Monthly Archives: December 2014

Oh how I Dread-mill..

“27 degrees at 6 am. Turn that alarm off”, I thought!

“Oh yeah, its treadmill day…maybe a 27 degree trail run would be better..”

It was my off season, up until a few days ago when I signed up to The Thomas Jefferson 100k in March, which means training is back on, and training means getting back on the dreadmill, er the treadmill and doing some hill running.

BIG sigh!

The look on my dog’s face made it even worse, “no fun trail run for me?! How could you, you don’t need to go run in that little room on that boring man made running-thing…take me outside instead, you hamster!”  His eyes seemed to plead, with just an edge of disgust curling his lip.

Its 3 miles to the gym, I figured a few miles in the fresh air would get me ready for what lay ahead.  A friend offered to let me borrow his code to get into his apartment’s gym, and rather than go to mine, I thought I would go there for a change.

Into his apartment complex, “wait a minute, I don’t actually know where his gym is.  Play it cool, act like you know where you are going.”
“Ah ha! There it is…I’ll just run till someone else shows up, I don’t want to take up someone elses time.”
Not a soul was in the gym, the lights weren’t even on.

With a big sigh I stepped onto the belt. “Ok, here we go.”

Minute 0-5.  “I think im gonna walk to warm up, that run wasn’t really a warm up, right?” I got the treadmill up to 15% and started the hike.  “This isn’t bad, piece of cake, lets crank this baby up!”

5-15  Ok, time to run, well really jog, slowly, very slowly.  “Maybe I should shut the shades so people can’t see how pathetically slow I am!”

15-20 Oh good! YAY! walk time again…phew.  Don’t be a wimp, this is a hike not a leisurely walk uphill..focus, focus!

20-30 Grr back to that jog..actually I’m getting a bit of that runner’s high, or maybe its just lack of oxygen..?!

30-35 Oh my gosh, walking never felt so good..walk. walk, walk, walk…My friend walks in after his long run in the woods, I ask him to stand in front of me so I can see him, (and not fall off the side of the treadmill trying to look at him sideways.)  He has had a nice run at Umstead and just finished breakfast out..(Jerk, don’t talk about food while I am on this torture device.)  He smirks, and announces that he’s heading home and tell me to enjoy!  (Enjoy?!  I can see that smirk, I know he knows that I know that we both know it sucks…sorry lack of oxygen there, was that confusing?)

35-45 Well I lost that runner’s high. Help! Dig deep, com’on, you can do it, you are not out of shape! (Or maybe you are.)  Get that finger away from the emergency stop button, cheating will get you nowhere!

45-50..last walk, enjoy it! (how am I so wet? I never sweat this much)..oh, look at that water cooler over there, I bet the water is cold and refreshing…oops…time’s up run again.

50-60 Lead legs, gasp, gasp, gasp…look away from that water cooler…do NOT touch that emergency stop button. Is this what a heart attack feels like? Am I dying or just bonking, getting tunnel vision.  Someone please come into the gym and want to use the treadmill, then I would HAVE to get off. You know what would be really good right now, watermelon, watermelon and that gross sugary purple gatoraide…and a baked potato with lots of salt..and chocolate. why am ! craving chocolate on this thing?

60 woohoo!! (oh geeze, and now I have 3 miles to run home…facepalm)

And done, until NEXT WEEK?


25, no 26 worst questions to ask a runner;

questionsI saw this somewhere and it made me laugh, so I thought perhaps I would take a stab at illuminating you non runners.

1.  So you like jogging?  This is that question that every runner cringes at.  Jogging, don’t ask us if we jog!  As far as many of us are concerned, that is a dirty word.  I will not dignify this question with an answer… I jog!

2. Why do you pay so much to run a race?  Now this is a good question, I tend to work all of my race fees out in miles, unless its a race I am running for a more sentimental reason.  Anyway, here is what goes on in my head.  $150 for a 100 mile race is a steal, right? That is $1.50 per mile.  On the other hand, a half marathon for $100..that is NOT a bargain!  Don’t RD’s do their price per mile math?

3. Did you win…hmm…well, usually no…but on occasion…so technically this is a valid question.

4. But don’t you get bored?  NO. Don’t you get bored sitting in a cube all day? Don’t you get bored commuting to work?  Don’t you get bored watching tv?  Those are more appropriate questions, I am too busy feeling alive to be bored.

5.  How far is your marathon? (Please look up the definition of marathon.)

6. Cross train? What is a cross train?  Ok, legit question, cross training is something one does to stay fit in other ways.  Sometimes its something an athlete does in their off season (whats an off season?) Sometimes its all an athlete can do when they are injured.  Swimming, biking, yoga, (crying?)

7. How do you hurt yourself running?  Um, well..people can hurt themselves doing just about anything.  I think the more important question is how can you stay unhurt while running!!

8./9. What about your knees? Oh this is my all time most annoying question..can you agree with me runners?!  My knees? My knees are fine!  My leg muscles are strong and they support my knees.  I think my knees are the only things that don’t hurt.  I may be the only one in my family whose knees don’t hurt (and I’m also the only runner in my family…well that’s interesting, isn’t it?!) What about all those non runners that get knee surgery all the time?  hmmm? Perhaps they ran once and hurt their knees..huh?

10.  Isn’t it unhealthy to run so much? Yes, and my uterus fell out also.  Everything in moderation, as if I could achieve moderation.

11.  Is running safe at your age?  I have to say I have never had to answer this question.  Mostly because due to my running I look 10 years younger than my actual age….thank you running.

12.  What are you doing?  Clearly I am being chased, I was just lucky enough to be wearing shorts, running shoes, a running bra and this convenient hydration pack.

13.  Do you need a ride? This one is great, especially when running in the rain. (see above answer)

14.  Don’t you get lost?  Well, no actually, not if I am prepared and follow the trail blazes.  As a matter of fact, I lived in Baltimore for 7 years, and during that time I would get stopped constantly by drivers asking for directions to so and so’s house. (Sorry I don’t know where your friend lives.)  Hello? You are in a car, you can easily carry a map, oh..and there is this GPS thing you can get now, oh ya, and a phone!  So there, the runner directing the driver…is that like the student becoming the master?

15.  You mean you have fun running?  This one gets me, every time.  Obviously I do, I run 100 miles…I wouldn’t do that if I didn’t find it fun, would I?  I often want to respond with, “you mean staying up till the early morning, drinking until your liver hurts, waking up in a fog hungover, is what you call a fun party?”

16.  Why would you need so many running shoes?  This is always my husband’s question…shall I answer?  Well that one is for trail, those are for races with trail and road, those are just for road, those are my track shoes, those I won race x in, those are for really muddy races,  I ran my first 100 in those (can’t you see that I wrote Pinhoti 22:50 in sharpie on the sides of those?!)those are a bit worn, but I can still hike in them…don’t touch those, they don’t make them anymore!

17. Do you really need another pair of running shoes?  Did you not read the above question?! YES.

18.  You’re going to run in the rain?  Yes, and referring back to #13 No, I do NOT need a ride!

19.  Isn’t it too windy to run?  Bring it on! Just another challenge! I mock you wind!

20.  Isn’t it too cold?  I didn’t make the weather, I just run in it.

21.  Isn’t it too hot? Ahh its never too hot!  Bring it on!

22.  Wait, you run outside?  Where else would one run?  Oh, the hamster wheel…that is just a tool to use when I need a mountain to climb, and its so flat I can see for miles around.

23.  Don’t you get tired?  We are all human, and humans get tired, how is this question relevant?  Oh, because you think I am a SUPER human! 🙂  Sorry to disappoint you, yes, I am human, I get tired too.

24.  Wouldn’t you rather sleep in?  That’s what off days and tapers are for!

25.  Are you fast?  Well….I don’t like to brag….but if you are asking me these questions, then as far as you are concerned I’m freaking Meb.  Oh, you don’t know who that is…?

And I had to add this one last one in.

26.  100 miles!? I don’t even like to drive that far!  Funny you should say that, I don’t either, its so boring sitting in a car for that long…but I do like to run that far!

Run on friends!

Altra Superior 2.0; A Good Shoe Becomes a GREAT shoe!

2014 seemed to be the year for Altra to radically update many of their shoe lines.

This is the Superior’s update to the 2.0.Altra Superior 2.0

My first impressions:  Out of the box the first thing I noticed was the laces are different, they are a softer feel and they stay tied!  The colors were the next thing.  It come in grey/purple or yellow/blue for women and grey/green or a darker blue/yellow for the men.  I ordered the yellow/blue and really think they look good.  Not so bright that they are obnoxious, but colorful enough that they get noticed! They felt really good on my feet walking around the house, cushioned yet still firm,  and a really nice updated tread on the bottom.

Lucky me, it was rainy and muddy and cold this morning-perfect for putting a new shoe through its paces.   I ran the 1/4 mile down my street to the trailhead and sloshed my way down the trail to meet a friend.  They were solid in the mud, no slipping backwards up hills on the slick wet leaves, and were protective over rocky sections of the trail.  I ran 13 miles in them, 10 on the trails and 3 back home on roads.  They were comfortable on and off of the trails, not bumpy like some trail shoe tread can be on road.   They felt good, fast, flexible and protective.  I didn’t even notice that I had run in them with out the stone guard in them until I got home and looked in the box again and saw the stone guards sitting at the bottom of the box.  They are also fitted with Altra’s cool gaiter trap on the back of the heel now as well.

The Technical Stuff:

Zero drop, like all Altra shoes have

Weight: Men 8.7oz, Women 7.5 oz (Lighter than the Superior 1.5’s 9.9 oz and 8.8oz respectively)

Stack height: 21mm (which is very close to the Lone Peak 1.5’s 22mm, but is higher than the Superior 1.5’s 18mm)

Upper: Trail Mesh with minimal seems.  After my long wet run they seemed to dry out faster than the Lone Peak 1.5s used to.

Outsole:  Features canted lugs below the metatarsals for better gripping, their signature sticky rubber TrailClaw, and still has the happy little foot shape on the bottom.

Overall thoughts:  Altra has been doing a lot of growing and updating in the last year while still maintaining their roomy toe boxes, zero drop, and good quality.  The Superior 2.0 seems to be taking the place of the discontinued Lone Peak 1.5s.   While the Lone Peak 2.0 was updated further with more stack height and cushion, this means the Superior 2.0 will fit nicely into that place of lower stack height, more trail feel, but with enough protection and better tread than the Superior 1.5 or the Lone Peak 1.5.  You can also make them lighter and more flexible by taking out the rock plate.  This makes me happy because the Lone Peak 1.5s have been my ultra go to shoe for the last year, the Superior 2.0 will be my new go to shoe for trail ultras now, I can already tell.  So if you loved the Lone Peak 1.5, or even the Superior 1.5 I really think this is your shoe.  If you are looking for fast, responsive, flexible, but protective this is also your shoe.   In the land of max cushioning shoes, this is definitely bucking the trend giving your feet that trail feel that they have missed so much.  I can’t say enough good things about this shoe update, well done ALTRA!

Post Script: Many people are finding that sizing up 1/5 a size from the Superior 1.5 to the 2.0 feels best.

UPDATE:  I took them on a true tread test just yesterday on a very rainy, very leaf covered trail.  Uwharrie National Forest 20 miler.  This is my standard test run to see how my winter fitness is for early 2015 races.  I have run this the second week of Dec for the last 3 years, its a relenting rocky, rooty, slippery, wet undulating trail with no real runnable sections.  Its one of those trails that you can’t take your eyes or mind off of for a second or you will twist an ankle or slip on a rock.  I ran it 3 weeks ago in the old Lone Peak 1.5’s before the aggressive tread update, and I slipped a lot.  I was expecting something similar this week, I have run this course at least 10 times and have tried out many different types of shoes on the terrain.  I was so happy with the Superior 2.0’s tread and grip, I just kept repeating to my friend over and over, “these shoes just stick so well, they are so grippy, they are so comfortable too….I am SO happy!”  This will definitely be a shoe that I spend a lot of miles in! (I have already spent 500+ miles in them, yay!)

Guest Post: Ruck Funning; A Little Salty to Balance out those Last Sweet Posts.

Fuck Running

by Ben Syzek

I have a love hate relationship with running. Then again who doesn’t? I guess there are those sickos that enjoy it for it’s own sake. But like I said, they’re sick.

I primarily run early in the morning, and every morning I wake up and think, “why the fuck am I doing this?” Running is terrible. Every step hurts me, and I don’t particularly enjoy pain. The funny part is that even though I hate it and wonder every time why the hell I’m doing it, it’s still better than anything else I do all day. Pretty sad, huh?

It’s true, though. Even though I hate it and it hurts it’s still more worthwhile than anything else I do. Somehow all that pain and suffering is still beautiful. I can’t say that for the majority of my activities. Eating isn’t beautiful. Driving isn’t really beautiful. Ok, showering is beautiful, I’ll give it that, but brushing my teeth isn’t.

Running sucks, but if I don’t do it, then that day has a stain on it. The stain of inactivity. A stain that permeates all other activities I engage in. Running is the Tide stick for that stain. Running makes all of the other activities beautiful because they don’t matter. That day has been worth it simply because I ran. All the other activities are just placeholders, time fillers, filling the void until the next shitty painful run. How can something so painful and awful be so beautiful? I hate it. Wait, I love it. Shit…

Ben is an avid ultra runner who has quit the sport after nearly every single race, only to inevitably sign up for another one the following month.  Most recently Ben quit ultra running after the Grindstone 100, but he’s currently training for several in January and February.