Tuesday, March 19, 2013

"Escaping With Social Media."

Sitting down on the wooden bench high above the city below I did something I've rarely done while running: I logged on to FacebookInstagramTwitter, and Google+. Before you start judging what seems to be inability to disconnect, understand I was a bit turned around. I wasn't in any danger, nor was I truly lost. The reality of the situation was that I had planned to run a loop route on Tiger Mtn. and couldn't find the trail I needed to be on. I searched unmarked trails for an hour as I ran around in circles. When I got back to a place where I knew exactly where I was I sat down. I briefly checked out a map and then thought, "I've got a ton of social media friends that know the trails on Tiger Mtn. I bet thy can help."

When I pulled out my phone there was a slime of stickiness on the touch screen. The bag I grabbed off the kitchen counter, admittedly close to the trash can, previously hosted a peanut butter and honey sandwich. Oops. Using my own saliva I washed the screen and got busy posting.

I started with a photo on Instagram and shared it with Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Within minutes I had a few likes. I titled the photo, "Perk of wrong turns. Looking for route to Chirico Trail. Ugh." First comment: "I know where you are. I'll be right there." Although we didn't actually meet up, the post spurred on a lot of conversation. People began to reminisce of times they spent on the mountain, and offered very detail directions. But I stared down at the map I brought with me, and after a few minutes realized my mistake.

I put the phone back into my pack sans honey-lined plastic bag and ran down the trail. Sure enough, not more than 400 meters down the trail I found what I was looking for. Well marked and aptly named the Adventure Trail is where I wanted to be. I took another photo. More likes, more comments. My phone vibrated randomly in the waist pocket of my UltrAspire Spry with every notification. It was a weird satisfaction. It was a great pat on the back.

I didn't have to respond, but I did. I enjoyed the fact that I was able to pick and choose what I wanted to share. Trail running, to me, positions the runner against a backdrop of scenery that's built on personal perception. Waterfalls, bridges, and never-ending pathways don't always look and feel the same. On that run I wanted to share. I wanted others to enjoy what I was experiencing. And with likes, and comments, shares, and my ability to react to not just with a smile on the trail but with digital words I felt people were enjoying it as much as me. I think I'm going to make an effort to occasionally bring my runs to others while they're happening. I'd love to be on the other end, too.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

"It's an unspoken addiction. Threads-n-treads"

I stumbled carelessly through my wine rack of shoes. Yes, you read that correctly. I have so many pairs of running shoes that storing them can get out of hand. To cork the problem I bought a cheap wine rack, flipped it upside down and poured the running shoes on until the rack overflowed. After some rearranging and careful stacking, the wine rack turned shoe storage passed the field test and sobriety seemed restored. Until I got even more shoes.

With so many choices, however, I've become tragically hip with my running outfits. Regardless of the distance, surface, or time of day I can confidently pair t-shirts, shorts, socks, and shoe color like post-run effort and beer. It's an unspoken addiction. My running routes, generally named after a state, have turned into a fashion cat- walk -run. A catrun is running fashion jargon that's more trendy than runway. #catrun use it on Instagram and Twitter in combination with @UphillRunning.

I stare at the color wheel of shoes to plan out my run. The red, blue, pink, purple, yellow, orange spinning in my head like an 80's skier tumbling down a hillside. I start with my outfit first because it can often determine my route. For instance, on St.Patty's Day I decided to wear blue shoes, green socks, blue shorts, green t-shirt, and black gloves and hat. Not only did I sport the colors of the Seahawks and Sounders, but I'm ensuring I don't get pinched. With that much holiday and team spirit I stayed on the road and ran to be seen.

Is it wrong to be narcissistic? Nope. We're runners. We are self-absorbed in ourselves by nature. Seriously, it's great to cheer for others and congratulate other's accomplishments, but we run for ourselves. So why can't I take pride in my threads-n-treads?

Don't confuse my vanity with judgment. We can run together anytime because as self-absorbed as this post may seem running's foundation is in equality. No better way to strip away prejudice than a bunch of people running from A to B on the same course.

Hashtag your next outfit #catrun and tag us, too: @UphillRunning

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

"Cotton, move over. Money is the fabric of our lives."

TrailRunner Blog Symposion
Is the introduction of bigger prize purses at trail races a positive or negative thing overall? trailrunnermag.com

Bob Anderson's Ujena Fit Club constructs a list of the "Best Road Races" ranked according to prize money. The top-three races total a staggering, $2,914,000 in prize money awarded. This doesn't include incentive bonus money for breaking records.

The biggest prize purses in U.S. trail running pale in comparison: The North Face Endurance Challenge 50-mile, $20,000; UROC 100k, $21,000; Run Rabbit Run, $40,000; Speedgoat 50k, $11,000. Interestingly, the shortest trail race distance with any significant prize money is five miles farther than any of the top-three road races; all of which are marathons, by the way. In fact, if you're first overall, and set a course and a world record at the Virgin London Marathon you could win $206,000. That's $7,862.60 per mile.

Trail races are new in the business world. It's more evident in the type of runner than in the prize purse. Road racing can seem overwhelming cut-throat. From the moment you step out of your vehicle you better have your game-face primed and ready. You're being judged by your outfit, by your shoes, and by the definition of your quads. It's silly, but it's true. This isn't to say that trail runners don't judge, but the start-line of a trail race is usually accompanied by a dull conversation about beer, mustaches, and the last time you rolled...an ankle.

Will bigger prize purses change these aspects of trail races? Yes, of course. Money is greener than trees, and softer than cheap toilet paper. Money kept Jerry Maquire and Rod Tidwill together. For a race director money brings elites. The elites bring sponsors. Sponsors bring swag. Free swag (finisher medals) brings people. The more registered runners the more money the race director earns. Businesses can't ignore their bottom-lines.

Trail runners spend hard-earned money on trail running shoes, moisture-wicking socks, sub-three ounce jackets, compression socks, and environmentally conscious food. And with careful concern for sensitive habitats trail runners spend hours, upon hours travelling by foot through backyard mountains, deserts, and soft-surfaced sidewalks. Trail runners do this because they love it. Trail runners love the fresh-air, the escape, the solitude, the wild and free.

Racing isn't for the soul-searcher. Trail races satisfy the need for trail runners to test their ego. Bigger prize purses in trail racing will bring better competition, race support, and will hopefully bring shorter races some deserved cash-flow. In these regards, bigger prize purses have the ability to positively impact the sport of trail racing.

Money's greatest strength, is money's greatest weakness. For every racer there are infinitely more runners. The word "race" is pejorative among the pure. Racing and purity is too strange of a juxtaposition for the free minded souls that ramble consciously along the trails for pleasure. If the popularity of an event increases, the individuals searching for a secluded escape from the popular are displaced. For the pure runner bigger prize purses can look akin to the Indian Removal Act of 1830.

It's important for trail racers and trail runners to take into account both positive and negative. It's important to acknowledge that popularity and population can be detrimental to the medium: The mountains, the forest. The escape, the fulfillment. To be positive and successful bigger prize purses need to raise the awareness of environmental preservation and sport. It'll be important for trail racers and trail runners to work together to improve and compromise. The bigger the prize purse the more good the race director, sponsors, and athletes should be required to do for the use of the land, the sport, and the preservation of the wild.