Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Enjoy More Mountain

View from Box Elder Peak - 11, 150'
So it's been a while.  I just got back from Utah where I was ran the Jupiter Peak Steeplechase on Saturday.  It was the final race in the La Sportiva Mountain Cup.  The race went pretty well.  I finish 5th overall and got 4th place in the final standings in the Mountain Cup.  My good friends, Ryan Woods and Megan Kimmel, were the winners of the Cup.  Ryan became the first two time winner on the men's side and this was Megan's 5th Mountain Cup title.  For my race, I ran quite well up the mountain in the first half.  Not as much of a given as in the past, actually I've had more issues in the past year and sometimes climb rather poorly.  Such as I did not run well as the USA Mountain Championships in New Hampshire in July nor two weeks ago at a Cup race in California.  Back to this past Saturday, at the top I was not far behind Ryan who was in 3rd and right with Justin Ricks.  I confirmed with Justin that Bret, 5th in the Mtn. Cup, was behind us and decided to let Justin go.  I just wanted to cruise down the mountain, hold 4th place in the Cup, and not feel like I'd run myself into the ground once again.

View up Twin Peaks
On the run down I was thinking about the run that I wanted to do the next day.  I've have done a lot of thinking over the past year.  Such as what is my purpose for being on this planet called Earth?  How did we all get here?  Is God really real?  I think this is about the third time in life that I've really searched through many of these questions.  The questioning was definitely prompted by my sister's passing.  I was little surprised by how much questioning I fell into.  To give my quick answers to those questions, my purpose is to enjoy as much as possible and do good.  Not sure if the order should be do good and enjoy?  I do want to enjoy responsibly, which makes me question all the traveling that I do.  Is that good for the planet?  Does my work benefit the planet either?  How much does it matter?  Maybe I'm just thinki
ng in my own head too much.  Anyway I base this purpose from the book of Ecclesiastes (3.12) in the bible and my own experiences.  On the enjoying as much as possible, one my big goals for 2015 is to cut activities from my life.  I want to enjoy the activities that I do more fully and do less things better.

How did we get here?  I don't know!  How much does it matter?  I swing back and forth on that one, though I'm sure I'll keep asking it from time to time.  Is there a God?  I am 51% sure there is a God.  I hope folks can understand that.  I'm sure my parents would not.  For me, 51% means that I've chose a path, I believe.  Of course this is all about faith right?  I have a lot of faith, 49% to be exact.  So back to this past weekend and how
all my thinking impacted it.

On Friday I did a 8-10 mile out and back with 4000'+ of elevation gain up to Twin Peaks.  Not what I would have done in years past on the day before an important race or any race.  I have been and still am a very competitive person.  That has driven much of my running in the past.  But maybe the competitiveness is fading a little.  But I also enjoy being in and traversing mountainsides and mountain tops.  So I wanted to enjoy Friday and Saturday, and Sunday.  Sunday I went up on top of Box Elder peak.  That was ~14 miles with 5500' of elevation difference from trailhead to peak.  I was hoping to see some mountain goats on those runs, but I'll have to keep seeking.

Where is my running headed for the future?  No sure on some of it, but it'll definitely include more mountain runs.  My back is still intermittently a problem.  Now I have some circulatory and heart rate issues.  But my competitiveness is not quite gone yet.  I'm training for Crystal Mountain SkyMarathon as of Sunday.  Then I have the USA Trail Marathon Championships in November.  Definitely more mountain enjoyment.  Hopefully I'll do some good for someone too.

Thanks for those of you that have encouraged me to post some new blogs.  We'll see how long until my next post, no promises.  Maybe I'll get around to some of my adventures from the last year, no promises.

What happens when you meander wildlife

Ready for quote out of context?
I turned to Alison and said, "Suck more, squeeze less."

Come on, I guess I'll have to explain that one a little.  I was telling Alison how to drink out of the Ultimate Direction bottle with out it dribbling on her.  Anyway, thanks to UD for taking me on as a UD Ambassador.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Off Trail with a Turtle

I’ve been lost up a strange turtle trail. To sort of explain that, I sometimes say I chase turtles through the woods for fun. So I think I followed a turtle off trail in past few months. Maybe I’ve found my way back on trail now, but somehow it feels a little different. Spain and France were a unique experience. I came back feeling relatively good with running and life. The biggest experience from the trip was how blessed I am to be in this life partnership with Alison. I missed her on the trip and thought quite a bit how good life is with her and I should do/be better. Two days after getting back, my sister Theresa was told she only had 3-6 months to live. She’d been diagnosed with a terminal illness 16 years ago and had a double lung transplant 3 years ago. Theresa died the following Tuesday, 6 days later. I was prepared for her death, but I was still left with an odd feeling that lingered or still lingers.

A couple of days later I destroyed my right ankle. It was really an accumulation of rolling it, but this did it in. I limped when I walked for two weeks. My motivation with running stumbled off trail and fell off a cliff. I was burnt out. Add the frustration of having to cancel the Beech Mountain 10K that I was race director for and I was a bit out mentally.

But I got better. (Say with a strong British accent for full effect.)

I'm currently in Wales for the IAU World Trail Championships.  So hopefully I can get a little more time to post some updates of what's been happening on my "turtle trail" experiences.
Young Mountain Goat among the hills of  Wales

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Ups and Downs of Spain

Hola.  I was blessed to be invited to race and visit some in Spain by a new friend that I met this past August at TransRockies, Lolo Diez.  It has been a blast so far.  My first race was on Saturday and went okay I was 6th overall and 3rd Master.  It was cool to make to podium for Masters.

2600+' of vertical in 4K, and snow.  Like 3' at the top.
Pretty sweet photo by Ruben Fueyo, Thanks!

Zinca is 3rd from left, Raul is to my right.
My time was 34:45.  The winner was Ionut Zinca in 30:55, who is a top European mountain runner.  Raul Garcia Castan, a very well known Spainish mountain runner, was 3rd and 1st Master. 

Sunday was a 31K mountain race, Carrera Alto Sil.  The race was voted the best international mountain race in Spain by  The course was challenging, beautiful, nasty footing, vertical; just right for me.  My legs were done at 8K.  I think it was a combination of travel, 40 hours without sleep while traveling, and the vertical race the day before.  It was frustrating to be unable to race, but I walked a lot and covered the whole course.  It was a beautiful course.  Regardless of the difficulties, I hope I am learning to appreciate more of all the lessons that running, mountains, and God are teaching me, no matter how difficult for me to face.  Below I'll post some photos.  I'll try to write more about my experience and reflections when I return.  You can also check my Facebook page as there are more photos and links to photos.

The Wall - At 4K
Running up to mountain hut in Spainish Pyrenees

Some ruins under peak up the mountain behind our lodging

Oswaldo climbing behind ruins

Oswaldo, Stephan, and JB

Hopping around Spain

Sunday, March 3, 2013

I sipped the Water, but was denied the Drink at Nueces 50 Mile

Straight up, this is a hard blog to write right now.  My feelings are swinging between stop racing all together and I want to attack one, two, several races over the coming year.  To be honest, Alison hears this somewhat often.  Though, I feel at an even more unstable place than my normal mental and physical strain of racing.  Yesterday was the USA 50 Mile Trail Championships at Nueces 50 Mile Trail Race.  I was 3rd again.  That is now ten 3rds at USATF trail and ultra championships.  Plus I've been 3rd at many, many of my other races.  Third is better than fourth, but...

As for yesterday's race, things were going quite well for a while.  Nueces consists of three 16.67 mile loops.  My split for the first loop was fast and I came through in a group comprised of 2nd through 5th.  This pack was comprised of myself, Cody Moat, Brian Ruseicki, and David Brown.  Paul Terranova had ran off early on and had about a 3 minute lead.  On the first big climb about 5 1/2 miles into the second loop, I broke away from the pack.  Only Cody was able to reel me back in after things leveled out.  Around 11 miles into the second loop, we hit the second big climb of each loop.  Paul was in sight.  This climb is around 1 1/2 miles long.  By the top, I had gapped Cody just a little, though Paul had surged a little upon seeing us.  I was feeling good and moving.  I came through this loop with another really good split, on track to break the course record.  I was about 40 seconds behind Paul and almost 30 ahead of Cody.  I could taste the cool waters of a win coming.

That did not last very long.  Just a couple of miles later I was starting to struggle.  I wasn't diagnosising my issue very well, I just was beginning to have problems holding pace.  Had I pushed too hard, too soon?  At least I had chased the win.  Was this some new back issue?  I didn't think so.  I saw Cody closing on some switchbacks.  We were together for a little ways.  He moved on and I would not be going with him.  I knew that was the end of my race to win.  That was hard.  I had really wanted to win; for myself, for friends at home who encourage me, for those who read my blog, for my sister in really bad health, for runners I meet in my travels and cheer for me at races all over the country, and all the folks who'd been encouraging me during yesterday's race.

My struggles increased and I eventually noticed that my watch was really tight.  I looked at my hands.  They were really swollen.  I loosend the watch a notch.  It had gotten warm and I just realized that I was not sweating.  Soon my hands were so swollen that I could not straighten my fingers and the watch was tight again.  I could tell my legs were swelling.  Had I miss managed my hydration, fueling or was this just my issues with heat as I have problems adjusting to heat every spring?  Those are questions I'll consider in the coming days.  I was now walk/running the flat sections.  I was ready to DNF, but 10 miles from the finish, still in third and first master.  I had to just keep moving my feet and focus on the next step.  The walking allowed me to cool a little, then run, heat up, and walk again.  I would not be running any hills now, which is normally a strength of mine.  Just walking the hills was over heating me plenty.  I was trudging.  Somehow I finished 1:50 faster than last year, but the last loop was my slowest loop ever.

I have to admit to being frustrated.  I thought the win was going to happen.  Some may say that I should just enjoy running and the beautiful places that I go.  I think I do, but I have a competitive personality.  Several who know me and my ablities would say, do say, that I am overachieving anyway.  If you look at my PRs listed along the right, my times compare better to the elite women than the men.  In fact, quite a few of the women have faster PRs than mine.  And before you think it, yes I've trained and tried to run fast on the roads.  I am often asked about running in college; I went to NC State, the coach told my high school coach that I was too slow to train with the team.  I DON'T CARE.  This is trail and mountain racing.  I have a strange talent for the trails and mountains.  All I know is to keep fighting for that big win against competitive fields.  At the end of the day, there is something about the struggle that keeps pulling me back in regardless of how frustrated or despondent I feel.  There is some truth in knowing who you really are that can only be discovered in some struggle.  Does self-pity swallow you?  Do you fight to the end?  There is that something about the difficulty of these races that strips one bare of all your self protections.  Again this is me probably being too honest, but that is me and the point of my blog.  But I have won and could win more races somewhat comfortably.  Granted you never know who will be at any given race, but I could pick what are typically less competitive races.  I am drawn to competition that pushes me to the very limits of what my body can do.  How will I repond to each struggle.  I must say that writing this has been quite cathartic.  I may ready for the next struggle.

A final positive for me from yesterday came from Big Chris who mans the Texas aid station.  He told me after the race what he thought as I approached Texas aid station for the last time.  He said I was the picture of suffering and thought to himself, this guy really knows how to suffer.  I do like to think suffering is one of my abilities and appreciated his comments.  I wish I could have won for Chris too.

Top Results:
1. Cody Moat               6:26.03  Course Record
2. Paul Terranova          6:32.10
3. Jason Bryant             6:46.09  1st Master - Masters Course Record
4. Brian Ruseicki           6:55.22
5. Brandon Ostrander   7:08.46

1. Michele Yates           6:53.25  Course Record
2. Melanie Fryar           7:33.58
3. Pam Smith                7:39.19
4. Sydney Pitt               7:53.16

1st Female Master - Anabel Pearson 9:16.31

Monday, February 25, 2013

How to Have Fun on the La Sportiva Mountain Cup

Number 1, find someone willing to do foolish things with you.  Your chances seem better with younger folk, but I am 40.  Plus my friend Bernie who's 48 seems to be willing to do foolish things so maybe age doesn't matter.  My foolish someone this weekend, Everett Russell, a La Sportiva Marketing guy.

Number 2, don't worry if what you doing seems necessarily wise.  This sounds seems odd for me to be saying as I told Everett that one of the life lessons I think people should learn is to stop and ask yourself, "Is this a stupid thing to do?"

Number 3, run more on trails... at any time.

To shorten my foolish story, I drove up to Reading, PA with Ryan Woods on Saturday for the Chilly Cheeks trail race as it is on the La Sportiva Mountain Cup.  Ryan wisely chose to run near the hotel, get something to eat, and relax at the hotel.  I got Everett to meet me and we went over to run the course in the dark, in a light rain and heavy fog.  The Petzl headlamps were a must for rough trails and no moon.  The new Nao light is like having a car headlight lighting the way.  Not sure exactly where the course was, we roamed around a bit until we found some flagging.  We were running it backwards, but that works for me.  It was muddy, so at times you'd start sliding downhill and it was best to just go with it.  It was rocky, so it was best not to crash down onto them.  It was really foggy, so it was just really hard to see some rockiness, mud, or even course markings.  It was a blast and great to get to know Everett more.  It was the right kind to stupid for my head.

Everett and I got some food.  Then I went back to the hotel to grope Ryan's butt.  He made me do it.  Don't take me too seriously, Ryan is a professional... chiropractor.  He was just having me help him do some active release on a tight glute muscle.  But I am going to try it on Alison.  I then did some self massage which I have been doing quite a lot of lately, seriously.  Actually, I think it has helped a lot with my back issues.  So back to Reading.  Shortly after we got there race morning, I saw Matt Byrne who I expected to be there.  Later I saw Jordan McDougal.  I knew he'd be quick and near the front.  I've gotten to know several folks up in that area from the races I do there, plus several come down to my 10km Trail Championship every year.  It was good to see some of them.  Megan Kimmel was also out from Colorado for the women.  Races seem to be almost as much visit with friends as race.

Photo from last years finish.
I had been tight all week from the Red Hot race and actually took a couple days completely off.  Instead of running, I did an hour plus of yoga and another hour plus of self massage one day.  Then on the other day off, I did more than 2 hours of self massage.  I was a little unsure how the race would go. Quite a few guys went out fast.  I had seen the first mile of the course during warmup and decided to be a little conservative.  There was steep, bushwhacking scrabble about a 1/2 mile into the race.  I was back past 10 place.  Once up that on the road briefly before the trail I settled into 8th.  My legs were still feeling the Moab.  Nothing hurt, there just wasn't a lot of life and I noticed it most on the climbing.  Plus I spent a lot of the race thinking about various things, not entirely focused on racing.  I had moved up to 5th about 3 miles in and could see the white singlet of 4th throughout and often catch sight of another yellow La Sportiva singlet.  I thought this was Ryan, but it turned out to be Matt.  I kept thinking if I could keep focus I might catch 3rd, but I kept having trouble with the focusing thing.  Eventually I stopped seeing the yellow singlet and just tried to focus on 4th.

Coming up to the aid station at 4 miles I could hear the cheering for 3rd as I was close enough to know it was not for the 4th place guy.  I was told that I was 2+ minutes back of first.  I was actually surprised to hear I was that close with how I felt and my lack of focus.  As I was nearing the big, technical climb at 5 miles, I was closing on 4th.  I put my head down and set about closing the gap.  A couple of minutes later, I looked up to see Ryan coming back down from missing a turn.  I took the turn right in behind 4th and Ryan.  Honestly, I knew the next 1 and 1/2 miles were technical and suited my strengths.  My instincts were to race.  Ryan and I traded place a couple of times across the hill.  We turned steeply up and I thought I could pull by, so did.  Then it was my kind of tough, technical down.  I got a small gap on Ryan in getting down the next 3/4 mile.  Now we were on more flat terrain for a almost 1/4 mile.  I knew Ryan was close, then I could hear him closing.  I knew there was a short trail and steep climb about 150 yards from the finish.  I thought to just run like the turn onto the trail was the finish.  As I turned onto the trail, I could tell Ryan was now on top of me.  Then I looked up to see Matt.  I had a quick thought of whether I could catch Matt, but knew he was only 50 or so yards from the finish.  There was a guardrail to go over which I hopped cleanly.  Now we were on the climb and I knew it would be hard for Ryan to get by there.  But there was a flat 30-40 yards at the top.  I hopped over the last big rock at the top and sprinted.  Ryan was right on me, but said that me hopping up that last rock left him with no chance to sprint in with me.

 I felt a bit bad about beating Ryan that way, but between gun and finish all my instincts are race.  I then found out that Ryan had actually been in 2nd when he went off course.  I had been seeing Matt throughout the majority of the race.  I felt bad for Ryan.  He was really cool about it and knows that's one of the sucky things with trail racing.  I had a missed turn last year in New Mexico that ruined a race.  It just sucks.  On the drive home, Ryan pointed out that I had been 5 minutes behind he and Matt last year.  Last year was a similar distance and in the same area of trails.  I was just 11 seconds behind Matt and 2:48 behind Jordan.  I am feeling quick.  I'm looking forward to next weekend at Nueces and feeling really good about my fitness and speed going into it.  Especially with my races these last two weeks.  I have done a bit more speed work on the track this winter.  Plus I've done 10 x 1 mile with 1 minute recovery a few times over the winter.  My last mile repeat workout started in the low 5:50s and finished at 5:45.  I'll see how it goes in a week.

If you want to see my race coverage and Mountain Cup standings report, go to  Also if any of the folks up in PA got some pictures again this year, I like to get a couple again.  I really appreciate the ones I got last year.  Sorry I wasn't able to stay and visit more.  I hope to see you at my 10K this year.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Something is Wrong with Me, Mountain Cup - Moab Red Hot 33K

Running over Private Arch
I went out to Moab knowing that Red Hot is not my best course, but then again there aren’t many courses that really match my talents.  Though some courses are better than others.  Overall, Red Hot 33K has more of my less preferred terrain, than my more preferred terrain.  There is a lot of road or jeep road on the 33K course.  Actually, the whole course is road or jeep road, but about half is drivable with any SUV 4x4.  The other half would need a need a modified, big wheel, high clearance 4x4.  There is a decent climb at the beginning, but it is only a mile and not steep.  I’m not sure that there is another sustained climb for the rest of the course, but there are several steep ups and downs in the middle 9-10 miles.  I like this part of the course, except I need to work on my slickrock navigating skills, or it’d be helpful to run the course more before the race.  I spent a bit of time stopping or at least slowing down to try and find the course markings.  I wasn’t the only one.

Double O Arch - Arches National Park
As for how my race went, it was unique I guess, but positive.  I led up the climb of the first mile which I wasn’t too surprised by.  Once we crested and the road flatted, a parade of runners cruised by.  Again, I’ve grown very accustom to this.  I heard from some of these guys that they were doing low to mid 5 minute pace.  Not a pace I do for more than 1-2, maybe 3, miles and then stop running.  I was quickly in 6th and by the first aid station at 4.4 miles, even 5th place was completely out of sight.  I was very glad to finally get off the dirt road.  The course mostly climbed up to the aid station at 8.1 miles.  This section was good for me as I got into 5th and even 1st was in sight as I approached the aid station.  The section between the second and third aid station was a challenge to follow the course.  I was never really off course, I just couldn’t click along at a pace.  Again, I wasn’t the only one.  However, Justin Ricks knew the course a little better and made good use of this knowledge to break away.  He and second place made a point to get out of sight quickly so no one could follow them.  For me, it was run, then slow down or stop to look for flagging.  James, the guy who I’d caught for 5th, kept directing me back to flagging and I eventually gave up on breaking away from him as he was better at finding the flagging.  We eventually caught 3rd and 4th, one of whom being Josh Brimhall.  We searched for flagging and ran as a group to the third aid station.  I knew the last 5 miles were on relatively fast jeep roads that were flat to down.  I was screwed.

Speed is not a talent of mine.  I had meet Josh in 2011 when we ran at the IAU Trail World Championships in Ireland.  Ireland was harsh, my kind of course, like really my kind of course.  Well, except for some road sections.  I knew Josh had good speed.  I could tell the other guy that James and I had caught with Josh had good speed.  James seemed to have solid speed as well.  I would say that it was decision time in the race, but that is not entirely true.  I’d made my decision well before the gun was shot at the start.  I was there to race.  At times it doesn’t matter what you may be good at or not be good at.  I knew it was time to take all systems to the red line and see how long it’d last.  The only other option was to surrender and jog it.  Not an option as far as I was concerned.

Alison running up a spine in Arches NP
I have noticed that I have the ability to access basically whatever speed that I have regardless of fatigue.  I’ve noticed that can be hard for others.  The abuse of climbs and descents does not kill my legs or the speed they can produce.  I have trouble doing 5:30 for 1-2 miles fresh, but 6 minute pace is available almost anytime.  So at 15 miles I dropped my pace to 6 minute pace or just under and was going to hold it for as long as I could.  I was a little surprised to be catching Josh who had gotten out of the aid station first.  I worked by him, slowly.  I could hear the other guys behind me, but no one was pulling up on my shoulder.  Eventually, I could only definitely hear one guy close, breathing hard.  Just over a mile from the finish he pulled ahead and now I was hanging on.  Again, what other choice was there, I was racing.  As we got closer to the finish, he created a small gap.  Then we hit a steep, rocky downhill.  I knew that was now in my wheelhouse and was able to catch him and get a very small gap.  Then it was flat again and again he was able to pull by.  A couple more turns and I saw the jeep road get rocky again.  Problem was I could also see the finish less than a 100 yards ahead.  Too few rocks and too late.  I hate getting beaten right at the end.  Seconds after crossing the finish, I got the guy’s name, Trent Briney.  No consolation, I hate getting out kicked.  As my friend and former high school coach said, “The good thing about getting out kicked by good people... you were at least racing with them at the end.”  You know what, I hate getting beaten right at the end.

Landscape Arch - Arches National Park
Okay I’ll stop with that.  There does seem to be something wrong with me.  I'm still getting ever so slightly faster as I get older.  Turning 40 has actually had some negatives physically, but some positives.  The biggest positive being my improving performance.  I surprised myself in that last five miles.  I had honestly expected all three guys to run away from me in those last 5 miles to the finish.  Though I was not just gong to let it happen.  I felt really good about that finishing section.  That was definitely out of my comfort zone, but rewarding in that I feel that I performed reasonably well.  The getting out kicked is still eating at me.  For most who read my blog, you expect my honest feelings at this point and I wanted that place.  I was glad to set a new masters course record by several minutes, breaking that of my friend Bernie.  My final thoughts on the race, what is up with me breaking previous course records and not winning races?  I've done this at least 10-15 times over the past few years.

I'm headed up the Reading, PA next weekend.  I always seem to enjoy the races in PA, plus I'll get to see several folks I know up there.  In two weeks I head to Texas, for Nueces 50 mile which the bulk of my training has been geared toward.  I've done a little more speed workouts over this winter, plus some 10 x 1 mile with 1 minute recoveries this winter.  I've been doing these miles at 5:50-55 pace with the last one a little faster.  Seems to be working based on Saturday.  I hope that I'm ready to knock off a bit of time from my previous performances there.  I'll find out in two weeks.

For my race coverage and Mountain Cup results/standings, check my website Mountain Goat Racing
I also hope you'll check out my race on that site as well.  Plus I hope you check my previous blog and give more input on my 10K course, what is too tough?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Designing the 10km Trail Championship course. Is this guy crazy? Your job to keep me Sane.

What is too hard?  Does such a thing even exist?  Want to have some input into a Trail Championship course?  What is Jason talking about?
East Coast Hills - Reading, PA
See you in a couple of weeks.

I am doing some races at Beech Mountain this year with one of those races being the USA 10km Trail Championships.  Thus I have been working on laying out a new course.  At my new site there are options of twisting single track multi-use trails, grassy ski slopes, wide tree covered trails between slopes, and some primitive off the mountain single track trails.  My previous race, Continental Divide Trail Race, got to be known for its challenging layout.  I like challenging courses.  When I think "Trail Championship", I think about, well... trails, mountain trails.  I actually looked up the definition of trail, which of course there are several definitions of trail.  Plus we use the word trail in many ways and add bike trail, horse trail, but I digress.  The definition from Free Dictionary was "a marked or beaten path, as through the woods or wilderness."  I like words like "beaten," "woods," "wilderness."  Merriam-Webster defined trail as "a track made by passage especially through a wilderness; a marked or established path or route especially through a forest or mountainous region."  Again words like "mountainous," I like that.  "Trail Championship" to me doesn't mean a run through the local park that requires basically the same skill set a running on the road.  Nothing against running on the road, but my sport is "trail" running.  IT IS a different skill set.  Trail running has very little to do with setting a rhythm and getting in a groove.  It is the antithesis of rhythm.  Trails are all about irregular, off-balance steps, so do you have the skills to maintain speed on that.  Trail racing is about the ability to constantly shift gears, from a grinding uphill hike, to nearly flat out speed across a ridge or valley, to almost unconscious plummets downhill, and so on.  Trail racing is a mental exercise of constant focus, yet loss of time or distance traveled.  Trails often travel irregular terrain to get somewhere inconvenient often up and down steep grades.  Trails are about taking a path less traveled.  Maybe I will have to stop writing now because I've made myself want to go for a run in the mountains.

Okay I'll keep writing for now and look forward to running some Moab, UT trails this weekend.  Alison says I can take things too far.  I would disagree, but I do have to acknowledge that after listening to others comments about me for 40 years, I am an extreme personality.  I had learned to keep some of my thoughts, and activities, to myself.  Though when I found the trail community, I found my people.  Quite a few in the trail community seem to find me almost normal.  Well maybe at least not too out there by their standards.  So anyway, about laying out the course for the 10km Trail Championships.  I took Alison to run my idea for the course.  I think she knew that it would tough, but she thought it may be a little too tough.  I'll confess that I love to virtually dive straight off a mountain or grind straight back up, which you can see below.  It is the shortest, quickest way down or up.  But this route has a 1/2 mile 20% descent that Alison thought was a bit much.  I just said, "Bend your knees more and think quick feet.  It's kind of the position of downhill skiing, but you're running."  This descent was followed by a 1/4 mile run on a fireroad, then a 3/10 climb at 30%.  Yes, it goes straight up the mountain.  So does this sound like too much?

Just look at that beautiful dip!
A friend, Ryan Woods, has agreed to go out to preview the course with me.  He has said that I hate road runners.  Not true, I love trails and mountains.  I've never seen a mountain too big or a trail too hard.  Not to say that I won't someday, but not yet.  But I don't care for road runners complaining about trail running not being running.  For my previous Continental Divide course, Bobby Mack converted that track and road speed into a win, a second, and a third on that tough trail course.  Another great example is Max King.  He has run fast on road and track(6th in the steeple at the 2012 Olympic Trials), plus is the 2011 World Champion at mountain running.  Don't tell me that covering hard mountainous trails has nothing to do with speed.  I'll have to ask Max for his opinion.  But here is your chance to give me your opinion.  Help me plan the USA 10km Trail Championship course at Beech Mountain.  Seriously, I want your input.  Don't be afraid to be honest, Alison gives it to me all the time.  You can tell me that I'm a psychopath, just let me know that you like said psychopath.  I will take any input into consideration, but I reserve the right of final decision.  As I see it, my opinion and that of Joyce Hodges-Hite are top of the list.  She is 70+ and has finished Continental Divide every year winning her age group.  Her opinion will carry a lot of weight as I want a course she would do.  Finally, keep in mind that challenging trails are just my opinion of what are fun trails.  I like the challenge and beauty offered on most tougher courses.  I believe variety is good, if others like more tame trails, that is the course they should design.  I have no problem with parks or gentle paths, just this is my idea of what a trail championship race should be.  But I would like it to be an event others like as well, thus my call for your opinions.

Interview on MTN 18