Welcome! The intent of Anecdotes from the Trail is to share my experiences while trail running or racing (occasionally on the road too.) And to feature other trail runners and their accomplishments. You may see the occasional gear review or even contest. Please visit from time to time. Happy trails!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Trail runner spotlight: Roxanne Zobava

Roxanne Zobava tearing it up at the
'08 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Miler in Wisconsin.
I've used this blog to mostly share my adventures while trail running or to post race reports, but I want to give the blog a new dimension. I want to explore connecting with other runners in the trail running community and sharing their love of the sport. I thought I'd start with a good friend of mine who I have had the pleasure of running many trail miles together, but who is an accomplished runner with an impressive resume. 

TNFEC Madison finish.
And since I'm busy helping The North Face folks promote their upcoming Endurance Challenge in Georgia, what a better way to connect the two but to talk to someone who has run at three different TNFEC events. Rox took 2nd female at TNFEC Madison 50 miler back in 2008 and took 5th female at TNFEC Washington 50 miler in 2010. Her resume also includes winning her very first 50K in 2007 and standing on the podium at 16 more races after that including 2nd female at the 2009 Pinhoti 100. Rox is on the Rock/Creek trail racing team and is also a GUTS member.

I had a chance to sit down with Rox and ask her some questions. Here's a recap of that interview:

How long have you been running and racing on trails and what attracted you to ultra distance races?

My first ultra distance race was back in 2007, the inaugural SweetH2O 50K near Atlanta. I love being outside and being out in nature. I prefer wilderness and mountain running much more than the roads or city. I like the community of trail/ultra runners too. Its a very chill environment which suits me. Once I ran one ultra I was hooked and now I want to run all over the U.S and even the world.

Which race destinations have you run in The North Face Endurance Challenge race series and how did you place at each?

I first ran The North Face Endurance Challenge Madison 50 mile in 2008 and I was 2nd female. That same year I ran TNFEC San Francisco 50 mile where I was 12th female and third in my age group. In June of 2009, I ran my third and last for now TNFEC race in Washington D.C. I raced the 50 mile where I was fifth female and third in my age group.

Which one was your favorite and why?

I loved TNFEC Madison because my family was out there and it was a PR for me. TNFEC San Francisco was SOOOO beautiful. I take a little something from every race. They are all wonderful in their own way. I meet such amazing people at every event!

What first attracted you to racing a TNF Endurance Challenge race?

I wanted to run a 50 mile race that was close to my aunt. She had never seen me race before, so Madison was a perfect place for me to plan a race where at the time she lived close to that venue.

Sharin' the hardware 
with Nikki Kimball!
What is it that TNF Endurance Challenge races do better than others?

The event is VERY well run from course markings to the swag bag. It is a very well oiled machine and organized event! The fact that there are so many distances to choose is a great draw to TNF events also.

You haven't run TNF Endurance Challenge race in Georgia before, but you have run the trails at FDR State Park near Pine Mountain. How would you describe the trails and what would you advise to someone on how to get ready for them?

Pine Mountain has a little bit of everything. Some good climbs and descends with awesome single track. Depending on the time of year, the trail could get a bit technical with leaves covering the rocky trail segments. Recently, a tornado storm went thru FDR park and there is still some evidence of that. Its not a speedy course, but you definitely run well if you're trained and in the right mind set. It's a beautiful place to run. I wish it were even closer to Atlanta.

TNFEC Georgia will be your fourth in the series, what is your goal at this year's TNF Endurance Challenge?

This will be my first race back from injury, so I want to finish the race strong and feel good the whole time. I'M EXCITED!!

Thanks Rox and good luck at TNFEC Georgia in October. I can't wait to get some trail miles together while you get ready for the race.

Thanks Javi! It's been my pleasure and I can't wait either!


I'm excited to see how Rox does at TNFEC Georgia in about a month and a half. Her race calendar the rest of the year also includes the Duncan Ridge 50K in November, one of the toughest 50K courses in the Southeast.

You can join Rox at The North Face Endurance Challenge Georgia which takes place at Pine Mountain, GA on October 13-14 weekend. Register at http://tnf.ec/0o and follow @TheNorthFaceECS on Twitter.

Come back to the blog in a couple of weeks as I hope to interview and post about another local trail runner, John Dove, after he comes back from a unique mountain stage racing experience in Wales, the Dragon's Back Race.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The North Face Endurance Challenge Georgia 10/13-10/14: Free Race Entry Give-Away!

2010 TNFECS Georgia 50-miler winner,
 Geoff Roes, on the Pine Mountain trail.
The North Face Endurance Challenge race series is coming back to Georgia. It's a big weekend packed with races in nine different distances. Everything from a kids race to a 50 miler and all on beautiful trails mostly the Pine Mountain Trail leading out of FDR State Park near Warm Springs, GA. The Georgia edition of The North Face Endurance Challenge takes place on October 13-14, 2012. It's two days of challenging racing and you have an opportunity to win a free entry to the race distance of your choice: 5K, 10K, half marathon, marathon, 50K or 50 miler. Of course, if I were you, I would use it to register for the 50K or the 50 miler. 

And by the way, if you are into great swag…nothing beats the goodies you receive at any of The North Face Endurance Challenge race. 
The Finish Line Festival features music, refreshments and food. Not to mention, it will also offer free samples, product trials, demonstrations and raffle prizes from The North Face, GORE-TEX, and more.

Expect to hob knob with the big dogs too...2010 50 miler winner was Geoff Roes and last year's 50 miler winner was Hal Koerner!

Meet & greet with Karnazes! A Meet and Greet with Dean Karnazes will be held from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at The North Face Retail booth at the Finish Line Festival. Dean will be answering questions, taking photos and signing autographs during this time.
So how do you win the free entry? It's easy really, all you have to do is help me spread the word in order to enter a random drawing and here's what I ask you to do. To qualify for the drawing, you will receive one entry for each one of the tasks you complete below:
Complete all five equals five entries!
Once you have completed any or all of the tasks above, come back to this blog entry and let me know by posting a comment on what you completed. I'll start the contest now and close it on Sunday, August 26, 2012 at 12:00 a.m. EST (midnight). 

Each entry will be assigned a random number and the winner will be pulled by selecting the entry with the highest assigned random number. Drawing will be held by Monday, August 27th, 2012 and the winner will be announced on the blog. You must be a US resident to qualify and be at least 18 years of age.

Check back on the blog too, as I'll be posting stories and interviews featuring 2012 TNF Endurance Challenge participants in the next couple of weeks.
Don't wait? Start earning your entries and best of luck! I hope to see you on the trails.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

What's happened and what's next?

Me and my buddy Wes just before the start of the SweetH20 50K earlier this year.

It's been a strange last few months regarding my running. I haven't posted on here as a result, but I decided to dust of the cobwebs and share with you what has happened and also share some thoughts as to the future of this blog.

Love the blues and purples.
After coming off the high of the Double Top 100K back in March, I was looking forward to my last race of the Spring season, the SweetH20 50K in April. Knockin' out the 60+ miles of the Double Top course and doing it in 14 hours had me buzzing about my fitness. As long as the weather would cooperate on race day at SweetH20, there'd be no reason not to do well on that course too. However, a few weeks after Double Top, I twisted my ankle on a routine group run with friends and that changed things. It was a stupid injury too. I was just running along and I stepped off a curb and some how had my foot turned where the weight of my body made me come crashing down on it. I heard a pop and I thought it was bad. After a few minutes though, I was able to get up and walk it off. I iced it when I got home and hoped for the best. I gave it a few days before trying to run on it and when I did, iIt surprisingly felt better than I thought it would given the hematoma still coloring the swelling around my ankle. However, it was definitely not feeling 100% and I had to dial back some mileage. Heading into SweetH20, I was without a double digit run since Double Top which didn't help my confidence much.

Looking down at runners
coming up the gas cut out.
Race day arrived and I lined up at the start with everyone. I was particularly excited for some friends, Julie, Wes and Angela who were racing their first 50K that day. We were all gathered at the start when a Civil War era cannon was fired and off we went, a little over hundred runners down the road before hitting the trail. In the early miles, the ankle felt fine and I was keeping a good pace. I stuck with a buddy named Spurgeon for a bit, but it was obvious he was feeling fresher and so I dropped back. I've reported on here before about running and racing at Sweetwater Creek State Park. Johnny, the race director for SweetH20, loves to change things up, some times out of necessity like the flood a couple of years ago that took out a bridge over the creek, and some times by design. This day it was by design and it would again be a slightly different course than the previous time I ran this race. I was having fun for the first 8-10 miles. We ran on trails that I hadn't been on before, but soon the ankle started complaining. We were in some tall grass at one point and I slightly rolled it again. I got through the gas line cut out, then "Top of the World" and an out and back to an elementary school along a forest road when I started doubting my chances of finishing the day across the finish line. The power line cut out was particularly difficult and my pace started to give. Re-entering the park, I told myself that I just had to get to the creek crossing and I would be fine. A few miles later, we arrived at the ropes to cross the creek. Jumping in the water felt refreshing and instantly made my legs and even the ankle felt better. Then we hit a tough little loop before having to cross the creek a second time and when I made it back across the water again, I was done. I'm not sure as to exactly the mileage, but I don't think it was even 18 miles of the race course. The ankle was throbbing and trying to finish it off would have been senseless. I'd had a good racing season starting with the Stump Jump 50K back in October with a couple of other races in between that and this race. So I DNF'd. I was OK with it. I stayed on the creek side and cheered some friends crossing the creek. I saw Julie, Wes and Angela and they all looked great coming across. They would all go on to finish and earn their first 50K finish. I was so happy for them.

Little hardware in my shoulder.
So what was next? I didn't have anything immediate on the calendar so I thought I'd take it easy for a few weeks, let my ankle heal and maybe even get back on the bike. My wife started training for a triathlon too, so that further had me lowering my mileage and just running to run. No training involved. Eventually, the ankle improved and I was running and cycling just fine. And then another injury happened that unfortunately now has me doing nothing at all. In the first week of July, I dove after my toddler son who was falling back down a flight of stairs and when I hit the landing, I separated the ligaments in my collar bone. I tore it right out of my AC joint. Luckily, my son was fine, but I had surgery to reconnect the clavicle. A steel plate and three screws later, I haven't been able to run or bike at all since. I have physical therapy twice a week, and until the shoulder gets stronger, I won't be able to do anything impactful. Which puts me at an odd place. In a couple of weeks, I will be registering with a friend of mine for the 2013 TransRockies Run, a six-day, 125 mile two-man team race through the Colorado Rockies. I have time to get ready since it is not until August, but I'll be anxious to get going soon. I was looking to sign up for The North Face Georgia Endurance Challenge 25K in October or the Duncan Ridge Trail 30K in November and I can still make it, but I won't be racing either by any means. We'll see. I also have tentative plans to race a couple more 50K's in the winter and spring and then the Chattanooga Stage Races next June as a tune up for the TransRockies Run. I have goals and now I just need to be patient, heal and then get back at it.

As for the future of this blog, I want to include additional content besides just my race reports and occasional account of long trail runs in the mountains. I'm planning on adding interviews with other trail runners. I want to hear about their adventures, goals, achievements and basically, their shared passion for this sport. I'd be happy to interview an elite trail runner, but I am more interested in those like me who run and race on trails because we love it too, but are not at the front of the pack necessarily. If that's you, leave a comment below and we'll figure out a way to connect even if by phone or Skype. I'm also going to use the blog to run occasional contests. In fact, stay tuned as I'll be rolling out a contest to give away a free entry to The North Face Georgia Endurance Challenge on October 13-14 in FDR State Park. If you win, you'll have your choice of running anything from a 25K to a 50 miler on some of the most beautiful, but technical, trails Georgia has to offer.

That's where I'm at the moment. I'll be back at it soon. I hope you'll follow along. Happy trails!