Author Archives: carlstones

New Balance Zante Review

by Austin “The Bus” Bussing

There certainly is a whole bunch of hype surrounding the New Balance Zante. It took home Competitor Magazine’s 2015 Road Shoe of the Year, and it seems like you can’t flip through any fitness-oriented magazine without being assaulted by full page ads for the Zante and/or it’s stockier Fresh Foam cousin, the Boracay. Is the hype well-deserved? Once the catchy ad campaigns have run their course and the limelight has dimmed, what are we left with?

The answer, unequivocally, is a darn good shoe. It’s fast, comfortable, smooth, sleek, and sexy. How’s that for effusive hype? Before I lay it on too thick, let’s cut through some of the purple prose and talk about the specifics of the shoe.

Similar to the adidas Boston Boost, the beauty of this shoe is in its versatility. With an aggressive toe spring, a sock-like upper, and a generous slab of Fresh Foam cushioning underfoot, the Zante is built for speed AND comfort. It has a smooth, consistent feel from the initial footstrike through the toe-off, thanks to the one-piece midsole and its geometrically-inspired design (more on this later).  These features, combined with the shoe’s 6 millimeter drop (heel-to-toe differential) place the Zante within the “natural running” footwear paradigm, making it a good option for the runner who is looking to go a bit more minimal without taking the plunge straight into Vibram Five-Finger territory.

The Zante’s upper is arguably its most divisive quality. Some runners will revel in the sock-like upper, while others will bemoan the lack of support provided by the seamless, stretchy toe-box. It would seem that the New Balance designers, in their attempt to achieve a sock-like feel, completely eliminated anything that might make the upper “shoe-like.” While the midfoot portion of the upper hugs your arch (perhaps too tightly for runners with wider feet) the toe-box really opens up. This design feature is in line with the fashionable school of thought dictating ample room for toe-splay upon impact with the ground, but it may leave some runners wishing for a bit more support.

One slightly geeky factor that contributes to the Zante’s notably smooth ride is its aforementioned geometrically-inspired design- primarily the use of the hexagonal shape and concave/convex support structure throughout the midsole. The portion of the midsole that runs beneath your foot’s inside arch and back through the heel is comprised of convex hexagons, which provide subtle support and, dare I say, stability, for the impact portion of your gait phase. The entire lateral side of the midsole, as well as the forefoot portion of the medial side, is comprised of concave hexagons, which compress a bit under pressure, and thus provide a soft transition through the toe-off phase.

The Zante’s aggressive toe-spring, and the fact that it is quite light (6.5 ounces for women, 7.5 ounces for men), make it a great shoe for uptempo running. While some runners may find it a little soft for a true racing flat, most would probably agree that it is light and responsive enough for a tempo/longer threshold workout shoe. The shoe is also endowed with just enough Fresh Foam cushioning to make it serviceable as an everyday trainer for the runner who prefers a lighter training shoe (think Saucony Kinvara, Brooks Launch 2, etc.). For New Balance, the shoe fills a void between the Fresh Foam 980 (or newly-updated Boracay) and the 1400, with the cushioning and minimal drop of the 980/Boracay (Boracay is a 4 millimeter drop, Zante is a 6 millimeter drop) in combination with the lightweight and responsive nature of the 1400. Retailing at $100, the Zante is also very reasonably priced, considering the quality of the product.

In short, the New Balance Fresh Foam Zante is a lightweight training/road racing shoe with comfortable cushioning, a smooth and responsive ride, and a sock-like upper. Runners with a wider foot, or who prefer a more supportive upper, may be advised to look elsewhere, as the shoe does run a bit narrow through the midfoot, and the upper leaves some support to be desired in the forefoot. Paradoxically, the things that make this shoe wrong for some runners are the same attributes that make it so very right for others. The tight-fitting midfoot does a good job of locking in the arch, and also helps to accentuate the arch support underfoot, while the stretchy upper in the toe box allows substantial room for toe-splay. The Zante is not necessarily built for every foot out there, but I think it can be a good fit for many runners. It’s certainly worth coming to try the shoe on at Rogue Running!

New Balance Fresh Foam Zante Specs:

Weight: 6.5 ounces (Women); 7.5 ounces (Men)

Drop: 6 mm

Price: $100

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More Bullshit

by Austin Bussing

I’m sitting on the end of a massage table, legs dangling over the edge, head down, intentionally slumped in horrible posture. I dorsiflex my foot and ankle on one leg, trying to bring my toes close to my shin. From here, I kick my leg up, straightening it out and locking my knee. This extension causes a tightness and slight pain in my hamstring, and then the discomfort is immediately dispelled as I lift my head and look straight ahead. I repeat this strange series of movements 20 times before switching to the other leg. “Kicking your head off” is the tongue-in-cheek name for this exercise in the physical therapy community. Other aliases include “nerve glides” and “nerve flossing.” Truth be told, I rarely floss my teeth (although I consistently feel the need to lie to my dentist about this), and here I am, “flossing” my nerves in both hamstrings through this bizarre and tedious routine- twice a day, every day.

This exercise is followed by a number of others, each as mind-numbingly monotonous as the last. These tasks all demand intense focus and attention, as they are designed to isolate and activate typically dormant or under-utilized muscles, thereby slowly correcting detrimental muscle imbalances. My particular imbalance is between my glutes and hamstrings- basically, my butt doesn’t do nearly the amount of work it should while I’m running, and my poor hamstrings are left to pick up the slack. Over the course of tens of thousands of miles, this imbalance can (and certainly has) put quite a beating on my hamstrings – especially when I try to run fast. Since running fast is pretty essential to what I’m trying to do with my life (read: run fast), it’s pertinent that I get this little problem under control.

In addition to observing these strange rituals daily, I can be found doing a number of other small tasks throughout each week, including repeatedly rolling my legs on a foam cylinder, running 150 meter sprints on the Austin High Track, and balancing, one-legged, on a poorly inflated rubber oval while throwing a small medicine ball back and forth to a teammate. In isolation, each of these activities seems not only slightly absurd, but also pretty far removed from my ultimate goal – to run a fast 3000-meter steeplechase. However, considered holistically, these individual tasks are part of a larger process, through which my goals become achievable. Compared to the time I spend actually racing the steeplechase, or doing steeplechase-specific workouts, I spend an astronomical amount of time on these (seemingly) tangentially related tasks. It’s not that glamorous, and it’s certainly not that “cool.”

What does it look like to be a good runner? Does it look like a Gatorade commercial, complete with inspiring music and shots of ripped, good-looking athletes doing a series of explosive and impressive exercises, and then just standing there sweating colorful sweat and looking determined? Well, that’s some of it. But a lot of it is sitting on massage tables, performing weird movement patterns to activate neglected muscle groups, and doing all of the other “little things” that are so very necessary to achieve consistent success at a high level.

An episode of the highly acclaimed HBO series, The Wire, recently drove this point home for me. For those unfamiliar with the show, it provides a nuanced and gritty look into crime in a city that is now sadly back in America’s media spotlight: Baltimore, Maryland. The beauty of the show is its multifaceted approach, and its exploration of the theme of moral ambiguity in contemporary politics, law enforcement, and organized crime. I could talk about it forever. But I won’t do that, because even bringing up The Wire in a running blog is inherently tangential, and I’m really in no position to start stacking tangents here. Bear with me though – I do believe there is a point to be made, and a connection to be drawn.

In this specific episode of The Wire, a special unit of the Baltimore Police Department has finally succeeded in tapping the phones of members of the Barksdale Crew – a group of drug dealers with a number of suspected murders on their hands. This episode comes about halfway through the first season, and the prior episodes devote a substantial portion of time chronicling the administrative, legal, and bureaucratic hurdles the police unit has had to clear before using the wiretap. The frustration of the detectives is made inescapably palpable to the viewer, as it seems that time and time again the “bad guys” are able to “get away with it” all because the police have failed to meet some tiny procedural requirement (quotes are used in reference to the aforementioned moral ambiguity at play in the show).

In the scene that really hit home for me, Lester Freamon (the show’s archetypal wise old detective) is explaining to some of the members of his unit that they are only allowed to listen to wiretapped conversations when they have received visual confirmation that a real suspect is using the phone. What this means in practice is that a team of cops must be in a position to actually see a specific member of the Barksdale Crew on the phone, and report back in real time to another team of cops back at the office who have access to the wiretap. Big surprise, right? More procedural hurdles to clear. Or, as one of the younger detectives in the room puts it, “More bullshit.”

Freamon takes a bit of umbrage to this comment, whirling around in his chair to face the young detective (Herc) before exclaiming, “Detective, this right here, this is the job! Now, when you came downtown to CID (Criminal Investigation Department) what kind of work were you expecting?”

Now, sometimes in running, we’re all guilty of thinking like Herc. I know I have been. When we came to Austin to run for Rogue Athletic Club, what kind of work were we expecting? Surely we were expecting to crush PRs set in college, we were expecting to make World teams, we were expecting to win- and win big. We were expecting the glory.

However, in our best moments, we’re able to step back and think like Freamon. We’re able to realize that there’s no glory – there never has been and there never will be – without a bunch of “bullshit.” There will be Saturday nights when you don’t race as well as you had hoped, but you’d better believe you’re getting up early Sunday morning for a long run, followed by at least 20 reps of some weird “clam” exercise where you lie on your side and try to lift one of your legs up and hold it at a 45 degree angle for 10 seconds at a time – only using your glutes – because that right there, that is the job. It’s not always pretty – in fact it rarely is – but in those rare moments when it is pretty, damn is it beautiful.

Glide Boost Review

glide

by Austin “The Bus” Bussing

Welcome to the first installment of the Rogue Athletic Club product review! This will be a bi-weekly post featuring descriptions and reviews of products used by our stellar athletes here at Rogue AC. The first product to be reviewed here is the adidas Supernova Glide Boost 7 shoe. Many runners here at Rogue (myself included) have come to love this shoe for its durability and reliability on everyday training runs.

Before diving into the touchy-feely, subjective and equivocal drivel that comprises most shoe reviews (and will certainly play a significant role in this one as well), let’s get down to brass tacks and talk about the specs for the Supernova Glide Boost. Here’s what we know:

Weight: 11.3 ounces (Men’s Size 9); 9.2 ounces (Women’s Size 7)

“Drop” (heel-to-toe differential): 10 millimeters

Midsole cushioning composition: 55% Boost, 45% EVA foam

Want a better look?  Check out the MEN’S SHOE HERE and the WOMEN’S SHOE HERE.

In light of these numbers, let’s start our discussion with a blatant declaration of what the Glide Boost is NOT. Weighing in at a hefty 11.3 ounces, this shoe is not a lightweight trainer. It is not nearly as light or sleek or sexy or fast as the beautiful Boston Boost. If you’re looking for a good lightweight shoe to crush a Town Lake tempo or some quick intervals on the track… this is not your shoe. It feels a bit heavy and clunky, and the numbers above bear that out.

Those things being said, this review was never intended to be an all-out roast of the Glide Boost. As most good runners and coaches will tell you, the amount of time spent scalding dogs on Town Lake or tearing up the Austin High Track is relatively miniscule compared to the time spent knocking out the long, easy miles that comprise the bulk of your training load. Who’s gonna be with you every step of the way on those long runs, medium distance runs, and easy days? The Supernova Glide Boost 7- that’s who. This is not the glamour shoe; it’s the workhorse shoe. The great Arthur Lydiard once said, “Miles make champions.” Well, the Glide Boost will reliably get you through the miles that will make you a champion. So basically the Glide Boost will make you a champion, guaranteed.*

*Not an actual guarantee.

All joking aside, I stand 100% behind this shoe as an effective tool to help grind through the high-volume demands of a marathon build-up or a long track season. Its considerable heft is not all negative – that bulk goes a long way towards protecting your feet and keeping your legs feeling fresh (following the same basic logic as the “More Cushion for the Pushin’” theorem). Despite the 11.3 ounce weigh-in, the Boost in the midsole gives this shoe the responsive feel you’ve come to expect from adidas. The outsole, with its vertically segmented forefoot, provides just the right mix of flexibility and rigidity. Another “techy” feature that actually lends some real functionality to the Glide Boost is the “Torsion System” – essentially a plastic ‘bridge’ piece through the midfoot portion of the outsole that connects the heel with the forefoot. This little guy helps facilitate a smooth transition from your midfoot stance phase through the toe-off, so that you can really GLIDE through your run. Of course, the Continental Rubber tread provides excellent grip on any surface to prevent too much gliding/sliding.

Let’s talk uppers! While adidas has been known to make some pretty narrow-fitting shoes, the Glide Boost is a bit of an exception. The upper feels very roomy, and while the sock-like construction of the midfoot/tongue provides a supportive fit, it will not feel too restrictive or tight on most feet. The women’s version of this shoe features a techfit upper meant to stretch and adapt to all foot shapes. This is especially helpful in the toebox, as it can help alleviate the all-too-common problems that arise from cramming your toes in a shoe that is too narrow. This comfortable, stretchy upper is very accommodating to your forefoot, allowing your toes to splay apart on the impact of each step – without hindrances from needless, oppressive overlays.

In short, the adidas Supernova Glide Boost 7 is a great shoe for all levels of runners looking to put in some long mileage on the roads (or around Town Lake). It will not blow you away with the fast, versatile feel of the Boston Boost, but when it comes to easy days and long runs, this shoe gets the job done. In many ways, I believe this shoe is the unsung hero of the adidas running line – the hardscrabble grinder that shies away from the glitz and glam of the limelight. While you’re out there crushing it on the track or in a road race, the Glide Boost will be sitting humbly at home on your bedroom floor with a contented grin, knowing that the incendiary speed you’re displaying is made possible by the day-to-day dependability and consistency that only it could provide.

The Glide Boost retails for $130. Come by Rogue Running at 410 Pressler Street to try a pair on for yourself!

Anne-other Update

by Anne Jones

Fall training this year has been going really well! A total 180° turn from last year, in fact. I began to associate cold weather and grass workouts with feeling like death after my iron-deficient stint of training last winter, but have been so pleasantly surprised lately with my fitness. Particularly because I am taking 21 hours of school and feel completely overwhelmed about 99% of the time. I have only been able to do one quality session per week and can only go to about half of the RogueAC practices due to class conflicts. But I have found that this may be what my body responds to best and is exactly what I need, both mentally and physically. I have always been afraid to back off from training, believing that I will get behind, but this semester has forced me to take two steps back in my approach and intensity. I am able to really focus on my one weekly workout and get more out of it than had I been trying to split my energy between two tough days, and can focus on school and recovery for the remainder of the week. In fact, I ran a low-key 5k in Houston two weeks ago (my first race since June) and ran 25 seconds faster than last year on the same course despite training only about half as much this year. Although this more relaxed approach obviously won’t and can’t last through track season, I think that coming out of this Fall fit, motivated, and healthy will really do a lot to help my track season.

Anne 1

En route to the aforementioned PR

In other news, pharmacy school has been pushing me to my breaking point this semester, but, all things considered, is still going pretty well. I’m counting down the class days left, though (13!). Next semester I will have a much lighter class load, which is going to be great for traveling to meets and for focusing more on track. I will move to Houston next summer for one year of rotations then will graduate the following summer in 2016 (finally!). My fiancé Daniel is in medical school at UT Houston, so I am really excited to finally be with him and start our wedding planning (eee!).

I have one more race planned for the Fall (the Dallas Turkey Trot) and am so excited to get another good 5k effort in before I transition my training for track. I have never felt so strong coming out of Fall training and am more optimistic for this track season than I have been in years.

5×5: Life After Running

by Mia Behm

Many people wonder, what’s out there for us once our running careers are over. After surveying several candidates, one interviewee in particular stood out the most – Mark P. Feigen.

For those of you who don’t know Mark Feigen, he’s best known for being one of the tallest runners to partake in Columbia cross country and track and field, for his role in The Real Maine and for his World Record viewing of all 4 seasons of Game of Thrones in a mere 36 hours, 34 minutes, and 35 seconds (disbelief can be addressed with proof seen below).

Mia 1

An achievement so great it brought time to a halt.

More important, though, is his recent muscle growth.

Since the completion of his running eligibility at Columbia, Mark has decided to hang up the spikes and pick up the iron, specifically via 5×5.

If you’re not familiar with 5×5 (or “StrongLifts”), there’s a good chance you’re not interested in getting “swoll.” Mark knows 5×5 and is obviously very interested in getting “swoll.”

Here’s a quick rundown of how 5×5 works:

You alternate between workout A and workout B completing 3 of 5 muscle exercises every day: Squat, bench, row, overhead press, and deadlift

A:  Squat, Bench, Row

B:  Squat, overhead press, deadlift

Each day you do 5 sets of 5 reps for each of the 3 exercises, 3 days a week – Monday, Wednesday, Friday.

The goal is to start at a reasonably heavy weight for each exercise. Once you successfully complete all 5 sets for that exercise at your goal weight, the next time you do that exercise you will add 5 pounds (or 10 pounds for deadlift). This will ultimately lead to larger muscles and a more masculine frame.

A typical day in the life of an Austin-based, Columbia track and field alum.

A typical day in the life of an Austin-based, Columbia track and field alum.

When asking Mark why he chose 5×5, he had much to say regarding his new lifestyle and pursuit of happyness [sic]:

“As someone who has spent many years, going through countless workouts, injuries and comebacks in an effort to run faster on the track and seeing only marginal improvements at best, it’s a refreshing change of pace to be working at something (5×5) and feel like I am getting out as much or even more than I am putting in. Runners spend years trying to improve by seconds or even tenths or hundredths of seconds, but in less than 10 weeks of doing 5×5 I added hundreds of pounds to my squat, deadlift, etc. I won’t get into specific numbers because I don’t want to embarrass anyone (myself) but I am confident in saying that I am well on my way to being one of the stronger humans over 6 foot 2 inches to ever have come somewhat close to breaking 4 minutes in a mile relatively recently. Deep down, every man, and 50% of women, just want to be as ‘swoll’ as possible, and pushing the envelope in the weightroom until failure and also consuming 300+ grams of protein per day is the easiest way I can see to achieve that goal. There is currently a group of once-somewhat-elite-level track athletes from The University of Columbia in New York City who have rededicated themselves to pursuing ‘swollness’ at all costs. No one can be sure of how all of this will end, but it is surely an interesting development and worth following for some small subset of the general populous.”

So for those who worry about what will happen once they’re done logging miles, this study provides that that there is something to look forward to (at least for males), and that’s achieving a body representative of a very masculine build.

Joining Mark in the post-collegiate running, 5×5 scene are a few former teammates: Michael Weisbuch, Jeff Moriarty, Paul Corcoran, and Michael Murphy.

[In the event of full disclosure, Mark Feigen is the boyfriend of Mia Behm, the author of this blog].

Old-Man Strength

by Carl Stones

Benny and Me

Reunited with Andrew Benford at Scotty’s wedding.  Photo props go to Josh Baker at AzulOx

Today is our first full day in Eugene.  After picking up Carlos from the Portland airport we made the 2 hour drive south on I-5, which provided views of many tall haystacks for Carlos to “Ooooo” and “Ahhhh” over while taking photos with his phone.  Every couple minutes I’d hear him say something along the lines of “Look how high that one is!” and then snap a few more photos.  The drive was significantly less exciting for me, having gotten over my hay-bale craze nearly 20 years prior.  As we drew closer to Eugene and the haystacks lost their luster, Carlos began pointing at mountains and saying “Hey, why don’t you go run up that mountain over there, runner boy?”  I laughed, thinking about how far I was from being fit enough to run up a mountain.  But foreshadowing is a son-of-a-gun sometimes.   

As we sat around the Magee residence for the rehearsal dinner yesterday evening, sipping drinks and catching up with old and new friends, Scotty taps me on the shoulder and says “Hey, we’re running up a mountain tomorrow.  Want to join?”  I turn to look where he’s pointing to see a large, tree-covered mound rising prominently above the south-Eugene horizon.  Crap.  “Uh, yeah, sure,” I muster with as little confidence as is humanly possible.  It’s a painful reminder of my inability to say no to challenges of machismo, but it’s also Scott’s last run as a bachelor, and I don’t want to miss that.

It’s looking to be another warm August day in Eugene, but a warm day in Eugene is a cool day by Texas standards, so I’m not sweating it – pun intended.  After a short warm up and some strides – the first time I’ve done strides for an “easy” run, ever – I’m hanging out by an empty playground trying to look as un-creepy as is possible when you’re hanging out alone by a playground.  I hope I’m at the right trailhead.  My stomach is in knots and my heart is thumping in anticipation of the pain.  Scotty, [THE] Andrew Benford, and Eric Fernandez will be here soon, and then it will begin.    

After a month off for a sprained ankle, and another month off for a bad foot infection, today is my 8th run back.  Andrew unknowingly took me through the gauntlet on a 45 minute – my longest run yet – tour of Pre’s Trail yesterday, so I fear to even imagine what today will bring.  Scotty has been logging upwards of 120 miles a week in his marathon build, and Andrew and Eric now has several months of altitude training under their belts after moving to the rarified air of Flagstaff, Arizona.   But they all cower in the shadow of my cumulative 35 miles over the past 8 weeks.  At least that’s what I’m telling myself in a last-ditch effort to justify what I’m doing.  I’m trying to push these things out of my mind, but I can’t help but remember the last time I threw up on a run: Gunnison, Colorado, running up a mountain only two weeks back from a long injury.  Eerily similar settings, minus the altitude.

Scott, Eric, and Andrew are running from the Magee household to get a few extra miles in, so it shouldn’t be much longer before they arrive.  The Spencer Butte trailhead sits at the far southern end of Eugene at the corner of West Amazon Drive and Martin Street.  Once off the street and on the trail, the only way to go is up.  My nerves aren’t settling, but I have what I think is a good plan for the run: 28 minutes.  All I have to do is run up for 28 minutes.  It won’t be easy, but I’m fairly sure that I can make it at least that far.  No matter how spent I am at 28 minutes, the second half is all downhill and at the very least I can just roll back down.

A month after my foot infection and two months after my ankle sprain, I decided it was probably time to start jogging again.  Not because I missed it and was itching to get back – I still wanted nothing to do with running – but rather because in three weeks time I was set to be a counselor at a high school cross-country camp on the Oregon coast.  I knew I should show up being able to at least run a little bit because it would help the camp run smoother, but also because my ego wasn’t ready to be mercilessly pounded into the ground by a bunch of teenage kids.  More specifically, on the second to last day of the camp there is a 2,000 meter time trial on a trail up a hill, and I really had no intention of doing anything other than being the first to the top.  As far as a serious advancement in fitness, three weeks just isn’t going to cut it, and I knew that, but I also knew that the end goal had nothing to really do with fitness; at least not in the traditional sense.  Three weeks, though, might just be enough to spark a different kind of fitness: Old-Man Strength.

Cape Lookout Climb

The author pictured here dusting the field [of kids] at the inaugural Ultimook Running Camp

I realize here that it may sound as if I’m referring to myself as an old man, but I’m really not.  I’m getting younger by the day.  You see, Old-Man Strength has much less to do with age than its name would imply; it has to do with experience, and the knowledge that you posses a certain level of “umph” that you’ll never get rid of.  It’s why my dad, when I was 10 years old and practicing basketball all day every day, could still beat me in HORSE without touching a basketball for years.  It’s also probably why Doug Consiglio had such a good disk-golf record for so long, but that’s a story for another time.

Running, aside from sarcasm, is arguably the field that I’ve garnered the most experience in during my short time here on Earth.  I’ve been running competitively, for better or for worse, for the last 11 years, and having only just turned 25, that’s 44% of my life.  It really doesn’t matter how little I did during my two-month layoff, because two months can’t even begin to undo 11 years.  I just needed some time to find it, and what better place to do that than the mountains?  I gave myself three weeks, but in the end I really only needed 8 days.

I see them come around the bend in the road and know I have less than a minute before the run starts.  And here we go.  30 seconds gone.  I’m sucking wind, but I learned about this in physiology.  This is oxygen deficit, not oxygen debt.  That’s the increased heart rate and respiration associated with any significant increase in effort, and it shouldn’t last more than two minutes.  Just settle down and it’ll be better soon.  And it is.  We make a turn to a connector trail which provides a brief downhill respite before turning onto another trail that continues up.  And up.  And up.  The incline is starting to catch up with me and I start wondering how much time has gone by.  5 minutes?  7 minutes?  I check the watch.  11 minutes.  Nice!  I look around at the flora and fauna that engulfs us in an attempt to zone out a bit.  Alder, Douglas Fir, and the occasional Redwood trees tower high above the soft dirt floor, with all the space between owned by the fern.  It’s pretty, but it’s also short lived.  12 minutes.  Damn.  13 minutes.  Damn.  13:30. Stop looking at the damn watch!  14 minutes.  Damn.  

The next few minutes drag on, but soon enough we hit another trail intersection and pause a moment to make sure we take the right turn.  It’s just enough rest to get me a few more minutes.  We hang a right on the Ridgeline Trail and keep on heading up.  Now it’s past 20 minutes.  I’m pretty sure I can make it to 28 now.  Everything is burning, but just keep moving forward, no slowing down, one foot in front of the other.  Momentum is key here so don– oh no. Switchbacks.  This is unfortunate timing at best.  The trail steepens – trails only get steeper with switchbacks – as it begins its upward zigzag to God-knows-where.  I’ve long since passed the point of oxygen deficit and I’m well into oxygen debt.  There’s no denying that.  No physiology lectures can help me now.  25 minutes and we’re clear of the switchbacks, but the toll has been taken.  The grade hasn’t relented and the end is nowhere in sight.  The tall trees, once beautiful and majestic, now seem to be closing in on me as I suck in shorter and more desperate gasps of air.  Andrew, Eric, and Scotty continue on with their conversation as if the run hadn’t even started yet.  27 minutes.  This is it; the last minute.  Anybody can make it one minute.  27:20. C’mon, 40 seconds to go.  That’s like Devin’s 200 meter PR. 7:37. Oh no, not now.  Here it comes.  I gag and retch and cleanse myself of some bile as my body searches for the breakfast that I didn’t eat. The guys continue to glide further and further along up the trail.  All I can manage between dry heaves is to quickly yell “I’m finished!” gasp, “See you back at the house!” before dropping my head again and giving in to more coughing and heaving.  Not quite 28 minutes, but close enough.  Now I just have to go down and that’s not so bad. 

“Hey, Carl,” yells Scotty.  I lift my head to see Scotty standing a little ways up the trail, having run back a little ways. 

“Yeah?” I reply, wondering what he could possibly want right now.

“I don’t know if you care or not, but it’s really not that much further to the top.  It’s a nice view too!”

Damn you, Scott MacPherson.  I look up, not sure that I’m fully comprehending the situation correctly.  I’m spent, but can I really let myself quit this close?  Wait a minute.  This is Scotty.  What constitutes “not that much further?” That could be anywhere from 10 meters to another 4 miles.  Doesn’t matter, just finish the run. 

Up I go again, but I’ve lost contact as I slog toward the top.  29 minutes.  I’m dead, but still moving as the trees break, giving me a clear view of the top.  I do really hate life right now, but not as much as I hate Scotty.  Now it’s a part jog, part walk, part scramble up the rocks leading to the summit.  I can still hear the guys joking around with each other as they summit.  That jackass.  This is so much further than he let on.  Not too much farther for me now.  32 minutes.  Just a few more steps and, finally, I’m there.  I collapse to my hands and knees and then flip over to lie down for a moment.  Everything is burning and I just want to throw up more of the food that I never ate.

I realize that the guys, still standing and laughing, weren’t all that phased by the climb, but I don’t care.  And then I notice the view.  I hate to admit it, Scotty was right, so I probably won’t push him off the top.  With all of Eugene to the North, and a panoramic view of the surrounding peaks, I’m in awe and my hatred of Scotty quickly vanishes.  This is fantastic.  Take that, Carlos!

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Running up and over the clouds later in the summer

It took me 32 minutes to find what I was looking for.  The term Old-Man Strength had become a bit of a running (no pun intended this time) joke that I had with my friend Drew – the camp director that I would be working with – in the weeks leading up to the camp.  Immediately after arriving back to my car I texted him to let him know that the Old-Man Strength was there and we were good to go.  Just over a week later I was the first to crest the hill at camp – as I should be – but more surprising was that I bested my time from last year when I came in with several solid months of training under my belt, and significantly more fitness.  It definitely hurt more this year, though.

As things lie now, I’m just over 7 weeks into my recovery from reconstructive ankle surgery.  The boot is gone, I’m running on the unloaded treadmill, and I’m ready for the next step.  I’ve been on the bike, in the gym, and in the pool more than I care to think about, and I’m very fit as a result.  The running will come slowly, but with my new secret weapon by my side I’m confident about what’s to come.  If nothing else, my search for Old-Man Strength helped me enjoy running again and realize how important it is to me.  So here’s to whatever comes next.

Treadmill

Long legs and short shorts: the only way to live life

Tracktown

by Becca Friday

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Kristen trying to distract attention away from her mismatched socks

This past summer I skipped the Austin heat and had the opportunity to reconnect, run, and work stride-by-stride with my old teammate, Alexi Pappas, in Eugene, Oregon.

My senior year at UO, Alexi transferred from Dartmouth College to finish up her 5th year of eligibility while starting grad school. Alexi brought just the right kind of energy the women’s team needed.  She seemed to be the missing link that unified our team and allowed us to believe in our bold dreams.  She’d come storming into the Bowerman Building wide eyed, ready to take on whatever challenge was set up for practice that day.  She always seems to be carrying several bags and backpacks stuffed with goodies from whatever local grocery, several workout outfits, and actually I just really have no idea what she was always carrying around… Anyways, Alexi’s unapologetic, aggressive “WE-CAN-DO-IT” attitude spread like wildfire. Her athletic talent and dedication to running is equally matched to her relationship with creative writing and filmmaking.

When Alexi wasn’t working out her first year at UO (2012/2013) she could be spotted around town at varies coffee shops or posted up in the living room of our crappy college house off campus.  Head phones on, huddled over her lap top with a sea of peppers and notes, Alexi was hard at work crafting the screen play for her second feature film, Tracktown. After a year plus of writing, re-writing, and re-writing, Alexi and co-director Jeremy Teicher had created a complex, quirky world of the elite runner and Eugene local, Plum Marigold.  Alexi and Jeremy had asked me to play the role of Plum’s training partner and best friend, Whitney.  I believe in Alexi and Jeremy’s authentic vision for their art and admire their passion and relentless determination to complete their vision.  I said yes to the role having zero experience in front of the camera and no idea what I was getting into.  In May we spent a weekend filming the first scene at the Prefontaine Classic at Hayward field, and completed the production late in August.

TRACKTOWN, the movie: A film about running to and running from.  Filmed on location in Eugene, OR.  Currently in post-production. The new independent film set in Eugene, OR.  Written & directed by Jeremy Teicher and Alexi Pappas.  Produced by Jay Smith and Laura Wagner.

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“When running for a movie, between takes, we do like this, see.” -Alexi Pappas

WHO is in Tracktown???

  • Andy Buckley, who played CEO David Wallace of Dunder Mifflin in “The Office,” plays Pappas’ father. Rachel Dratch of Saturday Night Live plays Pappas’ mother.
  • Olympian Nick Symmonds
  • Renee Baillie – Elite runner in Bend, OR
  • Recharge Recovery Sport lounge specialist
  • Kimber Mattox – Elite Runner and 2014 Warrior Dash World Champion

Also, Nick Symmonds announces the Launch of Run Gum™
 The track and field star introduces his new performance enhancing gum, the smarter caffeine kick for athletes.

 

My current Austin Hot spots for training and adventure:

-Rogue Running Store Downtown

-Sports Performance Physical Therapy…back-popping-toe-bench-pressing stuff

-Blenders and Bowls acai cafe DT

-Public library (you might also run into local street corner celebrity or Austin Bussing)

-Hycalon Coffee DT

-Boggy Creek Farm local veggies and produce!

-Fulmore middle school coaching with Marathon High.

-Biking around town lake sat morning making sure Marathon High the kids aren’t running all the way to the airport…

-Thrift-store sifting with Mary Goldkamp. Searching for the perfect rug that ties the room together.

-Yoga! Pure Austin gym, Wanderlust yoga studio

-Whole Foods (it’s so Damn convienent…)

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“You may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas!” -Davy Crockett

Favorite Austin location:

-My new front porch playing with the neighborhood pit-bull

A Tale of Twin Cities

by Jeff Sadler

It was a cool August evening in Ocean City. We had just finished dinner, and I made my way downstairs to get ready for bed. The windows were open, and the stars now seemed near enough to reach out and touch in all of their twinkling brilliance. A gentle breeze made its way across the room, dropping the temperature and bringing with it a scent of memories from past trips to the beach as a kid.

Bob, my employer from a newly-minted job opportunity, had invited me up to the Jersey Shore for the week prior to the US 20k Championships. This was both for work-related purposes and also as a short reprieve before I hopped on a train bound for New Haven, CT. I had come to know Bob as a friend through his son, with whom I ran and roomed at Baylor. Over the past several months, I’ve been grateful for his example of 1) how priorities should be shaped and 2) how to balance God’s many gifts and entrusted responsibilities. Rest had been no exception to his example, and I’m reminded that it is an action of humility, as if to say, “My energy and capabilities are limited, but You, O Lord, still sustain and restore me time and again.”

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The only Baylor flag in Ocean City.

My trip to the NE for the 20k Champs was definitely the more urgent item at hand, but the more important race would be the US Marathon Championships in a month. Thus, I had sent a brief email to an elite athlete recruiter for the host Twin Cities Marathon and received a reply informing me they would respond if they opened up the field, given my time was just above the qualifying standard. It was now Thursday, a week later, and restlessness was building.

I couldn’t help but have frustration from the past few years. Was this worth continuing? Amidst all of my chasing of the wind during recent months, I had come to the brink of calling it a career. My patience and motivation were waning as I thought back over the last 5 marathons that I had attempted to train for and compete in…injury, injury, injury, injury, cancelled due to weather. Was this going to be a disappointing sixth missed opportunity? Was I overlooking some clue here? Should I move on and focus solely on my post-running career? I decided to take a walk and left my phone on the bed. I couldn’t bother refreshing the email any more hoping for that blue dot and corresponding ding.

I stepped into the night and crossed the street barefoot to reach the sand. Most of the tourists and residents had long since made their way home, so the only conversation came from the waves. The moon was full tonight and provided subtle light and gravitational pull on creation below. I walked a bit down the coast, the occasional evening jogger and solitary seagull gliding by, trying to enjoy the evening and shift my perspective. We had flown down this same coast earlier in the day on a friend’s private plane. It was amazing the new insight that flight brought as to the ample activity transpiring around us…a boardwalk with thousands of people that had gone unnoticed, a Ferris wheel, and miles of marshland sprawling off into the horizon. Kind of like this moment and many times before where I’m so focused on the now and the me, that I forget to take into account where I’ve been, where I’m going, who’s involved, and the unseen pieces being orchestrated into place.

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Bay-side shot of the Jersey Shore, looking out into the Atlantic.

I turned around and ambled towards the house still pondering. Stepping across the threshold, I found a lone email in my inbox:

          “Congratulations!!!

          We are opening our field and will be able to provide you a comp entry into the US Men’s Championship field on Oct 5th in the Twin Cities.   I have attached a registration link along with directions. Please do this as soon as possible.

           Let me know if you have other questions.”

Hmmm…yeah, I’d say that’s a prime example. Praise God!

One month later – US Marathon Champs…

What is that sound?!!…oh yeah, my alarm. Reaching over, I slid my finger across the screen…5:00AM. I laid there a second, gathering my thoughts, before slowly making my way to the bathroom. Singlet and bib, shorts, and flats with timing chip lay off to the side – the white Rogue AC lettering contrasting nicely against the cool blue Adidas apparel in the ambient light. I had organized everything the night before, knowing that I wouldn’t want any unnecessary responsibility this morning.

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 One of the cooler kits I’ve worn – race-day blue!

I stuck my head underneath the sink, threw on some clothes, and made my way up to the hospitality suite. Many of the athletes were already bustling about…some stumbling around, others teeming with excitement like they had been awake for hours. Coffee, bagels, bananas, granola, yogurt, peanut butter, toast, oatmeal, and more were spread across multiple tables – every possible request on the morning of a marathon accommodated. I saw Dave and gave a quick, “Good morning” and “Thank you!” Not only had he accepted my entry into the field (email above), but yesterday, he had made it possible for me to have access to an elite aid station setup. Typically for this race, only the top 20 seeded athletes are allowed their own fluids throughout the race, and my bib read “41.” So, clearly this would have meant utilizing the cups of water and Gatorade handed out by volunteers if not for his suggestion to see if one of those top athletes had withdrawn.

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The bottles that went Rogue.

I walked back to the elevator, shoeless and with bagel and steaming cup of coffee in hand, turning my attention to the race. I had a few minutes to read and relax before gathering my stuff and heading down to catch the bus to the start line. The exhaust visible in the crisp air indicated to every onlooker that it was a chilly morning…good news!

Scotty was already on board, and I made my way back to an open seat next to him. We exchanged a few words before I put in some headphones and started thinking about what my coach, Steve Sisson, and I had talked about…conservative early, first 5 miles at 5:50 pace…then, no faster than 5:40 until the hill at mile 20…run the hill, time will most likely be 15-30 sec slower…then launch down the hill…resulting in a PR. The bus lurched forward as nerves stirred a bit and lyrics streamed truths into my head and heart.

After arriving and resting for half an hour in a hotel lobby across the square, Dave led the procession of athletes to the baggage drop area, adjacent to the starting line. I wondered what the average spectator or runner thought as we passed by…if they knew the thoughts that each of us carried. Did they see us as unapproachable with Adidas plastered over everything, or did they realize that I would relish having a genuine conversation with them? Scotty, Allison, and I had done a 10-minute warm-up and were now incorporating drills, stretching, and strides. A few minutes later, the national anthem, a last-minute bathroom break, and then game time!

The horn rung loud and true – piercing the morning chill with swift reassurance as runners poured across the line. I couldn’t help but smile as I settled in, confidently letting the first group go, and preparing myself for the effort to come. This race was the culmination and continuation of a great amount of growth that had stemmed from this latest stretch of the story.

A reassuring nod of encouragement came from Steve at mile 4 – very conservative as planned. Scott’s dad, mom, and wife were at mile 7…thumbs up – feeling good and starting to get into a rhythm. I grabbed a quick swig of water and PowerBar gel at mile 8. Dad and mom cheered on at mile 11…big smile…well, at least on the inside – starting to roll now. Guys are coming back, as I begin to reap the benefit of patiently waiting my turn. My aunt and two cousins wave and take pictures at mile 14…sub-5:30 pace now. Rhythm, rhythm, rhythm, Jeff. Lyrics from this morning, “It’s Your breath in our lungs, so we pour out our praise,” flood my mind. Deep breath, calm…focus.

Last gel at mile 17 as I pass a few runners…spectator yells out, “22, 23…Sadler (written on my bib), you’re #24! Catch those guys.” What…? My seed is 41. Don’t be overwhelmed, keep your cadence. Forget the seed times, they’re meaningless. Mile 20 came just before the hill – 5:16…oops, a little fast. Legs are fatiguing a bit, but I’ve come too far. Come on, Jeff, lift your head and keep picking guys off. Steve at mile 21… “This is it. You have to focus.” The pace is dropping off, but I recalled what Steve had said… “The pace will slow on the hill.” Don’t let go yet. More lyrics fill my mind: “I will climb this mountain with my hands wide open.” Another wave of determination takes hold.

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Mile 14 – Photo cred to my cousin, Nicholas, and his brother, Christopher.

We finally crest the hill and I see St. Paul’s Cathedral – majestic and reverent with the sun beginning to peek around the historic dome rising above. There it is; the finish line…one quarter of a mile left straight downhill. My calves are shot; lights are starting to flicker…just…hold…on. The masses line both the left and right sides of the finishing stretch. The chute takes up the entire street, and I am nearly all alone…giving it a surreal atmosphere and magnifying the aura of a US Championship as confirmed by the banner in front of me now. This…this is the completion of so much more than just a race, more than just answering the question, “How did I get here?;” but a checkpoint to remind myself of Who this is all for and the purpose of this striving.

My body was spent in those last steps, as I struggled to stay on my feet. 2:25:58, :59, 2:26:00, :01. 2:26:01 for 26.2 miles, over a 3-minute PR. Deep breath. Volunteers rush to hold me up and walk me to the recovery tent. No matter how feeble I was in that moment, I had run with perseverance and finished with a full heart. I could rest, be still, and know that God is good. This is a race worth running.

A Weekend Away

by Kristen Findley

This past weekend the masses flooded into Austin to indulge in the ACL experience, which mostly consists of intoxicating your body with sunshine and alcohol, and your mind with music and maybe some drugs. I did it last year and apart from it being G-rated compared to Manchester’s Bonnaroo experience, it was decently enjoyable. This year, now that I am mature and all, I was not sorry to abandon the debauchery and take to the back country of Texas with my Rogue AC compadres for our team retreat.

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A $275 view of Downtown Austin

A weekend away from the ongoing stimulation and vehicle exhaust that Austin emanates seemed like a shoe-in for relaxation and a literal breath of fresh air, but there wasn’t too much relaxation between the 30 miles of running, the 6+ hours of emotionally charged discussion, the 8 meals, and the many rounds of some card game that involved no winner and some asses, some kissing, and some ass kissing, amongst other publicly humiliating events. Instead, there was something else that transpired, equally as needed, and in many ways similar to JT Sullivan’s recent transformation.

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JT: Homeless bum to dashing young man!

Our team went from having its true feelings veiled by some amorphous unkempt obstruction to full expression, exposure, and embracement of who we really are underneath all that hair. Through defining and admitting our personal goals to ourselves and each other, and by elucidating how to shape the team to best reach those goals, we emerged from the depths of the back country feeling motivated, united, and more handsome than ever.

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Feet

I feel extremely lucky to have such a wonderful support system at Rogue and I’m feeling completely inspired for the next chapter of my running (which will involve calf and arm sleeves). I’ll be racing the Run for the Water 10 miler at the end of October, and the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot 5k on Thanksgiving Day, so check out my twitter (kfinstotheleft) for results from those. In the meantime, I will be running lots (working up to 85 miles per week!), sleeping lots (a new commitment to myself for recovery purposes), and saving my spare $$ for a planned relapse to my festival days at Fun Fun Fun Fest (taking place in early November).

As always, PEACE, LOVE, and ROCK & ROLL ❤

KFin

This Week in Poetic Prose

by JT Sullivan

Hello World. Good to see you again. Welcome to the third installment of JT’s Blog. Seeing as how it has been probably 6 months since my last blog entry, I certainly have a lot I could tell you about.

For one, I could update you on my training and the state of my achilles injury – it’s going great by the way…very little pain and happy to be getting my ass kicked in workouts again. Thanks Pieter, Katie, Dr. Spears, Emily, Kip and Doug. It takes a village. Or maybe I could tell you about the new house I moved into, with my big room and king size bed. Or perhaps I could regale you with tales of the epic Eminem show I went to last weekend – check that one off the bucket list. He played every song you would have wanted to hear, minus Superman. I love that song. Or I could recount the amazing night of dancing/karaoke I had at Mary’s birthday party after the Eminem show –see my facebook page for a little taste. But all of that writing would be overly boring and long-winded. Instead I’ve decided to keep things short and sweet by utilizing my favorite poetic form, the limerick. And what better subject of these five lined rhymes than my Rogue AC male counterparts. Here we go.

 

There once was a boy named Jeffrey

Whose legs could run quite deftly

But for each mile he ran

He ate more and more bran

And too soon his bowels did empty

 

There once was a fellow named Ethan

Who apparently didn’t need to be breathin’

He could talk on and on

Even when all ears had gone

Whether or not there was reason

 

I once met this giant named Carl

A Greek god of a man, with a snarl

He had Herculean strength

And I knew if I came within length

My arms he surely would gnarl

 

There once was a young boy named Matt

Who I heard started dating a cat

I hope he knows what he’s doing

Felines need lots of wooing

I hope they don’t get in a spat

 

I heard about this guy they called Buss

He rarely ever made any fuss

He was so nice and gentle

And never judgmental

But man, that guy knew how to cuss

 

I once knew this guy nicknamed Hicks

Who sure loved taking his licks

And I don’t mean on lollipops,

Hard candy, or gummy drops

I think you all know I’m talking ‘bout…ice cream (duh!)

 

Greg was this guy we all met

I’m not sure he’s spoken just yet

With words he is frugal

A big number is googol

Rhyming with frugal is no sweat

 

A long way away there is Scotty

Who couldn’t race without going potty

No matter the pace

This was always the case

I think we’ll start calling him Squatty

 

David is another guy on the team

Though for a while he hasn’t been seen

Some think he’s a ghost

Though I know better than most

He’ll come back when Eli’s a teen

 

I guess I’ll also include Andrew

Who really knows what that guy is up to

He now lives in Flag

That must be a drag

A place where running is all that you do

 

There once was an old man named Chris

He hailed from Wales if I’m not remiss

Though he could run with the best

He was constantly stressed

For his prostate forbade him to piss

 

Devin was the name of this fellow

Whose manner was mild and mellow

He crunched all day long

But I guess he was doing it wrong

Because his belly still jiggled like jell-o

 

I hope you enjoyed all the limericks

Hopefully this will silence all of my critics

“Your blog is past due”

“Tell the people what you are up to”

Well here it is world, no cheap gimmicks