Category Archives: Athletes

Melody Fairchild: So This is 40

Posted by on Sunday, April 6, 2014 @ 9:24 am | Leave a reply

When it comes to running, Melody Fairchild knows what she likes and doesn’t like. For instance, uphills “yes,” downhills “no,” Newtons “yes,” other brands “no.” She should know, she has been running since she was 14. And we’re not talking jogging. She was the first high school girl to break 10 minutes for 2 miles and from there her list of accolades is long.

Last summer she turned 40 and aged up to Masters. She quickly proved she would be a force to be reckoned with in this category with three wins last fall in the space of a month: first place at the USA Masters 5K Championships with a time of 16:51; first place at the 15K Masters National Championship; and 1st female, and 2nd overall at the Project Athena US Trail Half Marathon, which served as the half marathon national championships, in Moab, Utah.

Fairchild started 2014 with a goal to do all of the USATF Masters National Championships and a main goal of doing the Master’s National Championship in the marathon at the Medtronic Twin City Marathon in Minneapolis in October. Obviously, age has not diminished ability nor competitive spirit.

So far this year, Fairchild has taken 2nd in the half marathon in Melbourne, Florida and 2nd at the USA Cross Country Championships in Boulder, both in February. Results most runners would consider great. But, Fairchild doesn’t like to lose. “In the Twin Cities, I plan on being a contender to win and I would like to win. I will have my work cut out for me, there are a lot of really good Master’s marathoners out there, including the two women who I have been beaten by already this year.”

Mel XC 1

Although Fairchild makes running look easy, she has had her share of bumps in the road. Looking back on her career, she credits her ability to still run strong to the fact that she took a break from running from about the time she was 27 to 37. This was at a time when many of her running colleagues were pushing the envelope and taking their careers to another level professionally performance wise. Her body was telling her to do otherwise. “I had to really listen to my body, and it was telling me to stop running. I had massive sciatic nerve pain and my feet were hurting. Rather than getting surgery on my feet to keep running, I went an alternative healing route.” Fairchild focused on getting healthy.

Along the path to healing, Fairchild also found a friend in Newtons. “I’ve been told I have a dropped metatarsal head. I thought it was a neuroma.” No matter how you cut it, it’s painful. “I also have large bunyans, which is why Newtons are great for my feet, because they have a nice wide toebox. With other shoes, I would have to cut them open because there was too much pressure on my feet.”

Fairchild used to race in the Distance Elite and train in the Distance U, which she loves because it’s so light. But then, last summer, she discovered the new Energy—not a shoe you would immediately pair with an elite athlete. “ I ran a half marathon in Costa Rica last summer and placed 2nd. Normally, I would take a racing flat, but I ran the whole race in my Energies.”

Fairchild says, for any Newton lovers with any sort of forefoot issue the Energy is just a fabulous option. ”I still feel the energy return that you get from a Newton, but it’s just so much more gentle on the forefoot, especially if you have a neuroma or a bone bruise.”

            Listening to and looking after your body, especially as a runner, is a message Fairchild now loves to share with the next generation of athletes. When she’s not training and racing—or planning for her wedding this summer (it’s true!)—she’s busy coaching across Boulder County. She runs after school cross-country and track programs, and running camps for girls in the summer. “My girls running camp in the summer is a passion of mine.  I know the pitfalls that befall young women. I help my girls gain a perspective of themselves and their life. It is a long winding road.”

As she runs from job to job and race to race, Fairchild knows that winding road well. But at this stage in life, she’s loving every minute of it. “It’s so awesome to be paid to run. Every day I get up and train and look forward to the next race I have planned. I definitely don’t take it for granted.” She adds, “For someone my age, competing at the level I am, to have the support from a shoe company, is off the charts.”

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Kara Henry

Posted by on Sunday, March 9, 2014 @ 8:16 am | Leave a reply

Don’t be fooled by Kara Henry’s relaxed nature. At the start of a race, it’s a different story.

 

Bacon. Check.
Gummy Bears. Check.
Coca Cola. Check.
Pretzels. Check.
Frozen pizza. Check.
 

These aren’t your ordinary race snacks, but then again Kara Henry isn’t your ordinary runner. One minute the 29-year-old is doing 6:20-minute pace in a half marathon, look again, and she easily falls into a 15-minute pace for the Leadville 100, where she placed 6th last summer in a time of 23:50 (four hours faster than her first attempt in 2012). But truth be told, 50-mile and 50K races hit her sweet spot. In 2012, she ran her first 50-miler, the Bear Chase 50, in Lakewood, Colorado. She not only won the women’s division, she set a course record. “That was a shock,” she says. But it also showed her (and others) what she was capable of.

Kara is the first to admit she has a competitive side. “I learned the hard way that I can’t do a race as a training run. I go into every race wanting to win whether I’ve trained or not.”

Growing up in Elmhurst, Illinois, Kara joined the cross-country team in 8th grade. She had never participated in competitive sports before and it wasn’t really the running that drew her to the team. Rather, it was the fact that her tough science teacher was the coach. She thought if she joined the cross-country team she could get in his good books and get a better grade. But that didn’t mean she came to practice ready to run, “I would show up at practices and walk and chat with my friends.” That was, until her very first cross-country race. “I couldn’t sleep the night before. All I could think about was winning the race.” And win she did. This set in motion a strong high school cross-country career that earned her multiple all-state honors and landed her a scholarship to Butler University.

After moving west after Butler, Kara notes, “running took a back seat to paying my bills for a few years.” But then, a friend convinced her to run the Quad Dipsea, a 28.4-mile annual trail run in Mill Valley, California, and surprise, surprise, that old competitive nature kicked in without hesitation. She placed second in the women’s race. “It’s a pretty prestigious race and no one knew who I was.” The ultra community would know who she was soon enough.

Shortly after that first race, Kara moved to Boulder, Colorado, in the Spring of 2012 to take a job as the marketing manager at Newton. Since she didn’t know anyone in town, she spent a lot of hours running the trails by her self. Then came the Bear Chase 50. “That first 50-miler was the best experience. It went so well for me. I think if it had gone poorly, I wouldn’t have kept on with the ultra thing.” It was at that race, where she realized what she was made of, “I had such a fun day and really learned to dig from the deepest depths of my own personal hell and get out of it. I learned when you think you can’t take another step, you can all of a sudden run 8-minute miles again.”

Although Kara knew she had great potential for the distance races, it hasn’t been totally smooth sailing.  “In 2012, I screwed up every week. One week I was vomiting, the next race I fell off a cliff, and I got lost. I am really bad with a sense of direction. Some people can look up and know where the car is, if you spin me around in downtown Boulder, I’ll get lost. If I’m not paying attention, I’ll go left, when I should have gone right.” Which is what she did when she went to Texas for the US 100K championships. She took a wrong turn and the next thing she knew, she was tumbling head over heels through cactus. “It’s a long way to travel to end up all bloody and in the car before the race was over.”

hope pass

At Leadville in 2012, she entered simply with the hopes of finishing, which she did, but not without hallucinating and falling asleep while running in the wee hours of the morning. “It was about 4am or a bit later. I had been out there for 24 hours and the sun was about to come up again. It’s really rough watching the sun rise twice. My friend was pacing me and she was just super chatty, chatty and she would ask me something and 10 or 12 minutes later I’d say, ‘what?’ She realized I was falling asleep, so she started breaking up Honey Stinger bars and she would make me eat these bites of sugar every 15 minutes. It woke me up.”

2013 was a different story. She took a different tact: she trained. “I really focused on a training plan and on the races leading up to Leadville. I was good with nutrition, everything that could have gone well went well.” In other words, she won all of the 25-mile and 50-milers she entered, and garnered 6th at Leadville.

So now what? “I’m going to take a year off from running a 100 miler. I’ll do a few 50s. I’ve had this marathon monkey on my back for a couple of years. I’ve never really raced a marathon. I’d like to get one real crack at a marathon and call it a day.” That marathon will be the Twin Cities in October and then she’ll focus on Rocky Raccoon, the Trail Running 100-mile championship 100-mile in January, 2015 in Huntsville, Texas.

Oh and about that nutrition thing. She did focus on good nutrition while training last year, but seems like anything goes in a race. Kara’s secret weapons are in fact gummy bears—she ate 5 packs of them in Leadville—“a lot of pretzels, some bacon…and cold frozen pizza is this excellent running food, too.” And that 8th grade science class? She got an A.

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Experience Spartan World Championships With a 14 Year-Old

Posted by on Monday, October 21, 2013 @ 2:18 pm | Leave a reply

I sat on the steep hillside with a 5-gallon bucket of gravel between my legs, protecting it from spilling. This was just a temporary stop to collect my strength as I climbed up the Killington, Vermont ski run. It was a brutal reminder that ski slopes are for skiing down and that is it! This same obstacle was my biggest challenge at my first Spartan Beast several months ago in Utah. The sight of a bucket now makes me cringe. Descending the hillside, with my bucket in my arms, I thought I might actually cry. As I dumped my gravel into the bin at the end, successfully completing the obstacle, I said to myself, “Pull yourself together, you still have a long way to go.”

Spartan Vermont Beast World Championships 2013-start line

Show Time

I had no idea this race would be so hard. Standing at the start line, I felt welcomed amongst my new Spartan family. I appreciated the cheers and well wishes from my fellow racers as my name was called to the start line of the Spartan World Championships. I found myself standing amongst some of the world’s greatest athletes. There were Olympians from around the globe as well as Xterra, USTAF and Trail World Champions, Professional Obstacle Course Racers, Adventure Racers, triathletes and marathon winners. This talented group of athletes, including the Spartan Pro Team, will be featured in the NBC Sports Network TV special about the World Championships on October 19th.

Given Spartan’s history and the presence of NBC TV, most of us assumed we were about to embark on the toughest, most grueling 13-mile course ever designed by Spartan. Little did we know how humbling the day would be—the steep climbs, cold water and grueling course would sideline even some of the world’s most fit athletes.

Climbing & Descending

The first part of the course was mainly a steep never-ending trail climb up the hills of Killington Ski Resort. I was happy with my selection of running this course in my Newton Distance. I knew there would be a lot of serious climbing so I chose to stay on the lighter side with my shoes. I had done my last Spartan Beast in my Newton All-weathers. The unique lug design of Newton shoes is not only great for forefoot running but also provides great traction on these difficult courses. Spartans were once again falling, slipping and sliding on the steep descents and I was able to keep my footing. There were a few walls and round hay bails to climb on our way up, which is always fun.

Spartan Vermont Beast World Championships 2013-wall traverse

Living and training at 7,000 feet in Park City, UT, as well as only carrying 98 pounds on my small frame, was a great advantage on the first part of the course. I was surprised to find myself hanging with many of the elite females for the first six to seven miles. It was only when we encountered the heavy obstacles, that their more adult bodies became a huge advantage for them.

Two-thirds My Weight

Upon reaching one of the few black diamond ski runs at Killington, I peered up the steep slope.  As far up the mountain as I could see, it was just a stream of racers carrying something. As I approached a pile of sandbags, I quickly realized there was only one size. Many of the weighted obstacles at Spartan Races have female and male sized weights. This was the World Championships, though, what was I thinking. There was no time to stop and think. This was a race!

Spartan Vermont Beast World Championships 2013-60#sandbag carry

As a competitive athlete, you learn to improvise as you go. I wasn’t sure how I would handle this heavy obstacle but knew I just had to get moving with it. I grabbed my sandbag, tossed it up onto my back and began the long trek. I would alternate carrying the weight on one shoulder, then the other. When both shoulders got fatigued, I would place it evenly across my upper back and neck.  The one thought I had the entire time was, “Why is a 14-year-old girl carrying what a grown man is carrying?” At the time, I had no idea I was carrying 60 pounds, literally two-thirds my body weight. All I knew was, “It was heavy”.  It was only after the race, that I had learned the actual weight we were all carrying.

Burpees & Perseverence

The Hercules Hoist gave me my first set of burpees. A cement bucket is hooked to a pulley system.  You must use a rope to pull the bucket up to the top. As I started to hoist the bucket up, I would quickly find myself being pulled up in the air as the bucket returned to the ground. “You got to be kidding me! I’ve done this before. This cement bucket must be heavier than my last race.” After being lifted off the ground several times and only getting the weight half way up, I realized Hercules would win today. I immediately started doing my 30 burpees.

Spartan Vermont Beast World Championships 2013-rope climb

During the entire race I was reminded, “I had it easy.” I was not carrying a tumor, like my new friend, Iram Leon. He is 32 years old and living with an inoperable brain tumor, yet not letting it slow him down. I had two healthy legs unlike the amputee that crawled up the entire Killington ski slope on his hands and knees or like the female amputee who stood at the start line with me. I was able to just be at the event, unlike my dad and many others that left this world too soon. It wasn’t hard to put my pain aside and persevere.

Having previewed the course the day before, I knew the water obstacles would come at miles seven and ten. Seeing all the water on this course, I also knew I wanted a shoe that had great drainage, not one that would hold water. I had poured water in my Newton trainers prior to the race to see how quickly it would drain out. Unlike many Spartans, I was not intimidated by the water, but rather excited. As a two-time triathlon national champion, I had been battling it out in the water since I was five years old. I didn’t take into account, however, how much wearing shoes affected your ability to swim. I was especially glad I didn’t wear a hydration pack like so many did. It would have been yet another thing to weigh me down as I swam across the frigid water and climbed up the rope climbs.

Tarzan & The Tyrolean Traverse

The Tarzan Swing was nearly impossible! I heard of only one female who made it successfully across. This obstacle consisted of ladders and ropes suspended from a bridge in the middle of a lake. After swimming out and climbing up to the top of the bridge, there were about five or six little ropes. One had to swing across these ropes to get to the bell. I made it across two ropes then fell about ten feet into the lake.  As I swam to shore, my only thought was, “I think I’m turning into an ice cube.” As I crawled onto shore, it was burpee time again.

Spartan Vermont Beast World Championships 2013-barb wire

Next up, the Tyrolean Traverse. Imagine a rope suspended across water; a kids dream, an adult’s nightmare! I may have moved slower than Sid, the two-toed sloth, but I made it! I hung below the rope with just my knees and elbows draped over the long rope that spanned the freezing cold, irrigation pond for the ski resort. There was no way I was going to fall off that rope, swim to shore, do 30 burpees and then have to reattempt it again. It was pretty intimidating seeing Elite men wrapped in a foil blanket at the edge of the water, hypothermic and unable to continue on. Today, the Tyrolean Rope would separate the winners from the losers. All I could think was, “Just hang on!” I have some great rope burns on my arms to show for my effort.

Tyrolean Traverse- Spartan Vermont Beast World Championships 2013

Pushing Beyond

The Spartan World Championships pushed me farther, mentally and physically, than I have ever been pushed before. However, with this being said, I know I have not reached my limit. There is always a take home lesson I learn from every race; whether it is a triathlon, a marathon, an aerial skiing competition or a Spartan Race. Spartan reminded me how crucial the mental component of a sport can be. Even if your body wants to give up, you can usually mentally keep pushing on and many times your body will recover. If you give up mentally though, it is over immediately.

Spartan Vermont Beast World Championships 2013-fire jump

For many, crossing the finish line on Saturday was the end of their race weekend. Placing first in the world in the 19 & under open division and 28th amongst the elite females was perhaps my greatest accomplishment ever. However, the most important race to me was actually the next day. For the first time, Spartan offered a charity race. Beat up and exhausted but willing to do it all again, my team of five athletes, Team Winter, set out Sunday morning to try to capture the Spartan Charity Race Title. Our team raced for the 1 in 6 men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer, the cancer that took my 40 year-old-dad from me when I was only 9-years-old.

We were expected to navigate a two- to three-mile course, with the fastest three times from each team counting. Seeing some of Spartan’s best obstacle course racers smiling at the start line Sunday and getting their “Spartan On” for something bigger than themselves was a great sight. These guys and gals went out with revenge and were ready to give everything they had left for their cause. Although Team Winter took 2nd place by only a few seconds, we were proud to stand on the podium as one of the top five teams in the world. Each team took prize money home for their charity and most importantly raised awareness for their cause.

Finish Line Spartan Vermont Beast World Championships 2013

Spartan World Championships was great training as I headed into my sixth marathon on October 12th on New Zealand’s Great Barrier Island—my second to last continent on my world marathon tour for prostate cancer awareness. Keep following Newton for my next race report!

Never Give In!

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Twice As Nice!

Posted by on Tuesday, October 15, 2013 @ 12:21 pm | Leave a reply

On September 26, it was a cold morning in Lake Tahoe as Ironman participants entered the water. A fog hovered over the lake as warm air hit cool and frost covered the bike seats. Perfect racing conditions, according to Chris McDonald, who crossed the line in first place in 8:55.14, capturing his 6th Ironman victory. Lake Tahoe is a tough course and winning it is worth its own accolade, but what makes McDonald’s win all the more impressive is that just 28 days earlier, on August 25, he garnered a win at Ironman Louisville, making him the first triathlete to win back-to-back Ironman races.

We caught up with McDonald, recovering at his home in Austin, Texas before he heads to Kona to cheer on his peers. He won’t be racing Hawaii this year, but it’s on his radar for next season.

Could you describe these races? They were very different.

Both are strength courses. For Tahoe, there are a lot of people who say it’s too hard. I think it’s one of the most picturesque Ironman courses I’ve ever done out of all of the North American races. You have the two climbs, and when you’re at the top, you look out and you get this full view of Lake Tahoe. And then the finish is in Squaw Valley and you run up through the village, with this big stone face that is the ski hill. It’s beautiful.

Louisville, it’s just the place where I won my first IM and it’s my home away from home. Winning means a lot because I’ve won it 3 times and I know the town well. I know the restaurants and people recognize you, so you feel good.

The low temp in Louisville was 15 degrees warmer than the high in Tahoe. Louisville was 90+ degrees. The low was 75. I think the low in Tahoe it was recorded at 29 degrees. There was frost and ice from the dew on my saddle on my bike when I got out of the water. They forecast it to get up to 70, but it never did, the clouds never broke off. The water was 63 degrees—it was beautiful. It was twice the air temperature. But because of that there was a thick layer of steam on the water.

What’s significant about the double win?

I have tried to do it twice before, because no one had done it. I tried in 2008 to do it in Louisville and Wisconsin. I won Wisconsin, but I came second in Louisville. I tried in 2011. I won Louisville, but I was second at Revolution 3 Cedar Point. This year, when I saw the date for Lake Tahoe, I thought ‘I have to do this race.’ It’s bound to be freezing cold. It’s above 6,000 feet at altitude. I wanted to do it for those reasons. I had raced in Louisville four times. I thought, ‘I’ll go back and try to get that title back and go to Tahoe,’ even though I had never been to that race. I was motivated especially once I won Louisville again. Every time I’ve done two races close together, I generally perform better in the second one.

I was happy to get two Ironman wins in a year, let alone so close. I love the fact I was able to do it, but it’s not like I ticked the box and said I’ve done everything now. I’m just as motivated for races I might choose to do for the end of the year. And what I might do next year now that I have a jump start on points for Kona next year. I like to race. It keeps me satisfied.

Chris McDonald

After winning Louisville, did you have any trouble motivating so quickly for Tahoe?

No. Because I knew no one had ever won IMs back-to-back, which was motivating. And, I was able to race Louisville my way. I’m not cocky, but I wanted to be able to not run too hard, so I could save myself for Tahoe. I got a good lead on the bike in Louisville, so I could hold a little bit in reserve. I like to race a lot, I haven’t raced a lot this year, it was just the way the year panned out and I didn’t travel that much. So, I was motivated to go race. That’s what I do all of this training for. I love the training, but I love to race more.

What about Kona?

I’m ready to race in Kona next year. I don’t want to go unless I feel like I can legitimately race it. I didn’t plan 2012 to accumulate points in the back end of the year. The way the KPR points work, if you don’t have 2-3000 points in the bag before the end of the previous year you’re hooped. As fair as it is, they heavily weight it for people who do Kona to go back the following year.

For Hawaii, you have to be so mentally fresh and willing to suffer if you want to do well. It’s more about being mentally switched on than physically. Everyone is fit and ready, it’s who is prepared to suffer mentally.

What was your most satisfying race this season?

The best satisfaction out of any race would have to be Coeur D’Alene. You have to have a little bit of luck go your way to win. I had that in Louisville and Tahoe. But in Coeur D’Alene, I got a flat and was 23 minutes at the side of the road before I got a spare. I was 28 minutes back on the bike by the time I was done. I was well out of the race, but then I broke 2.50 for the first time in the marathon. I had a good solid marathon and ran back into 5th place, which was personally satisfying for me.

What’s on deck for next year?

Ironman Texas, maybe 70.3 Monterey and 70.3 Galvaston, and then a break to get married [Newton note: CONGRATULATIONS!]. Hopefully I’ll have enough points for Kona. There are so many races now you have to really pick and choose because you could race every other weekend, year-round if you wanted. It’s hard to pick your schedule.

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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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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Training with KPeasey

Posted by on Thursday, August 15, 2013 @ 8:32 am | Leave a reply

By Kyle Pease

Brent and Kyle Pease are a team of brothers from Atlanta Georgia who compete together in athletic competitions — despite the fact that Kyle is relegated to a wheelchair, the result of Cerebral Palsy at birth. Brent, his older brother, pushes, pedals and paddles Kyle in 5k’s, 10k’s, marathons and triathlons to encourage those who witness their efforts that anything is possible. Through their foundation, The Kyle Pease Foundation, the duo raise funds to promote success for persons with disabilities by providing assistance to meet their individual needs through sports.  

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The following is from Kyle Pease’s blog: Where There is a Wheel There’s a Way:

I’ve been finding it difficult to fall asleep at night knowing that everything that Brent and I have been working toward is just around the corner. Up until this point, the greatest moment of our running career occurred recently at the Peachtree 10K, where we became the first assisted pair in the long history of the race to compete. It doesn’t get any better than the local crowds cheering our names as we traveled 6.2 miles through the familiar streets of our hometown Atlanta…or does it?

Now, just two months later, Brent and I will make Pease history as we try to have the word “Ironman” etched next to our names. For this, we will cover 140.6 miles through the water and roadways of rural Madison, Wisconsin — 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles on the bike, and finishing with the 26.2 mile marathon. Our goal is to break the 17-hour mark, which of course would make us forever IRONMEN. But even though Brent and I are hoping for a time between 14 and 16 hours, I’ll be honest anything this side of 16:59:59 is good enough. But that one second, is the second that differentiates an Ironman from a couple of guys who competed to truly becoming Ironmen.

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Now, as strange as some people find it, I have been training harder than I ever have in my life. Many people think that I have the easy part. Although Brent may agree with them while he’s paddling, pedaling and pushing me for 140.6 miles, it is important for me to be prepared for this, too. I have never sat on a bike for nearly nine hours and the average human body is not likely to fare well without proper preparation. Brent and I are training far longer and more often than we normally do in order to get both of our bodies used to the many miles and hours out on the course. I’ve been eating better than I normally do and have been trying to increase my liquid intake. I’m struggling a bit there, as I don’t really enjoy drinking water, but it’s very important to stay hydrated. It would be a shame if Brent was up to the task, but I wasn’t. It’s important to me to not let my brother and my teammate down.

My trainer, Matthew Rose, (yes I have a trainer) tells me to visualize the shoot. The thought of 45,000 screaming fans lining the shoot at the end of the race is something I just can’t imagine, despite his efforts to help me mentally imagine what it will be like. That is the golden carrot hanging just in front of me that will motivate and inspire me and subsequently inspire Brent to the finish line.

Yet, there’s one very important thing for my readers and our fans to remember, becoming an Ironman is not and never will be for or about Brent and me. It’s about our Foundation and the people who we are hoping to inspire: People who see what we are about to accomplish and believe that anything is possible through our efforts.

We are very proud of the Kyle Pease Foundation and take great pleasure in seeing the looks on the faces of the athletes who compete with us. It is exciting to know that through the efforts of a few, we have impacted the lives of many. Although Brent and I will be thrilled to wear the Ironman medal around our necks on the evening of September 8th, we really know that the medal symbolically hangs from the necks of all those friends, fans, athletes and sponsors of the Kyle Pease Foundation. We know that through their continued inspiration and efforts that the only thing that will not be humanly possible is finishing in a second more than 16:59:59. Off to Wisconsin!

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