Dirty shoes planned for the Dirty Sock 10K

My GTS 9’s in pre-muddy form

Today’s run (street) 2.5 miles at 8:44

I own three pairs of trail shoes but I’m thinking of running the Dirty Sock race in regular shoes this Sunday. The trail at Belmont Lake is mostly flat and well tended and there isn’t a lot of surface that requires the extra traction of more purpose-built shoes. The reason I’m thinking this way is that I’m concerned that my feet may take a beating after six miles. Last year I ran this event in my New Balance 460’s that are great but are a half size too small. I can get away with 3 or 4 miles on the 460’s but I ended up with a black toenail after last year’s race.

My Adidas Response 15’s have been my MVP running shoes, serving well on both streets and trails and filling in as casual shoes when I travel. However, they also lose appeal after five miles of hard running. My feet took a beating the last time I used them for a long trail run. I have a pair of Helly Hansen Trail Lizards that impressively tear up the rough terrain at Stillwell Woods but they may be overkill for Sunday’s race. I’m inclined to pull my old Brooks GTS 9’s back into service instead. These shoes do very well over long distances and, even after 600 miles, they look and feel almost like new. My only concern relates to vanity as I’m reluctant to get them muddy. I suppose I can always hose them off after I run.

This morning I continued to run with a focus on speed and cadence and achieved 8:44 per mile overall, despite very high humidity. It’s still a little challenging to maintain enough concentration at 4:00 AM to keep with a consistently brisk pace. I have been running in my Saucony Grid Tangent 4’s over the last week but I’ve switched to my Kinvaras for this week’s taper. I’ll probably do my last training runs in my Brooks GTS 10’s to get used to a little heavier shoe. My biggest concern at the moment is how the rain predicted for Saturday might affect conditions on Sunday morning. If it’s muddy course on race day I may need to run in trail shoes after all.

Soreness and slowess but a good run nonetheless

It’s been a while since I’ve woken up with sore muscles but today I really felt it in my lower legs. I first thought this was related to all the shoveling I’d done between Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning. That didn’t make much sense to me since most of that effort involved pushing snow with low resistance and occasionally lifting it up a few feet. Most of that required muscles above the waist. I now believe the soreness came from my running in the snow with the traction devices that slipped around laterally and required constant corrections to my stride. I imagine that a serious attempt to transition from heel striking to mid-foot running would probably generate similar aches at first and barefoot running would be even worse.

Despite the soreness in my legs I did my run on the treadmill this morning. There are days when running your race pace feels effortless and there are days when running a more moderate pace feels like a challenge. That was my experience today. My warm-up pace felt far faster than normal and I had to check my Garmin to verify my moderately slow speed. After a few minutes I increased my speed and, if not for the contrary evidence, I would have assumed I was moving at a record pace. I did eventually increase my speed enough to give me a mid-9:00 overall pace but it wasn’t an easy run. In the end I was more than satisfied by this morning’s workout and I’m hoping for decent weather this weekend so I can get some longer miles in.

My plan for today is to go to Jackrabbit and look for a new pair to replace my Brooks GTS 9’s that have 500+ miles on the odometer. Despite claims that GTS 9’s were a misfire compared with the 8’s I have to say they have been problem free for me. It makes me wonder if my best bet is to move to the new, highly rated, 10’s or try out the less plush but more energetic Ravennas. I’ll try some other brands too just for comparison. You never know, I could find myself choosing something completely different. I’ll know soon enough.

Post race recovery run

After taking Monday off to recover from Sunday’s race I set out this morning for a short neighborhood run. I have a busy day scheduled so I limited my distance to make enough time for my first appointment. It was still dark when I left the house at 6:45 AM so I wore my headlamp and reflective vest. I’m used to running these streets almost three hours earlier in the morning so it surprised me at first to see cars, recycling trucks and workers at the middle school as I ran past. I wore my ASICS GEL-1130’s that I’d been using as my office running shoes but since Labor Day I haven’t had the time to run in the city so I brought the ASICS home to occasionally trade off with my Brooks GTS-9’s. The two shoes feel similar although the 1130’s feel less stable on the toe-off compared with the Brooks. The difference becomes greater when I’m running longer distances, as I did on Sunday. The Brooks are really good shoes and have never given me a problem regardless of distance or conditions. The ASICS were a good choice for an occasional run (and the price was right) but there’s a difference between $100+ shoes and more economical models.

Before I ran this morning I used the Active Wrap in heat mode on my quads since I was still sore from Sunday despite taking Monday as a rest day. As I made my way around the middle school I was amused to see that orange cones had been set up along the perimeter of one side of the parking lot and along the front driveway. It was like a moment of deja vu as I followed them, just as I had done on Main Street in Falmouth on Sunday morning. It took a few minutes to fall into a comfortable pace and I decided to run whatever distance I could cover within 30 minutes. It turned out to be 3.27 miles that I did at a 9:09 pace. It really does make a difference when you run among others, especially in competition. The first leg of the relay was approximately the same distance as this morning but I ran that segment a half minute faster per mile even with a couple of challenging hills.

After my run I tried a bottle of the EAS Myoplex Vanilla Cream nutrition shake that we got in our goody bags at the race. To be honest I was averse to drinking it because it contained sucralose and I really can’t stand sugar substitutes. However, it tasted fine, although there was a slight medicinal quality to it. I found it convenient compared to having to prepare a recovery breakfast and it helped reduce the time between my run and my shower. I’m not sure if I’ll make a habit of Myoplex but I do have another bottle that I’ll try after my next hard workout. Tomorrow I’m going to try to take advantage of having one more day off this week and do a longer run. After all, my next race is but 31 days away!

Re-committing to my GTS-9’s

I’m interested in running shoes because they are the one thing that separates me from the road, trail, track or treadmill when I run. I own five pairs that I use interchangeably but the alpha pair are my Brooks Adrenalin GTS-9’s. Those who have read this blog over the last year know what a complicated relationship I have with these running shoes. I regretted the purchase as soon as I brought them home and wished I had chosen the other pair I liked: ASICS GEL 2140’s.

I chose the Brooks because, in the store, they felt better than the Saucony and New Balance models that I’d tried on that day. It was a tie between the ASICS and the Brooks and I chose the Brooks because they felt infinitesimally better. When I got home I tried them on again and noticed the tongue position caused discomfort at the top of my feet when the shoes were tightened. I also felt that the shoes lacked the bounce ands spring that defined my Nike Turbulence 13’s. After boxing them up, taking them out and trying them on again and repeating that over the next couple of days, I finally decided to keep them and in the long run that was a good decision. Yes, they still dig into the top of my feet when tightened too hard and they don’t feel as energetic as some of my other shoes but they very quickly undid the damage that my Nike’s were causing me before replacement. The cushioning of the Brooks is appreciated on longer runs and this morning I tightened only to the point of stability. No pain and a very good ride.

The cushioning properties of these shoes have made me think a bit more about moving to a lighter, less protecting pair. I’m a lot lighter myself since I started running last October and I’m intrigued by the minimal style shoes that take mass out of the mid-soles for weights in the 9-10 oz. range as opposed to the 12+ oz. weight of stability shoes like the GTS-9’s. I read a shoe review in this month’s Men’s Journal that covered minimalist running shoes. The top rated shoe was the NB 1225 that happens to be the model my friend CK just bought. He’s had some serious foot problems so I’m surprised that he’d want something so austere but he loves them. Apparently they are the best of breed for light (12 oz.) motion control shoes. Another highlighted pair were the Brooks Ghost 2 that weigh in at 10.8 ounces. I picked one up in a running store once and it felt weightless. I’d like to try that shoe since I am firmly back in the “I like Brooks” camp now.

I covered 2.5 miles at 9:03 this morning. The time flew by and I found myself a bit farther away from the house than I’d planned so I needed to put some effort into the last half mile to meet my schedule. It all worked out fine. Tomorrow I’ll try for 5-6 miles on the street and Sunday I’m running Stillwell Woods with my nephew. It’s been a while since I’ve hit the trails so I’m looking forward to the experience and hoping for cool weather.

Shoe tie, don’t bother me

Last December I poked a little fun at Runner’s World for running this tease on their cover. I shouldn’t have been so quick to judge because I had an un-tying incident during this morning’s run that was distracting and potentially dangerous. Although I love early morning running there are some issues with the darkness on moon-less nights. My headlamp,  a Petzl Tikka Plus, does a good enough job but it doesn’t really throw very far. My concern is that someday I’ll miss seeing a rut in the road or the sidewalk and I’ll turn an ankle (or worse). 

 
The Tikka Plus does have a ratcheting swivel head that allows the user to aim the light but I find that I often need to put my head down in dark areas to properly see the road. The combination of a dark morning and the unraveling of my shoelace put me a little on edge. This is what passes for drama at 4:15 AM! I was reluctant to stop in the middle of a run to tie my laces so once I established that my shoe wasn’t slipping I decided to just bear it the rest of the way. The resulting distance was covered without incident but I was more concerned than usual that I’d trip on my un-tethered laces. Except for the constant whipping from the loose pair against my shin the rest of the run went without incident.
 
The key reason my laces became untied had to do with a recent problem I’m having with my Brooks GTS 9’s. The top of the laces are positioned exactly where my tibia meets the upper tarsal and there are two large nerves that run through there. When I tie my laces too tight it pinches and hurts. I’ve always had this issue with these shoes although the severity of the pinching can vary. This morning I must have tied them too loosely. I don’t have this issue with my other four pairs of running shoes so it may be connected to the design of the Brooks. I have a different pinching issue with my office pair of Asics 1130’s so I wonder if it’s the design of my foot and not the shoes. Either way, when I look for my next pair of everyday trainers, tongue and collar comfort will be an important criteria.

3.5 under 9:00 = :)

After yesterday’s long but unsatisfying run I decided to cut the distance and go for some speed. A person commented on emergingrunner.com that I should be doing tempos and intervals to get my speed up. I agreed with that and made it a point to actively think about my pace as I ran this morning. I went out around 7:00 AM before the sun got too hot and I tried to head off the initial leg pain with some dynamic stretching. I hit the road and felt a little better than I did on Friday but I also felt like I was expending a lot of effort and needed to throttle my speed if I was to complete even a short distance run.

My goal was to run about 30 minutes at a pace similar to my 5K run in May. I didn’t feel the fluidity that I get at times but it was okay and I really liked the feel of the Asics 1130’s I picked for today’s run. I ran in the Brooks yesterday and while I have no complaints about them I think I like the feel of the Asics a little more. Hard to say, both are good. I took some less traveled streets, making up my route as I went along while staying conscious of my 30 minute timing. I wanted today’s run to be low impact so I’d have something left for tomorrow.

As I hit the 26 minute mark I turned east to begin making my way home and stepped up the pace a little. It was beginning to get hot and I picked roads that had a lot of tree cover which really helped the way I felt. I was about a half a mile from home when I noticed an SUV pulling up along side me and saw a woman who had her window down to ask me the location of a street. I actually asked her to speed up because she was throwing off my pace and I carefully recited the series of lefts and rights she would need to follow to get where she wanted to go. It wasn’t until afterward that I realized I was talking fairly well while pushing my speed.

In the end I ran 3.51 miles in 31 minutes for an 8:50 overall pace. I was happy to have broken 9:00 and I was very satisfied with my run. It’s the weekend and back to work on Monday. I’ve put in a lot of miles this vacation week and I’m thinking that it’s time to return my focus on speed.

Me and my running shoes

To many, gear is gear. A pair of running shoes is merely a tool to faciliate the run. In some cases running shoes are a necessary evil, especially for those who would prefer to run barefoot but don’t do that for practical reasons. I love running, that’s pretty obvious to anyone who reads this blog. But it’s not just running that I love, it’s all the cool things that come with that: new technologies to enhance the experience and the other gear that you need to maximize performance and comfort.

When I first started running I was relatively indifferent to shoes. I had no idea what was important when I went to Foot Locker for my first pair of running shoes. These would actually be my second pair, having bought some in the early 90’s during my earlier running days. I put myself into the hands of the saleswoman who admitted that she didn’t run but said that she fits runners all the time and knows what works for most. I don’t recall every shoe I tried on that day but the Nike Turbulence 13’s that she recommended fitted me the best. I had a great 500+ miles on those shoes but in the end. after inspection, I’d wondered whether their neutral nature played into the upper leg pain I had experienced near the end.

Including those Nikes, I’ve bought a total of four pairs of shoes since my return to running last summer. I bought a pair of Nike Kutu trail shoes that were inexpensive but never felt right. My last run in them was so negative that I immediately put them away for donation. I replaced those with a pair of New Balance 460 trail shoes. I haven’t liked the high-end NB shoes I’ve tried in stores but these 460’s are great. They were inexpensive but they’re solid performers with a good feel and nice response on both street and trail. No Gor-Tex or fancy features but they do the job well. I bought my Brooks Adrenalin GTS-9’s the day after my 5K in May. These are good shoes, not as responsive as the Nike 13’s they replaced but their stability properties have helped my upper leg problems. I’m not sure I’ll get the same shoes next time but I’m pleased so far.

The last pair I bought were Asic Gel-1130’s that I tried for the first time this morning. These are a few rungs down from Asic’s top line but they are far from low end. The fit is nice – more comfort than the Brooks but only by a little. I set out to do a mid length run this morning after icing both quadriceps and I ended up covering 5.13 miles at a 9:19 pace. I thought I might have run a little faster than that but the Garmin doesn’t lie (when calibrated correctly). The Asics felt really good and responsive and compared well against the Brooks. I’s say the Brooks are probably better overall in terms of feel but not by that much. I will enjoy having the 1130’s in the office, ready to take on whatever the streets of New York City can offer.

A new definition of work shoes

I took advantage of being on vacation and set out for my daily run a little after 9:00 AM this morning. I’d considered taking a rest day or using the elliptical as I usually do on Mondays but I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to run outdoors. Since Friday’s 6 mile run I’d run 3.1 miles on Saturday and another 3.7 on Sunday. I set out without any planned course or distance and settled into a comfortable pace for the first half mile thinking I’d speed up once I warmed up a bit. I reached the point where I usually turn left into the core neighborhood but I decided today to turn right over to Jericho Turnpike and ran west along the wide sidewalk. I’ve done this route a couple of times but from the opposite direction (uphill) so traveling this way was a lot easier. I actually felt so guilty for following such an easy path that I cut back into the neighborhood a third of the way in to find some more challenging terrain.

There were many people outside, mostly walkers, and I saw a couple of moms strolling with their middle school age daughters who would be graduating this afternoon. I purposely avoided the distance and pace readouts on my Garmin because I’d decided to run based only upon time. In all I covered 4.13 miles in about 38 minutes for a grand total of 17 miles over the last four days.

Later in the day my wife and I went out to do a few errands and we stopped into Marshalls along the way. Just for fun I looked at athletic shoes and didn’t expect to see much but I tried on a pair of Salomon Tech Amphibian water shoes that looked interesting. The price was right but they didn’t feel that good so I took a pass. The rest of the shoes were basically the same models you’ll typically see at department stores – low end models of good brands. I was about to give up until I saw a pair of Asic Gel-1130’s for under $40. I tried them on and liked the fit so I decided to buy them to keep in my office for both planned and spontaneous runs in the city. I may not have chosen the bright green trim if I had another choice but my daughter pronounced it a cool looking shoe.

I’m going to try the 1130’s tomorrow. I’m curious to see how they stack up against the Brooks GTS 9’s at almost three times the price. New running shoes, what could be better than that?

13 hours to the start

As I edge closer to 9:15 AM on Sunday I’m thinking a lot about tomorrow’s race. Although this is the 32nd running of the New Hyde Park 8K there is very little information about it online. I haven’t found any course maps or even a course description. One source, an experienced LI runner with whom I interact on the Runner’s World Loop, described the course as fairly flat. He’s not able to do the run himself because he has an EMT service obligation. Based on what he’s said I’m assuming that it will be a fast course.

Unlike the other two races I’ve recently run, there is no pre-race day check-in so I’ll be heading over early for that. I’m hoping the event is well organized and they get everyone checked in efficiently. I’m planning to run this race without my wife and kids attending and I’ll need to time my check-in so that I get my t-shirt and/or goody bag back to my car in time to line up for the start. I’ve selected my race gear and I’m feeling about as ready as I can be. I’m wearing my Brooks GTS 9’s that I bought the day after my last race and they have felt great. I’m hoping that I have good energy tomorrow morning. Five miles may be a standard length for my weekend runs but I haven’t yet competed at that distance.

My race strategy will be to go out fairly fast for the first mile but to conserve enough to get me through the next four. AG taught me that I should use downhills to push speed and I’ve done that on my last few runs with good success. I’m worried how I’ll feel around mile 3 but that will depend mostly on the course and the heat. I’m concerned that I won’t be able to maintain my targeted pace over 5 miles. I’ll soon know if my training strategy has worked.

I’m hoping that I get good rest tonight. We spent today doing family things and the closest thing to athletics was helping my daughter learn to skateboard. I took a rest day on Thursday and felt very strong on my Friday morning run. I’m betting that today’s rest will help but it’s still the longest distance I’ve had to cover in a race.  I’ll let you know how it went!

Getting up to speed (literally)

I was thinking about my upcoming race on June 7, 8K (5 miles) in New Hyde Park, NY. This will be my longest race to date and it will certainly push me to the limit in terms of effort and conditioning. After dedicated focus on running for the past nine months I have reached the point where I can handle the distance but not necessarily at the pace that I’d like to run. I am satisfied with my performance on the 4 miler and the 5K but while I was consistently running below 9 minutes per mile a month or two ago my speed seems to have regressed to the point that I’m still in the 9:00 to 9:10 range on most of my better runs. It’s possible that I’m doing better than I think. Since I changed the battery in my Garmin 50 foot pod its distance accuracy has been questionable. The other variable is my shoes. I switched from My Nike Turbulence 13’s to the Brooks GTS 9’s after the 5K. The Brooks feel great and my hip and leg problems have gone away for the most part. Could it be that I just don’t run as fast in them?

I am excited about the race but I’ll admit my anticipation is different now that I know more what to expect for the most part. I’m trying to pick up as many miles earlier in the week and taper near the end of the week possibly running a slightly shorter but faster course next Friday.

Yesterday AG and I did our weekly city run down the bike trails along the West Side Highway. We did this run as an end of the week recreational run rather than a business update. We started close to our building and went west about a mile before heading south along the path to the park behind Stuyvesant High School on Chambers Street. In total we covered close to 5 miles and after we returned to the office we Gmapped the route to calculate our pace. It was hard to determine the true pace because I only timed the longer southern route but it appeared as though we ran around 9:30 or so per mile. I kept the pace relatively slow because I wasn’t feeling strong enough to work on speed. At one point she turned around to look at something we had just past and ran backward for short time at the same pace I was running forward! I’ll blame some of my slowness on the fact that I just run better in the morning. I’m also not feeling all that great this morning and I’m wondering if I was fighting a slight fever. But it’s easy to make excuses.

My plan today is to run about 5 miles and I think I may do that later in the day. I also want to work in some speed drills. I’m sure doing that helped me achieve a decent pace in the 5K. Eight days and counting to the 8K. It’s coming fast.