Monday, February 18, 2013

A Shoe On the Right Foot -- Shoe Review

Runners are more loyal to their shoe brand than their alma mater.  Seriously, how much money do you spend per year on a particular running shoe while wholesale ignoring the repeated high-gloss mailings begging for a small annual contribution?  Sure, you may root for them on Fall Saturdays and even be lucky enough to have a basketball team worth its salt and therefore extend the spectating season until March, but no check is sent off to the College of Fancy Letters or the School of Legoeering.  Yet, without fail, around every 250 to 500 miles the same brand gets another donation.  And I am no exception.   


Which is why, when the outstanding folks at Online Shoes give me the opportunity to road test a new pair of shoes—any brand of shoes my wild little heart desired—I elected to test a pair of the bard I know and love so well…Asics.  I always alternate between a pair of the 2100 series (that is, until they elected to eliminate the series and/or rename it) and either the Nimbus or the Gel-Kayano.  I rotated to the new Gel-Kayano 19.  This Gel-Kayanos are a little sturdier than the 2100 series, with added cushioning and a slightly different lace wrap. 


Like all new pairs of shoes, I break them in easily with a few easy 3 to 5 mile runs.  But you never really know a pair of shoes until you take them out for some speed work.  So, after several comfortable easy runs totaling around 20 miles I gave the new pair, the Grey Starks as I’ve named them, a go on a six mile tempo run.  And, because the running gods are aware that no running kindness (the ability to try out a new pair of awesome Men’s Asics shoes for free) goes unnoticed, they elected to infuse my run with a combination of rain turning into sleet which turned into hail.  Yep, little frozen balls of water hurtling down from the skies in an attempt to strike you with sufficient force as to produce an audible thwacking sound.  This meant quickly deteriorating running surface conditions during a speed workout.  Ugh! 



But the Gel-Kayanos were superb.  They handled the rapidly changing conditions and I was able to pull off my best tempo run of the training cycle.  Best of all, as I finished my last mile the clouds broke and the setting sun shone triumphantly down upon me.  No joke, Michigan weather is just that stupid. 

What I feel makes the Gel-Kayanos such an excellent running shoe is its ability to take a severe beating while still delivering comfort with every foot strike.  This is something I never felt about my Saucony Kinvaras.  And so, a speed workout done and the Gel-Kayanos having proven themselves, I look forward to the remainder of my training cycle with my Grey Starks.   

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Goofy Recap

I would say I mildly trained for the Goofy Challenge.  If pressed, I would define that training as doing almost every long run with the Redhead and that my longest long run was 16M.  Regardless, I sat fearless with my Cuz Saturday morning as we watched the fireworks start the half-marathon at 5:30am.  And we waited.  And watched more fireworks for more corrals.  And waited some more.  And at 6:25am our corral was finally sent off.  FN1

Our plan was to take the half easy but comfortable.  And that we did.  However, this is Florida, and Florida sure enjoys cooking pale white folks like me.  So it wasn’t long before the sun went up. FN2

I wouldn’t say there is anything special about the course for the first few miles. But, once you enter the Magic Kingdom and run down Main Street, you know it is worth it.  Cuz and I ran and sang and refused to let the angry sun getting angrier to stop us.  As we rounded Epcot we knew that we were only steps away from finishing the first third of our adventure. 
That night we had an excellent dinner and went to bed both sore and giddy.  But then the morning came, and the soreness was still lingering, and I’m sure I had the same thought every Goofy runner has ever had on marathon morning: “Why don’t they run the full on Saturday and the half of Sunday?” 

This time, Cuz and I decided to take a different approach and sneak up into corral B (my corral).  But we got on the wrong bus, and found ourselves on the VIP bus.  The bus took us to the start line and bypassed the mile long walk from the gear check to the starting line.  This would not really be a problem, except that I had my bag and they weren’t going to let us continue to mooch off the VIP status.  So, I mean why not?, I ran mile to the gear check and ran back after sneaking Cuz into corral B. 

The marathon was by far my favorite of the two races.  Perhaps it is because it includes more parks.  But, maybe mostly it is because Cuz and I started 50 minutes earlier than we had the day before and that allowed us to hit the Magic Kingdom while it was still dark and lit up. 

Pretty early on, we decided to use our own improvised Galloway program.  Really, it didn’t matter, we were there for the adventure.  Only, the sun got even angrier on Sunday, and we worked hard.  Some course highlights included the Animal Kingdom where I was able to kick a goat and hug a llama, running through Champions Stadium at the Wide World of Sports, and down the boardwalk.  The least impressive part of the course, for me, was running on the racetrack. 

I will tell you that, like my idol, we had to use BioFreeze to make finishing possible.  But still, we persevered and Cuz even managed to set a marathon PR even having run a half marathon the day before.

Having been deemed completely Goofy, and sporting the bling to support it, I think my days of ultra running are at an end for now as I focus on the more traditional marathon distance.  But, I do want to say that I had a lot of fun and that I’m so proud of my Cuz who dug deep and ran had even when he thought he couldn’t.  I’m proud of you buddy.  FN3


FN1: If you ever run the Disney full or half, lie or cheat or steal or whatever you need to do to be sure you start in a higher corral.  Seriously, an hour to get to the starting line!

FN2:  The overall winner of the half ran it in a 1:05:26.  So, the winner finished before we finished our first mile.  If you read the article, you’ll notice how the winner stated the race is run entirely ‘in the dark.’  Well buddy, not for everyone.

FN3:  I also want want to say thanks to the Redhead for her support and say congrats on your awesome half