Sunday, December 16, 2012

Ultra Scheduler

I'll have to put up a link to this on the sidebar somewhere. What a great tool for scheduling your next ultra. I recently signed up for the Rockin' K 50 miler and I used this to map out my schedule.

Ultra Scheduler

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hawk 100 / 50 / Marathon

I can now say that I've been to the edge.  I can also say that I ran along the edge for about 20 miles.  Back on the 8th of September I finished my first Ultramarathon; the Trailhawk 50 miler.  

It was, as far as I can tell, pretty much a textbook case of a 50 mile race.  I had very few problems and overall the race went very well.  The course was very familiar to me as I have run it numerous times in training.  It consisted of two 25 mile loops around the north shore trails on Clinton lake.  

I completed the first loop in great time along with the two top female finishers.  This was kind of a surprise to me as I figured on taking a little longer.  I usually push myself pretty hard just on instinct so I shouldn't be too surprised. I typically have to force myself to slow down.  I certainly paid for it on the second loop.  About 5 miles in I started having pretty good pain in my left knee and right ankle.  I still don't know if one was a result of favoring the other or if it was sheer coincidence.  All I can say is I limped along for near 20 miles.  Each leg of the race I was saying to myself "If I can just make it here... then I'll be able to finish..."  

Before too long that leg was the last leg and I was cruising up the incline at the end of the white trail coming out to the Corps of Engineers lot.  I was very relieved.  It was almost a little uneventful as a few miles from the finish I had this epiphany that I was going to finish. I was 5 miles from the finish line, almost crying, and pretty much cheering out loud that I had done it, when I wasn't really done yet and there was nobody around to celebrate with.

I managed to limp across the finish line and meet my kids in open arms.  Thanks so much to Julie for bringing them up for the first loop and the finish line.  

I guess now it's time to start training for the Rockin' K next spring.  I don't know If I have another race in me for the fall and my knee has taken a lot longer than expected to heal.  I think I'll work on strengthening the knees and do some tempo work to get ready for the Rockin' K.  I managed to win a free entry for the race so I'm committed.  Now I just have to figure out how to camp before a race.  That's going to be the real adventure.  How do I recover while camping?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Psycho Psummer Pscorcher 50k Review

Well, I picked a winner as usual.  I recently ran my first official 50k and I managed to pick one of the hottest days of the year and the hilliest damn course to do it on.

I have run 50k on a few training runs in the past so I wasn't too concerned on finishing.  I was hoping for a better time but learning how many people actually dropped back to the 20 miler made me feel a little better.  To top this off, I did this in my usual "fly by the seat of my pants" fashion and had no real training plan leading up to the race.  During the few weeks leading up to the race I had increased my mileage and I was actively "looking" for a race to make it official.  All the pieces of the puzzle fell into place but the race was only a couple days away.  I went ahead and pulled the trigger and signed up (two days prior to the race).

Since the race was just a couple days away I didn't really taper a lot.  I had been recovering from a 50k training run a few weeks prior to the race so my downtime was already a couple weeks.  I was confident in my ability but not in the weather.

The weather leading up to the race was hot to say the least.  We had been breaking records and a serious drought was taking place. The forecast high for the day was low 100s and it was right on the money. It was a cool 101 on my way home.

The course started out on the up hill and that was a pretty good indication of what was to come. There was a large open area to start which was nice to allow people to spread out and find their place in the crowd.  Just after a long gradual up hill we turned off to a trail into the woods and narrowed down to single file.  At this point it was fairly rocky but nothing unusual. The next few miles were nothing difficult or different compared to the trails I was used to running. There were a few steep uphills and quite a few rocks but nothing out of the ordinary.  At one point we ran up the back of the dam which was a bit foreboding and hot but also a nice change of scenery. Shortly after this things started to get a bit more hilly.  Near the end of the 10 mile loop there are 3 large hills that could be called just about anything in the book.  They are long and steep. And in the 100 degree heat I used about every name you could think of. Shortly after these lovely hills was a quick little jaunt to the finish line.

After the first loop I felt great. I was ready plow ahead and knock this baby out. Next thing I knew, I was dehydrated and bent over in the bathroom trying to pee.  I toughed it out and started drinking more with more S-Caps as well. After the debilitating second lap in which I walked quite a bit, I strapped on my hydration pack, filled it with ice and headed out. I was quickly hydrated and rolling along just fine. I never was really sore or worn out, just dehydrated. I finished the last lap right at 8 hours; much longer than I expected but I still had fuel in the tank which is what I had hoped to accomplish.

Next up is the Trailhawk 50 miler in September. I think I'll go ahead and start out with the hydration pack this time. It seems to keep me drinking more often and even though it won't be as important with the cooler temperatures, it will be imperative to finishing 50 miles.

Over all the Psycho Psummer 50k was a great race. The sponsor was wonderful as usual and all the aid stations were motivating and stocked with supplies. I can't say enough good things about the Trail Nerds. They always put on a great race.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Unofficial 50k in the books!

I went out with the Trailhawks for the weekly long run on Saturday.  I ended up doing a full 50k for the first time and it felt great.  I learned a few things in the process as well (which is always nice). 

I need to take more than just Gu and Honey Stingers for food for the first thing.  At around the 24 mile mark I became extremely hungry.  I must have been "bonking" as I have never really felt that way before.  I was dizzy and just felt like laying down.  I managed to walk a ways to water point and someone said they had a peanut butter sandwich I could have. It was, without a doubt, the best peanut butter sandwich I have ever eaten.  Of course it was just bread and whipped peanut butter but it tasted fantastic.  I now have a favorite aid-station food and something cheap and easy to pack. Thanks again Sherri!

Also, I do a lot better with S-Caps instead of Nuun water.  In the past, I have always just stocked a few Nuun tablets and popped them in at water points.  I never really realized that the sickly feeling was most likely not from too much Nuun, but too little salt.  I never really liked the taste of the Nuun anyway.  I have always preferred plain old water.  Now I just pop an S-Cap every half-hour to hour, depending on how hot it is, and I am fine.

I must say the run was surprisingly pain free.  My legs, knees, ankles and feet were all fine.  I had a little arch pain at one point but I just shifted my stride a little and it went away.  It could have been from getting stomped on in softball the night before too.  By far the worst thing about the whole run was my sore shoulders from wearing that hydration pack for 7 hours!

Next up, finding a 50k close by so I can get Oh-Ficial!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Runner’s World: Remember those shoes we told you to buy? Never mind.

Runner’s World: Remember those shoes we told you to buy? Never mind.:
In Dec. 2008, Runner’s World slipped this footnote into its shoe review:
We’ve reported in the past that a more stable shoe will help relieve the pain you feel just ahead of the heel. But recent research has shown that stability shoes are unlikely to relieve plantar fasciitis and may even exacerbate the symptoms.
Translation: “Those $100 shoes we’ve been telling you to buy for years? Turns out they’re worse than worthless.”

RW’s excuse is the same one Citigroup and Countrywide and Fannie Mae deployed as it tried to scuttle away from the subprime mortgage crisis: “No one could have seen this coming. We acted as soon as we got the information.”
That’s not an alibi, of course; it’s an indictment. They pretended they were experts — and cashed in on that authority of expertise — when in truth, they didn’t know what they were talking about.
Now, Runner’s World is slipping in another correction. In the March, 2012 issue, it began slinking away from the once hugely-profitable, and now discredited, “motion-control” shoe. They did it so quietly even I missed it, even though I’d been shocked to hear RW’s shoe reviewer, Warren Greene, hint as much at a seminar more than a year ago.
Barefoot in Arizona has the story, including this bullseye analysis:
why do so many people believe they need pronation-controlling posts to run but no one believes they need Reebok Pumps to play basketball? It isn’t because the runners were convinced by studies showing the benefits of motion-control shoes, because they aren’t any. It’s because two generations of runners have been told they need them by the only major source of independent shoe reviews.
Incidentally, this major source of “independent” shoe reviews has NEVER published a negative review — not, at least, since Nike temporarily pulled its advertising back in the ’80s. As Runner’s World’s founder laments, the shoe review he’d created as a form of consumer protections is now “a grading system where you can only get an A.”

Monday, June 18, 2012

Kevin Gray 5k Report and Results

I didn't do too bad at the Kevin Gray Inaugural Father's Day 5k; placing 4th in my age group.  Considering I ran 10 miles the night before and played a double-header of softball, I am happy with the results =)

It was a great race through the T-Bones stadium and ending up in the Sporting KC stadium.  The first mile was up hill and into the wind but not too terribly bad.  The only suggestions I had for changes were to move the "chip-cutters" back away from the finish line a little and maybe have some water bottles closer to the finish. I had to go up a long flight of stairs to get water. I understand it must be difficult to end a race in a nice stadium like that and provide amenities without mucking up the field.  They had to shew me out of the leather box seats once as well =)

All in all, it was a great, well organized race and a real treat for Father's day.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Friday, May 18, 2012

Physiology Lessons

Great article on running physiology (no kidding).  It answers all the nitty-gritty questions about VO2-max, Running Economy and Lactate Thresholds.  Very well written and easy to understand.  I especially enjoyed the last part about muscle types and how to focus your training.

Physiology Lessons (Trailrunner mag) (Jason R. Karp, Ph.D.)

Physiology Lessons (Running Times mag) (Jason R. Karp, Ph.D.)

Here's a quick synopsis:

How to Improve LT
  • Continuous LT Run: Three to six miles at LT pace (for recreational runners, 10 to 15 seconds per mile slower than 5K race pace or about 10K race pace; for trained runners, 25 to 30 seconds per mile slower than 5K race pace or 15 to 20 seconds per mile slower than 10K race pace.)
  • LT Intervals: 4 x 1 mile at LT pace with one-minute rest.
  • LT-Plus Intervals: Two sets of 4 x 1000 meters at 10 seconds per mile faster than LT pace, with 45 seconds rest between intervals and two minutes rest between sets.
How to improve RE
  • High mileage.
  • Heavy strength training: Three to four sets of three to five reps with greater than 85-percent of your one-rep max 
  • Plyometrics: Box jumps, squat jumps, leg bounds, bleacher hops, etc.
How to Train the Heart Muscle
  • Run intervals close to one-mile race pace for recreational runners and two-mile race pace (10 to 15 seconds per mile faster than 5K race pace) for trained runners. You should be within a few beats of your maximum heart rate by the end of each interval. 
  • Work periods should last three to five minutes and recovery periods (jog to keep oxygen consumption elevated) should be equal to or slightly less than the work periods.
How to Efficiently Train Enzyme Function
  • Progressively increase your mileage each month. 
  • Interval training (see "How to Train the Heart Muscle" above).
How to Efficiently Train According to Muscle-Fiber Type
  • More ST fibers: Emphasize mileage and LT runs. 
  • More FT fibers: Emphasize interval training
What's Your Fiber Type?

To determine your fiber type, you can either get a muscle biopsy or ask yourself the following questions:

• When you race,

(a) Are you able to hang with your competitors during the middle stages, but get out-kicked in the last quarter to half-mile?

(b) Do you have a hard time maintaining the pace during the middle stages, but can finish fast and out-kick others?

If you answered a, you have more ST fibers. If you answered b, you have more FT fibers.

• Which type of workouts feel easier and more natural?

(a) Long intervals (800-meter to mile repeats), long runs and tempo runs.

(b) Short, fast intervals (200s and 400s).

If you answered a, you have more ST fibers. If you answered b, you have more FT fibers.

• Which workouts do you look forward to more?

(a) Long intervals and tempo runs.

(b) Short, fast intervals.

If you answered a, you have more ST fibers. If you answered b, you have more FT fibers. (People tend to get excited about tasks at which they excel, while being more anxious about tasks that are difficult.)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Copperhead Shmopperead

Found this lovely specimen on the trail today. Scared me at first, then I saw the beetles crawling into his mouth.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Daily Quote

"Fear, hate and suspicion narrow your mind -- compassion opens it."  -The Dalai Lama

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Daily Quote

Thinking of yourself will always result in suffering. Only compassion for others will bring relief from suffering.

Post race food

Ultragen by First Endurance.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Free State Trail Marathon Report

First of all, here are the results.

What a great day for a marathon. The weather couldn't have been better. It was a cool 40 degrees at the start and stayed partly cloudy and about 60 degrees all morning. The course was dry (but rocky as I found out multiple times).

We started with an out and back loop which I didn't like at first but later realized it was a good thing.  The two quick out-and-back loops provided a nice break in the atmosphere and almost made it feel like two different courses. By the time we hit the "real" trail, we were 6 miles into the course.

A few miles down the trail I found a nice rock at the top of a ledge the hard way. I had just asked a friend for the time and I was mentally calculating things in my head and kicked it rather hard.  I did a "superman" off the ledge and landed in a heap.  With both knees bleeding, an elbow and hand cut up, I managed to get to my feet. At that point I wasn't even sure if I'd be able to continue. It was easily the hardest I'd ever fallen on the trail. This was no simple face-plant. I was sailing through the air at one point. I'm a fairly regular trail runner and I can say one things for sure. There is no moment in a trail run that is more terrifying than the point right after you stumble when you know, without a doubt, that you are going to fall.  I stumble 2-3 times per run but rarely fall.  This time, I knew from the moment I kicked that rock, that I was going to be bleeding in a matter of seconds.

After the embarrassment wore off, I pulled myself up and brushed myself off with the help of the gathering crowd.  The embarrassment suffered during the first few miles of a trail run can be overwhelming. If you are alone, you just look around and thank the trail gods that nobody saw. If you are in a group, you just want to distance yourself from the situation as quickly as possible hoping the people will forget who fell.  A friend generously offered me a band-aid but I turned her down with a quick negation of damage and urged us back onto the trail.  

Just a few miles more and we were on the lovely (hrmpf) red trail along the shoreline.  This is the highlight of the Shoreline Shuffle, a 5k trail run coming up here in May. But I must say it should have been avoided on this particular course. There is a parallel trail just up the shoreline that offers the same distance but a much less dangerous trail.  The red route is just a rocky mess.  Sure it is very scenic if you are brave enough to take your eyes off the trail.  If you do take your eyes from the trail be ready for a nasty spill. There are sharp rocks and jagged ledges for a half mile or more.

At the end of the red trail there is a small switchback up to the first "manned" aid station at Lands End. This is also the halfway point of the marathon.  I felt great at this point and was a bit surprised at the time and distance already traveled.  Not only were we half done, but the rest of the race would be done in familiar territory. I have been regularly running this half of the Clinton Lake trails for the past couple years.  The aid station was run by the Trail Nerds who are the main sponsors of the race.  They are a very experienced group of runners who know how to do an aid station.  The race being a combination of ultra/marathon may have contributed to the abundance of supplies, but it was a regular smorgasbord of runner's food and drink, along with various medicinal supplies for the ailing trail runner. We quickly refilled bottles and grabbed a snack before heading out on the way to the Corps of Engineers lot a few miles up the trail.

The next few miles are the "blue" trail.  I was planning on using this portion of the trail as my meat and potatoes portion of the run.  I knew it fairly well and it is a rather flat and easy section of the trail.  I knew I could push myself and not worry too much about stumbling or falling. I took advantage of this but probably pushed too hard.  I guess under different circumstances I wouldn't have done this and wouldn't have been quite so done by the end of the day.  I knew the return portion of the loop would be on the "white" trail and much more challenging. So, I had to make some time.

By the time I was approaching the Corps of Engineers lot I had pushed away from my friend and was alone on the trail. It seemed every time I decided to slow down and coast along I would see someone up ahead and feel the "need" to catch them.  About a mile out from the CoE trail-head we took an unexpected detour out onto the road. The route pushed up the road a small way and then to the grass and over to the CoE lot. It avoided a more crowded section of the trail but cut a couple miles out of the route that I had calculated in my head. 

I also managed to catch and pass my "white rabbit" that I had picked out at the beginning of the race.  This is something I like to do in any race.  I pick an eager, overzealous, ambitious, motivated, excessively enthusiastic runner who bolts out of the gate to an early lead. I track them through the race and hopefully pass them before it's too late and finish ahead of them.  I imagine I'm not the only one who plays this little game but it keeps you motivated and watching ahead of you for signs of your prey.  In this race it was a young kid in fancy running gear who was obviously biting off more than he could chew.  I was slightly surprised that he finished when he did; just a few minutes behind me.

I only filled my bottle at the CoE station. Nothing looked really good on the table and I had just had a Stinger waffle on the trail before arriving. So I breezed through and picked up a few minutes starting with a new group of runners for the return trip. I knew this portion of the trail pretty well. I knew it was fairly technical and that I'd have to slow down and take it easy or I could easily fall. Falling at this portion of the race could easily mean a pulled muscle and possibly not finishing at all.  I knew it would be hard but I had to keep control and not try to go too fast.

When we reached Lands End again I was feeling fine. I had eaten another Stinger waffle just before arriving so again, I pushed through with just a refill. Something I didn't really need given there were just three miles to the finish. Three LONG miles.

I felt fine approaching Lands End but leaving my knees felt like giant knots of swollen tissue and bone.  I really wish I hadn't pushed so hard up to that point. I was hoping to finish feeling like I could keep going. But at this point I was shuffling along so slowly that I could have been power-walking.  This down-hills were killing my knees.  I was surprised that going up-hill felt better.  I was catching people on the up-hill only to give it back while creeping down the other side.  This was also a portion of the trail I had never run on.  I was fully expecting to be done much closer to Lands End. When I saw there were three more miles, I was a little shocked.  This is where the two miles chopped off the Corps of Engineers loop came back to haunt me.

By the time I reached the end of that three miles I was close to limping. My left knee felt like jelly and every down-hill step was painful. I came around a bend to see people clapping and cheering. I was caught off-guard since I had not run this section of trail before.  There was nobody around me in front or behind but I sprinted up the hill the best I could and through the shoot to the finish. I had to circle back around to see the clock time but I finished just under 4:30. It was an anticlimactic end to a very enjoyable run. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

New Balance Minimus Zero Trail Review and Giveaway

New Balance Minimus Zero Trail Review and Giveaway: Before today's contest, a reminder that you've got less than one day left to submit photo entries for my Vibram FiveFingers Spyridon LS giveaway contest. Tick tock!


In my Minimus Zero Road shoe review, I described how New Balance went back to the drawing board and completely revamped their Minimus lineup after collecting user and laboratory feedback about the first generation released last year. It’s especially telling that they did this with the Minimus Trail model, which proved to be one of the most popular shoes of 2011, and played a monumental role in introducing minimalism to the masses.

Or, to use another analogy: if you consider last season’s version an opening bid toward minimalism, think of this year’s Minimus Zero Trail as New Balance going all-in. It features several changes that purists will appreciate, and strips away every ounce of unnecessary construction to create an extremely lightweight, highly flexible trail runner that still provides decent protection for rugged or technical off-road conditions. Most – but maybe not all of - the upgrades from last year’s model are improvements, and with the finished product, New Balance pretty much sets a new standard for lightweight, high-performance minimalist trail shoes.

And if that isn’t enough to get you excited … you guessed it, we’re doing a giveaway! One male and one female winner will receive a pair of New Balance Minimus Zero Trail shoes to enjoy for his and herself – but in the meantime, let’s run through the standard review:

New Balance Minimus Zero Trail

Here’s what will probably happen when you take the Minimus Zero Trail out of the box: the first thought that comes to mind will be, Holy cow are these things light. And when you put them on your feet, you’ll have nearly the same reaction. Above all the other improvements, that will almost certainly be the hallmark of the Minimus Zero Trail: the shoe is almost incredibly light.

At a mere 4.4 oz, it feels like there’s almost nothing on my feet – and coming from an experienced barefoot and minimalist runner, that’s saying something. The Minimus Zero Trails weigh less than any of Vibram’s FiveFingers (including the bare-bones SeeYa), Soft Star’s RunAmoc, and virtually any other standard bearer for light and minimal footwear.

As the revamped name of these models implies, New Balance corrected the primary drawback of last year’s edition and created a completely flat platform from heel to toe. Stack height is approximately 10mm, which places it about halfway in between Vibram’s Spyridon LS and Merrell’s Trail Gloves.

From the medial view you can also see the synthetic suede overlays that help keep the foot stabilized on the insole. Because the upper material is so thin, these overlays are crucial to prevent movement inside the shoe …

… as is the lined insole, which combines with a traditional tongue and lace system to keep the foot securely in place. Unlike my complaint about the Minimus Zero Road, I haven’t experienced any problems with forefoot movement in the Zero Trail, even on steep hills or highly technical terrain.

I was initially disappointed that New Balance replaced the upper material on last year’s Minimus Trail, which had a true slipper-like feel and was one of the most comfortable shoes I tested all year. The updated upper is remarkably thin, paper-like and translucent, constructed from a durable nylon that resists scratches and abrasions quite well. It seems a bit more permeable to dust and fine grit than the previous model, and feels coarser and less supple against my skin. Perhaps that’s why …

Look at the left 4th toe ... or don't.

… the upper material gave me a nice little blister on the top of one toe after my first 8-miler. After a breaking-in period this issue resolved, and the rest of the Zero Trail’s interior is very comfortable for sockless use – however, I do stick with my custom of wearing socks for multi-hour runs in these.

Peek A Boo toes!

One more note about the upper: have I mentioned that they’re thin? Consequently, the Minimus Zero Trail may be more of a warm-weather shoe than an all-season trainer, because your toes will indeed get cold in them, comparable to the poor thermoregulation of most FiveFingers.

For this year’s Minimus Zero Trail, New Balance uses a new Vibram T-Lite outsole rubber (the green stuff) on top of a layer of proprietary ACTEVA midsole foam (the black stuff) that is lighter and more compression-resistant than most other midsole materials commonly used – at least, it’s supposedly more compression-resistant, as you’ll see. One cool indicator of the midsole flexibility is that when I take the shoe off my foot, it often bends in half from heel to toe just like my FiveFingers do.

I’ve been fortunate to have my test pair for several months now, meaning I’ve racked up well over 200 miles on my Minimus Zero Trails. To my eye, it seems that the ACTEVA material has deformed slightly underneath the higher density green pods at impact areas. Of course, minimalist runners don’t expect much in the way of structure anyway, but the wear pattern thus far suggests that overall durability may be slightly diminished compared to its predecessor.

Placement of the outsole rubber was designed after reviewing wear patterns of from the previous model. The new outsole is even more deeply lugged than the prior version, which was already very aggressive and grippy in practically all conditions, and I’ve really had no problems with traction anywhere, especially on wet rocks or mud. However, spacing of the lugs is so wide that there is room for smaller pointy rocks to jut between them – think of gravel fire roads - so if you’re not accustomed to minimalist running yet, your feet could feel a bit of bruising on highly rocky or technical terrain.

That speaks to a larger point that distinguishes the Minimus Zero Trail from its predecessor: it’s a no-apologies minimalist shoe for runners who are sure of their technique. If you’re not an experienced minimalist runner, start in small doses with this shoe just as you would with a pair of Vibrams. And if you’re still transitioning or still want some substance or structure from your shoes, the Minimus Zero Trail is probably more then you’re ready for.

So … are YOU ready for it? If so, let’s get our contest on. Same procedure for this one as for the road version: one male and one female winner will be chosen at random from the comments below. One entry for a plain ol’ comment, one extra for a Facebook or Twitter link, and a third for a blog link. Include links or URLs so I can verify, and let me know if you’re male or female if it’s not obvious from your username. Winners will be announced Saturday night, April 21.

If you’d rather not take your chance or wait that long, the New Balance Minimus Zero Trail retails for $109 from Special thanks to New Balance for sponsoring this review and contest, and good luck to everyone!

*Product provided by New Balance. Affiliate sales support Running and Rambling.

**If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me at

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Caballo Blanco Memorial Fund

Caballo Blanco Memorial Fund:

Donations in Micah True’s memory can be made to the Caballo Blanco Memorial Fund

Your tax deductible donation will support the Caballo Blanco Foundation, whose mission is:
  • To honor the legacy of Micah True, the race director of the Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon;
  • To reinvigorate the ancient running culture of the Tarahumara (or RarĂ¡muri in their own language), the indigenous people living in Mexico’s Copper Canyon.

Many thanks to our charitable partner, the Ventura County Community Foundation (VCCF), which will hold and administer all donated funds during the launch of the newly established Caballo Blanco Foundation.

Thank you for your help and be sure to visit our website for updates about upcoming memorials and events.  As Caballo would say, “Run free”.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Don’t Be a Lifestyle Masochist

Don’t Be a Lifestyle Masochist:
Before reading this post, take this short online test here:  You will get a score from 1 to 13, write it down.
Ever notice people bitch about a lot of stuff?  I just scanned my Facebook news feed.  Of the first thirty stories, twelve are a complaint of some sort.  Almost all of the complaints involve work, bills, relationships, or body image.  Essentially, all are things that can be changed.
Yet [...]

Want to Win Your Age Group? Consider Smoking Crack

Great article about ethics and running. It really makes you wonder. I know I personally take ibuprofen before most races. It's mainly for post race pain but I can't deny it may help at the tail end of longer races.

Want to Win Your Age Group? Consider Smoking Crack
You know the problem.  You wish you were faster.  You say you run races just for the experience.  That smile and the beer in hand are just a facade hiding that deep-seated desire to run really, really fast.  You secretly fantasize about posting that age group win on Facebook so all your friends will envy you.  If only you were faster.
Some people train hard.  Some people have natural talent.  Some people just get lucky sometimes.  [...]

Monday, April 2, 2012

Blistering Weekend Long Run

I did my long run this weekend in preparation for the Free State Trail Marathon and I almost had to call for a rescue. At one point along the South Lawrence Trafficway I had to stop and ask a stranger weeding her yard for a refill on my water. I really should have carried my larger pack but I thought there would be places along the way to refill. I was sorely mistaken. I also need to find a nice hat. I am rather sunburned which is a bit odd for running in March.

Altogether though it was a great run. My body was fine aside from the elements. I wasn't sore or blistered or cramped in any way. Just parched and burned. Can't wait for the 22nd to get this marathon under my belt!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Quote of the day

“Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Our Favorite Trail Snacks

Our Favorite Trail Snacks:

Pictured: Vanilla Honey Stinger Waffle, Justin's Honey/PB Blend, Swinging Bridge

Back into spring, into heavy training mode, that time when so many thoughts inevitably turn toward one of my favorite subjects: food.

Mmmm ... food.

In addition to the nutritional decisions we make for breakfast, second breakfast, lunch, snack, after school snack, tapas, dinner, and dessert (Um, you have these decisions too, right?), we endurance athletes also have to put some thought into what sustains us out on the trail.

When running for 6-10 hours in a day, I have a few qualities I look for in my trail food:

Calories, taste, and palatability (does it sit well on the stomach?). I want a lot of calories for very little mass, I want it to be yummy, and I definitely do not want it to make me nauseous. I tend to fluctuate in various stages as to what I think qualifies as yummy, and I also have some old standbys that never wane. (For instance, back in 2009 I was in love with Berries-Go-Mega Odwalla Bars. Now? The very idea makes me want to throw up. I'm feeling a little queasy just typing this.)

I am one of those few runners who doesn't really love to talk gear. I think it's a result of having worked in gear stores for so long. (And plus, you know what? You really don't need most of that stuff! Shhhh!) But I can talk food forever! Especially while on trail.

So, I thought I'd share some of my trail food loves in the hopes that it will give you all some new ideas of what to try. I'm hoping, of course, for some of your brilliance in return.

Classic Standby: PBJ -Tastes good. Sits well. Always have it at home. Always available at aid stations.

Standard Race Fare: GU -Any flavor. Immediate rescue from an "inevitable" bonk.

Latest Favorite: Strawberry Honey Stinger Waffle with Justin's Chocolate/PB blend spread on top. OMG SO AWESOME! (Also amazing - Vanilla waffle with Nutella.)

Thirst Quenching: Honey Stinger Pink Lemonade Chews. Seriously, these taste like "cool and refreshing on a hot summer day." I don't know how they do it.

When I'm Feeling Pukey: GU Chomps. Calories that never come back up.

Early in a Run: banana, Mountain Mix Mojo Bar

Late in a Race: avocado with salt 

Post Run: Black Butte Porter (with a strawberry/watermelon GU Brew Recovery chaser)

So? Lay it on me friends. What do you love before, during, and after those long runs and races?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Quote of the day

Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.

Young Life 5k run/walk 10k

The first anual Young Life 5k run/walk 10k run is scheduled for 9am, April 28th at Shawnee Mission Park. It is a benefit for Kaw Valley Young Life.

The Run Wyld is a fun-filled event for all ages and includes a 5K Run/Walk, 10 K Run. The event benefits Kaw Valley Young Life, a year-round program for middle school and High schoolers in the Basehor, Bonner Springs, Mill Valley, and Desoto School Districts. The money raised will help offset the cost of camp dues, allow campership scholarships and aide in the growth of the program and allow us to reach out to more Middle and High school students in the Kaw Valley area.

Vitals - Walk 3 mph or faster to outpace the Grim Reaper, scientists say

Vitals - Walk 3 mph or faster to outpace the Grim Reaper, scientists say:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

30 Running Tips from 30 Marathoners

From Men's Health

To become a greyhound, you’ve got to work like a dog, says Debbra Jacobs-Robinson of San Diego, California. And she has. At this Sunday’s Honda Los Angeles Marathon, Jacobs-Robinson will run her 121st marathon as a leader with the CLIF Bar Pace Team.
Marathon pace teamCredit: Clif Bar
Michael Seymour keeps a group of runners on pace at the Marine Corps Marathon.
For the last 10 years, the team of 30 expert marathoners have helped beginner and competitive runners score their desired times and even set personal records. So far the team has paced more than 300,000 runners at 115 full and half marathons in the United States.
Whether you’re running a spring marathon or just a neighborhood 5K, follow these 30 tips from 30 veteran marathoners to have the best race of your life.
More from Run Smarter and Faster

Skip Expo Snacks
 As tempting as it is to try new bars and drinks at the race-weekend expo, don’t. Last thing you want is an upset stomach—or worse, diarrhea—at mile 9 thanks to unfamiliar food. 
—Lori Tubbs, 48, Virginia Beach, VA, 50+ marathons, 3-time Ironman finisher and military sports dietician
 (For the best snacks in America, click here.)
Wear Arm Warmers They provide the perfect bit of protection from the cold, easily roll down when temps rise, and can hold gels if you don’t have pockets. I’ve even used them to carry my hotel room key and a few bucks, just in case.
—Scott Stocker, 45, Columbus, OH, 90+ marathons
Don’t Race to Win There will always be someone faster or capable of running farther than you. Run for your own personal goals—weight loss, general fitness, completing a marathon, winning a bet. Maybe you’ll get lucky and win a race someday, but if that were everyone’s goal then about 40,000 runners failed in the NYC Marathon last fall.
—Chris Cavanaugh, 41, Cincinnati, OH, 99 marathons
During Tough Moments, Focus on Form. Think about maintaining a clean, efficient stride. Drop your shoulders and relax your hands. A little energy saved here may just get you mentally—and physically—back in your race.
—David Bea, 32, Cincinnati, OH, 35+ marathons
Picture the Finish Line At the start of the race, think about the end. Imagine yourself coming down that final stretch. All soreness disappears as soon as you hear and see people cheering, clapping, even yelling your name (make sure it’s written somewhere visible). See yourself pumping your fists under the big banner, smiling wide. Replay this over and over until you’ve made it a reality.
—Karyn Hoffman, 49, Folsom, CA, 23+ marathons, 7-time 100 mile ultramarathon finisher and 4-time Ironman finisher
Beware Goal Inflation If you’ve never run your goal pace in an 18-mile training run, don’t expect a marathon morning miracle. You’ll have a better experience basing your goal on a long run that was satisfyingly hard but doable.
—Sharon McNary, 53, Pasadena, CA, 95 marathons and 3-time Ironman finisher
Find Your Carrot, Then Commit Are you doing it for your body, your mind, or simply the thrill of the race? Once you know the why, establish the plan to achieve your dreams.
—Whit Rambach, 44, Carmel, CA, 100+ marathons and ultramarathons
Be Prepared with T.P. You don’t want to find the paper has run out at the worst possible time.
—Darris Blackford, 48, Columbus, OH, 170+ marathons and 4-time 100 mile ultramarathon finisher
Suit Yourself I use races as an excuse to purge old work clothes. I have been known to lounge around the start in old khakis and button down shirts. There’s no better way to pay final respects to your 1996 Dockers than to shed them just before the gun goes off. (And make sure you look good while in the middle of the race. Check out these 10 Rules to Look Stylish While Working Out.)
—David Szeremet, 44, Fort Mitchell, KY, 25 marathons
Hydrate Hard Water is fuel. If you skip the water stations, you can skip the awards ceremony, too.
—Debbra Jacobs-Robinson, San Diego, CA, 120+ marathons
Take It Like a Man You are not the only one feeling the pain. Moving through it is what makes the event heroic. It is what makes those who don’t run admire you.
—Bruce Yang, 43, West Nyack, NY, 40+ marathons
Stay Fueled Eat about 100 calories every mile. (Need snack ideas before the race? Check out this Guide to Protein.)
—Danny Ripka, 54, Naples, FL, 100+ marathons and nationally ranked ultramarathoner
Tailor Your Training Whether you’re training for your first 5K or the U.S. Olympic Trials, one thing is universal—have fun. If it’s not, it probably won’t last. Don’t be afraid to tweak training plans and advice to make them more enjoyable for you.
—Tommy Neeson, 43, Virginia Beach, VA, 40+ marathons
Build Up to Your Pace Studies show that if you gradually work up to your desired speed over the course of the first five to 10 minutes of your run, you will lower your risk for injury.
—Darrin Bright, 40, Columbus, OH, 50 marathons, Ironman Florida finisher and sports physician
Pack Your Own Porta-Potty Bring an extra 32-ounce Gatorade bottle and so you can hop into the bushes if you have to. Nerves creep in right before the gun. Bathrooms lines are long. Nobody wants to leave the start line. In a pinch before the start, it can be your savior.
—Matt Brereton, 34, Nashville, TN, 75 marathons and 2-time Ironman finisher
Plan, Man Learn as much as you can about the course ahead of time.
—Jack King, 53, Richmond, VA, 75+ marathons and 2-time Ironman finisher
Keep it Real Life loses focus when any one area (work, family, even running) becomes too dominant. Keep your running goals reasonable and attainable. This way, after a good run, you’ll be better prepared to deal with everything else.
—Michael Rieker, 36, Peoria, IL, 20+ marathons
Get Faster The four-step surge is a great way to increase your overall speed. During practice or a race, quickly pick up the pace for just four steps a few times during your run. These surges will freshen your stride and, at the same time, make your regular pace seem easier.
—Jim Chaney, 48 Akron, OH, 170+ marathons and 2-time 100 mile ultramarathon finisher
Enjoy a Time Out Take a break from your watch or heart rate monitor to reconnect with your body. A digital display can be an inaccurate distraction of what performance level you’re really capable of achieving.
—Jody Stange, 38, Los Angeles, CA, 90+ marathons
Try to Fly While doing speed workouts, imagine your feet hitting the ground as briefly as possible. The moment one foot makes contact with the track or pavement below, pick it up as fast as possible. Think of it as running over hot coals.
—Kathleen Dolan, 44, Columbus, OH, 80+ marathons and 2-time Ironman finisher
Get Tough I run for many reasons, and one of them is the love of the challenge. When I encounter hurdles, get cramps or hit the wall, I consider it a new challenge.
—Diana Widdowson, 45, Conestoga, PA, 50+ marathons and 10-time 100 mile ultramarathon finisher
Brighten Your Step Don’t wear the usual white top and black shorts. Loud colors help family and friends spot you from the sidelines.
—Shannon Price, 33, Fort Collins, CO, 130+ marathons and 2-time 100 mile ultramarathon finisher
More from Why You’re Running All Wrong
Become a Speed Demon Wanna run faster? Go out there and literally run faster. Mile repeats will only improve your times.
—Michael Cook, 41, Sawka, CA, 50+ marathons, 2-time Ironman finisher and 2-time 100 mile ultramarathon finisher
Pick a Side Another way to help your personal cheering squad find you: Tell them what side of the road you’re going to be on so they don’t search for you on the wrong side.
—Ann Scholl, 41, Kimberly, WI, 20+ marathons
Waterproof Your Tech If you run with a cell phone, slip it into a zip lock bag for extra protection from sweat or water, like the cup you will likely dunk over your head.
—Mike Renavitz, 42, Dunellen, NJ, 50+ marathons
Pack the Paper Bring the morning paper or a magazine for the downtime in the starting area. Reading will keep you calm and relaxed prior to the race.
—Colin Wallis, 40, Austin, TX, 50+ marathons and 4-time Ironman finisher
Take a Mental Break During the longest, loneliest, most difficult stretches of the race, strike up a conversation with another runner, focus on your music, or dedicate this portion to someone who inspires you.
—Marie Bartoletti, 54, Pittsburgh, PA, 225 marathons and Badwater 135 finisher
Make Yourself Findable Text family and friends a quick photo of yourself in your race day outfit in the morning. This way, they’ll know exactly what you’re wearing and what to look out for from the cheering sections.
—Bill Sanders, 42, Elmhurst, IL, 90+ marathons
Run for a Reason Dedicate the race or the last several miles of your marathon to special people in your life. Focus your thoughts on them and what they mean to you, rather than how bad you may feel.
—Tom Tisell, 44, St. Paul, MN, 50+ marathons and Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier
Beat Post-Race Blues Don’t get stuck feeling down after your big day. Always have something to look forward to next, whether it’s a mini-vacation, another race, or celebratory beers with your support crew.
—Star Blackford, 36, Columbus, OH, 150+ marathons and 6-time 100 mile ultramarathon finisher
More from Running Tips for Beginners

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Quote of the day

"From affection comes grief, from affection comes fear. He who is free from affection knows neither grief nor fear." -the Buddha

Thursday, March 15, 2012

How to Meditate Deeply

How to Meditate Deeply:
So you’ve learned how to meditate and has been diligently putting it into practice for some time.
Thanks to your consistent daily practice, you can now focus better and is also more aware of what’s running through your mind most of the time. That means less hotheaded reaction and less stress for you when conflicts arise because you’re able to return to your breaths and find your center quicker than before.
You may even start to appreciate things which you usually take for granted, and begin to relish life at a slower pace and with a more upbeat perspective.
You’re amazed by what 20-minute of sitting each day has done to your life. And now you’d like to take it further and build on top of the foundation you’ve quietly laid for many months.
In this article, you’ll find the tips you need to deepen your meditation practice and raise your consciousness to the next level. Dive right in when you’re ready!

1. Make a Cast Iron Commitment

  • The commitments you need to invest in a one-day local course versus a seven-day retreat in India are different. Likewise, if you want to meditate deeply, you’ll need to put in more time and sacrifices in order to spend more time on the cushion. You may have to wake up earlier in the morning, cut down after-work drinking with your colleagues, or watch less TV at night. If you’re not living alone, you may also need to discuss your decision with your family or the persons you’re living with so that they’d understand, and respect, what you’re planning to do.

2. Sit Progressively Longer

  • Imagine your mind as a river that gets deeper and deeper as you go farther and farther away from the bank. For most beginning and intermediate meditators, the first 10 to 20 minutes of meditation is like taking the initial steps into the river and paddling in the shallow waters. In order to go farther, you’ll need to give yourself more time to ‘swim’ into the deeper ends of consciousness. If you find it difficult to sit for a prolonged period all of a sudden, extend your meditation time progressively by adding ten minutes to every session. Aim to meditate for an hour or more every day.

3. Relax the Body Before Meditation

  • A stiff shoulder, a tensed body or even hunger can be a source of distraction. It will be immensely useful if your body is totally relaxed before you begin to meditate. This allows you to go into a meditative state faster. Do some yoga poses or allow yourself some time to calm down before starting meditation proper. Eat at least one hour before meditating. A light snack just before meditation is fine.

4. Use a Mantra

  • Repeating a mantra is a very good way to bring you deeper into a meditative state. If you’re a Christian, you can use the ancient prayer word Maranatha, which means “Come, O Lord!” Say the four-syllable word either softly or silently to yourself with full attention after every exhale. If you’re a Buddhist, there are many mantras you can use, such as the one recorded in the Heart Sutra. Just choose one that appeals to you most. If you don’t have a religion, your selection gets even wider. Practically, any positive word or phrase that means something to you, like love, I am light or carpe diem (seize the day), can be used as a mantra.

5. Anticipate Nothing

  • No matter what you hope to achieve with meditation, when you’re sitting, let go of all your wants and goals. Allow what you want to come spontaneously and effortlessly. Anticipation will only get in the way by creating unnecessary tension that blocks the flow of your meditative experience, and leads to disappointment that kills your motivation to meditate. Unlike other aspects in life where the harder you push yourself, the higher your chances of succeeding, the reverse is true when it comes to meditation. The more you let go, the ‘more’ you’re likely to get. But of course, even this very notion has to be given up when you’re in the thick of meditation.

6. Forget Who You Are

  • As you sit for longer period of time, the likelihood of getting distracted, bored or impatient will inevitably increase. So it’s important to return to your breaths or mantra again and again as if your life depends on it. Remind yourself to simply sit. Not sitting and thinking about your unfinished project; not sitting and planning for your next meal; not sitting and replaying the argument you just had with your neighbor. Just sit and breathe, or repeat your power mantra. You can do the other things after your meditation has ended. In fact, it’s useful to temporarily forget who you are during meditation. Let go of your identity, your unfulfilled dreams, your unmet desires, your beliefs, your body, your distant past, your imaginary future, and whatever that fills your mind. Be the unborn.

7. Don’t Be Afraid of the Unknown

  • When your meditation practice deepens, you may encounter new experiences which could come across as either blissful or frightening. Usually, it’s frightening not because of the content but by virtue of it being new to us. Humans are easily alarmed by the unknown, and it’s the same in this case. Whatever ‘extraordinary’ sensation or imagery you may face, don’t panic. If it’s something pleasurable, don’t try to hold on to it either. As mentioned in #6, what you need to do is simply to sit resolutely, concentrate on your mantra or breaths, and let the experience pass through you like a cloud. Any other things, no matter how wonderful they are, are only distractions.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Quote of the day

"A man is not wise because he talks much. One who is patient, free from hatred and fear is called wise." -the Buddha

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Quote of the day

"He who always greets and constantly reveres his elders will acquire four blessings: long life, beauty, happiness, and power." -the Buddha

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Quote of the day

"Overcome anger by love, and evil by good. Overcome the greedy with generosity, and the liar with truth." -the Buddha

Pi-Day Finish

I finished the Pi-Day Half Marathon in 1:50 on the clock. My knee was a little sore. I think it was from running on the right side of the trail most of the way. When I made a conscious effort to run in the middle it started feeling better. I need to make a note of that for the Free State Trail Marathon next month. Hopefully the results will be posted later today.

Results posted!!!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Friday, March 2, 2012

Ready to roll!

Feeling better; the headache is gone and the sinuses feel good. Did another 3 miles on the TM but managed to breathe through my nose the whole time which is a good thing. I should be all ready for the Trailhawks Pi-Day Half Marathon Sunday morning.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Quote of the day

"Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. It is only appeased by loving-kindness. This is an eternal law." -the Buddha

VIVOBAREFOOT Breatho Trail Follow-Up Review

VIVOBAREFOOT Breatho Trail Follow-Up Review: Back in January I offered a first look at the VIVOBAREFOOT Breatho Trail, running down the specs and offering my impressions of the shoe after all of 2 runs (long-ish runs, but still). At that time, the shoes weren’t available for purchase, but they are now – which seems like a good time to circle back for an updated review after giving them a much more thorough test of nearly 200 total miles.


However, I’m not going to be super thorough in rehashing all the information I provided the first time around – for that, I’ll refer you to my original review from January. Rather, I’ll do a rundown of the specs and put together some observations of things that really stood out in my testing.

Here are your vital specs for the Breatho Trail:

* Weight: 9.6oz, or 9.1oz without insole
* Upper: thin breathable mesh
* Outsole construction: off-road, directional lugs
* Outsole thickness: 2.5mm base layer, with additional 4.5mm lugs
* Insole: removable, 3mm thick
* Eco: 100% vegan
* MSRP: $90

Of course, with VIVOBAREFOOT it goes without saying that the Breatho meets virtually every minimalist construction aspect that purists demand: it’s completely flat and flexible in all directions, allowing your foot to move in any way it wants to. Ground feel is surprisingly good considering the size of the lugs, especially if you take out the removable insole.

My preference is to keep the insoles in my pair, because with it removed the Breatho Trail feels a little loose and sloppy through the heel and toe box. I had this same issue with last fall’s Neo Trail as well several other minimalist shoes I’ve tested; functionally, removing the insole is like stepping up a half size in overall fit. I may consider requesting shoes a half-size smaller for reviews at some point, but for the time being I’m a pretty consistent “insole IN” kind of guy.

As the name implies, the uppers of the Breatho Trail are highly breathable and dry quite easily after immersion in water. They also appear to be quite durable as well, and very resistant to pokes and punctures while bushwhacking off trail. (Although I don’t do this terribly often; I’m also a “trail ON” kind of guy.)

Traction of the lugged outsole is really outstanding in most trail conditions including loose dirt and sloppy mud. The only issue I’ve noticed is that the rubber compound is somewhat slippery on wet rocks, so I find myself being extra careful when hopping across streams.

The outsole material has also worn down rather quickly in areas, as you can see here on my right heel – but to be fair, I destroy most shoes in this same area, so I don’t consider the breakdown to be a major concern in recommending them to others. (And before you ask: Yes, minimalist runners have heel impact – only it’s at the end of the footstrike instead of the beginning, and is more pronounced when running down steep hills.)

One quirk I can’t quite figure out is something I identified in my preview: that the laces don’t hold their tension during the course of a run, leading the upper to feel looser after a few miles. It’s weird, because the laces don’t actually come loose or untied – they just lose their grip on the neoprene liner on top of the midfoot. The laces also happen to be about twice as long as they need to be. If I had a magic wand - or if VIVOBAREFOOT listens to my feedback – I’d make the laces significantly shorter and use a different kind of material, perhaps something like New Balance’s “sausage link” laces to help them keep their grip.

The other point of feedback I mentioned in my earlier review is that the Breatho Trail weight is far higher than I like in a minimalist shoe. It’s nearly 50% heavier than equally rugged trail shoes from Vibram and Merrell – and when companies like New Balance are lowering the weight bar to amazing degrees (hint: Minimus Zero review coming soon!), it’s disappointing that VIVOBAREFOOT can’t get low, low, low, low like everybody else.

In the case of the Breatho Trail, it’s especially frustrating because in practically all other aspects, this is a fantastic shoe. Even with the weight as is, I would have no worries whatsoever about wearing these in any ultra I encounter, including distances of 100K or even 100 miles. If the shoe were a bit lighter, it would be at the head of the class in the increasingly crowded category of high-performance minimalist trail runners. As it is, the Breatho has become one of my favorite training shoes this winter.

The VIVOBAREFOOT Breatho Trail is now available for $90 from the company website.

Trailhawks Pi-Day Half on Sunday!

I managed to squeak out 3 miles on the TM last night; still not feeling that well. I'm running the Trailhawks Pi-day half marathon on Sunday and I don't want to do it with this blasted headache.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Quote of the day

"All composite things are impermanent and a source of suffering. All
phenomena is not self." -the Buddha

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Running around the USNA in Annapolis

I'm in Annapolis for some training this week and I had a nice run around the U.S. Naval Academy. Here is the RunKeeper page complete with some nice pictures around the campus.

Monday, February 20, 2012

RunAmocs Across the Sky

RunAmocs Across the Sky: One of the first e-mails I sent after signing up for Leadville was to Soft Star. I had a favor to ask … and I thought I knew what the answer would be, but for reasons I’ll explain shortly, I wasn’t 100% certain.

Last year, I hemmed and hawed and postponed making a decision about what footwear to use for my 100-mile trail run until virtually the last possible moment. This year, it’s one of the easiest decisions I’ve made; I want to run Leadville in Soft Star RunAmocs.

It’s only fitting to do the Race Across the Sky in a pair of minimalist shoes; after all, in many ways Leadville can be considered Ground Zero for the whole minimalist revolution. As chronicled in Born to Run, the Tarahumara dominated the race in the early 1990s wearing nothing more than old-school huarache sandals. An executive named Tony Post was at the 1994 race representing Rockport shoes, attempting an ill-fated sponsorship deal with the Tarahumara. That project fell through, but Post’s experience would ultimately lead to his joining a little company called Vibram, and eventually becoming its United States CEO.

Barefoot Ted at Leadville 2010; photo from Ted's website

Fast forward to the modern era, where Barefoot Ted McDonald – who figured prominently in the Born to Run story – debuted Vibram’s FiveFingers KSO Trek at the Leadville 100 in 2009. The following year he ran large portions of the course completely barefoot, and when he used footwear, it was his homemade Luna sandals. (He now markets Luna sandals to the public, and I have a pair I’m testing for review this spring.) One of his pacers was none other than Born to Run author Christopher McDougall, who wore his own pair of Lunas for his entire 4-hour night shift on the trails. Last summer Barefoot Ted and his pacers all completed the race again in Lunas.

Leadville is also the favorite proving ground of one Anton Krupicka, an ultrarunner of distinction who is known for his blazing speed and his minimalist lifestyle. He also has a longstanding habit of carving and slicing his running shoes until the platform is flattened and every ounce of unnecessary material is eliminated. Krupicka (as well as a roster of ultra studs) recently joined forces with New Balance, resulting in the most impressive lineup of reduced and minimalist high-performance trail shoes on the market today. (Before you ask: yes, I have the Minimus Trail Zero, and a review is coming soon.)

Leadville champion Anton Krupicka: minimalist style, maximal performance; photo from Leadville race website

The point of all this is to say that unlike some other ultras, showing up at Leadville in minimalist footwear isn’t going to strike anyone as particularly unusual. But it’s one thing for Anton Krupicka, Barefoot Ted, and the legendary Tarahumara to demonstrate that less is more … and completely another for some idiot from California to try doing the same. I have a few 100-milers under my belt, but I’m by no means an expert at this distance. I don’t have any experience at high altitude, and my prospects of getting any before race day are exceedingly slim. In other words, there’s a very real possibility that the whole thing could end badly.

That’s why I decided to e-mail Soft Star and run the sponsorship idea by them again. I figured that if I somehow ended up battered, broken, and passed out on a mountain trail somewhere, it wouldn’t exactly be a soaring endorsement of the company whose gear and logo I was wearing at the time of my demise.

But as I said at the top, I had a feeling about what their answer would be. Part of the Chief Elf’s reply to me went something like this: Leadville?!! That is a really exciting goal – it sounds just … well … COOL. And CRAZY. And if you want to run in RunAmocs, we would be honored to sponsor you.

Tahoe Rim Trail, summer 2011

So with that, Team Soft Star rides again in 2012! And if I manage to make it to the finish line in Leadville this August, it will be a privilege to add one more footnote to the ongoing saga of minimalist runners at one of the most challenging courses in the world. Between now and then, I’ve got a lot of training miles ahead of me – so if you happen to encounter a crazy-looking dude running down some remote trail in moccasins and a Soft Star shirt this spring or summer, feel free to say hi.

One more note on Soft Star: effective tonight, they have a brand new website for your shopping enjoyment. It has a cleaner, more modern look to it, and is supposed to be faster to navigate. There are also some cool features like shoe comparisons (especially with their collection of RunAmocs), an easier Design Your Own interface (many Soft Star customers get pretty creative with colors), and lots of product details for every model.

The only bad news was that I had to re-do all of my links to their product pages – so please make it worth my while by heading over to the new Soft Star website to take a look around.