Sunday, March 24, 2013

DNS, DNF, DFL... but DNSU??

So... yes, I've learned the acronyms... Did Not Start, Did Not Finish, Dead Freakin' Last...   all around struggles with races...  but this week I create a new one... DNSU...  as in Did Not Sign Up!

If you've been following along, I had my goal set to attempt my first ultra marathon in May, with the Greenland 50K.  Well, I've come to the hard decision that it's not the right time, and that I need to change my expectations. For a while I was really bummed...  but, feeling better about the decision now.  So.. what excuses do I have?  Well.. not really excuses..   I just decided I should truly listen to my body like we all tell each other we should.  Any my body says... uh.. dude...  yes we can run more than 26 miles..  but not 6 weeks from now.

Ok fine!  BUT... I know I need to have a major distance goal on the horizon, but far enough out I can plan a good training time frame leading up to it..   In the interim, there are a lot of shorter (i.e. 10K to 1/2 marathons) this year that I would love to try... and especially trail races... so I'll focus on that..  and hopefully resolve a nagging Achilles issue that has been hampering my training miles.
So...  my next race will be the Big Mountain Trail run in April.  Going to run the 10K (I did this one last year), so hoping for a PR.  But more importantly, I'm looking forward to running this one with my friend Matt as it will be his first race!  And yes, with my incessant ranting/raving, Matt is pursuing the path of a solid barefoot/minimalist runner!   So, this will be great fun.

But... what about my next long run goal?  Should it be a trail marathon, or an ultra?   Here are two I am considering:

Ok... so this one sounds totally crazy, but totally fun.  It's a 9 hour and 11 minute run around a 1 mile looped trail in Longmont, CO.  Just to see how far you can go...
OR... do I sign up for this marathon in Colorado Springs?  It is kind of a trail marathon.. mostly on a packed dirt trail... and slightly downhill (bonus!).   And, I could possibly qualify to run the Pikes Peak Marathon in 2014.

Anyway...  anyone out there run either of these and have any feedback?  Have you recently DNSU'd?  Drop me a line here, or comment on Facebook and let me know!

As for now, off to the slopes for some spring break skiing!

Happy Trails..


Friday, March 8, 2013

March Madness Redux! Merrell Barefoot Trail Glove vs. Trail Glove 2.0 Review!

Ok, if you remember back to last March, I ran a March Madness post comparing the Merrell Trail Glove and Road Glove.  There were a lot of debates about those shoes, and you can read that head to head match up by clicking here.   And, I also wrote a review of the original Trail Glove here. 

Trail Glove 2.0

Original Trail Glove 

So... for this year's March Madness, its the original Trail Glove vs. the Trail Glove 2.0 from Merrell's new M Connect Series.

Hopefully this review will provide some feedback for those of you who have the original Trail Glove and are in need of replacing them.  Also, I'll do my best to relay my impressions of the Trail Glove 2.0 by itself, for those of you in the market for a first pair of minimalist trail runners.

First of all some good news!  After running in the 2.0's, I have to say that Merrell kept all the great things in the Trail Glove the same, and improved the shoe in several areas.  Before I get into my detailed comparison, take a quick look at this video from Outdoor Retailer 2013 that highlights some of the changes:

 My only issue, if you could even call it that, was the fact that the original Trail Gloves had kind of a tight or squeezing feel across my midfoot, especially when compared to the Road Glove or my other minimalist shoes.  It wasn't necessarily a bad thing, just different. As noted in the video (and noticed by me right away) is that the fact that the toe box and upper has a more comfortable and less constricting feel as compared to the original. The 2.0 feels a bit more like the original Road Glove.  Also, I noticed that besides being just a bit more roomy and comfortable, the sole is slightly more flexible which is great.

Yes.. I did take this shot on the washing machine... epic I know.. 
As you can see above, the sole is basically the same on each shoe. I didn't discern any differences in the tread etc BUT.. there is a noticeable change in the flexibility of the flexible rock plate beneath the mid-foot.  The plate (which you can see through the 3 slits in the mid-foot) is a bit more flexible in the 2.0.  When I bend the shoe, the original trail glove remains a little flat, but on the 2.0 it curves a bit more and makes the shoe more flexible.

The most noticeable change on the upper is the reduction of the "Omni-Fit" lacing system from 8 eyelets down to just the top 4 eyelets.  This may partially contribute to a slightly roomier and less constricting feel (at least in my mind).  I do like this system however because it provides a nice snug fit which is great for trail running.  So, keeping the system in place for the upper eyelets maintains this solid fit in the 2.0.  Also, the upper feels lighter and may breathe a little better.   BUT.. to be sure, in Barefoot Inclined style, I ran several runs wearing one of each shoe (and yes, I swapped out which one each time... this is science!).  And if you are wondering, yes, I did get a number of funny looks!

So, I took off on my favorite local trail for several runs to get a feel for any differences in the shoes.  Being that it is still winter, I could feel a bit more breeze through the 2.0's, so they do breathe a little better.  And they certainly had a slightly more flexible feel, which was surprising considering my Trail Gloves are a year old, and the 2.0's don't have near the miles on them.  The good news is that I felt the same protection on the chunky trail in both shoes, so there was no trade-off of protection for flexibility.

The final verdict?  The Trail Glove 2.0 is winner!  BUT... that rather than considering it a competition, look at it more as an improved offspring of the original Trail Glove. They are both great shoes, both on and off the trail.  While the design and construction performs great on trails, the Trail Glove is just as happy to take you on the road, or to the store.   Nice job Merrell!!

And, stay tuned for an upcoming review of a totally rad shoe from the M-Connect Series... the Vapor Glove... a minimalist dream brought to reality...    seriously.. :-)

Once again, thanks for tuning in.  And as always, any questions/feedback/rants/raves accepted via comments below.

Happy Trails!


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Winter Warrior Part I: Pearl Izumi Cold Weather Gear, and Injinji 2.0 Review (plus giveaway!)

Ok... so maybe it's not exactly like this, but those of you that get out into the elements and continue running, even during a harsh winter can identify.  Not only are you  battling just  logging the miles on your feet, but you are taking on old man Winter's worst. Some of you may be in Spring time now, but here in Colorado, we have more winter to go.. I hope! So, for those of you that must warrior on, this review is for you!  I've got a great review on cold weather gear from Pearl Izumi and Injinji!

For cold weather running, my go to thermal compression pants and gloves are both from Pearl Izumi. As my long runs extended in December/January before my marathon, these were invaluable in keeping me warm!

Infinity Thermal Tight

I own several pairs of compression tights, from a variety of brands, but the Pearl Izumi's are by far my favorite. The quality of construction is terrific, and they are really comfortable.  I really like the zip up ankle with a small flap to tuck the zipper end into. Makes them really easy to get in and out of.

Here are the list of features as noted by Pearl Izumi:

ELITE Thermal Fleece fabric provides superior moisture transfer and warmth

  • 8" lower leg zipper with zipper garage
  • Elasticized waistband with flat stretch drawcord for unrestricted belly breathing
  • One zippered back pocket
  • Internal brief for added support and comfort
  • Reflective elements for low-light visibility
  • 27" inseam [size medium]
  • Form Fit

As you can also see, the reflective markings on these work really well so I can be seen when running in the dark mornings along the road.  Also, the tag notes that the temperature range is from 20F-40F, however I ran several times in these around 5F and had no issues keeping my legs warm.

There are reflective markings on both the back and front which is great.  I also really liked the compression in these... not too loose or tight.  They give a sense of spring to your legs which I am certain makes me run way faster... ok, maybe not so much... but they feel great!

Select Series Soft Shell Glove

Now, for the hands.  I'm running in the Select Series glove which has a lot of great features. Again, good reflective markings on the hands, and a great grip pattern and stitching on the inside.  And, the design of the wrist band allows for easy pulling on and off without any straps etc.  And yes, I'll admit that I used my teeth a few times on super cold mornings.. but I don't recommend it!

Here are the features:

SELECT Softshell Gloves feature insulated, windproof, water resistant construction that will keep your hands warm on the coldest, most blustery days.

  • SELECT Softshell sets the benchmark for functional wind and water protection
  • Synthetic leather strategically placed in high-wear areas
  • Fleece lined for warmth
  • Soft windproof fleece wiping surface
  • Silicone screened palm for a performance grip
  • Simple pull-on design
  • Reflective elements for low-light visibility

My only struggle with these gloves was that my hands/fingers got cold on occasion.  But, to be clear, I was greatly exceeding the recommended temperature range of 25F to 45F.  In those temps, the gloves work superbly.  Pushing it to 5F into headwinds was not smart on my part.. especially without any liners or hand warmers!  But other than that, a great running glove.

The Elite Series pants retail for $90, and the gloves for $45, but my guess is you can find some deals online or at stores for a better deal.  Regardless, they are both great investments to stay comfortable and outside this winter!  Now... if Pearl Izumi could just get a zero-drop minimalist trail shoe on the market, that would be great!

Ok, so if you've been following my blog, you know how much I LOVE Injinji toe socks..  And recently, Injinji released the 2.0 versions of their socks, and they are amazing!  Stick with me through this review and you may be rewarded with a few pairs to try out!

Besides the obvious color options you see above, the structure and design has changed quite a bit from the original Injinji's. I was a little concerned at first, because I love the fit and performance of the originals, so was hoping they didn't mess that up!  Well, I'm happy to report that everything they did just made them better.  I love the softer feel of the sock, and some of the different stitching they've done just complements the fit and performance. I got these in two days before my marathon in January, and I ran in the Performance Run in the medium weight.  Perfect sock for that day, AND the compression socks were a life saver afterwards...  felt so good!  The Light weight version of the Run works superbly with the VFF XC Speeds, Spyridon, and Lontra's (review coming soon) too.

Just had to put this in here too.... love this song:

But.. I digress... this was supposed to be a Winter Warrior post!  So, from that perspective, the Performance 2.0 Trail sock (far left in pic) is an amazing winter sock.  It's a heavier weight sock, with a bit more padding, and are made from Coolmax Xtralife Nylon/Lycra, so they stay pretty warm, even when wet.  I'm guessing they should stay reasonably cool as well, but hasn't been warm enough yet to see. These could be the ideal sock for my first trail ultra, where I think I may want a little bit more protection.

So, the bottom line is, Injinji has hit a home run with their 2.0 line of toe socks!  But if you want to find out for yourself, just enter below to win 2 pairs in the style/weight of your choice!  I'll run this contest until 10PM MST on March 11, 2013.  Open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only. Oh.. and stay tuned for Winter Warriors Part II...Featuring the VFF Lontra, and YakTrax Run! Coming soon to theaters near you!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy trails!