The Undress

Many local television stations have a reporter assigned to consumer issues.  Our local NBC station had a woman whose job was to cover consumer complaints against local companies; advice on homeownership, financial investments and retirement; and verifying whether a product really did what the manufacturer claimed it did.  That last segment was called “Does It Really Do That?”  She would take a viewer’s question about a product like some gizmo to wash off your dog’s muddy paws before they came in the house and see how well it worked (the dog foot bath was a dud).  I am trying out so much new running gear that I have started my own “Does It Really Do That?”  This week I am trying out the Undress.

The Undress

The Undress

The Undress was a Kickstarter project that launched September, 2014.  The Undress is promoted as the “first fashionable mobile changing room.”  Their slogan is “Change clothes in public without getting naked”.  I learned about the Undress from someone on Facebook.  I checked out their Kickstarter page.  They had a nifty video that demonstrated how the Undress worked.  I was intrigued enough to become one of their investors.

I wasn’t alone.  In the 39-day funding period, they raised over $615,000 from 7200+ backers.  The Undress is Kickstarter’s most funded women’s fashion project, most funded dress project, and among the Top 3 most funded fashion projects to date.

The Undress is a full-length halter-type dress with slits at thigh level in the sides.  You put the dress on and then slide the top under your running bra using a small plastic hook, putting the straps over your head.  With the top of the Undress in place, you can pull off the top layer – your wet running bra, for example – so that you can put on a new top.  To change your shorts, you put your hands in the slits to remove your shorts and pull on new ones.   When you have changed, you just slide the top out from under your top and take off the dress.  Presto, change-o!

The Undress has obvious appeal to athletes, yoga practitioners, beach goers, women who want to be more discrete in packed locker rooms, and travelers.  Actually, it appeals to any woman who needs a way to change clothes on the go when there aren’t changing facilities available.  No more struggling in the car to change or hiding behind towels held up by helpful friends.

I received my Undress a few months ago but never took the time to try it out.  One of my concerns was whether my arm, which isn’t back to 100% yet, would make it difficult to use the Undress.  Today I decided that I wanted to give it a try.

When I got back from my 9.5 mile run in the steamy summer heat, I pulled out my Undress.  I put it on according to the directions I remembered from their video. I was surprised at how easily the top slid under my sweaty running bra.  Normally I struggle to get my running bra off when I finish a run – I do contortions trying to get my bra over my arms and head.  But today it seemed like it was easier than normal to get it off.  I had plenty of fabric to remove my shorts without exposing anything too.

The Undress is so comfortable and the fabric is very soft.  I can see myself wearing it at the beach or pool as a cover-up too.  In fact, there are lots of ways to wear the Undress – their website has videos demonstrating how versatile this garment is.

I am heading out to run a half marathon this weekend.  I am packing my Undress so I can change after the race.  I would not be surprised if other female runners see me and ask about the Undress.  I have to tell them – yes, it really does that!

Interested in getting your own Undress?  Check out their website.  The Undress is handmade, one at a time, in the USA.  

Vacationing Experientially

Training for a marathon requires a 4-5 month commitment of early morning runs in all weather conditions, careful eating, cross training, and lots of rest.  When our family vacation falls in the middle of a training season, I have to figure out ways to fit in my training.

Last week we were on vacation with my friend Patsy in Montana riding horses and herding cows on a gorgeous 6,000 acre ranch – Hubbard’s Yellowstone Lodge.  There are not a lot of places to run there.  We were up in the mountains (elevation of over 5,000 feet versus 400 feet where I live) so altitude was a challenge.  This is grizzly bear country so I would have to run with bear spray.  That’s extra weight I don’t need to carry when I run.  I talked to my coach Leanne, an easy-going Aussie triathlete who helped get me running again following my diagnosis of Transverse Myelitis (TM) back in 2011.  She planned a week of strength and core training since I would not be able to run.  Leanne’s attitude kept me from stressing out about missing a week of running and let me sit back and enjoy the ride (horseback ride in this case).

I didn't get to run in Montana but I did stop in here for some new running clothes.

I didn’t get to run in Montana but I did stop in here for some new running clothes.

Herding cattle on a ranch comes under the category of an experiential vacation where you get hands-on experience being a cowboy.  As Boyd Farrow wrote in a recent article for United Airlines’ Hemispheres magazine, we traded “our days out of the office for an internship somewhere else.”  Rather than sit back and relax like a typical vacation, we were up with the sun, dressed in our jeans and cowboy hats, to help with the daily chores of managing 600-head of cattle.

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This was the second year that we stayed at Hubbard’s.  Our first year we spent learning the ropes – rounding up stray cattle, moving herds from one pasture to another, and splitting up a herd.  Call it Cowboy 101.  When we returned this year, we were experienced and ready to do more work.  We were a bit disappointed our first day when we moved a measly 6 cows that had gotten separated from the herd.  At dinner that night, we heard another couple talk about moving 60 cattle that day so we complained we wanted more work.  More work on vacation sounds a bit nutty.

Wraymon on his horse, Patch

Wraymon in the Gallatin National Forest

On the second day Wraymon, the wrangler who trained us last year, told us to start moving a herd to another pasture while he went higher up the mountain to get some stragglers.  We remembered all the techniques to use to push a herd along, through trees and thick brush, while watching for cows that were hiding or wandering off.  Everything went smoothly and I can say there was no cow left behind on our watch.  We moved 163 cattle and refreshed our horses by walking them up a creek.  It was just like the Westerns we watched on television as kids.

Walking through the creek to cool off the horses

Walking through the creek to cool off the horses

We had a full-day ride (7 hours) up into Gallatin National Forest which was part cattle work and part sightseeing.  It was exciting to  ride through a forest that is only accessible by foot or horseback.  We were treated to breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains plus moved cattle that had gotten on the wrong side of the fence.   According to Patsy’s Fitbit, we covered over 13.5 miles on that ride.  It seems odd to me that a Fitbit would capture steps while on horseback.  I searched the Internet about Fitbits and horseback riding.  From what I found, the Fitbit probably captured the horse’s movement.  Our horses covered a lot of ground that day.

One day there were cows that had gotten out on the county road.  Rather than take the horses out to herd two cows, we herded them back into the pasture on foot.  We pretended we had coconuts just like the knights in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”.

Although it seems like I didn’t get much of a workout riding a horse, I did.  Riding horses works different muscles.  I was working my legs, squeezing them to signal to my horse and maintain my seat when we jogged and loped.  To maintain my balance on the horse, I worked my core.  It is an intense workout – different than what I would get running but still beneficial.  It was like one week of cross training.  Every night we did a full-body stretch which helped minimize sore muscles, especially my abductors.  Plus I did the core and strength training routines Leanne had outlined in my training plan for the week.

I can tell when I have had a great vacation because re-entry into normal life back home is very difficult after a great vacation.  I have been struggling the last few days to get back into my normal routine.  I missed a long run and it keeps getting pushed out, waiting for me to recover.  I know I will get it in eventually.   The other day we drove past a field of Black Angus.  My husband and I looked at each other.  We felt like hopping on horses and doing some herding.  We’ll have to wait until we can get back to Hubbard’s.

The view from the back of our lodge at Hubbard's.

The view from the back of our lodge at Hubbard’s.

Hubbard’s Yellowstone Lodge is an Orvis flyfishing and horseback riding lodge on the north border of Yellowstone National Park.  The best testament to the quality of Hubbard’s is the number of repeat guests.  The scenery is incredible – this is what they mean when they say “million dollar views.”  The staff is extremely attentive and friendly.  Last year I wanted sarsaparilla but it wasn’t something that they kept on hand.  This year they made sure to stock up for me and I got to enjoy sarsaparilla floats for dessert.  If you have a cowboy adventure or fly-fishing on your bucket list, make your way to Hubbard’s.  They will give you an experience you will never forget.

In case you missed it last week, Lily Trotters launched their Kickstarter campaign.  Early birds get the best deals on the best and cutest compression socks.  I can’t wait to get more pairs.  Don’t miss out!

Vacation

Sorry to be late with a blog post for this week but I am on vacation in Montana.  I will have lots to share about that next week.  Surprisingly, I have found ways that riding horses helps with training for marathons.

In case you missed it, Lily Trotters launched their Kickstarter campaign for their compression socks.  Horseback riding really can fatigue my leg muscles.  I have been wearing my Lily Trotters at night to recover and get ready for the next day’s ride.  Check out their Kickstarter campaign and get what I think are the best and the cutest compression socks.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/972434451/lily-trotters-sassy-and-sporty-designer-compressio

Trotting Out in Compression Socks

I have mentored several runners through their first marathons.  I told them all to think of training runs as “dress rehearsal” for race day.  The number one rule of marathoning is you should never wear/eat anything new on race day.  You don’t want to get out there and find out those snazzy new shoes you bought at the Expo really don’t feel so good at Mile 12 or that new sports drink makes you sick.  Getting picked up by the sag wagon due to running gear issues would just waste months of training.

I am in training mode for the Berlin Marathon.  I am using my training runs to try out all the new nutrition, hydration, and running gear that I picked up at Expos this spring.  I will be sharing my opinions with you (and maybe save you some money on things that I find aren’t so great).

Today I have to tell you about the most incredible compression socks that I tried – Lily Trotters.  They are getting ready to launch a Kickstarter campaign and they generously sent me a pair to try out.  Within the running community, there is a debate about the benefits of compression socks.  Even Runners World recently stepped into the fray and had an article on the compression sock debate.  Lots of my running buddies wear them.  I have tried compression socks in the past but never felt comfortable running in them or even wearing them after a run.  But Lily Trotters makes a compression sock that is unlike the others I have tried.

My Lily Trotters!

My Lily Trotters!

First off, the Lily Trotters socks are easy to get on.  I found the other compression sock brands are almost impossible to get on.  It is like a wrestling match to get them over my foot.   And heaven forbid if they don’t line up correctly when I pull them up.  I have to wrestle with them again to pull them down and straighten them out.  I shouldn’t have to fight to get my clothes on or off.  (In case you are wondering, I had been measured and was wearing the correct size.)  The Lily Trotters folks must know how that feels because putting on their compression socks is easy peasy.

Second, the Lily Trotters are not excessively tight in the toe box.  Toes are important for balance and for running.  My toes like to stretch and move around in my shoes.  David Carrier, a biologist at Brown University, along with his colleagues Kathleen Earls and Norman Heglund, analyzed people walking and running to see how they used their toes.  They found that toes are like the gears in a car.  Our toes help us accelerate from standing still or going from a walk to a run – a bit like going from first to second gear.  I need my toes to be able to wiggle around so I can get into a higher gear and run.  The other brands of compression socks bound my toes tightly together.  My poor toes felt like they were being strangled.  It was painful.  My toes were not helping me run.  The Lily Trotters let me wiggle my toes.  I don’t feel like my socks are holding me back.  The Lily Trotters even feel great when I wear them all day – happy toes, not strangled toes.

Finally, the Lily Trotters have fun colors and designs.  The other brands of compression socks are not attractive.  I always looked like I was wearing something that I got at a hospital.   I am not a vain person but I like to have a little style, even when I run.  Lily Trotters socks look so good I would enjoy wearing them when I am running on the trail or to the store.

I will be honest – I still love my Balega socks.  My legs need to breathe in warm weather and high socks seem to make me hotter.  I definitely will keep wearing my Balegas for warm weather runs.  But I will try running again in my Lily Trotters when the weather is cooler.  I think they would be perfect for cold weather running when my Balegas are a bit too chilly.

I love wearing my Lily Trotters after a long run to help with recovery.  I did a long run right before I hopped on a plane for a 2-hour flight.  I wore my Lily Trotters on the plane and was amazed at how wonderful my legs felt after sitting so long.

I guess I am a bit like Goldilocks with compression socks.  They can’t be too tight or too loose.  They need to have just the right amount of support without strangling my toes.  Lily Trotters do just that for me and they look great doing it.  Lily Trotters made me a compression sock convert.

Lily Trotters will be launching their Kickstarter campaign on July 14.  I signed up to be notified when the launch happens.  I want to get more Lily Trotters in the other fun designs.  Here is a link to their website so you can sign up to be notified for early-bird discounts.