serious running: trail running, races, shoe reviews

Archive for April, 2010

Dances with Dirt Trail Race – Gnaw Bone

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

dances-with-dirt-gnaw-bones-trail-raceWeak, wimpy, treadmill running pansies who don’t want mud on their shorts can stop reading now.  Trail Running lovers who enjoy being scratched, muddied, and bruised, stay here because we have the Trail Race for you, Dances with Dirt Gnaw Bone Trail Race on May 15th!  Expect to get to the edge where life is in full color.  Expect a day that makes you realize you are fully alive, awake and crackin’ on all cylinders.  Expect insanity, stupidity, and nirvana (or those things at higher than your normal levels)! 

Dances with Dirt is a series of four ultra/marathons/relay trail running events that will test your mettle no matter what age or fitness level you are.

dances-with-dirt-gnaw-bones-trail-race-2The second race of the Dances with Dirt series, Gnaw Bone takes place in Nashville, Indiana on May 15th.  No matter what distance pushes you to the limit, they have it for you with a 50 mile, 50K, marathon, half-marathon, and 50 mile relay.  You can start the 50 mile ultra at 5:30 AM but you better bring a headlamp because you will be running in the dark.  Is there a better sunrise than one you see at mile 4 of a 50 mile run?  If you don’t own a headlamp there will be another start at 6:15 AM for the 50 mile race.  The 50K and marathon start at 7:00 AM with the half-marathon bringing up the rear starting at 9:00 AM.

From comments and suggestions, Dances with Dirt races have polished this gem of a race course to make it more exciting, fun, and challenging.  The race surface consists of mud, rocks, and river crossings.  The trail is not maintained in certain areas but is well marked with signs that say “Wrong Way dances-with-dirt-gnaw-bones-trail-race-finishMoron.”  Is it the right way if you are not a moron?  I don’t know, but I wouldn’t recommend trying it.  You won’t get swept down any river rapids.  There are some hills but supplemental oxygen isn’t needed.  Overall it is a great run in a beautiful environment…with some stupid spots.  Perfect for runners of all abilities looking for a fun challenge!  Check out the course map if you don’t value the element of surprise.  After the race, celebrate your accomplishment and stick around to pig out with your fellow extreme runners eating a couple of roasted pigs, pizza, and beer (cash bar)!

You don’t have to take my word for it though.  See what the Head Goat Randy Step has to say about this spectacularly good time event.  Yes, he knows he looks like Maury Povich.

Running Vertical

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010


When I can’t run on trails I like to run races that mirror urban trail running.  Last weekend I got a chance to participate in a unique race: running to the top of 191 Peachtree, a 50-story office building in downtown Atlanta. I was sorta bummed the race wouldn’t be happening in the Bank of America building as it had in years past since BofA is the tallest in Atlanta (and 8th tallest in the US) but at 770 feet, 191 Peachtree ain’t no slouch (it’s the 4th tallest in the ATL and 57th tallest in the US). The race was held as a benefit for the American Lung Association and each racer is required to raise at least $100 in donations on top of the $25 entry fee.


At around 9am on Saturday morning the racers lined up on the street outside of the building and I chatted a few folks up to see what my strategy should be. Everyone I spoke to laughed when I asked if they ran the whole way – most of them planned to walk. One guy I spoke with said he walked the whole thing last year in a time of around 12 minutes which didn’t sound too bad. Heck, I could do almost anything for 12 minutes!

I hadn’t done any training for the race but I still thought it should be possible to jog up at least the first few floors. A couple years ago I used to include stadium step running in my training routine and I was actually sorta good at it. But running stadium steps is a little different than running up 50 flights of stairs – at least you get a break when you descend the aisles.

At the race, runners were sent up the stairs in 10 second intervals to avoid a massive traffic jam. The event was chip timed with mats at the bottom and top of the course. I decided to start off at a decent clip, taking 2 steps at a time and I immediately started passing runners who started before me. Before I knew it I blew past the first water stop (seriously) on the 8th floor. Next thing I knew, I was still jogging at the halfway mark, 25 floors. My strategy was to run up the stairs and walk across the transition landings which helped because I was starting to get dizzy from running around in circles.

By the time I hit the second water stop at the 38th floor I was starting to feel pretty spent and around 40 I have to admit I walked 2 or 3 floors. With one final push to the top, I ran up the remaining levels and entered the 50th floor to a cheering crowd lining the hallway. Gatorade and sweeping views of the Atlanta skyline awaited and after cooling down for a few minutes I took the elevator back down to earth.

I didn’t time myself during the run so I waited around for the results and was surprised at how well I did: 7 mins, 30 secs (9 sec per floor) which earned me third place overall out of about 200 runners. As my brother Chris said, it seems like I may have found my race. With a little training I’ll be back next year, ready to take first!

XTERRA offering $15 Race Entries Tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

xterra-trail-races-discount-dayTo give us Trail Runners a little tax day relief XTERRA is offering $15 race registrations tomorrow, April 15th!  Finally someone is recognizing the positive benefits of Trail Running and giving us tax breaks.  When is the federal government going to get on board with XTERRA and Trail Running?  Hopefully someday we’ll get enough Justices on the Supreme Court to pass tax breaks for Trail Runners.  Until that happens, register for one of these trail races, tomorrow, April 15th for only $15!  What a break!

Register for one or more of these upcoming XTERRA Trail Race events for just $15 each:

XTERRA Lake Las Vegas 5/10/21km Runs – Henderson, NV – April 24, 2010

XTERRA Waco 5/10/21km Trail Runs – Waco, TX – May 22, 2010

XTERRA Oak Mountain 5/10/21km Mud Runs – Pelham, AL – June 12, 2010

XTERRA Richmond 21km Xduro and Fugitive 10km Trail Run – Richmond, VA – June 19, 2010

XTERRA Bend 5/10km Trail Runs – Bend, OR – September 18, 2010

XTERRA Wheeler Canyon 21km Xduro Trail Run – Ogden, UT – September 18, 2010

XTERRA Makena Beach 5/10km Trail Runs – Makena, Maui, HI – October 23, 2010

XTERRA Kualoa 5/10km Trail Runs – Oahu, HI – December 5, 2010

Thanks XTERRA, you are truly great Americans.  Wait, isn’t XTERRA made by Nissan…

What is a Runner’s High?

Monday, April 12th, 2010


Most trail runners have experienced it, some run just to attain it, while others have no idea what a “Runner’s High” is.  If you are a trail runner and have never experienced a Runner’s High then you need to run faster, push your body harder, and attain the point where you lose conscientiousness of what your body is feeling.

A Runner’s High can be described as an elevation of the senses while running, typically long distances and in a natural environment.  It is difficult for trail runners to describe the exact feeling (much like drug users) they get from a Runner’s High, but many equate it to the feeling of an orgasm.  Another good reason to go trail running.

Technically, a Runner’s High is associated with the release of endorphins in the brain.  Endorphins are any group of opiate proteins with pain-relieving properties that are found naturally in the brain.  The word endorphins comes from two parts: endo- and -orphin; which are short forms of the words endogenous and morphine, intended to mean “a morphine like substance originating from within the body.”  Knowing that human cells have receptors for this drug suggests that the body produces its own morphine like substances which it is believed can be released into the body by running long distances and gives trail runners the feeling of a Runner’s High.

While it is difficult to quantify exactly what feeling different trail runners get from this release of endorphins, it is agreed that there is a definite mood change.  The difference in Runners’ Highs can be a positive or negative one with differing levels of intensity.  Maybe that is why many trail runners become so Serious about Running, because they are the type of runners that get this intense positive feedback from running.

Whatever the science is and however your brain reacts to trail running, one thing is certain, there is a typical emotional feeling derived from trail running.  Everyone records their feelings differently but there is always a point during a trail run that your body changes.  So go out for a long trail run, and push to attain a close connection between your mind and body.  Let your mind take over while your feet are still moving, one in front of the other, and you are only aware of one thing…yourself.  Trail running is a free self-awareness seminar!

So say no to drugs and help keep the kids stay off the streets.  Get them running on the trails instead and let’s get hiiiiiiiigh together….on Trail Running.

How to Find Your Way if Lost While Trail Running

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010


These past two weekends I ran two trail races and during both of them at one point I found myself without any other runners around me.  Once this happened I began to second guess if I was on the right trail.  We all want reassurance from our peers that we are traveling down the right path.  Of course, there were arrows on the ground and tape cutting the trail splits on these trail runs, but when you are running, pushing yourself, and in the zone, you tend to just keep running on the path right in front of you.  The path of least resistance.  However, sometimes it’s best to run down the trail less traveled…

So let’s say you go for a trail run, by yourself, to get out of the city, to be in the forest, and maybe get some clarity.  While attaining your runner’s high, you zone out of your immediate surroundings and suddenly find yourself lost.  You are running by yourself, you don’t have a GPS, or a map but have a general idea of which Cardinal direction you need to travel to find your way back.

What should you do?  Try to survive and wait to be rescued?  Possibly, but if you are trail running, you probably aren’t that far off your intended location.

1.  Walk downhill until you reach water. There are two reasons why you want to find water.  First off, you want to make sure as you aren’t running around in circles which can very easily happen.  Following a water way ensures you go one direction and make progress.  Secondly, population centers are usually on or near waterways, so if you follow one long enough you will reach civilization.  If not, you’ll eventually reach the beach.  Once there, reward yourself with an umbrella drink and a rub down.  You deserve it.

2.  Look at the Moss on the sides of trees. Moss often grows on the North side of the trees.  Based off this you can determine which cardinal direction you want to travel.  Left of North is West.  Right of North is East.  South of North is…well, South.

3.  Find the North Star. If it is night time and you are in the Northern Hemisphere you can find the North Star as the brightest star on the handle of the Little Dipper.  Just think about the big tent in Elementary school with the stars displayed on the ceiling.  The North Star and Little find-your-way-by-sunset-resizeDipper are probably the easiest stars to recognize.  Unlike B-list celebrities, which are often difficult to recognize.

4.  Look up to the clouds. You can look to the sky to pray; while you are looking up there, notice which way the clouds are traveling.  Clouds usually travel East to West.  They don’t follow the exact Cardinal directions but it can point you in the right direction.

5.  Watch the sunset and sunrise. While you’re lost, take time to appreciate the simple things in life like the sunrise and sunset.  The sun rises in the East and sets in the West.  Only “ride off into the sunset” if you want to travel West.

Overall, make sure you don’t panic and think rationally.  If you have no idea which direction you should travel then your best option is to just stay put and make yourself visible for possible rescue teams.  Things like bright clothing, fires, and being on a high point are great ways to get yourself noticed.  Being obnoxious and loud is a horrible way to get noticed.  If you have confidence and a calm demeanor you’ll get noticed every time, on and off the trail.