Monday, December 21, 2015

10 reasons why 2015 was amazing for Fleet Feet Chico

It was quite a year, wasn’t it? A lot happened. A lot that we thought would happen never did. And now we’re staring a new year right in the face. We reach many of you on social media, namely our Facebook and Instagram pages. So, before we swap our calendars for 2016, let’s take a look back at our top posts from the past year.

First, our Facebook posts.

Oct. 1: The one-year anniversary of the new ownership group was truly one of the highlights of our year. Our friends and family shared in this wonderful day, as did our Facebook community.

Aug. 24: We’re told to always run through the finish line. But even professional runners could use a reminder every once in a while at, say, the World Track and Field Championships.

Chico State graduate Scott Bauhs made history while running for the Wildcats. He also made history by breaking the 4-minute mile at Chico State University track. Were you there when Bauhs broke that magical barrier?

Every sport has its characteristics and behaviors that those outside the sport finds weird. Love 'em or hate 'em, here are ours.

We runners can be so downright thoughtless.

Honorable mention
The Jack Frost 10k was postponed a week due to potentially dangerous high winds and heavy rain. The likes, comments and (especially) shares proved that our running community cares about each other. No picture. Just a message that was shared like crazy.

Now, let’s look at the year that was on Instagram.

Summer Sizzler love
Our training groups are the heart and soul of our running community. And this post with our Summer Sizzler 10 grads proved that.

Our team
We posted this simple picture right before Christmas Preview. The response told us that we mean a lot to our community, the same way you mean the world to us.

Small Business Week
Along those same lines, it’s always a battle competing against the larger online stores and shoe outlets. Your support means the world to us.

Monday Motivation
Want to see a 92-year-old woman finish the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon? Many of you did, and hopefully found motivation.

Chico State decathletes
The Chico State decathlon squad went 1-2-3 at the 2014 NCAA Division II National Track and Field Championships.

Honorable mention
Practicing what he preaches
Fleet Feet Chico co-owner Paul Smith. He coaches. He educates. He wins races. Any questions?

From all of us at Fleet Feet Chico, thank you very much for helping to make 2015 such a memorable year. Here's to making more memories in 2016!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

#MoveMountains with Jenny LaBaw

Jenny LaBaw (center) and some friends running during #MoveMountains
[photo courtesy of LaBaw's Instagram page]
When Jenny LaBaw tweaked her neck during a 2012 CrossFit workout, she was determined to rest, heal and resume training at the same level.

Determination has never been a problem for the 33-year-old LaBaw, you see. The year before, LaBaw placed sixth in the CrossFit Games, which pitted elite athletes from about the world against each other in a grueling, two-day competition. She was well on her way back to the 2012 CrossFit Games, when she suffered her neck injury.

This time around, her body had other ideas.

The injury was worse than she thought, so once the realization sank in that it would prevent her from returning to a competitive level, LaBaw (who runs her own training gym out of the Chico home she built with her boyfriend, Marcus Brown) searched for a new challenge.

So, as the couple drove through Colorado last summer to visit LaBaw’s family (she’s a native of Rifle, Colorado), it hit her.

“We were driving over the mountains. I looked at Marcus with tears streaming down my face, and I said, ‘It’s time. I’m going to run across Colorado for epilepsy’,” LaBaw said. “And he just said, ‘Alright, let’s do it’.”

This was the genesis of #MoveMountains, LaBaw’s month-long campaign to create awareness and raise money for education and research to find a cure for epilepsy. LaBaw, who lives with epilepsy, is running 500 miles across the Colorado Rockies, raising money online and at fundraising stops along the way.

LaBaw’s ultimate goal is to raise $50,000 for the Epilepsy Foundation, for which she’s an advocate in their Athletes vs. Epilepsy program. LaBaw’s fundraising page includes a way to donate online, and she provides regular updates to her blog, Facebook and Instagram pages.

After #MoveMountains became reality, LaBaw who experienced her first seizure at age 8, and Brown began planning dates, the route and logistics. Last month, the couple piled into their rented a Ford F-350 (which they essentially converted into a motor home) and, along with their dogs and LaBaw’s massage therapist, drove to Colorado. LaBaw began her 500-mile run Sept. 19 and will finish Oct. 19.

One of LaBaw’s goals for #MoveMountains is to raise awareness. According to Cure Epilepsy, 1 in 26 Americans will develop epilepsy in their lifetime. Meaning, look around, and you’re likely to see someone who currently has or will develop epilepsy. And she’s also out to prove that the disease doesn’t have to hold back those who have it.

#MoveMountains is starting conversations and connecting people who likely would have no platform to talk about epilepsy.

“People are coming out and sharing their stories. I’ve been on the phone having hour-long conversations with people. Hopefully, it’s healing for them and for me,” said LaBaw. “It’s always good to know you have people who relate to you and your stories, and know you’re not alone.”

To donate to #MoveMountains, please visit LaBaw’s fundraising page.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Our most record-breakingest blog post yet

Our June 12 Facebook post focused on James Lawrence, who was preparing to complete 50 Ironman-distance triathlons in 50 states in 50 days. And I know you’re just dying to find out what homeboy’s up to.

Turns out he’s nearly done.

TV station WISH in Muncie, Ind., brings us this story and reports he was on Ironman No. 40, and he’s slated to put No. 50 in his belt in his home state of Utah on July 25. Nicknamed the “Iron Cowboy”, Lawrence is truly doing something unprecedented. The video suggests he doesn’t swim-bike-run consecutively, though. He swims 2.4 miles in the morning, bikes 112 miles later in the day, then runs 26.2 miles later still. It’s still ridiculously impressive, though.

Jurek vs Appalachian Trail
Speaking of record holders, ultra-marathon stud Scott Jurek is no slouch. In fact, he recently broke the Appalachian Trail thru-hike record. In 2011, Jennifer Pharr Davis completed the 2,189-mile trail in 46 days, 11 hours, 20 minutes. Jurek clipped three hours off the mark, which is a .003 percent improvement, equivalent to winning the 100 meters by .03 seconds.

Though their times were amazingly similar, these two hikers took different paths. Jurek hiked south to north, while Pharr David went north to south. Hiking nearly 47 miles a day, Pharr Davis’ pace was enough to push Jurek (a world-class ultra runner) to the brink. They also employed different sleeping strategies.

While these two athletes have the utmost respect for each other, Jurek’s mark is now squarely in the crosshairs, as 47-year-old Karl Meltzer will attempt to break his mark next summer. Meltzer unsuccessfully attempted to hike the Appalachian Trail in 2008 and 2014.

Where were you 22 years ago?
That’s how long the women’s 1500 meter world record had stood—until Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba set a new standard Friday. Dibaba finished in 3 minutes, 50.07 seconds, edging out China’s Qu Yunxia’s previous mark of 3:50:46, set way back in 1993.

Yunxia’s mark was considered nearly invincible, and for good reason. Her finish is equivalent to a 4:08.41 mile, and the women’s world record in the mile is 4:12.56.

American Shannon Rowbury finished third in an American-record 3:56.29 (besting Mary Slaney’s 32-year-old mark of 3:57.12), and fellow countrywoman Jenny Simpson placed fourth in 3:57.30. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Local trail races ready to go

More and more runners are trading in pavement for the trails. The hills are more unpredictable, typically more scenic and trail races are beyond compare.

We’re very fortunate to have a pair of local trail races coming up in the next two weeks. And the race directors recently shared their thoughts on trail running, why their race is important to them and what folks can expect at their race.

Karey Humphries-Cooper is the race director of The Loco Go Big or Go Home Challenge. The event (the second annual) is on Saturday and features 10k, half marathon and 50k distances. Online registration closed last week, but you can still register at packet pick-up on Thursday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Fleet Feet Chico.

What’s your running background?
I’ve been running since I joined the Army way back in 1998. I hated running back then and had never run an entire mile in my life! I don't really have a favorite distance. I just love a good challenge and running with other fun, crazy runners. I used to be a pavement-only runner but once I was properly introduced to the trails, well, let's just say that I am hard-pressed to go enjoy a run around the neighborhood!

What’s the inspiration behind the Loco Go Big or Go Home Challenge?
So many things. Mainly it was that although I love running in Bidwell Park and the races there, I really wanted to find something different to try out that was still close enough to Chico to make a day trip out of it. I love Butte Meadows and have always been amazed that many people have never been up that way, so the Loco Brain Child was born! Now we have two big races that go through the area and the community up there is incredibly supportive, they have become like family!

Why trail running?
I love trail running because you can get lost in the absolute beauty of the nature that surrounds you. Running the trails seems almost effortless in a way because you’re brought back to your primal roots of being outside, breathing in the rich fresh air, stomping the earth underfoot and experiencing Mother Nature at her finest.

Online registration for The Loco 200 Relay, which takes place Sept. 11-12, is now open, and you can go here to register.

Jason Donnell is the race director of the inaugural Rim to Rim Trail Run, Chico’s first ultramarathon, starting in Upper Bidwell Park on June 6. The Rim to Rim includes half marathon, marathon and 50-mile distances. Online registration is open for all distances until June 5. Race day registration will also be available.

What’s your running background?
I started running regularly in 2009. I’ve always focused heavily on trails, and I log very few miles on pavement. Before I took up running I enjoyed rock climbing, mountaineering, and backpacking, and the tendency for long hours in the mountains easily translated to long distance running. I really enjoy the 100-mile distance; the extreme challenge makes it such a rewarding experience.

What’s the inspiration behind the Rim to Rim Trail Run?
Being a long-distance trail runner in Chico means logging a lot of miles in Upper Bidwell. We’re fortunate to have such an extensive trail system in our own backyard, and after years of running there I really want to showcase the Park with a race. I want to combine the ultramarathon experience with the rugged beauty of our local trails and make it a destination event for runners looking for a challenge. In addition the challenge, runners get beautiful views of the foothills, the river, and the valley from both the north and south sides of the canyon. The distance, the beauty, and the challenge combine to create a unique ultramarathon experience.

Why trail running?
I love being outdoors, and especially love the mountains. Long-distance trail running gives me a way to be surrounded by their majestic beauty while being physically and mentally pushed to my limits.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

5 running books for your summer reading

As we know, running can be such a fitting metaphor for life, which can be reflected in literature. And whether it’s fiction, non-fiction or biography, running can take many forms in a book: the central theme, the protagonist, antagonist or diversion.

With summer and traveling seasons upon us, running is an ideal subject of books during your (hopeful) downtime. So, here are five books (in no particular order) about running to consider adding to your summer reading list.
Born to Run, Christopher McDougall
I put this at the top of my list. McDougall weaves multiple stories with an expansive backdrop (Mexico’s isolated Copper Canyons) into this instant classic. It could also be argued that Born to Run single-handedly paved the way for the minimalist running movement. This real-life tale is thoroughly researched, amazingly well written, and I’d recommend it for anyone who’s a runner, wants to become a runner, or knows a runner.

McDougall’s follow-up to Born to Run (titled Natural Born Heroes) was published last month.

This might not necessarily fit snug into everyone’s idea of “summer reading”, mostly because it’s not a mindless read. To the contrary, its depth is fascinating—and I’m not the only one who thinks so. Daniels conveys cutting-edge science in a way that’s accessible, readable and understandable. If you’re looking for a training program to get you to the next level (and the how and why behind it), this is the book for you. PRs all around the world were achieved as a result of Jack Daniels and his book, now in its third edition.

Racing the Sunset, Scott Tinley
Tinley was triathlon’s first international superstar, helping catapult the sport from a way for athletes to spend a weekend into a way for athletes to make a (very good) living. But, as Tinley aged, he wasn’t able to keep up with the new younger guns on the triathlon circuit. And, like most professional athletes, Tinley (a two-time winner and four-time runner-up of the Ironman World Championship) was forced to meet Father Time head-on, and find ways to deal with the transition. Racing the Sunset didn’t blow my socks off. Tinley is a good enough writer, but the book lacked a certain oomph and left me wanting more.

Duel in the Sun, John Brant
This book’s subtitle (The Story of Alberto Salazar, Dick Beardsley and America’s Greatest Marathon) is just half of what this book is really about. The other half is the stunning contrast between these two competitors. Leading up to the race, Salazar and Beardsley couldn’t have come from more different backgrounds. And the directions they and their lives both took post-race were also incredibly dissimilar. But for fewer than two-and-a-half hours on a historically hot day in 1982 along the world’s most iconic marathon course, they shared an experience that’s widely regarded as one of our sport’s most memorable.

Once a Runner, John L. Parker, Jr.
For anyone who’s ever run to escape for just a moment (or longer), this notable book should resonate. Running is certainly secondary in the first part of the book, and Parker’s prose buoys the story along until we get to the nitty gritty. And if you’ve ever been a track rat (as yours truly was) and loved your interval training, the chapter where the protagonist does 400-meter repeats is certainly one for the ages.

Parker’s newest book, Racing the Rain, comes out July 14.

And there you have it kids, five books I recommend hauling around (or downloading) for your summer travels. And of course, there are many, many more worthy books on running that I didn’t mention, so I’d like to know: What’s your go-to running book?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Odds and ends, here and there

We’re pretty dang lucky to live where we do. Our running community is so supportive of our athletes, local events and collegiate efforts. It's truly inspiring. And with a busy spring and summer ahead of us, here's a quick roundup of what's happening this time of year.

Boston Marathon roundup
In case you missed it, about a dozen runners from Butte County traveled to run in the Boston Marathon last Monday. Michael Daily finished in under 2 hours, 50 minutes. Robin St. Clare placed second in her age group. And finishing arguably the world’s most prestigious race fulfilled dreams.

Fleet Feet was even featured on Action News broadcasts throughout the day. Here’s the TV spot we appeared in at the top of the newscast:

Oh, and Ric Ortner? He decided to not only run Boston last Monday, but also run the Big Sur Marathon yesterday. Simply amazing and inspiring, Ric!

Is it summer yet?
As the spring marathon training programs culminate with the Eugene Marathon on May 10, some of you may already chomping at the bit to get into the next program. Good news!

Training programs for the Summer Sizzler 5k and 10k are right around the corner. The programs include intermediate 5k, intermediate 10 and advanced 10k levels, beginning June 13 (don’t worry, we’ll keep reminding you).

The Summer Sizzler (which takes place August 9) is currently open for registration.

The No Boundaries 5k training program is also open for registration. We’re not jiving you when we say that this training program is a LIFE CHANGER. This summer’s NoBo program begins June 3, it also targets the Summer Sizzler, and registration is open.

Road trip anyone?
And the Chico State track and field team begins its quest for postseason excellence at the California Collegiate Athletic Association conference meet. Just a short drive to San Francisco State University, the meet runs from Thursday, April 30 through Sunday, May 2, as the Wildcats try to lock up as many NCAA qualifying marks for the NCAA Division II National Championships, which take place May 21-23 in in Allendale, Mich.

As you can see, there’s a lot going on locally this time of year. Be sure to keep up to date with local happenings by visiting our race calendar

Monday, April 13, 2015

Starting from scratch

At one point in my life, I considered myself a pretty decent marathon runner. But I fell off that wagon hard in recent years and into a colossal puff of dust.

I long knew it was time for me to get back into shape and run again – or at the very least, seek some semblance of fitness after largely doing nothing for the better part of three years. So I decided to do something about it.

Instead of keeping it private (which, incidentally, is a fantastic way for it to NEVER happen), I made a public intention in a blog post that I was going to run the California International Marathon on December 6, 2015. I required accountability, and that’s the path I chose.

My reasons for choosing CIM:
  • It’s geographically close (relatively)
  • It’s fast
  • It’s familiar
  • I wanted to do a marathon in 2015, and, in spite being nearly a year away, CIM qualified

That last one was a biggie for me. I thought about tackling the Eugene Marathon. I have friends making the trek to Eugene (road trip!). I PR’d at Eugene. Hayward Field would be a memorable place to celebrate the end of my sedentary self.

If only Eugene would have been later in the year to give me more time. So I opted for CIM.

I'll lay out exactly what I mean when I say I'd been "largely doing nothing": After many years of integrating 60- to 70-mile weeks into my life, I probably averaged five or six runs a year over three years.

That’s not a lot. And I spent birthdays Nos. 40-43 lamenting my injuries, laziness and subsequent weight gain (and plummeting self-esteem). I allowed circumstances to control me, instead of me controlling my circumstances. And that was a crappy feeling.

So, how’s the training going? So far so good. A couple of weeks ago I strung together a week-plus consecutive days. I started at two miles a day and have moved up to three(-ish). Easter week was a bump in the road, and I’ve returned to the road/trail/dirt that I realized I missed so much. And I don't feel like I'm wearing a fat suit when I run, so there's that.

[It ain’t much, but I’m on Strava if you care to follow me. Even if you don’t care to, I’m still there.]

The training is getting easier (even if life isn’t, which continues to throw me curveballs), and I know I’ll soon push up against and through barriers (three miles, five, eight, 10, etc.). Because I was always running from a decent level of fitness, I took for granted just how difficult is to start from scratch.

I’m finding joy in running again – and it reminds me to care for myself, that those around me (namely my children) might actually benefit from seeing me do that. 

Instead of making excuses, I’m making the most of what I have, right now, in this life.