2017 Race Mania & Pursuit Athletic Performance Trail Running Camp

Yesterday and today were filled with events meant to inspire and prepare for the endurance sports season ahead. On Saturday, Debbie, and her coach, Al Lyman, hosted a day-long trail running workshop at Camp Hazen in Chester, Connecticut, known as the Cedar Lake Trail Running Camp.

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I swung by after work to check in and participation in the late afternoon activities. I picked up some new strengthening and stretching techniques, got to do a loop of Cedar Lake, and took Debbie’s yoga class. It was fun to hear what the other runners have on tap for 2017. Knowing what Debbie and Coach Al know, I’m sure that the runners benefitted from the seminar.

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Today, we returned to Race Mania Summit & Expo at Boston University. We were there in 2016 when it was Tri Mania. Since participation in traditional triathlon has peaked, it was wise of the organizers to broaden the scope of the event to include trail running, other cycling discipline, and obstacle course racing.

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Last year, we brought our children, but this year, they spent the weekend with Debbie’s parents, so we were free to check out the expo on our own. Debbie and Coach Al did a short workshop in the afternoon. The focus was on technical trail running and some techniques, including proprioception. They gave a teaser on how to minimize ankle injuries through the proper training of your feet, which requires a stronger mind/body connection. This starts with specific stretching and strengthening techniques. I’m going to do more of the “Small Foot” technique that they prescribed.

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Today, we saw a ton of friends from a variety of endurance communities. I saw my old Team Horst Sports cycling teammate, Will Kirousis. He is a top endurance sports coach, and introduced Debbie and me to Al back in 2010. We also got to catch up with Lisbeth Olsen Kenyon, another one of Coach Al’s athletes. Lisbeth and Debbie have done workshops together and she has won her age group at the Ironman World Championships on multiple occasions, including 2016. Lisbeth and her husband, Todd, are the proprietors of TTBikeFit. They developed a patented system for ideal bike fit and had it on display.

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We had lunch with two ultrarunning friends, Spencer Farrar, and Michael Wardian. Spencer is headed to the Comrades Marathon, for the 7th time. The 87 kilometer road race is in South Africa, and is one of the legendary ultras. After Comrades in June, Spencer is running the Vermont 100 in July.

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Michael is a certified running celebrity. We have seen him at a variety of running events, and got to spend time with him at the 2015 Speedgoat Mountain Races. He has been on an absolute tear. I won’t recount his incredible running resume. If you aren’t that familiar with him, just search his name on Google. Yesterday, he ran a 2:29:46 to finish 4th at the Armory NYC Indoor Marathon World Record Challenge. The race was won by Christopher Zablocki, a Connecticut native, who I last wrote about in 2011 when he won the Chester 4 on the 4th Road Race. I’ve enjoyed following his running exploits since then. He broke the world record by running 2:21:48 for the 211 lap race.

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Back to Wardian: Michael is super talented and known for his prolific racing. The three days at Speedgoat were just a teaser. His most recent “major” accomplishment was setting the record for the World Marathon Challenge. In January, he ran seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. This garnered him some serious press. He is just getting going with his 2017 season, which sounds crazy. Still on tap are dozens of races, including the Barkley Marathons, the Western States Endurance Run, and the Hardrock Endurance Run. Getting into those three races takes skill AND luck.

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Like I said, Google him. He spoke at Race Mania, and was part of a panel moderated by Dave McGillivray, the Race Director of the Boston Marathon. Also on the panel were Becca Pizzi and Ryan Hall, who are both World Marathon Challenge finishers. Pizzi did it in 2016 and Hall just did it this year. Hall is one of the greatest American marathoners. Now retired, his 59:43 half marathon is an American record. His 2:04:53 is the Boston Marathon record, and unofficially, the fastest ever marathon by an American. It was enjoyable to hear Dave interview him.

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Dave is a running (and triathlon) legend in his own right. A few years ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dave for a YPO Run-Bike-Swim Network Global Conference Call. Again, I could write a ton about him, but you are better off doing an Internet search, or better yet, read his book. He is a true inspiration, and I love his story because like me, he is a man of small stature!

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As if those runners weren’t inspiring enough, Debbie and I met Mark Allen in the hallway after her talk. He was one of Race Mania’s keynote speakers. We first met Mark back in 2010 at the Ironman World Championships. I’ve heard Mark’s story many times. I’ve been following him since the mid-1980’s when I first became interested in triathlon and before he won his first (of six) Ironman World Championship title at the epic 1989 race. I’ve heard his account of the 1989 Iron War many times, as recently as two weeks ago on the Rich Roll Podcast, but I heard it again today (live), and loved it.

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I read the Iron War book, I read Mark’s book Fit Soul Fit Body, and I’ve read a lot of other books and articles about his amazing triathlon career. There is some good You Tube footage of the 1989 race. If you have never seen coverage of his battle with Dave Scott, then do some searching. He is one of the most decorated endurance athletes of all time, and he did most of it in a bygone era when the popularity of triathlon was much smaller than it is today. So, it is great that he is still contributing to the sport through his writing, coaching, and teaching. Next month, he is teaching at Kripalu in Lenox, Massachusetts. Debbie is a Kripalu Yoga Teacher. If we didn’t have a conflict, I would go hear him speak again.

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Walking the expo, we saw many other friends from the trail running, cycling, and triathlon communities. Each community has its unique flavor, so it was neat to see them blended together for a day. After this weekend, I’m super-motivated to improve my own health and fitness. I’m ready to ramp it up for another year full of endurance sports adventures.

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