The Other New Shoes

So I got these just before Gasparilla as my secondary shoes, but didn’t get enough days of test runs in to post about it too quickly. Besides, I was trying to get my Ragnar recap done.

Anyways, say hello to my newest shoes! These bright things are the Asics Gel Cumulus 15. A friend happened to wander across them for a good deal and let me know. Considering I loved my Cumulus 14s (more than 400 miles on them!), there was no doubt. They also work well as a training shoe and hopefully race shoe (Gasparilla will be the test).

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Just a quick post this time. Be on the lookout for a possible multi-part recap of Gasparilla in the near future.

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Say Hello To My Newest Friends – Shoes That Is

It’s that time again. Sadly.

My latest shoes, the Saucony Mirage 3 and Pearl Izumi eMotion Road N2, were fantastic in getting me through the end of marathon training and PRing several races. I’m actually quite sad to feel the amount of strain I’ve done to the soles. I ran a BQ in these shoes and then went on to PR my half and 5K. They had some of my best runs, training and racing, so far. Yet sometimes you just have to let go (totally making my shoes sound like a good friend—because they are!).

So as I start to ease off these two old ones, I’d like to introduce my newest pair. The Saucony Ride 6. In the un-missable color that my friends call highlighter yellow. Ha!

100_4338 These are more of training shoes that the last two. Since I don’t really have any race goals besides finishing in the near future, I’m expecting to just log miles. As such, these should take a little more damage than the two before it. I’ve only gotten a couple runs in them so far, but I’m loving the feel of a new shoe and all the cushion.

I’m a bit undecided if I should go for another pair of trainers or pick up more of a racing shoe for the second pair. Luckily, I appear to have enough time to think on it as I get these new ones into my routine.

Shoes: Pearl Izumi E:Motion Road N2

On a side note, some of these shoe names are so long. ADD moment over.

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Ignore that other box. You’ll see my thoughts on those shoes later.

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New shoes! One of two pairs I picked up and let me tell you, while I was a bit iffy at first, I LOVE these.

When Joe (awesome runner that he is who part times at one of the local running shops) showed me these, in my mind I was thinking “those don’t really look like running shoes…” Oh how wrong I was. They may not look it, but they definitely feel like it.

Here’s how Pearl Izumi describes them (just to be fair even if it is PR speak) –

Your one-shoe quiver, the Project E:Motion Road N2, is the perfect balance of light and fast with just enough cushioning and durability to provide the maximum confidence you need to go the distance. The Road N2 will be your go-to high mileage neutral trainer.

Moving on…let me be straightforward – this is not an “official” review. I’m giving what I’ve found from running in them and linking to one or more people who did review them (who hopefully can explain what I feel).

What makes this new line by Pearl Izumi so attention grabbing is the focus on the bio-mechanical. Basically, they’re not just modifying the style and material of the shoes, but attempting to construct them in a way to positively influence the structure of how you run. As one review put it, the “most significant advancement lies within the sole of the mid-foot.” (Read the full review over here which includes the easy to understand explanation of the bio-mechanical stuff.)

I totally agree. My arch is kind of funky and considering the bulk of my weight falls from the mid-foot forward (I run mostly on the ball of my foot and toes), having a firmer mid-sole can be felt. From the first run I could actually tell the difference. At first I just thought it was the weird design of the shoes, but after how awesome I felt post run I looked up info (and came across that review). The soreness and strain within the arch and mid-foot for me is actually reduced when I run in these – the change is significant enough for me to notice it. I’d never really considered how a shoe could be made better for different types of running except for adding more or less cushioning. The only thing I really ‘got’ was the more rigid designs meant for motion control (of which I wore for about 2 years). Flattening and firming up the sole in various areas never even occurred to me – which is one of many reasons why I don’t design shoes.

Yes, that's the wall & ceiling. I know I stretch weird.

Yes, that’s the wall & ceiling. I know I stretch weird.

Now the first few runs were just easy and short recoveries – 5 miles at most. But then I did a 9 mile speed workout in them. Talk about feeling my shoes! I know that obviously my old pairs were mad ready to be retired and maybe it’s just the relatively new cushion. But then I took them out for an 18 miler – and still felt awesome during and after the run.

While I admit my intent was for these shoes to be my speed work and racers for anything half-marathon and under, taking them out on that long run has me seriously contemplating them as a marathon race shoe. Maybe it’s just me. And I won’t say to just go out and buy them (remember, this isn’t really a review). But if you’re looking for what appears to be a solid neutral trainer, check them out. Give them a test run. Maybe you’ll find you like that solid mid-sole just as much as I do.

Because I promise you, I cannot wait to take these out and race in them. Thinking that half I intend to PR in November will be the perfect opportunity.

MCM Training: Week 14/18

I can’t start a report without saying 14/18 down! So there’s no confusion on the specific workouts, for this particular week Monday-Wednesday was pretty much downpour of rain the entire time.

Total Miles: 56

Modified Hills: 6.63 miles

8:55, 8:39, 8:33, 8:02, 8:13

Yeahh, was not on for this workout to begin with and then the rain just made it worse. Normally I love running in the rain, but this workout just did not happen. Got started, had to ease into the pace, and finally just decided to cut it short.

Modified Tempo: 6.54 miles

8:12, 8:21, 8:04, 8:00, 7:52

Changed my Tuesday recovery into a tempo to semi-make up for cutting hills short. Felt much better, except for the fact that it was still raining. But in this case it just kept the run relatively cool, though I did nearly face plant into the wall trying to run to the shower without leaving puddles of water all over the house. Not as long a workout as I was planning, but obligations kept it from going farther.

Intervals: 8.63 miles

9x800m – 3:27, 3:28, 3:24, 3:25, 3:20, 3:27, 3:20, 3:24, 3:22

By Thursday I was struggling a bit from being tired – made up the miles I’d been missing so far in the week on Wednesday with a double run. So I crashed and slept in Thursday to meet up with with someone around 7AM instead of 5AM. Glad to have gotten the sleep, but wasn’t sure I’d be able to do as good pacing without Kathy running in front of me. Not nearly as consistent as with her, but still managed pretty well I think. It was hotter and the sun had come up, so not as good conditions as 5AM, but not bad. After getting all that sleep (like 9 hours), it was like a reset and the second half of the week went much better.

Long Run: 18.19 miles @ 9:10 pace

Recharged after Friday off, decided to just breeze my way through this one. Joined a couple people for a slower early 8 – we averaged around 9:40 or so. Then hopped on with two of the guys for around 9:00 pace for the next 10. Think the easier early 8 helped to ease into the run and kept the miles relaxed. Even the next 10 that were all sub-9 felt good. While I just wanted the miles, quite pleased that the pace was dropped as much as it did.

Almost to taper! Others starting to race has me super excited for race day to get here. While this week wasn’t ideal with the rain throwing everything off and just having an exhausted time getting through the workouts (plus some other stuff), it ended well and I still met my mileage goals. I’ve broken in both pairs of new shoes and retired the old ones (they needed it). Pretty sure I know which pair I’ll wear for the race, but Saturday’s 23 will be the true test. Less than 4 weeks to race day!

MCM Training: Week 13/18

And that’s 13/18 – only 3 more tough weeks to go!

Total Miles: 59

Bike Miles: 5 (lazy!)

Hills: 9.26 mi

7×1.0mi – 8:20, 8:11, 8:17, 8:08, 8:03, 8:08, 8:23

Still not as consistent, but I felt better than last week. Probably need to bring a second water bottle out to the start point with me too. Still had a tight muscle in my left calf, but it has been getting progressively better. A little annoying by the end of this run but it will have gone away by Wednesday.

Intervals: 8.11 mi

9x800m – 3:29, 3:23, 3:23, 3:22, 3:23, 3:23, 3:22, 3:24, 3:16

And another awesome morning chasing after Miss Kathy. It was just a degree or two cooler than it has been, though still humid. We had to avoid the ducks/geese that did not like us being half a pond away from the baby ones. Felt solid, no muscle issues, and absolutely love my new shoes. Wore my “speed” pair which I’ll use when I race the half.

Long Run: 22.03 mi @ 9:02 pace

Yay! Another 22 done at a sub-4:00 pace. A bit slower this time, but with a different mix of people and the last few miles on my own. Felt good and could have run faster but again, stayed with people. Gels and hydration were good. Also, had 4 miles at or faster than marathon pace (unintentionally) which I guess balanced out the slower miles. Last 2 miles were completed sub-8:00. Again, unplanned – but I was by myself for those last few and I wanted to be done. I was mad hungry and Panera was waiting for me haha. No post run issues with my knees or anything, was just tired.

Both of my old pairs of shoes are retired and the new ones mostly broken in. While I’m pretty sure which I’ll be racing in, still kind of undecided on that. Progress! Now to just make it to the end. Less than 5 weeks to race day!

What Makes An Athlete: Walking

I definitely stand by this quote from Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman.

If you have a body, you are an athlete.

I know that individuals might not understand all the differences and complexities between different forms of exercise. But that does not mean that someone who walks to be healthy is any less of an athlete than someone who runs marathons or competes in Ironmans. It’s easy sometimes to fall into the mentality that if they are ‘not like me’ and aren’t doing the same level of activity, then maybe they’re not an athlete. The truth is they are just a different type of athlete.

Recently I’ve been reminded that the decision to put on shoes, step out the door, and take part in activities towards a healthier life is what really defines an athlete.

My point is this: the first step out the front door is the hardest and I respect anyone who takes it.

startSeveral members of my family, as well as a few friends, have taken up forms of exercise in an effort to become—and stay—healthy. Anything from cycling short distances to walking a few times a week. I hope to tackle the cycling perspective (from someone who isn’t me—aka not a cross training marathoner) in the future (maybe this will be a new segment like my tips posts). But today I really want to talk about walking and walkers.

My mother, who I’ll refer to as Mama P, got the final word from her doctor over 8 months ago. She needed to do some serious work to improve her health. Mama P was a borderline Type 2 diabetic, overweight, and has issues like arthritis that could be better handled if she took on a healthier lifestyle. So she sat down with her doctor to discuss what actions to take and then later with myself. We went over what she’d learned and how I could help get her started with exercise (I’m not a coach, but I know some stuff).

Due to the arthritis and some joint issues regarding her knees, Mama P had limited options for exercise if she didn’t want to do more harm than good. We discussed not only what she was comfortable with, but also what she was most likely to stick with. As much as she’d love to take up running, that just wasn’t feasible as a starting option. So we decided on walking.

There were two big hurdles Mama P had to overcome. And while some parts of those two were physical, the biggest ones were mental.

Hurdle #1 was the perception that because she spends a good part of her day job moving around and on her feet, that she was already in decent shape to walk for exercise. While I definitely do not doubt that some jobs require us to move around more, it doesn’t meant the transition to exercise will be easy and seamless.

Things you do regularly can create a base, but tackling an activity as exercise is just not the same.

Mama P may be on her feet a good amount, but wandering around the office is completely different from going out for 45-60 minutes to get exercise. Even if it was, in her mind, ‘just walking’ she was still forcing her muscles to go farther at a faster pace and raising her heart rate. That was a mental hurdle she had to overcome; treating it as the exercise it was. Not as the same thing she’d already been doing.

Plus Mama P had to deal with the fallout on the physical side. Because it wasn’t the same as what she thought she’d already been doing, her body had to adjust. It took over a month for her calf muscles to settle into the new level of activity without aches. Mama P became good friends with things like IcyHot and compression socks.

Hurdle #2 was almost entirely about her frame of mind and comes in several parts. The first is that she had to make the decision to change; Mama P had to be the one that said ‘I need to make time to exercise.’ Added to that Mama P had to accept that she was making an entire lifestyle change, not just attempting to lose weight. Change is gradual & we were looking past days and months into potentially several years to reach that point. It was more than taking part in exercise but also included what she ate and her schedule. She had to reset her priorities.

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Finally, Mama P had to adjust her view of what walking was. She could no longer equate it to moving about the office or home. She had to mentally restructure her perception of walking. In doing so, she would be able to approach it as what it really was: exercise.

In the beginning she made excuses of “well I walked a lot at work” when she didn’t go out for a walk at home. Once she overcame hurdle #1, then she could tackle the fact that she still wasn’t treating walking like I treat running. In her mind, it still wasn’t exercise. But once she was able to alter her definition she was able to become, in her mind, an athlete.

Now changing a perception isn’t easy. In the case of Mama P, I took a sort of extreme approach. I signed her up for a 5K. Luckily, she treats events the same way I do. If we pay for it, only death or severe injury is going to stop us from doing it. And in the case of many events, from 5Ks to marathons, there’s a time limit for the road closures. Due to this, she had a distinct goal to work towards—being able to walk 3.1 miles within a certain time.

Seeing the steps Mama P has taken and the struggles she’s faced, I’m reminded that the hurdles don’t have to be the same as mine to be difficult. While I may face different challenges as a runner, she’s battling her own in an effort to be healthier. That, in my mind, makes her as respectable an athlete as any other I may be tempted to call the same.

So I’ll end with this. Here is a list, straight from Mama P, on what she’s learned. And more importantly, things she thinks you should know if you want to start your own journey and choose walking as the way to do so.

  • Don’t wait to finish this or that before you walk—make time now.
  • Vary your route to keep things interesting.
  • Got a dog? Take him/her with you sometimes.
  • Under the weather? Don’t walk or make it a short walk. Listen to your body.
  • Check the weather so you don’t get rained out or struck by lightening.
  • Don’t go hungry or dehydrated.
  • Just starting? Expect your legs and/or feet to be sore.
  • Watch the ground in front of you and be aware of your surroundings.
  • Carry a cell phone with you—there are pouches made for runners & walkers you can buy.
  • Make sure someone knows what direction you’re heading and how long you expect to be gone.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and clothes.

New Shoes

It’s always a sad day to realize your current running shoes are slowly losing their life. They’ve been with you across many long miles, through easy and hard runs, and all kinds of terrain. Running shoes are your constant companion. They go where you go and share the experiences of a great race or a tough workout.

So it’s just a bit sad to know the shoes you PRed the half marathon or ran your first marathon in won’t be joining you in logging the miles much longer.

But an ending is also a beginning! While it may be time to retire old pairs of running shoes that have done well by me, that also means I can welcome new friends. Shoes that have yet to learn the enjoyment of being a runner. Of following miles of trails and eating away at roads. That there is joy to be had in collecting footsteps before dawn.

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. – Seneca

I offer a picture of my 2 new pairs of shoes. These ones will get me through the rest of my conditioning and into marathon training. I would hope they make it all the way through 4 months of marathon preparation, but I know it’s a promise I can’t make to them. So welcome the newest additions to my running gear.

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On the left are the Mizuno Wave Creation 14. On the right are the Asics Gel Cumulus 14. Both are neutral running shoes and I look forward to testing them out. Of course, I’ll be posting opinions on them. The Asics have already released a 15, but the Mizunos are the most recent version.

They’ll be replacing my Saucony Kinvara 2 (half PR) and my Asics GT 2170 (1st marathon)—both of which kept me company through physical therapy when I couldn’t run after those 2 races. But they’ve lived a longer life than most running shoes because of it and 400+ miles have done their damage.

Side note: keep an eye out as I’ll be making a tips post in regard to shoes.