I found the quote above in our local running club
newsletter this week (Footsteps, edited by Tim Lawhorn for the Star City
Striders). The quote was in an article written by Rick Watson about an inspiring
gentleman in our club named Dan Wright, who was recently diagnosed with the
debilitating disease ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. Dan's positive
attitude reminded Rick of Johnny Kelly's positive spin on his diminishing ability to
Dan always wanted to run the Boston Marathon and now will
never have that opportunity. (He did finish at least two other marathons during
his long running career.) Despite significant muscle loss and
weakness, Dan continues to serve the club and our community by volunteering a
considerable amount of time and knowledge about running and ALS. He refuses to
sit around or feel sorry for himself. One of his biggest projects now is to
raise awareness and money for local ALS patients.
Almost everyone in the United States who has run, or
aspired to run, a marathon has heard of the legendary Johnny Kelly the Elder (so
called because his namesake was also successful at Boston). Kelly gave the
response above when someone asked him in his later years about his slowing times
and difficulty finishing the distance.
I think his answer is priceless. I plan to use it as my own
personal mantra from now on.
OOPS! HERE'S OUR GEAR &
Almost forgot our gear and nutrition review. Creeping
senility, I guess.
first addendum after what I called my "final" entry. I said in the last entry
that I might have forgotten something important, so no one should be surprised
I'm not really done yet! ☺
I went into a lot more detail in last year's AT journal
about the gear I used and my nutritional/hydration plan. (See
2.) In this year's introduction, I said
I'd be using mostly the same gear and nutritional products because they worked
so well for me last year. I still agree with that assessment.
A few weeks before setting out on the Appalachian Trail in
2005, I requested a discount on
Montrail shoes for my journey. Jim and I had
been wearing their trail shoes exclusively for several years. We were more than
surprised when the company agreed to give both Jim and me a good discount on as
many shoes as we wanted to buy! We'd never been "sponsored" before, and the deal
saved us hundreds of dollars on shoes.
Montrail, thanks to Krissy Moehl, generously
continued to sponsor us this year. Krissy was their shoe rep (and liaison with
trail runners) until July 1, when she chose to move on after Columbia Sportswear
bought out Montrail. Hopefully, the fella who replaced her will appreciate the
publicity our website has given the company enough to keep up on as "clients"
after this year, too.
And hopefully Columbia will continue to make great Montrail
shoes! Runners always worry that their favorite running shoe models will either
be "improved" beyond recognition or phased out entirely from one year to the
next. Jim and I (and a lot of other customers) really love certain models in
Montrail's line. We've been wearing the Vitesse, for example, since about 1997
or 1998, virtually unheard-of in the running shoe biz. That model hasn't changed
much and despite periodic rumors to the contrary, is still being produced.
Jim has worn the comfy Vitesse most of this year but
also uses Highlines part of the time. They have a more rugged outsole
(same as the Hardrocks that I wore a lot on the AT) for a better
grip in muddy or snowy conditions. The Highlines also drain better if there is
much water to ford; they have more mesh in the forefoot area than the Vitesse.
Those are the two models I use on trails, too, but in
reverse order: I never really knew what to expect on the
Colorado Trail or on our other training runs in the Rocky Mountains (creeks?
snow? mud?), so I wore my Highlines on many more runs than the Vitesse. They did
just fine. I love them!
And because the CT and other trails in the Rockies that we
ran had significantly fewer rocks than the AT, I haven't even had to toss any of
the Highlines I wore out there (I alternated three pairs). I should get my
normal mileage on each of them, which is about 500-600 miles. Last summer I had
to discard them sooner because the rocks beat them up. The rocks beat ME up, too!
Now that we're back home, I'm using the Vitesse as often as
the Highlines. I use the lightweight Montrail Masai, which are no longer
made, on the few miles I run on the road, track, and treadmill.
SHOE INSERTS & ANKLE SUPPORTS:
Two items I must wear in my shoes are some type of insert/orthotic
that is more supportive than what comes in any running shoe, and ankle supports.
This year I changed the inserts, but not the supports.
My custom orthotics self-destructed during the AT trek last
summer and I decided to try over-the-counter (OTC) inserts from an outdoor store
the last month because it would have been too difficult and expensive to
get more custom ones made (my originals had been re-covered several times
already, and my feet had also changed). My insurance company wouldn't pay for
new ones and I didn't want to pay $400 myself.
My little experiment got me through the end of the AT, but
I knew I'd need some better arch support and cushioning once I started gearing
up for 2006. I consulted Krissy about the inserts made by Montrail, and decided
to try them. They work for me and I'm still using them; I'm on my second
pairs now. Each pair has lasted me at least 1,000 miles before losing their
The Montrail Enduro-Soles are "custom" in the sense
that they mold to your feet (you warm them up in an oven and wear them around in
your shoes for a few minutes). They retail for about $30. If running shoe or
outdoor stores in your area don't carry them but do carry any of the Montrail
shoes, ask them to order the inserts in your size.
If I know the trail I'll be running is rocky, I sometimes
also wear a thin, flexible green Spenco insole under the Enduro-Soles for
I couldn't find any of these Spenco insoles locally and had to order them on-line
the last time. They are only about 1/4" thick and totally flexible - they have
no support, just offer more protection from rocks.
Because of toe surgery in 2004, I have to wear a soft felt
pad behind my metatarsal joints in one foot to relieve the pressure on the "met
heads" when I walk or run. I've been using
Hapad metatarsal pads with
great success. They adhere to the top of the Enduro-Soles. Hardest part is
getting them placed just so when I put a new one on. They are inexpensive
and come in many shapes and thicknesses to solve various foot problems.
I'm a total fan of the ankle supports I use, also pretty
much a requirement for any trail running I do since I ruptured the peroneus
brevis and longus tendons in one ankle five years ago. Since surgery, I've used
ASO ankle supports on BOTH ankles to prevent even the slightest ankle
strain. They are very comfortable and last me about 2,500 miles per pair. ASO
supports have laces and velcro straps to keep the ankles from rolling. Here are
two photos of them:
If you need to take them off for some reason during a run,
they can be inconvenient if you're tired, in a hurry, or have on gaiters to keep
dirt out of your shoes, but they are worth the extra time to me. I used to trash
my ankles all the time. I don't worry about that any more.
ASO supports cost about $40 each, less if your insurance
covers them with a doctor's prescription. If you can't find them locally at a
doctor's office or medical supply store, do an internet search for "ASO+braces" and compare prices and shipping costs.
I continue to love and wear my "toe socks" for all long
runs. Injinji "tetratsoks" have individual toes to prevent blisters between
the toes. They work for me! I'm still using the five pairs I got before the AT
trek, and they look like they'll last a lot longer. I use thin, inexpensive
Coolmax ankle socks on top of the toe socks, pretty necessary to prevent fast wear in
the expensive Injinjis, shown on my left foot in the photo below:
On shorter runs I like to wear various types of
Smartwool socks that I've gotten free at races, and some Thorlos I've
had for years. I'm wearing one type of Smartwool socks on my right foot in the
Everyone has different sock preferences, but I don't think you
can go wrong with any of these companies. They have a variety of designs and
fibers, and they all have good warranties.
This year I continued to wear the same running clothes I
already had. The only new thing I got in the spring was a pair of REI
"Sahara" zip-off pants that I really love. I have two
other brands of convertible pants, but these are
the ones I always reach for first. I occasionally used them on the Colorado
Trail , but usually wore running shorts in temps over 50º
F. because my legs are more free in them and it's easier to pee in
In the Rockies we always carried our Marmot Precip
jackets and pants in our packs in case of rain, sleet, hail, snow, or cold,
windy weather on top of the mountains. They keep rain off pretty well, but get
really clammy inside from sweat. I usually forget to open the arm vents. That
would help prevent the wetness inside. In the photo below at the beginning of my
AT run we're both wearing our "Marmies." Jim also has on the Precip pants:
I also carried a fleece hat, wool headband, and one or two
pairs of gloves on most of my CT runs (higher elevations or colder, longer
days), as well as various emergency supplies that I used on the AT in New
England and the Smokies (waterproof matches, flashlight, whistle, water
purification tablets, etc.).
I used our compact Nikon Coolpix 4100 (four-megapixel)
digital camera again all summer and it continues to work great. I wish it
would self-destruct, however, so I could justify getting a six-megapixel camera
with more zoom capability than 3X. But those still cost too much for us to just
go out any buy as long as the Coolpix works. Jim also used our older, larger
Olympus Camedia three-megapixel camera occasionally, too. I like the Coolpix
because it's small and ergonomic, easy to carry and use while I'm "on the run."
(Last fall the ATC put out a call for photos from the Trail
to use in its 2008 wall calendars, but submissions had to be SEVEN megapixels or
larger! I was so disappointed that I couldn't send in even ONE of the 3,000+
photos we took along the AT because they were all taken with our three and four
megapixel cameras. So I guess even a six MP camera wouldn't be adequate for that
purpose. Maybe I should dream bigger!)
We got a new Garmin GPSMAP 60 CS unit from REI just
before our trip and it also worked well for us. Jim needed an excuse to buy one
of these gadgets anyway, and it was quite useful on the sparsely-marked Colorado
Trail. I credit its use with preventing me from getting lost this summer. I was
concerned that I might have trouble learning to use it, but I did OK with the
few functions I used (primarily elevation, distance, and following the waypoints
on a map I could zoom in and out).
Jim learned pretty quickly that the mapping software that
came with the GPS didn't work right with the Colorado Trail CD-ROM
waypoints, so he purchased some different software from Garmin (MapSource
United States Topo) that worked well. He had to load the waypoints and map
separately into the GPS, however.
Runners and hikers routinely complain that their GPS units
lose their satellite signals under heavy tree cover. I didn't find that to be as
much of a problem in the Rockies as at home in Virginia. I'm convinced the
leaves are thicker at home! Although much of the CT and other trails we ran were
shaded, the leaves of the predominant trees (aspens, mostly) and the needles of
the various firs and pines just aren't as dense and don't block satellite
reception as much. Our GPS beeps to let us know when it has lost the signal(s).
I didn't have to reset it very often.
I also used the written directions in the Colorado
Trail Guidebook, Seventh Edition (2006), the official guidebook of the
Colorado Trail Foundation. I tore out the appropriate pages each day and carried
those in a plastic zippered bag so it wouldn't get wet. The directions are
mostly accurate, but the distances our truck odometer and GPS unit
measured for trail head access and on the trail itself were often at odds. So
were elevations. Not sure if it was them or us!
The new guidebook is great. I have only one suggestion for
the next edition: please write the directions for trail users going
NORTHBOUND, too! Even though I did the segments out of order, I usually went
SOBO because it was easier than re-writing all of the directions! (Trailhead
logistics were actually less important to us.) The chore was more nerve-racking
because many of the CT turns aren't marked, so if I wrote the directions down
incorrectly, it could have been a big problem (less so with a GPS, however.).
I appreciate the Appalachian Trail directions for both NOBO
and SOBO hikers even more now.
I'm guessing the NOBO directions aren't in the Colorado Trail book because it would make it
about 40% longer. The CT Foundation is on much more of a shoestring budget than
is the AT Conservancy.
We also purchased a poster-sized map of the CT from the CT
Foundation and hung it up in the camper. It looks like the elongated map on the
left-hand side of each of the 2006 journal pages. I've also added a large
to this journal that will show the segments clearly so you can get a better
idea of where each is located. This is a small version of it:
We carried our cell phone on all our runs this
summer. Even in remote wilderness areas, we usually had a strong signal (four or
five bars) on ridges and other high places but often had no or poor signals
lower down. It would have been nice to be able to let Jim know when I was
getting close to the rendezvous point each day, but we couldn't always connect.
Even though I have a simple Polar heart rate monitor, I
never used it on training runs after we left for our trip (I used it last winter
and spring). The only watch I used on the CT and other training runs and races
this summer was my simple Timex sports watch. I wasn't very concerned
with my running/walking pace and didn't even use the chrono feature.
PACK AND HYDRATION SYSTEM:
I continued to wear my Camelbak H.A.W.G. hydration pack
(shown below) on all long runs this summer. I bought it before the AT trek and it's still
in excellent shape (except for the outside netting on the back that got torn
sliding down rocks in New Hampshire!). It holds a lot of stuff, sometimes TOO
much! I never did weigh it (nor did I on the AT run), but I'm sure that with 100
oz. of water each morning and the other items I carried most days, it was over
15 pounds a lot of days.
I had problems with two Camelbak 100-oz. bladders
this year, including a brand new tougher-textured, warranted-for-life one I had
to purchase in June in Billings, Montana, after another one got a hole in it. I
noticed the new one leaked about two weeks before we came home. I always had at
least two back-up bladders, plus Jim's. One was 100 oz., one 70 oz. I
wanted two 100-oz. bladders available to me at all times. I didn't want to have
just one and then be SOL if it also developed a leak and there were no stores
close by where I could get another one. Stuff happens, after all.
Camelbak about the newest problem about ten
days ago and received instructions for returning the damaged bladder. I wasn't
sure if they would replace the first one, but I stuck it in with the newer one
anyway, the tear circled with a pen. I think it's the one that came with the
pack, but I didn't want to spend the time hunting the receipt.
In only one week I received two brand new 100-oz. bladders
to replace the ones I mailed back! That is exceptional service. It's the second
or third time we've had to return leaking hydration bladders to Camelbak, but we
like the design and as long as the company stands behind its products, we'll
continue to buy them.
I use only water in my Camelbak for sanitation reasons.
It's a pain to thoroughly clean energy drinks out of the tubes and bladders! And
with my system of using a highly concentrated energy drink, it wouldn't work in
the bladder anyway. So I carry the energy drink concentrate (or even at regular
strength) in a separate UD 20-oz. or 28-oz. bottle. We've been using
these bottles for many years; despite all the various freebies we get at races,
it's the standard white or gray UD bottles to which we turn on every run. When I
need to carry the bottle in my hand, I use an old UD hand-carrier that's
about to fall apart. I keep stitching it up, because I don't like their newer
Because I described my nutritional system so thoroughly in
the AT journal (see links near the beginning of this entry), I will write a
shorter summary here.
Bottom line: this system works well for me on long
training runs and races and I will probably continue using it as long as I can
run or hike.
We are grateful to
Nutrition for continuing to offer us a substantial discount on their
products this year. As with Montrail, before the AT run last year I asked Hammer
for a discount because I knew we'd be using their products exclusively and it
would cost a lot. I didn't have to ask again before this trip; they just
kept on letting us order at the discounted prices. Thank you, Hammer Nutrition!!
And thank you, readers, who have ordered their products.
First-time buyers can get a 15% discount on their products by using the link
above or on the left of each page of our journals, and we get a discount on our
next order based on your total purchase (25% of your total). It's a win-win for
both of us.
Everyone can do this, by the way. After you've
ordered, you get a customer number and can let friends know about the
first-order discount. If they use your customer number on their first order,
you get that discount worth 25% of their order on your next order. This
isn't just for "sponsored athletes."
End of advertisement. Now back to my summary:
We used the following Hammer Nutrition products
again this year:
Hammer Gel for all our training runs and races. It's
a tasty, quick source of energy with no simple sugars and easily portable in
either little foil packets or 5-oz. flasks. We always buy the large bottles,
shown above left
(more cost effective) and put the gel into the flasks shown in front (less messy on the run
than the foil packets, and less likely to drop it on the trail). It comes in
about ten flavors, two of which are caffeinated.
Heed energy drink for runs between about two to five
hours. Heed contains complex carbohydrates and electrolytes. It comes in two
flavors. Jim and I both mix the powder in water at regular strength.
Perpetuem energy drink, shown in the middle, for long runs over four or
five hours. I absolutely love this stuff, and used it almost every day on the
trail this summer and last. It contains protein and fat, as well as complex
carbs, literally "for the long run." It also contains enough electrolytes that I
don't have to use many electrolyte caps to supplement it. Combined with slugs of
Hammer Gel every 20-30 minutes, it was enough to sustain me on all my long runs
without needing any solid food. I mix "Perp" up in a concentrated solution (4-6
times normal strength) and wash it down with water from my hydration bladder.
Jim prefers to use it at regular strength (2-2½
scoops per 20 oz. water bottle).
another energy drink with protein, fat, and carbs for really long endurance
activities, is used the same way as Perpetuem. I add gel to it for flavor
(raspberry is good!). It doesn't contain as much sodium as Perpetuem, so you may
need to supplement SE with more electrolytes. We prefer Perp, but some friends
of ours use SE exclusively.
capsules, shown to the right in photo above.
Hammer Bar energy bars.
These are delicious, but we don't use energy bars real often. We prefer the
liquids and gels. Hammer Bars are made of organic ingredients and come in
two flavors, chocolate chip and almond raisin. They are moist and digest
Recoverite recovery drink,
good to use after every long run or race to help reduce post-exercise muscle
soreness and optimize muscle recovery. I can definitely tell a difference the
next day(s) when I use it.
None of these products contain simple sugars, and the company recommends against
using them with any products or foods that contain simple sugars. They say it
really messes up the absorption rate and causes stomach distress. Hammer products are
made to work together, however - like using the gels and bars with any of the
Hammer Nutrition has many more products than these,
including whey and soy protein powders and numerous supplements. I've only
listed the products we've used and can vouch for in our own training.
AM I DONE NOW??
OK, I wonder what else I'll discover I've left out
that I think is important enough to include in another entry . . . oh,
LARGE MAP of the course that shows the segments clearly!
Farewell once more,