Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Shoe review and motivation

UltraRunning from Matt Hart on Vimeo.

Here's a video that Matt Hart put together for a presentation that he and Sean Meisner did at the Mountain Hardwear store in Seattle. Great video footage. If this doesn't get your blood pumping, you're not a trail runner.

I've been curious about the new Montrail Mountain Masochist shoes and got a chance to try them out for free. They were sent to me from Montrail as part of a promotional deal I won on Facebook. I didn't have to write a review of them or anything, but I'm going to anyway.

Ever since my surgery, my running has been sporadic at best. The knee has been healing, but since I wasn't sure what it could and could not handle, I've been taking it fairly gingerly. Most of my runs had been 8 miles or less at one time and never back to back. Also, I have been running in the Brooks Cascadia which I thought were awesome until I got my new Mountain Masochists hereafter referred to as MMs.

These shoes are amazing. It's been a long time since I've loved a shoe this much (if ever) and I've waited a whole 3 runs so far to report on them.

In the past, I've always worn more protective shoes with a good bit of cushion, but most of the Montrails that I've worn have been really stiff. Mainly the Continental Divides and older Hardrocks. I also briefly wore the Odessey, but that shoe just wasn't for me.

The new MMs seem to be a cross between the Highlander and the Streak. The Streak doesn't work for me because it's too neutral. I need a little more pronation control and arch support and this shoe has just the right amount of both for me. It's also much more cushiony than I thought a 10 oz shoe would be. I figured it would be another minimalist shoe that I wouldn't be able to put many miles on at once like the Fireblade or Raceblade from LaSportiva, but that's not the case with the MMs.

They have enough cushion support and rock protection to allow for technical trails, long miles, and won't hold you back when you want to let loose and go fast.

My first run in them to break them in was a 10 miler on rolling hills and it was the first time in a long time that I actually felt like a runner! The past few months (2 yrs?) I've muddled through runs and forced my way through some miles, but wasn't able to get into a rythm or feel good during it. This run was different a little over halfway into it. After I got past the inital stiffness and achy knees during the warm-up, I decided to push the pace up a little on a flat gradual uphill section and see how they felt. The remainder of the run (~7 mi) I didn't need to slow down.

Heel cup slippage has been a problem for me in past Montrail shoes which I've been able to remedy with the power loop, but Montrail has redesigned the heel cup and it doesn't seem to be a problem with this shoe. It has a snug fitting heel cup and a fairly wide toe box. So much so, that I thought it might be TOO roomy for me, but after cinching up the laces, the shoe conforms nicely to my foot and I still have room for foot expansion when it swells after some longer miles.

Another thing that I noticed about these shoes that I've never noticed about any other shoe is the traction. The MMs are noticeably very grippy in every condition I've been in so far with them. I ran 11.3 miles of intervals in a little mud and technical trails with wet rocks on Tuesday and was comfortable and confident with every step.

On a side note, after tuesday's run, my right achilles felt done for the week. Some of the intervals I was doing was up some hills and it may have been too much too soon, but after stretching it out some all day Wednesday, I decided that I needed another few miles on semi-tired legs so I did another 9.2 miles for a back to back workout.

Yesterday's run (on the heels of Tuesday's intervals) was more than I could have hoped for. Even with the new shoes, I fully expected to suffer through as many miles as I could handle before walking or limping back to the car, but that wasn't the case. After the first 2 miles, I was able to put it in cruise mode and did the last 7 miles between an 8 and 8:30 min/mile pace. I felt so good that I was on a high the rest of the evening. Only mild stiffness in the achilles and some mild discomfort and minor swelling in the knee.

Maybe it was just the right time to turn up some training now that my body is (maybe?) ready for it or maybe it was the magic shoes, but either way, I'm a happy trail runner again!

In case you can't tell, I love my new shoes!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

More focused training

I've set my mind to prepare for this. The 3 day challenge has been tempting me for a few months now so I'm going to give it a shot.
After soliciting some advice from my neighbor, I decided to start upping the mileage a bit and start some back to back days. This will get the legs used to working while tired and will make them stronger.
Yesterday, I headed out to Deer Creek Canyon Park and did 11.2 miles in 2:09. Sounds as slow as it felt, but there was a LOT of climbing out there. Plus, my legs felt like they had cement in them from start to finish. It seemed like I had no gas in the tank and lumbered up the hills while sputtering down them. The hard part was all physical. The mental part made me glad I was pushing it and enjoying the outdoors.

That was supposed to be the good day on fresh legs. Well, semi-fresh legs anyway. I rode a little over 18 moderate to hard trail miles on Sunday, but the legs never felt depleted until yesterday. I need to do another 10-12 miles today, but I think I'll stick to some relatively flat(er) ground at Waterton Canyon or the HR trails close to home.

The knee is ok, but a little uncomfortable. That was expected so I'll continue to ice it and might even try a Naproxen or an Advil.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Dumbest Generation

Recently, I posted some thoughts on inner conflicts I deal with regarding our overdependence on technology.

From the website:

"The dawn of the digital age once aroused our hopes: the Internet, e-mail, blogs, and interactive and ultra-realistic video games promised to yield a generation of sharper, more aware, and intellectually sophisticated children. The terms “information superhighway” and “knowledge economy” entered the lexicon, and we assumed that teens would use their know-how and understanding of technology to form the vanguard of this new, hyper-informed era.

That was the promise. But the enlightenment didn’t happen.

The technology that was supposed to make young adults more astute, diversify their tastes, and improve their minds had the opposite effect.

According to recent reports from government agencies, foundations, survey firms, and scholarly institutions, most young people in the United States neither read literature (or fully know how), work reliably (just ask employers), visit cultural institutions (of any sort), nor vote (most can’t even understand a simple ballot). They cannot explain basic scientific methods, recount foundations of American history, or name any of their local political representatives. What do they happen to excel at is – each other. They spend unbelievable amounts of time electronically passing stories, pictures, tunes, and texts back and forth, savoring the thrill of peer attention and dwelling in a world of puerile banter and coarse images."

A few days ago, I posted a Twitter and Facebook update stating that I was "pondering the decline of intellectual curiosity in Western Civilization."
That day, I was thinking about how many issues we face in society could be related to that topic.
Appropriately enough, a friend of mine actually replied to this by saying, " are seriously too deep. Are you a half empty or half full fella? Have faith in your fellow man:-)"

A few other replies were as follows:
- "you're wasting your time man, westerners are too indifferent..."
- "
We're much better off when society watches the boob tube 5+ hours a day, don't you think?"
- "
really? Why? Oh who cares anyway..."

For the last one, I really liked the ignorance and apathy reference.
A lot more on this subject is bouncing around inside my head, but it probably won't come out coherently and I'm out of time for blogging today...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

ongoing recovery

This past weekend was the second of the Adventures Xstream adventure race series. This one was held in Buena Vista, CO and I was really wanting to do it, but held off in favor of letting the knee continue to heal. Plus, since it was Mother's Day weekend, Isabella and I had some good quality time together while Mommy enjoyed some time to herself.
On Saturday, we went to the Front Range 50 bike race to check out some of the action. I thought it might be interesting to check out some of the bikes and see some of the racing action. Not that interesting really. I've seen enough of that and it was just frustrating to me because the course was dry and very fast and I was wishing that I'd done the race the whole time. I haven't done any significant racing since 06 and I'm tired of sitting on the sidelines.
On that note, however...
A few days ago, I was speaking with a P.A. for another Orthopedic doctor in town and she said that with debridement AND microfracture, I should expect about a 9 month healing/recovery time frame.
This was disheartening, but helps me understand the continued discomfort I've been feeling during and after runs and rides.
On the fun side, I've already encountered a Rattlesnake ON one of the the trails I train on and yesterday, there was a coyote out on the trails as well.

Yet another reason it's not smart to run those trails with headphones.

Here's a recent photo from a ride on the Colorado trail. I went out one day with a training partner and we rode out to the trail, dropped the bikes in the woods, ran a few mountainous miles, then rode back down to the car. Good training day and the knee felt fine until later that day.