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Cheap Fitness Equipment and Bicycles

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I generally blog about running. I need to start hitting the weights. So this is a blog is about weight training. Or rather, how my wife, Annette, got started lifting weights. My wife is frugal to say the least. When I go to the grocery store for a few things it costs me a minimum of $100. I find things at the store I didn't even know I needed. She doesn't let me go to the store often. Annette can by a tremendous amount of food for very little money. She buys healthy stuff and she cooks highly nutritious meals. She is a little fitness and health demon.

About 12 years ago my wife started going to a personal trainer named Lisa. Lisa taught my wife how to lift weights. Annette decided to get her own weight set. She went down to Play it Again Sports. She bought a weight set with a barbell, curl bar and dumbbell bars. She still has them.

This is modestly priced 110 pound iron weight set. She paid $80 for the set. This set is a lot of bang for the buck.

She also bought a brand new weight bench for $50.

She found a set set of dumbbells on clearance for $29.95. These included 3, 5 and 8 pound weights.

Her total investment was:


She has used these weights for 12 years, which works out to $13 per year.

She also took up bike riding. She grabbed an old Magna bike that we had bought for one of our sons . He had out grown the bike many years ago. Because kids grow so quickly we didn't spend a lot of money on kid bikes. The original price was $79 at Target. The 18 speed bike had only two gears that worked. The brakes were terrible. The thing weighed 40 pounds. She didn't mind because she said she liked the heavy bike to get a good workout.

This is a new model Magna. $99 at Target. $99 is a terribly high price for this pile of junk. It has been recalled because the handle bars fall off.

I decided to start riding. I bought a new Giant Boulder SE for $325 and could beat my wife's bike seven ways from Sunday.

This bike has an alloy frame and good components. $325 was a great deal.

I bought Annette a new bike for her birthday. She picked out a Specialized Myka Expert. Bikes are one of those items that for a few more bucks you get a lot better components. For $625 she had a great bike. (BTW - that is huge discount -list was $940) I almost had to force her to allow me to spend that much money on a bike.

She loves this bike and has got a million miles on it. My advice is don't go cheap on a bike. She rides mountain passes and long trails. Having a bike break down 30 miles into the wilderness is no fun! A good bike is a must. We also take our bikes in yearly for a tune-up.

Now, having a streak of tool man Tim Taylor, I turned my attention to the home gym. I bought a complete gym with elliptical trainer, smith rack, leg press machine and olympic weight set.

Here is the smith rack with olympic weights. Everything on this smith rack is ball bearing with forged components. This is very rugged stuff. Again, cheap is not an option. I bought the floor model and got a hefty discount.

Here is the squat rack. Strong legs make you a better runner.

This inclined bench was a good deal.

The leg press machine is safe and easy to use.

Dumbbells - lots of dumbbells.

The cost for all the equipment we have now was about $4,000, including $1,000 for a Kettler elliptical trainer.

After 1o years and 1,000s of hours this machine is still smooth as silk and works perfectly. When it is cold and snowy we can still get a good cardio workout.

Along the lines of "more power" I recently bought a specialized Stumpjumper Comp for $1,600.

This bike has hydraulic disk brakes and fork lockout. I needed a great bike like this one to keep up with Annette.

I guess if there is a point to this blog is that you can spend whatever you want for fitness equipment. You want to get good value for your money. Annette loves her Myka bicycle, she uses the Kettler elliptical for cross-training and she digs the home gym. I read that the world-wide market for fitness equipment is $12 billion. I think I spent most of that myself!

Thanks for reading my blog.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LKEITHO 4/18/2011 10:39PM

    It is definitely too easy to spend a lot of money on fitness equipment! I agree with you about the bikes - a little more money can get a lot better bike. I love your home gym!

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YOGALOVESBACK 4/18/2011 12:05AM

    Wow!! That's amazing!! I've started on my own mini collected and got a free dumel 1,3 and 5 lb set, and I got a sweet deal for a $50 used stationary bike off of kijiji, love that site!

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MAGGIE805 4/17/2011 8:28PM

    I got my first surfboard at Play it Again sports! There is a lot of quality gym equipment out there that you don't have to pay top dollar for. You just need to know where to look.

My yoga stuff is from Target, my running shoes (Sauconys) were half off on Zappos (free shipping) and my gym equipment is free because I have a gym where I work. Free is good.

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BANDMAMAPC 4/17/2011 7:48PM

    Wow, you had me at hello. That is an impressive set!

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MSEBENS 4/17/2011 6:56PM

    That's amazing. I would love to have that set-up right in my home!

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SUZWARNR 4/17/2011 6:52PM

    I love all the equipment you have. You have everything you need for strength training. Definitely don't neglect that in your training. It has helped me tremendously. Do lots of squats and lunges for your legs. Can you find me a good deal on a bike? LOL. I need a racing one for next year. :)

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TEDDYBABE 4/17/2011 5:21PM

    Well you have NO EXCUSES for not doing your ST! LOL Great selection of equipment. You two are set up great!

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CAROLCRC 4/17/2011 4:45PM

    Love your equipment! I thought I had a nice home gym set-up with adjustable weights (5-52 pounds), a bench (new), bike and treadmill! I'm envious...

I admit - I'll definitely pay more for quality - talked DH into a more expensive treadmill - he hates it, (he hates any treadmill and is NOT a runner) but DD and I have put in a lot of hours on that thing.

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TREEBW 4/17/2011 4:16PM

    What does Annette typically cook?
It seems The healthier I eat (which is pretty normal for me) the more it costs (when I include organic veggies and such which I try to do); unless I just stick to grains, tofu, and veggies- which I got tired of years ago.

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KA_JUN 4/17/2011 3:59PM

    Nice rigs! Your home gym isn't too shabby either! I agree, when you look at the long term investment, if one actually uses the equipment, it's money well spent. How much is our health worth, or being able to physically perform at where we want to as we age?

Your wife got a really good deal @ Play it Again Sports on her weight set, well done! emoticon

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ITSHOWYOULIVE 4/17/2011 3:26PM

    Wow!! A tri is on my bucket list. I'm still working on the husband for the bike-lol!! Great blog, love the gear, gives me some ideas my husband won't like ;).

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LOREENYK 4/17/2011 2:35PM

    Wow! Your home gym is better equipped than a lot of hotels that offer a "fitness centre".

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CARLY9578 4/17/2011 2:15PM

    Sometimes paying extra for nice equipment is totally worth it. I am an avid hiker/backpacker, and nice equipment can be life-saving in certain situations. I also bought really nice MSR snowshoes a while back, which cost nearly twice as much as other brands. I have not regretted it for a second. My theory is that good gear is a good investment provided that I USE it.

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SROBERTS82 4/17/2011 1:55PM

    Nice weight room! I just went to the gym and tried an elliptical for the first time - loved it! I went looking for them on craigslist and found some pretty good prices on used equipment. I think that's a good way to go, because so many people buy them and then sell when they discover they never use them. We recently got a free exercise bike that just needed a $20 part. And this stuff lasts forever - I still have an exercise step I bought in college (about 20 years ago). It's money well spent!

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NWFL59 4/17/2011 1:43PM

    Wow, you've acquited some great home equipment and, unlike mine, gathers no dust from disuse. Congrats emoticon

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The Killer Hill

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I did a training run on North Table Mountain. This mountain is an extinct volcano that was active when dinosaurs ruled the earth, or as my wife says, when I was a junior in high school!

I like to run in new and interesting places. I like to tackle trails where angels fear to tread. However, I found a trail that was so mean and nasty, I will may not go back.

It hurt going up and it hurt going down. It just plain hurt. I ran 5.1 miles at an average pace of 10.43 min/mile. Here are some photos. Is this a place where you would like to run?

When you see this sign, stay in your car and keep driving.

It is always nice to know where you are and where you are going. I actually knew neither.

I really don't think any self-respecting mountain lion would be caught dead in this place!

This is a very serious sign. The Sahara Desert looks like a tropical rain forest compared to North Table Mountain. Colorado has three seasons: snow season, mud season and fire season! One spark and this place goes up like a tinder box!

I thought this sign was hilarious! It looked to me that a guy had fallen off his bike and he was trying to catch it!

Let me translate this for you - this sign actually says, "Abandon all hope ye who enter here "

Here is the start of the trail. This is only about a 10% grade. In Colorado we have a name for such a trail - we call it "flat".

I think this is an interesting shot. The bridge is flat. This photo shows the rate of ascent. Not too bad of a grade. I am still running strongly enjoying the warm sunshine at this point.

The trail is pitching up here. Still no problemo. It was disconcerting that it looked like I was running toward a cliff.

Here it is - the killer hill. This bad boy is a 30% to 40% grade. A 30%to 40% grade means when you go forward 10 feet, you go up 3 to 4 feet. There is no way to do this without it hurting.

This hill was 2 miles long! A pair of bicyclist tried to make it up this hill. They couldn't do it. They dismounted and tried to push their bikes up the hill. They gave up. I kept running. I got to the top of the hill and ran on top of the mountain. When I started back down this hill I fried my quads because I had to put on the brakes.

My car is the last one in the parking lot. I still had a long drive to get home. When I got home I could barely walk.

I am really happy with a 10:43 min/mile pace. What is even better is that I am not seriously injured and only lost one toenail. The blood from the torn toenail only stained my sock and did not get onto my shoe. I consider that a success.

I have met my match. Thanks for reading my blog.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ELISA322 4/16/2011 1:13PM

    WOW! Ha, a 10% grade is considered flat in CO, I believe it. My friend's brother moved to CO a couple of years ago and absolutely loves it out there especially since he is a very outdoorsy, active person. Don't think he'll be coming back to boring ole Michigan anytime soon.

A 2 mile hill at 30-40% grade, I can't even imagine how brutal that is! You definitely are in great shape to attack that. I would have been done a tenth of a mile in!

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ITSHOWYOULIVE 4/14/2011 1:04AM

    I sometimes hike a hill like that and have never dreamed of running it!!! Due to hike it in a month or so (have a different trail on the schedule first), might decide to run a little to get an idea of what you accomplished, because right now it just seems crazy-lol!! You are right it does look like the little man fell of his bike and is trying to catch his, now self-propelled, bike-very funny!! I am very, very impressed, great running :)!!

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HARRINGTON5 4/13/2011 11:05PM

    Those pictures look brutal, I can't even imagine running them. I whimper when I have to run in sand at the beach! Great job and I am glad it was only your toenail that got injured. Thake care of those sore muscles (I know you know what to do).

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ELYMWX 4/13/2011 10:45PM

    Great pics, Bruce! I'm only slightly disappointed you didn't get any plyo pictures hopping on one foot, but given the conditions it's completely understandable!

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TEDDYBABE 4/13/2011 10:34PM

    Killer Hill! Yep, and you killed it! Wow! The pics are great. This type of running so intrigues me, but I would be walking that killer hill. Not to mention the altitude you are dealing with, who cares if you are used to it or not. Hope the legs are better. The toenail, ouch, hate that when it happens! Now didn't I see a post a few days back that you were "beat"! HA! I'm thinking you recover quickly! Great post Bruce! Thanks for sharing it!

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SROBERTS82 4/13/2011 10:26PM

    What are you, superhuman!? I can't believe you ran on past while the bicyclists were sent home with their tails between their legs - You're awesome!

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LOREENYK 4/13/2011 9:40PM

    You win! If I ever even think about complaining about the "hills" I run in Yellowknife, I promise to read this blog again and snap myself back to reality!

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SUZWARNR 4/13/2011 8:19PM

    Wow, you are one brave man. A two mile hill? Good god! I love reading your reports about your newest adventures. What comes next? Maybe this summer I'll do a blog with some Maine trails, but I'm sure it won't be half as exciting as your blogs. I hope you are taking care of your legs right now. I've been dealing with sore quads for almost a week and have been trying to get some relief.

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LADYRH 4/13/2011 7:46PM

    Sounds grueling, congratulations on completing the run. emoticon

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Trying to Get Fast Uphill

Sunday, April 10, 2011

I have been training for the Mount Evans Ascent by running up hills - lots and lot of hills. I am getting better at hills. But I need to get way better!


My next race is the Long Scraggy Ranch 4.25 mile trail run on April 30th. The Long Scraggy is a hilly course. The Long Scraggy has some down hill parts. The Mount Evans race is 14.5 miles all up hill. The darn Mount Evans race is steep at 18% to 25% and really high at 14, 264 feet of elevation.

I went on a training run last night on the roads by my house. I ran hill repeats. I did well running at a pace of between 7:23 to 9:36 min/mile up hill.

Here is a hill by my house I ran hill repeats on. The hill is a mile long and has a 12 to 20% grade. I ran up the hill then gently jogged back down the hill. This hill is at 8,400 feet of elevation so I am not getting the extreme elevation workout I need. This is the best I can do in a pinch. The high hills are still snowy.

I only did the hill three times. I am getting better at hills, but I think am running slower overall. I found a photo I took of my Garmin from April 2010. This was the last road race I ran down in Denver at about 6,200 feet.

The course was a little hilly. I don't know what to think about this time. I guess this was fast. It doesn't matter, my goal now is to average 15 minutes per mile up to the top of Mount Evans.

Thanks for reading my blog.


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HARRINGTON5 4/12/2011 6:51PM

    Hey Bruce, Haven't seen you in a while. I see, you are still pushing the envelop. You are one awesome guy. I know you will accomplish this too. Stay healthy!

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ITSHOWYOULIVE 4/10/2011 10:49PM

    I'm siding with Alexa (Teddybabe) on this. You have some time to work on this, you've got your hill and you know how to train. I think as you "work your program" (putting a new spin on that old phrase) you'll see the speed come. I like HenrySC's statements too, it's actually my hill training plan (basically). What I do a bit differently though is every 3rd or 4th downhill I run (slowly-well both up and down are slow, but the point is I control the motion). I don't want an injury when I am racing and hit a downhill and don't know what to do :). Good luck with your training and happy to read your blog it is very inspiring :). I've been thinking that the hill training I've been doing is not sufficient so I need to get myself over to my hill more often...your blog confirms that in my mind (my hilly race is beginning of June).

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HENRYSC 4/10/2011 1:41PM

    If want to to get faster up hill you have to get stronger. Run lots of hill is great for the aerobic and mental aspect but doesn't help alot with the power you need.

Try finding a short hill (about 100 yards that is at 10% grade)

A the end of an easy days run go to this hill and 2 X 10 second sprint up the hill followed by walking down the hill to recover...Recovery between splits is important this is not an aerobic building exercise.
Do this twice a week each week add one more sprint until you get to 10 or so...

Soon you will find that you will not slow as much going up hill but they will still hurt LOL

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LOREENYK 4/10/2011 1:06PM

    That sounds like an amazing event! I feel like a fraud when I complain about the "hills" here in Yellowknife! Looking forward to reading all about the event!
Happy Running

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TEDDYBABE 4/10/2011 12:38PM

    Ok this race is June 18th. (yes you know that!) So, is this the part where you keep concentrating on building strength in your legs and lungs, concentrating on diet, and striving for endurance. Kick timing to the curb? Just thinkin....
Bruce, you are doing awesome!

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Three Sisters and Gilligan's Island

Saturday, April 09, 2011

I am really trying hard to find new and interesting places to run. I had read about the Three Sisters in my Trail Runners Guide to Colorado. On Thursday I had an appointment with my chiropractor. On a lark, I decided to undo any good my chiropractor had done for me and go for a run. The Three Sisters are pretty close to my chiropractor's office. My chiropractor even told me how to get there.

I found the Three Sisters and had a great run! This is a very cool place. The trails are steep, treacherous and fun. And I didn't fall once! Here is some photos I took after my run.

This is the sign at the park. This is a big sign. I thought this would be a cake walk.

Here are the three sisters. The three sisters are three massive rock outcrops. This is a pretty place.

A nice clean outhouse was a pleasant surprise. Only slightly less important that running shoes is a good restroom!

I got to find out all about the park from a ranger. This guy was really helpful. The weather was a bit chilly.

The ranger told me this rock outcrop does not have a name but everybody calls it "Gilligan's Island". "Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale...."

This is the trail to get to the trail. This trail is raised and goes over a bog. I was thinking at this point I was going to have a nice easy run. The elevation here is only about 7,800 feet so I was cooking along this nice segment really well.

Turn right a Gilligan's Island and the fun begins. There is really a trail here.

This is what is called a "technical trail", which means you can bite it at any moment. I labeled a root on this photo for further reference.

I put my shoe next to the root for scale. You can see this is a pretty big root.

I ran 5.25 miles on this trail. My average jogging stride length is 54" (which is pretty good considering my stubby legs). I calculated that I took about 7,000 to 8,000 strides during my run. This photo shows very bad foot placement. Chances are really good that if you make this mistake you will take a big tumble. My average pace was 10:06 min/mile. What does all this mean? It means that I have less than 1/10th of one second to decide where my next step has to land. Sometimes the next step has to be sideways to avoid an obstacle. The ability to change direction quickly is really important.

Here is an example of good foot placement. The right foot has landed very close to the rock on the right. When this foot is lifted it has plenty of room to clear the rock that is directly in front of it. Sometimes is is better to keep up a brisk pace over obstacles since it allows for higher vertical and longer horizontal movement. Think of it as being the difference between a standing jump and a running jump.

Quick, you have 1/10 of second to decide how to navigate these rocks. I put my shoe near the rocks for scale.

Did you go the right way? You cannot go to the left because the trail drops off and is covered with loose gravel. You are likely to slip and get hurt. The way to the right is covered with brush. You may be able to squeeze through going to the right but you have to slow down. You can easily scrape your leg on that rock if you move to the right. The best thing to do is to run a tight rope between the rocks. Remember that you are running and your steps are quick. This sequence of steps takes less that a second. You are out of balance but you can catch yourself before you fall.

I am sure you can pick out a good line on this without much difficulty. Here you take the path of least resistance and just run to daylight. There is my shoe again!

This is harder than it looks. The washouts make this a hazardous little stretch.

This is a nasty piece of real estate. Going up is bad. Going down is worse. Why? Nothing here is solid. Everything is loose.

Does this look like fun? Watch it - you have to really launch yourself on each step.

Back at the car and time to go home. I am actually proud I can keep up a 10 min/mile pace on a technical trail and I didn't fall down once!

Thanks for reading my blog.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

RWALTON730 4/10/2011 10:22AM

    Beautiful trail. I probably wouldn't be able to run it, but would love to hike it sometime. I'll have to get my husband to take me there. We live in Jeffco, but I am still rather new and don't know where all the trails and such are yet. Thanks for sharing!


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MAGGIE805 4/9/2011 11:05PM

    Looks a little treacherous. Makes my trail run today look like a cake walk compared to yours'.

Thanks for posting such beautiful pics and sharing your adventure! :)

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BANDMAMAPC 4/9/2011 10:18PM

    That was interesting! Loved the way you gave so much detail. You are so right, if I tried this trail, I would definitely have eaten the ground real fast. The closest thing I have to dodge on my trail once was a garden snake. Nice pictures. Thanks for sharing.

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GSCOTTC 4/9/2011 9:22PM

    I had to laugh every time I saw the shoe pictures. That is dedication to tracking your runs. Did you bring a spare shoe or did you stop and take off your shoe each time. Either way it still makes me laugh.

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    Oh I love trail running! And I love your photos! Thank you for sharing them with us. Three Sisters looks like a great place for a run and you did super on the timing!

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ELYMWX 4/9/2011 8:17PM

    Love the pictures!

(unfortunately now I have images in my mind of you hopping around on one foot getting those pictures of your shoe!)

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ELISA322 4/9/2011 8:07PM

    That is just beautiful, I would LOVE to run out there. I've always wanted to try trail running but knowing me I would trip over a big tree root. When I do decide to run a trail I will also come back to this blog.

10 min pace on the trails, wow... you did an awesome job!!

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TEDDYBABE 4/9/2011 6:48PM

    Now I understand why you like this type of running You are not able to go to sleep. You stay "mental" through the whole thing. Wow that looks great. I want to try a trail some day! Great great blog! Thanks so much.

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KKINNEA 4/9/2011 6:25PM

    That looks pretty tough. My impression of a lot of places in CO is that they have unexpected surprises. 10 min/mi and tumbling over no obstacles is no mean feat!

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RRP546 4/9/2011 5:49PM

  very cool

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SUZWARNR 4/9/2011 5:42PM

    I love the pictures and your descriptions on navigating the trails. It could come in handy for me later. I went for a run a few hours ago and the only thing I had to deal with was loose rocks on the dirt road. Thanks for bringing us along!

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Strollers, Costumes, Mountains and Bandages

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

I really enjoy reading the blogs of Spark runners that have done things I haven't done. I try to imagine what it would be like to run with 30,000 other runners. I think that running a race along an ocean would be fun. I like to hear about races where people push strollers or wear costumes. I wonder what it would be like to run with people that are having fun in nice sunny places.

I live in a different world. I am a born mountain trail racer.

I have raced on glare ice and in deep mud. I have had to dance over roots and rocks. I have bounded up slippery dirt stairs. I have had to push through willow bushes that stung my arms and face. I have raced in freezing temperatures and icy winds. I have crossed a finish line smeared with sweaty blood and needing a few bandages. I run races that are at 9,000+ feet of elevation over rough terrain. Most of the time there are only a handful of participants at these races.

I sometimes think my blogs about running and racing are remote, and not very accessible. I wonder if anyone reads my blogs says, “I know exactly what he is talking about.” I count on the support of my SparkFriends, even though I am an oddball runner. On my last blog “Up” I mentioned that I ran a "pokey" 11:36 min/mile pace for 3.25 miles. The fact is that 11:36 min/mile pace up a 20% grade at an elevation of 11,000 feet is actually blazing fast! It just sounds slow.

I could register for lighter races. I even know how to find these races.

Here is one that is on Sunday, April 10th.
3rd Annual Flying Pig 5K Charity Run/Walk

Fee includes tee-shirt, individual picture, AND pigs in a blanket” pancake breakfast

Even though flying pigs are cute, a race is a race. There is a starting line and a finish line separated by 3.11 miles. There are many races like this one every weekend. I keep thinking I should run a “fun” race. I just don’t want to.

I like mountain runners. These people are friendly, relaxed and usually very fit. There is an easy camaraderie before, during and after the race. The race is against the mountain and we are not competitors, we are a team.

The good news for me is that the race organizers always have a few bandages at the finish line.

Thanks for reading my blog.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MAGGIE805 4/9/2011 11:12AM

    I run by the Bay, I run with strollers, people in costumes, and people with just about nothing on at all. I do the race thing for the comeraderie and the t-shirt, not the time. I also try to get out of the BIG city rat race and enjoy the peace and quiet of a good trail run.

Everyone has a place where they run that is brings them peace and contentment. You just keep doing what makes you happiest. :)

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ELYMWX 4/9/2011 3:09AM

    I run next to the ocean.

I've seen costumes, but I've yet to see a stroller in a race.

I run on hills, but yours put mine to shame. I probably would run more, and higher, but I live where I live.

Oh, and I read your blogs too, Bruce!

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TEDDYBABE 4/8/2011 6:52AM

    Great blog! I think alot of us envy your running area. Have to tell you I met an Ultra runner last week. He is 67 and consistently runs 50 and 100 milers. Awesome man. I had limited time to visit with him, but felt like I had met a Rock Star! He looked like he was 52. Had been running for 28 years. Awesome visit!

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KKINNEA 4/6/2011 10:35AM

    Your ankles and lung capacity are most likely far better than mine! You can tell us about the trails and we'll let you know about the roads.

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ROOT4HOME 4/6/2011 10:18AM

    I don't think I'd have much fun being a trail runner but that's exactly why I enjoy reading your blogs! You give me a glimpse of what its like and I guess, one should never say "never", huh? Who knows, one day, a good trail run could be just what I need! Keep running the races you enjoy and sharing them w/us!! emoticon

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ANMRUNNER 4/6/2011 9:34AM

    I'm a road racer and I'm always in awe of your blogs.. I would LOVE to race on a trail or up a mountain or anything else besides the road, but I live in Texas where it's flat so road races are pretty much the only thing available within many miles of me. I did a walk/run on a trail once but the only real dangers were bikers..no roots to jump over, puddles to run around, or animals to watch out for. Someday I will run a cool race and be proud of it. But for now, I'll just sit back and watch you do it. (:

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BLACKROSE_222 4/6/2011 9:17AM

    Wow, great blog! Do what you love... and if the flying pig just isn't in the cards, than that's that! emoticon

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