Wakarusa Off-Road Challenge

Well, its done.  I have completed my first “Adventure” race and let me say that it was one of the most fun competitions I have ever participated in.  The weather that day was absolutely perfect.  It was 70 when the race started and 85 at noon.

That day started pretty early for me.  Lawrence, KS is about an hour from me and I had to pick up my team-mate.  I woke up about 5:00am.  I was pretty excited about the race but I had slept pretty well.  We loaded our bikes ate some food and headed on our way.

Car loaded and ready to go

The race takes place on the Lawrence river trails along the Kansas River.  We registered and set up our gear in the grassy transition are.  Transition AreaNow it was time to wait……..

Run 2.2 Miles

The first mile on the run was on the flat levy trail made of crushed gravel.  My team lined up towards the back.  I always struggle with the start of long races because my adrenaline is pumping so hard.  I was a sprinter in High School so I have to suppress that need to take off as fast as I can.  We were passing quite a few people but seemed to be running at a comfortable pace.  After a mile the trail turns onto the single track which has small undulations and quick turns.  This was so much fun running on this.  Our main goal was to beat some friends of ours who were about 10 years older than us.  During this run the were a little bit ahead of us.  I tried to keep them in my sights and not let them get too far ahead.

Split:  20:00

Mountain Bike 17.2 Miles

The transition to the mountain bike was slower than I would have liked it to be.  I was holding my teammate up through part of this.  I really didn’t practice the transition and could see the benefits of that now.  We led out on the flat levy trail again for the first 4 miles.  We once again passed a few people but not many since I was running a single speed.  Once we turned onto the single track that was were the real action started.  It felt like we were flying through these trails.  I will say that these are some of the fastest trails I have ridden.  I was happy with my decision to run a single speed with a 2:1 gear ratio.  I was able to tear through these trails on that machine.  The hardest part about this leg was passing people.  The trails were narrow, most people would be curtious when you asked for a pass but there were some that would not.  This caused some pretty big frustrations, especially when they completely stop on an uphill or at the bottom of a blind turn.  This was the one drawback to my bike.  I was like a diesel truck, it took me a while to get back up to speed, especially uphill.  My teammate was really killing this part.  He was taking corners faster than I could on my 29er, it was great to have someone pushing me like that.

Split: 86:00

Paddling 4.2 Miles

I was pretty happy with this transition.  I threw off my shoes, put on my running shoes, grabbed a drink and we were off to the water. This section we did not train for at all.  I was initially pretty worried about how we would do.  The river was calm.  We were able to get into a decent rhythm and just dug in and went.  We were passed by one team during this section but did not let anyone else catch us.  My arms were burning but we didn’t let up.  I was really proud of our performance here, especially for no training.

Split:  49:00

Run 4.1 Miles

Here is where things really mattered.  We have already put in about 2.5 hours of physical activity. Do we have what it takes to push out a 4 mile trail run?  My team-mate and I downed some GU Roctane and headed out on the trail.  My legs were definitely tight from sitting in the canoe for almost an hour.  After about a half mile they finally loosened up and things felt good.  We were passed by two teams but that would be it.  We found a guy running by himself and paced off of him for a few miles.  I was feeling pretty good buy my teammate was struggling.  His body was definitely ready to be done.  I applaud him greatly because he did not stop and pushed the 4 miles out (I also wouldn’t let him stop).  I am pretty sure I lied to him at least a dozen times  telling him we are almost there.  We broke out of the trees and headed for the finish line.

Split:  43:00

The Finish Line


Our total time was 3 hrs and 18 minutes.  We finished 16th out of 56 teams.  All in all I thoroughly enjoyed the race and can’t wait until I do it again next year.  My teammate says he will never do it again….we will see about that.


Congrats to everyone who participated in the race!  What an awesome experience.  Check out a video put together by http://www.thedirtieduckie.com/ whom I met afterwards.


Wakarusa Off Road Challenge 2011 Results

Up Next:  Kansas City Half Marathon





Things are Gettin’ Real!





As I am writing this post it is 14 days, 22 hours, and about 20 minutes from the start of my first off road race.  If you haven’t caught it in any of my previous posts this race consists of a 2 mile run, 17 mile mountain bike, 4 mile canoe, and 4 mile run, all on trails (with the exception of the canoe of course).  I am fairly optimistic about this race and I hope that does not come back to bite me.  I have been training pretty regularly for this as well as my first Half-Marathon in October.  My miles have picked up quite a bit.  I got in 17 miles of running in June, July I hit 38, and at this point in August I am  at 40!  My teammate has also been training hard but unfortunately we have not been able to train much together.  In this race both of us do everything at the same time and we cannot be more than 50 feet apart during the race.  I am thinking we can get top 10 but hopefully that is not too overly optimistic.

For the rest of the upcoming schedule things are going to start getting a little more difficult.  I have started my final semester of grad school which begins to tighten my schedule up quite a bit.  I find it difficulty to run in the mornings when I actually have time but I don’t have much time after work either.  I am also working one full time job and one part time job.  Hopefully I will be able to keep my miles up.

On a somewhat unrelated note I ran across a skunk on a recent long run.  I didn’t have my contacts in that morning and couldn’t quite make that out what was sitting in the middle of the trail.  We had a storm the night before so I was assuming it was debris from the trees along the trail.  When I got closer and saw the black and white tail lift into the air I knew exactly what I was dealing with.  Too bad I didn’t have a heart rate monitor because I am sure it spiked quite a bit right there.  Luckily he scooted to the side of the trail and didn’t spray me but I made sure I was past him as fast as possible.  Talk about speed work!


Do ugly shoes make you run faster?

The answer would be:  Yes.  It has been a little over a year since I have started running (fairly) regularly.  My current shoes will be getting towards the end of their running life this fall and it was time to throw another pair into the rotation.  I was looking for something lower to the ground, not as bulky, but still providing the stability that I think I need.  I went to Garry Gribble’s on two evenings and tried on a whole slew of shoes.  So naturally I picked the ugliest ones I could find.  The Mizuno Wave Elixir.  It really wasn’t my intention to get shoes that were so flashy but they felt good and were stiffer than many of the others.  (I have found that I don’t like super cushioned shoes, it feels liked I am bouncing along the road).  Hopefully these will carry me through to a decent finish at the Kansas City Half Marathon this October.  It will be my first….I still don’t know why I am doing it.  Now I just need to train more consistently so I wont collapse in the middle.

Running Wars Episode VI: Return of the Shod

Alright….I give up and I may be the only person in the world who has given up running in Vibram Five Fingers, at least that is what my Google searches tell me. I have been running in them for 3 months now at about 10-15 miles per week.  I have not been able to make it past the 3 mile mark for the last month without stabbing pain in my arch.  It would never hurt afterwards, just when I was running.  I understand that I may have done TMTS (too much too soon) but it has come to the point where I needed to make a decision.  With three races coming up in the next three months and all of them being 6 miles or longer I couldn’t see how I would be able to run in my VFF’s.  So the past two runs I have completed have been wearing my beefy stability shoes.  I know all of the barefoot runners and minimalist runners would curse me for becoming fully shod again but I didn’t have the patience to continue in my journey otherwise.  Although this process has been frustrating to me I have learned some good things.  I am a moderate overpronator which helps me understand where my arch pain is coming from.  I was not able to correct this with the VFF’s, I would find myself continuing to land on the outside of my foot towards the heel and land on my big toe putting a lot of stress on the arch.  While I was not completely able to change how my feet landed I was able to change where they have landed.  My stride has shortened allowing my feet to hit closer to my center of gravity and less on my heel extend out in front of me.

So far things have been going well.  I am starting to enjoy running again.  I really did like running in my VFF’s and feeling the road in a totally different way but it just wasn’t working for me.  Maybe I will try again some day when I don’t have a 1/2 marathon approaching in 3 months.

Wakarusa: Fozzie Bear’s off road race?

One thing that I have found out about myself over the years is that if I don’t have a goal I become like the sloth.  Not like the cute ones you see on Go Diego Go! but the actual ones that barely leave their spot and move incredibly slow.  I never really liked going to the gym so instead I set up small goals a few months out to work towards.  For example I am hoping to run the 10k at the North Face Endurance Challenge.  It seems to be a little out of reach because my transition to the Vibram Five Fingers is going slower than I would wish.  Beyond that I have set a goal that may not be quite so little,  the Wakarusa Off-Road Challenge.  A friend and I will be participating as a two person team.  What possessed us to do this, slight insanity? A liking for pain?  Wanting a challenge? whatever the reason may be we will walk away from something unlike anything I have done so far.

The race is a combination of trail-running, mountain biking, and canoeing.  It starts with a 2.2 mile run then 17.2 mile mountain bike ride followed by a 4 mile canoe trip and finishing with a 4 mile run.  I am going to “officially” start my training for this.  Last year the top five male teams finished in about 3 hours.  I am not sure if that is achievable for us but it sounds like a good goal to work towards.  What is it that all the tough guys say, you know the ones that walk around in tight Ed Hardy shirts?  “Go hard or go home”?  How about “Go hard and finish sometime before the last person without dying along the way.”  I think that is more my style.

On a slightly different note in preparation for this I was able to find a decent used mountain bike.  I took it out to Landahl Park the other day and it rides wonderfully.

Hospital Hill Results

I know for those other runners out there that this technically isn’t very fast for a 5K.  For instance my buddy Sam who ran with me and did less training killed it at 21:36.  But I am happy with my time.  It was a minute slower than I ran it last year but this was my first race in my Vibram Five Fingers.  I must say that I was initially worried at the before hand.  The farthest I have made it before this was 2.8 miles with no hills.  I am sure that the adrenaline of the race helped me get through.  This is definitely not a fast course just take a look at this elevation profile:

Running this in my VFF’s was great.  I can say one thing for sure I hammered these hills better than I ever did in regular shoes.  Since you strike mid/fore foot you can power up hills like nobody’s business.  Unfortunately going downhill wasn’t so easy.  I couldn’t over stride and let gravity do its work.  Towards the end I was getting the hang of it and should do better at my next race.

My goal right now is to work up to a half-marathon by October.  I am not sure if that is pushing too hard or not with this transition to the VFF’s.  In August I am planning on running the North Face Endurance Challenge 10K to gauge where my training is at.  I also wonder if I should train in Nike Free’s for longer races such as a half or full marathon in the future.

Distance 5K
Clock Time 29:06
Chip Time 25:49
Overall Place 185 / 2001
Gender Place 152 / 726
Division Place 22 / 104
Divtotal 104
Sextotal 728
Pace 8:19

Hospital Hill 5K

This weekend will be my first race using my Vibram Five Fingers.  So far I have slowly extended my training runs.  The farthest I have been able to make it is 2.8 miles.  I have begin to get soreness in my arch and heels towards the end of a run.  Each time I run that has been pushed back a little farther.  I am nervous about about the actual run since I haven’t made it 3.1 miles in my VFF’s yet.  I am not looking to make a PR but rather to finish without falling over.  Here’s to running….lets see how it goes.


Once bitten twice shy?

Surprise! You have to replace your subfloor

I recently made my second attempt at running in my Vibram Five Fingers.  I was reluctant after my last two experiences (I am trying out WordPress as opposed to Tumblr.  If you are interested in my past exploits check out kccycleandrun.tumblr.com)  This time things felt much better.  My tendon in my left leg is still sore, but that was expected.  I was able to concentrate more on my form and how my feet are impacting.  While my last run in my VFF’s left me frustrated and wondering if I am doing the wrong thing, this run left me hopeful that I can successfully make the transition.

Unfortunately during this time my motivation for running has decreased.  I have had a number of other things this week such as end of semester for Grad school, finding surprises when installing my new flooring (see picture), and all around laziness.  With Hospital Hill  only a month away I have a need to increase my training.  I really wanted to try to run the 10k at Hospital hill but I believe my transition process will limit me to the 5k which will still be a challenge running in my VFF’s.