Icebug: Winter Runners-Land

image2Although the season has passed, it still looks an awful lot like Christmas. Unfortunately what this season usually means for runners is not only a Christmas tree with a plethora of presents underneath it, but also a season with a plethora of excuses to skip workouts. Cold mornings make for hard wake ups when old injuries feel fresh again and the old arthritis begins to kick in. On days like this, it is easy to be persuaded to skip a day.

dsc_0442Well fortunately, or unfortunately for some, there are companies like IceBug that are removing as many variables/ excuses for athletes so that we can simply enjoy getting outside and accomplish our goals. Icebug is a Swedish footwear brand that was founded in 2001. They are a passionate company that has energetically targeted the “too slippery” excuse and effectively eliminated it. With their outside the box thinking, they have created products that tackle any type of terrain. Whether taking a stroll downtown, hiking through mountains, or obstacle racing in austere environments: confidence in any terrain is the name of the game for Icebug.

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Thanks to my brothers at Spotter Up, I was sent a pair of Icebug DTS-2: carbide studded greatness. My only complaint so far has been timing. After coming from my 100 mile attempt at Big Cedar Endurance Run, I rolled into my off season with a foot injury. My weekly mileage was eliminated for weeks, and is still dramatically reduced as I slowly rehab in preparation for 2016. I didn’t put a fraction of the miles that I had hoped in order to run these shoes through the Ranger gauntlet. Despite this setback, I have thoroughly tested these shoes via my “revised Ranger gauntlet-short”.  Fortunately the New Year brought Southern Oklahoma an ice storm, which gave me the perfect opportunity to put these shoes to the test.

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The Shoes

As per Icebug’s website the specifications are as follows:

Icebug DTS-2

Colors Black/poison
Upper MicroSuede
Lining Quickdry mesh
Midsole Lightweight EVA with ESS stabilizer
Insock Ortholite, removable
Outsole Rubber with BUGrip 19 carbide tip studs
Torsion Medium Flex
Drop 14 mm
Cushioning Full
Last Wide
Weight 320 gr (US 9)
Size US7-14 (40-47)
Price $184.95

mens-icebug-dts2-bugrip-black-sunset-458062_450_rtOut of the box my size US 12.5 shoes weighed in at 402 grams as compared to their advertised 320 grams (size 9). The shoes seemed well built, and certainly sturdy with a runner’s comfort in mind. I found the US 12.5 a little roomy in the toe box, but then again I have freakishly long skinny feet which makes sizing any brand of shoe difficult. As soon as I pulled them out of the box I was eager to take them to the trail.

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These shoes performed exceptionally in the conditions I subjected them to. Days of rain followed by sleet and ice afforded me two great conditions: flooded streams and lots of ice. My training ground was in the Arbuckle Mountains outside of Davis and the Chickasaw national refuge area in Sulphur Oklahoma.

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I was a little hesitant about running in studded shoes at first. I was afraid they might be uncomfortable running on harder surfaces, such as pavement. However, I did not find such discomfort during my test.  These shoes provided outstanding traction on every surface, including pavement.

The only limitations I found were somewhat obvious/ to be expected. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend skating across your mother’s hard wood floors with these bad boys on, or grabbing groceries on the way home from your morning run. I did find that in tall grass and deeper snow, the limited tread depth of the shoes was its only weakness. Although, no one wants to run in 14 inch spiked ice claws so I did not see this as a disadvantage. I also found the shoes to be a little loud on pavement; they seem to prefer poor conditions to optimize their performance. The shoes came alive when introduced to truly slippery conditions that would directly impede a runner’s progress.

On ice covered boulders in the Arbuckle’s, I found nothing but confidence and traction. Running on ice in these shoes is like running with sticky traps on your feet.  However, ice isn’t the only home for Icebug’s. Although I wouldn’t recommend river crossings in January, I was curious to see how the shoes handled on aggravating moss covered rocks that are often encountered during a crossing. With all the moisture we have received this winter the streams I encountered were not timid, nor sedentary. They were all moving large volumes of water over the surface of the rocks which makes being swept off your feet even easier. I was impressed, yet again, when I pranced across the leading edge of a small water fall in Sulphur Oklahoma without being forced to go for a quick swim.

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My first crossing, that was ankle deep, left my feet fairly dry. I was so impressed by this that I decided to find a crossing that would actually sweep me off my feet, and fully test the water shedding capabilities of the shoe. Although I was unsuccessful at finding a slippery surface, in these shoes, I do completely agree with their advertised “water resistance”. Four river crossings later, and slightly hypothermic, I came intimately aware of how resistant they really are. Fully submerged, the shoes will quickly become water logged, as one could expect. However, when presented with inclimate weather, or mildly wet conditions, I have no doubt these shoes will keep feet comfortable.

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At the end of the day, confidence on any terrain is the name of Icebug’s game. If you find yourself in an environment with slick or icy conditions, I would strongly recommend you find yourself a pair of Icebug shoes and say goodbye to the “it’s too icy to run” excuse.  Nothing in this world is worth doing alone, so get your buddy a pair while you’re at it.mens-icebug-dts2-bugrip-black-sunset-458062_450_sl

Functionality: 5/5

Weight: 5/5 

Durability: 5/5

Cost: 4/5

Comfort: 5/5

Total 24/25

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Ranger Smash- extreme endurance is my journey as a retired US Army Ranger, and the amazing team that makes all this craziness happen. My military career was cut brutally short due to multiple combat related injuries, which forced me into an early “retirement”. The greatest key to my transition/ rehabilitation was discovering the benefits of an extremely health conscious lifestyle: specifically targeting competitive endurance races/ training. However, nothing in this world is worth doing alone so consider this your invitation to join the Ranger Smash team and follow along, one extreme endurance adventure after another!

Follow us on facebook @ Ranger Smash Extreme Endurance

 

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Big Cedar: The Amphibious Challenge

Big Cedar Endurance Run: The Amphibious Challenge

October 30th, 2015

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As if running one hundred miles wasn’t challenging enough, environmental conditions are often unpredictable, and sometimes even dangerous. As for Big Cedar, conditions were unfortunately both. I was fairly intimidated going into the race as it was my first 100 mile attempt, but I was certain that given my competitive spirit placing in the top ten percent was somewhat of a reality. My 100 mile training cycle was not exactly what I anticipated and also cause for concern. Before the race I felt tired, used, abused and really just ready for off season. Unfortunately these kinds of races are planned months and sometimes years in advance so “not feeling ready” just wasn’t a valid excuse. My team was staged and ready, and I was running this race come hell or high water.

 

In the beginning

                The start line was motivating, with approximately 40 people infected with the same kind of crazy as you— makes for a good day. As with any competition, within minutes of toeing the line the serious competitors/ athletes are easy to find. Out of the gate, things felt good. I had identified a strong runner, someone who had twenty 100 milers under his belt, and decided keeping up withBCER7 him would be a good goal for me. Taking off I felt strong, the top two athletes were going a bit faster than I intended to, personally, but I figured I would hang with them as long as possible. Conditions were not ideal but they weren’t completely miserable. It wasn’t uncomfortably cool, and the moisture in the air created kind of a misting effect. All in all it was a good start to what I had hoped would be a “fun” race.

                Skipping forward to the end of the first twenty five mile  loop . . . pure hell and agony. Once we started, periodic showers made the Texas clay the perfect consistency to absolutely drive you (bat-shit) crazy. At certain points, it felt as if you had at least 15 pounds of mud on each shoe. This mud/clay was absolutely terrible and probably the worst threat to my race that I thought I would encounter. Somewhere towards the end of the first loop, if the mud wasn’t bad enough, a young lady caught me. She seemed to be prancing or at least floating across the top of the mud making her pursuit look effortless. This in conjunction with the mud was a real blow to my morale. At this point I assumed I was in the top 3, and bumped to 4th-5th. Overly concerned with “making the cut off” this young lady seemed determined not to let the mud, or anything else for that matter—including me— get in her way. I would find out later, just how determined she really is.

 

Hope

                After the first loop I was devastated. I had a nagging knee injury from my training cycle that I knew was going to be a factor if the muddy conditions didn’t change. Luckily for me, sort of, conditions

did change in the second loop: the rain came. With more rain the mud stuck less and less. The less the mud stuck to me, and my shoes, the better I felt. In fact, as the water fell things seemed to be getting easier and easier. Even running in shin to knee high water felt like a blessing compared to that god-awful clay trapping you like a man sized sticky—trap. By the end of the second loop my motivation returned, I wasn’t exactly sure where I stood with my competition but I knew they were well aheadBCRER1

of me. At this point I abandoned my ranking and set my sights on finishing this brutal race instead.

 

Leaving the 50 mile check point I felt amazing. More rain made for easier loops and I was really beginning to pick up some momentum. I soon realized that the weather was taking a toll, not just on me, but my competitors as well. It was taking such a toll that I finally realized that it was giving me an advantage! There were several amazing athletes in the race that had tons of experience and were absolutely faster than me in the long run. However, my time in the special operations community has given me an intimate perspective when it comes to stress, fatigue, and poor conditions. I realized at this point I was getting stronger, and it was time to make up for the pottery class from hell in the first loop.

Then the real rain came.

Rain Rain Go away

                The rain felt like a scene from Forrest Gump. It came from all directions at some point, and portions of the trail that shouldn’t have standing water, did. It was raining so hard that it was difficult to see your hand in front of your face. The next few check points were a bit surreal for me. Shortly after the 50 mile I caught up to my running companion at the start (bib 131), I assume he lost the trail at some point as I found it hard to believe that I would catch him. I was feeling good so I kept going and put distance between him and another female that had been closing in on me also. I was feeling great. I felt so good that as I came into the Truth Corner checkpoint I felt obligated to give them an idea of what my last portion of the trail looked like. So, I crawled my way, ever so dramatically, under the tent on my hands

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and knees. Little did I know, at this point they had “paused” the race. There seemed to be more people huddled under the canopy than normal but having run well over 50 miles my capacity to reason was substantially limited. My teammate/ crew chief (Mike Campbell) informed me that they were holding us there because of flash flooding. This was a valid concern, as I could attest to the poor conditions. What I didn’t realize is that Katie Graff and I were the male and female leaders at this point. Shortly after my arrival they said we could continue on but anything after this point would be done “at our own risk”, fair enough. The lead female: Katie Graff, was eager to head out so I asked her if she cared for me to join her since the conditions seemed pretty dangerous. She consented of course, and we set off on what would seem to be the longest “2.9 miles” in the history of running.

The Flood

Although we were quite aware of the deteriorating conditions, Katie, her pacer, and I were hardly prepared for the next portion of trail ahead of us. There was water EVERYWHERE. Water was in places it shouldn’t have been or, at the very least, places you wouldn’t think was even possible. We found ourselves making water crossings that didn’t exist earlier in the day. When I say crossing water, I mean crossing raging streams caused from the flash flood conditions. Many of which intimidated me, despite being a competitive swimmer and lifeguard with a plethora of water rescues. To be safe we made many crossings with our arms linked together as a team effort. There was one crossing however that seemed and proved to be the most daunting. There was a portion of the trail that had substantial wooden bridge crossing. Unfortunately for us, this bridge was overturned and washed downstream into a giant debris pile. Clearly this water was moving and exceptionally dangerous. Slightly upstream from the debris pile was a tree that reached nearly to the other side. However, my experience with flash floods and debris piles is not one of positivity so I recommended that we try crossing further up steam. Using the log/tree as a safety line before the dangerous debris pile I felt confident that even if I was swept downstream the log would afford me an easy out. What I did not anticipate was the determination of my new best friends. Since it was my idea to cross the raging waters up stream I figured I should be the first one in the water. As I entered the water it was clear that a crossing didn’t look good. I was soon up to my chest in raging flood water. It didn’t take long for me to be swept away, but the stubbornness of my newfound teammates refusing to let me be washed downstream alone, clung to me despite my efforts to let go of them. So, just as soon as I was swept away, the raging waters pulled all three of us in effortlessly. I wasn’t overly concerned at this point because I, like any good Army Ranger, had a backup plan. All three of us reached the log unharmed. I was slightly concerned the log might shift on us so I made no delay in exiting from the water. As I moved I looked to my left to ensure everyone was okay. At this point we were all intact. Then out of nowhere I saw Katie’s hands slip from the top of the log towards the bottom. Panic set in quickly as I was quite aware of the strength of the raging water. I was struggling to function myself, so when I realized she lost her footing I knew things were escalating quickly. On top of being swept downstream, my main concern was the debris pile and my knowledge of undercurrents. As a rescuer I knew it was going to be a very bad day for at least two of us if she was pulled into that debris pile underwater. My greatest fear was almost realized when she was very nearly pulled under the log despite having a hold of me (on her right) and her pacer (on her left). Like a scene from a suspense movie, she was being pulled away from me no matter how hard I pulled back. In my desperation all I seemed to muster was “do not let her go under (water)”, as if that wasn’t obvious enough. Luckily, somehow, Katie and I were able to link elbows and I was able to use my body as leverage instead of brute strength and pull her out. I don’t suppose the image of her face nearly being submerged, will ever escape me. Fortunately we all made it out from the aborted river crossing, and despite my original hesitation to cross an unstable debris pile we finally made it across. We continued our journey for what seemed like 15 miles (in reality it was barely five). In this five mile stretch we encountered numerous water crossing, rain that seemed like it was coming from the ground up, knee high water on every portion of trail and even a mystical lake on top of a hill which seemed to swallow the trail itself. It was a wild ride and it was no surprise when we were just outside the next checkpoint and saw headlamps moving towards us down the trail as volunteers began looking for the two misfits, and pacer, that were still “in the race”. We found out shortly, that the race had been canceled twenty minutes after our exit from the last checkpoint.

 

Although I wasn’t disappointed at the time of the cancellation, having been through watery hell, I was overcome with frustration when I realized Mother Nature had just robbed me of my first 100 mile attempt. Worst yet, there was plenty of race left having been stopped only 65 miles in. So, at that point it really was anyone’s race and we will never know who would have finished in the top 3. All I knew was that the conditions were so poor that it actually gave me the confidence that I would certainly be one of them. It was a great race, and would have been glorious to finish . . . but I suppose there is always next year.

 

 

Big Cedar 100 Endurance Run

Ranger Smash’s premier race is about to take place Friday October 30th at 9:00 AM. If you are interested in tracking my progress like our FB page, just click this link. Our FB page will be updated regularly, and also check out the link below. My progress will be broadcast live via “My Athlete Live” so tell your friends and stay tuned!

www.TrackMyAthleteLive.com/Events

Just look for my event: Big Cedar 100 and then look for my name: Derek Dutton (if the race hasn’t started yet my name will not be available until I turn on my tracking device and start moving).

Train Right Train Smart Train Forever

It’s hard to believe another month has passed by, training tempo is high and the days seem to string together. My 100 mile training cycle is in full swing, and my legs are feeling the pain of transitioning from sprint work to endurance training. My first priority after the sprint at Callaway Gardens was to perform a 10k time trial (which was actually suppose to take place the weekend of Callaway) as a base to my ultra marathon cycle. I was a little disappointed in my performance in the 10k, I am actually calling it two 5k’s back to back because I almost went down as a heat casualty in the middle of them. Minus the heat stroke, my splits were 20:19; 22:45 for a total of 43 minutes and change. Considering I ran a full 10k the day after a toughmudder, with a broken rib, and after I swam a mile, in the time of 42 last season… I was frustrated to say the least. However, a 43 minute 10k/ 20:19 5k was plenty fast enough for my upcoming endurance cycle.

Amidst, all the chaos of sprints, time trials, and introducing myself to the crazy world of cycling, I was somehow talked into competing at another sprint triathlon: Chattahoochee Challenge. The race was held over this last weekend (7/18/15) in downtown Columbus GA. My performance at the race was nothing to shout 11057329_1599993616994177_2259575913540234131_nabout, my body (legs in particular) was clearly fatigued from all the madness. The bicycle portion was the worst part of the race for me, but I had a strong swim, and my run was decent. I was able to sneak onto the age group podium for a 3rd place, and an overall ranking of 22nd. There were some phenomenal athletes out there and they did a wonderful job, I was just there to watch them dominate and enjoy the Georgia heat as I plodded along.

There is a lot brewing here with Ranger Smash; this year is teaming with races and different events. I was invited to participate in a Wounded Warrior Project triathlon clinic held at the National Training Center in Clermont Florida. I am extremely excited and humbled to participate in1524684_1599993640327508_3526928694449966740_n this event.

Although it seems to be a begrudgingly slow pace, I am growing as a triathlete day by day. As I do this, I am excited to no end about next season’s potential. I hope you continue to follow me along this journey. With my 100 mile race looming in the distant future, there are sure to be plenty of shenanigans to keep you entertained. If you would like to keep a closer eye on Ranger Smash please visit us on social media: Twitter @RangerSmash375; Instagram @RangerSmash375; and our Facebook page @RangerSmashExtremeEndurance, where you can interact with us directly.

Thank you for your continued support,

NITWIWDA

 

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Ready or not here I “tri”

Where to begin,

June has proved to be an action packed month for Ranger Smash Extreme Endurance. All of the excitement began with our first official sponsor: Silver Creek Services.SCS logo JPEG ORIGINAL This overly generous company has single handedly funded this year’s season; without them none of which I am about to tell you in this post would have even been possible. Some times “thank you” just doesn’t seem adequate, and this my friends is one of those times.

 

Soon after our sponsor’s commitment to the Ranger Smash team we began looking for a bike, since we are, literally, starting our triathlon endeavors from the ground up. Step two was a quick recon of local bike shops in the area, as well as gleaning some invaluable “intel” from some local triathletes. What was revealed was a perfect entry level bike and the support of Arnold’s Bike Shop10994061_1500571960269677_4061916952623703644_o in Columbus Georgia. We picked up the 2015 Kestrel Talon Monday the 15th and were also fitted to the bike by one of ABS’s owners Jeff Gordy (as pictured).

After purchasing the bike, the next revelation was about an upcoming sprint triathlon in Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain Georgia. Now I have never been known for my superior intellect… but I have been known to RANGER SMASH! So with roughly a five days heads up we registered for Callaway, despite the fact that I would only have two rides, ever, on a road bike. It is also worth mentioning that I had not swam at all in 2015 since I broke my rib at the end of my aquathlon season in 2014. Due to the shear cost of breaking into the sport of triathlon I had no intentions of competing this season, instead I had planned to focus on running: speed, efficiency, and endurance in order to prepare for my 100 miler in October. In short, I have not been training at all for triathlons. If that wasn’t enough to put me behind the curve I succumbed to a wicked chest cold the week prior, and wasn’t even sure it would be prudent for me to even compete come Thursday/Friday before the race, but again the strong Ranger kicked in and we went for it anyway.

Callaway Garden’s sprint triathlon is a great race for beginners. It begins with a non threatening 400 meter open water swim at their beach head, in shallow water with buoys set at a depth of about five feet. The bike ride is composed of a scenic 9 miles around the lake’s access roads. 11402627_1528973737429499_5771482237140530911_oThe finish is a brisk, flat and fun 2 mile run around the lake. It is a great race for first timers, but don’t be fooled, there are plenty of “fast feet” attending this race. I am extremely content with my performance on Sunday, all things considered. I missed my age group win by 18 seconds, a bit of a disappointment, but finished overall-male: 15th. The highlight of the race was my finish. My chest cold had created much more difficulty than I had imagined it would, with breathing and what not during the race. As a result, I was coughing spitting grunting, and growing the entirety of the race. By the end of the run I was ready to be finished, so instead of my typical monster kick at the end of the race I opted to ease into the finish since no one was even close to me… or so I thought. Unbeknownst to me, a young athlete by the name of Carlos Salgado came flying through the running portion. I was averaging mid to high 6 minute paces, and this kid caught me like I was standing still! About 30 meters from the finish line I hear the announcer say “I don’t even think he knows he is coming”. He was absolutely correct in this assumption. Sure enough, I look over my left shoulder and see what appears to be legs up to my ears about to pass me like the tortoise and the hare. That was the fastest 30 meters I think I have ever run in my life. We both sprinted to the finish; from the pictures you can definitely tell both racers wanted to beat one another across the line. Regardless of finish time/ rank,11424657_1529589337367939_8226897622747195085_o most races have finish line11402602_1528973804096159_2208139450468671528_o photos, most are pretty tame and boring, but I assure you the crowd, Carlos, and I were not expecting a sprint-finish- face off to end the race and I am willing to bet there is a picture or two worth holding on to!

 

 

 

All in all I had a great time, and a great race. Although my room for improvement is tremendous, I energetically look forward to facing these challenges head on during the next few months and years in training. Ready or not, here I TRI!

 

RLTW

 

Check out more photos from this month in our Gallery.

Ready or Not the 2015 Season is Here

Here are a few things that I have been up to this season, so far. . .Slow fun run, strong finish!

-Although it did not agree with my training program, the first race of the season was the 15th annual (my second time running) Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. This is such a great race to run, I couldn’t help myself.

-Next up was a very special race. Three weeks after Oklahoma City, I had the privilege of participating in the Keys 100   relay team: a one hundred mile ultra marathon from100 miles later Team RFK! Key Largo to Key West Florida. I was responsible for 23 miles and despite the heat it was quite an amazing race/ experience. Not only was my team a great group of guys, but being able to experience a 100 mile race, logistically, was of great benefit to me as I am preparing a solo 100 mile trail run in October.