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James Ironman World RecordWhat a year it was. In 2010 I set out to raise funds and awareness for a local non profit called in Our Own Quiet way. Along the way I ended up breaking the world record for the most 70.3 (half Ironman) triathlons completed in one year. I completed 22 events in 30 weeks landing me in the Guinness book of world records for the first time. The year was a success and we ended up building a few Dam in Africa which will affect the lives of the people there for generations.

My journey continued in 2012 with a new World record attempt but this time in the Full Triathlon distance more commonly known as The Ironman – a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 marathon run. I knew 30 official events in 2012 through 11 countries would be a huge task to complete. I had so many high and lows on the year but the highs way over shadowed the lows. My journey started in January with a win in Naples Florida and concluded with a celebration race at the HITS Championships in Palm Springs California. My journey took me around the world where I got to experience many new people and cultures. I went through Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Brazil, Germany, Austria, France, Switzerland, Canada, Mexico and the United States.

A few of my highlights had to be biking and running in the Pyrenees in France and also having the opportunity to pull a boy named Dayton with Cerebral Palsy through an Ironman in Lake Havasu Arizona on my 27th Ironman event of the year. I will cherish this experience for as long a I live. Thank you Dayton for letting me be apart of your day.

Altra shoes saw and supported my vision from day one and all 30 Ironman races were raced in Altra shoes. Although the goal was to just cross 30 finish lines, I managed two Iron Distance victories and 5 second place finishes. When I started this journey I was told “No way you can do this” and “You will get injured”. Well I am happy to announce that I did do it and that I never got injured. One of my biggest fears at the start was a small foot injury or stress fracture which would have halted my journey and ultimately would have ended the quest for my second world record. No foot foot injuries… no foot pain…. no blisters. Pure genius – Thank you Altra!

James Lawrence – aka the IronCowboy

Jan 8, 2012 – HITS Naples (1st overall)
Feb 19, 2012 – HITS Corpus Christi (2nd overall)
Mar 3, 2012 – Ironman New Zealand (changed to 70.3)
Mar 25, 2012 – Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship
Apr 15, 2012 – HITS Napa Valley (2nd overall)
Mar 25, 2012 – Ironman South Africa
Apr 29, 2012 – HITS Marble Falls
May 5, 2012 – Ironman St. George
May 19, 2012 – Ironman Texas
May 27, 2012 – Ironman Brazil
Jun 10, 2012 – HITS Hunter Mtn (2nd overall)
Jun 17, 2012 – Ironman Regensburg
Jun 24, 2012 – Ironman Coeur d’Alene
Jul 1, 2012 – Ironman Austria
Jul 7, 2012 – Altriman France
Jul 15, 2012 – Ironman Switzerland
Jul 22, 2012 – Ironman Lake Placid
Jul 29, 2012 – HITS Sterling (2nd overall)
Aug 11, 2012 – Ironman U.S. Championship
Aug 19, 2012 – Ironman Mont-Tremblant
Aug 26, 2012 – Ironman Louisville
Sep 1, 2012 – The Canadian
Sep 9, 2012 – Rev3 Cedar Point
Sep 15, 2012 – The Grand Columbian (first place)
Sep 23, 2012 – HITS Hunter Mtn (top 10)
Oct 20, 2012 – The Great Floridian (top 10)
Nov 3, 2012 – Ironman Florida
Nov 11, 2012 – HITS Lake Havasu – pull cerabal palsy (Dayton)
Nov 18, 2012 – Ironman Arizona
Nov 25, 2012 – Iornman Cozumel
Dec 2, 2012 – HITS National Championships Palm Springs

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I started running 2 1/2 years ago at the age of 60 and 1/2 when my friend and now running partner decided she wanted to run the Ogden half. You have to understand she was overweight, and had never run, and I was always active but more in the way of dance, and had never run either. We got on line and ran a training program. We loved the experience and did our first half in just over 3 hours. We were hooked. We added three other half marathons and a 10K that year, and continued to add new goals. We know for us we have to have a goal to shoot for, or we could find all kinds of excuses not to train.

The following year we did half marathons, a 30K (Red Mountain) in Ivans… our first trail experience (sort of, it was the road part of the Red Mt. 50K). We loved it, and crazy Deanna talked me into doing the Provo marathon just two weeks later. She said, ” we just did 19, what’s 7 more miles”! In October Dee and I ran the a trail 10K in Corner canyon.. Our first time running a trail. WOW. We loved it. It was then we truly became trail runners. I went right out and bought my first pair of Altras. I love the Lone peaks. We have run in mud, slush, snow, rocks and whatever and never felt like I didn’t have great foot support. I then had to get my first Intuitions, so we could winter train on the road. They are so comfortable. We did the Ivans run again this spring. I wore my Intuitions, and boy what a difference in performance, and comfort from the shoes I had worn the year before. 

A few weeks before the Ivans run this spring, we ran the Buffalo run 25K on Antelope Island. Again, great comfort and wear from my Lone Peaks. We have registered for the Little Grand Canyon marathon in September, and are waiting for the registration to open for the Antelope Island 50K. I know. I keep thinking… what are we thinking? I am now 63 and love being up on the mountains. It has become a family thing, as my sons Craig and  Brent are so good to run with their slow mom. We all did Ivans together this year.

I have shared my shoe stories with my sisters who both have knee and IT band issues and are not runners, but they both have bought Intuitions just to wear. They have told me that the shoes have made a huge difference in their walking and standing. My younger sister bought a pair of Lone Peaks to wear on Trek this week. I will be anxious to hear how they performed for her. She said they would have lots of rocky terrain and up hills.

We are a family of Altra wearers.


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When did you truly become a runner?


We’d love to hear your story. Learn how to share it here.


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I will never forget my first “run” – February 1, 2010.  A Jillian Michaels iFit program greeted me, where “Jillian” is in control of your speed and incline, adjusting one or the other (or both) every minute. It was a meager 30 minutes of jogging and a lot of walking, with the incline changing throughout. While I never manually slowed it down or decreased the incline, a good part of that first run was spent holding on to the sides, and I think I even had to step off onto the rails a time or two. My breathing was heavy, I could feel my heart trying to leap from my chest as sweat poured down my face…it was near torture, but I had made a commitment to myself that today was the day everything would change. When the 30 minute program I was complete I looked down at the distance – a meager 1.65 miles!! I might as well have run 100. I was wrecked. I literally crawled up the stairs from my basement and laid on the floor in my family room until I could actually breath (and move). While this is probably not the “doctor recommended” way to start a workout program, it made me decide then and there that I didn’t want to feel like this ever again.

To assist with the overall determination to make a change in my life and get myself in healthier, happier shape – A friend had convinced me to sign up for a Sprint Triathlon at the beginning of the summer. After a few weeks of training I had made up my mind that the longest distance anyone should ever concern themselves with running was a 5K. I couldn’t think of any reason why anyone would need to run farther than that. I continued with my iFit program which in turn continued to kick my butt every single time. With the addition of swimming and biking, I noticed that I was quickly getting stronger. The programs were getting harder, but I was able to do them. With each drop of sweat the pounds seemed to melt right off my body. Where I had previously been too embarrassed to run outside, I started taking my runs to the outdoors with the friend who had wrangled me into this triathlon to begin with.

I was also lucky enough to be working with a friend (and fellow Altramaniac, Craig Lloyd) who had started running the year before, and was quite a bit further along in his journey. He would often go running 10 miles for his daily run. 10 miles! I just couldn’t understand how you could run that far – and keep running! When he came into work talking about his first 50K, it  simply blew my mind. I had honestly never thought about the possibility of running distances like that. I filed that away as something that is cool but something that *I* would probably never be able to do. But the seed had been planted.

My runs started to get longer and longer, I found myself saying “well, if you can run 3 miles, you can run 4…If you can run 4 miles, you can run 5…” I can remember each “First” distance as if it was yesterday, but the first time I ran 7 miles really sticks out. I jumped from 5 miles to 7 (and had gone out only planned on running 5) – but I was feeling so good that I just kept going…and it felt great! I was actually enjoying myself! I ran into Craig’s office with a grin on my face – I now understood (or at least was beginning to) why people do this!

My running took a whole new turn when I was training for a ‘mud run’ and my friend and I decided to head for the mountains to get some ‘harder’ training in. We climbed up part of a mountainside and then came across a trail which we decided we would use to take back down. I hit the trail and took off. All of the sudden I felt like I was home. I had spent my childhood playing in these mountains, and it seemed to strike a chord within me. I stopped and turned to share my elation with my buddy, but he was no where to be seen! A minute or two later he came into view, carefully running down the trail. I bounded off like a deer again and drank in every second on the trail. I was hooked. I immediately signed up for “Utahs toughest 10K” a ‘trail’ 10K that supposedly put all others to shame.

As my mileage increased, I started to notice slight issues in various parts of my body, but mostly my knees. I learned all of the IT band stretches and had a pair of minimal shoes…but would still feel that IT band flare up on my longer runs. When the toughest 10K came around, I laced up the latest and greatest trail shoe and was on my way. By road race terms this race is a beast, 600 feet of elevation gain and an endless supply of ups and downs throughout. Near the end of the race my knees were screaming at me, and afterwards I could barely walk. Going downstairs was a chore for at least the next week. I became extremely discouraged and had decided that maybe I just wasn’t built for running. Several people gave me the “I told you so” that running ruins your knees.

I, however, just couldn’t let it go. I started researching every possible way to improve my situation. I was running more and more with Craig, and through research and lots of discussion, I narrowed in on my running form. I ended up spending several months changing it – literally relearning how to run – getting my body used to using the muscles it should be using to run and not straining the ones that it shouldn’t be. Once I was able to get that dialed in that was it. I was hooked. My mileage started increasing by leaps and bounds. I was running almost exclusively on trails and before I knew it, I was signing up for a 50K – the Antelope Island Buffalo Run! Ten times the distance that I thought I would ever run, and here I was paying money to do it – and just barely a year from when I had started! The 50K was a great learning experience, and I had an amazing time, and even beat the goals that I had set for it.

What was next? Well what else? I set my sights on 50 miles, and signed up for and completed the Pony Express Trail 50 later that year (2011), and loved every mile of it (even the hard ones…). I continued hitting the trails, now running to the tops of mountains and in places that again, made me feel right at home. I had also picked up a pair of Altra Instincts, practically the day they came out. I had high hopes for the shoe, and they didn’t disappoint – becoming my only source of running footwear. I had an amazing group of friends that provided great support and entertainment. We were running in Zion National Park, all over the Wasatch range, the Uintas and more. I was able to take part in 100 mile races by pacing Craig and others as they complete the beastly distance.

As I continue to run and grow and find that I now actually enjoy that exhausted feeling that once so frightened me. I have the amazing support of family and friends that continue to inspire me and keep me going. I am surrounded by the beautiful Rocky Mountains that I can now enjoy for more than just their visual beauty, but for the challenge and adventure they offer. This coming year I’ve got my eye on a few races/runs, including the Buffalo Run 50 (peer pressure may get me into the 100), Kings Peak, Bairgutsman, Pony Express Tail Race, Zion and the Grand Canyon – to name but a few.

The best part is, this journey is more than just running – I meet new people, see new places and hopefully, reach new heights and farther distances!

Share your thoughts:

What are your biggest motivators to keep you running?

Have you ever shattered the limits you set on your body? How did it feel?


We’d love to hear your story. Learn how to share it here.

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Earlier this year Braden Thompson began his journey from O to marathon. You can read his earlier entry here. Check out his report after months of hard work and training:


A few weeks ago I was lying on the couch watching college football feeling like absolute crap hardly able to even walk. I knew I needed to eat but that was the last thing my stomach wanted to do. This was my post race celebration. I had just finished the Top of Utah marathon.


When I set out to run a marathon, that’s not anywhere near what I pictured the outcome to be. At first, lying there in pain, I was a little disappointed that reaching my accomplishment was so anticlimactic. After I let it all sink in for a couple days I realized that the race was only a small part of my accomplishment. My real accomplishment was making it through the journey that led up to it.


When I first decided to run a marathon, I had no running shoes. I figured I needed to get a pair if I was serious about this. The shoes I was lucky enough to get my hands on were Altra Instincts. Little did I know they would become some of my best friends over the next five months.


On any hard journey, it’s always better if you have a friend. My Altra Instincts proved to be the friends I needed to make this journey more bearable. I took those little guys everywhere! We ran 50+ miles in the mountains of Logan canyon together. When I tripped on a rock they were the ones whispering, “don’t let that freakin’ rock push you around, you get up and finish your run!” When I would hit the snooze on the alarm clock at 5:30 AM they were right there, looking me in the eye, telling me to quit being a pansy and suck it up. When I was dropped off all alone up a canyon far away from home they were right there with me every step of the way to make sure I got back without dying. When a large rabid dog on mile 10 of 12 in a strange neighborhood attacked me, they were there to kick its mouth and give me an extra burst of speed to get away. On multiple family vacations they were the best behaved of anyone on the trip and even after hours and hours of driving they never once asked if we were there yet.


Not only were they my friends because they motivated me and gave me awesome pep talks, they were comfortable. I never thought I could run in slippers, these guys proved me wrong. Most comfortable pair of running shoes I’ve worn. I owe a lot to those little guys.


Ya, running 26.2 miles is really hard. Comparatively speaking, however, basically getting a part time job training for five months was MUCH more difficult. My goal in running a marathon was to push the limits of what I thought I was capable of. I did it, and I’m glad I did. It was awesome.


When Altra says “Zero Limits”, they’re not kidding. Anything you want to do, you can do it if you set your mind to it. If you want to run a marathon, half-marathon, or any distance for that matter, grab a pair of Altras and make them your two best friends. When you convince yourself that you really have no limits, you’ll be amazed what you can do.



Share your thoughts:

Do you train on vacation? What are some other obstacles that might throw off your training?

What was the most memorable part of your journey training for a race?


We’d love to hear your story. Learn how to share it here.

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Most people are afraid to take a chance.  Some people are afraid to fail, to look bad in the eyes of others, or to confirm a self doubt that may have been forever in their minds.    It doesn’t necessarily have to be running or fitness related, it can be life related.  Afraid to take a new job, afraid of a new relationship, afraid of failing.  Some people are terrified of change, driven away by the unknown and paralyzed in a state of existence.  Some people say existing is good, but why exist if you aren’t moving forward. Existing is FAILURE!  This is what separates winners from losers, not defined by the accomplishment of being exceptional, but defined by the passion and effort put into something to try something most people wouldn’t.  I’ll never be Scott Jurek, I am not that physically gifted.  I’ll never be Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, I’m not that smart.  But what I will be is someone who tries and takes chances. Win or lose, finish or fall short, but miles ahead of those who are just existing.

Some people say that the distance between who you are, and who you can be is 100 miles. They say that when you are pushed to the absolute limit; vomiting as you run, crawling when you cant walk, talking to people who are just a hallucination, that you truly find out who you are.  With a limit so high, fear is the reason some never find out who they can be.  But deep inside I have to know, I have to run the 100.

My Story:

My Dad Ski Jumping – Suicide Hill in Ishpeming Michigan
He taught me how to suffer, and to never give up.

I grew up in the gym in Negaunee Michigan (Upper Peninsula), most people don’t know that about me. That gym was my house.  My fathers fitness backgound was a competitive weight lifter, and Ski Jumper.  I owned a 300 pound dead lift when I was in middle school, followed not long after by a 300 pound bench press.  I scientifically read books, studied, and learned how to make my body stronger and stronger.  My dad had me lift weights according to his workout plans he wrote for me, he was well known in the area for being tough.  Not just strong, but a true bad-ass.  (I am not exaggerating).  Every girl I dated knew who my dad was, they treated me well, I felt like I was in a mafia family.  He taught me how to suffer.

As a young kid I learned how to fuel, I learned how to fight.  My basement was a gym, and I’m not talking about a Sears weight bench.  I’m talking about full blown welded weight bench, custom made, with a squat rack on back.  Accompanied by 700 pounds of free weights, a big bag, a speed bag, curling bars, a home made dip rack, dumbbells, lat machine and more.  As young as I remember I was punching my dads hand, he was always fond of Sugar Ray Robinson.  When I wasn’t lifting weights, I was hauling firewood.  In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan it gets cold, and very often we see over 210+ inches of snowfall a year.  328 inches of snowfall was recorded one year alone.  You get tough skin up there, you haul firewood.  Not just into your house to feed the wood stove but out of the woods.  I spent many weekends driving 30 miles into the middle of the woods, in the middle of nowhere to take firewood that had been blown over.  We would cut up the firewood and load it into the Gut Wagon.  The Gut Wagon was a modified Chevy truck, with a very high box so you could get a ton of firewood in there.  I got paid a penny a log as a kid, and whatever treats I wanted from the store.

We built our camp, a log camp, just my dad and I hauling logs and setting them into place. We built our house, garages, we built almost everything we own, including the weight bench.  Even the weight tree to hold the plates was hand welded from steel.  My dad was really as tough as people said he was, I never get sick of someone telling me a story of something crazy that he did.  He would haul bags of cement over his shoulders like it was a small child.  He would run a whole roof of shingles up and down a tall ladder before most people could get out of bed.  And I was there too.  He never got tired, and the work never seemed to really end.  He would go all day on a couple sandwhiches my mom would make, Genoa and Salami with cheese on white bread with mustard, no vegetables.  We lived on meat, all meat all the time.  There wasn’t a meal that didn’t have meat, and we had a lot of Venison, potatoes, spaghetti, and chili.

Our camp has a lot of property, and I remember a time when we had to go blaze a trail around 80 acres through a cedar swamp with a big axe, marking the trees with tape.  I didn’t know it at the time but it was preparing me for my first endurance events.  Mid November cold, soaking feet, hours of walking around and hauling brush and blazing that trail, that miserable trail.  I would follow my dad all over bird hunting, we had 80 acres of land, and we covered it all.  My uncle Eino was known for being fast, that guy could go through the woods like a Tarahumara Indian, and that is no joke.  My dad always loved and talked about how fast my uncle was, if you could only see them haul a 50 pound bag of corn over a mile to a deer blind, it was magical.  I hauled many of those bags of corn, but never with the ease my dad or uncle Eino could.

My dad had long hair in his younger days and looked like Jesus. He had big muscles, (still does I should say), and rode a Harley.  I’ve never seen him lose an arm wrestling match.  I would arm wrestle him every so often from elementary school all the way through college, I never won.  The funny thing is I was never even close, and I was really strong at the time. I had been arm wrestling people since I was in elementary school, its what we did, and my record was excellent.  My dad would toy with me, letting me get him to within an inch or two of winning, and then that hydraulic arm would crush me like I was giving him no resistance at all.  He wasn’t trying to make me look like a fool, he just wanted me to get stronger, he said it was in my genes.  But he never knew that I would turn into a cyclist or runner, or be able to swim. Muscle wasn’t supposed to swim.  And I love to prove people wrong.

Everyone has a hero, a lot of people say it’s their dad or mom, or Lance Armstrong.  But for me it really is my dad.  He taught me what it was like to work for a living, and work really hard.  He worked 6 days a week, hard labor in a track press building tracks for the big mining vehicles that are as big as a house.  After work he came home and worked some more, built things, and put food on the table.  We sure had our moments, he wasn’t the guy you wanted to get angry and I sure did plenty of that.  He has a big heart as well.  Nobody wants to see me succeed as much as him, and I’m not willing to let him down, or anybody if I can help it.  After a while I started to notice things about my dad, he always found projects.  I realized the projects never really stopped coming, they grew.  He had to work, he had to do things, it was in his blood.  He told me, “When a person stops working, they die.”  And I believe that to this day.

The difference is this, when I moved away to Petoskey Mi and bought a house I never had the money for a snow machine.  My driveway was 185 feet long, I measured it.  We had some big snowfalls those years that I was there, and I would shovel the driveway.  It became a game.  I would come home from my midnight shift and shovel it, and sometimes have to shovel it again before going to work.  I’m not talking 4 inches of snow, I am talking 2 feet of snow, often wet and heavy snow.  I would make a path up the middle of the driveway, then the left and right side of the driveway.  Then I would run back and forth as fast as I could, I wore a heart rate monitor I would average 165 bpm + on a good day maxing out in the high 180′s.  People thought I was “Crazy.”  I had people stop, and offer to borrow me their snow blower, I would politely decline.  It was my game, and nobody was taking it from me.  I would shovel till I would nearly collapse, run left throw, run right throw.  I would think to myself that there is nobody in the world shoveling as hard as me right now, and it would drive me to do more.  My forearms would look like balloons when I was done, then I would follow my fathers ways, lift weights and then have a protein drink.  My life as a child in Upper Michigan was paying off already.

I learned to be tough, I learned to do things that most people wouldn’t do, mostly because of my father.  I learned to take chances, so I didn’t have to be like him, working a hard labor job.  I went to school and got a job in the medical field which made it easier for me to concentrate my tough skin on something outside of a tough life.  Somewhere in the middle, a friend got me into cycling, not exactly my fathers plans, he was a Ski Jumper and spent countless hours building me a ski jump off the rock bluff in my back yard.  I wadded myself into a ball more times then one can imagine.  If anybody is familiar with the sport of ski Jumping, my dad jumped Suicide Hill in his early teens, as well as Pine Mountain Ski Jumps.  He flew through the air for years, before giving it up the year I was born.  I respect the sport, for it’s one thing that I’ll never have the courage to do. It terrified me. I recall a memory of a nice lady picking me off the ground during ski practice at Suicide Hill, my knee so badly sprained I couldn’t even walk. I remember spending a few days in bed after that.

Looking down from the top of Suicide Hill Ski Jump.
It will make your hair stand up on the back of your neck.


I never became a Ski Jumper, but I was still a daredevil.
My dad and I both had some flight in us.

Cycling started out very rough for me, a friend convinced me to do a mountain bike race, and I thought I was in pretty good shape.  I never did much biking but I figured 28 miles couldn’t be that hard.  I finished the race in 3:23 minutes.  At the time it was the hardest thing I had ever done, this whole endurance sports thing was new to me.  I was just strong.  I lifted weights and ran on a treadmill from time to time, but not too much because a lot of cardio was supposed to lead to muscle catabolim according to some books.    It boggled my mind that people who didn’t look in shape, were that much faster then I was.  People were finishing in under 2 hours, and I just couldn’t fathom how they were going that fast.  It didn’t discourage me, but it created a question: HOW?!  So I started to do research, I changed my diet, I learned about heart rate zones and lactate threshold.  I learned how much water I needed an hour, how many calories I needed an hour.  I figured out how much time the body needed to recover from an hour long effort at lactate threshold.  I learned that lifting weights excessively didn’t mean I was healthy.  I learned a lot.  I learned that my heart needed to be strengthened.  I played tennis in high school and I ran, and I was better then a lot of people because I tried hard.  My coach told me to never stop running till the ball bounced twice, and I didn’t.  I thought that with running from tennis I would be in great shape.  So I was back to the drawing board.

I came back to that mountain bike race the following year, I sought out help from some cyclists that I worked with in the medical field to get faster.  From all of the information I read, and the better training, I did the race in 2:35 minutes.  A lot faster then 3:23, but I wasn’t satisfied.  I didn’t stop until I got it figured out, my fastest time in that race now is 1:47 minutes and I think I can go a bit faster.  I’m not one for excuses but that year I let my brother borrow my race bike and I used his bike which only had a middle chain ring, the front derailleur was broken.  Oddly enough it was still my fastest time, and my brother was even faster. He possessed the gift, I had to work for it.

That race was a stepping stone for me into the endurance sports world.  How do I get faster? How do I get more fit?  I learned that I was strong, and I could get very strong.  “It’s in your genes”, my father would say.  And that was true, I could get stronger then most people quicker then most.  But I struggled with endurance sports.  Just when I was finally starting to convert over to an endurance athlete, and was just lifting weights to keep my core strong, and various other muscles, I met my maker.

I worked with a guy who was a serious hunter and fisher.  He was an athlete, he trail ran and was a cross country skier, skate skiing.  I mentioned how I wanted to go run up Sugarloaf Mountain with him in the middle of winter.  We went, and I nearly died, I went deep into the hurt locker and as he made the summit and turned around, I was bent over panting, almost ready to throw up.  How in the heck was he able to do this I thought?  That year we did some spin classes together in the middle of winter, and he always said. “This is nothing compared to cross country skiing”.  I didn’t really believe him, but I didn’t totally discredit him either, after all he did spank me running up and down Sugarloaf Mountain. That winter he borrowed me a pair of skate skis and we went out to Blueberry Ridge to teach me how to cross country ski.  I knew some of the technique to skate on skis, I did it on jumping skis as a child, and on downhill skis when I raced on the high school ski team (I was never any good on the ski team, I would strip off my yellow ski jacket so nobody would see me and go find Jumps to hit, Ironic huh?)  I took off, immediately in front of him before he could give me any instruction.  I thought I was doing really good and then I bonked, I made it a quarter mile.  My heart rate had to of been about 190, while his was sitting at a cool 120.

I couldn’t understand how his heart rate could be so low and mine could be so high.  I just didn’t get it, but I wasn’t willing to give up.  I tracked down the fastest people, got the best advice and tried to learn.  It was January 5th and the big Noquemanon Ski Marathon has a ski race at the end of January every year.  My friend who was teaching me wasn’t planning on doing the race. After about two weeks of skiing and improving on my technique I told him I was thinking about doing it.  He told me I was nuts, and that I just started skiing, how was I going to ski 25km through big hills in some legendary ski country?

I was working with a surgeon. Wally Pearson at the time, one of the best cross country skiers I had ever met, and I told him that I just started skiing and I was thinking of doing the race.  Wally was fast, really fast.  The stories always come up at work how Wally was chasing down the Italian Ski Team after the Salt Lake City Olympics during the legendary American Birkebeiner race.  A race in which 10,000 skiers from all over the world show up, and Wally would place right near the top.  Wally looked like Lance Armstrong, and to me was just as iconic.  I looked up to him, and he told me to go for it.  I wasn’t sure if he believed I could do it, or didn’t want to hurt my feelings.  Either way, it pushed me over the edge. After telling my friend who got me into skiing that I was doing, he said. “Well if you’re doing it, then I have to do it!”.  He wouldn’t have done that race without me that year, and I wouldn’t have learned to ski without him. Fair trade.

In the two weeks leading up to the race I kept skiing, I kept learning.  I showed up at the race with a plan, I wanted to finish in under 2 hours.  People told me not to have a plan, and that I should be happy to just finish.  I did a few time trials the weeks leading up to the race, some cross over from bike training ideas, putting pace and heart rate into perspective that I had learned.  I was calculated.  When the gun went off, I suffered.  I skied as hard as I could ski, I passed some people, but was passed by many more.  I suffered, but I never thought about not finishing, in some sick sense I was enjoying it.  With 2 miles to go in the race my triceps were cramping up.  I had to start polling with only my right arm, and remain skating.  I crossed that finish line in 1:59.59, about as close to 2 hours as a person could get.  A monster was born.

As if my life as a child didn’t teach me to embrace pain, cross country skiing taught me more.  Being a child I learned how to be cold, sit in a deer blind for hours in 15 degree weather just watching, just waiting.  I learned how to haul wood, and walk for hours in the woods, to shovel snow to stratospheric of heights.  That was just another stepping stone. Cross country skiing has been the only sport where I have been so far in the red, where the thoughts of passing out or dying going up a hill, was the only way the pain would stop.  I been so far in the bonk zone to the point where I didn’t know if I would be able to get out of the upper part of the Noquemanon ski course on an interval training day.  You can’t just walk up a hill when you get tired, you have to skate up, or herringbone up.  And either way, if you bonk really bad, it can be a nightmare, you can feel helpless.

After that race I kept skiing and started getting to the point where I was decent.  I certainly didn’t come in last place in my first race, but I might as well have, my motivation to get faster was just the same.  So that spring I started to run, Wally Pearson told me running is the way you get faster Cross Country Skiing.  And I listened.  I ran Marquette Mountain, Mount Marquette, it was all coming together, cross country skiing gave me the engine.  I could run now, before I struggled, but now I could run.

3/8 inch sheet metal screws, this is how you run
in the winter in Upper Michigan. Tip from Joe Jameson

I denied being a runner for a long time, I never thought I was any good, nor was I ever that fast.  I was talked into a few races and ran a couple 5k’s, 10k’s, then started working my way up to the half marathon.  I ran because I could, I ran to be able to ski, I ran because in some sick sense I enjoyed it.  I was still biking, but I was running as well.  After doing another year of cross country skiing I became obsessed, not just with skiing, but everything.

My Bro and I after the Noquemanon Ski Race. 2nd AG’s

I met this guy, a photographer from National Geographic who has done it all, climbed Kilimanjaro did mission work in Tanzania and various other things most people would think were lies, but weren’t.  He had a motto of a true Nike spokesman. “Just do it.”  He wasn’t a super athlete, but he had a sense of adventure.  He found out I was driving down to Traverse City to race the North American Vasa ski race, so he hitched a ride down to see his family, without even being sure how he would get back.  I envied this about him, and so did my brother.  My brother then came up with the idea of how he wanted to do something big.  And then formed the idea to Bike Across America.

Vasa 2nd Place AG

I thought he was crazy, why bike across America?  Before I knew it I sold everything I had to make the trip happen, I became the National Geographic guy.  I took a chance.  I sold my guitars, and drums, my car, I was running home 10 miles from work after working an 8 hour shift before the trip started to make ends meet.  I planned the logistics, set up sponsors, found a charity to raise money for.  We put it together in 3 months, and set out from Yorktown Virginia, 3 guys to cover 4000 miles in 40 days for a various different reasons.

Unfortunately the bike across America trip was cut short, temperatures of 107-110 on the pavement for 13 days and nearly 1000 miles through the Appalachian Mountains were starting to be more of a risk then what it was worth.  To put it in perspective they cancel a marathon in the upper 80′s, but we were riding through steep mountains for 8 hours a day, with 60 pound bikes with gear on it, sleeping in tents.  When you weren’t being dehydrated while on the bike, you woke up totally parched and empty.  I wrote a whole other blog on my Bike Across America trip, called my Biggest Failure.  Failure I learned is sometimes disguised as success.  We tried to accomplish something many have thought was crazy, and gave up everything for a shot at something simple really, riding a bike a really long ways, to test the human body and mind.  Leaving that trip was the hardest thing I ever had to do.

When I got back from the bike trip I was all beside myself, I had failed, I was mad, and angry.  I wanted to go back and try again.  I needed to do something with myself. And then it happened, I was working and a great opportunity popped up.  Joe Jameson a Leadville 100 runner, puts on a race in my hometown every year consisting of a 50 miler and a 50k.  Someone asked me if I was running it?  Obviously they thought I was more of a runner then I was, but the idea fueled me.  I talked to Jameson about the race and he said he thought it was possible for me to finish.  Again, I didn’t know if he was just being nice, or really believed I could do it.  I had 1 month to get ready for it, and he set me up with a training plan.  The plan was very simple, whatever I wanted to run during the week, the first weekend a 15 mile long run, then the next a 4.5 hour “Event”.  The event meant that I ran, walked, hiked and simulated 4.5 hours on my feet.  The weekend following the 4.5 hour event was a 13 mile trail run, followed the next weekend by the race.

Finally a shoe that is a natural runner! 0 mm drop, with the
benefit of still having something underfoot!  8.9 ounces FANTASTIC!

Before you knew it, I was toeing the start line of my first 50km race.  I was pretty sure I was out of my league.  I had never run a marathon before, but I had some of my own training.  My training consisted of riding a bicycle for 50 hours in a week, through mountains on a bike that weighed 60 pounds at a pace that was nearly impossible to maintain for 4000 miles.  I never knew u could pedal so hard and go so slow, 2.8 mph.  I suffered on that trip, climbing up some of those steep Appalachian mountains were some of the hardest things I had ever done.  I knew how to suffer from being a child hauling firewood, chopping it in the 20 degree weather and shoveling more snow in one year than most people will in a lifetime.  I could withstand, shoveling a 185 foot long driveway with 2 feet of snow multiple times a month.  I might have not made it the full 4000 miles on the bike the first time I tried, but I learned something.  All of this is just training for what I am about to do next, what I want to do, and where I want to go.    I ran my heart out in that 50km race, and I finished when others thought I would fail.  I succeeded at running 50km, I suffered, and I enjoyed it.

After the 50k it was more about getting fit, running more, and running longer.  I did multiple marathons close enough together to become a Marathon Maniac.  I enjoyed the people I met, how I felt.  I enjoyed the social outlook on the races. But most of all I enjoyed helping people.  I met people through the last few years that were a lot like me.  I helped them get faster or stronger, leaner or to just simply believe in themselves.  I’m not an elite athlete.  I had to work hard to get to where I am, I learned that I can beat people in a race that have more natural talent then me.  I’ll never be a great physiological endurance athlete, I was made to be strong. “It’s in your genes”, as my dad would say.  But the funny thing is, you can be whoever you want to be, or do whatever you want to do.  If you want to run 50 miles or 100 miles you just have to believe in yourself and learn how to suffer enough to get there.  You have to learn how to train, you have to be able to listen to other peoples criticism.  You have to be able to leave your ego at the door and allow yourself to get passed by people out running who are wearing department store shoes and a cotton shirt sometimes.

My favorite things I have ever done in my life were all about taking chances, I ran the Leadville 50 mile Silver  Rush recently and it was tough. The race started at 10,200 feet of altitude and went over 12,000 feet four times. Now I am looking forward to running the Rocky Raccoon 100 followed by the Leadville 100!  I know many people who are just as capable to do these things, and can probably do them faster then me.  They just need to believe in themselves to make it happen. I have a tattoo on my arm of the number 158, someday I am going to run that many miles.

-Jon Vizena



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Back in 2003, I was a drug addict. I’d been shooting up coke and heroin for awhile, along with multiple 40 oz bottles of malt liquor every night. It never completely swallowed my life and put me on the street, but it made me sick, fat and lazy. I knew I had to change, but didn’t have resources available, let alone any kind of direction.

In a desperate act of self-preservation, I set out to hike Wisconsin’s Ice Age Trail from end to end. I didn’t know anything about backpacking, let alone doing it for 1000 miles, and set out with all the wrong gear (including a HUGE backpack and leather boots). Those 52 days were a miserable hike full of blisters and pain….but it sparked something
inside. The high I got from rigorous exercise was so satisfying, and the sense of accomplishment so extreme, I knew my life would never be the same. I would dedicate my life to long distance hiking.

What followed were a series of end to end thru hikes on North America’s long distance trails. I hiked the Appalachian, Pacific Crest, and Continental Divide Trails in their entirety…twice each. I also took a quick thru hike on the Colorado Trail one summer, and my current tally is around 17,000 miles or so. All self supported backpacking trips across the

I found the “Lone Peak” last spring and knew from the first hike around the block that these were the shoes for me. I’d been trying to make due with anatomically incorrect footwear my whole life, and Altra was the first to actually make a shoe that fits the human foot while offering an aggressive tread pattern and a zero drop sole. No more blisters or cramped toes! I hiked around 2600 miles from Mexico to Canada this summer, starting May 3rd and ending August 20th.

Every year I try to get out for an epic journey across the continent. I have all winter to think about where my next hike will be, but one thing I don’t have to think about is what shoe I’ll wear.

My advice for anyone interested in changing their lives for the better? The very fact that you’re reading this shows promise. If you want to do it, get off the couch, stop complaining and making excuses, lace up your shoes and make it happen. You only get one spin on this big blue planet, and there are enough unhappy people out there.



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As a teenager and in the first years of motherhood, I would often run outdoors just to get sun. I would push the single and then double jogger stroller to get fresh air for the kiddos. I never knew how far or fast I went. I just did it because it felt good.

Last Fall I wanted to lose some extra pounds. I have always been a gym rat. Teaching cycling, weights and participating in group fitness classes. I needed a change – a new hobby in fitness. So, I ran on the treadmill, bought some new shoes and then injured my bursa and discovered that shoes matter! My sister and brother were just getting into running with Altra Intuitions so I gave it a shot. Treadmill running is now behind me – I will run in the rain, dark, cold and heat. If I have to I will even do 30 laps at the local track (with my 3 kids hanging out) to avoid the monotony of the treadmill. There are days I am just plain grouchy and when I look at my running log, it always coincides with my “off” days. Running is my new hobby and passion. It makes me feel great and helps me to know myself better. I have more self confidence.

I should also mention that this bout of running happened to coincide with my 4th pregnancy and I am PROUD to say that it makes me a less moody, happier, more comfortable pregnant woman. My first half marathon is a few days from now and I will be 17 weeks pregnant!

This year I have run two 10Ks, a 5k and my first half marathon Trail run(Wildwood in Portland, Oregon). I hope to do another Half Marathon. I am not sure how comfortable it will be to run – as my pregnancy progresses – so as of now I am signed up for another 10k and am not committed to any other races.

The first thing I would say to a newcomer is to start slow. Slow in speed and slow in adding distance. Make it your goal to figure out the proper form before anything else. Sign up for a race so you have a reason to run. Make a training plan and stick with it. If it is non-negotiable you will have a higher chance of doing it. After every run you will be happy you did it. Stretching after your run is just as important as doing the run. Stretching is what helps you run with fewer injuries.

And as a last note, I should say the only difficulty that running has added to my life is the overwhelming urge to get EVERYONE to run. My mother (now 55) just bought her first pair of Altra Intuitions. My dad has never been into fitness and he is now talking about learning to run. My husband now has Altra Instincts and after 15 years of no running is back into it with me. It is our new shared interest. My 5 year old son is doing track with some kids size 13 Merrells (waiting for kids Altras). My 2 & 4 year olds “run fast” around the yard to be like me and my husband. I hope that running will be something we can do as a family. Currently when we run together my husband pushes the double jogger stroller, I go solo and my 5 year old rides his bike. Fitness as a family is wonderful.

I am just about ready for a new pair of Intuitions – they are my favorite fitness shoe I have ever owned. Due to loosening joints from pregnancy I am considering the Provisioness for extra support during this time. Interestingly my hubby started with Newtons and prefers the Altra Instincts without debate.

Finally, thank you for making a wide zero drop shoe. Most have narrow toe boxes. I so appreciate your product.

I am always the photographer so photos of me are far and few between. I lost 11 pounds in my first 5 months of running before just recently gaining a few due to the pregnancy. My face is so much thinner and defined then before running. Surprisingly, so are my arms!

-Leah Berokoff



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1 304

In 2003 I was invited by my friend and fellow Altramaniac, Scott Wesemann,  to go hiking in the Uinta Mountains. We were going to attempt climbing Utah’s three tallest peaks (King’s, South King’s and Gilbert Peak) in a day, starting from an advanced basecamp at Dollar Lake in the Henry’s Fork basin. I was there to tag along and enjoy the mountains, but Scott was actually asked to be interviewed by a reporter and photographer from the Deseret News. If successful, Deseret News would run a two page, full color story on the feat. To make a long story short, only myself and the reporter actually completed the task. Since he didn’t want to be part of his own article, they ran the whole two pages on me.  I was honored, but I didn’t really think much of it as the years passed. What I didn’t know was that there began to be a following of what is now called “The Triple Crown” in the peak-bagging community.

In 2008 I returned to the Uintas, again with Scott, and also another friend, Steve, to attempt to hike King’s Peak in a single day starting from the car. It was September and I was now doing a spot of running here and there at the request of my wife, who felt I needed a bit more focus on my cardio. I was only getting out 2 to 3 times a week and it was always on the road(never over 4 miles). We completed our task of hiking those 26 miles in just over 13 hours and we were all pretty sure that was about as hard as it got. When we returned to the trail head we looked in the trail log to see how many other people had tried it in a day, feeling pretty confident we were of the elite few who would make such an attempt. To our surprise there was one name that stood out – Davy Crockett – whose log report stated that he had completed the “Triple Crown, car to car, on [his] 50th birthday”, dated August 1st. To say that our sails were deflated would be an understatement. And his reference to my “triple crown” feat was interesting. The following Monday I was called out of my office by Steve who had found Davy’s trip report<http://www.crockettclan.org/blog/?p=120> on the internet. In the report he referred to my 2003 trip with a link to the article online (no longer active) and called me out by name on two occasions in his report. I was shocked. I immediately emailed him and congratulated him on such an amazing accomplishment. His response was quick and complimentary.He even invited me to go running with him. Uh, no way! He was a veteran ultra-runner with more 100 mile endurance races to his name than I could count. He had also done so many insane adventure runs that I wasn’t sure if he was actually human, but a very modern cyborg whose sole purpose was to dominate nature. 

I replied by telling him that he’d have to give me till the following summer to get into better running shape and then I would love to. I spent the rest of September and October turning myself into a trail runner, without any success. I still only got out 2 – 3 times a week in those two months, still never running more than 4 miles, and only one of those days would be on a trail. These trails were taking me to the tops of easier mountains, such as Sugarloaf and Mt Baldy. Then in November I got sick and running fizzled out. I was determined to get back on the horse and on January 5th I committed myself to really focusing on running and forcing myself to enjoy it. Davy had won the Triple Crown by doing it from the car and I wanted to step up and do the same thing.

On that cold day in the beginning of 2009 I left work and ran 1.9 miles around the block from work. It was hard. Two days later I ran 3.2 miles in a longer loop from work and I was pretty sure that my lungs were going to explode from the one and only tiny hill I had to ascend. But I stayed at it, running 3 days a week for all of January. My brother Brent had given me this great advice that I now share with every aspiring runner who is having trouble breaking through the discomfort, “when you can run 3 miles without feeling like you are going to die you’ll begin to enjoy it; the first time you run 6 miles you’ll be addicted”. He was right. That first week of February I was in Texas on business and I ran all 5 weekdays. On the Tuesday of that week I did a 6.2 mile loop and finished feeling really good (at the time I didn’t realize how much the low elevation and lack of hills really helped). Yep, Brent was right, I was hooked!

 Over the next several months I not only turned myself into a runner, but an ultra-runner. Within seven months I had run my first ultra-distance (50k) and by October of 2009 I had run my first ultra-marathon race – the Pony Express Trail 50 miler. Since then I’ve run more ultra-distance runs than I can count, including four 100 mile races and the first ever Zion Double Crossing; 96 across Zion National Park and back. I’ve also since returned to complete and set a new Fastest Known Time on the Utah Triple Crown, car to car. It has since been beaten, but I plan to go back this summer.

Upcoming races include: Pony Express Trail 100 and whatever else seems exciting. Adventure runs include: Utah Triple Crown FKT attempt, Grand Canyon R2R2R, and going back to Zion for a casual single crossing with friends.

Life is good.

Craig Lloyd



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Pictures are always a great motivation to get moving. Our family pictures in November of 2009 provided my motivation. My little girl was six months old and I weighed 259.4 pounds. I was not where I wanted to be. I wanted to set an example for my kids and be able to run and play with them. I wanted to be able to go up and down stairs without being winded. My lifestyle wasn’t what I wanted.

I started Weight Watchers in January 2010. I started exercising at the same time. I started with walking DVDS every morning. When the weather started getting warmer, I started running. Couch to 5K was the program that got me moving. I loved being outside, but I had never loved running. EVER.  This time was different, I loved running. I signed up for my first 5K and the rest is history. My first 5K was the Utah Valley Marathon 5K in 2010. I ran more 5Ks and 10Ks the rest of that year. In January, I signed up for my first half marathon – again it was the Utah Valley Marathon. I loved it. I continued to run. I ran the Hobble Creek Half and did Red Rock Zion Relay last fall.

On December 22, 2011 I earned my lifetime membership to Weight Watchers. I lost a grand total of 87.0 pounds. I had achieved the goal I had been working so hard for. Now what? My weight goal had been achieved. What was my next step? My friends took care of that for me. In November, we signed up for our first marathon. We started training in January for the Utah Valley Marathon. I don’t think I would ever train over a six month period again. We were so ready to run by the time June came!

My first marathon was awesome and I can’t wait to run another. It wasn’t easy. During the last 2 months of training I fought injuries. First were neuromas in both feet. If you’ve ever had that tingling and burning in your foot then you know the pain. If you’ve ever endured cortisone shots in your feet then you completely understand the pain and frustration I was going through. I got those under control and then my iliotibial band turned on me. My longest run before the marathon was seventeen miles. I just couldn’t push through anymore. I decided to go to the doctor and physical therapy two weeks before the marathon. After a cortisone shot and hours of stretching, I decided that I was ready. Was I really? No. But I had trained and paid my money. I was running a marathon come hell or high water.
Long story short. My marathon was life changing. I fought my IT band from mile six. I had to stop running and stretch constantly. I prayed even more. I finally pushed through and wouldn’t stop running until I got to the aid stations. I would drink, fuel and stretch along the guardrail. Then I would start to walk, pick up the pace a little and then start to run. I finished my first marathon in five hours forty-five minutes. No world record but I finished.
After my marathon running was tough. The weather was beautiful. I wanted to run but I couldn’t even get a mile in without intense knee pain because of my IT band. I was frustrated and sick of rolling and stretching. Physical therapy was getting old. I researched a lot of information. Read a lot of books. I kept stretching and added strength training. My last experiment was to run in some old shoes. I actually felt great. I could run four miles and have very little pain. It was in one book, “Tread Lightly” that they talked a little about Altras. My brother-in-law had mentioned them before so reading about them peaked my interest.

Now the rest is history. I bought my first Altras and I have honestly run pain free since. My Provisions are my favorite right now. I can’t wait to find a pair of Provisioness in my size – I totally love the pink! I will continue to run. It is what I love. It motivates every part of me. What’s next? Red Rock Zion 2012 in three weeks and Wasatch Back in June 2012. My second marathon is yet to be on the calendar but it will happen in 2013. Can’t wait! Thanks to Altras I’ll run until I can’t!

Advice to potential runners – easy. First, sorry guys but girls, support the girls. Get a good sports bra. Second, learn proper form. Go take a running class and learn the correct posture, arm position and cadence. If you do that you’ll save yourself from injury and frustration. Third, get the right shoes. Don’t skimp. Go to a running store and get fitted. Fourth, find a running friend or group. The social aspect of running is awesome. You’ll have days that you just want to run alone but friends get you out of bed! Last – just love running. Even when you’re hating it, tell yourself how much you love it!


How do you stay motivated to keep running?

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I am a certifiable Altramaniac (albeit a relatively new one!) and I have a bit of a different story in terms of how I got into running. I’ve always been a pretty fit, athletic person, but a bad head-on collision in 2009 changed everything. I was left with torn muscles in my back and shoulder (<– insanely painful, wouldn’t wish it on anyone!), back and neck problems, a concussion and nerve damage to the brachial plexus. It was pretty much the least fun thing I’ve ever done.

For a long I could hardly get out of bed or move. I spent months recovering in bed or on the couch, trying every kind of therapy imaginable trying to heal and get back on my feet – physiotherapy, rehab, massage therapy, laser therapy, acupuncture – and way too much medication. A year after the accident, things weren’t good. I was in constant physical therapy appointments of one kind or another, constantly medicated, I was living a terribly sedentary lifestyle and I was miserable. I decided to take a more natural approach to healing and tried yoga, light stretching and walking a few times a week. Walking eventually progressed to running – and I fell madly in love with it.


Running REALLY helped me to recover in so many ways. While things still aren’t 100%, I’ve managed to get off medication, my body is strong and fit again and I feel so much better! I’ve found a sport that I love more than anything – and in the year and a half since I started running, I’ve run countless 5k and 10k races, 3 half marathons and on September 9, 2012 I will be running my first full marathon! I have also started coaching new runners and I blog about my journey on my blog Run It My Way.

I got my first pair of Altra shoes after I won a giveaway hosted by The Athletarian! I’m completely in love and obsessed with my Provisioness and I am planning on wearing them for my marathon!! I’ve worn them for all of my long training runs and I can’t believe how comfortable they are. They’re also featured on my cover photo for my blog Facebook page (www.facebook.com/runitmyway)


As a coach for new runners, I could talk forever on advice and tips. But if there was ONE thing I could pass along, it would be the same amazing piece of advice I got from a mentor when I first got started  - don’t give up! Most people don’t love running right away, it’s a love that develops over time. Running is difficult (and often not that enjoyable!) for the first few weeks until your body builds up the cardio strength for it. But if you push through that initial hump, I PROMISE it is so worth it and you will love it. Stick with it!!


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