INKnBURN Interview: Sarah & James Speer

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By: Jade Belzberg

Those in the INKnBURN community probably know Sarah Speer, an enthusiastic and passionate INKnBURN ambassador. Sarah shares her life openly on Facebook, sometimes lamenting her inability to go trail running due to a hectic schedule, while at other times sharing her successful runs. Almost all of her posts include Sarah, decked in one of her favorite INKnBURN outfits with a bright, wide smile on her face.

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Sarah smiling as she runs through her favorite trails in new and classic INKnBURN gear. Click to see current collection!

 

Over the past few months, however, Sarah, 47, and mother to daughters Jillian, 17,  and Hannah, 15, has shared news of a different kind: most notably, about her husband of 24 years, James Speer. In a post dated February 21, Sarah shares that “James is definitely eating! His appetite is less than before but food is tasting normal again.” In another she describes that, against her personal recommendations, James walked a mile–elevation changes and all. In one of her most recent posts, she writes, “I am optimistic that [James] is finally out of the woods. I cannot tell you how relieved we are. We received his INKnBURN Phoenix shirt yesterday…I told him he was rising from the ashes. It was a sobering thought…” Coming from a man who has always been active in both physical labor and sports, this is a surprise. In fact, James’ initial illness and consequent diagnosis was a shock for both husband and wife. What was thought to be a mild flu quickly disintegrated into something far more life-threatening, placing both James and Sarah in a position that neither of them thought they would ever be.

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Says Sarah, “He was vomiting, asking for Pepto Bismol.” As his condition worsened, Sarah insisted that he be taken to Urgent Care. Unfortunately, he never made it into the building. “He had a seizure in the parking lot and was taken by ambulance to the hospital.” After multiple tests, James, 52, was diagnosed with pancreatitis. “Jim’s pancreas was, in essence, digesting him from the inside out,” says Sarah. He was in a coma for 19 days in total. “I viewed every day as a number game. Protein numbers, red blood cells, white blood cells, ammonia levels…I looked for any number moving in the right direction to share with the girls and family daily.” Weeks later, when James regained consciousness, he went through the devastating shock of learning about his new condition. “There was plenty of poking and prodding and coming to grips,” he says. “However, Sarah never left my side for one second, comforting me and consoling me in order to keep my spirits up and giving me the will to want to recover.” Her presence, he says, served as a beacon of hope.

After weeks of hospital visits, James was finally able to return home. His appetite was still tempered and he was surviving off of meal replacement shakes. Over the course of several months, he had lost more than 100 pounds from his original 230 pound frame.

“I was waiting on him constantly,” says Sarah. “He couldn’t sit up, eat, monitor his insulin or change his bandages.” Sarah’s training became second to running a household and caring for her family–but it was running that kept Sarah sane. “It was time that altered my mood. I was able to temporarily put down the weight of trauma and leave it in the woods.” Oftentimes Sarah would find herself running miles into the forest only to lean against a tree, cry, then return home. “I was able to pick up responsibilities after a shower. We just juggled as best we could.”

INKnBURN Dahlia Tech Shirt and Dahlia Capris
Sarah back at the gym in INKnBURN’s new Dahlia Tech Shirt and Capris! Click for a closer look!

While running is now Sarah’s time to unwind and take care of herself, it wasn’t always this way. Growing up, Sarah was, as she calls herself, “an artsy bookworm.” “I power walked and tried to stumble my way through exercising but I didn’t know what I was doing.” It wasn’t until Sarah met James that she was introduced to the world of weightlifting, powerlifting and bodybuilding–which, Sarah is quick to point out, are all different from one another. James had been bodybuilding and quickly taught Sarah the ropes. Within a few years Sarah was benching more than 145 pounds for multiple reps. “I even power lifted until I was almost 8 months pregnant with each child,” she says. “At 4’11’’ and carrying 10 pound babies, I was just as wide as I was tall!”

Sarah continued to lift with James, but it was a runner–a mother at her children’s elementary school–who inspired her to give running a try. “Despite me telling her many times that I couldn’t run, she kept telling me that yes, I can. She never let me have the last word and she planted a seed: what if I could?” Sarah decided she would try running and told James. While he wasn’t thrilled with the idea, it didn’t take long before James was trying it himself. Soon, he was running with Sarah. Says James, “When I was down and not wanting to work out, she would lift me up and vice versa.”

Now that James has returned home and his appetite has improved, the husband-wife team are back in the gym three times a week. Sarah also runs three times a week, while James walks–however, he’s recently begun working running intervals into his routine. As James explains, doctors credit much of his strength to the physical activity in his life prior to his diagnosis. Still, their journey is not without daily challenges. “Prior to being sick, I would heal relatively quickly,” says James. “This was not the case in my recovery. It has been painstakingly slow.”

INKnBURN Traction Tech Shirt
James gaining strength and lifting in his INKnBURN’s new Traction Tech Shirt. Click to view!

“We have always lived by the motto of no pain, no gain,” he explains, “but we never expected to put that motto to such a severe test.” While James’ diagnosis has brought challenges that the couple faces on a daily basis, Sarah and James have chosen to see the silver lining amidst the struggle. “The severity of my illness caused us to be more honest and open with each other,” says James, “and we are now closer than we have ever been.” Sarah shares similar thoughts: “We fought, defended and survived. We depended on each other and we share the same wounds.” Although Sarah originally hesitated to think that undergoing illness or trauma could bring a family closer together, she now thinks otherwise. “As long as your heart is beating and you’re breathing, you just keep hoping and fighting.”

As James’ appetite returns, so too does his weight and muscle mass. Sarah continues to train for her first ultra marathon and a triathlon while James hopes to not only regain his health, but to be in the best shape he’s ever been. Every day, Sarah still checks and records James’ weight, his balance, and his ability to walk, drive and perform activities that were once second nature to him. “We cheer every advancement,” she says, as long term they’re hoping to be running and traveling, together.

Recently, James got on a bike for the first time in months. Sarah was by his side, of course, together the two of them rising from the ashes.

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INKnBURN Elite: Michelle Barton

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INKnBURN Elite Ambassador Michelle Barton

by Jade Belzberg

Michelle Barton
Michelle Barton shares touching  photos from hikes with her Dad when she was young.

Michelle Barton is no stranger to going long distances. As an ultra runner of 14 years, Michelle has grown up on the trails. At the age of 3 years old, her father brought her on overnight trips to Southern California’s San Gorgonio Mountain. At the age of 6, he took her on week long backpacking trips through Yosemite. Says Michelle, “We did a lot of trails together and those are by far my best childhood memories.” It wasn’t until Michelle ran her first 50K, placed second, then went home to hop on her mountain bike and then go for a swim, that she realized ultras were for her. “The camaraderie of ultra runners is amazing. I immediately noticed how friendly and helpful people are, like a second family that willingly suffers together.”

Michelle later introduced her father to running ultras. “My dad got me into running and I, in turn, got him into running ultras.” In 2004, at the age of 65, Michelle’s father ran his first 50K. Now, more than 12 years later, he’ll be running The Shadow of the Giants on June 11, at the age of 77.

If you’ve run or raced in Southern California, you’ve likely seen Michelle–most noted by her long red hair and penance for wearing colorful INKnBURN gear. I had the chance to catch up with her and ask her a few questions about her favorite distance, why she still loves running and how she manages to fit it all in.

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Michelle and her signature flowing hair hitting the trails in INKnBURN’s Wings Shorts! Click to view in detail.

Hometown: Laguna Niguel, California

Career: Professional Athlete/ UltraRunner

What’s your favorite distance?

The distance I most enjoy is 100k and shorter. I like 100 milers because they break me into pieces usually after mile 80. I also like stage races like TransRockies. I’ve raced TransRockies eight times and my dad has raced it seven times.

How do you choose which races you wish to run?

I decide on the races I run based on the scenery and how adventurous they will be. I gravitate lately towards new races in new places since I’ve done the SoCal scene for over a decade. I;m now interested in running in new places.

What compels you towards ultras?

I like to do races because I’m drawn to the wilderness, the isolation, the challenge of getting back to primitive living in the moment.

Michelle Barton in INKnBURN Bee
Michelle enjoying California’s trails  in INKnBURN’s Bee Sports Skirt. Click get a closer look at this design!

What races are on your 2016 schedule?

In 2016, I am running BlackSpur 100k in Canada and possibly TransRockies in Colorado, and Shadow of the Giants 50k in Yosemite.

Do you have any bucket list races?

My bucket list race would be racing in Europe, Alaska, and running the John Muir Trail.

What’s your favorite pre-race meal?

Starbucks caffè misto & a bite of a protein bar.

What’s your favorite post-race meal?

Watermelon, coffee and Vitargo post.

How has your training changed since you began running 14 years ago?

My training and racing has changed a lot since I began because now I race less. I used to race almost every weekend and ran the So Cal races. My favorite type of training week is run, swim, and mountain bike (Moday to Friday) and run mountains and swim if possible on Saturday and Sunday. I can’t stand taking days off, so I rarely do.

What’s your favorite INKnBURN gear?

All of the nature design! Lust is classic and I won Badwater Salton Sea in Lust. I like the classic ‘Leaf Em in the Dust’– I won Javelina 100k in that outfit. I also like the Gordy shirt, since he has been a great friend to my dad and I for 13 years.

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Michelle has been a longtime INKnBURN fan, as you see by the classic pieces she’s sporting in these pictures! Make sure you never miss out on a design by signing up for our Newsletter! Click here to subscribe!

Kristin Hopkins

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by Jade Belzberg

Two years ago, Kristin Hopkins, a single mother of four from Highlands Ranch, Colorado, was driving through a remote section of Fairplay, Colorado, when her vehicle skidded off the highway and plunged more than 100 feet down an embankment. Kristin was trapped inside her vehicle, her legs pinned, for six days before motorists noticed the wrecked vehicle, hiked down the embankment and found Kristin, barely conscious. She had not had anything to eat or drink for more than six days and was only hours away from death. “I remember nothing of my accident,” says Kristin. “I woke up and was curled up on the inside of the roof of the car. I had a red and white umbrella and a Sharpie so I wrote ‘some pleas’ on the white parts and shoved it out the window. I figured someone would see it…” Kristin had no recollection of where she was, nor could she hear the traffic from the highway. During this time, she was also in and out of consciousness. “My first thought when I finally came to was I had to go pick up my kids,” she says. “I never had a death thought in my head. It was always someone was going to come find me.”

After being taken to the hospital, Kristin’s feet were amputated. “I was told the doctor told me that to save my life my feet would have to be amputated,” she says. “I was told I shook my head that yes, I understood.” Kristin doesn’t actually recall this conversation but says, “I’m fine with what happened.” Following surgery, Kristin was thrust into recovery and physical therapy in order to get her body moving again. After all, the day she was found barely alive in her vehicle was the same day she had been signed up for a Spartan race. Rather than attend the race, proudly wearing her Spartan headband and crawling under barbed wires amongst other obstacles, Kristin was in surgery to save her life.
Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 3.52.35 PMTwo years and eleven days after her rescue, Kristin completed the Spartan Sprint at the Fort Carson Army Base. “I had a personal trainer at the gym help me get my core and arms in shape and trying to figure out how to work my legs, but I still wasn’t ready,” Kristin explains. “I then found Crossfit and boot camp workouts–oh my God, I fell in love.” While Kristin is not able to perform every exercise, she’s surprised. “No, I can’t do everything, but I’ve found that my body is capable of more than I thought.”

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 3.39.51 PMSince her Spartan Sprint, Kristin has fallen further in love with fitness, and is now studying to become a Certified Personal Trainer. After returning to the gym and hearing her trainer describe how able-bodied clients were reluctant or unwilling to do exercises that Kristin was happy to try, she wanted to learn what it takes to be on the other side of fitness–as in, how to be a trainer. “I’ve talked with a Crossfit trainer and gym owner who is paralyzed and he said I just need to be more creative with how I describe exercises [to clients] since I can’t always demonstrate the movements. That really made me think that I can do this.”

When asked how her life has changed since her accident, she says, “My life has actually improved if that makes any sense! I chose to be positive about what happened since there was nothing I could do to change it.” Additionally, Kristin has lost 50 lbs and dropped 4 sizes; more importantly, she’s found her passion.

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 3.44.10 PMKristin is currently at the gym 5 or 6 days a week, and hopes to do the Manitou Incline in Colorado this summer in addition to riding her bike. However, in order to perform certain exercises and activities, Kristin needs prosthetic feet that allow her to flex her ankles and squat. She is currently fundraising as the Footless Goddess on GoFundMe.com and hopes to raise enough money to purchase the Versa Foot prosthetics that her insurance will not cover. “The Versa Foot has hydraulics that will allow me to do a squat!” Says Kristin. “You don’t realize how much you need an ankle to do things in the gym. To do air squats in the gym now, I have to hang onto a pole and squat–or just do a wall sit. I can’t do heavy weights because I need to use momentum to help me back up to standing.”

While the fundraiser has only just begun, already people have found Kristin’s story inspiring. FIT Gym, where Kristin is a member, will be organizing an event set for this Saturday, June 18th. Nathan Lemon, the owner, will have attendees signing up in teams of four at $25 per person to complete a Workout of the Day. 100% of all entree fees will go towards Kristin’s fundraising goal.

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One FIT Gym member and INKnBURN Ambassador, Kelly Shockley, was inspired when she first heard Kristin’s story. “She’s redefining and learning just how tough mentally and physically she really is,” explains Kelly. “She has inspired me to push myself harder because, at the end of the day, only you are your toughest competition–only you determine how far you can go.”

Kristin’s GoFundMe account has currently raised just over $6,000, but she still has nearly $2,000 to go to reach her necessary goal. “Posts are being shared on Facebook and Instagram to help spread the word, and the posts are receiving a lot of likes and comments showing support from people, too. People are amazed by her.”

To continue to spread the word, check out Kristin Hopkin’s Footless Goddess GoFundMe account, here: https://www.gofundme.com/footlessgoddess.

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Special thanks to INB Ambassador Kelly Shockley, pictured here to Kristen’s left, for sharing Kristin’s inspiring story with us!

INKnBURN Elite: Jen Edwards

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Interview by Jade Belzberg

Jen in Ella Singlet
Jen wearing INKnBURN’s Ella Singlet. Click  to view our Women’s Tech Tops!

Jen Edwards isn’t slowing down–and that’s a good thing! With races like Cascade Crest 100, Cruel Jewel 100, Fat Dog 120 and HURT 100, she’s no stranger to digging deep and getting the distance done, no matter how strenuous the climbs or humid the weather. Jen, 41 years old and an attorney in Olympia, Washington, has been an INKnBURN Elite for several years, and today I had the chance to ask her about her most successful races, her favorite pre-race meal and what she’s up to next.

You ran 4 successful 100-milers, 1 120-miler and a 100K in 2015–what’s your secret for recovery and training?  

I ran a lot of long races in 2015 to see if I could do it, as an experiment. Although I completed all the races, the frequency of them didn’t allow me to enjoy them as much as I like. And my body has since rebelled a bit so I know I made mistakes. In life and in running, I think it’s important to push boundaries and test your limits – you can learn a lot even if you don’t reach your goal. When I was racing frequently there wasn’t a lot of time for typical training cycles and ample recovery. I really learned to listen to my body. It wasn’t easy all the time and I’m still learning!

How do you decide upon which races you want to do each year?

Jen in Water Shorts & Healing Mandala LS
Jen in INKnBURN Long Sleeve Healing Mandala Tech Shirt and Water Shorts. Click to view!

My training and racing have been a bit derailed this year. I suffered a back injury in February that took almost 9 weeks to heal. Shortly after that I suffered a knee injury. My training volume has been greatly reduced this year so far and I’ve had to pass a few races by. I’m practicing the art of listening to my body (as much as I can!) and being patient.

I am always looking at races, new and old, and adventure runs. Everything always looks fantastic but it comes down to scheduling and being reasonable about what I think I can do in a year. Last year was too much so I purposefully scaled back this year. I am hoping to do three 100-miles this year, although it will be the fall before I’m really ready to race one. I’m already putting together a wish list for next year–it’s really fun to plan to me!

What’s been your most successful race to date?

Races rarely go according to plan. For that reason I don’t usually make a detailed plan. At the Umstead 100 in 2015* I made a detailed plan and I stuck to it. It’s a loop course and somewhat easy to predict times and set intermediate goals and that’s what I did. I stuck to the plan and I had a lot of fun doing it. To me, that was a huge success.

*Jen was very humble and did not mention that she won 1st place overall for women at the Umstead 100 in 2015!

What do you think has been your least successful?

Fat Dog 120 in 2015.  Although I proved to myself I can suffer through just about anything and gut it out–I made a lot of mistakes in this race and I developed a bad attitude that lasted the last third of the race. There are things you can’t control in races but your mental attitude is completely within your control. I failed at Fat Dog!

You’ve been running ultras for a few years–how has your training philosophy changed over that time?

I think time has mellowed me out a bit…I write my own training schedules and I do my best to stick to them–but over time I’ve come to realize that I have to listen to my body more than I have to stick to a rigid plan. Looking further ahead than just the next race is also important so I prioritize my goals and plan accordingly.

Do you have a bucket list of ultras you wish to run over your lifetime?

Jen in Monkey & Samurai
Jen in INKnBURN’s Monkey Tech Shirt and her friend in the Men’s Samurai Tech Shirt. Click to view!

My bucket list has changed over the years and I’m always looking for the challenging, remote, old-school races.  I also like races that are not mainstream. I like to support race directors and races that embody the true spirit of our sport. I have to balance this with raising my two boys and working full-time, so I don’t get “out there” as much as I’d like. I do a fair amount of adventure running with friends and I really enjoy seeing remote areas in a more relaxed setting.

What’s your favorite post-race meal?

I love guacamole and chips and I’m also a huge fan of sushi.

What’s your go-to pre-race meal?

I eat pretty bland the day before races. I eat a lot of PB&J and energy bars. I don’t eat anything the day before that I wouldn’t eat during the race so I try to avoid stomach upset the next day.

What’s your favorite INKnBURN gear at the moment?

Ryu Skirt
Jen wearing INKnBURN’s Abalone Singlet, Miko 4 Arms and her favorite Ryu Sports Skirt!

From day one, I’ve been a huge fan of the INKnBURN skirts. I helped with the redesign and they are even better than before.  (I didn’t think that was possible!) I always race in skirts. My current favorite is the Ryu skirt (a good bet for the race!) Click here to check out the details on the Ryu Skirt!

INKnBURN Elite: Anji Paumier

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Interview by Jade Belzberg

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Yoga, Crossfit and Trail Runs… all in INKnBURN gear! Click here to see the full collection!

Search Anji on Google, and you’re likely to find her Ultrasignup page. Despite only running ultra marathons for six years, Anji has run several 50Ks, 100Ks and 100-milers. At 36 years old, Anji has shifted towards another pursuit: Crossfit. While she’s still running, Anji now incorporates yoga and Crossfit into her weekly training routine, even participating in several Crossfit competitions. Here’s the scoop on INKnBURN Elite Anji Paumier:

Age: 36

Hometown: Charlotte, NC

Career: Construction Project Manager at UCS, Inc

How long have you been running? 

I’ve been running since my mom used to send me outside to run around the house 10 times to burn off energy at age five. I started running competitively in middle school but have been in the ultra running community for about six years.

INKnBURN Ella Singlet and Water Shorts
Click to see the Ella Singlet & Water Shorts Anji is wearing on the trails!

 

How did you become immersed in the ultra world?

It actually was a challenge from a friend. I had been training with her
for my first half marathon and she thought I might enjoy trying a 50K. It was the most challenging thing I had ever done and I was hooked!

When did you first hear about CrossFit?

INKnBURN Long Sleeve Foo Dog Tech Shirt
Click to see INKnBURN’s Long Sleeve Tech Shirts, like the one Anji is wearing for her Crossfit victory photo!

I’ve been watching the Crossfit world for a very long time, probably close to 10 years now, and trained in Crossfit gyms several times. When I moved back to Charlotte, North Carolina, a little over a year ago, I joined South Charlotte Crossfit to teach their yoga classes to take a break from running. Then I jumped on board with the training.

Do you find that CrossFit compliments your running?

It definitely does–I find that not only the physical strength helps my running but the mental toughness it requires is very similar to the ultra running world. You are pushing your body and mind beyond its limits in both sports.

What’s your current training schedule like? 

I’m running 3 days a week and lifting 5-–I’m doing a lot of two-a-days.

How do you incorporate rest into your program? 

I take Sundays off completely other than teaching yoga; I work on flexibility and mobility during my teaching. I’m fine tuning things like my diet and sleep schedule to maximize the recovery and rest.

What’s on your roster for 2016?

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Anji competed in INKnBURN Water Shorts. Click to see details!

I had two Crossfit competitions so far this year so I’m turning my focus back to ultra racing. I’m looking for a good fall or winter race to finish out the year with along with some fun training runs along the way. It may not be a big winning or racing year, but more of a transition year for me

 

 

What has been your proudest accomplishment? 

I would say graduating from college. Neither my parents or my sister had the opportunity so they were incredibly proud of me.

What’s your favorite pre-race or training meal?

Pizza! Usually a gluten free crust with cheese and pepperoni. Throw in a good craft beer and it’s on!

What’s your favorite post-race or training meal? 

I am a huge fan of breakfast, so usually pancakes with bacon.

Does nutrition play a large role in your training and running?

Absolutely! There is a big difference between fueling for Crossfit and fueling for an ultra since the body taps different energy systems for the effort. Being keen on what I need has been a constant learning experience. Right now I’m following a macros style of eating and it seems to be complimenting both training regimes

How did you first hear about INKnBURN?

I remember seeing INKnBURN in an ad in Ultra Running Magazine–their clothes looked so cool and I pined after the denim shorts for months before finally buying them. I liked that the brand was geared towards ultra runners and was made here in the U.S. My early racing gear was pretty unflattering just to avoid chafing issues, so INKnBURN was a breath of fresh air for me. The designs are always beautiful and always drawing attention.

What’s your favorite INKnBURN item?

Hands down it’s my Gordy shirt. He’s the grandfather of trail racing and his story was the first I read about ultra running!

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Click to see INKnBURN’s Women’s Tech Shirts!

INKnBURN Elite: Steven Moore

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Interview by Jade Belzberg

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Click to see INKnBURN Men’s Collection.

48-year-old Steven Moore has been an INKnBURN Elite Ambassador for 4 years, but his ultra running resume his much older. Steven’s Ultrasignup page details a list of more than 50 events, from popular races like Leona Divide 50 to Rocky Raccoon 100 to lesser known races like Capt’n Karl’s Kanoe 60K. Steven, who works in Facilities and Safety at The University of Texas at Austin, has been running for 40 years and participating in ultras for seven and a half years. I finally had the chance to catch up with him to talk about his future endeavors, how he succeeds in multiple distances and, of course, his favorite INKnBURN gear.

 

How did you begin your running journey?

I started “jogging” with my dad before I was 10 years old. He suggested it would help my soccer fitness and he was right (just like all dads are always right!). I played lacrosse in college here at University of Texas and fell into Hashing* as a way to stay in shape in the off seasons. That led me to trail running. I ran the Imogene Pass Run in 2001 and 2007 and then dove into the ultra scene deep end pretty quickly.

*Editor’s Note: this link will explain the concept of hashing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hash_House_Harriers

You’re very successful at a variety of distances–what’s your secret to conquering speedier 50Ks and tougher 100-milers?

Let’s not forget the 2man 5k Beer Relay distance! No secret to reveal–it’s all relative,  right? I really enjoy running fast and do my share of speed work as well as pacer duties for road races around Austin. There are plenty of speedier folks out there, especially now! I love the intensity of speed but also suffer well for the longer races that bring out a different type of fatigue. I’m pretty sure my strengths now lie in the longer stuff.

How do you plan your year to accommodate the variety races you run?

I love to race. I pick (or lotteries pick for me) which races fit with the

www.INKnBURN.com
Click here to see Run or Die Collection. To access this design you must sign in to your account on www.INKnBURN.com!

family calendar and my white board wish list and then base my training around those races. Sometimes that means I have to lay off training if they start to stack up too close. You will never find me over training. I’m not saying it’s the best way, just the way I choose and what fits with my life schedule. I ride my bike to work, get in some noon workouts, run hard and long on weekends and sit in the hot tub on Monday. Pretty much the same routine for the last 5-6 years. I had a down year in 2015 with some plantar fasciitis and ankle issues and I really missed it. I’m glad to be back in action again.

What’s been your most successful race to date?

A good friend once cautioned me with using a results based success metric. I try to keep that in mind but I do like to compete. I have had a few really magic 100 mile races, although they don’t always feel like it during the race, so it’s hard to single out any one. Looking back on my start, Zane Grey 50 in 2010 was my first ultra out of state and I really had to dig deep to find an exit or at least end to the pain cave of the second half of that race. Considering I was a relative newbie, I’d say that was a successful job of getting the finish and toughing it out.

What do you feel has been your least successful?

Rocky Raccoon 100 in 2014. Nobody wants to hear a runner complain about a sub-17 hour 100 but I really wanted to do better in that race and blew it with a mental error involving nutrition and hydration. I am still disappointed because I knew better at the time. That type of mistake really bothers me because I take pride in preparation and race management and just spaced out on it that day. Maybe I’ll get revenge someday soon.

How are you currently preparing for your next race, The Canyons Endurance Run 100K?

Same prep as always–ramp up the mile totals and then taper down. I did add a few stairmill workouts but it is so boring in the gym and spring in Austin is the time to be out running! Looks like it’s possible the weather won’t be as hot as last year but then again, it might rain. Either way, I’m headed out there with my buddy Jeff and we are going to have a blast running some trails.

You have a host of ultra marathons to your name, from 50Ks to 50-milers to 100-milers; I’m most curious about all of the 60K distances that you’ve run. Why does the 60K distance attract you?

The 60k races are awesome training during the peak of the hot Texas summers. They are part of the Capt’n Karl’s night series. The late start forces you to practice night running but you never escape the heat! I have used those summer sufferfests to my advantage multiple times for early fall races in cooler climates–As Nietzsche says, “that which does not kill us makes us stronger…”

How did you hear about INKnBURN? 

I found INKnBURN at TRE, a conference and trade show here in Austin. The bold designs and vivid colors caught my eye immediately. One of the woman, Keira Henninger (now Haynes), running the booth was coming back to Austin to run Bandera, so we started chatting. Just holding the product I could tell it was quality and the people at the company I engaged with just solidified that we were all on the same page, or at least reading the same book!

 What’s your current favorite piece of INKnBURN gear?

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Steven in his current INKnBURN Go-To, the Men’s Tank Tank Singlet. Click to see the intricate details of this design!

Hardest question for last, eh? I got plenty of mileage out of the Holiday Sweater Long Sleeve Tech this year and any of the Run or Die pieces are always favorites. I’d say the new Men’s Tank Tank singlet is my go-to piece lately.

USA to Brazil… by Motorcycle!

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INB Ambassador Spotlight: Laura Buitron    

by Jade Belzberg

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Laura is wearing our Run or Die Warrior Tech Shirt. Note, you will have to create an account to view this special edition design on www.INKnBURN.com

INKnBURN Ambassador Laura Buitron has been traveling for a while now, taking a sabbatical year from her job as a yacht captain to travel from Aspen, Colorado to her father’s hometown in Brazil. But, she’s not taking plane, train or automobile to get there. Instead, she’s riding her “bike”, a BMW F800GS Adventure motorcycle that she has named Plus Ultra. When Laura’s not biking (which means moving a 900-pound motorcycle, including herself and her gear) for 8 hours each day, she’s trail running. And, of course, she can switch seamlessly from activity to activity thanks to INKnBURN clothing!

This past week, I had the chance to interview Laura. Despite traveling through Columbia and having to email me back at 3 a.m., Laura was gracious enough to agree!

Who is Laura Buitron?

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 1.20.13 PMI’m Spanish (passport, family origin and where I lived for 11 years), Argentinian (where I was born), and Brazilian (where I lived for 17 years).

At the age of 7, while living still in Brazil, my father bought me a beach scooter, which I used to get all over the dunes on my way to buy groceries for my mom. Then, at the age of 10, we moved to Spain where we had a dairy farm. To reach the mountain fields to check on our cows, my father bought me a little 50cc dirt bike. And after that came an old 500 cc motorbike that he got as exchange for the rent of a pasture field.

I have a Biology degree with a Master in Marine Ecology from USP in Brazi. But the love for the ocean and sailing made me change careers and become a yacht captain. I obtained my 200 Tons Captain license & 3000 Tons Officer of the Watch in the UK and worked my way up to Yacht Captain over 13 years.

Why are you riding to Brazil?

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 1.19.49 PMI’m on a solo riding trip, from USA to Brazil. This journey is called “Ashes to Freedom” and is dedicated to my dad. In Brazil I will be collecting my dad’s ashes to scatter them throughout this favorite places in South America and give him back his freedom. It’s the same freedom he gave to me at 7 years old when he bought me my first motorcycle.

How long have you been running? 

Almost 4 years. I started at the age of 40.

Why do you enjoy running?

I’m very much an introvert. I’m not shy, but I get a little overwhelmed by crowds. Running has helped me in this as it gets me out of my cocoon. The running community has something special–they’re welcoming and caring, but don’t suffocate me! I find many like-minded people.

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How did your ultra running journey begin?

We live in a very limited space working on yachts. We move pretty much constantly and we have a very hectic schedule. I was a workaholic and started to feel burned out; I needed something of my own, something that could take me away–running was the perfect fit. On the boat we’re not really able to carry many personal things and a pair of running shoes is something everyone has on board. Running became a therapy and a reason to get out off the boat. Plus, I had the chance to run through all the beautiful places we stopped at, like Spain, France, Italy, Greece, USA, Bahamas and Australia. A Captain friend of mine, INKnBURN Elite Grant Maughan, was already running, so I went to him and asked him, “Teach me how to
run long distance!”

What races do you run?

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 1.24.28 PMI pretty much only race on trail, though I train on a lot of tarmac. But it’s trail running and being in nature that makes me feel alive. I’ve run a few half marathons, but mostly trail marathons and 50Ks, my favorite distance. I also ran Boston and qualified pretty well in my age group. I’m proud of my Pikes Peak Marathon race where I was the 4th Master, then in the Sky Running Series I was 1st Master in Crystal Mountain (and it was monetary prize!) Each race has its particularities and I run for the beauty of the courses.

Have you always been active? 

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 1.20.31 PMSince the age of 12 years old, I needed to work on my dad’s farm so there wasn’t too much time to play around. It was school and work. When we lived on the dairy farm in Spain, we worked hard as we needed to collect the grass to feed the cows, but also store some for winter. We would go cut the grass, rake it, pack it and then take it to the farm–all by hand. We used to collect up to 10,000 bails of hay each summer, and each bail would weight 18 lbs. We’d carry and drag on in each hand to make the process go faster.

How did you first hear about INKnBURN?

I saw some runners wearing INKnBURN at one of the first races I ran and went over to talk to them. They introduced me to the company and when I learned that INKnBURN is a small, made-in-USA company that produces outstanding designs that will turn heads, well, my heart was taken! Plus, most athletic gear is boring…same colors, same patterns. INKnBURN is unique. Everybody looks good in it; it’s absolutely gorgeous, fun and sexy!

What’s your favorite INKnBURN item?

I like the jean leggings and many of the t-shirts because I can use them for any occasion; I use them for work, to go out, to train, to race and to travel. INKnBURN is multifunctional clothing. My soul identifies with INKnBURN designs so I’m very fortunate to be able to wear it! It’s a way to express myself: fun, happy, colorful, challenging and daring.

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To follow along on Laura’s “Ashes to Freedom” journey, check out her Instagram (@chickamotorunner) or Facebook Page (Chicka Motorunner).

Special thanks to Photographer Adam Stephens of BlackSwanMoto.com for our cover photo.

Beyond the Diagnosis

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INKnBURN Ambassador Rebecca Wells bravely shares her reflections on a shocking diagnosis at a young age and how running has impacted her healing and growth:

Last June found me at the Rock-n-Roll Seattle Half Marathon with two of my closest girlfriends. It was my last hurrah at running before two upcoming surgeries. The first surgery was to put something in my body: a titanium rod in my lower left leg to allow my left tibia to heal the three really bad stress fractures (Google “dreaded black line fracture” to get an idea of what my stress fractures were like) I had incurred from training for a marathon, triathlons, and playing weekly co-ed soccer. The second surgery was to take something out of my body: a cancerous tumor from my rectum to be exact. In March of 2014, I was diagnosed with Stage III colorectal cancer. I had gone into the doctor’s office thinking I would get a hemorrhoid diagnosis, and a colonoscopy later, was shocked to learn I had cancer. I ate healthy, I lived a healthy lifestyle, and had no family history of colorectal cancer. BIG SHOCK.

In between March and June, I did 28 rounds of radiation and oral chemotherapy. Despite the stress fractures and the fatigue from radiation, I still managed to crank out a PR for a 10K race (sub one-hour was my goal, and I got it!) and run a couple of 5K races.  But, by the end of May, my body was seriously spent from the radiation, and training was out of the question. I thought about deferring the half marathon in Seattle, but the plane ticket was purchased and the hotel room was booked, and my friends would be there. I decided to go ahead and do the race the best I was able, and to make the most of the adventure to a new city with my gal pals.

At the Rock-n-Roll Seattle expo, I stopped in my tracks when I saw a funky shirt that said “Run or Die” on it. With all that I had endured and was going to go through with surgeries and chemotherapy infusions, that motto resonated with me. I had never heard of the INKnBURN brand before, but the sales girls were super helpful and patient as I thumbed through all of the designs they had on hand and made my final selections.  I walked away with the denim capris, the Run or Die tank, and another tank, which I wore for the race the next day. Even though that was my slowest half marathon (at that time…I have since done two much, much slower—one less than two weeks after chemo infusions ended and another just recently where I was undertrained and overexcited!), I was so happy to be running and outside and doing what I loved.

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After that race, my whole life changed. The two surgeries occurred within two weeks of one another, and shortly after my tumor removal, my chemo infusions started. I was hooked up to chemo for three days and to hydration and anti-nausea meds for another day, repeating this about every other week for a total of nine rounds over five-and-a-half months. The treatments took a huge toll on my weakened body, and I resigned from my full time job as the dean of instruction at an inner-city high school. On January 7, 2015, I rang the bell signifying the end of my chemo treatments, wearing none other than my denim InkNBurn capris. They are my go-to clothing item. I’ve worn them with running shoes and high heels, and I have not worn them without compliments and strangers wanting to touch my legs (that sounds creepier than it actually is!).

On Sunday, November 8 2015, almost exactly 10 months after ringing that bell, I  proudly participated in the Get Your Rear in Gear Run-Houston as a Stage III colorectal cancer survivor. While it wasn’t  my first post-treatment race, this one is exciting for me as I was not only on the event committee, but I was also a featured survivor for the Houston edition of the race series wearing—you guessed it—my denim INKnBURN capris.

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Most recently, in March of this year, I reclaimed my title as Overall Survivor Female at the SCOPE 5K Run for colorectal cancer awareness. I am slowly but surely getting stronger in my runs…and in life. Upcoming races include the Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon in Las Vegas followed by a half marathon in Belize at the end of the year.

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Because of residual side effects from treatment, working full time outside of the home is not an option for me at this point. So, I work part time from home, and I am now a certified running coach, which allows me to wear whatever I want. So, I have definitely added to my INKnBURN collection in the last year. For example, the robot capris are a nod to my titanium tibia. The clothes travel well, and are perfect for my once-again active lifestyle. And, the Run or Die series still echoes my mantra. I choose to RUN!

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To connect with Rebecca and learn more about her journey and efforts to spread awareness about Colorectal Cancer, please visit her page: https://www.facebook.com/fightlikeaboss

 

#NationalOatmealDay2015

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What is said to boost energy? Shield your skin?  Reduce risk of colon cancer? Help heart health? Prevent diabetes? Reduce cholesterol?

OATMEAL!

It is #NationalOatmealDay 2015 and our INKnBURN Ambassadors are sharing some of their favorite things to do with oats!

Chef Henry’s Apple Pie Smoothie:

 Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 9.37.14 AM2 cups apple cider
1 graham cracker
1 TBS cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 scoop protein powder, vanilla

1 rolled oats
Put all ingredients in blender, and blend!


Kimberlee’s Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies:

2/3 cup peanut butter, room temperature Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 9.55.31 AM
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
3 egg whites 
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup oat flour (ground oats)
1/3 cup coconut sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt 
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Mix peanut butter, coconut oil and eggs and vanilla in one bowl and stir until smooth. Mix almond flour, oat flour, coconut sugar, baking powder, and salt in another bowl and mix well. Pour peanut butter mixture into flour mixture and mix well. Add rolled oats and chocolate chips. Place on cookie sheet lined in parchment paper or sprayed with cooking spray. Before baking, flatten the cookies down with a fork. Bake at 375° for 8 to 10 minutes.

Melinda’s  Don’t Tell Anyone, But I Use Chocolate  Cookies:

6 tbsp canned pure pumpkin Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 9.47.31 AM

¼ cup pure maple syrup
½ cup raw sugar
½ whole banana, mashed
2 tbsp nondairy milk
1½ cups rolled oats
½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
¼ tbsp pumpkin pie spice
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper and set aside. In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, maple, sugar, banana and non-dairy milk together. In a medium bowl, combine oats, flour, baking soda and pumpkin pie spice together and then transfer it into the wet mixture. Stir a few times then add raisins. Continue to mix until combined. It may look too dry initially, but keep stroking, it will incorporate perfectly. Drop spoonfuls on a greased cookie sheet and bake 10 to 15 minutes, or until firm to the touch and springy.

Andrea’s Orange & Vanilla Overnight Oats:

Serves 4
1 3/4 cup / 400 ml rolled oats (preferable gluten free) Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 10.00.20 AM
1 tsp vanilla extract or dried vanilla powder
1 3/4 cup /400 ml (about 4 oranges) orange juice
1/2 cup sunflower and pumpkin seeds
1 cup water for soaking
4 tbsp shredded coconut, lightly toasted
fresh fruit for serving 

In the evening: Mix oats and vanilla in a bowl, add freshly squeezed orange juice and stir to combine. Place seeds in a bowl and cover with water. Place both bowls in the fridge overnight.
In the morning: Scoop a couple of spoonfuls of soaked seeds in 4 jars or glasses. Scoop the soaked oats porridge on top of the seeds and cover with fresh fruit and lightly toasted coconut.
Keeps for 3-5 days in the fridge.

Robyn’s 
Overnight Steel-Cut Oats with Salt and Butter:
Perfect if you’d rather start your day with something salty instead of something sweet!
Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 10.07.34 AMServes 2-3
3 cups water
1 cup steel-cut oats
(optional: 1/4 c tart dried cherries)
(optional: 1/4 c sliced almonds)
Grass-fed butter
Sea salt

Measure the water into a medium sized pan and bring it to a boil. Add the oats and fruit and nuts if you’re using them. Cover and let sit at room temperature overnight.

In the morning, bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for 1-2 minutes.Serve with a pat of butter and a generous sprinkle of salt. Have some Greek yogurt or an over-easy egg on the side for protein!

Slaying Dragons by INKnBURN Ambassador Monica

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11953329_10155933087615109_780216497869348849_oI grew up loathing running. I think I always associated it with the awkwardness of middle school, when I had body image issues of being too tall, too thin, too flat – and too slow. I knew nothing about pace back then, and gym class always went the same way: when we had to run laps, I would gamely take off from the starting line, but would go out too fast and stagger to a breathless walk halfway around the track. Gym teachers’ harangues ringing in my ears, I grew up convinced I was slow, couldn’t run, hated exercise. I would watch neighborhood joggers and community 5K runners enviously: why couldn’t my body do what seemed so normal to everyone else? I embraced photography, horseback riding, gardening, and books, dismissing aerobic sports as unordained for me.

6” changed everything. Last May, I missed a step, crashing onto one kneecap. My daily commute became a dreaded, tearful experience. Stairs were petrifying. Riding or kneeling to garden were out of the question.

Though other activities remained challenging, after months of  physical therapy I could walk normally, and colleagues talked me into a 5K run/walk during our school’s homecoming festivities. In the spirit of office camaraderie, I agreed to walk, but when I got there, the idyllic course on a glorious October day made a little jogging irresistible. I anticipated soon quitting in pain, but to everyone’s surprise – most of all mine! – my knee didn’t hurt. Cautiously I continued, hypervigilant for the slightest twinge, discovering with surprise that slowing down allowed me to run farther than I expected. I jogged 2/3 of that race, floating the remainder on a euphoric cloud.

My physical therapist was supportive and said if I wanted to run, he would help me do it safely. He introduced a treadmill program, encouraging perseverance when newfound enthusiasm produced impatience with walking intervals – I wanted to run! The program taught me pace and built endurance, making running more enjoyable. Most importantly, it showed me I can run: not for teacher approval or stopwatch, but simply for joy.

However, I was still extremely self-conscious about the clothing that seemed to go with the sport. The adolescent body image issues had never completely dissipated; a sedentary lifestyle had eventually led to weight gain and different variety of dislike for the mirror. Though I lost a lot of that weight when I started running, a lifetime of self-criticism still made it nearly impossible to see anything in my reflection but heavy thighs and a lack of curves. Running clothing all seemed to draw attention to a physique I didn’t want anyone focusing on. Through the winter it was less of an issue, as months of freezing weather allowed me to cover everything with multiple layers of sweatshirts, jackets, and pants. But warming spring temperatures necessitated less gear, and then one day PT forced the issue. “We need to start working on that IT band, and I can’t work on it through capris. Please wear shorts next time.”

Uh oh. I hadn’t willingly worn gym shorts in public since I finished the last required day of high school phys. ed. When I dug through my dresser drawer, I found that the elastic on my only pair had dry rotted. Thus began my search for running clothes I could feel confident about.

At the same time, I had joined a running club, and one day someone commented that when you run your first half marathon, you’ll feel like you killed a dragon. For some reason, that image stuck with me, and when I stumbled upon INKnBURN’s Ryu line midway through training for my first half, I knew immediately that this had to be my race shirt! I was terrified when the day arrived, and I can’t begin to describe how much extra grit and determination it gave me to put on that beautiful blue tech shirt. I was going to slay this dragon!

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 It was an amazing race. I ran it exactly the way I trained it and finished almost a minute under my goal time. I was so happy the whole way that I think I’m smiling in every single photo. At the end, though, I was surprisingly unelated – and confused about why. This should have felt like the accomplishment of a lifetime! A year ago I couldn’t even run a mile, and I had just finished 13.1. Why wasn’t I ecstatic? I realized it was because I was stronger than I ever realized, and all the training I had done had prepared me so well for the distance that it didn’t seem like a big deal. It didn’t feel like killing a dragon because distance running just wasn’t that big and scary any more!
The InknBurn dragon has become a symbol to me, not just of mountains to be conquered, but of strength I never knew I had. He comes out on days when I’m discouraged and need to be reminded of what I can do, and on days when I am thrilled just to be able to run for the joy of it. He also reminds me that this strength is far more important than anyone else’s perception of what I look like, and in that regard my dragon is slaying demons that have haunted me most of my life.

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Click to see the Dragon Flower Shorts that carried Monica through PT & her “Dragon Slaying” Race!

 

Behind the scenes