Category Archives: Product Reviews

Stop and love the trails!

My running nearly always takes me to the trails.  Trails are always changing, take me away from the busy roads, and allow me to find a calm that I can’t find elsewhere while running.

This past weekend my wife and I hosted a “group run / product demo” at Reveille Peak Ranch in Burnett, TX.  My wife deserves so much more credit.  None of this would have been possible without her.   She did so much to make this a reality!  The plan for this event was to share those trails with others and give people a chance to try the products that I personally love and use.   For many, their exposure to different products comes at races and races are the last place you want to be trying something new.  This event provided a fun relaxed atmosphere where people could try many different products without worrying about any negative impact to their race.

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All of the samples and product demos for the run!

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A few of the prizes provided by the amazing sponsors!

A few of us arrived early on Friday to get the trails (course) marked for our group runs.   Tammy, Roel, and I set out around 2:30 to mark the 10k course while a nephew of the ranch owner set out on his mountain bike to mark the 9mi course.   I am so grateful that the ranch assisted us in marking!  We were actually going to start marking at 8am but there were some Airmen out on the ranch doing sniper training so we had to wait!   Had it now been for the ranch, we would not have gotten the courses marked!  It was during our course marking where a bit of realization it me. We have been running for years on such beautiful and miraculous trails;  we just never stopped (slowed down) to truly appreciate them.

The weekend started with a 5k night familiarization run followed by some time to relax around the campfire.  Unfortunately I didn’t make it out for this as I was assisting one of our runners get their camper situated.   The following morning we began the day with another 5k run followed by a door prize give away.  As soon as that finished, the group set out on a 9mi adventure around Reveille Peak Ranch.

As I logged miles Friday and Saturday on the trails of Reveille Peak Ranch something occurred to me;  I have never stopped to look at the ranch.   Much of my time at the ranch, prior to this, was during a race.  I have run a Captain Karls race on the ranch, which was during the night, as well s several other ultras on these trails.   Like many, my focus was on the trail in front of me.  Rarely did I get a chance to see what these trails offered to everyone.

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My typical view on the ranch; watching the trail.

 

This group run / product demo changed that!  I talked with another running in the group about this very thing.  It is amazing how much different these trails looked when you stopped to enjoy them.   The wild flowers and blue bonnets that riddled the ranch, the wildlife, the beautiful rock formations, and even the cactus.  When you stop to take it all in, it is like you are running someplace for the first time.  This is exactly how I wanted to spent my weekend;   Sharing that experience with friends.

So while this weekend was about giving others a chance to try out some amazing products on the trails it actually did so much more!   For me, this weekend was about finding something on the trails.  This weekend gave me a chance to really enjoy the trails, spend some time with some amazing people, and enjoy life.

Once I stopped to love the trails, this is what I really found…

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Our Saturday morning 5k to start the day!

 

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During the morning 5k I had to take a break to take in the view across the water from the rustic bridge!

 

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Another shot from the rustic bridge!

 

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T.R. discovered an amazing waterfall that we used as a backdrop for our group photo! Thanks T!

 

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When you cross a sign that says “Epic” it demands a group photo with an Epic Bar!

 

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Running up the granite on the way to Decision Point (The cross)!

 

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Some of the cacti out on the ranch looked absolutely amazing! Hearts and flowers… Simply had to take it! One of the runners made a comment. “This is a reminder that love can be prickly at times!” 😀

 

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This cactus actually made me laugh; I call it “Cyclops Mickey Mouse”

This was going to be my last big group outing until September when I make an appearance at Franklin Mountains 50k.   In a few weeks I will be headed across the pond for four months.  I will miss you all!

This turned out to be such a great event!  Next year it will be a “Product Fat Ass”

Here are the amazing sponsors that made this event possible.  Be sure to visit their site and show your support!

At the end of the weekend it all came down to friends, family, and the trail community!

Our group photo before our 9mi run! PC: T. Roen

Our group photo before our 9mi run! PC: T. Roen

Review of the new SKORA TEMPO!

Running Franklin Mountain, El Paso single track in the TEMPO!

Running Franklin Mountain, El Paso single track in the TEMPO!

As a SKORA Running ambassadorI had the honor and privilege to take the SKORA TEMPO for a test drive and put about 300 miles on them prior to the production release and wanted to share with you my experiences and thoughts on the newest shoe from SKORA Running.

Cracking the box…

I am a very “bright” individual and somehow lime green gravitates to me.   9 time out of 10 I will be wearing SOMETHING lime green.   When my box from SKORA arrived and I cracked open the box I was all smiles.   While there will be several colorways available on the production shoe, the lime green TEMPO that I received in the mail had me smiling from ear to ear.   Come on, who wouldn’t love LIME GREEN shoes!   Let me explain my level of excitement on receiving these shoes.   The mailman delivered these shoes while we were leaving the house.  Not only did I stop and get the package, but I cracked open the box (AND put them on in the driveway!).

SKORA TEMPO!

SKORA TEMPO!

When I pulled these shoes from the box I was pleasantly surprised at how light of a shoe this is.   Even with a thicker sole than any of the other SKORA models, the feel and weight of this is more what you would expect to get from a track shoe.  They were light, flexible, and the mesh upper would make these amazingly breathable!   Knowing that I was going to take these to the trail, I initially had concerns about the durability of the upper and if they would hold up to my abuse (I have a tendency to puncture and tear shoes on the trail).

Hitting the feet…

Since we were leaving the house, the first experience I had with these shoes was actually walking around a store for a couple hours.   Like all of the other SKORA models, these shoes were comfortable to wear and felt great on my feet.   I have never really been able to find a running shoe that I could wear and be comfortable in ANYTIME.    With SKORA I am able to wear them as a daily wear shoe and love them;   the TEMPO is no different…It makes for some pretty happy feet!

My full intentions with this shoe were to take it to the trails.  90% of my miles are all on the trails and the extra cushion on the TEMPO was going to give me the extra protection I needed for the more technical or rocky trails.   My first run took me to Dana Peak Park in Harker Heights.

Hitting Dana Peak Park!

Hitting Dana Peak Park!

Like all of my trail shoes, I locked in my heel when lacing these up and set out on the trails.   The feel and fit of these shoes was spot on.  The ride on the TEMPO was smooth and provided a perfect amount of feel without the weight and bulkiness of other trail shoes.  In addition to that, you can bomb down technical hills with ease!   I was able to take off down winding single track and the stability and ride of these were near perfect.     After an easy 10mi run  (out of the box) I was dead set and putting the TEMPO through the gauntlet and find out what they can do!  Over the next few weeks I was going to be traveling to Afghanistan and would have several opportunities to test these (including an upcoming desert 50k in New Mexico)

My next stop took me to El Paso.   While I had access to the Franklin Mountains, most of my runs while here took place on the road.  95% of my runs are typically on the trails.    I have never been a big fan of the road, especially when doing long distance.

My first run on the roads took me through a combination of road, dirt, sand (you know… El Paso).    I don’t have a lot of “sand” at home and really enjoyed running in the sand out in El Paso!

Hitting the streets in El Paso!

Hitting the streets in El Paso!

With all of the running that I have done on them, I still haven’t found anything that I really disliked about them.  In fact, the more I ran in them, the more I wanted to run in them!   Have you ever wore a running shoe and it just make you happy?   That is really where I was… The TEMPO were answering a lot of my needs but soon they would be put to the test…

Packed up and ready for Sugarloaves!

Packed up and ready for Sugarloaves!

Up to this point, the longest run I had done in them was about 12mi on easy single track.   I hadn’t experienced any problems….no blisters… no shifting or sliding… They were ready for my 50k (Sugarloaves Ultra Vista).   Going into this race it was going to be raining and very muddy.   That is one thing that I hadn’t put the TEMPO through yet, but I was about to find out exactly how they were going to perform.   The morning of the race was wet to say the least.   The race consisted of an 8.5mi out-and-back with about 5mi of the course being MUD with standing water.

Remember I mentioned the upper was breathable?   Even with the standing water, the upper allowed these shoes to drain of water FAST.  Once it did stop raining, that same upper allowed the shoe to dry pretty quickly and allow me to keep on rocking.   Keep in mind I was running the end of January in Texas.   I don’t have to deal with snow, ice, or extreme cold temperatures, but I would imagine you would need some warm socks in the cold to keep the piggies warm (another advantage to living in Texas!!!)

The TEMPOs do not have an aggressive lug pattern and I wasn’t exactly sure how the shoe was going to hold up to the mud, the climbs out of arroyos, or even how they would shed the mud.   The mud on the course was very slippery to say the least but EVERYONE was sliding around.    Imagine mud covering over wet grass…. You were going to slide.   Some sections were about an inch thick of mud where-as other sections you were just barreling down the wet desert floor.   The one thing that I NEVER had to do during the race was stop to knock the mud off my TEMPOs.   They did a great job during the race of shedding all of the mud.  Another win!    What I will have to test when I get home from Afghanistan is how they hold up to the mud back home… We have a clayish type mud that sticks to EVERYTHING.  Whenever you run your shoes instantly turn into weights.    Can’t wait to try the TEMPOs out there!

TEMPOs during the Sugarloaves Ultra Vista Race

TEMPOs during the Sugarloaves Ultra Vista Race

After it was all said and done, the TEMPOs took me through the entire 50k and scored a 2d place overall finish.  I am not going to complain at all about that!

Now that I am in Afghanistan running, my TEMPOs have found a home on the roads (and sandy shoulders).   Since being here I have taken them through 18mi treadmill runs (yes…I’m crazy), water crossings, mud, snow, ice, slush, and whatever else you find laying along the sides of the road here.    The only thing that I wasn’t crazy about was the cold snow (again… I am from Texas!).

Ready to hit the road!

Ready to hit the road!

The 18mi Dreadmill life!

The 18mi Dreadmill life!

Final thoughts…

With approximately 300mi total on the TEMPOs including a 50k trail race, The Army Marathon – Afghanistan, and countless training runs on every surface in every weather condition (and country condition), these shoes have found a home!  While these were pre-production samples, I can GUARANTEE that I will be ordering two pair of these the day they are released and would highly recommend that you do the same!!   The only negative thing I have is that my other shoes may get jealous!   Simply put, these shoes are perfect for any surface and will rock ANY of your runs!   SKORA Ambassador or not…  I can’t wait to order them!   The TEMPO have found a home!

Now it's your turn to smile!

Now it’s your turn to smile!

What are you waiting for?   Check out SKORA Running now and get to ordering!

Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan

Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan

SKORA Release is right around the corner!  http://goo.gl/rCPxps

SKORA Release is right around the corner! http://goo.gl/rCPxps

Next stop for my SKORA TEMPO will be Cactus Rose 100 in October!

Hearing the music…

Listening to music while running or even on the trials has been a topic of discussion for some time.   There are countless reasons on why you shouldn’t wear them.   You are unable to hear your surroundings, they take away from the run, you are unable to hear people or animals behind you, or for safety reasons.   I used to religiously wear headphones (only one ear) while on the trails until my first night time trail race.   I needed to be able to hear what was going on around me and abandoned my headphones for the race.  After that race, I didn’t wear headphones for nearly a  year on any of my runs…  Then it changed!

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Up to this point I would go through headphones QUICKLY.   I sweat A LOT on my runs.  Weather running a 5k or a 60k… I am soaked!   As a result I had always had problems finding headphones that would live up to the challenge.  The other problem I had was hearing others on the trail with me.   Since much of my running is on shared trails, I want to be able to hear other runners, mountain bikes, or possible animals coming up behind me.  Ok, there probably aren’t many animals chasing me on the trails, but you get the picture.   🙂   One way I tried fixing this was to remove one earbud.  Now I have a single bud that is dangling inside my singlet putting more pressure on the cord…  That ended up being problematic as well.    Once I removed the music from my runs there was no longer an issue… but I missed my music!!

This all changed when I was turned on to a new earbuds at a local race.   I was shown the Momentum Sports Earbuds  by X-1 Audio;  a pair of earbuds that are light, sweatproof, and allow you to hear your surroundings!  Really?

solution-momentum-earbudEver since I was turned onto these earbuds, they have accompanied me on all of my long runs.   In short, when wearing them I can hear my feet hitting the trail, animals moving along the brush, mountain bikes coming behind me, and even hear the conversations with those running with me.    These earbuds allow you to continue to listen to your music while still maintaining awareness of what is going on around you!  These earbuds give you the absolute best of both worlds!

FIT

The Momentum Sports Earbuds, come with 3 different fins to ensure you have a secure fit.   I did have to experiment with the adjustment and swapping out of the fins on my first few runs to get that perfect fit.  Once that fit was achieved, they have stayed in since!   The only time they come out now is when a tree branch on the trails decides that I don’t need music and they get pulled out!  🙂     They earbuds are extremely light weight and you barely notice they are in your ear! 

SOUND QUALITY

As I mentioned above, these earbuds allow you to not only hear your music but also hear all of your surroundings.  The sound quality is great!   Since these allow ambient noise in, they do not sound like your traditional earbuds and do not have the same level of crispness you would get from a noise canceling earbud.   I joke with a lot of people and tell them “you hear the music in your head”.   It is a very strange sensation to hear people talking to you and the music.  Rather than voices in your head, you have music in your head!   I use these only for running when I need to be aware of my surroundings and they perform absolutely perfect for that!

I would no recommend these for other situations, especially situations where you don’t want to hear anything but your music.  I was on a trip to Colorado and these were the only earbuds I packed.   Well I tried using these earbuds to watch a movie on the airplane.  I was battling between the sound of the movie and the airplane engines!   It was my own fault;  the earbuds performed exactly as they were supposed to.  🙂

PRODUCT QUALITY

I use these earbuds 5 days a week during my runs and workouts.  I wear them through my sweatfests and in the rain and I have never had any issues.  Because of how much I sweat, I actually rinse them off in the sink after every one of my runs.   The rain and water haven’t impacted the performance what-so-ever!

The cord is a tangle-free braided cord.  I have put this cord throughout he ringer.   I have had my earbuds ripped out of my ear from trees, bounced off rocks, and the cord hasn’t shown any wear at all.   There is also a reflective material in the cord, but I don’t really have a need for it since I only run trails!  Luckily there are not many cars out there 😀    Like all earbuds I am careful with how I fold them when not using them so I don’t put pressure on the plug.   

OVERALL

These earbuds have been perfect for me on the trails;  I can hear all of my surroundings, my feet hitting the trail, but most important… I can hear the music again!   If you are interested in trying them, talk to me about a discount!  😀

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