Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Running Plunder

Over the years, I've found many random things while running along roads and trails. Albeit, most of it has been junk, yet I cart much of it home – much to Kadra's disdain. I've found lots of straps, bungee-cords, coins, reflectors, tools, and bud light cans. Why is it that it's always cheap beer cans and bottles littered along the roads and pristine spots where you wouldn't imagine one would care to imbibe? I've yet to see a bottle of Sierra Nevada or Rogue lining a roadside ditch.

Once I found a camouflage hat. Come to think of it, I still wear it from time to time. I wonder what that says about me? Yesterday I finally hit pay dirt. As I was running on some 4-wheeler trails on the mountain behind my house I found a really nice knife. Jackpot! I wielded the large weapon the remaining miles home – well prepared for any masked marauders or mischievous bears that might want to scuffle.

Finders keepers, losers weepers! 

I'm interested what goods others have found while running . . .

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Last of the Recaps

This is my last Trail Racing Recap for  It has been fun writing this column for nearly a year now, but it has become increasingly difficult to keep up with work, life, and especially all my preparations in leaving for the AT in only 5-weeks.

Justin Mock will be taking over and I'm excited for this as he is an accomplished writer.  He will do an excellent job . . . so keep reading!


Interesting article written on the RW blog yesterday about the Barkley Marathons.  The article is written by inprisoned ultrarunner Charlie Engle.  Check out the NY Times article on Engle (previous link).  Very peculiar story and it turns out he is being held, interestingly, near Beckley, WV.

I wonder what is happening/happened at Barkley?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


I came across this post the other day, re-read it, and I thought I'd share it.  It was written by my friend Katie Wolpert back in '08 and posted on the WVMTR site here.  I've been doing a lot of thinking about adversity lately -- namely that which I expect to face on the Appalachian Trail.  Getting the mind ready is of equal importance (if not more) than the body.  I will have a choice each day:  let adversity drag me down, or rise to the occasion, persevere, and seize the day. 

Adversity Makes Us Stronger
by Katie Wolpert

It’s a catchphrase, a cliché, a figure of speech, but for us runners, it’s often a literal truth. Adversity in the form of weather conditions – hot, humid, icy, gale force winds & driving rain – sure, mentally and physically these forms of heavenly adversity make us stronger in some sense of the word.

Adversity in the form of competition makes us stronger too. We out kick a rival and we learn to doubt ourselves less. We lose a race to a young whippersnapper who blew past at the midpoint and we learn something about humility – and we strengthen our will to do better next time. We race to the very end against a proven equal and we can boast a new PR as a results – we are stronger than we were before the race, by the numbers.

But one of the most fascinating parts of running to me, has always been the way that unrelated adversity – complications in those ‘other’ parts of our lives – makes us better runners. Frustrations with a parent, spouse or boss are vented in the evening run – 5 miles become 10 and 8:00 pace into 6:30s. Irritation over a writer’s block, or an equation that won’t work out right translates into a killer hill workout. And worries about a relationship or a leaky bank account somehow melt away over the course of a longer than planned long run. Those problems? They’ll work themselves out another time. Right now, I’m running – and getting stronger.

Think back, has a stressful period at work been followed by a sparkly new PR a month later? Complete peace in our lives, our families and our communities is not required for our development as runners.

Indeed, for decades now, the top echelons of our sport have been dominated by practically anonymous athletes from some of the poorest corners of the earth. Bathed in adversity from the day they were born, we regularly see Kenyan teenagers spit out times on a track – at altitude – that top suburban-bred US elites can only dream about.

Recent war zones seem to breed strong distance runners in the same way vernal ponds breed spring peepers. How do those frogs GET there in the first place!? Eritrea, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda, South Africa, Russia, the list goes on and on. Social, political and economic adversity seem to combine in a powerful way with the simplicity and accessibility of this sport and the human desire to improve one’s life.

Adversity of any kind seems to draw out the best in runners, and running often provides an ideal venue for us to release the mental results of adversity.

The key to using it is recognizing it, so let’s all take a moment to recognize the forces of adversity in our lives. Then let’s harness the activation energy contained within it and channel it to the betterment of ourselves (and our times), our club and our community.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Spruce Mountain Running Camp

The WV Mountain Trail Runners and TMI are hosting a new high school running camp at The Mountain Institute (same location as the Trilogy).  It will be held July 3-9 and features Eric Grossman, Joel and Katie Wolpert, and Dan Lehmann as staff-members.  If you have children that are rising freshmen to graduating seniors, consider this opportunity to provide them with what is sure to be an unforgettable week in the mountains.  Go to the website for more information.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Pack Alterations

 The original pack: Nathan Proton
*Initial thoughts: Good light pack, but lacked a lumbar strap and the support provided; not enough easy access to fuel and misc.; mild to moderate bounce when full (70oz.).

Added: 1) waist strap from a Camelbak Cloud Walker pack 2) velcro to straps 3) pouches from Nathan 2-bottle belt  

 Finished Product

AT ready and prepared for further testing and tweaking

Testing Update:  After two substantially long runs (5.5 hrs and 9 hrs), the altered pack performed superbly.  The lumbar strap seems to have minimized any of the previous "bounce" of the full hydration pack and greatly added to the functionality.  The pouches made access to gels, food, gloves, etc. far more painless and efficient.  The only negative that I found was a bit of chaffing around the under-arm and waist -- of course it was raining and any pack or clothing will give a few problems in constant rain.  The added bonus of this design is that it should free-up my hands for use of trekking poles from time to time on the Trail and allow me to carry enough fuel for some of the longer sections.  There is always room for improvement, but for now, I think I've found a winner.