A Colorado Springs Running Coach with a Passion to Help Others

As a Colorado Springs running coach, I’ve had the wonderful privilege of working with a variety of runners who have incredible “before and after” stories. In this post, I’d like to share my own story of transformation which fuels my passion to help others write their own story and achieve their running goals.

For me, I had noticed my weight creeping upward with each passing year. At that time, I could barely break 30 minutes in the 5k. In 2006, I specifically recall my wife talking me into running a local 5k race and every step was miserable. Upon finishing, I crumpled onto the cold asphalt and thought I was going to die. The searing pain in my lungs wasn’t something I wanted to sign up for again anytime soon. I was horribly out of shape and I knew it.

It wasn’t until the spring of 2008 that I decided to take up running again after nearly 20 years away from the sport. I eventually caught the “running bug” and haven’t looked back since.

With each passing year, I’ve continued to learn and grow as a runner and even became a Colorado Springs running coach.

I can still hardly believe the guy on the left (picture below) transformed into the guy on the right.

Colorado Springs running coach

LEFT: The guy on the left was 32 years old and weighed 207 pounds with a high percentage of body fat.

RIGHT: The guy on the right is a 43 year old National Class masters runner and Colorado Springs running coach, weighs 155 pounds and just recently ran a near personal best of 16:33 at a Turkey Trot 5k.

Over the last few years, I’ve also had the privilege of helping others reach more of their potential as runners. I enjoyed coaching so much that I decided to become USATF Certified and put more time into studying this incredible yet simple sport. Being a Colorado Springs running coach has given me the opportunity to meet and interact with runners of all levels.

So whether you’re near the front of the pack or toward the back of the pack, I believe I can help you squeeze out more of your ability! How do I know this? I’ve been there myself and know what it takes to improve. It’s not an overnight process but with hard work and consistency, you’ll also see your running improve and reach goals you never thought possible.

I’d love to chat with you over coffee about your goals and share some ideas that could help you improve your running, no strings attached.

To schedule your FREE 30 minute coffee consultation in the Colorado Springs or surrounding area, please fill out this form

Here’s to achieving new breakthroughs!!

CocoMint Christmas Cheer Smoothie

Christmas smoothieBaby, it’s cold outside! But smoothies can be enjoyed all year round. Here’s a seasonal smoothie recipe from my book Smoothies For Runners 2.0.

This is a great recipe to bring out during the Christmas season with mint being a constant theme. The fresh peppermint leaves will ensure that this is technically a green smoothie. Peppermint has long been shown to be a remedy for indigestion or an upset stomach. This herb also aids in breathing (a benefit for runners) and can help relieve symptoms of colds related to allergy. Take a deep breath and enjoy!

Ingredients

1 cup vanilla or chocolate coconut milk, depending on your
preference
8 fresh mint leaves
1 frozen ripe banana
1 scoop Garden of Life® Smooth Vanilla Organic Plant Protein
1-2 drops Peppermint oil extract (optional for stronger mint
lovers)

Blend all ingredients until smooth

*Training Tip

For whatever reason (weather perhaps?), many people seem to have the idea that a good time to take it easy with training is around the holidays. In my opinion, this isn’t always smart. Not that you have to train like a maniac during this stretch but it’s a good idea to still stay consistent. Slacking off too much will lead to a loss of heart (cardio fitness) and an increase in weight. We all know it takes a lot longer to gain that precious fitness than it does to lose it. It also takes more effort to lose those stubborn pounds than it does to gain them.

It’s really easy to get out of our routines around the holidays but staying consistent in our exercise habits can help us stay strong mentally and physically. My wife knows how important my daily run is to my overall state of mind and gladly sends me out the door.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good run!

Cinnamon Roll Recovery Smoothie

For you smoothie lovers, here’s a quick video we did while making the Cinnamon Roll Recovery smoothie. It’s basically a cinnamon roll in a glass!

You can find this recipe along with 23 more delicious smoothie recipes in my latest book Smoothies For Runners 2.0.

 

**If you’re looking for a powerful recovery aid for those intense workouts or races, look no further than PerfectAmino by BodyHealth. I’ve been using this quality Amino Acid supplement for the past couple years and I also recommend it to those I coach. Give it a try by using code HITZ10 for 10% off your order at BodyHealth.

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Lose Weight…Not Energy

Low Fuel

Many endurance sports reward lower weight. But sometimes losing weight can cause you to feel weaker than you did when you were heavier, simply because you’re running on fumes.

If we cut back on calories but maintain our workout schedule, our fuel tanks are going to be running low. Simply put, glycogen depletion can lead to a loss of pure power & energy.

It’s important to time your fueling properly—and consume the proper fuel—to prevent that from happening. Here are six tips to help you run strong while working toward your ideal training & racing weight, regardless of your body type.

Tip #1: Eat to Run

Quality runs and high-intensity workouts will help you lose weight, so you don’t want to sacrifice your performance during these key sessions. Fuel your workouts and cut back during the rest of the day.

That means topping off your tank with a 150 to 200 calorie snack that will provide sustained energy, such as a Larabar, banana with peanut butter, or a light smoothie. If you’re planning to be out for more than 90 minutes, take extra hydration which might include Nuun tablets or Hammer Heed mixed in your water bottle.

Afterwards, have some recovery food available. My personal go-to recovery is a scoop of Garden of Life protein mixed with water in a shaker bottle. It’s 15-20 grams of quality protein that provides my body with immediate rebuilding material.

When possible, time your run so you finish around mealtime. That way, you can just eat as you normally would when finished. Sometimes my wife will have a good breakfast ready and waiting for me upon returning from my long run.

Tip #2: Pace Your Weight Loss

Gradual weight loss will be less disruptive to your training and ultimately less draining than trying to lose a lot quickly. If you’re aiming for significant weight loss, you have to be fine with the occasional failed workout.

I’ve had many high-intensity workouts where my body simply fell short on fuel yet I was still able to finish most of what I had planned. When this happens in training, it’s not a big deal. If it happens during a key race, you may fall short of your goal. This is why it’s important to make sure you have a full tank before that big race.

Tip #3: Eliminate Empty Calories

If you’re running a lot, including racing, and trying to cut weight, you need maximum nutrition with little fluff. That means cleaning up your diet to avoid empty calories.

I enjoy a tasty craft beer from time to time but when I go into lean mode, this is one of the things I cut out. I sometimes refer to beer as “liquid fat” due to its high empty calorie content – a whopping 7 fat calories per gram!

These are things most of us know (heck, even kids know it), but it’s also important to cut out chips, cookies, donuts and soft drinks which are all filled with empty calories. “Empty” means they’re void of any dense nutrition. It’s like filling your car with watered down fuel.

Aim for high quality, real food such as fruits, vegetables, quality carbohydrates (i.e. brown rice, sprouted grain bread), high quality protein sources (i.e. wild caught salmon), and healthy fats (i.e. avocados) as they come in whole foods. I try to get a large green salad with lots of variety everyday if possible.

Tip #4: Increase Protein

Weight loss puts you in a catabolic state so it’s important to take in extra protein to prevent unnecessary muscle loss. Losing muscle will only hurt your running performance.

Research shows that people who eat diets that are rich in protein maintain their lean muscle mass which you need to turn those legs over. This is possible even as you’re trying to lose extra fat.

This is another reason I like having a good quality lean protein powder on hand like Garden of Life. By throwing a scoop in my shaker bottle twice a day between meals, I’m adding an extra 30-35 grams of protein at a cost of only 200 calories. That’s what you call nutrient dense!

Tip #5: Go to Bed a Little Hungry

If you’re looking to maintain fitness while losing weight, go to bed a little bit hungry. It won’t kill you and it’s an easy way to lose a pound a week. In times where I go into lean mode, I typically have a rule of not eating after 7:30pm. If you must eat something after that time, stick with a piece of fruit like an apple or an orange which is low calorie and high fiber.

Tip #6: Make Sleep a Priority

Shortchanging sleep puts your body in a constant state of stress, which increases stress hormones like cortisol which promote fat storage and make it that much harder to drop those pesky pounds. This effect can be even more pronounced if you don’t get enough sleep while also trying to lose weight.

Cutting calories has already put extra stress on your body, not to mention the extra training. Don’t add more stress if you can help it, or you risk overtraining symptoms and a lowered immune system.

Here’s to staying lean and mean on the roads and trails!

 

**If you’re looking to lose a few stubborn pounds without losing valuable muscle mass, look no further than PerfectAmino by BodyHealth. I’ve been using this quality Amino Acid supplement for the past couple years and I also recommend it to those I coach. Give it a try by using code HITZ10 for 10% off your order at BodyHealth.

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TWRW Podcast 003: Conversation with Travis Macy

Ultra Mindset CoverIn this edition of the Train Well Race Well podcast I sit down with Travis Macy of Evergreen, Colorado.  Travis recently released a fantastic book titled The Ultra Mindset: An Endurance Champion’s 8 Core Principles for Success in Business, Sports, and Life.

  A few of the things we touch on include…

  • His beginnings as an athlete and the influence of his Dad
  • His decision to go pro while training near the top of Mt. Evans in prep for the Leadman competition
  • How “being a wannabe” is one of the 8 core mindsets mentioned in his book
  • The moment he decided to ask one of his rivals to coach him
  • Why it’s actually important to have an “ego”
  • Advice for other parents who endeavor to pursue their own athletic goals
  • His greatest passion
  • His recent focus on running and some upcoming races and pursuits

Travis Macy is a speaker, author, coach, and professional endurance athlete. He is the author of The Ultra Mindset: An Endurance Champion’s 8 Core Principles for Success in Business, Sports, and Life, and he holds the record for Leadman, an epic endurance event consisting of a trail running marathon, 50-mile mountain bike race, Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race, 10k road run, and Leadville 100 Run, all above 10,200′ in the Rocky Mountains. Travis lives with his wife and two young children in the mountains around Evergreen, Colorado, and his sponsors include Vitargo and HOKA ONE ONE, among others.  You can find out more about Travis and his speaking & coaching services at www.TravisMacy.com

How to Use a Foam Roller for Injury Prevention in Running

 

Foam roller - injury prevention in running

 

Roll Those Injuries Away!

It all started on a chilly evening in early December 2012.  A friend of mine asked me if I wanted to join him in a track workout where he was planning to do a 12 x 200 meter interval session with each repeat being 3-4 seconds faster than 5k race pace.  Thinking I could use the leg turnover, I happily responded, “Sure I’ll join you!”

We did less than a mile and a half of warm-up (should have done at least 2 miles) and then hit the dirt track at a local middle school.  The first 7 repeats felt pretty good but then I felt a slight twinge in my lower right hamstring on the eighth rep.  As I continued to push, it got worse so after 8 repeats, my workout was finished.

What was I thinking by doing 200 meter repeats in chilly weather without a proper warm-up?  Part of the reason I shortened my warm-up was to get started with the workout before we ran out of daylight.  I paid the price for that mistake.

For the next couple months, I continued to re-aggravate this injury anytime I would push the pace below 6:45 per mile pace.  It was frustrating to say the least.  I finally decided to visit a massage therapist that a friend of mine recommended.  Pam lived up to her reputation of making grown men cry as she worked on numerous stubborn areas, especially in my legs.  Pam said I was as stiff as anyone she had worked on.  As she put it, “It’s like you’re running on boards!”  That’s pretty stiff.

It was then that she asked me if I ever used a foam roller, to which I replied no.  She said it would be one of the best investments I could make, especially considering all the stiffness my body was carrying.

 

Why a Foam Roller Helps Runners

Over time, running can create overuse injuries and tight muscles.  If these aren’t addressed, it can create pain that prevents us from doing what we love which is putting one foot in front of the other on a daily basis.

A good foam roller can help iron out areas that have become tight.  We all have trouble areas where knots can develop.  By taking a foam roller and targeting these knots, we allow our muscles to have a more full range of motion.  Think of a knot in a rope.  When you remove the knot, you lengthen the rope.  For every knot you add to the rope, you shorten it.  You want your muscles to have their full range of motion when running, otherwise, those knots can progress to muscle strains or even muscle tears.

Unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way by enduring a lower hamstring strain that lingered for over three months before I finally turned a corner.  For some people, their injury may occur in the calves.  Others may experience pain in their ITB (illiotibial band).  Regardless of where the pain crops up, tight muscles can lead to a chain reaction where various parts of the body carry too much load and finally give us a warning signal.  It’s when we continue to ignore these warnings that injuries occur.

Common areas to work on with a foam roller include…

  • Calves
  • Hamstrings
  • ITB
  • Quads
  • Gluteus muscles (aka “glutes”)

 

How to Use a Foam Roller

In the video below, running coach, CJ Hitz, will show you how to use his favorite foam roller to address the ITB, hamstrings, calves and quadriceps.

 

 

My Favorite Foam Roller

best foam rollerIn my opinion, Trigger Point Performance Therapy makes the best quality foam roller on the market.  I happen to own “The Grid” version of their foam roller which offers even more targeted massage action with the grooves and grid pattern on the roller.  This matrix pattern also helps increase circulation.

Trigger Point also makes a “Grid Mini” which is the most travel friendly foam roller on the market and easily attaches to any gym bag, backpack, or can fit inside your suitcase.  On the bigger end of the spectrum, they also offer “The Grid 2.0” which is double the size of the standard Grid foam roller.

 

Conclusion

If you can get into the habit of rolling out those trouble areas once a day, or at least every other day, you’ll be on your way to nipping potential injuries in the bud before they rear their ugly heads.  Some runners prefer to use the foam roller immediately after a run.  I prefer to use it before going to bed along with a ten minute routine of exercises I do to end my day.

What are you waiting for? Let’s get rolling!

 

**If you’re looking for a powerful recovery aid for those intense workouts or races, look no further than PerfectAmino by BodyHealth. I’ve been using this quality Amino Acid supplement for the past couple years and I also recommend it to those I coach. Give it a try by using code HITZ10 for 10% off your order at BodyHealth.

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TWRW Podcast 002: Conversation with Justin Ricks

Justin running in Moab

Justin running in Moab

In this edition of the Train Well Race Well podcast I sit down with Justin Ricks of Colorado Springs, Colorado.  Justin has run 2:22 for a road marathon but his main focus has been in the trail running scene.  A few of the things we touch on include…

  • His beginnings as a runner and the influence of his family
  • His dramatic weight loss
  • His interest in getting back into Ultras
  • His traveling adventures with his wife & kids
Justin is sponsored by La Sportiva as a member of their Mountain Running team.  He’s also a member of Team Colorado, arguably the strongest group of mountain/trail runners in the country.  Besides being a competitive runner, Justin also works with GrassRoots Events where he helps direct several races and offers his coaching services.

 

Listen to the interview below:

TWRW Podcast 001: Conversation with Peter Maksimow

Peter Maksimow

Copyright Pikespeaksports.us

In this edition of the Train Well Race Well podcast I had the opportunity to sit down with Peter Maksimow of Manitou Springs, Colorado.  Besides being one of the most colorful runners I know, Peter is one of the top Mountain/Trail runners in the country with multiple Top 10 finishes at prestigious races like the Pikes Peak Ascent and Mount Washington Road Race.  A few of the things we touch on include…

  • Where he grew up and how running entered the picture
  • His work with Running USA
  • Some of his training
  • Planking

Peter is sponsored by Inov-8  and leads Team Colorado, arguably the strongest team of mountain/trail runners in the country.  You can read about their adventures on their fantastic blog.

Listen to the interview with Peter below:

Giveaway: Win a FREE Month of Private Coaching

 

Win Private Coaching Running

To kick off 2014 and help you get the most out of your running,  I wanted to offer a giveaway.  One lucky runner will win 30 days of private coaching with me for free ($147 value).

This includes:

  • Individual customized training plan based on your running background
  • Weekly 30 minute call via phone or Skype  (Skype will be used for international clients)
  • Daily email correspondence Mon-Fri (you can send one e-mail each day with your questions)
  • Accountability to help you succeed
  • Nutrition advice to help you reach your goals
  • Strength routine
  • BONUS:  As a coaching client, you will also receive PDF review copies of his running books “Smoothies for Runners” and “Starting Off On the Right Foot”

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.  So enter to win below.

Good luck!

– CJ

Enter to Win One Month of Private Coaching

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Recap of the USATF Club Nationals 2013 XC

This year I had the wonderful privilege of being invited to compete with the BRC/Adidas masters club from Colorado at the  USATF Club Nationals 2013 in Bend, Oregon. It didn’t take much twisting of the arm since I grew up in Oregon and love getting back there to visit family whenever possible.

As I turned 40 back in June, I entered a new world known as masters running. This is both exciting and humbling at the same time. It’s exciting in that there are separate awards and even (in some cases) separate championship races across the country. It’s humbling in that I still can’t believe I turned 40…”masters runner” does have an elderly ring to it.

I believe all my personal bests will come in my forties since I have “younger legs” for someone my age. I didn’t begin running until almost 35 years old which is a mere 5 ½ years ago. Every year since then has seen significant improvement in my running which can be attributed to deeper base, smarter training and better (most of the time) nutrition. I’m excited to push the limits in my forties!

A Brief History of the USATF Club Nationals XC Championships

From 1994-1997 the USATF National Championships / Club Championships / World XC Trials were one race in December. Those who took part during those years said it was a great race. The locations were…

1994 Portland Blue Lake Park

1995 Boston Franklin Park

1996 Stanford golf course

1997 Portland Blue Lake Park

Then the IAAF decided to add a 4k for the World Champs and move the women from 6k to 8k, the men were already running 12k. So they went back to having the USA Champs/World trials for the 12k/4k and 8k/4k in February and decided to leave a race in December and call it the Club Champs which started in 1998 and has stayed that way until now. One of my teammates, Art Siemers, ran in that 1998 race in Orlando, FL with a Runners Roost/Adidas club team from Colorado. The locations for each of the Club Champs in December have been…

1998 – Orlando, FL

1999 – Long Beach, CA

2000 – Boston, MA

2001 – Mobile, AL

2002 – Rocklin, CA

2003 – Greensboro, NC

2004 – Portland, OR

2005 – Rochester, NY

2006 – San Francisco, CA

2007 – West Chester, OH

2008 – Spokane, WA

2009 – Lexington, KY

2010 – Charlotte, NC

2011 – Seattle, WA

2012 – Lexington, KY

2013 – Bend, OR

As you probably noticed, the race location alternates each year between the western and eastern US. The 2014 races will be held in Bethlehem, PA.

After 4-5 years the IAAF dropped the 4k and stayed at 12k and 8k for the World Champs. They left the team sizes at six runners while scoring 4, but before 1998, the World Champs for men was 12k with 9 man teams. Another teammate, Simon Gutierrez, actually ran on one of those World teams back in the day.

Their thinking with the 4k and smaller scoring teams was that more countries would field competitive teams and the middle distance runners would be more of a factor. But this was not to be and it ended up being an afterthought since XC is XC and track is track.

Many thanks to my teammate Mark Misch for providing the above brief history.

The Course

The course in Bend sat at a little over 3,600 feet which makes it the highest in USATF Club Nationals history. Coming from Colorado where our team lives between 5,000-6,400 feet, we were looking forward to any advantage we might have in competing at a little higher altitude.

This year’s race director was Max King, one of the best trail/mountain runners in the world. Max said he wanted to bring cross country “back to its roots” with all sorts of surprises. Well, the course certainly had its fair share of roots & rocks. Mark & I had a chance to walk the 2k loop the day before the race to get an idea of what was in store. The first 400 meters alone could ruin a person’s race due to the steep uphill climb. The starting line itself was probably half the width of a typical championship cross country course.

As we crested that first big climb, the course veered right and almost immediately narrowed. We both agreed this would make for some interesting jostling for position among over 300 runners. Another 200 meters and we would begin a nasty technical downhill where I envisioned many people going down. This had Max King’s fingerprints all over it. Once you made it through the downhill gauntlet, the course had a 400 meter stretch that took us in and out of pine trees. This little section had branches we had to dodge and several sharp turns that would halt any momentum we might have gained on the “flattest” section of the whole course.

As we came out of the trees, we were rewarded with a long, grinding 700-800 meter uphill climb that would chew many runners up and spit them out. After cresting this beast, we had about 300 meters of rolling, gradual incline before hitting another round of the downhill gauntlet. We would have to endure 5 of these loops. After previewing the course, it was very evident that carnage was sure to follow. I was sure I could hear Max’s devious chuckle. Perhaps his nickname should be “Mad Max.”

To be honest, I was actually excited to tackle this course. Going uphill is probably my greatest strength. Unfortunately, technical downhill is not one of my strengths but I still hoped to limit the damage by maintaining my position and also knowing that many runners were coming from flat terrain where they had little or no experience running downhill, let alone technical downhill.

This course would be an “equalizer” in many regards. It would be a race of strategy, perseverance, mental toughness and sheer grind. Forget the 10k PR this year!

The Team

2013 Club Nationals

L to R: Craig, Art, Cody, CJ, Simon, Mark

 

Going into this race, I was excited at our team’s prospects of placing in the top 3 overall. I knew it would take a great day to beat the two-time defending team champion Atlanta Track Club led by two-time defending champion Malcolm Campbell. When I look at our team members, I’m definitely the “newbie” of the group…

Simon Gutierrez – Two-time winner of both the Mount Washington Road Race and Pikes Peak Ascent. Made numerous US Mountain Running teams. Has placed 1st overall at Club Nationals XC and placed 2nd twice. One of the best master’s runners in the country.

Art Siemers – Head cross country coach at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. PR’s of 4:04 (mile), 14:05 (5k), 29:47 (10k), 1:05 (half-marathon), 2:18 (marathon). Art continues to be competitive after turning 40 this past year.

Cody Hill – Cody and his wife Lori operate the Boulder Running Company in Colorado Springs and are fantastic running ambassadors in our community. Cody created the BRC/Adidas elite racing team several years ago which has been very competitive at races and championship events across the country. I’m thankful Cody invited me to be part of this master’s team. He’s been a competitive runner since his collegiate days and continues to lay down some smoking times from the mile to 10k after also turning 40 this past year.

Craig Greenslit – Craig has been a high level triathlete for several years from local events to Ironman championships. He also has a fantastic running resume including a 6th place master’s finish at last February’s USA Cross Country Championship in St. Louis.

Mark Misch – Mark is Head Cross Country and Track coach at University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS). Not only did Mark run at the collegiate level himself but he’s had the privilege of coaching some outstanding collegiate athletes over the last seven years. Shortly after turning 40 this past year, Mark placed 16th overall in the master’s USA Cross Country Championship in St. Louis. Before being involved in a car accident nearly ten years ago while running, Mark was well on his way to qualifying for the Olympic Trials in the marathon. Since then, he’s managed to adjust his goals while remaining very competitive as a runner.

CJ Hitz – Yep, that’s Yours Truly. Since I only began running 5 ½ years ago, my running resume is short and much less impressive compared to the guys above. 2013 was an exciting year of improvement in my running as I managed to beat my previous PR’s which had been set at sea level. Setting new PR’s at 6,000 feet elevation (here in Colorado Springs) gets me pumped to run these distances at sea level again to see what I can do. I hope my own running can be an example for those, like me, who took up running in their mid-thirties or even forties.

The Race

On race morning, we arrived at the course a little after 9am. With the men’s master’s race beginning at 10:45am, we had plenty of time to warm-up and even watch the women’s master’s race.

For our warm-up, we decided to run the 2k loop that we’d become quite intimate with during the race. Weather conditions were partly cloudy and windy with temperatures in the 30s. Fortunately, by the time our race started, the wind had quieted down and we even saw some sun peeking through.

As we did our final strides near the starting line, I was envisioning runners blowing up after that first 400 meter climb. Mark & I agreed we needed to go out a little more conservative which would keep us in the middle of the pack in that first loop. If ever there was a course where a person could ruin their race in the first two loops, this was surely it.

After the first loop, Mark & I were running within five meters of one another and found ourselves at around 150th place or middle of the pack. Even in this first loop, we began to see the carnage begin. There was a steep price to be paid for those who decided to go out at their normal 10k pace since this course was anything but “normal” compared to all other previous years.

CJ Hitz Club Nationals

Mark (L) and I cruising near the trees

 

I’m so thankful for Mark and his wisdom, even as we were running nearly side by side. As he sensed me getting antsy and wanting to push harder after that first loop, he gently said, “Patience CJ, remember we have five loops. Our opportunity will come.” This was enough for me to hold back and save the best for last. Mark is a coach through and through, even during a championship race!

By the time we made it through the second loop, we probably passed 10-15 people on the uphill section while maintaining our position on the downhill. At worst, we would be passed by 2-3 people on the downhill each loop. As we completed the third loop, we found ourselves in the top 100 and in great position to reel in more carnage in the last two loops. It was in the third loop that we passed Craig who was dealing with a lingering Achilles issue. This is the main reason he decided against wearing XC spikes due to the further stress it would add. It was evident when we passed him that he was struggling with some pain.

The fourth loop saw Mark & I turn it up a notch as we still had plenty in the tank, thanks in no small part to Mark’s wisdom & strategy. As we crested the big climb toward the end of the fourth loop, we came across Cody who seemed to be struggling. This actually shocked me since I had never beat Cody, let alone passed him in previous races. We encouraged him to keep moving and finish strong before heading into the fifth and final loop. Cody would later admit that this type of course didn’t suit his strengths. Though not a bad uphill runner, he was very tentative (and for good reason) on the treacherous downhill.

2013 Masters Club Nationals

Mark (in front) and I entering the downhill gauntlet

 

Hitting that last loop gave Mark & I an added boost of energy as we sensed a great opportunity to do more damage, especially on that final uphill. As we passed quite a few more runners, I put a small gap on Mark before we headed into the 300 meter downhill finishing chute. We both kicked pretty hard but I managed to cross the finish line a mere one second ahead of Mark. After finishing this race, I embraced my fellow comrade in battle and thanked him for helping me run a smart race.

2013 Masters Club Nationals Finish

Crossing the glorious finish

 

When the dust (and mud) finally settled, our team finished 5th of 23 teams which was a bit disappointing for us. We were a mere 6 points out of 4th place. Individually, this was the finishing order with our top five guys scoring…

8th – Simon (he was running 4th before taking a nasty fall in that downhill gauntlet). He was the age-graded champion at 47 years old.

25th – Art

49th – CJ (Yours Truly)

50th – Mark

68th – Cody

112th – Craig

All in all, a few guys on the team didn’t have their best day but that’s how the cookie crumbles at times. Still, to be 6 points out of 4th place is pretty good despite a mediocre day. This gets me excited about our team’s prospects next year in Bethlehem, PA.

Amazingly, the Atlanta Track Club took home their third master’s team title in a row by squeaking out victory by a mere one point over Bowerman Athletic Club of Oregon. Proof that giving it everything you’ve got can make a big difference in the end. Lee Troop of Boulder, CO ran away from the field to win the individual master’s title.

One More Highlight

At the evening awards celebration, I had the honor of meeting someone I highly respect and look up to as a runner and coach. That person is none other than Pete Magill, a name you might recognize from articles he’s contributed to Running Times. Pete holds the American record for the oldest person to break 15 minutes in the 5k. He ran 14:47 at 49 years of age which is phenomenal. Pete won the master’s USATF Club Nationals race in 2010 when it was held in North Carolina. And he didn’t start running again until he was nearly 40 years old after quitting his freshman year in college!

Pete has been kind enough to answer several questions I’ve asked him via email over the past few years and I found him to be even more gracious and approachable in person. Before we parted ways, he signed a race bib for me and also a good friend of mine here in Colorado Springs. Keep running strong Pete!

Pete Magill Masters Club Nationals

Enjoying a moment with masters legend Pete Magill (L)

 

Final Thoughts

I was able to spend a full week in Oregon which gave me time to see family which was nice. I mainly stayed with my brother Jason and his wife Christy in Dundee, OR deep in wine country. Jason & I drove the three hours south to visit our parents and our grandma in Myrtle Creek and Roseburg. I was also able to get my typical Oregon coast fix by taking a drive over to Newport one of the days.

I also have to give huge thanks to Michael & Mayra Dennis for their gracious hospitality in putting Mark & I up for the couple nights we were in Bend. Their kids and Golden Retriever Daisy were fun to be around.

As the week came to a close, I found myself excited to return to my wife Shelley and our abundant Colorado sunshine that seems more elusive in the Pacific Northwest this time of year.

I’m also excited for what 2014 holds in store…Happy New Year!

 

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