Friday, September 30, 2011

Trail Tough

Trail running can be tough, but I love it. Trail races can be tough, brutal even. But what happens when you go beyond brutal? You get events like Tough Guy or the Spartan Death Race. Unbelievable. Enjoy.

Tough Guy™ is the nightmare of being chased by a herd of stallions.

Your only escape route is a mighty and revered obstacle course. Built from trees, 15 metres high with Tarzan ropes swinging. No hats and no hook ups. Just pure, organic grip strength from your cold and wet hands.

Belly flop beneath razor wire, the stallions still snorting at your heels, matching your every step. Look deep into the flames before diving through them straight into shoe sucking mud. Then something wakes you, or does it? Were the stallions just a nightmare?

No time to look back, the narrow tunnels beckon. You bravely enter to discover they're filled with murky water. You can't see. You can't breathe. What chance of survival? Grope around and grab that rope. Pull yourself lungs bursting, into the light! You see the sun, or is it just another cruel mirage?

You are faced with a wall climb, as high as a mountain. No visibility again. Is that smoke, mist or cloud? How do you get down? Take the netting or dive into the freezing lake. You suddenly realise that the sound of stallions behind is fading. You must go on. The only route is through the Arctic water.

A monkey rope, a barbed wire crawl, a rubber snake, a skin ripping snake, you can smell the finish. It's smells like.....cocoa! You know you've earned it!

You wake.
You are alive.
Bloodied, battered but never beaten.
You are a
Tough Guy

Spartan Death Race: Built to break the weak of body and mind!

This is highest level of Spartan Challenge. The Spartan Death Race is designed to present you with the totally unexpected, and the totally insane! This endurance race is comprised of mud runs, obstacle racing, trail racing, physical challenges and mental challenges all in a +48 hour adventure race. 90% of you will not complete this endurance race. Please only consider this adventure style race if you have lived a full life to date.

Death sounds cool until you're dead.

The adventure starts when everything goes wrong, which God will be on your side?

Have a great weekend all!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Running Inspiration

Don Wright, who lives in the greater Minneapolis area, is planning to run marathons in all 50 states. He is running despite the fact that he has had cancer for more than eight years. And despite the fact that he is 70 years old.

“Here I am living with cancer, and my biggest complaint is runner’s knee!”

Don began running marathons eight years ago, just as he was diagnosed with myeloma, and as of July 2011, he has run 55 marathons in 37 states. As Don races toward the New York City Marathon and beyond under his “E-Race Cancer” banner, he is running on behalf of the charity Team Continuum to raise funds and help pay essential cost-of-living bills for cancer patients.

Don is also running with the support of the Tackle Cancer Foundation in Dallas, to honor the memory of its founder, former NFL linebacker Elijah Alexander, who passed away from multiple myeloma.

Don’s cancer, myeloma, also called multiple myeloma, is a blood cancer that affects cells in the bone marrow and can damage bone. It cannot yet be cured. With new drugs and new treatments, it can be managed long term. Don is on an investigational new drug that may represent an even newer generation of treatment options for patients.

“I’m running with cancer, not from cancer—because living with myeloma is a marathon, not a sprint!” says Don. “I’m lucky—I take just a pill a day, so I am free to literally run around the country instead of being tied to a doctors’ office for traditional chemotherapy treatments, and I don’t have to deal with the side effects those treatments could bring.”

Don has never looked back since he began running marathons shortly after he was diagnosed with myeloma. In just eight years, Don has run over 1,400 miles. Don hopes his determination to complete marathons in all 50 states will inspire others living with cancer.


• Oct. 1 - Bristol, NH
• Oct. 2 - Portland, ME
• Oct. 15 - Hartford, CT
• Oct. 30 - Washington, DC
• Nov. 6 - New York City Marathon

Don’s winter schedule includes Seattle, Delaware and a special race in San Diego. More information will follow.



Multiple myeloma is a cancer of cells in the bone marrow. Once a rare disease of the elderly, multiple myeloma is being diagnosed in growing numbers and in increasingly younger people. Each year approximately 20,000 new cases are diagnosed in the United States. New treatments have extended remissions for many patients, measured in years, not months, with a good quality of life. For more information contact the International Myeloma Foundation.


Team Continuum, a 501(c)3 not for profit organization, is dedicated to helping cancer patients and their families minimize the disruptions, hardships and uncertainties of everyday life so that they can focus on crucial medical care. Team Continuum provides immediate and vital assistance - both practical and personal - such as paying household expenses, offering friendship and moral support, and funding health care facilities to enhance the delivery of care, communications and educational services.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


The October 2011 issue of Road Bike Action has a quick snippet on motorpacing. It looks realy cool, but also extremely frightening. Motorpacing is a training tool used by road and track cyclists in which a cyclist or cyclists ride in the draft of a motorcycle or scooter.

“Cyclists started to use tandem bicycles as pacers in the late 19th century. There could be as many as five riders on the pacing machine. Companies such as Dunlop sponsored pacing teams, and "tens of thousands” turned out to watch. A south London rider, J. W. Stocks, set an unbeaten British record of 32 miles 1 086 yards in an hour behind a Dunlop quintuplet on 27 September 1897. The pacing tandems were ridden by professionals, of whom as many as 100 were under contract. Each competitor had six to eight pacing teams for races between 50 and 100 miles. On 12 October 12 1950 Karl-Heinz Kramer set the world record for absolute speed behind a motorcycle with 154.506 km/h (96.006 mph) on the Grenzlandring. The record speed behind a railroad train is by the American, Charles Murphy. He rode at 60mph behind a train in New York state, USA, in 1899 and became known as Mile-a-Minute Murphy.” (from Wikipedia)

Benefits of Motorpacing
  • Motorpacing enables riders to train at race pace without having to ride with a group of people or within a peloton
  • Motorpacing simulates the physical and psychological effects of not being completely in control of pace (similar to a race)
  • Motorpacing is a great training tool to improve different aspects of sprinting; from race pace accelerations to final lead outs
  • Motorpacing over rolling terrain produces high power spikes followed by limited amounts of recovery (similar to power and heart rate demands riders would face during competition)
  • Motorpacing is a great way to learn to sustain high speed pace lines
Much of the information in this post was taken from Motorpacer.

Do you know of anyone who motorpaces? Ever tried it yourself?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Run Like A Girl Book Review

Mina Samuels is a “writer, editor, reader, athlete, fellow traveler, movie-holic, vegetarian, and Canadian,” in her own description. She is the author of Run Like A Girl (Berkeley, CA: 2011), a book aimed at women, though I enjoyed it as well.

“Part locker-room confidential, inspiring manifesto, and personal memoir, the book shows us, through stories of nearly a hundred women, how the confidence women build by participating in sports—whether it’s running or rock climbing, swimming or yoga—can transform our lives in profound ways. Lively, funny, and sometimes heartbreaking, in the candid stories, which fill its pages, these women share how sports helped them overcome life’s obstacles and achieve the happiness and success they’d been running toward.”

Initially I struggled to become invested in this book, as it seems clearly written for women in sort of a clubby way (clubby like women are an exclusive club). However, I wanted to finish this book in the hopes of understanding women’s attitude towards sports better and possibly interact with my wife and daughter in a different way.

From an early age, girls are culturally pushed to act and look a certain way. My wife and I already see this when we overhear the conversations between the girls during carpool duties.

“”It isn’t an easy thing for a girl to grow up to be a woman, not nearly as easy as it is for her to grow up to remain a girl. You can spend a lifetime in this world acting winsome and blaming your troubles on PMS and men. But womanhood—that takes guts.” (Shawn Hubler, Los Angeles Times)

My daughter is lucky in that she has an amazing role model at home. My wife is strong and assertive and capable and smart, and also sexy and motherly and feminine. She not only takes care of us as a family, but also runs and volunteers at school and writes a blog. That’s great fortune for our whole family.

Not every woman has an example to follow, to make the leap from being a girl to becoming a woman. Books such as Run Like A Girl can be that example. Through stories about herself and other women, Samuels explores the need for strength and balance in a woman’s life (though obviously men need it as well), and shows how sports can make that possible.

“There have been times after doing something really, really hard when I feel like I could eat impossible for breakfast!”

I’d recommend this book to anyone, but especially to fathers who have daughters – this is almost a manual for things to look out for, things not to do, and ways to support her path to womanhood.

Disclaimer: These products were sent to me for review purposes, courtesy of Seal Press. I was not compensated in any other way for the reviews, was not obligated to give them a positive review, and all opinions are my own. Some information in this review was taken from the company website.

Would you like your product reviewed? Contact me at

Monday, September 26, 2011

Midwest Trails: Lost Bridge Trail, Springfield, IL

Last week I was afforded the opportunity to head down to Springfield, for work. It was a quick trip, driving down Monday afternoon, getting the work done Tuesday morning, then heading back up home immediately after. While perusing maps to see if I could get a run in before Tuesday’s work, I saw that the Lost Bridge Trail started relatively close (less than a mile) from my hotel.

The Lost Bridge Trail, a 5.0-mile rail trail, was built by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) along an abandoned Baltimore and Ohio Railroad corridor between the east side of the city, running to the community of Rochester. The part of the trail that I ran began at the IDOT building, crossed under I-55, then continued on. From what I’ve read, it crosses Sugar Creek and later the South Fork of the Sangamon River near Rochester. Since it was dark when I ran, I’m not sure if I made it to either one. The Lost Bridge’s name arose from IDOT's inability to prevent the Sugar Creek bridge from being torn down for scrap. Future plans include lengthening the trail.

When I headed out from my hotel, about 5:00 AM, it was quite dark and pretty chilly (I could see my breath), but it wasn’t difficult to find the trailhead. I think I startled the night watchman, who was patrolling the parking lot when I ran by. Running behind the IDOT building, there is a large pond/lake/retention area, beautiful even in the dark. The trail is paved, so footing is assured, though the moon was able to poke through the tree canopy only rarely. This is probably a beautiful trail in the light. Since the trail starts near I-55 and passes under the expressway, traffic noise is a constant companion.

This is a great trail if you’re in Springfield and want a car-free option. If you are fearful or uncomfortable running in the dark, this trail is not for you, unless you bring a headlamp. During the day, it would be a great place to run, ride a bike, or push a stroller. At 5 miles long, a run or ride up to 10 miles is there for the choosing.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Personal Brewery, a Wine Blog, The Road No More

Something I covet:

"The WilliamsWarn Personal Brewery has six main technical features that, when combined together, create the world's first all-in-one brewing appliance. This combination then allows you to make the freshest beer on the planet with minimum effort. The current design is for 23 litres of beer. Professional quality beer in 7 days, just like a modern Brewery. Cold, clear and perfectly carbonated." At just under $5000, one would have to drink QUITE a bit of beer for this to become worthwhile. I, for one, am up for the challenge.

(Jamoosh, are you getting this for Christmas?)


In case you live under a rock (not that there's anything wrong with that), you may have heard that I've started a wine blog, 50 States of Wine. My plan is to travel as extensively as possible and attempt to drink as many wines from all 50 states as I can possibly afford (not much at the moment). Does this seem like a shameless attempt to get free wine samples? I believe the Wine Harlots said it quite succinctly: "Wine Harlots welcome samples and promotional items. (We are shameless hussies about promo items. Love, love, love them.)" Ditto. Pretty please head over to 50 States of Wine and follow and while you're at it, like on Facebook as well. You all are the best!


Much to many readers' dismay, Patrick shut down The Road [A Multi-Sport Blog] and appeared ready to dedicate himself full time to Ironman training sans audience. However, he has resurfaced at the Endurance Athlete Project, which has been refashioned into his personal blog. Go there to get your fix of training, music,and Patrick, or just for the banner, which is absolutely stunning. (Spoiler alert!)

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pearl iZUMi Elite IN-R-Cool Bib Short Review

As I mentioned the other day on my Pearl iZUMi trail running gear post, I also received a pair of cycling bib shorts to try out. Since I made the switch a while ago to bib shorts, I find it increasingly difficult to go back to standard cycling shorts, the comfort level is that much noticeably better. If you haven’t tried bib shorts yet, make the leap, you’ll be eternally grateful.

Elite In-R-Cool Bib Short ($135.00 )

Pearl iZUMi’s top selling ELITElite Bib, which I received, has been enchanced with In-R-Cool® technology, originally introduced in the P.R.O. Series. This takes their classic style to a new level in technology, performance and value.

  • ELITE Transfer fabric with In-R-Cool®™ technology provides optimal cooling and reflective sun protection
  • Anatomic multi-panel design
  • Flatlock and double needle seams
  • Silicone leg gripper with welded construction
  • ELITE 3D Chamois®
  • Reflective elements for low-light visibility
  • 9" inseam [size medium]
These are incredibly comfortable bib shorts and, maybe I got a size too small, but I really appreciated the slight compression of the garment, which kept my legs feeling supported and fresh. The In-R-Cool®™ technology keeps one cool, even in the heat of the Midwest summer. I also really appreciated the wide straps, which kept the shorts in place. Maybe because I’m a larger guy, but my only complaint was that the chamois seemed a bit underwhelming – not so much that it was overly minimal, but I wished there was more padding. They were still comfortable, so it’s definitely a personal thing. I know plenty of cyclists who hate the thicker chamois which makes one waddle like a penguin. To each his own.

More information can be found on the Pearl iZUMi website, by liking them on Facebook, and following on Twitter or YouTube.

Disclaimer: These products were sent to me for review purposes, courtesy of Pearl iZUMi via OutsidePR. I was not compensated in any other way for the reviews, was not obligated to give them a positive review, and all opinions are my own. Some information in this review was taken from the company website.

Would you like your product reviewed? Contact me at

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Do you eat dog?

Well why not? In many cultures it's totally acceptable. A family story, which I remember quite indistinctly, goes something like this. Our family was living in Austria (I think, maybe it was Finland, it's hard to remember when you are a childhood jet setter), and my mother was purchasing some kind of ground meat. This went on for some time, all of us eating it without complaint, maybe even with some gusto. Finally, the shopkeeper or butcher exclaimed to my mom that she never expected that Americans would eat horse! I can't see that happening here in the U.S.

I've been doing a lot of reading lately on urban farming, stories of people like you and me (well, at least like me), who have the hankering to get back to the land. My grandparents farmed, my parents are now farmers, it's in my blood. My dream, however, is to grow grapes and make wine, not muck out stalls.

In many of these stories, these novice farmers decide to raise animals for  meat, typically starting with chickens or rabbits, moving on to pigs and maybe even cows. They do this to: 1. get the experience, 2. follow the path of the animal from birth to their ultimate demise, and/or 3. be responsible for killing the animal, as an ethical and moral act.

I've always had a vegan bent, having practiced the religion in college and on and off for man years. The combination of these urban farm tales coupled with my childrens' seeming inability to connect the plastic-wrapped chunks of protein to living animals has me in a bit more of a quandary than usual.

If I could do it, I'd become vegan in a heartbeat. Easier said than done. When you share a house with 5 others, a certain amount of compromise is necessary, especially since Laima does the lion's (lioness') share of the shopping and cooking. Plus, dangle a good breakfast sausage or perfectly cooked bacon and I'm just as eager as the next person. I haven't eaten beef consistently for probably 6 or more months and, honestly, I don't miss it.

I don't think I could kill an animal and then eat it. Hunting holds no interest for me. Generally, I feel like a total hypocrite not being able to accomplish either of those, yet continuing to eat animals.

How much of this should I share with my kids? I try to explain where meat comes from and how a chicken tender and real live poultry are connected. But is that enough? Do they get it? What about a trip to the slaughterhouse? Too gruesome? How about raising an animal and then killing it for a meal or meals?

What does it mean that our culture is so removed from animal husbandry and the killing of animals for meat? Everything? Nothing? What do you tell your kids when they ask about meat? Do they even ask? Would you or do you kill animals for food?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Pearl iZUMi Trail Running Gear

I was lucky enough to receive a package from Pearl iZUMi recently, containing trail running gear in the form of a technical top and trail running shoes, along with a cycling bib (review forthcoming). Get ready for some red!

Phase SS ($33.00 )

The Phase Short Sleeve combines style, function and value in a technical training top that is a must have for runners of all levels. SELECT Transfer fabric sets the benchmark for moisture transfer, while the Direct-Vent panels provide superior ventilation. A loose fit for comfort and reflective elements for low-light visibility make this a good addition to a runner’s wardrobe. The subtle colorblocking and vibrant red color are a nice design touch.  Comfortable, lightweight, and built to last. Pearl iZUMi quality at a decent price make this a real winner.

Syncro Fuel Trail II Shoes ($120.00)

The Syncro Fuel Trail IIs are a trail-specific running shoe, featuring an aggressively lugged sole, with a breathable mesh upper with supportive synthetic overlays. The bonded, seamless upper promotes an exceptional fit and irritation-free wear, leading me to believe you could wear these sockless. Why you’d do that for a trail run is beyond me, though I guess if it wasn’t sandy or rocky, yet featured multiple water crossings it would make sense. I might have to try that. Very comfortable, but like many Pearl iZUMi shoes, run slightly small, so consider sizing a half size up, if available.

PS If you are a Colorado fan, check out the cute little Colorado flag on the tongue's lace holder.

More information can be found on the Pearl iZUMi website, by liking them on Facebook, and following on Twitter or YouTube.

Disclaimer: These products were sent to me for review purposes, courtesy of Pearl iZUMi via OutsidePR. I was not compensated in any other way for the reviews, was not obligated to give them a positive review, and all opinions are my own. Some information in this review was taken from the company website.

Would you like your product reviewed? Contact me at

Monday, September 19, 2011

Chicagoland Trail: DuPage River Greenway

Finding a trail that is close to home, interesting in terms of topography and nature, and appropriate both for solo runs and outings with the family is not always easy. The DuPage River Greenway Trail meets all the criteria, though the topography is not particularly varied.

The trail runs along Bolingbrook's northern edge parallel to the East Branch of the DuPage River. The 2.5 mile linear path traverses woodlands, prairie and wetlands from Royce Road near Route 53 through Hidden Lakes Historic Trout Farm to Indian Boundary Park. Parking and restrooms are available at Hidden Lakes Historic Trout Farm and Indian Boundary Park. The trail connects to the ComEd Greenway, adding another 4 miles round trip if so desired. There is also a seemingly unnamed connecting trail that will take you to the Knoch Knolls singletrack, for some unpaved trail running.

The DuPage River Greenway is paved from start to finish, wide, smooth, with little in the way of hills, so it is ideal for an easier run, or for taking the kids for a run or ride. If you're pushing a jogging stroller, this path is a gem. The Hidden Lake Trout Farm is a nice diversion a mile or so in, while Indian Boundary Park affords kids the opportunity to get off their bikes and play on a jungle gym. There is also a nature center along the way, plus access to the river at multiple points.

Easily accessed from I-355, this is a nice trail to check out, especially if you typically run at Greene Valley, and need a change of pace.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday Fluff

Choosing a Triathlon

Generally, we train in a certain manner that fits our style or is a reflection of our environment. This is all for naught if you register for an event that is clearly inappropriate for that training. Live in the flatlands of the Midwest? Then why register for a hilly tri? Hate crowds? Find a smaller race. FindTheBest is a cool website that has a triathlon comparison that allows you to compare your options and find what’s best for you. Check it out for that as well as other comparisons.

Sick of P90X?

Have a great weekend all!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Columbia Sportswear Trail Running Gear (Summer)

Laima and I had the good fortune to be included in the most recent round of Columbia Sportswear testing (and hope to continue!). We were each sent a jacket and a technical shirt that were designed with trail running in mind. See what Laima thought of the Women’s Peak Power™ Shell and Cool Rules™ Short Sleeve Top at Women's Endurance Gear. One of the great things about the company's products is that they are extremely versatile, useful from the urban street to some extreme situations. Columbia has been in business more than 70 years, starting as a small hat company and now expanded to include other brands such as Sorel, Mountain Hardwear, Montrail, and Pacific Trail. They are committed to giving back to the community, pairing with local groups as well as supporting employee volunteerism. Plus, they have the funny “Mother” commercials, featuring Chairman Gert Boyle.

Men's Peak 2 Peak™ Jacket ($350.00)

Lightweight and form-fitting, the Peak 2 Peak hard shell jacket promises completely waterproof, windproof, and ultrabreathable performance. And, it's an Outside Magazine 2011 Gear of the Year winner! It’s made with Omni-Dry®—an extremely air-permeable waterproof fabric. Additional features include an attached adjustable storm hood, vented underarm zips, pockets feature Invizzip™ technology (makes pockets practically disappear), and articulated elbows. This is a pretty amazing jacket, with only one flaw that I could discover - it swishes quite loudly, though that's typical of waterproof jackets and not that big a deal. Probably scares bears and mountain lions away.

I wore this jacket in a variety of situations, including several runs in the hot and humid Midwest weather. Not that the jacket kept me dry, but amazingly enough, I didn't feel any more wet than usual, which is saying a LOT! The underarm zips are huge, allowing for totally customizable venting. The jacket, as mentioned, is form-fitting, but still allows for freedom of movement. The hood adds complete protection, with a stiff brim keeping it where it's needed. Unfortunately, it doesn't fit over my cycling helmet, but that is not its raison d'etre anyway.

The Peak 2 Peak is the only jacket I took for our 11 day trip to Lithuania, confident that it was the only jacket I needed for any situation I might find myself in. Lightweight, packable, and completely waterproof, I carry this to and from work everyday in my backpack. One small complaint is that it does not have true side pockets, but rather lower chest pockets. As someone who likes to keep his hands in his pockets when chilling (a la James Dean), this is a design change I'd make.

I've had this over a month and it still looks and feels brand new - that's durability.

Men’s Altimeter™ Shirt ($45.00)

For warm weather running, cycling, or hiking, this shirt is a must-have addition to your gear. The fabric is 100% polyester composed of 92% polyester/8% elastane Techincal features include Omni-Freeze (advanced cooling) and Omni-Shade® UPF 30 (sun protection). The Omni-Freeze® technology actively works to pull heat away from your skin.

This is another of recent technical shirts I've tried that, while feeling incredibly heavy in hand, feel weightless on the body. True to Columbia's claims, the shirt makes the skin feel cool, even on hot, humid, sweaty runs. Even when completely soaked through, this shirt kept its lightweight feel, with no bunching or sagging. Incredibly comfortable.

Though I'm generally very careful to air dry my technical clothing, it's always a good idea to "accidentally" throw it in the dryer on occasion, to gauge the effect. No problems for the Altimeter shirt.

More info can be found at the Columbia website, by reading their blog, liking them on Facebook, or following on Twitter.

Disclaimer: These products were sent to me for review purposes, courtesy of Columbia Sportswear. I was not compensated in any other way for the reviews, was not obligated to give them a positive review, and all opinions are my own. Some information in this review was taken from the company website.

I also got a chance to review the Master of Faster™ Low shoes, Men’s Bug Shield™ Shirt, and Drainmaker™ shoes, courtesy of Outdoor Hub. Check out those reviews as well!

Would you like your product reviewed? Contact me at 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Emperor of Wine

This is a must-read book if you have any interest in the current state of wine, both in the US and around the world. Elin McCoy's The Emperor of Wine: The Rise of Robert M. Parker, Jr. and the Reign of American Taste (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2005) is a fascinating look at the man who transformed wine reviewing, scoring, and had a huge impact on how winemakers the world over approached oenology once he became well-known. Woven through the story of his rise to the top of the wine world are fascinating bits of history, tracing winemaking method from traditional methods to current technology. Globalization and a desire to please Parker made some vintners turn their back on terroir, but a counter-revolution since the early 2000's has made the taste and variety of wine ever-expanding. Wine is made in all 50 states, though you wouldn't know it from either Robert Parker or the Wine Spectator, another power in the wine world.

What's the most unusual wine you've tried? Any from a state or region you wouldn't expect to have wine?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Orbana Healthy Energy

Orbana is a London-based company that produces Orbana Healthy Energy powder, a clean alternative for endurance enthusiasts. When I first received the product, I really liked the packaging, but then was a bit confused as, contrary to US companies, there was no flavor indicated on the package. Hmmmm… After some searching, I discovered, in small print, that this was an orange, lemon and pineapple flavored energy drink mix. I wonder why that isn’t more prominent? Maybe a cultural thing.

Orbana was started by a group with backgrounds in sport, health and nutrition who realized that they shared a common frustration. There were no good tasting healthy energy drinks on the market. Every sport or energy drink was loaded with caffeine, sweeteners, artificial colors and preservatives and tasted synthetic. Orbana decided to formulate drinks containing generous amounts of vitamins, minerals and amino acids which could be easily digested into the blood stream and vital organs to assist in the production of energy in the body and that also promote strong immune systems. They enrolled in a testing program which ensured that the product was free of WADA banned substance (which means it’s clean up to Olympic Drug Testing standards) and worked hard to become the first company to be awarded with the Informed Sport accreditation which was followed by Informed Choice.

When to use? According to Orbana, it’s multi-use healthy energy. Prepare yourself before exercise, stay energized during, re-energize and aid recovery after. Or, any time you need extra energy. Since it’s a powder, it’s portable and customizable – just add as much water as you prefer.

I tried out Orbana before my long runs and enjoyed the clean, simple flavor. It has some sweetness, but is not cloying. After mixing, there are some powder flecks and some foam created, which, with the citrusy flavor, is very reminiscent of Orange Julius to me (remember them? I was surprised they are still around!) I felt like the powder mixed into the water pretty easily, but also used a small whisk to make sure.

There is no jolt or sudden surge of energy with Orbana. The runs felt smooth and easy, with no ups and downs (except for the hills), so perhaps the sustained energy came from the drink. It’s hard to tell after just two times, but I enjoyed Orbana and will look forward to trying it again, along with new products that they say are in development. Anytime a company tries to do things the right way, I’m all for it.

Get more information on the Orbana website, follow on Twitter, like them on Facebook.

(Disclaimer: I was sent this product for free to review on my blog - courtesy of Orbana. I did not pay for the item, 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

Monday, September 12, 2011

Chicagoland Trail: Bemis Woods South

On perhaps the last hot, humid day of summer recently, I drove over to Bemis Woods South to try out the trails. Bemis Woods South is the start of the Salt Creek Trail, a class I bicycle trail located in west central Cook County, Illinois. From Bemis Woods South, it continues east 6.6 miles to Brookfield Woods, directly across from the Brookfield Zoo. But I was here for the unpaved trails, which there is a plethora of within a very small area.

For the most part, I stayed on the Orange Loop Trail, which encircles the preserve, connecting to many other trails, including a bridge over Salt Creek to Bemis Woods North. There is an endless variety of trails, from grass to dirt to gravel. While not on the official map, there are small singletrack trails branching off from the main loop, though usually they deadend. On other maps, old, overgrown singletrack are noted and of course, I had to bushwhack and see how far I could get. Not very far. When they say overgrown, they mean overgrown. The preserve is located in a suburban area and bounded on the Western edge by I-294, so the sound of traffic is a near-constant. However, the woods and trails are quite beautiful, so a respite form civilization is still attainable.

Crossing the bridge to Bemis Woods North, I spent some time running on the paved bike trail. Theoretically, by starting at Brookfield Zoo, one could connect the Salt Creek Trail to other trails, with some minor street time, to end up in Busse Woods, a preserve in Schaumburg, for a distance greater than a marathon. That's really cool!

Since many of the trails are paved, smooth dirt, and at least doubletrack wide, this is a good place to bring the jogging stroller or kids on bikes, for a little family exercise. Add a picnic basket and you've got a great morning out.

Friday, September 9, 2011

New Blog Sponsor: Heel That Pain

You may have noticed that Midwest Multisport Life has gained its first blog sponsor, Heel That Pain! Jason approached me about partnering and, since at least a portion of the blog readership has experienced heel pain or plantar fasciitis, I felt like it would be a good fit.

Heel That Pain is a company that works to help people suffering from heel pain and plantar fasciitis. They accomplish this through educational articles, free stretching videos, and their product, Heel Seats, which apply acupuncture directly to the affected area. The Heel Seats work on all types of heel pain:

Get more info on the Heel That Pain website, follow them on Twitter, and like them on Facebook.

Interested in becoming a sponsor
of Midwest Multisport Life?
Email me at!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Brooks Running – Summer Gear

Brooks Running sent me a big box of summer running gear a month ago, perfect for those hot, humid days and still functional and comfortable in these early fall days.

Trailblade Shoes ($85.00)

The Trailblade shoes are designed to work both on the trail or on roads, making them an ideal shoe for someone like me, who can run on the streets to reach forest preserves and their variety of surfaces. They sport an aggressive and luggy outsole for traction on trails, yet feel comfortable on paved surfaces. The upper and sole seem strongly bonded, well-built, and should last for quite some time. As with other Brooks shoes I've tried, my size 13s run a tad snug, though not uncomfortably so. Definitely not a light, minimalist shoe, the Trailblade is also not the heaviest trail shoe I've worn, yet feels like it could handle just about anything. Initially I wasn't keen on the color scheme, though I don't mind it as much after wearing them for a while.

Sunshield Visor ($11.00)

Fit: One size fits all - if you have a melonhead like me, this can be worrisome, but the visor fits just fine. Kind of funny as Tazer has a kid's Sunshield Visor, which is a bit smaller, and I wore it for a run, wondering the whole time if it had shrunk or something. That's what we get for both having white Brooks visors! The breathable mesh kept my head comfortable without feeling hot, while the fabric allowed for quick evaporation of the inevitable sweat.

Infiniti Short III ($38.00)

Fit: Semi-fitted - these are the first shorts I've tried with a boxer liner and I approached them with trepidation, but now they are far and away my favorite short. Combine that comfort with a 3½" inseam, which allows me to show off my legs and reduces the chances of chafing, and it doesn't get much better. The shorts are incredibly lightweight, wiht an unusual stretch-woven outer fabric that was really comfortable to run in. Add L.S.D. Lite windproof binding and splicing details for comfort and safety. One complaint is with the two holster pockets - not sure why I didn't like them, just didn't. However, they were functional and the hook and loop closure kept keys and maps securely. One thing I really like was the elasticized waist with an extra long drawstring - I never had to worry about the strings migrating into the waistband, which can be quite a bother when you just want to go.

Rev Short Sleeve ($32.00 )

Semi-fitted, with a heavy-feeling material that never felt onerous and never sagged or bunched, regardless of how much I sweated - much be some kind of voodoo moisture transfer! With a UPF rating of 40+, this adds sun protection along with 360° of Scotchlite™ retroreflectivity for safer running. While I've never really like shirt pockets, the Rev SS does come with a zip pocket on right hip for gels, I.D., or other essentials, which is a nice bonus for those who need the extra storage.

Brooks' True Blue Guarantee

Brooks products come with a no-questions-asked, 30-day satisfaction guarantee. If for any reason you are not completely satisfied with your new Brooks equipment within the first 30 days after purchase, they will replace or exchange your product. Good deal, right?

Get more info or buy products on the Brooks website, like them on Facebook, follow on Twitter, or read the Brooks blog.

(Disclaimer: I was sent these products for free to review on my blog - courtesy of Brooks Running. I did not pay for the 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.)

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wine and Health

When I was young, to differentiate myself from so many other suburban youth, I entered into my “Straight Edge” phase, marked by an adherence to no alcohol or drugs, among other things. The movement was popularized by the punk group Minor Threat, a key influence from my youth.

However, now that I’m older, but none the wiser, I drink wine and the occasional beer, with a celebratory cocktail once in a blue moon. Over the years, there have been many studies related to alcohol and wine (remember the French Paradox? No? You’re probably too young.). Most have shown at least a minimal connection between moderate wine consumption and a variety of health benefits. Most of the benefits seem to be derived from drinking red wine, though white wine and beer are sometimes included as lowly stepchildren. Hard alcohol seems to include no benefits, beyond a lack of a beer belly being formed.

So why should this matter to you? As a runner, cyclist, walker, or swimmer,, you are damaging your body on a weekly, sometimes a daily basis. Sun, wind, exercise, and diet all contribute to the damage done. Recovery is becoming more discussed as we all realize the importance to let our bodies repair themselves.

I’ve recently done some research into what, today, cutting-edge science believes. Basically, no one knows. That being said, I did find some more recent studies that have me believing that continued moderate wine drinking (both red and white and the occasional rosé) is good for me. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

(Note to Jamooshmake sure you stay
under the 22 beers per week!)

  • Moderate wine consumption is associated with decreased odds of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in NHANES-1. (Note: Macular degeneration is a loss of vision and yes, the study title is quite a mouthful.) Moderate wine consumption is associated with decreased odds of developing AMD. Wine alone or in combination with beer (OR 0.66; 95% CI 0.55-0.79) or liquor (OR 0.74; 95% CI 0.63-0.86), dominated the negative association observed between AMD and alcohol type. (Reference: J Am Geriatr Soc. 1998 Jan;46(1):1-7.)
  • Moderate wine consumption protects against hydrogen peroxide-induced DNA damage – this is one of the studies that pointed out that this health benefit was not differentiated for white versus red wines, good to know. Also, this does NOT refer to drinking the product some of used in our youth to bleach our hair blonde. (Reference: Mutagenesis (1997) 12 (4): 289-296.)

  • The Possible Implication of trans-Resveratrol (t-RESV) in the Cardioprotective Effects of Long-Term Moderate Wine Consumption - the results obtained in this work suggest that t-RESV could play an important role in the cardioprotective effects induced by the long-term moderate wine consumption. Also, anything with trans is funny to me. (Reference: Molecular Pharmacology February 1, 2002 vol. 61 no. 2 294-302.)
So there you have it – next time someone asks if you should really be having that second glass of wine, say of course, and cite the references!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Guest Post: David Mills - Everyman's Everest

My favorite thing about Ironman triathlons is the simple fact that anybody can do one...seriously. It doesn't take a unique skill or ability like throwing a 95 mph fastball or being able to dunk a basketball. You don't have to be strong, tall, fast, smart, or even very coordinated. All it really takes is an attitude that says, "I will not quit." Let's face it, none of us are going to get called up to the major leagues. We'll never play in the Super Bowl, or get drafted into the NBA. But there's almost nothing keeping you from becoming an Ironman! I've personally seen a blind man, a woman in a wheelchair, an amputee, and a 74 year old man cross the Ironman finish line! It's a larger-than-life moment that anyone can accomplish.

Last Sunday I crossed the Ironman finish line for my second time. It was a completely different experience in many ways from the first Ironman I completed in 2009. This time around there wasn't any curiosity or sense of wonderment. I knew exactly how long and difficult the day would be. This time it wasn't a question of "Can I do this?". It was now a question of "Can I do this faster?". And I knew that finishing the bike ride didn't really mean that I was almost done. Being my second-time around didn't make it any easier. My feet cramped up on the bike, my legs tried to quit on me during the run, and at times it took everything I had just to keep from throwing up.

But as I swam, biked, and ran through Louisville this year, the biggest and best difference was the fact that my wife, Kerry and our two sons were there to cheer me on. When I first became an Ironman in 2009 we lived in Okinawa, Japan, and they weren't able to travel with me to Louisville for the race. They were such a huge part of my training and support that I knew something was missing as I crossed the finish line 9,000 miles away from them.

This year was different though; they were right there with me! Yelling and ringing those signature Ironman cowbells, my family encouraged and fueled me throughout the race with their cheers. The road trip, the race, and the room service brought us closer together as a family. I doubt that my kids will forget staying up way beyond their bedtime to stand in the streets with the cheering crowd and hear the announcer declare their dad an Ironman. But more importantly, I hope they learned that they don't have to be the fastest, or the tallest, or become all-star athletes to accomplish something great. All they really have to do is never give up.

David Mills is author of The Distance: An Average Joe's Path to Balancing Family, Work, And Triathlon available now on Amazon. To find out more visit

Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday Fluff

It's National Honey Month! "In addition to being a great natural sweetener, honey has a multitude of benefits that many people don’t know about.  Have you ever had an unrelenting sore throat? Honey has been proven to be a natural throat soother! Are you an athlete looking for a natural energy boost before the big game? Honey’s unique blend of natural sweeteners gives it the ability to provide quick energy in any circumstance."

FEMA Encourages Americans to Participate in the Eighth Annual National Preparedness Month in September: "A Time to Remember. A Time to Prepare," Encourages Americans to Take Simple Steps to Prepare for Emergencies.

Last but not least, I'm wishing Laima a great race on Monday - her first half-marathon! She's running the Oakbrook Half-Marathon and is going to do great!

Have a great weekend all!

Running, Skiing, and Endurance Sports -

REI: Gear for the Great Outdoors

UnderArmour - I WILL

Outdoor DIVAS - Adventure Gear for Active Women