It’s an interesting challenge to write about running when you’re not exactly running. I’ve spent the last 10 days being extra nice to my body, avoiding sweaty miles and hanging out in weird stretchy positions. I’ve been a party pooper more often than I’d like over the past two weeks – first I ditched the RMNP backpacking trip because my leg wasn’t working, then I had to turn around early on the Pawnee/Buchanan Pass loop and I finally just stopped running mountain trails all together. To say my running life has been boring would be an understatement! But that doesn’t mean I’ve missed out on all of the fun! Two weeks ago I did get the chance to hang out with New Balance, their trail running athletes, local media and a few bloggers (Lynne, Heather, Kia and Marissa). New Balance just launched their new trail shoe, the Fresh Foam 980’s. Not only are the shoes spiffy the shindig they put on for us was legit!
It started out with new shoes and a run up Fowler Trail. This all went down the Thursday after my painful 4 Pass Loop weekend so I was nervous about running in general, let alone with an audience + cameras. We split off into two groups – the speedsters and the just-for-fun’ers. I joined up with the latter group and did all sorts of erratic arm waving and squealing when I made it more than a few hundred feet without pain! I was so excited – I was running and it didn’t hurt! Nothing hurt! It felt good! The bouncy Fresh Foam trail shoes were working their magic…and I was ecstatic!
I ran about a mile up the trail with Heather, Will, Lynne and Marissa before my knee felt any tingles. At this point I had no idea what was up with my body (my appointment was later that day) so I talked Lynne and Marissa into bailing back to the trailhead with me. We may have cut our run short but it was a beautiful day, I was in good company and I ran all of 2 miles without any actual pain! But the fun didn’t stop there…we headed back to the Millennium hotel for lunch and a panel-style chat with the New Balance athletes – Anton Krupicka, Dominic Grossman, Gina Lucrezi and Brandy Erholtz. At first I was a little star-struck to be talking to professional athletes. What do you say? How do you act? What do you do withy yourself? Then Gina sat at our table for lunch and by the end of the meal we were talking about nutrition and fueling while racing…comparing what worked/didn’t work for us. Yup, it was a little surreal. Turns out we are both still learning exactly what works for our stomaches when running ultra distances – she might win races but she faces the same challenges I do. Talk about an awesome take on reality – we all fight the same battles, just at a different pace!
There were more normal runner vs pro runner epiphanies during the Q&A with the athletes. Some of them struggled to juggle real life and training. Others went into races unprepared and had to suffer the consequences of DNFs and injury. They all had bad races, awesome training runs, big goals and a true love for the trail running community! They understood their sport and it was reassuring to hear them embrace the changes that have been happening with the growing popularity of ultra running.
A few fun facts and happy thoughts I walked away from the Q&A with…
- Dominic’s spirit animal is a unicorn – because unicorns are only as real as you believe them to be, just like you will only be as successful as you believe you are.
- Gina fell in love with trail running when she realized you can go slow! [that’s compared to road running, the girl is still crazy fast on the trails!]
- Anton is on board with the way social media is growing ultra running because it gets more people outside enjoying the trails…and the land management organization only allow so many feet on any given race course so more trail runners does not mean trail races will become massive road races.
- Brandy balances a full time job and child along side her training – she either gets up crazy early to run or she takes the kids with. And yes, chasing children does count as cross training!
- None of them have any desire to run time based races (24 hours, 72 hours, 6 days, etc) or the ultra long distance races like the Lake Tahoe 200, Arrowhead 135 or Iditarod…at least not until they’ve topped out their speedy performances at “shorter” ultra distances.
We finished off the day with dinner at Frasca in Boulder which was delicious! I had to bail early for a lets-figure-out-what-is-wrong-with-my-leg appointment but I had an awesome time with the entire New Balance crew! A huge thank you to New Balance for a day filled with happy steps, bouncy shoes and reassuring conversations with professional runner’s pondering the same complications as every other “average” runner out there! We really are all “just runners” at the end of the day!
New Balance was also kind enough to give us a whole slew of running apparel plus a pair of Fresh Foam 980 shoes. After they found out I was taking on my first 100 mile race this fall they also sent me a pair of New Balance 1210 to add to my race day rotation. With the lack of running on my agenda lately I haven’t been able to truly test out the shoes but I am madly in love with their tank tops…yes, I will be buying more! Once I get more than single digit miles on the shoes I’ll be back with a full blown ramble! They are using some pretty awesome technology on these Fresh Foam shoes…it’ll be an interesting ramble, I promise! Now I’m headed off toward Steamboat for a weekend of trail running and mountain climbing. Or, if my leg can’t keep it’s act together – bacon eating and coffee drinking! Fingers seriously crossed for the mountain running!