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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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Larger than Life!

Posted by on Monday, January 27, 2014 @ 10:58 am | Leave a reply

Sculptor Bob Zasadny makes a unique pair of Newtons

 

If you find yourself driving in western Kentucky any time soon, specifically in Madisonville, take a moment to drive by, or even run around the Baptist Health Madisonville Trover Wellness Park, which sits next to the Baptist Health Madisonville hospital campus. Here, you’ll find something that looks strangely familiar: a pair of Distance Newton running shoes. But these just aren’t any pair of Distance shoes, this pair is four-feet long, roughly 20 inches high at the back and heel and about 20 inches wide—roughly four-times the average sized shoe.

The hospital commissioned Indianna artist, Bob Zasadny, to create the giant shoe sculpture as a tribute for outgoing CEO, Berton Whitaker.  Whitaker, is a runner, who actually runs in the Newton Distance. He also was responsible, amongst other things, for the creation of the Baptist Health Madisonville Trover Wellness Park, which has 10 different fitness stations and a half-mile walking or running trail. So, the real idea here, says Zasadny, is that Whitaker is leaving big shoes to fill.

shoe6 IMG_7536

 

 

 

 

The other surprising thing about these shoes is that they only weigh about 20 pounds each. Zasadny constructed them out of rigid polyurethane foam coated in fiberglass.  Zasadny worked at a fiberglass company in his early 20s and was always fascinated with the medium. Now, 50 years later he says, at the age of 75, he’s still working with fiberglass. “It’s an alternative material, but not a widely used thing because it’s a unique product. It’s not a pleasant material to work with and you have to be a bit technical to work with it.” But he says, “It was a perfect media for me because I could manipulate it because of my industrial experience with it. I knew how to fabricate it and I could find artistic ways to use it.”

Shoes 1 shoe5

Typically, Zasadny likes to sculpt the forms we see in nature—sand dunes, leaf patterns, flower petals, things that are more organic. “I’ve tried to incorporate more natural things into my art. It resonates with people, they have to reach out and touch it and run their hands over it. It’s a tactile thing that you want to feel and start touching art with your hands.” But when the opportunity to create the Newtons came his way, he jumped on it. He hadn’t heard of Newton shoes prior to the project, but quickly found a pair to check out. “It was like walking on my socks and a piece of foam, such an airy feeling.” The colors weren’t lost on Zasadny either. He kept the shoes bright, but instead incorporated the four colors that matched the hospital logo.

shoe 2shoe4

 

 

 

 

So what does it take to complete a project like this? Zasadny says when all was said and done, including making the tabletops the shoes are mounted on, it took him “easily 400 hours. For 6 weeks, I worked 60-70 hour weeks. We were making something that had never been made before.” And with that much time invested, you would think he might be worried about the longevity of the sculpture. But, the ultimate beauty of working with the foam and fiberglass materials is that if the sculpture gets a ding in it or is damaged in any way, Zasadny says, “I can go down there and take some material, grind it up and make the damaged area totally like brand new. It’s not as tragic for that to be vandalized as it would be for someone else’s materials.” Long live Newtons!

For more information on Bob Zasadny’s art - http://www.bobzabstractsculpture.com/

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Form, Function & Education

Posted by on Monday, January 13, 2014 @ 8:34 am | Leave a reply

The Treadmill’s owner, Chris Cleary, was selling Newtons long before he was selling Newtons.

 

When Chris Cleary moved with his wife, Janice, from Toronto, Canada to Carmel, California to be near his sister and her husband, he was very active in the running and triathlon world, but working in construction. Still, motivating and inspiring others was just something he liked to do, almost like a hobby. “I was running and doing triathlon and leading an active lifestyle. In construction, my goal was always to get the guys who weren’t health conscious to think about it.” And then, the Treadmill running store came up for sale and his life changed.

“One of my coworkers said, ‘I saw The Treadmill is for sale. Then my sister called a couple of days later and said, ‘I saw The Treadmill is for sale.’” The seed was planted. The owners were retiring after 29 years in the business. Cleary and his wife had just had their first child (they now have two), and he debated, “Should I do something crazy, or do something smart?” He and his wife decided to go for it, they bought the store in April 2012, and they’ve never looked back.

One of the first decisions Cleary made as the new owner of The Treadmill was to bring Newton running shoes into the store. “I was a Newton customer long before we bought the store,” he explains. Several years prior, Cleary and his wife had postponed their honeymoon until after they ran the Big Sur Marathon, whose course runs 200 yards from the Treadmill’s front door. Cleary had been running a lot of ultra races and he ran the Big Sur race in another popular shoe. “I was in so much pain when I finished, I couldn’t walk for days. It ruined our honeymoon, because neither of us could walk.” As Cleary got more into racing, he started to read more about form and stumbled upon Newton.

TreadmillPhoto

“I started reading about Newton and then I looked up the local store that sold them, and started running in them. I was 2-3 weeks in when I had that ‘Aha’ moment that I should have been running like this forever. That’s how you create a cult following, people have that ‘Aha’ moment.” As a result of his enthusiasm for Newtons, Cleary adds, “I was selling Newtons, long before I was selling Newtons.”

When Cleary bought the store, Newton’s weren’t in the store. Cleary jumped on bringing them in because the “local” store where he had been buying them was actually an hour-and-a-half drive up north. But selling them, he admits, was a bit of a difficult transition at first. “We have an older demographic—a lot of walkers. We only have a few runners on our staff. We have a lot of people who do adventure travel. We had to do a lot of teaching as to how this shoe makes a difference in your running.” But the education process is partly what attracted Cleary to Newton shoes in the first place. And the concept of teaching form, helping people understand how they are moving and offering tips to make the running experience more enjoyable for his customers is key to Cleary’s overall business plan. “We have to stand out. We want people to like us and support us and think there is nowhere else to go because we know exactly what is going on.”

The education focus is working for him. “We went from selling five pairs a month, to 35 to more than 50 pairs a month.” This past year, the store started a tri-club as well. Cleary himself, is now a Level 1 Newton Natural Running Instructor.

Realizing the road to success is going to be bumpy, Cleary’s vision is clear, “I want to create a store that I would want to go to.” And although everyone on his staff saw Newton as Cleary’s shoe, he says it’s not his efforts alone that have made the shoe a success in the store. “Newton has been 100-percent supportive. They have come and done clinics for us. Ian Adamson spoke on our behalf. They stand behind us with the 30-day guarantee. It’s nice to have a company that is really aware of where they’re at in the industry and doing the best for everyone trying to sell the shoe.”

 

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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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On The Podium

Posted by on Sunday, December 15, 2013 @ 6:02 pm | Leave a reply

Podium Seeker

If you spend time reading about our athletes on the Newton Running Elite site, you’ll see that we like to be on the podium. There’s Melody Fairchild, who turned 40 this fall and subsequently took first place in the women’s category at the USA Masters 5K, the 15K Masters National Championship, and the half marathon national championships. Not bad. Newton marketing manager, Kara Henry, prefers the longer distances, taking first at the Bear Chase 50 Mile, Collegiate Peaks 25 Mile, and North Fork 50 Mile races earlier this year (eating chocolate and bacon en route to help her win, of course). Jeremy Freed won the Bolder Boulder Citizen’s race for the second time this year, no small feat, considering a mere 50,000+ runners sign up for this event. And we could keep going, but you get the point.

It’s not so much the podium that we’re after—it’s simply that we love to run. And we like to run fast. We like to run with goals, and to push ourselves to do our best. Sure, it feels great to cross the finish line first, to feel the ribbon at your waist, even second and third can feel good, as you stand on the podium at the end of the race. And the ribbons and medals can be a little addicting. But really, it’s a good day when we run, and in fact, not many days go by that we don’t run. We’re kind of grumpy when we don’t run.

If you’re reading this and nodding your head, you know what we mean. Whether it’s for you or someone you love, we’ve created this package for the podium seeker with up to 30% off each item. With a purchase of $118.99 or more, we’ll even throw in free 2-day shipping in case you’re too busy training to shop!

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Distance, $155 (men’s or women’s)

Fast is your game, and you’ll be fast in this lightweight neutral performance trainer, which was originally designed for the elite racing team. A go-to shoe for high or low distance training and racing.

Women’s Short Sleeve Jackie/Men’s Short Sleeve Pace $35

Lightweight, quick drying with a streamlined fit, this shirt will quickly become a workout favorite. And we think you’ll love the blue, too.

Women’s Jackie Run Short/Men’s Titan Run Short $35

This loose fit short has a featherweight liner and inner key pocket. What more do you need?

Neon low-cut socks, $10

Just in case you sometimes take your running a little too seriously, we’ve added these socks to bring a little levity to your life and your toes.

 

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Red Coyote Running and Fitness

Posted by on Monday, November 4, 2013 @ 9:25 am | Leave a reply

If you’re headed to Oklahoma City be sure to check out this running hot spot.

Burke and Jon Newton - Red Coyote

Jon and Burke Beck have both been running since high school. They ran Division 3 in college and worked in running stores after they graduated—Burke, near Washington, DC and Jon, in Rochester, New York. The two met, in San Diego, where Jon relocated to work for a larger running company and Burke had moved to work at another running store. From San Diego, they moved to Portland, where they continued to work in the industry. Together, the young couple talked about someday owning their own running store. Maybe when they retired. They didn’t imagine it would happen now, let alone in Burke’s hometown of Oklahoma City.

“Burke always said she would never move back after she left for college,” says Jon. But when the couple headed back for a quick weekend trip to see family, they visited a local running store and were disappointed in the quality of service and running expertise. The seed was planted. “Burke’s dad said ‘it’s a great time to open a business in Oklahoma City,’” explains Jon, and the seed was watered.

But it was true. A lot of companies, were moving headquarters to Oklahoma City and there was a new demographic of young professionals in the city.  By the end of their weekend visit, the couple had checked out the local competition, picked out possible store locations and said, “Let’s do it.” Soon after, they lined up funding. In August of 2009, they moved back to Oklahoma. In March of 2010, they opened their store, Red Coyote Running and Fitness (named after their dog “Pancho,” who happens to look like a red coyote).

Seeking innovative products that matched their focus on quality, Red Coyote became the first to offer Newton in Oklahoma City, a feat they’re proud of. “I was running at the lake and I saw 15 people running, five were wearing Newton shoes. It makes me smile because we opened Newton here, and we’re the ones who sell it,” says Burke. But the couple credits Newton for laying the groundwork. “When we had our grand opening, Newton was the only brand that came out for it, which showed us their commitment. Timmy came and he took customers out for runs in the shoes.” She adds, “When we opened, people hadn’t heard about them. But we’ve had staff on board from the beginning and bringing them out to customers. They’re not just for elite runners. You can bring them out for anyone.

“I think word of mouth helped us grow the brand. People have such a different experience in Newton, they really love it and they tell their friends, ‘you’ve got to try these shoes.’ It’s been an easy sell for us.”

The “easy” part is matched by the effort and passion the Becks bring to their store and the running community. It’s been a busy three years. Aside from opening the store in March 2010, they were married in May of 2010 and had a son in March of 2013. At the end of March, they moved into an expanded new location. Looking back on the whirlwind of the past three years, Jon says, “Oklahoma was very under-served or untapped. There were a lot of people running. We have one of the biggest marathons in April every year, but there weren’t a lot of events and groups or opportunities to get together to have a fun run.” Furthermore, no one was doing learn to run or training groups.

Jon and Burke began to sponsor events as well as host training groups at the store. “We started the newbie program and that has just taken over. First, it was 50 people twice a year, now it’s over 200 and it’s a 10-week program. It’s booming. All of our groups are growing and we’re seeing other training groups and social groups spawning from that.” Their Pack Pint Runs—a run followed by beer—every Thursday night are also popular.

Burke adds, “Oklahoma doesn’t have a very developed elite running community, but there are a lot of new runners and people just getting into the sport and the community is really organizing. I would attribute it to that younger professional group looking for something to do. And now, we’re getting family and kids, too.”

The store’s fast-growing popularity has not gone unnoticed. Outside magazine wrote about the Thursday night run and Competitor magazine named the Red Coyote one of The Best 50 Stores in the US (an honor considering the magazine rigorously evaluates 1,000 running stores). It also was nominated by Competitor with three other stores for Best Running Store of the Year, and was the youngest store ever to be nominated for this accolade.

Of the community support, Jon says, “We have been surprised by how much the community has come out to support us in only 3 years. The community rallied around us and what we’ve done to support them and they have come to support us.” Burke adds, “There was a niche to fill, but Oklahoma has a friendly group [in the running business], and from what we can tell, everyone is up. The growth that we have helped in the community has helped them as well.” Run on Oklahoma!

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Meet The Dogs Of Newton – Week 16 Hello Ollie

Posted by on Wednesday, October 23, 2013 @ 11:59 am | Leave a reply

Dogs of NewtonI’m a dog’s dog. You know, a ball-chasing, pretty-boy, shoe-chewer who craves constant attention. Yep, that’s me.

My name : Ollie Foppa Dunn. Don’t start with the middle name. The dork that named me had some unhealthy obsession with a former Colorado Avalanche star and wanted to live out his failed hockey dreams through me. Doesn’t he know dogs can’t skate? I am one world-class belly-sliding snow dog, however. Give me a hilly Boulder snow run and I’ll out-glissade any Newton clad biped. I’m fast (downhill at least).

While I’m honored to be featured here, truth is I almost never get invited to the Newton offices. Seems my fancy-pants dad thinks monitoring my trash can obsession all day may disrupt his productivity. I call that an inflated sense of self-importance. It’s a good thing he’s in the shoe business. Where’s that bright-orange one? Woof.

 

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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!

Sig

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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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