Sunday, September 28, 2008

New Gear

Today I went down to visits my friends at the Running Company. Their new store in Friendship Heights looks great and I knew I wanted to get some new shoes for my last two big runs of my ten marathon challenge. I spent a few minutes checking out all the new fall products, the jackets, the tights and other fun nick nacks; then I headed over to the shoes to go through the picking out process.

Now, most people I know go in for shoes in general with a few set points in mind. First would be the look of the show, second the feel, and third, the brand. but this is really all backwards when it comes to picking out the right running shoe. First should be the brand, but not for normal reasons. You see, different companies have different aspects to their shoes that others may not have. Some companies are focused more on all different genres of shoe while others are specifically for running. One should really get to know what brand of shoe works the best for oneself before going in to buy them.
For example: Nike has some great shoes but they are known to wear down much faster than any other shoe. Reebok, Mazuno and Brooks all are generally pretty narrow shoes but Brooks has wider options, as does New Balance, Asics and Adidas. The most used shoes by runners is by far Asics, and other very common ones for serious runners are New Balance, Brooks, Saucany and The North Face (the latter is seen more on the trails). This is the case because they were mostly started as running shoes, rather then tennis shoes or cross trainers. Companies like Nike, Reebok and Adidas all have focuses in other fields.

A great story by the way is where Nike got it's start. The famous runner Steve Prefontaine had a great coach named Bill Bowerman at the university of Oregon. Bill used rubber in a waffle iron to make extra support in the shoes they were using and called them Nike after the Greek Goddess of Victory. Pretty cool stuff.

Anyway, I got myself some Adidas Supernova running shoes after I had so much success with the trail version of them in the 50-miler and two other marathons, including that last brutal trail one. They remind me very much of the classic Asics 2130 running shoe but with a little more stability support. This means, they are wide, light, well cushioned and look pretty cool too (which by the way, should be the last of your concerns when picking out the right shoe. It should be brand: feel, then look...)
I then bought another pair of SuperFeet. These are great slide-in soles that give some good solid arch support. I like to tell my clients to get these for everything, walking, running, baseball, soccer, anything. they really help with placing the foot correctly on the ground when you move and that will always help with alignment and stability as you work out.
I also picked up some Cliff Bloks. I love those things for some reason, but only when running. I would say try them out on a long training run or ride and see how they make you feel. Something about the texture and taste just gives a great little boost of needed energy on a long run.

The one other thing I intend to purchase today is a pair of "shoes" that I have wanted for a really long time. These things fit perfectly in with my mentality of allowing your feet to do what they were meant to do: move around and adapt to the ground. As people around me know, I generally work out with no shoes on and tend to wear at least two different pairs of shoes every day so that my feel never settle into one set position. These babies are perfect, I can lift in them, go to Jiujitsu in them, run in them, climb in them, and look like a ninja in them...

Check 'em out!
Never Stop, GET FIT

Josh Courage

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Number Eight!

I know, I know, it's been forever since I've posted anything but at least I can tell you it's been pretty busy over here on my end. The end of the summer was all over the place with baseball tournaments, games, so many clients, training, running and a whole slew of new ideas. But that's not what i want to talk about today; today is about marathon number eight of my ten-in-a-year.

This was a last minute registration as I was not able to run the Lehigh Marathon a couple weeks ago. I searched through trying to find something in September and i found this one in Millboro, Virginia...up in the mountains. A company called Odyssey Adventure Races (OAR) puts on all sorts of fun, outdoor adventures and this big race was one of their main ones. A 13.1 mile loop that shoots you up over 3,000 feet into the mountians and back down. You can sign up for the half (one loop), the full (two loops) or the 40 miler (three loops). I obviously took the two loop option.

The race started off fine enough, I was lucky enough to have a driver to get there and I was able to sleep from our 2am departure time all the way up to the arrival, 30 minutes before race start at 6:30am. When we got there, which was a bit of an adventure in itself, we hustled down to pick up the shirt and packet and get some last minute things done before the run began. I ate some food, hit the "facilities" (nasty I might add, i hate public bathrooms with a passion), changed into my gear and hit the starting line.

I would say about 100 runners in total were there, split about evenly between races, we all started together though, and in the early morning breaking daylight and mountian fog we took off into the woods.

The course led up past a huge lake and through a think campground before the trail broke off into the mountains at around mile 1.5. But when it hit, it hit hard. From that point through mile 6.5 was straight up, no rest at all. The first run though wasn't so bad, the scenery was great and I had a few good conversations with other runners. I was also carrying a video camera to get some shots for my "Challenge Me To Train" ordeal (check out my other blog in my profile), so I was able to distract myself from time to time by turning that on. After a bee sting on mile 6 and a great, great view at mile 7, the down hill began. And this is around when the day became interesting for me and a few others.

I was flailing down the steep declines, camera in hand, following the orange markers and the faint colors of two other runners a bit in front of me, when all of a sudden we all ended up on a road. It seemed a bit off but we knew there was a 200 yard road portion to the race. So, we walked 200 yards one way, then the other. At this point we began to get worried, not only because we could find the markings, but also because we couldn't see any other runners. It was then that we figured we took a wrong turn.


So we headed back up. straight up.

Turns out, we had taken about a 2 to 2.5 mile side track down the mountain and when we got back on the trail, we had added 5 miles to the race. What a blow to the mind and body that was. Talking through it with one of the runners, and having my camera to vent to helped me get over it pretty quickly, and I finished up the first loop as fast as I could. But then I had to go around the damn thing least i knew where to go this time.

The second time around was brutal. Headed up (you walk this part unless you are some crazy elite trail runner...I am not some crazy elite trail runner by the way) was alright for a few miles as I had two other runners walking with me and we shared some good stories of our running lives. Around mile 5 I headed off on my own and from there on out I was completely alone through the end. I found myself complaining quite a bit to myself as I trudged up the mountain, it just never seemed to end and it was getting later and later. But I decided not to stop at all, no matter what, and just keep pushing forward to the down hill.

I eventually got there and sped through the second half faster then the first time (thanks to cutting off 5 miles from the first time...). I came around to the finish, feeling pretty good at about 6 hours and 15 minutes. Based on the fact that the course record was 4 hours 9 minutes, AND I ran an extra 5 miles, I was pretty pleased. The drive home was painless and the legs are tight, but I will be back into my training on Monday, ready for next months two marathons. Almost Done!!!

I will post pictures of this run up very soon!

Never Stop, GET FIT

Josh Courage