Thursday, March 31, 2016

VibraThotics - Vibrating Orthotics

Exactly two years ago today (how is that for coincidence!) I met Jesse Kimball on a trail run in southern Utah.

Since that time, Jesse has helped develop a cool new product called VibraThotics, a vibrating orthotic that can be used as the insole for shoes. He offered to provide a pair for me to test out so I figured I'd write up a review on my experience.

The primary piece of the insole is a soft foam that can be trimmed to fit into the shoes. Each orthotic also has built in arch support.

The key piece of the orthotics is a little blue insert that is popped into the bottom of the orthotics and vibrates. There are six different levels that can be set. (3 constant and 3 pulsing.) Because of this piece, it does raise the orthotics up a little higher than average shoe inserts. Jesse said that although there are lots of people that run with them, they are generally either 1) more of a recovery tool after running, or 2) to help provide comfort for people who are working on their feet all day.

That little blue piece pops out of the insert and is charged with a USB cable that is provided.

The orthotic vibration is turned on and off, and levels are adjusted with a little remote that could be attached to a key chain. You control both the right and left foot vibration with the same remote.

I have used these in my shoes for about a month now and have been very happy with how well they work. My feet tend to get sore after long runs or being on them all day at work. The VibraThotics help make my feet feel better and relieve some of the soreness.

If you think these may be helpful for you, check out their website at where you can get more information, check out clinical research on their benefits, and order some for yourself.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Monument Valley Ultra Adventure 2016

I've been working on eating healthier. My family has been working on eating healthier. I feel better when I eat healthier.

Which is why my body did not, in the slightest bit, appreciate the fact that I found myself at a McDonald's in Kayenta, Arizona drowning my sorrows in Hot'n Spicy McChicken Sandwiches and ice cream cones.

Here's where this story started: I was asked to be the finish line captain for this year's Ultra Adventures races (Zion 100, Bryce Canyon 100, Capitol Reef, etc). I love the races and the people behind Ultra Adventures so this is a cool opportunity. This past weekend was the Monument Valley 4 mile, half marathon, 50k, and 50 miler.

I headed for Monument Valley a day early hoping to catch some sight seeing before my duties began. I stopped at Horseshoe Bend, which is unspeakably beautiful.

I recreated a jumping picture I took at Horseshoe Bend last year before my R2R2R run:

I did a short hike to this cool toadstool rock formation:

After a few hours of driving, I stopped at a gas station in Kayenta, Arizona. When I walked out of the gas station, a guy said "Your front tire is flat. Oh. Your back tire is flat too." I panicked. I drove slowly over to the air compressor. Broken. I slowly drove across the street to another gas station. Air compressor: broken.

I slowly drove to the other corner of the street to what I discovered was the only mechanic in town. He was gone for the day. No sight seeing for me, amigo. Nope. Stranded in Kayenta, Arizona: home of a few motels, a hardware store, and a McDonald's.

I managed to get the car fixed the next day, but not before a few meals at McDonald's, a few too many Hot'n Spicy McChicken sandwiches, and a few too many ice cream cones.

Monument Valley is remarkably scenic and has a spiritual feeling unlike anywhere I've raced before. (HERE is my race report from last year.) The race does such a good job of incorporating the Navajo culture. Packet pickup was in a hogan!

It was hard work getting everything set up, keeping volunteers organized, and helping meet runner's needs throughout the race. There are countless hours of manpower that go on behind the scenes of any race so that runners have a good experience.

I loved spending time with old friends, and making new friends. At packet pickup I had the pleasure of talking with Pam Reed who was the first woman to ever become the overall winner of Badwater in 2002. (Just for fun, she won it the next year too.) She gave me some excellent tips and helped instill some confidence. Pam Reed has more confidence in my upcoming Badwater run than I do!

The night before the race, everyone enjoyed an amazing presentation about the Navajo culture with singing and dancing. Even race director Matt Gunn got in on the action.

The sun set at packet pickup and we got a few hours of sleep before the excitement began the next morning with the start of the race.

I had an awesome group of volunteers to help me throughout the day at the finish line. I left for a few minutes to go to the overlook of Monument Valley and was inspired to see a runner far below me in the middle of their race. You have to look closely to see the runner on the road. Seeing the picture of this runner gives some perspective into the amazing landscape runners travel through.

The race ended at 10pm while runners enjoyed the finish line festivities. Afterward we took down the finish line and tents late into the night. The race ended up going well and was a challenging but enjoyable experience.

On the way home, I made a quick stop on the Forrest Gump Highway. "That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run." ~ Forrest Gump

Monument Valley is a place unlike any other. And there remains a high likelihood that I will never eat another chicken sandwich from McDonald's.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Dirty Hurty Half Marathon Race Report

Last week I ran the 26.2 mile Dirty Hurty Half Marathon. Technically it was indeed a half marathon distance, 13.1 miles. But my wife says that trail miles are twice as hard as road miles. She ran the half marathon with me, and she maintains that her miles were worth a marathon.

The race was put on by Steve and Kendra Hooper at the St. George Running Center. (They also did the Red Mountain 50k/30k at the same time on the same trails.) I bought my first pair of running shoes from them seven years ago and we've been friends ever since. You won't find two nicer people.

As a nerdy photographer dweeb, I was excited as we drove to the race because there were clouds obscuring the stars in the sky. For nerdy photographer dweebs, there is nothing worse than a clear blue sky. Clouds give pictures personality. Once the race started, those clouds created a stunningly beautiful sunrise and I caught this picture, one of my favorite shots I've ever taken during a race.

I've only run the trails around the Santa Clara/Ivins area of southern Utah a few times so it was a blast to enjoy some views that are different from what I see on my home trails.

I am so proud of Mel. When I asked a few weeks ago if she wanted to run the race with me, she asked "Do you think I can go that far?" She's run a few half marathons and marathons, but it's been a long time. Additionally, she had never done a trail race. "Sure you can!" I said. I reassured her that we'd just go have fun. No pressure. No need to go fast. Just go have fun.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm a photographer who runs, or a runner who photographs. I don't think I have an answer to that question. I do know that I love the challenge of capturing the spirit of the scenery around me.

Mel seemed a little concerned about going too slow and being toward the back of the pack. I'm so used to being toward the back of the pack that I was 0% concerned. I reassured her that races are like mullets: business in the front, party in the back. We were having a party!

The benefit of doing a race with your spouse is that you can simultaneously run, plan dinners for the upcoming week, discuss landscaping ideas for the yard, and assess the merits of American Idol versus Survivor.

I love running local trail races. It's so fun to see friends out on the trails and working the aid stations. Here is a picture of our friends Melissa and Emma volunteering at an aid station. Mel and I both used Tailwind in our packs, which was perfectly complemented with some mid-run Swedish Fish and fists full of M&Ms.

Mel snapped this picture of me as we headed out from the aid station for the final stretch of the race:

Mel had the expected highs and lows that come when you run a race farther than you've run in quite a while. I was continually impressed that even in her low points, she kept pushing forward and did her best to stay positive.

I found a rock that was a perfect summary of how much fun I was having during the race:

We saw this sign out on the trail. I considered hitchhiking to the end. But then I realized that cars couldn't drive out here. Without cars, the only thing that could pack me to the finish was a jackass. And then I realized that the only jackass out on the trail was wearing a hydration pack.

I admit that this sign BLEW MY MIND when I saw that Las Vegas was 127 miles away. I immediately thought about Badwater coming up in July in Death Valley. That race is 135 miles long. It was difficult to fathom that if I started running from this sign all the way to Las Vegas, it still wouldn't be as long as Badwater.

We finished the race after nearly every other half marathon runner had finished. I like to think that we just wanted to take as much time as we could to enjoy the amazing trails. Steve and Kendra put together a stellar race. The course was well-marked, the aid was great, and the finish line atmosphere was fun. Mel feels like she is officially a trail runner now. And she's already talking about doing the race again next year.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

A Sunrise, A Sunset, and The Red Rocks of Southern Utah

I just never get sick of it.

You can replace the word "it" with "cinnamon rolls". Or "my daughters singing Adele's song 'Hello' in a raspy, pseudo-opera voice". Or "Sunday afternoon naps". Or "southern Utah's trails."

Last week I hit up the trusty Smith Mesa for an early morning half marathon. Whilst doing so, I did a jump shot that complemented my scrawny, frog-like legs:

I took the wussie way to the top of the mesa. The wussie way is the road. Which still isn't incredibly wussie because it's pretty steep. But it's far less wussie than the other way to get to the top, the Flying Monkey Trail. (For reference, check out the Zion 100 race report, you'll see what I mean.)

Southern Utah does red better than anywhere else I've ever been.

A few days later I met up with Jud Burkett at The Spectrum Newspaper. He was working on a story about my upcoming Badwater run. (His article was very thorough....and kind. You can read it HERE.) We hit up the Chuckwalla Trail.

I've got big plans coming up with Jud. I'll tell you more about that another time. He is quiet and thoughtful and kind. He's basically just a really, really nice guy. (When you read his article, you'll see why I'm dressed for a winter run, and he's not.)

I caught this picture of him as he crested the top of a hill. I like how this one turned out.

Proof of why I never get sick of it.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Our Great Dane Is Only Possessed By The Devil 60% Of The Time

February was a busy month! There was that trip to Death Valley. There were those visits to the grocery store to buy expensive human food for our dogs. Admittedly, the food wasn't originally intended to be eaten by the dogs. It's just that they've become absolute MASTERS at stealing food off the counters when humans aren't watching.

Little Debbie, the Great Dane turned one year old in February. Check out THIS post to see how much she has grown over the past year. I am convinced that this dog is possessed by the devil 60% of the time. (The other 40% of the time she is asleep.) She only ruined three birthday hats during the taking of this picture.

On a Sunday afternoon I took the fam for their first visit to Little Creek Mesa.

Danica requested a jumping picture, because, who wouldn't want a jumping picture standing on the edge of a beautiful mesa?

Jackson had fun throwing rocks off the cliff and seeing how long it took before we could hear them hitting the ground below.

By the time we got home from the mesa we were all covered in dog slobber from that previously mentioned one year old spawn of the devil.

We've been planting flowers in the backyard and doing some spring cleaning. Kylee is always so excited to help with the gardening. I'm thankful she has a green thumb to compensate for my black thumb.

I've been spending some time on the trails, including one of my very favorite spots near the JEM Trail. I couldn't count how many miles I've run here and I never get sick of it.

This area also happens to be a prime spot for finding heart-shaped rocks:

The weather in southern Utah has been PERFECT lately. Instead of enjoying it, I've started the process of making myself miserable to train for Badwater. Even when it's warm outside, I wear tights, a long sleeved shirt, another base layer over that, and then a jacket. (I sometimes complement the wardrobe with a wool hat.) Hopefully the heat training will pay off in July when I go run through Death Valley. There better be some return on investment for the sacrifice of wearing tights while being seen in public.