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Bachelorettes Gone Wild

Posted by on Tuesday, September 30, 2014 @ 8:56 am | Leave a reply

Part Three

 

What was the best and worst part of running the Grand Canyon?

Kara - The best part was running down the canyon at 4am into complete darkness with a bunch of crazy awesome chicks. There was just this epic sense of adventure and an incredible feeling of excitement. And nothing hurt yet which was a plus. The worst part was the complete loss of skin on the top of both feet. After running in the rain for 7 hours it seems that my skin gave up and abandoned ship. It looks like my feet have been boiled. Seriously…I can’t put shoes on.

Cody – I don’t know if I could pin point that. The day was a total adventure from start to finish, the scenery was epic, the terrain was incredibly challenging, both mentally and physically. I guess the best part is the memories that we have from the entire day. It was truly the adventure of a lifetime.

Sabina – To be honest the day was full of epic highs and major lows for me. The worst part for me was from mile 31-38 lets just say I was in pretty bad shape…soaking wet, in pain, and with 6 hours to go. The best part… well there are so many moments that come to mind but what really made it all worth it was at mile 45 the sky’s cleared and this amazing rainbow shot out from the middle of the Grand Canyon, it was a good friend saying hello. 

Would you do it again?

Kara – Maybe. It was an incredible experience but I’m ready for something new! What’s the next grand adventure going to be??

Cody – You know, I think running the Grand Canyon should be a bucket list run, that said… I checked it off my list and have no plans of going back

Sabina – I think that question is tricky.  If you asked me at mile 40 I would say NEVER AGAIN! But looking back on it now Never say Never. 

Any Advice for someone wanting to run R2R2R?

Kara – Be prepared for changes in weather. We were very happy that we packed rain gear and an extra base layer when 7 hours of thunderstorms rolled in.

Don’t forget to eat! The easiest way to bonk is by forgetting to eat. Even if you don’t feel hungry, keep that food coming. We each packed a variety of snacks from pizza rolls to Fig Newtons, GUs and everything in between. You never know what you’ll end up craving so the more options the better!

Remember, it always gets better. No matter how terrible you’re feeling, things will turn around and you’ll be laughing at the meltdown you’re having in no time.

Lastly, don’t forget to enjoy the views, laugh and have fun. This is supposed to be fun, even if it may not feel like it all the time. If you’re not enjoying it, then why even bother!

Cody – Definitely plan out the route you’re taking. The Grand Canyon is a total beast and if you get down there unprepared you still have to somehow make it back out. Plan on having extreme low points and extreme high points – if you’re expecting that roller coaster of emotions, it’s much easier to deal with. Lastly, know where the water stops are and plan to bring a variety of things to eat so you don’t get flavor fatigue. Oh and definitely bring a poncho. 

Sabina – YES! Knowing what I know now I would have done a lot of things a little different. 1) Don’t underestimate the Grand Canyon and mother nature, ITS A BEAST!  2) Train on the steepest mountain you can find, hike up it and run down over and over! 3) Enjoy every moment of it even if you are miserable because its EPIC! Good Luck :)

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At the top of the South rim the day before running rim to rim to rim. We were shocked and a little terrified at how massive the Grand Canyon really is.

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3am start at the South rim of the Grand Canyon.

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Ready to get rolling on our all day mission of running from the South rim of the Grand Canyon to the North rim… and then back to the South rim. A long day to say the least.

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Hiking up the North rim. A brutal climb that puts you at 8,200 feet.

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Finally a break from running up hill! We made up a lot of time running back down the North rim.

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We quickly realized that around every corner was the perfect photo op, but we had to limit ourselves in order to finish before dark.

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The last 7 hours were mainly spent in the rain. We had to accept it and move on with the fact that our ponchos were our new best friend.

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Words cannot describe how happy we were in this moment to reach the top of the South rim again.

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Kristen Arendt

Posted by on Thursday, September 25, 2014 @ 10:35 am | Leave a reply

Behind the friendly voice of this Newton product support team member are some fast feet.

Newton race for the cure 1 (2)

If you’ve called Newton Running’s customer service line lately, you might have been greeted by the cheery voice of Kristen Arendt, a member of Newton’s product support team. Or if you’ve watched Newton’s customer corner videos, you might have seen her smiling face. Not only does she know Newton product, but as a member of the Newton Elite team, she knows a thing or two about running.

Arendt grew up in the small town of Bailey, Colorado, which sits about 30 miles southwest of Denver at 7,756 feet in elevation with a population just under 9,000. Here, in the mountains, running came easily for her. Prompted by her mom, a runner, Arendt began running in sixth grade. But it wasn’t until she really started racing that she fell in love with the sport.

If enjoyment shows in accolades, then it was obvious that she liked what she was doing. By high school, she was racking up the accomplishments by winning seven individual 3A state titles and qualifying for Foot Locker Nationals.  She then went on to run track and cross-country at Adams State College in Alamosa, another small town in southern Colorado. There, she was an 11-time All-American and the 2012 Outdoor Track National Champion in the 5,000-meter event.

Training pic

But it wasn’t always smooth sailing. Buoyed by her successes in high school, she did what many young runners do. Straight out of high school, Arendt found herself running on scholarship for a Division I university in Texas. “Running was very much a business at the school. I wasn’t interested in that kind of pressure for my running.” Injured within her first three months, she lasted three semesters before packing her bags for home.

“It’s sad,” she says, “how many girls have that same story coming out of college. The year that I graduated from high school, there were a bunch of us that were talented and went away to run on scholarships. How many of them run now is slim. Running should be a lifestyle – something you can enjoy for the rest of your life.”

Arendt took a semester off to evaluate her priorities and understand what she really wanted from running. “We get caught up in PR-ing and winning this race for a state or national championships. But it can’t be all about that, it has to be for something bigger than that.”

As she was making the transition between colleges, she emailed Melody Fairchild. She had never met Fairchild, but Fairchild, also a Colorado native, had her own list of record setting and was in the process of getting back in the sport. “I felt my experience paralleled hers a bit and I asked for some advice. She was great enough to respond.”

Lug Shot

After graduating from Adams State, Arendt had hoped to keep running professionally, but not full time. She tried coaching and got involved with various race organizations. She worked at a shoe store in Longmont, and all the while, she kept her eye on Newton.  She began to apply for jobs at the company and eventually found the perfect fit.

Now, at age 25, she is both working for Newton and running on the Newton Elite team alongside fellow team member, Melody Fairchild. “For a little while it was unreal. I would have to pinch myself on runs and say ‘wow this is my teammate!’ But it’s great to have her as a resource.” Noting that both Fairchild and Bob Weiner are Masters runners, and team members such as Kara Henry and Brenda Carawan are hooked on ultra distances, she says she is referred to as the “baby” on the elite team, both for her age and her focus on the 5K and 10K distances. “I haven’t graduated to the longer distances.” And she’s not quite ready to yet.

Team pic Peachtree

“For me, right now, I just want to run as fast as I can.” Although she can see herself doing the marathon in the next few years, she has other short-term goals in sight, “I would love to make the US Olympic trials on the track.” With a 5K PR on the track of 16:11 and 33:52 in the 10K, she admits, “I will have to up my game and have a breakthrough.” But with her Newton Elite team to back her up and her favorite pair of Distance Elites to put in the miles, she is not counting out the possibility.

Even with this big goal in mind, Arendt still likes to keep everything in perspective. Noting the balance she sought when she changed schools, she says, “While running is one thing, for me, the balance of having a full-time job with running is awesome. At Newton, we’re more than just a running shoe company and Newton Elite is about more than just yourself.” Of her day-to-day work she adds with a smile, “I get to talk to runners all day. There are much worse jobs out there. For the most part, runners are really happy people. As long as they have their shoes, they’re good to go.”

 

 

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Bachelorettes Gone Wild

Posted by on Monday, September 22, 2014 @ 10:39 am | Leave a reply

Part Two

R2R2R_2

Sabina, Kara, Cody from nearest to farthest

Question: How did this not so average bachelorette party come about?

Kara: This is 100% Cody’s idea. Don’t let her blame it on me. She came up with the idea and we all kind of ignored it at first…but she’s not someone who likes to be ignored. After hearing about it for a while, she told us one day that she found a great price on flights so we all caved and booked right then.

Cody: One morning a couple months back I nonchalantly said, “we should run the Grand Canyon.” Working at Newton, it’s easy to talk almost everyone into something crazy, so both Sabina and Kara were like “YES!” and then we booked a flight later that night.

Sabina: It was Cody’s idea… AND I am easily convinced when it comes to any adventure! We were all sitting at our desk one day and she came up with this crazy idea and within the next 10 minutes our tickets were booked! The best part about all of this is on our very first training run she looks back at us and says “I don’t really like trails or lots of climbing….”

*Apparently we remember past events a little differently….

Question: Do you have any concerns about this trip?

Kara: Serious concerns? No. My concerns are more along the lines of: ‘will we be functional enough the next day for brunch and mimosas?’ and ‘how many times will Cody and Sabina use hashtag language instead of real words before I snap at them?’

Cody: My main concern would be that I really prefer running on flat terrain, that is paved. Kara and Sabina have both told me that I need to get over that…quickly.

Sabina: Yes! Cody and I will start singing lyrics to Spice Girls, and Kara will push both of us off a cliff! Oh and the fact we may run out of Tostito Peperoni pizza rolls within the first 10 miles… These are all real concerns of mine.

If you missed the intro to Bachelorettes Gone Wild…check it out here!

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Bachelorettes Gone Wild

Posted by on Monday, September 15, 2014 @ 4:57 pm | Leave a reply

It is going to be like any other Bachelorette party. A girl’s trip to Las Vegas the Grand Canyon for wild partying 46 miles of running, fueled by mojitos and sushi salt pills and packets of gel, ending at 2 am starting at 2 am.

R2R2R

Cody and Sabina are not your average bridesmaids, Kara Henry is not your average bride, and this is not your typical Bachelorette party. The plan is to run from Rim to Rim to Rim- 46 miles in one day. Their Newton Fates have months of training miles on them after a summer of pounding dirt. Their longest training run is 30 miles, leaving 18 miles of unchartered territory, and the potential for a lifetime of stories and memories. When asked what their back up plan is, Cody responded “Back up plan? Why would we need that?” Their strategy is to finish by any means necessary. For the remainder of September, we will be chronicling their journey to the Canyon, and the journey across it (and then across it again…and then again). Stay tuned!

Check out Part 2 of Bachelorettes Gone Wild

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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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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.

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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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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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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

Join Team Winter or make a Donation!

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Masters of Mileage

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

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

Pre-race Dinner The Night Before Leadville

Pre-race Dinner The Night Before Leadville

Newton: Describe your experience at the Leadville 100?

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

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

kara

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

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

gartside

What was your highest high?

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

Kara nearing the top of Hope Pass

Kara nearing the top of Hope Pass

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

Stephen running down Hope Pass

Stephen running down Hope Pass

What was your lowest low?

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

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

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

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

karafinishline

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

gartside finish3

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

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

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

post race

What about now, two weeks later?

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

Kara Henry with her pacing team

Kara Henry with her pacing team

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

 

 

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Lucky Number Three With Chris McDonald

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

NAME: Chris McDonald

AGE: 35

HOMETOWN:  Austin, Texas

NEWTON SHOE YOU WEAR WHEN RACING: MV3 or Olympic racer

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

Chris IM Lou

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

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

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

Chris IM Lou 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chris IM Lou1

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