The other day I did some research about running outdoors in the winter. You know - articles and opinions about how cold was too cold, what kind of clothes and shoes to wear, etc. Most of the dialogue centered firmly around running in temps within a stones throw of freezing, though there were a few hearty midwest souls that regularly seemed to train in single digit temps if necessary. No one really seemed to offer up advice, however, for the sort of cold weather training I was contemplating....
It was saturday and sunday was my long run day - 13 miles. My 'training window' was from 10-noon, and the gym didn't open until 12 (not that 104 laps around the track was enticing). The forecast was for highs around -10 F with a Wind chill advisory in effect (wind chills -30 to -40). This would be interesting.
I set off around 10:30, clad in my Craft running pants, Nike compression Short sleeve top, Icebreaker Longleeve top, and Craft running jacket. I wore a fleece balaclava for a hat, windstopper fleece gloves, lightweight wool socks, Goretex roclite 312's, and the new inov-8 gaiters, and my Ipod shuffle blasted a good mix of midnight oil, flogging molly and jimmie's chicken shack.
It was a good run. I hit the river a couple miles in and followed snow-mobile tracks as i headed south. I tried to shortcut one of it's oxbows and ended up wading through thigh deep snow and jumping down a 10 foot cliff to regain the river (didn't get snow in my shoes though!). Soon after this I was chased by a dog along the vast openness of the flat white frozen plane of the river - a surreal experience for sure. It almost felt post apocalyptic - a scene from Day After Tomorrow - enhanced by the otherworldly emptiness that only extreme cold and sunday morning in the midwest can bring.
After about 4 miles on the river i headed back to a paved greenway trail - the sand-like consistency of the snow machine churned snow was making my progress slower than i wanted it to be. I ran the rest of the way along the greenway and then back through quiet neighborhoods.
I have found my favorite winter running is along the sidewalks. It feels like trailrunning. This time of midwinter they almost always are covered with firm snow which provides a feeling underfoot something like good packed dirt or clay. The terrain requires enough attention to feel engaging without being extra exhausting (like the snow-mobile trails). And then the 2-3 foot high hurdles at the end of every block - packed snow and ice from the snowplows clearing of the streets - adds extra excitement.
I timed the last several miles through town and then later looked up the distance on google maps to get an idea of my pace. It was about 7:25/mile, although undoubtedly a bit slower on the river. I was about 10 minutes late getting home, but was forgiven immediately based on my appearance. The ambient temperature when i started was minus 14. it was minus 10 when i finished. Wind chill was consistently around minus 25-30, but occasionally down to minus 40 or below at some critical plac
es along the river that served as wind channels.
Lessons learned about running when it's very cold: 1) If you're actually going to be running, then you can be reasonably comfortable in this type of extreme cold. My feet were never cold. I suspected this would be the case, as this isn't my first (or coldest) run of this type, although it is my longest, mileage wise. I contribute this to superior footwear (: 2) You're going to get wet. really wet. what this means is that if you STOP, you're going to freeze (literally). good incentive not to stop i guess. 3) Fleece or wool boxers are a good idea (especially when running into the wind) I don't have these (come on guys! hook me up already!!!), and so it's a good thing i already have two kids
and don't really want any more. 4). Mini-gaiters are a good idea. the inov-8 jobbies i had worked great.. This was the first run i've used them on. Although even in past runs without them my feet were always warm, my ankles were usually cold because i'd be using them to melt snow whenever i stepped in anything deeper than a few inches. 5). Goggles should be required gear. I didn't take them. By the end of my run i had enough ice around my eyes to make a small snowball. I also couldn't easily open or close my eyes - and was reduced to peering through the small ice crusted slits to see the road. my eyeballs were also actually quite cold, which didn't do anything to improve my vision, which was probably damaged from looking directly at snow for over 100 minutes. My wife asked why i didn't wipe them off. seems like a good question. but the entire exterior layer of clothing was also essentially ice - so while i still had some dexterity in my hands - i wasn't about to take my gloves OFF and wiping the ice off of my eyelashes with the ice on my gloves just didn't seem to make sense. i also didn't think it would do much good, and in a strange sort of way, kinda thought it was cool (although again, probably really dangerous and stupid). 6) You will (unless you've arranged otherwise, which you may find it difficult to do) probably not see another soul. Enjoy!
Friday, January 30, 2009
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Team ROAM/Inov-8 will be back at again this weekend for another sprint AR at the Mandatory Gear Adventure Race in Conway, SC.
Dewey Peacock will be putting on his snowshoes for the Montana State Snowshoe Championships a 10k distance. Good luck everyone!
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
After almost two weeks of waiting out bad weather a short window appeared so we decided to go for Aguja Guillomet.
We left Chalten in the late afternoon after the rain had stopped and arrived at the base of the glacier at around 8 pm. At midnight we started our way up the glacier towards Paso Superior the snow was firm so we progresed quickly.
We reached Paso at 2:30 am, We brewed up some strong coffee and organized our gear that we had cached there on our previous trip. At 4:20 am we started hiking towards the base of Aguja Guillomet planing on climbing the Brenner Ridge, a line that follows the North East ridge and joins the Fonroudge route for the last 3 pitches before the summit. We started climbing at around 6.30 am. The weather was definitely questionable but we decided to keep moving as far as possible.
The first few pitches were covered in verglass and snow. making the pitches more interesting even with rock shoes. As we approached the head wall we decided to keep traversing left past the normal route to gain a steller crack system that eventually merged back into the normal route on the top of the ridge.
The traverse into the first pitch of the head wall was quite sketchy, smearing on verglass around a bulge and then pulling up into the cracks above. We then climbed into a pitch of offwidth and then into some blocks before reaching a perfect over hanging crack system.
At this high point we could see the last pitch of the normal route so we decided to follow it to the top. We reached the summit at 7:30 pm. We climbed all day through a the thick fog and watched the huge dark clouds forming far east.
We rappelled 4 times down the Amy Culoir over coming the bergschrund with no problems.
We then retrieved our gear from the base and headed back to Paso Superior. We reached our bivy at 11:30 pm . We had been climbing for over 24 hours and were spent.
We returned to Chalten the next day at 9 pm after giving first aid and helping to carry out a women hiker who fractured her ankle on the way up to Laguna de los Tres at the base of Fitz Roy.
We are very happy and motivated after our success in Aguja Gillomet!!
We named the new line The Lopez - Pfaff Variation, 6c+
The weather graphic is marking for 3 days of good weather at the end of this week.
We have decided to return to Paso Superior and attempt to climb Fitz Roy.
Wish us luck!
Camilo Lopez & Anna Pfaff
In late August I ran a 10km trail race in town on the whitetail ridge trails that I trek on a regular basis. This is a network of trails built largely by our local Mountain Biking circuit. Together with trail runners here in town, we have worked tirelessly at creating a gnarly 10 mile single-track course that traverses through bluffs and incoprorates some sweet bridges, etc.. Just recently we put some fun trail markers up with funky names to help signify the route. Getting back to the trail race last summer-- WORS, which is one of the biggest off-road biking communities in the country for many years now have put together a series of competitive and fun races. Uppermidwest is considered one if not the best area and community for off-road cycling. WORS also allied with trail runners and formed a trail run races as part of the series. While experiencing my first WORS race this year I stayed to watch some of the bike races and could not help but to notice a few college students sporting Ripon College jerseys (Wisconsin college) and their Dean cheering them on! After inquiring, the Dean told me that Ripon College is heavily exploring ways to employ a more green experience/revolution at their college. These students vow to ditch the car and in return get a free Trek bike for transportation & racing and a chance to race at fun venues: They call their program Velorution. Way to go Ripon! Read more about the project below.
Pedaling Change }
Our world, including the Ripon campus and community, is increasingly susceptible to the societal ills of obesity, traffic congestion, fuel consumption and pollution. In recent years, a growing percentage of Ripon students have brought a vehicle to campus. Too often, Ripon students, faculty and staff alike use their vehicles to travel from their campus residences and offices to classes, the cafeteria and the gym. A recent statistic about American’s driving habits suggests that 50 percent of car trips in the United States are less than two miles. We all rely too much on our cars.
To minimize vehicular traffic on campus, Ripon has systematically moved campus parking from the interior of the campus to the exterior in an effort to make car travel less convenient. By the beginning of the 2008-09 school year portions of the two main streets that bisect campus will be removed to create a safer, greener, more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly mall. The Ripon Velorution Project is designed to take this vision a step further. This project is a strong and public statement of the College’s commitment to a healthier and greener community.
Stemming from the word “vélo” which is French for bicycle, velorution is an anagram of the word revolution. The velorution is a global social movement wherein the bicycle is part of the solution to problems of obesity, traffic congestion, fuel consumption, pollution and the erosion of communities to urban sprawl. The velorution aims to return the bicycle from use solely for sport or recreation to its roots as a healthy, fun and sustainable form of transportation.
Ripon College is proud to join the velorution by providing a new bicycle to each first-year student who signs a pledge that he/she will not bring a vehicle to campus through the duration of the 2008-09 school year. In doing so, Ripon hopes to break these students of their dependency on cars for transportation and thereby reduce the College’s ecological footprint.
I encourage you to browse their site under Team Resources to check out all the cool core routines and workout material
Monday, January 26, 2009
A quick recap of 50 Trail/50 States: We started our tour in the beautiful boreal forests of Minnesota’s North shore along the challenging and diverse Superior Hiking Trail. Our second stop took us out west to what many claim as the Mecca of silent sports in the Sierra Nevada’s—The bodacious oasis that is the Tahoe Rim Trail. To ring in the start of Ol’ Man Winter, our third leg of the trip led us on another Northwood’s romp through Wisconsin’s Ice Age Trail. In this fourth installment of 50/50 we take our Bedouin style journey back out west to the “home on mountain top” that is Utah.
Many will agree that the combination of Salt Lake City and Park City are the primo locations for outdoor enthusiasts. Settled along the Wasatch Mountain Range, peering over a big brackish water hole, how could one disagree? In fact a recent poll released SLC as the number one fittest city in the U.S. followed by Colorado Springs and Minneapolis.
Now down to brass tax. Though you probably thought I was going to label SLC and the Wasatch Mtn. the honorary trail key to Utah, you guessed wrong. Instead it’s time to cowboy-up and head south to the town of Moab to experience a plethora of intrepid and ubiquitous parks and trails that make up Utah’s five National Parks: (Zion, Bryce, Arches, Capitol Reef, and Canyon lands). All located within close proximity, we’ll touch on two in particular near the Moab area that are quite unique. I’m referring to Utah’s Canyon lands and Arches National Park trails. Before we start you better cross the border to grab some real brew, none of that 3.2%skunky wash.
Utah's Canyon Land
The landscape and climate that make-up the Canyon lands/Arches area of Utah my offer a different perspective to each visitor, but the most important part I believe is to come with a clear conscience and most importantly an open-mind. The unseasoned traveler may view this rugged, dry, and unforgiving landscape uninhabitable and hopeless. On the contrary, a seasoned traveler or the weary wanderer will find a resolving yet mysterious sanctuary that is beautiful and lined with possibility. To the aforementioned traveler, I suggest intimately questioning, testing, exploring and challenging your pre-conceived notions of this archaic landscape. Maybe somewhere in the labyrinth of sandstone and gradient sundown’s your perspective will change for the better.
Southern Utah’s character is the result of timeless erosion by way of water, wind and the fluctuating changes in climate, which combined together, are the forces that cause the infamous geological shifting that makes this area so unique. Surreal rock formations span for miles. Spires and minarets delicately tower over the barren rock. It’s as if Salvador Dali and Yves Tanguy were let loose with paintbrushes on the planet Mars. It’s the very landscape that has also captured the surly and non-taxonomist lyricism of author Edward Abbey and all his ventures and raucous.
Off trail destinations: A bit of a caveat regarding this country: Bring ample supplies of water. However here are a few recommended watering holes near the Moab area to quench your thirst: Fiesta Mexicana, Moab Brewery, and Eklecticn Café.
On trail destinations:
Canyon Lands Park- Confluence Overlook: This is where the Green River and the Colorado merge together, in the heart of the park. The trail goes from Big Spring Canyon Overlook toward a vista where you can get a great view of the two rivers. Due to exposure, this is a recommended spring/winter hike. The Confluence Overlook is on the east side of the Colorado. The water is about 1,000 feet below the canyon rim, so watch your step. Once at the top, enjoy the neapolitan colored sunset. This trail section is approximately 11 miles.
Lower Red Lake Canyon: this strenuous 19 mile hike is a good test for the mind and body and if you stick with it, you’ll enjoy the rewards that bud along the way. Through the Needles and down the Colorado River to Red Lake, this is both flat and calm. More than likely you’d find a trashed Caterpillar at the bottom of the river courtesy of Hayduke and the rest of the Monkey Wrench Gang. Making your way to Elephant trailhead, the trail extends west, through Cyclone Canyon and then down Red Lake Canyon. Red Lake Canyon opens up to the Colorado River to an area known as Spanish Bottom. Along your trip keep your eyes peeled for the circling buzzards above your head. Know that they are smarter than you. As you venture on you have the chance to hit some primitive trail that will lead you to Cataract Canyon where some of the best rapids are found.
Upper Salt Creek: Expect 23 miles of gnarly trail encompasses some of the most amazing archaeological sites and arches are found in the Salt Creek drainage. This section of trail runs between the Peekaboo trailhead on the north and the Cathedral Butte on the south. Of all the sections of trails, the Upper Salt Creek voyage will be sure to bring you a lot of surprises. On your trek check out Horse Canyon, an area that contains a unique arch called Paul Bunyan’s Potty and Tower Ruin. Furthermore, one of the most famous features in the area is Angel Arch. An incredible “In Yan Teopa” as the Natives would say up here in the Upper Midwest.
Arches National Park: Delicate Arch- is one of the most iconic arches in the National Park, and maybe anywhere in the world. Located on one of the most synergistic trails within the Park, it spans over 480 feet high. Delicate Arch is disguised in a bowl at the top of one of the park’s famous sandstone fins. The arch is freestanding and majestically alone, standing out against the series of horizontal planes and sherbert colored sun. The trail is rugged and steep, particularly near the end. Keep your eyes open for the pioneer homestead, Ute Indian petroglyphs (dogs, bighorn sheep, and horses), old streambed, junipers and the famous slick rock, which the area is famous for. It reminds me of a macro-view of a North shore agate with its analogous red striations polished by the ecosystem.
Frame Arch is just around the bend, but often times are overlooked to its larger Delicate behemoth. More often than not, Frame Arch serves as the perfect “frame” for photographing Delicate.
Upper Courthouse Wash—is a moderately challenging trail that squanders into the sandstone canyon for which Moab is famed for. The cool water is a nice reprieve for a dip in the summer. Eventually Courthouse trail starts up a plateau that leads to Dead Horse Point, passing Monitor and Merrimac buttes; the Wash than narrows and spirals down to Sevenmile, which serves as a nice side trek. A good choice, for you will be greeted by Ring Arch and swimming hole.
Weather conditions: Expect a nice retreat from the cold winter come spring time with temperate/comfortable weather. Summer can and will be brutally hot and dry. Fall and winter are also ideal times to visit.
Disclaimer: Remember when participating in silent sport activities in any of these parks that you treat them with sincere care and be the best trail custodian you can be. These areas are as fragile as the Dinosaur bones that riddle the area. It’s a beautiful area. Lets try and keep it as remote and beautiful as possible even long after we are gone.
Relevant Links: Moab
Events: Moab to Slickrock 50miler
Moab Red hot 50km
Moab Mountain Biking Trails
To conclude, I'll leave you with this piece from Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire:
Finally a word of caution:
Do not jump into your automobile next June and rush out to the canyon country hoping to see some of that which I have attempted to evoke in these pages. In the first place you can't see anything from a car; you've got to get out of the goddamned contraption and walk, better yet crawl, on hands and knees, over the sandstone and through the thornbush and cactus. When traces of blood begin to mark your trail you'll see something, maybe. Probably not. In the second place most of what I write about in this book is already gone or going under fast. This is not a travel guide but an elegy. A memorial. You're holding a tombstone in your hands. A bloody rock. Don't drop it on your foot--throw it at something big and glassy. What do you have to lose?
Nelson's Marine Bar
Congratulations to Team Inov-8's Ben Nephew on yet another strong snowshoe race. Seemingly a doppelganger of the last race. This time Ben headed to the hills of Mount Greylock. Sounds like an enchanted refuge out of lord of the rings. However this was once again a tight race that settled the score between racers in just mere seconds. Read More... for the full scoop.
Greylock Glen 4 mile snowshoe 2009
My second snowshoe race of the year was at Greylock State Park, where I have raced over a dozen times. Due to dam beaver damns, the usual course was flooded, so a new course had to be designed. The race staff mostly used sections from some of the summer trail races, so I was familiar with the course. In line with the trend for snowshoe races this year, the race would go uphill until about halfway, and then come back down on a parallel trail to the finish. I’m not sure how much climbing we did, but it was enough.
My biggest mistake of the day was letting Justin Fyffe know that Bob Dion loans out his racing snowshoes. Justin was coming to his first race, and said he only had some hiking snowshoes. Typically, everyone up front at snowshoe races has some sort of racing shoe on, and in New England, most wear Dions. I’m too nice.
After checking out the first mile, I waited until the last minute to take my warm up clothes off, as it was only a few degrees out. At the start, it seemed like everyone was content with me taking the lead, so I obliged. The first part of the course winded through the forest on a narrow singletrack and had a few short hills. After about a half mile, we started a consistent climb alongside a stream. As expected Justin went by me at the base of the climb. Over the past two years, he has been one of the best uphill runners in the region.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t alone to worry about Justin. Jim Johnson was practically on the tails of my snowshoes. Jim is a strong road and mountain runner, and has just recently joined my local team, the Central Mass Striders (CMS). Actually, the first four runners at that point were CMS, which is not uncommon at snowshoe races. The cagey veteran, Dave Dunham, was stalking in fourth to pick on trail kill like some sort of emaciated vulture. The trail became quite steep the higher we went, and shortly after passing the mile in about 8:15, I was relieved to see that Jim was dropping back on a wall of a hill that had everyone walking. Dave won’t admit to walking, but his little dance he does on steep terrain doesn’t count when you can walk past him. However, his dance was easily enough to get by Jim, who apparently was having second thoughts about his pace. As he contemplated the Greylock ecosystem, Dave passed by his carcass in the hopes of running me down. While I was keeping Justin in sight, I couldn’t take much more hill.
Right about then, we finally got off the singletrack and started down a smooth snowmobile trail. According to a race sign, it had taken us about 7 minutes to do the last half mile of uphill. I think it was little off. We did run some of the hill! My relief at being on the downhill faded after about 3 minutes. There was no where to hide on the trail, and it was runable enough to hammer all the way to the finish with no slow sections where you could catch your breath. No matter how hard I ran, I could neither catch Justin nor break away from Dave and Jim behind me. In the last mile, as I turned to check on Dave, I saw that Jim was reeling me in with his long legs. Dave isn’t the best downhiller, and got passed by Matt Cartier as well.
In the last half mile, I realized that Justin was getting closer. It’s hard to get your pace right in your first snowshoe race, and Justin was fully realizing this fact. I tried to pick up the pace, but I was just about spent at that point. Justin finished strong to win by 10 seconds, and Jim ran me all the way to the finish and was only 4 seconds behind. The top five of us all ran the 3.9 mile course in about 30 minutes. With Tim Van Orden and Tim Mahoney, CMS put 6 runners in the top 7. An unfortunate casualty of the race was Matt’s big toe, which apparently become so frostbitten it turned black. He didn’t lose it, but it’ll be awhile before it recovers. That’s what you get when you don’t run for CMS. After being assimilated, Matt will no longer have issues with frostbite. Resistance is futile. Full results and pics can be found at http://runwmac.com/snowshoes/default.html.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
January 11 I competed in my first Winter Triathlon (run bike and xc on snow) in Bend, Ore. The race went well despite taking a wrong turn 200 meters from the finish. I managed to hold onto second place (behind Olympian Rebecca Dussault) earning a trip to Austria for the World Championships Feb 14 and 15. Check out articles in the Sierra Sun here, Bend Bulletin here and USA triathlon here.
Type rest of the post here
Sandmann Adventure Race Recap.
Team ROAM/Inov-8 started off the Adventure Racing season with a quick 6 hour event in Red Top Mountain, GA. Heavy rains overnight muddied up the course but gave way midway through the race and the team, Paul Humphreys, Julia Radmann and Dwight Shuler pulled out a very strong showing with a 2nd OA and 1st place COED win in the Elite division.
Race Report: by Dwight Shuler
The event was broken up into 3 different legs. Boating, Treking and Mt. Biking. Each team had to decide which leg to start off with. After picking a discipline, the teams were given instructions and coordinates to plot and plan their course for only that section of the race. Each section had about 7-8 points to locate and punch before heading back to race headquarters to receive instructions for the next section with a new set of points to plot and race to collect.
Since it was raining already, we were going to be wet anyway, we decide to paddle first. It turned out to be a good choice as the wind picked up speed during the day and was looking a bit stiff for the teams coming off the water at the end of the day. The points were pretty straight forward. After a 2 mile paddle, we portaged our boat over a small strip of land to collect the first point. We continued onto the next point where we had to ditch the boat. We were greeted with a small team test of carrying one teammate up the beach before heading off on foot to collect three more points. Returning to the boat, we once again did the same teammate carry before heading out to collect the last point. A short portage with the boat then we were heading back to race HQ. We finished this leg with a small five minute lead in 1st place.
We chose to head out on the bikes next. After a quick plotting and planning session we were off. This was a pretty short section with a break in the middle where we had to ditch the bikes and head out on foot to hit two more spots before returning on bikes to collect the reaming points. We found everything pretty quickly until I forgot how to read and took us a few minutes in the wrong direction. Thanks to Julia’s quick memory about ditching the bikes, we were back on course with just a small time delay. Whew! The rest was fairly uneventful except for Paul’s flat tire about two miles from the end. We tried to re-inflate it with a CO2 blast but it lasted only about 3 minutes before returning to its non-functional state. We were really too close to the end to spend the time to fix it properly so Julia took the lead and Paul sucked it up and ran the last mile in his biking shoes while I rode both bikes in. Nice team effort for this leg but we lost a few minutes and were now in second place.
We knew we would be strong in the trekking section so we saved it for last. Again, there were a new set of about 8 points that were mostly off trail. We could get them in any order so we decided on a route getting the hardest points first. We found our bearings quickly and used a combination of trails and off trail orienteering to hit all the points. Both Paul and I had different maps with different scales. Between the two of us, we were able to nav to everything with no mistakes. One of the points was manned and we had to perform another team test involving a blindfolded racer, a lot of ropes and biners and a strange maze of multi-colored strings through the forest. I have never seen this one before and I don’t even know how to describe it but we worked out the puzzle and finished off with a great bushwhack back to the finish line.
We made up a bit of time on this section but still finished about 8 minutes back from the fast 2-person team that we were chasing for the second half of the race. Still, we cleaned the course and grabbed first place in the CoEd Elite division about 45 minutes ahead of the next team. A good showing for our inaugural race of the year.
We all used our RacePro 18 packs (a perfect size for this race) and had a smorgasbord of Inov-8 shoes. Paul, (Bigfoot), went for the Flyrock 345 GTX, Julia and I chose the RocLite 312 GTX but when I came back off the bike and saw my toasty dry RocLite 320’s, I could resist and slid on the trusty workhorses. We fueled up with Honey Stinger gels and NUUN electrolytes for a great sprint race combination.
24th annual Securian Frozen ½ marathon
Early prognostications in weather called for severe sub-zero temperatures for Saturday morning’s race celebrating winter carnival week here in the Twin Cities. While eating breakfast I was browsing through the sports page of the St.Paul Pioneer Press and read that the Securian ½ marathon was going to be shortened to 6.5 miles due to severely cold temperatures. It has happened before, but not to this extent. The 2009 edition would set the record for the coldest temperature—start time was a surly -15 degrees below zero and a bitingly cold head wind funneling down town St.Paul, and out onto the exposed Shepard road along the Mississippi. Bogged down with layers of clothes we shot through the streets and out toward the river. The outbound was a calm but constant rise against the wind. My pre-race goal for the half-marathon despite the conditions was in between 1:13 and 1:14 in flux with training. Once I found out that the race was cut to the odd distance of 6.5 I decided that somewhere in the mid 33-35 minute range would compensate. To be honest, once the race was a few miles underway, all I was focused on was staying warm and getting to the finish. I ran with Paul Kriegler of Team Run N Fun and we basically just kept ourselves from getting frozen. Every so often we would do high steps to get our legs turning over. On the tail wind return trip back to the finish we started to pick it up a bit more and Paul took a slight lead. I tucked in right behind, waiting to surge on the hill to the finish. However, just before reaching the hill, Paul’s chip timer broke off, so he had to quick stop to pick it up. It popped off while I was in mid-stride. I went ahead at that point, but also stopped to wait for him to catch back up cause it was an unfortunate mishap. He signaled for me to go ahead, so I jogged a bit and by that time the hill came I ran up it and soon enough the finish line was there. I was able to win the race in 36:20, which I was a bit disappointed about having done an easy 10miler the week before at 5:42 pace. Paul came in a few seconds behind. Paul has a strong marathon best and I’m sure he was also hoping for the full race as well. It was good times nonetheless and some great camaraderie; seeing familiar face at the start like Joe Ziegenfuss, Ed Rousseau and Rick Cleary. 700+ runners came out to challenge Mother Nature’s sinister skullduggery of winter madness. I should also mention that it was fun seeing all of the frozen faces out there. My right eyelash and lid nearly froze shut from tearing up due to the wind.
I guess that is one thing about the Upper Midwest that never disappoints, and that is the diversity of the weather, which can make racing quite interesting. It’s not uncommon to be running in 100 degree Amazon humidity in the summer and face Arctic conditions in the winter. I wore the F-lite 300’s which were perfect for the course, and the Inov-8 socks kept my feet warm the whole run. I also have to give major props to 2XU. There wicked clothing is without a doubt the best. The fibers wick better than anything out there, keeping me warm after the race.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Team ROAM/Inov-8 (formerly Blackdome) will get things started off with a 6 hour adventure race at Red Top Mountain, GA with the Sandman Adventure Sprint. Powered by Team Captain Paul Humphries and team members Dwight Shuler and Julia Radman.
Not too far down the road from GA will be the Mountain Mist 50k in Huntsville, AL. We have three team entrants starting with DeWayne Satterfield who has dominated on this course for many years. He will be trying to keep the title in his backyard, while new Inov-8 team members Michael Green and Jeremy Ramsey will do their best to give DeWayne a run for his $. Course knowledge and ultra wisdom vs. youth and speed.
Wynn Davis will have slightly cooler race day temps at the Securian Half Marathon near St.Paul, MN. The race website says "join the few, the proud, the frozen". That pretty much sums it up in my opinion. Good luck to everyone!
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
photo courtesy of WMAC
Congratulations to Inov-8's Ben Nephew on taking home a strong 2nd place finish at the Turner Trail Snowshoe Race. It was a tough battle the whole way through snowy switchbacks and against some seasoned veterans like Dave Dunham. A gang of 5 runners pressed the pace and jockeyed for position the whole way, and it came right down to the wire! This sweet video footage of the race will show you first hand how bodacious it was out there.. Turner Trail Race To find out the scoop, check out Ben's report-- Read more...
I also encourage you to check out all of the great races, photos, and reports at the WMAC Snowshoe series. This is a group that is doing an awesome job!
Turner Trail Snowshoe Race 2009
After an uncharacteristic 2 month absence from racing, my first race of 2009 was the Turner Trail 4.3m in the hills of Pittsfield State Forest in Western MA. Last year, at a similar race, I had gone out too hard and struggled through most of the race, finishing far off the winning time. Based on that experience, I just wanted to have a solid start to my snowshoe racing this year.
At the start, Matt Cartier shot into the lead. Even though I lack leg speed, I’ve always been able to get out well in snowshoe races. Sometimes my fast starts end up being too long, resulting in some early leg fatigue. However, if you go out too slow, you can end up losing time due to either simple race progression, or deteriorating snow conditions. Fresh groomed snow is always best. The race today would be all on groomed trails or packed single track. I tucked behind Matt and tried to settle into a comfortable pace as everyone else strung out behind. Just as I was about to back off the pace myself, Matt slowed down, and I passed him. Although it got a bit quieter after a couple minutes, someone had come with me. Without even looking, I figured it was one of the Williams College kids I had spotted warming up. I was right.
He seemed pretty content to stay with me, so I just tried to concentrate on the 1.5 mile hill we were climbing. It wasn’t the steepest hill, but it was unrelenting. I don’t think there was a single flat spot until the top, 700 ft up. As we got near the top of the main hill, the Williams kid, Corey, passed me and built a lead of a few seconds. I didn’t feel comfortable going much faster, but I didn’t want to lose contact. I managed to stay within about 5 seconds as we turned left at the top of the hill. I was hoping that we were starting a long downhill section, but it didn’t work out that way. We actually turned onto a narrow rolling section of groomed trail that had short steep hills that finished off my screaming quads. I was still close to Corey, but I was starting to lose sight of him in the dense woods.
After not seeing him for a while, I looked down and couldn’t find any cleat marks. Nice. In my dazed oxygen deprived chase, I had missed a hard left at the start of the big downhill. By the time I got back on course, I had gone from 2nd to 5th place. I probably lost about a minute. I couldn’t see 4th place by the time I started downhill, but soon caught Tim Van Orden, who was surprised to see me. He kindly let me by, and warned me not to try and catch everyone immediately. I was too annoyed at myself to slow down all that much, but I tried to keep things under control. After passing Tim, I spotted Dave Dunham and Tim Mahoney working their way down the thirty or so switchbacks on the new Turner trail. I caught up to Tim, then Dave, and passed each after drowning in powder as they stepped into the fresh snow to let me by. I still couldn’t see Corey, and it was all I could do to hold onto second. The two Tim’s were soon joined by a hard charging Matt Cartier, and I felt like I was an escaped convict being chased by federal marshals. With all the switchbacks, it was impossible for me to get out of sight and run away.
By the time we got the last groomed trail to the finish, my stomach was cramping from all the tight turns. I tried to lengthen my stride as we approached the finish, but my dead quads and hip flexors couldn’t generate any knee lift. Apparently, there was some excitement behind me, as Matt moved all the way to 3rd, and Tim Van Orden moved to 4th, with Dunham and Mahoney in 5th and 6th. Corey won by about 70 seconds, so it would have been interesting to see how close I could have gotten if I had stayed on course. Considering that Corey ran a 25:27 at the 2008 NCAA DIIII XC championships, I’m pretty happy with staying with him for as long as I did considering how inconsistent my training has been lately. I was particularly pleased with my uphill running, as I don’t have large hills to train on anywhere near me, and have not been doing consistent hill intervals.
Brad and Beth Herder did a great job with organizing the race, and with photos and video. Brad takes amazing pictures, and it is easy to see why I would much rather snowshoe during the winter than run on the roads. Results, pics, and video can be found at:
I wore my f-lite 250’s for the race, which fit great with my Dion racing snowshoes. I guess I should thank Bob Dion for supporting the snowshoe series, but Bob did loan Corey snowshoes! I will definitely thank my wife, Steph, for taking care of Gavin for the day; there aren’t many young Dads out there at these snowshoe races!
Monday, January 19, 2009
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
A special thanks to Mark Lundblad and the crew at Inov-8 for an exciting 2008 season and looking ahead to 2009. Mark put together a great write-up including athlete perspectives. Read More...
The 2008 racing season was an exceptional one for Team inov-8. A strong and eclectic team comprised of 39 individual athletes representing disciplines of trail running, mountain running, ultra running, speed hiking, Xterra and even mountain climbing, along with 5 Adventure Race teams. We had some phenomenal performances this year along with an expected few bumps in the road (trail). In totality it was a stellar year with a reported 55 overall wins, 85 top 3 finishes and many other memorable moments out on the trail. Below are a few highlights.
The season started off strong with Anne Lundblad winning the Salem Lakeshore 50k in early January and then Sean Andrish winning yet another Uwharrie 40 mile ultra race in early February. Anne bounced back fast and won the Mt. Mitchell 40 mile in late February, shattering the course record in the process. In early March we had both the men’s and women’s champions crowned at the Pittsfield Snowshoe Marathon when Paul Low and Aliza Lapierre both won convincingly. March brought more dual top honors as Bryan Dayton and Devon Crosby-Helms won both the men’s and women’s races at the Chuckanut 50k in WA and Anne and Mark Lundblad won the Bel Monte 50k in VA on the same day.
Chad Denning started off the month of April with an impressive overall win at the Planet Adventure 24 hour race. Mid April once again was a good day for the husband and wife team of Anne & Mark Lundblad where they both won the Bull Run 50 mile and Anne set a new course record. Just two weeks later Chad Denning was back on the podium with another victory at the Tuckerman Inferno. Josh Ferenc won the Nipmuck 16 mile trail race and set a course record in April and had victories during the year at the Seven Sisters 14 mile race, Skyline Trail Race and the Stratton Mt. Hillclimb. May brought victories from Brian Morrison at the North Face Endurance Challenge 50 mile race in WA, Greg Feucht at the Jimez Mountains Half Marathon, Wynn Davis at the Superior 50k, Aliza Lapierre at the Pineland Farms 50 mile, Dwight Shuler at the Greenway AR Challenge in TN, and rounding out the month was the brother and sister duo of Shiloh Mielke and Meadow Tarves taking top honors at the mountainous Rock 2 Rock Trail 10k in NC.
In June, we saw very strong showings by Emma Garrard at the Xterra East Championships and Toni Axelrod winning Xterra Buffalo Creek. Emma later went on to win Xterra Tahoe City, place second at the Squaw Valley Mountain Run, 5th American woman at the Xterra US Championships and 13th place pro at the Xterra World Championships. Also, Toni Axelrod won the Xterra New Jersey, first at Xterra Beaver Creek, and second at the Xterra Us Championships. However, there was a bump in the road in June when the prestigious Western States 100 mile race was cancelled due to wild fires. Team inov-8 had 5 athletes ready to toe the line. Two of these runners found success later and put their hard training to use in July at the Vermont 100 mile race where Devon Crosby-Helms and Andy Jones-Wilkins both won overall titles. Kevin Sullivan finished a close second to Andy in his debut at the 100 mile distance. Devon later went on to finish an impressive 10th overall woman at the IAU World Cup 100k in the Netherlands.
The month of July brought impressive performances by Aliza Lapierre who won and set a course record at the Finger Lake Fifties race. Lapierre went on to win the Jay Challenge. Bryan Dayton won the Leadville Half Marathon. Jonathan Basham and Jenny Anderson won the Rattlesnake 50k in WV. In August, Scott Williamson bagged the Pacific Crest Trail unassisted speed record (2655 miles) in 71 days, 2 hours and 41 minutes. On August 23rd the brother and sister combo of Shiloh Mielke and Meadow Tarves won the overall LaSportiva Mountain Trophy series.
In October, Rebekkah Trittipoe took the grandmaster’s title at the inaugural Grindstone 100 mile. She completed the Beast Series and won the grandmaster’s title at the Hellgate 100k in December. Wynn Davis won the Heartland 100 mile in Kansas. In November, Shiloh Mielke won his 3rd Shut in Trail Race and Anne Lundblad finished second overall female. Anne later rounded out her stellar season by winning the Run at the Rock 14 miler in December. Her husband, Mark, won the JFK 50 mile race. Scott Dunlap finished the year with a flurry of 3 impressive 50k performances over a 4 week period. DeWayne Satterfield ended the year with one of his many strong ultra distance performances throughout 2008 by placing 3rd overall at the Lookout Mountain 100k in TN.
Team inov-8’s adventure race teams had phenomenal performances throughout the year. The Yogaslackers seemed to be everywhere and won most of the races they entered. Some notable victories by the Yogaslackers were the Coast Raid, Sand Storm 3, Desert Dash and the first ever 2XTM Expedition (which took over 20 days to complete). They also finished 7th overall at the USARA AR National Championships. Checkpoint Zero fared extremely well throughout the year. At Nationals, they had 3 teams place 8th and 10th overall and 2nd masters. Likewise, Team inov-8/Blackdome made their way to Nationals where they placed 22nd overall. Finally Team ARNavSupplies was consistent from start to finish in 2008 with overall wins at four of the Norcal AR races, and the Big Ocean Blue AR Race. The Race Pro packs were an important piece of gear for the AR teams and we had some great reviews on how they performed throughout the year. The two inov-8 climbers, Camilo Lopez and Anna Pfaff, used the Roclite 318 GTX and Roclite 282 shoes and packs for approach, and had 3 very successful expeditions this past year in Patagonia, Peru, and India.
The most popular athlete shoe styles for long distance were the roclite 295, roclite 305, roclite 315, and the roclite 320. The most popular shoes for short distance were the performance lasted shoes: the f-lite 230, the roclite 285 and the x-talon 212.
Winning races is not the only criteria inov-8 looks for in selecting athletes. It’s important to the company that all athletes are eco-conscious and ambassadors of their respective discipline. Inov-8 strives to have a diverse group of athletes representing many sports and regions of the US who are not only great athletes but athletes who give back to their sport and the environment on which they tread.
Below are a few 2008 race summaries and stories from select athletes:
If I could summarize this year, it would be that of a learning experience! After finally recovering from an ab injury late last spring, I was able to get in some semblance of base fitness to run a half marathon at the Jemez Mt. Runs, only to have a hamstring soreness flare up after that race. Perhaps the fast and hard rocky downhill wasn't easy on the ligaments! I was able to recover enough to run in the Great Lakes Relay race with a bunch of old friends from Michigan, only to have the hamstring act up once more in the final legs of that race. We won the relay which was great, but it was not a "smart" race for me as I just ran through the discomfort and ignored the increasing soreness I was feeling after every subsequent leg (approximately two legs each day of 5-9 miles at 5:45ish pace on hilly gravel roads and dirt trails). After the relay, I literally couldn't run without pain for several months.
I learned that it's so easy for me to ignore warning signs of a major injury when the thick of battle of a big team event calls you. It forced me to regroup and rethink my attitude towards these races, as fun as they may be. It's also prompting me to reevaluate alternative methods of training other than running, such as water running, elliptical training, weights, and recently, Bikram Yoga, where I'm hoping to significantly improve core strength and flexibility, two things I feel I desperately need. I'm looking forward to a very exciting 2009, and have already revised "the plan" I sent out a month ago. I'll send it to you when finished, but plan to add the 50 mile at Jemez, which is the "big boys" event, last year with Kyle Skaggs, Karl Meltzer, Paul DeWitt, and Nate McDowell among others. Lots of training to do between now and then!
My year began and ended with victories, but there were lots of highs and lows in between. On the positive side were six victories, three course records, two 24 hour trail relays and two 5k's with my Girls on the Run team. The downer was a stress fracture that took me out of commission for close to two months.
Looking back over the year, the brightest moments were seeing the huge smile on Emma's face as she finished her first 5k, and running my first trail race following injury. My time was slow and I wasn't part of the competitive mix, but I experienced the pure joy of running, smooth and injury-free on the trails I love so much.
I trained hard for Western States, only to have it canceled by forest fires. But instead of fretting, I just used the fitness to run 22 races throughout the year (in my RocLite 320's and 315's). It was wonderful for the soul! And I'm back on track for States '09.
1. A bunch of us trained for and showed up at Western States, only to be left at the altar. Some of us turned those lemons into lemonade by acting quickly to use our fitness in another venue. [I'm not sure what other folks did, but as you know AJW, Devon and I all went to VT - good races - too bad we couldn't get more press out of the Inov-8 domination at Vermont]. I did not find out about the fires until I was in Chicago and even then it wasn't certain that the race would be canceled, so I finished the journey to Tahoe. I ran when I got there and I almost felt like I did when I started running back in 1996 when I was still smoking. It was quite a flashback - the air was just full of smoke. It was disappointing, but running confirmed for me that they couldn't possibly run the race - I wasn't ready to pick up smoking again :) 2. Finished my first real full ultra season . . . not necessarily in one piece :) 3. Finished my first 100 miler in my then new favorite Roclite 305's - finishing second. I was more than happy with that debut. I still feel like I have a lot more in me - that was just a start, believe me. 4. Unfortunately I battled a number of setbacks, including a 3 day stay in the hospital 3 weeks before Western States and 3 months of rehab on the ITB and Achilles. l have learned "what to do" when you're not training. 5. Ran my first "Western" ultra at Leona Divide and finished second. I was pretty psyched with that - big surprise (although then I noticed that none of the regulars other than Jorge were there - oh well). I thought I had a great season for a first season. I also had a great time on the team this year. I have enjoyed it for all the reasons I have put in my application both years. I'd really like to build some more relationships around the team and see if we can't get more active together. I know it is easy to say but tough in practice, especially since it is a commitment by folks, like me, with busy schedules. We'll see.
I don t often travel far from home, unless I am out for a run, because I get fidgety in the car and have a fear of flying. When teammate Kevin Sullivan needed a pacer for Western States without thought I offered to go. I had willingly agreed to fly across the country to pace a teammate whom I had never met. I packed my Inov-8 uniform, my Roclite 295 s and snacks and knew I was ready to pace Kevin. What I didn’t know was that there were widespread wildfires in California.
Within hours of arriving at Squaw Kevin received notice that the race was canceled due to the dangerous wildfires. Kevin offered to book me a flight the next day, but I was not ready to get back on a plane. I wanted to run. After running the first five miles of the course we both craved something more substantial. In hopes of getting the smoke the next day we decided to head to Lake Tahoe for a run on the Rim Trail. Kevin, Carol O Hear and I all began the run with fluid, snacks and no final destination. Sometimes we were close in proximity and at other points we were strewed out along the trail. We were all in running our own rhythm and didn t need to be clipping each other s heels. The terrain was like nothing I had run before and the views of Lake Tahoe were a pleasant surprise with the fire looming nearby. My mind wondered and I realized that Carol and Kevin spent countless hours training and spent a small fortune and we all had traveled across the country to participate in a grueling ultra race that was wasn t going to happen, but despite this we all found solace by doing the thing we were all connected by. For me this attested to the power of running.
"I borrowed a friend's Race Pro 12 to climb Mt. Hood and Mt. Olympus in Oregon and Washington during an adventurous trip this past summer. I loved it so much that I acquired my own. It was perfect for a long day of climbing because it had a snug (almost seamless feel). The weight distribution was ideal with the hydration sitting at the lower back and hip area. Additionally, it had just the right amount of room to store some snacks and an extra layer of clothing. Throughout the entire 145 miles we covered (including 30,000 ft elevation gain) I wore the Roclite 282s without a single pain or blister. They were truly weightless and ideal for all conditions (slippery, muddy, grassy, dry rock, wet rock, even light snow and ice)."I took first place in the Women's Division at the Rattlesnake 50k in Charleston, WV, wearing the Roclite 282s. I never felt faster and I absolutely believe it was a result of the shoes. Since then, I have been wearing the Roclite 295s and 305s. I love both of them even more although I haven't had a chance to really race in them due to an injury."
2008 was a great year for me, I competed in a total of 28 races, was on the podium 17 times with 5 first place finishes. I also raced every month except November. It was a year of ‘firsts’ for me, starting with my first winter multisport event: the XTERRA Winter World Championships at Snowbasin, Utah. It was also the first time I was racing in the professional division. Although I struggled to mountain bike in the deep, fresh snow I made up lost time in the 5k snowshoe/run following. Managed to pass a few more racers in the 10 k randonee to finish in 5th place.
Did I also mention 2009 was my first year snowshoeing? I did this for most of my long runs in the winter and had large improvements in my running performance come spring.
Another first was competing in the Land Rover G4 Challenge Nevada Passage, a staged adventure race in Southern Nevada. It was a made-for-TV multi-million dollar production where competitors got to drive supped-up Land Rover LR3s and do lots of other fun things like kayaking, mountain biking, running and orienteering. I was teamed up with Dean Kruuse of Sand Diego and together we won several stages including the running (thanks INOV-8!) and the time-speed-distance challenge.
The run was the highlight of the competition. It started pouring with rain before the challenge even though we were in the desert. The course, which was not marked and required map reading, took place at Cathedral Gorge State Park. The race took us up very muddy slopes as lighting striked around us and through mud caves which was like being on the moon.
Luckily I was wearing Rocklite 320s and didn’t lose my footing as we battled it out with the other teams. We took the lead about a quarter-mile from the finish were we had to squeeze through a slippery cave, including going through a tunnel so small my partner got stuck, luckily he worked his way out and we made it to the finish first.
My roclites got front row seats on the dashboard of the LR3 and can be seen in the TV coverage on major TV networks, for times go to this link: http://www.xterraplanet.com/television/tv_schedule.cfm
Next up was my first summer triathlon racing pro: the XTERRA West Championship in Temecula, Calif. I pulled off a 7th place finish in very hot conditions and with a strong field including XTERRA World Champ Melanie McQuaid and Iroman World Champ Michelle Jones.
A month later was my first triathlon overseas in the Vale of Neath, Wales. It poured with rain and after a long-challenging mountain bike leg I faced with an equally as difficult run. It went through a river with long steep climbs through the wood, so steep racers had to use ropes to pull themselves up. I was fortunate to place 7th in the race with the second fastest run split.
Once I got my hands on the Inov-8 f-lite 230s, I couldn’t wait for the bike/run transition to put on the shoes my and head out on the trails. Having light trail shoes makes a huge difference in off-road triathlon where your legs are already tired from swimming and biking.
My season ended with a 12th place finish at XTERRA USA Championships (5th American) and a 13th place finish at XTERRA World Championships (5th American) in Maui. My times improved drastically this year; I took 13 minutes off my time from Worlds including almost five minutes in the run alone.
2008 was an interesting year for me. With my son, Gavin, being one year older (1), I was able to race more. Gavin came to some of the races close to home, but we spared him the long rides out to western MA for many of the events.
Most of my races were part of the Western Massachusetts Athletic Club (WMAC) Grand Tree Series of 25 New England trail races. I struggled early in the year, and wasn’t able to win any races until the Soapstone mountain 14.5 miler. At the next race, the Nipmuck Trail Marathon, I was finally able to get a win after 3 tries. By the end of the summer, I had managed to get 6 wins, which gave me a maximum score of 600 points in the series. While I wanted to do more races in the fall, I also wanted to focus more on longer distances.
I’ve always wanted to run the Long Trail in VT, and I spent one weekend running a southern section of the trail. At request of my wife, I ended my training run short at about 47 miles, but it gave me a good idea of what to expect in terms of pace and planning when I go for the entire trail. My wife and Gavin will probably not be part of my support crew on further ultra runs, but we did have a fun weekend camping!
I originally planned on doing a local 50 miler as my end of the year goal, but the race filled up before I had a chance to register. There were actually three races that I missed due to full fields, which is not a common occurrence in New England. I’m happy that trail races are becoming more popular, but I didn’t enjoy not being able to take part in some of the popular events. One event that I never have problems getting into is the Escarpment. After losing last year for the first time, I was able to hold off Greg Hammett, one of the best trail runners in New England, to earn my 8th win.
Instead of the local 50 miler, I unfortunately went up to Vermont to the PEAK 50 miler Funeral Run. After 8 and half hours and 14,000 ft of climbing, I was finally able to stop. Compared to my first 50 miler at JFK, I was over 2 hours slower. Despite all the ridiculous hills, it was a great course and even better challenge.
I finished 2008 as I started, losing to Greg Hammett at very fast 8 mile trail race in RI. The two of us ended up tied for the Grand Tree title, with 600 points each which is my 7th title since 1999. I actually almost won the title for total points this year, but didn’t do enough fall races to rack up the points.
Now, it’s on to snowshoe season.
I couldn't think of too much to say about this year, it's been quite a challenge, as you know. I can certainly say it's been a real mindset shift for me to find my motivation/passion/desire throughout the year, and I guess I really found it again at the Summer OR. I spent a lot of this year running for various reasons: trying to find understanding, as a coping mechanism, a distraction, etc. I found it very challenging to truly find a fire in me to be passionate about running and racing, and spent a lot of the year hoping I could break out of it. Being involved at the Summer OR with you guys, and being around the atmosphere of so many athletes and outdoor representatives/enthusiasts gave me a great perspective and sense of direction again. I really a big part of running for me is being a much bigger part of the community aspect of it, and I certainly feel Inov-8 allows me to do that much more completely
Paul Low: The year in review: highlights and lowlights for each month.
January is usually a pretty boring month for me; the highlight was gettingin some great running and the lowlight was not making it to any of theWMAC snowshoe series races. February was the nadir of the snowiest winteron record in central Vermont (lowlight) but I really did not mind- I wasgetting in some great road runs and lots of snowshoeing in fantasticconditions and building up a great fitness base. At the beginning ofMarch, I won my second Pittsfield Snowshoe Marathon in epic weatherconditions- certainly a highlight for the month and, in terms of running,the year. A few weeks later my knee started hurting after a snowshoe run.I took a few days off from running and hit the pool and the bike. After afew days, I tried running again and there was no improvement. Afterabandoning a workout with the realization that I was going to probablyhave to take some real time off, I arrived home and found that the folksat INOV-8 had sent me a pair of the new f-lite 230s- what unfortunatetiming- the new f-lites were the shoes that I was hoping to wear whiletrying to win Mount Washington in 2008 and now I was wondering if I waseven going to make it to the starting line. In April, I ran a total ofthree times (lowlight); the last time that I ran was on the 'hike' leg ofthe Tuckerman Inferno. My team (EMS) won and it was a positively perfectspring day in Mount Washington- plus, I got to hang out with the InfamousFerence (highlight). In May, I finished my first year of teaching; the relief was a hugehighlight. I also saw my first orthopedist and, after two visits and anMRI, he could find no reason for my knee pain. I also learned that myinjured leg was about an inch less in diameter than my non-injured leg. InJune, I visited a seconds orthopedist who met with me for just under sixminutes1 (including the minute that he left the room to pretend2 to viewmy MRI) before telling me that I should wait another two months to see ifmy knee gets better or worse. A week later, I saw a third orthopedist whoagreed to aggressively treat my knee (perform exploratory surgery) afterseeing what he thought was a meniscal cyst (I had already suggested thatthis was what was indicated- I try not to do this with medicalprofessionals but at this point, I was desperate) and so that was a bit ofa relief! I also had a great time going to Mount Washington even if I wasnot able to race. In July, I finally had surgery on my knee (repair ofmeniscal cyst, removal of dislodged articular cartilage, ACL debridement,and plica resection) this was both a highpoint and a low point thoughtcertainly, the low point for the month was the difficulty that Iencountered when trying to get a pre-operation physical. After thesurgery, I headed up to Mount Snow and worked the USAC Mountain BikeNationals for my wife. August was a pretty rough month- my recovery fromthe surgery was really slow and I was unable to sleep for more than 90minutes at a time due to the pain in my knee (I toss and turn a lot atnight and every time that I would move, I would wake up). I was going toPT two to three times per week and cycling extremely slowly in order toimprove my range of motion.
In September, I went for my first run since April. By this time, I was already cycling and deep water running quite well and so my cardiovascular fitness was returning; I was also able to hike up and down Paine Mountain without any real difficulty. Starting back to running, however, was extremely difficult. My first 'run' consisted of 10 minutes of walking, 5 minutes of running, 5 minutes of walking, 5minutes of running and 5 minutes of walking- all on a treadmill. Therunning was really awkward and slow (just terrible, really) and I reallylooked forward to the end of those 5-minutes running intervals. InOctober, I started running outside and worked up to a few runs per week ataround an hour. In November, I went out to visit my wife in Colorado andwent for a run with other people for the first time since April- certainlya highpoint! I also went for a 1:40 run which was my longest since Marchand got in some great 'mountain' biking on Rampart Range Road. Decemberhas been pretty good so far. I did my first running two-a-day with a runto the Montpelier Junction train station and then a run from the Amhersttrain station to a friend's house with a heavy pack in snow for a total ofalmost 3 hours in a day. So, I guess my December highlight is that I amslowly but steadily getting better and the lowlight is that I had hopedthat by now I would have both of my knees feeling the same by now. I amcurrently in Central Michigan visiting my parents, running on theirtreadmill, snowshoeing, and seeing if my knee can handle cross-countryskiing.Gear Reviews for 2008:f-lite 230Use: I got the new f-lite 230s just in time to not run anymore and so Iwill wait until later in the year to comment on them (I will be wearingthem for Wachusett, Mount Washington, and Ascuney, at least)roclite 295Use: I got the new roclite 295s only a few weeks before getting injured(not that I blame the shoes) but I definitely liked them right away:Initial thoughts: These are a great looking pair of shoes. I really likethe colors and the design. Ahem, not that I actually care about how a shoelooks- I'm just saying that this is a good-looking pair of shoes. The 295sare very comfortable right out of the box-very flexible in the rightplaces and solid and supportive in the right places.Thoughts after a few runs: This is a fast shoe- it really likes to ripalong and feels better the faster you go. The roclite outsole is myfavorite for training because it transitions well between dirt roads,trails, snow, and even pavement.Thoughts after one month+: I got these shoes just before I got injured andthen started right back with them when coming back. They are still solidand are probably my new favorite training shoe from inov-8.Appropriate uses: The 295s are a good shoe for a variety of surfaces,conditions, and training runs. I wear them for faster-shorter runs andintervals and, when I start doing long runs again, I will use them foroccasional long runs. The fit is slightly wider than other inov-8 shoesthat I have worn- particularly in the forefoot so if you have sworn offinov-8s in the past due to their narrow fit, you might want to try thisone out. This would also make a great racing shoe for a heavier or slowertrail runner who wants something light and competitive but needs just alittle bit more than a race-specific shoe. It would also be the shoe thatI would personally go to for racing most trail ultras but that is notgoing to happen anytime soon.Race Pro™ 18 packUse: I got the new Race Pro™ 18 last year (before they started selling it)and have used it quite a bit since then. I should note at this point thatI have quite an affinity for backpacks (to the point that I think that allother forms of luggage should be outlawed)Initial thoughts: I was not too crazy about the colors- very continental(in a leather fanny pack kind of way). I certainly do appreciate theeye-catching nature of the loud bright yellow, though and the distributionof reflective material is pretty good. Aside from the color, the firstthing that I noticed was the weight of the pack- very light. I alsonoticed some of the well-thought-out details that add to its lightness andutility (see below)Thoughts after a few runs: I am very impressed with this pack. It fitswell- even my extraordinarily long, slender torso and is comfortable up torelatively heavy loads. The waist-straps pockets are well positioned andcan be accessed while running and the netting in the back is (barely)accessible while running as well. The size is a good size for my needs- Icannot quite fast-pack with it (unless I ditch the tent) but I have used itfor many overnight trips and even a weekend conference that was withincycling distance. The straps are very lightly padded (or unpadded- takeyour pick) but I found that they are not uncomfortable. The shape is alsowell-thought-out; it is narrow enough that my elbows never tough it whileI am running and the top is far enough down that my helmet does not touchit when I am cycling.Thoughts after one month+: I have used this pack for over a year now(probably 1.5 years) and have washed it a few times (usually in the riverbut a few times in a standard washing machine)- it shows no wear despiteits minimalist, low-weight design.Disclaimer: There are, of course, a few things that this pack does notmanage to address (and that no pack, to my knowledge addresses anybetter). First of all, while this is a very comfortable pack, it willbecome less comfortable with increasing weight (I have biked for over twohours carrying two quarts of paint without noticeable discomfort, though)Second, wearing a backpack makes your back sweaty- the Race Pro™ 18 does agood job of not absorbing this sweat but your back will not breathe verywell and will get pretty sweaty. I should also not that if you run tenmiles with a ventilated basket of loosely packed strawberries that yourbackpack will fill up with something that looks a lot like strawberry jam.Appropriate uses: This is a great running or cycling I use it fortransferring clothing to and from work, food to work and from the market(though I usually use a larger pack when going to the store on a bike),and for overnight trips. I will also be using it for some fast-packing thissummer. While I have not used this pack as a hydration pack or in a race,I am sure that it would function well in either situation.
Uwharrie Mtn Run 40-mile: The first weekend in February, I went down to NC to run the Uwharrie 40-miler. I was coming off of foot surgery and had only been running for 4 weeks prior to the race. I had no illusions of racing well and was planning on using this race simply as a test of my fitness and as an opportunity to get a long run in on some nice rocky trails. Standing at the starting line, I knew that I wasn't ready to race this far but since it was a race I decided to treat it as such and go out hard. I took the lead right from the start and pushed the pace to see how long I could hold on. With several top runners in the field I expected to be passed early, but when I still had the lead at the turn-around at mile 20 the competitive juices started flowing and I pushed hard, held on to the lead, and ran a PR for the course. Maybe training is overrated!
Promise Land 50km: By late April I was running well and was feeling confident. I arrived at the starting line with a race strategy....go out hard, walk the uphills, and sprint down the descents running on the edge of control. It was one of those days when I felt great, was able to execute the plan I had designed, and notched my second victory of the year.
My racing results dropped substantially after Promise Land, but I enjoyed the spectacular scenery of the Hardrock Hundred, discovered how much fun it is to race on the soft, run-able trails of Oregon at the Where's Waldo 100km, and taking on the new challenge of a road 50-miler at the Tussey Mountainback 50-mile.
Hellgate 100-km.: My final race of the year was one of my favorite, even though I suffered a DNF. I had run a few races this Fall in which some factors outside my control affected my performance and resulted in some poor finishes. It had been a frustrating few months of racing, so I decided to not worry about racing at Hellgate and just wanted to enjoy a long run in the mountains. I wanted to end the year on a good note by running a challenging course with friends, taking the time to sample the food at the aid stations (when I'm racing hard I usually just grab a quick bite to eat and immediately head down the trail), and simply enjoying the experience. I didn't sprint to the front at the start and ran with the pack for the first several miles, but after leading the way across a stream crossing around mile 4, I realized I had opened up a lead. Even though I was up front, I stuck to my plan and just ran comfortably. It was an incredible night to be running...The full moon was so bright that I didn't use my flashlight on the gravel roads, the grassy roads, and even ran some of the trail sections without a flashlight, I saw a couple shooting stars, and took in the views of the surrounding mountains and the lights in the valleys. I was running faster than expected, and was on record pace for the first half of the race. Running so fast, I had outrun several of the early aid stations and the only food I had for the first 30 miles was a Clif shot and half of a PB&J sandwich. I was really enjoying myself (it's always fun when you're leading!), was running in control, and was not pressing too hard. Then around mile 40 I took a wrong turn and added about 3 miles to my run. I worked hard to get back on trail ASAP, but when I got back on course I had dropped to third place, my legs were fried, and I was really hungry. I realized that I could have walked to the finish but it had been such a great night that I felt comfortable dropping out of the race. When I arrived at the next aid station and told the volunteers that I was dropping, a friend of mine asked if I wanted a cheeseburger...I immediately asked for two!! I then had the chance to watch a fellow Inov-8 teammate, Jeremy Ramsey, lower his time from last year by about 1.5 hours and win his first race; to cheer for my fellow Leesburg Mafia runners: Harland Peelle, whose strong finish earned him the victory in the Beast series, and Steve Core who also finished near the top in the final Beast standings; and to congratulate the rest of my friends and other runners as they crossed the finish line.
1. Mile 31 of Heartland 100miler. I knew I had made the mistake of going out a bit too hot at 7:00 pace, but recuperated and was greeted by 3 wild mustangs broadside in complete solitude amongst the open prairie; indeed i was like a complacent cartoon.
2. Trail run at one of my usual haunts (Willow River State Park). Early November and it just so happened to be a morning when the bucks were in full rut. I passed nearly 10 bucks on my 8 mile run and four of them were monarchs. The morning was capped off by an up close and personal display of buck bravado and machismo as two large monarchs were grunting, scraping and ready to lock. Unfortunately I did not have my camera. One of the few times I don't. From afar I could see a fledgling spike buck with three does next to him I guess proving that size really doesn't matter.
3. Any run or hike on the Superior Hiking Trail. Such a unique and humbling trail no matter what section you choose. The trail's challenging and unmolested terrain sets the most beautiful natural ambience one could ever imagine.
4. learning that even when a great race seems to be evolving to be sure to pay attention to nutrition, particularly in humid weather. I learned my lesson at Voyageur 50 with a good lead with only 10km to go and my legs went shot. The result: only ingesting 2 salt caps the entire race. That just is not going to cut it. However I was able to correct my mistake at the sweltering Heartland 100m
Hola family and friends,
Our journey to Patagonia started on the 5th of January as we boarded our 8 am plane to Miami enduring a short 10 hour lay over then on to Santaigo, Chile. We survived the duffel shuffle of passing gear in between bags to meet the carry on weight eventually making every bag right on within half a kilo. We arrived in Santiago in early morning and hauled our 100+ kilos of gear on to the local bus that drove us the main terminal where we would catch our first of five never ending bus rides. From Santaigo we rode twelve hours to Osorno, Chile then catching the next bus to Bariloche. In Bariloche we rested from the long travel, drank lots of cerveca and ate lots of bife. And of course bought chocolates!!
After our short stay in Bariloche we went on to,Rio Gagellos, and finally Calafate where we spent an open bivy in the bus station dreaming of the mountains we love. We left on the first bus to Chalten, riding on stools next to the driver as there were no seats left!! Finally after 42 hours of bus riding we arrived in our beloved Chalten. As we drove on the ruta 40 the Great Fitz Roy peered out into the bright blue sky.
We arrived in Chalten around noon and set up our Nemo tent in Del Lago camp because the Madsen has been shut down. We had heard the weather was good for one more day and possibly half of another so we decided to take advantage and move our gear to Paso Superior, the high camp for Fitz Roy.
We quickly packed our gear the next morning and headed up the trail. Moving quickly we made it to the base of the glacier and bivied there. The next morning we went over the glacier to Paso Superior and cached our gear there. The weather was perfect with clear sunny blue skies allowing us to see the vast mountains in front of us.
Now we wait once again for the next weather window. Our gear is in place and we are both feeling really strong and ready to climb. Wish us luck!!
Preventing & caring for retinaculum irritation.
A particularly common anatomical structure that can often times cause discomfort for a runner for a variety of reasons is called retinaculum. These fibrous bands of fascia pass over and under joint/lever type structures to help keep them in place and functioning appropriately. Notice there is not an identifiable taxonomy before retinaculum; that is because, similarly to bursas, retinaculum is located throughout various parts of the body, most identifiably in joint areas (i.e. ankle, knee, wrist, and shoulder). Retinaculum for the most part is pretty superficial, which means it can be easily treated with proper modalities (i.e. ultrasound, massage, electrotherapy, graston tools, nutrition and rest). Typically irritated retinaculum is not severe enough to completely stop running, but you may need to adjust your training until fully recovered (expect 1-3 weeks). Often times you can feel the irritated retinaculum by placing your fingers in the general area while flexing. More than likely you'll feel a crunching effect. If you could look inside the effected area, the retinaculum looks like a ball of steel wool that needs to be straightened back out again, hence the effectiveness of massage/graston tools. Treating retinaculum irritation early and effectively will get you back feeling strong and running to your maximum capabilities. I should also mention that stretching does little good to cure retinaculum irritation as the fibrous/tendon areas have very little elasticity. Pictured above is a quick observational drawing I did of the wrist & hand, notice at the top of the wrist the thick white fibrous band moving in a horizontal direction; that is an inside look of retinaculum.
Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express once.
Type rest of the post here
Friday, January 9, 2009
We are proud to announce that two Inov-8 athletes have been nominated for the best debut 100 mile performance in 2008. Yassine Diboun was nominated for his victory at the Iroquois Trail 100 and Kevin Sullivan for his strong performance at the Vermont 100, where he finished 2nd to teammate Andy Jone-Wilkins. There are 6 days left to go to vote at iRunFar.com
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Team Inov-8's Ben Nephew describes his gripping success with Kahtoola microspikes. I can also attest to the superior quality and function of the microspikes in the winter months here in the Upper Midwest. The micospikes feel inconspicuous while performing exceedingly well through not only snow, but the dreaded ice! Regarding Ben's account, Read More...
While some regions stay warm and dry for the winter, and others are cold snowy, I live in neither. Eastern Massachusetts tends to be cold, slushy, and icy most of the winter. I try to get out on my snowshoes as much as possible, but there are plenty of days when the trails are in some state of purgatory; not enough snow for snowshoeing, but enough to make trail running not pleasant. For the past several years, I've been using Yak Trax to help with traction when the trails are covered in thin snow and ice. Yak Trax are great, and probably prevent thousands of broken hips in grandmas all over the country, but running on rocky trails just destroys them. The rubber snaps, the metal wire gets bent out of shape, and they slip off. I usually go through 2-3 pair a year. Yesterday, I went on a 70 minute run in my new Kahtoola Microspikes, Mistlite jacket and pants, and Roclite 318 GTX's in absolutely miserable trail conditions. Most of the trails were covered in 2 inches of wet snow over an inch of slush. I was expected to have a similarly miserable run. Snowshoeing in these conditions would have been not only wet and cold, but extremely abusive to my snowshoes with such thin cover and exposed rocks everywhere. Even though my Roclite 318's are at the end of their life, they kept my feet warm and dry the entire run, and the traction from the Microspikes was incredible. The firm outsole of the 318's provide a nice, stable base for the Microspikes. I was actually able to descend some hills faster than I do when the trails are absolutely clear! If I had been in Yak Trax, I would have needed to stop and adjust them several times, but the Microspikes stayed secure without any adjustments at all. My Mistlite pants and jacket kept the rest of me warm and dry as well, although you really don't throw up much water or snow all with the Microspikes. As far as d urability, I have no doubt that the Microspikes will last me a very long time. Between my Gortex 318's, snowshoes, and Microspikes, I can now get on the trails have a good, safe run in absolutely any conditions. When you hate roads as much as I do, that is very, very important.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
A major reason for Inov-8's success is due to the fact that, not only do they make a shoe for every foot, but Inov-8 makes a shoe for every occasion, or rather every environment.
Until recently, I have been somewhat skeptical towards GoreTex running shoes. I never really saw the need for a waterproof shoe. That is, until I moved to Pennsylvania last year and began training in a much colder and wetter environment. Although I do not have immediate access to any great mtn. ranges, I am fortunate to have a nature preserve packed with trails which lies on a small ridge line directly behind my home. The irony is that this particular nature preserve is divided by a major highway. Therefore, in order for me to connect the two areas using trails as opposed to running on the road from my house to the trailhead, I must run underneath the highway via a 100 yard 6 ft. by 6 ft. tunnel. The tunnel serves as a major drainage for one of the creeks that runs through the nature preserve and of course water is only flowing during the colder winter and spring seasons when cold, wet feet are not so welcome. This is where my roclite 312 GTX shine and I give a shout out to Inov-8 for designing a superb shoe that keeps the water out allowing my feet to stay warm and dry subsequently allowing me to train at my best without having to deal with unnecessary issues. In addition, I have found that using the neoprene Inov-8 gaiters with my 312 GTX work extremely well at keeping my feet both dry and warm when running in snow or cold rain. Perhaps, even better yet is, if you have found one Inov-8 shoe style that you prefer most, there is a GoreTex model that is identical. So, when old man winter does what he does best and gives us moisture and bitter cold temps, lace up a pair of GoreTex Inov-8s and keep on keepn' on.
Monday, January 5, 2009
By: Anne Lundblad
My mom was right. After age 40, things begin to shift. My waistbands feel a bit tighter, and my c-section scar seems to bulge out a little more than usual. I don’t feel quite as comfortable running in just a jog bra and shorts – a conservative singlet seems more appropriate. Although running is great for maintaining overall fitness, the fact is, it doesn’t do much for the belly area.
I guess I could cut down on my daily ice cream intake, but that doesn’t feel like a great option. Need that calcium for strong and healthy bones. Of course there are the various attempts I have made at core exercises – doing yoga at sunrise, practicing Pilates in front of the TV at night, even squeezing in two minutes of push-ups and crunches in between meetings at work. My husband is a dedicated practitioner of core work – every evening he comes home from work and heads straight down to the basement to knock it out. Me, I’m not so disciplined. If I’m going to do core exercises, I want immediate results. If that’s not possible, it had better at least be fun.
Given my resistance to any sort of formal core work, imagine my excitement when my friend Barbara invited me to a beginner’s hula hoop class. I checked out the website, which promised that hooping would “tone and strengthen muscles, increase flexibility, and develop core strength” among other things. One of the testimonials described hooping as "… a fun way to lose weight, get in shape and feel good about yourself, all while you are having fun!” Okay, I thought, I’m not the most coordinated kid on the block, but I’ll give it a try.
When we arrived at the studio, we were immediately greeted by dozens of beautiful, brightly colored hoops. It was obvious that these weren’t the hoops of our childhood. There were weighted hoops, glow-in-the-dark hoops with LCD lights, and hoops filled with water. Before getting to take any for a test spin, however, we learned a bit about the history and culture of hooping. That’s right – it’s not called hula hooping any more. The activity – part sport, part dance – that has been around for thousands of years (Egyptians made hoops out of grapevines 3,000 years ago) and became a pop craze in the United States in the late 50’s has evolved into much more. It is now a culture, brought back in the mid 90’s by The String Cheese Incident. Hoping to get more people dancing at their shows, members of the jam band threw dozens of hoops into the crowd at the Telluride Music Festival, igniting a movement that is now present at festivals and shows across the country.
From the looks of our teacher, professional hooper Melanie MacNeil, aka melmacpink, Barb and I were in for more than an exercise class. Decked out in bright shimmering clothing that revealed elaborate tattoos underneath, she moved with a dancer’s grace. Melanie began by teaching us beginner’s moves, the spinning hoops and swaying hips that we remembered from childhood. Nothing to it, I thought, especially using Mel’s custom-made, adult-sized hoops. Just when I was thinking I had it made, however, she upped the ante and added more complex movements. Hooping with our eyes closed. Hooping while walking. Hooping on one leg. Putting our arms inside the hoop and easing the hoop up to our necks. How was it that she made it all look so easy, so fluid? We were supposed to holler or make a silly noise every time our hoop hit the ground, and soon yelling and laughter overshadowed the funky music accompanying our dance.
After an hour of hooping, we were all sweaty, tired, and exhilarated. It was easy to understand how this child’s toy could also be a workout tool. The circular motion of hooping gets all of your core muscles working, including muscles in your abdomen, back, pelvis, and hips. Even my arms were burning. Still, the feeling was different than that you get from a typical gym workout. Maybe it was the music, maybe the moves, the likes of which one NPR commentator described as, “sexy, gymnastic, and mystical”—
whatever it was, I felt relaxed and young again.
Professional hoopers like Melanie know full well about the emotional and spiritual aspects of hooping. For her, viewing hooping as a fitness routine would be like Tiger Woods describing golf as his hobby. Melanie’s passion for hooping has been a journey that has allowed her to follow her heart's work of promoting movement as a mode to physical, emotional and spiritual health. In addition to the physical benefits, she talks about how hooping “creates a mind-body awareness, increases personal empowerment and inward focus, breaks down the ego, and opens channels of energy”. How many exercise programs do all this?
Now, armed with my custom-made glittery pink and black hoop, I can be seen practicing my moves in the yard nearly every afternoon. My abs are sore, my hips and legs are bruised from the hoop banging against them (yes, it’s possible to spin the hoop on your legs; no, that’s not what I was trying to do). My daughter says I’m embarrassing myself in front of the entire neighborhood, but I don’t care – it’s fun. Will I develop abs of steel? Maybe. Will I develop into a hooping goddess like Melanie, with flowing, mystical moves? Probably not. But I will have fun as I try.