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Going the Distance

Posted by on Friday, July 25, 2014 @ 10:50 am | Leave a reply

Brenda Carawan is not your typical runner. But then again, most people who thrive in races that average 100 miles on the road, are not your every day runner. The Texas native, who has a 100-mile PR of 16:33, has had top finishes at the Spartathlon Ultra Race (153 miles) in Greece and California’s Badwater Ultramarathon (135 miles). She’s been first overall female at North Carolina’s Graveyard 100-mile and Florida’s Keys 100 Ultramarathon, amongst other top finishes. And yet, the 38-year-old Carawan didn’t compete, or even run, in high school or college. Instead, she was an aerobics instructor who found her workout wasn’t cutting it anymore, so she started to run.

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST RACE?

First, I did the Austin marathon in 1996. I was 19. It took me 6 hours. I came in third from last. In 1997, I did the same race in 4.5 hours. From there, I kept running and I never stopped.

WHEN DID YOU CHANGE FROM MARATHONS TO ULTRAS?

When I moved to Virginia in 2000, I needed a way to meet people. The big thing there was triathlons. I was like I can run and I have swum before and surely I can ride a bike. I did a couple of sprint triathlons. I always needed to finish so I could get to the finish line party.

In 2004, I signed up for an Ironman in North Carolina, even though it wasn’t trademarked that. My family flew in to see me do this race. The race day came and I missed the bike cut-off by over an hour maybe two hours. I got to the transition area and they said you’re disqualified. I said, my family has flown here, can I give you my timing chip and finish the run and they said ‘yes.’ It still took me 5 hours. But I caught enough people to not finish dead last in the whole race.

The next day I was embarrassed. I was supposed to be an Ironman and none of that happened. I went to REI and found this documentary called Running On the Sun about Badwater Ultramarathon. People were throwing up, crying and passing out. One guy had his toenails surgically removed, and I’m looking at this thinking this is what I’m meant to do. I will suffer but it looks like a lot of fun. This is the bucket list race.

THE ROAD TO BADWATER

Spartathlon 2013

In 2011, I got invited. You have to be invited and only 90 people get invited. To do Badwater, you have to have completed at least three 100-mile races within a calendar year and you have to submit a running resume. It’s not enough to have just finished three ultras. You have to have done well.

Preparing for and running Badwater, that just set the whole ultra scene for me. I fell in love with the adrenaline rush of getting ready for the races and pushing the limit physically and mentally. That will always be my dream race. The traditional Badwater is unique to any other race on the planet because of the climate, the temperatures and the solitude of not seeing anything for miles and miles.

WHAT’S YOUR AVERAGE WEEKLY MILEAGE?

Graveyard 100 2012

I run up to 130 miles the week before races and do about 5-6 weeks of 100-plus miles. For the Spartathlon last September—a 153-mile race—I got up to 150 miles a week in training.

WHY NEWTON?

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My coach is a huge proponent of Newton. She kept telling me about these shoes. Finally, leading up to my second 100-miler, I tried them and then I went and ran 20 miles. It was the most wonderful run I have ever had. I realized this is the fit that I need and I have never used another brand since. I stopped having injuries. My form got better. I attended the Newton coach training school so I could learn more about the science and the drills behind the product. It’s not just a shoe, there’s an actual science behind the shoe. That’s what is unique about Newton and that’s what I fell in love with, the science.

Going into 2012, I had my fourth 100-mile race. I was the first female and I won in 16 hours and 33 minutes. I went from running a 19:50 to a 16:33. I wholeheartedly believe it was because of what I learned from Newton and my coach. It’s those two variables that made a difference.

I decided to write Newton to be on the pro team. But every year the pro field was closed. Then the guy in charge of the pros said why don’t you contact Stephen Gartside who runs the elite team. Up until late 2012 the elite team had been closed to only people living in Boulder, Colorado [home of Newton headquarters]. 2013 is the first time Newton has let people outside of Boulder join the team. So Gartside and I ran together a few times, then in January 2014, he said “Welcome to the team!”

INJURIES?

Winning Nove Colli 125_miles 2014

Before I switched to Newton’s exclusively, yes, I had injuries. I tore my soleus, I had a partial tear in my hamstring, and there were good chunks of time where the nerve endings in my metatarsal were inflamed so I had to water run because I couldn’t run on land. Between my Newtons and my coach making sure I don’t over train, I have had no injuries or blisters. One pair of shoes no blisters.

At Spartathlon in Greece, they plop you down in a wheelchair when you finish and take you to the medical tent to tend to your feet. They took pictures of my feet because there was nothing wrong with them. That’s the way it should be.

WHAT DO YOU EAT WHEN YOU RUN?

Winning Keys 100 2013

When I’m running I drink juice, Gatorade, shakes. I do no solid foods at all regardless of the distance. Occasionally, I might ask for 2 or 3 Pringle chips. But when I say that, I legitimately mean 3 chips, if you hand me 10, I will eat 3 and put the rest on the ground.

When the race is over the best food I have ever had was in Italy. No other place to eat on the planet than in Italy. To stuff my face with prosciutto, wine, and pasta, that is just the closest thing to heaven that could possibly be on this planet for me.

WHY THE ROAD?

I really just enjoy the open road. It puts me in a good place mentally when I’m out there by myself. There are days that I start crying when I’m out there because I ‘m just in love with that moment of the road and me, it’s an intense love affair with the road.

WHAT DO PEOPLE AT WORK THINK?

My coworkers generally think I’m crazy. My desk becomes a confession stand where people feel compelled to confess that they haven’t worked out or that they ate unhealthy. They know what I’ve done and it’s like they’re seeking forgiveness for not having done their workout when they know what I’m doing.

FAVORITE MUSIC TO RUN TO:

I like to listen to music. I have everything from Julio Iglesias in Spanish to classical piano to Eminem to Annie Lennox. I have the full spectrum and I just genuinely love music. Me and a pair of Newtons with my ipod is about the equivalent of someone handing me a winning lottery ticket.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Winning Cowtown 50k 2014 NRE Debut

I just finished my biggest goal for the year. It was a double ultra, two weekends back to back. I did the Nove Colli 125-mile race in Italy in the mountains. And then, 5 days later there was a 100K road race in Italy. I found out later that I’m the only female who has done the double. They keep records for how fast all the guys have gone and the times I ran it places me in 4th place overall ever.

I haven’t chosen a race for fall yet. I am looking for a PR. I would like to break 16 hours.

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Keeping up with Sugarland guitarist, Thad Beaty

Posted by on Tuesday, July 15, 2014 @ 10:15 am | Leave a reply

When a health crisis hit his family, Newton Ambassador Thad Beaty, began to move his musical life toward new ways that mattered.

 

Thad Beaty loves music. Always has. When the guitar player for the country band Sugarland, is not on the road, he’s in Nashville working at his day job, Sorted Noise, producing songs for movies. But in 2009, a curveball was thrown at him, when his mom was diagnosed with colon cancer. Since then, his daily routine has involved a lot more than music.

At the time of the diagnosis, the 5’10” Beatty was 34 years old and weighed 230 pounds. He says, “We went into panic mode. My brother, my wife and I and my mom all decided as a family that we could do better at being healthy. So, we immediately started researching the best diet for dealing with cancer,” he says. What happened next, was something he never would have expected.

Thad Beaty, guitarist for country Grammy band Sugarland

“We learned that a raw diet, greatly lowers your cancer risk levels. But we thought, ‘good grief, there’s no way we can do that.’” Yet, he and his wife bought a Vitamix blender and started having smoothies for breakfast and salads for lunch. And suddenly, they were 66 percent raw already.

“Before I knew it, I was fully vegetarian a few months out and the only thing left before I went Vegan was Greek yogurt—that was the last stronghold.”

At the same time that his food transformation was taking place, Beaty started exercising.  While on the road with the band, he started to run. “I could take off running in the middle of nowhere.” When he came home there was a pool in his neighborhood, so he started swimming. Next, he pulled out his old mountain bike. “I was doing a little of each and a little more and then something just triggered along the way.”

Before he knew it, Beaty was Vegan, and his training turned to competing in triathlons—not just sprint triathlons, but Ironman triathlons, with his first in Arizona in 2012, then Kona in 2013. His 230 pounds quickly melted away to a stealth 160 pounds. In a relatively short period of time, his very Southern family had completely transformed itself, including his mom, who is now gluten free and vegan.

Along the way, Beaty started reading Newton co-founder, Danny Abshire’s book, Natural Running: The Simple Path to Stronger, Healthier Running. “I started working on all the drills. Then I bought Newtons and hit the road. I was amazed at how my body felt and my times were way faster. I was hooked.”

As Beaty started down the Ironman path, he started to consider the powerful correlation between sport, the music industry and giving back. First, he struck up a relationship with the Ironman organization. Then, he began to look for companies who shared his belief system of giving back.  A training partner and Newton athlete, Shay Eskew, shared with him the non-profit work that Newton was doing. “Once I realized our core values aligned well, I had to reach out.” A partnership was struck, and now he says, “We have done some amazing things together and I think we will do a ton more.”

Around this time, Beaty founded Musicthatmoves.org to encourage the music industry to give back in ways that are healthy for the community. His motivation was spurred by the fact that in addition to his mom’s illness, the band’s guitar tech, Kevin Quigley, was diagnosed with Lymphoma and lost his battle against the disease less than a year later.

“Health is holistic. It is mind, body and spirit. If you don’t have a good balance of those three, then you are out of whack. I saw how harmonious endurance events and getting involved in social movements were together.”

Now, Beaty and a team of about 20 people from the music industry are training for the Ragnar Relay from Chattanooga to Nashville in October to “reclaim their health”.  Of his teammates, Beaty says, “They didn’t all come from an athletic background and they want to make a change. So we’re going on this journey together.” Each member is doing the relay to raise money for a cause or non-profit of their choice. “What resonated so strongly with them is that endurance events become a beautiful vehicle to affect change. If you do it for a cause, it becomes super special.”

Beaty and fellow Newton Runner, Bo Parrish, have also teamed up to form New Life for Newton, connecting gently used Newton shoes with cross-country and track coaches and inner city kids who are in need of shoes. They have enjoyed delivering the shoes themselves to these young running teams and spending an afternoon or day training with them. The list of initiatives Beaty has taken on is long and this is in addition to work and still training hard. Ironman Chattanooga in September is on his hit list for this year. But now with several races under his belt, he says, “It’s not about the finish line, it’s about everything you learn getting to the finish line and then that’s a place to celebrate everything you’ve learned and to carry those lessons forward.” For now, he’s celebrating the fact that his mom’s cancer is in remission.

 

You can watch Thad Beaty on ABC this Tuesday, July 15, on “Extreme Makeover Weight Loss.” In the episode he worked with a woman who went from the couch to doing a 70.3 triathlon. Beaty says, “We had her rocking some Newtons.”

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Steady Stephen

Posted by on Sunday, June 1, 2014 @ 5:17 pm | Leave a reply

Stephen Pifer’s running genes might just be the key to his consistent success, year over year

Stephen Pifer has running in his genes and it shows. He has been a natural from the moment he stepped onto the track in 1997 at age 13 and broke an 18-year-old school record with a 5:07 in the 1600 meters. Although his math teacher was quick to point out to him that the 1600 meters is not a mile (technically it’s 1609 meters), he’s been breaking records ever since. He has competed twice in the Olympic Track and Field trials for 1500 meters and most recently, the soon-to-be 30-year-old qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials for marathon in February, 2016 with a time of 63.44 in the half marathon. He’s also been consistent. He’s run a sub-4 minute mile for 9 years, and hopes to make a decade of running sub-4s later this year.

You don’t have to look far to see where Pifer’s running genes came from. His grandfather started the running program at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. His uncle was an All American at the same university and still holds the school record for the 800 meters. He went on to run marathons and eventually became Pifer’s high school coach before moving to Colorado to continue coaching. Both Pifer’s parents ran track in high school, too.

But before Pifer could commit to follow in the family footsteps, he had some things to do. He played soccer and basketball. In his freshman year of high school he made the Junior Varsity basketball team and basketball was his passion. But in this same year, his uncle recorded the Footlocker HS Cross Country Nationals.  Pifer watched the race and decided he wanted to go to this meet. His basketball coach was none too happy, when Pifer told him mid Freshman season that he was quitting to focus on running.

By the time his senior year rolled around, Pifer was a five-time school record holder and a two-time All-American in the Distance Medley Relay and the mile. That year, he became only the 6th man in Illinois’s history to win the Cross Country, 1600-meter and 3200-meter State Titles in the same year. And yes, he finally made it to the Footlocker HS Cross Country Nationals where he placed 14th.

This was good enough to land him a scholarship to CU Boulder where despite a rookie mistake that sidelined him for most of his freshman year, he garnered strong results. “Freshman year things went up and down. I got hurt running on the Mesa Trail. It was a Rookie mistake, trying to be a showoff. I watched my teammates go to the Nationals for cross-country.” But things picked up from there.

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Pifer became an All-Conference finisher (Big 12) four times and an All-Regional finisher three times in cross-country. He made Nationals and was an individual All-American four times. Although his team won two national titles, winning the Big 12 Conference in 2008 as a team was the highlight of his time at CU. “Not to take away from the NCAA championships, but winning the Big 12 title as a team was the best. We had a good group. It was a real team effort.” He credits the coaches for fostering this team spirit from the get go. “As Freshmen, we had a dodgeball team to try to tie everyone together. We were the ‘Track Whackers’. We had long jumpers and shot putters, we all knew each other and that synergy we developed led us to win over these powerhouse schools.” It was on the CU track team that Pifer met his future wife, Laura Zeigle “a stud runner in her own right,” he says.

From CU, Pifer headed to Portland in 2009, to run for one of the larger shoe companies. Where some runners struggle outside of college, Pifer still felt he was part of a team and as a result he had one of his best years yet, including a 4th -place finish in the 1500 meters at the USA National Championships. It was during this time, he and his wife started a family. “I was in a position where I didn’t have to work another job. I could train and hang out with my family and then go train again. It was pretty awesome.”

It was also during this time that his uncle, who was still coaching in Colorado, showed him a pair of Newton shoes. “I thought they looked crazy.” He appreciated being up on the ball of his feet, but he wasn’t sure about this new shoe company. But then a college friend went to work for Newton and a few years later as Pifer’s contract drew to a close, he says, “I noticed Newton was still around. I figured they’re obviously doing something right.” The next thing he knew he had landed a job with the company as a tech rep in Florida.

Having become used to getting free shoes in college, he said, “I had to look it as though it wasn’t me buying the shoe, because I go through a pair once every 6-8 weeks.” But now when he considers durability and dollars per mile spent, he says, “I get way more miles out of my Newtons than I did for any other shoe I’ve ever worn.”

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Having recently relocated to Colorado for Newton. Pifer was psyched to be chosen to run on one of the Bolder Boulder elite teams with his fellow Newton teammates Tyler McCandless and Fernando Cabada. Now, as he looks toward the ensuing Olympic marathon trials, he says, “Consistency is definitely something to be proud of. People get injured if you’re overdoing things. I am not getting faster, but I’m not getting slower. Hopefully, I can PR, I’m not ruling that out.”

As for his boys, between his wife and him, one can only assume the running genes found their way to them as well. But Pifer will let them find their own way to running, just as he did. “If they want to do it, I think they’ll have the talent,” says Pifer. For now, he says, they’re doing jumps on their scooters, rock climbing and hiking, and taking advantage of everything Boulder has to offer. Pifer adds, “We’re just having fun.”

 

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Breakfast On The Go

Posted by on Tuesday, May 20, 2014 @ 11:32 am | Leave a reply

Let’s face it life is busy. We get it. From the time you wake up to the time you go to bed, you’re moving in a hundred different directions (or at least it feels like it) between work, family, friends, and, getting that daily workout in. But on top of all of those daily activities, we sometimes neglect to refuel our bodies with the right nutrients to keep us going. So here’s an easy solution: a quick-and-easy breakfast that you can take anywhere (at anytime…we won’t hold you to breakfast). It can even be prepped over the weekend for the week ahead. Give it a whirl…and then let us know what you think!

muffin

Pumpkin Quinoa Muffins

What you’ll need -

  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ cup agave nectar or honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup canola or olive oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¾ cup pumpkin purée
  • ½ cup cooked quinoa

 

Now for the cooking -

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Mix together flours, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl combine brown sugar, agave nectar, egg, egg white, Greek yogurt, oil and vanilla, mix well. Stir in the pumpkin, add the dry ingredients and the quinoa; mix until combined.
  • Drop batter into a lined muffin tin filling the cups ⅔ full, and bake for 18 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.

 

* Transformation – Add in ½ cup fresh or frozen blueberries

* Muffins can be made in advance and stored in the freezer.

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Fresno Pace

Posted by on Sunday, April 27, 2014 @ 2:58 pm | Leave a reply

Don’t be fooled by the quiet reserve of Newton elite team member Fernando Cabada—he’s ready to race.

Stealth is one way you could describe elite Newton athlete Fernando Cabada. He is silent (when he’s not ribbing his teammates) and potentially deadly when running. Determined is another apt description. As is the comeback kid. But, no matter how you describe him, he is fast. And, he’s hoping his speed will place him in a top 3 position in the U.S. Olympic Trials for marathon in February, 2016.

Fernando IAAF

            Far fetched? No. Not given that he placed 7th with a time of 2:11.53 at the last Olympic Trials, which took place in Houston, Texas in January, 2012. On that same track, he recently ran a personal best half marathon time of 1:02:00. This was good enough for him to make the USA team for the World Half Marathon Championships, which took place in Copenhagen, Denmark in March. The US team placed 7th overall.

Fernando Team USA

These accolades come on top of a longer list, including the fact that he set the American 25-K record with a time of 1:14:21, and he has been a three-time US Champion.

But there is another motivator that is driving him to the trials in Los Angeles in 2016. Cabada grew up in Fresno, California. This is the place where he learned determination and where running, in a sense, saved his life. Nothing would be more satisfying than having a top 3 finish in front of the home crowd—nothing, except for wearing “USA” across his chest at the Olympics.

Fernando Cabada grew up in Fresno with a single mom and a dad who went in and out of prison. When he was in 3rd grade, his mom was awarded assistance from the Housing Choice Voucher Program Section 8, which meant that Fernando and his mom could move to a safe neighborhood that also had a better school. Cabada suddenly had access to physical education and sports.

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“I was in 3rd grade and I went out and ran a half mile. I was second in my class. I was kind of fast. In 4th grade, I could go out for cross-country. My dad was pretty hard on me with sports, so I steered away from baseball and basketball. Running was the thing I could choose myself.”

Running helped him to fit into a very affluent neighborhood and school system—think the Orange County of Fresno, where everyone drives a BMW.  Cabada’s mom was on welfare, which meant he had free lunch tickets. Rather than stand out by using the tickets, Cabada chose not to eat. He went for years without eating much at school. “I wouldn’t eat. I wouldn’t start eating until I was in my Junior year, when my uncle would give me a job on the weekends. Then, I had $5 a day to buy something at lunch. People could see money in my hand. I didn’t want to stand out so much.

“I was embarrassed, I didn’t have the style of clothes everyone had. I was defensive and reserved. I wasn’t like them, so if anything I was more segregated than ever until I was in high school on the cross-country team.”

At the nationally distinguished Buchanan High School, Cabada began to dream about running with the senior team. “I would daydream for hours of running with the varsity team, so people would say, ‘Who is that brown kid?’ But these were just dreams, I didn’t believe it would happen. It’s like saying you’re going to win a lottery.”

In his Junior year, Cabada won the lottery so to speak, when he became nationally ranked and number 1 on the team. In his senior year, he was Athlete of the Year, beating out all of the football players and other athletes at the school.  After graduating in 2000, he attended college, something no one in his family had done before. Next, he jumped into the pro running circuit. But without a team of college friends to run with, running suddenly wasn’t quite so enjoyable.

“In college, in senior year, you’re going to these races to try to make as much noise as you can to continue your dream and you’ll do anything to get it. But you forget, you have to keep working. It’s hard to get it, but it’s hard to keep it.” After hitting some of his best times ever, he incurred some injuries and a sponsorship deal he had with another company ended in 2010. Cabada hit a slump. He considered hanging up his running shoes and headed to the oil fields of North Dakota to try to make ends meet. But once he got there, he realized, “I can’t quit running, I’m too good.” And he is.

Newton took notice of Cabada in 2012 after his seventh place finish at the marathon Olympic Trials in Houston. A relationship was forged and now surrounded by a team once again, Cabada’s enthusiasm has increased as his times have dropped. Now, with Boulder, CO established as his home, the once reserved runner is finally comfortable in his own skin and is even known for his sense of humor and being vocal on the team. Although he admits, “I’m pretty honest and sometimes can be controversial.”

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But that edge is what has helped drive his running. He is the Newton Running elite team’s fastest member. His plan is to get faster over the course of the next 21 months. “I had to have an edge walking to elementary school, because you were going through a neighborhood where you might get into a fight. This has helped me in my racing and life itself. If a situation is going bad, I can always put things in perspective.” He adds, “For me in my world, I’ve already won in life. I didn’t follow in my father’s footsteps. Now it’s all bonus.” And hopefully, that bonus will payout on February 13, 2016.

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Run Hard. Pray Hard: Danielle Duhon & The Boston Marathon

Posted by on Sunday, April 20, 2014 @ 5:41 am | Leave a reply

 “Run fast. Pray hard.” That’s Danielle Duhon’s running motto. It’s what got her to the Boston marathon in 2011 and what is taking her there again this year. “Boston is like the average runner’s Olympics,” she says.  “Running Boston in 2011 was one of the greatest running experiences I’ll ever have. The crowd support and the privilege of having qualified and getting to run that course, is something I’ll never take for granted.” She adds, “It was such a blessing and an honor to be there, even if I never qualified again.”

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            The 43-year-old has qualified for Boston every year since, but traveling for a race can be expensive. Not to mention she works the night shift as a nurse and has three young daughters, the oldest of whom is disabled. But this year, is different. “I didn’t go back in 2012 or 2013. The reason I’m going back this year is because of the events of last year. I decided it was important for me to go back and show my support for the city after the events of last year.”

Aside from running alongside the more than 35,660 participants who also are running Boston this year, she’s headed to the race with her sister and seven of her girlfriends. All of who qualified. “It’s amazing we all qualified and got in. I think it will be really special and an honor to run for the people who can’t run this year. For those who lost their lives and to say ‘thank you’ to the city.”

But Duhon hopes this won’t be her last time running Boston. She has another goal in mind for which she will rely on her motto again, as well as the words of triathlete, Jessie Thomas, “Your best performance can come in spite of your biggest doubts. Always give your self a chance to succeed.” Duhon would like to run Boston again pushing her 14-year-old daughter in her new running chair. “My oldest daughter is handicapped and we just raised money to buy her a pushchair. My goal is to qualify for the push chair division. I am small and she weighs more than me, so it will likely take me more than a year to get there. I think she would be ecstatic. She just waves like she is in a pageant when I push her in races. It will be a tough road, but my goal is to give her that experience, however long it takes me to get there.”

Danielle-Chairdivision

As she looks toward her next goal, and even her ensuing race, Duhon credits Newton for her ability to still run at all. When she first began to marathon train, she would get injured every time she increased her mileage—stress fractures, IT band issues, Achilles tendinitis—you name it, she had it. In March of 2009, she ran her first marathon in New Orleans in a time of 4:07. “I was injured again afterward and went in search of a new shoe.” That’s then she was fitted in the Newton Distance. That summer, she began to increase her mileage and remained injury free. In December 2009, she ran her second marathon in a time of 3:41, giving her the qualifying time for Boston. “Nine months later and 26 minutes off my time. What? The only thing I changed were my shoes.”

Fast forward to today and she’s gone through about 12 pairs of the Distance U and is headed to Boston for the second time. For the next few days, she’ll tuck away her thoughts on running it a third time with her daughter and try to just savor the moment—a change from the first time she ran Boston. “Last time I ran Boston, I wanted to run my fastest time and I didn’t enjoy the race as much as I would have liked, because I was looking at my watch and trying to PR. I missed my PR by 3 seconds and I came home disappointed.” She adds, “This time I promised myself I wouldn’t run for the time, but would enjoy myself more and soak up every single moment of this race. Especially with everything that happened there last year, we owe it to that crowd to enjoy every single second.” Then, she’ll get back to running fast and praying hard to make her next goal happen.

 

 

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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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Nutrition tips for success

Posted by on Thursday, February 27, 2014 @ 2:53 pm | Leave a reply

An interview with trainer and nutritionist, Lindsay Christen

As January came and went, so too went many of our New Year’s Resolutions, sometimes it’s hard to make our lofty goals (I’m going to run faster, eat healthier, drink less coffee) a habit overnight. So let’s press the reset button. We caught up with trainer and certified nutritionist, Lindsay Christen, to talk about changing habits and the most common nutrition question she gets asked.

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QUESTION:  “What should I eat before or after a workout?”

Lindsay: Eating the right foods at the right time is essential to getting the most out of your workouts. For pre-workout you always need a little bit of something in your body and you’ll feel better if it’s 45-minutes to an hour before your workout. The general idea is that you’re filling up your energy stores. If your meals the day and week before have been healthy and balanced your glycogen, the storage form of energy in your body, should be good. Those taps should be full, so you’re just topping-off the tank when you have a pre-workout snack—it doesn’t need to be large.

Right before a workout, a little bit of something like banana and almond butter, or non-fat Greek yogurt, or a couple of eggs are perfect, something small but enough to give the glycogen stores a boost.

The dinner the night before an event or big workout should be lots of lean protein, chicken or fish—vegetarians can eat beans, lentils, tofu—and lots of veggies and complex carbs (starchy veggies, whole grains, like rice, quinoa). That combination should give your body what it needs for the next day. For an endurance athlete, depending on what they’re training for, 45-65% of total calories should be from carbohydrates. It’s a big window and it’s on the higher end, but they need it for the workouts, otherwise you feel like you’re on an empty tank all the time.

What’s really important is the post workout snack. The right combination of nutrients and timing can optimize your lean muscle building while minimizing breakdown (soreness and fatigue). But you only have a window of 30 minutes after exercise when the body is most efficiently absorbing much needed nutrients.  If you miss the window, your body will try to replenish on its own by depleting your fat and energy stores.

Newton: What’s a good post-workout snack? Is there anything to chocolate milk?

Lindsay: Chocolate milk is not terrible. It’s a good source as long as it’s the good kind and not filled with high fructose corn syrup. A protein smoothie is good. You’re looking for a 2-1 or 3-1 carb to protein ratio in grams. This equates to 1-1.5g of carbohydrate for every kg of your body weight and 0.5g or protein/kg of body weight. This could be a bar that you throw in your gym bag for the way home, peanut butter and apple or a peanut butter banana sandwich really works well, or fresh fruit, Greek yogurt, and a scoop of protein powder.

Now, if you just finished an Ironman, or marathon, you can eat whatever you want. You’re going to be depleted no matter what. You need to get nutrients in as soon as possible after the race, and then continually. Usually liquids work well, you want electrolytes, and then carbs and proteins.

Lindsay’s Caveat: No matter what you do, start early. Incorporate these changes into your routine months and months beforehand. It’s not going to work for you if you start on race day. Eating well has to be a habit. You need to build your body into the machine you want it to be in race season. You also don’t want to add everything in at the same time. It’s February, so this is the perfect time to add things in if you have a race in June, July or August.  It’s about developing the right habits to weave into your lifestyle. It shouldn’t just be, “It’s race season, so I am going to stop eating hamburgers.” Our bodies are machines and the more quality fuel you can give it now, the more efficient it will be in performance when you need it.

Lindsay Christen, is a certified personal trainer (CPT) and certified nutritionist (CNS). She holds a Masters of Science in nutrition. You can find her at Boulder’s Colorado Athletic Club or email her at: lindsaychristen@gmail.com.

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A Runner’s Guide to New Year’s Resolutions

Posted by on Tuesday, December 31, 2013 @ 2:53 pm | Leave a reply

new-year

1. Know that most New Year’s resolutions fail. So go easy on yourself. The best way to succeed is to choose some small goals to achieve throughout the year.

2. Make your goal concrete, not something nebulous like I’d like to improve my time this year or get better at running. Be specific. If you want to improve your time, then set a specific goal of exactly how fast you want to run. Or how many seconds or minutes you want to drop off your time. 3. Pick a race. The easiest way to succeed at following through on a running goal is to set a goal. Choose an event. But make sure it’s far enough out to give yourself time to adequately train for it.

4. Lacking motivation to race? Mix it up. Change your distance or location. Race a 10K instead of a half marathon. How about racing in New York City if you’re a small town runner, or at sea level if you’re a mountain runner. Or go international and visit somewhere you’ve always wanted to go.

5. Need an even bigger challenge? Take on the World Marathon Majors: Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, and New York City. Of course, this may cover a few years of New Year’s goals if you’re not (like many of us) racing full time.

6. Okay, maybe running isn’t the problem. If you tend to just run, run, run, then commit this year to mixing it up more by adding weight training, swimming, cycling or even yoga to your routine. You’ll likely see improvements in your running by trading out a running workout for another form of fitness. As for the yoga, it will help keep your muscles flexible as you age, which is critical for staying off injury.

7. Hydrate. Yup. This should be a no brainer. We know that coffee is tempting, but it’s probably safe to say that most of us could benefit from drinking more water. Your body will thank you. The old rule of eight glasses a day is still a good starting point.

8. Eat more chocolate. Life can’t be all work and running. Okay, after you hydrate, a little piece of dark chocolate a day is actually good for you. Studies have shown that it’s good for your heart, brain, circulation, and full of antioxidants, which help battle free radicals, aging and even disease.

9. Sleep more. Why not try to get to bed before 10pm more often. Sleep is critical for your body to rejuvenate. In fact, recent studies have actually shown that during our sleep the neural system actually “scrubs” the brain and removes toxins while we sleep. Sleep is also critical to retaining information. Basically, we feel better and our brains work better with sleep.

10. Smile more when you run. Sometimes it’s hard to tell by the grimaces on our faces that we actually like to run. Many of us even love to run. Show it and let your smile be contagious to others. Maybe it will encourage them to start running, too.

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Winter Gear: Extras that make a difference

Posted by on Thursday, December 19, 2013 @ 4:33 pm | Leave a reply

It’s true. All you really need to run is a pair of shoes. For that reason, it’s hard not to like the simplicity of the sport. But in reality, it is nicer to run in running apparel than say jeans. And as the temps dip in the winter, there are some items, thermal tights for instance, that can make your run that much more enjoyable. We’ve put together this package of winter-friendly products for those runners who are willing to venture out when sitting by a fire with hot chocolate is oh so tempting. Receive 20% off on each item. Free 2-day shipping is available with a purchase of $118.99 or more.

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Terra Momentum, $149

Slip these shoes on if you’re heading off-road into the winter wonderland or if you need a little extra traction on urban paths. The Momentum offers highly responsive cushioning on a lightweight platform.

Firewall 180 Jacket, $140

You can brave the elements in the Firewall. This lightweight, front-zip jacket is made with a thermal knit laminate for wind and rain protection. Lycra cuffs keep wind and rain out, while one back-zip pocket and two front hand pockets will hold your phone or keys tight.

Mid Zero Tight, $70

This form-fitting tight is made with thermal fleece to keep you warm and cozy no matter wear your feet take you.

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