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Weathering the Storm with Triathlete Chris Legh

Posted by on Saturday, October 12, 2013 @ 2:53 am | Leave a reply

The rains began the week of September 9 in Colorado, and they did not stop. By Wednesday evening, residents in the small town of Lyons, Colorado (with a population of just over 2,000) were being asked to evacuate their homes. Among those living in Lyons were triathlete, Chris Legh, with his wife and two daughters, who split their time between the small town and their native country, Australia. At this point, Legh was just one month out from competing in the 35th Annual Ironman World Championship—a race he has said will be his last as a career triathlete.

As the severity of the flood revealed itself, Legh’s first reaction was to forget about Kona and to just help out. But as the National Guard moved into help, residents were asked to leave. There wasn’t much they could do. In Boulder, the roads for riding and trails for running, were now damaged and closed, and many swimming facilities were shutdown. This was no longer an ideal place to train. Legh and his family went first to a friend’s place in Vail, Colorado, before deciding that their best move was to go straight to Kona. We caught up with him in between training in Kona.

Can you tell us about Lyons and the flood?

Our house was better off than most people. For us, it wasn’t a really bad situation, but we realized we were stuck in town and couldn’t get out. A lot of people in town were really messed up. Main Street survived quite well, but the two main businesses that were hit hard (The Fork and St. Vrain Market, Deli & Bakery) are owned by two of our really good friends. We lived in Lyons for 8 years and we were there before the market and the Fork were upgraded. They are iconic places in town.

Everyone has to deal with mortgages and make sure their businesses survive. We just learned that the Montessori School our youngest daughter goes to will be shutdown for good. And our other daughter’s school has been temporarily moved to Longmont.

What were your thoughts on leaving?

I hated it. I knew people needed help. I almost lost my motivation to train because I wanted to help. But the only thing really that made it easier to leave was when I realized I couldn’t do a lot, we pretty much had to leave. It wasn’t possible to stay. But we all hated leaving our street and our town. I love the community.

What were your options?

Initially we went up to Vail. We had an option to stay up there and figure out what we were going to do. We were very lucky. Then we decided to head to Kona. I almost didn’t want to tell people I was going to Hawaii because it really doesn’t seem that important right now. But since I couldn’t help, I figured I might as well go do my little race.

Why is this race a big one for you?

It’s likely this is going to be my last race. I mean, it’s probably the last time I will call it my career in a sense, in terms of it being my occupation. I’ve been racing professionally for 22 years, I’ll always do something. I’ll never stop competing in something. But in terms of it being my occupation, this is going to be my last race.

Hawaii was the attraction for me to get into the sport. I had the itch to come back and race it one last time. Luckily, Melbourne Ironman went well for me. Then I did Coeur d’Alene, Calgary, Lake Stevens, I just had to chase points for a couple of weeks.

Pulmonary edema has limited your racing, how are you feeling about it?

No one can give me an answer. I can be racing as hard as possible or by myself and it can happen. In the Melbourne Ironman earlier this year it didn’t happen. No one can give me an answer. It’s happened everywhere with no correlation to altitude. At Vail, I’m fine. It’s bizarre to know there’s a good chance you can’t reach your potential. I’ve raced long enough to accept it if it happens. Fingers crossed it doesn’t.

What are your expectations for Kona?

If I have the problems I’ve had in the past, it won’t be an ideal ending. If I’m racing well, I’ll have a smile on my face. Then I’ll walk away having enjoyed being here. I’m at a point in my career where I enjoy it and realize there is no real consequence in my performance. It’s a nice place to be. I’m sitting here now in Kona and I love it. I’ve been here and hated it.

So, if Kona is your last race, will you return to Lyons?

We were enjoying Colorado, but that’s the shame of it. We’re from Melbourne and Lyons was my one chance to live in a small town. We’ll go back to Lyons after the race, if we’re able to get back to Lyons. We’ll pack and fly home to Australia.  We’ll come back next year, sooner rather than later and finish off the school year.

But going back to Australia and the beach isn’t a bad option.

Do you have any words for Colorado right now?

I hope things improve. I know a lot of the family situations aren’t fantastic. I hope the businesses can survive and we can have our great little town back. More people need to ride out from Boulder when the roads are open to visit and support the town.

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A chat with 8x Ironman World Champion, Paula Newby-Fraser

Posted by on Monday, October 7, 2013 @ 10:10 am | Leave a reply

With the 35th Annual Ironman World Championship just weeks away, we reached out to former 8x Ironman World Champion, Paula Newby-Fraser, to find out how the world of triathlon has evolved and to get her advice and predictions for this year.

O

How has triathlon changed from when you competed?

I’m not sure the formula is different, but it looks a lot different from when I competed simply because there are more athletes competing in triathlon and a lot more opportunities to race. It was very easy to narrow down the competition when I competed because there were only a handful of us.

When there were only a handful of triathlons, you simply went and did the big races. Now, the challenge is to pick and choose a few and focus on just doing well at those. But because there are so many races, there’s a lot more noise out there. I think it’s harder to say this is what I’m going to do and ignore the noise.

Did you have a formula you followed each year?

Yes. I would say okay I will do this, this, and this race, the rest will be local, shorter events and then I will go to Kona. And then the next year I would hit repeat. I would do shorter races, probably 2-3 longer international races and then go back to Kona. You can do that now, but there are distractions and opportunities and more athletes bidding for the top positions. There is a lot more talent in the field than in the late 80s and early 90s.

Has the landscape changed for training?

The landscape has changed significantly in terms of training. There seems to be more of a trend to do more training. Now, there are these communities, teams and clubs that get together and go into training camp a lot and in Boulder there is this hardcore group that just trains and trains and trains indefinitely for months on end. There are a lot of athletes who spend a lot of time training and I think one thing that goes on with camps and coaching and social media, and the evolution of everything around triathlon, is it sucks a lot of athletes into higher, faster, stronger, more, more, more. And the exposure to one another through clubs or social media keeps everyone pushing the envelope a little bit more and a little bit more.

Certainly in the late 80s and early 90s it was very insular, you could pick your path and it was easy to avoid getting pulled out of it. It was more rumor and story if you heard someone doing something. You couldn’t track someone on a training ride app where you can go and literally see what people are doing. Apps and social media can allow for a certain amount of overload and questioning. When you were insular, you decided what you were going to do and you got on and you did it. I didn’t spend a lot of time second-guessing what I was doing.

Do you have any predictions for this year?

It was interesting watching the 70.3 championships. The field was so big, but when all was said and done, it was the same people at the top. I don’t think you will see a significant change—history is always a good guide. Usually, there is one real breakthrough performance. Maybe there will be one or two new faces in the top 10, but the top contenders are consistent, and smart, and focused, that’s why they are at the top. This is barring any significant events—there are always a few injuries or unforeseen circumstances.

What advice would you give these Ironman athletes?  

To me when people ask if I can give them my one piece of advice, I tell them it is all in how you handle the chaos of your mind. If you can direct that into the current moment of what you’re doing, it can definitely calm a lot of the chaos that goes on around competing in triathlon. There is a lot of the meditative process in training, but when it comes to competing people’s minds get a bit scrambled and chaotic. They forget that they have trained in the heat, or trained through good and bad situations. People get lost in races. So don’t get lost in the race, know that you have the capabilities to handle challenges the same way you have in practice. Everything becomes so magnified in competing, when it doesn’t need to be at all.

What’s it like for you to be a spectator at Kona?

I love to go to Kona. I love to watch it now. There’s a certain predictability, but always a certain excitement. It’s always my favorite race to watch. There is so much anticipation and somehow there is always a little bit of drama where you see such an acute level of excitement. It reflects the fact of what the sport has to offer, you’re watching the best athletes and physical talent and mental capacity. The women’s race last year was epic. It wasn’t a surprise to see the women fighting for it, they are the women who you expect to be up there, but the way it all unfolded was so interesting. It’s always by far my favorite race to watch.

Do you ever wish you were still out there competing?

I stopped wishing quite a number of years ago. I know what it took to be out there, year in and year out. I am inspired when I see athletes, but I don’t want to push myself that hard. I know how hard it is and I know how hard they’re pushing.

I don’t consider what I do training. I consider it more active lifestyle exercise. I work out every day, but there is nothing in particular that I do or that I’m training for. I always feel like I’m fit enough to jump into a half marathon or something like that. Being fit will always be a part of my life. But now, I’m just training for life.

When you look back, do you have a favorite race?

I don’t know that there was one, I was very blessed at having a number of races that were as flawless as you can get when I went to Kona. I look back and I am proud of my career. There were a lot more positive than there were negative, that’s a great batting average to have. And, I don’t say it was a sacrifice—that means you gave something up. I was doing what I wanted to do, it was my career and I loved it.

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Meet The Dogs Of Newton – Week 15 Chuck and Bella

Posted by on Monday, September 30, 2013 @ 1:26 pm | Leave a reply

chuck_bellaDialog between Bella and Chuck (otherwise known as Chuck The Dog)

Bella: So Chuck I hear we’re going to be the first co-dogs of Newton, pretty exciting right?  I’d say we’re pioneers like Newton Running shoes.

Chuck: dog dog dog dog dog dog,  I’m Chuck The Dog, squirrel, bike, car, butterfly.

Bella: CHUCK! Focus!

Chuck:  Sorry, you know I distracted easily and just want to be friends with everyone.  In fact it’s pretty well known that I will do anything for a scratch behind the ears.

Bella:  I do know that, but few people know that you were unofficially banned from the office for a little while after strolling into the office of Jerry Lee, co-founder and CEO, and peeing on his desk.  This is true isn’t it?

Chuck:  I can not lie, this is true.  But I’m from Southern California and everyone knows things are a little more laid back there!  The truth is I’m a little devil and cannot be trusted.  In fact I get by solely on dashing good looks and devilish charm.

Bella:  I on the other hand am completely the opposite.  People call me sassy, emotional and standoffish.  The truth is though that I had a rough start with life, but things are getting better and I’m really starting to like visits to the office.

Chuck:  It’s true.  Like everyone, running makes things better and since we’ve been hitting the trails you boss me around less and aren’t quite such a bratty little sister.

Bella:  Thank you, I think?

Chuck: You’re welcome.  So what else should we tell these people about how awesome we are?  We do lead pretty incredible lives.

Bella:  We do, we’ve both run 100+ mile weeks, we both like to chase cows and after reading a number of the dog blogs that came before us I’m quite proud to say that neither of us are afraid of thunder.

Chuck: It’s true, thunder aint got nothing on us!  Plus both of our owners travel a lot for work so we’re constantly getting to have sleepovers, houseguests and meet new friends.

Bella:  I think you like hanging out with new people a little more than me but I know what you’re saying!  Well, it’s been great chatting with all these wonderful folks out there but I think it’s time that I head back underneath  thedeck for a nap and I’m sure there is a butterfly or shiny reflection for you to chase…..Chuck! Get back here and say goodbye to everyone….The shadow will still be there in a minute!

Chuck: Ahhhhh!  Sorry, thanks so much everyone for spending some time with us and next time you come bring food.  Seriously, we’ll eat anything, people food, dog food the neighbor’s cat/rabbit or guinea pig food.  Even something that just looks like food we’ll eat it.

Bella:  Thanks everyone and run strong!

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Masters of Mileage

Posted by on Monday, September 16, 2013 @ 9:18 am | Leave a reply

We love sharing stories that illustrate how deeply “we live this stuff”.  Hopefully you caught Kara Henry and Stephen Gartside’s pre-Leadville 100 interview. Their results and post-race comments are a source of Newton pride.

Pre-race Dinner The Night Before Leadville

Pre-race Dinner The Night Before Leadville

Newton: Describe your experience at the Leadville 100?

Kara Henry: Looking back, I’ll tell you I had a blast the whole day…but during the race it was a different story.

I definitely had a few moments of ‘WHAT AM I DOING??’ but luckily those were few and far between. I had an awesome crew who bullied me out of every aid station and never let me sit down. It’s because of that alone that I ran an hour faster than my goal.

kara

Stephen Gartside: For me, the Leadville 100 has been a new challenge after years of road marathons. You can’t beat the big open country that makes up the 100-mile route. It gives you some road and plenty of trail, with all kinds of elevation. I find that quite the challenge.

The day unfolded with 50 miles of pretty easy running, then the 50-mile trip home with pacers, which goes all night. It’s kind of like a party with everyone out there running, pacing and volunteering.  My kind of party and it takes more mentally than just about anything else you can cram into a day.

gartside

What was your highest high?

KH: Absolutely hammering the last mile when I realized I could get under 24 hours. Actually, the reason I started pushing was because I saw what I thought was another female racer in front of me…I even made my pacers be super quiet so I could sneak up on ‘her’. When we got close I realized it was a dude with long blonde dreadlocks. I was bummed but at least it got me moving.

Kara nearing the top of Hope Pass

Kara nearing the top of Hope Pass

SG: The highest high is when you know you are done with Hope Pass. Or, anytime a good song hits the iPod as you down some fresh caffeine. Of course, seeing that finish line is pretty sweet.

Stephen running down Hope Pass

Stephen running down Hope Pass

What was your lowest low?

KH: I hate climbing Hope Pass at mile 55 more than anything ever. HATE IT. I told my pacer to stop talking and ‘get me off this f**#$ing mountain.’ (Sorry Thom)

SG: The lowest low for me in 2013 was losing everything in my stomach at mile 63.  Thank goodness I bounced back pretty fast, which is what you learn running ultras. You can come back from a low point!

What would you tell someone who is thinking of running an ultra?

KH: Don’t. Just kidding…I would tell them to find a training partner. I had so much fun training for Leadville this year because I had a great group to run with. Last year I trained on my own and too many hours on the trails alone is NOT good for your social skills.

karafinishline

SG: If you are starting out with ultras my advice is slow down and you will be amazed at how far you can travel.  Find friends that share your interests and thus the journey. The Leadville 100 for me each year is more like a 6-month journey of getting ready, leading up to the actual race day.

gartside finish3

If we asked you the day after the race, would you have said you would run it again?

KH: Yep! Because I’m a dummy and apparently a masochist.

SG: After 3 straight years at the Leadville 100, I may need a few years off which means probably returning as a volunteer or pacer for at least 2014-15.

post race

What about now, two weeks later?

KH: Now I’m thinking that I definitely won’t run it next year, but I’ll definitely do it again. I’d like to try a 100 closer to sea level.

Kara Henry with her pacing team

Kara Henry with her pacing team

Editor’s Note: If Kara has lead you to believe that her recovery is all about pizza and beer, she has you fooled. Kara is currently running from hut to hut in the Alps in preparation for the U.S. 100 Mile Champs this winter. Shhh…don’t tell her that we told you!

 

 

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Lucky Number Three With Chris McDonald

Posted by on Thursday, September 12, 2013 @ 9:51 am | Leave a reply

NAME: Chris McDonald

AGE: 35

HOMETOWN:  Austin, Texas

NEWTON SHOE YOU WEAR WHEN RACING: MV3 or Olympic racer

RACE: Ironman Louisville, Louisville, KY; August 25, 2013

Chris IM Lou

DOES THIS RACE HOLD ANY SIGNIFICANCE TO YOU? The race means a lot to me, as it was where I won my first IM.

HOW DID YOU FEEL GOING INTO THE RACE? I felt calm and content going into the race, which is always a good sign for me. After having problems that were out of my control in my last two Ironman races, I was just hoping for a smooth day.

WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE COURSE? The course in Louisville is very challenging! It is a warm non-wetsuit swim with a bike course that has relentless rolling hills, and a run that is in the wide-open streets with temps in the 90s. I am a believer that it is very much a strong man’s course.

Chris IM Lou 3

CAN YOU GIVE US SOME HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE RACE? It’s funny that when a race goes well, there is often not much to talk about. The swim went great for me and I was able to get some good feet and stay pretty close to the front. I think I was about 30 seconds down exiting the transition, but was able to take the lead by mile one of the bike.

Then it was out onto the bike and the only thing to report was I lost my spare tire at about mile 4—the rest of the ride was very uneventful! I felt good and was having fun. Out onto the run, I really had no idea of my lead until the turn around at roughly mile 7. So I did run the first half marathon pretty strong. Once I saw I had a solid lead and Pat (2nd place guy) was giving me the “It’s your day wave,” I tried to dial it back a little and save something for the upcoming races.

WHAT DO YOU THINK WAS THE KEY TO YOUR SUCCESS? Consistency! If you can’t get up and train day after day, I think you have over done the day before.

ARE YOU DOING ANYTHING DIFFERENT IN 2013 VERSUS 2012 OR 2011? Nope, just consistent training and always looking to improve, even on my strengths.

DO YOU HAVE ANY SPORTS NUTRITION TIPS YOU COULD SHARE? Keep it simple!!! You are putting your body under an amazing amount of duress during an Ironman and the last thing you want to do is upset your stomach or eat something that takes a lot of digestion.

HOW DO YOU MANAGE FAMILY AND TRAINING? I put family first! If they are happy I am happy and training is easy. I like to swim early so I can be home for breakfast and I like to start my last training session before school ends. I also try to include them, nothing better than some company while you are out running long.

DO YOU EVER TAKE DOWN TIME? IF SO, WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE? I do take down time! I like to pretty much take December off. At the start of January I hate myself, but by mid March I am very happy I did it. It always leaves me motivated and pumped up for the year ahead.

WHAT’S NEXT? IM Tahoe [Lake Tahoe, CA; September 22, 2013].

DO YOU HAVE ANY WORDS OF INSPIRATION FOR FELLOW RACERS? “If you do push your limits, you set your limits.” And keep it fun! We like to do things that are fun.

Chris IM Lou1

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Giving Back To Kids In Kauai

Posted by on Wednesday, September 11, 2013 @ 1:27 pm | Leave a reply

In the last two years of visiting the island of Kauai and winning the Kauai Marathon I felt a connection to the island.  In 2011, I stayed in a family’s guest bedroom and felt like I was a member of the family. I could not afford to stay in a hotel so this was the most affordable place I could find off of AirBnB.com. This ended up being a “blessing in disguise” because I was able live like a local for a week.  Sadly, I noticed the poverty was prevalent across the island.  As a runner, I became immediately aware of the lack of proper shoes.  I learned that there was not a running specialty store on the island and many are therefore only able buy their shoes at K-Mart, Walmart, or Costco.  This year I wanted to make a positive difference to the island and I thought it would be very beneficial to get the kids on the island in Newton shoes.  If you’ve ever browsed the Newton Running Website, you’d find a global responsibility page that highlights a lot of the great work being done across the world through Newton Running. When I proposed the idea to Newton, they liked the idea to donate shoes to the Kauai youths and I went to work with the Kauai Marathon to organize it.  The Kauai Marathon loved the plan and a few months later we had nearly 100 pairs of sizes for elementary and high school students shipped to Kauai.

Tyler 1

This year was the first year the Kauai Marathon added Keiki (kid’s) races.  The toddler trot was for kids up for 4 years old (100m dash), the 4-7 age group will race 1/4 mile and the 8-12 age group will race the 1/2 mile.  The course was planned on a beautiful section of grass next to the Grand Hyatt. We also did a ‘fun run’ on a dirt cane road near the Grand Hyatt.  In addition, Bart Yasso (CRO at Runner’s World), Dean Karnazes (ultramarathon man), Michael Wardian, and myself would be at the expo for presentations and Q&A.  Since the high school runners rarely have the opportunity to learn about running, this was a great opportunity to get the high school kids excited for cross country season. The big goal of the two weeks: get kids inspired to run and live a healthy lifestyle while providing shoes to the kids that need them.

Tyler 2

The Kauai Marathon decided to make a $500 donation to the school that brought in the most participants to the Keiki races.  This was publicized and the marathon public relations director Robin Jumper went to work on organizing the elementary schools for me to give a presentation.  I gave presentation to full school assemblies at four elementary schools and ran with three high school cross country teams. The goal was to get the kids excited to run the Keiki races, inform them what running is all about, and to share my experiences traveling across the US and the world. I learned that kids are very brave and love to ask questions.  Some of the questions I received were…

“What the longest you’ve ever run?”

“How many medals do you have?”

“How many race have you won?”

“Have you ever raced Usain Bolt?”

When asked if I have ever raced Usain Bolt, my response was “No, but I guarantee that if he shows up on Sunday I can beat him in the marathon!!”

On Wednesday I had a meeting with the mayor where he was shocked at the generosity.  He said that I was his “braddah” and I was blessed for helping with the kids. He explained how the island is building bike and walking paths to give kids and parents the opportunity to walk or bike to school/work.  He was hopeful that the Kauai Marathon youth program and Newton Running would inspire more kids to lead a healthy lifestyle.  This meeting with the mayor lead to a newspaper article (“Students Score Newtons”) in the Garden Isle that spread the word about the Kauai Marathon Youth Program and Newton shoes donation.

Tyler 3

On Saturday morning, the course that race director Bob Craver and I designed, was fortunate to have an impressive 171 kids running around it with their parents and spectators cheering them on! To put that number into perspective, I talked to all schools within a half hour drive and that was about 750 kids less than 13 years old. Some of the kids came from the mainland, but that’s still over 10% of the keiki’s came from local elementary schools! I spent the morning cheering on the kids and taking pictures with them and their parents. It was a fantastic morning and a very successful event. I took so many pictures with families where I had spoke to the kids at the schools. My favorite was the registration form that came back saying they signed up because the daughter heard me speak in school. A picture says a 1,000 words so here are a few gems mostly from Jo Evans of Dakine Images of the event…

All Keiki races were led by a giant rooster. Yes, he is undefeated (121-0 in fact) in his career leading keiki races.

Tyler 4

Photo posted by Brennecke’s BeachFront Restaurant after the Keiki Races! http://www.brenneckes.com/

Tyler 5

JT Service (http://www.soulfocussports.com/), Dean Karnazes and I getting the kids warmed up. JT did a wonderful job getting the kids moving, warmed-up, and excited for the races!

Tyler 7

One of the proudest moments of my life was reading this…inspiring kids to run and lead a healthy lifestyle is so important.

When I walked back to my room and laid down after the event, all I could think about was how incredible this event was.  This was by far the most rewarding experience in my life.  Immediately I started thinking… “How can I get more kids to participate?  How do I help more kids have proper footwear?  How do I inspire more kids to run and lead a healthy lifestyle?  How in the world do I properly thank the Kauai Marathon and Newton Running for allowing me to be a part of this incredible experience?  How do I spread the word to other runners about what an amazing family event the Kauai Marathon weekend is? How do we get more high school kids in Kauai to do cross country and participate in the events?

The next morning was the Kauai Marathon and my turn to run.

The next morning was the Kauai Marathon and my turn to run.  I woke up at 2:45AM, had breakfast, and was browsing the newspaper to kill time.  I found a ‘letter to the editor’ from one of the high school coaches who applauded me for being a role model for young kids. At that point I knew that I couldn’t lose the race.  After speaking to the kids about setting goals, working hard towards your goal, and then the joy of sharing your success with others, I knew I had to be a living example for them. Two hours, twenty-one minutes, thirty-three seconds, and 26.2 miles later I achieved my goal of winning the race and setting a new course record.  I was motivated by the dozens of handmade signs on the course that said “Go Tyler” and the number of volunteers that cheered me on by name.

Pomaika’i is the hawaiian word for good fortune/good luck.  When I was doing my last long run on the island before the race a white owl flew in front of me for nearly a mile.  The owl is a symbol of pomaika’i and the white owl is the rarest of all.  Without the fear of sounding cheesy, Newton Running is going to experience a lot of pomaika’i for the generosity this year.  Thank you all for letting me be a part of it!

Enjoy the photos below…

Tyler 9

With the Island School XC Team

Tyler 10

On my way to a new course record at the 2013 Kauai Marathon!

 

 

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Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset

Posted by on Friday, September 6, 2013 @ 8:19 am | Leave a reply

My Newtons and I Run Mongolia — Continent #5

Winter Mongolia 2

 

Getting There

In August, I spent a week in a Ger—the Mongolian term for a Russian yurt—in remote northern Mongolia. Morning views were of the sunrise over Lake Hovsgol, the “Mother Lake”.  Reflections of the distant mountains were painted across the still water. The mornings were so quiet, that if one looked hard enough, they might envision Chinggis Khaan and his men roaming the countryside on horseback. His legend lives across Mongolia. I knew the journey would be long, but the rewards of visiting a country with so much history would be worth the challenging travel.

The journey to Mongolia took two days. I left Portland, Oregon and made a quick stop in Seattle, before the long flight across the Pacific Ocean. Spending several hours on a layover in Seoul, Korea was a very surreal moment for me. At just 14 years old, I live away from home and my family. My days are spent training at the Utah Olympic Park in Park City, Utah, with aspirations of making the 2018 Winter Olympics in aerial skiing. It just so happens, that those Olympics will be held in South Korea. I walked through the airport that day knowing that I will hopefully return here in 2018, with my skis in tote, chasing my Olympic dream. Many people don’t realize, the many purposes my running serves. Running is great cross training for so many sports, especially skiing. I believe my cross training as a triathlete and runner give me an added advantage as a skier.

A three-hour trip from Seoul put us in the capital of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar. I would later learn to call it UB, as it is known amongst the locals. We spent one evening in UB, where I witnessed how underdeveloped the area was. Many of the main roads were dirt with patches of broken up concrete.  A layer of dust rose above the city and mixed with the pollution from the four coal power plants used to power the city. The total population of Mongolia is 2.8 million with more than 1 million alone living in UB. Childhood obesity is as much an epidemic here as it is in the U.S. The major contributing factor is felt to be the lack of vegetables and outdoor activities, which is compounded by the extreme cold temperatures.

Yet another early morning flight, one-hour north, put us close to the border of Russia. Russian minivans took us on a three-hour drive to Camp Toilogt. For the past 15 years, this camp, mostly visited by fishermen and avid horseback riders, has had about 70 runners converge on it from around the world to run the annual Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset 42 km and 100 km trail run in Hovsgol National Park.

I have been to remote areas in Kenya and Peru, but wasn’t quite prepared for what I would face in Mongolia. Most of us faced nutritional challenges the week leading into the race. We did not anticipate such a lack of fruit, vegetables, and the protein rich food that most athletes live on the days leading up to races. Refrigeration was limited, the dairy products were unpasteurized and rice was the main staple. The main water filter for the camp had broken so keeping up with fresh water meant boiling the water. Many of us tried to keep up on hydration by drinking the warm water or trying to cool it in our water bottles, which we submerged in the lake. Camp was at 5,000 feet, so runners needed to pay close attention to staying hydrated. I normally try to pack dried fruit, oatmeal, and bars, but was limited due to weight restrictions from the airlines. I definitely fell way short on my stash of pre-race food for this event. Luckily my stomach tolerated the change of nutrition fairly well, but others were less fortunate.

Winter Mongolia

Despite not having ideal conditions leading up to race day, everyone’s spirits remained high. Fourteen of the 70 race entrants were runners from all over the world who I had previously met at my second marathon in Kenya, the Amazing Maasai. We developed friendships and a running bond. We had decided to all meet up again in Mongolia, almost a year after the marathon in Kenya. We were also reunited with the Canadian filming crew, Boundless. They had filmed a segment with us in Kenya as part of their first season debut. Intrigued with my story in Kenya, the filming crew was kind enough to put together a great video about Team Winter. Having them join us in Mongolia and include us in their second season of filming was so much fun. The filming crew added a dynamic to camp and even caught my first “Hash Run” on film. (Hash Runs have now been modified so that non-drinkers and young people like me can participate as well.)

RACE DAY

Race morning was a 2 am wake up call. My mom had the usual morning fire already going. She would have a pot of hot water on the tiny stove that warmed our four-man Ger. The hot water would be used to make my pre-race oatmeal, which I had rationed specifically for race morning. Generators were used only two hours each evening to recharge phones and computers, but an exception was made race morning to provide early morning light. The weather was a runner’s dream, low 50s no wind and slightly overcast. The clouds would chase us up the mountain passes all morning, but never catch us.  About 70 runners, 33 for the 42 km and 35 for the 100 km lined up for the 4 am start. I was running the marathon, or 42 km.

By the pace of the first 100 yards of the race, you would think we were competing in an 800-meter sprint. The first 2.5 km’s of the course was very technical singletrack through the woods. The roots, low hanging trees, and stones made the trail—lit only be our headlamps—difficult for us to navigate in the darkness. Most of the top runners knew it would be difficult to pass during this section so there was definitely a race for positioning at the beginning. To my amazement, as I navigated the darkness with the lead pack, I would catch glimpses of the camera crew running the woods parallel to us trying to capture vital footage. The next 12 km were still in the dark along a rocky road next to Lake Hovsgol. The clouds hid the morning sunrise as we began our first ascent.

After a rewarding first climb we were greeted with a steep rocky descent with much loose stone, making for a difficult downhill run that didn’t allow for much recovery. There had already been many early morning falls by most of the runners, but luckily no serious injuries. By mostly pure luck, I managed to stay on my feet for the entire 26.2 miles.

The second climb humbled many of us, including myself. It was a steep climb through a mossy, dense forest that never seemed to end. I would occasionally find myself glancing around hoping to catch a glimpse of an area that might be the location of Chinggis Khaans’ burial site. To this day, no one has been able to identify the exact location of his tomb. At the summit of this second climb, stood an Ovoo, a spiritual triangle of stones and flags that are found throughout the land and especially at the highest points of elevation. These are sacred areas thought to house the spirit of the dead. It is good luck to circle them clock-wise either once or three times and place offerings. Of course, I made my offering and circled three times before continuing on in the race.

Winter Mongolia 4

Three aid stations filled with water, potatoes, tomatoes, and homemade donuts would be the only source of spectators on the course. An occasional sighting of the filming crew in the most obscure, remote locations would be the only other sign of life. There wasn’t a single time during the race that one couldn’t think about their foot placement due to the rocky nature of the course. The course proved a challenge to many runners. One person got lost for several hours and many of the 100 km runners quickly realized at the 42 km mark that the course would be too much to continue on. In the end, only about half of the 100 km runners that set out that morning actually complete the entire course. Many realized the 18-hour cut-off would be difficult to achieve and were happy to settle with 42 km. The last 42 km runner crossed the finish line in about 10 hours.

The course lived up to its name, “The Most Beautiful 100k” and definitely can be considered one of the more challenging races. I was pleased with my 5:55 finish and taking second place overall female. I have fallen in love with the challenges that trail running offers. I continue to learn much about running and most importantly about myself. Through my running, I’m not only able to raise awareness for prostate cancer, but to show that age and gender are not barriers! I am now just two continents away from setting a world record for the, “Youngest person to run a marathon on all seven continents”.  I will be headed to New Zealand in October followed by the completion of my World Marathon Tour in Athens, Greece in November.

As with every race, I learned afterwards of the unsung heroes that had run amongst us. Running in the Mongolian Sunrise to Sunset, were some of the 1 in 6 men I run for.  After the race, they came to me and shared their stories of family members affected by the disease or their own personal story of battling prostate cancer. I learned that prostate cancer survivors had been out there running the 42 km and 100 km in silence, a silence broken only by the presence of a 14 year-old girl out there running with them and for them. May they “Never Give In!”

Winter Mongolia 3

*** Although one in six men are diagnosed with prostate cancer, awareness and screenings remain extremely low. Help me to bring attention to this disease that affects almost every family worldwide during September—Prostate Awareness Month—by joining Teamwinter S1X, a month-long charity “run raiser” to raise money and awareness for prostate cancer and research by converting daily running or walking miles into dollars. Like run/walkathons, S1X participants invite friends, family, and colleagues to pledge dollars (or cents) per mile they log running or walking throughout the month of September. Activities are tracked on www.athlete.com/s1x and all proceeds benefit prostate cancer research and awareness.

As a bonus, S1X participants receive a “S1X Pack—with over $200 in swag,” and Athlete.com is awarding the top six men and women with the most money raised, most miles run, and first to six hundred with awesome prizes. There will also be great random raffle drawings—and participants can increase the odds by getting an extra raffle ticket for every $10 they raise. It isn’t too late to still register! Register here.

Never Give In!

Sig

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Kōkua: Helping Others One Triathlon at a Time

Posted by on Thursday, September 5, 2013 @ 11:04 am | Leave a reply

By Nicole Clark

Back in February, I heard from my husband, Nick Clark, about the potential for a Newton Running Ambassador Team. Then, I noticed the application on Facebook to apply for the inaugural IRONMAN Foundation Newton Running Ambassador Triathlon team. It took me about a week to finish up the application process and another month until I received an official email stating that I was chosen to be part of the team.

Being part of this team is quite an honor. We have more than 40 teammates from around North America with one common goal: to give back to the communities in which we are racing. Our team motto is kōkua, which means “extending loving, sacrificial help to others for their benefit, not for personal gain…” This sums up exactly what our team is all about. I wanted to be part of a team that wasn’t focused on PR’s, splits and power, although that is perfectly fine, I felt like this team was going to be more than just that.  I love training, racing and being at different venues, but raising money for the different charities and community outreach programs for select IRONMAN races has been an amazing experience to be part of.

Kokua

I am fortunate enough to live in a great community. I have amazing friends and family all over the country who have supported this experience. I reached out to a local restaurant in Louisville, Colorado, Lucky Pie, where they support fundraising events. They were kind enough to allow me to host a silent auction social. We had wonderful local business who donated for the event, ranging from teeth whitening, local triathlon shop packages, to autographed Craig Alexander Newton Running visors. We also had representation from Newton Running, Ironman and IMF teammates.

The monies raised by my teammates and I will go to local Henderson charities served by the IRONMAN Foundation at the IRONMAN World Championship 70.3: Coronado High School Band, Coronado High School, Clark County School District, Foothills High School, Student Council Getting 2 Tri Foundation, Grant a Gift Autism Foundation, Green Valley C.H.A.N.C.E., Green Valley Women’s Basketball, Green Valley Wrestling, Greenspun Junior High, Henderson Lacrosse Club, James Gibson Elementary, Nevada Children’s Cancer Foundation, Pinecrest Academy, SECTA Student Organization of Latinos and Somerset Academy of Las Vegas.

I qualified back in September 2012 at Branson 70.3 for the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships 2013.  What a great set up for the year ahead. This made fun planning for upcoming races. Leading up to Vegas, I raced the Boulder Tri Series and Kansas 70.3. I had the opportunity to race Vegas two years ago, while living in Florida. Now that I live in Colorado, with the ability to train at altitude and really knowing how to ride hills while also having the advantage of knowing what the course is like, I feel like I am a little more seasoned and prepared for a great race. I’m really looking forward to having fun, enjoying the weekend with family and friends coming to support me and meeting new teammates at our charity project.

Ironman 70.3 World Championships donation page
Nicole Clark’s Blog
IRONMAN Foundation Newton Running Ambassador Triathlon Team
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Meet The Dogs Of Newton – Week 14 Daisy

Posted by on @ 8:18 am | Leave a reply

DAISY1Hello my name is Daisy! I’m the newest member of the Newton Dog family.

I was born at the end of May and every week my biological Mom would send pictures of me getting bigger to my new mom in Colorado. This became known as “Woof Wednesday”. There was stiff competition between me and that hump day camel but I won out as the camel has gone to pasture & I am living it up at the Newton School of Running.

My mom thinks I’m wicked cute- but don’t let that fool you. I’m a bit of a sheep in wolfs clothing. I act soooo cute & then I flip my wolf switch where I run around like a crazy puppy and jump and nip at people. My mom keeps talking about taking me to class to get trained up… but I don’t think it’s much of a threat because I hang out at a school all day and nothing too authoritative happens there. They even have this cool display that has these neat socks hanging off of it that just sit there and wait for me to come by & play with them. My mom frowns upon this but Timmy thinks it’s funny- so I’m going to keep doing it.

Speaking of the School of Running, I even have my own fan club of ladies from the bank next door that come over to visit me. Come to think of it… I heard that the school was much less inhabited before I came and now there are people flocking to the door to hang out with me!

I am happy just hanging out but I love to go on adventures. The car isn’t my favorite place but it brings me to visit lots of cool stuff so I tolerate the ride. Once I adjust to the altitude I will be spending my mornings on runs with my mom. Times are tough this high up… I sure hope she brings me back to visit her people at sea level soon!

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Losing Weight to Triathlon: Fleet Feet Spokane’s Wade Pannell

Posted by on Tuesday, August 27, 2013 @ 2:14 pm | Leave a reply

FleetFeetWadeSix years ago, the owner of Fleet Feet Spokane, Wade Pannell, was living in Bozeman, Montana. The former competitive cyclist — in both road cycling and mountain biking — was working in resort real estate development and wining and dining more than he was working out. “I was sixty pounds heavier and needed to get fit,” says Pannell. “I would say I was big boned. It was a good excuse. But when I lost the weight, I realized I really wasn’t.” Finally, a friend with whom he grew up suggested he was out of shape and Pannell says, “I took it to heart.”

He began to run. “I couldn’t run a quarter mile without stopping and walking.” Yet, for Pannell, running took the least amount of time and was the easiest to do on the road when he was traveling for work. He also found the running community much more accepting than the cycling community, whose participants he says can be more competitive and critical. “In running you’re always in a pack and it’s much more community based.” He found the community he needed at Fleet Feet Bozeman. The store offered a plethora of programs to help people like Pannell get started. Pannell found this invaluable. And, he says, “Once I ran my first 5K, the old competitive juices were back.”

Back in shape, and 60 pounds lighter, Pannell began to enjoy riding again. From there, he set his sights on triathlon. “I ran the Boston Marathon in 2010, and in 2011, I completed my first Ironman Coeur D’Alene.”

While his training was picking up speed, Pannell’s work moved him to Spokane, Washington. Before leaving Bozeman, Pannell had been dabbling with the idea of opening a Fleet Feet or changing his line of work to training and helping people get fit. Once in Spokane, he and his wife decided that the city presented the perfect opportunity to open a Fleet Feet. They opened Fleet Feet Spokane last summer, in August 2012.

Spokane County has a population of roughly 450,000 people, and it only had one real specialty running store, explains Pannell.  “It was an underserved market and historically a very running focused community. We send about two or three high schools to national high school championships each year. Yet there was only one main specialty store.”

With an inventory focused on triathlon more than the average Fleet Feet, Pannell reached out to Newton Running in April, 2013. Ever since, Newton has been the store’s number 2 vendor with the Gravity leading the way, then the Isaacs and Pannell expects the Energy to do well, too. “I’ve been running in Newton for the last five years. Newton is not one of those brands most Fleet Feet’s open with. But we are very tri oriented. A few employees and myself coach a tri group and we were in a tri club with about 250 people. So for our audience it makes sense to find some brands with more of a tri focus.”

Newton’s message also aligned with that of Fleet Feet Spokane. “As we worked with training people and talking about minimalism and everything people need to do to become better runners, Newton’s education and biomechanical feedback was a nice segue for what we were doing and what we were about,” Pannell explains. “Not only has Newton given us fantastic support with their tech rep and corporate backup, but we’ve probably held five run clinics. Each time we get 20-30 people. I love the drills that Danny gives. And they brought in Chris Legh during Ironman Coeur d’Alene.”

Pannell says more than 50% of people who come in to his store probably should be introduced to Newton. “It’s the person who wants to run better, more naturally and improve their form, and who likes a lighter shoe or is a triathlete. All of those categories add up to a large portion of our customer base, so it’s a natural fit to bring out a Newton.”

And it’s not just triathletes and serious runners who like the shoes. Who is his unexpected customer? “We have the unexpected walkers who love Newtons. We fit a fair amount of people who are baby boomers who just want to be in comfortable footwear. I’m surprised at how many choose Newtons. The Energy will be great for that group.”

Personally, Pannell runs in the Distance. “If you want a shoe to be a stronger, better runner, I can’t think of a better shoe to give you that feedback than the Distance.” And for people who are worried about the transition and strengthening process that accompanies running in Newtons, he says, “You’ve lifted weights before right? Did it hurt? Well, if you’re going to increase your strength in your legs, you should have some muscular discomfort. It’s nothing to be scared of, just manage it properly.” He adds, “Once people commit, they get it. Even those who were skeptical about Newton are now very excited about running in them.”

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