Its been awhile since I’ve posted but thought I’d just throw up some pictures from some recent running adventures. I’ve been out in the mountains and running well since getting married in June and spending the summer in Europe. All systems GO for training and it’s looking like 2014 is going to be a BIG year. It may be the year of the….HUNDRED. Race season will start with Orca’s Island 50k in February and we’ll see from there. Next weekend I’m hopping in a beastly 60k in Idaho called Standhope that should be interesting. I am in no way prepared but I am looking forward to seeing more new beautiful mountains, namely, the Pioneers. I’m just happy to be back and running on trails with racing on the mind. Only time will tell what the future will bring…
Location:Holland Lookout, Swan Mountains, Western Montana
Distance: 10 miles
Elevation Gain: 4000 feet
Partner in Crime: Nikki “wifey” Parnell
Location: I’ve been sworn to secrecy
Distance: 34 miles
Elevation Gain: 6800 feet
Partner in Crime: Aaron “Regular Guy” Maxwell
September 11, 2013 2 Comments
WARNING: This race report gets a bit gushy and sentimental so if you aren’t in the mood for a rah-rah story, check out now.
What can I say about this race…
First, looking back on it, it was probably one of my favorite ultra running experiences. I hadn’t raced an “ultra” since July of 2012 due to injury and honestly, while I had that injury there were times when I thought I might never run another one. I look back on this race with a different sort of appreciation. That’s exactly how I feel right now…just simply appreciative that I was able to take part in such a wonderful event. In the end, the trail was good to me.
Me and Nikki headed out of Missoula on Saturday so we could arrive that evening at the start of the race. After 5 or so hours in the car we arrived in Ellensburg, WA, grabbed some camping essentials at Safeway, and headed down this beautiful canyon to the race site. I don’t even know what the canyon is called but the road ran parallel with the Yakima River, nestled down in the canyon. We began to get a feel for what kind of terrain we would be running on the following day. Super steep hills jutted from the ground, exposed grassy sagey wildflowery hillsides with no trees in site. Red rock formations, cliffs, and massive boulders were strewn all around. Blue skies and a cool breeze.
We arrived at the campsite and immediately met the course record holder Adam Hewey who turned out to be a pretty cool cat; seemed like a hardened trail warrior. He was eating pizza and we learned he would be sleeping in his soccer mom van that night; no shame. We met some other folks; it was good to just talk to some runners, get a feel for the course, and BS about running. I’ve missed the ultra scene.
Me met our friends Aaron and Damiana at the camp site and spent a nice evening catching up with them; me and Nikki trying to act like we know how to camp. We were too close to the trees and didn’t have a firepit yet still we huddled around an imaginary fire and talked until the moon and stars joined the conversation.
After a cold night in an embarrassing large purple tent, we emerged and were greeted by a beautiful morning. Oddly enough, I had zero nerves. I was looking forward to just getting out there on the trail, running my own race, enjoying the climbs, and seeing where my fitness would take me.
The Yakima Skyline 50k course is an absolute BEAST. 9600 feet of elevation gain over 4 big climbs. You are either going UP or DOWN the entire race with lots of technical rocky sections. There were more than a few bloody knees post-race. People would call this a “graduate level” 50k meaning it ain’t for your weekend warrior trail runners…you have to be ready for this course or it’ll eat you alive.
The gun went off at 8am. Me and Aaron enjoyed a few minutes of running together but he settled in to a slightly quicker pace going up the first climb so I let him go and just focused on how I was feeling. I wanted to stay very comfortable early in the race. We ascended 2500 feet in roughly 2.5 miles. The higher we climbed, the more beautiful the scenery became. The foothills on the east side of the Northern Cascades is where I thought we were although I’m not really sure. Whatever it was, it was some good country.
I don’t really want to write about the play by play of the entire race. In sum, I kept it in cruise control for the first 15 miles. The course was an out and back and I was feeling really good, under control, and happy to be out there. Coming into the turnaround point aid station, I felt my quads give a little shudder. When my quads cramp they just lock of for a second and then it subsides but it’s generally not a good sign. I have never cramped this early in a race and it appeared my lack of fitness/training was already rearing its ugly head. So I took some salt, pounded a lot of water at the aid station, and crossed my fingers that it would go away.
Things actually improved after I took more salt and water and I was cruised along pretty good until I hit the last aid station at mile 26. I don’t think I took enough salt or my body was just revolting because I was hit with a few massive waves of nausea that really rattled me. It was a pretty warm day and I think I was sweating more than I thought. I’m not sure what was happening but it wasn’t good.
I guess what I am trying to get to is that I hit a low during this race that I have never hit before in an ultra. It was a really hard yet interesting experience for me. Feeling so awful walking out of the last aid station took me to a weird place and got me a little worried. I began thinking ridiculous thoughts like, “what if something is really wrong?” “What if I just freaked out right here and lost my mind…. OR DIED!” There is an ominous helpless feeling that comes when you are far from your destination and you really just want comfort. You want to know you are going to be okay. So I was sort of panicking, not feeling good, in a weird place, slightly embarrassed about my performance, and sort of over it all. I started thinking about Nikki and how much I love her and how ultras seem really small and stupid compared to life and love. I swore I wasn’t doing another on of these stupid races. I mean, what the HELL am I trying to prove!?
One thing I forgot: Ultras teach you a lot about yourself.
Slowly but surely as I got closer to the finish line I started to feel better and better. I realized I was going to make it and I started to feel silly for how I was freaking out up on the mountain; thinking thoughts about life and death. I was OKAY. My body felt fine after 31 miles on the trail; this race was more of a mental test. And frankly, I lost the mental battle out there over those last 5-7 miles. But I know looking back that I grew greatly from that low stretch. I again realized how good it feels to overcome a struggle. Ultras expose you. If you want to know how strong you are mentally, go run one and see how you react to the ups and downs. I think really good ultra runners can weather storms really well. They can accept the lows and continue pushing despite it all.
I’ll do better next time.
In some sense, running prepares you for real life. What are we really doing out there? Running on a trail for absolutely no reason. We are going from point A to point B for the sole purpose of covering the distance as fast as we can. That’s what it is on the surface. But what you learn while you cover that distance changes you as a person. It affects how you cope with struggles in “REAL” life. Over the course of a difficult run you experience a life cycle. From fresh hope and optimism at the start, to borderline stark raving madness during the low points, to overcoming adversity and proving to yourself that you can do this…that you are going to make it…and that you are going to be okay.
Try. Fall. Overcome. Grow. Repeat.
for putting on a great race…
and to Glenn Tachiyama for taking awesome photos out on the course!
April 26, 2013 No Comments
This trailer was just posted up on Anton’s blog. Looks really really cool. Someday I’d like to make it out to Colorado just to run on some of these peaks…let’s face it, I just wanna be like Anton…who doesn’t?
Can’t wait for the weather to turn so I can get up into my own High Country here in Montana! I want to dance down a trail, foot to earth, hard turns, solidly connected….enough of this slippery/wet/icy stuff. I’m whining I know…I’ll stop…but the mountains are calling.
February 19, 2013 No Comments
Sunday: Ran from home in Rattlesnake down to campus, upriver on Kim Williams, veered up on Hellgate Canyon Trail up to saddle, headed east to University Summit, backtracked to saddle, then up to Sentinel Summit, down the front side to campus, then back home up Rattlsnake. Felt pretty good. Tough going in the snow but highly enjoyable.
Note: Ate first Gu since July. Tasted oh so so good. Glad to be running distances that require Gu!
Distance: 12.1 miles
Elevation Gain: 3411 feet
Monday: Easy cruiser through Rattlesnake Hood…felt fine after yesterday…good sign.
Distance: 4.42 miles
Elevation Gain: 291 feet
Tuesday: Run Wild Missoula speed night:
4.5 mile warmup. 5:00, 5:00, 4:00, 4:00, 3:00, 3:00 hard intervals with half time rest.
Felt even better this week than last. Averaged about 6 minute pace for 5 minuters, 5:45 for 4 minuters, and 5:20 for 3 minuters. 2 miles cool down. Felt great…very encouraging after a tough last week. Starting to think I can get back into some pretty dang good shape by June 1!
Distance: 10.98 miles
Elevation Gain: 290 feet
Wednesday: Rest day
Thursday: Run from the rec center to Orange Street North Hills Access, crossed over the hump and back down into rattlesnake and back to rec center via Greenough Park. Good run with Nikki on Vday. My girl can run!
Distance: 7.25 miles
Elevation Gain: 801 feet
*Also did 30 minute Strength Routine.
Friday: Nice run with ander starting at Lords Hills TH, out connector to Rattlesnake Recreational Area (super icy), Sawmill Perimeter loop and back. Had too big a breakfast but run was still good times. New trail…love it.
Distance: 8.67 miles
Elevation Gain: 1227 feet
Saturday: Ran 4 miles with Nikki along the river, strength routine at rec center, ran home 2.7 miles solo. Felt heavy…shin splints…need to lose a few pounds.
Distance: 6.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 257 feet
*Also did 30 minute Strength Routine.
Distance: 50.12 miles
Pace: 9:05/mile average
Elevation Gain: 6147 feet
Average Elevation Gain/Mile: 133 ft/mile
The highlight of the week was definitely being able to get out on a long 2.5 hour run. I didn’t cover a ton of miles because of the conditions and terrain but just the fact that my body is able to handle that amount of running is really encouraging. I’ve also been improving every week at these Tuesday night group speed workouts.
In other news, I can’t believe I’m actually running in a race next weekend! Its the snowjoke half marathon up here in Montana near Seely Lake. It’s VERY low key but I’m looking forward to getting out there and seeing what I can do right now. I’m pretty sure I’ll be running in snow and ice so my time won’t necessarily be an indicator but it should generally (lawyer term) be a good time. My goal is to push it, be very uncomfortable, and gain fitness from it…that’s all.
Speaking of snow and ice, while running in this is beautiful and all…
I’m more looking forward to this…
Spring can’t come soon enough!
February 18, 2013 No Comments
Sunday: Nice loop from home around the Rattlesnake. Ate like an absolute monster during the Superbowl. Oh well, it happens but once a year….not.
Distance: 7.37 miles
Elevation Gain: 573 feet
Monday: Same loop as yesterday but a minute faster. Feeling pretty good at this point.
Distance: 7.37 miles
Elevation Gain: 573 feet
*30 minute strength routine
Tuesday: Hopped in again with the Run Wild Missoula crew for a speed workout. Tonight’s workout was 8 by 800. I felt a million times better than last week. Seriously, last week’s workout was scary…like throw in the towel scary. Glad this week was better. My splits were nothing to write home about but it felt good to move at a quicker pace and I could really tell this workout jump started my fitness. Splits: 2:55, 2:44, 2:44, 2:50, 2:39, 2:44, 2:32, 2:43. This workout was two sets of 4 8′s with 90 seconds rest between each 8 plus 3 minutes between sets. Hopefully, next week will feel even better…
Distance: 8.67 miles
Elevation Gain: 220 feet
Wednesday: Rest Day
Thursday: Run with Ander from Rec Center up into North Hills then down around Rattlesnake….hills were nasty icy. I felt heavy and achy and not awesome…when is my fitness gonna catch up!?
Distance: 8.46 miles
Elevation Gain: 878 feet
Friday: Ran from home over to East Missoula via ridge trail, then over to Rec Center for some weights/strength, then back home. Felt heavy and slow again. Ugh.
Distance: 7.11 miles
Elevation Gain: 652 feet
*30 minutes strength
Saturday: Little Rattlesnake loop from home. Left shin was feeling precarious. Not cool. It better be ok.
Distance: 4.42 miles
Elevation Gain: 286 feet
Distance: 43.4 miles
Pace: 7:38/mile average
Elevation Gain: 3182 feet
Average Elevation Gain/Mile: 74 ft/mile
Although my miles went up a hair this week, not really all that stoked about my running. I guess Tuesday’s workout was a highlight but the rest of the week after that felt pretty crappy. Another thing, the trails have been covered in ice for so long that I have really been restricted to way more road running than I am used to. This may be a contributing factor to my achey/heavy feeling this week. Gotta get back running on trails and mountains…so much more enjoyable and good for the body. I’ll be praying for warm weather and dry trail…i miss it.
My first “race” is coming up in a couple weeks and i think that will be really good for me. With the Newport Marathon being my “A” race of the season I may just have to race my way into shape. The first couple will be ugly but hopefully come June I can go after another marathon PR.
Thanks for reading y’all.
February 10, 2013 No Comments
If you have been running for any length of time it is likely that you have come up against this behemoth of a runner’s injury. When I worked at a retail running store this was by far the most complained about injury. It’s a pesky little beast that if not dealt with properly can lead to months or even years of discomfort.
Here is the Mayo Clinic’s definition:
“Plantar fasciitis (PLAN-tur fas-e-I-tis) involves pain and inflammation of a thick band of tissue, called the plantar fascia, that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes. Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain. Plantar fasciitis commonly causes stabbing pain that usually occurs with your very first steps in the morning. Once your foot limbers up, the pain of plantar fasciitis normally decreases, but it may return after long periods of standing or after getting up from a seated position.Plantar fasciitis is particularly common in runners. In addition, people who are overweight, women who are pregnant and those who wear shoes with inadequate support are at risk of plantar fasciitis.”
Runners are so susceptible to this injury because we are constantly striking our feet on hard surfaces, elongating our feet, and stretching that fascia that runs the length of our foot. It’s no surprise that when you stretch something continuously, it’s going to want to snap. Plantar fasciitis is really just thousands of little micro tears of your fascia caused by the stress that occurs when your foot strikes the ground.
The one good thing about Plantar Fasciitis is that it is pretty dang obvious when you have it. If you have a sharp pain or burning sensation under your foot, anywhere from the heel where the fascia attaches all the way up to your toes, you can be 99% sure that it is plantar fasciitis.
Okay, so what can you do about it!?? My recommendation is to start with self treatment. There are a variety of products on the market that can really help to relieve pain and work to get you back on your feet quickly. From my days of working and selling these products we would always recommend the most simple treatment first and then work towards more time intensive products depending on the severity of pain and length of time the person had been dealing with it.
Where to start: The most important place to start for most runners who deal with this problem is to make sure you are in a nice stable shoe that has good arch support and an over the counter insert that you can place in your shoe to further support your foot and arch. It’s not rocket science; if your arch is supported by something then it can’t stretch as much and cause those micro tears called plantar fasciitis. I recommend Superfeet and the Berry color for women and the orange color for men are the best options for 90% of runners. See pricing and read reviews here.
Now, just because you get a new pair of shoes and inserts doesn’t mean that the damage already done will disappear overnight. I would recommend taking a week off all running and other forms of exercise (except for non-impact stuff such as swimming) to give your feet a chance to heal and then start up slowly again in your new shoe/insert setup.
If that doesn’t take care of it, move on to Foot Rubz. This golf ball sized green orb is a self-massage tool that works to stretch out your fascia under your foot and it feels heavenly too. Many people massage their feet with this ball right when they wake up, before even putting their weight on their feet. This is what the company says about their product, “The Due North® Foot Rubz™ Massage Ball stimulates acupressure points in your feet, hands and body, helping to relieve soreness and pain. Roll this uniquely designed ball under your feet, in your hands or over any sore or tired muscle and feel the soothing stimulation that immediately begins to relax and eliminate your tension. You control the depth of massage with applied pressure to ensure the utmost relief of muscle soreness. Small enough to fit in the palm of the hand, this easy-to-use Massage Ball is great for use anytime, anywhere.” It’s only $5.15 on amazon.com.
The final product I am recommending is definitely more for those people who have found that rest, good shoes/insert, and massage just haven’t taken care of the problem. The Strassburg Sock consists of “a tubular knit material that fits “over the calf” with 2 attached adjustable straps to maintain the foot in a neutral to slightly stretched position. When worn at night the device will apply a force which results in the reduction and/or elimination of the pain felt during those first steps in the morning. This easy to use, inexpensive device is designed to keep tension on the tissue (plantar fascia) so it heals in a stretched position at night. In this way many users find a reduction of their morning pain, some have noticed a reduced recovery time and yet others have reduced the need for medications.”
I have heard that it definitely takes some getting used to and sleeping with it can be a little difficult those first few nights. Waking up with your foot in a stretched position is odd but the idea is that if your foot is healing in that position overnight instead of healing in a curled position, when you place your weight on your foot in the morning this product helps to avoid re-tearing the fascia so that the healing progress you made while sleeping isn’t wasted. See pricing and read more reviews here.
If all else fails, I’d recommend seeing an experience physical therapist that specializes in this field who can work to really strengthen your foot and lower leg so that your muscles, instead of your fascia, do more of the work.
Feel free to post questions or comments about your experience with this ungodly pest.
February 8, 2013 No Comments
This week started out a bit precarious. The morning after my last run up Sentinel with Nikki and Ander I began to experience some pain just below the ankle of my right foot. I’m pretty sure it is the peroneal tendon that runs from the outside of your lower calf, down around the ankle, and attaches underneath your foot near the cuboid. This really freaked me out because my knee is just now starting to feel good!
This little scare reminded me to make sure to get back into things slowly. Runners, myself included, have the tendency to get a little too psyched when things are going good and end up overdoing it. By overdoing it I mean overtraining. By overtraining I mean running too much or too hard before their bodies are ready. I need to keep in mind that I am coming off a 5 month long injury that limited my mileage to 10-15 miles per week. I can’t just hop back into things and expect to be back up hitting big mileage weeks so quickly. The progression needs to be slow and easy, no more than 10%-15% increase in volume per week; that seems to be the standard.
My plan was to dial back the mileage a hair this week and start off the week with two very easy runs on an ever surface that wouldn’t aggravate the ankle. Luckily, it worked! Sunday and Monday I limited my running to 4 miles each day on the roads. While I could feel the ankle, the tendon healed up quickly. Tip: listen to your body! If you feel something funky, take a couple days to do what you have to do to avoid a full blown injury. Don’t get sucked into running too hard or doing too much. In my opinion, this is one of the major keys to sustainable running.
Sunday: Just an easy out and back on the bike path from school heading west.
Distance: 4 miles
Elevation Gain: 35 feet
*30 minutes of strength stuff in the gym. Still working on strengthening my knee and hips.
Monday: Another easy short day on the roads. This time an out and back from my house.
Elevation Gain: 235 feet
Tuesday: After a couple days of rest I decided to go do a speed workout with my cousin and a group call Run Wild Missoula. They meet every Tuesday night at 5:30pm at Runners Edge for a group workout…really lucky to have this. I am completely and totally out of shape for speed stuff and that was spotlighted for me during this workout as I flailed and fumbled through. It was another reminder of how much fitness I lost. But it was also a lot of fun and I look forward to getting back to a place where I can hop in there and burn it up.
The workout was 3 sets of 800, 600, 600 with 90 seconds between intervals and 3 minutes between sets. I ended up only doing 2 sets to keep it safe. I went with my cousin Ander who is super speedy. He tore it up and left me in the dust which is always humbling. But I accomplished my goal of not injuring myself, cleaning out the cobwebs that have built up in my legs over the last 5 months, and I got a great workout in. I’ll be back next week!
Elevation Gain: 43 feet
Wednesday: Rest Day
Thursday: New loop from home. Head down Van Buren street, hop onto the Mt. Jumbo ridge trail to East Missoula, drop into town, take the river road back to Rattlesnake, Greenough Park, home. Great little loop with all the elements; trail, road, steep, flat, etc. Great run.
Distance: 6.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 670 feet
Friday: Did the same loop as yesterday with Nikki and then added on an outer loop in the Rattlesnake…felt heavy but good.
Elevation Gain: 893 feet
Saturday: Ran from home up into the Waterworks trail complex, headed down past the old homestead and popped out at the Orange Street dead end trailhead, then ran to school, did some weights, ran home.
Distance: 7.47 miles
Elevation Gain: 828 feet
*30 minutes of strength at the Rec Center.
Distance: 37.3 miles
Pace: 7:56/mile average
Elevation Gain: 2,656 feet
Elevation Gain/Mile: 71 ft/mile
Memorable moment from this week’s running: On Thursday’s loop that took me down to the river I passed a roadside memorial. I usually don’t like seeing crosses on the sides of roads as it tends to be a downer for me. This memorial though was different. Apparently, on December 26th, 2009 two young girls, Taylor and Ashlee, were killed by a drunk driver while walking with their friends. They were only 15 and 14 years old. On the memorial their were two color photos of the girls printed on tiles. Their youth, vitality, and life stood out to me. I couldn’t believe that those two girls were now dead. Once alive, now dead. It blows my mind when I think about death and how life can just be taken from us in a moment. The upshot was that it got me thinking about priorities in life. For me, those are my loved ones and my christian faith. I don’t know how I would manage without either of those things. Spinning our wheels, chasing pointless dreams, slaving away towards achievements that only fulfill our own desires seem pretty small when you are standing at the place where two young girls had their lives taken from them. While again, this is tragic, there is some good that has come out of it. The parents of one of the girls and other community members started Missoula’s Challenge, an organization aimed at “providing education, promoting healthy choices and reward, with an opportunity for scholarships, those youth who accept the challenge to live alcohol and drug free.” So the question this encounter prompted was, what is REALLY important? If I may, I encourage you to consider the same.
I’ll leave you with a variation of the beautiful quote that was printed in the stone of the memorial…
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.
Mary Elizabeth Frye
February 4, 2013 No Comments
The best thing that Sketchers ever did was sign Meb Keflezighi. It was totally out of the blue. I remember the buzz a few years back that the 2004 Olympic silver medalist in the marathon was without a shoe sponsor! That was unheard of and there was speculation that his previous sponsor, Nike, was just not paying out what Meb deserved. Just as the buzz started to die down, all the sudden it hit the news waves; Meb Keflezighi signed with…SKETCHERS! Hold up, WHAT?! Sketchers makes running shoes!? You dang right they do…and they recently came out with some really good ones, The GoRun Ride running shoe.
So here’s the breakdown on this shoe.
In addition to just a 4mm drop from heel to forefoot this shoe is made with a bit of a rocker through the mid foot to create that seamless transition from midfoot to forefoot. It was designed specifically this way to eliminate the tendency to heel stike and to get you up on that forefoot. It seems that fewer and fewer people are even attempting to debate this viable theory that midfoot to forefoot landing is far superior for both efficiency and dampening the stress your body takes with each footfall.
Just don’t run in these shoes like the models in this video did…heavy heel striking!
This shoe is built on a traditional last with a neutral midsole. Being that it is designed for midfoot landing, it takes away the necessity of having a stability post built into the medial side of the shoe (very unnatural). Therefore, this shoe can work well on most runners if used properly (limited heavy heel striking).
The GoRun Ride has even received credit for its adaptability on all surfaces. I wouldn’t take this shoe on anything super technical or rugged but if it’s a mellow trail with some rollers, it works great. But if you are bounding rock to rock descending rugged terrain you may twist an ankle or puncture the foam midsole if you push it too far.
Another cool aspect of this shoe is the variety of color options you have to choose from. As far as I could see, they have 15 color options on Amazon.com. I think Sketchers is sort of trying to piggyback on the Nike Free series by offering high quality running shoes but also trying to compete in the style department.
Weight: 7.8 Ounces (Mens) 6.8 ounces (Womens)
Price: In certain colors as low as $46.95 on Amazon.com
Heel to Forefoot Drop: 4mm
Awards: Won Best Debut Shoe from Runners World Magazine
So there you have it, that’s my gear review on the Sketchers GoRun Ride running shoe. For me, this is the perfect shoe for taking out on those 3-6 mile cruiser runs where you just want something to be comfortable and feel good on your foot. It doesn’t hurt that’s its a pretty cool looking shoe too. It has a minimalist heel to forefoot ration but is built up on some great cushioning to protect your body for those who are wary of a true minimalist shoe. While Sketchers is an emerging brand in the running world, with the help of Meb Keflezighi, the GoRun series, and their continued committment to offering a solid line of running shoes, I think they are here to stay. Keep an open mind with these guys! Check out other reviews and pricing here.
Thanks for checking out my site and please leave me a comment about your thoughts and feedback on this shoe!
February 1, 2013 3 Comments