ORANGE MUD NEWS

Denny Hodge #TrainWithOrangeMud Update! May 27 2016, 0 Comments

"Embrace the suck."

I hear that in my head when I’m training. The Marines beat that into my head and it never leaves me. When things get tough, there it is again and again. Training can get grueling, and you already know at times it's going to hurt. You also know that if you run long enough -- or run distances that most people drive on their daily commute -- that it's usually just a matter of time before things go bad. Confidence can unravel almost instantly. The most careful preparations and plans can quickly become secondary to just surviving another mile. Another step even.

But with me, that reminder tells me that this is the BEST part of training. I don't meditate in my head and visualize rainbows or fantasize about unicorns. I grab that pain and hold it. Stay in the moment. Embrace it. Be in the now. That's where mental fortitude is built and honed. Sharpened to a deadly edge that you can rely on when things go south and you have to battle adversity. A weapon in your arsenal that you can depend on when your physical body is screaming for you to stop. To quit. To give up.

My entire life I've needed every ounce of that mental toughness just to survive and be here today. Now I've embarked and committed to the hardest physical challenge of my life with testing the waters at the 100 mile distance. Month 1 is in the books and none of it has been easy. But every moment has been satisfying and brings me one step closer to stepping up to that starting line and giving it all I have.

With a job that keeps me working a minimum of six days a week -- and with rotating on calls and night shifts -- ramping up training has been a challenge, and flexibility has been the key. I ran about 120 miles in Month 1, but it's the "other" training that has really been the biggest challenge. The countless stairs, hill repeats, cross training, weight lifting, boxing, and anything else that can be squeezed into an opportune time. The journey has and will continue to be an amazing one.

The other key point in Month 1 of training has been nutrition. At 6'2", and after a bad second-half of 2015, my weight peaked at 230 coming into 2016. In the last 30 days, my diet has gotten strict. No cutting calories in any extreme way, just being disciplined and eating super clean. So, now with 30 days down -- and 15 pounds lighter -- I'm well on my way back down to my ideal race weight of 200 lbs.

Orange Mud has a team full of bad asses that motivate me daily, and a whole shop full of gear that keeps me motivated and moving while I chase my dreams. My original HydraQuiver single barrel is still number 1 to me, but the VP2 is always close by and is crucial on long treks through the wilderness. 

Follow me on Instagram and Twitter @_The_Mad_1 or search #trainwithorangemud

Never. Stop. Running. 

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Orange Mud is adding 360 spin to products via Hoot May 27 2016, 0 Comments

In an effort to continually deliver the best product experience possible to online shoppers, Orange Mud recently decided to give hoot’s interactive imaging a spin. 

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Hoot offers revolutionary 3D product photography to brands that empower consumers to view a product from every angle online and engage with it as if they’re holding it in their hands. This delivers the information needed to make a confident purchasing decision.

With the amount of time and resources spent to design, build, and deliver the highest quality products to our customers, it’s extremely important to represent them online in the best way possible. We take a great deal of pride in our work from start to finish, so were thrilled with the opportunity to showcase the end result more effectively. Now every painstaking detail, unique feature, and innovative design can easily be examined. Hoot’s product representation helps accomplish just that, without having a live product demonstration. 

We pride ourselves on designing gear that is far from the ordinary, but educating our customers with pictures alone just wasn't cutting it. Checkout some of the links below to see how 360 spin is working for us and how you can interact. 

UHTP Demo - Click on either of the spinning images on this link. There are two different demonstrations. 

Transition Wrap Demo

HydraQuiver Demo

HydraQuiver VP2 Demo

We’re excited to see how hoot’s imaging assists in providing our customers with the information they need and make a positive impact on their online shopping experience at Orange Mud. Any feedback and/or thoughts from our customers is always welcomed and appreciated. 

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Slow and Steady May Not Win, but It Will Most Likely Finish May 18 2016, 1 Comment

Slow and Steady May Not Win, but It Will Most Likely Finish

Guest writer, Margaret Owensby

Allow me to introduce myself.  My name is Margaret, and I’m a thirty-something married mommy of three.  I am considered to be a large woman, due to my weight and stature, and I am a runner.  I am a slow interval runner, who primarily runs short distances.  Some may call me a jogger, but I still consider myself to be a runner regardless of my usual distances averaging between two and three miles.  My long runs are usually a 5k distance that take me about 50 to 52 minutes to complete, and I am often treated differently because of this very fact.

I completed a half-marathon in 2014 (3:38:51 – see? slow), and had every intention of completing in 2015 in under 3 hours and 30 minutes.  However, I had two little babies come roaring into my life only two weeks earlier, and was not cleared to walk (let alone run) 13 miles.  So now I run short distances, in intervals, whilst pushing either a three year old or twin six month old babies in a stroller.  At this point in time and fitness, a 5k is an endurance event for me.

As every runner knows, putting in base miles is absolutely vital when you are training for a race or an event.  I get out and run five or six days a week, but I get such an odd reaction from people when they find out I run intervals.  I receive a strange combination of scorn and disbelief when I ask questions from running groups and sites about nutrition, and am often told “You don’t need to worry about taking anything with you for such a short run.”  My short-term goal of running a 10k is treated as a joke by some, never mind that I might carry some form of equipment.  “Who needs a hydration belt for a 5k?  Aren’t they ridiculous carrying that?”  Before I started pushing the stroller (with all of the pockets and organizers), I carried either a hydration belt or my Orange Mud handheld for every run, if only because I needed a place to store keys/lip balm/money/tissues/mace/or whatever else I felt was necessary.  Yet the more accomplished runners did, and still do, make derisive comments about it.  Hey, I’ve got a 5k trail race coming up in two weeks, and I’m seriously wishing I had a Hydraquiver to sport.  I may possibly want to show it off a bit, and possibly also because I like having a place to carry all my water and such.

In the world of running, distance and/or speed are what most (including me) will strive for.  Those of us who run slowly (or intervals, or short distances) are often seen as a joke amongst those who run fast or far.  So I have a simple request for all of you most awesome runners out there.  Be respectful of your fellow runners.  One runner's mile, is another runner's 250k desert run!  Those who are slower than you, those who may not run as far as you are out there doing it because they are attempting to make it in to a new pace group, because they are attempting to go longer distances, because they love it.  They may never win a prize, or place in the top ten, but most likely they will finish.  We are all runners, and we all deserve the love and respect that this community has to offer.

Happy running, y’all!

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Running in Borrowed Shoes: An 11-Year-Old’s Quest for a World Record May 10 2016, 1 Comment

Running in Borrowed Shoes: An 11-Year-Old’s Quest for a World Record

Guest writer, Syrafina Mohammed

My mom is a runner. She has been ever since I could remember. She runs to help her think, to relieve stress, and to stay healthy both physically and mentally. She started running half marathons a little over a year ago and I wanted to join her. I wasn’t sure if I would like running. I didn’t have much time for it, but my mom let me sign up for a 5k color fun run to see how I would do in an endurance race. I loved it from the first step! My very next race was my first Half-Marathon! This was almost a year ago, May 16, 2015. I was 10 years old and my mom needed to get special permission for me to run.

There were many challenges for me in my first half-marathon. I don’t think I did that well. I tripped and fell in a pot hole around mile 10. I was crying and blood was dripping down my leg from the scrape on my knee. My mom offered to stop and quit, but I was determined to finish. We were so close! So, I limped the last three miles to finish in 2:47:03. I was mad that our time was so poor but happy I managed to stay in the race.

After that, every half marathon I run, I seem to hit a wall about the same mile. Right at mile 10 or so I get discouraged because I don’t see a significant improvement in my running time. It got very discouraging and each race got harder and harder for me. But, with my mom running next to me, encouraging me, I manage to get through that wall and push to the finish. My mom really helps me at those times.

Running is an outlet for me. It’s exhausting and thrilling all at the same time. It’s fun and helps relieve stress. It doesn’t seem like an 11-year-old would have a lot of stress, but I do, and running helps. I also get to travel all over the country and see new and exciting places. My mom and I joined the 50-States Half-Marathon Club. The club members are challenged to run a half-marathon in every state. I discovered that the world record for the youngest person to run a half marathon in every state was 18. I want to break that record by the time I am 13 years old. The 50-States club has a lot of great members who encourage and support each other. We even try to meet up when we find out that members of the group are running the same races.

Thus far, I have completed 13 half-marathons in 11 different states. There was one race that I ran that didn’t count because the course was found to be ½ mile short of a half-marathon. I will have to go back to that state to complete another race in order for that state to count. We have to be careful and make sure that the races are certified courses, otherwise, those don’t count towards my 50-state goal. Most of the time, we run back to back races in states that are next to each other. So, for example, we ran a half in Alabama on Saturday and another half in Mississippi on Sunday. Doing it this way, we manage to save money on travel costs and complete two half marathons in one weekend.

I love the runs with pretty courses. My favorite was the Florida Music Marathon. It was also my most challenging half-marathon. The course does a loop around the Indian River in Brevard County, Florida, up and over two one-mile-long causeways with a variety of musical acts spread throughout the course (even a Grand Piano at the top of one of the causeways!). The course is beautiful and I love running by the water. However, the weather was horrible, it was miserably cold and rainy, even for Florida. It took me over 30 minutes to cross the last causeway because the wind was so strong and kept blowing me backwards.

One of my most memorable races was the half-marathon in Oregon, I accidentally left my running shoes in the hotel room in Washington. We didn’t have time to go back for them before the start of the race, so my mom let me borrow her shoes. She wasn’t happy with me at the time, but I’m glad she didn’t let me just quit. It was weird running in borrowed shoes, but at the same time, they were my mom’s shoes. We run together. It’s our way of spending time together, encouraging each other and challenging each other. Running in her borrowed shoes made me realize how important our time running together really is and how much I appreciate having her right there, by my side, matching me stride for stride. She gives me strength when I want to quit and I haven’t found a way to thank her, yet. We have signed up for a 50-mile race in Michigan this fall. I know it will be hard for both of us, but I also know we have each other. And she can borrow my shoes if she needs to.

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DNF May 05 2016, 0 Comments

DNF

Guest writer, Katara Hause

Being the spouse of an ultra runner can be both trying and incredible rewarding; riding a rollercoaster of up, down, and sideways emotions along the way! One specific situation we all will or have faced at one time or another; the dreaded DNF.

In the world of competitive running, DNF stands for Did Not Finish; a trepidatious term equaling complete failure in a runner’s mind.  As the saying goes, “Dead Last Finish is better than Did Not Finish is better than Did Not Start.”  The DNF is a shadowy figure always lurking just a step behind, ready to pounce on an unsuspecting runner during the most effortless stretches of a course or trail.

This past weekend was our first journey down this particular road.  We planned a family vacation around the first 50-mile run of the season and enjoyed a fantastic week leading up to race day!  A practice run through part of the course with a fellow participant, a family hike over one of the bluffs, and a pre-race solid night’s sleep all pointed toward a successful finish.  As support crew, we were well-versed in his race plan, familiar with the maps and directions necessary to meet him at the various aid stations, and well-stocked in anticipation of his every nutritional, hydrational, and apparel need (bananas, beef jerky, PB&J, watermelon, Mountain Dew, supplements, salt tabs, 3 pairs of shoes, 4 pairs of socks, and a first-aid kit any Red Cross responder would be jealous of!).

My nerves were raw, but his were calm.  In fact, I’d never seen him this relaxed minutes before countdown.  He’s ready!  He’ll kick this course’s backside and justify all the training hours and sacrifices!  He’s got this!  3…2…1…and they’re off!  There he goes—strong, fit, eager, and primed for victory!

Little did we know, just hours later, dehydration and cramps would all but incapacitate him; forcing him to withdraw just 31 grueling miles in.  After having some time to absorb and reflect on the day’s events, I would like to offer up some alternative meanings for the DNF acronym.  Here goes:

Dare Not Fail

Running at a competitive level compels athletes to reach degrees of fitness and determination most of us cannot comprehend.  The pressure to perform and succeed, while self-inflicted, are enormous.  Failure is not an option, but sometimes it happens anyway.  Despite our best preparations and the most favorable course conditions, the race plan can dissolve into an unsalvageable heap of “what-ifs” and broken dreams. 

The fear of failure is constantly niggling the back of a runner’s mind.  And failure equals not finishing.  The running mentality seems to be derived from the well-known Yoda mantra, “Do or do not.  There is no try.” Completing a portion of the race is only marginally better than never starting at all.  I have to admit, this mind-frame frustrates the heck out of me!  While I understand my runner did not finish the 50-mile race he signed up for, he did complete the 50K.  What do you mean he doesn’t get the 50K swag bag?  What do you mean there will be no congratulatory high-five and finishing medal?  Let me get this straight…he ran 31 miles and gets zero credit for his efforts??!!  That’s a bunch of bunk, as my teenage son would say!!

But it’s the way these events work.  It’s a pass/fail system.  You get no partial credit.  Anything short of success is failure.  No in-between.  No gray area.  No compromise.

I would like all the runners to understand that as their supporters, we do not consider lack of finishing a failure.  Acknowledging the fact that many of us would rather have teeth pulled than push our bodies to the brink of destruction in the name of ‘fun’, there is little our runners can do that would qualify as a failure in our eyes.

So runners, fear not failure.  Do your best.  Give it your all.  And know we will be waiting to wrap you in admiration and adulation, wherever your personal finish line ends up!m

Doubts Never Flee

While I’m certain every runner doubts themselves and their abilities during a race, there is more than a modicum of narcissism and arrogance rooted in the elite community, which make any doubts virtually unrecognizable .  I can’t speak to specific misgivings that may or may not float around in a runner’s mind, but I do have first-hand experience with those felt by many of their supporters.

Regardless of how much I try to control the days leading up to a race, the oddest qualms enter my subconscious.  This race in particular, posed its own unique set of concerns.  What if the car battery is dead and we have to hike 5 miles to the nearest civilized establishment to get help?  What if we all get food poisoning from the unfamiliar restaurant we stumbled upon the night before the race?  What if the temps really do get into the 90’s as forecasted?  What if he asks for watermelon and that’s the one thing I left in the car (really happened!)? What if he breaks his leg on one of the climbs and is too far away to be rescued quickly?  Whether realistic or not, the scenarios are endless.

But really, where is the worry coming from?  Are we skeptical of the dedication, fitness, or courage of our runners?  Of course not.  For me, doubt is bred from the ‘uncontrollables’; those things which, as hard as I try, I cannot influence or change.  I try to be faithful and prayerful, turning everything over to God’s will and plan.  But just as often, I find myself reverting to the two rules my Dad taught me: 1. Don’t sweat the small stuff.  2. It’s all small stuff.  We’re not resolving world hunger or peace in the Middle East here, people—it’s a race.  And in case you weren’t aware, they’ll be another one next week!  

In the scheme of things, what do any of us really have control over anyway?  I’m not on the course, and I’m certainly not running the course.  I can’t predict my runner’s mood or cravings any better than I can predict the weather.  I’m ultimately not responsible for the outcome of the race, good or bad, and thereby cannot take credit or blame either.  But just as a parent will never stop worrying about their child, a runner’s spouse (or significant other) will never stop worrying about their runner—or blaming themselves for anything short of a victorious finish!

So supporters, embrace the variables and be flexible.  Let go of the ‘what-ifs’. And never let ‘em see you sweat:)

Distress Nausea Fatigue

These are pretty self-explanatory and may or may play a role in your runner’s DNF.  Obviously, we take every precaution to avoid these three words, but I’m not convinced the human body is equipped to handle the kind of trauma resulting from long endurance racing.  Runners like to spout off about mind over matter, saying things like, “After 30 miles, it’s all the same,” or “You’re brain will tell you to stop. Don’t.”  The truth is, the muscles, tendons, bones, and organs are taking a real beating.  At some point, the body will revolt.

Rebellion will take the form of nausea, vomiting, cramping, fainting, muscle pulls, tendon tears, or broken bones.  I’ve seen it all…more than one of these in a single race!  Dehydration alone can cause side effects ranging from pain to spasms to delirium.  Any runner will tell you if you get behind in your hydration plan, there is little room for recovery.

Our DNF can be directly attributed to dehydration, which resulted in all-over body cramping, severe headache, dizziness, and disorientation.  Not fun and super scary.  In fact, my exact words to him post-race were, “You know I’m never going to let you do this again, don’t you?!”  

As a non-runner, I will never understand what compels these athletes to push themselves and their bodies to the precipice of shut-down.  But it’s not my job to understand.  It’s only my job to support him, cheer him refrain from walking the marked trails backward to drag his butt over the finish line, and at the end, pick up the pieces with some amount of grace and compassion.  Not easy, but necessary.

So supporters, recognize the signs of trouble.  Be firm and get your runner’s attention, while trying to avoid shaking your head and screaming, “I told you so!”

Determined Nonetheless Fragile

Vulnerability.  Humility.  Fragility.  Not words any ultrarunner wants used to describe him/her.  Rather, strong.  Courageous.  Indomitable.  These are the attributes they try to project as they train for and compete in long-distance races.  Images of lean muscles, power stances, and plank challenges are all meant to reinforce their brawn and intensity, their devotion to the sport.

But the circumstances (whatever they may be) which lead to a DNF are humbling; a reminder that they are, indeed, human.  And on any given day, it’s simply not their day.  Not this time.  Try again.

Frustration, anger, pain, and fear often manifest as tears, trembling, and a complete inability to stand under one’s own power.  When my husband finally went as far as he could go (with our son walking the final 300 yards with him), he literally melted into my arms.  His head hit my chest like a boulder and his arms hung over my shoulders like limp, heavy noodles.  He was trembling, sobbing, and unable to take a full, deep breath.  As I raised his head to look into his eyes, I realized he was unable to focus and his color was putrid.  Truly frightening.

In that moment, all I wanted to do was make it all better.  Get him fluids and ice packs and shade.  Massage the spasms tormenting his muscles.  Wipe the sweat from his brow and find a smidgeon of recognition in his gaze.  He was bent but not broken.  He went to the brink, but did not fall.  He proved his humanity through super-human feats.

So runners, know that when you are at your weakest, we are ready and willing to be your strength; a fresh set of legs to support you and loving arms to embrace you.  Despite what you think, our respect and admiration are not based on how you end your race day.  We are just relieved you SURVIVED race day!

Develop New Formulas

Now that the DNF is in our rearview, we are preparing for the next race on the schedule.  Redemption is just 3 weeks away and will quickly be followed by two more races within a 4- week span!

It’s critical to take time to reflect on and analyze the race plan after a DNF.  Emotions are raw and egos have taken a hit, but a runner and his/her support team need to discuss what went right, what went wrong, and what can/should be changed going forward.  Listening to, acknowledging, and encouraging each other’s observations are key to keeping communication open and productive.  Obviously, there are two VERY different perspectives to examine.  Don’t dismiss one as being more important than the other.

In our case, as soon as I got the text that my husband was in trouble, I went into rescue mode.  The planner and partner in me tried to come up with all sorts of things I wanted to say or do to make sure he didn’t blame himself or brood about the DNF too deeply for too long.  Knowing my husband the way I do, I feared the disappointment would make him nearly inconsolable.  

Thankfully, after 100 ounces of fluids and a 3-hour nap, his race assessment was straightforward and much more positive than I expected.  We talked through each pit-stop, as well as the course details.  We nailed down the point where the wheels came off and discussed how it could have been avoided.  I shared what I saw and overheard from other support teams and aid-station volunteers, including things like using chicken stock as a possible hydration/salt-intake option and applying cold, damp compresses to the back of his neck and temple during stops.  Alternately, he revealed his observations from other runners as well.

Together, we will make a new plan to tackle the next race.  No guarantee that we will be any more successful, but we’ll give it our best shot.  And we will continue to experiment with, record, and modify our race-day strategies; getting ever closer to consistent and dependable results.

So, runners and crew let’s learn from each other!  Let’s share our experiences, our triumphs AND our catastrophes.  Afterall, as one of our most vocal presidential candidates once said, “sometimes by losing a battle, you find a new way to win the war,” (Donald Trump). 

DNF.  I wasn’t familiar with the term before we embarked on this journey.  Now, I am intimately aware of the widely accepted definition.  But DNF can and does mean so much more.  Fundamentally, they are just letters.  You can make them stand for anything.  You hold the power to change the perception.  

Convincing our runners, however, to alter their mind-set will surely take every ounce of patience we have left:)  Hang in their spouses, crew, and loved ones...the season has only just begun!!

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The Wife of an ultra runner May 02 2016, 1 Comment

The Wife of an ultra runner

Guest writer, Katara Hause

Welcome to my world…piled high with sweat-stained clothes, heaps of colorful shoes, stacks of trail maps, and masses of mismatched water bottles and lids.  This is the life of a runner’s wife; a long-distance, trail runner’s wife to be exact.  If your significant other is a member of the ever-growing competitive running community, this is familiar territory.  If you’re new to this lifestyle, grab a seat, take a load off, and allow me to enlighten you:)

Maybe your story started as ours did, or maybe you knew what you were getting yourself into.  Either way, just as our runners have their community to support, encourage, and commiserate with, we (those of us supporting them) gotta stick together too!  Wouldn’t it be nice to know you’re not alone on this journey?  I assure you there are others who share your frustrations, anxieties, eye-roll moments, immeasurable pride, and uncontained exuberance.  So, buckle up…here we go!

My husband didn’t start out as an ultra runner…he didn’t start out as a runner at all.  He was fit, of course, but not a gym rat or even a regular exerciser.  Then, one day, he casually said, “I’m going to start running!”  Okay.  Sure.  Whatever you want, dear.

As I write, he is in full-bore training mode for his first hundo, and only half-jokingly, plans for another 100 mile, back-to-back 50’s, or some blind-folded, in-the-dark- dropped-off-in-the-middle-of-nowhere-with-no-support kind of jacked up race later in the year.  I think he mentions these events just to gauge my reaction! 

He scoffs at some of the “crazy” people he hears or reads about, who run weeks’ long races through entire national forests (the same way he once scoffed at folks doing what he now does every day!).  “How could they do that?”, he asks, and in the same breath nonchalantly mentions he will be spending his day off this week running 35 miles in the rain on one of the toughest trails in the area…all in the name of fun.  

Welcome to the world of ultra running.  Or more succinctly, the world of supporting, loving, and living with an ultra runner!  Here’s what you need to know:

1.       He will NEVER own enough pairs of running shoes and they will seemingly multiply overnight!

Shoes of numerous colors and styles will infiltrate EVERY room of the house, both cars, and likely the patio and deck.  What looks like “just another running shoe” to you, may be THE missing half of his favorite pair of “low-drop, light-weight, mid-range, trail” shoes.  At least once a week, a full-blown, all-out search by every member of the family will be required to reunite these lost and separated pairs!

Your runner will be able to readily recite the exact mileage on each pair of shoes at any given moment, and will always be needing “another couple pairs” to hold him over.  And NONE of these shoes constitute every day runaround shoes.  Those are a completely different animal.

Tip: Invest in a boot/shoe dryer.  We were gifted one for Christmas and though I didn’t see the purpose early on, it’s become a very useful tool!

2.       He will NEVER own enough gear.

Gear is a general term used to refer to all items outside of shoes and clothing, including but not limited to: water bottles, hats, visors, sunglasses, headphones, chargers, hydropacks, supplements, compression sleeves, etc.  For a long run on a hot day, gathering all the accessories necessary can be exhausting in and of itself!

And even if there is a specified place to store all said gear, it will end up covering every open surface in your home!  My daily ritual now includes picking up various running paraphernalia and placing it on his nightstand for sorting and storage.

Tips: a. Encourage your runner to (at a minimum) rinse all said gear immediately after the run and hang to air dry.  This will reduce the potential for gear to end up at the bottom of a hamper or piled on the floor becoming a breeding ground for bacteria and mildew growth —YUCK!! 
  
b. Find a reliable disinfectant/deodorizer safe for clothing and gear which can be used as a soaking mechanism and keep plenty of stock!
c. Don’t invest in high-end sunglasses or headphones!  These invariably end up falling off, falling out, getting left behind, or breaking on a regular basis.  Consider these items disposable and stock-up so replacements are available at a moment’s notice.

3.       His favorite “non-running” clothing will only consist of logo’d apparel representing choice running gear or race swag.  

Whether your runner is loyal to a particular shoe brand, or devoted to a specific race series, there is a certain level of elitism that goes along with this level of competitive running.  They are dedicated to the sport and want everyone to know it:)

Tip: Don’t bother buying him off-the-rack t-shirts, hats, sweatshirts, etc.  Find out his favorite brands, manufacturers, and race sponsors…go direct to these sources for every day, casual clothing options.  Pass along this information to friends and family for easy gifting options as well!

4.       He will INHALE anything resembling food after a long run!  

My husband has always had a super-quick (and disturbingly enviable) metabolism.  After a long-distance run, his appetite is nearly insatiable!  I guess if he’s burning 10,000 calories, he can rightfully eat anything and everything he wants:)

I try to always keep lots of healthy options available to hold him over in between meals; Greek yogurt, raw almonds, hard-boiled eggs, peanut butter, and homemade granola.  But he is just as likely to grab a snack bag of Doritos, a banana, and one of his favorite IPA’s (not necessarily in that order) on his way to the shower.  Bottom line: keep your fridge and pantry stocked at ALL times!

Tip: Buy and use a powerful blender made specifically for protein shakes!  We have found various combinations of raw veggies, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and spices that help reduce inflammation, diminish pain, ease muscle cramping, and moderate metabolism.  It’s been life-changing and has significantly improved his training and race preparation.

5.       Get used to “me time.”  

If you live in an area like we do, which celebrates the start of hunting season with the fervor and tenacity of shoppers on Black Friday, then you are familiar with the term “hunter’s widow”.  Well, I’m here to introduce you to a similar phenomenon…the runner’s widow.  The endurance required to train for and complete long-distance races, requires many hours spent running.  Early mornings, evenings, weekends, holidays…any time is a good time to run (so I’ve been told).  

You will spend a lot of time physically and emotionally supporting your runner, so when he doesn’t “need” you, find a hobby or activity which gives you a sense of accomplishment and which brings you joy.  To give your best to your runner, you have to be confident in your own worth and content in your existence.  

Tip: Discover your own passion.  Maybe you are also a runner.  Or maybe you enjoy yoga, or photography, or cooking.  Whatever it is, use the time your runner is away, to feed your soul in a way that rejuvenates and inspires!

6.       His “social circle” will now include runners of like mind and communication with this group will consume an inordinate amount of time and energy.

My husband does the majority of his training solo.  Only on the rare occasion will he team up with someone and run together.  However, his “peeps” depend on him to pontificate the benefits of running, provide motivational inspiration, offer proper hydration methods, demonstrate cross-training techniques, and share the topographic features of all his local trails.  Needless to say, he is in high demand!

His post-run priority will consist of posting said notions to all active social media sights, including but not limited to FB, IG, and Twitter.  Only after this has been successfully completed, will he entertain the thought of toweling off and removing his mud-covered shoes.   Many hours post-run will be spent reading, smirking, and responding to comments on these posts.

Tip: Don’t take your runner’s non-response or delayed response personally.  Much of this journey can only truly be shared by folks on similar journeys.  If you, like me, are NOT a “real” runner, we find ourselves outside the circle of trust.  Find other ways to connect to your runner without undermining their dedication and efforts.

7.       Remember he loves you more than running (even though it doesn’t seem that way sometimes!).

It’s hard not to feel like running is his clandestine affair.  He leaves quietly, before dawn breaks so as not to wake you.  He leaves a note by the bedside and you’re not sure when he’ll be back.  You know while he’s away, he’s happy, fulfilled, and care free.  When he’s not actually on the trails, he’s posting/blogging/dreaming of/planning for/talking about/reading up on/shopping for…running.  Especially during the height of training before a big event, it seems all-consuming.  

It’s easy for the mind to wonder, “Is running getting the best of him?”  “Does running do something for him that I can’t?”

Well, the answers to those questions are no and yes respectively.  Running makes him the best he can be.  It centers him.  It fills him with a sense of achievement and confidence.  It gives him an outlet for his frustrations, worries, and anger.  He pushes his body and mind further than 99% of the population believes is possible.  He takes care of himself so he can take care of you.  Put simply, it allows him to give you his best possible self.

Running absolutely does things for him that you can’t…and what a blessing!  If his happiness, serenity, and self-esteem were solely your responsibility, imagine the burden it would place on you personally or the strain it would cause your partnership.  The impact could be catastrophic!   

But, he loves you.  And he needs you.  He wouldn’t be able to do what he does without you.  You take care of all the other important “to-do’s” in his life, so he can focus on the next run, the next race, the next challenge.  He knows this and he will thank you in big and small ways every day.  You just need to be present enough to recognize and appreciate them!  

Tip: Don’t let bitterness or jealousy play a part in your relationship.  These are “energy suckers” and will feed on your insecurities and faithlessness.  Communicate your feelings with your runner and try to keep your emotions in check (tough, I know!).  

8.       Crewing is a critical part of the process.

At no time will you feel more a part of your runner’s success or failure than while crewing at an event.  From the days before preparations, to the early wake-up call on race day, to the start gun and to the finish line, you’ll get wrapped up in the anticipation, excitement, anxiety, disappointment and triumph right along with them.

As his lifeline, it will be your responsibility to predict what he will need each step of the way.  I can’t stress it enough…BE PREPARED!!  I’m a planner by nature, but if you don’t share my propensity for making lists and organizational charts, you need to find your own way of managing race days.  Familiarize yourself with all the supplements, powders, chews, gummies, pain killers and food stuffs your runner prefers before, during, and after a race.  

Sometimes you will know what he needs before/better than he does.  Don’t be afraid to be firm in your suggestions for nutrition, hydration, and first aid during check points.  There are such things as a “runner's high” and delirium which can cause your runner to feel better or more indestructible than they actually are.  Remind them of the race plan and the importance of sticking to it.

With that said, flexibility is also important.  Make sure various food options are ready for him to grab-n-go at all times…half a peeled banana, peanut butter and jelly mini sandwiches, beef jerky, flat Mt. Dew, etc.  Depending on how the race is going, the temps, humidity, and so on, his needs and his wants will vary greatly.  Better to have every scenario covered, than to find out you forgot the one thing he has now decided is critical!

As important as nutrition and hydration are, a well-stocked and easy-to-transport first aid kit is essential.  All the basics should be packed along with smelling salts, toothpaste, ace bandages, replacement shoe ties, disinfectant/baby wipes, Tums, gum, sunblock, and bug spray.

You are not only responsible for nourishment and first aid, but also for attending to the emotional needs of your runner; knowing when they need that encouraging word or swift kick in the backside is something only you can provide.  Letting them vent can be difficult and humbling, but it may be exactly what they need to clear their head and “get them in the zone”…all part of our crewing responsibilities.

Tip: You know what they say about the best laid plans…inevitably, something crucial will be forgotten, lost, misplaced, or broken.  Forgive yourself (and your runner) for the mid-race argument that may ensue!

9.       You will never stop worrying.

Aside from being in the best physical shape of his life, my husband has had his fair share of running-related and completely fluky injuries.  There was the corneal abrasion which laid him out for two weeks; the puncture wound in his foot which subsequently became infected and required a week-long hospital stay; the partially torn calf muscle thanks to a pick-up basketball game with our boys.  Numerous training delays due to Achilles tendonosis, plantar fasciitis, and stress fractures have also occurred.  So pardon me if I worry…regardless of weather conditions, length of run, or training vs. race day.

I send him off with a kiss and reminders like, “Don’t go out too fast”, “Run YOUR race, not anyone else’s”, and “Be safe”.  What I really want to say is, “Please, please, please come back to me in one piece!!!”

For me, this is TOTALLY a control thing…I’m not a runner and have no real desire to put my body through the literal gut-wrenching tests of fortitude.  I cannot comprehend what it takes to push my body beyond what my mind thinks possible.  Because I can’t understand it, I worry.  Sharing in all the race-day excitement is a gift, but after the gun sounds, I’m left with faith and prayer as my only companions until the next aid station check-in.  During those early morning or late night training runs, sleep is NOT my friend and only comes fleetingly when exhaustion finally wins over angst.

Tip: Worry, but don’t obsess.  Share any safety concerns with your runner and help them understand and appreciate your fears.  Take precautions where necessary and let the rest go!

So, welcome to the club!  From one runner’s widow to another, I challenge you to embrace the lifestyle with all its quirks and eccentricities.  Go willingly and eagerly on this journey with your runner and amidst the chaotic schedule, mounds of laundry, and empty pantry, remember these are the signs of a healthy, happy runner…job well done!

 

 

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Mallory Billings-Litke #TrainWithOrangeMud Update! April 27 2016, 0 Comments

Mallory Billings-Litke #TrainWithOrangeMud Update!

Every year since 2010, I have wanted to hit 1,000 miles for the year have always fallen short. Today during my race, the TARC Spring Classic, I surpassed 500 for the year so I am well on my way! I’ve mostly stuck with half marathons so far in the years that I’ve been running but I’ve got several BIG goals for this year.  Along with some half marathons, I will be doing two marathons, one 6 hour race, a 50k and a 50 miler.  My two “goal” races for the year are the 50k and 50 miler.  Memorial Day Weekend is around the corner, which means my 50k is as well.  Training in New England in the late winter/early spring offers a Mixed bag of weather.  I wish I could say that I always opt to run outdoors but I have succumbed to the treadmill on several occasions throughout the past several weeks.  That being said, I do solemnly swear that I will not do more than one run per week on the treadmill.  It’s finally getting a bit warmer out so I’ve been enjoying the outdoors more often.  The nearest trail to me, that I am aware of, is 35-40 minutes away so I very rarely get to do trails during the week and save them for my long run on the weekends.  When I do my long runs, I use my car as an aid station, taking along my Orange Mud modular gym bag; I keep my gear organized and accessible so I can be in and out of the car, just as I would in a trail race.  On several of my runs during the week, I have been running home from work and I use my Hydraquiver Double Barrel Hydration Pack to aid me during my run commute.  I bring my work clothes home on days that I don’t run so all I’ve got to carry is my wallet, phone and keys.  I hired a coach for my 50k and I plan to hire the same one for my 50 miler and I can honestly say this is the most consistently I have ever trained.  I’ve also become more involved with my local trail running community and have run a few races with them this year.  I am getting more comfortable on the trails and am loving every second of this training.

With just a few weeks left until my first 50k, I need to stay focused on a few things: consistency, strength training, nutrition and hydration.  My goal is to follow my plan to a T and do all of the miles outside.  I need to continue experiencing the variety of weather so that no matter the weather on race day, I’m ready.  In the past couple of weeks, I’ve experienced rain, snow, hail and high winds. Even though I hate it in the moment, I know it’s good for me to experience running in this weather.  I have not been as strict with my cross training and strength training as I should have been so I am going to make sure that I put more effort into it over the next several weeks.  With all of these miles, I know I’m more susceptible to injury, especially if I’m not caring for my body.  I’ve been working on my nutrition for the past couple of months and have even been using an app to keep track of everything I eat.  As a runner, it’s easy to overestimate how much you can eat, even when logging a lot of miles.  I’ve found this to be a useful tool to make sure that I am eating a variety of foods, especially my fruits and vegetables.  Lastly, hydration.  I sit at a desk all day for work so I am making sure that I drink 32 ounces of water before lunch and another 32 ounces after work.  I do not do as well on the weekends but it’s a work in progress.  

Want to follow my progress?  Follow me on Instagram @RunYoginiRun or search #trainwithorangemud

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Jenny Nakamura #TrainWithOrangeMud Update! April 27 2016, 0 Comments

Jenny Nakamura #TrainWithOrangeMud Update!

I moved to Phoenix in late 2011. Shortly thereafter I made the decision and started training for my first marathon. The New York City Marathon was supposed to be my first, but then Hurricane Sandy happened and we all know how that went. So I restructured my goals and my training and ran the 20th Anniversary Walt Disney World marathon as my first marathon instead.

A year later I made it to New York City and ran my fastest & favorite marathon to date; 5 boroughs, 26.2 miles in 4 hours and 35 minutes!

For my first 3 marathons, I had a super specific training plan that I followed to the letter.I very rarely missed a day and it was super exciting to be hitting mileage goals that I’d set for myself. With such specific training I didn’t always listen to my body and had an issue with my hamstring that still bothers me from time to time today.

Fast forward 3 years, 6 more marathons, amazing destinations like Rome & Venice, Italy, no specific training plan, slower times, and no new marathon PRs. When I picked the Vancouver USA marathon to be my 10th marathon, my birthday race and PR race, I picked it because it’s supposed to be flat & fast. I also didn’t have a lot on my race schedule at the time.

In the last 6 weeks, I’ve run 2 50ks, 2 half marathons, a 15k and a 5k along with many miles on the trails. It’s not a traditional training plan, and not necessarily one that I would advise anyone else to embark on but it’s worked for me.

My endurance is definitely at an all time high and my recovery from the 50ks has been amazing, with recovery runs the day after the race, active recovery at it’s finest. My race nutrition is still a work in progress but I feel like it’s slowly but surely coming together and using my Orange Mud VP1 has helped significantly so I can carry my own fuel with me vs. having to rely on aid stations.

My focus for the next 6-8 weeks is to work on increasing my speed on longer runs, get used to running in the heat and to continue working on my nutrition.

Happy Running!

Follow Jenny on Instagram and Twitter@runnylegs

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Three Amigos Take On the SISU Iron April 26 2016, 0 Comments

Three guys walk into a park – one from Illinois, one from California, and the other from Wisconsin. Sounds like the start to a classic joke, right? But this is far from a joke. These three friends - Jesus Chavez (39 years old), Anthony Lazo (25 years old), and Chad Weberg (42 years old) – are about to embark on one of the toughest challenges that exist and hope to emerge as “unbreakable athletes”. In less than two weeks, these three amigos will be traveling to Monrovia Canyon Park (California) to take on the SISU Iron.

Left: Jesus Chavez, Top Right: Anthony Lazo, Bottom Right: Chad Weberg

 

When and where is the SISU Iron? April 29th – May 1st in Camp Trask in Monrovia Canyon Park in California.

What is the SISU Iron to you?

[Jesus]: SISU Iron is an extreme endurance race formed by people that have completed several of the toughest races around. Their mantra is "Forging Unbreakable Athletes".

[Anthony]: A 30+ hour endurance event, to test your true GRIT!

[Chad]: A 30+ hour endurance challenge. This includes both mental and physical challenges. A required gear list is supplied. A few of the items make you think “what did I sign up for?” 30 pack of diapers, baby doll, axe, saw, etc.

Is this your first event like this?

[Jesus]: No, I have finished multiple day races. For example the 66 hour Death Race, 36 hour Ultimate SUCK and a 24 hour Legend of the Death race – of which I won.

[Anthony]: No, I have competed in a Tough Mudder, a Death Race with Jesus and Chad, and the 2014 SISU Iron.

[Chad]: No. I’ve done two Death Races.

How have you trained for the SISU Iron?

[Jesus]: Crossfit Joliet / Undisputed Strength is where I train the most. It's collegiate style weight room, focusing on speed, strength and athleticism. Brandon "The Broiler" Kelly's programming has been the main factor in finishing these races. And Avery YMCA is my second home and where this journey first started.

[Anthony]: I honestly haven’t trained much, but I believe the SISU Iron to be more of a mental game more than anything else.

[Chad]: Trail running / hiking. I heat my farm with wood, so splitting wood all winter is a favorite activity. Hopefully, there will be a little of that at the IRON. I have also studied some of the US Presidents and Morse code, because there have been hints of needing to know a little about these topics for the event.

Are you doing this as a team or individually?

[Jesus]: Races like this are usually team oriented at first, but then it eventually splinters off into an individual race.

[Anthony]: The SISU Iron is a different beast in all! We will most likely start as a team, but as the hours add up it will turn into an individual battle.

[Chad]: I always start these events as a team. Not necessarily with a specific group, but you build a team as you go. If you see someone in need – you help them. This is how new friendships are formed at events like this.

What are you most looking forward to?

[Jesus]: I'm most looking forward to seeing friends that I usually only see once or twice a year. Although some of these people I have only met during these races, you created such a special bond that you look forward to embracing the suck together.

[Anthony]: Being out of my comfort zone, and meeting with all the athletes there. This OCR / Endurance community is really kick butt!

[Chad]: Seeing old friends and meeting new ones.

What are you least looking forward to?

[Jesus]: There's really nothing that I'm not looking forward to. If you have a negative mindset coming into this then you're not going to do well.

[Anthony]: The infamous camp trask pond <sigh> . . . that thing spawned the swamp thing, as well as, poison oak! Which I know 100% that I will be getting it! AGAIN!

[Chad]: Don Devaney . . . he’s an old friend, but he is helping to organize the race this year and will be there to put us through hell! He is a sick man and that’s why I love him. We’ll hug before the event starts and can continue being friends on Monday. <Grin>

What is your WHY for doing this event?

[Jesus]: My ”WHY” in anything I do is to be a better human being. If I strive to become a better version of myself, then I can become a better father, husband and friend. I need to be a stronger version of myself to raise my daughters to become amazing individuals.

[Anthony]: The first time I did the SISU Iron it was for my birthday since it landed on May 4th. This time will be to test myself. Also Jesus wanted me to run it with him, so I agreed and forced my friend, Daniel Kim, to join in on all the fun too!

[Chad]: To push myself both mentally and physically with a bunch of like-minded friends.

How do you define success of the SISU Iron?

[Jesus]: My success is not defined by finishing the race. I want to be known as the guy that gave everything he had, raced with integrity, and was an awesome teammate. Finishing would be nice, but not the determining factor in a success.

[Anthony]: I’m happy with just meeting and being around the community of people willing to torture themselves, pushing themselves to be the best they can be, and still standing around them at the 30 hour mark.

[Chad]: Starting the event and trying your best.

Do you have anything planned beyond this event?

[Jesus]: I'm signed up for the 36 hour Ultimate Suck in September 2016. Also, on my radar is the 12 hour Spartan Hurricane Heat and the 24 hour Catamount games.

[Anthony]: I do not. I tend to be more spontaneous with my events . . . I didn't even sign up for this event until April 15th!

[Chad]: A 50 mile trail ultra-marathon in July, and hopefully, a few longer races / events this coming Fall.

Rapid Fire Questions:

Nicknames: [Jesus]: Jesse and Mas Chingons, [Anthony]: Lazo, [Chad]: Cheeseburger Eddie

Home City / State: [Jesus]: Plainfield, Illinois, [Anthony]: Corona, California, [Chad]: Mazomanie, Wisconsin

Occupation: [Jesus]: Tech Engineer / Land Surveyor for Walsh Const., [Anthony]: Project Consultant, [Chad]: Manufacturing Manager for a Theatrical Lighting and Rigging Manufacturer

Most Favorite Food: [Jesus]: Tacos, [Anthony]: Burritos, [Chad]: Bacon Cheeseburger. Hence the nickname Cheeseburger Eddie. I’ve been known to carry McDonald’s cheeseburgers in my pack during ultra-races. Fuel for me and to help fellow racers.

Least Favorite Food: [Jesus]: Fish, [Anthony]: Green beans, [Chad]: Sushi

Favorite Music: [Jesus]: Metal (Bullet for My Valentine), [Anthony]: Oldies (Classic Rock), [Chad]: Country

Favorite Vacation Place: [Jesus]: Mexico – Cancun area, [Anthony]: Tennessee (Knoxville), [Chad]: Hayward, Wisconsin. Quiet time in the woods or out on the lake.

Favorite Color: [Jesus]: Blue, [Anthony]: Blue, [Chad]: Red

Favorite Mantra: [Jesus]: Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind always. [Anthony]: I can't stop, because I won't stop! [Chad]: I have to always go back to the old Death Race saying. “Every man dies but not every man lives”.

Top Left: Anthony Lazo and Jesus Chavez, Bottom Left: Jesus Chavez and Chad Weberg, Right: Chavez’s Medal Display

For more information on the SISU Iron, visit the website.

 

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Ultramarathon checklist April 22 2016, 0 Comments

Ultramarathon checklist

Photo credit: Lindsey Shiflett

It takes months of time and dedication to train for an ultramarathon. The last thing you want is for something to go wrong on race day…because you forgot to pack a necessary item. Because of that, I’ve created an “Ultrarunning Packing Checklist” that I’ve used from race distances of a 50k (approximately 31 miles) up to a 100 miler. Of course, this list will vary based on terrain, weather, race location, etc, but I’ve found for the most part, this list works pretty well for any race. When you run long distances, it’s not unheard of to have a 30° temperature fluctuation during a race, necessitating various clothing items; or literally running through a pair of shoes and needing to change into a spare set. Sure, it may look silly to have a big bin of items come race day, but I haven’t found myself without a necessity yet! Remember, always check the weather before your race (usually a day or two before your race, or before traveling to the race location), but don’t check excessively—you can’t change the weather, so there’s no reason to stress yourself out over it! Pack right, and you can concentrate on what’s important—having fun running an ultra!

What I carry on my person during the race

  • Orange Mud Hydraquiver Vest Pack 2
  • 1 orange OM bottle (for Heed)
  • 1 clear OM bottle (for water)—having the different colored bottles makes telling volunteers what I need simple
  • my phone in a Lifeproof Fre (waterproof) case—I occasionally listen to podcasts, audiobooks, or music. But even if I didn’t, I like having the potential to call if I need emergency assistance (if I’m lucky enough to have cell service)
  • pre downloaded podcasts, music playlists, and audiobooks (in case of no cell service)
  • headphones
  • snacks—my favorites include peanut butter power balls (homemade), PB&J sandwiches cut into quarters, banana halves, orange slices, Honey Stinger waffles, and CHEX MIX (I swear, Chex Mix is what got me through my 100 when I couldn’t eat anything else). You may be wondering why I carry food when most ultras have fully stocked aid stations. I do this because you never know when something you need/want might run out at the aid station; or in the rush and madness of your race, you just simply forget to grab all the fuel you need at the station. I try to consume 150-250 calories an hour, and if I’m carrying some of my own food, I always know I can manage this.
  • no zip, plastic sandwich bags (for trash; for easily accessible snacks)
  • a Ziploc bag with a sample pack of Biofreeze, a sample pack of Vaseline/Body Glide/Trail Toes, a couple Tylenol, a couple electrolyte capsules or salt packets, pre rolled toilet paper (make your own from regular rolls, no need to spring for the store bought pre rolls), pre cut moleskin of varying sizes, a few band-aids, a safety bin for on the go blister piercing, and Gin-Gins candy for upset stomach issues.

What I keep in my dropbag (a clear plastic bin for easy visibility)

  • a big Ziploc with medical-type supplies—Tylenol, a stick of Body Glide, Biofreeze, Moleskin, KT tape (I pre-tape both my knees before any long race), scissors, bandaids, toilet paper, single use heating pads, safety pins, Tums, sunscreen, bug spray -no zip plastic sandwich bags
  • duct tape (for fixing shoes, other gear)
  • large garbage bags (for trash, dirty shoes, dirty clothes)
  • snacks—more of what I carry in my OM Vest, but also some extras like Gummi Bears, chips, sunflower seeds, peanut butter, gum, whatever I think might be appealing when forcing myself to eat
  • Heed (in case the race doesn’t have the flavor I prefer)
  • extra pair of headphones
  • portable charging device
  • headlamp charging cable (or extra batteries)
  • phone charging cable
  • dry sacks (sometimes I’ll categorize items in different colored dry/stuff sacks to make finding items easier)
What I keep at camp (because I almost always camp before and/or after an ultra)
  • Orange Mud transition towel
  • compression socks for after the race
  • compression tights for after the race
  • warm jacket or hoodie
  • slide sandals
  • tent
  • sleeping bag
  • sleeping pad (you don’t want to be stiff the morning of a big race because of an inadequate sleeping pad)
  • pillow (use clothes in a stuff sack, or an empty bag from boxed-wine works great)
  • camp chair
  • toothbrush and toothpaste
  • prescription medications/vitamins
  • meals for the days before and after my race
  • Jetboil
  • cup; plate; spork
  • camp suds (they work for dishes and showering)
  • personal pack towel
  • cooler and ice
  • coffee
  • beer
  • muscle roller stick
  • wallet/ID
Clothing, shoes, and accessories (weather dependent)
  • shorts, capris, tights
  • Tech tee (racerback, short sleeve, long sleeve)
  • hats (heavy duty beanie, lightweight beanie, billed trucker)
  • headband (fleece lined, non-lined)
  • rain jacket
  • gloves (2 pairs—in case you lose one)
  • bandana
  • hair ties
  • sunglasses
  • compression calf sleeves
  • socks (I wear a pair of extra-light cushioning toe socks, and my favorite pair of unicorn socks over the toe socks)
  • Hokas (2 pairs)
  • a GPS watch
  • headlamp

Guest article by Nikki Klein

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Fake Tahoe: The Land of Fire and Ice and Bike-Swim-Bike-Run April 19 2016, 1 Comment

Fake Tahoe: The Land of Fire and Ice and Bike-Swim-Bike-Run

Ironman Lake Tahoe 2014, The Journey of One Girl Towards an Undeniable Finish Line

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Lake Tahoe is notorious for having been one of the most challenging Ironman courses in North America and beyond… 1) for the fact that it’s extremely unpredictable as far as weather and conditions are concerned and 2) because it’s situated at 6-7,000 feet of elevation with over 6700 feet of elevation gain throughout the bike course. Needless to say, as a girl from New Orleans, I was terrified of this race for the greater part of a year!

When I arrived in Tahoe, I vividly remember walking over to pick up my bike box at the airport and by the time I had pulled it to the front door, I was out of breath. Great! I figured I was in for a real treat once I had to do actual physical activity. I spent the first day acclimating to my new environment and doing absolutely nothing. It was concerning from day one, when I learned of 2 nearby forest fires, one only about 10 miles away, that were producing smoke that would fill Lake Tahoe and the entire surrounding valley for the coming week. Each day, I tolerated the smoke as it came and was smart about when to call it quits. After all, I was saving myself for race day.

The morning of the race, I woke up to smoke filling the inside of our hotel room and knew that things weren’t looking good. We proceeded to get everything together as normal and took the long shuttle bus ride to race start. When we got there, music was blaring, volunteers were everywhere and it looked like your typical Ironman event: ready to rock and roll! The air surrounding the lake was clear and the water was still, much different than any of the days I had practiced in this “lake” with its 5-foot waves and surfers riding them. Everything was looking great to start the race. We were lined up on King’s Beach, toes in the water, waiting to begin our individual journeys.

The race was literally cancelled about 5 minutes prior to the start, out of safety concerns for athletes, volunteers and the general public. I understand and respect Ironman’s decision to cancel that day, however devastating it may have been to the 1900+ athletes that had traveled from all over the world to be there and made unbelievable personal sacrifices in order to get to that starting line. I’ve never seen so many grown men crying in one place before. It was terrible! I too, sniffled for all of about 5 seconds. Just then, I got that feeling when you just “know” and told myself, “I’m doing it.” Now don’t go thinking I was trying to go against WTC rulings or trying to prove a point to anybody. I wasn’t. I had been dealing with this smoke for the past week and had been smart about not training in it when it got bad. I was saving myself for this one day and I hadn’t come all the way to Lake Tahoe to vacation. I wasn’t going home without a fight. In true ER nurse fashion, I strapped my N-95 mask on and began my journey.

Because of the layout of Lake Tahoe and the mountains, I had a few logistical issues with the flow of my race. I swam in the middle of my bike ride, which is a bit of a change from the usual race day flow. But all in all, the day was extremely pleasant. No pressure, just me and the road and this mission I had set out to accomplish. It’s funny, everyone is so shocked that someone would go out and do this with no crowds and no support. But guess what? That’s what we do every day in training! I don’t always need a man on a microphone (I love you, Mike Reilly!!!) to tell me I’m an Ironman (although I would later get that anyway). Training for these things is the real journey… the every day, silent, long hours that go into even getting to that starting line. So this part was no big deal. I was merely earning the medal that they had already handed out to me (yes, this was the only race I have ever done where I got the medal first and then finished!)

Despite wearing an N-95 mask under my helmet for over 6 hours, the bike ride was really nice. Elevation was not an issue for me, and the hills, well, I had prepared myself way better than I thought! I only stopped breathing (ok, I’m being dramatic) twice on 2 of the bigger climbs and the scenery is SO AMAZING that you almost forget you’re doing work. The smoke got progressively better throughout the course of the day and by the time I was on the run, I didn’t need the mask at all.

The marathon was a special experience. By this time, I was aware that there were a few others out on the course and we had already formed a special bond through waves and cheers. Their people became my people and I found myself with random strangers checking on me well into the night. One thing I learned about running a marathon on a mountain is that it is PITCH BLACK. Talk about not being able to see your hand in front of your face! I even had a light on my race belt, but it was still incredibly difficult to navigate the run path in this environment. Towards the second half of the run, I found myself doing loops around our hotel (yay) so that I could see where I was going. This is about the equivalent of running on a treadmill for me, so that part was not very exciting, but I had to get the miles in. About 5 miles from the finish, I decided to detour up the mountain a bit to where the finish line would have been. To my surprise, I was greeted by bright lights, music and about 20 screaming people. I jokingly said, “Wait, I’m not done!” A “guy named Matt,” now on board as a good friend and one of the best Ironman cheerleaders I know), was there leading the group. He started running with me and asked how many miles I had left. I told him 5, and he said, “Great, we’ll be here waiting for you.” I told him they did NOT have to do that and asked about what family members or friends they had come here to support. He responded, “You. We’ve been watching you all day. We came back here for YOU!” WHAT?!?!?! I couldn’t believe these strangers were getting crazy at almost midnight on a dark abandoned mountain for ME…So I continued to run for almost the next hour with a renewed sense of excitement for my once “virtual”, now very much real Ironman Lake Tahoe finish line.

When I did come in for the finish, I had my very own announcer complete with microphone and loudspeaker, refreshments, an unofficial bedazzled heart necklace and a 1999 Ironman New Zealand bag that one of my new friends had scratched out and scribbled “Ironman Lake Tahoe 2014” in its place. These people were hugging and kissing me like I had known them my entire life. They took pictures and videos and did everything in their power to make the culmination of that initially very disappointing day an incredibly amazing finish! I formed a special bond with them in that moment that has now grown beyond Lake Tahoe. These are my kind of people; these are friendships that will forever remind me that our triathlon community is truly amazing.

As if it couldn’t get any better, two months following the event, on November 14th, my wildest dream came true. Ironman announced a handful of members of the Ironman Lake Tahoe community who had shown up, checked in and signed up for another race in 2015, that would receive the “golden ticket” to race in the 2015 Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii... and MY name was on that list! I knew that day in Lake Tahoe was special for many personal reasons, but as it turns out, the decision I made to follow my dreams resulted in the ultimate reward. This was Ironman #4 of 9 for me, but definitely the most important and special one of the bunch. I did it for ME. I did it because it’s in my blood and it’s what I had come to do. I’m proud to be the only known female member of the “Unofficial 6” that finished Ironman Lake Tahoe that day. I learned that if you really want to achieve something, be smart, be safe and go out and get it! I’m glad I did.

Never give up,

Jenn Garnand

www.conqueringkona.com

@conqueringkona on Instagram

@conqueringkona on Twitter

 

 

 

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Runner Files: Rachel Bell Kelley March 21 2016, 0 Comments

Runner Files: Rachel Bell Kelley

“If you are going to do something you should do it to the best of your ability” – Rachel Bell Kelley

Rachel grew up playing soccer and running track. While she has been running for quite a while now, Rachel has only been running trail and ultra events for about four years. Her soccer coach once told her to always smile. Her coach believed participation in sports should first and foremost bring joy to the athlete. While running can be painful at times Rachel always remembers to put a smile on her face. It helps to remind her that at the end of the day she is out there to have fun.

Rachel was introduced to trail running when she moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She met a great group of trail runners, adopted an awesome trail running pup and hasn’t looked back!

While Rachel has experienced podium successes, her greatest accomplishment to date is staying healthy and injury free. Four years might not sound like a long time to be in a sport but when you are putting the amount of training time in required for ultra distance events, it’s quite an accomplishment to stay healthy! Rachel’s key to staying injury free is listening to her body (which can be very difficult for runners to do when a goal is on the horizon). While Rachel isn’t afraid to push herself when feeling good she also does not hesitate to pull back if warning signs flare up.

Rachel has some pretty epic goals on the horizon! She would love to be able to properly train for and finish the Hardrock 100 Mile Endurance Run. Hardrock is one of the most challenging races out there. It has a tremendous amount of elevation change and takes place entirely at or above 10,000 feet elevation. Rachel lives at sea level with the nearest mountains three hours away. This means Rachel will have to get creative with her training in order to accomplish her goals; speed work and stair climbing can simulate the challenges of mountain races. Above all else, Rachel’s biggest goal is to be able to continue racing for years to come so that she can continue to share her passion for the sport and inspire others. Right on, Rachel!

Running ultra distances is so much more than physical training. Nutrition is key. As a result, Rachel has had to reintroduce meat into her diet after being a vegetarian for nearly a decade. Being a vegetarian was just one more thing to think about when packing for and travelling to races. Rachel now sticks primarily to veggies, nuts, seeds and local meats while avoiding gluten and dairy. Dialing in nutrition is a huge challenge for distance runners and so far this method is working for Rachel.

Rachel first saw Orange Mud at a race she was volunteering at. At the time, she was new to trail running and looking for a way to simplify hydration. She tried Orange Mud and was hooked! Rachel’s go to product is the Hydraquiver Vest Pack 1. She loves the bottle based hydration because it enables her to mix in hydration products easily while always knowing how much she has left. Rachel also really digs the front pockets on the VP1; she’s able to carry everything she needs for her racing and training!

We’re super pumped to have Rachel on our team here at Orange Mud. Follow Rachel while she continues to crush her goals and inspire fellow runners @wisp_kelley on Instagram.

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Train with Orange Mud! March 17 2016, 0 Comments

Train with Orange Mud!

We here at Orange Mud are beyond excited to introduce the winners of our Train with Orange Mud contest! Over the next few months we will be documenting these athletes training processes and cheering them on as they strive to achieve their monumental goals.

Search the hashtag #TrainWithOrangeMud to follow along on their journeys 

Denny “The Mad One” Hodge

 

Denny started running during his time in the Marines. He ran a lot and he hated it. Fast forward to 2010. Ten years out of the Marines -- and 60 pounds’ overweight -- Denny started running again. A little at first, then a lot. He skipped the 5k and ran a 10k.; skipped the half marathon and ran a full 26.2. After that he jumped into the ultra world. Denny hated running off road. That changes after his first 50k. Despite his aversion for trails, Denny signed up for the Nashville Trail Ultra and the rest is history. Now he seeks out trails to run every chance he gets. In true Denny form he is skipping the 50-mile distance and going straight from 50k to 100 miles! Denny plans to tackle (or get tackled by) the Georgia Jewel 100-mile race. The Georgia Jewel runs along the Georgia Pinhoti trail, spanning five mountains, with over 16,000 feet of elevation. Denny is getting into training mode and is focusing on his nutrition and overall conditioning. The 100-mile distance is more than just being in running shape; it’s about mental fortitude and being ready for anything.  The Orange Mud VP2 will be Denny’s weapon of choice in Georgia. He has his Gold USMC Eagle globe and anchor insignia attached; it gives him that Marine motivation. Denny’s journey is going to be epic and we can’t wait to cheer him on. Follow Denny “The Mad One” Hodge on Instagram - @_The_Mad_1 and Twitter - @_The_Mad_1

Jenny “Runnylegs” Nakamura

Jenny is a gal who wears many hats. She is a runner, a foodie and avid traveler.  She is training for her 10th marathon at the Vancouver USA marathon on June 19.  Jenny’s training plan is a little nontraditional; She has a lot of races coming up before her goal marathon, including 3 - 50k's and 3 half marathons. Jenny chose the Vancouver USA marathon, mostly because she has never been to Portland and can't wait to explore the food scene! Vancouver USA is also perfect for Jenny because it’s the same week of her birthday and the course is flat and fast and features some of the most beautiful sights the Pacific Northwest has to offer; a perfect recipe for a PR.  Jenny’s goal for this race is to break her current marathon PR of 4:35. In order to accomplish her goal she is focusing on running smart, avoiding injury and dialing in her nutrition strategy. Jenny hydrates using the Orange Mud Vest Pack 2; she is a superb blogger and takes some epic pictures. Follow along in her journey on her my blog www.runny-legs.com or on Instagram &/or Twitter by following @runnylegs.

Mallory “RunYogingRun” Billings-Litke

Mallory lives in Providence, RI and is training for the Stonecat 50 miler in Ipswich, MA on November 5. Stonecat takes runners on a “runnable” technical single track course through some beautiful Northeast foliage.  As the year progresses she will be consistently increasing her mileage so her body is ready for the fifty-mile distance.  At the posting of this blog, Mallory’s immediate goal is Pineland Farms 50k in New Gloucester, ME.  2016 is going to be a big year for Mallory; she is determined to enter the world of ultra marathons and has hired a running coach to help her prepare. Despite having asthma, Mallory has always been determined to prove to herself that no goal is out of reach. It is for this reason that her training is always focused on training smart and remaining injury free. She also believes in the importance of hydrating and out of the MANY different brands of packs she has tested has fallen in love with the Orange Mud Hydraquiver Double Barrel. She love it because it fits well on her body and holds everything she needs for racing and long training runs. Mallory is super pumped to be a part of the running community and feeds of it’s tremendous camaraderie and support. We here at Orange Mud are just super Pumped to have her on our team! Follow along with Mallory as she crushes her goals in 2016. Check her out on Instagram at @RunYoginiRun or shoot me her a tweet at @RunYoginiRunMBL   

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Runner Files: Deo Jaravata - A running legend in our books! March 17 2016, 1 Comment

Runner Files: Deo Jaravata - A running legend in our books!

“I’m not a fast runner. But I know how to finish and how to enjoy any race” – Deo Jaravata

When Deo turned thirty years old he felt as if something in his life was missing. He was easily depressed and just not feeling fulfilled. A friend recommended that he try running so, in 1997, Deo joined a running club. Shortly thereafter, he began training for the Los Angeles Marathon. Flash forward 20 years… and Deo, now fifty years old, is one marathon away from having run 400 marathon or greater distance events. We’ll give you a second to re-read that in case you’re still in disbelief…

Deo is a high school math teacher who runs for physical and mental health. He comes from a family of runners. His father coached track and field when Deo and his sister is also a marathon runner, so it’s no surprise that Deo turned out to be such a prolific runner. In 2011 alone, he ran fifty-two marathon or greater distance races. That’s a marathon or ultra every weekend! Almost equally as impressive, he scheduled out each race and travel logistics for all of 2011 in the last few weeks of 2010.

In order to be able to run so many long distance events, Deo has to be careful not to over train. It’s a delicate balance. On one hand his body needs to be kept up so that it can handle the rigor of so many miles and on the other he needs to be sure he’s ready for each event by not over doing it in between. It is for these reasons that Deo’s training is always in flux. Deo sets a plan for himself determined by the frequency of his events and sticks to it. He’s found that running two to five times a week 3 to 6 miles a run and then racing on the weekends works for him. It also doesn’t hurt that he gets massages regularly! Deo’s ultimate goal is to run a marathon or ultra in every state and on every continent. With his running prowess, we think he can surely accomplish this goal.

You’re probably wondering how Deo fuels himself for his epic lifestyle. In his own words he “pretty much eats everything in sight.” He’s always careful not to eat anything crazy the night or two before a race and uses Carbopro to fuel during his races.

Deo stumbled upon Orange Mud after years of being frustrated with bladder style hydration packs. He loves the Hydraquiver Vest Pack 2 because it’s so easy to refill during races. Over the last couple of years Deo’s trademark has been the Elsa doll (from the Disney movie Frozen) that he straps to the back of his VP2. He can also be heard singing the hit song, “Let it Go” from the previously mentioned movie. As you can tell, Deo is a fun guy to be around out on the trail.

If you want to follow along as Deo pushes past the 400 marathon mark check him out on Instagram @deojerome

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Runner File: Kevin Bartow February 29 2016, 0 Comments

Runner File: Kevin Bartow

“When I finished my first 50 miler, which was my first ultra, I cried like a baby. It was like a religious experience.” –Kevin Bartow

If we had to describe Orange Mud Ambassador Kevin Bartow in one word we’d probably use “passionate.” Kevin is extremely passionate about being the best version of himself he can be. As a dedicated husband, father and personal trainer, it’s safe to say that by living his own life to the fullest he is helping to make the lives of the people around him better every day.

In high school Kevin was a self-described “orchestra dweeb.” As one of the smaller kids he often felt overlooked in team sports. One day his buddy Jeff suggested he join the cross country team. For Jeff, running made him feel like he could do anything. That stuck with Kevin and he decided to join the team! Today, Kevin refers to his participation in the sport of running as his “therapy” and he’s been taking it more seriously lately.

In 2014 Kevin conquered the Can Lake 50 mile endurance run, his first 50-miler! Most people would probably say that running their first 50 mile race is their greatest running achievement to date. But, Kevin isn’t most people. Kevin really loves helping other people achieve their goals; he makes his living doing just that. In fact, one of Kevin’s proudest moments in running was when he helped his wife, Gia, complete her first half marathon.

Kevin credits his success in running to his alternative training style. As a personal trainer he strength trains “like an animal.” Kevin finds solace in his unconventional training; he trains using kettle bells, slosh pipes, sledgehammers and huge tires. While training for ultra-marathons certainly requires logging lots of miles, Kevin believes that “turning your body into a tank” can’t hurt.

Kevin is an athlete through and through, but his greatest accomplishments have nothing to do with running. Kevin’s number one passion is his family. Being a husband and father drives him to be a better person. Living a healthy lifestyle is a tool he uses to set a great example for his kids!

The way Kevin found out about Orange Mud is actually a very cool story. His friend (also an Orange Mud ambassador) Ray gave Kevin his first Hydraquiver vest and it was love at first wear. The cool part is that Kevin has since gifted that same Hydraquiver to another runner in need! Kevin also loves the Orange Mud super soft everyday shirt; “it’s like being hugged by puppies.” Sounds pretty amazing to us!

Kevin has been running more relaxed recently since switching to running by feel and ditching his Garmin. He’s got some big goals on the horizon in 2016 including the C&O Canal 100 mile race in Maryland.

If you’re looking for some fitness inspiration follow Kevin on Instagram at @exuberantrunning and on Facebook at “Salty Anchor Fitness.”

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Training Priorities February 23 2016, 0 Comments

Training Priorities

Guest writer, Orange Mud Ambassador, John Stasulli

“The support of my family is what allows me to achieve my goals” – John Stasulli

Many times both on and off the trail I have heard others say “I can’t do a long distance race because I work…have a family…don’t have time…etc.” In fact, this is one of the biggest reasons I hear from people regarding why they don’t train for longer distances.   

People have often asked me “You are married and have a career; how do you find the time to train”? I’ve even had people at times question whether I did have a family or career. Whether you are training for a 5k or a 100mi race, there is a certain degree of life-balance that goes along with that training.

I have identified what I believe to be the steps necessary to achieve a comfortable balance between life and training. This of course will change slightly from person-to-person, but at its core, this will get you there!

1. Identify and prioritize your goals

Many people have an idea of what their goals are. Finish a 5k without walking, qualify for the Boston Marathon, or even get a sub-24 finish at a 100mi race. What you don’t hear reference to is how they prioritize that goal within their life. For me, my life is structured around Family, Career, and Running; in that order. While this is the order of my priorities, I also work to align those priorities around my training.

2. Determine sacrifices to support your goals and priorities.

Regardless of your goal and what you are training for, sacrifices will need to be made. This step is all about the unification between your goals and priorities. Having priorities doesn’t mean you have to give up on a goal, it simple means you need to determine what sacrifices you need to make to satisfy life’s priorities and your goals.  

My personal balance comes down to time. The majority of my running is done early in the morning while my family is still asleep. Waking up at 4:00am everyday to complete my runs while my family is still sleeping is not uncommon; In fact, it is the norm. This allows me to devote time to my family and career with the least impact to others as possible.

4am on Dana Peak Trail

3. Inclusion (optional) 

Inclusion won’t apply to everyone, but for my family and I, it has made a huge difference in my training and race participation. The support of my family is what has allowed me to achieve my goals. Let’s face it; attending trail races, even semi-local ones, often times turns into a weekend affair. Telling your family “Hey…What do you think about me going to another race” doesn’t always sit well. Remember your priorities? My family and I worked out an awesome compromise that benefits us all! For the longest time we camped when I went to races. Well my wife is NOT a camper. This past November she accompanied me (in a tent) at a 24hr race, Jackalope Jam 24hr. On the way home from that race she says to me “Why don’t we look at a small camper? I could go to races with you that way”. I guess I don’t need to tell you how we attend races now! Now while my wife still doesn’t like me running the long races (she is my wife and concerned about my well-being), at least now we are doing it together! This year we have taken our new camper out to 3 different races already, visited 3 different state parks, and having an absolutely great time together! Having your family behind you makes your training and races even better!

My wife joining me at Bandera 100k

The important thing to remember is that you can still achieve your goals even when you have a family and career. You just need to be able to identify your priorities and determine what sacrifices you need to make to support your priorities.

These very steps were key for me last year. In 2015 I had 2 rather lofty running goals.

  1. Run 2,015 mi in 2015
  2. 365 day running streak.
While for many of you these may not be very challenging, it was actually a very big step for me in terms of running especially when you consider that in 2014 I only ran 1,288 miles. As far as the running streak goes, I am happy to announce that as of today, I am on day 416 of my running streak and family still comes first!

 

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Runner File: Rachel Ragona February 18 2016, 2 Comments

Runner File: Rachel Ragona

“The desire to fulfill my potential is what keeps me going” – Rachel Ragona

When Rachel was in her teens she started running to school a few days a week to save her bus money so that she could use it to go out with friends. Much to her surprise, Rachel soon discovered that she actually enjoyed running!

Rachel was inspired after seeing Paula Radcliffe set the world record at the London Marathon in 2003. While this sparked her curiosity it was a while before Rachel worked up the courage to start racing. About seven years ago Rachel started her racing career with some 5ks, 10ks and sprint triathlons. Flash forward to 2015 and Rachel’s running prowess has grown exponentially. In 2015 Rachel knocked out four challenging 100-mile trail races, while also setting a sub-3:15 road marathon PR. While she is (rightfully so) super proud of these accomplishments her greatest accomplishment is that she is still able to run. While Rachel truly loves running to its core, running does not and has never come easily to her.

Injury has definitely been Rachel’s greatest obstacle to achieving her athletic pursuits. Even in her early days of running to school Rachel struggled with biomechanical issues which led to constantly being injured. Rachel has found creative ways to diversify her training so that she can continue racing and checking goals off her bucket list. First and foremost Rachel factors in a few off months each year which allows her to focus on racing and training for 8-9 months of the year. Rachel practices banded exercises, strength and balance work weekly in an effort to stave off injury before it happens. Rachel’s ultimate goal for 2016 (and hopefully every year thereafter!) is to have a full year uninterrupted by injuries.

Rachel’s favorite Orange Mud product is her “Jet-Pack,” also known as her Hydraquiver Vest Pack 2. She is also never far from her Transition Towel which is now a permanent fixture on her car seat. Believe it or not, Rachel discovered Orange Mud from a pop-up ad online! She is now admittedly is addicted to her Orange mud gear! When racing and training Rachel fills her Orange Mud bottles with Proven Nutrition to stay hydrated and relies on Hammer Nutrition for fuel.

The best advice Rachel ever received wasn’t advice meant for her at all! While watching the Tour de France, commentator, Phil Liggett once said “that it comes down to who is able to suffer the most and still come through at the end.” This really stuck with Rachel. Rachel says that while she may not be the most naturally talented, or fastest out there, she is really good at suffering hard and not giving up! This is evident by the adversity she has already overcome. Growing up in foster care in Northern England Rachel has never given less than 110%. She now lives in Los Angeles, has a happy and healthy family, a degree in exercise physiology and a kick ass running resume. We here at Orange Mud are pumped and honored to have her on our team!

Rachel has some epic goals on the calendar for 2016. She’s vying the California Triple Crown of Ultrarunning. This is three 100-milers, each just one month apart: San Diego 100, Santa Barbara 100, and Angeles Crest 100. Hashtag impressive.

Follow Rachel on Instagram @rachel_ragona and cheer her on!

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Ready for a road trip to Big Bend National Park? February 11 2016, 0 Comments

Ready for a road trip to Big Bend National Park?

Big Bend National Park

Author: Nicki Klein

My boyfriend and I had plans to spend a couple weeks in Texas and decided that in-between visiting friends in Austin and the San Antonio area, we’d spend 3 nights in Big Bend National Park since neither of us had ever been.

Big Bend National Park is located in a remote part of southern Texas, and in some parts, is separated from Mexico only by the Rio Grande. For more than 1,000 miles, the Rio Grande forms the border between Mexico and the United States, 118 of which lie in Big Bend. In fact, the name Big Bend comes from a large bend in the river that bounds the park. The park covers 801,163 acres and is the largest protected area of Chihuahuan Desert topography and ecology in the United States.

 We knew we wanted to do some backcountry camping, and after perusing the National Park site, we decided on the Outer Mountain Loop trail, a 30 mile, 3 day, 2 night, strenuous hike. We arrived at the Persimmon Gap Visitor Center, the first visitor center reached in the Park when coming in from the town of Marathon, on Saturday January 2nd, in the late afternoon. The ranger advised us that we could pay our camp entrance fee ($25) there, and register for our primitive campground for the night ($12). She also suggested a nearby hike, and told us that she’d prefer we visit the Panther Junction Visitor Center in the morning to get permits for the Outer Mountain Loop hike since they’re closer to the trail, and more knowledgeable about the skills and requirements preferred for this trail’s hikers. With our fees paid, and the knowledge that the Panther Junction Center opened at 9am the next morning, we left and headed south to the two northernmost trails in the Park. Dog Canyon and Devil’s Den are a pair of narrow ravines in the Santiago Mountains, a thin range that forms a boundary between BBNP and Black Gap Wildlife Management Area. Unlike the trails we see in Louisiana that are tree lined and marked with paint (aka blazes), the shrubbery of south Texas does little in helping mark a path, so cairns (piles of rocks) are used instead. With only a couple of hours of daylight left, Brian and I walked and climbed along the steep, rocky hillsides of the two ravines before making our way back to the car.

Our campsite for the night was at Nine Point Draw, just south of the trails we’d just hiked. The site is not marked with a sign (the ranger said they’d been having trouble with people messing with it—why, I’m not sure), but her directions were accurate, and we were able to easily find it. We had the place to ourselves, and quickly set up our tent, and began cooking in the bear box at our site in order to block the wind from delaying our dinner time. We both tend to be simple eaters, so for this meal, and both of our other dinners on this trip, we’d put a packet of instant rice in our cookware (an indistinguishable metal pot on an MSR Pocket Rocket), followed by a can of corn, a can of black beans, and a small can of salsa (either verde or red). We didn’t drain any of them because leaving the liquid creates a soup-like meal. Heat until hot, and that’s dinner. Each night we’d also use my Jetboil to (super quick-like) heat water for tea. Brian said the tea kept him warm in the 30 degree temps. I said he’s crazy. After dinner, we walked the mile or so from our site to the main road, than along the Terilingua Ranch Road. We kept our headlamps off as much as possible, although we had to use them a couple times to prevent twisting an ankle on the heavily rutted road. Brian prefers his Black Diamond lamp, and I prefer my Petzl Tikka RXP (although a word of warming-this lamp will absolutely lose its charge in cold weather-I sleep with mine loosely around my neck, under my jacket, to keep it warm). Wanting to be completely packed and ready at the visitor center at 9am to get our permits, we called it an early night and went to bed.

I woke up the next morning warm (I’d stuffed myself into my 0F sleeping bag and worn mySmartwool socksPatagonia leggingsprAna pants, Smartwool baselayer shirt, prAna hooded shirt,Smartwool vestthe Northface Thermoball jacketNorthface gloves, and Backpacker beanie…I get cold easily*), but sore. The random piece of blue foam I’d slept on was absolutely not conducive to a good night’s sleep. Brian, on the other hand, was well rested having slept just fine on his Thermarest Trail Lite Sleeping Pad. *Side note: These are the same clothes I wore, in some variation, the entire trip. I fully attest to their durability and wicking capabilities. I never asked for Brian’s opinion, but he at least didn’t kick me out of the tent.

After we’d packed up and reached the Panther Junction Visitor Center, the ranger seemed apprehensive, to say the least, about our plans. She suggested that after caching water for the second half of our hike, and reaching the trail head, we’d be getting a late start on the 15 or so miles we’d need to complete that day. Instead, she suggested we do a day hike, camp at a primitive campground that night, then do a hike from the Chisos Basin the next day, backcountry camping on the South Rim, and hiking out our last planned day in the park. Rangers tend to err on the side of safety, but they generally have a good idea of what they’re talking about, so we went ahead and took her advice.

We decided to hike the Marufo Vega Loop, a trail that another ranger had told us was his favorite in the park. The NP site describes it as “a strenuous, but spectacular day hike or overnight backpacking trip.” With our daypacks packed with water and a few snacks and supplies, we headed out. Lucky for us, our trip in early January is a “perfect” time to go because the temperature never nears the 100F that can be reached at other times in the year. A sign at the beginning of the trail told us that the hike would be a 14-mile round-trip, close to the mileage we would have reached with our original plans.

The first section of the trail is flat, passing along mesquite, cacti and other brushy (and prickly) shrubbery.

But after less than a mile, the rocks appear. And the uphills. And the downhills. Switchbacks. Etc. And it never really gets easy again. But…the hike was spectacular. Although the clouds never let us see much blue in the sky, we didn’t get rained on, and the wispy clouds kept us guessing what we’d see next. We’d occasionally stop and try and see where the trail continued in the distance, but with all the switchbacks, cliffs, and canyons, what lay ahead was often a surprise.

 

 

After about 7 miles, we reached a sign that said an extra .5 mile would take us to the Rio. I enjoy the “details” (the small extras), as Brian likes to joke, so it was no surprise that I insisted on the additional trip. That half mile was straight down, obviously making the .5 mile back to the main trail straight up, but with all the elevation variation throughout the hike, this wasn’t necessarily any more strenuous than anything we’d already done.

We finished the hike in approximately 6 hours, and then got in our car and made the short drive to the Boquillas Canyon Trailhead. This was a short (1.5 mile roundtrip) hike that had been recommended to us by numerous people. The hike was quick, and beautiful.

 

For our final activity of the day, we drove to the Hot Springs, also known as Boquillas Hot Springs. The spring is part of a former resort developed by J.O. Langford in 1909. There is a short hike one can take to this location, and there are primitive (aka not Honda Civic friendly) roads, but there is also a 2 mile unpaved road that most cars can take to reach the Springs. This is the one we took. Our vehicle was fine, but taking an RV or trailer on that road is not advisable due to the various twists and turns (signage explains this). After parking our car, we made the short walk to the spring, passing petroglyphs left by Apaches many years ago. The spring is frequently submerged by the Rio Grande, but when we got there, the water was low, and soaking in the 105 F water was perfect after almost 17 miles of hiking.

Photo Credit: NPS Photo

After the sun went down, we rushed to change, and drove off in search of our campsite at Government Spring, the closest campsite to the Chisos Basin Visitor Center, where we’d start our hike the next day. We followed what was already becoming a routine: setting up our tent, making dinner, and drinking tea and set an alarm for early in the morning.

We woke up to darkness and packed up our gear and made breakfast (oatmeal mixed with peanut butter, flax and chia seeds, Louisiana honey, and half a banana—the same thing we’d eat for breakfast everyday, and also what we both eat most mornings anyways). With our bags packed for the backcountry portion of our trip we headed 6 miles south to the Visitor Center, having never seen our campsite surroundings from the night before.

Because we’d already gotten our permits and reserved our campsite for the night, as soon as we parked the car at the Chisos Basin Visitor Center and Lodge, we grabbed our packs and hit the trail. We’d purchased a Chisos Mountain map at the Visitor Center the day before, and decided that we’d hike up the Pinnacles Trail, and down the Laguna Meadow Trail the next morning.

 

Although we had more weight this first day, and the Pinnacles Trail is much more steep, we both knew our quads could handle the hike up Pinnacles better than our knees could handle the hike down. The day was very cloudy, and cold. In areas where the sun hadn’t reached, frost and (some) snow were visible.

 

Within a couple hours, we we’d hiked the 6.3 miles (and a little extra because we got “lost” looking for our campsite) and were reaching Southeast Rim Campsite #1, “one of the nation’s best campsites, according to Backpacker Magazine,” and per the ranger at Panther Junction. The views were supposed to be amazing, but when we reached the rim, all we saw was a bright white backdrop—we were contained within cloud upon cloud.

We set up our camp, the first time doing so in daylight on this trip, grabbed our daypacks, and spent the afternoon and early evening hiking approximately 10 additional miles along the SE, NE, E and SW rims, the Juniper Canyon Trail, the Boot Canyon Trail, and the Colima Trail. As the day progressed, so did the sun’s warmth, which I greatly appreciated, and occasionally the clouds would part, providing spectacular views of mountaintops (though we never saw what was below us).

 

Although it was only 5p, we were both starving, and the temperature was dropping. Dinner and tea were quick, and we were in our tent shortly after 6. We’d set an alarm for shortly before 6am, and although 12 hours in a tent is a LOT of time, the shelter from the misty clouds and chill provided by our all season tent was MUCH appreciated.

After a less than perfect nights rest (stupid blue foam pad), I turned on my headlamp and poked my head outside the tent. All I could see was condensation and mist…again, we were in the clouds.

We knew there was no point in trying to dry out any of our gear in this weather, so everything was packed up (we aired everything out when we got to our destination that night), oatmeal was eaten, and we headed along the South Rim Trail in order to meet up at the Laguna Meadow Trail junction and make our way back to the Basin. Other than a brief stop at the composting toilet (do your business, than put a scoop of compost on top and close the lid), we powered through the 5.8 miles back to the car. The clouds were less prevelant this morning, and we were actually able to see some of the Basin, although we never did see that “spectacular” view from our campsite (a Google image search later provided it was quite beautiful).

Even with the cold and overcast weather, I absolutely enjoyed my time in Big Bend. The variety of landscape really surprised me. What I expected to see was cacti, and instead I saw foliage, many different types of trees, grasses, rocks, canyons, meadows, etc. It seemed every turn took us to a different landscape. Big Bend truly was a jungle in the desert, and it definitely exceeded my expectations.

Tips and take home messages

With this trip, Brian and I learned what our hiking capabilities together truly were. As I mentioned earlier, rangers have to keep visitors safe, and they don’t know a hikers capabilities. Listen closely to a ranger’s suggestions, but also be confident in your own capabilities. You know your hiking style and experience better than anyone else. Looking back on our trip, we now know we could have done the Outer Mountain Loop trail as we’d planned. But, neither of us regrets the trails we did instead. We simply need to return to Big Bend to complete our original plan.

Be prepared for whatever park you go to. Know which roads your vehicle can handle. Research whether you need to cache water, get permits ahead of time or at the ranger station. Know what “the facilities” are like—in Big Bend, bring a trowel, and know you have to pack EVERYTHING out…that includes toilet paper. Sure, you’ll probably get away with hiding your waste under a rock, but don’t do it. Yuck. Make sure you have everything you need. Big Bend is remote: for last minute supplies, stop in the surrounding towns of Alpine or Marathon. There are some small gas stations in the park, but you’ll be paying much more for gas and amenities than you would at a locations outside the park. Finally, tell a responsible person what your plans are. Cell phone service is often unreliable in National Parks. All in all, PLAN!  Oh, and definitely break in your gear before you go–wear your hiking boots for a walk around the neighborhood, practice setting up your tent, know how to turn on (and off) your headlamp. Trying to get used to a new piece of gear in the wilderness is not fun, and can be downright dangerous.

If you plan ahead and are prepared, a trip to a National Park is a wonderful experience. And even if those plans change, that’s all part of the adventure. Enjoy it!

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Guest Blog Writing for Orange Mud February 02 2016, 0 Comments

Guest Blog Writing for Orange Mud

About Orange Mud

The premise of Orange Mud is simple, make the best dang gear on the market for athletes. “Innovation from frustration” is our motto, simply because so many products fall short of quality, functionality, and ease of use on the market.

The goal of our blog is to educate our customer base about our products, athletes, nutrition, clothes, shoes, socks, lube, tips, tricks, tools, and advice for endurance sports. Staying positive, educational, and keeping a personal touch to every post is the goal. Our team of independent experts and editors produce original content each week, including videos, infographics and articles. Orange Mud focuses on helping endurance athletes achieve success in four main areas: products awareness, nutrition, fitness tips and managing their health.

Familiarize yourself with our content, topics, tone and style at http://www.orangemud.com/blogs/orangemud.

What We Look for in Guest Posts

  • Relevancy: Our audience consists of endurance athletes. That doesn’t mean all are fast, some are 5k’s, some are 100 milers, some are very new, some are very experienced, some are back of the back, some are at the front. All content should be geared toward this audience. A good question to ask is, “How does this piece of content help endurance athletes?”
  • Educational information: Content should offer endurance athletes helpful and actionable insights that can help lead to a better active lifestyle.
  • Interesting angles and well-written copy: Find a unique angle to cover, highlight the most essential, valuable insights and provide clear take-aways.
  • Strong, Supported Ideas: Support points with examples, accredited data (please link directly to all data referenced), references (can be linked), even personal anecdotes—these can all help your advice better resonate with readers.
  • No brand or product promotion: Content should not be self-serving, sales-y or promotional in nature. If your content mentions a brand or brands, please disclose to the editorial staff and within the content itself if you have any relationships, financial or other interests in those brands. 

What We Look for in a Contributor

  • Endurance sports expertise and experience: We want contributors who are endurance experts and can provide the most relevant advice to our audience.
  • Authenticity: Offer a genuine, personal point of view that encourages readers to engage with the content. Speak from a first-person voice vs. second or third.
  • Strong social following: We not only look for a strong social following on sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn, but we specifically look for an endurance sports following. Are your followers the endurance sports customers we want to reach?
  • Engaging writer: To create engaging content, you need to be an engaging writer. If you have any samples of your work, please send them with your pitch.

Interested in Pitching a Guest Article?

Send an email to blog@orangemud.com. Please title the subject of your email “Orange Mud Pitch.”

  • What is the name of the article?
  • What is the article about (2-3 sentences will be fine)?
  • What will readers better understand after reading the article?
  • If you have more than one article idea you’re pitching, please include the above information for each article.
  • Who is the endurance athlete or expert that will be contributing?
  • Where has this endurance athlete or expert previously contributed content? Please include links.
  • What is the endurance athlete’s social media following? Please provide relevant links.
  • How do you plan to drive traffic to the article?

Article Length

Ideally 500 to 800 words. But a min of 300 and max of 2000 is the range depending on the type of content.

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How to build a "running survival kit" January 31 2016, 0 Comments

How to build a Guest write Jenn Collins read more

Mostly Vegetarian Lifestyle January 21 2016, 1 Comment

Mostly Vegetarian Lifestyle

Author: Nicki Klein

On January 5, 2015, I decided to give up meat for a month. Yes, I know most “New Year’s Resolutions” begin on the first of January, but I’ve always been a procrastinator. I can’t say why I originally picked this goal for myself-mostly I suppose it was a challenge. I didn’t think I could do it, so I wanted to see if somehow I could.

The interesting thing-that very same day, mere minutes after my goal began, I sustained a (re)injury that would affect my fitness for months. Long story short, I hurt my back in 2007 during a car vs. 2 18-wheeler car accident. While driving to work on the 5th (I normally bike), I coughed, and threw out my back. This was my first flare up. I was confined to my couch for 2 weeks, and ran very little for the next three months. At a time when I normally would have been tempted by emotional eating, I had a goal to strive for. Because of that goal, I didn’t gain any weight during that first month of inactivity (I literally ran 1 mile in January). After I reached my month long goal, I figured I might as well keep with it and see how long I could go. In April, I finally started picking up my fitness again, and over the following months, I’ve been training for a 100 mile race (my second ultra-my first was a 50k training run for this race) taking place on December 5th. I’ve also taken up yoga recently, and I still try and fit in all my hobbies occasionally (climbing, stand up paddleboarding, kayaking, hiking). I know that my food lifestyle (it’s not a diet-diets are temporary, and generally bad for you) has definitely been a factor in my overall health improvements in the past 11 months.

Let me offer a disclaimer here: I am not vegan, nor am I a vegetarian, nor a pescetarian (a lesser known term that means the only meat source consumed is seafood). After my month long goal, I told people I was a mostly pescetarian. Now I say I’m a mostly vegetarian. I never buy meat products at the grocery store, and I rarely purchase them when dining out. I will occasionally consume meat, only so that my stomach can handle such foods when I’m really craving a juicy burger, some boneless wings, or something comparable. And, I live in Louisiana-I definitely enjoy raw oysters, shrimp po boys and crawfish boils occasionally. But those occurrences are rare. For the most part, I consume LOTS of produce (I’m a member of a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group). A hashtag I frequently use on Facebook is #poweredbyproduce. I also eat lentils, quinoa, cous cous, whole wheat pasta, rice (although there’s talk of too much rice being toxic, so I’m careful about how much rice I eat), beans, and chickpeas on a regular basis. And I haven’t given up all animal products. I LOVE eggs, and use them as a source of protein on a regular basis. Cheese is infrequent, more of a special treat. Fortunately, I never really liked cow’s milk, so substitutes like almond and rice milk work well for me.

In order to make sure I’m getting the all the nutrients I need, I take dietary supplements including: Calcium 600+D (1 tablet per day that provides 400 IU, or 100%, of my vitamin D needs, as well as 600mg, or 60% of my daily calcium); as well as 65mg of iron, or 361% of my daily needs. I also take a glucosamine/chondroitin capsule on a daily basis. Although research is back and forth about the benefits of glucosamine and chondroitin supplements, I feel like it helps me, so I continue to take it.

Overall, I feel my nutritional changes have done nothing but good for me. I love knowing the fuel I feed my body is natural-if I don’t recognize an item on a nutritional label, it’s probably not for me. I haven’t noticed any negative changes in my energy levels, and I feel better both mentally and physically when I’m not eating all the processed foods that are so frequently shown to us in advertisements and below bright lights in our grocery stores. I haven’t eaten at a McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s etc. since that first day, January 5th, because what’s the point of going to a fast food place for a salad? Really. And I’ve lost weight (down from approximately 130 to 122-I’m 5’5”), but more importantly, I’ve lost fat. I can feel it, and I notice it in my clothes. I was a size 6-8 (ladies, we know how each brand is sized different), and now a size 2 feels a little roomie. That’s definitely a good feeling!

Although some people make more extreme nutritional changes than I have ie Scott Jurek (http://scottjurek.com/) or the No Meat Athlete Matt Frazier (http://www.nomeatathlete.com/), I’m proud of the changes I’ve made, and I feel my choices are sustainable, for me. Sure, I give in to a steak and potatoes dinner occasionally, and yes, some processed candy was proooobably consumed during the month of October (dangit, Halloween), but overall, I’m a much healthier individual than I was 11 months ago. Additionally, I know I’m causing less harm to the environment than my meat-eating peers. It takes “2,500 gallons of water, 12 pounds of grain, 35 pounds of topsoil and the energy equivalent of one gallon of gasoline to produce one pound of feedlot beef (http://www.earthsave.org/environment.htm) -not to make you feel guilty or anything, my friendly carnivores. And finally, I don’t have to watch those videos of animal abuse at factories and feel like I’m contributing to their mistreatment. In the end, my story is proof that you can lead an active lifestyle, while eating healthy, natural, “mostly-vegetarian” meals.

* No animals were harmed in the writing of this blog, although the last piece of Halloween candy may or may not have been consumed during such.

A typical daily meal plan during training season

-Breakfast: sweet potatoes, green peppers, and onions steamed with water and coconut oil, topped with siracha; an orange

-Snack #1: red pepper strips and a hardboiled egg

-Lunch: mixed greens salad with grape tomatoes, avocado, sunflower seeds, red pepper strips, olive oil, pink Himalayan salt, black pepper (and any other toppings I have available at the time); sweet potato chipotle chili topped with Greek yogurt and avocado

-Snack # 2: grape tomatoes

-Post workout snack: roasted turnip wedges, almonds, and a banana

-Dinner: whole wheat pasta with roasted Brussel sprouts, parmesan cheese, and olive oil (will substitute pasta with spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles, quinoa, cous cous, lentils or rice; and will substitute veggies depending on what I get in my weekly CSA)

-per day, I usually drink 1 cup of black coffee, 1 cup of green tea, a good beer (or two), and lots of water

-not pictured: something sweet, such as a small piece of dark chocolate or yogurt covered pretzels

Guest post by Nickie Klein

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Get off the Proverbial Path: First Trail Race December 28 2015, 1 Comment

Get off the Proverbial Path: First Trail Race

Tips for Beginners

Thinking about doing your very first trail race? Many runners start their running “careers” on pavement or sidewalks (not all of course, but some). When we first start running I think we look for something close to home, someplace safe. Someplace not far away so we can get back to the comfort of our front doorstep quickly in case we’re near death from putting in those first couple of miles. After time, of course, we get more comfortable in our running and start venturing farther from home.  Some of us gravitate towards trails and fall in love with them. Whether you live in the mountains, the plains or on the coast, there are typically trails nearby.

Running trails is one thing but to do it with a BIB number is another. It can become a bit intimidating. If you prepare properly, however, you can minimize that factor. Once you decide on a race, make sure you understand what the terrain will be like. For your first race on trails you may want to think about doing something in your local community. You’ll most likely be able to find a course map and will be able to check out the terrain and even run the course prior to the race. There are a plethora of distances to choose from. Choose a distance wisely and within your current skill level. If you struggle with marathons on pavement you may not want to start your trail racing career with a hard, technical 50K. Be smart.

Trail racing is typically not done on “pancake flat” courses. Keep that in mind. Your pace may not be anywhere near the pace you run on asphalt. Go by “perceived” effort and not by what you see on your GPS. I would challenge you to forgo the watch. Every course is different and pace can change dramatically. Sometimes our pace expectations are not met. This can affect us mentally if we dwell on our GPS’ too much and could possibly dictate the outcome of our race. This is certainly up to personal preference but give it a try sometime. You may surprise yourself.

Getting ready for that first race will of course, require training. Preferably running more trails similar to what the race terrain will be like or as I stated before, running the actual course itself. To be successful racing on trails requires training on trails. Trail shoes are not required but I strongly suggest them. They’re made for the varying topography of the trails we run and typically have better “gripping” power.  Depending on the length of the race you choose, hydration could also be a factor. Whether you choose handhelds or a pack, it would be prudent to have one or the other. Longer trail races will most likely have aid stations. Unlike road marathons, however, they are typically not abundant and are spaced father apart. Some trail races are in remote areas, so please, be safe and take water with you.

During the race you’ll want to stay focused. Trails (even easier ones) can be tricky and you need to pay attention. I like to look ahead several strides and mentally determine where I’m going to go. In other words I “plan” my foot strike well in advance of getting there. For me, that’s 10-15 feet, a tad longer if I’m going downhill. This is different for everyone and distances will vary. It’s something that takes practice. I will “scan” periodically (forward and back) as well. If you are constantly looking straight down or looking close to your feet, you’ll find it difficult to determine the “lay of the land” and the probability of a misstep increases. Knowing where your feet are going to land will help minimize the chance of falling.

Going uphill I typically use my arms a bit more.  Pumping them will help you get up those hills more efficiently. On the downhills keeping your arms out from your body (elbows slightly up) will help with balance. Once again, we are all different and how far we hold our arms out and how hard we pump can vary. Practice will help you determine what works best for you. I also like to keep my stride short on the trails. It’s more efficient and will help keep your foot strike under you (or even a little behind). This helps tremendously with efficiency and shock absorption.

For the first race I suggest not to take it too hard, at least in the early stages. Getting a feel for the trails is very important this first time out. Having fun is really what it’s all about. Just do that, have fun! I like to say “run happy”. Smile big and often when you’re tackling your first trail race and I guarantee you’ll have a wonderful experience. The camaraderie I see is truly unparalleled. Some of the best people I have met have been at a race. It’s a fun way to get out and enjoy all that Mother Nature has to offer and to give yourself new challenges. It’ll leave you yearning for more. So what you waitin for? Get out there and do it!!

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Big thanks to our guest writer Ed Thomas for this article. 

Ed Thomas Ultra Runner

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Runner Files: Richard Rivera December 24 2015, 1 Comment

Runner Files: Richard Rivera

Athlete Spotlight: Richard Rivera, how he found the fun in sport and lost 75 pounds!

Richard is one of those guys you just love to be around. He is enthusiastic, inspiring, and always on the move! He will admit to you that he was not always this way. "The way I was living was neither productive nor healthy for my family or myself. What led to my break through was having kids and not being able to play with them like I wanted to as well as not being able to do simple things like tying my shoelaces."

Two years ago he discovered Obstacle Course Racing (OCR). He thought, "Looks fun, I want to try it!" Little did he know OCR would change his life.

What started as "just something to try", his biggest accomplishment to date is the ability to complete the Double Trifecta in Spartan Races. There are three race distances towards reaching a trifecta 1) Sprint (approx. 4 miles and 15+ obstacles) 2) Super (approx. 9 miles and 20+ obstacles) 3) Beast (approx. 13 miles and 25+ obstacles). In order to get a trifecta, a person must complete all three races in 1 single year (Jan. - Dec.). A double trifecta means he did that twice in one year!

Being an obstacle course racer requires speed, upper and lower body strength. Running and full body strength workouts are all equally important. When it comes to the more challenging obstacles, his trainer creates workouts that will help him improve in those areas, whether it be grip strength or rope climb technique for example. "I keep a log of all my training, this allows me to have a reference point for measuring my improvements. I believe these things have and will continue to be the keys to my success both now and in the future."

Richard Rivera, Spartan Racer

His goals include being ranked in the top 25 for his age group as well as to get 'The Coin'. In Spartan races, to get one means you are officially invited to compete in the world championships.

Richard's biggest challenge is managing family, work and training/competitions. (He likes to think of it as a 'blessing.') "The ability to make sure I’m relevant in each of these areas is very important. For example with training sessions, I have to train in the morning and be done by 7:30am or wait until 8pm after the kids have gone to sleep. Being a husband and a father is my greatest joy."

You will recognize Richard at the Spartan races and other OCR courses by his 'jet pack.'
This one is race legal and holds his hydration/nutrition, it's the Orange Mud HydraQuiver.

"I found Orange Mud when I started doing research on the various hydration packs that were on the market. At the time I was using a bladder pack but I felt it was just too bulky so I set out to find something that would better fit me. I came across the HydraQuiver Double Barrel, I did some research on it, and the rest is history!

"I LOVE HELPING OTHERS!", says Richard. He is a certified personal trainer with ISSA, Chaplain for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Dept., he has 4 kids from the ages of 5 years down to 10 months, he's been married for 10 years and has been with his wife for approx. 20 years.

His favorite quote, “There’s people who are going to participate and there’s people who are going to win.” Dave Castro.

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Richard is an awesome ambassador for Orange Mud. We appreciate what he has done for us and look forward to watching him continue to grow as an athlete. Keep up the good work Richard!

-Josh and the Orange Mud Crew. 

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Orange Mud Named - Best Entrepreneurial Companies in America, 2015 by Entrepreneur Magazine December 23 2015, 0 Comments

Orange Mud Named - Best Entrepreneurial Companies in America, 2015 by Entrepreneur Magazine

We're proud to make Entrepreneur Magazine's list in the category of "Best Practicers" of 2015. 

"These star companies do everything evidence-based management wisdom says they should do and achieve everything they're going for. They set high-growth targets and are confident of hitting them. They are employee champions, staying highly attuned to staff needs and input and promoting more agile, decentralized decision-making, as well as innovative and proactive action. Company cash flow tends to stay strong. They're able to time their expansions well, and they keep up with changing customer needs and potentially disruptive technologies. It all pays off: These firms report not only sustained but especially rapid growth, and almost no problems in any area of management or performance."

Key characteristics

  • Best Practicers tend to be in rapid-growth industries, and are mostly national and international in focus rather than local or regional. They are also more likely to be urban-based.
  • Avoiding top-down, command-and-control management, they emphasize empowering employees through distributed decision-making, transparency, sharing information and frequent, deep communication both up and down in the organization.
  • They are big on rewarding employees, by sharing profits, promoting from within and emphasizing good benefits, good quality of life and a positive work environment.
  • They set high growth targets and make a point of clearly communicating those aggressive plans to employees, customers, suppliers and even the local community.
  • They see fast growth as a competitive edge in its own right and are driven to constantly increase market share.
  • They seek to be both brand leaders and innovators, and encourage risk-taking.
  • They rely heavily on internal metrics and external market research.
  • They expand proactively, without waiting to book the orders that would necessitate it.
  • They give to charity for its own sake, and not just to help the company grow.

    Read more here on how the analysis was performed and see the 6 archetype categories. Click here to see Orange Mud listed in the "Best Practicers" category

     

     

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    TRE Interview with our CEO, Josh Sprague December 11 2015, 0 Comments

    TRE Interview with our CEO, Josh Sprague

    The Women's Fitness and Running Event in Chicago was a lot of fun this year. It's specifically focused on gear for the wonderful ladies who love to run. Zelle is a female specific sub brand of Runner's World who conducted the interview. Thanks so much! Please checkout the video below to learn more about the latest with Orange Mud, and also how our products relate to the women's market. 

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    Runner Files: Ron and Bobbie Ruhs December 09 2015, 1 Comment

    Runner Files: Ron and Bobbie Ruhs

    The couple that runs together...Meet Ron and Bobbie Ruhs!

    This inspiring couple not only work together, they work out together too! Bobbie has been running for over 20 years, Ron has been running for 8. The power couple were power lifting before they started running together. Ron sustained a shoulder injury from lifting and fell into a bit of a funk. Bobbie suggested he try running, so he started training to run a 5k in Hawaii. That was a success so they decided to train for a marathon together. (Bobbie swore she wouldn't run another one after her first, but some challenges in life are better with your significant other by your side!)

    They had a great time training for and running the Kona Marathon, dubbed 'Team Ruhs' by their newfound running friends. In fact, they had so much fun, they decided to go beyond 26.2 into the world of ultras. From there, Bobbie said, "they never looked back."

    With a sensible and conservative approach to training, Ron completed three 100 mile races this year without injury. Bobbie's goal is to complete a 100 mile race in the next year or so. (She did complete 100 miles of running on a treadmill to raise money for MS in 2013.)

    They both love the connection they have with other runners, the camaraderie plays a big part in their commitment to the sport. "Our kids ran cross country in high school & we were always impressed at the camaraderie & how positive the sport was. We’ve found that same thing in trail running. We’ve made some great friendships and our own relationship has grown." says Bobbie.

    Picking 'A' races and then scheduling smaller races to build up to the big ones has been a key to their success. "No better way to train than to race." Is their motto.

    Just like with running, Bobbie introduced Ron to Orange Mud hydration packs. She was ecstatic to find a pack that held bottles that didn't chafe like others she tried. Her favorite pack is the HydraQuiver Double Barrel, Ron loves the VP2. "I grabbed one right away and it has been my go-to pack for every thing!" Between the two of them, they have most of the Orange Mud line. They also love the Transition Towel and the Handheld for shorter distances.

    When they aren't being inspired by their fellow runners at races and in their local running group, The GOATz (Greater Omaha Area Trail runnerZ), they find each other to be a limitless source of inspiration. "Ron's a great dad/ grandpa, he’s my best friend and my biggest cheerleader. He’s there for me...NO...MATTER...WHAT. Running with and watching/helping him race, shows his true character. Not only is he a runner, he’s a teammate and he’s there helping and cheering others on too."

    With their upbeat attitude and love for the sport, they are certain to have continued success. "If you’re not having fun, why are you doing it?" says Ron. "Just get out there!"

    Ron and Bobbie Ruhs

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    Top 10 Gifts for Runners That are Sure to Hit the Mark November 10 2015, 0 Comments

    Top 10 Gifts for Runners That are Sure to Hit the Mark

    It's tough to determine which gift to give your favorite runner that will help them reach their athletic goals without weighing them down. Luckily, these 10 top gifts for runners from Orange Mud and a couple other brands we dig, will take all the guesswork out of the job for you. 

    An Efficient Gym Bag
    Every runner needs a good gym bag to rely on that has features like lots of pockets, a separate shoe compartment, and a dedicated place to store wet clothes.   $169.95 Link

    Moisture Wicking Socks
    Runners can never have enough moisture wicking socks in their arsenal, as they keep feet dry during long stints and help to minimize blistering too. Link

    Challenge Head Band
    A challenge head band offers ultimate support for the runner in your life by allowing them to display race and marathon badges of pride on a customizable band. $14.95 Link

    Running Belt or Race Number Belt
    Running belts, often known as Race Number Belts, save that nice high tech shirt or short from being ruined with safety pin holes. There are a variety of types on the market, but one simple and effective standby can be purchased here. $9.95 Link

    Transition Wrap
    No runner likes getting in the car while hot and sweaty after a run, and the transition wrap puts and end to this scenario. It serves as a changing blanket right after a run and can then be used as a seat cover in the car to keep things clean and tidy. $39.95 Link

    Calf Compression Sleeves
    Shin splints, muscle pain, and fatigue are all things a good pair of calf compression sleeves can help to stave off after a run. They can even increase blood circulation, which is helpful for especially long jaunts. $Varies Link

    Gear Quiver
    Sometimes it's necessary to carry along some food or other bulky items during a run, and the runner in your life can do just that with the help of a Gear Quiver by Orange Mud. $69.95 Link

    Paracord Bracelet
    These are great for wearing on your wrist on clipped onto your gear. You never know where some string can come in handy, and the whistle may help to get you or your loved one out of a jam. $8.95 Link

    HydraQuiver
    Water is always a concern once running shoes hit the pavement, but the HydraQuiver ensures that your favorite runner isn't stuck without a sip to gulp when the need arises. $84.95 Link

    Strava App premium subscription
    Strava is the king of workout data and analysis and can use your smartphone as a data collection hub. The free plan is great, but why not upgrade your running companion with a premium account so they can look like a pro and get access to an enormous amount of data? $59 annually Link

    These 10 top gifts for runners are sure to spark some fire in your favorite runner. Pick up one or all ten for a great holiday gift!

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    Trail Running Gear October 18 2015, 0 Comments

    Trail Running Gear Trail running benefits the body and soul; it’s great for working your calf muscles and glutes and is where many runners have found their true love for r... read more

    Runner Files: Chad Hause October 08 2015, 0 Comments

    Runner Files: Chad Hause “For me, it’s the running in and of itself that I love.” – Chad Hause   Today, Runner Chad Hause truly enjoys the pure act of running, but it hasn’t... read more

    Shaving Minutes Off Your Time September 13 2015, 0 Comments

    Shaving Minutes Off Your Time If you’re at a point where you’ve been running for a while and have built up your endurance to be able to run at least five miles, then this is a good t... read more

    Beer Run September 06 2015, 0 Comments

    Beer Run One of the latest running trends is to end a run with a cold one. As breweries are popping up across the nation, many are hosting weekly beer runs. Runn... read more

    Things We Love: Mountain Trail Running August 23 2015, 0 Comments

    Things We Love: Mountain Trail Running Sometimes there’s nothing better than changing up your typical running routine and path with a trail run. The many benefits of trail running include a b... read more

    Why Running with a Water Bottle is Better July 29 2015, 0 Comments

    Why Running with a Water Bottle is Better Especially during the summer heat, many runners begin to wonder how running with water would impact their performance. The answer? Positively. There are... read more

    Runner Files: Anthony Forsyth July 13 2015, 0 Comments

    Runner Files: Anthony Forsyth What’s next on Runner Anthony Forsyth’s agenda? A Desert Solstice 100 mile track race. “There are no distractions. It’s just mind numbing, hamster-like ... read more

    Oh Cramp! What to Do About Running Cramps and Fatigue July 05 2015, 0 Comments

    Oh Cramp! What to Do About Running Cramps and Fatigue There’s nothing worse than looking forward to a great long run and then encountering a cramp early on that makes the rest of your run uncomfortable. The... read more

    Stomach Trouble July 05 2015, 0 Comments

    Stomach Trouble How often have you been out on a long run and suddenly had the urge to use the restroom? Gastrointestinal distress can occur whether you’re running for ... read more

    Running for Dad June 14 2015, 0 Comments

    Running for Dad With Father’s Day just around the corner (June 21), it’s time to consider how you might celebrate with your dad or what you might gift him. If your dad ... read more

    Not Waiting to Exhale June 04 2015, 0 Comments

    Not Waiting to Exhale Breathing properly is the #1 rule in running, but often not something we choose to focus on. To make sure that the way you breathe isn’t holding you bac... read more

    Runner Files: Zach Bitter May 19 2015, 1 Comment

    Runner Files: Zach Bitter Zach Bitter holds the American record for the timed 100-mile run and the 12 hour world record in running. Read more in our Q&A with Zach:   1. Can you... read more

    Post-Run Yoga Relief May 17 2015, 0 Comments

    Post-Run Yoga Relief Everyone knows that you should stretch after a run, but what exactly should that entail? Certain yoga stretches can help you to prevent injury, revive y... read more

    Oh Knees!: How Runners Can Promote Knee Health and Prevent Injury May 10 2015, 0 Comments

    Oh Knees!: How Runners Can Promote Knee Health and Prevent Injury Knees get some of the hardest impact during a great run. To avoid damaging the ligaments around your knees, there are exercises and conditioning trainin... read more

    Things We Love: Beach Running May 03 2015, 0 Comments

    Things We Love: Beach Running On your next beach vacation, consider trading in your bathing suit and beach chair for sneakers and a running ensemble. For many of us, being on the bea... read more

    Better Form, Better Time: How to Improve your Running Technique April 12 2015, 0 Comments

    Better Form, Better Time: How to Improve your Running Technique Whether you’re running your first 5k or a marathon, one of the most important elements to optimize your running is form. You can not only improve your r... read more

    No Skimp Shoes: Why Your Foot Health is Critical in Running April 05 2015, 0 Comments

    No Skimp Shoes: Why Your Foot Health is Critical in Running Regardless of where you are in your running career, choosing the right shoe is crucial to your leg and foot health. The last thing you want is to get a ... read more

    Foods Never to Eat Before a Race April 05 2015, 0 Comments

    Foods Never to Eat Before a Race Runners add a good amount of pasta to their diet because they’ll be burning a lot of carbs—true. Eating a large portion of pasta right before a race wil... read more

    Running in the Rain March 15 2015, 0 Comments

    Running in the Rain Sometimes you have to mix things up, especially if you’ve been stuck in the same routine. When it comes to running, this rule applies as well. One way t... read more

    Craziest Ultramarathons March 08 2015, 0 Comments

    Craziest Ultramarathons If you feel you’ve plateaued in regards to physical fitness, there might be only one avenue left for you: ultramarathons. Below you’ll find a list of th... read more

    The Benefits of Night Running March 01 2015, 0 Comments

    The Benefits of Night Running Putting running shoes to the road when the night falls has a fair share of benefits, and it’s a reason why many professionals train either early in the ... read more