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

We, as a family, press on towards the goal

2nd Half Marathon – Grand Rapids

Posted on October 19th, 2011 by Emily

This past Sunday I ran my second in my life half marathon in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  I look back over the past 32 years of my life and am amazed at the depth of change from just this past one year.  Who would have thought I’d run a half marathon?  Who would have thought I’d be a runner at all?? Certainly not myself!! And yet, here I am, a runner, a half marathoner.  It still blows my mind.

Sarah and I signed up for the Grand Rapids Half Marathon on August 14th.  That’s exactly 9 weeks that we had to train for this crazy adventure.  We had run only 3 mile runs ever and no longer.  13.1 miles is a few miles longer than 3 if you weren’t sure about that.  We knew that too, so we searched the internet for a 9 week training program for a 1/2 marathon.  We found one that would *probably* suit our needs and fit into our schedule pretty well.    Sarah was awesome and took the time to create a pretty fun and motivational calendar.

We did the first month of training pretty well.  I proudly crossed of the days that we ran the scheduled amount.  I added the days we walked miles too.  Just for fun.  It felt awesome to see our accomplishment and cross off the days and see just how many miles we had finished every week.  The long runs were difficult and less than fun, but we did them nonetheless.  I dreaded them for nearly the entire week but once they were over I did have a huge sense of awesomeness right along with the quad pain and general leg fatigue.  I remember our first 6 mile training run and how I dreaded it for days before.  Again, who would have thought I’d run a half marathon? ?

I ran the Quiver 10K on September 10th, and then Sarah and I ran the Mercy 8 mile run on September 17th.  After that eight mile run my knee was no longer happy to be a runner.  It was insisting I stop torturing it.  So the long runs were out.  Sarah, her sister-in-law Bridget, and I were planning a 12 mile training run and I set out on it only to turn myself back towards home after a mile and a half or so.  Sarah and Bridget finished the 12 on their own.  The longest I ran between September 17th and this past Sunday’s 13.1 was 3 wimpy miles, if that. Instead there was a lot of walking.  It was just pathetic.  And I was getting extremely worried that this 1/2 marathon was going to end tragically.  I had no idea how I’d make it that far with my knee hurting as much as it was.  I did end up waving the white flag of surrender and going to Hadley Clinic where Scott (the owner) was able to show me how to work out my muscle issues with a rolling pin and a softball.  It helped even though I only had three weeks left before the race.

Race day came, Sarah, Bridget and I lined up in the last 1/4 section of the runners.  It was EXTREMELY chilly out at 7:45 when we lined up in the chute.  Thankfully I was wearing my Zensah arm and leg sleeves.  A jacket would have been way too much once we started running and it would have driven me nuts if I ended up tying it on my waist.  I don’t have a long sleeve technical shirt or else I probably would have chosen to wear that.  (Don’t get me started on how disappointed I am about the Grand Rapids Marathon changing to short sleeve shirts this year….. Their long sleeve shirt was one of the major reasons I was geeked to run this race.) The arm sleeves I ‘borrowed’ from Lily ended up being the best part of my running attire.  Well, those and my sparkly piggy tales.  :)

About 3 miles into the 1/2 my knee started hurting me.  I wasn’t surprised at all but I wasn’t going to let a little knee discomfort (*read extreme knee screaming*) get me down.  Sarah, on the other hand was battling her own demons, which was shocking since she never seemed to have bad days like I frequently had.  We were in desperate need of motivation about 9 miles into the 12 and, thankfully, we got it.  The motivation that helped us the most were the spectators that were ‘different’.  The ones that stood out and were obviously having fun.  The ones with loud, peppy, fun music.  The one with the Rockband air guitar.  The ones with fun signs.  Those ones were the best motivation that we were in desperate need of.  Which made me think of how I’ve spectated in the past and what I’m going to do differently in the future.  In fact, here’s a list of Marathon Posters you’ll see me sporting in the future.

“In our minds, you’re all Kenyans.”

“Your feet hurt because you are kicking so much butt!”

“Your legs will forgive you…eventually.”

“Don’t stop — people are watching.”

“That’s not sweat, it’s your fat cells crying.”

“If it was easy, I would do it.”

“Run like you stole something.”

“This is easier than labor and delivery.”

“You’re not slow. You’re just enjoying the course.”

“Stop reading this and keep running!”

“Puke and rally!”

“Don’t worry, toenails are overrated.”

“Run like someone’s chasing you.”

“It’ll feel better when it stops hurting.”

“Mortuary ahead….look alive!”

“If I ran it, by God, you can, too.”

“Chuck Norris never ran a marathon.”

“Staying up all night making this sign was hard too.”

“You are NOT almost there.” (seen at mile 1)

“The end is near.”

“What path does a crazy runner take through the woods? A Psycho Path!”

“Hurry, we’re cold!”

“Toll booth ahead. Exact change only.”

“What’s your favorite part of Star Wars III?”

“Run Total Stranger, Run”

“Na, Na, Na, Na, Na, Na, Na, Na (Chariots of Fire).”

“Free Piggyback Rides”

“It’s OK to cry”

“You’re running the wrong way”

“Bus station, —–> That way.”

“Think of how many calories you get to eat today!”

?”I’m a total stranger, but I am SO PROUD of you!”

“Running is a mental sport and we are all INSAINE!”

and my favorite….

“Worst parade EVER.”

Anyhow, back to the run….

At one point, somewhere around mile 11 or 12 we took a minute to walk and rest our leg muscles only to have a very rude awakening when we started up again.  Our quads, calves, shins, feet and especially gluteus maximus’s were in serious pain.  As Sarah perfectly described, it felt like someone was clawing their way out of the back of our pelvic bone or butt bone, tearing our pelvis’ apart.  Yeah,  it was painful.  So we decided that walking was going to be very minimal from here out.  It just hurt way too bad to start running again.  Besides, we only had less than a 5K left to run.  We could totally make it to the end now.

As we rounded the last corner and we had the finish line in sight we started to get a little bit emotional.  Sarah had warned me that she was probably going to cry at the finish line and she warned me of the impending hug there too.  Thinking about our huge accomplishment together had me starting to feel extreme sadness that it was almost over and happiness that we had done something so huge.  I told Sarah that I was getting emotional, she admitted that she was too, but it made it to hard to breathe so we stuffed those feelings down until a later time and pressed on.

We got to about 50 yards before the finish line, and there was only one lady in front of us before the finish line.  Throughout the last half of the run we were deciding who we needed to make sure to pass and beat to the finish.  The one chick in the white who ran weird,  the one guy in the green that had a walk/run form, the foot scuffing old lady, the hard breather, the guy who looked to be in extreme pain, the really big lady in blue, the really tall chick in pink, and the one with 13.1 on her back.   We lost track of a few of those runners along the course and we are sure we conquered all but two people.  But here we were at the finish line and there there was only one lady in front of us right then so Sarah said, “Let’s take her!”  and we took off in a sprint to the finish line to finish our 1/2 just a few seconds in front of her.  That felt awesome to have beat one more runner, one last one at the last possible time.

I didn’t even have the time to look over at the clock and see our time.  I had no idea how long it took us to run the 13.1, I just knew we were finished.  WOOHOO!! Huge smile.  No tears, no hugs, just a humongous sense of accomplishment and excitement.

I must say running my second 1/2 marathon was much more enjoyable because I had someone to run with the entire time.  Someone to push me when I needed pushing and someone for me to push when she needed it back.  I’m so thankful to have Sarah as a friend and as my favorite running partner.

Anyhow, here’s a few pictures of the awesome day because I’m sure you’re super bored from reading my race report.  :)

Here we are keeping warm in the car before the race.  Brandon joked about me writing on the back of my shirt, “I’m here for the 13.1 mile wet t-shirt contest.” It stopped raining, thankfully!

Bridget, Sarah, and I pre-race.  Getting ready to line up and freeze for a few minutes before the start.

Here we are crossing the finish line.  Sarah’s husband, Robert, caught us AT THE EXACT moment we went across the mat.  How awesome is that.  Official finish time 2:46:46.

The Bling!  :) Best Bling EVER!

Brandon and I after he finished.  We rock.  Just sayin’.

Here’s me. All cute.  Wearing my bling, Zensah Sleeves and my favorite SweatyBand.

I have to say, I’m super proud of my bling.  Can you tell?

Here’s my awesome marathon family.

Lily was able to run the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Grand Rapids Kids Marathon on Saturday where she finished the last 1.2 miles with all the other kids.  She was VERY proud of her accomplishment of running the entire way. Many thanks to Jennifer who allowed Lily to join her family to do the marathon while we photographed a wedding. This was her third time doing the kids marathon and she loved every minute of it.  :)

Yup,  we are the Mulnix’s (Mulni) and we’re a running family.

Eight Days till Grand Rapids Marathon

Posted on October 8th, 2011 by Brandon

Eight Days till Grand Rapids Marathon

Its only eight days till the running of the Grand Rapids Marathon and again I am not ready.  Its not that I can’t run the distance, or that I feel I am going to fail.  Its the little things.  I signed up for the race after my wife decided to run the 1/2  with her friend.   I don’t know what it is this year, but I don’t look forward to this race.  Life has been so busy and I have only been able to put in aobut 10 miles of running over the past two weeks.   I just haven’t felt the “Oh boy I am running a marathon Joy”.   Where does that “JOY” come from? 

After running about 7 miles barefoot this week I made the decision to just go for it and run as far as I can barefoot.  I don’t have a time goal other than to run faster than last years 4:30. 

How do I get the Joy back?

NOT Last Place Emily – Lowell 10K Quiver

Posted on October 5th, 2011 by Emily

So, a while ago, September 10th to be exact, I ran the Lowell 10K Quiver run to benefit breast cancer and the Lowell Pink Arrow Pride.  I decided last minute to run it with my sister.  Somehow, however I’m not quite sure, I was talked into ‘pacing’ for her.  Only problem being that she runs a 10 minute mile and I run around an 11:20 – 12 minute mile.  No big deal right?  It’s not THAT much faster than I normally run….. Oh how very wrong that turned out to be.

So we started out by the football stadium and ran straight up a very long, quite good hill first thing.  That was lovely. Then down turned down Vergennes toward Parnell.  I did pretty well considering we were running quite a bit faster than I normally run, but that only lasted a short time.  I got to where it was hard to talk and run, then the 10 minute mile pacer passed us and my sister asked me if I could go any faster.  Truth was, I was DYING going as fast as we were already, there was NO way I was able to go faster and complete the whole 10K run.  So I had two options, run faster and not be able to finish, or run slower and no longer run with my sister.  I didn’t want to choose either, but I went with the second option and my sister went on while I took a short walking break.  There were quite a few runners of the 10K that had already turned around at Parnell and were headed back to the Wittenbach center when I finally did start to run again.  I’m sure I looked pathetic to them.  Oh well.

I wasn’t sure if I was in last place, but I didn’t want to waste time looking back.  The opportunity to see how I was doing came soon enough when I finally made it to the turn around point.  Nope, not last place, *whew*.  But third to last.  *YAY*.  There was a runner in front of me who I could tell was struggling and my goal was to make it to her and ask if she wanted to run together.  (Wow, wouldn’t that be bold of ME.)  So I took off running and was slowly catching up to her when I was passed, *sigh* and now in second to last place.  Apparently the lady that passed me had the same goal in mind, because when she got to the person in front of me, they took off together.  BUMMER.  Oh well, at least she has someone to run with.

So it’s just me and another slow runner behind me and I’m determined to NOT let that lady pass me.  Somewhere along here, which was before Wittenbach Center my knee started hurting a bit.  So I decided to run/walk the rest of the distance.  By the time I got up by the school again the 5K runners and walkers and all the 10K runners were turning to go back down to the track.  I saw Brandon and yelled “LOOK AT THAT GUY!!! HE’S RUNNING BAREFOOT!!”   =)  I knew he’d appreciate that.

The Wittenbach Center had me a bit concerned that the direction peoples had turned me the wrong way, but I finally caught up with a set of walkers way in the back of the woods.  Those two ladies in front of me were no where to be seen. After getting out the woods I started back over to the high school and the cop on the corner was chatting with a volunteer when they yelled at me, “Hey, there’s a cheater in front of you!!”  Apparently someone had cut across the field, but they were unsure if it was a real runner or not.  I guessed it wasn’t because I hadn’t seen anyone in front of me for quite a while.

Finally I reached the start line only to be told that the finish line was 1/2 way around the track.  CRAP.  I want to be done.  But I kept on,  Brandon cheered me on when I got to the football field, which was encouraging.  I ran over that finish line, dead, but with a sense of accomplishment.  I had finished a 6.2 mile run, alone, and wasn’t last….

HOWEVER, the Quiver peoples mixed my time up with the person who came in behind me (THANKS FOR THAT) and put my results as finishing in 1:32 and not the 1:17 that I actually did.  *ugh*  That super sucked because this was our town.  The town we do business in.  The town we have friends in.  The town we go to church in.  And there it was my results being LAST PLACE online.  And many of my friends competed in the run with me, so I knew they would be looking at the results online too.  What do you do when you look at the results for the races you’re in?  Look at the first place Male and Female and their times.  Your time, and oh yeah, the time of the person who finished last…. Oh well.  Maybe the lady who finished behind me was encouraged by not being in last place.  Maybe it was just what she needed to keep her running going.  I guess I’ll take it for the team if it did anything to encourage her and her journey.

I was not last place Emily in this run.  However… the Mercy run I did a few weeks later, that’s a different story.  =)

Dances with Dirt Hell 50 something Race Report

Posted on September 25th, 2011 by Brandon

Dances with Dirt Hell 50 something Race Report

What the heck is the race course markers smoking when they marked the Ultra Marathon course for Dances with Dirt Hell?  I should have know there was something funny in the air left over from the Hallucination run just 2 weeks ago on some of the same trails.  I didn’t see any stoned hippies passed out in the woods, but it would not have been any surprise.  The race paperwork includes a liability waver that really means “Death or serious injury is likely”.  My kind of race.  For me its the second DWD race that I have ran in this year.  The first being DWD Green Swamp where I really enjoyed 50 miles of fun trail running with minor “Stupid” added into the course.  That was Heaven, This was HELL!

Darkness was upon us as we arrived at the Half Moon Lake public access, where there was less than a half moon in the sky.  More like a sliver hiding behind the clouds, but they can’t have everything perfect.  Fall temperatures made the morning cool and LED head lamps didn’t do a thing to warm up the area.  Ben VanHoose “The winner of DWD Green Swamp” joined me for the ride down and that had to be the best part of the entire adventure.  Ben volunteered at an aid station to pass the hours waiting for me.  As Ben left me to help, I stood around waiting for the pre-race jitters to start.  They never really did.  I ran into John Yohe a fellow barefoot runner at the start and wasted the next 25 minutes talking everything barefoot.  He agreed to run with me for a few miles with the understanding he could leave me in the dust at any point.

Barefoot John Yohe and I, Dances with Dirt

Barefoot John Yohe and I, Dances with Dirt

Start of DWD Hell 2011

Start of DWD Hell 2011

1 minute before the Start of DWD Hell 2011

1 minute before the Start of DWD Hell 2011

This ultra run started off like every race Running Fit puts on… No one at the start line.  We all hung back and moved up only when told to.  Its not like Grand Rapids where there are thousands fighting for a starting spot.  We all just gather and go.  Most people started out in their right spots because I never ran up on a slower group.  I was passed by like 20 people in 5 miles, but they just didn’t want to start further up front.  NOTE: I WAS THE SLOW GROUP!  John and I ran through Hell Creek Ranch together where I lost him when “Nature Called”.  Being this was the second time I lost track of John I just let him go on ahead.  I had used up too much energy catching up to him when I had to stop to drink Boost after the first hour of running.  Eight minute miles on road sapped me of a lot of go juice.  Losing John wasn’t so bad once I caught up to Jeremy Haggerman.  Jeremy was running his first 50 miler and him and I had gone to Lansing Community College together.  He was running well and I did my best to keep up with him when he was moving well.  We ran for about an hour and then he was gone too.  Running with people is what keeps me going well.

Unplanned "Stupid" on Dances with Dirt Hell

Unplanned "Stupid" on Dances with Dirt Hell

The trail to this point was a mix of trails, gravel road, and grass.  “Stupid” hadn’t really started except for a few bush whacking sections.  Ben was a blessing to see and after seeing him is where things started getting tough.  My nutrition for the day seemed to be working, but I couldn’t get my hips in check.  The hills of course don’t help, but I knew the wheels were coming off earlier today than ever before.  Running through Hell Creek Ranch for the second time messed with my brain.   I read the map so many times and didn’t remember that fact.  I didn’t stop long and was messed up even more when Bruce Langlois a Lowell resident came up past me in the aid station.  He is a fast marathoner who is now behind me, and now passed me.  Was I running that stupid before.

"The stripper pole" DWD Hell

"The stripper pole" DWD Hell

Sections like “The Striper Pole” met us just before Hell Creek Ranch.  I hope the video gives you a glimpse of just how “hard” this race was…  (Don’t look directly at the Man’s shorts in front of my camera)

After Hell Creek Ranch the only thing to look forward to is “The River” right?…  Coming down a hill and seeing people cross the river in front of you is great, then stepping in the cold water is nice, the first time.  The second time I almost fell in, and the Third time ended with a Leg Bone on shore!  What the Hell did I sign up for.  I justified it by thinking the trail freshly cut along the river was in place of running the river because its so cold out.  NOT!  After running through more trail followed by a muddy bog, you step back out into the river for a forth time.  Oh wait, its now 1/4 mile upstream against the flow to Hell, Michigan.

Name that Bone- DWD Hell

Name that Bone - Bank of River

"Stupid" bogg before you get to the river to wash it all off

"Stupid" bogg before you get to the river to wash it all off

You are greeted by a Man dressed as Satan and a not so attractive chick dressed as his girl friend.

Satan and His bride - Dances with Dirt Hell

Satan and His bride - Dances with Dirt Hell

The best part is all the people that were laid out as corpses in the aid station.. Oh those were real!  For the second time today I was asked where Gnarly my Ultra running Giraffe was.  It was sad leaving him home, but I was afraid of him getting muddy and wet from “Stupid”.  I changed socks, wrung out my Moc3′ s and restocked my back pack for the last 9 miles of my day.  I was sorta okay when I left Hell and headed for the trail.  It didn’t take long and the mental battle began.  I don’t know if it was demons that followed me, or just common sense.  As I ran/walked through more “Stupid” areas of deer trail that had been abandoned by the four legged creatures years ago do to how “Stupid” the trail were my mind collapsed on me.  What could I be doing at home?  What did I have to prove by running 50 miles wired shut?  Where could I find what the race director was smoking?  All these thought battled throughout the remaining miles.  I came into Silver Lake access without much hope, took two swigs of Coke, and then was cursed by the Porta John.  Sitting never helps in an Ultra despite the relief inside, the legs hated me for sitting.  I left the aid station without much hope.  The familier trails that I had ran in the spring didn’t help either.  As I ran the downhills, walked the uphills and whined to myself about my legs cramping up, the miles slowly trickled by.  There wasn’t anyone to talk to, and I was passed way more than my mind could handle.  I ran the last 5 miles in pure mental disarray.  I convinced myself that there was no point to running 19 more miles of “Stupid” after I had the choice to peel off and finish 50K.

I continued to run, and at no point anything about 50 miles seemed remotely a good idea, so my wife’s voice came through “Don’t do anything Stupid” and I listened (First Time for everything).  I ran hard to the finish and didn’t feel like a failure for only completing a 50K.  I finished 2 Ultra Marathon’s with my Jaw wired shut and it didn’t matter what distance they were.

Ben was there to great me and support me.  After picking up my unused drop bag at the 40 mile aid station we headed for home never looking back at my decision.  I was safe and headed home to have fun with the family and friends.  It was a great race and I would run it again just to see all the other “Stupid” I missed on the remaining 19 miles.
More stupid like this:

Dances with Dirt Hell Race Info can be found at:

I ran the race in Soft Star Shoes- Moc3  They worked so well instead of changing into a pair of Vibram Trecs after running through the river I rung the out changed my socks and kept running in them.  I was sad that I didn’t get a chance to wear my Run Branca’s on the trail, but they will be there for me next time.

A full review of the Moc3 shoes will be on the blog in a few days.

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.

Pink Arrow Quiver Run – 10K Barefoot

Posted on September 11th, 2011 by Brandon

Pink Arrow Quiver Run – 10K Barefoot


Brandon Mulnix Family

My family

Pink Arrow Pride is a huge deal in Lowell,Michigan.  Over the past four years the community has raised over a million dollars by turning the town pink.  Last year one of their fund raising additions was adding the Quiver 5K.  A year later the organizer added a 10K and a kids run.  The community really showed up today to support this run.  With over 85 runners in the 10k and 244 in the 5K walk/run the organizers must be proud. 

Todd McMyler - Saranac High School

Todd and I went to High School together

 I signed up for the 10K earlier this week with the idea of running for the 4th consecutive weekend since my jaw surgery.  The night before my wife decided to run it as well.  My daughter would join us to run the 1K fun run.   To wake up at 6:30 on a Saturday does get old, but worth it when its for a good cause.  We arrived at 7:15am to so many familiar faces.  There were so many people running that I didn’t know ran.  Many signed up for the 10K!  My wife got registered and I picked up my packet.  I was hoping for a Pink shirt like the flier let on to, but it ended up being a white long sleeved.  As temperatures fall I will appreciate their decision for long sleeve.  As I walked around in my Invisible Shoe Sandals I got many of the same questions I got during the Labor Day run, “Are you going to run in those? (Insert a slight hint of judgment added in).  I took advantage of knowing most of the people who were asking and replied “No way I am not running in these I am running barefoot” (Insert Sarcasm).

 This race had many great attributes.  The first being a professional sound system that you could hear and a local Radio DJ to do the professional announcements.  The safety and course instructions were clear and planned out like they were reading a script.  The 85 runners gathered at the start line ready to run.  Hanging out at the start with people I see daily was really refreshing.  One girl stood out when she asked “Isn’t running barefoot not good for you?”  I appreciated the question, but didn’t know how to answer in an about to start manner. 

Pink Arrow Quiver 10k 2011

Waiting to start the 10K

 A number of local celebrities joined us in the race.  We had the Lowell Red Arrow Football coach, a Boston Marathon Qualifier, that one guy, my sister in law (in certain circles she is famous), and that guy who ran 50 miles with his jaw wired shut.  I was fortunate enough to run with the Football coach as we started and ran with him (around him) for the first 2 miles.  The course was asphalt for the first 3 ½ miles.  Some of the asphalt was horrible for my bare feet.  I found the road patches were the smoothest to run on.  It was a great learning experience since most of my barefoot runs are on smooth fresh asphalt.  By the time I got to the 2 mile turn around I decided to increase my pace and start working my way through the runners.  It was nice catching fast runners. 


Brandon Mulnix, Pink Arrow Quiver 2011

Narly Asphalt

The pavement paused for the next 2 miles as we ran on the WittenbachWege Center trails.  This is where the 5K walkers and the 10K runners mixed.  I was proud at how respectful the 5K walkers and runners were as we passed.  The sandy trails felt great on my feet and I used it to push my limits.  Passing so many 10 K runners really put a pop in my step.  The course had small inclines and lots of roots and rocks.  The largest hill on the trail was right before we popped out into the parking lot.  With only ½ mile to go I started to shift into a new gear.  By this point I knew I over ran my feet and I could feel blisters.  The last ½ mile was asphalt that went downhill into the Bob Perry Lowell Red Arrow football stadium.  Once my feet hit the rubber track the sprint was on.  I was able to finish in a reasonable time for me of 52:38 good for 24th place. 

I will give the Pink Arrow Quiver props for having the best post race refreshments, Chocolate Milk!  They had pints of it, and you could have more than one.  So I refueled on my favorite drink right now.  I enjoyed two pints while hanging out till my daughter was able to run the fun run.  She ran really well and again the Pink Arrow Quiver race spoiled the kids with lots of great swag. 

 I will make it 5 consecutive weeks of racing; I signed up to run the Mercy Run 8 Miler.  This is the first race on the new trail that encircles the Greenville,Michigan.  Join us!

50 Miles with my jaw wired shut- North Country Run Report

Posted on August 30th, 2011 by Brandon

50 Miles with my jaw wired shut- North Country Run Report

It is possible to run 50 miles with your jaw wired shut.  Before Saturday I could only find one person who was rumored to run the Leadville 100 with his jaw wired shut over 20 years ago.  Going into Saturday’s race knowing that very few people would ever attempt such a challenge I had a lot of anxiousness.  Running 50 miles is tough enough.  Running with your jaw wired shut is very strenuous on the body.  Before Saturday, ten miles is the longest I had ran wired shut and that was in March.  My body had healed well from Burning River 100.  The furthest I had ran in the past month was 3 miles, and that was in a 5K just days after surgery.

Early in the Race- Still Smiling - North Country Trail Run 50 Miler 2011

Early in the race

Normally before an Ultra I like to rest as much as possible, but after driving for 2 ½ hours to the race sight Emily, Roger, and I helped in whatever way we could.  Putting up a tent, starting the generator, and hauling supplies to the aid station kept us busy till after 9:30pm.  The three of us stayed at one of Roger’s friends rentals in Cadillac which made for a quiet nights sleep.  Not sleeping on the ground meant more relaxed sleep.  The six hours of sleep was much better than last years two hours.

Waking up fresh and ready to run we arrived just in time to get a great parking space (still can’t believe no one else thought of parking there) and started to mingle with all the friends who drove in to race.  The Hobby Joggas were there: Mark, Tony, Stuart, Rick, and Ryan all ran the marathon.  There was a bunch of new faces with them that all looked happy and ready to run.  The marathon started about 20 minutes before the marathon and with a course change this year it would be common to pass many of them on the first loop of the 50.  After about a mile the marathon runners paced and it would be the only time I got to see Roger run and he was in the top three.  The small group of ultra runners started to line up.

Lining up towards the back of the pack was the only option for me.  I didn’t want to be passed by a hundred runners who were running for a personal best of the win.  My goal from the start was to finish.  Starting in the back is always better because the people back there are cooler people.  We like to talk, and we could careless what our time is.  We run to have fun.  So without any announcement that I could hear, we were off.  The first little bit was to the end of the parking lot entrance and back on the pavement to spread out the runners a bit.  It was only about a quarter mile total before hitting the trail, but in that short time I was picked out of the crowd by the brother of Kristen Armstrong, one of my brides from two years ago (Got to love Facebook).

Gnarly chilling in my pack

Gnarly chilling in my pack

The only bad/good part of being in the back when starting a trail race is the width of the trail and the pure volume of runners.  With over 150 runners starting together, the trail packed up really fast.  Its good when it does this because it slows you down, but bad because you almost trip over people.  Slowing down also leveled the playing field for all the “Open Mouthed” runners and myself.  I was able to keep the pace with them for the first couple of miles.  I ended up with a group of “Medical Misfits” for a few miles.  One guy ran with a heart that couldn’t get over 130 beats per minute or his oxygen level would drop to under 80 percent.  Another guy was running just months after a valve replacement.  Did you know they don’t use pig valves that often anymore.. who knew?  They felt better after finding out I am a paramedic, but didn’t like my response of who was going to give them mouth to mouth after I passed out myself?

Beautiful Manistee national forest trail- North Country Run 2011

Beautiful Manistee national forest trail- North Country Run 2011

Ultras are a small world.  After surging ahead on the flats I started a conversation with a very nice guy (Tom Coleman) who come to find out was neighbors to Tim Adair, the guy I ran 80 miles with at Burning River.  We ran for a couple more miles together before I told him not to wait up for me.  His goal was sub 10 hours and I was an anchor.  He ended up around 10:45, sorry Tom L.

The wheels started falling off around the 20 mile mark.  I wasn’t dehydrated, but felt like I was hit by a train.  I had been drinking Boost and V8 throughout, but they were not enough.  Leg cramping started around that same point and I learned quickly that if I drank a Boost right after they started the cramps would go away.  I started drinking more Ultra in my water and that didn’t help.  I wasn’t able to level out.  GU Energy wasn’t an option unless I wanted to be a sticky mess.  Something about a syrup dripping down your numb chin doesn’t seem very smart while running.

Now the wheels were locking up, and the mind was starting to give up.  I arrived at the half way point just emotionally drained.  I felt like I had run my first 31 miler in the mountains of California and the 100 miles of Burning River together and it was only 25 miles in.  My wife took the brunt of my frustration when the chair was nicely placed in the shade about 20 feet off the trail.  I didn’t like how far away from the aid station and my bag it was so I took it out on those who only cared about me and getting me through the race.  I quickly relaxed and tried figuring out how my wife did in her first half marathon.  I rather have talked to her and Roger all day then to get back out on the course.  I didn’t want to move.  My legs, feet, chest, and abdomen all hurt.  I don’t know whether I just got out of the chair, or what, but next thing I know I am moving back down the trail and that’s when I lost it.

Just 10 yards past the 25 mile mark I cried like a baby.  I couldn’t control it and didn’t want anyone to see me.  I just kept walking and praying.  The thought of quitting left my mind after I remembered my verse “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13”.  On I trudged.  Thankfully there were a lot of smooth up hills and longer down hills.  I had to walk more than I liked because my stomach now wanted to slosh around and try to make me throw up.  Puking with my mouth wired shut isn’t an option.  There were not a lot of runners passing me at this point, but one older man (Jose) stood out.  Him and I kept yo-yoing positions all day long.  I couldn’t ever really run with him because when I felt good I ran much faster, but when I felt bad, He would catch up and pass me.  I knew he was on the trail near me and he always had a kind word to say.

My Run Amoc Shoes for the first 38 Miles

My Run Amoc Shoes for the first 38 Miles

Roger ended up being one of my angels on the course.  He traveled from aid station to aid station making sure I was okay.  The sight of a friend at the aid station picked up my deepening spirits and gave me something to look forward to.  I ran much of the middle of this lap alone and it was tough.  From being sick with a stomach cramps to leg locking muscle spasms do to a lack of sodium.  I experience more lows and deep depressions then I ever imagined.  I continued on even though I wanted to quit.   Aid station 5/13 would be the last time I would see Roger leaving me 9 miles to run alone.

Shortly after passing station 5 my legs went into complete muscle spasms in the middle of an uphill.  I could only stand in the middle of the trail and hold a tree, praying for them to let up.  I had just taken a Boost to prevent another low.  I was feeling pretty good going into the hill.  Thankfully Roger remembered a Gatorade G1 Before supplement.  I took it just after my legs looked up and my legs quickly came back.  I started to run again on the downhills and flats.  I did my best to continue on and the distance to Aid station 6/14 went by quickly.  As I arrived I asked if this was the aid station that had new legs.  Lisa Fine a runner who I would spend the rest of the race with laughed and seemed to enjoy a little humor this late in the race.  I did my best to get any sodium in I could and drank fluid to keep hydrated.  I caught up to Lisa on an uphill between 14 and 15 and I decided to run with her instead of running by myself.  She was in bad shape when I caught her.  She didn’t even really want to run the 50 miler, but decided to late to switch to the shorter marathon distance.  The miles went by a little easier while running with her.  Through 15 and 16 we ran just trying to get to the finish.  Somewhere in this trek Ben VanSoose met us coming back from the Start Finish line.  I stopped to talk with him, and decided it would be better to run with Lisa and make sure she made it to the end.  Daylight was quickly leaving deep dark shadows on the trail.  Ben ran back to meet with another runner and pick up trash along the way.  (He is an amazing man, with a huge heart).

Lisa started to run a little bit more towards the end.  I was becoming very proud of a women who I had only known for 7 miles, but had a huge heart to finish a challenge.  My memory of the course from lap one helped keep us positive and I started to see cars and campers parked near the park entrance.  On we ran.  I started to push her to run.  Telling her we were going to run into the finish.  I started to hear the cheers as we rounded the last corner and Lisa started to run harder.  I just continued to push her and she responded.  It was joy to see all the people still there to cheer us on.  As we neared the line I let Lisa go for the finish.  She earned it by being there for me.  If it wasn’t for the new trail friend my last miles would have been a lonely trek of self pity and misery.  Till the very end I hadn’t even seen her face.  She had lead the way down the trail to the finish.

My wife Emily and my friend Roger were there to witness me finish.  The race director stepped in to put the medal around my neck.  I just wanted to cry.  Knowing at that moment I could do anything.  I didn’t do it alone.  My wife supported me more than I could ever repay.  How many wives would allow their husband to run with a wired jaw.  The support of my friends Roger, Chris, Phil, and Tim who were there to see me finish and support me to the car.  My new trail friends Lisa, Tom, and Jim were a huge support along the way.  The aid station volunteers who did a great job supporting me even though there was little they could do.

A very important Thank You to all the people who pledged to donate one item for every mile I completed.  The list has over 60 names from all across the country.  It amazes me the generosity of oters.  The food is now being collected and I hope all come through and at least 3000 non perishable food items can be donated.

Lisa Fine and Brandon Mulnix at finish of North Country Trail Run 2011

Lisa and I after we finished

Thank you for the prayers, and support!

Read about it in the Daily News or Washington Post

Naked Foot 5K – Grand Rapids (I must be crazy)

Posted on August 25th, 2011 by Brandon

Naked Foot 5K -Grand Rapids(I must be crazy)

 Running 50 Miles must not be enough for me, because now I am signed up to run the Naked Foot 5K on Sunday in Grand Rapids.  I am a sucker for peer pressure and I caved when a number of runners who read this blog mentioned they might be running it.  It helped that there was a Groupon offer for $19.  Available to Midnight 08/25/2011

 So less then 11 hours after my anticipated 50 mile finish I will attempt a nice easy soft Barefoot 5K.  Merrell is the hosting sponsor and the race will be well attended by Barefoot runners from acrossMichiganand beyond.  It will be nice to run with like minded people that understand what its like to run “FREE”. 

 Barefoot Ken Bob Saxton will be there and that is worth the $19 in itself.  Ken has been running barefoot for a really long time and has a ton of experience and knowledge for it.  His passion for natural running is contagious.  Anyone who attends will be glad they did.  Jason Robillard author of the “Not Yet Best Seller” book “The Barefoot Running Book” will also be there to help guide the lost soles to the promise land of barefoot running. 

 Shoes are welcome (but it will be like wearing clothing in a nudist camp), and it’s a safe place for the Kids with a Kids fun run and 1 mile run. 

More information is available at:

Fallsburg “Who Cut the Cheese 5K” Wired Shut and Barefoot Race Report

Three days ago I woke up in the hospital with my jaw wired shut for the second time in 6 months.  Just days later I decided to run a 5K for the heck of it.  Over the past two years I have heard so much talk about the Fallsburg Marathon and 1/2 Marathon that I just wanted to be part of it.  I didn’t pay attention to when it was, so yesterday when I was visiting a local zoo a guy from Pittsburgh mentioned he was running the 1/2 Marathon and it got me thinking.  If I plan on running 50 miles next weekend, how do I know I can even go 3 miles with my jaw wired shut?  So I convinced my studio assistant to meet me at Fallsburg and we signed up to run the 5K this morning.

The Hospital Mile on Wednesday - Just hours after surgery

The Hospital Mile on Wednesday - Just hours after surgery

“I am running it for the T-shirt” I continued to tell myself.  In my mind there are no limitations, only excuses not to do something.  My jaw was not going to be my excuse.  After hanging around for an hour or so talking with Ben VanHoose and other ultra runners from the area I felt like I would be okay.  I know the course inside and out since I have trained here often over the past 2 years and its only a 5K.  It was only 30 minutes before the race started when I decided I wanted to run this trail/road race barefoot.  I hadn’t run any of the trails here barefoot before, but knew it would be less pounding on my jaw.  I was glad I did.

Jaw Wired and Barefoot

Jaw Wired and Barefoot

The race started with about 100-125 people.  Most were running the 1/2 marathon or the marathon, and I couldn’t tell who was in for the 5K.  A group of young guys started up front and took off like a shot out of a gun.  Those must be the 5K runners I told myself, no relieved that I didn’t have to worry about a great place.  I ran hard from the start, testing out how to breath through my nose and whatever parts of my mouth air could get through.  I stayed just behind the top group of all runners through the first mile.  A 7:58 mile, not bad, but I was pushing hard.  Trying to get the body moving with as little oxygen as possible.  The course became rockier and more technical so I slowed down a bit allowing other runners to get by.  A 9:20 mile for a hilly technical second mile.  I was starting to gasp for air.  Running on fumes by now.  The hills continued and the terrain turned to rocks then road.  I ran the center line of the road looking for any relief possible for my feet.  Not having ran much barefoot was starting to stimulate some new nerves.  It didn’t hurt as much as it started to chaff the bottom of my feet.  I didn’t want blisters going into next weeks run.  I finished the last mile in 8:56 which seemed really slow.  I didn’t care until I saw all the runners cut off to the left for the 1/2 and full marathon while I continued straight.  Only one girl in front of me and I was hyperventilating from trying to catch my breath.  I trudged on to finish in 26:21 3rd place overall, 2nd place in the Men’s division.

2nd Place Men- Fallsburg "Who Cut the Cheese 5K" - August 2011

2nd Place Men- Fallsburg "Who Cut the Cheese 5K" - August 2011

I was awarded a funny plaque for my 2nd place finish and a great towel to dry off with.  The T-shirt was cool and well worth the $20!  My assistant Karen came in just over a minute behind me to finish 4th overall and 2nd Women.  She had a PR and did an amazing job on a tough hilly course.  She should not have believed me that it was “an easy” course.

My Studio Assistant Karen- Ran a PR and got 4th overall

My Studio Assistant Karen- Ran a PR and got 4th overall

Overall I have confidence that if I slow down and enjoy the race next week 50 miles is doable.  Nutrition will be the toughest challenge, but I don’t like things that come too easy.  Next race North Country Trail 50 Miler

Hamster Ultra in New York City- Race Across the USA without leaving a city Block

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“Honey I am going for a run” – Ultra Marathon Husband
“Where are you going” – Wife
“Around the block” – Husband
“When will you be home?” Wife
“In 52 days!” Husband

This is how I see the conversation going in New York City. This ultra marathon looks awesome. I compare it to running on a hamster wheel. Around the block you go. The sights change a little every day, but the noise level, the people, and the food. I think I would rather run across the United States before I tried this. It would be a great challenge. As I look for other Ultra Marathons to do, there are many that blow my mind in how difficult they may be. This race would top them all. I wonder if the Hot Dog or other Street vendors would stop by while you are doing your laps so you could enjoy a Lamb sandwich!

What would be on your IPOD for 52 consecutive days of running around the block in New York City?

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