Sunday, April 26, 2015

Centennial Cone

This past weekend I had the opportunity to hit a training run at Centennial Cone with Kevin.  I'd never run there before and he's always been telling me how great it is so I've really been wanting to get out there and check it out.  This weekend worked out to where we were both free so we agreed to meet up Saturday morning and get in a good training session.  I showed up with no expectations at all in regard to pace, I just wanted to get some good time on feet with a good climb or two.

One thing of note is that on weekends there's an alternating usage rule.  Bikers allowed on even-numbered days, runners/hikers on odd-numbered days.



















From the start you'll notice that there's only one way to go... up!  The initial climb out of the trail head will hit you immediately,  but the eases up fairly early.  What I really liked about this route is that other than the very start the climbs are kind of long, but gradual and very much runnable.  There's not much, if any, really steep grade to negotiate out here.



According to my garmin data, we peaked out at just below 8,000 feet.  The trail is fairly smooth and not what I'd consider to be technical by any means.  What I really enjoyed is that the climbs are long, almost 2 miles to start, but allows for you to really hammer the downs.  My quads definitely felt it later in the evening and the next morning... that's without really pushing myself at all.


































There was still  few sections of snow/slush in the shaded areas, but easily negotiable with nothing to worry about.  It was actually welcome as it afforded me the opportunity to work on my hiking, which I don't do nearly enough.



Kevin and I put in a little over 20 miles on Saturday with roughly 3,500 feet of elevation gain.  I pushed on ahead a couple of times, but for the most part we stayed together just enjoying the trail and the scenery it had to offer.  While this was my first time out there, it most certainly won't be my last.

For this run I wore the New Balance MT101 and they were perfect for this trail.
Here's the link to our data on Strava

Thursday, February 19, 2015

New Balance MT101 Review

A classic returns!  New Balance has just recently re-released what I consider to be one of my favorite running shoes of all time, the MT101.  The MT101 is a lightweight, no frills, low-to-the-ground feeling trail running shoe that features 10mm drop and weighs just 7.2oz.  This re-release of the 101 has been updated, but most importantly, is built on the same sole as the original.





Before getting into the actual review, let me give you all the specifics of the shoe, taken from Runningwarehouse.com:

  • Weight 7.2 oz (size 9)
  • Stack Height: Heel (25mm), Forefoot (15mm); 10mm drop
  • Midsole - ACTEVA 
  • Outsole - Composite Rubber 
  • Rock Stop - flexible layer sandwiched between outsole and midsole that protects feet from rocks and shock
  • Upper - Synthetic Mesh with Puncture Resistant Toe
  • Last - RL-3 is described as a road and trail racing last with a narrow heel, a wide forefoot, and standard toe-box height

UPDATES
If you're like me you got pretty fired up when New Balance announced they were bringing this shoe out of retirement.  You probably also raised an eyebrow when they revealed that there would be some updates.  For me the original was perfect and I wasn't sure I wanted any updates because they could only make the shoe worse in my eyes, and not better.  So, what's been updated?  First you'll notice that the upper is now comprised of a new stretch-mesh and a slightly more padded collar.  For me, the updates are minimal and the shoe retains the same fit and feel that enjoyed years ago.


The heel cup provides plenty of cushion

















FIT
What I like best about this shoe is how it fits my feet.  With a narrow heel cup and wider toe-box this shoe has a snug fit from the heel through the mid-foot while giving plenty of room for my toes.  The MT101 is one of a few shoes that fits like it was made for my foot specifically.  The heel is snug, yet provides a significant amount of cushioning while the Rock Stop provides just enough protection in the forefoot to keep my feet from getting bruised from rocks or other debris.  I'm hard pressed to find a more comfortable shoe.  The laces are notched and interlock so I've don't have issues with the shoes becoming untied mid-run.

PERFORMANCE
Another area the shoe stands out is how it performs on the trails, but it's not all glory here.  In dry conditions the shoe handles like a dream on an assortment of trail conditions.  From groomed single-track to more technical rocky trails the shoe handles flawlessly.  The flexible stretch-mesh upper allows my feet to respond and react to the trail without getting in the way, but also provides enough stability to allow me to get after it.   When the trails become wet and the mud starts to form, that's where I have reservations with the shoe.  The outsole's tread is not overly aggressive so when conditions became a bit slick I found myself sliding around a bit more than I would like.

Coming off the wet trail from snow melt
Outsole with approximately 55 miles




OVERALL
I can't begin to tell you how happy I am that New Balance brought back the MT101.  I really like the way this shoe fits and performs on the trail.  Because of that it's a shoe that I see myself running in for quite awhile.  I've been out on the trail for up to 3.5 hours in this shoe and my feet felt great  It's probably not a shoe I'd consider for much beyond 50 miles, but would have no reservations choosing it for up to that distance.  I've heard rumors that this return is not permanent so I've already gone out and picked up another pair for future use. That's how much I really like this shoe!



LIKE:
  • Fit & Comfort
  • Performance on dry groomed or technical trail
  • Price: $90.00 (can be found cheaper with discount codes)
  • Almost everything about this shoe

DISLIKE:
  • Just one thing... Poor performance in wet, muddy conditions when compared to other shoes I have

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Thoughts on Leadville Trail 100 Run going to a lottery system

Yesterday the Leadville Race Series announced that they are changing their entry to a lottery system instead of the first come, first served basis they've been using in the past.  As witnessed on their Facebook page, they've come under fire from runners expressing their disappointment with the news.

I think everyone knew the day was coming that the race would switch over to a lottery system, but the lack of details is what really has some people up in arms.  How many lottery slots are there? Combine that with the announcement that there are ways you can buy your way in and guarantee yourself a spot by registering the LT100 and their Run Camp (for the small fee of $850.00), people are starting to label race as one big money grab.

It's only fitting that the news came out yesterday as I had really just decided last week that I wanted to go back for sure and do it again.  This year I was planning on getting up there early and spending a few lazy days in Leadville prior to the race.  I'd by lying if I said the news hasn't disappointed me a little bit too.

Saying that, I'm not really going to lose any sleep over it.  I do feel badly for the runners who have 5, 6, 7, etc finishes and were working toward the 1,000 mile buckle.  Now to guarantee that they're probably going to have to spend a bit more cash to get to that 10th LT100.  While I'm a newcomer to the 100, I know a couple of people who have made this race their life.  They eat, sleep, and breathe the Leadville 100 and look forward to running it every year.  Now their annual trip up to the small mining town to take part of something very important to them will boil down to luck.  It really is a drag.

I do believe it is in their right to handle this in whatever manner they wish, and I support it.  The reality is that ultra running is more popular than ever and these trail races just cannot handle the high demand.  There's plenty of alternatives out there and for me I'm still trying to decide what I'm going to do.  Here are my thoughts so far:

1.  Register for the LT100 and sit back and hope I get in.  I really want to destroy my time from this year. I didn't enter this year's race in the proper mindset and am ready to do so in 2015.

2.  Head back down for the Pikes Peak Marathon and finally break 6 hours.  I never truly believed I was capable of doing it.  I do now.

3.  Register for Bighorn Trail 100 and take the whole chance factor out of the equation.  The problem with Bighorn is that I am going back to my home town of Wellsboro, Pa to run the  Pa Grand Canyon Marathon just a few weeks later.   It also takes place the same weekend (I believe) as the San Juan Solstice 50M, which I am considering running again next year as well.  Still, it seems like a great race and right now it's the leader in the clubhouse for options I'm considering.

4.  Look into other 100's around the country and turn it into a destination race.  This is the most appealing to me, but logistically it's probably not an option.  As I stated above, I'm already traveling back to my hometown of Wellsboro to run a race.  Traveling around the country for another one really isn't fair to the family.  I think Disney or something of the like is more in the cards.

So there it is in a nutshell.  Like many others I'm bummed by the news, but I'm not going to cry foul over it.  I do think they could have, and should have, handled the transition to a lottery better, but no matter what they did they weren't going to please everyone.  I do wonder why they don't add a qualifier into the mix.  I understand that LT100 is unique in that it gives everyone a chance to toe the line and take a shot at running a 100, but should they?  I don't know where I stand on that topic.  I think it's great that so many people want to run a 100 and give it a shot.  With near a 50% attrition rate maybe forcing runners to build up to it is the better way to go.



Friday, August 22, 2014

Leadville 100 Run Race Report

Running (and I use the term very loosely) a hundred miles is hard.  I imagine it's even harder between 9,200 and 12,600 feet above sea level. So then, why were my emotions initially filled with such disappointment upon crossing that finish line 29 hours 30 minutes and 6 seconds after the gun went off?  I'll come back to this later, but first let me attempt to write up a decent race report.  I intentionally took a few days to remove myself from the race before writing this report.  I didn't want the emotion of it all clouding my head or influencing anything I may have to say.  Now having said that, the entire race is a complete blur to me.  I'm sure many of my facts are skewed, but I'll try to keep them as strait and accurate as I possibly can.

With my team at the starting line about 30 minutes prior to start
 After a quick photo-op with my team at the starting line they moved on down 6th ave. and I just kind of moved back and out of the way for others to take pictures.  I kept drifting back more and more until I felt I was in a good place to not slow other runners down, yet not feel compelled to go faster than I wanted in those first few miles.  Surprisingly, those last 30 minutes flew by in what felt like a matter of seconds and we were counting down to the start.

The gun went off and I started my journey.  Not only was this my first Leadville 100, but my first 100 hundred in general.  Upon crossing the starting line those ahead of me ran off into the darkness and those behind me were passing rather quickly.  My garmin chimed as I passed the first mile; 9:06.  Holy crap, slow the hell down!  Runners continued to pass me at a pretty good clip.  Mile 2; 9:04.  So much for slowing down.  Granted the first 3 miles are downhill and I felt like I was taking it really easy, but I still intended to be going slower than I was.

After the 5th or 6th mile we were finally on the single track and going around Turquoise Lake.  It became quite clear to me now why so many people had taken off so quickly at the start.  Once on this trail I pretty much fell into line and there wasn't a lot of room for passing, not that I really wanted to.  Daylight was starting to break and I was at an easy effort feeling great.  Before I knew it we were off the trail and running on a road into May Queen.  I looked at my watch and it showed that I had only gone 12.67 miles.  I asked the runner beside me if we were actually coming into May Queen now and he said; "yep, 13.5 miles.  May Queen Aid Station!" I don't know why, but that put me into a minor panic.  Had I been running at a faster pace than I thought?  I didn't have too much time to worry about it as Dave found me while I was running through the chute, switched out my bottles and directed me to the rest of the crew.  I stayed just long enough to ditch the headlamp & outer shell, and then grab a peanut butter sandwich, a few fig newtons, and a honey stinger waffle.  I gave my wife Kerry a kiss and headed on out.

I left May Queen in power hike mode trying to eat that sandwich as fast as I could.  Let me just say that it wasn't easy.  Have you ever given a dog peanut butter for kicks?  I did once as a kid (I know, I know) and he sat there licking the roof of his mouth over and over and over and over trying to get that peanut butter down.  That's exactly how I felt trying to down that sandwich.  It was definitely taking awhile and it was slowing me down.  Finally I got smart and started washing it down with my Tailwind which helped a little.  Because of the time it took me to eat I threw the newtons and waffle in my back and started jogging again.

I hit the climb up Sugar Loaf and was back into hiking mode.  I chatted it up with several other runners here, many of which had previous experience running LT100.  I was picking their brain and taking advice and before I knew it I was at the top of Power Line getting ready to make the descent down to Fish Hatchery, with Outward Bound aid station just beyond that.

During one of the upper sections of Power Line I rolled my ankle pretty good.  I didn't take a fall, but I folded that sucker in half.  The initial pain had me scream an expletive and the guy behind me came up to help me keep my balance as I walked it off.  The pain went away and no damage was done, but it made me think twice about my pace going down Power Line.  I made it to the road with no other issues and hoofed it on to the 2nd aid station (Outward Bound).

Coming through Outward Bound
I called an audible and decided to change into my Lone Peaks here
I originally intended to change out of my Stinson ATR's and into the Lone Peak 1.5's at Twin Lakes, but made the call on the fly to do it here.  I made the switch, slapped on some sunscreen, grabbled another sandwich and off I went.  I started out with a mix of walking and slow jogging across the field while again trying to down a sandwich.  This time was worse than the first.  I literally had a hard time getting it down and one time started choking.  I had to stop and was keeled over trying to cough it up and another runner was getting ready to pull the old heimlich maneuver on me.  Luckily I coughed it up and was able to start walking slowly again.  Took my time with the sandwich, but that would be my last on the day.

Running down through tree line was one of my favorite parts of the day.  That place was a party with both sides line with people, little kids wanting high-five's, car horns going off, cowbells ringing, grown-ups cheering everyone on.  It was just awesome to run through that section.  Very motivating and uplifting to say the least.

I don't really remember much between here and Twin Lakes.  I do remember going through Half-moon aid station and grabbing some watermelon and eating an orange slice or two.  I didn't stay there very long and kept on moving.  This next section, if I remember correctly, was a pretty long gradual uphill that I walked most of until finally descending down into Twin Lakes.

I ran down that little hill into Twin Lakes and picked up some more watermelon and a couple more orange slices.  I was jogging slowly through this section because I had no clue where my crew was.  I kept looking left & right and even behind me in case I had somehow missed them.  Out of nowhere a friend I met through 2 of my crew members called my name and told me where they were. I crossed the road and found them staged just before I'd hit the meadow on the way to Hope Pass.  Even though I was feeling really good still I allowed myself a couple minutes to sit down.  I took in some calories and drank about half of a Red Bull.

Apparently using the Elevation Tat to give the guided tour (I have no recollection of this) 
I left our Twin Lakes mini day camp (mile 41) and headed off to do the deed.  Crossing the meadow was really fun to me.  There was a mud bog and several big mud puddles to negotiate before getting to the stream crossing and there were a few around me already complaining.  I did almost take an early swim as I slipped and had both feet come out from underneath me entering one of the big puddles.  Somehow I managed to save myself from taking a mud bath.

Finally made it to the stream crossing on now on the way to Hope Pass.  The cold water had numbed my feet and I was feeling really good going up the trail.  I wasn't pushing myself, but I did find I was picking off runner after runner.  Everyone was awesome and stepping off to the side so I could go by with no extra effort.  If only the whole day could have gone this well because little did I know that this was a high right before a pretty bad low.

I made it up to Hopeless still feeling good.  I had slowed some, but other than that everything was still going as well as I could have hoped for.  I took in some calories and refilled my bottles with more Tailwind Nutrition.  I also allowed myself the time to take a picture or two with the llamas.

Time to head on up and over Hope Pass, but first...
I probably took a little too much time here because getting up to the top and over Hope Pass I now found myself in a conga line.  No biggie, I just rode it out and before long I was at the top and headed back down the back side.  I took the top switchbacks at a pretty good pace and picked up a little speed with each one.  Out of nowhere a rock reached up and kicked my foot and found myself doing the old tuck n' roll to avoid injury.  At first I thought I broke my toe.  The pain was throbbing, but with a little walking it subsided rather quickly and I was good to go.

Really the only damage to my feet all race.  Not bad at all
Even though the pain in my foot went away quickly, something else was going on now.  With no warning what-so-ever I went from feeling pretty good to feeling like complete ass.  My stomach was in knots and I was sweating excessively.  Getting the rest of the way down the back side of Hope Pass and onto Winfield was a chore.  I literally slowed to a crawl and people were passing left and right.

Seeing Courtney standing down on that road as I came off the trail was awesome.  She guided me into the aid station from there and let me know where my first pacer, Kevin, was waiting for me.  I should have been running here, but it was still a slow walk.  I finally made it to the tent and weighed in at 161, losing just 4 pounds that first half of the race.

I dumped my pack, sat down, and tried to take in some calories.  I was so hot and feeling like crap here I just wanted to puke, but couldn't.  I got up and went over to the port a potty and tried going to bathroom, but couldn't.  I saw so many people get sick out there on the course, why couldn't I?  I really wanted to puke and rally here because my stomach was not well.

After checking out and heading back I stopped to soak my feet in the stream for a short minute.  It helped a little, but I was in a bad place here.  Kevin and Courtney urged me on and it was time to start making the way back.  Going back up Hope Pass was not good.  I don't really remember much other than it was extremely slow moving and fortunately I had Kevin with me.

Top of Hope Pass and headed back down to Hopeless... finally!
At Hopeless I ate some soup and tried to get sick again, but couldn't.  Kevin's dehydrated strawberries almost did the trick, but all I could muster was a gag reflex.  What is turning out to be a reoccurring theme, I sat for a couple minutes trying to get my stomach and some energy back, but it didn't really work.  Kevin was great and got me back up and moving again and as we got lower I was able to jog slowly.  I remember feeling a little bit better and jogging for awhile chatting with Kevin about why I got into running and stuff like that.  Just basic chit-chat, but it seemed to help take my mind off my stomach and allow me to jog a little bit.

We finally hit the bottom, crossed the meadow, and made it back to our spot at Twin Lakes.  It seemed like an eternity since I had last seen Kerry.  I remember drinking another Red Bull here, changing back into my Stinson's (GOD that felt great!!!!), and trading my sweaty shirt for a clean, dry one.  From here we slowly made our way over to the actual aid station, got some more broth, and of course sat for a couple minutes.

As we started climbing out of Twin Lakes I started feeling better.  It had cooled of a lot and my feet felt great with the change into dry socks and the maximalist shoes.  The good feelings I was having didn't last long because by the time we finished the climb and made it to the runnable section, I was toast again.  Kevin handed me a fig newton to eat and I swear to you it took me like 30 minutes to get that down.  He kept telling me to take a bite, and I'd take the smallest bite you can imagine.  I just couldn't eat.  I mean I wanted to, but I just couldn't force myself to do it.  How in the world does it take half a friggin' hour to eat a fig newton for crying out loud?!?

The rest of my time with Kevin is a blur.  I know we stopped at Half-moon and had more broth, but other than that it was a mix of walking and very slow jogging on to Tree Line, where Dave was waiting to take over pacing duties.

Before I continue on I failed to mention that I had forgotten to reapply Body Glide throughout the day.  By the time I had gotten into Winfield I was chaffed so badly that at each aid station from there on I was taking globs of Vaseline and just lathering it all over my body in places so deep that we'll just leave it at that.  But I bring this up because the damage had been done.  The Vaseline really didn't help and for pretty much half of the race every step I took felt like I was being cut with razor blades.  It was the worst, sharpest pain I remember ever having to deal with for that length of time.

OK, so back to Tree Line. Dave picked up pacing duties and we were off.  I was able to jog the majority of the way out of tree line to the field leading into OB.  I'd take a short walk break here and there, but this was a better section for me on the return trip to Leadville.   The only problem here was that I was cold.  Really cold.  Crossing that field I was shivering almost uncontrollably and I was miserable.  I hated crossing that field.  Between being so cold and all of the land mines in the form of holes, I just wanted it to be over.

I got into OB and thankfully Dave had my thermal Under Armour shirt.  I put that on and also drank some more broth and some hot chocolate.  It was like heaven to me at that point in time.  Other runners seemed content to hangout and chat there for awhile, but Dave and I were off.  I jogged what I could on the road to Power Line, but any uphill was definitely a walk.  We made that left turn off the road and it was about to get bad.

The climb up Power Line seemed like some sort of sick joke to me.  It just kept going, and going, and going.  There'd be a small stretch of flat ground and a short turn and then of course more climbing to follow.  Power Line beat me physically, mentally, and emotionally and I just lost it completely on this section. I started to complain non-stop to Dave about all the climbing, or how much pain I was in, or how tired I was, or how I just wanted it to be over.  He's a Retired Marine and I am surprised he didn't slap the crap out of me.

The five miles from the top of Power Line to May Queen Aid Station were the longest 5 miles of my life.  It just seemed like that I was taking 2 steps backward for every step forward.  I was getting passed often now.  It felt like an endless train of runners flying by me when all I could do was muster a slow walk to get to May Queen.  Miserable.

Dave was a trooper and got me to May Queen where Courtney was waiting to take me home.  She had just raced Ouray 100 two weeks prior and placed 2nd overall.  This was definitely going to be slow going for her, but I knew she'd have what it takes to get me to the finish line.  After some coffee and soup, Courtney put me on the clock and it was time to go.  She doesn't mess around when it's time to get down to business.

Sun coming up as I was trying to get around Turquoise Lake
I tried to jog parts of those last 13.5 miles to the finish, but I just did not have anything left in me. Even with the sun now coming up I just could not find the energy to jog for more than just a few short strides.  Runners still passing me what felt like every 20 seconds or so.  Courtney was forcing me to drink fluids and offering up gels, but I'd pass on those.  She'd ask me a question and I couldn't even really speak to answer.  I'd just grunt something and when she'd then ask what I said I'd just shake my head. I think I was mumbling something to the effect of "Turquoise Lake is the biggest *bleepin'* lake in the world!"

I wanted nothing more than to be off that trail and onto the dirt road because then and only then would I know that I was actually getting close.  It took forever and after finally making it, I didn't get the boost in motivation I was expecting.  Almost home now though and I did manage to jog very short spurts and Courtney was playing little games to get going a bit more.  She'd pick out a course marker not too far ahead and have me jog to it.  I say jog like I was actually moving faster than while I was walking.  I don't think that was really the case though.

I can see Kerry ahead and the final mile of the race.
With Kerry in sight I knew that I had only 1 more mile to go and just a little further up the road I'd actually be able to see the finish line.  It was still slow going and I was content to walk, but this is the first time all race that I truly knew I was going to finish.  What really surprised me here is that I was emotionless.  I wasn't pumped up or excited.  Kerry was full of smiles and so proud and I couldn't even muster the strength to really talk to her during that final mile.  I had visioned this so differently in my head.  I don't know...  it wasn't good or bad it was just different.
Walking next to Kerry up the Boulevard toward the finish

A shot from behind looking down the final stretch to the finish line

The Money Shot!
As we approached the finish line I insisted that Kerry, Dave, Kevin, and Courtney get on that red carpet in front of me and cross first.  There is no way I could have ever done this without their support and dedication to me for those 29.5 hours.  They were truly remarkable!

At the beginning of this report I eluded to the fact that my initial emotions were flooded with disappointment.  Now when I set out to run this race, like many others, I had the goal of a sub-25 hour finish.  I don't think having not finished anywhere close to that time has much to do with my initial disappointment.  My disappointment was more with just my overall lack of ability to move at more than a snail's pace for much of the 2nd half.  Or maybe it's something else.  I expected to swell with pride as I crossed that finish line and that really didn't happen for me.  I felt so emotionless.  I mean, I was all smiles and happy to finally be done.  Believe me, I was happy to be done!  It's just one of those things that I still can not completely comprehend why I was initially so disappointed.  It literally took a virtual slap to the face from my friends to get me to take pride in what I'd accomplished.

You put pretty much everything you can into something for eight-and-a-half months.  The LT100 consumed my every waking moment from the time I signed up to ring in the New Year back on January 1st at midnight.  All those freezing ass cold training runs.  All those Sunday mornings getting up at 3:15 to meet Dave in Manitou Springs by 5.  All the time away from my family.  All the online chat conversations with friends and acquaintances getting as much information and advice as possible. I think I had maybe just built this up so big in my head that there was no way finishing could ever meet those expectations.  I have no other way to describe it.

I do want everyone to know that I am proud to have run this race and finished it.  In a field of 690 starters, only 360 of those finished.  I was one of those finishers and that does make me swell up a little bit.  I don't know if I'll ever do it again, but I am damn glad that I did it this year.  I wouldn't trade my experience at the 2014 Leadville Trail 100 for anything!





Friday, August 1, 2014

INKnBURN Tech Tank Product Review

Lately I've been seeing more and more people wearing INKnBURN running clothes at the races I've been running.  And unless you suffer from a severe case of tunnel vision you probably have too.  How can you not?  Their clothing designs, or should I say art, sets them apart from any other apparel out there!  After seeing more and more of their gear out on the trails I finally decided to reach out to them and ask if I could test some of their clothing for the purpose of publishing a review.  To be honest I was quite surprised when Megan responded back asking me to provide her with a top 5 "wish list" and she'd have something sent my way.



















I've been running for much of my life, but I've always been a rocker.  When I logged on to their website the Rock'n Roll Run or Die Tank immediately jumped out at me.  The design fits my personality perfectly!  I love to rock... I love to run... What a perfect combination!

While the design is great, it wouldn't mean a thing if the tank wasn't comfortable to wear when running for several hours.  As with all of their apparel, the Tech Tank Top is made from a lightweight, stretchy, performance fabric that quickly wipes moisture away.  The shirt is extremely comfortable and remains true size and form after several washes.  It's become my favorite tank and I'm always bummed when I go to pick out clothes for my upcoming run and find it's sitting in the dirty clothes bin.  Such a huge drag!

It's a tank so I'm not really sure how much there is to say.  I like it a lot!  As I said, it's very comfortable to wear, I think it looks kick ass, it's very well made, and durable enough to withstand a lot of wear and tear.  If you want to distance yourself from the rest of the crowd I highly recommend you take a look at their website and try some of their running or athletic apparel for yourself.  I highly doubt you'll be disappointed.


ABOUT INKnBURN:

INKnBURN started selling tech running shirts online back in 2010 and have been growing ever since.  They are a small company based out of Costa Mesa, CA that is dedicated to designing innovative, high-quality, hand-crafted apparel.  If you want to stand out in the crowd, INKnBURN has you covered, literally.  They make a wide variety of men's and women's athletic and running apparel that is sure to set you apart from the rest of the crowd.  Not only is their art striking and vibrant, but their apparel is well crafted and feels as good as it looks.

For all the latest on what's happening at INKnBURN be sure to like them on Facebook and follow them @INKnBURN!

Disclaimer:  I was provided this tank for free with the purpose of publishing a review.  At no time was I asked to or obligated to provide positive feedback.  I am not an ambassador for the company and am in no way affiliated with INKnBURN.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Am I ready??? A brief Leadville Trail 100 training recap

With the Leadville Trail 100 Run just 2 weeks out I find myself freaking out a little bit.  I don't feel that I am anywhere close to where I need to be to finish this thing, let alone meet my goal of 25 hours.  What more could I have done, or better yet, what more should I have done?  I wasn't able to get near the volume I wanted during the weeks and months leading up to now due to battling Achilles Tendinitis.  It first started becoming an issue back at the end of March / early April time frame.  My left Achilles flared up after 3 consecutive 70+ mile weeks, but fortunately healed up quickly by just cutting back my mileage for a week.  By the end of May my right Achilles had bigger issues that I could not easily remedy.    So while my volume wasn't where I wanted it to be it wasn't from a lack of effort or because I was taking days off when I shouldn't have.  If anything it was just the opposite.   Regardless, when I look back on my training log it is immediately apparent that I had very little consistency.

You can see the inconsistency in my weekly mileage kick in once my Achilles issues started in late March
With the Achilles issues I was limited and did what I could when I could.  I'd alternate larger volume weeks with easy weeks.  I pulled out of running the Leadville Marathon because of pain my right AT was giving me and having the San Juan Solstice 50M the following week.  So battling all of that I can't really look back with too much regret.  Where I should have been much better is with my cross-training.  I had stints where I'd do some light weight squats, lunges, and other lower body exercises, but again nothing serious or consistent.  I also didn't do nearly enough core work leading up to Leadville either.

While I am concerned with the lack of consistency I did get some good training runs in.  I was able to run Barr Trail on Pikes Peak several times and also hit up Waterton Canyon / Section 1 of CT for a couple runs.  I ran the San Juan Solstice 50M in late June and Chase the Moon 12-Hour Endurance Run in July.  Finally, last weekend I headed up to Leadville to do a double crossing of Hope Pass.  While my training was not ideal, hopefully those longer training runs and races will be enough to help get me to the finish line and meet my goals.

Training on Pikes Peak Barr Trail

Chase the Moon 12-Hour Endurance Run

Hope Pass Double Crossing
With just these two weeks remaining until the race I've begun my taper and don't really intend on doing much the rest of the way.  This isn't some mid-term or final exam you stay up all night cramming for.  I'm aware of that fact.  Many say that it's better to hit the starting line undertrained than it is to show up overtrained.   I think I've got the undertrained thing on lock!

I'll be spending the rest of the time between now and race day planning.  How can I make this as easy as possible on my crew?  I've got a mix of experienced and inexperienced people helping me out.  My pacers are currently out in Ouray getting ready to run the 100 this weekend and I'm confident they'll be ready to help pull me along.  I worry about my wife, who while always supports me and my running endeavors, is not a runner herself. She suffers from RA and needs her sleep.  I'm hoping she and another friend of mine can hold up fine in the vehicle for the duration.  I don't mind putting myself through hell, but I really do not want Kerry suffering my misery.  I'm sure I'll be worried about her and how she's holding up more than she'll need to worry about me.

Sooo, I guess it's pretty much go time!  If you've got any last minute advice to offer up for me or how to help the crew execute I'm all ears.  Feel free to comment below or hit me up on any of the various social media outlets.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hoka One One Huaka - Initial Review

I received my Huaka's in the mail yesterday afternoon and could not wait to take them out this morning for a nice little test drive.  If you're not familiar, the Huaka is a new, lightweight road / trail crossover shoe from Hoka One One.  I literally took these out of the box, put them on my feet, and headed out the door for a 10 mile run covering a mixture of groomed single track trails, crushed gravel paths, and dirt & asphalt roads.


I've been doing a lot of my running in maximalist shoes lately as I prepare for the Leadville Trail 100; to include the Altra Olympus and Hoka Stinson ATR.  Upon putting these on my feet and walking around I couldn't help but notice that they felt lighter and lower to the ground than the two shoes I just mentioned.  This evening I decided to do a comparison of the 3 shoes based on the characteristics listed on their official websites:

Hoka One One: Huaka
  • Weight: 8.9 oz.
  • Offset: 2mm
  • Heel: 27mm
  • Forefoot: 25mm
Hoka One One: Stinson ATR
  • Weight: 11.7 oz.
  • Offset: 6mm
  • Heel: 32mm
  • Forefoot: 26mm
Altra Olympus
  • Weight: 11.0 oz.
  • Offset: 0mm
  • Heel: 36mm
  • Forefoot: 36mm
As you can see the Huaka is over 2 oz. lighter and features a considerably lower stack height. I reviewed the Altra Olympus back in May and if you recall I really like that shoe a lot.  Well, the Huaka is going to be a pretty big contender as my go-to daily runner when the course is going to cover a varying mix of terrain.



The Huaka features a more aggressive lug pattern in the heal, outside of the midfoot, and on the forefoot areas of the outsole.  The shoes handled each of the surfaces really well with no slipping on the crushed gravel path or in the loose dirt on the single track trail.  Hoka has also introduced their new proprietary RMAT midsole which is designed to increase rebound and be more durable.  Now I don't know if that really means much of anything or if it's just marketing jargon, but the shoes are pretty responsive while also being soft and cushiony. The Huaka is also a lot more flexible than other maximalist shoes I've worn, allowing my feet to move more freely.  The toe-box remains more on the narrow side, but there does seem to be some added volume (top-to-bottom) and I can easily wiggle my toes.  


As for sizing they run MAYBE a half size bigger than say the Stinson ATR's.  My size 11's in the ATR fit just a little snug, while 11's in the Huaka fit perfectly.  I'm still undecided if I'm going to keep the Race Laces in or cut them out and switch over to the more traditional laces.  I'll play around with them more before cutting them out, but odds are I will.   Be sure to keep checking back as I will write a more in-depth review after I've taken these out for some longer runs and rack up the miles in them.

SUMMARY:
A lightweight maximalist shoe that is pretty flexible for its class.  2mm heel-to-toe drop with a stack height of 27mm & 25mm respectively.  Great choice for road or trail runs, delivering an efficient ride while providing a high level of cushioning.  I wish the toe-box was a little wider, but the added volume helps give my toes a little more room to move around.  The Huaka retails for $150.00 and limited inventory can now be found at HokaOneOne.com and Boulder Running Company Online.