drawing on his vocabulary of abstract forms, Heizer used figurative forms, creating mounds shaped like animals native to the region. There is a snake, catfish, turtle, frog, and a water strider (the legs of which can be seen in the photograph above). He considered these figures to be evocative of the Indian mounds that can be found throughout the Midwest, and intended his sculpture to be a statement for the Native Americans. A trail wanders through the 1.5 mile long site, and interpretive signs, each with a map of the site, help to give visitors a sense of what they might be looking at. Heizer seemed pleased that the forms were imperceptible from the ground, saying the piece "requires a chronological development of perception." Unfortunately, the trails were closed, so we'll go back next time if they reopen.


For lunch we headed over to Ottawa, to try Tracy's Rowhouse, a slightly upscale martini bar that also serves lunch. Walking in, we were the first customers (theme for the day) and I noticed a slightly sour smell. Laima (who used to work in Public Health) says that it means their mops are not being cleaned properly between uses. It doesn't necessarily mean it's dirty, just not as clean as it could be. We waited a few minutes, sitting at the bar, before the bartender/waitress appeared. I already knew that I wanted to try the Mr. Big Stuff Chicken Pot Pie, as I'm sure it's what ChrisK would order and he's somewhat of an idol to me on alternating weekends. My buddy had the Pulled Porker. The food was pretty good, though we both had to laugh at the serving size of the pot pie - in a small ramekin, it belied its Mr. Big Stuff moniker; the taste, however, was really good. When paying the bill, the till did not have change for a $10, kind of strange, especially in a bar. Happily we had some smaller bills, else our server would not have gotten a tip. I thought that this was a decent restaurant, moderately priced, with good enough food to return again. Now if only they could start cleaning their mops correctly...

Tracy's Row House on Urbanspoon

12 Weeks to Barefoot Running: Weeks 6: Hardening Your Skin


Still following Michael Sandler's 12 week plan to become a barefoot runner. This is the end of week 6, it's been 8 weeks since 2 false starts, and of the 6 weeks, 5 have been pretty consistent with the barefooting. His plan for this week:

Pace: Jogging + Hiking
Distance: Jogging 2-4 miles, hiking 1-2 miles
Objective: harden and strengthen your skin

My weekly training:

Tuesday - Hot and humid! First day running without a shirt, but still dark, so no children were harmed. 10 mins shod, 7.5 mins BF, 12.5 mins shod. Pretty typical run now.

Wednesday - Hot and humid but felt great. 18 mins shod, 13 mins BF, 20 mins shod. Only negative was that my big toe feels hot/blistered post-run.

Thursday - Cooled off to a balmy 85ish. No BF today just felt like running and foot still felt hot and bothered from yesterday's run. Straight 30 minutes shod.

Sunday - Saturday LSD on a Sunday. Really nice run with Laima, pushing Little Worker in the stroller. Really worked on taking it slow, felt like I could have run for quite a bit longer. Note to self: remember how good it feels to start out SLOOOOOOOOOOW. No BF, just didn't have it in me.

This past weekend I went shooting with a coworker and then we had a family celebration for Little Worker's first birthday. Big storms means the flowers are happy but also that I'll have to mow the lawn again - the best effect of no rain is no mowing!

Friday, July 22, 2011

EXTREMELY SCIENTIFIC STUDY FINDS SHOCKING DISCOVERY


Newmarket, NH, Summer 2011 – GoLite Footwear has released the data from the company’s extremely scientific study involving trail running and shoes. The study, which the company had for reasons of security code-named, “That study we’re doing,” revealed results with far-reaching implications.

“We worked with scientists that know a lot about science and doing scientific things,” says Doug Clark, CEO of GoLite Footwear. “What they did was research. Things with numbers. And charts. It’s really quite complicated. But in layman’s terms, they did sciency things.”

The study began in earnest when GoLite Footwear set out to revolutionize trail running by providing footwear that struck the perfect balance between “minimal footwear” —or, as it’s better known to trail runners, “really painful shoes”—and traditional trail running footwear.

“Our scientists culled through a tremendous amount of data,” continued Clark. “And what they discovered…well, frankly it shocked us. I mean, there’s an entire sport—an entire industry—that’s going to be shaken to its core when I say this: The study conclusively proved that…rocks hurt.”

The idea that rocks hurt is bound to have a profound and lasting impact on trail runners worldwide. Preparing for the impact of this news, GoLite revved up its efforts to create breakthrough technologies that allow runners to have a natural stride while not letting rocks hurt. “We call it the Zero Impact platform,” explained Vivian Lefebvre, Director of PR and Marketing. “Traditional running shoes have an elevated heel, but our shoes keep feet level, which is how feet were designed to work best. And, when you step on a rock—because our scientific study revealed that trails have rocks on them—our Rock Absorber technology lets the sole yield to them…so they don’t hurt.”

Call it a case of good timing: the company’s new collection of outdoor performance shoes is available for purchase just as the study’s results are being released. “We’re really very lucky. But we also think trail runners are very lucky. Think of it, just as we announce that rocks hurt, we offer footwear that makes rocks not hurt,” says Clark.



Thanks GoLite for the Friday Funny!
Have a great weekend, all!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

You Asked, I Answered Part III


Jay (via Google+) -

Hey Kovas, your blog rocks! My question for you would be how do you train in the cold of the midwest? I was born/raised in Bensenville, not far from your area, DG. Now I'm in sunny Orange County, CA. Last Christmas, was visiting parents, and ran the Op Jack Satellite run.. man, I didn't see ANY runners (but lots of cigarette smokers)! Cars and trucks were honking and looking at me like, "Are you nuts?!". It might have been my little working-class 'hood, but no runners, no bike lanes, nothing. I don't remember life growing up in my little area of the midwest being so "NOT active"? Maybe it was part of how I became overweight? Do you do any outdoor training in the winter? Dreadmill?
Treadmill, studded shoes, occasional decent day are all ways to get in some running during the winter. No runners is definitely dependent on location, some Midwest areas there are runners year round, it's the culture. :)

XLMIC said... AGAIN!?!

If you could still pay the bills and not work, would you quit your job and stop working?

Without hesitation

What would be your dream job? Wine grower + maker

Did you always want 4 kids? Do you want more? Yes and it depends on the day. Laima and I both came from large families (5 and 6 kids respectively), so we knew we would probably have more than most, but we never set a certain number

Do you speak languages other than english? Which one(s)? Lithuanian

What is your favorite sport to participate in? To watch? To participate in, probably ultimate frisbee, though I haven't played in years - there is just something about running short sprints in a grassy field, with that hippie vibe, usually competitive but in a friendly manner that is a great way to spend a sunny day. To watch is a tough one, but I really like sports that involve teamwork and are graceful - at their best, ice hockey and european football (soccer), though both are marred by goons and emoters these days.

Caroline said...

how are you? Good, now bad, now good, wait, it keeps changing!

how did you propose? Laima and I went to Jane's, a very cozy, romantic restaurant in Chicago, and, if I remember correctly, I proposed with dessert. It was a moot point, as Laima had already proposed to me, ensnaring me with her womanly wiles.

who would like to meet other then Chris K? ChrisK who?

where are your parents from? are you the first American generation of your family? My parents emigrated under duress from Lithuania, but now that the Iron Curtain has fallen, have been living there for about a decade. My brothers, sisters, and I are all first generation Americans and were raised with the idea that we would all move to Lithuania when it gained its independence. So far, only my younger brother has made the jump, though he actually currently resides in Luxembourg.

Lance or Dean? why? They are both heroes to me, probably a combination of their success, outsize egos, faults, and what they have accomplished with the general public. I'd have to go with Lance,just because his reach through the Lance Armstrong Foundation and LiveStrong is just so huge and actually changed the way people see and react to cancer.

what makes you mad? Unfortunately, lots of little things. Top peeves: litterbugs, people who walk too slowly and block the sidewalk, tailgaters (they should be pulled over and shot - just leave 10 minutes earlier already), that Patrick came up with the Metrosexual Triathlete.

Aimee said...

How fun!!

Since you have reviewed a lot of products, what are your top 3 running products?? This is a tough one, because so much of it is dependent on weather, but I'd say for running my Garmin 305 (I love maps, and stats, so this is a no-brainer, now if it only was a phone and took photos as well), CEP compression sleeves, and my Salomon EXO II 3/4 tights, because they make me feel like Superman when I put them on.

Nelly said...

Do you actually enjoy reviewing all the products that you test on your site? Seems like you review a lot of things! 99% of the time it's nothing but peaches and cream, though sometimes I get overwhelmed by how many things arrive simultaneously (nice complaint, right?). So many of these things I could never afford or might not even know about, so it's really expanded my knowledge base. It's fun also to see what items work across sports or in real life and always a hoot to hear what my kids think about them!


Best Steakhouse in Chicago? It's been a while since I ate steak, let alone at a restaurant, but I've heard good things about Morton's, Smith and Wollensky, and I can recommend Brazzaz, a very nice Brazilian restaurant.

If you had become a cop and I admitted to a very minor crime outside of your jurisdiction and probably way past the statute of limitations what would you do? I'm talking minor here - victimless crime, except maybe for the tax payers. Because if the answer is "you don't care" then I have a confession to make. Victimless, past the statute of limitations, no worries. Let's hear it.

You have 50 bucks. How are you getting from New York to San Francisco? This is a tough one - probably a combination of driveaway, hitchhiking, walking, and maybe Greyhound, though I swore buses off many years ago.

Both me and Chris K are bitten by venomous snakes. How do you save Chris first and why? I'd actually save you first, because you and I are more likely to be able to carry ChrisK than he could help me with you (have you seen him? scrawny little runner dude). Though I'd like to, WebMD cautions against doing the following: do NOT cut and suck, do NOT use ice, do NOT use electric shocks (really?!), do NOT use alcohol, do NOT use tourniquets or constriction bands - apparently these are only for sado-masochistic acts and do not actually increase one's chances of surviving snake bites.

Dash said...

Mine is two part (and I'm asking it of everyone who is doing the QandA).

When you run, are you a greeter, ie, do you wave at an approaching runner or do you look away? I hedge my bets - if the person looks at me, I'll wave or nod and see if they react.

If you are a greeter, does it bug you when the other person looks the other way and doesn't acknowledge you? It does, but as someone who has been relatively shy my whole life, I totally get it. (Isn't it great how blogging has released the inner social butterfly within me?)

Thanks for all the questions!

If you haven't asked Laima questions yet, head over to Women's Endurance Gear and do so right now. She's not one to toot her own horn, but this is a woman who hass sailed across the Atlantic, borne 4 children, and married me - it doesn't get more adventurous than that!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

You Asked I Answered Part II


termite said...

apples or oranges? At this point, neither, I sort of stopped eating most fruit, but apple if I had to choose

boxers or whitey tighties? Tighty whities, though mine are colorful and some even have stripes!

steak or steak? Don't remember last time I had a steak, haven't really eaten beef in quite a while

:p

M said...

Does it bother you if you run with a new person and they start out by apologizing that they are slow? If I had no idea they were slow I would be appreciative, but it really depends on the purpose of the workout. If it's a LSD day, bring them on, if it's a brand new runner (like my kids) all right, but if it's a speedwork or hills day, I'd probably wish they had stayed home. :)

XLMIC said...

Dibs on tagging Beth! I called it! Lèche-cul

Now I need to think up some good questions for Kovas… Waiting

I'll start with: once you are all experienced w/ barefoot running, will you try skirted running? No, but maybe Barefoot AngieB or Andrew will send me a kilt.

Please? I said maybe

Jennifer said...

OK. If you had a third arm, what part of your body would it be on? And what would you do with it? Oooh, the dirty old lecherous man in me wants to answer in a very crude way, but... I think it would be useful to have an arm attached to the knee - that way I wouldn't have to bend over to pick things up or tie my shoes.

Caratunk Girl said...

How many thermajocks do you own? One, though the company has indicated that a new model will be forthcoming and I will get to test it out!

How deep is the water? The Mariana Trench is the deepest part of the world's oceans, and the lowest elevation of the surface of the Earth's crust. It is located in the western Pacific Ocean, to the east of the Mariana Islands. The trench is about 2,550 kilometres (1,580 mi) long but has a mean width of only 69 kilometres (43 mi). It reaches a maximum-known depth of about 10.91 kilometres (6.78 mi) at the Challenger Deep, a small slot-shaped valley in its floor, at its southern end, although some unrepeated measurements place the deepest portion at 11.03 kilometres (6.85 mi). If Mount Everest, the highest mountain on Earth at 8,848 metres (29,029 ft), was set in the deepest part of the Mariana Trench, there would be 2,076 metres (6,811 ft) of water left above it.

Why is the sky blue? A clear cloudless day-time sky is blue because molecules in the air scatter blue light from the sun more than they scatter red light. When we look towards the sun at sunset, we see red and orange colours because the blue light has been scattered out and away from the line of sight.
:)

Seriously - I have been following your BF running - how do you plan on continuing that through the winter? Does that leave you stuck on a TM? Or will you use a minimalist shoe and still run outside? I have run BF on the treadmill and it's not so bad, but honestly, I'm not so sure I'll be barefooting it come winter. I've only run in a few minimalist shoes, so that's something I will have to look into (more product reviews!).

Colleen said...

My idea has gone viral, hasn't it? :) Yes, the CDC has some questions for you.

I love Mandy's question of how you plan to keep barefoot running in the winter. That's not a question.

You've reviewed a ton of gear - what's your absolute favorite piece of equipment? This is wholly dependent on the sport, so I'll say that I really enjoy playing with my Garmin, as I use it for both running and cycling, but also love my Mammut climbing pack, as it is the perfect size for quick trips, both business and pleasure.

It turns out that there are enough questions to milk this require a 3rd installment - come back tomorrow to see if I answered YOUR burning question!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

You Asked, I Answered Part I


MissZippy asked:

How did you meet and how long have you been married? Laima and I crossed paths over the years and she was actually friends with my younger brother. My brother and her brother were roommates and, when my brother moved overseas, I took his spot. Laima and I were friends for a while, then started dating in 1997. We were married in October 1998, so it will be 13 years this fall!

Have you always been a gearhead? Absolutely! I think it started with my paternal grandfather, who was a farmer and carpenter - he could fix anything and had a basement and shed full of the most amazing tools. It was probably the reason I became a carpenter as well. I think that is one reason I love reviewing products, I really enjoy finding out how new things work and whether they are a worthwhile purchase or not.


How can I be not like Chris and more like Kovas? Don't wear a toga, don't be manly, never get up the nerve to talk to Gym Girl (but snag a keeper anyway), work for the government, sire many many children, have no direction to your blog.


Now that you have been doing the barefoot running thing for a little while is it something you think you will continue? After 7 weeks or so, 4 of which I really was consistent, the jury is still out. It definitely changed the way I run, though I'm not sure if it's something I want to keep doing on a regular basis. It was originally supposed to be a 12 week trial, so the bigger question is whether I'll make the 12 weeks.


When did you start running? Formally in 1988 or so. I remember initially I was running 12 minute miles or so on the indoor track at Loyola University in Chicago. I then graduated to running through Rogers Park, the neighborhood in which I was living. When I moved downtown then I really became more serious, which is easy with Lincoln Park and the Lakefront Path to train on. In 1995 I ran the Chicago Marathon, and then just wound down to almost nothing, sporadically running until 2010, when I once again became more serious, also adding cycling as a complementary sport.


If you could be any professional athlete, who would it be (and you can't say ChrisK :) )? To my knowledge, he's not a professional athlete, but... To me, there isn't a particular athlete I'd trade places with, though I'm envious of people who are paid not to compete, but to go out and do what they love to do. Guys like Ed Viesturs, Laird Hamilton, etc., guys who really are just competing with themselves and pushing the envelope.


How did you get to be so cool? Did you take lessons from Chris K? I'm pretty much the opposite of cool, especially when compared to ChrisK. Should we ever move to San Diego, I will gladly sit at the feet of the guru to learn as much as I can.


Someone just asked me a question here at work so I'm asking you the same. To lazy to think about my own question. Are you a gadget geek? I yes, what gadgets do you use for your sport? As mentioned above, I love all sorts of gadgets. For running, the main gadget is my Garmin Forerunner 305, which I do not utilize to its full potential. I have just a basic cycling computer on my road bike, but would love a power meter synced with a GPS computer for no other reason except that it would be cool. I'm not a serious enough cyclist for it to actually be useful.


1) How did you meet Laima? See answer above. (PS - ask her sometime how she stalked me from age 16 until we started dating.)
2) When are you and the fam gonna come visit us in So Cal? Not this year, pretty much all our travel funds are going towards our trip to Lithuanian in August. Hopefully next year!
3) What is one country you want to visit that you haven't? Argentina (specifically the Patagonia region)
4) Who is your favorite actor/actress? I've always liked Diane Lane (major crush since she was young) and my dirty secret is that I like all Hugh Grant movies.
5) Do you truly believe that if I switched to barefoot running my times would not go down? Initially everyone runs more slowly, but the theory is that, as your form improves, the speed will return and then some!
So that's the first installment, more to come another day (or two if I really milk it).

Monday, July 18, 2011

12 Weeks to Barefoot Running: Week 5 + RokitFuel Winner!



12 Weeks to Barefoot Running: Weeks 5: Hardening Your Skin

What the plan called for:

Pace: Jogging + Hiking
Distance: Jogging 2-4 miles, hiking 1-2 miles
Objective: harden and strengthen your skin

What the week held:
  • Tuesday - 10 mins shod, 7.5 mins BF, 12.5 mins shod. Humid and hot, even at 4:30. Last mile felt like a real struggle, though the splits were not far off from each other.
  • Wednesday - 22.5 mins shod, partly through Belmont prairie, tall grass and low light made it difficult to see path but great for running, 12.5 mins BF, first part on what is arguably THE worst road in Downers (and that is saying something), 15 mins shod. Cool start but still humid made for slow going.
  • Thursday - 10 mins shod, 8.5 mins BF including a painful gravel section - exactly what I don't like about BF running, 21.5 mins shod. Slightly cooler today so tried out my Columbia Peak-2-Peak jacket, don't think I sweated any more than I would have without it, pretty impressive.
  • Saturday - 90 minutes LSD on the menu. First 30 mins pushing Little Worker and Munchkin in the double stroller, while Laima ran and Tazer and Gaigai rode bikes. 89 1/2 mins shod, 1/2 min BF. Tried BF on trails at Maple Woods, but TOO MANY SHARP THINGS!
So there it is, one thing I definitely know is that my mansuit must still be at the cleaners, because I do not like to run on sharp objects. That, to me, is the number one drawback to barefoot running. After 7 weeks, 4 of which were pretty consistent with the BF aspect, my feet don't feel any more prepared to step on things that hurt - isn't that why Saint Bowerman created Wafflestompers?

I was asked: "Dude, why are you bothering working on running form when you barely participate in the sport anyways?"

First, ouch. Non-participation means I don't race, which is something I didn't feel like doing this year and seems to have rubbed more than one person the wrong way. All I can say is that it is a good thing that Karl Meltzer occasionally competes in organized races, otherwise he too would not be considered a participant, never mind that he ran 2000+ miles of the Pony Express Trail. So I'll keep doing my thing and hope that I can get back in the cool kids club later on.

Second, I'm 45 1/2 years old and my youngest child is 1. If I want to be running with him 18-20 years from now, I better be uninjured and relatively fit. I believe that working on my form will allow me to continue functional running longer, with the idea that better form = less injury. I'm sure there are studies that show that better form does just that and an equal number that prove the opposite. Either way, if I don't work on form now, then when?

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Not too many entrants for the RokitFuel giveaway, giving those that did enter a better chance. The winner was Laura, from Live Well, Laugh Often, Run Much. Laura, email me your address and I'll get this out to you as soon as possible, not sure how long the Postal Service takes to get this up to Canada, hopefully faster than the Pony Express days.

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Today and tomorrow I will be in training, hopefully learning how to do my job, so I won't be visiting blogs much and commenting even less. It's not that I don't love you (well, except for ChrisK), I just have to at least pretend to be paying attention.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Skin Cancer Risk for Runners + Cyclists, Meet The Moment, RokitFuel Giveaway

I received the following press release and felt it was worthwhile and timely to pass on this great information.

Tips for Runners and Cyclists on How to Reduce Risk to Melanoma Skin Cancer

MINNEAPOLIS (July 2011) -- If you love running and want to enjoy it well into your senior years protect yourself from the sun. That’s the advice for America’s 36 million runners from a leading plastic and reconstructive surgeon who has treated thousands of patients over the course of his 15-year career for skin cancer and melanoma.

As the sun intensifies in its strength throughout the summer, runners need to take precautions against the sun’s harmful rays, says Dr. Sam Economou, who leads Plastic Surgery Consultants, Ltd., a Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery practice located in Edina, Minn., a suburb of Minneapolis.

The reason is simple. Skin cancer is on the rise. In fact, according to the American Cancer Society, more than two million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are diagnosed each year. In addition, about 68,000 cases of melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, are diagnosed yearly.

While more people are detecting cancer earlier, increasing their chances of survival, cancer rates are actually rising, especially among young people who use tanning booths and those who do not use sunblock when working and playing outside.

Running is about spending time outdoors. And more often than not, most runners enjoy running when the weather is nice and sunny. That puts many of America’s 36 million runners at risk for skin cancer, says Dr. Economou. The more time you spend outdoors running, the greater risk of exposure to harmful ultraviolet radiation and sunburns.

Runners have several strikes against them when it comes to skin cancer, notes Dr. Economou. Because many runners run near their homes and often times not more than an hour, they think they’re not at risk if they don’t put on sunblock. According to a Runner’s World poll, upwards of 50 to 60 percent of people who run regularly never use sunblock. The problem is that runners tend to expose more skin than other athletes because of the clothes they wear, and because many wear t-shirts that do little to block the sun’s rays. In addition, many runners may not realize that water, sand, asphalt streets and snow reflect dangerous UV rays.

To help runners lower their risk of developing skin cancer, Dr. Economou offers these tips:

  • Apply sunblock.
  • Wear a hat or helmet and Polarized UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Wear protective clothing.
  • Move your run and cycling time.
  • Avoid sunburns.
  • Stay hydrated.
Conduct skin cancer self-examinations. If you have a fair complexion, multiple freckles and moles, and experienced severe sunburns as a child, you have some of the leading risk factors for skin cancer. Take this seriously especially if you spend a fair amount of time outside running. At least once a month, before you get into or just out of the shower, look at your skin. Look at moles and freckles to see if you notice any changes in their shape, size, color or asymmetry. Make an appointment once a year with your doctor or a dermatologist to look at your skin as part of an annual exam. Especially watch moles and freckles on high-risk areas of your body, the face, nose, ears, the back of your hands and your calves.

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A couple of month's ago, I wrote about the CLIF Bar Meet the Moment initiative - To protect the places people play, CLIF BAR also will donate $5 to one of five non-profits dedicated to protecting outdoor places each time someone creates and uploads their first Moment. To further support these conservation and preservation efforts, CLIF BAR will double its contribution to each non-profit if people submit 10,000 Moments by July 31. All told, CLIF BAR, the nation’s #1 energy bar, could contribute up to $125,000 to the five organizations.

Well, time is almost up - you have until July 31st to create your own Moment and help out some dynamite organizations and also have a chance to win of 3 dream vacations!


We got some good news recently - my Moment was chosen as one of the most inspiring in the Hiking/Trekking category, winning $200 worth of gear. Laima and I took a look at REI and chose a camp kitchen for our next camping adventure and a slackline for down times at the campground or at home. I'll have reviews of both products in the fall, when it's likely we'll go camping again - too hot and buggy right now!

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Don't forget the RokitFuel giveaway happening here at Midwest Multisport Life and also over at Women's Endurance Gear - you have until Sunday night to get your entries in. Enter at both sites to double your chances!

Have a great Weekend All!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

You Ask, I Answer


It started with Colleen at IRONDIVA, then The Manly Runner took the idea and ran with it, tagging me with the "You Ask, I Answer Award." So, let's give it a try. Ask me anything. No holds barred. No subject too serious or frivolous. I can't guarantee that I will answer every question, but I guess we'll see. (Last 5 sentences lifted in toto from ChrisK's post - recycling, love it!) Ask away and sometime in the near future (probably when I need a filler post), I'll respond to all most some of the questions.

As mentioned, ChrisK liked this idea so much that he turned this into one of those Blogger Awards. It's called the "You Ask, I Answer Award". The Award is bestowed to five people who have to do this on their blog, then pass it on to five others. Everyone uses the same image as the others (my guess is that ChrisK's retirement is riding on this, so let's play along, shall we?). I choose:
  1. Amanda, at MissZippy, for her positive take on everything (and her unending ability to mock ChrisK).
  2. Mandy, that Caratunk Girl, because I've enjoyed her writing for a long time and she's tapering, so has plenty of time on her hands.
  3. Jeff, at Dangle the Carrot, because I think he was my first identified follower and he has a huge amount of knowledge (as you'd expect from a Texan).
  4. XLMIC, of Taking It On, because she has not busted my balls about never getting a Granny's Gadget video done (sorry) and is a really talented writer, maybe she'll even do a video response!
  5. Laima, at Women's Endurance Gear, because she is an amazing woman (for putting up with me), along with being being a Super Sexy Mama!
A happy, contented ChrisK

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Scooby's Red Hots


Scooby's Red Hots is a small restaurant near Downers Grove North High School and, subsequently, within walking distance of our house. With the location and funky exterior, I had really hoped that Scooby's could turn out to be our neighborhood joint, a place to hang out when we just didn't feel like cooking. Unfortunately, it turns out that Scooby's is a dump. What's the difference between a dump and a joint? According to David Rockwell, restaurant designer, "A dump is a place on the way down; it probably didn't start out being a dump. A joint is and always has been a joint." From Alan Richman: " A joint has no high concept. It just is. It is a safe haven in a culinary world that swirls with inconsistencies. It is a respite from fast food, small food, tall food, and fancy food."


Maybe at one point Scooby's was a joint, but now it's a tired, dirty dump, with uncaring cooks, a shabby interior and exterior, and relatively bad food. We had burgers, chicken tenders, and hot dogs, all edible but not interesting, paired with limp fries. I shouldn't have been surprised, though - I've never ridden, run, or driven past and seen many people inside. Plus, it's a hot dog place, right? Maybe I was expecting too much. Oh well, the search for a neighborhood joint continues.

How about you? Is there a neighborhood joint near you? A place you always end up when nothing else comes to mind?

Scooby's Red Hots on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

INKnBurn Tech tees


The INKnBURN Difference

"INKnBURN designs, cuts and sews all our athletic gear to create the ultimate in workout clothes. The fabrics we use are moisture wicking, light and they breathe -- helping you stay comfortable as you achieve your peak performance. Our proprietary technique for getting art on our apparel creates vivid and powerful designs that you can’t feel, and that do not compromise the performance of the fabric. Our technical running shirts are great for cross-country races, marathons, ultras or trail-running. They also just feel great to lounge around in after a tough training session or race. We want to empower you to do your best, and our designs are all about personal strength and performance. Don’t disappear into the crowd... Distance yourself with INKnBURN and the Art of Running."

Our family was lucky enough to get to try out tech tees across the range INKnBURN offers, from my Lime Green Spatter, GaiGai's Silly Boys shirt, to the boys' Circuit Tech (very Transformer-like). The coolest may have been Laima's, the Sun Totem Tech Tank, which featured an original design by artist Jesse Miller. He was kind enough to answer a few questions via email, so head over to Women's Endurance Gear to read her review and check out what he said about his art.

I have to admit, I've been intrigued by INKnBURN since I first saw their products - with designs ranging from somewhat basic tees in brilliant colors to skull and bones tattoo-inspired creations, one is sure to stand out when wearing one of their shirts. This is good on 2 levels: being seen is a safety measure, but also can give a shot of confidence. The company was started with endurance runners in mind - if someone can run 100 miles comfortably in one of these, you or I can run comfortably as well.

Family Hike at
Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center
Father's Day 2011

(Image courtesy of Laima at Women's Endurance Gear)

The shirts are comfortable, no doubt about that. No tag, no heavy ink for the designs, light technical fabric, what's not to like? I wore them multiple times and around the house as well. The kids have practically lived in theirs since day one, even using them as pyjama tops, soccer jerseys, beach coverups, etc. Now that is a true endorsement. My shirt was a bit loose on me, which was comfortable in most situations, but I'm thinking that a tighter fit might be a better option during hotter weather, though even in our hot and humid summer weather, this shirt was comfortable to wear - I sweat a LOT and, even though the shirt was drenched, it never hung overly heavily, which is nice.

The shirts are not inexpensive, but the quality is definitely there and the designs will make you stand out at any event or workout you participate in. For some, the design will not be enough to pay the premium, but I think this a company worth checking out. Really, who doesn't want a "Run Or Die" shirt in Lime Green? (I know The Manly Runner does.)

Inspired? Check out the INKnBURN website, like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter.

(Disclaimer: I was sent these products for free to review on my blog - courtesy of INKnBURN. I did not pay for the items, receive payment, or agree to give them a positive review. Aside from information gleaned from the company's website, the opinions are my own.)

Would you like a product reviewed? 
Contact me at lakotega@yahoo.com!

Monday, July 11, 2011

12 Weeks to Barefoot Running: Week 4: Stimulating Padding Growth

Lake side road
(Image from http://womensendurancegear.blogspot.com)

After 10 days away, returning to work! Yippee! (Thinly veiled sarcasm.) We had a great trip to Michigan filled with beach time, wine tasting, running, eating, and all-around fun family time. Laima and I left 3 of the 4 kids in her aunt's charge on Thursday and headed home for a little couple time (though Little Worker joined us). More wine, fun outings, movies, it felt like a never-ending date. We also worked on getting Little Worker to sleep through the night, so it wasn't all peaches and cream, but we'll take it.
Barefoot Running Week 4 Plan:
  • Pace: Jogging
  • Distance:1-2 miles
  • Objective: Stimulate feet to grow padding
The reality:
  • Tuesday - 10 mins shod, 7.5 mins BF, 12.5 mins shod. Beautiful morning for it. First day of marathon training, first day embedded BF - felt good, maybe prefer over warm up and cool down.
  • Wednesday in Union Pier - 50 minutes planned, ran 37, then walked a few before finishing - strange to run later morning after a full breakfast. Rolling farm roads to Warren Woods State park. No family hike due to abundance of mosquitoes and biting flies. No BF - Tuesday at beach burned feet literally till blistered on hot sand.
  • Thursday in Union Pier - Really nice run along lake shore roads, not one single moving car entire run! Had a deer bound across in front of me, otherwise uneventful. Tried out new Columbia tech tee. No BF to protect blisters.
  • Saturday LSD - Didn't have it mentally today - scheduled for 80 minutes, ran only 57. Beautiful morning for it, most of run through Lyman Woods and what we call the Belle Aire neighborhood, which is winding, shady, and has an interesting mix of architectural styles. No BF due to foot blisters, but will resume Tuesday (tomorrow).
Overall a decent week of running, though it's been a big struggle, which I'll attribute completely to a big weight gain which started last Halloween and really gained steam after the new year. I've tried some half-assed eating plans, but nothing works, one more try to eat less on my own, then I'll go back to counting calories if it doesn't work.

From the one day of barefoot running last week, it appears that embedding the barefoot part makes the most sense to me, though mentally it is tough to stop and take off the shoes and socks. Short term suffering for long term gain, right?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Rokit Fuel Review + Giveaway

Rokit Fuel is the Rocket Fuel for humans - Rokit Fuel cereal and energy mix are made from honest, virtuous, good-for-you foods that are both nutritious and delicious. Each product is packed with whole foods (from 9-19) including grains, nuts, seeds and fruit. They also include bee pollen, maca root and gotu kola (functional herbs) to add to the excellent fuel value of Rokit Fuel. Read the ingredients label for a pleasant surprise. You can identify every ingredient, pronounce it, and see it before you eat it.

I was lucky enough to get a chance to test out pretty much the full range of Rokit Fuel products. I'm always looking for nutritious healthy whole foods to add to my diet, so I was pretty excited to check this company out. The whole family got involved and we had fun trying out the cereal, energy bars, and energy mixes. The cereals and energy mixes can be mixed with water, milk, or eaten dry - we opted for plain soy milk, though I also tried the Cherry Almond cereal with almond milk, and it was amazing.


The cereals we tried were the Cherry Almond, Chocolate Dream, and Stud Muffin. Some of the descriptions: outstanding, sweet (too sweet), terrific, not too sweet, chocolaty, cocoa powdery, strong taste, sweeter than energy mix. Pretty much all positive and, due to the wide variety of flavors, none of them became boring and we all found at least one to have as our favorite.

The Original Energy Bar and the Peanut Better Bar were very similar to my taste, with the peanuts adding more of a crunch than flavor. Both were very good, perhaps on the sweet side, but I can't complain about a strong chocolate flavor.


The Energy Mixes were the most fun to try out, as each one had a markedly different taste, smell, and texture. Plus, the names are quite fun as well: Spicy Cookie, Holy Pinole!, Pumpkin Chocolate, and Stud Muffin. The verdict: spiced, nutty,awesome, strong ginger, strong cloves, very spiced, nutmeg and ginger, yummy!

Rokit Fuel is on to a good thing here and they are growing the line, so there are even more options coming. Besides being whole food products and incredibly tasty, the sheer variety ensures that you won't get bored eating any of these. As a caveat, pretty much every product contains nuts of some sort, so if you are allergic, steer clear. Otherwise, buy and enjoy!

Interested? Learn more on the Rokit Fuel website, befriend them on Facebook, and follow on Twitter.

Want to win Rokit Fuel? I have a sample of each energy mix: Spicy Cookie, Holy Pinole!, Pumpkin Chocolate, and Stud Muffin. Leave a comment below with how many entries you are entitled to:
  • Be a follower of this blog.
  • Extra entries: Share this giveaway via FB, Twitter, link on your blog, etc.
Giveaway will end on 07/17/2011, winner to be chosen via random.org and announced Monday the 18th!

Want yet another chance to win?
Laima is giving away the same packet!

(Disclaimer: I was sent these products for free to review on my blog - courtesy of Rokit Fuel. I did not pay for the items, receive payment, or agree to give them a positive review. Aside from information gleaned from the company's website, the opinions are my own.)

Would you like a product reviewed? 
Contact me at lakotega@yahoo.com!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail


We're vacationing in Union Pier, MI, on the Lake Michigan shore. Besides hanging out at the beach, we also like to explore the area. This morning we're headed for Warren Woods State Park for a family hike. Surrounding us as well are vineyards. This is Lake Michigan Shore Wine Country, an American Viticultural Area, stretching across the southwestern corner of Michigan from the Indiana-Michigan state line, north to the Kalamazoo River and east toward the City of Kalamazoo.

Lake Michigan, 307 miles long by 118 miles wide, is the sixth largest freshwater lake in the world. Its vastness creates a temperate climate in this region that prevents extremes of heat and cold, protecting fragile buds in spring and ripening fruits in summer. The deep, lake-effect snows insulate the rich soil so the vine roots won’t freeze. And a consistent annual rainfall produces juicy clusters of grapes, the nectar of fine wines.

Decades ago, winemakers realized that this land and climate were like those found in some of the finest wine-grape-growing regions of France and Germany. So they planted European stock on these hills. Built wineries. Aged their handcrafted wines. Began reaping awards.

More than a dozen wineries are located here in Lake Michigan Shore Wine Country and can be found on the wine trail that includes the wineries, but also places to stay and eat as well.

We won't be following the wine trail this trip, but are hoping to return in the fall perhaps. This vacation we'll try to get over to the Round Barn tasting room, which isn't too far from the cottage. It's been years since I tried Michigan wines, I'll be interested to see what progress has been made.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hydrapak Big Sur

Always Innovate. Never Compromise.

This phrase represents Hydrapak’s focus on creating the best personal hydration systems available for any activity. Hydrapak is committed to pushing the limits of design and materials to create the easiest-to-use, most functional hydration systems available.


OutsidePR was kind enough to send me a Hydrapak Big Sur to test out and I'm always happy to check out new hydration options. While I've found some dynamite products, the elusive search for hydration perfection is ongoing.

Big Sur Hydration Pack – ready for all occasions, the comfortable go-to pack for all day comfort.

* Quick Access front applied pocket w/multiple internal organizer pockets, Elastic Loops, and Key Clip
* Dual Top applied pocket straps help stabilize items in Stash Pocket
* Tool Garage Pocket w/Zippered Organizer and Elastic Tool Loops
* Stash Pocket behind Front Applied Pocket in Main Body of the pack
* Dedicated Zippered Reservoir Pocket on Back Panel
* Soft AirMesh Panel with Air Chairman Ventilation
* Dedicated Fleece Lined Electronics Pocket w/Cord Port
* Paded Shoulder Straps
* 360 Degree Reservoir Insulation
* Sliky Slider Sternum Strap
* Pump Sleeve in Main Pocket
* Hypalon Light Loop
* Reflective Window
* Removable Waist Belt

The Big Sur is designed for cycling, probably mountain biking, as it would be a terrible faux pas to wear a hydration pack as a roadie (if you didn't know how prescriptive road cycling is, check out the Velominati website, or The Road under Metrosexual Triathlete - triathlon has oodles of rules as well). The pack is very comfortable, with multiple strap options including sternum, waist and shoulder straps - a very nice design addition is a strap keeper for each strap, no more loose ends flapping in the breeze.

Of course, I also need my hydration to do double duty by being effective for running as well. I wanted to dislike the Big Sur because the waist belt is not padded, it's designed for cyclists, etc., but you know what? This is a really great pack for running, as the multiple cinch points allow for a custom fit for lots of body types. The only problem? Sloshing. While the sloshing did not affect my gait nor make it any more difficult to run, it was VERY noisy. Yet not so noisy that cranking up some tunes didn't drown it out.

Pros:
  • Useful for either cycling or running.
  • Multiple adjustable straps.
  • Lots of pockets, of varying shapes and sizes, open and zippered, including a dedicated iPod/music player with cord port.
  • Plug and play hose makes attachment/detachment incredibly simple.
  • Hose guides the full length of the shoulder straps (on both sides) mean no more loose hose flopping around - great idea.
  • Perhaps the best cleanability of any hydration pack - bladder has a wetbag closure, so entire bladder can be turned inside out for cleaning and subsequent drying - awesome!
Cons:
  • Bulky when bladder is completely filled.
  • Very noisy slosh when running.
Is the Big Sur hydration perfection. Unfortunately not. However, I would rate this hydration pack very highly. Its comfort for both running and cycling, its multiple and varied pockets, and the ease of cleaning make this definitely worth checking out. Highly recommended.

Check out the Hydrapak website, like them on Facebook, follow on Twitter, and view on YouTube.

(Disclaimer: I was sent this product for free to review on my blog - courtesy of Hydrapak, via Outside PR. I did not pay for the item, receive payment, or agree to give it a positive review. Aside from information gleaned from the company's website, the opinions are my own.)

Would you like a product reviewed? 
Contact me at lakotega@yahoo.com!

Monday, July 4, 2011

12 Weeks to Barefoot Running: Week 3: Stimulating Padding Growth

The Plan:
  • Pace: Jogging
  • Distance: 1-2 miles
  • Objective: Stimulate feet to grow padding
The Reality:
  • Tuesday Tempo Run on Wednesday - 4.5 mins BF, 22.5 mins shod, 3 mins BF. Felt like a struggle and good simultaneously. Nice and cool yet sweated copiously.
  • Thursday Hills - 4.5 mins BF, 23.5 mins hill sprints, 5 mins BF. Either I just missed a skunk (or he missed me), but I got a nice whiff each lap.
  • Saturday LSD - 6.5 mins BF, 43 mins LSD, 5.5 mins BF a real struggle of a run, already humid at 4:30. Kept going though wanted to quit many times.
XLMIC asked last week: “(D)o you run on asphalt, concrete, grass, dirt, gravel or carpeting when you run barefoot? How fast do you go?”
 
There are two schools of thought when starting barefoot running:
  1. Find the softest surfaces you can find and BF more comfortably.
  2. Find the roughest surface available so your feet get used to it and form needs to be perfect for it not to hurt.
I, of course, chose 3. Sidewalks, which are somewhat rough but not like running on gravel. I've run BF on grass and can tell that my form is much more sloppy. Speed varies depending on how dark it is, how I feel, etc., no different than shod running.

Overall, I'm still not totally convinced. I don't mind BFing it, but still prefer shod running. I've found that I prefer the 2nd barefoot portion over the initial, probably has something to do with being warmed up. Sometime in the next several weeks I'm going to try 2 new things:
  1. Embedding the barefoot portion, rather than at the start and finish; and
  2. Run barefoot on trails.
I'm thinking either one or both will make a profound difference.


It's Independence Day, we're celebrating out at the Boondocks (my in-laws'), probably grilling and hanging out by the pool. Tomorrow we're headed out to Union Pier for a couple of days, really looking forward to further exploration of the area and trying out the Boogie Boards we got for the kids. Surf's up!

HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Filler Friday



Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Pettry amzanig?

Got nothing else today, enjoy the deep thoughts below.


DeepThoughtsByJackHandey.com

Have a great weekend and
a wonderful 4th of July!

Running, Skiing, and Endurance Sports - Patagonia.com

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