Tag Archives: ultra running

Bigfoot 200 // Volunteering

29 Aug 16
Heidi Kumm
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6 comments

I was digging through my “laundry bag” on the floor of a tiny hostel room trying to decide if I had enough dirty clothes to warrant the $5 wash/dry downstairs. My mind was telling me no…then I got to the bottom + discovered the running clothes I wore for nearly 3 days in the Washington wilderness near Mount St Helens while volunteering at the Bigfoot 200 Endurance Race. Um, yea. Laundry day it was!

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The People of the Never Summer 100K

27 Jul 16
Heidi Kumm
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6 comments

Technically, I could tell you all about the twists, turns, up + downs of the Never Summer 100K race, but what fun would that be? If you want to experience the crazy gorgeous course…go sign up for next year! Plus, my selective memory has already kicked in + I only remember the stunning views from the peaks, not the brutal climbs we fought through to get to them. Ah, selective memory…the only reason we keep going back for me.

Or is it? Maybe there is more to an ultra than just the Instagram worthy courses or bragging rights that come with a long day on the trail. Maybe – just maybe – the entire ultra craze is about more than just what the non-running world sees when they watch us beat ourselves up on rugged trails. No, really, it is. My day on the NS100K course affirmed this, again + again.

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Running the Whole Enchilada Trails

25 Feb 15
Heidi Kumm
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9 comments

A few weeks [months?] ago there was a discussion about how much more fun training runs are if you make them fun…almost race-like, but without the pressure to perform, just in case things go awry while you’re out on the trail. I stand by this thought process, especially after my Presidents’ Day weekend of “destination training” in Moab on the Whole Enchilada trails.

On Saturday morning my alarm went off well before the sun peeked over the horizon and I started the drive toward Moab for a weekend of sandy camping, trail running and bacon eating. We rolled into Moab around 3pm, stopped by the Poison Spider bike shop for a new map and set up camp in the Sand Flats Recreation Area. There were four of us making the most of a long holiday weekend…but only two of us were stupid enough to think running our legs off counts as a good use of vacation time. Robb and Kami were there to relax and explore the area while Jeremy and I had big plans to run out/back along a 30 mile stretch of trails the guys knew about from previous mountain biking adventures.

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What does “bad headspace” mean?!

20 Feb 15
Heidi Kumm
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No Comments

I feel like the word “headspace” is kicked around a lot with ultra running, especially when people are referring to a “bad headspace”. Over the last year I’ve heard a lot of advice along the lines of “don’t get in a bad headspace”. I got the gist of what they were saying – to me it was ultra runner speak for “keep your head in the game”. However, I absolutely HATED that phrase. It felt insulting and when someone asked if I was in a bad headspace I felt belittled and judged, as if they didn’t trust me to think my own thoughts. A little extreme? Maybe.

Turns out it’s all in how you define “bad headspace”! It wasn’t until a friend and I got into the throes of a conversation full of constructive criticism that I realized my version of a bad headspace was a bit different from his [and maybe everyone else’s too!?].

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Happy Miles…Lots of Them!

26 Jan 15
Heidi Kumm
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8 comments

On Saturday morning I was whiney pile of whines. It was bad. I knew that without a concert game plan for my Saturday I’d probably sleep in, even if I wasn’t truly sleep…which is exactly what I did. My excuse?! It was supposed to get up to 50 degrees and it was only 21 degrees at 7am…I was waiting for the heat of the sun! But by 9am it became obvious that Colorado sunshine was NOT showing up, so I pouted and whined…loudly…until I forced a friend into running her 4 miler on the trails with me. I’m pushy shovey like that!

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Being an Ultra Runner: I Don’t Get It

23 Jan 15
Heidi Kumm
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4 comments

In the weeks before and after my 100 mile race people told me the race would change my life…that I’d walk way from the it a different person with a new perspective on life. I was warned that I’d see my own soul while out on the trail and that I’d have to deal with it, whether I liked it or not. More than once I was told I could not let the reality of my personal life creep up and unhinge me while running. None of this ever happened.

DSC5014-LNearing the Summit of Mt Werner in the first few miles of RRR100 [PC: Paul Nelson Photography]

I’ve heard ultra runners from many different backgrounds talk about how the races change them, forever. That they got out on the trails and faced down demons they didn’t know were lurking in the shadows of their minds. No demons came wandering out during my race. I’m not saying I don’t have demons…I’m just saying they didn’t show up during my 100 miler or during any of my other runs. At least not yet…

I don’t get it. I don’t understand what these runners are talking about.

Maybe it’s because it was my first 100 miler? Maybe I didn’t push myself hard enough? Didn’t train hard enough? Didn’t want it bad enough? Didn’t suffer long enough? Didn’t puke on the side of the trail? Didn’t biff it on muddy trail? Didn’t chafe or blister or bleed? Didn’t battle adverse weather? Maybe I’m just haven’t earned my ultra cred yet?

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A fun run at North Table Mountain…in January, gotta love Colorado weather! [PC: @lgsmash]

Maybe I was just cocky and over-confident but I never doubted my ability to cross that 102.5 mile finish line. Once I started that race my only option was to cross the finish line – unless my body truly blew up, which it didn’t…in part because I did everything in my power to avoid that. I never got to a head space where I wanted to give up. Sure, I wanted the 100 miles to be &#$*% over but I didn’t want to give up [and I have given up before…Dirty Thirty showed me that misery].

I didn’t walk away feeling like a changed person — instead I walked right back into real life where the 100 mile race was just an excuse for a few more hours of sleep and an extra 800 calories each day. I ran 100 miles, now it’s time to go back to work, to pay my bills, to do my laundry.

Am I doing this wrong?

I have watched videos and read snippets of many people talking about their life changing ultra experiences and all I can think is…that’s not me. I can’t relate to that. If that’s what it takes to be an ultra runner then I’m not an ultra runner. I am just a runner that doesn’t stop at 26.2 miles. And, truthfully, I am completely okay with that. I have fun being this person, I mean, she’s kind of awesome, IMHO.

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…so awesome she makes a complete fool of herself while picking up other people’s dog poop bags. #trailkarmaFTW [PC: @mtnsandmiles]

I’m okay with being “just a runner”. I just run, because running is fun…and because my body + mind let me. And sometimes I sign up for races just to see how far my body will let my  mind take me when I’ve put money + ego on the line. That’s why Arizona 200M is happening – I’m not chasing demons or seeking out misery, I’m after that exhilarating sense of accomplishment that comes the instant you cross the finish line!

Screw Your Shoes [DIY Traction]

14 Jan 15
Heidi Kumm
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11 comments

Guess what?! Winter is here…and it’s here to stay for a while. Unless you live in the south [or some other mythical place, you poor thing] where winter doesn’t include snow and ice you’re waging a daily war with the weather. Are the trails snow packed? Are the sidewalks sheets of ice? Is it even safe to drive to work, let alone run for the fun of it?

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If you’re busy living in the “winter wonderland” of snow and ice you have three options when it comes to running – giving up on running until spring arrives, running on the treadmill or risking it outside. Personally, I prefer the risking it outside option [primarily because I really like donuts and ice cream…and despise the treadmill] so that’s what I’ve been doing – running outside.

The downside of outdoor running in the winter? Falling on my ass or breaking my teeth when the ice gets the best of me.
My solution that has kept me away from this fate so far? Screws in my shoes.

Yup, plain old sheet metal screws that you can buy at a hardware store for about $3 [be sure to get 3/8” hex screws – short enough to avoid stabbing you in the foot and knobby enough to provide legitimate traction]. It sounds like a really easy task – buy some screws, find a screw driver and get to work. In theory, it is that  easy. In reality, screwing a metal screw into the pliable sole of a shoe is a lot of work. Annoying, tedious work, not muscle work.

Luckily I work with a few ambitious guys who needed blog + video content so we used my shoes as the demo for a post + stop motion video on the Sierra Trading Post website…which means they had to help me out when I got annoyed with the screws.

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If you’re looking for help with the actual details of how to screw your shoes check out this post on Sierra Trading Post’s blog or watch this video on their YouTube channel. This is how my shoe screwing process started and I’ve only made a few slight adjustments after running with screws a few times.

These are my tips/tricks to make the whole “screw your shoes” process a little bit better…

    • Shorter screwdrivers work better since you can really push the screw into the sole – whatever you do, don’t give up…it gets easier!
    • If you have them…use power tools! I’ve only used elbow grease and while it works it takes a long time…
    • Buy screws BEFORE it snows. After our first real snow all the hardware stores were sold out of 3/8” screws for over a week! Apparently cyclists use these screws for their bike tires so they were a hot commodity!
    • Drill the screws into the thick lugs of your tread, not between the lugs – this gives you more traction and gives you more cushion between the screws and the bottoms of your feet.
    • Screwing your shoes will not ruin your shoes, you can always take them out – however that process is kind of a pain, so try to dig up a pair of shoes you can commit to snowy, icy runs.
    • Experiment with where you put the screws. We started out with just screwing the perimeter of the shoes but since then I’ve added screws more centrally near the balls/heels of my feet for added traction where the majority of my weight lands on climbs/descents.
    • The screws do wear down, but once you’ve created holes for the screws they are easy [and cheap] to replace as needed.

As for my experience with screwed shoes? Well, Sarah and I did a little [unintentional] A/B testing. On our trek to the Centennial trailhead on Saturday morning she was carrying her MICROspikes in her hand while I was walking along in my screwed Saucony shoes…she slide does the stairs on her bum, I scampered down on foot. Proof screwed shoes trump plain ol’ trail shoes…as one would hope.

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My current screwed Saucony Xodus shoes post-modifications!

What about the screwed shoes compared to MICROspikes or other after market traction contraptions? Well, I spent 7 hours on the trails Saturday with three other runners wearing MICROspikes…and I had no problem keeping up with them on the snow and ice, nor did I come close to biffing it any more [or less…] than they did. I’d say the screwed shoes are pretty comparable to other traction devices. There may be a difference if you’re really pushing the pace and hoping to bomb the down hills but that wasn’t my goal on Saturday so I can offer up no personal advice.

Want more YakTrax vs screwed shoes comparison fun?
Check out this post where Boulder Training Mecca does some direct comparing.

On Sunday I ran/hiked up Bear Peak on my own with slightly modified screwed shoes [I added 4 screws under the balls of each foot] and survived without incident. No embarrassing plops onto my bum, no near misses, no tree hugging. However, on the steep descent down Bear Peak I realized it would also be handy to have at least a few screws under the heel of my foot so I got solid traction while scuttling down steep, snow packed terrain. I’ve added those screws [actually, just moved a few from the perimeter of the sole] but haven’t had a chance to really test them out yet.

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Running on ice and dirt, no difference in gait or feel!

Overall, I think screwed shoes really work. My shoes kept the natural feel and I never felt any hot spots from the screws – this may be because I put the screws in very thickly treaded trail shoes. In the past, when I’ve worn Yaktrax, ICEtrekkers or MICROspikes my toes have always felt smushed, no matter the size of the traction contraption the tips or upper canvas of my shoes started to rub weird shortly after pulling on the device. This is one of the reasons I resorted to screwed shoes – my toes get to stay happy!

The one catch with screwed shoes is the fact you can’t just take off your traction. When you hit pavement or dry trails you’re still running with screws. This isn’t exactly a problem as it didn’t affect my gait but it makes for some very noisy pavement running. I’ve covered about 2 miles on pavement so far, it’s bearable. Also, if you head into a restaurant with tile floors [crazy slippery with screwed shoes!] or hardwood floors [screws scuff up wood!] you get to be the fool that takes off their shoes…which would probably much weirder if I wasn’t in Boulder at the time.

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More examples of the terrain the screwed shoes took me on – this is pre-modifications + my first long run in screwed shoes.

Of course, adding traction isn’t the only option. You can skip the traction all together and just ice skate along the trails…much more advisable if you’re running on flatter, paved bike trails. But seriously, if you randomly come upon an icy stretch of trail don’t give up on your run, just change you gait a bit. Rather than really pushing off with your feet let your feet fall and pick up more naturally, without much force. Sure, you’ll end up running slower but you won’t lose your front teeth after a painful face plant!

Have you screwed your shoes? What was your experience? Any tips, tricks or recommendations? Share!

Snowy Summits [The Boulder Skyline]

12 Jan 15
Heidi Kumm
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17 comments

After months of very inconsistent running and weeks of thinking “oh, crap…can I still run?” I finally got myself outside and onto the trails for a long run. I met up with a few friends – Cheryl and Sarah – at the Centennial Trailhead with big plans to run along the Boulder Skyline [check out this interactive map for route details]. Our game plan was to head up and around Sanitas then plow our way up to Flagstaff, Green Mountain and Bear Peak…maybe even South Boulder Peak. The only goal we had was…to have fun, smile and not actually die on the icy, snow-covered trails. Spoiler Alert: we may not have gotten to the summit of every mountain but we did have a blast and no blood was shed!

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22 Weeks to 220 Miles [Arizona 200M]

05 Jan 15
Heidi Kumm
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30 comments

I’ve hinted to this race…there are links in my sidebar, it’s come up in online conversations, it’s on my calendar…but let’s make this officially internet official! Last month I registered for the Arizona 200M in June. I spent the months after RRR100 eyeballing races trying to figure out what I wanted to do with 2015.

If I learned anything during RRR100 [aside from the fact the pain eventually stops getting worse] it was that I need something more than just a distance to make a race worth it for me. At RRR100 I had the motivation of it being my first hundred…that I was running exactly one year after my first ultra experience at the same race [crewed RRR100 in 2013 for Nick!]. When things got crappy, that helped. No way was I quitting – I couldn’t recreate this scenario next year, it had to go down THIS year, right now!

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Fresh Legs

19 Dec 14
Heidi Kumm
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4 comments

In the midst of documenting the process of screwing my trail shoes [for traction on ice, something like this…more details in the near future!] I had a “aw, crap…left that in the car” moment which lead to a quick scamper down the stairs and across the parking lot, sans jacket. As I was bouncing down the stairs I randomly noticed how happy my legs were. They wanted to flouncy about, they wanted to run across the parking lot, they wanted to move.

For the last month or so being intentionally active has been rough. I still lack the endurance to bust out a 3 hour run and somehow that gave my brain the right to veto shorter runs because they weren’t badass enough. While fighting my own internal battle of “to run or not to run” I was also wiggling my life schedule around to find time for strength training, yoga and spin classes.

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