Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Mountain Adventure Time!

What you’ll need and how to do it for your next mountain adventure

It’s time to head for the hills…or mountains. The snow is melting quickly and more mountain trails are opening up every day. Green Lakes trail is now snow free and the route up South Sister is in prime condition.  This is the time of year I enjoy spending hours trekking through the High Cascades and exploring new areas I’ve never been before. More and more runners are eschewing the traditional methods of reaching the backcountry like heavy day packs, big hiking boots, and all the other accessories that go along with a day in the woods. To be safe however, there is still a minimal amount of gear that a runner should consider taking as well as couple pieces of gear that have changed dramatically with respect to weight to make climbing mountains a bit easier for a light and fast approach.

First, always consider that you may be stuck out overnight and be sure to carry back up safety gear that could save your life. The ten essentials won’t necessarily keep you comfortable but can be a welcome addition should you need them.

Second, weather can be a factor anytime you enter the mountains and having adequate protection can be a necessary life saving addition. Lucky for you, the runner, gear has become so specialized, lightweight, and comfortable that bringing a few pieces along in a pack is just a no-brainer.
Ultra-lightweight wind shells can make all the difference between becoming a hypothermic popsicle and getting down out of a fast moving weather cell comfortably and quickly. Carrying a 2oz jacket, hat and gloves can now pack down to the size of a baseball.

Trekking poles are something that runners consider to be reserved for the elderly hiker but it’s quickly becoming a piece of essential gear for runners headed up…or down. Their usefulness is quickly justified in just one outing of climbing up South Sister or Bachelor and can be used during running and hiking. Four legs are better than two, poles will save valuable energy going up and your quads and balance going down. With Black Diamond’s Ultra Distance Poles you can quickly break them down during a full on run and at 8oz you won’t notice the addition to your pack during flat sections.

Having a comfortable pack for long, or short, outings is essential because any soreness should be reserved for your legs, not your shoulders or hips. Hydration packs have become so specialized in recent years that you can find the right one for you and the right one for whatever distance you might want to go. While we all wish we didn’t have to carry water or food at all, the reality is we need it, and from this necessity, a full range of hydration and food carrying devices have sprung forth. From 10L epic run packs, to 2L a-bladder-is-all-I-need packs, to waist belts, to hand-helds there is something out there you’ll find suitable.

Keeping stuff out of shoes is always a challenge and a nuisance in the mountains. Usually we’ll just stop by the side of a nice babbling brook to empty out our shoes but wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to stop to empty shoes, you could just stop and enjoy the brook instead, and if you could keep all that annoying stuff from getting in your shoe in the first place.  Wait, there is a way. They’re called gaiters and they aren’t just for mountain climbers or tele-skiers. The small breathable gaiters that wraps over the top of the shoe and your ankle are so easy to put on and flexible that you won’t even notice they’re their. It’s an inexpensive and easy solution to keeping a little piece of the Cascades from coming home with you. Both Salomon and Montrail make a great little gaiter for mountain travel.

Finally, there’s shoes. Last on the list because we’re all aware that your feet are the only thing touching the ground (unless you have poles now) and what you put on them makes a big difference in the mountains. And here’s what you already know, the lava that our Cascade Range is so famous for is very hard on mesh running shoes. Sometimes our running shoe shelf can resemble a quiver of arrows, and that’s a good thing because shoes too have their specialized uses. Sure there are shoes that work for a variety of surfaces but sometimes it’s nice to reserve a pair of shoes for the mountains due to their unique challenges. Pick a shoe with a durable and well lugged outsole for the loose scree slopes, a tightly woven upper to prevent the fine dust from filling your shoe, and possibly some water resistance if traveling through the snow.

While that’s not all the gear you’ll need heading into the mountains, these are the pieces of gear we often overlook or didn’t even know could help use move more easily, more comfortably, and more efficiently in the mountains. When you do head up make sure you’re prepared with the minimum essentials for safety. Good gear that helps you move faster in the mountains can also help you to be safer as well.  Have fun, be safe. The mountains are a beautiful place to explore. Go Run. 


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

One of those runners...

Written By: Katie Banks 

New to Bend, finally unpacked, jobless, with 2 kids, and a stolen moment to sit and google "running groups in Bend Oregon". Priorities, yes!  Quickly I stumbled across the Women's Running group at FootZone (now called Move It Monday). 

I show up enthused and ready to meet my new neighbors and fellow runners. Even though I knew I wasn't up to par with the “real” runners, I wanted to be one, (or just get out of the house for an hour)! Tackling more than 2-3 miles for me was huge, really.  I love running, but lacked any sort of real training. I knew I was more than motivated to get out into this beautiful place called Bend. I wanted to meet this community and needed a place to start.

Monday night I picked out my best outfit to camouflage my very basic running skills and showed up at 5:00pm, way too early and eager to run.  Pacing through the store, I tried to look like "a runner", luckily, I was greeted like I belonged there with immediate smiles and conversation.  As each women showed up, they all knew each other by name, and went about asking about each-others kids, families, dogs, trail runs.... a running family, I loved it!

I ran with slightly more effort than I was used to, I just wanted to be in front, though I was followed by a few leaders along the way. The mood....mellow, friendly, no pressure. Ladies just smiling, and chatting away and I could barely keep my breath let alone hold a conversation. But I made it through.  I'd never seen trails right out your back door like that before…and miles of them!

As a mom of 2 boys, I was able to find quiet (or adult conversation) and exertion all in one.  That’s not easy to find at home raising 2 boys!  It became the perfect source to release my stress and prepare my thoughts for tomorrow.  Oh how I grew to love Monday nights! 

Little did I know, I would continue on my Monday night schedule, find amazing friends, and yes, I have learned to chat as I run! The women I have met have taught me friendship, accountability, discipline, and showed me how fun it can be to talk while running (through practice) ...you fly through those miles without notice!  Having fun while burning calories, c'mon, who doesn't want that?!

To my surprise, a year later I begin to work at the place I found so much comfort in!  Even better, I am now able to lead the Monday night run I stepped into for the first time around 3 years ago. The group has evolved into Move It Monday with men and women. The friends I met have encouraged me and seeing them show up week after week keeps me going!! Now I get the privilege to share and invite others like me to be "one of those runners" and come for a group run and join OUR family of runners!

Katie is a mom of 2 boys, wife, FootZone Half marathon Training Group mentor and dedicated member of the FootZone "family".  She loves to run and has her eye on an Ultra in the near future. Katie can be found at Move It Mondays every Monday at 5:30pm. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Central Oregon Trail report: 7.17.3013

Trail Report by Bronco Billy:

North Fork to Broken Top Trailhead is snow free, as well as Bridge Creek Trail from Metolius-Windigo down to Tumalo Falls (remember, no dogs and no bikes in Bridge Creek watershed). Giddyup.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Kraig’s Product Blog: Cool Stuff You Don’t Know About

Written By: Kraig Erickson
At FootZone we have a lot of products.  Obviously running shoes and apparel are pretty self-explanatory and most customers are quick to ask our crack staff questions or comfortable shopping on their own.  However we have several products that may need some explanation and sometimes customers may be too shy to ask.   I am hoping to make this a recurring blog that I can also introduce new products as well.

The first product I am going to talk about is Leg Lube.  The first time I came into contact with Leg Lube was when a customer returned it because they thought it was an anti-chafe product (see next paragraph).  As the FootZone resident “Tri” guy, I think that I am the only male on staff that regularly shaves his legs.  So I took a bottle home and gave it a shot and this is what I found out, the stuff is great!  The bottle says, “ Performance Shave Gel for Fast Legs.”  I am not sure it made me any faster but it did give me a close shave.  I was able to get a couple more days out of a shave than I do with my wife’s shave cream and I really liked the mint scent.  One of the other things that I liked was that at 3.4 oz’s it is super portable and easily thrown into my bathroom kit for the gym or travel.  It gave me a clean, close shave, and I got many compliments on my legs at the Short Shorts Run.  The final test I gave the product was shaving my face with it after letting my beard grow for a couple weeks prior to Pacific Crest.  Yahtzee! Super good on the face as well.  I was really excited to pass my findings along to my co-workers, only to find out that Teague shaves his face with it all the time.  Who knew?

If you read about the first product and are wondering well what do I use to lube my legs if it’s not Leg Lube.  We have a couple products for that too.  This time of year as the mercury rise and we all run longer and sweat more, chafing can be an issue.  Whether it is between your legs, under your arms, or nipples (mostly guys), cutting down on friction is a must.  Try some Body Glide or Sportshield on your problem areas.  We tri folk have been using Body Glide for years to get wetsuits on and off easier and prevent chafe.  I use it on my feet and in my shoes as I run sockless about half the week in preparation to race without socks. Both products work great and can make life much more pleasant. 

New product alert!  We just got a new hydration product in for Skratch Labs.   Invented by Dr. Allen Lim and Chef Biju Thomas for the Garmin Sharp Professional Cycling Team these products have been talked about in cycling and tri magazines for a while and are now available at the FootZone.  It comes in powder form in singles, or 1lb bags, the flavors are raspberry, pineapple, and lemon lime.  The ingredients are all natural and the flavors are super light and tasty.  Max King and I both sampled the product and used it in training and loved it.  We are also carrying the two cookbooks by Skratch, Feedzone (kind of like FootZone) and Feedzone Portables.  These books are the real recipes that the authors use to fuel the Garmin Sharp racers in events like the Tour De France.  There are some very tasty recipes, even for restrictive diets and food allergies.

Ok, that is my first installment for Kraig’s Product Blog.  Stay tuned for more helpful insight into some FootZone products.  As always if you have a question about these products or any others, ask a Zoner!  We are happy to help.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Central Oregon Trail Report - brought to you by Max King

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Trails up in the high country are still patchy snow but runnable. Green Lakes/Soda Creek trail has been done but has big patches of snow. Ran Todd Lake to Broken top today and was clear until near Green Lake where there were large patches of snow.

North Fork to Happy Valley is now clear of snow.

The Newberry Rim trail is open and snow free as well.

There's your weekly trail report. Tune in next week for a new update. With the hot weather snow will be melting fast and trails opening up soon.