2013: Stats From a Year of Travel Blogging

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 310,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 13 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

redwoods national park

Being silly in beautiful places = what we did in 2013. Same plan for 2014.

Happy new year, dear readers!

You May Also Enjoy:

Why We Need Nomads

Winter Life on a Homestead (Photo Essay)

Seeking Dispensers: A Call to Embrace a Wild Life

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Check out my book: The Summit Seeker

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Softcup Review: Period Protection for Trail Running Vaginas

Welcome vagina owners and lovers! If you are running during your child-bearing years, here is a new way you can protect yourself.

I was sent this product to review in exchange for a free race entry. If you’re interested in reviewing this product for yourself, visit: fortheloveoftherun.com. (Ladies only)

Direct YouTube Link HERE

Thoughts From a More Experienced Softcup User

Here are some notes from Tina, who has been using this product for six years. I wanted to add her experience here as well, since it does take some getting used to and can be difficult to review after only one cycle.

Tina Says:

“If you can feel it, it’s not inserted properly. I swear by this. Whenever I feel it, I can bank on it leaking. If you have strong kegel muscles you can dislodge this thing by pushing (like when you have a bowel movement or you are trying to carefully let out a fart in public).  

If your partner says you’re “tighter” rather than errr…. shorter? If your vagina is not as “long” as it normally is to touch your cervix, then it is not inserted properly. If it is parallel to his penis rather than almost perpendicular, it’s not inserted properly.

It should be inserted “back and down” rather than “up” like a tampon. It took me about six to eight months to really get insertion right. It’s so different from tampon insertion. I love this product.”

RELATED ARTICLES:

Girl Crush Confessions and Why Women Need Each Other

Women, Running, and Self-Esteem

Why Your Wife Hates Your Barefoot Running

HUARACHES GIVEAWAY & REVIEW: Invisible Shoes

Mileage: 51.2 miles

Terrain: Technical trails

About a month ago I received a complimentary pair of Invisible Shoe huaraches offered to the Run Smiley Collective. I was excited because these were my first real pair of laced huaraches. Previously I had worn Unshoe sandals, which are adjusted with a clasp (no lacing), and I was still waiting for my first pair of Lunas.

I started using the Invisible Shoes on San Diego trail runs, which I soon discovered were extremely technical. In retrospect, I am amazed that these huaraches did so well with the terrain and the mileage I was using them on. I ran over 50 miles in about 3 weeks of exclusively rocky trails.

Here’s what I think of them:

Ground Feel

The ground feel was very high, as the 6mm sole was really quite thin. I liked the fact that this forced me to pay attention to my footing, but it would also start to tire out my feet as the miles started accumulating. They didn’t hurt, but I definitely felt every step.

Tying & Adjustability

I never had any trouble tying these and they only came untied once under very harsh trail conditions. The best part of these laces is that they are easy to adjust on the fly. So if the fit isn’t perfect, I can tug a little instead of having to sit down and re-lace from scratch. They also come in slip-on form, which simplifies the lacing process.

Technical Trail Performance

I love running trails, so I really need a sandal that holds up. The thing about trails is that each footfall is different, and always uneven. So it’s difficult to find a perfect huarache fit. If the lacing is too loose, the sandal falls off. If it’s too tight, it digs into your skin and gives you blisters. Plus the constant foot-shuffling tends to loosen the fit in a way that doesn’t happen with traditional shoes.

That said, this pair only fell off once after a particularly intense trail run, and I was only delayed for seconds since I could adjust them while they were still on my feet. And I had run over 50 miles before they started to blister. I think that’s impressive considering I didn’t take any anti-blister precautions. No socks, taping, or BodyGlide. Creek crossings are also really fun in these.

General Fit

One thing that would bother me with the Unshoes was that the front of the sandal would fold over and I’d step on them a lot, no matter how I adjusted my form. So I was concerned that would be the case again. But that never happened with the Invisible Shoes. Overall, it was a better fit. I never felt the lacing between my big toe and my second toe, whereas this was also a painful issue with the Unshoes.

Storage & Convenience

I like to throw these into my hydration bladder and head out for a barefoot run. If the trails get too rough, I know I can throw these on fairly easily. They give me the confidence to try new trails barefoot because I know these can get me through any rough sections. They help me run MORE barefoot miles, not less. I think that’s how a shoe should truly function.

Customer Service

I have to mention the great customer service and personalized attention from this company. It’s always refreshing to deal with someone who can answer all your questions and get back to you promptly. Great job guys!

Drawbacks

I can’t race an entire ultra in these on a technical trail. I still need a bit of a thicker sole. I also hate them on concrete. They slap a little louder than I’d like and I find it tough to run in complete silence, no matter how I shift my form. I would also recommend some blister prevention, like BodyGlide. Because when they DO form blisters, it’s very demoralizing and tough to avoid rubbing in the exact same places.

Conclusions

I definitely have a place for these huaraches. I love that I can carry them around when I’m barefoot. I also love them on slightly rocky trails, or on anything less than 20 miles. I love they way they look on my feet and they do spark some conversation. For the average runner, these would be a fun sandal. For me, they were also a great transition to huarache running.

If you’re considering moving into huaraches, I would recommend these as a great “first” sandal. They’re easier to tie than other options, they’re very reasonable, and will really give you a good idea as to whether huarache running is for you.

HUARACHES INVISIBLE SHOE GIVEAWAY

Invisible Shoes is generously offering one lucky reader a free pair of huaraches!

To enter, do one or more of the following things. Leave a separate comment below for each thing you do, as I will count up the comments and choose a winner randomly using random.org. Every separate comment will count as an entry. The more you do, the higher your chances of winning.

The winner will be announced next Tuesday, October 4th. Come back and check because if you don’t claim your prize, I’ll choose another winner!

  • Leave a comment and tell me why you’d like to win these huaraches
  • “Like” Invisible Shoes on Facebook HERE
  • Follow Invisible Shoes on Twitter @InvisibleShoes
  • Post about this giveaway on any social media (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc). Each posting counts as one entry, so leave a separate comment for every one.
  • Blog about this giveaway.
  • Follow/subscribe to this blog (top left hand side). If you’ve already subscribed, that still counts as an entry. Just leave a comment and let me know.

Good luck!

6 Must-Haves for my 20-Mile Trail Run

On Saturday I ran/walked/crawled 20 miles of Noble Canyon in training for the fast approaching Noble Canyon 50k. Every run out there kills me out. It’s a beautiful route that basically consists of running down a mountain, running back up, and running a few stretches at high elevation. It’s a run that you can both love and dread. Incredibly challenging.

I’ve tried to experiment with hydration, fuel, and footwear out there. In the process I’ve found some products I like. Here they are, from toe to head:

1. VIVOBAREFOOT Neo Trails    

VIVOBAREFOOT has been good to me and I’m impressed with their high customer service quality. They’re quick, I feel like I’m dealing with a real human being, and they generously rushed two free pairs of new Neo Trails for me and Shacky to use on Saturday’s training run.

I should point out that I haven’t worn shoes for running (minimalist or not) in almost a year. My previous Noble Canyon runs have been in Invisible shoe huaraches (more on those later). So I had no idea how I would handle a run in VIVOBAREFOOT’s product.

I was very pleasantly surprised. First of all, they look awesome. I was also very surprised by the ground feel. I was expecting little to no ground feel, but I felt the rocks a lot more than in my Vibram KSOs. I like that because I feel closer to being barefoot. I still felt like I had to watch my step and plan my strides. Post run, my feet suffered no ill effects.

Here are some stats on the Neo Trail:

  • Sole thickeness = 2.5mm base and 4mm lug height
  • Weight = Men’s 248g, Women’s 198g
  • Hydrophobic mesh (non toxic, lightweight, water resistant thin mesh)
  • Toe guard

Shacky tested the hydrophobic mesh with some creek crossings, and we were surprised at how long it took for the water to soak through the shoe. He basically had to stand fully immersed in water for a minute or so. Running, they wouldn’t get wet. However, once they WERE wet, the sloshiness was hard to dry out.

I’d like to get a few more trail miles in these and then post a more thorough review. So far I’m very much enjoying them. I think the fact that I could go from completely shoeless to running in these for 20 miles without an issue, says a lot about the quality of this shoe.

2. Injinji socks 

Already a staple for barefoot and minimalist runners, I mostly wanted to mention this to direct people to the great Toe Salad Injinji giveaway that’s going on this week. You can enter HERE. Injinjis are awesome and if you haven’t tried them yet, definitely do.

3. Dirty Girl gaiters

Until last week, I didn’t even know what gaiters were. I saw my trail buddy Christine wearing them and they looked super cool, so at first I thought they were just for style. Then I saw several people wearing them at the Stairway to Heaven 15k so I asked what they were for.

Gaiters are basically funky looking sleeve things (Kate called them ankle warmers) that prevent stones and pebbles from falling into your shoes. Trail runners use them. You don’t need them when you’re barefoot.

Because we’ve been testing out some trail shoes on very rocky terrain, Shacky was kind enough to pick up some gaiters for us. He got Dirty Girl gaiters which I loved because they’re all made by hand. He got me the scissors print which I was SO EXCITED about because I have a shirt that says, “I run with scissors,” and for a while I was.

Back in my woods in Toronto I would carry scissors on my runs so I could forage for dandelions and other greens. I’d use the scissors to cut into the dirt for wild dandelion roots. Running with scissors is badass and my scissor gaiters make me feel hardcore. Dirty Girl has so many awesome prints, it’s hard to choose just one favorite.

But the best part is probably the woman behind the gaiters. I was told that Dirty Girl once opened her shirt and asked Kirby (fellow Dirt Devil runner) to pour ice cubes into her boobs during a race. To further solidify her awesomeness, a quote from her website regarding design prints: “There is no such thing as too much leopard.” And regarding shipping: “Slow is the new fast.”

I am honored to wear Dirty Girl’s gaiters and would buy a thousand more.

4. Zensah calf compression sleeves

I don’t like to trail run without my compression sleeves. I already wrote about these, so you can read more HERE.

5. Sport Kilt

This is the company that sponsored me and Shacky to race Noble Canyon. I didn’t wear the kilt on my training run, but I will be wearing it for the race. Last year, Shacky raced this in a non-Sport Kilt kilt (another company’s kilt), and overheated. I love the kilts because a) They’re super cute and b-f) They’re light weight, easy to wear, and ideal for runners. I also love the deep, discreet pockets. And they keep you cool.

6. Navitas Power Snacks

 

Nutrition is a never ending experiment for me. I tend to shy away from the mainstream runner’s gels and aim for whole foods as much as possible. Convenience is obviously an issue – I need to find fuel that is both natural and compact. Easy to carry and tastes good.

I am pleased to report that the new Navitas Power Snacks fit all of the above criteria. Not only are they natural, the ingredients are also Paleo (fruit and nuts), so Shacky was happy to fuel on them as well. He was pleased with the fat/protein ratio and the fact that they were low in sugar. They are also gluten and dairy free.

We had some Navitas Power Snacks at the midway point of our run and shared with some other runners in the group. Then later we sat down again on the trail and ate more.

The snacks are small, bite-sized pieces. I packed a few in a ziplock bag and carried them in my hydration vest pockets. They were easy to pull out and eat while walking or running. I also loved the texture. They weren’t as hard and chewy as a bar, but not as watery as a gel. They were soft and easy to break down, but didn’t leave you with a mouthful of sticky goo.

I received two flavors from Navitas – Citris Chia and Cacao Gogi. Shacky liked the chia and I loved the gogi. We’ve almost finished both of them.

Here is some more info I received from Navitas via email:

Offered in an 8-ounce re-sealable and recyclable pouch for a SRP of $8.99, Navitas Power Snacks are chewy, bite-sized nuggets that provide robust flavor.  It is a healthy bonus that they contain no refined sugar, and are gluten-free and dairy-free. Navitas Power Snacks and other Navitas products are available at a wide variety of retail locations throughout North America including Whole Foods Markets, Wegmans and HEB, and at many online stores such as Amazon.com and NavitasNaturals.com.

The mission of Navitas Naturals is to provide premium organic superfoods that increase energy and enhance health.  Nutrient-rich whole foods are at their best when they are produced via organic agriculture and minimal processing methods.  That is why all Navitas Naturals products are certified organic, and use methods such as freeze-drying to ensure maximum nutrition.  Food safety is very important to Navitas Naturals, which is demonstrated by the rigorous third-party testing of their superfoods.  Since its founding in 2003, Navitas Naturals has been committed to socially responsible business.  Their direct purchasing partnerships expand fair trade opportunities for farmers in developing regions around the world.  For more, visit www.navitasnaturals.com.

The experiment for optimal gear and nutrition continues for me. I’m lucky to have so many great friends and companies willing to help me find my place on the trail.

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