serious running: trail running, races, shoe reviews

Archive for July, 2009

Fast Packing is Extreme Trail Running

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

Backpacking is a fun…when you think about the last time you did it.  Honestly, backpacking gets boring.  That’s why I enjoy trail running more.  While trail running, you get to cover more area, get a better work out, and it gets your adrenaline pumping.  But sometimes I don’t want to drive an hour to go trail running for a couple of hours and then go home.  A day trail run sometimes isn’t enough of a get away for me and I end up wanting more trail.  I want to be deeper in the forest, farther out in nature, more venerable, and should I say it, more extreme?  Enter Fast Packing.


Fast Packing is defined as running on a nature trail while carrying a backpack.  That’s simple enough but there is more to Fast Packing.  In order to qualify for Fast Packing you must stay at least one night in the woods and pack your own support.  This is what separates ultra runners from Fast Packers, ultra runners have crews that meet them on certain areas of the course and at rest stops with supplies to finish their run.  According to Fastpacking….Trail Running, “Distance limits for the ‘unsupported and under-supplied’ are currently around 600 miles.”  Looks like you have something to shoot for Hot Shot.  Fast Packing revolves around being a minimalist on the trail.  It takes a higher level of self-control and mental endurance than any other type of trail running or backpacking.  You are more vulnerable to the elements and the risk of serious injury is higher because of the little support you have.  It is recommended to at least mitigate this risk a bit by Fast Packing on well travelled trails.  Risk is cool, but mitigating it can be cooler.

So how should you pack for Fast Packing?  Quickly of course.  Seriously though, you want a Fast Packing pack to weigh about 3 pounds or less but be able to carry everything you need or may need.  Packs with hydration systems are good but you don’t want to fill up the hydration system with more water than you need or you will be carrying a lot of extra weight.  If you are concerned with hydration then fill up your hydration system and consume as much of the water as quickly as you can.  Water is easier to carry in your belly than on your back.  People die in the desert with full canteens you know.  Wait, who’s walking around in the desert these days…and who uses a canteen anymore?  The canteen had a good 250 year run, but it’s been all hydration packs and water bottles for the past 10 years.  That’s evolution for you.  Instead of carrying all of your water from the trailhead, you can find more water along the trail and use either a lightweight water bottle purifier or Iodine tablets to make it drinkable.  Bring gatorade or another sports drink mix for extra hydration.

Other items you may need while Fast Packing are a small first aid kit, a spork, and a small tent or poncho.  That’s all you need; plus food.  The name of this game is light weight; only bring the minimum.  You want to wear clothing that is wind-resistant, waterproof, durable, comfortable, and breathable.  This clothing will differ based on the time of year but you must remember that you will be sweating a lot and not have much warmth when it gets colder at night.  Bring layers to wear so you can adjust to the weather and activity you are doing; pretty much running, sleeping, or maybe eating.  You should wear durable trail running shoes while Fast Packing.  This is not the time to wear your performance trail running shoes.  If the trail terrain is more difficult, then you may want to wear some trail shoes that have higher ankle support or wear an ankle brace to avoid an ankle injury, the most common injury to end a Fast Packing trip.  When Fast Packing it is a fine line between being prepared and not carrying extra weight.  Choose the items you pack carefully.

So if you are looking for a little more risk and a longer trail running experience then try Fast Packing.  Be extreme but leave the Mountain Dew at home.  Aluminum and sugar are too heavy, not to mention all those carbonation bubbles!

Run Portland Run Half Marathon, 5K, 10K

Monday, July 13th, 2009


Run Portland Run is a part of the Inaugural Run America Run Series put on by USA productions which consists of not only the Run Portland Run race but also the Run Austin Run race.  That’s a lot of run, which of course, means it’s a lot of awesome.  The inaugural Run Portland Run race will be held on September 6th at 7:30.

The race starts at the Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront and runs on one of the most unique half marathons in the downtown Portland area.  The route will travel over two historic bridges and along the most beautiful areas on the east side of the Willamette River.  Perfect for a cool breeze as you cruise to a great race time!  There will be prizes for each age group, team, and individual runner.  Take part in this Inaugural event, run both races in the series and win.  Then you’ll be able to say, ‘I am the first ever winner the Run America Run Series!’   Leverage that for the rest of your life as the series grows in popularity and prestige.  You’ll be famous!  If you’d rather not win it, still plan on receiving a medal for participating.  You earned it!  This is an event with incredible production value to all participants with all the ‘bells & whistles’ of a National Event.  USA Productions has a background of more than two decades of events experience.  You know it’s going to something you don’t want to miss!

Run as an individual or in a team category such as professional, women’s, corporate, collegiate, high school, military, challenged athlete or walker.   That is what the Run America Run series is all about, bringing America together and strengthening communities with fantastic running events in which everyone can share their love for fitness.  The Run America Run series is focused on community and builds around alignments with non-profits in each of the regions, as well as create and environment for all runners, walkers, and people that enjoy a healthy lifestyle to come together.  This is what sets USA Productions events apart from all the other races.

So register today and take part in your community.  Come for the race and stay for the party.  Cost is $70 for the half, $40 for 10K, and $30 for the 5K.  You can register online until September 4th.  After that there is race day registration.  So come one, Run Portland Run!  Or anywhere else, Run America Run!

Wall Street Journal’s Got Nothing on Me: Running Still Recession Proof

Friday, July 10th, 2009


I’ve heard enough.  I saw it referenced on a couple of blogs and then on Twitter, but last night at the beginning of a group run someone started discussing this article in the Wall Street Journal written by Reed Albergotti titled, “Fast Times for Jobless Runners.”  Reed must have read the blog on February 21st titled, “NYC Marathon Race Entry Fees Increase:  Running is Recession Proof” where I analyzed why Marathons are recession proof and why there have been more entries in this down economy when I stated:

“…a lot of people have more time to train now that they do not have jobs or are working less because the economy is slow.  What a perfect time to attain that goal you’ve always wanted to do.”

I’m so quotable that I quote myself.  Now I know blog is not mainstream media, but I run down main street baby, and know the pulse of America.  Honestly, no one runs down Wall Street, running on gold sidewalks is terrible for your joints. serves a cult of readers that are intelligent, inquisitive, interesting, and in-tertaining.  How’s that for a little alliteration Mr. Probably Majored in English at some Private University…Street Journal?  Well I majored in Economics with an emphasis in deductive reasoning.  That’s how I determined that more people were running marathons in this bad economy because of job losses.  I know, I didn’t interview three people and get one statistic that said marathon race times are increasing, so irresponsible of me.  I’m just a blog, I’m not required to name my expert sources such as “Ray Gobis” or “Zach Goldman.”  Honestly though Reed, you don’t think the fact that marathon entries have gone up is a sign that more people are running marathons?  You’re right, it’s probably too directly related.  Maybe a statistic like this one from Running USA, the leader in statistics about the business running which states, “Record number of U.S. marathons with 1,000 finishers or more; ING New York City again the largest ever; record 19 marathons worldwide with over 10,000 finishers” would work for you.  Whatever though, quantifying statements is so time consuming.

At any rate, since I started this idea and discussion about jobless marathon runners, I’m going to take it one step further and finish it:  People who run long distances such as marathons are typically more wealthy than the general population; therefore, when they lose their job they can take time to accomplish other goals before immediatley seeking new employment.  Since statistics are apparently the “in” thing right now and I don’t have three random people to interview like Reed did, I researched the demographics of users.  As you can see about 70% of visitors (also known as marathon runners) are over 35, have a college education or higher, and make over 60K a year.  Professionals that are old enough to have built enough wealth to not have to jump right into another job and also have enough education to be confident that they will find employment when they are ready to seek it.  That’s why there are more marathon runners in this poor economy.  Now, that’s what I call investigative journalism.  Actually I didn’t have to investigate too much, and’s demographics are almost identical which gives more validity to this statistic.  I feel so validated.

Honestly, all in all, decent article Reed.  I’m just jealous that even though we may have the same ideas and I plug away day after day researching and writing about all things running, you write one article and your ideas get talked about and discussed 100 times more because of the broader reach you have in the Wall Street Journal.  It’s ok though, I do it for the people.  I’m kind of like the Robin Hood of running.  Come run in my hood sometime Mr. Fancy Pants Reed Albergotti!

XTERRA Trail Run – Colorado Series kicking off October 3rd!

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

It’s on like Donkey Kong, well minus the ladder climbing and barrel jumping, but finally the XTERRA Trail Run  Series is coming to Colorado!  Colorado has always been a major place to trail run, that’s why has 117 trails to run listed in that state alone, so why hasn’t the largest trail running series, the XTERRA Trail Run Series, been in Colorado yet?  I don’t know why, but I can forgive them because they are there now with the inagural race on October 3rd, 2009!


The Inagural Marathon of Trail Races at Cheyenne Mountain State Park in Colorado Springs will feature a 5k, half-marathon and marathon trail races at Cheyenne Mountain National Park tails.  This race is part of a three race series which is part of the 2010 Championship Series.    The marathon will be a double loop and the half marathon will be a single loop on a packed, groomed, and extra wide race course.  This race will be both challenging and rewarding, but then again, aren’t all challenges accomplished rewarding?  This race is going to be a full race production with water stations, aid stations, and everything else you would expect from a XTERRA Trail Run in the new Colorado Series.

So forget what you might of heard, the Inagural Marathon of Trail Races at Cheyenne Mountain State Park in Colorado Springs is on like Donkey Kong.  Don’t be a donkey and miss out.

Running Feet become Wider and Longer with Age

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

Your feet aren’t like wine and get better with age.  And age is going to happen to your feet, aging happens to everyone.  Except me of course.  Just call me Chris De Leon, the more successful decent of Ponce.  For years people have been trying to curtail the aging process to no avail and your running feet are no different.  They are going to change with age and you need to be prepared to buy the right running shoe accordingly.


No shoes no service?  Yeah right. Your feet have been servicing you for years and are tired.  Overtime feet become wider and longer because of joint changes, muscle and ligament changes, weight gain, and fluid retention.  As this happens you need to adjust the size of your running shoes accordingly, but even though size does matter, you should take other aspects of your running shoes into account.  For instance, with age your feet’s natural padding under your heal and forefoot thins, thus you need more cushioning and padding in your running shoes the older you become.  As well, your arches flatten the older you get, so running shoes with more arch support may be needed for your aging running feet.

If you continue to wear the same type of running shoes as your feet change with age you may develop bunions, calluses, or blisters.  A good way to avoid this from happening is to try on new running shoes about once a year before buying the same type of running shoes over and over.  To ensure you get the right fit make sure you try on shoes later in the day as your foot expands during the day.  Also, make sure you fit your largest foot, not all feet are created equal.

I know you’ll continue to run as you get older but your feet don’t have to feel old.  Make sure you continue to wear the right pair of running shoes for your feet.  You’ll save on quarters that you would have had to give your grandchildren for foot rubs.  Keep those quaters for the pay phones grandpa!

Stretching for Running Any Time You Want It

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

I love to stretch.  I can stretch a dollar, stretch out a guitar solo, and stretch my running muscles all at the same time.  That’s called multi-tasking.


Stretching can be the most important complimentary component to running.  Running creates stress on certain muscle groups that tighten when you stop.  Therefore it is good to stretch right after you are done.  This helps relieve some of the stress you just put on your muscles and reduces your risk of them tightening up.  You only need to do each stretch 4 times and hold for about 10-12 seconds, but no more than 30 seconds.  See, it only takes 2 minutes to do a stretch.  There are plenty of 2 minute periods in your day you can add stretching to like when you are riding the elevator, sitting in your office chair looking at Facebook, or waiting in line at McDonald’s.  All perfect times for your basic stretches!  Here are 4 essential stretches that you can do at any time of the day.  Make time in your life for stretching.  Flexibility’s important.

standing-calf-stretchCalf Stretch: For this stretch you are going to need a wall or something sturdy to lean against.  Stand facing the wall with your feet flat on the ground.  Lean against the wall and lift your left heel off the ground by bending your left knee.  Lean forward by bending you elbows until you feel you right calf become taunt.  This stretch is also perfect for when someone begins talking that you really don’t want to listen to.  Lean against the wall and do this stretch with your back to them as they are talking.  What?  You’re just stretching, you’re still listening.  Passive aggressive?  More like Promotion successful!

Thigh Stretch: Stand on your right foot and pick your left foot off of the ground.  Bend your left thigh-stretchleg, bringing your heel to your buttocks.  Grab your foot with your right arm for balance.  Pull your leg back until you can feel the front of your thigh become taunt.  Do not attempt to do this exercise while riding a moving subway; or around flamingos of the opposite sex.  You’re such a hot bird baby, yeah!

standing-hamstring-stretchStanding Hamstring Stretch: Place your legs together with both feet flat on the ground.  Bend over with your arms extended in front of you and move them toward the floor.  Reach down as far as you can until your hamstring becomes taunt.  This stretch is great for standing in line when someone is behind you.

Groin Stretch: Sit “American Indian Style” (if you say “American” Indian it’s politically correct) in your chair by sitting-groin-stretch-runningputting the soles of your penny loafers together.  Put your hands on your feet and elbows against your knees and thighs.  Push your knees toward the seat of the chair until you feel the groin area become taunt.  Oh yeah, you’re so taunty baby.

These 4 basic, convenient stretches will help you avoid injury, be less sore after your runs, and allow you to become more flexible.  It’s good to be flexible.  You never know when you’ll need more flexibility…

Peachtree Road Race Report

Monday, July 6th, 2009

I normally don’t do race recaps like a lot of other running blogs do because I think it’s boring.  I’d rather use this blog for news and information about running with a mild amount of entertainment, but you’re in luck, this race recap is about me, so it’s going to be straight entertainment.   I’m so interesting.  I have a website.


You didn’t know?  Shirtless running is so hot right now.  At any rate, I have run the Peachtree Road Race about 8 times.  As you may know, about two months ago I developed Patellar Tendonitis, or Jumper’s Knee.  Since then I haven’t been 100%, only running about 4 days a week and have not been able to run more than 5.5 miles without stopping because of the pain.  Prior to my injury I had set a goal to run the Peachtree Road Race in under 36 minutes but with my lack of training I decided to push that goal back to a race finish under 40 minutes, but would also be fine with under 42 to remain in the sub-seeded group for next year.

I started off the morning early at 5:15.  I showered because I didn’t want to have bed-head in the race photos.  I ate 3 bags of oatmeal for my pre-race breakfast.  I went and parked my car near the finish line, about a mile from my house, and then walked across the park about 1.5 miles to the closest subway.  Once I got to the start line I drank some water, waited 20 minutes to use the restroom, and ate a powerbar and some jelly beans.  All very interesting things huh?  I got to my sub-seeded corral which had plenty of room with racers sitting on the ground and stretching.  Standing would take some energy out of me so I sat down and started to do some stretching.  As I moved my legs in different positions I rubbed something from the bottom of my shoe on to the back of my leg.  It looked like dirt but didn’t have the same consistency.  I smelled it and realized I just rubbed dog poop all over my legs.  I tried to rub it out but that just made my hands smell of dog poop too.  Great.  I couldn’t really do anything about it so close to race time so I stood up and waited to start the race.  At five minutes prior to the start everyone was lined up close together near the start line and waiting for the gun.  I looked down to see if my shoes were tied, my IT bands were tight, and my race chip was secured and saw a puddle moving toward my foot.  I turned around to find the source of the liquid and saw it coming out of the guy behind me shorts.  I thought, ‘He must have had a water bottle burst in his pants pocket or something.’  I turned around and looked again and the man awkwardly moved back away from me a couple of steps.  He was urinating in his pants alright.  I thought to myself, ‘Unless you are going to win this race, it’s not that serious man.’  With no other options, I adjusted out of the yellow stream and waited for the start of the race with my legs covered in feces and my shoes covered in urine.  I was ready to run this race!


I ran the first 3 miles in a sub 6:00 pace.  I was on track to break 36, but I knew that the first 3 miles were down hill and usually pretty quick.  I even told myself to slow down a bit at about 2.4 miles.  I never tell myself to slow down.  The day prior I had done a ground recon of the course, so I knew what to expect as far as hills.  I figured if I could hold on and do the next 3 miles at a 7:00 minute mile pace I would still break 40.  But that didn’t happen.  I pushed myself hard up the hills, put everything out of my mind other than finishing this race strong.  I was breathing harder than everyone else around me at the beginning of the race but still keeping pace.  In the second half I was passing people, charging up the hills.  I didn’t look at my Garmin 205 for the last 2 miles of the race.  I wanted to push myself, knowing just a general idea of the distance that was left.  I hadn’t been training and was running a mental race.  I ran a 38:25.  Well under my 40 minute goal.  I got 330th overall out of 50,000 so I’m still in the top 1% of all runners that I race against.  That is an overall goal that I strive to maintain.  When I get older or become a female I’ll adjust that standard.

I know that it was a mental race and not a physical race because my legs were very sore the next day and I usually never get sore.  This just goes to show you, running is 93% mental…or somewhere around there.

Take A Racecation – Peachtree Road Race

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009


I’m taking a Racecation this weekend.  Well, actually it’s a Staycation with a Racecation added.  I’m running my 8th (or so) Peachtree Road Race here in Atlanta.  Meet me under the banner for a tasty cold beverage to begin your Racecation off right.  Word.

I came up with the word “Racecation” from a conversation in 140 characters or less I had on Twitter with @Josiegal44.  This 4th of July she is traveling to Hawaii and will be running a 10K.  We’ve all heard of destination races, but what makes a race a destination race, the race or the destination?  How do you decide if a race deserves a Racecation?  Here’s a couple of things you should consider:

Destination: This is the most important factor for a Racecation.  You want to go to a place that has a lot to offer for the non-racing portion of your trip.  The race can’t be your only focus on a Racecation; otherwise you should just call it a race.  Try to use a race as an excuse to visit a place that you have never been before.  There are many cities in the United States that I would love to check out but don’t know anyone who lives there; therefore I have no excuse to go, like Cleveland, Milwaukee, and Detroit.  So exotic.  Use a race as an excuse to check out somewhere exotic.  I used college as an excuse to go live in Los Angeles from Atlanta.  That seemed to work out pretty well for everybody.  Got a little extra chedda?  Go International.  There are marathon races everywhere from Dubai to Costa Rica.  And you thought bootleg DVDs was the only reason to leave the country.

Race Experience: You can go to a great destination but there is a chance you could run 26.2 miles on the outskirts of town.  You want to make sure the “race” portion of your Racecation is a great experience.  Some races have a more lively atmosphere than others at the finish, but I would focus more on the race route.  Take a Racecation on a race course that travels through different parts of a city or by national monuments.  Running is the best way to check out a city you’ve never been to before…other than maybe riding a double decker bus…on the top deck of course.

Race Distance: You can take a Racecation for any distance race but I would recommend it be a distance that is an accomplishment for you.  It can be as low as a half-marathon or as high as an ultra-marathon, the point is, make your Racecation a race distance that is difficult for you.  Once you finish the race, having accomplish your difficult goal, the rest of the Racecation will be that much more enjoyable!

Cost of Travel: Just like any vacation, you need to take into account the marginal benefits to the marginal cost of your Racecation.  If you can drive to a great Racecation instead of flying across the country and get close to the same experience then that is probably your best bet.  Don’t overextend yourself, that’s how the economy got in this mess.


Party: Make sure you find a destination that is party.  I suggest wearing your finishers medal and singing Right Said Fred’s, ‘I’m Too Sexy” at a karaoke bar the evening after your race for extra legitness.  The celebration of eating or drinking as much as you want the night after a long race is not something to take lightly.  Make sure you are in a destination to take full advantage of this.  Although, make sure the destination is not too party.  A friend recently asked me if I wanted to run the Las Vegas Marathon and I said, “Only if I can find a flight that lands 2 hours before the race so I can go directly to the start line.  It’s Vegas bro.  I can’t go to bed early the night before a race in Veg.”  Rule number one to being a serious runner:  knowing your limits.  Rule number two to being a serious runner:  say cool words like “bro” and “Veg.”  Abbreviations are so hip.

Friends and Family: Try to involve your friends and family in your Racecation.  See if anyone wants to travel and/or run the race with you.  Racecations are a great excuse to bring a group of friends together to take a trip.  Think about where you have family or close friends that you want to visit. Not only will you have built in race supporters but also maybe a cheap place to stay.  Just remember to bring your own alarm clock.

So take a Racecation this long weekend.  You deserve it!  If you’re Racecationing at the Peachtree Road Race, stop by the banner and racecate with me.

Putting Running in a Box: Trail Running, Mountain Running, Fell Running

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

I know, you want running to be free, creative, and without limits; but I’m sorry, everything needs to be categorized.  Below are some running categories with explanations.  I know I left out a couple of running categories like “cross-country” or maybe “ultra” running but I write this blog everyday, I need to save some material for later.  Can I get a doggy bag for cross-country and ultra running?  Thanks…and some extra bread please.


Trail Running: The grand daddy of them all.  Well, at least the most universal of all of the running categories.  The only criteria for a run to be considered trail running is that it is not on a paved surface.  Trail running can be done on grass, rock, sand, gravel, snow, or water.  Whatever you want, just preferably no pavement.  It can be done on singletrack, double-track, or in a field.  Distances can vary from a 5K to 100 miles.  Typically trail runs are distance runs.  Sprinting on gravel isn’t really that fun.  The main focus on trail running is getting back to nature and leaving the paved jungle you live and run in.  Trail Running is beautiful and needs to be celebrated.  Join me in celebrating trail running on Aug 22, National Trail Running Day.

Mountain Running: Categorized by its steep ascents or descents; like on a mountain.  While many trail runs contain steep ascents and descents, mountain running can be done on paved surfaces as well as trails.  The official authority on Mountain Running is the World Mountain Running Association.  From their website they say that mountain running was developed from a need for humans to continue what they have been made to do, run over steep terrain to hunt and gather.  There it is, Running is the oldest profession.  Sorry real estate geeks.  

Fell Running: Fell running begun in the 19th century and took place in community games.  The sport grew with top athletes becoming famous for their Fell Running prowess.  The sport eventually attracted bookmakers and gambling.  I wonder if you can bet on running races in Las Vegas?  I’m sure you can but I’ve never seen it.  The official organization is the fell runners association.  The difference between Fell Running and the other running categories is that it overlaps with orienteering.  Runners are given checkpoints to run to but the course they take is up to them unlike a trail or mountain race.  Fell Running race courses have categories, probably because there is no specific “course map,” in distance:  Long-more than 12 miles, Medium-6-11 miles, and Short-less than 6 miles.  I’m not sure what category a distance of 11.5 miles would fall in.  They also have categories for the ascents, Category A-at least 250 ft. with no more than 20% of the route on the road, Category B-at least 125 ft. with no more than 30% on the road, and Category C-at least 100 ft. with no more than 40% on the road.  See, it’s cool to categorize your running!

So next time you go for a trail run, mountain run, or fell run make sure you accuratley call it what it is.  Or just say you’re going for a run.  Even a caveman can understand that.