Thursday, July 25, 2013

Gear Review: currexSole Runpro Performance Insoles

currexSole RUNPRO Performance Insoles

    Being an adventure racer, most of my running is done on trails, or off trail jumping and sometimes tripping over logs and rocks. I was having issues where my feet were moving around too much in my shoes, causing some discomfort and irritation, so I was excited to try out the currexSole inserts, hoping this would solve my wiggly foot problem. 

The Insoles:

Currently four types of insoles are available. The RUNPRO is made for running, walking, or triathlons, and they can also help you transition to minimalist shoes. The ACTIVEPRO is good for multisports such as running & hiking, racquet & nets sports like tennis or volleyball, and ball sports including baseball, basketball, rugby, and football. The BIKEPRO is for bike shoes, and lastly, the EDGEPRO is strictly for ski and snow sports which are perfect for ski, snowboard, alpine boots and skates. When you select which type is best for your needs, you will then have to determine the profile that is right for you, high, medium or low. Don't worry, it's not complicated. If you're buying them from a running store, they might have a footdisc that looks like a gel pad you can step on, which will reveal the shape of your foot so you can determine the shape of your arch as high, medium, low or flat. You will also need to determine your static leg axis which means you are either bow-legged, straight-legged, or knock kneed. Confused? No need to be. Their site demonstrates step by step instructions on how to do this at home. It's easy, I promise! Check out the following example and click on the link...  

  • A: High arched foot - Only the heel and ball of foot are visible.
  • B: Medium arched foot - The foot is evenly balanced.
  • C: Low arched foot - The inner arch is sunken, the imprint in the middle is wider compared to a medium arched foot.
  • D: Flat arched foot - The inner arch is almost flat, so that you can see the total foot imprint.

The Test:

As I mentioned before, I was having issues with the toe box of my shoes being a little too wide for my skinny feet. I was wearing thicker socks to help keep my foot in place, but it wasn't working to the full extent. I yanked the original insoles out of my trail runners, and slapped in the RUNPRO. I decided a 5.5 mile hilly trail run would put these to the test....not too short, not too long in case my feet didn't agree (the walk back wouldn't be too far), and hilly trails are where I would notice the issue the most. As soon as I took off on the trail, I immediately encountered a limestone covered downhill. This was the perfect scenario for the first test since downhills on loose footing is when my feet take a beating. To my surprise, my feet didn't budge! Did these insoles actually do their job? I wasn't convinced yet, I had plenty more hills to see if they succeeded in supporting my complicated feet. I kept on charging through my run, and I noticed not only were my feet staying in place, the insoles were crazy comfortable. I felt like a gazelle, like I could run all day without any pain. Did these insoles meet my expectations? Heck yes, above and beyond! I didn't expect them to be so comfortable along with keeping my feet from sliding around my shoes. I'm very impressed with the currexSole insoles! I seriously want a pair for every type of shoes I own! 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

2013 Sheltowee Extreme 5 12 Hour AR

Sheltowee Extreme 5 Adventure Race
12 Hour
London, KY
Team Adventure Capitalists/BDAR Midwest
2 Person Coed
Racers: Eric Olsen, Heather Kluch

Eric Olsen, Heather Kluch, Adam Rains, Josh Braun, Brook Manning

Racer's Eve

   Eric and I arrived a little later than expected since we had to stop at J.J. McBrewster's along the way. It's a BBQ restaurant featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, and I highly recommend it. The beef brisket sandwich was amazeballs! When we pulled into the Grove Campground to check in with the girl at the gate, her accent was so thick that Eric couldn't understand a word she was saying. I pretty much had to translate or answer for him, it was pretty amusing! Our fellow AC/BDAR teammates, Josh Braun, Adam Rains, and Brook Manning, are also Southern, so I always forget exactly how Southern they are since I can't hear accents through Facebook and text messages! Eric quickly adapted. We both did have to ask "What?" more than usual, but we eventually understood what everyone was saying. I think we even started to talk with a Southern accent at one point. 
   We setup camp with Adam Rains, and Josh Braun, while Brook & Kevin Manning setup on the site next to us along with Kevin's teammates, Lisa and Bill. It felt like one big Southern family. After everything was setup, we headed out for some much needed grub. We all stuffed our faces with some form of pasta and breadsticks. My stomach was happy! After dinner, we got back to camp, relaxed by the fire for a while, and then decided to call it an early night.

Pre Race

   We all wake up around 5:30am, it might've been earlier. All I knew is it was still pitch black, and I had the best sleep that I've ever had in a tent, and I didn't want to get up. The pre race meeting wasn't until 8am, so I didn't understand why the hell we were up so early, but I got up anyway. We quickly ate breakfast, and then headed over to the race start. Now looking back, I'm happy we got up early. I don't like feeling rushed before a race, so we definitely ended up having plenty of time, and we got a rockstar parking space! 
   We hopped out of our cars and started to get all of our gear ready, when out of nowhere comes this junker of a car flying into the parking lot, then slams on the brakes, and came to a screeching halt just in time before running off the end of the parking lot. My first thought was, "Who is the hell is this psycho? He could've ran over someone!" This older, out of shape man, jumped out of his crap car and started screaming at everyone. "WHO THE HELL OPENED MY GATE?? YOU'RE ALL TRESPASSING! GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE!" This guy was so raging mad, I'm surprised he didn't give himself a heart attack. Apparently he got in Kevin's face when he was driving down the lot towards us. He pulled over, rolled down his window and started blaming Kevin for opening the gate...well Kevin gave him a piece of his mind. He wasn't going to take that crap! It turned out that this guy was the camp host, or gatekeeper, whatever he wants to call his high and mighty douchebag self. I think we woke him from his beauty sleep, which he didn't seem to get much of, and it just sent him into some psycho rage. Obviously if the gate was open, someone opened it for us, and failed to tell this crabby guy that we were going to be there. Oh well, not our problem! Stephanie, the race director, handled the situation well, so Crabby McAngerson finally left. Hopefully he got the rest of his beauty sleep. 
   After all that madness went down, we were able to get our maps with the UTM coordinates to plot the Checkpoints, along with our race instructions and a couple other supplemental maps for bike trails. We brought our maps to the picnic shelter because it started to look like a storm was rolling in. Plotting in the rain isn't a fantastic idea. I read off the UTM coordinates, and Eric plotted all 24 CPs. We waited until the pre race meeting to plan our route since Stephanie said there was something we needed to know first before we plan our route. Stephanie went through the rules and gave us instructions, and we listened, or at least we thought we listened to everything, but with the distraction of the loud thunder and the pouring rain in the background, apparently there was something we didn't hear, and you will see how it bites us in the ass later. 
   With the info we heard, we planned out our bike routes, and determined which order we would be getting the CPs in each section, since we were allowed to get them in any order. 9am came around pretty freakin quick after that, and we were off! Here we gooooooo!

Race Start

   The race started with a mile or so road run across the bridge of the dam and back. We didn't have our passports to punch for the CPs so this was our way to get them and break up the teams in the process. Obviously the faster runners would get it first and be able to start the next section before everyone else. We did fairly well, and planned to keep up with our Southern teammates throughout the entire race, or for as long as we could, and so far we were pretty much staying together.

Single Track

We arrived back to the race start. Our next adventure was to snag CPs 1&2 that were along the Sheltowee Trace trail, which meant for some wet single track since it had just rained. On a side note, wet single track always gives me heart attacks. I'm always slipping and sliding, and my wheels always spin out and I go nowhere. Well I became smart and decided to get more aggressive tires (Kenda Slant Six) for this race. We all headed out to ride to CP1. I could immediately tell the difference with my new tires. Holy crap, I didn't feel like I was going to die!! It was awesome! I wasn't sliding and I could take turns on the wet mud without having visions of me falling on my face. The tires might be heavier than my previous less knobby tires, but they were well worth it! Anyway, enough about the tires....we were all right behind each other riding this wet and sometimes muddy trail, but then Eric and I fell back. I'm not exactly sure what happened, either we got stuck on an uphill, or a root, or we were just simply not as fast as our fellow single track experts, but we ended up totally losing them when we came to a trail junction. Since we were following them, we weren't looking at a map while riding, so we had no idea what junction we were at, and Josh, Adam, & Brook were nowhere to be seen. I yelled Josh's name a few times, but no response. They were gone. Eric hurried and busted out the map so we could figure out where we were. We figured out our whereabouts on the trail and started riding again. I have to admit I was a little frustrated. I really wanted to race with those guys, and was disappointed that we separated so early in the race, but when Eric said there was nothing we could do about it, I knew he was right. We just had to keep going and have it just be "our" race. 
   The single track was nice and flowy. It wasn't too technical which I liked since it was wet. After a while we came to a parking lot, which looked like some sort of boat dock. We couldn't see where the trail continued on the other side of the lot. Eric and I, plus another team, rode back and forth looking for the trail and didn't see it. We pulled out the map and figured we must've made a wrong turn somewhere, but couldn't figure out where. After riding around the lot in circles a couple times, we decide to ride down a little further, and sure enough there was the trail! No idea what had happened, but at least we got back on track. We continued on the trail while keeping an eye out for the CP under a bridge. We weren't sure what the bridge looked like, and we started to worry since we crossed a bunch of mini bridges, so we hoped it wasn't any of those. Eric rode across a slick bridge and as I'm turning the corner I heard "I'm going in!!!" I saw Eric's bike falling into the creek and Eric fell on his side. Luckily only his bike went in and he stayed on the bridge without any serious imjuries! As we kept riding, we came upon the most obvious bridge ever, and saw pink tape dangling off of it. It was the CP punch! We were looking for an orienteering flag, but there wasn't one. Luckily someone saw the punch! We then realized that all the bike CPs would not be flags, just tape with punches dangling. Good thing we saw this because as we started to ride to CP2, we saw a bunch of teams coming towards us because they missed CP1. They were looking for flags too, so they rode right  past it. We felt so bad for them, because these were top teams that had to turn around and lose a ton of time! These things happen to even the best teams, and yes it sucks! 
   We kept on riding North up to CP2 which was a small knoll, so we had to get off the bike and hike up a small hill to find it. It was a little further down than we expected but we got it, and then traveled north to the TA. This is where our pre race missing information bites us in the ass. We stayed on the trail and kept riding, along with a couple other teams that were about the same pace as us. The trail started to get snarly! It was super technical with huge rocks everywhere. After a while, it was no longer enjoyable, we were hiking our bikes a lot since some of this stuff was impossible to ride over. I mentioned to Eric that this was way too much single track for a 12 hour race, especially with the second half being so technical! He agreed, but we didn't have a choice and kept going. When we finally got to the trail junction, we turned left just to hike our bikes all the way up a super steep non rideable hill. Yay fun! (Yes, that's sarcasm.) When we finally reached the TA, we see a ton of bikes! How the hell did all these racers get here, when we didn't see any of them pass us on the trail? Yep, you probably guessed it, they took THE ROAD. OMG OMG OMG! If we knew we could've taken the road after CP2, we would've knocked 25 minutes or more off our time. I uttered the word SHITBALLS a few times in a row! Oh well, we had to deal with our mistake, no going back now! We sucked it up and checked in with the volunteer. On to the next chapter...


Knowing we lost some time with losing the trail earlier on the single track, and then taking the trail instead of the road, we decided there was no way we could get all of the CPs in this section. All the previous CPs were mandatory, but we only had to get 3 out of 7 in this section. We decided to start with CP9 (clockwise) since CPs 9,8, & 7 were closer than the rest of them. Eric did the navigation while I either consulted with him or just followed, keeping an eye out for the CPs. We snagged CP9, then headed to CP7. We overshot CP7 and ended up having to come down and around to get it, which was not the greatest way to attack it. It was overgrown, and when I say overgrown, I mean thorns up to my head! We were getting prickled and stabbed all over the place. It felt like we were bushwhacking forever, when we finally came upon it. What a relief, I just wanted out of that thorny mess! 
   We got out of the nastiness and came back up to the trail. We made the decision to skip CP8 since it was pretty far off the trail and didn't really have a good attack point. We figured that one would cost us the most time so it wasn't worth it. Scott, a man racing solo, agreed with us, so we hiked the trail North to CP6. This is where I noticed my knee, or more like my knee was screaming at me to stop. I think I twisted or pulled it during the single track section and it finally started to tighten up and give me troubles. We jogged on the trail and with every step down on my left leg, I could feel it pull. I debated telling Eric to stop and walk, but then the stubborn racer side of me took over. Stubborn racer told me to keep on going, that it was nothing but a tight muscle, and that if I continued to beat the shit out of it, it would get better. At first I thought I was crazy for thinking this, but I've done this before and it worked, so I gave it a try. I never mentioned my knee issue, and kept on running through the pain. We punched CP6 and headed over to CP5. Oh CP5, I still don't like  you! We popped out on a grassy, gravely, fire road. We thought this one should be easy, it looked like we just get to the top of the hill past a gate, and head directly south to a reentrant on the other side of the hill. Well we got to the top of the hill, headed in, and wandered for what felt like an eternity. We ended up crossing a creek, so then we thought we were on the wrong side of the creek the entire time, and kept heading West, which wasn't the right way. At one point I finally said, "Ok, we have no idea where we are, let's get to a trail so we can figure out what went wrong." We kept heading west since we knew we would hit a trail, and we hit it in about 5 minutes, which told me we were way too far west from CP5. Since Eric was doing all the nav, I decided to finally contribute for this one. I grabbed the map and thought we should attack it a little bit differently. I knew we veered off to the west so I made us hike past the top of the hill and go around the east side of the hill. We skirted the hill and came upon a small reentrant. Sure enough, the CP was there! I was proud of myself since I haven't navigated in a race in a while, so this was my only shining navigating moment, Eric has all the rest of them! :o)
  After CP5, we looked at the map and figured it wasn't worth getting the remaining CPs since they were pretty far out of the way. We were already out on the course for almost 4 hours, Eric had just run out of water, and we didn't want to miss out on the rest of the course, so we got back on that road and started running back to the TA. This is when the monsoon hit. I swear we were transported into a rainforest. This shit was coming down hard! I heard thunder so loud directly behind us that I jumped and covered my head expecting a tree to come tumbling down on me. We kept on running and then it started hailing! This was some serious storm, so I kept running. I found a turtle on the trail, his head was hiding in his shell, I think he was afraid of the storm too! Eric picked him up and moved him off the trail so he didn't get ran over. Of course we had to take a picture of our new friend first!

 Finally, I could see it clearing up in front of us and that's where I wanted to be! We ran our way into the sun and this is when I noticed that my knee was better! Ha! My stubborn self was right! I had tortured the pain right out of me! I don't suggest this for everyone but for some reason it seems to work for me! We made it back to the TA without getting struck by lightning, and quickly transitioned to our bikes. The volunteer told us our other teammates had left about 13 minutes before us, but they had cleared the entire course! We were excited for them!

Road Ride

   It felt good to get  back on the bikes at this point! We had one CP to get along the way which was in a cemetery. We were soaked from the tropical rainstorm but didn't bother to change into dry clothes. We knew it would probably rain again since it seemed to be on and off all day, so wet we would stay. The first part of this ride blew ass! Since it had been monsooning, it turned this grassy road to mud, and of course it was all uphill to the main road. We were going so slow, but we knew riding would be faster than walking up this torturous hill, so we kept on pushing. After what felt like forever, we finally reached the main road.We rode without any troubles to TA2 which is was also the race start. Next up...paddling!


   In most races, we dread the paddle. Paddling is definitely not our strongest discipline, I'd say biking is our best, but we all know our paddling could use some work. Eric and I practiced a few times before this race, but we had no idea if that was going to help at all. As we geared up for the paddle, I busted out my raincoat again and my full fingered gloves since nasty clouds were hovering in the distance again, and I knew if I was wet, I'd be cold. Only two out of four CPs were mandatory, so that's what our plan was, unless we felt we were paddling like pros, we would then go for more. We paddled to a cove to get CP11 which was the closest one, and then headed over to CP13. These were the only two we were going to go for, but we had a change of heart. We saw we could portage over a very narrow part of land which would save us some time, so we said why not, let's go for CP14. It was further south, but since Eric was hitting the CPs spot on, and we seemed to be flying, we went for it. As we paddled south, the sky looked like it was about to release hell on us. I whipped out my camera because I had to get shot of it. The pic turned out black and white, yet it was taken in color! It was just that dark!!! These clouds scared the shit out of me, but I didn't let that bother me, just kept on paddling, didn't really have any other choice!

   We found the CP with no issues again, Eric was on a roll! So we discussed whether we go for CP12 or not. It was a ways north past the take out, and we didn't want to lose too much time and not be able to get some of the bike CPs on the next section. We also thought that if we skipped 12, we might have a chance of catching up with our other team so we could race the rest of the race with them. I then thought well, if we don't get 12, and we get out on the bike and make mistakes, and don't even end up getting the CPs we thought we would, I'm going to be annoyed we didn't get 12 since all of our paddling nav has been totally spot on. Eric agreed and we went for that sucker! As we paddled towards 12, this is when I realized that all people passing us in their fancy speedboats were totally messing with us. They would head right towards us then skim right by us, causing crazy waves like they were trying to make us dump! This actually made it more fun! It was like we were on rapids, so even though they were being jerks, I liked it! After our bumpy ride, we paddled into another cove, punched CP12, and headed to the take out! On to the next section with 3 hours left of the race!

Road Bike

   Nearing the end of a race is when it becomes totally strategic. We knew we only had 3 hours left, and we weren't going to clear the whole course. So we had to figure out exactly what we did have time for. It's hard to judge because you have to think about hills, sore and tired legs, and weather factors. We rode to CP15, knowing we should have enough time for that and CP16. For CP15 we had to get off the bikes and hike in to get it, or so we thought. We charged into the woods to look for this thing, along with a few other teams, and none of us were finding it. Eric wandered a bit so I yelled to him that there's no way in hell this CP is this far into the woods. We kept looking over the map and couldn't figure out what was going wrong. Eric was in hyper hypo mode, so whenever he responded to me, he answered with super quick "yeah yeah yeah" which made it seem like he was saying "shut the hell up already, I got it." I knew that's not what he meant, but when his triple yeahs turned into quadruple yeahs, I started to get annoyed! Enough with the yeahs already!  After wandering around the woods for way too long, we started talking to another team that told us there was a road off to the right up north on the road. This wasn't on the map, but it would make more sense for a bike CP. They had been down that road, but didn't ride down that far. Eric's gut instinct told him it was down there. Usually you don't go by instinct because it's usually wrong, but at this point we figured why the hell not, we weren't finding it by reading the map! So we rode down there, and sure enough there was the CP!!! So annoyed but so happy at the same time! Even with taking forever to find that CP, we still had enough time to head south for CP16 which was a small knoll/pond. We rode to where the road curved and Eric headed into the woods. I took another look at the map and it looked like we had actually gone past the CP judging on where the curve was in the road. I started to head back up the road and saw a team pop out of the woods. We had helped these guys earlier, so they waved to me that the CP was in there. I yelled to Eric to get his ass out of the woods and head up the road. I headed into where that team popped out and the CP was there. Thanks guys! 
   After grabbing CP16, the most southern bike CP from the finish, we only had about an hour and 20 minutes to get back to the finish. We biked to an intersection and here we were faced with the decision of going back towards the finish with grabbing CP23 off a trail about a mile away from the finish, or heading the other direction to get CP20 which was out of the way. It was about a mile downhill, but then we had to come back up to get back to the finish! We knew our legs were going to take a beating coming back up that hill, but we said screw our legs, and went for it! The downhill was awesome, we were flying! We didn't even have to pedal. Eric told me as soon as the road started to bend north, that's when we were to attack it. This CP was sitting on a creek next to the road. I road down to the bend in the road and went in. The CP was right there! I punched that passport and got back on my bike to head up and up and up that hill we just flew down. I don't know about Eric but I shifted into my granny gear. My legs were tired and I wasn't going to burn them out since the top of the hill wasn't the finish. We pushed and pushed slowly but finally got the to the top. It was smooth sailing from there. We kicked it into turbo speed, going between 17 and 20mph since it was pretty flat for the rest of the way back. I don't know where that energy and strength came from, but it felt awesome! .Since we were hauling, we decided to get CP23 on the way back. We got to the trail it was off of and saw another racer who said it would take about 10 minutes. Hell yes we were going for it! We flew down that trail, got the CP and flew out! Only about a mile to go to the finish, we hauled ass again! When we got the finish, Eric popped his bike up over that curb, hit someone's car (luckily no damage), thew his bike down and hopped like a gazelle to check in with the volunteer. With 30 minutes to spare, we had a total of 16 CPs which put us in 1st place in the 2 person coed division! Although we were a little sad we didn't get to race with the rest of our team, we had an awesome time! It was a great course, definitely one of my favorite races this year, and most importantly there were NO BUGS!!! It was magical! I didn't get one single mosquito bite! I did this race last year, and it will definitely be on my calendar for next year!!!