Monday, April 21, 2014

Team Colorado Gets Boston Strong!

Brandon Stapanowich is the epitome of Boston Strong! During the 2005 Boston Marathon, he was having some "issues", you could say, but was so determined to cross the finish line that not even delirium and non-functioning muscles would keep him from that goal. 

He couldn't run anymore. Nor could he walk. What he did do was set the Strava course record for crawling on Boylston Street! 

"Boston 2005 was my second marathon. In all the years since, I'm still not quite sure on the why's but I vividly recall the what's. Fatigue was certainly an issue for the final 6 miles after heartbreak hill, but just after making the left hand turn onto Boylston, my world turned upside down. A wave of sound from cheering spectators hit and I recall becoming euphorically overwhelmed. The next thing I knew, I was on my hands and knees. My legs didn't cramp and I didn't trip on anything. They had just collapsed. With thousands of people watching, I was incredibly embarrassed and a little angry, but when I tried to stand up, I simply couldn't! My watch read 3:07 and the finish line was just ahead. For a brief moment, I weighed the options of barrel rolling or crawling the rest of the way. Ultimately, I determined that crawling would be the most efficient means of a 3:10 finish. After a half an hour and intravenous fluids I was as good as new!"

The authentic "Crawl" poster a year later in a Beantown T station.
"Less than 0.00001% of the world will ever finish a marathon on all fours."
-Brandon Stapanowich

Kim "Queen of Uphill" Dobson is not allergic to the roads as most mountain runners are. Boston was her first marathon and it holds a special place in her heart, for more than one reason.
"The Boston Marathon is like the hub of the running community. The incredible response from runners all over the nation after last year's tragic event proves even more how supportive, friendly, and tenacious runners are. For me, Boston is a very nostalgic race as it was the first big marathon I ran when I was a naive 19 year old. I was enamored by the experience and from that race grew my desire to compete in long distance races."

"It's also special because I stole the household Dobson marathon PR at Boston when Corey [Dobson] and I ran it in 2010. "

Glenn Randall, known for his front-running style, took out the 2012 Boston Marathon and gapped the field of elites, including Africans and some top US athletes. This is where the term "Pulling a GR" was acquired from a flurry of activity on What most people didn't know was that this is his style, he kept it honest even if others do not and he has the talent to back it up. Say what you will about him because he lives by Dr. Suess' words:

"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."

Stevie "Sunshine" Kremer ran Boston back in 2010 and had her trademark oversized sweater on, luckily, because it was a cold year. When asked about her experience she recalls an image.

"Crazy thing is there was a picture from the Boston Marathon of me with my knees in my sweatshirt a few hours before the race start and the only thing behind me were army boots (legs of soldiers). It's a pretty amazing picture."

Amy Perez, Team Colorado's chef l'equipe, crossed the finish line shortly before the explosions at the finish line last year. Regardless of the finish, it was not supposed to be part of what should have been a positive experience. She's back this year for some unfinished business. 

"I finished the The Boston Marathon in 2013 and fell in love with this amazing city. I've run a few other big city marathons and no one welcomes you quite like Boston does. Last year's race was emotional on so many levels and ended on such a low, I wanted to give myself the chance to come back and see this race through the finish for all runners. Once again, welcomed with open arms, Boston has done a tremendous job with taking their city back and I'm anxious and excited to run hard. Huge thanks to Kim (Queen of Uphill) for getting me here more fit than ever before...I WILL run all the way to the finish."

Lisa Goldsmith has a history with Boston as she has run the race 5 times. Her fastest was 2:50:12 (back when the Olympic Qualifying was 2:50. "Hahaha....that's less than 1/2 second per mile tooo slow.....ah well..." says Lisa. 

"I have run 2x @ 2:59 and another 2 at just over 3 hrs..."

"I was not here last year; I was at the gym when my brother (a Bostonian) texted me that there were explosions at the finish line and then within the next few hours my siblings/parents + some clients/friends called me to see if i was ok!!! (as if I wouldn't have told them previously if I'd been going to run Boston...)"

"I became very moved and motivated to return, so hopped into the San Diego Marathon last June just to git my qualifier; I figured on the 'spur of the moment' I could eek out a 3:20..voila! I ran 3:20........
which puts me in the 2nd Wave wearing # 11831  I'm calling it my 'wrap-around#.'  Hahaha, I was #38 back in 1999...."

"I think this year will be a big 'ole love-fest party scene and I am completely looking forward to the experience!"

"Each of my races do have their own story, but one of my favorites is the year I went out way too fast for meself, and was just suffering by 15+ miles, thinking 'maybe when I see my brother at 17 I will just drop out..' ...then I come up on this guy on CRUTCHES (they allow handicapped participants to start early) and in that moment knew I could at least (SHOULD AT LEAST) I passed my brother by, and of course I am happier with that decision!!!!!"

"The other memorable moment was when I was privileged to start with the elite women, and again around 15 miles the elite men who start later, came whizzing by me, WOW! I even have a photo from the race of me running "with" a few that were off the back of those leaders. The other memorable thing of that day was that I ran the entire day practically alone being off the back of the real elites and ahead of/passing the stragglers....a unique Boston experience! BOSTON STRONG!!!"

Melody Fairchild has never run the Boston Marathon, but she did just run an amazingly fast 5K this Boston Race weekend with a 16:46 to finish second female master.

"Racing on Boston Marathon weekend, this year in particular, was a thrill and an honor. Thanks to my sponsor, Newton Running, for making it all possible. Someday I will be back here to run the marathon. The level of organization, professionalism and passion that the B.A.A. has for their events, is unparalleled. I am happy with this 5k performance, a race I am "training through" en route to my "A" goal of the year, a sub-2:38 marathon at Twin Cities in October. Wonderful to see the ubiquitous Peter Maksimow out there on Commonwealth Ave. during my warm up, too! Great motivation before the race!

Peter "The Prez" Maksimow has never run the Boston Marathon (he's allergic to the roads) but has fond memories of the place and its magic.

"Boston holds a very special place in my heart for many reasons. It is a place where I lived for a short period of time but gained so much from at he same time. Back in 2006 I had finished my graduate degree at the higher learning institution where basketball was invented, Springfield College in Western Mass, and having just returned from Europe, not knowing where to go and what to do with myself, I took a job at the Oak Square YMCA in Brighton, MA. That is where I met my best friend and wife, Nora. We watched our first Boston Marathon together in 2007 and cheered on a trainee of mine to a new marathon PR. I was deeply motivated to get back to running competitively and someday run this race. It is Boston, after all! Unfortunately, I had been unable to run for a few years due to a serious bout of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome."

"Fast forward to 2014. We have made the pilgrimage back to the place that holds a few bad memories, but has even greater memories of love and perseverance, both personally and collectively. On Saturday, Nora and many friends and fellow teammates cheered and ran alongside me in the B.A.A. 5k as I gave some of the fastest men and women in the world a run for their money (they won the money, I won the lady and a pretty quick 15:29). Although it's not the marathon, it's a step in the direction of Hopkington."

Keep it Strong Boston!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Inception: Greenland Trail Races

Last year, Team Colorado's Neil "Big McD" McDonagh and Peter "The Prez" Maksimow ran the Greenland Trail Races (25K and 50K, respectively) and both took course records. As we get closer to this year's race, we were able to get in the heads of these two during REM sleep to find out what their recollections were. We call it: Inception: Greenland Trail Races. Where you never really know who was dreaming what. You decide!

May the 4th (be with you) 2013
I shook the sleep from my eyes an hour before dawn and stepped outside of my house in Manitou Springs. I always play “You Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC at full volume on the cassette player before dawn of a big race, Manitou Springs loves it! The weather seemed refreshingly brisk, which I took as a good omen for the Greenland race. The weather looks nice, I muse to myself, but, then again, it always looks nice and turns out to be a giant wind tunnel at the Greenland Open Space, so I shouldn’t really concern myself with how nice it looks until an hour INTO the race. My training had been relatively unprepared for the step up in distance. I really wish I could have trained more, this seems like an awful long way to race when feeling like a wounded duck. After a quick mid-week jaunt up to Larkspur for a course preview, my gaps in fitness seemed inconsequential. Well, Roger Bannister didn’t run 5 days prior to breaking 4 minutes in the mile for the first time, so if I am doing the math correctly that means…uhhhh, three weeks off before this race is a perfect amount of down time! Team Colorado decided to carpool for the race, meaning our chauffeur  Nora, allowed a few last minute zzz’s before hitting the trails. On the ride to the race, the seats were making me itchy, “what are these things made of, CACTUS!!??”, I wonder. The rolling hills of Larkspur were teaming with all manner of Lycra and hydration system festooned ultra competitors. As I pull the last couple of cacti needles out of my arse, I use all of my warm up time to prepare my spandex and hydration gels packs of salt sticks, and even some NoDoz in case I get sleepy a few miles in, so that I am well lubricated during the race. Both races appeared ripe for fast times. ”Wow, this is going to be so slow”, I tell the race director Derek Griffiths at the start line. Even with numerous countdown reminders, the crack of the starter’s pistol felt rushed. Rush…I love that band and I think as I am caught off-guard when the blerch of the starter’s weird magafone horn-thingie goes off. Antsy to get in a good groove I made my way to the front of the lead pack. Pack mentality is how I run my races, stalk and attack in a group…sounds cruel, doesn’t it? Quickly finding myself gapping the field, I offered some mental diversion therapy. Whoa, there is I-25, I wonder if they can see me flipping the bird from here!? I looked off to the right and saw some grassy hills. All I see is blue and yellow-purple hills, I think I need some calories. Over to the left was Interstate 25. Yeah, definitely seeing the bird, I am getting some attention from people in cars now! I focused in on a lone tree way off in the distance, but it didn’t really seem to be moving any closer and it was depressing me, so I switched to the ground ten feet in front of me. I realize there is someone at my side and he has been there the whole time, it wasn’t just the noise of the car horns that have kept me company for half of the race. About a quarter of the way in to the race I felt a strange gurgle in my stomach, unfortunately all too familiar to me. All I can think of is that line from the Shakespere “boil and bubble…toil and trouble”…it’s probably not the direct quote but it paraphrasing…I’m in the middle of a race, what do you expect!? Being open prairie land, tree coverage was quite the commodity. It’s like I am getting vibes from some entity on the course. I looked left then right and deftly hopped behind a thicket to make a quick biomass deposit. Wow, this is the first year there has not been gale force winds on this course…wait, what is that wretched smell!? Relieved, in more than one sense, I was back on the course making up for lost time. I lost some time because I couldn’t brethe for about a minute there, I think something died! A zeroed in sense of directed drive pushed me through the halfway point. Am I only at the three-quarters point of this reace--this is really going to take a long time? Roughly two-thirds of the way in to the race, again my innards expressed discontent. Why does this guy at the aid station keep heckeling me and calling me a “wanker”? A significantly less camouflaged leafless tree provided the scantest of privacy for a second bowel evacuation. You really have a lot of time to think when you are in a race this long, maybe that is why I keep asking myself so many questions? Brow sweating from stress more so than effort. Am I halucinating, did I just see a Gnome?—I definitely need some energy gels. Frustration capped as not five minutes passed before a final fully digested elimination behind a hedge the size of a garden gnome. OK…almost there…keep moving…hips are tightening, buttocks is involuntarily clenching…but this guy is still at my side like flies were on that gnome back there. Convinced my internal root cellar empty, I proceeded to bomb back down the course. I wish a bomb would fall on my head right now, that’s how much I hurt—but NORAD could intercept it before it hit the ground, DANG IT! Amazed that I had somehow held my lead throughout the ordeal, I figured surging over the last quarter of the course only made sense. I am definitely hallucinating now because I was running with someone the whole race and now he has vanished without a trace. I finished the race looking peaked. This is like a dream and there is the finishd line…but why won’t my legs move…it’s like they are in wet concrete. I washed my hands promptly after crossing the line. I cross the finish line to a cheering crowd and I bow to the roaring crowd. I won the race. I won the race…I thiink? I somehow set a course record. I somehow set a…uh oh, I think I just pooped myself as I bowed.

May the 3rd be with you in 2014!

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Van Plan

I am a VW Vanagon owner. Her name is Olga and she is a beautiful brown, let's call it caramel apple tinted ‘84 Westy. I lived in Olga for an extended period after graduating College, prompting endless “van down by the river jokes.” But all joking aside, I love Olga. Not the way a man loves a woman, but in the way that a man loves a van. Trust me - It’s complicated. Our love is hard for others to understand, but what is harder to understand is the physiological bond we share.

Maddy, my human love, made a statement about Olga the other day that caused much indignation from me at time. She claimed that Olga’s health was a reflection of my own. At first I scoffed at this blatant slander. Both Olga and myself are, and always have been, perfectly healthy! Aside from the achilles problems, leaking gaskets, calf tears, ignition failures, swollen knees…ok maybe she had a point. The more the statement rattled around instead of my head the more I realized she was completely right (as always). In a way, it is almost absurd how much my own running related injuries have mirrored the timing of Olga’s gasoline powered flubs.

2013 was a pretty good year for me. I ran in the world mountain running championships, I won a few
races, and I broke the Spanish stranglehold on the podium of the Skyrunning series. Olga, too, had a pretty solid 2013, highlighted by a new clutch, buffed out paint, and new tires. But even with those new tires and shiny paint, Olga had her own scary moments. It all started when I strained my calf and DNF’d at the first stop of the Skyrunning world series: Maratòn Alpina Zegama-Aizkorri. It was a pretty big setback for me, and because Olga didn’t want to be left out she had her engine removed, taken apart, and put back together to fix an persistant coolant leak. With some hard work and time off to heal our wounds both Olga and I cruised through the summer with relatively little difficulty. Of course we shared a few minor problems along the way - a swollen knee/burned out signal lights, a sprained ankle/faulty O2 sensor, etc. All of which were eerily synchronized. Then coming into November I started putting in big miles to get ready for a very long race in San Francisco, while Olga was putting in her own big miles as the weather made bike travel less appealing. It started with a puff of black smoke on a cold day which was, of course, prompted a cramped left calf. In denial, we both pushed through. Eventually Olga was putting down a smoke screen that would make Batman jealous and I was wincing during 30 minute runs. The result - another DNF, a trip to the mechanic, and a month of little driving or running. It makes my head spin thinking of how connected we really are.

Looking back on 2013 has armed me with the very odd but valuable knowledge that a 1984 Vanagon decides my running fate. It is a simple yet complicated gift which will require the utmost attention and tender care. In the last two months I have been working extra hard to take care of Olga and myself as Maddy’s words echo in my mind. So, now if Olga gets new tires then I get some new Inov-8’s. If I go to Select Physical Therapy, then Olga pays a visit to the mechanic. With both human and mechanical healers on speed dial I see see a bright future for Olga and I in 2014.

by Axel Nichols

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Ultimate Direction

When Ultimate Direction first came out, I was living in Rexburg, ID. It was a hometown product and so my dad, Thomas, was sure to support it. I began using their products immediately. I remember, in the early 90’s, wearing a two bottle waist pack as I paced my dad in 100 mile races. At fourteen, it was heavy around my waist, as I muled gear up Hope Pass. Then, I moved to the Ultimate Direction handhelds, which worked better for me. The handhelds were more accessible through aid stations, but I didn't enjoy the extra weight I had to carry. 

I have found Ultimate Direction’s new Signature Packs to offer the best of both worlds! I am able to easily access my bottles and not have to worry about carrying them, in my hands, over long distances. And, Ultimate Direction has thought of everything. They have easily accessible pockets, tie downs for extra clothing, and they are light weight. Sometimes, I forget I even have the pack on my back. I have the AK pack and the Jurek pack. When I am out hiking with my kids, I can pack a lot into the Jurek pack so that my kids do not have to carry anything. I can use the AK pack when I am out on a solo adventure. I have tried other hydration companies, but I always end up using my Ultimate Direction gear, because it is so much better.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Who Doesn't Want Free Stuff?

Free stuff?  Shoes from La Sportiva and Altra, sunglasses from Smith Optics, and free race entries are all part of the prize packages.  Team Colorado's sponsor, Ultimate Direction, has even added some gear to the list!  Chris Martinez, race director of Moab's Red Hot 55k and 33k, is hosting a prediction contest on his website. Predict this year's winners correctly on GrassRoots Events' blog posting to win! 

Team Colorado will be representing at this year's Red Hot.  TC women, Brandy Erholtz and Megan Kimmel will be throwing their hats in for La Sportiva Mountain Cup points.  TC men, Jared Scott and Justin Ricks (Co-director at GrassRoots Events) will also be racing for La Sportiva Mountain Cup points against last year's Mountain Cup winner, Jordan McDougal.  Other racers in this event include, Maria Dalzot, Geoff Roes, Jason Bryant, and Ryan Woods.

TC's Alex Nichols will be competing in the 55k this year against some of ultrarunning's top competitors. Runners Mike Foote, Joe Grant, Luke Nelson, Dave James, Chris Vargo, Karl Meltzer, and Zeke Tiernan will be lining up in the longer distance this year.  In the women's event, Jodee Adams Moore, Jenn Shelton, Darcy Africa, Anita Ortiz, and Kerrie Bruxvoort will all be participating.  

Good luck next week, Team Colorado!  

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Glenn Randall pulls a GR and wins the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon Grand Prix Series Age Group

Our teammate, Glenn Randall, is known for going out fast (aka "Pulling a GR") in mountain races, but is also very fast on the roads. He won his age group in Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon Grand Prix race series and told us a little about it.

A little over a year ago, I ran RnR Arizona. I ran a 1:07 or something, and while I was in town, I met with the Chair of Graduate Admissions for the ASU Physics Department. Given that I'm now a graduate student in the ASU Physics Department, I'll call that trip a huge success.

Later, in February, I ran the RnR Pasadena. It was an interesting race. I thought Deena Kastor was going to take over pacing responsibilities early on, I was outkicked by a Hungarian mountain runner (seriously, in Pasadena), and Peter Maksimow photoshopped a picture of me running sans head.

Said headless photo

Later still, I ran the RnR Dallas. It was my last tune up for last year's Boston Marathon, it was windy, and people weren't too stoked on doing any pacework. I ran RnR San Diego after Boston, PR'd in a 1:06:06 after blowing up, and was beaten by almost 10 minutes by some Kenyans.

A very Hungry mountain runner

Somehow, this put me going into the final race of the RnR Half Marathon Grand Prix leading my age group. So, Competitor flew me out to San Antonio. I was less than a month off of the Chicago Marathon, it was really hot, and I did not run very fast. Granted, the winning time was 1:08. We all kind of suffered out there. But the important part was I held onto my lead, so I got a prize package. I'm waiting for my sunglasses to arrive in the mail with bated breath.

Anyways, fast forwarding to now. This last finals period I did too much physics, ate whenever I felt stressed (read, ate for 2 weeks strait), didn't sleep enough, and felt too busy to run. The result of that was something like 15 or 20 lbs of weight gain in 2 weeks. My body doesn't realize I live in AZ, so it wants the extra insulation apparently, because even putting in some fairly serious miles, I can't get it off. Anyways, I entered RnR AZ this year carrying extra lbs and having done not enough speed work. So, I ran my slowest ever half marathon that wasn't on Pikes Peak. But it was an exciting day. About 5 miles in, I heard sirens and prepared to leap out of the way as an unmarked police car flew past me on the course. Half a mile or so later I saw a truck surrounded by flashing lights and police officers with guns drawn. So, I moved to the other side of the road and kept running.

2013 US Mountain Running Championships, Cranmore, NH                            photo: Joe Viger
As for my schedule, last year, the evening after Boston, I promised myself that if I was healthy and Boston would have me, I would be there this year. So now to see whether Boston will have me. And for somebody who sees midterms as a mere blip on the horizon, planning that far in advance is a lot.

Friday, January 17, 2014

H.U.R.T. 100: A Barney's Prerace Review

Team Colorado's Brandon Stapanowich left his dog, Charlie Brown, in Colorado and took a sail boat to the Big Island out west to compete in the H.U.R.T. 100 Trail Race. That's 100 miles with 25,00 ft of elevation gain on an island! Here is what this Barney had to say before the race:

Aloha and howzit! As you can see I've been working on my Pidgin bruddah!

Climbing to the Pillboxes on Lanikai with the Mokuluas in the background. This is the Pidgin he is talking about, bruddah! 

Oddly enough, tapering here has been tough. As expected, the beaches are fantastic but the big surprise for me has been the mountains. Everywhere I look, there are mountains I want to run! Believe me when I say that the ridges of Koolau Range are more numerous than those of a Ruffles potato chip!

To cross…or not to cross!?!?!? Howzit?
The Ultimate Direction pack is going to be my quiver of calories on race day. Tried it sans shirt for the first time today, with no chaffing issues whatsoever. I may have to resort to this strategy on Saturday as it's more humid than a hot yoga studio here!

Also, while doing some recon on the HURT course, I found this guy who was  contemplating life's greatest question. 

Follow Brandon as he hurts, we know Charlie will be following!

Go Team iP!!!! Arm panties rule!!!! Where's my ball???