serious running: trail running, races, shoe reviews

Archive for October, 2010

Running on Faith Book Review

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

jason-lester-running-on-faithI was sent the book Running on Faith, written by Jason Lester and Tim Vandehey, so I gave it a read.  It’s a good book whether you are a trail runner, road runner, or participate in triathlons, it is always motivating to read a story of someone who has overcome worldly obstacles to reach their fitness goals.  We all push our bodies and minds, but sometimes you want to quit.  You won’t want to quit again after reading this book.  As I sat in jury duty I got so inspired reading this book that I went on a quick run during our hour break.  Maybe the fact that I was dripping in sweat was the reason I wasn’t selected to be on the jury….

Jason Lester is a physically challenged extreme athlete.  When he was twelve years old, a speeding car ran a red light, sending him into the hospital with twenty broken bones and paralyzed arm.  Jason and his father had always planned on him becoming a professional baseball player, now that dream was gone.  But Jason refused to let his injury impede his goal of becoming a professional athlete.  He went through more trials and tribulations in his life and always found solace in sports.  He began running and participating in duathlons in High School.  After college he moved to Los Angeles and fell into the typical partying Hollywood lifestyle.

After more negative life experiences, Jason started decided to start training for the Ironman in 2004, and has since competed in numerous extreme races.  In 2008, Jason became the first disabled athlete to complete the Ultraman (320 miles of biking, swimming, and running), and in 2009, he won an ESPY award for Best Disabled Male Athlete.  He is the founder of the Never Stop Foundation, and organization dedicated to bettering the lives of children and adults through athletics.

One thing interesting about Jason is that he calls his condo “the lab” and gives instructions on how to build your own lab.  The lab is your custom-created training environment.  It’s your lifestyle while training.  However, Jason takes this to the extreme, putting his complete focus, twenty-four hours a day on getting himself physically and mentally ready for the race.  He says, “it’s the environment where your needs come first.”  At some points in the book I felt that Jason sounded a bit selfish in his training; only participating in activities and hanging out with people who were helping him achieve his goal.  He even admits he missed out on time he could have spent with his daughter instead of training.  Training can become addictive.

I think we all need to keep focus on our work-life-training balance.  While most of us don’t need this type of intensity in training to achieve our race goals, the idea is the same, you do have to give up some things in order to be successful, but don’t let your goals get in the way of helping others.  While Jason is very appreciative of all the people who helped him during his journey, he may have missed out on helping those who needed him during that time.  Other than being an inspiring and exciting story, I think the book is really about helping others being like giving to God.

Maybe Running on Faith will inspire you to do something great, like helping others.  There is a study guide for you to share the story with your groups for discussion.  If you want to be inspired for your race goals there are some helpful appendices to help in your training for how to cook tasty organic food and a sample training schedule.  Overall, good book to get you inspired for your next endurance goal.

Kigo Footwear CURV and EDGE minimalist running shoe reviews

Monday, October 18th, 2010

kigo-minimalist-running-shoes-reviewI checked out Kigo Footwear at Outdoor Retailer this past year and love what this new start-up company is doing, developing green, minimalist shoes that are not only functional, but also stylish.  They say, “Kigo footwear is committed to making shoes that are stylish enough for everyday wear, sturdy enough for athletics, and constructed to be good for the Earth and body.”  Kigos are good for barefoot (well, minimalist) athletics and everyday wear.  They produce the Kigo CURV for women which can be used for commuting, fitness, or general wear, similar to a Mary Jane style.  No, not the eyes closed, eating Cheetos, and listening to Pink Floyd Mary Jane style.  The Kigo EDGE is for active men and women and has complete foot coverage for a fully protected barefoot stride.  Although they are strong enough for a man, Kigos are really PH balanced for women.  As they should be, the staff at Kigo are all women who know about endurance athletics and being stylish at the same time.

Kigos are constructed of lightweight durable materials with a beathable, stain/water resistant upper.  The outsoles are kigo-minimalist-running-shoesflexible because they are made with a high density rubber which is 1.5 mm thick.  You can bend these shoes in half with just your hands.  Kigos have a higher vamp for increased toe room which gives a better barefoot running experience.  I also like that they have a deeper ankle opening than most shoes which prevents rubbing when running.  Kigos are built around the body health benefits that come from going barefoot or wearing minimalist shoes and allows your foot to move more naturally.  This strengthens the muscles in the foot, promotes better posture, and creates a more effortless stride while running or walking in Kigos.  Not only were Kigos designed for minimalist benefits but also with the idea of having a comfortable shoe that is portable.  The idea for Kigos came when the founder couldn’t enjoy a night out with friends because the only shoes she had were ski boots after a day on the mountain.  I wish I had some Kigos about 10 years ago when I donned on ski boots prior to boarding a plane because I couldn’t wear running shoes in first class (free upgrade for being in the military).  Someday we’ll live in a classless society where non-runners and runners alike are treated equal.  Until then, bring your Kigos!  The shoes are about 4 to 5 ounces and can be easily bent for the easy storage.  They also come with a hookless toe cap and fixed webbing loop for easy pull on and off.  They have orange, green, black, or white styles and MSRP for $69.99 USD.

Currently Kigo is participating in British Airways competition for small businesses.  Click here and vote for Kigo to help this small start-up business!  There are only 2 days left to vote!  The Kigo staff are magnificent people with a positive outlook on barefoot running and staying stylish.  Support small businesses and try some Kigos yourself!

Running My First Frogtown Trail Challenge 2010

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

I’ve been training for the Augusta Half Marathon for the past several weeks and been wishing for some variety on my long runs.  Low and behold, on the day before the sold-out Frogtown Trail Challenge I was fortunate enough to get a friend of a friend’s number.  Perfect! A 10 mile trail run should be nice on my bones… or so I thought.  I had trail run before, been tossed around on a mountain bike, and even had a few marathons under my belt, but I never ran a race quite like the Frogtown Trail Challenge.
It was a cool, dewy fall morning and ideal weather for the race.  The race was capped at 600 entrants (for both the 4-mile and 10-mile events), a manageable sized crowd, but despite this event being called a “challenge” rather than a “race” I knew I was certainly among many serious runners when we got into our corrals.  After a quick prayer–the event benefited World Children’s Center and Christian Runners–the race started and into the woods we sped.  Very quickly we encountered the first stream crossing and hill scramble.  No one really slowed down, including myself, this trail running stuff is extreme!


Then I saw signs saying “Fear the Hill.”  Ugh, we hadn’t even run two miles yet and everyone had slowed to a crawl, literally, up a nearly vertical cliff.  After the hill I made up some time and got to the three-mile mark around 29 minutes. Right on track, I thought. I had hoped to run at least a 10-minute/mile pace.  Suddenly a guy in an ATV rides by saying something about a cargo net.  A cargo net?  Yup.  We had to scale a cargo net that was draped over a large fallen tree in the trail.  This race was crazy and I had only gone three miles!
And it got even crazier–around the half-way point we had to run about a mile through a creek.  The creek was twisty and rocky in places and I had to duck underneath several low branches or logs. I made the mistake of passing another runner by skipping a turn and cutting through the creek bed, but then I found myself too far from the next runner in front of me.  The water was murky and choppy which made it hard to pick a good line.  It was also hard to spot any deep spots. I got tripped up in one or two deep spots and though I was able to catch myself with my hands, I still got soaked up to my chest.  I was happy to be out of the water and next time I’ll be sure to follow someone and let them find the bad spots for me.  Some people were smart enough to change their shoes after the creek run, but I ran the next 4-5 miles with squishy shoes full of sand.

The rest of the race had more hills and tons of logs a foot or higher to leap over.  Overall the Frogtown trail race course was technical yet flowed well; this race puts Muddy Buddy to shame.  The “obstacles” at Frogtown seemed sporadically placed but natural giving the course its good flow.  This race really demanded a lot of physical and mental energy.  Its easy to mentally tune out on road runs, but not paying attention during a race like this could lead to a serious disaster. Somehow two days later my back is still sore from running at Frogtown, I used muscles like I never have before in other races.  The soreness is worth it though, especially for finishing among the Top 10 Females!  See you next year at Frogtown!