July 27, 2009

Nuu-Muu Exercise Dress Review

Woo-hoo to Nuu-Muu!

The Nuu-Muu exercise dress is more
than a running dress—it's a dress for living.
I flipped through a recent issue of Women's Running magazine and saw a beautiful color ad for Nuu-Muu running dresses. As I love the sexy sass with a dash of modesty that running/athletic skirts provide—running dresses are all that with even more flexibility!

Nuu-Muu's founder, Christine Nienstedt, and Co-Owner, Ashley Fullenwider, are super friendly and answered my questions personally, professionally and promptly. They Believe!

We believe in strong girls and women.

We believe in real bodies and real friends.
We believe in trying really, really hard.
We believe in having fun along the way.

The Nuu-Muu web site is easy-to-navigate and elegantly designed. I applaud their choice to support a variety of models—real women of various ages and different body types! World-class athlete Kristin Armstrong is one of their models and fans, too.
  • Price. Nuu-Muu dresses are $70 each plus a reasonable $5 shipping cost. With this running dress you have more options than athletic skirts, and an exceptionally-crafted garment made in the USA. The seams are carefully surged along with double stitched piping around the arm holes and neck line. None of the stitching nor understated tags irritate.
  • Nuu-Muu Running Dresses are Flattering, Flexible and Fun. With no built in bra nor bottoms you can personalize your Nuu-Muu to suit your needs and activities. Wear your favorite foundation garments for running, yoga, cycling, swimming, paddling, hikinh, beach cover up, travel, casual wear....
  • Fabric. My Nuu-Muu breathes, is slightly stretchy with good recoil and is comfortable in a range of temperatures. Layer for warmth or go minimal! The fabric does not cling nor ride up!
  • Race Bibs. While the fabric is durable, I will cautiously pin race bib numbers to my dress. Some other options are: use a race-number belt, fix the bib to my hat or better yet—on my compression shorts.
  • Laundering Tip. Hand wash or machine wash by using a fine-mesh zipping-laundry bag in cold water. Hang to dry as you would any technical fabric. I've machine washed my Nuu-Muu a lot with no snags, seam issues nor shrinkage.
  • Recylable, reusable and minimal packaging.

I first tested out my Twilight Nuu-Muu while pacing Michelle (far left) through the night at the 2009 Vermont 100 Endurance Run. My dress held up well while wearing a hydration pack! (Michelle broke 28 hours and at the time this photo was taken she's already been awake for 30+ hours.)

Here I am in Twlight with Julie, (in purple, far right) who won first female in the 12 Hour ultra at the 24 Hour Around the Lake Races. I took my Twilight for a 23-mile run as a pacer on this hot and humid day.

During both events I received many compliments on and questions where to buy this dress!

Sizing Specifics. Nuu-Muu sizing is consistent from size to size and fabric to fabric. My Large Twilight was the same size as my Large in Fleur.

Stats. I am a size 10-12 (US) and ordered a Large, which is their "(L)ovely." It's gently fitted across the chest, lightly touches my tummy (I have extra "fuel" there), covers and flatters my tush. It is not too snug in anyplace nor do the arm holes gape or bind.
I laid the dress flat and the Large's height from shoulder seam to hem is 34 inches. One width of the dress across the bust is a bit over 18 inches, which translates to approx. 36-37 inches around. This is not a baby-doll nor empire-waist style dress; there's some taper into the waist and out again for the hips with a slight and flare at the hem. One side-length along bottom hem is 25 inches wide. Two, 5.5 inch slits along the sides allow for additional action.

Additional Gear Tests at Backpacker, Outdoor Divas, and National Outdoors.

I Believe!

24 Hour Around the Lake Races

With the NE Mountain Circuit a distant memory running hills certainly feels easier these days. During those eight race-packed weeks, I scaled back my mileage and now I am eager to ramp it up for a fall ultra. So when I learned two of my trail/ultra running friends, Julie O'Mara (12 Hour) and Jeanne Peckiconis (24 Hour), would be in the 24 Hour Around the Lake, I jumped at the opportunity to accompany (pace) them for some loop-d-loops!

Four separate events—a marathon, the 12- and 24-hour ultras, and a 24-hour team relay—accrued multiple laps around Lake Quannapowwit.

Participants repeat a wheel-measured 3.16 mile loop on flat terrain, w
hich varies from asphalt and concrete to elective-running along a dirt trail edge or grass. Solo runners ran from 1 to 36 laps, while and the SRR Fighting Guppies Relay Team swept up 61 laps, 192.76 miles in 23:53:43 for the overall relay win.

Byron Lane won the 24 Hour with his seemingly effortless 36 laps and 113.76 miles in 22:11:18. Hung-Kwong Ng finished second with 113.76 miles in 23:19:16. This is amazing considering 10 days prior to Wakefield he finished 19th at Badwater. Here's 24 Hour winner Byron Lane—all smiles in the heat and humidity of the early afternoon.
The races kicked off at about 7 p.m. and I dropped by Friday night to watch the marathon winners finish—Christian Baumbach (2:32:49) and Holly Parker (3:05:27)—before heading home for some shut eye around 11 p.m. The second place marathon finshers were as sprightly—Brendan O'Leary (2:43:14) and Jennifer Rapaport (3:26:39). When I returned at 4:45 a.m., I spied Jeanne coming through and ran with her for a lap and then did another sola before meeting up with Julie for her 17th and final loop.

Julie was alert and positive energy on this last lap. We joked, talked and appreciated the dawn, among other things... What a humble and surprised 12 Hour women's winner! Julie, who is also a raw vegan runner, has just begun to tap into her endurance with exceptional potential.
She is on

Watching Team Injinji's Akos Konya in his flame singlet was inspiring. Konya swept the 12 Hour with 85.32 miles in 11:55:04. Open a Trail Runner magazine and you will see him in an injinji ad with the same relaxed focus and form. He's also finished second overall at Badwater for the last three years. Scott Leslie was second with his 75.84 miles.

After Julie and her supportive spousal crew, Dave, packed up the Element and headed out of dodge I started to log some la-la-la loopy loops with
Jeanne. Jim Garcia and I took turns torturing her (just kidding.....sort of) by picking up her pace! Jeanne was incredibly chipper throughout and knew what she needed—a quick break, ice or a W.C! I was sorry to not have taken any photos of her! Drat! G.A.C. runner, Melanie Haber arrived around 1 p.m. and was ready to rumble out the final hours with Jeanne.

Barbara Bell was overall female winner in the 24 Hour with 107.44 in 23:37:46. Jeanne Peckiconis took second woman in the 24 Hour with 94.80 miles in 22:52:52. Liz Camire was third with 94.80 miles in 23:41:02. Not a minute wasted.

Runner & Photographer Jim Rhoades captured the Friday night magic: Photos.

Wakefield is a mere 10 miles from home and I've been intrigued by this event but also "concrete cautious." My 23 mini-by-comparison miles scratched my 24 Hour itch and allowed me to enjoy the company of friends! Kudos and thanks to all participants—runners, volunteers, crews and dog day of summer spectators.

July 21, 2009

Vermont 100 Endurance Race 2009

Pacing Michelle Roy in her first 100 miler at the VT 100 Mile Endurance Race is not easily summarized in a blog nor will this post do justice to the breadth of the experience—for Michelle—and her pacers, Kevin and me. I recommend pacing, crewing or handling for a friend, family member, lover—or complete stranger—and you will understand. You might discover the amazing range of emotions and sensations and of what the mind and body are capable. You might witness, as we did, how special, challenging, awe-inspiring, tear-filled, nauseous and beautiful it is. Whether it's being the eyes, ears, mind, soul, doctor, nutritionist, therapist, human hanker-chief, drill-Sargent, comedian or quiet companion through 30 or fewer miles you will be better for it.
2009 Vermont 100 Endurance Race
For more visuals click on album link.

I saw runners and walkers, a ram, pairs of glowing eyes, the stars, an owl, blisters, tears, poison ivy, fog, silhouetted mountains, headlamps like distant fireflies, disappointment, DNF's, dirt, mud, and a lot of guts. I learned so much about the human condition. Running 100 miles is beyond physical—beyond visceral. Pain is temporary. The drive to achieve can silence the voice that begs one to quit. Pacing through the last dark-to-dawn-into-day miles of a 100-mile race is an intimate experience. Nothing less.

Michelle with broth at Bill's about 3:30 a.m. (Mile 88.6)

Kz and Michelle in the Vermont dawn

Some of Michelle's comments and my responses in the final miles.
  • "I can't do this!"
  • You ARE already doing this. You will finish.
  • "I want to go home."
  • You are almost there. One step at a time, forward, forward.

"I am sick, I feel like throwing up."
Okay, then we can start from scratch.

"No, No!" (On seeing a huge hill.)
YES. Do not look up! Look at my feet. Follow my feet, one step at a time.

In the final 2 miles, I was concerned I was too tough on Michelle by picking up the pace and making her run. She'd already come this far—98 miles—and I knew she had at least three more in her so I reassured her, "Michelle, your pain is temporary. I promise that when you have reached the finish line it will go away. The glowing accomplishment of finishing [in sub 28 hours] will not."

"Michelle, can you hear the finish line!?
Let's go!"
Michelle was amazing during this race. Even when she vocalized her doubts and aches, which were understandable and expected given her calorie deficit, she would stop for a moment and bend over. Then after about 10 seconds straighten up and carry on. She persevered. I am extremely proud of her and would pace her again through the night and even through rain, sleet or hail.

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Jack Pilla was the first Vermont resident to ever win the VT 100 in its 21 years. Here's a 20 second video I captured of him finishing with his pacer and an entourage of enthusiastic kids!
RD, Julia Hutchinson (far L), with Jack's wife and his pacer (far R)

Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Race

July 15, 2009

Ascutney Mountain Challenge 2009


With the final race of the 2009 Inov-8 USATF-NE Mountain Circuit a distant memory, it's back to the pleasure of long slow distance trail marathon training! I'll be seeking more level ground for a spell as I have hill hangover.

This past Sunday at the Ascutney Mt. Challenge (RESULTS), exactly 100 uphill runners earned mountain goat status; fortunately I was one of these goats pleased to hang up their kid keds for official hooves.

My weekend began early with Solarfest in Tinmouth, Vermont before I meandered to Ascutney State Park in Windsor to set up camp. Downpours, thunder and lightening stormed through and seasoned the trail section of the Challenge with some good old-fashioned mud!

The new course included over a mile of rocky single-track technical trail. I managed to pass about six folks on the trail by power-hiking the ups and running the fern-filled flats. Many runners hope for the return of full auto-road ascent. But as a back-of-the-packer I loved
the break from the asphalt grind. Some of the trail sections at Ascutney were the most technical footing in the series. I vote to keep this course another year before changing anything.

Bookends to the mountain circuit? The 2009 Ascutney course reminded me of Wachusett's new course (with its added trails). Yet, Ascutney is nearly all ascent whereas Wachusett offers some relief with double track trail and a downhill finish.

Ken Skier's Ascutney slide show.
On the other side of the lens: Scott Mason.
More photos from DoubleJ,
taken by Kristen K.
and JJ !
More great stuff at Good Clean Run.

No rest for the mountain weary

Long (slow) distance training begins this weekend when I head up to Vermont to help pace fellow trailgrrl in the Vermont 100 Endurance Race.

July 05, 2009

Loon Mountain Race 2009

"Cranmore or Loon, which do you prefer?"
Paul Kirsch, Race Director (for both), asked upon finishing.
With intoxicating views from all directions and thinner air—I was drunk on hills. Scott Mason captured a variety of expressions, including my hill-glazed gaze, along the Upper Walking Boss, which brags a 30% plus grade for .6+ of a mile. I heart Loon.

Start of Loon, 5th race in the Mt. Circuit
After rolling the two mountains around, I decided Crannmore & Loon are different beasts from the same family. Each bears its own ferocious and forgiving sections. I appreciate both for their differences and recognize that one course might suit a runner better than the other depending on his/her pleasures and strengths.
Cranmore serves screamin' down hills, a repeated loop (please sir, can I have some more?) and the company of world-class mountain runners. It's also exciting because less-competitive runners enjoy the company of front-runners. Cranmore gets another gold star for its variety of runnable surfaces: grass, slick rock, wet moss, mud, gritty pebbled double-track, wet mushy ferns and dry grass. Cost: the legs pay for the downhills.

Loon steeps Mountain Goats inclined to running uphill. Yet, it's not only uphill so downhell fanatics can scratch that itch on descents (Haulback, Sunset) and a few flattish passages that traverse the mountain between mile 0 to 1.5 and miles 2 to 3. The surfaces at Loon are wide ski trails and long grass with a dash of rock after U.W.B. Like Cranmore, the views at Loon are breathtaking but may be appreciated even more during the gondola ride down.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
No watch. No pressure. No problem. My two goals for the day were to keep a constant upward/forward motion and enjoy the journey with perfect weather. (Inclement weather for me is scorching temps & high humidity.) Despite my ankle hurting on my warm up jog, I felt fantastic during and after Loon. I also ate two treats and hydrated throughout the race with Nuun potion in my hand held. When we ran through wild berries I looked for snacking bears.

2009 Loon Mountain Race Results.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Cooler weather, a positive attitude, and nutrition all played a part in making Loon one of my favorite runs of the circuit. Unconcerned with time or distance, I felt present in every moment and step. Tim, the Barefoot Runner, and I shared trail talk along the U. Bear Claw and time passed quickly and we were at the summit water stop. In a mountain zone, I thought we had another mile to enjoy before passing through the finishing area for a meeting with the Boss! (No, not Springsteen. I wasn't that Loony.) As I paid homage to the Upper Walking Boss I overheard folks gasp and grumble. Hoping to cast positive energy their way, I said, "Wow, that's so beautiful. Look at us up there soon." I appreciated each step and soon was coasting along Sunset.

* * * * * * * * * * * *
After Cranmore, my quads were not communicating with the rest of my body until about Wednesday. Whereas everything felt great right after finishing Loon. Soaking in the Pemi helped!

Also at Cranmore I tweaked my ankle on the second descent and RICE'd for the week. Aiming to complete the circuit uninjured, I took preventative measures at Loon and tested the Active Ankle T2 brace. It's a light-weight supportive device that allows for ankle movement while inhibiting dramatic side to side twists. The T2 was so comfortable I forgot I was wearing it.

A big thank you to Abbas who cheered us on,
took photos and chauffeured Susanna and me!