Thursday, June 26, 2008

New Shoes. Wow!

The UPS truck rolled up to my house the other day and screeched to a halt as they always do. In it, were my two new pairs of Brooks Infiniti's. (Well, I'm sure there were other things in the truck as well.) There is nothing quite like getting new shoes to run in I don't think. Often they replace shoes that are near and dear to us and have logged their share of miles through all kinds of weather, races, and training. Not to say that we didn't appreciate all that they did for us, but it's time for the new ones to take over. With great anticipation, I opened the box and knew in a minute that these were the fast ones that Brooks sent me. Of course! The new shoe smell and the inside the shoe junk that always comes with them were all there waiting for me to take in. I just stopped and held them. I thought about all of the possibilities that they held. They smelled like a new car. I always order two pairs at a time so that I can rotate them daily especially on those double training days. Naturally, when I wore them for the first time the bounce was incredible. I felt that I was running on clouds. They felt fast! They felt fantastic! Yeah, there's nothing like a new pair of shoes.

Take a look at the Runner's World Summer 2008 Shoe Guide online. Click on Shoes & Gear to get to the shoe guide. Also, take a look at your current shoes and make sure that they are ok. It might be time for you to get to have the UPS truck screech to a halt in front of your house and deliver that new shoe smell to you.

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

The Western States Endurance Run

News from out west is not good for one of the most incredible ultra races in the world. The Western States Endurance Run (100 miles) was canceled yesterday due to the many fires that are hitting that region of the country. There were a reported 840 wildfires statewide, 312 in Northern California, and 3,200 lightning strikes in Tahoe National Forest alone on June 21st. It was to be run June 28-29.

From the website some bits of information: "The Western States Endurance Run is one of the oldest ultra trail events in the world and certainly one of the most challenging."

Participants were notified of the event cancellation with the following message:

Dear Western States Runners,

It is with deep regret that we announce today that the 35th running of the Western States 100-mile Endurance Run has been canceled, due to the unprecedented amount of wildfires that have struck northern California in recent days and the health risks that have been associated with these wildfires. The Board of Trustees of the Western States Endurance Run has consulted with many of our local and state race partners, including the U.S. Forest Service and the Placer County Air Pollution Control District, in coming to this decision. We apologize to our runners for any inconvenience this decision has created."

Some background about the race: "The Run is conducted along the Western States Trail starting at Squaw Valley, California, and ending in Auburn, California, a total of 100 miles. The trail ascends from the Squaw Valley floor (elevation 6,200 feet) to Emigrant Pass (elevation 8,750 feet), a climb of 2,550 vertical feet in the first 4½ miles. From the pass, following the original trails used by the gold and silver miners of the 1850’s, runners travel west, climbing another 15,540 feet and descending 22,970 feet before reaching Auburn."

Our thoughts and prayers are with those that are involved in fighting these fires (The true heroes!) as well as the participants that trained for many long hours to get to the level they needed to be at to run in such a challenging event.

Please check my friend Jean's blog Farther Faster for more details and pictures. He is an accomplished ultra runner and was preparing to run in this race.

I will still close this blog with what I always say in hopes that all will be well.

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Vasque Summer Intro Trail 5K Run

Had a great time today running the Vasque Summer Intro Trail 5K Race in Kansas City organized by the Kansas City Trail Nerds. They set up a fantastic course and worked very hard to get it ready for this first race. It was no small task. Great job! I am really looking forward to the next race on July 5th which will be a 15 mile race. Here are some pictures of the race.

It was nice to get off of the roads and run on the soft turf. That's one of the things that I like about the trails. Jumping over logs is much better than curbs!

Headed for the finish. It was a downhill all the way at this point. Could hear the crowd roar. Not really, just kidding.

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Weather Or Not To Race

Last weekend the Ironman Kansas was held in Lawrence, Kansas. The 70.3 mile race involving swimming (1.2 miles), cycling (56 miles), and running (13.1 miles) was a great success. Participants had wonderful things to say about the volunteers, the community, the course, and the overall organization. I am sure there were other comments that were not as positive as there are in every race. However the real issue at hand is that weather played a factor in cutting short the event during the running portion of the race. Many participants did not finish the full course and the course was shut down due to rain and lightning. Newspaper reports (Lawrence Journal World) stated that 60% of the field had finished before the race was stopped. In this world class event, what do you do when the weather is a threat? Many participants were not happy that the race was stopped. Others stated that they had a good day and would come back to Kansas again. (No I won't play the Wizard of Oz card here)

As a race director, it is their job to insure the safety of all involved. Participants, volunteers, and spectators. Is it fair to cancel an event because of weather? No! Is it the right thing to do? That's where you get the most discussion. Many of us would rather run in any type of weather and look danger in the eye and say "Let's go". In my training runs, it takes everything I have to get off the road when bad weather strikes. Eventually I come around and give in. Do I like it? No! Is it the right thing to do? More discussion. Look back to the bumbling decision making of the race director of the 2007 LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon. Due to the heat, the race was canceled midway during the race. Debate still surges on about that call. I was personally caught in the middle of that one along with my son and several of our running group friends. These are two different stories and circumstances.

The Ironman Kansas could not control the storm danger that it faced and in my opinion made the right decision by stopping the race. It was a severe storm that could have very bad implications for all those involved. It is just too dangerous to be outside in Kansas (or anywhere else) during a severe storm. However, the Chicago decision to stop the race in October 2007 due to the heat will always be debated. Lack of preparation and proper stocking of aid stations for all participants not just the elite was a major factor in the cause of why it was stopped. Some people had no problems with the heat. But there were many people that had heat related problems. Medical attention was sought. It is always difficult to tell how your body is going to react to heat or cold on any given day. Race officials did not have a plan to facilitate the onslaught of the heat that they knew was coming a week before the race. The Ironman Kansas officials had about an hour to see that the storm that was fast approaching was going to have an impact on their event. They did what they had to do. Protect those involved. Yes, disappointment will always remain about the shortened distance. But one thought remains, at least there were no deaths or weather related injuries.

Solutions? I am sure if people got together and really thought about it, there would be a way to resume a race after a rain delay. Other sports have figured it out, why not these? Would it make sense to develop a system if during the last part of the race that has been canceled, a team of volunteers is sent out to warn participants and give them a flag or marker to mark where they are so that after the storm passes they can go back out to that point and resume the race? Would that be fair? Are there problems with that concept? Sure to both of those questions. It could be a no win situation. Race directors need to protect those involved. Is it our decision as participants? No! We lost our sense about things like that a long time ago.

Forward we go! May you roads and trails be happy and safe!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Doubling Report

I wanted to take a moment to report on how the doubling runs were going this week. As promised, I will let you know how I am doing with this concept posted earlier. This week, my running schedule starts with a morning run and cross training in the afternoon on Monday-Wednesday-Friday and then on Tuesday and Thursday I start with a longer morning run followed by a shorter run in the afternoon. On Tuesday I did a Tempo run and on Thursday I did a Fartlek run in the morning. Then in the afternoon an easy run. On Saturday, plans call for my long run of the week followed by a shorter run on Sunday.

I really like the concept of doubling and getting additional miles in for the week. I have to say though, there are two very important factors. First. Stretch! It is very important to stretch before your runs and after each run. Then repeat the process for the afternoon session. Also, a few minutes of stretching during the day will help too. Second. Hydrate! It is important to hydrate on regular days, but with doubling it is even more important. Especially this time of year. Both stretching and hydrating have had a significant impact on the success of the week's training. It will be a 60+ mile week. I'll let you know in a few days how things are going for the next week.

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

People Running To It, Not From It

Last Saturday night I had the opportunity to attend an incredible concert event. It was an evening with the Barclay Martin Ensemble. As runners, we support many efforts around the world, in our own country, and our own communities, that benefit others. We are often asked why we run. Often times, we have no quick answers. But so many times the races we support are for very worthwhile organization. I imagine there were a few runners in the crowd last Saturday night but my focus is on the fact that a few individuals had a vision. A start and a finish line. They went after a goal to help others in need and it was wildly successful. Not only was it a great concert, but it was also a very meaningful cause.

Now a little history of where this is all going. My son Andy (founder of Interwoven Threads), who has run a number of races with me and several on his own, and his friend Barclay Martin got together and had the vision and action plan for the evening. The HALO Foundation was the focus of the night. That night, $1 from each CD sold as well as $5 from each Barclay Martin Ensemble and Interwoven Threads T-shirt was donated to the HALO Foundation to fully fund the purchase of beds and bedding for 20 at-risk Ugandan girls in need of residence at the HALO Orphanage in Kampala. Present Magazine also was one of the event sponsors. The goal for the evening was $1,000. It is safe to say that they met their goal. It was fantastic!

I encourage you to visit each website and see the incredible things they are doing for the world around them. It was truly a moment in time where a group of individuals "ran" towards helping others.

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Viewing and Listening in the Mountains

Sometimes as runners we have the opportunity to travel and see places that are really fantastic. I recently was in Estes Park, Colorado and while downtown ventured into a small shop called Morning Light Photography. The studio had many outstanding photographs of the Rocky Mountain area. It was a runner's dream as far as places that one could find photos of trails and meadows in which to run and hike. The owner's work was incredible. I encourage you to go to his website and see some of his work. The images will captivate you. While in his studio, he was playing a CD that the moment I heard it I knew I had to have. It is by Stephen Tipton and is titled Hoyannah! The CD consists of traditional hymns on the Native American flute. A truly inspirational experience. Sometimes we all just need to take a moment and enjoy the surroundings. The Rocky Mountains make you do just that.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Rocky Mountain Trail Running

I have just returned from a few days in Colorado. It was awesome! I was in the Rocky Mountain National Park area for a family reunion and found some time to do some great trail running with my niece Angela. We found some great places to run and also saw some incredible sights along the way. What a place to run! Wow! Temperatures were great and the trails were challenging. We ran through some areas of snow on the trail that made locating the trail a little difficult but it was a great adventure. At times some of the drifts were knee deep, but most of the time the trails were in great shape. On one section of the trail, we came upon a small heard of elk feeding and they just looked at us thinking what in the world we were doing in their meadow. We really didn't want to disturb them, but on we went and as luck would have it they let us pass without charging. They did take off all at once and I can still hear them crashing through the trees. We didn't have a camera along with us which I have now learned is a must for trail running. Just to experience the beauty of the surroundings of the trails was incredible. I am still wondering why trail maps and trail signs don't match. Oh well, we still found our way back. I have a few pictures to post right now and more will be coming soon.

Angela is amazing! In April 2008, she was a finisher in the Ford Ironman Arizona. What a tremendous accomplishment. It was great to be able to run with her and hear about her race. Congratulations to her! I have a couple of pictures to post right now and more will be coming soon. Hope you enjoy the views as much as we did.

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!