Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Scales of Hydration

I grew up in the temperate Bay Area as a youth and promptly ventured out to the deeps of The South for roughly a decade n' change. 


Up to that point I really went from not sweating to ending runs drenched in exercise induced funk. I never really made any attempt at hydrating during runs, and the few times I did were mired in equipment frustration.

Then I moved to the desert.

I had to take  my hydration serious out here, or you know, die. I started running with an older Ultimate Direction handheld. It worked great and was no sweat when I refilled at gas stations during the summer, to the utter disbelief of attendants that I had arrived under the power of my own two feet from the broiling desert. 

Then I moved to Colorado.

This place has been equally demanding in a hydration sense. Somehow without searing heat I can still return home looking like I had tried to find the prize in a children's cereal box face first.

I've recently had the pleasure of trying out two new Ultimate Direction products:

Review: This thing is crazy light! Same classic Ultimate Direction bottle and industry best Kicker Valve. The Grip is your go-to bottle for medium length runs or the super minimalist crowd. Surprisingly the 1/2 oz (!) strap is extremely sturdy and never required readjustment. This my weekday hydration choice without hesitation. 

Review: Looking for a hand-held  that can carry a gel or two, key, credit card, but not feel like you are lugging around a Christmas fruitcake? Then the Fastdraw Plus is your bottle. With barely any added weight, you can plan for a longer adventure while carrying needed essentials out on the trail. The ergonomic hand grip allows you to relax your hand while running and focus on avoiding getting lost on the trail.

The Tale of the Tape:

The Winner Is:  
A tie!

Both Hand Helds are the best I've used and you can't go wrong with either.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Happy Birthday Mr. Prez...I Got You a Race!

     This is my first post for Team Colorado and I'd like to use it to recognize our beloved Prez, who will soon be adding another proverbial ring to his tree trunk. Birthdays indeed offer great opportunities for celebration, however this particular upcoming occasion begs the question: "How exactly do you honor someone for whom 'Movember' is year-round?"

Now where'd I put those 11 pens, 3 sharpies and that Marks-A-Lot? Photo and styling credit: Maddy

       Well if you asked him, I'm sure the Prez would love a fine craft beer...but instead I'm giving him a race! And not just any race, an Ugly Christmas Sweater 5K/1M race to be exact! When it comes to gifts, beer is tough to beat. But here are the TOP 10 REASONS WHY THIS SWEATER RACE is the best gift ever, and why YOU, should join the partay.

10.  Races and birthday hats go together like peanut butter and jelly!

The Gang Celebrating Chef d'Epuipe Amy's Birthday at the Pikes Peak Sports Super Bowl Half Marathon

9.There'll be post race soup!
The Prez, hoping for Lobster Bisque. Photo: PikesPeakSports.us
8. You are guaranteed to set your Ugly Sweater 5k PR.

The author channeling his inner Blitzen at the 2011 event. Photo: The Gazette

7. If, for some reason, this isn't your fastest 5k in a sweater, you can still win prizes for simply wearing an Ugly Sweater.

6.  PikesPeakSports.us will be there so you can get your picture taken with Topo Gigio for free.

5. Everyone loves a HooRag!

4. Pearl iZUMi will be there letting you test drive their shoes. They'll also be awarding a pair to the top 3 male and female finishers.

3. In addition to shoes, overall winners will receive hand painted plates courtesy of some of our friends with cerebral palsy and Color Me Mine.
Nothing beats handmade prizes!

2. I know for a fact that there are conflicting races and fat-ass runs on December 7th. But I also know that if you want any chance of witnessing a SWANTS DANCE OFF, you'll have to be at this race!

1. The event benefits the Cerebral Palsy Association of Colorado Springs, a non-profit group that has helped folks in our community with neuromuscular disorders for over 60 years. Proceeds go towards helping families pay for medical bills, supporting a loan closet for medical equipment like wheelchairs and walkers, and sending kids to specialized camps.

     Sure, a beer along with a personalized song may have been the more obvious gift choice. But thanks to control top panty hose and the Emma Crawford Coffin Races, I, along with many of my Team Coloradoans, have met my women's clothing quota for the year.

     So on December 7th, come join Team Colorado for the party! Flaunt your most hideous holiday attire, your tackiest top, or your craziest cardigan . Bring your family, your friends, and your holiday spirit (but leave your sense of fashion at home) and join us for the UGLIEST event in town. I'll bring the party hats! You can register here and be sure to like us on Facebook or follow the race blog for event updates. Swants!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Pikes Peak Road Runners Fall Series #3: Like a mini Skyrunning race, only smaller but just as competitive as the real thing

Where Monument Valley Park brought the "creek cough"-- and possibly Giardia-- Bear Creek Park caused the "death sneeze", Ute Valley Park brought the HURT (read: broken bones, head-first diggers, face slashes, never-nudes and much, much more).

It all started on a beautiful fall day in early November (not the cold, wet and nasty kind that no one likes) but a true it's-almost-70-degrees-kind-of-day. The pecking order has been established with the first half of the series in the rear-view. 

There is the golden boy of Team Colorado, Alex "Axel" Nichols, who is undefeated in the series thus far.

Neil "Big McD" McDonagh is coming off a competitive 2nd place finish in Bear Creek Park and is back at odds with fellow teammate, Axel--call it a rekindling of old fire.

Justin Ricks, who placed 3rd at the Trail Half Marathon National Championships the day before in a different state--his travel stipend must be high!

"A good pre-race dance always gets the juices flowing for the race" - Justin Ricks, the running man    photo: Cherie Xavier

Peter "The Prez" Maksimow, who has not done anything spectacular, is using the strategy of consistency to hold his second place series standing and his 3rd place finish streak.
Nice Inov-(foot) uniform, what is that, velvet!?         photo: Cherie Xavier

Then there is that Chubby Bunny team member Carlos Ruibal, who has hopped his way into the top 5 in all the races thus far (no photographic evidence exists of said Chubby Bunny---OK, that is not true, he was captured in the above photo with Big McD, just the bottom half of his head, though). 

Who else, you ask!?

Leave it to Team Colorado to throw a wrench into things…with another Team Coloradan! Fresh off a 3rd place finish and 2:26:38 at the Steamtown Marathon in Scranton, PA (yes, that is the same place The Office was filmed), youngster James "Mr." Burns goes and throws the whole race out of proportion with his very beautiful stride and flowing blond hair (Axel, you have competition, not only in the beautiful hair category, but also in the race category…as in running race…not racial race).

As usual, the race is taken out at a reckless pace, in this case, someone with the word "Reckless" across their chest. The race starts with a circuit around a track before the climb into the hilly and technical Ute Valley Park, at which point is becomes very fun…or very miserable...depending on who you asked.

Scott Bowman goes out at "RECKLESS" pace                   photo: Jeff Kearney

Ricks and The Prez, chatting about the race                                   photo: Jeff Kearney

The race started like a track race (literally) then matured to a progressive climb before dropping down into a valley of technical footing and a sandy waterless creek. The fast flat section before the beer aid station was relatively mild and really a tease as it soon shot up to the craggy ridge…then down...then up again to a narrow-spiney ridge where things like this occur.

An actual injury caused by the course…luckily not a Team Coloradan. Heal up, Don!           photo: Magnetic Resonance Imaging

In the past this race has witnessed such things are large animal carcasses, sasquaches, even Matt Carpenter! This is the first time for a never-nude.

This never-nude has the striking resemblance of Team Colorado's Brandon "Stankanowich" Stapanowich, but he would never partake in public never-nudity--it scares children                                         photo: PikesPeakSports.us

Axel Nichols uses his superior downhill Jornet-esque running ability to capture yet another Fall Series race win.
Axel shows off his foot and his Team Colorado colors       photo: Jeff Kearney

Axel, after a few games of tennis, wins the race            photo: PikesPeakSports.us

After taking a dive on the trail, Mr. Burns dusts himself off and finishes in 2nd place. 

Mr. Burns powering up the last hill of the course…luckily he doesn't have avian bones        photo: PikesPeakSports.us
A reenactment of what the dive might have looked like.

Following closely behind Mr. Burns was The Prez and Justin Ricks. That Chubby Bunny broke up another Team Colorado sweep.

The Prez takes his 3rd 3rd place finish…that's no coincidence       photo: PikesPeakSports.us

With a (almost) sweep of the race, Team Colorado takes places 1, 2, 3, 4, 6…and 145th for the never-nude.
Big McD pulls out he hand knives in the last climb of the day           photo: PikesPeakSports.us
Confucius says, "Go to bed with itchy butt, wake up with stinky finger." He'll learn.
Yet another public display of posterior itch relief       photo: The Gute

After the adult races were completed, the Fall Series Kid's Races took place with Team Colorado taking the rabbiting duties...because these kids are faster than most elite runners.

Big McD sprinting to stay in front of the 12-14 year olds…no easy task     photo: Chef l'équipe

Who's the Boss…not Tony Danza!!!            photo: Chef l'équipe

Team Colorado: where even your children have no chance of being a winner.

Wow, that doesn't look like it hurts at all!         photo: Chef l'équipe
"Dolla' dolla bill, y'all!" Axel raked in the cabbage with his win.              photo:PikesPeakSports.us 
Congratulations to Team The Blerch (Sarah, Amy, Nora and Bobbi) for surviving the course and hanging on to 2nd place in the women's team category.

Team Colorado Running Company (it's like a small rouge faction of Team Colorado) sits in 2nd in the co-ed team race, which happens to be the most competitive race category in the series.

Don't worry, that foot has since been fixed…do we smell a Pink Cast Award!?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Treaty at Palmer Park

Over the course of the last six weeks Alex Nichols has prodded, slandered and generally ruined any chance of ever regaining my social standing in the Colorado Springs running community. He has called my bet and pushed all his chips into the pot. 

My response? Never bend to a tyrant. Nothing would please Alex more than to beat me in four consecutive races (although his use of murderous flying insects has drawn international scorn). So my only choice is to deny him this very satisfaction. 

I will leave the Fall Series with my honor intact. I shall sabbatical in the desert of the Southwest for an undetermined amount of time (Sunday probably). Where upon I will pursue great spiritual and homeopathic healing. 

So enjoy your spoils Mr. Nichols as I abdicate my position on the starting line. Your hollow victory shall be remembered for my absence. 

USATF Trail Half Marathon Championships, Moab, UT…aka where there is no internet access

Recently, at the Moab Trail Marathon/Half Marathon, Team Colorado officially had an unofficial Team Colorado party in Moab, UT at the USATF Trail Half Marathon Championships. All the big guns showed up, and in addition to the party they raced a half marathon (and a marathon, in Sage's case) over slick rocks, up a creek and and through picturesque arches with alien hieroglyphs.

Let's see, we had Stevie Kremer, Megan Kimmel, Jared Scott, Justin Ricks, Sage Canaday and probably others that might have been under an alias.

Stevie does it again…and again…and again…                                photo: Rich Bolt/USMRT

A big congratulatory fist bump goes out to the new USATF Trail Half Marathon Champion Stevie "Sunshine" Kremer. You did it…AGAIN! Stevie ran an impressive 1:38:08, with Melody Fairchild of Boulder, CO in 2nd (1:40:11) and past USATF 10K Trail Champion and 2012 co-Trail Runner of the Year (along with Stevie--what a team, we share everything!) Megan Kimmel placed 3rd (1:42:57) in this very competitive women's field. 

Stevie said her legs were so short that she "might as well have put on a snorkel and started swimming." Similarly, Megan said she experienced a wardrobe malfunction and finished the race "with water gushing out of the top of my socks."
The top women (Stevie 2nd/Megan 3rd from right)                          photo: Rich Bolt/USMRT

Jared, sporting Numero Uno, ran a lot of the race with fellow Team Coloradan, Justin Ricks, swapping the 2nd place position like it was a bad joke. 

Jared told us, "The race was great! Good course with varying terrain, but nothing too incredibly steep on the half marathon course. Justin and I battled the last few miles of the race...he's an animal on those down hills! We went off course descending off that one cliff face but only a minute or so off course. The course was pretty well marked with pink flagging so staying on course was more of a matter of maintaining focus and not zoning out which can be tough during a race. Running through the creek was chilly and deep in spots, I decided that running on the banks was better than the creek itself. Overall a good day."

Justin started off with a black veil to be incognito                               photo: Denise Ricks

He also added, "There is a lot of radioactivity around Moab. In fact, there is a huge Government Superfund clean up site just up river from where we raced. I'm not sure how that affected our race performance.

Well, they will know when they start to grow webbed feet.

Jared looking happy even after wading through the toxic creek                     photo: Rich Bolt/USMRT
Still life with Justin and phallic rock                                    photo: Rich Bolt/USMRT 
Justin documented his experience on his blog with a write up on the race and his busy race schedule in different states in the the same weekend. 

           They just called it even and each took 2nd & a half place…then embraced                      photo: Rich Bolt/USMRT
Sage Canaday took a wrong turn and went off course in the marathon and ended up finishing in 2nd place (3:20:42), then, after coming through the finishing shoot, he took a wrong turn and we have still yet to hear from him. We think he ran back to Boulder, CO.

Sage getting interviewed by Edwin Moses after he took a wrong turn in the marathon           photo: Rich Bolt/USMRT

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Manitou Springs Emma Crawford Coffin Races

Team M.E.R.M.O.: The Medicinally Enhanced Rocky Mountain Oysters
HELLO control-top panty hose!

It all started on a rainy night in Manitou Springs in the fall of '29 (1929, that is)…let's call it a VERY RAINY NIGHT, much like the rains of 2013…when the torrents carved at the mountainsides and brought Emma Crawford's coffin--who believed she would R.I.P.--down from Red Mountain in Manitou Springs at a such a blistering pace that only a true Manitoid could handle. We shall call it M.E.R.M.O. pace! And if M.E.R.M.O. didn't have to run that avenue 3 times, M.E.R.M.O. would have caught you Emma…with our Oysters! Our Rocky Mountain Oysters! Our Medicinally Enhanced Rocky Mountain Oysters!!! Ergo…The Emma Crawford Coffin Race!

M.E.R.M.O. disguised as Team Colorado…wait, maybe the other way around. Anyway, these four anatomically correct Oyster-looking creatures pushed a coffin lovingly named "Oyster" up Manitou Ave faster than Emma could have ever imagined. We even had our very own 21st Century Emma inside! She was alive, of course, because pushing a cadaver around town in a speedy coffin is frowned upon in Manitou Springs. Matt Carpenter, city councilman, would NOT approve.

But first, it started with the celebratory parade of coffins where all the ladies were checking out our sugar lumps…oysters, our oysters! There were ghouls, Waldos and Oysters abundant…oh, and this little pig.
…and this little piggy went to the Emma Crawford Coffin Races

Oysters don't like Armadillos, they give them punches to the snout to wipe that big grin off their faces!
Our faithful entourage was not ashamed of how shuckin' ridiculous our oysters looked
M.E.R.M.O. were not on the same page as to where the mountains were, luckily our entourage was on their game

A great ginger once said" Poll to poll, tuck and roll." What a wise ginger!

Nipples don't magically appear…they have to be drawn on...

 …and so does chest hair…

 …and that hair that grows up your stomach that connects the rest of the hair on your body!

Flexing is hard work…but Oyster was so happy to be outside in the Rocky Mountain Air

Round 1: M.E.R.M.O. was given the poll position with race number #1 (foreshadowing, perhaps?) and raced the Manitou Springs Fire Dept. in the ~180 meters up Manitou Ave.  Fire Dept. teams are always strong contenders, probably because their jobs here in Colorado are extremely busy, especially in the last two years, keeping them in tip-top coffin racing shape. The Oysters pulled out a convincing victory but had to wait for the other 48 teams to compete before knowing if they would qualify for the finals with one of the top 4 fastest times. And so it turned into a waiting game.

Oysters get shuckin' tired and need to flex when standing in the sun all morning…diapers are a necessity!

Round 2: After 50 teams had competed, M.E.R.M.O. was informed that our time wasn't recorded and we, along with the Manitou Springs Fire Dept., had to complete another run. We ran so fast, they weren't even able to to get a time on us! After much searching, the Manitou Spring Fire Dept. were all able to get back to the line and we ran that avenue again. The  Fire Dept. had lost control and crashed into the barrier while team M.E.R.M.O. shucked a good one and qualified for the finals with one of the 4 fastest times of the day, 23.72.

"Man those Oysters are FAST!"
                                          -Mustached Announcer
Emma was a little confused with what just happened…we shucked 'em, we shucked 'em hard

Round 3: With only 3 minutes of recovery (Oysters need recovery!) M.E.R.M.O. had to toe (or oyster, rather) the line again in one of two finals races. With toasted oysters, M.E.R.M.O. put forth a valiant effort, however, left driver M.E.R.M.O. connects foot to Oyster shell and goes down. Leaving M.E.R.M.O. to finish in the Blue Angels Missing Man FormationIt's a shuckin' shame! 

M.E.R.M.O. goes down!
M.E.R.M.O. Missing Man Formation
M.E.R.M.O. earned a 4th finish behind some very strong, but not nearly as well dressed, teams: 1st - Ghoul's Gulch, 2nd - Catamount Fire Dept., 3rd - Thriller. Congrats to all the coffin racers, it was a shuckin' amazing day! 

(historical Note: M.E.R.M.O. is the only team to run 3 times at the Emma Crawford Coffin Race).
Celebratory Oyster Bump! Someone's oysters were not pointed the correct way.

No, Emma would not have rolled over in her grave if she saw this. She would have, however, enjoy a fast ride up Manitou Ave!

Name those M.E.R.M.O. boobs? For a prize…from our sponsors…do we even have sponsors??? 

Oh, yes we do! Select PT, employer of our very own Gute, made sure our oysters were nice and limber before the races and tended to our badly toasted Rocky Mountain Oysters afterwards…because oysters need a lot of physical therapy. Select PT (Melissa, Gute and Shelly) can be found in downtown Colorado Springs and can poke, prod and tape up YOUR oysters, too!

2South Wine Bar in Old Colorado City supplied us with the banner in which to rest our weary oysters on, along with wine in which to bast our oysters in. Visit them at 2 South 25th Street in Old Colorado City and you can bast your oysters as well.

Thanks for the support! Actually, left rear oyster needed some support of the jock kind.

*No Oysters were harmed in the pushing of this coffin…well, maybe one but he has since recovered.

"All I have to say is we were shuckin' fast on those first two runs!"
                                                                                      -Right front driver