The Inaugural Asheville Marathon at the Biltmore - in Luna Sandals (Venado/original)

The Inaugural Asheville Marathon at the Biltmore - in Luna Sandals (Venado/original)

You're out on a run. Your nose is getting stuffy, so you lean to the side for a quick farmer's blow. It's cold out, but you didn't realize how cold until you go to wipe your nose with the back of your glove to clear off any additional moisture -- only to find that it's already frozen around the edge of your nostril in mere seconds.

Welcome to the inaugural Asheville Marathon, held on the grounds of the beautiful Biltmore estate. "Well," I thought dramatically at around mile 20, "At least I'll die somewhere majestic."

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Meet Lems Boulder, the "Barefoot Shoe" Boot

Meet Lems Boulder, the "Barefoot Shoe" Boot

I got good news from Andrew Rademacher, founder of upstart minimalist/barefoot shoe manufacturer Lems Shoes* ("Light. Easy. Minimal.") — the first batch of the much-anticipated Lems Shoes Boulder Boot are now available for order! I say "first batch" because it's only the first few hundred pairs of production (more to come, of course, within a few weeks).

The release of the Boulder boot marks the first of a new line of Lems hitting the market in 2013! What's so exciting about the Boulder? Aside from it being a "barefoot shoe boot" that is super lightweight, zero drop, minimally and flexibly soled, and a boot, well, what else is there to say? If you've had a pair of Andrew's barefoot shoes, you're expectations are likely through the roof for these boots. We've reviewed the first offering from Lems that hit back in 2011 — the Primal (see reviews here and here) and had nothing but good things to say.

Andrew has a pair of Boulders coming my way, so I hope to share more about it soon, but if you're eager to snatch up a pair without further adieu and want to know the scoop, read on!

UPDATE: I got the boots! If you want to jump straight to my full review of the Lems Boulder boot, go here!


The official Boulder Boot specs from Lems!

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FiveFingers EL-X Review for CrossFit and Other Thoughts

FiveFingers EL-X Review for CrossFit and Other Thoughts

I was a relative latecomer to the FiveFingers game. My first pair were the Trek Sports, and most of those I came to own since then were still newer styles. As such, I never experienced the collective heartbreak that came from the discontinuation of the FiveFinger classics -- nor the elation that followed with the announcement of the new EL-X. Though I'm not a new FiveFingers user generally, I am coming at this revamped classic style with an untarnished perspective. Read on for more.

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EL-X FiveFingers – Running Review

EL-X FiveFingers – Running Review

When Vibram discontinued the original FiveFingers “Classic” last year, they rebooted the series with a completely redesigned model called the EL-X that has only been out for a few weeks. This is one of the most minimalist outdoor FiveFingers to date. Justin has already put together a thorough overview based on his initial impressions, so in this post I’m going to follow up with my thoughts on how they perform as a running shoe.

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New Balance MT 110 Winter Boot Review

The New Balance MT110 Winter Boot.
The New Balance MT110 Winter Boot.

I should start off by admitting that I avoided trails for a while there. Especially organized single-track trail runs, when the fire of competition pushes me to run harder than I might normally. My first real running injury was on the Philosopher's Way 15k almost two years ago, and I've shied away from longer trail runs ever since.

A lot has happened since then. I've learned more about good running style and adjusted accordingly, shifting away from the lumbering heel-striking that this former defensive lineman had been doing for decades. I've come to realize that my poor running form was equally if not more at fault for my destroyed left knee as were the roots, rocks, twists, and turns of that 9+ mile trail run.

But still, it's a mental thing that no amount of cold, serious intellectual consideration can undo on its own. I'd have to actually get out there and battle those fears. The lack of more rugged minimalist-style trail shoes makes for an easy excuse, though. Especially when it's cold, wet, dark, and icy out. By the very nature of minimalist running, especially trails can seem out of the question for some runners. Add in extreme weather and it becomes even more unlikely. So when the New Balance MT 110 winter-specific boots arrived on my doorstep I was curious. Something had to go wrong with these, I just knew it. They were either going to be too built-up or not protective enough.

Read on to see what, if anything, went wrong — and what went oh so right.

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Luna Split-toe Tabi Socks - Pre-Sale!

Luna Split-toe Tabi Socks - Pre-Sale!

A short while back I posted a review of Luna's new Split-Toe Tabi Socks. It was possibly my most unabashedly enthusiastic review to date. And for good reason -- these socks are amazing! I've since worn them on two additional trail races (10 mile and 8 mile) as well as countless chilly training mornings, and all of my original praise still holds true with no criticism to note. If anything, my love for these socks has only grown.

So when I got an email from Luna recently about the status of the socks from a sales point of view, I was both excited and sad.

Bad news first: Luna hasn't been able to keep up with the demand for these socks. These special tabi socks are carefully crafted in Japan and then imported a few dozen at a time. Now, I was a humanities major so I have no idea where Japan is actually located, but sources* tell me that it's far away. And though I've heard Luna Sandals referred to as the Cadillac of huaraches, that comparison only works insofar as the quality they put forth -- not necessarily the name recognition or resources. (Yet.) We're not talking Nike or Adidas here. We're talking about a company whose entire staff could probably carpool to work together in one vehicle. We're talking about a company whose founder, Barefoot Ted, is probably most quickly identified by explaining to someone that he was "the quirky one" in Born to Run. So it's really not surprising that right now they're ordering in the dozens instead of the hundreds or thousands when it comes to socks of this quality that have to travel this distance.

Now for the good news: Luna is planning to change that. What do you do when demand for your products outstrips the supply? You up your game. You think bigger. That's just what Luna is doing. Their plan is to start taking pre-orders for the next shipment in order to gather funds to place a bigger order. And now for the better news: Luna sent Birthday Shoes the exclusive pre-order link to share with our loyal readers!

Go check it out.

It'll take a little longer to get the socks shipped out to customers (as much as 4 weeks), but trust me when I say it's worth it. If you've been on the fence about these socks, go re-read my review of them. Post questions or thoughts. Or contact Luna directly -- I'm sure they'd be glad to talk about them.

The bottom line I'd leave you with: if you're a huaraches fan whose feet need a little something extra during the cold months but don't want to give up your sandals, or if you like keeping things minimal but could use some compression, you just can't do any better than these tabi socks. Go pre-order and help support an excellent small-but-hoping-to-grow shoe company.

DISCLAIMER: I did not benefit in any way whatsoever from this post. I really am just that enthusiastic about these!

*Google. According to this amazing search website, it'd take me over 129 days to get to Japan. That's pretty far.