Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Trail Running, Screwed Shoes, Chili, and 100-Milers

I haven't posted for a while, so I'm sorry if this post is on the long-ish side.

Lately, I've been busy with work, family stuff, and holiday preparations. With all of that, I've also found time to train, put on a running event, do future trail events planning, and do a lot of web site modifications to our trailrunning site.

It's almost a "done-deal" that our 2007 trail series will be sponsored by Vasque shoes. We have a lot of nice trail races in the region, and they want to get their name out there. We already have a relationship with a local Vasque vendor who has helped sponsor our 50K for two years, so it's a good fit. I also prefer to run in the Vasque "Blur" trail shoe, since they made their appearance a year ago, when Montrail cancelled my favorite shoe model, the Leona Divide. I actually like the Blur model better, but I think I wear them out about 50 miles sooner than the Montrails. I get about 350-400 miles out of a pair, (and then my 24-y.o. son wears them for about 100 miles).

Two Sundays ago, we had quite a few runners show up to run on the trails out at WyCo Park for our 4th annual "Alternate Chili Run." It's not a race but a run with 3 pace groups. It's held at the same time as the annual Chili 6.5-mile Run that another club puts on every year on the paved roads around the lake at WyCo. We choose to run on the trails and put in 10.35 miles, instead.

Everybody got a taste of what the 'Psycho WyCo Run Toto Run' course will be like...quite a few hills and some nice scenery. Our run had 41 starters, (which was about as many as the regular paved run). That's pretty cool, because we only had 8 starters one year ago! The trails were icy that day, so we ran with "screwed" shoes. Everybody had a good time, and most of the finishers stuck around for homemade chili, after the run. Dick Ross took some fun photos of the run.

Running across the bottom of the dam.


Rick & Gabe


Good Ben, leading his group.

Keep in mind that we train on this course on most Sundays during the Winter. We usually run two (and sometimes three loops), and alternate directions on each loop. On some days, some of us run one loop, depending upon how we're feeling. We tend to have a lot of fun at this park.

This past weekend, we had a fun little group run on Saturday at Kill Creek Park. A couple of newbie trailrunners had a blast on their first-ever trail run. I got to try out a new pair of shoes made by Keen. Kill Creek is a good "test-bed" park for new shoes, because it has 2 water crossings, slick rocks, mud, loose gravel, and just about everything in just one 6.7-mile loop. By the way, the shoes were okay in the mud and dirt, but were slick on the wet rocks. They are very warm, also. I will put screws in them and use them to replace my old ice/snow runners that are 7 winters old. They will probably last just as long. (I only run in my screwed shoes about 10 times per winter).

This last Sunday morning, we had a "lucky 13" runners show up to run at Wyandotte County Lake Park. Eight runners stuck around to do a 2nd loop, and during the run, we ran into Shane Jones and his dog, to make an even 14-1/2 runners. Rick Mayo and Gabe Bevan decided to do a 3rd loop.

About 5 miles into my (20.7-mile) run on Sunday, I was running at hyper-speed down a steep set of switchbacks that we call the "Sonic the Hedgehog" section. I turned my right ankle as I was trying to hit a fast right-turning switchback. I ended up being catapulted into a very stout tree, because of it. I biffed my left knee and felt like I had broken my right forearm. I found myself upside-down on the other side of the tree. I was actually okay, and "walked it off" for about 10 yards before I started running fast again. The pain in my ankle eventually went away, and was replaced with a "warming feeling." The knee, arm, and ankle are okay, just bruised and swollen. It didn't stop me from running a fast 8-miles last night, (but I did take Monday off from running, though).

I'm trying to keep my weekly mileage at about 50 miles, for now. I don't want to be overtrained or unhealthy for my upcoming 100-miler at the Rocky Raccoon 100 in February. It will be the 5th year in a row that I've run that race, and I'd like to earn my 500-mile finisher's jacket. Last year, I had a course PR of 22:04:42.

Staying healthy is the big challenge, this time of year. It seems that everybody and their brother is sick with something. On Sunday, I felt like I should have done three 10-mile loops at WyCo, but I was feeling like I was on the verge of getting some illness. So I stopped at two loops, went home, took a hot bath, and took my vitamins and ate well. I think I "dodged the bullet" and will stay healthy. On the other hand, if I overtrain and don't listen to my body, I will end up getting really sick right before the race. I find that it is better to be slightly undertrained prior to a 100-miler, than being overtrained.

Happy trails & happy holidays,
Bad Ben

Friday, December 08, 2006

Anti-Runners and Fear Mongering

Somebody posted this article to our local group running site, recently:
Is Marathoning Too Much of a Good Thing for Your Heart? By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS

The gist of the article is that six persons died while running marathons in the USA, last year.

Note: The person that posted the article is a bicycle rider/advocate, and doesn't choose to run (anymore).

Somebody else responded that at least 25 persons (in Kansas City alone), had a heart attack before rolling out of bed this morning. So six heart attacks during the hundreds of marathons last year was an insignificant statistic.

This was my response to the person's post:

I hear the same schlock about ultrarunning from time to time. "If you do blood-work on an ultrarunner that has just finished a 100-mile run, they will have the same chemical analysis of a person that has just had a massive coronary."

But do 100-mile participants drop dead after every race??? Heck no, it's extremely rare; (even though the average age of a participant of a 100-mile event is almost 10 years older than the average marathon participant). This just shows how little "Medical Science" knows about the human condition during endurance events.

What does information like this convey? Fear. Fear to get their lazy butts off of the couch and do something...anything.

"See, that's why I'll never do a marathon; I'd have a huge chance of dropping dead." "Remember that Jim Fixx guy? I don't want to die young, like him." "Pass the sausage gravy, please."

You have a much higher chance of dying (while running) by being hit by a car, if you run on city streets. If you're riding a bicycle, that chance quadruples. This time of year especially, BE VISIBLE AND BE SAFE.
Or, run on trails, (like I do).

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Chuck Norris: A Piece of Americana


You gotta love Chuck Norris. Yes, he's been in more than a few cheesy and downright schlocky movies and/or series, but he's done whatever he's wanted to do, and stayed in good shape his whole life doing it. He's a self-made man, and is definitely an American Icon.
(I classify the term "American Icon" by any real-life person that's had an action figure made in their image). :-)

Chuck can even laugh at himself. A whole website is devoted to supposed "Chuck Norris facts," that are somewhat humorous. Whenever I want a laugh, I click on this site.

Here are a few of the site's offerings:


The chief export of Chuck Norris is Pain.

When Chuck Norris does a pushup, he isn’t lifting himself up, he’s pushing the Earth down.

Chuck Norris is so fast, he can run around the world and punch himself in the back of the head.

Chuck Norris can lead a horse to water AND make it drink.

Chuck Norris doesn’t wear a watch, HE decides what time it is.

Chuck Norris gave Mona Lisa that smile.

Chuck Norris can slam a revolving door.

Chuck Norris does not get frostbite. Chuck Norris bites frost.

Remember the Soviet Union? They decided to quit after watching a DeltaForce marathon on Satellite TV.


Now that you are a full, card-carrying member of Geezerworld, what can we expect from you next, Chuck?

What have you done for me lately?

Better yet, what have you done for America lately???

Thought so.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Winter Wonderland...Fun Running on Snow & Ice

Within two short days, the temperature here has dropped 70 degrees (F), and it has also iced and snowed 6 inches! That's life in the Midwest. A little weather doesn't stop us Trail Nerds from running, though!

For the group run last night, we went to SM Park. The park was closed, so we parked at the entrance and ran into the woods from there. The windchill was minus 6 degrees, but in the woods the temperature was tolerable. I felt underdressed at the start, but after I got going, I warmed up a bit. My Patagonia Dragonfly Houdini is the perfect windbreak/outer layer.
At just 3.5 ounces, this baby rocks!

Eight Trail Nerds and one dog showed up. It was a blast running with our "screwed shoes." We cruised down trails and did a lot of bushwhacking, too. You never know what's under the powdered snow, so every now and then it was a stumble-fest. Woo-hoo!

We ended up playing hunter/tracker with the dog, because he took off for a while on his own. We split up and headed back to a rendezvous point, and he finally heard our calls and he sheepishly came back by finding two Trail Nerds to run back with. (He was put back onto his leash from that point on).

I ran for 70 minutes, but some of the others went back out for round-two. What a fun time!