Xero Shoe Sale! Celebrating them being on the Shark Tank!

Xero Shoes, Invisible Shoes, Running Sandals

Go to http://XeroShoes.com/ and save 20% on Xero Shoes DIY Barefoot Sandals.

They are celebrating our appearance on Shark Tank (we walked away from a $400k offer!). Join the 25,816+ people in 91 countries who’ve had the fun of making their own barefoot sandals (or let us custom-make a pair for you).

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Invisible Shoes is now Xeroshoes!

Invisible Shoes is now Xeroshoes!

Its great to see this company so successful. This past February they appeard on the Hit TV Show Shark Tank and it really helped their business.
Check out there latest products at http://www.xeroshoes.com

Cajun Coyote 100 Race Report- 2012

Cajun Coyote 100 Race Report

 Where should I start this race report?  Some books start in the middle and fill in the beginning, others just plain start at the End.  I am going to start on Lap 5 of 5.

Cajun Coyote 100 Trail

 Lap 5 of 5- Miles 80-100

I really can’t tell you how long this lap took, but it was shortly before sunrise and ended before lunch.  After 80 miles of running up and down, up and down, rock and root you get to the point of seeing some pretty cool things.  I didn’t really want to think my pacer spiked my hand held, but after seeing the little boy sitting on the bench facing away from me for the 4th time I was starting to think I was being set up for a scene out of strange horror flick that would result in me being dragged through the Louisiana swamp to feed the gators.  I didn’t think my pacer Leslie would understand the strange side effects of LSD (Long Slow Distance) combined with low blood sugar and sleep deprivation.  I was afraid she would get worried and make me stop running.  The little boy continued to show up as the morning went, but eventually I was too tired to look around.  Besides all the hunting shacks, deer, and other strange animals running around the wood made me lose focus on the task at hand and that was finishing a 100 mile race.  You see on all the other Laps (1-4) I didn’t see things, nor did I walk aimlessly (I purposefully kicked the stump), nor did I feel like I would end up as gator bait.

 How does a runner get himself into such a funk… Well its my wife’s fault.

After my DNF at Superior100 I was having one of those sad days were I felt like I wasn’t good enough to finish a second 100 mile race.  So I asked her the question I didn’t want answered.  With so much going on in our life, I knew I shouldn’t ask it, but I did.  “Honey, (That’s not her name, but for blogging purposes) I am a little sad I trained so hard for Superior100 and wasn’t able to continue after 45 miles.  I am in really the best shape I have ever been in for a 100 mile race, what do you think I should do?”  Her answer was the reason it was her fault… For this was the first time I ever asked her what I should do instead of just doing whatever the heck I wanted to do.  I love her for it.  She suggested I find another race to run, and after some discussion and looking we realized December 1st or 8th was the only two weekend’s available till after February.  So it became my task to find a race that fit into the schedule that didn’t break the bank.

Welcome to Cajun Coyote 100!  What a hoot I thought after checking it out, reading the waiver, and checking for how to get there.  Villa Platte, Louisiana was in the middle of no where.  A 19 hour drive or a hop skip and a flight from most airports.  Before registering I asked around in my ultra community and no one stepped up to say “Hay I will pay way too much money to hang out with a grumpy, whiny, snot nosed, red a$$ed, runner for the weekend”.  Some friends I have.  So I did the next best thing, asked my wife who said no (insert sad puppy dog face).  Next best thing was my “not really” brother brother who was always on the edge of his seat waiting to be asked to go.  Little did he know it would be such a great experience. Fast forward to race day because I did little to no training Maybe 45-60 miles total for 3 months leading up to the race.  I knew I forgot to do something.

We arrived in Ville Platte on race morning at way too dark thirty to be met by a mask less Bat Man and his non costumed assistant who attacked me with a Sharpie marker branding my arm with the number 173.  Okay, okay I didn’t sign up for a Triathlon what is up with the number?  They replied that that’s the way it is.  Thankfully I was quickly distracted by the National Geographic and all the discount coupons to the Haunted Cemetery in my goodie bag to worry about being allergic to the marker.  Other like minded fans of ultra running started to gather together with the all too famous, My ultra wasn’t nearly as cool as your ultra statements going around (humble as they are).  Being the only runner from MichiganI didn’t recognize anyone in the race, but I suddenly saw one gal I recognized from somewhere… Oh don’t I know you from Western States; yeah you were that group with all the Crew Shirts on in the airport.  I still can’t remember their names, but on this day the runner they were crewing would be unforgettable. So we started.

 

Brandon Mulnix at Cajun Coyote 100

Wearing my Mitten State.com Shirt

Typical start at an ultra, ready set bang walk.

Lap 1 of 5 Worth the Hurt- Kevin’s Lap

The woods around us became brighter as we ran so no one needed a head lamp.  It wasn’t long before I met Kevin who had a photo dangling from his hydration pack.  The conversation started with “who are you running for?” to “wow you are crazier than I am”.  It wasn’t funny farm, but more like Patch Adams “Where’s the sky, Who likes to…?”.  The miles flew by and I didn’t pay much attention to anything other then.  Number 173 in, 173 out of the first 2 aid stations.  By this time nature called me to hang our near a stump for a few minutes longer than I wanted Kevin to wait.  Off I went alone for most of the rest of the lap.  I missed Kevin soon after her left because of all the stuff I was learning about fundraising on his adventure with the Snowdrop organization.

 Lap 2 of 5 Loner in the woods

Run when I could, Power hike when I could.  I felt really good on lap 2 and moved along faster than I anticipated.  Wasn’t much to think about other than planning a run fromMichiganall the way toEthiopiato get my son.  I had big dreams about mile 34.  I soon was running with a guy who grew up in Greenville,MI(where I work) and he pushed me a little on the pace, but what a surprised.  A funny thing happened at Aid station 4, I forgot my Hand Held, and after being picked on about something I turned my I pod back on and Fred Bear was playing and here are two “Bearded Hippy looking Biker dudes” running the aid station, so I was laughing and shared some Air Guitar with them before grabbing my hand held and getting out of there before any medicinal smoke started flowing.  It wasn’t long and the lead runners were whizzing by (not latterly) and I was able to yell out to all of them and make a big scene for each.  Some were from the Ultra list which was cool, because none of my friends hang out there, but these cool runners do.  Toward the end of this loop I ran into Rob from Pennsylvania. In and out of the Start/Finish I went, but I forgot my Hand held again, thankfully Jeff (my not brother) was there to save me.  I also met Leslie my pacer for the first time who drove all the way in from Baton Rouge (1 hour ½ hour) away to help me. 

 Lap 3 of 5 Walkers in the Night

Boy could Rob power walk.  No matter how I tried I couldn’t keep up without running a few strides, which rocked the pace.  This was another one of those flying by hardly remembering the trail or anyone else on it times.  Rob and I talked for hours about Genetics, Proteins, Neurons, Pharmaceuticals, and all the stuff I normally don’t get to talk about because I surround my self with people like me who want to talk about poop, farts, and running.  Rob was so excited because he received the call his son had been accepted into a great college.  The good news made him walk faster and me try to keep up.  Aid stations took longer, because we would sit down break bread with the volunteers until we both felt we made the world better and continued on like Louis and Clark.  We pioneered our way almost to the Start/Finish before I lost touch with him.  I left him behind to fend for himself and the painful muscles.

 Lap 4 of 5 Leslie and Dance moves

After a wonderful massage by my not real brother Jeff (who learned playing football how to massage… Don’t ask me what they do in the Locker rooms).  Leslie took up her post behind me and away we went.  Little did I know that while I was running she was playing a game called Dance Dance Revolution.  More frequently than you could imagine I would hear her toe hit a stump and then she would fall forward calling out “Dance Moves”.  We laughed and talked for hours under the stars while we ran.  It was nice having someone’s first 40 miler be with me on the trails in the middle of a swamp.  I feel kinda bad leading the way for most of it, but I was so afraid she was going to fall, because the two times she lead, she tripped within a few hundred yards.  I liked leading the way through the jungle I knew so well.  I played tour guide Brandon thus not being my first trip around this circle.  She got to see Wolf Spiders that had eyes glowing under the leaves.  At first they were here and there, but soon they were everywhere.  Enough of them to keep me from laying down and sleeping anywhere. 

Wolf Spider in Louisiana

Wolf Spider in Louisiana

Lap 4 was so quick we woke Jeff up who was sleeping in the back of the car.  I felt kinda bad for him being so tall fitting into such a small car.   Without a mutter of complaint he was up and taking care of all my needs for my final lap.  I ended up getting about 20 minutes of sleep while propping my feet up on the picnic table and letting my muscles relax.  Something that had worked so well all day turned into a bad thing.  My muscles ended up getting really tight.

 Lap 5 of 5 – Quiet as a mouse just slammed in the door

Leaving the aid station I forgot my ability to run.  I was so sore that I started running and stopped quickly, walking was working, and so we went on.  By the time we got to aid station 3 I was so tired I had to sit down.  I fell asleep for only 3-4 minutes and I was ready to run… FAST until I had to stop.  It only last maybe a ½ mile, but I ran like the wind, and it wasn’t till a hill slowed me down did I stop.  I couldn’t run much more after that.  It wasn’t long until we were caught by Rob, and then we caught another runner that Leslie knew at Aid Station 4.  I wanted to run with them into the finish, but I couldn’t go any faster.  On we walked.  I felt bad for Leslie having me in just a quiet mood, but I couldn’t bring myself to talk or listen.  Quiet as a mouse we walked, but like one shut in the door my form sucked.  My feet hurt, chaffing between my legs screamed, and on I walked.  Never wanting to quit, but wanting to finish sooner than I was able.

 It ended 1731 minutes after it started, I wasn’t first, and I wasn’t last.  I finished my 2nd 100 mile race, (3rd attempt in 2012).  I earned the Awesome Belt Buckle and a Coyote skull to acknowledge my finish.

Cajun Coyote 100 - 2012 Finisher Award

Jeff became an even bester friend after the race.  Taking care of me like any brother would care for their dying father, me being the older acting man of our group.  I don’t remember much, but I remember how awesome the weekend was.  An adventure in Louisiana, the 9th state completed on my quest to finish 50 ultras in 50 states.

 This story seems to end so happily with a man finishing 100 miles with little training leading up to the race, but its not a happy ending yet.  I never felt like quitting, but I never felt I finished.  My race isn’t over.  I still have a 4 year old boy waiting for me to come get him inEthiopia.  The entire race I thought about what it would take to run to him, to hold him, to play with him.  I ran for the 10 people who pledged $0.75-1 per mile for me to run.  I couldn’t stop, and I feel I am still running. 

 Can you help me get him home? – Our Adoption Blog

Adoption- The new adventure

Traveling toEthiopia last month wasn’t just about photographing the adoption process.  It became the start to a new adventure.  My wife and I fell in love with a little 4 year old boy while we were there.  I haven’t been able to stop and tell the story, but I hope to as the chapters are written.

 

The wife of the couple we traveled there with to document their journey in adopting two boys details the adventure well on her blog “More than a Pastor’s wife”.  Check it out to read about her Ethiopian Adventure and see many of the photos I was able to capture for her and her husband. 

We have started a Facebook Page to journal our process: Mulnix Family Adoption

Running in Ethiopia

Running Across Borders- Ethiopia

Running Across Borders- Ethiopia

 While traveling for a mission trip I was looking for an opportunity to run. Running in Ethiopia was intimidating because I didn’t know where it was appropriate to run. Safety and security were two big concerns I had before arriving in country so I started looking for opportunities. Google became my friend on this issue, and after a quick search I located Running Across Borders. RAB allowed me the opportunity to run while away from home.  They provided me a coach and 3 training partners after picking me up at the hotel.  What an amazing opportunity to experienceEthiopiain a very unique way that I would have never thought possible.  The three runners I trained with are all training for the Ethiopian Olympic team in different events.  It was so surreal running with 100 pound guys that could on any given day run sub 4 minute mile.  Good thing it was their rest day because the 8:45 min/mile pace I was able to hold for 5 ½ miles must have seemed like walking to them.  I could list a ton of excuses for a slow pace (8000+ ft of elevation, severe bronchitis, 220 pounds) but it didn’t matter to them.  They seemed to enjoy having me to run with.  There wasn’t much spoken do to only one of them speaking English, but I asked a lot of questions.  Mersha the coach was a great resource of answers.  He has been coaching runners for a while and recently completed his masters degree in Sports Science.  His goal is to come to theUSAto get his PHD so he can one day coach at the Olympics even though he is already more than qualified. 

Running inEthiopiacompares to very little I have ever experienced in running.  Maybe it was being star struck by the 5000/10000 meter Olympic Champion that ran by a couple times, but I was in running awe.  The best part is I will probably get to experience it again when we go toEthiopiato adopt the little 4 ½ year old boy we fell in love with while we are there.  Like any good runner I came away with Swag, I found an Ethiopian running jersey at the market in XXL… Just my size (normally I wear Lg, but way too small for this want-to-be Ethiopian)

Hills, Repeat, Hills, Repeat- Training for Superior 100

Hills, Repeat, Hills, Repeat- Training forSuperior100

To train for a 100 mile race it would seem you would have to run 100 miles in training in one week, but I disagree with that idea.  Last year when I trained for Burning River 100 I racked up some 70 and 80 mile weeks, and that worked well.  To bad the course was flatter than I trained for.  As I put in the miles for the Superior 100 which is just over a month away I am trying to focus more on what the course is going to present to me.  Hills and lots more hills is what I read about online for training.  With only a few 100-150 Ft hills within 20 minutes of my house I have been really focusing on strengthening my legs.  To be able to climb a lot of hills, strength is important, or at least that is what the internet is telling me.  So my training has consisted of this:

30 Minutes on Stair Stepper 1-3 times a week (3am on some days)
Hill Repeats during 5-8 mile runs.  I have three options of courses that have some decent hills.  So I will do anything to add more into them such as Figure 8′s up other trails so I run multiple hills both down and up, without just down and up.  
Long Runs- Well they haven’t been nearly as plentiful as I would like.  I have done two runs over 20 miles since June and I have to long runs planned for the next 3 weeks.  12 hours on a really hilly course and a double marathon on a hilly course with some very technical hills in the middle of each loop.

No other strength training, No Yoga, No Diet, No special anything. I have been averaging over 35 miles a week for some time now with spikes up to 60 miles. 

Overall my training is about enjoying the trail more than pounding the pavement for no reason.  My biggest hurdle is my mind.  Waking up at 3am to jump on a stair machine is torture, but it must be done.  You will have to wait till September 8th (before 10pm) to find out if I made it or not.  If not, this training plan sucked, and won’t get you to the finish of your local 5K.   If I finish than it worked perfectly.  If I won the race, you probably are smoking something.

Any suggestions on what I could do in the last month of training to be prepared for a total Elevation Change of 40,000 feet and over 100 miles of rough rocky trail? 

 

Trial of miles, a long summer

Trial of miles, a long summer

Quiet, is how I will describe my running life. I haven’t even finished my race report from Kettle Moraine 100.  Working two jobs comes with great time demand.  Balancing family, running, and work is like juggling a chainsaw, teddy bear, and gernade. Mile after mile I build for the Superior 100 in September.  Two months, and many miles and distractions.

Training includes, Hills, Hills, technical trails, Hills, miles, and stair master for more hills.

Last week was a solid week with 50 miles.  Batteling a stiff neck and headache every morning I wake.  The cure has been fresh air and a run.

North Country Trail – West Michigan – New Lowell Section

North Country Trail – West Michigan – New Lowell Section

A wonderful thing about living in Michigan is the access to some amazing trails to run on.  West Michigan is home to a section of the North Country trail that continues to develop and grow.  Recently a new section was created in attempt to add a touch more beauty to an already gorgeous trail.  Not every section of trail is created equally and Lowell has an unfair advantage.  The new section can be found on the North West side of of the Division St. Bridge that crosses the Grand River.  It weaves and turns through woods and fields about 8/10′s of a mile until it arrives at the City Parking Lot next to the Flat river.  Along the way you get to experience a beautiful view of a train bridge and crosses under a train trestle.  The woods give you cover until after you cross under the trestle and pop out in wonderful open field that has many species of wild flowers blooming at different times of year.  You get another glance at the train bridge from the opposite side as you stole along the banks of the Grand River.  Before you know it you make a turn to the North and find yourself with the Flat River on your Left.  There is another view of a train bridges that cross the Flat River and you proceed under another train trestle.  There is a parking lot here for fisherman, hikers, and other outdoor enthusiasts.  When you continue north you find yourself walking up to Main St, and across from the Flat River Grill.  The trail continues up along the Show Boat and through town before connecting with another wooded section on North Washington St.

Map- North Country Trail - West Michigan Lowell Section

Map- North Country Trail - West Michigan Lowell Section

Here are a few photos taken while traveling south along the trail.

North Country Trail- West MI- Lowell Division St Entrance to New Trail

Division St Entrance to New Trail

North Country Trail- West MI- Lowell Wild Flowers

Wild Flowers

North Country Trail- West MI- Lowell Wooded Section

Wooded Section

North Country Trail- West MI- Lowell Train Trestle

Train Trestle

North Country Trail- West MI- Lowell Grand River Train Bridge

Grand River Train Bridge

North Country Trail- West MI- Lowell Grand River Bank

Banks of the Grand River

North Country Trail- West MI- Lowell Open Field

Open Trail

North Country Trail- West MI- Lowell Train Tresle Crossing

Train Trestle Crossing

 

North Country Trail Lowell MI

North Entrance to new section of trail- Lowell City Parking Lot

More information about the North Country Trail and where you can find a section near you check out http://northcountrytrail.org/

Fifth Third Riverbank Run Race Report 25K

Fifth Third Riverbank Run 2012 Race Report

Sarah, Emily, Brandon Mulnix - Fifth Third Riverbank Run 2012 

There is only one race that I can say I have run 4 times and in the same breath say “I Hate that race”.  The 5/3rd Riverbank run was held on May 12th, 2012 and was celebrating its 35th anniversary.  I ran this race the first time in 1996 or 1997, again in 2003 while I was still in shape as a runner.  In 2010 I ran it as a milestone from losing 50 pounds and skipped last year to run in New York.  I don’t remember why I signed up for the race this year, but I signed up on the opening day of registration along with my wife and her friend Sarah.  They got cool training t-shirts while I was happy with nothing but knowing I would be running a 25K on roads. 

 

Fifth Third Riverbank Run 10K Start

Fifth Third Riverbank Run 10K Start

 

Mind you I really don’t care much for roads and haven’t ran too many races on them for that “don’t care much” reason.  The course is simple: Start in Downtown Grand Rapids and run out to Johnson Park in Grandville 7 miles with the Grand River on your right, cross a bridge and run 8.5 miles back to within a block of where you started.  There are a few hills on the course, all between miles 8 – 11 and they are all well known.  Most of the course is shaded, and wide enough not to fight with too many runners.  Doesn’t sound too bad when you compare the course to many of the other road race options.

 

Fifth Third Riverbank Run 25K Start

Fifth Third Riverbank Run 25K Start

 

For some reason I am a whiny crying little baby when it comes to this race.  On a weekly basis I run 13-18 miles at a time on trails and don’t think twice about it.  I enjoy almost every step and vision myself running the 5/3rd with the same amount of ease.  Then I get to the race and throw everything out the window.  The announcer started the count down and with it announced we would be joining almost 7000 other runners on the certified 25K course.  My goal was to join the 8 min/mile pace group hoping to catch up to the 7:46 min/mile (Under 2 hour group).  The mob of runners started and I guessed I had 1:30 – 2 minutes of “start time” to throw into the mile split times.  The race started okay.  I ran well for the first 6-7 miles and felt like I was under the 2 hour split mark.  I was losing about 5-10 seconds of my cushion on each mile, but felt like I had it in me.

 

Fifth Third Riverbank Run 25K Start

Fifth Third Riverbank Run 25K Start

 

For some reason the crowd didn’t spark anything in me, and I started losing it after leaving a friend in the dust at 5-6 miles.  I caught up to Ryan (Fun Running Ryan) at about mile 3 and ran well with him and we lost each other during a traffic jam.  I assumed he would catch up as we passed a person, but he disappeared and I think with it my ambition.  As I started to feel the lack of road mile training in my legs the time slipped away.  The half way point came and went and I was now 4 minutes behind the 2 hour mark and losing pace every step. 

 

Fun Running Ryan - Fifth Third Riverbank Run

Fun Running Ryan - Fifth Third Riverbank Run

 

Its weird how you can be on a course with 6999 other runners and feel absolutely alone.  For some reason no one wants to talk, joke, or even smile.  What the hell is wrong with running when you can’t enjoy it?  This little revelation really hit home just as the hills started.  People around me were breathing so hard I couldn’t hear my foot steps.  I admit I was probably the loudest runner on the course with my RunAmoc Dash Shoes slapping the ground with each step.  My barefoot form has always made me louder than my friends.  In fact Ryan said he would have guessed it was me when I ran up on him at the 3 mile mark.  It doesn’t matter what shoe I wear, the sound is the same. (Except on trails).

 

I ran the last miles with disgust at myself and throwing a pity party.  I walked more than once “because I had to” and just gave up.  I looked around and no one else seemed very happy about running, and I just wanted to get done.  I did my best to thank the volunteers and crowd as I sulked by, but I wasn’t getting any happier.  As the miles counted down I just couldn’t dig deep and finish strong.  I turned the last corner and just ran.  No smile, no happiness, just a sulky 25K finish. 

 

My wife and Sarah found me quickly and pointed out my bleeding nipples and sulky attitude.  I was ticked off and just wanted to go home.  What was wrong with me that day I might never know, but I know that I should’ve appreciated just the fact I was able to run.  I was running for Kids Hope, and running a race that just 2 years prior celebrated such a big accomplishment.  Between the bleeding nips, sore muscles, and malaise I finished the race.  I should be happy.

 Emily and Brandon Mulnix Fifth Third Riverbank Run

Things that went well: My RunAmoc shoes are great for road.  Besides a little sore spot on the bottom of my foot from not tying them tight enough the shoes performed well.  I liked the shoes verse running in sandals because I didn’t have to worry about stuff getting between the sole and my foot.  I wore Injinji socks and they also worked well.  After running more than 70 miles in the RunAmoc Dash shoes I think its time for a review.

 

Overall Time: 2:10:39 over 40 seconds faster than I an it in 2010, so I guess a 25K PR.

 

Question:  Have you ever had a race you just hated?

Kids Hope USA- Charity Partner Fifth Third Riverbank Run

Kids Hope USA- Charity Partner Fifth Third Riverbank Run


Running for the 5th 3rd Riverbank Run for Kids Hope USA

Running for Kids Hope USA – 53rd River Bank Run

On May 11th, 2012 Emily and I will be running the Fifth Third River Bank Run in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  The most exciting thing for me is that this will be Emily’s first experience at running the 5/3rd race.  She has been training hard and looks forward to completing at least the 10K.  I will be running my 4th 5/3rd Riverbank Run this year.  My initial goal is running the 25K distance in under 2 hours, but ultimately my goal is to raise as much money as I can for Kids Hope USA.

Kids Hope USA is fielding a team of almost 50 runners working together for a great cause.  Kids Hope USA  mission is One simple thing will make a big difference in the life of an at-risk child: One-on-one, positive attention from a responsible, caring adult.”

KIDS HOPE USA develops these one-on-one relationships through the creation of church-school partnerships that pair church members with at-risk kids in supportive, mentoring relationships.

KIDS HOPE USA mentors spend just one hour per week, reading, talking, playing and listening to a child at school. By helping the child feel loved and valued, they help that child to learn, grow and succeed.

You can change a life…and that’s no small change.

Emily and I are trying to raise money for Kids Hope USA.  Can you support us?
http://www.active.com/donate/kidshopeusa/Mulnix

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