Thursday, January 22, 2015

Gear Review: Saucony Xodus GTX 4.0 trail running shoe

The Xodus has been my go to trail shoe for 3 consecutive purchases. I did two pair of the Xodus 3.0 and now I have put several hundred miles on my Xodus GTX 4.0. This is the first time I have bought the more expensive GTX (Gore-Tex) model and I have only ran in rainy conditions once or twice so perhaps I don't really need the GTX feature. It does add weight via the added "booty" inside and the added overlays. The other thing that the Gore-Tex does is work. My feet stayed dry, all of the reviews I read said their feet stayed dry so if you're running in wet weather this shoe will keep you dry. The shoe pays a price for that GTX feature. It comes in at a hefty 11.9oz!!! but I suspect some of that is due to all of the protection this shoe offers beyond just the weatherproofing.

First off this shoe has a Vibram outsole with a very aggressive lug pattern. The protection and grip that this affords you in dry weather is exceptional but in wet weather the rubber starts to get a bit slippery. I've never had mud cake up the tread pattern or rocks wedge into the tread but the slippery aspect is a bit of a let down. This shoe also has a rock plate that runs the length of the shoe and it works! Roots, rocks or whatever you step on is not going to bruise the soft underside of your foot in this shoe. To lock your foot down to this bed Saucony has incorporated it's Pro Lock system that goes over the midfoot area to help lock the foot down to the shoe and give it that glove like feel. This is super important in my opinion when your bombing down technical single track. The shoe laces are those stretchy kind that I know nothing about other than they do not come untied. To back that up this shoe offers a lace garage on the tongue and to further protect you from trail debris this shoe has a gusseted tongue and gaiter loops at the toe and heel of the shoe. This shoe is the Hummer SUV of trail shoes. Most of the reviews I have read all agree that the weight of this shoe is less than stellar so that will take some getting use to for you but beyond that I have no reservations in recommending this shoe.

 I like the fit and feel of this shoe. It has a 4mm heel drop with plenty of cushion and protection for even the gnarliest of trails. The low heel drop is not the same on this shoe as it is on a minimalist shoe because the stack height is substantially different. 26mm at the heel and 22mm at the forefoot!!! When I said this shoe was the SUV of trail shoes I wasn't kidding. It's big and heavy but it works in all regards. Dry feet, protected feet, laces that stay tied and a lace garage on a gusseted tongue. You can not complain about this shoe other than it's heavy and I slipped out a little bit on some trail debris when it was misty out. I highly recommend this shoe although I may not go for the GTX model simply because I don't have a ton of wet run days or river crossings but if you do, by all means, get this shoe.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Gear Review: Saucony Ride 7

 The reviews I read when this shoe was brand new on the market were astounding. Trusted sites were saying this was the best version of an already great shoe. I read it was lighter with more cushion and could take a pounding for 500 miles. This sounded exactly like what I wanted for my fall/ winter marathon training and racing. Now that I have put 200+ miles on this shoe and I have done five 20+ mile runs on them I think I have my mind made up on these. In my opinion they are "uuuhhhhhh whatever". In other words I have nothing bad to say about them but for some reason I don't love them or feel the need to dump praise all over them. I am just middle of the road neutral on this shoe.

 Lets look at the stats that are being heralded as stellar by the shoe reviewers out there. First the weight of the shoe has been reduced from previous versions down to 9.3oz. That's great but 9.3 is not super light in my opinion. 10oz is where shoes start to get heavy and sub 9oz is where they start to get light. This shoe at 9.3oz is just okay. I will admit that when I first put them on they felt light and cushy and I was really impressed but as time went on I realized they didn't feel much lighter or much softer than my Saucony Xodus trail shoe. In reality they are lighter by about 2 oz! The second most praised aspect of this shoe is that it has been lowered down to an 8mm drop. That's great for people who are trying to work their way down to a more minimalist shoe. I highly encourage people to get out of the standard 12mm drop by starting with an 8mm and then going to 4mm and then to a zero drop. I'm running in 4mm or less 99% of the time and for me to go back to an 8mm was surprisingly strange. I did not realize just how different this higher heel would feel after an hour out on the road. Don't get me wrong. It's not a horrible feeling just different then what I am used to. One thing is for certain. When you shorten your Achilles tendon by raising your heel you risk Achilles tendinitis when you return to the lower heel height. So I'm not doing myself any favors by running often in this shoe, so I don't. I've owned the shoe since October and I barely have 200 miles on them.

 To sum it up, most of the reviews you will read on this shoe will convince you that it is a really great shoe and it is for some people but perhaps not me. It was Runner's World Magazine's Editors Choice award winner for whatever that is worth. I like the shoe. I don't love it. It's nice to rotate this in every once in awhile and if my legs feel beat up this is a good recovery shoe. I will probably explore other shoes in the future so buying a second pair is not on my radar for this model.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Trail race calendar for the Bay Area in February

See the complete 2015 calendar here


February

February 1st- Super Guadalupe River Run- 5k, 10k- Guadalupe Gardens, San Jose (NOTE: This race says it is on "trails" which I believe are paved paths)
February 7th- China Camp Challenge- 5k, 10k, Half Marathon- China Camp State Park, San Rafael
February 8thGolden Gate Trail Run50k, Marathon, 30k, Half Marathon, 5mi
February 8th- Rattle Snake Ramble- 5k, 10k, Half Marathon- Lake Chabot, Castro Valley 
February 8th- Golden Gate Bridge Vista 10k- USSSF Monument, San Francisco (NOTE: Not entirely on trails but close enough)
February 14th- Bay Breeze Half Marathon, 10k, 5k
February 21st- Chabot Trail Run- 50k, 30k, Half Marathon, 10k- Lake Chabot, Castro Valley
February 21st- Montara Mountain- 50k, Marathon, Half Marathon, 10k- Pacifica
February 28th- Hellyer- Half Marathon, 10k, 5k- Hellyer County Park, San Jose
February 28th- Woodside King's Mountain-  Half Marathon & 5 Mile- Huddart Park, Woodside- Read my review from 2014



Brazen's (Almost) New Years Eve Half Marathon 2014 race review

Brazen always does 2 New Years events every year. One on New Years day and one just a few days earlier. This year I ran the (Almost) New Years Eve event on December 27th over the holiday break. I have ran this race before and this years event was a stark contrast to my last time running this event back in 2012 and in more ways than one.

 For starters the weather could not have been better. It was cold in the morning. Colder than I thought it would be but not as cold as 2012. I stepped outside at 6:30 in the morning in a pair of tights and a long sleeve shirt and knew within a second that I was way under dressed. I returned to the warmth of my house and emerged with a Nike Combat base layer shirt that is made for cold weather running and I put on an Asics 1/2 zip with thumb holes in the wrists so that my hands were mostly covered. This was much more appropriate for the 32ยบ temperature outside. It warmed up within the first few miles and I eventually tied the 1/2 zip around my waist. For most of the race it was perfect running weather. This was not the case in 2012 when it was again cold but also misty/ rainy. I wore a rain jacket in 2012 and stayed fairly dry (except for the sweat sauna inside my jacket) but remained frozen to the core for the entire race. Keep that in mind when you sign up for this one!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

2014 year end stats from DailyMile, MovesCount and Athlinks


 I recently got an email from Dailymile.com with my 2014 stats in it. I record almost all of my workouts and definitely all of my runs on DailyMile. I also use a Suunto Quest HRM and record my workouts on their MovesCount website. Also, for those who are unfamiliar, Athlinks.com is a website aggregator that tracks all of your races. Go there and type in your name to see your racing history. It's interesting. Here's what these sites say I did in 2014 and my comparison to 2013.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

California International Marathon 2014 race review from a first time runner.

 I don't run alot of road races but for that very reason I felt like testing my marathon PR (3:46) in a BIG way. I got the idea back in the late summer that a road race would shake things up and reinvigorate my training. When deciding on which marathon to run I always favor a new course over a re-do and since San Fran and Napa have already been done CIM is the next logical choice. CIM is synonymous with Boston Qualifying and I figured why waste the opportunity. If your going to run it you might as well go for the BQ which is 3:15:00 for 40 year old men. Chopping a half hour off my PR is probably unrealistic but that's my style. Go big or go home. That 2 month training cycle did not go well due to health issues and I went into the race clearly under trained so my plan was to just rely on my grit and expierence. I planned to line up in the 3:15 pace group, hit the 7:15 pace and hang on until I passed the finish line or passed out.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Who's going to win the 2014 TNF 50 in San Francisco this weekend?

The Bay Area is loaded full of running talent and there is no bigger race that displays it quite as thoroughly as the North Face Endurance Challenge Championship 50 mile race. My predictions for the men's and women's podium is loaded with locals and then there are 7 other runners from the Bay Area that could easily take a podium. Take a look at the lists below and let me know who you think is going to take top honors this year. If I missed mentioning a local, please feel free to give them a shout out in the comments.