Category Archives: DECEMBER 2016

All the posts created in DECEMBER 2016.

Brad’s Corner – What’s under the Christmas Tree? (running in neutral)

This is the time of the year when many of you will be treating yourself to an (early) Christmas present. Or if you are lucky enough to have a family member or significant other who is also a runner you might be looking to place a surprise under the Tree. Lucky for you there are literally hundreds of choices for your hard earned dollars. And there are dozens of styles of shoes from trail to road to racing flats, from zero drop to modified drop to full drop, from maximal to neutral to motion control. The choices and combinations can seem endless at times and that’s before you take into account if you like the color, the color combination or choice of colors for an individual product.

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This article won’t be all inclusive but rather what has and has not worked for me over this last year. Since it is my personal experience with some generalizations let me just start by saying  that there are a number of shoe companies I haven’t even tried yet or just don’t use much. Probably the largest company I don’t ever buy is Asics. That being said I think they make a great shoe and millions are sold; they have just not been for me. Contrarily I did test run their new DynaFlyte shoe, a maximally cushioned neutral shoe which felt great and I may find them on my shelf in the future (though a bit pricey at $140). I also have not tried any Altra products but I see more and more people wearing them and loving them so I guess there will be a test run or two in them for for me in the future as well.

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To further understand where I am coming from you must be aware of my stats and eccentricities. I am a male, 62 years old, short (5’7”) and stocky (165lbs). I have been running off and on for 47 years and consistently for the past 25 years. I average around 40+ miles per week. I have trained to race for the last 10 years which means: tempo, track and hill repeats, long runs, pickups, drills and fartlek. I train alone and with multiple groups. In short I have put in a lot of running miles.  I also played ball sports until I was 45 (softball, basketball). I have had a number of foot, ankle, knee and hip injuries that have made me miss running time. The bottom line of all of this is after making many slow changes I now tend to choose neutral, low drop(~4mm, not zero drop), cushioned and light shoes(<10oz, size 9).

This last year I have had 7-8 shoes move in and out of my stable. If you have read previous reviews you may remember my love of Hoka shoes especially for the over 50 set (50 years or 50 mi/wk). Well I just retired my last pair of Clifton 1’s (yes I shed a tear or two).

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But my smile has returned as I am 60 miles into the Clifton 3 and what a remake; nearly perfect (the tongue is, shall I say it, Voluptuous?!) Both the tongue and insert are almost too plush and in a perfect shoe could be minimized to shave of a bit of weight but they feel great out of the box (10 miles on day 1, perfectly settled in by day 3). I tried the Clifton 2 and hated it ( 1 snap). Hoka narrowed up the shoe box to the point of foot pain for me (and a lot of others hence the rapid update time for the ‘3’). Just be careful if you are getting the Clifton 2 on a great deal.

Hoka Clifton 3 – 8.5oz, 5mm drop, maximal cushioned, neutral, road sole but I use them all over the mountain/trails.

If you like these see also: Challenger 3(9.5oz, Clifton with trail sole)

Instinct(8.4oz, 3mm, trail sole)

I put 30 miles on the Hoka Claytons (7.5oz, road sole) and didn’t fall in love with these as I thought I would and also had some foot pain issues with these as well. Thought to be more of a performance shoe, I didn’t get that at all. If that was the goal consider the Tracer.

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I just retired the Kinvara 5’s from Saucony and have used all of the models from the original to the 5 over the last 5 years. I have loved the feel of every pair I have owned. The Kinvara 6 felt weird in the store so I haven’t ever owned a pair. Now that I am out of Kinvaras I will check out the model 7. Keep your fingers crossed for me. Also most of the new Saucony models have a new cushion technology-Everrun. I am looking forward to try new models with this tech.

Saucony Kinvara- 7.8 oz, 4mm drop, cushioned, neutral performance shoe.

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A new model for me this year is the Saucony Zealot which I have absolutely loved each and everytime I have put them on. They are a heavier more cushioned version of the Kinvara and are a perfect easy-day shoe. They run very smooth with efficient turnover and are well cushioned for long easy miles. I have run in a couple of pairs of Rides and find the Zealots far superior(as a side, I liked the Rides as well)

Saucony Zealot – 9.6oz, 4mm drop, cushioned, neutral, smooth

From another large company that I haven’t run in for 10 years, I tried the Adidas Boost Boston. I have been very happy with these except for the foot box is a bit narrow, but they work very well as a speed day shoe especially along flat trails(SR Creek) and up to say the 2nd bridge on canyon trail and smooth hill repeats. The Boost foam is pretty amazing stuff both responsive and cushioned. The Boston uses a thin layer in the forefoot which limits the use for me.

Adidas Boost Boston – 8.8oz, 10mm drop, neutral, performance.

Also picked up a pair of Supernovas for work. A more cushioned shoe, I haven’t run in them but they are a plush choice for long walks with your honey.

Through the years I have raced in many New Balance road and cross country flats and spikes; the 1400’s and 1600’s. After about a year of hearin about Freshfoam tech from NB I ventured to try the Fresh Foam Zante. The FF Zante is another neutral, cushioned, performance oriented shoe for fast training and the occasional road race. They feel lighter than their stated weight and have a glovelike fit. I have enjoyed every run with them with my only complaint bein that they wear a bit fast (maybe 250mi max) and you feel the pebbles underfoot.

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NB Zante – 8.6oz, 6mm drop, neutral, cushioned, performance.

I am still looking for the perfect trail specific shoe (any help out there?). I have tried the NB Hierro. I don’t love them but am still trying. Will update when I have made a final decision. In looking for a lightweight, trail specific shoe which could be light enough to race on (my feet cant handle XC flats any longer and road flats often don’t have enough traction). With that in mind I ventured toward the NB Vazee Summit TR, a trail specific shoe with a rock plate. First of all they are on the Vazee last which for me is a bit narrow through the instep; so much that I had to go for the wide version. This fixed the fit issue and they feel light and responsive on first try and feel good on dirt but with the rock plate a bit harsh on roads. I have used them on trail/hill runs of less than 8 miles and a 6.5mi trail race at Folsom Lake. They worked well at the race on a rainy Saturday. I get into a little trouble if the downhills exceed Lake Ilsanjo to Spring Lake. For me the cushioning is not adequate for a run down from South Burma to Spring Lake.

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NB Vazee Summit TR- 8.8oz, rock plate, neutral, varied trail running.

Well I have my eyes on other models from Hoka, NB and Brooks. Maybe its time stretch my horizons to the Altra Lone Pine. Zero drop(all Altras) may be a deal breaker though. Well Christmas is just around the corner so don’t be afraid to treat yourself to a slick new pair of running shoes.

Mike McGuire and the 34th CIM

The 34th California International Marathon was contested on Sunday, December 4th. The weather could not have been more perfect and the pre-race organization was superb. Seemingly all the school buses in the county were enlisted to transport us from Sacramento to Folsom. We could then stay warm and seated in the bus until the start of the race. One could venture out to get some food or drink and witness one of the longest line of porta-potties ever assembled. A lady on our bus who works for a ‘potty’ company said the usual user to potty ratio is 75 to 1. CIM used 35 to 1. Truly a benefit for us runners! Finish line bags were collected at the back of two big vans. As the start came near, there was a crush of runners wanting to get their bags loaded. Some tried to throw the bag over the heads of the volunteers in the truck. A couple of volunteers got conked. The supervisor, stout and burly, shouted that if another bag was thrown he would shut down the trucks! The crowd became instantly cooperative. Good for him!

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The start was smooth and efficient with pacers and over-head signs helping runners get in position. Off we went down a slight hill with no pushing or shoving or need to dance around ill-placed runners. Race conditions, I think, were perfect – cool, not cold, no wind and no forecast of dramatic changes. Aid stations were well placed with the first one about three miles out and then becoming more frequent and with greater offerings as the course continued. To those who went to the Healdsburg Running Club trail running movies, I was quite startled to see Jenn Shelton standing on the side of the road at eight miles, sweaty, smiling and looking like everyone’s best friend.

I had run CIM in 2013 under freezing conditions but ended up with a pretty good time and place. This time I was concerned about how aging and spotty training would affect my effort. I had enough training miles but only one run of 16 miles. My 1/2 marathon and 20 mile splits were both better than 2013. Beyond 20 miles, it all became more difficult. My watch displayed a great deal more time needed to pass each mile. I began to list to the right. Spectators had to move back as I veered toward them! With my name printed on my bib, people were calling out to me to do well, euphemistically meaning ‘don’t die!”

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As runners flooded past me in the last couple of miles, I had to concentrate to keep one foot going in front of the other and to not trip myself. But the end came in time for a successful finish and actually a pretty good time. I was met by a lovely runner/nurse who chatted with me as she took firm hold on my arm and led me on a walk. “Let’s go to the med tent.” As we walked, a still-listing few feet to the tent, Bob Shor came up to say hello and to confirm the tent visit. Never having been in one before, it was a nice field trip. Two dozen people sitting or lying about with a busy staff offering water, soup, and encouragement. The young lady sitting next to me had just made her Boston Qualifying time and soon left with a warm cup of soup. I stayed about 15 minutes before thanking a volunteer and walking out much more vertical than coming in. By then, general stiffness had begun to take over and Frankenstein’s monster-like I set off to find Sandi.

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After several phone calls, we reconnected at the merchandise booth and headed to the drop bag corral. The fenced-in enclosure had thousands of bags lined out in number order. Volunteers would meet runners at a six foot cyclone fence, get our bib number and speedily return with our bag – no runners wandering inside the enclosure bothering those who knew what they were doing. I could replace my silver shawl with dry clothes.

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Then we walked among other celebrants with Sandi striding ahead only to look back and see she had left me several steps behind. Everyone seemed in good spirits as the weather conditions stayed pretty moderate for an early December day.

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One of the enjoyable parts of CIM is the community support. In many places along the route, live bands and recorded music encourage us along the way. There are also many places where throngs of spectators gather to wish us well. “Go (Dad!, Mom!, Larry!, Linda and Beth!)” “I came to hold a sign” “You Rock!” “Keep going. You paid for it” The support for individual runners was terrific. The sense of celebration and accomplishment was really noticeable and inspiring.

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My shoes displayed a remarkable wear pattern. Scuffing at both ends and a near clean slate across the mid-sole. The toe scuffing, I think, was from my shuffle over the last six miles. Traffic buttons on the road had to be avoided as too tall and some painted lines were thicker than others.

Heading home meant a stop in Davis at DeVera’s Tavern for corned beef, potatoes, eggs over easy and a tall glass of pilsner. Very tasty and a needed stop to unkink my legs. Then on to Santa Rosa. The “welcome home” clouds brought a wonderful 24 hours to a close. A few chores taxed my mobility and reinforced for me why I like marathons – you can’t do the event half trained or without realizing that reminders of the effort will follow you for days. Which one will be next? Any suggestions? By the way, my very expensive GPS watch measured CIM as 26.36 miles. I am sure the course has been accurately measured at 26.2. My watch got me to each new mile further and further ahead of the official mark. I can’t get credit in my running log for the extra tenth of a mile!