Sunday, April 27, 2014

Some post Sonoma thoughts and what's next

  • Recovery has been tough.  It took me till Thursday to walk without any limp.  Friday I could go down stairs with no gait change for my sore left calf.  But Saturday's 5 or 6 mile road run, my first run since the race, did not feel good.  Left calf hurt basically the whole time, quads felt strained the last few miles, just not a great run.  Into the next week Monday didn't feel much better.  Hiking up was ok, but the run down was not.  Tuesday somehow though I didn't feel my calf at all really, but right hamstring was tight most of the way, too tight.  Had a massage Wednesday that helped and Thursday I ran 5 mile on the treadmill between classes at the pool and nothing hurt, but that hamstring still felt a little tight.  It's coming along, but definitely slower than other races.  I attribute it to the constant rolling nature of the course, me consciously pushing through a calf that hurt during the race, the fast pace I held for most of the 50 miles, definitely a faster pace than in my 100k's last year since this course was more runnable than they were, yet still hilly so even more I asked from my body.  Add some heat exhaustion (the gal that finished 10th mentioned in her post how bad I looked at mile 45, very pale and suffering) and probable dehydration and I just simply asked a lot of my body.  I said I wanted to leave it all out there and be willing to have to recover for a while and have and am apparently accomplishing both.  This week I will get back to more regular training
  • I am very happy with my 8th place finish.  Granted there were a fair amount of ladies that didn't show up for the race that were ranked ahead of me going in, I really wanted to see how I'd do against Rory Bosio for one, but I moved up places still and finished in front of ladies ranked ahead of me.  No one passed me after mile 13, and the ladies that did before that I passed.  I am overall happy with how I handled the race.
  • I've been asked how to have a good, fast 50 mile race since Sonoma.  I don't think there's any magic answer.  Train well, rest well, eat well, sleep well, think well.  Race smart.  Be conservative the first half and don't get caught up in other people's races.  Be happy out there and believe in yourself.  Stay on top of nutrition and hydration and electrolytes. Set a watch timer if needed.  Keep it simple - supplies, stops, race planning.  Believe you can do what you want.   

So what's next?  Well today is my 3rd child Kaitlyn's 6th birthday to start!  She's such a cute blonde, blue eyed beauty and is the child running beside me in my blog header pic.  I live for my children and husband and these 2 weeks 'off' have been good to focus more on them and my home.

I am getting itchy for a triathlon, it's true.  I feel like my running that I want to do this year, and I do want to focus on it, are kind of blocking out any time to race a tri.  I don't even have to be well trained for it, I just want to fit a couple in if possible.

I mentioned a couple weeks/months ago I believe, a big change coming for me soon.  It is not a baby, it is nursing school.  I have been on a waiting list for 3 or so years and figured I'd see what life was like when it got here.  Well, it got here and is really in my hands for the taking.  If I don't say yes to it I'll have to apply to another program which means re-taking prereq classes to up my GPA and working more in the field for work experience to be chosen to attend a program.  There are no more waiting lists in my state.  Nursing in my blood, my mom has been a RN and Nurse Practitioner for 30 years and my sister an RN for almost 10 so I find it interesting, but I have never had a passion to be a nurse, never aspired to it as others have.  I LOVE being at home with my kids and do not lack any sense of fulfillment being at home with them.  Some women may and that's ok, but I am perfectly happy here.  I have however always felt an inspiration to be prepared to support my family should the need ever arise.  And so after much prayer and talk with my husband and others, I am going for it.  4 semesters, summer off and an associates RN degree.  I start the end of August.  My mom thinks I won't be able to train and compete like I do now which is somewhat true, but I'll still need and use it for stress relief.

And finally, the next big races on my agenda.  Timp Trail Marathon on May 24th, a race I did last year that beat me down a bit.  Muddy rainy conditions like the last few years I've done the half (you'd think I'd learn by now), but I know I could have done better regardless.  I will race it but not 100%....because....I'm doing my first 100 mile race, the Bryce 100 June 14th.  I'm ready to get this body 100% healthy again, get some more training in, and get down to this race!  I waited till this year to do my first 100 to be sure I was healthy and prepared.  7 weeks!  Counting down the days now!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Lake Sonoma 50!

Long post here, lots of details, pics, and thoughts.  The actual race report starts halfway down. 
My kids had spring break the week of Sonoma but weren't coming out with my husband and I, so my mom guilt had me pack a whole bunch of fun into the two days before we left including a trip to the zoo.
Love these monkeys
Dropped the youngest three off with Grandma and headed to the airport with our oldest child who saved the money to buy a plane ticket to fly alone to Michigan to see my twin sister and husband and their 5 month old baby.  She saved for a year and I'm really proud of her!  I have been excited for her for weeks and not nervous at all, but man did I cry when she boarded the plane! We stuck around her gate until I couldn't see the plane any longer then headed to our own gate.  Uneventful flight to San Francisco until the end when a woman sitting behind us asked if I was Leslie.  It was Meghan Hicks from I Run Far, a big ultrarunning website.  I was flattered she knew who I was.  I enjoyed our conversation as we walked through the airport and was a little giddy for a while.  It got the race excitement going a bit :)
Surprised, I replied yes and she explained she turned her phone on at landing and Facebook suggested we be friends.  That along with my husband and I both wearing Altra's, she put it together - small world eh?  She also remembered my cute purple butterfly compression socks from Katchina. Love those socks
Jeremy and I spent the rest of the day walking around San Francisco and stayed in a great hotel with a wonderful view of the Bay Bridge I woke up several times to look at, despite the wonderful bed.  The next day we both happened to wake up early so headed out on a run to explore more of the city.  Enjoyed the trolley and cable cars some and ran some, keeping my taper happy.  We saw all the classic sights, it was great!  Jeremy travels a lot for work with Altra so he's a good travel companion to have.
Later that day we picked up the rental car and I realized I was going to be out of Elete soon, the electrolyte additive I use religiously Wed, Thur, Fri before a race, in everything I drink.  I don't carbo-load, but I do basically water load, being sure I'm always drinking, and this Elete helps the water absorb well and prime my body to race.  It was a big deal to me, we really needed to find some.  I was expecting a package before we left, but turns out it showed up after we left for the airport.  After making a million phone calls and throwing a bit of a tantrum to my poor husband, I found some - at a women's fertility acupuncturist office of all places, Wu's Healing Center.  The woman there was so kind and had a great spirit about her.  I have a passion for fertility and women's health too and consider it a pleasure to have made this connection. 
Let the pre-race Zen resume
Anyway, moving on up the coast, we stopped and said hi at San Francisco Running Company, a great store.  Then headed up to the Muir Woods and camped overnight below Mt Tam.  I loved it, I love camping, and it's easy when there aren't babies with you to keep quiet and warm :)  Jeremy headed out on a 15 mile run through the forest and down to Stinson Beach while I packed up and made the drive down.  What a drive it was!  I was so jealous of his run.  I LOVE forests and green and ferns and fog.

Thursday evening drive to the top of Mt Tam.  Fog over the ocean and beautiful green grass and flower covered hills.  Even saw 3 turkeys on this hill, a tom all feathered up to impress the hens. They're the dark spot on the center hill.  A trail ran across the hillside too, took serious self restraint to not jump out of the car.
The beautiful 4 mile road down to Stinson Beach Friday morning.  I love fog and ferns
 So lovely.  Drove up the Hwy 1 another hour or two enjoying the sights and smells (seals, sea air, BBQ oysters) until finally getting into Healdsburg.  Checked into the host hotel (beautiful rooms and wine country design, so beautiful that from the pictures on their website I was totally shocked the hotel was right off the freeway on a busy street, not in a vineyard) and we drove up to Lake Sonoma to check the trails out.  I brought 3 pair of shoes with me to decide between (new One^2, Lone Peak 2.0, Torin 1.5) and I really needed to see the trails for myself to decide.  Really any of the 3 would have been fine, but I went with the Torin 1.5 for it's lighter weight and added cushion that would hopefully cushion the quads a little.  The road sole would do fine since the trails weren't rocky or technical except in a few sections.  Back for dinner and off to bed before I even did any gear packing.

Woke up at the abnormal hour of 3:30am to eat.  It's crazy to get up that early, but I
wanted to get my gut moving before the race, not during.  It was nice though, to sit in the quiet on the floor sorting through my nutrition and gear and packing my drop bags.  I felt peaceful.  I brought only enough nutrition for what I knew I'd need so I could pack light, I like that plan.  Usually I bring 7 of everything, nutrition, gear and clothing :)  I was going to be using 3 drop bags on this out and back course and don't use GPS but did calculate what time I would be to each drop bag aid station based on my goal time of 8:15, and then packed exactly what gels and any pills I would need to pick up at that aid station for the next segment in a ziplock bag inside the drop bag that also had a few extra pair of socks.  But I really liked having the labeled zip lock bags that I didn't have to think what to take out of it, Jeremy and I knew that whatever was in those bags I would take, no questions.  Planned for my typical mainly Vfuel gel diet with a few caffeinated Gu's sprinkled in too.  And of course Coke at aid stations, love coke in racing.  Also decided to go with the UltrAspire Quantum belt with two 5oz water flasks (great deal on it at TAUR) and would hold a collapsible 8oz soft flask, also with water.  I showered, got dressed, and off we went.
The Actual Race Report
Only arrived 15 minutes before the start but it was enough.  Ditched the ironically-at-a-trail-race long potty line and ran off to the bushes, pinned the number on, tied the shoes again and we were off!  The first several miles are on a rolling paved road.  Was fun to see cars pass us and cheer including Jeremy.  The mood was light, the fog was heavy and lovely and this day was starting!  I hung back away from the lead ladies, probably in about 15th place.  No big deal, we had ALL day.  Got onto the trail and got to work.  My body felt a little like we were working a little harder than we should have and I was conscious not to push too much, but it took at least an hour or so to really get into a groove where my breathing was finally quiet, a big indicator I use to tell me if I'm being conservative.  It was all very rolling and I power hiked a lot, even if the hills weren't long, and that took patience, but I believed it would pay off.  I also didn't feel great on the first few hours of downhill for some reason and tried to hold those back a little too while others around me were audibly slamming down them.  Patience.  Had to exercise patience.  And while there were lots of hills, there were a few flat-ish sections that were easy to run too.  Made a quick potty stop behind a tree, the only one of the day thankfully.  Crossed our first water crossing I was looking forward to, a beautiful almost knee deep pool of water below a moss and fern covered black rock waterfall.  And with the foggy misty morning under a canopy of green?  So picturesque.  I just smiled and laughed as a I jumped right in with a lady next to me gingerly stepped in.  The shoes were soggy for a few minutes but I didn't notice them after that.  One more small crossing after that.  Crossed the big river I'd seen pictures of and just smiled.  It was fun!  My husband was on the other side waiting to bring me into that 11.6 Warm Springs aid station.  He got a picture then sprinted up the hill to be ready to help me.  We got me in and out of there quick.  Came into that first drop bag aid at mile 11.6 at 1:47, the fastest split I'd written (I wrote splits for a 4:00, 4:10, and 4:15 25.2 turnaround, 4:10 was an even split 8:15).  I was on 4:00 pace.  This was at least comforting knowing if it felt like I was working hard at least I was ahead of schedule.  Didn't want to go too hard though, it was time to quiet the breathing.
From there we stayed in shady forest, I got a little confused which way to go at a fork and stopped for 30 seconds or so before thankfully choosing the right way.  Crossed another wider river and started more climbing.  I never thought the climbing that bad really.  There were 1 or 2 climbs the first half that were leg burners when hiking, but not horrible.  The forest opened up more into exposed grassy trails.  Came up to an aid station I wasn't planning on stopping at and stopped for whatever reason, Coke probably.  They had jelly beans so I looked real quick for a buttered popcorn flavor, no go, so I grabbed just one and left, and they laughed at me and my 1 jelly bean.  Saw Bryon from IRF at the top of  a hill and teased him about doing interviews up there, he hollered back asking how I liked zero drop shoes.  He got me.
I had been running in 13th place most of the race and staying right at those faster 4:00 split goals.  About mile 23 or so I started coming up on another lady, Caroline. The first time all day. She wasn't keen to let me go but was friendly.  This really was the first time I'd talked to another racer all day.  Not that they weren't friendly (I'd spend the next hour saying hi and good job while facing runners heading toward the turnaround), I was just mostly in my own head and on my own. She would pull ahead on the downs pounding them harder than I was willing to but I'd catch her while power hiking back up another.  Meghan from IRF told us we were in 11th and 12th.  I did eventually pull clear ahead about half a mile from the aid station and that's when I started running faster.  I was proud of my body for feeling this way 25 miles into a faster and hilly race and I told it that.  I told my legs and stomach and feet and head each how well we were all doing.  May sound cooky but I believe strongly in positive thinking.  My body and mind and heart were working together well and they deserved praise.  I ran into the aid station happy and feeling good and left quickly.  Was going to go from my Quantum belt to the Spry pack, but was perfectly content with what I had so I stayed with it.  Came into No Name Flat, mile 25.2 at 4:01 and left at 4:03.  Perfect.  I was happy that if I did fade I had some wiggle room to work with to get to 8:15.
Caroline and I after No Name AS I believe
Leaving the aid station I saw Caroline back in front of me.  I think I said "Crap!" out loud.  I complemented her on fast aid station and wished her a good race.  She said something about not letting me go just yet, but I pulled ahead for the last time.  Got to go down the big long dirt road we'd been up recently and I was feeling great.  That downhill was awesome and my legs really let me run it fast.  Approached the next aid station and yelled out "1 jelly bean please" and again they laughed :) I didn't stop this time but told them I'd love a buttered popcorn.  Rounded a corner and switchback onto the trail running past and under the aid station to a volunteer that had scrambled down the side of the hill with - you guessed it - 1 buttered popcorn jelly bean!  I gave her a hug and thanked her very much.  That was neat service.  Thank you Madrone Point Aid Station volunteers!
 This was about mile 30.  Pretty sure I PR'd my 50k time.  I put my music on at this point and ran fast and feeling great but not feeling like I was pushing too hard for the next 8 miles.  During those next 8 I would spot a lady or two ahead of me and get excited.  I wanted to be conservative the first half, but I did have my doubts about anyone in this very talented field tiring out for me to catch.  It was definitely a confidence booster when I did catch them.  I ran into that Warm Springs aid station again at mile 38 in 8th place.  I was a bit more tired but still felt good.  Ran across that river happy and motivated, still on track to run 8:15. I only had 12 miles left! In fact, I was still under pace.  I wondered if I could get under 8:15 and maybe even catch a girl or two.  6 is my favourite number, maybe I could get there.
Feeling good and strong
I ran across the river again and things started getting hard.  The sun was out, the fog and mist gone, and my effortless pace from 22-38 wasn't there.  It was time to work.  I knew I was slowing down so I focused on keeping up on nutrition.  I told myself I would take a gel 10 minutes before finishing if I had to, none of this "I'm almost there I'll be fine" business.  It seemed all the landmarks I was looking for that I had placed in my head from the morning were taking much longer to get to me.  The two small crossings, wider trail, bridge, where were they?  I wasn't stopping, but I was walking a lot more.  Ironically the downhill was fine, my legs felt heavy enough that nothing hurt and at least I could let gravity help me there.  But my head was starting to feel like it was full of pressure, I was just waiting to see spots, there were times a hiker would pass me and I thought maybe I should ask them to walk beside me for a minute.  It was kind of scary.  I knew it was going to take longer to get to the last aid station at 45 but I hoped I'd be reasonably within my splits, simply for water reasons.  I am confident in the 18oz at a time I chose to carry, but this one 7 mile stretch I could have used a little more.  We were 2.3 miles from that last aid station and I was about to go through the last water crossing.  Moving behind schedule I had just finished off the last of my water so decided to fill that flask in the stream.  Don't like doing that but I would surely drink it before passing out.  I knew my other flask was empty so don't know why I even thought to check it, but right before drinking the stream water I did check it - and it was full.  A true heaven sent blessing.  I thanked the Lord and drank it and poured the stream water on my head and chest.
Not sure where this is, it wasn't in the current suffer zone of 40-50,
but my face reflects the harder work there - the running legs, not so much ;)
 We did eventually get to the turnoff for the 1/4 mile down to the 45 mile aid station and it was such a sense of relief.  I should have gotten there 7:20-7:25 based on my mile 38 split (and every one before that) but arrived 10 minutes late at 7:35.  Doesn't sound that bad in retrospect, but in that heat and where I really haven't run in any heat this year, it was quite the delay.  I saw the gal in yellow that had been ahead of me and in sight and at one point as close as 30 seconds away.  She looked good and now had several minutes on me.  The volunteers asked what they could get me and I replied "a finish line".  Filled all my water, downed a cup of coke, cooled off with their water and left.  The sooner I got moving again the sooner I could be done and deal with this heat exhaustion I knew was an issue for me and could get worse.  I saw 9th and 10th place 1/2 mile behind me as I got back on the trail.  They were moving well and I was sure it was a matter of time before they caught me. 
I maybe felt a little better knowing the volunteers said I had 4.7 left.  I was going to walk the whole darn thing if I had to, I just had to keep moving.  I used more motivating self talk than I probably ever have.  My legs didn't particularly hurt, they were tired and heavy and my energy levels were ok, but the heat was brutal for me.  When I walked I walked as quickly as I could but walked fairly slow up hills and I really tried to run if it was flat and made myself run if it was downhill.  As much as I wanted to keep my position in the top 10, I mostly just wanted to be done.  Those last 5 are brutal.  You know you have to finish up high, on top of all the other hills, so when you head down a hill after going up one, it's tough.  That happened several times.  We'd head up for almost a mile only to plunge back down and you knew you'd simply have to go right back up.  A few hikers were out and one said I had 3 mile to go. I thought surely he doesn't know what he's talking about.  I did the math for my 4.7 left and figured I'd be in by 8:25, and yet I was still going with no end in sight.  Later on someone else said just under 2 miles and I don't even think I was relieved, more like "crap, that first hiker was right".  I ran as much as I could and knew it had to end sometime and reached my neck around every corner hoping that was it and boy does this course lead you on.  You truly can't see the finish until 49.5 and then you still don't go directly there :)  I was finally running down the chute and was so happy I'd hung on to 8th, even thought I'd gotten under 8:30 as the
clock said 8:28 (turned out the clock had frozen there I guess, what luck), and I was even more happy to be done, not have to run any more, and to be able to cool down.  My finish picture from IRF reflects that, blah.  I really should have put on my happy face and smiled, and next time I will.
8:34, 8th place woman, 50th place overall out of 300 finishers.   I did what I wanted, came in ranked 24th, ran 13th most of the day, and finished top 10! I really am ok with my time too.  It was only 19 minutes slower than I planned, and I know I could have run that had I run more hills and dealt with the heat better. I think I could have moved up a spot or two as well but am going to own my results and be very happy with how I did, it's just nice knowing I can do better in the future.  And I'm pleased that my first and second half splits are pretty much the same difference in time as the top ladies.  That said, don't let me fool you and sound like it was no big deal.  I think Lake Sonoma 50 was probably one of the two or three hardest races I've ever done.  Oh, and I AM SMASHED today.  More than either of my 100k's.  I wanted to leave it all out there and have to recover and boy did I and am I.  I seriously got pity looks in the airport as I looked crippled and after we picked my daughter up from her flight she asked what was wrong with me, why did I have to hold onto her to walk :)  I had to have 2 different neighbours run after my 2 year old who was taking off for the park as I knew there was no way I could catch her.  I had a massage from Heber at Body Worx and I hope things will start improving soon, but I am really hammered.  And I am so glad!
What a pleasure to race on such a beautiful course. 
I just loved the fog and mist of the first hours of the race. I believe this is the men's leader
I Run Far wrote a summary article about the race that I saw after someone else pointed it out.  I am more than flattered to have a paragraph written about me including "She’s the biggest breakout story in the women’s race, for certain."  Wow.  I am so happy with this race and my body and family and friends and support system.  It's good to be alive!

Here is a video another athlete made that shows pretty much the whole course including 1 of 2 dogs I stopped to pet at 8:45 and myself around 10:15. Good hilly times 

What I can improve:
Be willing to switch to a vest or do whatever necessary to carry more water as it heats up.  You never know if you'll slow down.
Run more hills within reason.  I wanted to be conservative but I probably could have run a few more than I did
Don't stop at the aid stations I wasn't planning on.  If I have enough fluid and calories on me, no stopping. 
Stick around after the race and socialize a little longer if not feeling like death.
Smile at the end - I do this because it's fun.  Even when it hurts it's a privilege

What I did well:
Hydration system worked well, had just enough water except 1 section.  Soft flask was easier to carry than a hand-held and was nice to collapse and store in the front pocket when empty.
Ziplock food packing was perfect, no wondering what I should grab
Gel every 30 min.  Could have maybe even moved it up to every 25 minutes in the last two hours.  Maybe.
Didn't mess with the ipod.  Let the music shuffle and had Yurbud cord behind me rather than in front and had it in place before the race started even though I didn't turn it on till hour 5.
Ran my own race.  Power hiked a lot more than others, didn't slam the downs, but it aided me in the end.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Sonoma training and goals

Well, my big race for the spring is in 5 days.  The Lake Sonoma 50 mile.  A cool old school feeling race.  The race director says go.  No arch, no balloons, no big sound system.  300 people, no pacers.  A very rolling relentless up and down, out and back course around the edges of Lake Sonoma (90 min north of San Francisco) with 3 larger climbs in the middle.  10,500 feet of climbing and an equal amount of descent.  Smooth buffed out trails and 12 creek crossings that could be anything from dry to knee deep.  I'm excited about those, I always thought that would be an epic fun thing
to do in a race.  Temps should be in the 50-70's so warmer than I'm used to but should be ok, especially with the chance to get wet often.  My husband Jeremy and I are flying out together for a fun little trip with this race so he'll be my crew.  I want to be in and out of aid stations as quickly as possible and right now am planning on using a pack so don't plan on stopping at every aid station.  It's a beautiful course with lots of good aid stations I'm sure, so why move through it so quickly?  Check out this starting list
Starting list featuring estimated finish times.
This is a absolutely elite stacked field  I'm 24th right now and I fit into the same screen as the 1st place ranked woman.  That's pretty cool!  I want to be top 20 for sure but the real goal is top 10 (there might even be a secret goal beyond that).  I've been training for an 8:15.  I'm going to run hard and smart and leave it all out there.  Plenty of time to recover before my next big race. 

I've been working hard this year, of course you always wonder if you could have done more, but I do believe it's better to be under trained than over.  After UROC 100k in September I ran a PR marathon, trained real road speedwork for 6 weeks before another PR marathon, built a good speed base.  Took a few weeks off and ran 24 miles to work with Jen around New Years.  This winter I've done some snowshoeing with friends, solo quiet winter running, even a day of skate skiing that kicked my butt.  I've run in reasonable conditions and crappy ones.  I ran the Moab 55k in February and the Buffalo 50k in March.  My husband's been really supportive as have my friends, all good people.  A new friend and Altra elite athlete Duncan has helped me with coaching the last several months.  Everyone has let me bump my own selfish many questions off of them while mentally preparing for this race.  I've been strength training a little, rolling and stretching often, nourishing my body well.  I feel good about things. 
A difficult condition windy rainy run this winter, but one I pushed through and felt so strong on
 I recently read a blog from a fast lady named Larisa who was doing a training run in a 20 mile race that ended up in a break through moment PR race.  Here is an excerpt she wrote that stuck with me:

"Mile 18.  Why am I not fading? Emotions scream inside me. Never before have I felt so strong so late in a race. A voice from deep within encourages me to go harder. To reach towards that boundary that separates the safe from the uncontrollable.
I accept the challenge and I push. Hard.
The final 2 miles zip by in a blur. I see the finish chute. I expect 2:10, but the red neon clock reads 2:04. That can’t be right.
I stop my watch. Check the data, this can’t be real....
That can’t be right. But it is...
It’s those unexpected, breakout moments in life that keep us motivated and pushing hard towards goals that sometimes seem impossibly out of reach."

I want to have a day like that.  I will have a day like that.  A day like I've had in my last several races, where I surprise myself.  I have a strong mental mind and I am prepared for any complications, but I don't entertain the thoughts of them before a race.  I have high goals, and I'm not going to lower those goals, I'll just meet them.  If you want to watch there is live coverage of the race here.  See you next week!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

FLEXR water bottle and belt review

Come on, admit it.  How often have you added something to your water bottle- juice, electrolyte drink, carb drink, protein, etc- finished it, and then found it in the car or your bag or garage days or weeks later?  I know I have.  This might be a solution

I was sent a box of goodies from FLEXR Sports to review.  It included several water bottles, liner refills, and a neoprene running pouch/belt.  They have been very kind and generous with their customer service. 
The basis of their company is creating a more flexible water bottle with biodegradable disposable liners.  From FLEXR:
  • No more water sloshing, crinkling, or annoying noise, thanks to the biodegradable bottle liner which shrinks as the liquid is used, making it feel
    more like a solid.
  • No more harmful bacteria or annoying aftertaste, no more bottles to clean, thanks to the disposable fully biodegradable liner.
  • Ergonomic shape and feel allowing comfort for miles upon miles.
  • Very flexible and squeezable, fitting your hand comfortably enabling you to get your water or favorite mix on the go.
  • Air space between liner and bottle act as an insulator to keep fluids cooler longer.
  • Patented one way jet stream valve, for accurate and precise flow.
  • Extremely aerodynamic when turned sideways (great for on the bike). 16oz capacity.
  • Designed by athletes for athletes and all materials made in the USA. US patent pending.

FLEXR's shaped bottles,
lots of colors & additional size options
 Now as for my own experience, I did find the 16oz water bottle to be a little more flexible to squeeze and comfortable to hold.  It comes in several different fun colors and works with a very basic but functional sleeve that with a hand strap and small pouch big enough for a key and gel or two.  Each bottle comes with one 25 count roll of bags.  Additional rolls are $2.95 for the 160z size.  They also make an 8oz and 28oz bottle.
As for my own experience while testing, I don't know that I heard less sloshing but I am very slosh/bounce sensitive.  I am intrigued by the idea that having the fluid in the shrinking liner acts as an insulator since your hand cannot as directly warm it up.  The bottles are already BPA free which is great, I can see that you would avoid bacteria from a not completely clean water bottle.  I'm not sure however what toxins they refer to the liners reducing.
While using the bottle with a liner you don't have to close the twist turn valve all the way and won't lose much fluid if you don't, which is good because I personally am not a fan of the turning, open-closed valve.  As a runner it's possible but required more than one hand when I was sweaty.  On the bike it would seem impossible to turn the valve.  They do offer a few bottle top straw options that would help on the bike.
I am pretty green and into less waste and recycling so the idea of throwing something away every use is troubling to me, but I appreciate that it is biodegradable at least.  That said, I still have a hard time with the waste side of it.  The good news is that they bottles come with a plug so you can use the bottle without the liner.
I mainly carry water in my bottles so don't feel the need for the clean effect of the liners, but for someone who does a lot of drink mixing away from home (protein or recover drink at the gym for instance) the liners would be nice.  The wide mouth of the bottle make for easier mixing and filling too.  It can be a pain to get the very bottom of a water bottle or any grooves clean, especially if you don't have quick access to clean it.  I would use the liners in that circumstance.

FLEXR also sent their FLEXR Sport Neo Running Pouch.  This belt does not carry water, although they do sell one that holds a bottle in back.  It clips together and has a zippered pouch that could hold and iPhone, several gels and a key.  Not huge, but suitable and didn't bounce which I really appreciate!  The neoprene is nice so that if you get wet from rain, an aid station, splashing through a stream, what's inside won't get wet.  The belt also has attachments for a race number.  I found this belt handy to use when I was running shorter and just wanted to carry my phone but not carry my larger packs.
Bib number sits under the pouch
So in summary, FLEXR makes some interesting products that could be really helpful for some.  I don't see myself using it during activity or everyday, but when I'm running on the trails or in a race and am done and going to mix my recovery shake but won't be home soon to clean my bottle, the liners will be nice.  Their prices are good and customer service great as well.  I also appreciate that 5% of their sales go to charity.  Thanks FLEXR!