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If it's here, I use it!
I actually use all of these products and share both positive and negative experiences. If you've got questions about any of my gear, whether it's listed here or not, feel free to drop me a line and I'll happily share my observations and experiences.
Some companies provided gear or supplies. For others, I'm a brand ambassador and get discounts in exchange for product feedback and sharing use cases. Still others support T1D empowerment by simply spreading the message to their own followers.
After I completed the Type 1 Diabetes Run Across America in April 2021, I began training for a 12.5 mile Swim Around Key West. One of the race's rules is that all food breaks must be done in the water, without touching the boat. That kind of narrows down your options to whatever you can put in a bike bottle and attach to a rope.
I quickly learned that old-school runner's gels gave me uncomfortable digestive problems. Some had electrolytes or protein, some didn't. And almost all of them were too "solid" to slurp down while treading water.
Somehow I stumbled across UnTapped #MapleEnergy. Did you know that maple syrup is not only high in potassium (electrolytes!), absorbs into the gut without discomfort, but it also tastes good?
BONUS POINTS: when you mix it into a whey shake in a floating water bottle, you get a nice high carb, high protein fuel break that tastes like a milkshake and can be swallowed easily. Yay! More time to swim!
When it comes to super-long distance running, the littlest things matter. Like wearing out a pair of shoes on your average cross-state run (and I don't mean Rhode Island!).
After years of sore feet from running in racing flats that were at best suitable for marathons, made worse by breaking my foot while swimming (I know, I know), I went in search of a lightweight, breathable running shoe with a decent cushion AND hard rubber lugs on the sole that would stand up to endless hours on chipseal, gravel, and dirt backroads. I ruled out Topos, Salomon, Altras, Hoka and a bunch of others.
I finally landed on the Inov-8 Roadclaw 275. It's half road-shoe, half-trail shoe, which is perfect for my runs which involve pavement, sidewalks, graveled right of way, light mud, and sand.
They were so comfortable that I wore a single pair of Roadclaws 339 miles across Iowa in 2018, and again during my fastest known time (FKT) across Texas in March-April 2019.
I added Inov-8's Terraultra G with their newest, super-durable graphene sole during my transcontinental run. Awesome for wet, muddy, steep road shoulders heading south from Tuscaloosa to Montgomery and into Florida.
I found LED Light Vest when looking for reflective illuminated safety vest for my first 200-mile run. I also have the NoxGear, which is fine for multiuse paths, but fades into oblivion when surrounded by car lights, streetlights, building lights and so forth.
I wanted a lightweight vest that wasn't heavy like a dental x-ray vest or swelteringly hot. It needed enough battery power for overnight runs, and visible at dawn and dusk, not just the darkest hours. And it had to be visible for up to a mile, with lots of reflective elements, not just a few little reflective bits.
This vest is designed by a Bosch automotive lighting engineer who's also a runner. Which explains a LOT about why this is the best reflective LED vest on the market.
Averaging almost 60+ miles/day during C2C, I ran a lot at night, draining batteries on my headlamps (Petzl Nao and Tikka, plus Coast FL75 & FL85).
But the LED Light Vest's clever design aims one row of LEDs at the road in front of you, just like a personal spotlight. So when my headlamps died, I just switched my vest to always-on mode and ran by that light.
The vest is so bright and unusual in appearance at night that during one training run, it literally frightened a dog into screaming as he jumped into his owners' arms. I'm serious.
This was the last thing I put on when I stepped out of the van to start running every morning, and as soon as the shadows starting lengthening near dusk, it went back on.
My Shelta Hats Raptor 2 desert running hat has a super-breathable top, firm, wide forward brim, and super lightweight and large Kalahari flap, plus drawstring neck cinch that fastens invisibly to the rear brim when not used.
My current version is actually high-vis orange, as you'll notice in almost all my recent photos.
It has a larger, firmer brim and more breathable top than the Solumbra, a neck drawstring like my Outdoor Research (which had no brim to speak of--odd for a desert cap), and the Kalahari flap fastens over the drawstring, removing the need for velcro on the head lining, which plagued me with my Raidlight. So this replaces all 3 of those hats.I cannot overstate how excited I am. This is a true transconner cap, and I am delighted to be beta-testing it for Shelta.
Here's something Shelta won't tell you: it's also a great loose dog deterrent. Whip this orange hat off, wave it assertively while you yell "No" like you mean it, and there aren't many dogs that'll keep coming towards you.
I've had my Orange Mud single- and double-barrel HydraQuivers ever since I started running ultras. Together with my Naked Running waistband, they carry everything I need to have on me for a crewed long-distance run: two 25-ounce water bottles, my regular eyeglasses, phone, Garmin InReach personal locator beacon, emergency glucose, my ID and blood sugar testing meter, lancing device and strips.
I experimented with Osprey, Ultraspire, and Salomon but just didn't find what I loved about the HydraQuivers: an innovative fastening approach with adjustable padded loops that fit under the arms, a weightless, perfectly balanced hydration load that beats chest/waist-mount hands down, bladderless design that doesn't make your back hot and sweaty, and lots of low-profile stash space. Unlike traditional hydration vests, it really lets me bleed off heat during summer runs.
Orange Mud's CEO Josh Sprague is an avid ultrarunner himself, and he's personally involved in product design. It's amazing what you can create when you're doing it for people who love the sport as much as you do.
See that electrical tower behind me? I couldn't either, but it's there. And yet, you saw ME. Kind of hard to miss a 6-foot-tall bumblebee.
I discovered See Me Wear during training for Ironman Texas. In a city like DFW, it's you vs traffic, even on "bike-safe" roads. When I ride, my bike is lit up like a Christmas tree, I follow traffic rules and ride where I'm supposed to. All that and STILL some crazy texting nutcase nearly hits you.
For this reason, my wife and I bought SeeMe bike jerseys as soon as we discovered them. Then Earle Bower, See Me Wear's founder, sent me one of their newly-developed #SeeMeWear hi-vis running shirts in March 2018 plus one of their new hi-vis cycling jackets and they all immediately became part of my longest training days during the runup to Texas and beyond.
I wore my #SeeMeWear shirts back-to-back for eight very long days during my solo version of RelayIowa, through fog, rain, and 4 AM runs trying to catch up after massive tornados brought the event to a temporary halt. They go right next to my insulin pump on my list of lifesaving equipment.
During my run across Iowa in 2018 I was still struggling to make the Medtronic system work. At one point when my hands were literally too dirty to risk a fingerstick test, my Medtronic started threatening that if I didn't calibrate it would drop into Manual mode. I was wearing my old Dexcom G4 as a backup and discovered that even IT was so accurate that I could use it to calibrate the Medtronic CGM.
I gave up on my Medtronic 670g insulin pump after 7 months and started using the Tandem t:slim x2 / Dexcom G6 combo exclusively.
We depend on the Dexcom Follow app not just as a safety net but as a way to tell Leslie what my sugar's doing as I come in from a stretch of transcontinental running. This app receives sensor BG readings from the transmitter via Bluetooth, then sends them to the cloud so she can watch what's going on.
If you know me at all, you know that I can never have too much safety, reliability, or accuracy in the stuff I use to deal with Type 1. Dexcom has literally made it possible for me to do this epic stuff.
For my epic runs across Texas and the US, I needed an insulin pump that was super-reliable, integrated with the Dexcom G6, and could intelligently guide blood sugars to normal by pulling them out of nosedives well in advance of an actual low blood sugar episode. I also needed a pump/CGM combo that offered the ability to manually adjust dosing for extended exercise without relinquishing safety features like Basal IQ. I love knowing that my pump will automatically temporarily suspend my basal if it predicts a low, and restart my basal once my blood sugar edges back up.
Since switching to the Tandem t:slim x2, my A1C has improved and I've gotten better control over blood sugar management during exercise. That matters a lot to me as an advocate for safe physical activity in Type 1 diabetes management.
When I ran my first 100-miler, my feet blistered at mile 49, and I ran 51 miles on soles that felt covered in bubble wrap filled with sulfuric acid.
I then discovered anti-blister socks, and ran 200+ miles with no blisters until mile 180. That was definitely an improvement.
When I ran across Iowa, I used my latest discovery: 2Toms Sport Shield. I made it to mile 300 before blistering, and then ONLY BETWEEN MY TOES. Yep, that was the ONE SPOT where I didn't use Sport Shield.
Ever since a motorist deliberately ran me off the road during the Honey Badger 100-mile race in Kansas, I've been jumpy about safety and visibility. It's no coincidence that two of my other sponsors are LED Light Vest and See Me Wear.
When I ran my first 200+ miler, I logged an average of 65 miles a day for 4 days, much of it overnight. One of the challenges was being visible enough on a lonely country road that if my headlamp ran low on battery, I'd still be visible by the headlights of oncoming vehicles.
Shoes and running shirts with a few reflective hits just didn't cut it for me. I wanted to be NOTICED!
Safety Skin is like an anti-chafe sports bar like BodyGlide mixed with sunscreen and bits of reflective dust. You barely notice it during the day, although because it contains zinc (like sunscreen), it helps keep the sun off your skin.
But at night, unlike sunscreen, it's super-reflective. I call it "war paint for night running" (check my legs in the photo!).
How much do I love this stuff? Before they were a sponsor, this was the ONLY thing I requested for my birthday.
One thing that happens a LOT on multi-hundred-mile runs is SWEAT. And when you've just inserted a $100 CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor) sensor (or insulin delivery pod), you don't want it coming off before its time is up. RockaDex is an adhesive "over-patch" that sticks down firmly and holds the edges of the sensor adhesive down. That and a little Skin-Tac, and your sensor is NOT coming off unless you PULL it off. And while I like the plain one in the foreground, they come in lots of colors!
I fuss over details. When to start a transcon in California such that I miss the rain and floods, arrive in Florida before it gets muggy, and minimize sub-freezing temps across the Continental Divide? Which route has the fewest rainy and windy days? How can I integrate that info into my spreadsheet for daily starts, finishes, and gear changes?
My wife / crew chief Leslie ran across Visual Crossing's route-based weather forecasting solutions for transport companies--which is incredibly helpful when you're out in the weather for nearly 100 days.
In 2019, my health insurer's Nurse Help Line called all their diabetic members to try to get them to exercise. The thing is, I had just set the fastest known time for a solo run across Texas. Typical example of why so many of us T1s are sick and tired of preconceptions from our healthcare "team."
Living with T1 actually starts with the head and the heart, not with medical advice. Before I started exercising around age 40, when my sugars were not good and I had become both inactive and overweight, THIS program is what I really needed instead of the frustrating and completely unhelpful conversations with RDs, CDEs & MDs.
I reviewed and completed BDL's courseware at no cost so I could decide whether to let folks know about it, and I thought it was great.
Type 1 diabetic and registered nurse Patricia Daiker's Better Diabetes Life is non-judgmental and focuses on your goals and diabetes management, not what everyone else thinks you should be doing. The clinically sound online program uses scientific principles of client-centered change. It's comfortable, effective, and very easy to use.