Writings about Running and Life…
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Posts from — May 2011

In Transit to Costa Rica!!!

Just a quick update!

So last blog entry I said that I was going to do a post on the NCAA West Regional Track Meet that I went to over the last three days. Unfortunately, things got crazy and I don’t have the time to upload all my sweet photos and videos! It will have to suffice for now to say that the meet was very very cool. I sat on the bleachers for 5 hours 3 days in a row watching track. I really think I could do that every day for the rest of my life. There was definitely some unforgettable moments that made the meet great. Super happy to see one high quality meet before I leave for Costa Rica.


Speaking of Costs Rica…I’m currently in my hotel room in Portland getting ready for my flight tomorrow morning. I can’t believe its really happening! This time tomorrow I’ll be soaking in the heat! One fun fact for you, Costa Rica is just nine degrees north of the equator–Oregon is roughly 45. So I’ll be in climates about as tropical as you can get. Finally! This eternal winter in Oregon was really starting to drag on me.
 



 
So really, thats all I got for today. My running has been very sparse this last week in prep for this move…but I’m trying to take it easy on myself and not be too anal about getting my runs in during this transitional period. “Transitional period.” You like that? Some of you saw right through that line, eh? Excuses, excuses, I know.

I’m hoping to get back in the swing of things once I’m down in Heredia and settled. And I’ll try to post some cool stuff on here during my travels! Something that has been monopolizing my dreams? ….suuurrrrffffiiiinnngggggg….man. I want to ride some waves. It will be good recovery after some long runs right?
 


 

Ok, let me know if there is anything you want me to write about or do while I’m down here. Running wise or other. Let me know if you are reading! I’ll keep writing as long as I know there are people reading.

If any Tico runners stumble across this blog, leave a comment, I want to run with you!!!

Next post will be from Costa Rica. The countries tag line is ‘Pura Vida’ aka Pure Life — we’ll see.

May 29, 2011   No Comments

Best Distance Running Video Compilation

As the collegiate and professional Track and Field seasons are coming into full swing I find myself spending more and more time watching race footage of today’s best competitive runners. They are all very inspiring and incredible athletes. However, today’s greats would not be where they are today if not for the amazing runners in years past.

I searched for the best compilation of the great races of all time and the video below was by far the best (for men). It features Steve Prefontaine, Sebastian Coe, Hicham El Guerrouj, Kenenisa Bekele, Billy Mills, Bernard Lagat, and more.


I feel blessed that I am the type of person who’s heart races and blood pumps faster while watching a video like this. It reminds me that I am alive and motivates me to work hard and become the best runner I can. The athletes in this video earned every second of glory they received from participating in these storied races. Mucho blood, sweat, and tears over the span of years got them to these peak performances. Their effort has paid dividends for not just themselves but also for today’s runners who strive to see where they stack up in running history.

Tonight I’m going to the NCAA West Regional Track and Field meet at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. Check back tomorrow for my highlight commentary, some admittedly sub-par photos, and maybe even some corny video footage from the stands.

Hope you enjoyed the compilation…

May 26, 2011   No Comments

So I stumbled across Lauren Fleshman’s Picky Bars today…

To continue with yesterdays hot elite runner chick theme; enter Lauren Fleshman.
 


 
Today I actually have a reason for talking about this particular hot professional runner. I’m currently visiting family in Eugene, Oregon where Lauren lives and trains so I went into Eugene’s best running shop, Eugene Running Company. There I was, browsing around, when my eyes fell on an interesting looking nutritional product—Picky Bars.
 

 
I instantly remember Lauren Fleshman talking about her new line of energy bars at the Eugene Marathon expo earlier this month. You can watch a video clip of her speaking at the expo on my Eugene Marathon Race Report.
 


Since I listened to her speak and even asked her a question during the Q and A session, I’m basically feeling like I know her pretty well and need to take this opportunity to test out her product. You know how it is, you go to a rock concert, listen to the witty banter in between songs, and then you automatically feel like you have some sort of special connection with the rocker…well this is kind of like that—I’m the creeper in the stands and Lauren is the rock star…no need to mock my patheticism…I’m well aware of its fullness. And yes, I realize patheticism is not a word, but it should be.
 


 
So! It was perfect. I had just finished a run on the Prefontaine Trails in Eugene and I was starving when I made my Picky Bar purchase. My first impression was that the bar was smaller than the traditional bars like Powerbar and Cliff Bar. My second impression was that with a price tag of $2.50 for the bar, it had better be good. And honestly people, it did not disappoint. It was gooooood. The zip lock bag packaging is brilliant too. It’s nice to see what you are going to be eating instead of it being a mystery when you buy it. It tasted healthier and more natural than the competitors too.
 
I’m not going to go into the all the nutritional data and facts and figures right now because I don’t really feel like it. They have all that information on their website. You will have to believe me when I say that it tastes great and that it is perfect for both a post workout recovery tool and a tasty healthy snack for any time during the day.
 

 
I have a feeling that these bars are going to be around awhile. Lauren Fleshman DID graduate from Stanford. I don’t want to make her out to be some money mongering corporate heathen; I’m just saying that she has a head on her shoulders and something between the ears. She knows that running doesn’t create a nice fluffy 401k and a condo in Maui. I’m betting that Picky Bars will do more for those ventures than her Nike sponsorship. But again, this is all speculation from a guy who doesn’t know much…so take it for what it’s worth.
 

Proof!


 
I don’t buy energy bars regularly because I can’t afford them. But if I did, I would switch my allegiances to Picky Bars. I’m not just saying that because Lauren Fleshman is hot…but it sure doesn’t hurt.
Support her and co-owner Stephanie Rothstien (also faster than me) by buying a couple bars through their online store.

May 23, 2011   No Comments

2011 Occidental Oxy High Performance USATF Meet


 
After watching some of the meet live and later browsing the race footage I’ve picked out my favorite race from the meet for y’all to enjoy.
 

The Women’s 1500 was stacked! Something that really stood out to me on the women’s side was the fact that the Nike women were not totally dominating. I was happy to see Brooks and New Balance with a solid presence. I don’t know if Nike isn’t offering the salary deals they used to or if other brands are just upping their ante, but in my mind, the top new professionals from last years class went to Nike’s competition.
 

Katie Follett


 
This may be my favorite race because I’m developing crushes on the new Brooks athletes Angela Bizzarri (U of Illinois) and Katie Follett (U of Washington). They are fun to watch and I was happy with the result of this race! I basically fall in love with any girl who’s really running fast. I have a weakness for women who are faster than me…
 

Angela Bizzarri


 
Enjoy the Race!

Watch post race interviews with Katie and Angela on flotrack.org

May 22, 2011   1 Comment

Running in the Sandias – La Luz Trail, Albuquerque, NM

This morning I had the opportunity to run on La Luz Trail which translates to Trail of the Light. Since I’m visiting my brother here in Albuquerque, NM I wanted to find the best running spot that this region has to offer. Through my encounters with the local Albuquerquians I found out that La Luz is the staple run that any out-of-towner needs to experience at least once.
 


 
I’m going to jump the gun a little and say that this is one of the overall coolest trails I’ve ever run on in my life. My favorite trail in the world is still the McKenzie River Trail in Oregon but this trail came close.
 

La Luz is a challenge for sure. 8.6 miles with 4500 feet elevation gain. The grade is steep; it’s runable, but steep. It is tempered by switchbacks that provide you with an opportunity to see more views of the horizon. I’m used to running on trails in densely treed forests so the views of the landscape are few and far between. On La Luz Trail this isn’t the case. You can see out into the distance continuously. The environment is crazy. Cactus everywhere! Giant boulders, cool red colored rock, grey stone spires that look like the Matterhorn, and firm beige sandy dirt under your feet are just a few of the foreign elements that made this run memorable.
 


 
I didn’t have a ton of time so my run consisted of 45 minutes up and 32 minutes down. Supposedly the trail is something like 8.6 miles to the summit, so even at my highest point reached, I was far from the top. The highest point (The Sandia Crest) on this mountain range is over 10,000 feet! When you think of New Mexico, 10,000+ doesn’t come to mind. I’m guessing I made it up to roughly 8500 feet and I was definitely feeling the thin air not having run this high in my entire life.
 

 
The Sandia Mountain range has hundreds of miles of trails all within an easy 15-30 minute drive of Albuquerque, NM. Honestly, my first thoughts were that this would be an ultra-marathoners running paradise. Being this high in elevation with trails that boast some seriously steep grades and go on for miles and miles would be hard to beat. I’m not saying this can compete with Colorado but if you want sun year round, Albuquerque is worth a look.
 
I recently purchased a new ‘oober’ durable camera that I can take with me on my runs. It’s even waterproof down to 20ft! While I’m down in Costa Rica for the summer I wanted to have something that can handle the harsh conditions and different environments. On this run on La Luz trail I went a little photo crazy, playing around with the timer, trying to catch the perfect shot mid stride. As you probably can see, I have a lot of work to do before you see any of my shots in National Geographic, but it was definitely super fun to have. I was constantly scanning my view to find a sick shot.
 

 
After running on a trail like La Luz I remembered why I love trail running so much. An unexplored trail is a total rush. I love the feeling if seeing new terrain, riding the roll of a foreign surface, with opportunity to see new sights and life unknown to me before setting out. The roads are fine and dandy but my new rule is going to be that if I have the opportunity to run trails—I’m going to take that chance every time.
 
If you are ever in Albuquerque, check out La Luz Trail, and if you are ever there in August, think about La Luz Trail Run, a race to the summit and back down to the base—could be fun.

May 21, 2011   No Comments

The Key to Sustainable Running

Running Tip of the Week #5

I think a lot of people are way too anal about the way they get their runs in on a daily basis. People have this image of ‘real’ runners being immune to the difficulties of getting out of bed every morning and running. This is far from the truth. In my opinion, you have to balance. Yes, you must do whatever it takes to get your run in on any given day, but do it in the easiest most pleasant way possible.


Here is an honest statistic about my running; the only occasions I have gone on a run this year before 9am were on race days. It would be one thing if this were a conscious decision, but no, probably once or twice a week I would set my alarm to run at 6, 7, or even 8am only to decide when the alarm went off that, “no, I’m not feeling this right now. I’m going back to bed.” It’s as simple as that. I would then shut my eyes and fall back into a deep peaceful harmonious sleep that my body and mind apparently thought was more valuable than running. The key is to not beat yourself up for this decision.

Since I almost always passed on running in the mornings I therefore did A LOT of running after work in the evenings. Often I would be tired from being on my feet all day selling shoes or at my other job running around a physical therapy clinic and the last thing I wanted to do was run right after my workday. But since I chose to sleep in, I had to deal with the consequences and run in the evenings. For some reason, after all was said and done, this was easier for me to do than to run in the mornings. This worked for me.

During other times of my life my running routine would be completely the opposite. The thought of running after 4pm would not even cross my mind because at that point I just felt slow and sluggish and unmotivated.

What you can’t do is slap the snooze button and then also pass on your run during the day or in the evening. You have to know that no matter what you are going to get your run in but that maybe it won’t necessarily be when you originally expected it. It has to become a given that you are going to run, that way, when you give into your desire to not run in the morning, this is not a decision to not run that day, but just a postponement.

I also feel like there are certain negotiable items in relation to the running lifestyle. For me the areas that come to mind are nutrition and strength training. I have been known to take my time to drive to the gym, go into the locker room, get dressed into my workout clothes, walk into the weight room, look around at the weights and people and equipment, and then immediately decide that this was in fact the last place I wanted to be at that time and continue to return to the locker room, get my stuff, and leave. Yes, I do have those thoughts like, “Man Chase, you are such a wuss” or “Dude, so and so would totally not walk out of this weight room” or “if you can’t even get yourself to do workout then you definitely can’t expect to run fast.” In the long run, these types of thoughts get you nowhere.

What I feel like I’ve come to learn is that you need to listen to your mind and your body in order to have a sustainable running lifestyle. Who knows, maybe if I would have forced myself to workout those mornings or nights that I really didn’t want to, I would have burned out and stopped running altogether.

All this being said, if you find yourself routinely deciding to skip workouts altogether, then we have a problem. I’m saying that there is grace and even potentially a benefit for passing on an occasional workout in order to maintain your determination and sanity.

All of this really boils down to the following idea; you must do what works for you. Find a routine that makes running the most enjoyable it can be. If you want to run at midnight, run at midnight. If you want to run 6.7 miles on the treadmill at 6.7mph everyday of the year, don’t listen to people who say you need to diversify your running, just do your thing. Don’t beat yourself up about anything, do your best to run everyday that you planned, and create the ideal personalized routine that allows you to accomplish your goals and enjoy the sport we love.

Check out more Running Tips of the Week!

May 18, 2011   2 Comments

Olympic Marathon Champion Sammy Wanjiru Dies at just 24

The first time Sammy Wanjiru blipped on my radar was actually on Olympic Marathon day 2008 running through the streets of Beijing, China. Here comes another young Kenyan phenom making a big splash on the biggest venue possible. Being just 21 years old, he surged late in the race to take the lead. Amidst the heat, humidity, and incredible competition; he became an Olympic champion. No other accomplishment in marathoning even comes close to the Olympics. Sammy Wanjiru became a story in running lore for his great success, now he will be immortalized by something entirely different.
 


 
May 15th, 2011 will now mark the day of Sammy’s death. He was just 24 years old. The details are still a little fuzzy but apparently he fell from a balcony at his home in Nyahurura, located about 150 kilometers NW of Nairobi, Kenya. The police seem to think that Sammy was a victim of suicide. They say his wife returned to their home unexpectedly to find Sammy with another woman. This led to an incredible dispute and ended with, perhaps the world’s greatest marathoner, jumping to his death. This truly is a great loss.
 


I would be wrong if I said that, on some level, some people didn’t see this coming. The last year of Sammy Wanjiru’s life was reminiscent of the likes of Michael Vick or Ron Artest. Domestic violence, assault and car crashes littered recent times for Sammy. I can’t help but think that either he was suffering from a severe mental illness or that the money had gotten to his head, thinking he was more than just a man. Becoming a millionaire practically overnight and at that age can throw people for a loop.
 


 
Wanjiru’s road to running stardom came like many others. He grew up in poverty and dropped out of school by age 12. Knowing that running had taken making Kenyans out of poverty and into the limelight, Sammy tried his hand at distance running and proved to be sitting on a winning lottery ticket. Shortly after he began running he was invited to train at the Kenyan High Altitude Training Center. There he was spotted and later invited to Japan by Sunnichi Kobayashi. Sammy jumped at the offer as running was his only prospect. After just a few years, Wanjiru started to climb the ranks and his results were staggering.
 
Apart from being Olympic champion in 2008, he also won the London Marathon, Fukuoka Marathon, and the Chicago marathon—twice. There was no doubt that if Sammy were to have kept his life together he would have been a major contender to do what only two other men have done, become a back to back Olympic marathon champion.
 
I guess what I am taking away from all of this is that you never know how bad someone is hurting. You can’t know this until you talk to them about their problems. Who knows what would have happened if some friends of Sammy’s would have stepped into his life, sat him down, and really tried to help him figure out some things that were causing so many issues in his life. Who knows, maybe this did happen and Sammy just didn’t take it to heart, I don’t know.
 

 
Sammy Wanjiru was younger than me—that blows me away. I sort of feel like your early to mid twenties are very pivotal years. This is when you lay the foundation for what kind of person you are going to be and what kinds of things are going to hold you up when you are feeling down. Whenever someone takes their life the shockwave is felt by all those around the victim. In this case, the reverberations are felt all around the world. Hopefully, this incident will not all be for naught. Take this as an opportunity to look into the lives of those close to you and see if there is anything you can do.
 
You never know when a kind word or a simple friendship could save someone’s life.
 
Sammy Wanjiru. November 10, 1986 – May 16, 2011. Rest in Peace.

May 16, 2011   No Comments

Road Trip Runs…no, not diarrhea.

I’m back on the wagon! My 10 days of rest have come to an end and each of the last two mornings I’ve enjoyed a nice easy 30 minute run. The first was in Albuquerque, New Mexico as I am in the middle of a road trip to see my brothers.
 
I headed out from my older brothers house into an unknown city. Supposedly I turned the wrong way on Louisiana Street and headed into what my brother later told me was, “The War Zone.” I definitely noticed the neighborhoods and local shops started to decline in appearance but it wasn’t all that bad. I also noticed the odd post-marathon legs sensation. Ten days off really throws your legs and even your running balance for a loop. The elevation of 6000 feet in Albuquerque only added to this interesting sensation. ‘The War Zone’ for me was very reminiscent of certain neighborhoods in Queretaro, Mexico where I studied abroad in college. I figured this was good prep for my upcoming trip to Costa Rica.
 



 
After just one night in New Mexico I inflicted another painful 10 hour drive upon myself over to Waco, Texas to see the little brother. He’s a student at Baylor University. I crashed on the couch at his friend’s house feeling like I had time warped to 6 years ago when I would regularly sleep on random peoples couches. This odd feeling only continued. I was taking a shower in this house when a stranger walked into the bathroom (I thought I locked the door) and asked me how my run was, through the curtain. He rummages around in the bathroom for a few minutes then walks out like it wasn’t weird at all that he was talking to an unknown stranger in his bathroom, in the shower. I forget that the locker room mentality is still very strong at this age. We definitely become more solitary/private creatures once out of college. But hey, I’m just going with the flow. Maybe this tiny shower is actually a communal shower and I’ll have company tomorrow morning—let’s hope not.
 
This morning I headed out into the warm slightly muggy Eastern Texas air to tour the campus during my run. The Baylor campus is huge! What stood out to me was the giant white marbled architecture, lots of deep red brick, towering spires and bell towers, and historical statues from days gone past. I saw a fair amount of other runners out which was nice. I love how running is an instant common bond between strangers. So things were going great and I was feeling better cardiovascularly in this lower elevation. Sadly though, I felt a little pitch in my ankle. It wasn’t a crazy pain, just constant for the rest of the run. I’m trying not to think much about it. Tomorrow was going to be a rest day anyway so hopefully it goes away and isn’t, in fact, an injury that occurred during the marathon.

Apart from that hiccup, I’m happy to be out and running again. I am convinced that there is no better way to see a new place in the world than on foot…while running.
 
I’ll end with a couple random photos. I was pleasantly surprised to see this quality art amidst such seemingly conservative surroundings. I don’t presume to know what is in actuality considered ‘quality art’ but what I do know is that I like this stuff. The work below is painted on the walls in perhaps one of the coolest coffee shops I’ve ever been to; Common Grounds. And who would have thought, I’m not in the coffee shop Mecca of the Pacific Northwest, but in East Texas…I’m amazed by this country.
 


 

May 13, 2011   No Comments