Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Getting To Know Your Fellow Trail Runner--ENDURANCE DECALS

Okay, Today we have Kevin from Endurance Decals to share with us his passion for creating decals for us crazy trail runners. If you want your favorite decal, email him ASAP! We are already coming up with plenty of ideas here at DFL =) Thank you Kevin!!!!


Thanks for joining us here at DFL. I hope you are well!

What brought on the great idea of decal creation for the trail/ultrarunning community?
Basically, I couldn't find decals that I liked, outside of the standard 13.1/26.2/etc.. ovals.
I'm a draftsman by trade, so drawing things just comes natural.  I started making designs and buying whole sheet of vinyl and cutting them out by hand.  OUCH!  This worked for a while, until friends and people I would met also wanted a decal or a license plate made...
After a while I realized that if I was going to continue doing this, I was going to need an actual vinyl cutter. So I purchased a new computer/cutter and came up with the name Endurance Decals.
But for me, this is still just a hobby and a place to meet and chat with people about running...
How long have you been involved in endurance running?
I started cycling (road racing) in 1986, and did a little running off and on here and there.  Only a 5k or two a year.
In 2000 I started doing allot more mountain biking and was introduced to trail running by a few friends.
But it wasn't until 2011 I ran my first trail race.  It was the 11mile option to a 50k called Stump Jump in Chattanooga, TN.
It was very eye-opening.  I found that trail runners, although they were at a "race", were very laid back and fun to be around.  Not as competitive as other sports I've been involved in.  During your run you could be talking to the race winner one minute, and the guy that will come in last the next minute, and you would never know the difference...trail runners are just good people to be around!  After that race I started to increase my mileage little by little.
I ran my first road marathon in January of 2012, then my first 50k trail race in December of 2012.
Since then I've run 4 more 50k's. 
I always say, I'm not a racer...I'm a FINISHER! 

What are your favorite decals that people have asked you to make?
I make a decal that says "If the bone ain't showing, keep on going!"
This one is my favorites, because no matter what sport your in, it fits!
I've been at the end of my limits and just thinking about this phrase, makes you suck it up and dig deeper.

Do you get inspiration from some of these decals?
From the one listed above, "If the bone ain't showing, keep on going!"...and pretty much all of them!
Sometimes people comment on what a great ideas I come up with... The truth is, I can't really take credit for most of the ideas, they come from everyone out there on the trails.  I get request daily with different ideas for my next decals. 
I have to admit, some of them are pretty funny!
You’re from the South and I am a Yankee, what are a few good 50Ks, 50 and 100 milers that you can recommend?
I've never run beyond a i don't have much experience with 50 & 100 milers.  But I can list a few in our area.
As far as 50k's go... Tashka 50k in Tuscaloosa, AL is the best.  I ran the 25k option two years to build up my confidence, then in 2012 it was my first 50k.  I went back with a few friends in 2014 and ran the 50k again.  For some of them, it was there first ultra, but we all agreed that it is a great race.
Well supported & 90% singletrack. It has some rocks, roots, hills, everything that trail runners love.
This race is held in Laurel, MS in March.  Because of the time of year, it is always muddy, and can range in temps below freezing to almost never know what you will get.
There is a 20k, 50k, and 50M options.  All distances can be changed up or down, just by stopping by the start/finish line and asking them to switch you.  Always have nice swag and the people that put it on are top notch...
I have a few friends that have run there 100miler at the Cajun Coyote  in Ville Platte, Louisiana.
Even if you have a bad day on the trails, you are sure to have a good time with these folks! 

What is your current training look like?
I'm currently mountain biking for the next few months.  I started having some pains in my right foot (plantar?) after my January 50k, and I suffered through my March 50k at MS50, and  decided to do a little rehab this year.  So I built up a single speed mountain bike and I'm currently enjoying the trails on two wheels.  Hopefully I'll be healed up by the end of summer and ready to get ready for another fall 50k..or more?

What races do you have coming up?
I am not currently registered for any races the rest of this year.  But I'm looking at doing a 50mile mountain bike race in September called the Skool of Hard Nox 50.   I raced it a few years ago, but with all the running I've been doing, I haven't had much time on the bike.
Ruffner Mountain High Crusher Ridge 21K/42K just outside of Birmingham, AL. 
Very tough course...probably do it again this year.

And now for a little speed game (If you are into some speed type of stuff)
“10 questions  in 60 seconds”
1.       Favorite length of race? 
2.       Favorite trail race? 
Tashka 50k

3.       Favorite season to run (yeah we know you have no winter =) )
WINTER! Summers are brutal in the south.  Not only the high humidity, but the snakes and ticks.  So I prefer the winter...  ;-)
4.      What is your dream race? 
          Hmmm... I don't really have a dream race in mind.
    But, I would love to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail one day.
5.       Hills or technical flats? 
Technical flats (with a few hills to break it up)..  ;-)
6.       Trail club?
The MS-Fits Trail Running Tribe. 
Trail running is not very big around where I live.  So we don't have much interest in it.
A small group of us that run trails together came up with a name for our little band of misfits...
"The MS-Fits Trail Running Tribe."
MS for Mississippi.  Misfits fit well, because that's what we are.
And the "tribe" because we don't pay dues... That would make us a club.  HAHA!!
7.       Music on the run? If so, what is your poison?
If I'm alone yes.   Anything that makes you move...
Seether, Breaking Benjamin, Chevelle...
8.       Thoughts on that summer humidity?
Hate it! 
9.       Do you incorporate any strength training into your preparation?
Not really.  With two young boys, I'm lucky to squeeze my runs in most weeks, but mountain biking is great strength training.  One of the reasons I just built up my single speed bike. You have to have allot of leg to turn a single speed gear on the trails.  Great training for strength and cardio...
10.   How many decals do you have on the back of your car?
7.  That's about all I can fit on my window with my rear wiper.
But I have another dozen or so on the rear cargo rack I use when going out of town for a training or racing.  :-)

Bonus question: What's the best part of racing or training on new trails... CAMPING!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Getting to Know Your Fellow Trail Runner: Ben Pangie

And another episode of Getting to Know Your Fellow Trail Runner here at DFL...

Okay, so, Fat Ass races are really fun. I even drove to Long Island to run one in the middle of January. What a blast! So, enter Ben Pangie who is putting on a sweet Fat Ass called Twin States race, which will be either a 50 miler or a 50K. It is on April 6th and here is the link 

SIGN UP!!!! I did! 

Let's hear from Ben and again SIGN UP!!!!

Thanks for joining us here at DFL.
What brought on the Twin States Race? Give us the details of the course. Why is it a fat ass (great idea btw)? What can we expect for aid?
Not really sure what brought it on. Something of a combination between wanting a local race, but wanting something cheap at the same time. One of the listservs I’m on had some folks talking about how lovely Vermont is in the summer and fall, so I thought, why not mud season? It’s kind of split into two parts, the first half runs through Vermont, the second through New Hampshire. Nearly 80% is on hard-pack dirt road. It also crosses the Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge. As for details, I don’t know - lots of up and down on dirt roads. There’s maybe one or two massive hill climbs, but lots and lots of small undulations. I wanted it to be a fat ass for a couple of reasons. Mainly, I think running should be as cheap as possible, a pair of shoes, a watch, maybe a hydration pack if you’re going long enough. I love racing, but still trying to buy my life back from Aunt Sallie and Uncle Sam, I find it hard to justify spending exorbitant sums on races. As for aid, that’s still kind of a question. There will be at least one aid stop along the way near the 20-25 mile mark. It will have water, and maybe some Honey Maxx if one of our Ontario based runners can help with the transport.

Is this your first race as an RD? What made you want to put on your own races?
This is my first race as an RD. Stupidity? Editor’s note: Not stupid! We need more of you!
Do you have any other ideas for races?
I’m thinking of trying to get a 6/12 hour together this summer/fall, but not sure. We’ll see how this first one goes.
What races are you running this year?
I’ve signed up for the VT100 (my first 100), hoping not to balk at that when the time comes. Depending on how everything goes maybe VT50, or Ghost Train down in New Hampshire. I’ve also signed up for a couple of local halfs.
What does your typical training look like during the ‘off season’ and during the times you are an RD?
Off season, you mean winter? I try to get one long run in a week, sometimes two if I can manage it. I also try to throw in a fartlek or some threshold type work in there as well. This winter has been rough as we all now. Single digits are not conducive to any type of healthy training… Being that this is the first time I’m attempting to RD, and we’re still in the vicious throes of winter, that’s more-or-less how I’ve been training. Once the two feet of snow on the track starts to melt, I’ll add at least one track workout a week in, but who knows when that will be.
“10 questions in 60 seconds”

  1. Favorite race - Harpoon Octoberfest. 3.6 miles, but some pretty nice Harpoon brews for awards.
  2. Favorite trail - Anything I can get to without driving.
  3. Favorite aid station snack?  - Whatever looks good at the time.
  4. Favorite post-race meal/beer? - Bacon and cheap beer, like Genny Cream Ale.
  5. Electrolyte? - Honey Maxx
  6. Thoughts on cash prizes for ultras? - So long as it doesn’t impact the cost of a race I want to participate in, have at it. But I don’t like big hype races anyway.
  7. If you could run any race, what would it be? Big’s Backyard, or Six Days at the Dome
  8. Hills or single track? Hills
  9. Favorite shoes?  Skora
  10. Thoughts on pacing?  Sure. More wow-factor. if you do it without, but I guess it kind of depends on why you’re out here.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Getting to  Know Your Fellow Trail Runner (GTKT) Episode 2: Olivia Rissland

Ok ok. I hope everyone is enjoying the continued winter freeze, and ya’ll have been getting in those miles as spring time races approach! I have been sidelined with an injury and have been enjoying a lot of R&R but that will all change this weekend.  

Here we are for the next installment of 'Getting to Know your Fellow Trail/Ultrarunner/ Getting to know the TARC'. This episode features Olivia Rissland, a member of the Trail Animals Running Club and an ultramarathoner who traveled over seas to run a 75 miler in Mont Blanc (how sweet is that?!?!).  I think that we will have Olivia jump onto a full episode of DFL to go through her race report while I substitute for Eric during his training hiatus. Anyway, who cares about us at DFL-- let’s hear from our guest!

Thanks for joining us here at DFL. I hope you are well!
Are you enjoying the winter? What do you do for training during these cold, snowy months?
In general, winter is actually one of my favorite months, and so I’ve been enjoying the snow, especially when I can get out for some skiing. That said, I do find it a little trickier to get in quality sessions in January/February, and I’ve had to resort to the treadmill fairly frequently. When I do run outside, if the footing is bad, I start thinking in terms of “perceived effort” rather than pace, and time rather than distance. I find this mentality is especially important during recovery runs to ensure that I don’t make those sessions too hard.

Tell us about your run at Mont Blanc?  Was it a beast of a run? Was this your longest run, to date? What was the atmosphere like, and how did it compared to races here in the states (crowds, aid stations, fellow runners)? Did you have a pacer? How was the party at the end?
The race at Mont Blanc that I did was the Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie (or ‘TDS’), which is 75 miles from Courmayeur, Italy to Chamonix, France. This was my longest run to date (both by distance and by time). I knew it was going to be hard, but, looking back, I really had no idea exactly how hard it was going to be—if I’m being entirely honest, had I known, there’s no way I would have signed up!  At times during the race, I swore off running entirely. Of course, that mindset lasted for less than 15 minutes after I finished…
The race ended up taking me 30.5 hours, and, of course, as we all know, it really is the mind that is the weakest point in a race of that length. I definitely had a rough moment about 16 hours in and came very close to stopping, but somehow my pride kicked in, and I found a way to keep going. Once the sun rose on the second day, things started looking up, and I knew that I was going to finish. Incidentally, it was around that point that Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” started playing on my iPod—this song will always have a (non-ironic) soft spot in my heart!
The feeling of the race was really different than races here. First of all, I was one of only a few Americans! Happily, most Europeans speak English, and so I was able to talk with my fellow runners. Second, 90+% use poles; since I didn’t, this was a conversation starting point throughout the whole race. Third, the aid stations do have different food than I’ve seen at US races. Although there was a lot of sausage and cheese, I ended up sticking to the old stand-byes of chicken soup and bread. 
The biggest difference, though, was the general gestalt of the race: it really was an Event, complete with a helicopter at the start. More seriously, what struck me throughout the entire experience was how invested everyone in the region is. People came up into the mountains in the middle of the night to cheer us on. Our bibs also had our names and nationalities on it, and so I heard things like “Bravo, Olivia!” and “Nice job!” more times than I can count. This whole feeling was then magnified about 100-fold during the last kilometer of the race. The course goes through the center of Chamonix and is lined by various cafes and restaurants. As I made my through, everyone stopped talking to cheer and clap for me. A pretty amazing feeling for those of us mere mortals! This is one of my best memories, and is something that I will always treasure. After my race, I was talking to the manager of our hotel in Chamonix about this. She shrugged as if such support was the most natural thing in the world and said, “Everyone deserves to be cheered in.” I think this comment exemplifies the community and support that permeates the entire race and makes it so special. 

What did you do for your mountain training?
Going into the race, I had no idea how to train for a course with so much ascending and descending (7300+ meters!), and so the first thing I did was to hire a coach. Ian Sharman was amazing, and I know that there is no way I could have done this without his help in the months leading up to it.
Of course, specificity is key in training, but the big question/worry I had was how to prepare the insane elevation changes, given that I live in Boston. For the uphills, it’s relatively easy—I could just use everyone’s favorite machine, the treadmill, and set it to 10%+ incline. For the downhills, though, the workouts would have to be a little more creative. Luckily, Ian has two amazing tricks up his sleeve. First, I did a lot downhill repeats on Summit Ave, where I went all-out (mile pace or faster) on the downhill and then recovered on the uphill; doing 6-7 repeats is serious session and did a great job of preparing my legs for mountain races. This workout was a staple of my TDS training. Second, I also did sessions with a 10-15 lb weight vest on. The increased weight mimics the extra force that legs absorb on the downhills and helps build muscle. Together, these sessions are probably one of the main reasons I was able to handle the amount of descending in the TDS—in fact, my legs didn’t really start aching until I had already done about 6400 meters of descending. 

What does your training regime look like these days and beyond?
Currently, my training regime is on the light side, actually. I’ve spent the last month and a half interviewing for faculty positions, and so my running has taken a bit of a hit. Because I haven’t been able to do as much volume, I’ve been focusing much more on my speed. Once spring comes around, I’ll get back to focusing on the endurance side of running again, specifically with some serious back-to-back long runs. These workouts are especially important since the big race of 2014 for me is going to be the Squamish 50/50 in August; this race is 50 miles in the mountains on a Saturday, followed by a 50K race the next day.
Of course, nothing really compares to getting out and running in the mountains. I try to get up to New Hampshire (or other mountains) once a month to get some practice on the much longer descents. Sometimes this involves repeats at Mt Wachusett; otherwise (like this summer) I pick races in the mountains and plan a running mini-break!

Are you planning any races across the pond in the near future?
Alas, I don’t have anything planned in Europe for 2014, but I’m beginning to think about how to make this happen in 2015. Although it’s hard to say for sure right now, I would love to the do the full UTMB in 2015 and, maybe, at some point, one of the really long Alpine races, like the PTL or the Tor des Geants.

What does your race schedule look like this season?
Since I’m traveling about the country right now, my racing hasn’t quite been finalized yet and won’t start in earnest until the summer. In June, my boyfriend and I are going to take a running vacation out in California, which will be capped by being a pacer for WS100. I’m then going to do Speedgoat in July and finally head to British Colombia for my peak race, the Squamish 50/50. I’ll definitely do some races at the back end of 2014 as well, but those haven’t been decided yet.

“10 questions  in 60 seconds” (We are going ask Olivia to do another set of these for our next episode of DFL)

1.       Favorite race? TDS—easily!
2.       Music during a trail race?  Yes, but only at the end. I use it for that pick-me-up when everything feels pretty rough.
3.       Favorite aid station snack? Pretzels (especially the ones filled with peanut butter) and orange slices.
4.       What is your dream race? The UTMB—it’s the race that got me into ultras.
5.       Any TARC races this year? Not yet, but hopefully one in the fall, if I’m still in Boston.
6.       Trails or roads? Trails!
7.       Favorite trail/road to train? When I can get there, hill repeats at Wachusett; otherwise, the reservoir trail in the Middlesex Fells.
8.       Do you use a pacer for 50 or 100 milers? I used a pacer for the first time in a 50M in December. In a word: revolutionary. That being said, I do like the purity of finishing a race on my own.
9.       Do you incorporate any strength training into your preparation? No, although it’s amazing what running with a weight vest will do.

10.   Will you train on a treadmill? Yes. (Unfortunately.) 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Getting to Know the TARC DFL Episode #1 Justin Contois

Howdy Folks,
I think that most of my running friends LOVE running blogs. I’ve learned SO much from the different blogs and podcasts that Mike, Eric, and Tony Henderson listen to. As for myself—I’m a writer by day, which entails lots and lots and lots of reading. So, when I get home from a day at work, I would rather do anything than read a blog about running! There is an exception… I love Justin Contois’ blog ‘Getting to know the TARC’. It was great reading what local, everyday runners do for training, what gear they wear, whether they listen to music. I even spent more time reading some of the people’s blogs that Justin interviewed. Then Justin moved! Long story short, I need my TARC fix, so I went and asked Justin if we could attempt to continue his amazing idea. I didn’t think he would say yes, but he did and so we will try to do it some justice. Of course, we could think of no one else but Justin to be our first interview. So hopefully you like it, and you will want to be interviewed too,  and tell us a little about yourself =)

Without further ado!

Thanks for joining us here at DFL. I hope you are well! And winter isn’t too cold down in the Virginia area

How has the move been? How are the trails down south? Is there a local running club that you have hooked up with?
The move has been great. We have all adjusted well, have jobs, and my daughter has started Pre School. We are currently looking for a house/townhouse right now, as we are living with my “win-laws” right now.
The trails and trail running scene down here is very similar to what we have up north. The terrain is a bit different, as there isn’t much elevation, at least near DC, but there is no shortage of trail systems. A few that stand out are the Bull Run Trail, the Potomac Heritage Trail, Rock Creek Park and the C&O Canal Towpath. Many of these trail systems can be linked together for an ultra runner’s paradise.
I’ve hooked up with the Virginia Happy Trail Running Club since I’ve moved down. They are just like the Trail Animals in that they have awesome members, the care about the community and environment, and they put on sweet races like the Bull Run 50 and the Massanutten Mountain Trail 100.

Are there any races besides the Hudson Highlands that you are eyeing this year? Will you be headed back this way, maybe for TARC 100?
Yup, the MMT 100 will be my first 100 of the year in May. I’m coming back up north during my April vacation (I’m a teacher), to run the mid-state trail in its entirety. I’m really looking forward to this attempt, as it will give me a chance to catch up with some old running buddies. If that and MMT goes well, I may sign-up for Old Dominion in June and then have an entry in Grindstone locked up in October (it was cancelled last year due to the government shutdown…). I don’t think I’ll be able to make TARC 100 this year, but that buckle will not elude me forever. Maybe next year!!

How about your training regimen? How does that look? How does it compare with other years?
Since I’ve moved down, my mileage is down. I used to run, on average, 40 miles per week over the last 3 years, but since the move (August), it’s been more like 20-30. However, I’ve PR’d at the 50 mile distance in November and came in second at 50k in December. I guess less is more for me. Other changes in my training include way more road miles. Up north, roads would probably consist of only 10-15 percent of my weekly mileage, now it’s the complete opposite. I get to the trails on the weekends and my joints thank me for it.

 What are you most memorable races in New England that our readers need to try out? And Why?
I’ll try to cover an array of distances starting with the 100-mile distance. The Vermont 100 is unmatched and should be run if you plan to run a 100 miler. The course is beautiful, not technical at all, has great aid and volunteers and is for a good cause. I highly recommend this race. At the 50-mile race, I’m going to go with the Wapack 50. This is the race that I love to hate. It was my first ultra and was extremely challenging. I ran it three years in a row, but only completing the 50 miles that first time. The trail is relentless, has great views, and is fairly technical in spots. Norm Sheppard did a great job at the helm and I know the new RD’s will pick up where he left off. At the 50k distance, I can’t really choose a race. The pemi-loop in NH is the most beautiful 50k distance run that I’ve ever done. I’ve run and hiked it three times apiece and it never gets old. For the marathon, it would be the Bear Brook Marathon. Kristina Folcik and Ryan Welts put on a great race with solid elevation on a non-repeating 26-mile course. That is unheard of up north!! Finally, for the shorter races, the Wachusett Mountain trail race, which is included in the New England Mountain Series, is a great lung buster.

You lived in Central Mass? What are some hidden gems for trails that you ran? Are you a fan of the Midstate?
Central Mass has some great trail systems that I truly miss. The mid-state is obviously the cream of the crop. One can hop on that trail and run Wachusett Mountain and Crow Hill for some solid elevation (for Massachusetts standards). Rutland State Forest is another gem, as is the Wachusett Reservoir and its many fire roads. I used to work in Grafton, and its many conversation properties can be connected with few street crossings was also one of my go-to spots.

10 Questions in 60 seconds... (Ok we made 11)

1.       Music? Rarely, but if it’s on, its Electronic Dance Music
2.       Do you believe in Hokas?  Yup, all I run in.
3.       Favorite aid station snack? Boiled potato and salt
4.       Favorite post-race meal/beer? Pizza and stout
5.       Electrolyte? S caps, they are life savers
6.       Favorite Race? Vermont 100
7.       Most dreaded race (TARC 100 =)? Wapack 50
8.       Do you use a pacer for 50 or 100 milers? I did, but going solo style now
9.       Handheld, backpack, waste pack?  Varies, depends on distance between aid and course layout
10.   Dude, have you ever read ‘Born to run’…Just kidding, I couldn’t resist! yup, it was the gateway drug, so to speak

11.   If you could run on any trail, where would it be? There is a stretch of trail that runs right along Lake Ripple, which is in Grafton, MA and right behind the high school I used to work at. I ran this trail 100’s of times, mostly before the sun came up. I could probably tell you every footfall, root and rock on the trail forwards and backwards.