Brandon's (and his family's)Big Adventures

We, as a family, press on towards the goal

Mercy Run – 8 Miles in Run Branca Sandals

Posted on September 25th, 2011 by Brandon

Mercy Run – 8 Miles in Run Branca Sandals

Run number 6 of 7 races with the wired jaw was the Mercy Run in Greenville, Michigan.  As a fund raiser for the homeless and hungry of Montcalm County I couldn’t resist to run this race.  It was also the inaugural race on the newly complete Fred Meijer Flat River trail that encircles the city of Greenville.  Everything about this race felt right going into it.  A hometown advantage of sorts since this is a community I have served as a Paramedic for over 8 years.  My wife and her friend Sara decided to run this as well the week leading up to the race.  Going into the race I figured there would be a lot of local runners, because I saw the entries at the Lowell Pink Quiver run and had heard about it for at least 2 months.  I was surprised at the small turnout.

Mercy Run - Greenville, MI

Mercy Run - Greenville, MI

We arrived 45 minutes early and walked into the Have Mercy center and was greeted personally by the Race Director and many of his awesome volunteers.  Do to the local papers article about raising food by running 50 miles they treated me like a celebirty including a photo with the race director and Bib #1 which was saved for me.  The attention was overwhelming, but appreciated.  I was also asked to sign my first autograph on a copy of the article that they had saved out as inspiration.  Their ministry relates to the food drive and they understand and live the need.  I appreciate them and what they do everyday to impact Montcalm County.

First Autograph

The race participants gathered at the end of the drive way and there were maybe 30 people starting the 8 mile race with a smaller group in the 5K fun run, and one relay team.  Being its first year the Race Director did a great job marking the course, timing the event, and having very cheerful volunteers.

Mercy Run Start - Greenville, MI

Mercy Run Start - Greenville, MI

Paved bike trail for 7 miles with a lap around Baldwin lake was the make up of the entire course.  One hill greeted us about 2 miles into the course and it was a welcome sight as it looked out over a beautiful field where some of the runners saw deer and other wild life.

Fred Meijer Flat River Trail - Open Field

Fred Meijer Flat River Trail - Open Field

Choosing a pair of shoes for this race was tough.  I wanted to run the race barefoot, but with so many unknowns and the fear of blisters from running too fast with bad form I choose to test out new foot coverings.  Run Branca running sandals are my second pair of running sandals this summer.  I found the sandals on another site where they were part of a giveaway.  I didn’t win the giveaway, but was interested in them to run in so I purchased a pair to try out.  I recieved the Run Branca Sandals on Friday and customized them to my feet just 8 hours before the race.  They come pre-laced and just need to be cut to the correct length based on a marker outline of your feet.  I donned them and tied them a little differently than advertized and toed the line.  The tread on the sandals makes them great for trail, but also great for asphalt.  After the intiall “Are you going to run in those?” people just saw the bottoms as I ran.  The feeling of running in sandals went away after about 1/2 mile.  It feels different in a good way.  The fresh air keeps the feet cooled and free.  There wasn’t the flopping noise that I so despised with the other sandals I tried this summer.

Run Branca Sandals- How not to tie them

Run Branca Sandals- How not to tie them

The thickness of the Branca’s is what makes them different.  They are made of 5mm Vibram Newflex sole which is the newest sole from makers of the five finger shoes.  The harder less flexable sole makes it perfect for sandals because it doesn’t take trade ground feel for protection, but also doesn’t flop under your feet.  It also wasn’t designed as a “rock guard” like the sole of the Five Fingers.  It just works.  As I ran the strap across the ankle worked well to hold the foot in place on the sandal.  Its flexibility does allow for some movement of the foot on top of the rubber sole.  This was the only area I had issues.  I tied the shoes behind the ankle leaving the top of my foot to move and that in turn allowed for too much movement.  My toes blistered the end of the sandals as they rubbed back and forth.  I will take responsibility for these do to not following directions for tying across the top of the foot which limits the amount of forward movement.

Run Branca Sandals - Traction

Run Branca Sandals - Traction

Run Branca- Back of Sandal

Run Branca- Strap across Back of Sandal

Run Branca Sandals- Minimalist Running shoe

Run Branca Sandals

Running 8 miles in the sandals seamed effortless.  Weighing only 3.8 oz’s is like running in socks and the sole protects your feet from the ground.  I would recommend them for running trail, roads, or beach.  They allow the feet to breath,  allow for more ground feel than many of the other minimalist shoes on the market, and will last a runner a long time.   They look better for the beach and other casual wearing as well.  The professional look and logo on the back make them look more like a commonly acceptable sandal and less like a cut piece of tire strapped to your foot by leather.

Finishing the 8 mile in 1 hour 1 minute was incredible.  Running hard for over an hour with my jaw wired shut is getting easier and with only one race to go it makes me ponder on how much faster I could be without the wires.  I didn’t win an age group medal or anything, but was very happy with the time and the experience of running for such a great cause.

For more information on Run Branca Sandals check out their website at

Sarah edging out Emily at the Finish

Sarah edging out Emily at the Finish

Congratulations to Sarah for getting 3rd place in her age group!  It was her first 8 mile race.

Worn Out Zensah Sleeves – Review

Posted on August 17th, 2011 by Brandon

Worn Out Zensah Sleeves – Review

Over the course of a thousand miles products just wear out.  That is what has happened to my to my poor Zensah leg sleeves.  They were originally purchased at Gazelle Sports last year to combat my shin splints.  They worked okay for shin splints, but they didn’t cure me.  I continued to use them throughout all my races and most of my training.  They became a must have running tool.  Any run over 20 miles they protected my calf muscles.  Sometimes they protected me more against pickers and bugs then they did anything else.  At least that is what I thought. 

The Three Amigo's coming into Station Road Bridge Aid Station - Burning River 100

The Three Amigo's coming into Station Road Bridge Aid Station

The idea behind any type of compression product is the increase in blood flow and decrease in swelling.  This happens by not allowing space for fluid to build up, thus allowing for less swelling which allows more blood to flow.  After my first 50K last August the sleeves were okay, but became just simply another product to wear while running.  I didn’t notice anything special about them because I always wore them.  My shins hurt and my calf muscles were sore, but never as sore as my quads or hamstrings. 

I decided one day this summer to run a long run without them.  I didn’t notice too much of a difference until the next day when my calf muscles were sore.  Something I hadn’t experienced.  Now having experienced this discomfort I do my best to make sure my black Zensah sleeves are with me on every race. 

Nothing can test a product like 100 miles.  While packing for the race my Zensah sleeves were packed right with my running shorts, and tech shirt so I wouldn’t forget.  I am glad I didn’t.  As I raced I looked around and noticed not that many runners wearing compression socks or sleeves.  I noticed a good number, but in Ultra running a good number might be 20 out of the 300 runners.  I proudly wore my worn out sleeves and hoped they would keep my legs fresh for the long haul.   Over the course of a day I never felt my calf muscles or shins.  On hills I had strength and on flats I had kick.  I didn’t expect to have anything left after 70 miles, but I had a burst of nitrous yet to be released.  The fresh legs were the only reason I ran nine minute miles in the last 20 miles.  They were the only reason I was able to pass over 150 people. 

I call them worn out not because I need a new pair, but because they have spent a lot of time on my legs.  They have spent more time on my body then any other piece of running appearal.  They have been with me for all of my ultras.  From 50K to 100 miles they have compressed my lower legs. 

Relaxing after Burning River 100 2011

Zensah sleeves on my legs

Recovery with Zensah compression shorts.  My first impression of my shorts were they were way too hot, but this was for running in 80+ degrees.  They are perfect for recovery.  Its really hard to find someone who will massage my hip flexors, so the shorts work great at keeping the blood flowing to these hard to reach muscles.  After 100 miles I wore the shorts the 5 hours home.  It amazed me how great my hips moved the next day.  I didn’t have “Doll Hips” like I expected.  What a great recovery product.  So now after running I will become a walking bill board for Zensah with logos on all of my clothing.  This isn’t because they pay me, but because I should be paying them for the products that make recovery so much better. 

Do you wear compression clothing?  Have you ever tried it?  What clothing have you tried and why did you like/not like it?


RunAmoc Dash- Minimalist Trail Shoes for Ultra Marathons

Posted on August 9th, 2011 by Brandon

RunAmoc Dash- Minimalist Trail Shoes for Ultra Marathons


Ultra Marathon Shoes- RunAmoc Dash

After 100 miles- Field Tested Runner Approved -RunAmoc Dash

Deciding which pair of shoes to run 100 miles in is probably worse for a runner than a bride trying to pick out that perfect pair of shoes to get married in.  The main reason its worse is the fact if the bride doesn’t like the feel of her shoes she is just going to kick them off and dance the night away.  I wasn’t going to have the option of running barefoot for the remainder of 100 miles.

My choice of the RunAmoc Dash from Soft Star shoes was probably the single best decision I made for first ultra race.  I tested the shoes out on a 40 mile training run with socks and no socks.  I learned a valuable lesson during that training run. Brandon is always a sock guy.  The Dash doesn’t have a sock liner or really any fancy smooth cloth lining it.  It is straight up leather with a lot of holes punched in it to make it breathe.  It uses two different colors of leather to make it look a little stylish, but to me it looked more like a golf shoe than a running shoe, all the more reason why I liked this shoe.


RunAmoc Dash's in Water - Burning River 2011

RunAmoc Dash's in Water - Burning River 2011

The idea of running trail in minimalist shoes is repulsive to many in ultra community.  They make it seem it is all about the rock plate, the cushion, the tread, and the ankle support.  The Dash proves them all wrong.  It ain’t got no rock plate, ain’t go no cushion, its got as much tread as a spatula, and ankle support isn’t something they even dreamed of adding.  So why would any common sense runner want to wear this shoe for 100 miles?

No rock plate, the idea behind minimalist is to be as close to barefoot as possible.  By adding a solid membrane to the bottom of your foot is like adding another bone or hard object that is unbendable or prevents your foot from bending normally.  The rock plate also decreases ground feel so your brain doesn’t get accurate information.  No rock plate equals great ground feel, less weight, and realistic barefoot movement.

No Cushion, well sort of.  With 5mm of Vibram Rubber under your foot it does give you some cushion, but compared to the 1 inch heals on most trail shoes it is not comparable.  Sure those fancy trail shoes feel like you are running on pillows, but the cushion actually takes up energy in each stride, thus making it harder to run.  When you plant your heel into the dirt the shock absorber does just that, not allowing the full release of energy.  The cushion also causes me to be a major heel striker, again causing me to lose energy like pressing the break pedal down with every stride.  With 5mm of protection it is just enough protection against the lime stone, gravel, shale, and other hard unforgiving surfaces I endured to protect my feet, but not over cushion them.  My stride was normal and I didn’t heel strike “as much”.  I used a lot less energy with every stride because the shoe didn’t take most of it.

No 4×4 all terrain tread.  Who needs 4×4 tread on the bottom of your shoes?  Oh that’s right, the trail shoe people, because the cushion makes it hard for them to land soft enough to maintain traction.  The flat bottoms of the RunAmoc did incredible.  One hundred miles tested it on asphalt, river crossings over shale rock (times 6 or 8), wet dew covered grass, and loose gravel.  No slips even on tired legs.  The amazing ground feel left my brain without questions.  I relied on my sense of balance rather on a man made shoe to keep my footing.

No ankle support.  Well if I worried about my ankles I wouldn’t add to the stress by adding trail shoes.  The rigid edges of shoes act like a fulcrum for your ankle.  The rest of the bones, muscles, tendons, and joints in your foot have no way of moving or flexing when they are secured by the rigid shoes.  When you start putting pressure on the ankle something has to give, and that usually the weakest part.  Also when more traction is added to the outside of the shoe the foot isn’t used a wider foot strike so again the ankle will have to compensate resulting in injury.  The outer parts of the RunAmoc are designed to keep your foot in place on top of the rubber sole, not to give your body anymore support.

It doesn’t look like a “traditional shoe”, but doesn’t draw as much attention as those five fingered shoes.  While I ran no one asked me about my shoes.  This isn’t the case with the Five Finger Shoe runners.  I overheard more than once them getting asked “Are your running the whole way in those?”  I only got asked that after I finished 100 miles, and I could respond yes.  Its hard to tell someone “Yes I am going to run 100 miles in these shoes when you haven’t done it”.  It is easy to tell them “Yes I ran all 100 miles in these shoes”, and then field all their questions.

RunAmoc Dash Shoes at Burning River 100 - 2011

RunAmoc Dash Shoes - Incredible Minimalist Shoes

Questions I got asked after running 100 miles:

Did your feet get wet?  – Yes my feet got wet, but they dried off much quicker than any other shoe I have ever gotten my feet wet in.  On average my shoes were dry within 20 minutes of running, and my socks were dry in about 30-40, but with dew covered grass in places it made it tough to tell when it was perfectly dry.

Did you wear socks? – Yes I wore socks, three different pairs of Injinji toe socks to just make me feel clean.  Over a period of time little bits of dirt get into your shoes and socks making it rough.  After each pair of socks I felt fresher!

Did you get blisters? – Yes I got blisters, but only because I got lazy adjusting my socks.

Over 100 miles my socks would move and I didn’t feel I needed to fix them.  It is my fault I got three blisters, one on the inside of each ankle and one on the bottom of my left foot.

Did your feet hurt? – Yes my feet hurt, but not any more than when I ran 63 miles on asphalt wearing Vibram Five Fingers, but a ton less than when I ran a 31 miles in traditional running shoes.  A week later my left foot is swollen, but it could be from when I jumped off a log and landed a little funny.  I can still run so it is not really a big deal.

Post 100 Mile Foot report - RunAmoc Dash

Just a couple of hot spots I should have fixed

Did you lose any toe nails?- None!  I had my big toe nails removed 15 years ago.  I also didn’t stub my toes on anything, because my RunAmoc are a little longer than my other shoes.  I only tripped once, but that was my fault when I didn’t see a root.

Did your shoes hold up?  They don’t look like the day I got them, but they look a lot better than any of my old heel strikers.  The heel of my right shoe is worn a little bit more than the left from running on asphalt, but all my minimalist shoes look that way.

Would you wear them again?  Yes, without a doubt I would wear them again in 100 miles, or shorter distance.  I plan on running two more 50 mile runs this fall, and will wear them if nothing else comes in the mail for me to try out.

Overall I am thrilled to have found RunAmoc Dash shoes.  My first impression was “feel as good as a pair of slippers”, and my continued opinion “A shoe that will last 100 miles on some pretty rough terrain”.


Running Skirt – Emily

Posted on August 7th, 2011 by Emily

So I’ve wasted, I don’t know, HOURS looking for the perfect running skirt this past week.  I have one skirt, it works well, but it’s plain black and boring.  So I’m looking for one that’s a bit more fun and stylish.  Plus, I’m looking because in less than a month, *gasp, where did summer go?*, Lily will be going back to school and I’ll be walking her up to the elementary and then going for my run.  It’s no big deal to wear the same running clothes over and over and over and over again, but when the same people see me daily before my run (while they’re in their cars waiting to drop their children off), it’d be nice to change things up once in a while.

Why is it taken me hours, you ask?  I’m looking for a few specific details in a running skirt.

  1. It has to be stylish. Not boring black since I already have one like that, nor can it be a solid color.  It must be a fun pattern.
  2. I’m cheap, I admit it, but the skirts I’ve found that I think are cute only cost, say, $85. There is NO way I’m spending that much on a running skirt no matter how cute the thing is.
  3. I like pleats. I think it’d be fun to have a pleated running skirt. Especially cute pleats on the back of the skirt.  In this case, it’d be OK for the skirt to be a solid color and black.
  4. This is where I’m having a hard time finding exactly what I’m looking for.  I want a skirt that has nothing underneath, so shorties, no mesh briefs, no capri’s, nothing.  The skirt I do have has shorties underneath, which would work OK for a stick figure, but I’m no stick figure and I don’t like thunder thigh chafing.  So I’ve been wearing my own Under Armour shorts underneath my skirt to prevent any chafing pain, which means the shorts that are attached to the skirt are bunched up in the crease of my legs.  That’s not too comfy.  So, nothing underneath.
  5. Long enough to cover my rear.  Lets face it, some people are blessed with a buttocks, I’m one of them.  Some of these cute skirts are a we bit too short to do any good hiding my rear, which to me, is the reason for wearing a running skirt in the first place.  So, length would be important.
  6. Pocket(s). I carry my iPhone on my runs, it’s my music, Nike+, emergency phone. I don’t want to carry it in my bra, nor do I want to carry it in my hand.  I want a zipper pocket to store it in.  The skirt I have has a zipper on the back center.  It works OK, it’s a bit small, but it works.  If I could find a skirt with more than one pocket (not meaning a key pocket, but a real pocket) that would be a bonus. I’m not sure what I’d store in another real pocket, but it would be handy to have one, I’m sure.


Now, I’ve searched all over the internet and local stores for running skirts, but there simply aren’t very many options out there.  There are like, four. Four brands that I can think of, that’s it.  With so many women running and wanting to wear skirts to forgive any self conscious areas, it seems like there would be more than just four brands getting into these.  But there are not.  Which makes a very small pool to choose from.  (If you’re looking for a business opportunity, this is sure to be a winner.)  Sure there’s Lululemon skirts, which are super cute and somewhat coveted by a large number of women who simply cannot afford or will not splurge on an $85 running skirt.  And there’s Nike, which is the brand of skirt that I have, but it’s plain black and no patterns out there whatsoever. There’s Skirt Sports, but I’m not into their current line of styles. And there’s Athletica, which is the only brand that I find truly affordable. And yet, with all of those choices, there’s still not one with the options I’m looking for in a running skirt.

Since searching for running skirts didn’t find me anything I was really looking for, I turned to Tennis Skirts.  This is where I found some cute skirts with pleats.  However, still nothing that has everything I’m looking for in a skirt.  Most tennis skirts have mesh briefs, or no pockets (or just ball pockets – which aren’t real pockets since they open on the bottom), or they wouldn’t be long enough, and nearly all of them were over $50.  *sigh*  Why must I be cursed with cheapness?

Then there’s just skirts in general, seems like there would be a single skirt out there that would fit my criteria, right? Well if there is I’m still afraid to buy it since it’s not specifically designed for running.  What if a skirt that I do find for running isn’t the right material for the sport? What if the pattern is super duper cute, but completely non functional as a running skirt? Then I’d be out $ and still be looking for the one.  Besides that, there are WAY too many options online when looking for skirts with pockets.  So I gave up that search.

I’ve even turned to looking into patterns for making my own running skirt.  It wouldn’t be that hard, would it?  I could make it nearly any style or pattern or color I wanted… but there are no running skirt patterns that I’ve found so far in my hours of searching.  Plus, there’s the pocket issue.  Granted, Brandon’s Mom is an awesome seamstress, she’s been there to help me with any type of sewing project I come up with.  But I fear making pockets with zippers, there, I said it.  Besides all those excuses as to why I don’t want to make my own skirt, I just don’t have the time (perhaps if I didn’t spend hours looking for skirts I’d have more) nor the drive to want to make my own skirt.

If I continue to hold out will I eventually find exactly what I’m looking for at Goodwill for $3.99?

Does ANYONE know where I could find a skirt similar to that I’ve described above?

Good Gear Athletic Clothing Review- Its made from Bamboo

Posted on August 7th, 2011 by Brandon

Good Gear Athletic Clothing Review- Its made from Bamboo

Good Gear Athletic Gear - Sport Tank

Good Gear Athletic Gear - Sport Tank

Running Stinks!  I don’t mean that in any other way than body odor.  What stinks most about it is the fact that the pile of laundry builds up faster the smellier you are.  I don’t like wearing any article of running clothing more than once because I don’t like to smell.  If only I could find a fabric that didn’t hold in all the odor.

Good Gear came to my rescue.  I found them by accident online when doing a search for different kinds of running gear.  They had my interest when there website claims that they are environmentally friendly, odor resistant, and wicks away as good as synthetics.  Its also made from bamboo.

What a shirt made out of a tree!  That is just ridicules.  It wasn’t long before I was wearing my first shirt made out of a tree.  Well sort of made out of a tree.  The process of breaking down bamboo into a fiber and then making it into a fabric is way over my head, but to make a long process short.  Bamboo is quick growing plant that when broken down into a fiber can be made into fabric that is as they claim “Odor resistant, Wicks away moisture, and Soft as silk”.

My shirt arrived and as any good runner would do I didn’t waste any time and took it for a test drive.  I had back to back 20 mile runs set to run so I knew a good sweat would make a good test.  I wore the shirt for 3 straight runs without washing it.  It still didn’t stink like nasty runner.  It didn’t smell like the packaging material anymore, but if I would have done the same test with any of my wicking synthetic race shirts I would be kicked out of the house after the second day.  The wall paper would peel around the laundry hamper after the third day.

The Good Gear shirt was light and did a great job of wicking away moisture.  I stayed dry and cool while running outside in the mid 7o’s temperature.

If I were to pick my own color it wouldn’t be white.  For some reason the bamboo had a thing for mud.  When mud or dirt even came near the shirt it wouldn’t let it go.  The white shirt quickly looked dirty.  I am sure if I had worn black it wouldn’t have looked like that.  As far as stains go, after multiple washings and bleachings the mud stains stayed as a permanent reminder of the 20 miles of trails I ran on.

Overall bamboo clothing is a great idea.  Its better for the environment and better on the keeping the world less smelly!  I would recommend Good Gear clothing to any of my fellow runner friends.

For more information about Good Gear Clothing –

Burning River 100 Part 5 – The Home Stretch

Posted on August 6th, 2011 by Brandon

Burning River 100 Part 5- The Home Stretch 

Read the rest of the story Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

Amost there - Wait I have to stop at the stop light!

Amost there - Wait I have to stop at the stop light!

As I turned the corner and could see the clock timer, Jimmy kept telling me “There it is bro, go for it”.  It wasn’t long before I was joined with Lily and Emily just blocks from the finish.  As I ran those last couple strides my mind, my heart, my being raced through the memories of what got me there.  I did everything I could not to become emotional.

Running with the family - BR 100

Running with the family

With my wife by my side, my daughter following stride for stride, this journey was almost over.  Nothing mattered at this point.  I continued to run.


The finish line! 26 Hours, 46 Minutes - My first 100 miles - Burning River 100

The finish line! 26 Hours, 46 Minutes - My first 100 miles

I crossed the finish line at 26 hours 46 minutes.  Joe the race director hung my Burning River Buckle/Medal around my neck and it was over.  I dreamed of 27 hours when I started setting my race goals.  Ultimately it was to finish.  I enjoyed the race beyond what I ever thought I would.  I didn’t limp to the finish line like I had seen so many runners do at Western States.  I wasn’t in any pain that could keep me from running.  The distance seemed conquerable.  Under 27 hours still doesn’t seem real.

Race Director Joe giving me the finishers medal/buckle

Race Director Joe giving me the finishers medal/buckle

Running 100 miles does put wear and tear on the human body.  I have to give credit to the one tool that made my running possible, RunAmoc Dash Shoes by Soft Star Shoes.  I will post later all about my shoes, but in brief they made it possible.  Minimalist Shoe and barefoot running is what got me to the starting line of 100 mile race.  Just a year ago I hurt so bad after running in “traditional” running shoes in my first 50K.  Now I am pain free for 100 miles. 

RunAmoc Dash Shoes at Burning River 100 - 2011

RunAmoc Dash Shoes - Incredible Minimalist Shoes

Finishing took a team of support.  Emily and Lily were the greatest for putting up with my countless hours of training.  They put up with having to smell my stench after long runs, and sacrificing their time with me so I could achieve my goal.  My pacers Jimmy and Chris got me through the darkness.  My running buddies of Tim and Bill throughout the first 50-80 miles. 

Pacer Appreciation - Burning River 100

Pacer Appreciation - Thanks for the support


Proud of you Daddy! - Burning River 100

Proud of you Daddy!

What’s next?  Well I see other 100 miles in my future, and Burning River is my 4th Ultra in 4 states, so if one of the Michigan 50 milers pans out this fall, my 50 Ultras in 50 States is almost 1/10 of the way complete.  Allowing my jaw the time to heal will be important, since I found out this week that the fracture from the accident didn’t heal and I will be going back under the knife very soon.

Relaxing after Burning River 100 2011

Relaxing after Burning River 100

Its time to relax, and enjoy running with the family!  Thank you to all the supporters and volunteers of BurningRiver!  You will always have the “First Place” in my memories of aid stations to come.

Ultra Marathon Giraffe, Gnarly

Ultra Marathon Giraffe, Gnarly

A special thank you to Gnarly, You had my back the entire way.  You were with me on my first 50K and now you are with me on my first 100 mile race.  I hope there are many more races for us together.  I wish you were not so afraid of gators I really think you would have enjoyedGreenSwamp!

Read the rest of the story Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

Zensah Leg Compression Sleeves – Emily

Posted on July 26th, 2011 by Emily

Zensah Leg Sleeves

Thoughts of a run a few weeks ago:

Here I am, nearly over the vertigo that plagued me way too long.  I was pretty unsure of this run, but I was tired of doing NOTHING for two entire weeks and I figured, what could it hurt.  I was already slightly dizzy and had just eaten dinner, it was hot, and it had been a long day.  So, I talked Brandon into doing a short run at the ski hills.  We were up north at Shanty Creek for a wedding we were to photograph at Torch Lake the following day.  We arrived at the ski hills with a map that showed the mountain bike route pretty clearly, but the route was majorly unmarked.  So after turning wrong once, we were off.  I had brought my new Zensah compression shorts and leg sleeves to try out on this run but I forgot to put on my SweatyBand, bummer.

First thoughts on the Zensah shorts: They’re long shorts and have a ‘front’ and a ‘back’ to them.  I know, I know, shorts tend to have a front and a back, but these really do have a ‘rear’ to them.  It’s very interesting to me apparently.  I don’t know really if the length of the shorts has anything to do with the lack of length in my legs or not, but they were long enough to go past my knees and it was hot, so I found that quite uncomfortable.  Pulling them up only made bunches on my legs, which was equally uncomfortable.  Oh well. It was what I had to work with, so I made due.

First thoughts on the Zensah leg compression sleeves: LOVE the color.  :)   I already had a pair of red ones and LOVE them, so I figured bright blue would be a nice new color to add to my running.

Once we got going on the trail I realized that I was still a bit dizzy, but I wasn’t going to give up.  I just had to pay as much attention to the path ahead of me as I possibly could.  Things were still blurry but overall I could see the path and unless I fell down, I wasn’t going to stop.  (I think this officially makes me a ‘runner’.)

About a 1/2 mile into our run we came to some hills and valleys, mostly minor ones, but since it was trail we had rocks, a downed tree, gravel, pavement, dirt, and sand to deal with. I haven’t run very much on trails so this was kinda new to me. I enjoyed it, but I’m not sure that I’m a trail runner over a road runner. I think I’d have to have much more trail experience to determine if I liked it better than the roads I typically run in Saranac.  It’s very convenient to run the roads compared to the trails I’d have to drive to.  I also brought along my phone and earphones.  Brandon chastised me for that but I like to listen to music with one ear and the world (along with my pathetic breathing) with the other.

Second thoughts on the shorts: They’re HOT.  Very HOT.  Especially when it’s already HOT.  Bummer.

Other thoughts I had: I dislike having sand on the path, it’s hard to walk or run through.  It also gets in my shoes, which is very annoying. And my legs were getting dirty from the sand.  I don’t like being dirty.  This is where I realized I had a LOT to complain about.  :)   This is also where I heard the sounds my arms make when I run…. :)

Second thoughts on the leg compression sleeves: They should make ‘cool’ ones.  I don’t really know if it’s even possible, but they get hot and in the summer it’d be nice to have a pair of thin ones to wear.  My legs were feeling good though, so I pressed on.

Then we got to the hill of death as I’ve affectionately named.  Straight up for nearly 1/2 a mile.  Most people, I bet, use the ski lift to get up this hill.  Not us, we trekked up it one foot in front of the other.  It was worth it once we got to the top though. Very pretty and a huge sense of accomplishment.  Then back down the hill of death, 1/2 mile straight down.  This is where I noticed that it was hurting my neck to run down hill.  I guess I need to figure out my form for down hills because much more of that and I’d be in some serious trouble.

All in all, after our 2.5 ish mile run, the shorts were OK.  Not my favorite but I’ll give them a try again in the winter and see how I like them in the cool weather.  The leg compression sleeves were fabulous.  I love the way my legs feel running in them and afterward.  They’re not nearly as sore and I don’t have stiff knotted calves or shins like I used to get without them.  Prior to finding the awesomeness of Zensah Leg Compression sleeves I’d get a big knot in one shin and a knot in the other calf.  That led to very uncomfortable and short runs.  I haven’t had that torture since switching to minimalist shoes and wearing the Zensah sleeves.  Plus they help my legs to not be as sore after a run and I’ve occasionally worn them over night to keep warm in the winter.  That’s just an extra bonus.  Lily has a pair of the Zensah arm sleeves that she’s worn a few times since she got them.  I look forward to trying them out this fall, winter, and next spring.  I think they’ll be perfect for those chilly mornings when I walk her up to school and then go for my run.

Don’t take my word for it.  Try your own Zensah products.

In other news:

Did you vote? Have you voted daily?  Sort by “Most Votes” and vote for me to win a $250 grant from Refuel with Chocolate Milk.

Road ID – Never Run without it – *Giveaway* – Winner is Sarah

Road ID - Runner Safety Identification Bracelet

Road ID - Runner Safety Identification Bracelet

When I received my Road ID last year for Father day I really didn’t know what to think.  Running is safe isn’t it?  Why do I need ID when I run?  Is it going to annoy me when I run?  When do I wear it?

The answers have came through experience.  For over a year I have been running with my Road ID.  Experience has showed that running is safe, but what happens when something out of your control makes it unsafe.  Many of my miles have been run on the shoulder of the road.  I am just inches from cars passing at over 55 MPH and I can control me, but not them.  If for some reason they were distracted and clipped me I might not know what even happened or who I am.  By wearing my Road ID emergency responders will have enough information to get me the care I need.  My Road ID has my Name, Year of Birth, City, State, and My Wife’s Contact information, and a scripture verse that means a lot to me.  As a Paramedic this information helps me find out other information like, Medication and Allergies, Medical History, and other details related to my health.

More than likely I will never be hit by a car, but other situations that are more likely include: Heat Exhaustion, Heat Stroke, Falls, Diabetic Issues, or even Cardiac Issues.  Altered Level of Consciousness is possible in all of these cases and not knowing vital contact information can result in delayed care.  As an Ultra Runner who runs miles from home on trails the likelihood of someone knowing me is rare.  Trail running brings its own risk, as witnessed at Western States, Bears, Dogs, or other wildlife can harm you.

When to wear a Road ID?  Anytime you are running, biking, hiking, or just out of the house.  Distance from your house or neighborhood doesn’t matter as to if you should wear your Road ID.  Running in a Local 5K, or traveling to Western States?  As a runner I won’t run without it.

Road ID on Ankle - holds up to trail running

Road ID on Ankle - holds up to trail running

Does it get annoying?  Like your wedding band, if you wear it often enough it become part of you.  I wear mine around my ankle and it has stayed on through some of the deepest mud or fast moving currents.  The velcro strap is tough enough to handle sweat, heat, and snow.  The reflective tape that is built into the Road ID helps traffic see you.  I know other runners who wear it as a bracelet on their arm.

Where do you get a Road ID?-

Closer to home than I really need…  (I have run this route over 50 times!)

Cyclist veers into truck in Ionia County Between Saranac and Lowell

Do you want your own Road ID?  How about for a loved one?

Its who I Am

Road ID- It's Who I Am.

Win a Gift Card to Road ID to create your own personal Road ID!
Comment below answering either one of these two quesitons:

1. Have you ever had a close call on the road?

2.  Where would you wear a Road ID this summer?

Extra entries can be obtained via:

Like Road ID on Facebook
Following Road ID on Twitter

(Make sure you tell us where you put it)

Winner will be drawn by on August 4th and will be notified by Email.  Winner will receive an ECard valued at $35 to purchase any ID Product on Road ID’s website.

The winner has been picked and its Sarah E!  We will be in contact.  Thank you all for entering.


Lily’s Sweaty Bands – Emily

Posted on July 14th, 2011 by Emily

A few weeks ago I was sent some Sweaty Bands from the wonderful Sweaty Bands company.  I had those awful two weeks of torture from an inner ear infection aka vertigo.  That was AWFUL!!  I wasn’t able to try the Sweaty Bands as quickly as I would have liked due to the fact that I couldn’t walk or see straight.  But Lily did get a chance to try hers out while at Branch Adventures camp.  The theme of her group for the week was “Hippies”.  It fit well and she decided to use her Sweaty Band as a hippie like head band.  Straight across the forehead.   :)   She normally doesn’t keep ANYTHING on her head for longer than a few minutes, especially headbands which always end up in being in her backpack when I pick her up from school.  So I was a bit worried sending her to day camp with the brand new Sweaty Band and no bag for her to put it into if it started to bug her.

There was no need to be worried at all!! Every day she wore her alligator Sweaty Band and every day it came home ON HER HEAD!! Right where she placed it in the morning before heading out to the wonderful Branch Adventures woods.  It was simply amazing!!  She’s worn it several times since Day Camp and every time she puts it on it really does stay right where she put it and it stays the entire day.  Thank you Sweaty Bands!!


RunAmoc Dash shoes the down and dirty details- Soft Star Shoes

RunAmoc Dash- Before the run, Injinji Toe Socks

RunAmoc Dash- Before the run, Injinji Toe Socks

I received a pair of RunAmoc Dash Shoes last week from Soft Star Shoes and I was intrigued from the start – Read about it here

I figured Independence day would be a good do to try them out.  I met up with one  of the race directors for the Yankee Springs Trail Run who wanted to run his own race now that everything was over.  I chose to wear the RunAmoc’s for the entire 40 miles planned.  Up to this point I had taken them out of the box and wore them one time to work and back to make sure they fit.  I decided the first lap 13.6 miles I would wear socks.  I choose by Injinji toe socks that I have grown to love as my blister protection.

RunAmoc Dash - Trail Running

RunAmoc Dash - Trail Running

Within a mile of trail running on a mix of sand, and hard packed dirt with little roots and rooks, I told Phil that it felt like I was running with slippers on.  The 5mm trail sole protected my feet and the top leather protected them from everything else.  The shoe felt like my running sandals, yet didn’t flop around as much.  I didn’t trip or fall the first lap and everything felt great.

RunAmoc Dash- no socks

RunAmoc Dash- no socks

The second lap was the lap of dirt and falls.  During a short break between laps I thought I would try a lap without socks.  The shoes felt even more like my sandals the rubber texture under my feet gave me solid footing, and the top kept my foot from sliding front to back.  About 7 miles into lap number 2 (20 mile total) I tripped on a root.  Okay my fault, I do this often and rolled away without injury.  In less than a mile I tripped again, as I caught the top of the shoe on another root and I went down face first into the dirt.  By now I realize the toe box of the shoe is longer than my Vibram Komodos so I decide to pick my feet up more and pay more attention.  Two more times in 15 minutes I kick rocks or stumps and almost fall.  Its that weird looking throwing your body forward only to catch your feet under your body and pull out of the dive to the dirt.  I again made mention to pay more attention, and this time I went down even harder.  I stepped on a mole’s hole dug out of the trail and the ground sank under me, catching my toe on the back side of the hole sending me flying through the air.

Lap three was doomed at this point.  I figured I would need a bath in antiseptic to clean up from all the falls, but I didn’t even stumble.  I still can’t figure out the falls, why so many falls when I normally don’t fall or if I do its once or twice an entire workout.   The extra weight of the shoes might have something to do with it.  I have been running in 14.2 oz Komodo’s compared to the 17.4 oz RunAmoc Dashes.  This little added weight is something I might have to get used to.

RunAmoc Dash - Mud running, stayed on in thick mud

RunAmoc Dash - Mud running, stayed on in thick mud

Overall the shoes were a success and I would recommend them to anyone interested in a minimalist shoe that will hold up to trail running or road running.  They did very well in the mud all three times we went through it, and they drained the water well when we cooled off in the lake.

The only area that concerned me was the ankle area.  After all the falls and dirt, and mud, I had blistering on both ankles both inside and out only when I didn’t wear the socks.  To solve this I decided to wear socks when I ran in them again today and no additional blisters.

RunAmoc Dash Shoes after 40 Miles of trail running

RunAmoc Dash Shoes after 40 Miles of trail running

For more information check out their website at



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