Monday, June 27, 2011

How to Train a Running Dog - Step 1: Get a Dog

I've always admired people with cool dogs, especially fellow runners who have dogs that run with them for miles and miles.

As children, my wife and I both grew up with dogs in the house. But, we'd never made the commitment to take care of a dog in our adult lives.

We had cats, three of them. Still do.

We also have children, three of them, under the age of 6.

So, with three cats and three kids in the house, why not get a dog, too? It had to be a puppy, of course, so that it can learn to live with those three cats and three kids.

Thus, with the expression of a proud parent, I introduce Charlie. He's an Aussie/Border Collie mix that my wife managed to find at a sort of local rescue organization. He's awesome. And, in about twelve months, it's my understanding that he'll be old enough to begin training as a running partner. We have to get past house training first, though.
my new puppy: future runner dog

Monday, June 20, 2011

Alaska Trails + Geoff Roes Interview + Video = Inspiration

I saw the following video on Anton Krupicka's blog today. Most videos about running of any kind tend to be overproduced or silly, usually because they're commercials for shoe companies.

But, this video featuring 2010 Western States winner Geoff Roes is every bit as inspirational as Krupicka implies. I'm a sucker for gorgeous trails and immense mountain landscapes. Put that in a video with a guy who talks casually about training for some of the coolest ultras in the world, and you've got me clickin' the play button.

So, if you haven't already seen this video somewhere else on the vast interweb, enjoy!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Trail Review : Falls Lake Trail - Section 5

Falls Lake Trail: Section 5 (Bayleaf Church Rd. to Six Forks Rd.)

Trail Location:Falls Lake Section 5 Map
Falls Lake State Recreation Area | Wake Forest, NC

Trail Distance:
2.6 miles (out & back)

Trail Difficulty:
Easy to Moderate

Awesome interactive map >>

See the Falls Lake Recreation Area map page >>


The Falls Lake Trail along the south side of Falls Lake comprises part of the extensive NC Mountains to Sea Trail (NCMST). It's easily accessed from several parking areas, some of which are open throughout the day.

Reviews of the Falls Lake Trail will reference the 17 trail sections depicted on the excellent GPS map posted here. I will not be posting these section reviews in numerical order. So, if you're wondering whether I've already reviewed another Falls Lake Trail section, check this page for a list of what's been covered.

This review of Section 5 is my first installment in the Falls Lake Trail review series.

Running the Trail

Heading West from the Bayleaf Church Rd. trail head, which is a little hard to find from the parking area, Section Five takes you downward over pine-needle-covered rocks and roots. The elevation increases gradually, as you find the substantial tree cover and shade a refreshing change from your sunny drive to Falls Lake.

Section Five continues up and down a couple more modest hills and eventually leads you to a bridge over a small inlet. Take in a marvelous view of the lake from this low perspective and continue running around the slightly rock-laden bend in the trail to proceed.
Falls Lake Trail Section 5 with nice views

some splendid technical trail on Falls Lake Trail Section 5With the exception of a few rocky sections on the path, the terrain is fairly consistent. The soft dirt is covered by a thin layer of ground foliage from past seasons. There will be an occasional area with a thicker layer of freshly fallen leaves, thereby increasing the chance of slipping. But, overall, footing is good on Section Five.

With little more than a quarter mile to go before reaching the turnaround point, you'll find yourself on a more expansive path with gently rolling hills ahead of you. The trail is somewhat difficult to see here, because it blends easily with the rest of the non-technical terrain. But, you'll find your way. Don't worry.
Falls Lake Trail Section 5 rolling vistas
You'll see a private residence to your left as you cross into denser forest again and head downward to a stream bed. Hopping over the tiny water crossing and climbing up another hill, the sound of cars will mingle with the chirping birds and insects. And, you'll know to look up from the trail as the bright sun reflects off the guardrails along Six Forks Rd., blinding your shade accustomed eyes.

Six Forks Rd. borders Section 5 of the Falls Lake Trail on the WestYou've reached Six Forks Rd. Turn around here if you only plan to run this trail section.
If you turn right at the and of the guard rail, you'll be continuing on to Section Six of the Falls Lake Trail. But, this is a review of Section Five. So, turn around to get that full 2.6 miles covered while enjoying the hills and views you just experienced from the other direction.

My Favorite Features of Section 5 on the Falls Lake Trail:

  • The feeling of immediate seclusion as you head down the hill from the trail head on Bayleaf Church Rd.
  • Ideal for easy trail workouts due to relatively low-level technical terrain
  • One or two nice hill climbs to keep things interesting
  • Potential to add on as many miles as you like thanks to the length of Falls Lake's Trail
  • Shade

Features I Dislike:

  • Parking can be iffy. Even though signs state that the gate will be open on Bayleaf Church Rd. at certain times, it's not necessarily open. Parking outside the gate is easily done, though.
  • Effing deer flies!
  • Running beside a private residence makes me worry that someone is going to shoot at me. (I know. That's silly)

Getting There

trail head of Section 5 of the Falls Lake Trail from Bayleaf Church Rd.The best option for parking is at the Bayleaf Church Rd. boat ramp access area. Sometimes the gate is closed, in which case you'll just park on the side of the road outside the gate. Being that this isn't a particularly busy section of road, you're relatively safe parking here. From the gate, you'll head a couple hundred feet towards the water and look to your left when you see a paved entrance to the parking lot. The trail head is sort of hidden among the trees at the corner here.

Don't be confused by the trail head entrance on your right. That one's for Section Four, which is also a nice trail. But, if you've read this review and expect to run on Section Five, you'll be confused if you run on Section Four instead, which is about twice as long and a little more technically challenging. You'd be all, "WTF was that guy writing about? There's no fancy inlet or dearth of rocks on this trail!"

Anyway, the trail head will be on the left if you're looking at the water. There's a little wooden sign.

Alternatively, you could park along the roadside on Six Forks Rd. But, this particular roadside isn't as conducive to parking as other areas along the Falls Lake Trail. So, I'd advise against that.


Section Five of Falls Lake's trail is nice. It's not as Challenging as Umstead's Sycamore or Company Mill trails. But, it's still a decent trail to run.

It's even better to run when you add another section to it. I mean, who wants to drive out to Falls Lake and fend off vicious deer flies just to run 2.6 miles? So, definitely make a point of adding Section Six or Section Four to your Section Five run.

The Falls Lake Trail Section Five Elevation Profile.

I'm terribly sorry to tell you that I do not have the usual graphical depiction of the elevation for this trail, not at this time, anyway. Since I'm too cheap to own a GPS device, I must rely on my Internet searching skills to find the elevation image.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Inov-8 f-lite 230 Colorway Review

Or, How Inov-8 is Ruining My Running Shoe Acquisition Plans

Warning: This is going to be a silly post. But, where else can I talk about shoes like this?

Inov-8 f-lite 230 detailI've made it readily apparent that the f-lite 230 is a fantastic running shoe. Read my review of it if you need a reminder.

Aside from the fact that it feels super comfy, the f-lite 230 serves as a multi-purpose running shoe that just plain makes me want to run faster.

Going for a trail run today? The 230 can handle that. Doing some intervals on the pavement this afternoon? Break out the 230. Racing this weekend? I'll bet your f-lite 230 would be a good candidate.

It's a flat. It's a trail shoe. It's a quasi-minimal-definitely-reduced-lightweight solution to your running shoe arsenal.

And, lately, we see that it's available in a plethora of colorways.

As you can see, there are a lot of colors—something for everyone, I'd say. And, I give Inov-8 high marks for offering so many color varieties. (That's the review portion of this post)

This is how you do it, people. This is how you sell more of the same shoe without spending extra money on testing new technologies every year, adjusting the toe box, or introducing some sort of extra plastic thingy in the midsole. Just use the same mold to churn out new, flashy colors and make your aesthetically-conscious fans salivate.

I have two pairs of the f-lite 230 in my running shoe rotation already. As you know, there are other shoes in my rotation, too.

Do I need another pair of f-lites? Hell no!

Do I want another pair of f-lites? Yes! Look at those lime green ones, dammit! Look at those bright orange ones!

There are other shoes I intend to try. I have a four-month acquisition plan. But, damn if these new f-lite 230 colorways aren't tempting.

Thanks for letting me rant, folks.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Best Trail in North Carolina

I'm going to go out on a limb here and pretend that more than one North Carolina trail runner accidentally reads this blog on occasion. So, I want to pose the following question:

What is the best trail you've run in North Carolina?

Guidelines (Because you'll wonder)

trail head at Falls Lake Trail section 4Please respond in the comment area below this post. Provide as much validation for your response as you like.

No, there is not a prize—unless you count my appreciation as a reward.

Yes, you may respond with the name of a park or a race instead of a specific trail.

Obviously, this is a purely subjective thing to consider. Your answer will be neither right nor wrong. (Okay, it's wrong if you answer with the name of a paved road. Trails are unpaved in this case)

You don't even have to run on trails very often. But, you can't hate trails. I don't want you to play if you're a hater.

Know, too, that you do not necessarily need to respond with the name of your favorite trail or park. A favorite thing implies that you partake of it frequently. However, your best trail run may have occurred once or twice in the past. And, due to geographic limitations, you aren't able to run the best trail as often as you'd like.

My motivation for asking this question is to simply find out where a trail runner will be happy in North Carolina. With all the trail races to choose from over the coming months and vacations to be planned, a discerning runner needs to know.

Thanks in advance for your response!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Happy National Running Day

As if we needed an excuse to make a bigger deal about running than we already do, today is National Running Day. And, aside from running, here are ten ways to celebrate.
On June 1, we celebrate together...

Imagine my shame in allowing today's training schedule to mandate that I take a rest from running on this day for running. I am sorry, fellow runners.

But, really, they say that rest days are just as important as running days in training. So, there.

Perhaps I'll celebrate by purchasing a new pair of shoes.

Happy running everyone!


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