Archive | Guest Perspective

Race Review: American River 50 Miler

I’ll never forget my first 50-miler, its amazing views, helpful aid station workers or the final 3-mile uphill slog.

By Henry Howard

The American River 50 proved itself to be an epic race, an ultra where mid-packers and back-of-the-packers can literally line up and run next to well-known ultra runners.

The AR50 was my first 50-miler and one I would recommend to others looking for their firsts finish at that distance. (The event also offers a 25-mile distance.) Continue Reading →

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Tips for Senior Marathon Runners

-By Jess Walter

The number of senior citizens running marathons is growing. Some of these runners have been running all their lives and can’t fathom doing anything else. Others have taken up running later in life and have gotten attracted to the health benefits running provides. Either way, there’s no reason you can’t run a marathon in your 60s, 70s, or even older. Continue Reading →

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From 400 pounds to his fourth Boston Marathon

Jason Pina with Angie Spencer at the 2015 Boston Marathon

*Editor’s note: When Angie ran the Boston Marathon in 2015 Jason and his lovely wife Shai hosted us in their home. We also got to meet the fine folks at Tenacity (the charity Jason runs for) who are doing great work for Boston kids! -Trevor

Jason Pina had a secret dream. It was so secret he didn’t even tell his wife, Shai, who he had been with for almost 25 years. When Pina announced his quest — running a marathon — Shai knew that her husband would accomplish it even though he wasn’t a runner and had once weighed 400 pounds. Continue Reading →

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Race Day as a Slow Runner


A runner is a runner is a runner. In my last post, I talked about how speed doesn’t make the “runner,” the act of running does. That said, there are certain aspects of the sport that are different for us back-of-packers.

Since training runs are generally self-driven, all runners learn to accommodate their specific needs during those runs and it’s only when we have to rely on others that these needs become complicated. This makes race day a tad more interesting to navigate. Continue Reading →

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Which compression pants are the best?

By Henry Howard

Several years ago on the day before one of my fall marathons, the forecast drastically changed. I don’t recall the exact specifics anymore but the cold and snow/rain predictions changed my race day plans from shorts to long pants.

At the time, I only had sweatpants and didn’t want to run a race wearing those. Setting aside the rule of “nothing new on race day,” I favored protection from the elements. I bought my first pair of compression tights (or pants) that suited me well for the day, which was cold with freezing rain.

Since then, I have expanded my collection of compression tights and tested them. Here is a comparison review of the three that I currently use for workouts and recovery. Continue Reading →

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Running and Weight Loss?

I’ve lost 140 pounds, about half of my body weight. I didn’t have surgery or use medication; I lost the weight the old-fashioned way, through diet and exercise.

I understand that’s not a sexy answer. People want a quick fix, a powder, a plan, something they can purchase with monthly installments and VOILA! Weight loss guaranteed. Still, folks want something to hang their hat on.

“She RUN MARATHONS? Well of course that’s why she lost weight!” is what I often hear.

“Well I could lose weight too if I could RUN A MARATHON!” they continue, followed with all of the excuses of why running is impossible.

This got me thinking . . .

Did I run to lose weight or did I lose weight so I could run? Continue Reading →

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How to Recover from a Hilly, Technical Ultra

The Bel Monte Endurance Races present a challenging, beautiful course for runners. Here are some ways to heal from endurance events with hilly courses.

By Henry Howard

The Bel Monte Endurance Races offer a 25K, 50K and 50-miler for those wanting to explore beautiful mountains in northern Virginia.

But check the fine print — the 50K is a 17-mile out-and-back course, meaning runners will do closer to a 55K by the time they cross the finish line. (The turnaround point for the 50-miler was at 26.2 miles.)

Regardless of the actual length — my watch counted 34.8 miles for the 50K — it’s an epic run with nearly 5,000 feet of elevation change. Such a race means recovery is key, especially when it’s a training run for my first 50-miler three weeks later. Continue Reading →

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Finding Jenn Shelton

photo credit: Jenn Shelton @sheltonjenn

She was the gifted, fearless wild child featured in “Born to Run.” Fourteen years later, Shelton still leads a “crazy life,” following her passion in pursuit of the next endurance challenge.

By Henry Howard

Jenn Shelton became well known for her appearance in Christopher McDougall’s best-selling book about ultra running, “Born to Run.”

In the years since the book was published, Shelton has matured but still embraces a Bohemian lifestyle as evidenced in the new documentary, “Outside Voices.” 


At the end of the documentary, Shelton is in her small van under a moonlight sky. She’s on her cell phone, learning Italian. It concludes, with her repeating a translation, “You do not know who I am.” Continue Reading →

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“Slow Runners” are Still “Runners”: How I Embraced the Title From the Back of the Pack

When I started running, I was pretty sure that crossing the 5K off of my bucket list would be enough for me.

I was never athletic, my childhood had been spent tormented because of my lack of athleticism, and my body had never conformed to what I thought an “athlete” needed to look like.

I had plenty of reasons to assume that I could never be a “runner,” and simply huffing and puffing my way through C25K wasn’t enough to break that mental barrier. Continue Reading →

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How to Train for Marathons While Traveling

I am writing this while literally 30,000 feet in the air.

It’s been a busy week of travel — Monday and Tuesday in Washington, D.C., then back home for an 11-hour layover (seriously) before flying Wednesday to Las Vegas, where I worked — and exercised — until returning home Friday.

Traveling for work is not unusual for me. As a runner, I have learned how to properly prepare for maintaining my workout schedule whether I am on the island of Puerto Rico, in the mountains of Colorado or in chilly Des Moines in January. (Yes, I have been all of those places in the past year.) Continue Reading →

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From Baseball to Ultra Running

Former major leaguer Eric Byrnes was known for his hustle and speed. Now he has transformed himself into a passionate endurance athlete.

By Henry Howard

Baseball fans who saw Eric Byrnes play recognized his exuberance for the game — chasing after line drives in the outfield, sprinting around the bases and playing with an enthusiastic abandon for the game.

“Authentic is a word that I use a lot when I talk about Eric,” said Tarah Byrnes, describing her husband, now an analyst for Major League Baseball Network. “And it can be an overwhelming concept, if you think about who Eric is. His intensity as a baseball player, his intensity as an athlete, his intensity as a broadcaster — all of those things show it’s true, it’s authentic.”

His authenticity and athleticism are on full display in a 45-minute documentary, Diamond to the Rough, which chronicles his transition to ultra running and completion of the Western States 100. Continue Reading →

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