The MDT Challenge is a 7 mile trail race, hosted in November, which offers an out-and-back course along the Mason-Dixon Trail.
The challenge is free for participants, and despite the zero entry fee offers a lot in return. The course is beautiful, well maintained, and offers plenty of challenges for runners. Finishers are greeted with a bounty of foods and beverages on completion, which is more than most paid-entry races. And for being a free race, this is organized and ran better then you’d expect- in fact, it’s downright professional.
Some words of the wise
Running a 7 mile (or any distance) trail race requires the right amount of preparation and the proper tools to help you succeed. Hydration is a major key to successfully completing a long distance trail run, as you will be exposed to the elements, most importantly temperature. Staying hydrated throughout your run is essential for maintaining your energy levels, so make sure to fuel up with plenty of water before and during your run. Additionally, it is recommended that you purchase trail running shoes with sufficient tread and cushioning to protect your feet during the rough terrain. Lastly, make sure that you are wearing moisture-wicking clothing to avoid overheating or having a wet shirt against your skin which can lead to chafing over long distances. Taking these measures into consideration will help ensure an enjoyable and successful trail running experience.
I like to learn the hard way
I’ve run 6 to 7 miles on the trails with no issues in the past. Most of the time I’m able to run that distance with little to no hydration or fuel. So when I “prepared” for this challenge, hydration wasn’t on my mind. This was a big mistake on my part.
The weather was slightly warmer than usual for a November day. Thankfully I was smart enough to dress in layers, so I adjusted my outfit accordingly before the start of the race (decided to run in a shirt and shorts- no jacket).
As we set off on the trail there was a lot of single-track that slowed progress, but I was feeling energetic and ready to conquer the course. I felt good climbing the hills and keeping pace with other runners, hydration and fueling was the last thing on my mind.
As I closed in on the second mile, climbing a rather steep hill, I noticed my breathing was a little heavier than I would have liked. My heart rate was also in my “threshold” zone, so I eased up a little to give myself a moment to get things together.
This was the first sign that not bringing a hydration vest was a mistake. Right about now I was feeling early side effects from not hydrating properly (cramping, fatigue, and slight dizziness).
Mile 3, the struggle was very real. I was holding out on hopes of reaching the aid station at the turnaround, where I could get some water and hopefully some type of fuel in my system. As we approached the aid station I noticed small cups of water… emphasis on small.
Hastily, I grabbed and chugged 2 cups of water, they had to have been no more than 4 oz each. I then grabbed a brownie and inhaled it, followed by another 2 cups of water. I remember feeling panicked and staring lustfully at the 3 gallon jugs of water on the ground near the station.
I got the sinking feeling the lady at the aid station wasn’t equipped for an ill-equipped runner like me, so I pressed onward. I could have, and should have stayed in an effort to calm myself down, but I was in a state of panic. I needed to return.
The rest of the “race” back to the start was a blur. Literally, my vision got cloudy after mile 4 and progressively got worse with every passing trial blaze. I started to develop a nasty headache and noticed that I wasn’t sweating anymore. It was unseasonably warm and those 4 small cups of water I chugged had pretty much been cycled through my system. My eyes hurt, my head was throbbing, and my legs started to buckle. Out of panic and desperation I sucked on the brim of my hat, the salty sweat offered no relief.
Thankfully one of my friends that I went with, was kind enough to stick by my side and acted as a guide. I remember keeping him in my field of vision, as it slowly narrowed more and more.
I finished the race. Delirious, I crossed the finish line with tunnel vision for hydration and food. I also HAD tunnel vision and could only see directly in front of me (2 ft at best). I found a cooler, chugged 2 water bottles and starting grabbing cookies and treats from the nearby picnic table- thinking an immediate surge of fluids and food was what I needed. My vision was cloudy and the ringing in my ears prevented me from hearing anyones voice but my own, I was on a mission.
Back at my friend’s truck, he handed me a beer. I was so crazed about getting my vision back that I figured the calories and fluid couldn’t hurt. So I chugged that too. Here’s where I wished that I would have forced myself to slow down.
The wrong thing to do in this situation is to give into panic and consume fluids and fuel in mass quantities. It’s the hardest thing to do because your body is screaming at you to take in all nutrition you can get. Otherwise, you’ll learn the hard way what happens when you try to take your body from one extreme to the next.
As my panic and frantic state of mind began to cool down, my vision slowly started to return. The ringing in my head started to quiet down. I had a brief period where everything felt normal. Brief being the key word. As what followed was my body’s instant reaction to being flooded with food and fluids, i.e. this is when I started to puke everything up.
To end this long story, I had to have my friends pull over 3 times on the ride home so I could jump out and puke on the side of the road. I then had to drive myself home from my friend’s house, which also proved to be very difficult. My tunnel vision returned (due to expelling all fluids from my body) resulting in re-dehydrating myself all over again.
Needless to say, I came home, curled up on the floor and sipped Gatorade for 3.5 hours from a straw until I felt normal again. It was such an experience I can’t wait to do it again next year- this time maybe a little more prepared.
I promised myself that I’d never sign up for the Frozen Snot (referred to as “Snot” by seasoned registrants) after the last time I “ran” it. So, for almost 3 years I avoided it. Luckily for me, the race is capped at around 300 participants and typically sells out within an hour of the registration being opened. It’s a great excuse when people ask “why aren’t you signed up?”, I can just say, “oh sorry, dang, it was sold out!”
This year was a little different. Two of my co-workers convinced me to signup for the Sinnemahone Trail 25K Race, and despite the challenge of the course, I actually had a lot of fun. So when these same co-workers found out about Frozen Snot, they convinced me it’d be a good time. I must have taken my crazy pills because even though I was the only one with first-hand experience, I let them convince me that “yeah, it’ll be a good time”. Famous last words.
On the night registration opened, I received an eager group text from a co-worker saying he was signing up. With minutes to spare, I made the irrational decision to sign up and got in. This year’s race (2023) sold out within 40 minutes of the registration being opened, peer pressure is mother f**ker.
The Good Stuff
Despite the course difficulty and my whining, the race is run like a well-oiled machine run by a top-notch crew. Major kudos to the team for pulling this event off year after year, at what appears (from a participant’s perspective) like a seamless operation. The race staff and volunteers make Snot an experience unlike any other.
At a majority of the course exchanges, typically at the summit of each climb, there are friendly volunteers to greet you. There’s usually a fire going and comradery if you choose to stop and shoot the breeze. This year I took every opportunity to stop, and thank the volunteers, before continuing onward.
Some friendly ladies greeted me with a smile at the summit of the first climb and took my picture.
Did I mention there’s a bacon aid station? I kid you not, in the middle of what seems like nowhere, there is a rascally crew of volunteers cooking up bacon and offering shots of whiskey. This year, I stopped and had 5 or 6 pieces of bacon and soaked in the heat of the warm fire. I honestly could have just hung out for the rest of the day.
I cannot stress the sense of community this race brings. I have very limited knowledge of the people involved, but they do a damn good job of making you feel welcome. I cannot thank them enough!
The race swag is also pretty awesome, this year was a Yeti Rambler (a custom mug with the Snot logo), custom embroidered beanie, and finishers coffee mug!
The Ugly Side of Snot (at least the stuff I “hate”)
Let’s not get too carried away, the course and the elevation are no joke. From this road runner’s perspective and occasional trail runner, the climbing up isn’t the ugly side – it’s what waits on the descent. The course, depending on the year, can either be unyielding or just downright nasty. Thankfully the course was dry (frozen) and fairly runnable (even though I hiked the whole thing), so it was slightly not as bad. At least, that’s what I tell myself.
There are a lot of downhill sections that are pretty gnarly, to say the least. There are ropes to help on the descent in these sections, but (due to my lack of experience with ropes) felt like more work than they were worth. At least that’s the story I told myself as I baby giraffed wobbled my way down the slopes with my trekking poles.
The last time I ran Snot, there was a few feet of snow on the course, so I remember sledding down the last hill on my butt. This time around, there was no easy way down and I witnessed several runners hit the ground while trying to navigate these sections. A stark reminder of how tough and unforgiven the course can be.
My inexperience with ropes was my downfall. The last descent on the short course is the worst by far. It’s the steepest drop on the course and on a good day (if my legs weren’t smoked) I’d probably avoid it. At this point in the race, my legs and my brain stopped communicating. I hated every step down that last hill. Each jarring step reinforced how thrashed my quads really were.
I had an “a-ha” moment and I figured out that I actually went faster downhill when I used the ropes! The ropes almost act like a handrail and your brain stops trying to navigate and just lets you move. Of course, I didn’t realize this until the last 15-20 ft, so yeah, go me.
Before the last descent, I caught myself saying “I’ll run this again next year, it’s not so bad”. The last hill slapped me upside the head and knocked some sense into me, who am I kidding! I’m f**king done running this race!
That is… until next year’s registration and I get that group text starts up again. F**k, lemme think about it.
As a huge Casey Neistat fan I was really pumped when he announced he was launching an online film school. Casey promoted the school on his infamous YouTube Channel, and the promise to deliver something extraordinary was the only motivation I needed to sign-up!
If you’re a huge Casey fan, you’ll appreciate the behind-the-scenes look at his approach to filmmaking. The step-by-step breakdown of his process and watching him in action are incredibly motivating and inspiring.
If you are new to filmmaking and looking for a solid start: learning the basics of storytelling, knowing what gear to use, and getting an introduction to editing – this is a great stepping stone into videography.
If you like structured learning, this course is broken down into daily “classes” that teach one concept at a time. Daily modules, followed by prescribed and easy-to-follow homework instructions are also a huge bonus.
I hate to repeat myself but: If you’re a huge Casey fan, you’ll appreciate the behind-the-scenes look at his approach to filmmaking… and that’s about it. I really wanted this to be so much more and was kind of let down when the class just felt a little hoaky.
The class is designed to teach one concept a day. If you’re a somewhat intermediate filmmaker, one concept a day feels painfully slow and this is equally frustrating when it comes to getting a refund.
You can drop out of the program and receive a 100% refund, but only up until the second or third day of the class. And since the structure is one concept a day, you’re only scratching the surface of the overall content. So, yes, you can bail after days 2-3, but there’s the promise of so much more, that the fear of missing out (FOMO) will prevent you from leaving. The course is designed to keep you on the edge of your seat, with (as I discovered) somewhat empty promises.
Another major disappointment is that most of the concepts are things recycled from Casey’s daily vlog. So you avid fans of Casey will recognize these concepts right away.
In fact, here’s a video from 7 years ago (from the time of this writing) that pretty much sums up the course.
While it’s really cool to feel like a student of Casey, I can’t say my investment felt “good”. What’s even worse is that I didn’t walk away from the experience really learning anything that I haven’t seen on Casey’s vlog before.
Here’s a spoiler – STORY is the most important part of filmmaking. Everything else is secondary to the story you are trying to tell. Most of the concepts shared in this online school are things you can learn (for free) through simple Google and YouTube searches.
If you really want an in-depth look into how Casey approaches videos and want to watch him work, this is might be the course for you. However, I stress MIGHT given the price of the school and considering that Casey doesn’t reveal anything he hasn’t revealed in his nearly 300+ daily vlogs.
It’s going to be a hard pass for me to really recommend this to anyone.
Do you have a runner (or active individual) in your life and really looking to ROCK their holidays? OR are you active individual and looking to treat yourself with a little holiday cheer? Look no further than my holiday gift guide!
You’ve come to the right place!
I’ve put together a list of all my favorite goodies that should fit all your holiday shopping criteria!
Just a quick note: due to FTC guidelines, I should mention I’m an ambassador for a few of these brands, and as such have received products for free for me to review. I also have special affiliate links and discount codes for said products, so keep an eye out! These brands are marked with an asterisk (*)!
Products for those feet!
I’m not affiliated with any of these sock brands, but find myself using them often. Socks are an important tool in your runner’s arsenal. Equip them (or yourself) with the very best!
1. Brooks Running Run-in-3 Pack Socks(*) Brooks are my official go-to socks for 2021! These socks are lightweight, breathable, and comfortable for running and all day wear. Even more awesome is that they come in an affordable 3-pack!
2. Feetures Socks! Feetures are my second favorite sock brand! I have several pairs and can attest for their quality and durability! These make a great affordable stock stuffer!
3. Smartwool Socks! A close contender to my go-to’s, are these awesome widely available socks. Smartwool socks are durable, comfortable, and make great stocking stuffers!
Tech for those on the move!
1. Aftershokz Bone-Conducting Headphones*! These are the last pair of headphones you will ever buy. You read that right. Hands down, my life changed after I made the jump to Aftershokz! Right now there are sales being promoted just in time for the holidays. Check them out, you won’t be disappointed! I have first hand experience with all the models, each are designed to fit every budget and will make a GREAT gift.
2. Garmin Fitness Trackers(*) Garmin is the only brand I trust to log my activities! I have the Forerunner 235 and Fēnix 5X Sapphire and cannot recommend these enough. The forerunner models make a gift for the runner in your life. And if you’re really looking to make a statement, the Fēnix models will make the most adventurous person blush.
Products for Health!
1. Mantra Labs Chrono Bundle(*) When it comes to all around nutrition and energy management, Mantra Labs is my go-to. With their Chrono Bundle you can make the most of your day, everyday! Use discount code “mantrah25” to save 25% off your order! I love their Rise and Hydrate products!
2. GoodFor CBD Products*! My go-to pain-relief cream is the GoodFor brand cream, it’s the most effective topical treatment that helps relief aches and pains from intense workouts and activities. This makes a great stocking stuffer for the runner in your life, and is even more affordable when you use my discount code: KEN15
3. Science in Sport! After a workout recovery goes a long way into building your performance. I have been using SiS Recovery for the last month with no complaints. SiS formulas are vegetarian friendly and don’t contain any harsh or foul tasting chemicals. The chocolate flavor is my favorite! Science in Sport also carries numerous products to help your athlete make the most of their training.
Cold Weather Gear!
1. BUFF True Originals(*) Just in time for the cold weather! This gear has your head and face covered to help keep you moving no matter what the weather throws at you! Make sure you use visit: https://buffusa.com/bibrave and sign up for the newsletter to receive 15% off!
2. Brooks Running(*) Brooks is my brand of choice and I love all of their products (explains why they’re featured in nearly every category! You can go wrong with the Notch Thermal Hoodie or their awesomely comfortable Switch Hybrid Pants (great for running and lounging). The list doesn’t end their, be sure to explore their website and all their running gear!
Gear to say visible!
1. Brooks Carbonite Collection(*) be seen with the Brooks Carbonite collection. Not only are these threads super stylish, but they’re super functional!
2. Foxelli Head Lamp! This USB rechargeable head lamp has served me well over the years! Affordable (less than $20) and durable, this head lamp makes for a great stocking stuffer!
3. SlapLit LED Slap Lite! Looking to stay visible to others when running at night? Just slap this bracelet onto your wrist or ankle, press the button and let the flashing LED do the rest! For around $10 you can’t go wrong with the cheap insurance!
Energy for the Run!
1. MickFit Energy Drinks*! My go to drink for a bump of energy and refreshment! MickFit comes in various flavors that will satisfy any taste! I’m a HUGE fan of Guava Pear, and always make sure I’m stocked up! Use discount code: KEN10 to save 10%
2. Mantra Labs GO!(*) GO delivers clean energy that helps not only power you through a tough workout, but can also help fight that afternoon slump. Use discount code “mantrah25” for 25% off your order.
3. Honey Stinger Products! As a Honey Stinger ambassador I feel like it goes without saying, but I love their energy chews! And they make for great stocking stuffers! I carry the energy chews with me on all my long runs and have never been let down! If chews aren’t your game, give the waffles a try, honestly, you can’t go wrong! Honey Stinger products ROCK and the runner in your life will love them too!
4. Tailwind Nutrition! I use Tailwind products on all my long distance runs over 10 miles. Tailwind doesn’t hurt my stomach or give me trouble when I consume it on the move. Try out their starter pack to find what flavor works for the runner in your life (or you)!
You can neverhaveenough Tech hats!
1. Brooks Running Propel Mesh Hat(*) I have three of these hats and lot how lightweight and comfortable they are. They not only perform well, but come in different styles, so they’re super cool looking as well!
2. BOCO Gear! If you or your runner has a tech hat obsession like me, checkout BOCO Gear for all the latest and most awesome designs! And not to mention, BOCO gear has more than just hats, so check them out!
Rock the Holidays!
Anyway, I hope a few of these items will find their way into your home for the holidays! Make your runner’s (or your) holiday a hit and ROCK the season of gift giving!
Disclaimer: I received the Mantra Labs Chrono Bundle to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!
Check out my complete review on Youtube! You can save 25% on your order at www.gomantralabs.com by using discount code ”mantrah25” at checkout!
I’ve tried to do this before, and despite my best efforts, got sidetracked and never followed through on creating a daily vlog. But that changes, now. I realize that daily vlogs aren’t anything new or novel in the world of YouTube – but it does serve as a great challenge for those of us looking to hone our craft.
For me, this vlog will be a great daily exercise in storytelling, editing, and sharing. Hopefully, I’ll learn some tricks along the way, all of which I intend on sharing and teaching to anyone who cares to follow along.
Disclaimer: I received a BUFF®️ Original Multifunction Neckwear to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!
When I started running a few years ago I would look to more advanced runners for tips and tricks to make the most out of my running experience. Not only was I looking for running tips, but more importantly I wanted to see what gear they were using. And Buff(s) we’re at the top of the list!
Versatile, comfortable, and with multiple ways to wear, I can’t see why you wouldn’t add this to your list! Stock up just in time for the holidays, Buffs make a great gift (for yourself and others)!
Back in January we took the Peloton plunge and bought our bike. Now, granted it’s only been 10 months but I thought I’d share a few insights that may or may not help you decide if the Peloton Bike is for you.
I’ll admit, this is mostly geared towards the individuals who are leaning toward buying a bike. So, I’m going to lay out some tips to help you make the most of your Peloton experience.
I’m not affiliated with Peloton as an ambassador, I’m just a regular paying customer, so the following takeaways are my personal views. If you decide to purchase a Peloton Bike I have a code that will save you $100 off accessories, and trust me, you’ll want (some) of the accessories.
First and foremost, the cost. I may or may not have said this before, but the real deciding factor for us to take the plunge and buy a bike was because of two major factors:
Factor 1. Our local YMCA had closed its doors due to the pandemic (among other things).
Factor 2. Peloton offers 0% financing through Affirm.
The bike is expensive, no argument there, but if you take advantage of the financing through Affirm it makes purchasing a Peloton much more obtainable. I’m not affiliated with Affirm either, I’m just saying it’s what worked best for us in the long run. The way we looked at it was our budgeted monthly $80+ gym membership was now available and the perks of having the bike right in our home and ready to go at a moments notices was a win-win.
Also, the Peloton app has much more than just cycling alone. There are strength, stretching, yoga, meditation, running, and all sorts of classes that add to the experience!
My takeaway: (if it makes sense) cancel your gym membership and take advantage of financing through Affirm.
The bike comes in a variety of packages, we opted for the package that included: two (2) pairs of shoes, two (2) 3 lbs. weights, two (2) heart-rate monitors, two (2) headphones, two (2) water bottles, and a bike mat.
The weights are nice to have. I don’t have much input on them as I don’t use them as often as I thought. Also, you may be able to pick up a set for cheap if you shop around. Again, nice to have, but not necessary if all you’re going to do is strictly cycle. Classes like Bike Bootcamp, strength, and select rides utilize weights, but there are plenty of workouts without the need for weights.
The heart rate monitors are finicky to say the least. When they work they’re awesome, but when they don’t work it’s super frustrating. Having your metrics come and go during a ride is extremely distracting and robs you of the experience of getting a good ride in. If you want a good HR monitor, I would look into purchasing a Bluetooth/ANT+ brand that you trust- they’re plenty out there.
The headphones have been in their packaging for the last 10 months and I don’t foresee that changing. Our bike is in its own small room which helps with preventing its use from disturbing others. If you don’t need to be quiet, ditch the headphones.
The water bottles are glass. Read that again.
Trying to use the glass Peloton water bottles while riding gave me anxiety. Plus the lids screw on and off, which makes it double difficult to use during a ride. If you want easy fluid delivery during a ride, do yourself a favor and purchase cheap squeeze bottles. I mean, that is unless you want the fancy glass Peloton bottles.
My takeaway after owning and using the bike for the last 10 months: Get the shoes and get the bike mat – I would shop around for everything else.
Things to Consider
As I mentioned before, our bike is in its own small room. As such, it gets hot and steamy during the ride, like wicked hot. One thing I’d consider purchasing is a fan you can place on the floor (or wall) to help keep you cool. I bought a small high velocity fan from Lowe’s to keep the air moving around me during my rides- hands down, smartest investment.
Along those same lines, buy plenty of towels! We keep a towel on the handlebars to help catch sweat from soaking the grips, and I keep an extra towel on the weight rack to help dry off after the ride. There are custom designer mats you can place on the handlebars, but with our whole family using the bike we’re talking sweat city that we’d need 2-3 mats in rotation. It’s more cost effective to just buy cheap towels and keep them in rotation rather than having a designer mat.
You’re going to be spending some quality saddle time for a majority of the rides, and you’ll find out quick whether or not your butt agrees with the seat. To help ease your sweet cheeks, buy a gel seat cover! There are plenty available on the market, so shop around and find one that fits your budget.
My other takeaways: get a fan, get a bunch of cheap sweat towels, get a padded seat cover.
$100 off Code
Okay, you’ve made it this far. Here is my referral code good for $100 off accessories (like shoes, etc.):