Monthly Archives: August 2015

Running Socks

happyfeetmar500x310Picture from Runner’s World

$14.99 for one pair of socks! Are you shitting me? Why in gods name would I pay $14.99 for a single pair of socks. That’s insane.

Well how much do you like the skin on your feet? Maybe you are one of those lucky people who never get blisters. Perhaps you are someone who likes hot feet.

I know that running socks can be expensive, but if you buy a pair for each day you run and then wash them each week (or not), it’s not so bad. Spread it out over a couple of paychecks.

You don’t need to take out a loan. Unless you love them so much, and you might, that you wear them every single day despite the fact that they are bright green.

Having good socks is important when you are running an excess of 40 miles a week. The higher your miles the more you will appreciate good socks.

There are all types of socks out there and it can be a little expensive to find the right ones for your feet. The only rule when buying running socks? No cotton.

Cotton doesn’t wick away moisture and it doesn’t dry quickly. Moisture equals blisters and blisters equal pain. For many runners, blister pain is enough to stop them from running for days until the blister gets a tougher layer of skin.

The toe socks by Injinji are great for people who get blisters on their toes. The socks are good at stopping the friction between toes. They do take some getting used to. You can buy various thicknesses too.

There are socks, which are thin and keep your feet cool. These socks generally dry quick preventing blisters once you have splashed through a puddle or creek.

Thicker socks help to keep your feet warm during winter months. If they are made with merino wool, they will dry if your feet do get wet.

Some socks have more elasticity around your arch, adding just a little more support and preventing slippage. Socks with a thin ventilating top and a cushioned bottom are the best of both worlds. There are form-fitting socks, which are made and labeled for your right and left foot individually. Socks with double layers are great for people who get blisters along their forefoot and heel.

If you have really smelly feet or feel bad for the other people in your van when you are running a relay, you can purchase odor fighting socks.

You use your feet a lot as a runner so get some damn good socks. Unhappy feet means an unhappy runner.

A Vigil for Justice: Episode Fifty-Five

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A Vigil for Justice, is a serial thriller fiction novel. Updates of 1,000-1,500 words will be posted every Friday.

Recap: Sixteen-year-old Melanie Craig and her family live in the small Colorado mountain town of Blue River. Since the end of World War Three, the economy in the United States has dropped out making funding law enforcement impossible and increasing crime rates in all, but the smallest towns. The government passes a Law allowing anyone over 16 to kill three other people during their life. Vigilante justice doesn’t seem like the right solution to Melanie, but she has no choice other than to learn how to protect herself and her family.

Melanie pulled the blanket tighter around her shoulders and nudged a log in the fire. Tendrils of smoke wove among the slender trunks of the aspens. The trees looked bare, but for the stars the blotted out. Their leaves rustled. Melanie could understand why Ryan and Zachariah stayed here, It was beautiful. It was far enough from the city that they didn’t get caught up in the warzone, but close enough for Ryan to continue his work.

The Justice Law was probably a huge blow to people like Ryan who had the desire to protect and seek justice for those who couldn’t. For those who became police officers prior to the real war it must be like shot in the heart to let people go who have killed someone over something petty.

Melanie could hardly remember the time before the war. It was hidden by all the death and destruction that has come after. She was two when “The war to end all wars,” started. That’s what they wanted it to be anyway, but things don’t always turn out as we plan. It didn’t get bad in the US until a few years later after. The economy had been in shambles before the war and the war did the same to what remained as it did to the human lives involved.

The screen to the house clicked shut. Melanie and Daisy perked up as Ryan strolled toward them with his hands stuffed in his jean pockets.

“Couldn’t sleep?” she asked.

He shook his head. “Too much swirling around in here.” He tapped the side of his head with his forefinger.

Melanie stared back at the orange and blue flame.

“I brought you some marshmallows and chocolate,” Ryan said with a sideways grin.

She shook her head.

He held them out toward her. “May not get them after tomorrow.”

Melanie glanced around for a stick. It was these little gestures and small kindnesses that made this new world survivable. Her fingers gently tugged two soft marshmallows free from the plastic bag. She shoved one in her mouth and the other on the stick.

“We may not get a lot of things after tomorrow.” She held the white puff above the embers along the side of the fire pit.

She doesn’t want to ask but can’t help it. She needs to know. “Are you leaning one way or the other?”

He leans his head all the way back looking up at the dark sky. “Sometimes it’s hard to tell which star is brighter than the others. Sometimes you have to watch them for a long time waiting for one to twinkle just a little more than the other.”

The door to the cabin creaked. Ryan and Melanie turned. Daisy stood wiggling her tail back and forth and sauntered over to Mitchel. He smiled and bent to let her lick his fingers.

“You got any more of those?” Mitchel asked lifting his eyebrows.

“For you, always,” Melanie said handing him the bag.

He glanced around, not finding a long enough stick on the ground, he twisted a low hanging branch on a trees. “Hey Ryan, you got a knife?”

Mitchel crouched by the fire holding out his marshmallow.

“Couldn’t sleep either?” Melanie asked.

“I rolled over and you were gone. I waited awhile, but when you didn’t come back I decided I’d look for you.” He waivered in the crouch and then just sat cross-legged on the ground. Daisy curled her huge form around his back and sank to the ground. He patted her butt and her little nub wagged.

Melanie clamped her golden marshmallow between two pieces of chocolate. She always thought the crackers were unnecessary.

Melanie moved to sit next to Mitchel in the dirt. She slid belt and holster off her hips and lowered herself to the ground setting the gun in her lap. Mitchel wrapped the blanket around her shoulders and tugged her closer to him. He had stopped wearing his gun since they had been staying with Zachariah. He, Jennifer, and Zachariah were the only ones who walked around without one.

“Everyone all ready to roll out tomorrow morning?” Ryan asked.

“Everyone but Seth. He is dragging his feet. He thinks we should just stay here.”

“Oh, why’s that?”

“Thinks we’re just as safe here as anywhere and he likes the hunting, doesn’t think he will be able to do that in the safe zone.” Mitchel pulled the marshmallow from the end of the stick stringing melted marshmallow across his knee. “Sam will want to take the rest of those with us.” He rolled the top of the bag and set it on the chair.

The cabin door creaked again. This time it was Seth.

“Marshmallow?” Ryan asked.

“I was just going to the bathroom, but…”

After returning from the tree line, Seth pulled a marshmallow from the bag and handed it to Mitchel. Seth pulled the chair closer to the fire and stuck the marshmallow into the flames.

“You’re going to burn it like that,” Melanie said.

“I know.”

Melanie shook her head and slid down onto her side resting her head on Mitchel’s leg. The heat from the fire was making her tired.

Mitchel stroked her hair. “Why don’t you go inside? It’s softer than the ground.”

“Are you coming in with me?” She asked.

“In a minute, I will.”

Melanie stood picking up her gun and started back toward the cabin.

Ryan began whistling Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.

The Ready of Ready, set, go!

run 100

Other than training, how do you get ready for a 100-mile run?

I can’t speak for everyone, but I’ll tell you how I prepare for a 100. First, you need to read all the rules on the website. Also on the website, the race director will tell you when or if you can have a pacer. A pacer is usually allowed after the first 50 miles. You want to find out what they will have at the aid stations as well. You will need to train with that stuff if you plan to use it during the race.

I start looking for pacers and crew shortly after I register for a 100. You will need to find people who are pretty tough because they may need to watch you continue even when you look like you could fall over. Not only that, they have to send you back out there when you want to quit. I take my training partners, friends, and my dad. I took my son once and he asked to never be asked again because he had such a hard time watching me continue when I was hurting.

The other thing I try to do is predict when I will be coming into each aid station. This does a few things. It helps me keep on track to hit all the cut offs and finish. It also lets my crew know when I will be coming into each aid station.

To do this, I create a table in Microsoft word. It has a column with each aid station’s name, the mile the aid station is at, whether or not I can have a drop bag at that aid station, whether or not I have access to my crew at that aid station, whether or not I can pick up a pacer at that aid station, the cut off time, and what time I expect to arrive at that point. I’ve included my most recent chart at the end.

I estimate my time to the aid station by experience, distance between aid stations, and the elevation profile of the race. I know that I slowdown in the last 40 miles both in my ascents and descents. So in those estimates, I try to be generous on my time frame.

Once I have times, I can plan my drop bags. I usually put a drop bag in every twenty miles. There are things I put in every drop bag such as stomach medication, blister first aid, food options that the race doesn’t provide, a long sleeve and short shirt, and two pairs of socks. In my night bags, I put in a head light and extra batteries, long pants, gloves, and an extra long sleeve shirt. In my day bags, I have sunscreen and my long sleeve shirts are lighter in color usually white. There are things I leave with my crew too. My trekking poles, extra shoes, extra food, clothing for rain, extreme cold and snow, and pedialyte.

I have my crew at every aid station possible, unless they can’t get to the race until after I start. I really need them there after mile 50. Sure I could do the race without a crew, but it’s so nice to have a someone you know there to help you do whatever you need them to do. The aid station crew will help, but if they are not experienced ultrarunners, they can’t help you much when you are really struggling.

A pacer is helpful because they can keep your pace up when you are tired and hurting. They work as a distraction and encouragement. They can help find your drop bag and dig through it searching for what you need. They can massage aching muscles and help you change clothes and shoes when are off balance. They help you stay on the right trail. They CANNOT carry any of your gear.

My pacers do anywhere between 20-30 miles depending on their experience as a runner. I don’t want my pacer to slow down. Nor do I want them to have stomach issues, blisters, or anything else that will impact my race, so choose pacers wisely and don’t use them beyond their experience.

The final thing I do is have a crew/pacer meeting. At the meeting, I cover the possible weather, all the above information, and any strange behave I predictably have during a race such as I get really tired during the hours of 4-6 am but come back once the sun comes up. I also cover how they need to prepare. They need their own food, running gear especially for the weather conditions we expect to see. They need to be able to entertain themselves for hours while waiting for me to come in. How they can address problems that I am having and encourage me to keep going.

The bottom line is you really need to be prepared for every possibility because these races tend to be in remote areas where you cannot easily get something you forgot to pack or suddenly NEED to have. You do need to figure out where you can go to get stuff if really really really needed.

In my elation, I neglected to tell you I was accepted in to the Bear 100! At the beginning of this year the Bear was my goal race. In March, I found out it was full so I put my name on the wait list. Low and Behold, I got in and just found out a few weeks ago.

Bear 100

Where mile Crew allowed Drop bag allowed Cut off Pacer allowed Expected time in Ascent

From last aid

Start

Hyrum Gibbons

1400 E 350 S

0

10. 5 to next aid

Yes Yes   No 6:00 a.m.  
Logan Peak 10.52

9 to next aid

No No   No 11: 00 a.m. 4600
Leatham Hollow 19.66

3 to next aid

Yes Yes   No 1:30 p.m. 300
Richards Hollow 22.50

7.5 to next aid

Yes No   No 230 pm 200
Cowley Canyon 29.98

7 to next aid

Yes Yes   No 5 pm 2100
Right Hand Fork 36.92

9 to next aid

Yes Yes   Yes

Robert

7 pm 800
Temple Fork 45.15

6.5 to next aid

Yes Yes   Yes

Robert

830 pm 1100
Tony Grove

5$ fee

51.84

8.5 to next aid

Yes Yes 7:00 a.m Saturday Yes

Robert

10 30 p.m. 2700
Franklin Trailhead 61.48

7 to next aid

Yes Yes 9:00 a.m.

Saturday

Yes

Robert

1 30 a.m. 900
Logan River/Steep 68.6

7.5 to next aid

Yes No 11:00 a.m.

Saturday

Yes

Change to Steve

3 a.m. 1350
Beaver Lodge 75.82

5.5 to next aid

Yes Yes 12:30 p.m.

Saturday

Yes

Change to Erin

6 a.m. 1500
Gibson Basin 81.18

4 to next aid

No No 2:00 p.m.

Saturday

Yes

Erin

730 a.m. 200
Beaver Creek CG 85.25

7 to next aid

Yes Yes 3:00 p.m.

Saturday

Yes

Erin

9:30 a.m. 1200
Ranger Dip 92.2

8 miles to finish

Yes Yes 4:30 p.m.

Saturday

Yes 11:30 a.m. 600
Finish 99.7 Yes Yes 6:00 p.m. Yes 3:30 pm. All down hill

 

Hydration on the Run

hand held

I believe we all agree staying hydrated while running is important. Runners manage their hydration in different ways and there are tons of options to fit individual runner needs. Sure, you can stash water along your route or plan to run past water fountains during your run, but this restricts your creativity and freedom during your runs. And isn’t creativity and freedom the reason we all run anyway?

There are three popular options out in the running world, the handheld, belt, and hydration pack. Each has its costs and benefits so let’s go through each one.

The handheld is convenient easy to use and clean. It comes with a little pocket usually where you can store other things like a phone, car keys, or nutrition. Handhelds are not expensive. They come in all sizes and shapes. Having 16-20 ounces of fluid in your hand can take some time to get used to, the added weight and the sloshing of water. You should chose whatever shape is most comfortable. Solomon has a handheld that is more like a bladder than a bottle. I haven’t had the chance to use these during a run. The Solomon handheld bladder is a little more pricy. Handhelds are not a good option in the winter months. It’s hard to hold on to them with big gloves on and if you don’t have big gloves the water will make your hands colder.

What do I look for in a handheld? It needs to hold enough water for a ten mile run. I don’t want to stop and fill the thing up every three miles. You might as well not even carry one at that point. I have smaller hands so I need something that fits comfortably. The strap needs to hold tight enough that I’m not squeezing the bottle the whole run. It has to be spill proof. I can’t have water spurting out all over the place. The bottle has to be easy to squeeze with one hand. If it has a pocket, it needs to be big enough to be useful.

The belt and or vest consists of bottles attached to a belt or a vest. The bottles slide into pockets or clip on. There are vests with bottles on the front and the back. The belts also have various placements. These options are good if you don’t need a lot of water, but you hate to have things in your hands. They’re a little more expensive than handhelds. The bottle tends to be a little bigger or you have two bottles. There is at least one pocket to put other things in. The pockets are big enough to be useful. Having two bottles allows you to care plain water and an electrolyte drink at the same time.

When it comes to belts, I hate the bounce. It drives me crazy. I end up fighting with the thing trying to stop the bouncing. I’ll admit I have not used a belt or even tried one for the past five years because of this, so I’m guessing one company or another has attempted to fix this problem. Sometimes the placement, vertical or horizontal, of the bottles makes a big difference with the bouncing. One thing you need to pay attention to with belts and vests is accessibility. How easy is it to pull it out of the pocket and put it back in without having to stop?

Hydration packs carry a lot of water and you can stuff all kinds of stuff in them such as a compact jacket, food, small first aid kit, and a flashlight. The packs made specifically for running don’t bounce. There is some sloshing of the water, but I can’t hear it with mine. You just get used to it and then don’t register it anymore. The packs are going to be the most expensive option. They are great for long distance and trail running. The water is easy to access. They are also the heaviest choice. In the winter the tube can freeze so make sure it is insulated and if it’s really cold, that probably won’t help much.

With a pack, I look for pockets on the front and the back. I want the pockets to zip closed so things don’t fall out of them. Like all the other options, the pockets need to be useable. I want a women’s specific pack so it fits better and prevents bouncing. If you can’t get it to fit snug it will cause chafing.

Unfortunately, I don’t know of any store which allows for a trial run of their hydration systems. So you have to think of your needs and then try to match it up. It’s good to have options as well because some runs will require a different hydration system. You can always use a pack, but it’s a lot to care for a ten mile run.

A Vigil for Justice: Episode Fifty-Four

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Melanie kicks at the dirt and chews her bottom lip as she walks back to the cabin. Seth or Mitchel. Mitchel or Seth. It was becoming an obsession. She shook her head as if it would all just fall out and she could walk away from it all. She was nauseous again. It felt like it was all the time.

She heard one footstep before he grabbed her around the waist. She sucked in a startled breath and found herself looking up into Mitchel’s smiling face. “Where were you just now? I can’t usually sneak up on you like that.”

She dropped her gaze to his chest and he wrapped her in his arms. “We’re so close and every time we make a move closer to the safe zone something happens to slow us down. It’s like we will never get there. Sometimes I feel like were being stalked by bad luck or all our bad karma is resolving itself before the end.”

He tightened his arms around her forcing her to turn her head. She watched Ryan and Seth’s backs disappear among the trees.

“We’ll make it Mel. I promise. Sammy, your mom, and you will be safe.”

She knew he had intentionally left himself out of those who would be safe, but there were so many reasons why he would have done it. She wasn’t sure if she should ask because she knew the answer would make sense even if it wasn’t true. God! How could she think like such sickening thoughts. He surely meant that he may have to take a life before they get there and he was willing to do it to make sure they were all safe and could stay together. Of course, that’s what he had meant.

He kissed the top of her head and she took a deep shuddering breath.

“You going to stop making out and come help me?” Zachariah called from inside the garage.

Melanie had to smile. He was always giving them a hard time about “making out.” Who even used that term anymore?

Mitchel kissed her on the lips. He let it linger. It had been awhile since they could be close. He kissed her neck and her mouth again.

“Soon,” he whispered.

She nodded and turned to go find her mom.

She opened the cabin door. The small room was empty. Melanie set to making the beds. When her mom still hadn’t come back, she walked over to the house.

“You seen mom?” she asked Mitchel He poked his head out from under the hood of the van.

“In the house.”

Melanie’s heart beat hard inside her chest. Ryan’s words echo in her head, “He kills his victims when they’re asleep.”

She walked faster and then began to jog. She crashed through the door. “Mom?” she called out.

She walked farther into the house. “Mom?”

She could hear Sam laughing as she turned to go down the hallway. “Mom?” her voice was even louder and taking on that desperate tone.

The bathroom door swung open.

“What’s wrong Melanie, is someone hurt?” Jennifer asked.

“No, I just, I just couldn’t find you and I was…”

“Oh, Melanie.” Her mom closed the gap between them and hugged her. “I was just bathing Sam. It’s probably the last one any of us are going to get for a long time. You should probably take one too.”

Melanie could see Sam in the bathtub, jumping a yellow rubber duck through the mountains of white bubbles. She had pile on her head as well. A princess hat, she had told Melanie once.

“I will,” she said pulling away from her mom. She’d been anxious since she voiced the words. Saying them aloud had made it real. “I’m going to pack up all the clothes other than one pair for everyone.

“All right, and Melanie, we’re going to be fine. It’s only a few more days until we reach the safe zone.”

Melanie nodded and turned to go. She had learned over the last three months that few days could mean forever.

 

Ryan and Seth emerged from the forest that evening hauling a buck between them, ducks over one shoulder and rabbits the other.

“You should see this kid with a knife,” Ryan said patting Seth on the back.

Seth shrugged. “It’s not so hard. My dad taught me and Mitch when we were kids. Anyway, Mitchel’s better than me.”

Mitchel and Zachariah strolled out of the garage grease smeared on the hands and above their brows. Mitchel tried to wipe it off by rubbing his hands together. He pursed his lips and pulled them to one side and then rubbed his hands on his pants.

“Mitchel that will never come out of your pants,” Jennifer said.

Mitchel slung his arm over Seth’s shoulders. “And not just with the knife.” They both laughed. You could hardly tell them apart when they stood side by side. It was mostly their personalities that separated them from each other. Mitchel was an inch tall her and broader in the chest. And their lips were different, Seth’s were thin like their father’s and Mitchel’s were fuller like their mother’s.

She looked at Ryan. He was smiling and watching the twins. He was probably thinking the same thing as her. Melanie turned away scooping up the ducks to take them around the back and yank out all the feathers. It could be both of them. She felt the tears coming again.

“Sam can you bring the rabbits?”

Which is more difficult, Ironman or Ultra?

triathlon

Verses

run 100

 

I know, I know I have not done a full ironman yet so I can’t really compare them right? I have done a half ironman and run a bunch of ultras. So, I have an idea. My goal is to complete an Ironman, but the logistics haven’t worked out. Plus, I really like ultrarunning.

I’m not sure you can really compare the two races side by side beyond both being an ultra endurance sport. I’m over simplifying in this post, but it will give you an idea. I’m really comparing the full iron distance and 100 milers. Some people think the 50 and the full iron are more comparative.

As far as gear, the ultra is so much less complicated. All you really need is a hydration system, shoes, and some clothes. You don’t technically have to have a hydration system, but it’s highly recommended. For an Ironman you need a lot of stuff such as a bike, a wetsuit, swimming suit, bike clothes, running clothes, bike shoes, swim pass, and running shoes. The clothing can be combined in a tri-suit.

Overall time spent training is similar, I would say. A full ironman and a 100 mile run both take about 6 months to train for, if you have done shorter distances. Day to Day training is similar, but in triathlon you are spreading your time between three sports rather than the one, which may make travel time increase depending on where you live.

The ironman is definitely more expensive than the 100 miler not only in gear, but registration fees, especially, if you are competing in Ironman sanctioned events. Full iron distance races are out there, which are run by other groups and they tend to be similar in registration fee to a 100 mile race.

Ultra running is harder on your body in many respects because you are using one muscle system to compete in the event where in the ironman you are using different muscles (there is some cross over with biking and running). Ultrarunning also puts your body through more impact. I’m not sure which would have a higher injury rate because the ironman includes a full marathon and full marathon runners have a higher injury rate than ultrarunners, seems counterintuitive I know. The ironman includes high speeds on the bike and training around pedestrians and vehicles.

Duration of the race is a big difference. Most Ironman events have a finish line cut off at 18 hours. In ultras 18 hour finishes are the front of the pack. Most 100 mile ultra’s are between 30-36 hour finish cut offs.

As far as the competitive nature of each race, Ironman takes the cake. Ironman athletes are very competitive to the point where they will not stop to help other athletes. I’m sure this is not all athletes. I’m also sure there are ultrarunners who are the same, but I think you find more non helpers in the ironman than the ultra. Most ultrarunners will give you their food, clothing, and water if they can spare it and sometimes if they really can’t. Ultra runners are a very down to earth and good natured crowd. There is tons of comradery and support of one another. It’s not just about who can finish first, but who can finish at all. This characteristic is what makes me love ultrarunning.

Why Train?

thinking runner

We’ve all seen or at least heard about people who don’t do any training and then show up at the starting line of a half marathon or even a marathon. Not only do these people finish, some of them do pretty darn well.

It’s true and can be frustrating to those of us who break our legs (sometimes literally) out on the roads and trails week, after week, after week. So why do we torture ourselves, expend so much time, and so much energy in preparation for a race.

Because it’s not about the race. Have you ever heard the saying it’s about the journey not the destination? It’s like that. Of course, we want the cookie at the end, but training takes months and sometimes years. And it’s the training that teaches you more than any race can.

Training for a race of any distance requires you to learn or at least brush up on some everyday life skills such as, determination, organization, goal setting, and facing challenges. These are things that everyone needs to be successful and productive in life. I don’t care what you do for a living these things, will make you better at what it is you do. Not only will they make you better, but they will make you happier.

What if I don’t want to be a better happier person? Maybe I just want to live in my parent’s basement until I’m forty-five and hold a job for no more than a week at a time (versatility right?). Why should I train?

Training has huge social benefits. In nearly every medium sized city you can find running groups, and runners, they’re friendly people. They like to help each other out and impart their running wisdom. Training consistently also makes you feel better so you are more likely to reach out to new people. Finally, running can make you happier with your body, which leads to confidence. Confidence is like a social magnet.

Training will also help you feel better when you actually do run a race. You won’t be struggling through the miles. You can relax and enjoy the moment and then have energy to enjoy the running community when you cross the finish line. You’re less likely to have gastrointestinal issues, vomiting, heat stroke, and dehydration. Even if you do have these issues during a race, you’ll know how to deal with them if you train.

Training will reduce the likelihood of an injury because you are not just jumping into big miles that your body is not used to doing. Jumping into a race last minute without training or with inadequate training is the best way to get injured. Overuse injuries in particular.

It is training that will help you reach your physical health goals, not one race.