Thursday, April 26, 2012

Big Mountain Trail Run Race Report

On Saturday I ran in the Big Mountain Trail Run that was put on by Big Mountain Adventure Racing.  The race  was at North Cheyenne Canon Park, and consisted of a 1/2 marathon, 10K, and 5K.  I was really looking forward to this race, as it was advertised as 90% single track, and a downhill finish.

Above is the map of the run.  The first mile was a pretty steady climb up, but nothing too crazy.  I was happy that I could push through most of the smaller switchbacks and climbs without slowing down too much.  However, just past the first mile was an intense series of switchbacks.  I mean the kind where look above you and see at least 3 separate lines of runners zig-zagging up... and by then they were all speed hiking up because of the steepness and the loose dirt.  This tough climb continued on to pretty much the 2.5 mile mark where an aid station was set up on Gold Camp Road (X point at the top of the map).

From the aid station, the course turned to running on Gold Camp Road.  Above is a picture of one of the old train tunnels on the road (not positive this is the same one.. I didn't bring a camera).  Felt great to run through the tunnel after refilling on water and making the tough climb.  It was nice and cool :-)

From there the course was another .5 or more along the road (and still a steady climb) until reaching the next connector back to the single-track back down the hill.  I was so happy to hit this point as I knew it was all downhill (well mostly) from there and I could take advantage of making up time from the climb, as well as recover a bit.

The trail itself was beautiful... I wish I wasn't in a hurry so I could have enjoyed some of the views more, but I tried.  I'm going to have to go up there again sometime when its not a race to check it out. I ended up finishing at 1:12, which I was happy with... considering my first (and only other 10K) was mostly road running and I did that bout 30s slower than this one.  Achilles was still nagging me.. especially on the uphills, but a couple of Advil kept it quiet most of the time.

Here are a few more shots borrowed from the Big Mountain website.  Again... some amazing views and really fun trail running.   Also, this was the first year this race was held, and I was impressed with the way it was organized.  Chip timing for everyone, free burritos from a local restaurant, plus plenty of other snacks and beverages available. Oh and a coupon for free beer at Phanton Canyon Brewery!!  The trail was well marked and staffed also.

Also, there were a few vendors on site which was cool.  I got to check out the New Balance Minimus Zero trail shoe... Wow.. talk about a light weight shoe! It literally felt like it should be disposable or something... would love to try some out, but they almost seemed like too little for a rough trail.

Courtesy of

Another great thing about the race is that a friend decided to sign up at the last minute.  That was really nice, since I generally don't know anyone at these races (I haven't been to many yet), so end up standing around looking at what shoes everyone is wearing.  Anyway.. here is a funny pic from the start of the race... seems like every race photo of me is goofy...  or maybe its not the photo.. its just me :-)

So what's next?  yep.. it's time for the Bolder Boulder 10K again!  I am really looking forward to this one. I've walked it the past 4 years, but this will be the first time I actually run!  It is such a great event with live bands all along the route, people partying in the front yards like crazy...   followed by a great Memorial day event at the CU stadium (complete with Armed Forces paratroopers and fly overs)  and where we can watch the conclusion of the professional racers after we complete our run.  Ok..  you all know how slow I am, but I am going to put it out there.  My goal for my 3rd 10K is to finish under 1 hour...   I know that still sounds slow, but for an old overweight guy like me, it would be great!

Have a great weekend...  get out and do something fun!

Happy trails...


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Get those kids running!

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I know I mentioned a few posts back that our twin boys, age 7, just joined a running club through their school a few weeks ago.  They are in 1st grade, and they were both very excited to join the team.  Now of course I was just a little bit excited too, seeing as I've managed to be bitten by the running bug in the last year.

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What was really cool was that the team at their elementary school attracted 72 kids!  I thought that turnout was really incredible.  Spring is more focused on shorter track type events, so they will be running two meets focused on middle distance (400-800m for K-2), and one focused on short sprints (50 and 200m).  If they continue in the fall, the program is focused on cross-country events, with distances ranging form 800m to 2400m.

So far, what I've seen of the program has been really great.  Just about all of the activities and drills in practice are focused around games and having fun.  There is nothing greater to see than kids out there running with big grinning faces.  I have to remind myself when I'm out on the trail to quit being too serious, and just enjoy the ride, the view,  and the freedom to move.

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Now of course, being of the mindset that I am, I attended the first practice very interested in how they would talk to the kids about running form.  Or as my wife noted, prepared to go off on them about how they are doing it all wrong!  But, as it turns out, the initial discussion with the kids was primarily about arm movement, and breathing.... nothing about foot strikes.  Which makes sense, especially with the younger kids.  When watching them run, I noticed that almost every one of them ran with a relaxed and natural mid-foot strike without any over extension.  Even in clunky, thick heeled shoes.  Just made me realize that poor form probably develops later and over time.  (Just a thought, I'm no expert).

I did have to cringe a little at the next practice when one kid asked about how to land when running... the coach proceeded to say that some people land on their toes, some land on their mid-foot, and some (gasp) land on their heels... and that it was all OK.  But, again, the overall push was to keep it fun for the kids,  which they did very well. 

Now... while I would have loved to put our boys in a pair of these Merrell Trail Gloves, that would look just like Dad's, I have a very difficult time with the expense, compared to how long they will fit these guys at this age. So, for this go around at least, I'm trying them out in some basic water shoes.  The shoes are flat and flexible, and for the time and distances they are running, seem to be working out great.  They do keep bugging me about getting them some VFF's, but I may be able to convince them to go with some Invisible Shoes for the summer (that match Dad's of course).  My guess is that if they truly get hooked on running, and continue to run and Incline with me over the summer, then an investment would be warranted. 

I just had to repost this pic above, as it is one of my favorites.  It's that look and feeling that I see in the kid's faces when they are running.  That's what it should all be about..  running because it's fun... because it's play... and more so because we CAN.  Too often I think we take for granted the bodies given to us, and the fact that not everyone is fortunate to use them to their full capacity.  So... let's get those kids running, and at the same time, recapture that joy in ourselves...  

After I originally posted this up, I came into contact with The Naked Runners on Facebook.  Wow! What a great site, and Dave and Silas are spot on!  It's all about getting ourselves moving and getting healthier!  Check out this awesome Tedx video below....  

Loved this pic I found too when poking around on Pinterest... I still haven't quite figured that out yet. 

Anyway, enjoy the rest of the weekend.  I'm looking forward to the Big Mountain Trail Run 10K this coming Saturday..   I'll be sure to post up a race report afterwards..

Happy trails!


Thursday, April 12, 2012

It's an election year.. vote for me!

Hey everyone...  just a quick post to ask for your support.  I would love to test and review what appears to be my dream minimalist trail shoe!

If you have a minute, and could visit this site   and vote for my picture #9 (via a comment), I would greatly appreciate it!! I promise to provide an very comprehensive review on the VFF Spyridon LS if I win!

Thanks so much,


Sunday, April 8, 2012

King of the Incline!!

Ok... I just have to share this great article from Tim Bergsten at Pikes Peak Sports.   But before I do, let me quickly share a link to another awesome review and giveaway from Running and Rambling...  click here for a review of New Balance's latest minimal trail shoe and a chance to win!

This weekend was an unofficial "Inclinathon", or a marathon equivalent via the Manitou Incline.  For those of you not familiar yet, that is of course part of one of my favorite trail runs.  2,200 feet elevation gain over 1.1 miles.. up an abandoned incline railway bed...  

Anyway, this week Ed Baxter, 58, of Colorado Springs completed 13 ascent/descents of the Incline in just over 13 hours,  for 26.5 miles and almost 27,000 ft of elevation!!   Simply stunning...    I generally go up it twice a week, with a 4 mile trail run back down, but my best time going up is 43 minutes..  As you'll see below, many of Ed's split times were under 30 minutes!

Here's the article and interview below!

Ed Baxter, 58, of Colorado Springs, completed 13 round trips on the Manitou Incline on Saturday in 13 hours, 15 minutes, becoming the first - and so far, only - finisher of the "Inclinathon."

Baxter climbed a total of 26,143 feet and traveled 26.52 miles, a little longer than a marathon.

With ultra runner Brandon Stapanowich - the event organizer - providing the cowbell, and Incline regular Michael Everson whooping it up like a kid on Christmas morning, Baxter broke through the finish line tape and immediately chugged some water.
"Now I know how to break the tape from now on, just be the only one who shows up," he said.

He began his lonely journey at 3 a.m. on Saturday. Beneath the light of a bright moon - he didn't need a headlamp- he paced himself for the long haul.
He consumed a piece of pizza on each of his first few laps, then dug into peanut butter and jelly and various energy snacks.
Later in the day, when his body began to protest the heavy physical demand, he found a place in the sun and slept for about 45 minutes.
"After I took that nap, everything kind of fell into place again," he said. "I think I wasn't hydrating like I should have."

The Manitou Incline is an abandoned railway bed consisting of railroad ties that form a rugged staircase rising about 1.1 miles and 2,011
 feet. The Incline begins near the Cog Railway station in Manitou Springs.
Though there are no official records for the number of climbs in a day, it is a good bet that Baxter has set the mark. Elite runners and cyclists often struggle to complete one trip up the Incline.

A carpenter by trade, Baxter and his twin brother, Fred, climb the Incline several times a week. Ed's best time on the Incline from bottom to top is 21 minutes, 53 seconds.

Incline veterans will appreciate his Inclinathon split times. They are as follows:
Lap 1 - 27:55, round trip 50:10
Lap 2 - 28:20, 49:43
Lap 3 - 29:50, 49:50
Lap 4 - 27:50 (fastest), 42:29
Lap 5 - 28:05, 42:14
Lap 6 - 28:32, 43:09
Lap 7 - 31:32, 57:07
Lap 8 - 35:02, 58:57
Lap 9 - 40:52 (slept)
Lap 10 - 35:37, 1:01
Lap 11 - 34:29, 58:12
Lap 12 - 33:32, 58:38
Lap 13 - 33:53, 58:47

He was the only entry in the first Inclinathon, a suffer-fest cooked up by Stapanowich. It is an unofficial event that charges no entry fee, but gives away a coconut head trophy to the winner.

More of the Incline's hardcore users, including Stapanowich, are expected to try the Inclinathon next week.

"As much as I would like this to be non-competitive, I know his time will be in the back of my mind," Stapanowich said.

Happy Trails!


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Random Ramblings....

This came up in an image search on random ramblings :-) Photo Source

I felt like it was time for another post, but didn't have a single topic that I've been dwelling on so instead you get a bunch of random stuff..   so I apologize for the rambling but here goes...

First, I haven't run in a week and a half, and it's driving me a little crazy.  I managed to develop Achilles tendinitis in my right foot, primarily from over use I believe.  I made it 48 days into the 120 day running challenge (run at least 1 mile per day), and I'm guessing the fact that I didn't take a break contributed to it.

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So... in order to prevent any surgical views of a torn achilles, I bailed out of the challenge and am resting.  Which means no running..  which a year ago wouldn't have meant anything.  But, after successfully developing a passion for running (my wife would say obsession), not running is tough to do.  I have however been trying to work biking and other workouts in during this time.

For a great recap of what it's like to not be able to run... check out this post from fellow blogger Pensive Pumpkin..   similar to her situation, I've taken this opportunity of down time to sign up for a race... because of course that is what you do when you can't run.

So.. I'm signing up for the Cheyenne Canyon 10K trail run on April 21st.  I think I'll be able to start running again next week (with breaks inbetween) to get ready for this one.  It really sounds appealing because it is 90% single track, uphill on the first half and a downhill finish, and it goes through some old train tunnels..   Anyone in the CO area doing this one?

Next random item is that our 7 1/2 year old twin boys just signed up for the "Land Sharks" running team through their elementary school.  Of course I'm pretty excited, and they are too.  First practice is tomorrow so we'll see how it goes.  They are in 1st grade, so will be running 400 and 800m races. Wish I could afford to outfit them in the latest Merrell's or VFF's!   Ah well...  going to try out some decent water shoes.. just something flexible and flat (and affordable!).

Oh.. and before I forget.... another CONTEST is out there... and for SHOES!  I know those two words get every barefoot/minimalist runner out there in a lather... Anyway.. this one is from Skora.. they have a pretty cool line of upscale minimalist shoes..  Can't believe I'm sharing this as it reduces my chances of winning! Entry deadline is 5pm PST on Friday the 6th, so check it out here!

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All randomness aside, I would be remiss if I didn't spend a little time talking about a sad and tragic loss this last week.  Micah True aka Caballo Blanco died, but true to form, he died doing what he loved most... running. I learned about his incredible integrity and character when I read "Born to Run" last year, and got to know more about him via his great Facebook posts.

As with many other readers, fans and friends, I have clung on to a few of his quotes from the book which includes:
"Don’t fight the trail. Take what it gives you,” he began. “Lesson two – Think Easy, Light, Smooth, and Fast. You start with easy, because if that’s all you get, that’s not so bad. Then work on light. Make it effortless, like you don’t give a shit how high the hill is or how far you’ve got to go. When you’ve practiced that so long that you forget you’re practicing, you work on making it smooooooth. You won’t have to worry about the last one – you get those three, and you’ll be fast.”

There have also been a lot of really great blog posts about Micah..  a few of my favorites are from Barefoot Monologues, Vanessa Runs, and Pensive Pumpkin.. check them out as they are better with words than I am.

RIP Caballo Blanco.

Happy trails everyone... hope it's a good week and weekend!


‎”WE are the messengers. Fueled by the message we carry. When the message is of Truth/Beauty, love, Hope and Peace, we will always have the strength to find our ways home, on this, our beautiful Mother Earth. Run Free!”
-Micah True, March 26, 2012