Running North Rim To South Rim At The Grand Canyon

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After months of training in the northeast mountains, it was time to fly from Tampa to Phoenix on September 11th. Loosened up on a couple of one hour runs in the dry heat of Phoenix, then traveled to Prescott to meet the rest of our party. Kim Sheffield and her nephew Maxwell Allen were running. My wife, Sekyen, and Kim’s husband, Mark, were the support team. It took us about 6 hours to drive to the picturesque North Rim of the Grand Canyon. This was my first time driving to the north side of the Grand Canyon. It is much more scenic than the entrance on the south side. We spent the night in cabins on the Grand Canyon Lodge. It was early to bed and early to rise as we slept around 930 and awoke at 4 to start our preparations. Oatmeal, walnuts, and a banana was all I needed for breakfast. A hot shower and a body rub with The Stick and then we all traveled about 1.5 miles to the entrance to the North Kaibab trailhead. We waited for the sun to lighten up the atmosphere in order for us to see our feet. We all formed a circle, held hands, and said a prayer to begin our day. We walked for a few minutes down the North Kaibab trail at 8,250 feet. Then we began our run passing by 7 hikers that started before us in the dark as we descended into the Canyon with the Douglas fir and Ponderosa pine all around us.

Kim and Max were “yahooing” down the Canyon trails hearing the echoes off the granite and sandstone walls. It was a wonderful start to the day. We ran past more hikers who stayed at Cottonwood Campground the night before. We ran through the man-made Supai Tunnel at about 6,800 feet, past Roaring Springs about 5 miles in, and through Cottonwood Campground at about 4,000 feet approximately 7 miles in to the run. After Ribbons Falls at 3,720 feet, we arrived at my highlight of the Grand Canyon run – “The Box.” The so-called “Box” is roughly a 4 mile stretch of trail that runs along Bright Angel Creek with 1,000 foot walls along your side. We were at times flying through this part of the trail as we took advantage of the shade and the stable footing. We completed the roughly first 15 miles in about 2 hours and 45 minutes arriving at Phantom Ranch at 2,480 feet. I smashed my left big toe on some rocks (and the front of my shoe due to the sharp 6,000 foot descent), but this part of the run was extremely enjoyable with the difficult part just ahead after we cross the Colorado River and work our way up the wall of the South Rim.

The last 7 miles is the challenge of the rim to rim run and we did not make it any easier by choosing the wrong trail to go up the South Rim. We chose the South Kaibab trail thinking we had enough fluids to run up, but we were wrong. The South Kaibab trail has no water supply, it is BYOW (bring your own water). It is also a very steep terrain which is not good for running. Only go down the South Kaibab trail (if starting on the South Rim) as the Bright Angel Trail is much better to climb. It has 3 water stops, some shade, and (although a bit longer than South Kaibab) a more conducive trail to run on with smoother switchbacks in order to ascend the 5,000 feet of elevation out of the Canyon.

At times on South Kaibab, it feels like your running is not faster than your hiking. So there was a mix of run/hike at this point. Then Kim felt sick from heat exhaustion with about 4 miles to go. With the slower pace, increased heat, and rising elevation, we were in trouble. She vomited and continued putting “one foot in front of the other” (in the words of encouragement from Max). Kim called it the “death march,” but she persevered and showed her incredible toughness. We ran out of liquids due to this portion of the run taking longer than expected. Thanks to the generous hikers coming down the Canyon and Mary, the wonderful ranger positioned at Cedar Ridge, we were able to receive more liquids. After another 3.5 hours for Max and me, and another 4.5 hours for Kim (as she hiked the last 1.5 miles with Mary), we completed the trek from the North Rim to the South Rim. With the problems on our ascent, it took us longer to complete the last 7 miles than the first 15 miles.

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The roughly 22 miles through the Canyon had majestic views and sites we will not soon forget. It is now time for a bit of recovery and after a summer of training and running at elevation, to return to sea level on the Sarasota beaches.

 

 

Advanced Motor Planning

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Back in Florida for a few days after training in the northeast mountains for the last 3 weeks. We began at Mount Katahdin, Maine’s tallest peak. Little did I know that I was in store for 9 hours of rock climbing and only 3 hours of hiking as we chose to cross Knife’s Edge (pictured above) – the most difficult route to the summit. We ascended the rocky Dudley trail to Pamola Peak. Then managed to get through the extremely hazardous maneuvers up and down Chimney Peak to Knife’s Edge (the name does say it all).

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I will never choose to go this route again, but my nephew (pictured in front of me), Braedon, from Arizona loved the rock climbing aspects of the hike. So it was well worth it to experience the journey with him and my older brother, Richard. Braedon who is scared of structural heights (as he will freak out on a 30 foot rock wall with a safety rope around him), but strangely not natural heights. He had to lend me a “helping hand” a couple of times to hoist me up in order to position my foot in the next vertical spot.

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I left the long day at Katahdin battered and bruised, but void of twists or sprains allowing me to meet Kim Sheffield in the Vermont mountains for our 20 mile training run. Kim assembled a nice small group of runners to ascend and descend Mount Tom and surrounding areas around Woodstock, Vt.

Then it was onto the White Mountains of New Hampshire to tackle the full Presidential Traverse in the White Mountains that Hurricane Arthur kept us from doing in July. We started at daybreak and hiked 9,000 feet of elevation as we went up and down 7 peaks: Madison, Adams, Jefferson, Washington, Monroe, Eisenhower, and Pierce. It was 21.5 miles in 14.5 hours as we finished with our head lamps guiding us through the darkness. I now can understand how this is more a summer solstice hike as we were chasing the sunlight.  It was a long, but beautiful day. My older brother, Richard, and his friend Steve (all over 50 years old) had a lot of laughs along the way and took in some amazing sights.

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During the hikes Richard and I were discussing the necessity of advanced motor planning for these challenging terrains. Motor planning is defined as “the ability of the brain to conceive, organize, and carry out a sequence of unfamiliar actions.” That is exactly what was required step after step (often on wet rocks). Individuals can be in the best endurance shape, but if they lack advanced motor planning, problems will occur with such arduous routes. That is why jumping rock to rock is as much a mental task as it is a physical one.

After these three weeks of hiking and running in the mountains, I feel ready for the Grand Canyon on September 15th. I will be traveling in the weeks leading up to the run at the Canyon, but will post a blog on my return from Arizona. Hope you all have a great end to your summer…

 

Training In The White Mountains

After running 13.1 miles on Siesta Key Beach at the end of June in 90 degree weather and high humidity. It was time to go north to the White Mountains to work my legs in a different way as I prepare for the long run across the Grand Canyon. My older brother, Dick, is an avid hiker and a member of the New England 4000-Footer Club which includes all 48 peaks in the White Mountains. He has asked me for years to do some long hikes with him, but with my past summers filled with one-mile speed races I could not partake in these journeys. However, this year is a different story. I am hiking The White Mountains in New Hampshire and Mount Katahdin in Maine and then running the 20 mile dress rehearsal through the mountains of Vermont. I thought this would be a great way to prepare for the rigors of The Grand Canyon. Steep ascensions and descents are a great way to strengthen parts of your legs that are often missed. Balancing on a rock or a dirt edge tests your ligaments and muscles around the joints of your lower extremities as you strengthen through vertical stabilization. Dick and I were planning to hike the Presidential Traverse which is over 20 miles, but Hurricane Arthur had other plans for us.

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When Dick awoke on Saturday morning, he came into my room to tell me about the change of plans. The back winds of Hurricane Arthur were still looming in the northeast United States. The winds on the top of Mount Washington, the highest peak in the northeastern US just over 6200 feet, were gusting over 100 mph. Now 100 mph pales in comparison to the world record in 1934 that Mount Washington once held for wind speed measured at 231 mph, but we could not chance the exposure that the high traverse entails hiking over Mount Adams, Mount Jefferson, and Mount Washington. Instead, we stuck to lower peaks and under tree levels. We hiked up to Mount Eisenhower, Mount Jackson, Mount Pierce, and the Webster Cliff trail. The views were tremendous but so was Hurricane Arthur (with 60 mph gusts on Eisenhower) as can be see in the video and photo on Webster Cliff later in the day. It was a great day of training with Dick as we covered 13 miles of wet, windy, and slippery trails.

Our plans were supposed to take us to Israel later this month, but with all that is happening there it is postponed to a future date. We look forward to the next training hikes and runs in August, but this time without any hurricanes. At www.OneMileRunner.com, we just migrated our blog site to Word Press. Please let us know what you think of the new format.

Preparations Begin for the Grand Canyon

This event in mid-September will be quite different than my mile jaunts. Not only is the distance much greater, but also the preparations are not the same. My usual three speed workouts a week will be reduced to one. I have never worn an “energy belt” to hold water and bars, but it will be a necessity on this long run. I picked up a New Balance energy belt along with the outdoor shoe I will be wearing as I chose the new NB Multi-Sport 99. The energy belt will be able to hold two 10oz. water bottles. It has a small pouch in the back for two energy bars and another small item. The New Balance Multi-Sport 99 is the perfect shoe for the Canyon trails with a 4mm drop, Vibram sole, and NL-1 last. I took my first run with the NB 99 today and loved it. I have tried the New Balance Leadville 1210, but it was a little too bulky for my narrow feet.

At www.OneMileRunner.com, I am also accustomed to have cars surrounding me as I run. One or two cars for protection and safety if the road is not closed and another for the video crew. In the Grand Canyon, we will be on our own and far away from civilization. We decided if anyone gets injured on the initial steep decline, then they will return to the South rim before our sag wagon departs on their 5 hour drive to meet us on the North rim. If everyone makes it without any injuries to Phantom Ranch (approximately 7 miles in to the South Kabib trail) then we will all stick together until we finish. We have studied the trail map and have marked the couple of water spots. We have also gone over the items we need to have on us for the trip.

Our 20 mile practice run will be in the mountains of Vermont on August 10th – approximately one month before the Grand Canyon run. I am also hiking the entire Presidential traverse in the White Mountains of New Hampshire (about 20 miles in one day) on July 4th weekend to also test out some of my new equipment. Should be an interesting summer of preparation before we return to Florida at the end of September. Then we change gears and turn the speed on for the Greek Island Adventure in June of 2015…hope everyone is beginning to enjoy the warmer temperatures for your runs.

2014 Event: Running Grand Canyon Rim to Rim

In 2014, www.OneMileRunner.com will be taking part in a very different event. Instead of racing one mile at a time for speed, explosion, and recovery, we are going to attempt 23+ miles in a row across the Grand Canyon from the south rim to the north rim in mid-September testing our stamina. In the summer of 2015, we will be racing the mile again throughout the Greek Islands as we attempt to race on 10 islands in 5 weeks, all under 5 minutes entitled – The Greek Islands Adventure.

I remember running at the Grand Canyon in 2011 as part of our “5 Wonders of the World Under 25 Minutes” event on the south rim. It was at 6700 feet windy and cool. Running rim to rim will have vast altitude changes along with temperature changes as the heat can rise in the bottom of the canyon in September. This year’s event came from my good friend Kim Sheffield, a former masters national champion miler. Kim has helped and supported me in every one of my events over the years. On one of our training runs on her birthday, she revealed that running rim to rim was one of the items on her bucket list. And I agreed to run it with her and bring her dream to reality. So the training this spring and summer will be a bit different. In early August, we will be doing a 20 mile dress rehearsal run through the Vermont mountains testing equipment and strategies. That will leave us a month to make any last necessary alterations to our plans.

Wishing you all the best in your training and your upcoming 2014 events!

Get Into The Zone… with Natural Energy Boosters!

The world of vitamins, supplements and ‘super foods’ can be a bit of a maze for those who aren’t used to supplementing their nutritional intake. For most runners, a healthy blend of proteins, carbs and essential fats can provide us with the energy we need to tackle everything from an Ironman race to a mini-marathon. It never hurts to obtain the best we can from Nature, however, and this doesn’t mean overspending on expensive items from health shops. In this post, we offer just four items to add you can easily add to your diet, which will boost energy levels, keep stress at bay and even help you achieve an optimal state of mind before a big race. Best of all, they are all affordable and easily accessed.

Natural Stress Busters: One of the most oft-ignored conditions in serious runners is stress – tension, anxiety and even depression can hit before an important run or even during the lead-up to an important event, especially when an athlete feels stuck in a plateau, frustrated because they are not able to improve their times or make progress in areas like strength and stamina. These emotions often cause athletes resort to artificial artificial performance enhancers, in a self-destructive effort to artificially enhance their performance. Steroids carry a host of side-effect which, in the long run, are detrimental to a long, fruitful career in running. There are a host of natural stress busters which can do wonders for a runner’s moods during tense periods. One of these is Sam-E (S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine), an amino acid which occurs naturally in the body and which can become depleted in moments of physical and mental stress. A groundbreaking study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry in 2010 found that Sam-E has powerful anti-depressant effects, producing double the response rate in patients with depression, as compared to those in a placebo group. What makes Sam-E so special is that it is all-natural, and boasts a strong safety record. It has additional perks for runners too, since it confers great benefits to the joints, stopping and even reversing degenerative conditions like osteoarthritis. Omega-3 fatty acids, taken in supplement form and found in foods like walnuts and wild salmon, has also been found to stave off depression, improve the mood and aid with everything from anxiety to sleep disorders and sexual dysfunction.

Amazing AdaptogensAdaptogens are agents which combat stress in a non-specific way, intensifying the body’s ability to resist an array of stressors. Adaptogens are non-toxic and have the unique ability to normalize functions in the body – i.e. they tend to lower blood pressure in those suffering from high blood pressure, and vice-versa, making them such a powerful ally, particularly for those who subject the body to tough physical workouts. Some of the most powerful adaptogens include Panax Ginseng (which boosts the immunity), Echinacea (which boasts powerful antibiotic and antiviral properties, keeping athletes in tip-top condition by enabling them to resist cold and flu bugs) and Eleuthero (which combats joint pain, muscle spasms and fatigue). Panak Ginseng and Eleuthero are most potent when taken in root form. Echinacea can be found in pill or liquid form.

Raw foods: If you’re already sourcing your fruits and vegetables from organic famers, then you’re on to a good thing. To obtain the maximum benefits from these natural bounties, try to consume them raw a few times a week. Raw fruits and vegetables contain around a third more vitamins and minerals than when they are cooked, but you do need to conduct your research beforehand, because this general rule does not apply across the board. According to an important study published in the Journal of Food Science, while some of the most popular veggies (like zucchini, peas, Swiss chard, peppers and cauliflower) lose significant nutritional value when cooked, others, like green beans and garlic, retain their antioxidant powers even after being subjected to most cooking methods. Still other vegetables (including celery, carrot and broccoli) are actually more nutritious when cooked.

Sprouts: When we allow seed, pulses or grains to sprout, they convert into potent energy factories, manufacturing a host of useful nutrients. Additionally, their vitamin content soars. Take wheat grains – sprouting them increases their Vitamin E content threefold! Vitamin B and C content is also increased.

Sprouting additionally neutralizes the abundant ‘enzyme inhibitors’ in foods like chickpeas, mung beans and lentils. Enzyme inhibitors make foods difficult to digest, often causing bloating and discomfort. When it comes to running, it is important to be nutritionally fortified yet light on your feet, so sprouts are a great ally to include in your diet as often as you can. Best of all, you don’t need to spend inordinate amounts on ‘designer sprouts’ at health food stores and supermarkets; rather, you can simply make your own sprouts at home. This helpful post by Biologist, author and popular blogger, Leslie Kenton, will take you a long way towards building your own little garden of sprouts.

By Lily Hardcastle

When An Injury Becomes a Godsend

To start 2014, www.OneMileRunner.com wanted to share an inspiring story of recovery and performance…here is an article by Jim Burnett, resident of New Hampshire and member of the Upper Valley Running Club:

October 20, 2013: “Turn and burn,” Joe, shouted as I carved my way around the final turn, hugging the curb and peeking back to see who was creeping up on me – 200 meters to go. This race, the Granite State 10-Miler, was to be a tune-up for the Manchester City Marathon two weeks hence, which in turn was to be my final race for the New England Grand Prix Series on which I had pinned my hopes for a top five age-group final standing. I sprinted down the home stretch, my pursuer licking at my heel and then, with 20 meters to go, my hamstring suddenly “popped.”

December 8, 2013: Seven weeks after the hamstring injury I floated along the coastline of Cape Ann wearing a smile that wouldn’t go away. I had done my rehabilitation homework, passed strength and agility tests week after week and 49 days post-injury, I raced the Half MerryThon in 1:37:07, twenty-two seconds faster than at the New Bedford Half Marathon nine months earlier. I was not only “back”, my hamstring was stronger than ever.

Honestly, the hamstring injury scared me. Could I fully recover? I was also embarrassed for desperately flailing and over-striding down the home stretch and I paid the price. I was unable to run the Manchester City Marathon and, as a result, slipped from 5th to 7th in the series age-group standings. It was a stupid mistake, but with the help of some running friends, I learned a valuable lesson. If you put your mind to it and you are patient and careful, an injury can become a godsend. You can recover and come back with a vengeance and become stronger than before.

As fate would have it, a few days after the injury I was to meet with Laura and Greg Hagley to discuss coordination of the Upper Valley Running Club Tuesday Night Track (UVRC TNT) workouts for the upcoming winter months. I mentioned my injury and within five minutes Laura and Greg (both practicing physical therapists) diagnosed the severity of the damage and recommended an article for rehabilitation from the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy (Vol. 40, Number 2, February 2010 entitled, Hamstring Strain Injuries: Recommendations for Diagnosis, Rehabilitation, and Injury Prevention). Greg asked if I felt pain in the middle of the hamstring or at either end where the tendons attach to the bone. The good news for me was that I had partially torn fibers in the middle of the muscle and I had not ruptured the muscle or its tendon. Laura liked the journal article and recommended it because it lists 3 phases for rehabilitation in which the injured runner performs a series of exercises and movements, such as side-stepping, pedaling a stationary bike and doing body bridges, until he/she meets the criteria for progression to the next phase. In order to progress from phase one to phase two, for example, you first have to be able to perform a normal walking stride without pain and be able to jog at very slow speed (10-12 mpm). I liked the program because I could start right away, even in my injured condition – walking and pedaling and doing slow speed agility drills. I also followed the typical rehab routine of icing and elevating the injury. Within a day I was seeing progress, and I was convinced I was on the road to recovery. I also knew that I needed to be patient because it would take 4 to 12 weeks to get back to competition. I was told that many come back too soon and reinjure the muscle and make things much worse.

Earlier, during the summer and before my injury, I became interested in Dave O’Meara’s Body Protection Program – Injury Prevention Training for Competitive Athletes (www.BodyProtection.com). I met Dave when, at the invitation of Kim Sheffield, the UVRC Summer TNT coach, he came to observe one of our afternoon track workouts and to give a presentation about his Body Protection Program that evening. After my injury, I started to gradually incorporate Dave’s methods into my rehabilitation program. I bought his instructional CD, communicated through email and followed his advice. He suggested that I start with Foundation Training then move into the strength, endurance and flexibility exercises. Systematically, I began to introduce my body to the Body Protection movements and as a result I gradually got stronger (legs, arms, core), improved my balance and became more flexible. Combining the advice of Laura, Greg and Dave I have successfully worked my way through, rehabilitation and recovery – I believe that I am now “back” and better than ever. But, for me, this is just the beginning. Like building a pyramid, I have established the first tier, the foundation, and the work continues. I now plan to add more layers of Body Protection – strength, endurance, balance and flexibility – in order to improve my performance and remain injury free. I only wish I had committed myself to this path sooner. But, sometimes it takes a serious injury to open your eyes wide.

At the age of 63, I continue to try to improve my running performance – speed for the mile run and endurance for the marathon. I love to workout at the track and run short, fast races – the mile, the 1500 meters and the 3000 meters. After my hamstring injury I put my plan to train for the 1500 and 3000 at the Dartmouth Relays in January 2014 on hold. About every two weeks during my rehabilitation, I emailed updates to Laura, Greg and Dave. Their feedback and encouragement played an important role in my recovery. It’s much more difficult to recover alone, without advice and reassurance. After six weeks of progress, I told Dave I thought I was ready to run the Half MerryThon in December. I reassured him I would not run under 7:00 mpm and there would be absolutely no sprinting at the finish. He gave me the green light and after its successful completion, I began to think that maybe I could run the 3000 at the Dartmouth Relays. I ran it by Dave and he agreed.

January 12, 2014: Rob and Geoff had run the 1500 and now stood by the finish line to watch their wives Cindy and Nancy and me run the 3000 and count laps. Rob held out fingers for laps remaining, 6…5…4…3… running round-and-round in the hypnotic swirl, I felt the exhilaration of speed afoot…2…1… around the far turn and down the back stretch – Mike and Betsy cheering – down the homestretch, no flailing this time, 12:19 on the clock, one year older and 6 seconds faster than last year. Yes, an injury can become a godsend.

By Jim Burnett

Practice Begins With The Stick

My practices each day begin with The Stick. For those of you who do not know about this simple yet effective tool, it is the 23″ tool with 12 spindles that I roll back and forth over the entire length of my muscle to increase circulation and range of motion. After The Stick I go into my blood flow exercises, then my Body Protection mobility movements and then I am ready for speed practice without worry of injury. I love the Stiff Stick version which is very rigid to allow me to deeply penetrate my muscle mass.

For the first time ever, I just found out that The Stick is offering free limited time shipping. Go to www.OneMileRunner.com, scroll down to the Sponsors page, and then just click on The Stick emblem to receive your free shipping. What a great addition to your sports bag!

Please write me back about your experiences with The Stick and have a wonderful holiday season…

A Great Massage Therapist – Priceless

I have had two wonderful massage therapists take care of my body over the 14 years of competition. The first was Stacie Nevelus for about 11 years and the second was Leah Macy for the last 3 years. Both therapists were invaluable. They worked with my strange work and training schedules (often saw me on Sundays), were available in emergencies, and were passionate about their professions. They were both part of the www.OneMileRunner.com Consultant’s panel, sought to expand their skills (Stacie – cupping and Leah – Thai massage), and both deeply cared that I was in the best possible shape to reach my aspirations.

Stacie is teaching her techniques around the region and Leah is on her way back home to Arizona after her 4 years at Wellness Concepts. Leah will continue her work around the Phoenix area, but she will be missed in Florida. Both Stacie and Leah exemplify why they both got into massage therapy. They wanted to help people feel better, learn the value of recovery and body work, and make an independent living for themselves. I feel they were both healers and made the right choice to seek a profession that suited their gifts.

So I have been recommended a couple of new names of massage therapists that I will meet in the upcoming weeks, but first I wanted to say thank you to Stacie and Leah for keeping my body together all these years with my intense training regime. I know I sometimes looked like Humpty Dumpty when I arrived on their massage tables, but they were able to put me back together after their sessions. Thank you.

If you are fortunate to find a great massage therapist, I hope you can appreciate the value that they bring to our active lifestyles. Priceless indeed as life is better on the move…

Vega – On The Road and Now In Your Kitchen

We had Vega with every step of the way during our 2013 Body Protection world tour. I started my day with Vega One and finished every workout with the Vega Sport Protein Bar.

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Now you can learn from famous chefs, Susan Feniger and Matthew Kenney along with Brendan Brazier in the new Thrive Kitchen as you learn new ideas on plant-based nutrition, preparation, and assimilation into your kitchen. Welcome to the Thrive Kitchen Edition:  http://bit.ly/134lsW5 and check out this video for more information: http://bit.ly/1d4vtqq

All the best with optimizing your nutritional intake by including Thrive Kitchen into your lives!