Thursday, May 31, 2012

A-Canoeing We Will Go!

Several weeks ago, I read and reviewed a book on canoeing, Let Them Paddle. It inspired me to the point that I dug a canoe out of my in-laws' backyard, cleaned it up, and repainted it.

It started out a basic white
Then I tried a glossy green, but it didn't work without primer.
And then it ended up a matte burnt-red.

This weekend, after having purchased pfds for all, packed the snacks and water, made sure the camera battery was charged, we headed out for our maiden voyage. Our first paddle was to take place on the DuPage River East Branch, a section that runs parallel with the Greenway, a paved trail I've had the pleasure to run, coincidentally thinking the river would be a fine place to raft, kayak, or canoe. And here we were.

A river runs near it....

Memorial Day, 2012 - a gorgeous, breezy and sunny day, with highs near 90 degrees. We felt the heat, but also enjoyed the shade of overhanging trees and the cool, but not cold water. Had we trusted the water quality more, I believe we would have swam, but opted for health conservatism instead. A few fish and many birds were the wildlife we saw, though one time Laima caught a glimpse of a "river rat" (or maybe it was an otter?).


The kids had a great time and, except for some paddling miscommunication and a few shallow bars (it hasn't rained here in weeks!), Laima and I enjoyed moving about on the water. We're now planning on acquiring another canoe, so that the kids can help with the paddling - to a child (except for The Little Worker) they were disappointed that only the parents were dipping paddles that day. Their time will come.

And what is a morning on the river without a bit of mud...

Laima opts for river mud over the spa.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Brooks Running Men's Cascadia 7


I’ve been trail running (and some paved outings) with my Brooks Running Cascadia 5s  for quite some time and have always really enjoyed them. Plus, any shoe that still looks practically brand new after many, many miles and a year and half is clearly quality made. When Brooks told me they were sending me a pair of Cascadia 7s ($110.00) to try out, I got really excited.

“Designed from the ground up, the Cascadia 7 defines what a trail shoe should be: rugged without sacrificing runnability. Infused with Brooks technology and a bit of insight from ultrarunner Scott Jurek, this amazing piece of equipment features an asymmetric upper that anatomically wraps the foot with conforming materials, a ballistic rock shield and toe protector for dicey terrain, and four-point pivot posts that act like a suspension system for your feet. Top it off with an intuitive lug pattern and this trailblazer is ready to tackle even the toughest terrain.”

The only thing that ever bothered me about the Cascadia 5s was the fact that a size 13 just barely fit me; in fact, I had to run with extremely thin socks if the outing was going to be anything longer than a 3-4 mile run. For the Cascadia 7s, I nervously requested a size 14 (if only shoe companies made 13.5s!), but am so glad that I did. The shoes fit comfortably with all my favorite socks now and, funny enough, I can still wear my thinner socks without a problem. While roomy in the toe box, the shoes fit snugly around the arch and through the heel. I’m going to give credit to the shoe’s designers and also the asymmetrical lacing system.

Note major design changes on uppers,
more subtle underfoot.

Some other major differences between the two shoes – one, obviously, is the color. The 5s were muted and understates, while the 7s scream that they want to be seen. The asymmetrical lacing is another big difference, but even more so is what you can’t see – the firmness underfoot. The 5s are incredibly stiff, even now, which give great protection on rocky and root-filled runs, but can tire the foot on pavement. The 7s come out of the box stiff, yet much more pliable underfoot – no less protection, but way more comfort.

Based on my previous experience with the Cascadia 5s, I’m expecting to run in the 7s for a good long time. They are incredibly comfortable, protect the underfoot without beating it up, and give a great feel for the trail. Much of my training has been on cement recently (and unfortunately), but it’s a testament to the shoes that they’ve worked equally well in all situations.




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. Nice customer service!

Check out Brooks Running on Facebook and follow them on Twitter!

(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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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Brooks Running 2012 Spring Apparel

It's springtime, and finally we Midwesterners get to shed some layers and relax into some warmer weather runs. Before you know it, the mercury skyrockets and the sweat really starts pouring. Much like our Winter gear, Spring apparel has to be able to handle wide swings in temperature, be able to wick moisture like there is no tomorrow, and keep us comfortable throughout. Brooks Running are masters of this and, happily, sent an assortment of tops and bottoms to test out (check out Laima’s reviews of the women's Spring apparel at Women’s Endurance Gear).


The tops were three-fold, the Men's EZ T II ($28.00) in Atlantic, the Men's HVAC Synergy Singlet ($38.00) in Power Red, and the Men's Rev SS II ($34.00) in Atlantic/Sulphur. All three are for warmer weather running, though I had no problems staying warm on some cold mornings with the addition of arm warmers.

The EZ T II looks like a comfy t-shirt, but and feels and performs like a tech tee. A relaxed fit adds to the comfort of dryness effected by the moisture-moving fabric. For me, a necessity in tech gear is an antimicrobial fabric to reduce odors. I love that this tee is super-soft with just enough stretch.

Surprisingly, the HVAC Synergy Singlet didn’t look that bad on me – unless you’re really fit, I think that singlets look not-quite-right on most people, but Brooks has hit a home run with this one. Really a singlet for the masses, probably due to the generous cut and coverage. Though Brooks considers this top to be semi-fitted, I felt like it hung a bit more loosely than the other two tops in this test. Some great features include X-STATIC®, The Silver Fiber™, side panels that fight odor and move heat and moisture. Since many people wear singlets for hot weather running, Brooks has included strategically placed UV protection rated UPF 40+ and 360° of 3M™ Scotchlite™ retroreflectivity for low light or dark conditions.

The Men’s Rev SS II was the flashiest of the bunch. I’m really happy that Brooks is coming out with some more fashion-forward colors these days – not that I’m some sort of fastinista, but it’s still fun to play dress up and move beyond the basic blacks and whites I used to gravitate to. The sharp colors and asymmetric design, along with the semi-fitted feel make this a comfortable shirt in all conditions. The updated look and sharp fit bring style to the run, 360° of 3M™ Scotchlite™ retroreflectivity gives a measure of safety.


For bottoms, Brooks sent me two running shorts to try out. I received the Men's 5" Essential Run Short ($32.00) in Atlantic/Sulphur and the Men's Sherpa 2-in-1 Short 4.5" ($46.00). Both are extremely comfortable, though quite different from each other.

The Essential Run Short has a semi-fitted feel, with a 5" inseam on the woven moisture-transfer polyester shell. It has a sewn-in 100% moisture-transfer crepe liner for dry comfort, a drawstring, an elastic waistband with internal key/I.D. pocket, and a secure rear zip pocket is big enough to hold a slim tri-fold wallet. I never carried anything in the pockets, as I don’t like things bouncing around in my shorts, but they are there if you need them.

The Sherpa 2-in-1 have the internal supportive and chafe-resistant brief that I really like, though I would never have guessed that a boxer style liner would be so comfortable for running. The semi-fitted have a slightly shorter 4½" shell inseam (4" boxer brief inseam). Since I don’t use pockets in shorts they aren’t that useful to me, but the dual rear-holster pockets are there if you need them. More useful to me is the 360° of 3M™ Scotchlite™ retroreflectivity.

Both of these are lightweight, attractive, and functional shorts. Couldn’t go wrong with either.

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. Nice customer service!

Check out Brooks Running on Facebook and follow them on Twitter!

(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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Monday, May 28, 2012

Week 4: The North Face Endurance 50K Training

Four weeks in and I feel like I'm about to break, but Week 5 is a cutback week, so we'll have to see after that. Earlier this week (I think), I joked over at MissZippy's that I didn't know that I'd ever overtrained, as I'd never trained enough. Now I think this week was showing me I'm in a bit over my head. Run paces that were easy last week were a struggle this week and bike distances seemed more daunting. Add some ankle tendonitis and the signs are there.

That being said, with a week of less distance and time coming up, hopefully I'll recover and keep moving forward.


Monday: Core/15 Mile Ride
  • Threatening rain and a headwind no matter which way I turned made for an interesting ride. A weekend of too much food and drink was in evidence through difficulty of effort.
  • More core work from the book - not. Completely spaced it.
Tuesday: 8 Mile Run 
  • Ran loop in reverse, seemed relatively easy after a struggling start. First couple of miles my lungs feel very restricted these days, strange. Another cold morning, mid 40's, pulled out arm warmers and running underwear for extra layers.
  • A minor core workout from the book was planned in order to not be a total loser - forgot again. My Alzheimer's is coming on quicker than expected.
Wednesday: OFF
  • In to the office and the day just wouldn't end. One major negative of going in to the city is that by the time I get home off the train, it's pretty much time for the younger two to get ready for bed, while the other two have soccer, soccer, and piano. I sometimes complain about my kids, but they are really awesome, in fact.
Thursday: 14 Mile Run
  • Tough run, but uniformly difficult from start to finish. Not sure why, I didn't do anything different last night or this morning. Ran through Lyman Woods and then over to and through Hidden Lake Forest Preserve. Saw a small herd of deer at Lyman and a single at Hidden Lake -- so great to see wild animals still surviving in our neck of the woods.
Friday: Strength/Core
  • Nothing today, still feeling beat up from the run yesterday. Some tendinitis flare-up in the left ankle meant it was a day for RICE more than Insanity.
Saturday: 20 Mile Ride
  • Incredibly windy, from the east, so the vast majority of the ride was impacted. Light traffic was good, as I wasn't pushing too hard, nor could I have, with the windiness.
Sunday: Hills/Drills
  • Ate and drank too much last night, ankle still sore, plenty of reasons not to run. But I went out anyway, just to try out a new pair of Vasque Velocity 2.0s I received recently. Run was somewhat of a struggle, but Vasque were a nice surprise, much different than expected.
Weekly Totals: 59.38 miles, 6:08:22.

(Training Plan adapted from Jeff Horowitz’ Smart Marathon Training)

Monday Weigh-In -- Original Weight (Day 1): 209.6, today 207.6 - moving in the wrong direction!. Unless I really get serious with healthier eating and drinking, I'll continue to struggle - moving 200+ pounds around is just too much work.

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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Oral-B SmartSeries 5000 Video Review

Following is my video review of the Oral-B ProfessionalCare SmartSeries 5000 with SmartGuide:




This toothbrush is so easy to use. Make sure the batteries are in correctly in the Smart Guide, turn on the toothbrush, watch them sync, start brushing. Easy! Two things that using this toothbrush that are very clear to me now:
  1. I probably rarely brush for the full recommended 2 minutes.
  2. I probably press too hard for at least some portion of my dental care routine.
This thing is really amazing - not only does it tell you how you're doing, but it prompts you in two ways - the Smart Guide indicates when you should move on to another quadrant, but the power toothbrush itself pauses as an indication that you need to move on. Very cool.

I'd say that most people would brush more often using this product. Not just that, but the quality of the brushing would be a lot higher as well. As I said in the video, after using this I felt like I had just come from the dentist's cleaning.

If you're interested in buying this toothbrush, take advantage of the the mail-in rebate offered by Oral-B (Oral-B is offering a $10 mail-in rebate on select power toothbrushes April 29 through June 16, 2012. Please visit OralB.com for more information)

Learn more at the Oral-B website, Twitter and Facebook page

“I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Dad Central Consulting on behalf of Oral-B and received a product sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.”

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Friday, May 25, 2012

Bye-bye Gluten?


We’ve all heard the advertising, the success stories, and wonder—should I go gluten-free? Go to any food store now and there are shelves full of gluten-free products. It’s become big bucks, which makes me kind of leery.

There is so much gluten in every product imaginable, that gluten sensitivity is becoming a bigger concern. That doesn’t even include those who suffer from celiac disease, who actually can’t process the gluten. And now nutritionists say that even those who don't display any problematic symptoms may be better off cutting off or reducing gluten in their diet.

If you’re an endurance enthusiast, you still need carbs. Maybe gluten free is right for you, maybe not. But I would caution to stay away from gluten free products, because they are usually highly processed. Want to make sure you’re not getting gluten when ingesting carbs? Look for whole foods that are wheat-free. Here’s a list of possibilities:
  • Amaranth
  • Corn
  • Millet
  • Oats
  • Potatoes
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
All these foods are gluten free, have carbs and other nutrients you need, are readily available, and easy to make.

(Inspired by an article in Runner's World)

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

PocketFuel Naturals – Nut Butters with a Kick



Our nearly-2 year old loves pouches, the ones filled with an assortment of pureed food items that are easy to eat just about anywhere. The funny thing is that our 11-year old does as well. Well, why not adults? Why not indeed—PocketFuel Naturals fill the bill with their reusable/recyclable pouches filled with stuff adults (at least this adult) crave - 100% natural, wholefood ingredients: nuts, seeds and fruits.

“The tremendous amount of nutrition found in each PocketFuel pouch supplies the body’s nutrition requirements with whole foods. All natural almond butter is our base ingredient and is blended with a wide variation of seeds and dried fruits. PocketFuel delivers a balanced combination of simple and complex carbohydrates. The benefits are almost instantaneous boosting blood sugar, at the same time the fiber laden almonds and fruits help to sustain power output for hours. Use of both types of carbohydrates is important as they will both convert into glycogen, which is the primary energy source for your muscles. An increased glycogen level will help to maintain a high energy level.”


Available in Chocolate Haze (their NEWEST flavor), Crunchy Banana Blueberry , Chunky Coconut Cherry , Chocolate Espresso , and Chia, Goji + Honey, I received all but the first to try out. Can you say excited? As suggested on the pouches, you should squish and squeeze to blend the natural ingredients, as they may have separated out while stored. Then, untwist the cap and enjoy!


As I often do, I had the whole family try out the different flavors. Everyone except me liked the Coconut (not surprisingly), with the Crunchy Banana Blueberry the kids' favorite. My personal favorite was the Goji Honey, which had the most variety of flavor and texture, in my opinion. I really liked the Espresso on its own, though it tasted a bit bitterr after the others - it's also much thicker, which makes it harder to get out of the pouch but also less messy.

As my runs are now surpasssing the two hour mark, I'm introducing both nutrition and water. PocketFuel was the first attempt at nutrition on the run. The handful-sized pouches were easy to carry - I put them in a pocket on my hydration vest, squeezed out relatively easily, closed cleanly and basically were no problem at all. Since they are nut butter based, the paste is somewhat sticky, with that granular texture that sticks to the teeth somewhat. I simply rinsed my mouth with water - no problem! I had some of this every half hour after the first hour, and could feel a lift each time, though nothing drastic and no sugar crash after.

At 400+ calories per pouch, these would be a pretty big single serving, but if you are running, walking, or cycling far, these would be great to have along.

PocketFuel is vegan and gluten-free.




Get more info from the PocketFuel Naturals website, by liking on Facebook, and following on Twitter.

(Disclaimer: I was sent this product for free to review on my blog, courtesy of PocketFuel Naturals. 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.)

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Finding Ultra Book Review

There are some similarities between Rich Roll and myself. We’re both 46, both love water (though he was a swimmer and I was a surfer and skin diver), and we both needed to lose a lot of weight. That’s where things start to diverge. He had an epiphany and made startling changes to his life and diet. He’s now a model of fitness, well-known as a vegan endurance stud. I’m still working on both of those.


Rich’s book, Finding Ultra (New York, NY: Crown Publishing, 2012) is, as the subtitle clearly states, about his rejection of middle age, becoming one of the world’s fittest men, and discovering himself. It’s the story of moving away from a typical American middle-aged man’s life with its sloth and overeating, and moving towards fitness and health and happiness.

As I wrote earlier, one of his discoveries was that to race fast, you must train slow.  He used this to get himself into amazing shape and then went out and found some killer events to attempt. How does racing the Ultraman  sound? Covering a total distance of 320 miles (515 kilometers), on the big island of Hawaii, the race requires that each participant complete a 6.2 mile (10 K) open ocean swim, a 261.4 mile (421 K) cross-country bike ride, and a 52.4 mile (84K) ultra-marathon. If that’s not enough, what about the Epic 5? That’s Five Ironmans in Five Days on Five Islands! Truly an adventurer.

Throughout the book are references to veganism, or as Rich terms it, Plantpower. Discovery what works for him (and might for you) is sprinkled amongst the endurance adventures. Two appendices flesh it out: "The Nuts and Bolts of the Plantpower Diet" and "A Plantpower Day in the Life." Even if you have no intention of becoming fully vegan, there is a goldmine of information on how to include it in whatever diet you may follow.

(Disclaimer: I was sent this book for free to review on my blog, courtesy of Random House. 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.)

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

PetHub QR Tags

Ever want to bring your dog along when you’re camping or checking out a new preserve or forest? One worry we have is that our dog, normally well-behaved, will take off after an animal or somehow else get spooked and run away. A new service is helping make it easier for pets to stay safe – available tags are now smart! If your pet disappears, the person who finds them can use their Smartphone, scan the tag, and use GPS to help the owner of a lost pet. PetHub tags helps owners digitize their pet’s important records and make them accessible via Smartphones and the Web.


PetHub  provides pet owners with the fastest and safest way to get lost pets home. Going beyond standard ID tags, the PetHub ID tag provides immediate, one-scan access to critical information such as emergency contacts, necessary medication, allergies, immunizations, vet and insurance providers, dietary needs, and much more. Unlike microchips, anyone with a Smartphone can easily scan the PetHub ID tag or use the Web address on the front of the tag to access a pet’s critical information and immediately take proper action.


Apart from the not-very-macho pink sample we were sent, the tags are easy to use. Go to the website, fill in as much information as you have, add the pet’s photo and you’re done. Attach the tag to your dog’s leash, harness, or collar, and then anyone has the ability to help your animal get home in case they are separated from you.

Pros: Simple to use, accessible to anyone with a smartphone, small size
Cons: Tag design means it won’t work if it falls off the animal


Going beyond standard ID tags that only include a name and number, PetHub yesterday announced the addition of a 24/7, 365 days-a-year toll-free hotline to their digital ID pet tags. Requiring no ongoing subscription fees and starting at $12.95, the new toll-free number tags also feature a QR code and unique website address that provides immediate access to a pet’s emergency contact information. Anyone who calls the toll-free number after finding a lost pet will be connected to a live U.S. operator who can take immediate steps to email or call the owner to help get the pet back home. In addition, for pets living or traveling internationally, PetHub offers a toll-based number that will display alongside the toll-free number when scanned.

Even though this was sent to me to review as an outdoor product, this can obviously be used at home, if your animal wears a collar. Simple design, not overly expensive, good mental insurance if you worry about your pet being lost.

(Disclaimer: I was sent this item for free to review on my blog, courtesy of  PetHub via Michele Mehl and Deanna Leung Madden. 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.)

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Week 3: The North Face Endurance 50K Training



Monday: Core/10 Mile Ride
  • Really cold ride - 41 degrees, which on the face of it didn't seem that cold, but I added sleeves and also a light hat under my helmet just in case, but could have used tights and full-fingered gloves as well, maybe a light jacket. Much colder than expected, but still a really good ride.
  • Core baby! From the book, I did a series of V Sit-Ups, Knee Crunches, Crunches, Leg Raises, Crossover Crunches, Supermen, Windshield Wipers, Side Crunches, Side Hip Raises, and Supine Plank. Could not do a single Roll-Up and didn't even attempt Circles. No question I need this work!


Tuesday: 8 Mile Run
  • Good run, definitely felt stronger as the run went on. First run wearing the Camelbak Ultra LR Vest - I wore it empty (except for my phone), on the off chance it would be really uncomfortable, but it was actually pretty great. With the humidity and heat coming on, I need to start thinking about hydration, especially as I get towards te 2 hour run or ride mark. Happily, Camelbak sent us some hydration packs and bottles to review here and at Women's Endurance Gear.
Wednesday: OFF
  • Nice to have a free day, especially as I had my first injury, not training related though. I was outside barefoot on the driveway and kicked a soccer ball, bruising my heel on the cement. Duh. No long term damage as far as I can tell.
Thursday: 12 Mile Run
  • Felt good first six miles, struggled a bit miles 7-9, a bit of second wind, then miles 11 and 12 were tough. Last run for NBs, they'll be my everyday shoes now.
Friday: Strength/Core
  • First Insanity DVD: Plyometric Cardio Circuit - about 45 minutes long, I audited it, just learning the moves and doing everything half speed, for a total of about 25 minutes of the disc. All I have to say is that I have no doubt that, if you actually followed this program for 60 days, you would see results. It is relentless!
Saturday: 20 Mile Ride
  • First 20 miler in a while, felt decent, getting my cycling legs (and butt) back bit by bit.
Sunday: Hills/Drills
  • Same workout as last week - 9 hill repeats. Tried hitting lap on each hill repeat to measure total elevation, which worked better, but still only a total of 185 feet of elevation gain -- hard to believe that I only ran up a 20 foot hill. :)
  • Had a coyote charge out of the brush and across the hill in front of me, very cool. Fumbled too slowly with the phone to get a photo, but healthy and good looking specimen.
Weekly Totals: 53.66 miles, 5:19:55.

(Training Plan adapted from Jeff Horowitz’ Smart Marathon Training)

Monday Weigh-In -- Original Weight (Day 1): 209.6, today 206.2 - a weekend of too much food and drink torpedoed any chances of weight loss success.

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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Oral-B ProfessionalCare SmartSeries 5000 with SmartGuide


How important is dental care to you? Do you know that the state of your teeth, mouth, and gums can be a reflection of your overall state of health? What are your current toothbrush and oral care habits? I try to floss and brush twice a day, and use a cleaning product like Listerine after brushing and also at work. Most days it’s only in the morning though. Do I have great teeth? My dentist says they are okay, but I could do more. Nothing major like gingivitis, not too much plaque, but there is some discoloration (hello coffee and red wine!) and definitely some decay. Though I urge my children to take care of their teeth, I’m afraid I’m not really a good example to them. I try to let them see that brushing teeth isn’t that difficult and can actually be fun and hope they’re inspired.

I was recently sent the Oral-B ProfessionalCare SmartSeries 5000 with SmartGuide to try out. I can see how using the Oral-B ProfessionalCare 5000 improve your oral care habits, as it lets me know how long I’ve been brushing, when it’s time to move to a new quadrant, and makes sure the teeth are cleaned in each direction. For someone who’s not consistent (like me), this product could be the answer.

Very high-tech, especially to someone who has always used a manual toothbrush. Wireless communication? Wow.

The nitty-gritty:
  • The Oral-B ProfessionalCare SmartSeries 5000 with SmartGuide is Oral-B’s most technologically advanced toothbrush providing the most advanced cleaning technology for ultimate plaque removal and also features a wireless SmartGuide.
  • A pressure indicator lights up when brushing too hard.
  • Cleaning action: Provides 40,000 pulsations and 8,800 oscillations per minute which helps remove up to two times more plaque than a regular manual toothbrush, thus preventing and reversing gingivitis.
  • Whitening: While the ProfessionalCare SmartSeries 5000 with SmartGuide is gentle on teeth and gums. It also offers outstanding whitening and polishing in 3 weeks.**
  • Customized brushing modes: Daily Clean, Sensitive, Whitening, Massage and Deep Clean.
  • Brush head design: Provides a unique clean with the compact, round brush head that surrounds each tooth for a tooth-by-tooth clean. The pressure indicator lights up when you’re brushing too hard.
    • Indicator® bristles: Remind you to replace your brush head every 3 months, once they’ve faded halfway.
    • Replace brush head alert: Signals when you’re 10 days away from needing a replacement.
  • The set includes: 1 handle, 1 SmartGuide, 1 Smart Charger, 1 base station, 1 Pro White™ Brush Head with polishing cup that whitens teeth by removing surface stains,1 Oral-B FlossAction® Brush Head which offers outstanding interdental cleaning, and 1 travel case.
  • Professional wireless timer with quadrant prompt: Every 30 seconds, a brief signal will encourage thorough brushing of all four quadrants of your mouth. At the end of two minutes, a longer signal indicates when the dental expert recommended brushing time period has been reached.
  • Base station: The ProfessionalCare SmartSeries 5000 can be displayed on your bathroom counter. The base station also features a toothbrush holder with protective cover.
  • Also comes with a travel toothbrush case which is designed to protect your brush anywhere you go.
  • Availability: Oral-B ProfessionalCare SmartSeries 5000 is available at department, retail and specialty stores nationwide at a suggested retail price of $159.99.
I’ll be trying out this new gizmo over the next couple of weeks and will report back later – initial results are promising!

If you know you’re interested, take advantage of the mail-in rebate offered by Oral-B (Oral-B is offering a $10 mail-in rebate on select power toothbrushes April 29 through June 16, 2012. Please visit OralB.com for more information.)

Visit the Oral-B website, Twitter and Facebook pages to learn more.

And what good is a tooth-based blog post without a dancing toothbrush? For your viewing pleasure:






“I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Dad Central Consulting  on behalf of Oral-B and received a product sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.”

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Swedish FireKnife

Not sure about the ladies, but pretty much every boy and man likes playing with sharp objects and fire. Put the two together and you've got a Holy Grail of outdoor fun. Enter the Swedish FireKnife.


The Swedish FireKnife is a colorful outdoor knife with FireSteel® fire starter. It is a collaboration between Light My Fire  and Mora of Sweden,  who have made top-notch knives for 120 years.

Colorful, yes. Useful, yes. But this is more than just an extremely sharp, flexible and sturdy all-around knife: the handle contains a fire starter. In other words, you can gut and clean a fish, split kindling and light a campfire with one single handy tool.

The FireKnife includes a sheath with clip, a high-friction rubber handle (easy to grip), and an embedded FireSteel® firestarter in the handle, so it’s a compact all-in-one unit. The firestarter is of magnesium alloy, so it works when wet. Outdoor geek warning: the FireKnife starter produces a 2,980°C (5,400°F) spark – that’ll get your campfires, gas-stoves, and gas-barbecues going!


It’s pretty lightweight and the handy sheath clip means you can attach it to your belt or backpack and carry it along. Initially I was skeptical of the Cyan Blue color (it also comes in an orange, green, red or conservative black version), but there is no way to misplace this when it pretty much glows in the dark, so that's definitely a positive.

Pretty simple to use – get some flammable material, twist out the firestarter from the handle, then drag the blade across the firestarter to create sparks. Voila, flame!



Check out the makers of the Swedish FireKnife on Facebook  and YouTube.

(Disclaimer: I was sent this knife for free to review on my blog, courtesy of Light My Fire, via Asylum PR.  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.)

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Runner's Guide to Yoga Book Review


The Runner's Guide to Yoga: A Practical Approach to Building Strength and Flexibility for Better Running, by Sage Rountree is a really great reference for those new to yoga and I suspect, seasoned practitioners. The book aims to show “how yoga can prevent and control running injuries, how yoga can make you feel and look better, and how yoga can give you new focus and tenacity with a direct positive effect on your running.”

The book includes a seemingly endless array of poses, both easy and difficult, includes focused routines and also pre-run and post-effort sequences. Following along in the book will instruct you in dynamic warm-ups and cooldowns, poses for typical runners’ weaknesses, such as hips, calves, and hamstrings, and breath/meditation exercises to sharpen mental focus.

In the old days, runners simply laced up their sneakers and ran, maybe followed by a cigarette and a donut. Since then, runners have embraced stretching, both static and dynamic, started focusing on nutrition, and realized the importance of recovery. It is inevitable that yoga and other eastern practices will find their place in running practice (see my review of the book Running With the Mind of Meditation). The Runner’s Guide to Yoga is the perfect resource to add it to your practice.

(Disclaimer: I was sent this book for free to review on my blog, courtesy of VeloPress. 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.)

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

TazRunning.com Race Pace Tattoos

Owen is a marathon runner who created TazRunning.com,  a website, that, among other things, allows runners to create a free pace chart that has split times that adjust based on the specific elevation changes of a particular race. The pace charts can be printed out or ordered as a temporary tattoo to put on an arm.


What’s with the name “TazRunning?”

“When I was 18 I got a tattoo of the Tasmanian Devil on my back. A few people gave me the nickname 'Taz', which I used as my Fantasy Football team name. So when I was looking for a name for my company, I wanted something short and memorable, and that's what I came up with.“

Owen’s main purpose of building the website really was to help runners. The interactive maps help you estimate when you'll be at a particular mileage marker, letting your supporters know when to be there to cheer you on. The altitude charts help compare races so you know what you're getting yourself into. Almost everything on the site is free of charge. The pace charts are completely free and customized to the specific race. The only thing on the site that is not free are the tattoos, and that's because tattoo paper is VERY expensive.


When someone requests a race be added, it is usually available in less than 24 hours (sometimes within an hour). I requested that Owen add The North Face Endurance Challenge 50K in Madison to the website and, armed with the runners’ packet, he created a map and pace chart, which takes into account the elevation changes that are so prevalent on this course. He also gave me a promo code to order (for free) a couple of race tattoos. I ordered 2 differing times for the 50K and I’ll wear one on each arm. One is based on my expected time, while the other is a slightly faster, more optimistic goal. Can’t wait to try them out!

Check out TazRuninng on Facebook, and follow on Twitter.
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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Keep It Clean: Bike Washing


Spring is fully here and, rain or shine, many of us are taking to the streets and trails on our bikes in order to train for a bike race, to cross train for running or another sport, or, just enjoy being outside. Don't put off maintaining your steed, however -- take care of it and it will take care of you. Here are 5 tips to keeping your bike clean and ready to ride:

"Cut off the top of a plastic water bottle. Fill it with a water-based degreaser, like Simple Green, and place it in your seat-tube bottle cage (for easy access). Use a paintbrush to apply the degreaser to the chain. Finish by holding a soapy sponge around the chain and turning the cranks. Hose off the excess and let it dry." —Adrian Hedderman, head mechanic, Colavita/Forno D'Asolo pro cycling team

"Every third or fourth wash, give your frame and fork a layer of car wax. I like Meguiar's Cleaner Wax. It restores the paint's luster and keeps road tar and bugs from sticking." —Steven Sperling, head mechanic, United-Healthcare pro cycling team

"Clean a grimy cassette or freewheel: Remove the wheel, and lay it flat with cogs up. Dampen the edge of a rag with solvent and pull it back and forth between each cog. No need to rotate the wheel; the freewheel keeps the cogs moving." —Jim Langley, author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop

"Braking causes aluminum rims to oxidize, leaving a layer of grit that can contaminate brake pads. Every 100 miles, more often if you ride in wet conditions, wipe your rims with a dry cloth." —Tori Bortman, owner of Gracie's Wrench in Portland, Oregon

"I prefer natural Tampico bristle brushes. Unlike nylon ones, they don't hold dirt, grease, or oil. Rinse the grime out of the bristles before moving on to the next part, and you can attack a filthy drivetrain and a mud-spattered frame with the same brush." —Bernard Kocis, team mechanic, United-Healthcare pro cycling team

Originally posted at http://www.bicycling.com/

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Week 2: The North Face Endurance 50K Training

Week 2 in the books. More inclement weather, more variation in the plan, continued success in the new plant-based eating--vegan is definitely not all that difficult! Still a bit reliant on processed carbs, like tortillas, bagels, and so on, but not missing meat at all. Pizza is the one thing I still want. There are some decent vegan cheeses, so if I really want it, I can approximate it.


Monday: Core/10 Mile Ride
  • Rain, rain, go away, come back again after I've finished my ride--no such luck today, unfortunately, but no worries, ran 7 miles on the treadmill instead. Ever watched "Law Abiding Citizen?" This is one movie where I definitely sided with the "bad guy" Gerard Butler, who takes justice into his own hands, rather than rooting on the "good guys," aka Jamie Foxx, the DA.
Tuesday: 7 Mile Run
  • Another cool morning, but actually pretty nice for a ride. Sun came up as I was riding, minimal traffic, all in all a nice 10 miler. I'm thinking I kind of like this Monday/Tuesday switch--might be a different story once I'm into the meat of the plan, following a day of speedwork with a ride might feel better than another run. Wait and see.
  • Core: none. No excuses.
Wednesday: OFF
  • One of the few times I've looked forward to going into the office, but only because I knew I was meeting Gaigai for her field trip on the Chicago River architectural cruise. It was a slightly overcast, cool day, but looking at historic architecture never gets old, and really a different way of seeing it from the water.
Thursday: 10 Mile Run
  • This run was all about keeping the pace slower, more even,not allowing myself to run ahead of the right pace. Ended up being a good run, with plenty left in the tank. If I can continue with this controlled training, I have no doubt I can finish the 50K. The best laid plans...
Friday: Strength/Core
  • FINALLY got an Insanity DVD from the library, got ready, popped it into the player and...wrong DVD! It was an Insanity title, but it was recovery, not intensity. This day had started off poorly and this was just a continuation. Took it back to the library and went on with my day.
Saturday: 15 Mile Ride
  • Garmin died immediately after starting, odd. A light rain started falling, no big deal, but once I saw lightning, cut the planned 15 miles a bit short - 13.5 miles in all.
Sunday: Hills/Drills
  • 9 x slower hill repeats, started off tough, but felt stronger as it went on. For some odd reason I've always enjoyed running hill repeats. Garmin says I only had 84 feet of elevation gain, not sure how they calculate it, but I know that I ran up a hill that is more than 8.5 feet high. :)
Weekly Totals: 44.83 miles, 4:32:12.

(Training Plan adapted from Jeff Horowitz’ Smart Marathon Training)

Monday Weigh-In -- Original Weight (Day 1): 209.6, today 205.6, good to see the weight continue moving in the right direction.

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Friday, May 11, 2012

Running Underground

You know SuperKate,  right? She’s the adventure-seeking, long distance running (and cycling and paddling), endurance racing mom who seems to be pretty much up for anything. Well, amazingly enough, she has never (as far as I can tell) mentioned running underground, even though there’s just such a race in her very own backyard (well, not literally her backyard, but close).


According to the Sand Mine Challenge  race website, "Sperunking: noun [spi-run-kin] – is the act of exploring caves while running, hurdling obstacles, crawling and tip-toeing through quicksand." The four mile course is completely underground and sounds like it hews to the spirit of sperunking pretty closely. Regardless of the weather outside, the cave stays a cool 56 degrees, not bad for running. The race is held in Crystal City, MO, in a mine that once supplied sandstone to the area’s glass manufacturers.

The 2012 edition was held in February, which also makes it an unusual race for Midwesterners used to bundling up for a race at that time of year. If you’re 14 years of age or older, feel free to consider this for next year. Chances are SuperKate will register once she finishes reading this.

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Running With the Mind of Meditation Book Review

In 1994 or 1995, I was first fully exposed to the power of meditation. Though I had been intrigued for some time, I never really followed through my interest. I finally took the plunge and enrolled in a weekend retreat at The Buddhist Temple of Chicago. Two days of silence, apart from the teacher’s instruction, plus time to fully accept being in the moment was an amazing experience. Since that time, my meditation practice has been more off than on, but parts of it have stuck with me. This is especially true in running—one of my favorite exercises from that weekend was walking meditation, and many aspects of that I employ when running.


Recently I was sent a review copy of Sakyong Mipham’s book Running With the Mind of Meditation, an introductory explanation of meditation and how it can be related to running. Very simply written, understandable by anyone, it is a good primer for applying meditation principles to both everyday life as well as endurance training. “Building a base was a process of taking what I already had—my own lungs, muscles, bones, and tendons—training them to run, and gradually increasing their ability.” Mipham has a clear way of stating what is obvious, but so easily missed. Humorous passages remind us to remain in the here and now: “Obviously it is not good to keep checking your watch, as you might discover you have supernatural powers that can slow down time.” So often we forget to celebrate our accomplishments and simple ability to move our bodies--“(W)hen we exert ourselves toward positive endeavors, we should not grimace, but rather have the joy of an elephant jumping into a pool of cool water on a hot, dusty day.”

This book simply and eloquently presents simple steps to adding meditation both to your personal life as well as your endurance efforts. If you have the opportunity, I suggest you take a look at this book as a way to see how meditation can be applied to your life and your sport. If you want to win a copy, head over to Women’s Endurance Gear.


About the Author: Sakyong Mipham  is the leader of Shambhala, a worldwide network of meditation and retreat centers. He's also an avid marathon runner and golfer, he frequently retreats to study at a Tibetan monastery in India, and he writes a regular column in the Shambhala Sun. The author of the bestselling titles Ruling Your World and Turning the Mind Into an Ally, Sakyong Mipham was named one of the thirty global visionaries of our time by Planet magazine. He spends his time teaching all over the world, using his unique blend of Eastern and Western perspectives to the benefit of his students in North and South America, Europe, and Asia.

(Disclaimer: I was sent this book for free to review on my blog, courtesy of Random House. 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.)

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Half Marathon Training Plans



Laima and I are officially registered for The North Face Endurance Challenge – Madison.  Laima opted for the half marathon (her first on trails!), while I am running the 50K, my first ultra, and have started a 20 week training plan that I adapted from the Smart Marathon Training book.

I suggested to Laima that she use one of the half marathon training plans from the book and write about it over at Women’s Endurance Gear, but she hasn’t made a definite decision yet. She’s still looking for a program that really speaks to her. One problem is that there are just so many to choose from.

Have any of you used a half marathon training plan that you thought was really dynamite?

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Shit Triathletes Say (and Don't)


Triathletes, like cyclists and ultrarunners, all have their quirks. Hopefully you've seen some of the  videos out there that poke fun at each of these subcultures. If not, here are a couple - enjoy.




Triathlete Magazine also has a funny version of “Shit Triathletes Don’t Say,” but unfortunately, they don’t have any way to embed it. Check it out by clicking on the link:


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Monday, May 7, 2012

Week 1: The North Face Endurance 50K Training

Not the first week I had in mind, though nothing was overtly wrong. The major snag was that I had to go into work Monday, Tuesday, AND Wednesday, which was totally different than just the Wednesday I had envisioned. But, adapt and move on.


Monday: Core/10 Mile Ride
  • Wet, cold, and windy, definitely not my cup of tea for cycling, so I stayed inside and rode on the rollers. It's been a while and I definitely felt unsteady, so I took it easy and opted not to click into my pedals. Hopefully we'll have some improved weather so I can get outside again - hard to believe that March was warmer than April this year!
  • I had planned on doing some core work when I got home from work, but with one family thing after another, totally spaced it. Kind of bummed as it might be the most important thing for me to work on.
Tuesday: 7 Mile Run
  • Decent run, better than expected actually. Short sleeves and shorts - maybe the cold weather runs are finally finished here in the Midwest? This was a straight loop run along some bigger roads in our suburb.
Wednesday: OFF
  • With the family showing signs of illness this week, this was a welcome morning off. Still had the normal guilt over not doing some kind of exercise. :)
  • Sore throat and stuffy head did not bode well, hoping that I stayed healthy enough to stay the course.


Thursday: 8 Mile Run
  • Sore throat, stuffy head, but nothing enough to stop me from getting out. Not too many cars at 4:30, but plenty at 6 o'clock, when I was cooling down. Took off to too fast as usual, struggled during mile 3 and absolutely suffered during miles 7 and 8.
Friday: Strength/Core
  • Just never got to it today - between work and getting ready to head over to Michigan for some family R and R, didn't carve out the time.


Saturday: 15 Mile Ride
  • So nice to get up early and ride through SW Michigan farm country. Apart from riding over the Interstate, I saw the same amount of moving cars as I did moving animals - nine. Beautiful morning for it. After a morning exploring the local area, Little Worker and I lay down to rest while the rest of the family headed for the lake. Laima and the kids had some fun down on the beach -- water was WAY too cold for swimming (NOAA says surface temps were in upper 30's), but plenty of sand for the kids to move around while Laima ran stairs for a hill workout.
Sunday: Hills/Drills
  • One of my favorite hill workouts, running up and down the sand dunes - today was a combination of half dune, half stairs, which gave me good variety to keep the workout fun.
Weekly Totals: 42.44 miles, 4:14:25.

(Training Plan adapted from Jeff Horowitz’ Smart Marathon Training)

Monday Weigh-In -- Original Weight (Day 1): 209.6, today 207.8 - this early weight loss could be blind luck or water loss, so I'm not overly excited, but at least it's headed in the right direction! Apart from a pizza dinner when we got to Michigan, a week of full-on vegan eating, which becomes easier and easier every day.

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Friday, May 4, 2012

Stay Out of the Medical Tent


Clearly Lindsay could teach me a thing or two

Springtime and, if you haven’t started your racing season yet, it’s probably coming up soon. The January/February 2012 issue of Inside Triathlon had some good tips on making sure you finish strong and stay out of the medical tent:
  1. Perform an at-home sweat-test – properly replacing fluids can help you avoid GI issues such as nausea, cramping, or diarrhea.
  2. Nail your nutrition – in training, find what works for you both with fuel and liquid replacement, and then stick to the plan.
  3. Increase your sodium – both before and after a long effort, increase your sodium for a few days as a way of banking some extra, but don’t overdo it.
  4. Determine your salty status – figure out how much sodium you need to replace during the event by having a lab measure your sodium loss using a sweat test. No lab nearby? If you have salt deposits on your clothes after working out or your sweat tastes salty, you may need to increase your intake.
  5. Don’t overdo it on water – use drinks that have electrolytes during training and racing; too much water can lead to hyponatremia. How to check? Your pee should be pale yellow – if not, increase or decrease water intake.
  6. Practice in your gear – the old adage stands, never race in anything new.
  7. Dress for the heat – lighter colors and a hat can keep your core temperature down. For increased heat, put ice in your hat.
  8. Adjust for the wind – by attempting to follow a race plan too closely in more difficult conditions, you run the risk of dehydration and exhaustion.
Any other tips for staying strong during a race?

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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Scott Jurek: Vegan Phenom


Source: Daily Mail

Check out a new video (sent to me courtesy of Double Forte) released by Team CLIF Bar ultrarunner and 7-time Western States 100 champion, Scott Jurek, where he talks about racing, winning, running with the Tarahumara and coming to terms with what running means to him.




About Scott Jurek:

In 1999, he took the lead of the Western States Endurance Run, a 100-mile traverse over the old Gold Rush trails of the California Sierra Nevada. He won that race seven years in a row, setting a course record along the way. Twice he won the Badwater Ultramarathon, a 135-mile “jaunt” through Death Valley. He triumphed in the 153-mile Spartathlon in Greece three times. And he was one of the elite runners who traveled to Mexico to run with the Tarahumara Indians, as profiled in the runaway bestseller Born to Run. His accomplishments are nothing short of extraordinary, but that he has achieved all of this on a plant-based diet makes his story all the more so.

In his new book, Eat and Run, Scott Jurek opens up about his life and career—as an elite athlete and a vegan—and inspires runners at every level. Scott’s book is set for release on June 5.

I’ve requested a review copy, so hopefully I’ll have a post up about it very soon.

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Let Them Paddle Book Review


Let Them Paddle: Coming of Age on the Water (Golden, CO: Fulcrum Books, 2012) is a book I approached with some trepidation. First, it’s a coming of age story, which, as a father of four, is a scary future that awaits me. Second, the type size in this book is incredibly small, which made it seem more difficult to read than it ultimately was. Once I started reading, however, I was captivated.

Let Them Paddle is the recounting of three canoeing trips, each one celebrating one of the author’s children. The rivers are chosen based on the river that Kesselheim and his wife paddled while she was pregnant. Each trip is unique, much like each child, and is an opportunity for Kesselheim to relate some family history, as well as some local lore, plus add in some environmental observations. It all adds up to wide-ranging literature that draws you in.

I can empathize with Kesselheim, at least as a father and his need for some quiet time: On his son (though for me it could relate to any of my four): “He alternates between making me proud and driving me crazy.” My children are often shocked and amazed that I get up so early each day, usually well before dawn: ”I’m in no rush, but the crack between night and day is my sanctuary, a coffee-infused still spot before the downriver enterprise lurches on.” I'm sure many parents can relate.


Do you want to know how impactful this book can be? While I was reading it, I was charged with excitement to start paddling again – it’s been 5 years since we sold our canoe in Florida and moved north. Our oldest son doesn’t remember paddling the bayou near our St Petersburg home and that makes me somewhat sad. But we have paddling water near us, both rivers and lakes, including Lake Michigan. So I did what any person would do after reading this book – I got a canoe. Luckily, my in-laws have some from their years in Scouting, so it was simply a matter of driving to their house, rooting through the overgrown storage area behind the garage, digging up some paddles, and strapping it to the roof of my car. Cannot wait to get out on the water!

About The Author: "Alan S. Kesselheim lives with his family in Bozeman, Montana. He is a contributing editor to Canoe magazine and writes for a number of other publications. He and his wife, Marypat Zitzer, have canoed the Far North several times, explored southwestern deserts, pedaled thousands of miles on bike tours, skied and backpacked through the Rockies, and hiked the Appalachian Trail. They lecture extensively about their wilderness adventures."

(Disclaimer: I was sent this book for free to review on my blog, courtesy of Fulcrum Books. 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.)

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Survival Straps Product Review


There are myriad situations where it would be helpful, useful, or even necessary to carry a length of rope with you. However, having enough along might mean carrying a backpack, duffel, or other storage bag. And, this only works if you have the container with you. Enter Survival Straps bracelets.


"Survival Straps are stylish bracelets made in America from super strong military spec paracord which gives them a secondary purpose. In an emergency situation, unravel the bracelet to deploy the paracord to help get you out of a jam.

Features:
  • Made from several feet of super strong military spec paracord.
  • The Stainless Steel Shackle makes your bracelets adjustable on your wrist.
  • A Break away pin is included for safety.
  • Unravel the bracelet in an emergency anytime when super strong rope can help you out.
  • If you use it in an emergency situation, we will send you a new one for free!"



Survival Bracelets sent me several different bracelets to try out, along with a Wounded Warrior key fob. Tazer and I drooled over the packages, as we're both outdoor gear nuts (the apple doesn't fall from the tree!). I chose the understated olive bracelet, while he got the Wounded Warrior Project in black.

One thing I really like is their support of the Wounded Warrior Project.


What we do for Wounded Warrior Project and why we do it:
50% of the proceeds from the Wounded Warrior Project Survival Straps gear goes directly to them. You can find the Wounded Warrior Project line of gear under the "Shop Collections" menu. In addition, a portion of every purchase from our website goes towards our support for our nations heroes through both monetary and product donations. We have (a) counter (...) that will keep track of the money and product that we have raised to date.


Why do we do this?
We are extremely passionate in our support for our Men and Women in uniform. We realize that we are able to lay our heads down on our pillows safely at night because of the work that they do. We must honor those who serve our country and protect our freedom. They come from all walks of life and from every part of our country. We really hope that our customers use our gear as a vehicle to show support for the members of our armed services and to help spread the word about the needs they have. Just as they have stood tall for our country, we must always stand by and support the Men and Women in uniform and their families.


Many of these brave Men and Women now need all of our help. That is why we have partnered with the Wounded Warrior Project. The struggles that our wounded soldiers face when they get back home from Iraq and Afghanistan are enormous. We are a small company, but we hope to do something big in raising awareness and dollars for our Men and Women who have sacrificed so much for us.“








Survival Straps are the real deal - super strong cord in case of emergency, but not so clunky you can't wear them on a daily basis. You can get them in a multitude of custom color combinations to suit your wardrobe or support your favorite cause or team. The stainless steel shackle is both tough looking and effective in keeping the bracelet on your wrist. These are really high quality and, should you ever have a real-life emergency situation, it may save your life. THEN you can get a new one for free! How cool is that? Even if you don't want to wear this everywhere, attaching one to your backpack, boat, or even just opting for the key fob will give you a measure of safety.


(Disclaimer: I was sent these  for free to review on my blog, courtesy of Survival Straps. 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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