Monday

Goodbye heel strike! Hello neutral strike and good running form!

I've been hampered by a hamstring strain since October but kept running on it and finally got my gait checked out and been seeing a physical therapist for the past 3 weeks. Since October, I've turned to a high veggie diet, started working on core strength, hip strength, leg strength, and foot strength.

First was watching a video of my bad gait. My right foot obviously landing oddly. Then last week the PT found my left foot is pigeon toed. Foot strengthening and ankle strengthening is supposed to help correct this issue. With the hamstring, increasing hip strength, glute medius and maximus, while increasing core strength is supposed to aid in this new running form I'm trying to adopt.

I'm learning it takes time, lots of practice, and many hours put in running to develop the muscle memory and the muscles in the right places to support a good running form. It's actually more work than I thought which has made me realize how inactive so many other muscles were in my bad running form.

I'm also reading the Cool Impossible by Eric Orton (He coached Christopher McDougal who wrote Born to Run). The book is filled with feet, leg, and core strengthening exercises all aimed at strengthening running. It's been almost 4 weeks, I'm feeling a little stronger, a little better in form, and running isn't painful anymore, just hard work! One my moments of realization was landing each step with the core and starting the knee drive from my feet to my core and hips. So much to work on...

I've also switched to zero drop shoes. I'm feeling a little weakness in my feet but slowly strengthening. I'm running in Brooks PureFlow2 which are cushioned zero drop and RC1400 racing flats. My next purchase may be a pair of Altra which run about a half-size small.


Richard Diaz of Diaz Human Performance giving me a gait and VO2 analysis.

Friday

The Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend- 2014 Dopey Challenge - 48.6 Miles COMPLETED!



Last weekend me and my girlfriend completed the Walt Disney World - Dopey Challenge which consists of a 5k, 10k, 1/2 Marathon, and Full Marathon on consecutive days. The total is supposed to be 48.6 miles but with the extra walking to bathrooms, pictures, and side things it came out to about 50 miles on my Garmin.

Firstly the events are fun and if you stay at the Disney World Resort at a Disney Hotel they provide the transportation to the hotel/resort and all the events, including the runDisney Expo. Also if you stay at a Disney World hotel you get to their new MagicBands! This becomes your room key, park tickets, credit card... nearly everything!

Transportation from the airport

Magic Bands!



We arrived Tuesday night, had a nice dinner at The Flying Fish on the boardwalk (took a taxi). Great food, we really liked this restaurant. It was the best fine dining experience we had all weekend.



On Wednesday, took the shuttle to the Disney World ESPN Sports Complex to pick up our runner packets, drop bags, and jersies. We also picked up a Dopey Challenge commemorative pin and a couple other small items. It was all really well run and in the lines were smaller and moved quickly in the other buildings compared to the main expo center. They had a lot of new runDisney themed shoes too. Notice the little Mickey symbols inside the shoe!

Wide World of Sports



runDisney booth

runDisney Expo

runDisney New Balance shoes


We stopped and talked with our friends at Sparkle Athletic where my girlfriend picked up a pair of their Shwings (little wings that attach to your shoe) and also picked up a pair of Altra shoes where they had a nice expo price for them. We had a late lunch appointment at Fulton's Crab House in Downtown Disney and then tickets to Cirque du Soleil's La Nouba that evening so headed down there.

Fulton's Crab House is the boat


La Nouba theater


So... the running events... waking up and going to the 5k was not so bad. We got these cute pluto medals made of rubber. We spent the day at Animal Kingdom and returned to our room early in the evening. We went to bed as usual and made it to the 10k the next morning a little tired. After completing the 10k we headed to Epcot and spent the day there. We made it a point to return to the room early and get to bed by 8PM and wow it worked wonders because we were getting up at 3AM each day for the events.

1/2 Marathon start


We ran the 1/2 Marathon without issue. It went through Epcot and Magic Kingdom, ended early enough and we spend the day napping for a couple hours then headed off back to Epcot for the Pasta Dinner Party, we started walking back around 8:30 (since it opened at 7PM) and it started to pour! Wow! We got drenched and made it back into bed by about 10. Next time we are going to skip the pasta party since we really need the sleep to get up at 3AM each day, so we learned something. Excellent! However after getting our pictures with all the characters, we got back a little a later than intended. We only got about 5 hours of sleep before waking up to go to the full marathon.

Pictures with all the characters each event is themed with


The full marathon was grueling but not as bad as anticipated. We ran through all four parks and I was tight and a little sore from the 1/2 marathon the day before. So I went it at a slow pace but it was great running through some incredibly cool areas of the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. I tried all I could to keep up with the 4:45 group but ended up finishing at 5:11ish.

Walt Disney World Marathon start

Disney Speedway (we got to run around the whole race track and they had lots of cool cars to take pictures with)

Overall we had a great time running the events, it is really well organized and the bling was worthy of every minute running. We got to visit all the parks and even spent time with a friend, all on this trip. Will I ever try the Dopey Challenge ever again? I really don't think so but it was a wonderful experience to run the Inaugural Dopey Challenge and the Inaugural 10k to get those limited edition keepsakes. Thanks runDisney, Disney World, and all volunteers and workers that made this a really cool event!


Epcot during the 5K
Thanks for the magical memories!







Thursday

Are New Balance 890 v2 and v3 good?

New Balance improved the 890 models with the v2 making them possibly the best triathlete running shoe for 2012. I personally feel they are one of the top running shoe choice out there right now.

The New Balance 890v2 includes huge improvements upon their previous v1 models. New Balance has improved the tread and the shoes are especially designed for neutral runners with little heel to toe rise. The treads are grippy and more durable, the shoes feel lighter, and somehow they encourage neutral gate running. Also they are well cushioned and their light weight let's the legs cycle through easily.

With the release of the 2013 890v3, which are just as good if not better than the v2s, you can find bargains on the v2 models at stores now.  On a side note, they do fit like they are 1/2 a size smaller but they break in over time fit snuggly like an extension of foot rather than over supportive clogs. They definitely are my current favorite running shoes.


Wednesday

2013 Asics vs. New Balance - Running Shoes


Asics Gel-Cirrus33 2
Asics use a gel like cushioning they call Gel. They are well known for this and many people prefer them. New Balance uses a foam based cushioning which is just as effective and most of the time, feels lighter. Other brands include Nike, Brooks, Saucony, Reebok, etc. but this article is about Asics vs. New Balance for 2013.

My shoes from 2011 kept up so well during 2012, I didn't have a chance to write about anything new in 2012! However in 2013 it's a different story. Just a reminder, I link to the men's version of the shoes most of the time but they are available in women's models as well.


The 2013 Asics Running Shoes  product line includes a whole line of Asics 33 standard shoes. Remember they started off with the Blur33 and Rush33 in 2011? Now they have over 12 combinations of Asics33 models. They still have the Blur33 but now in the company of the Cirrus33, Lyte33, Neo33, and Excel33. No longer is the Rush33.

Asics GT-2000 GTX
The second generation or 2.0 models of the Asics 33 Collection still come with the gel like cushioning and good quality uppers. The Cirrus33s provide maximum cushioning and flexibility while the Lyte33s offer a lighter and faster option. These shoes work for me really well with bare feet, that is without socks on.

Asics continues to manufacture some of the most popular running shoes in terms of support shoes and cushioned shoes. The Nimbus 14 and Cumulus 14 continue to be the their highly cushioned shoes.


New Balance 890v3
For support shoes, the Kayano 19 and GT series are still the meat of their line-up. My favorites are the GT2000-GTX series with trail friendly GoreTex and treads since I'm on the trails and run in wet weather. The GT-3000 series are for serious over-pronators and the GT-2000 are solid as always, they are just a tad lighter than the Kayano but still provide that keen support. The Kinsei 4 is an even lighter alternative at 11.4 ounces. Asics continues to selection of trail and cushioned shoes as well on the Asics Running website.

So what about New Balance? They've been busy too, in addition to the 890v3, the 3rd version of my favorite mid-support shoes and they've also been evolving their Minimus line as well. 


New Balance Leadville 1210
Some of my favorites are the specially themed shoes, like the Men and Women's limited edition 990 NYC shoes. Still available are the Women's Leadville 1210 editions.

New Balance uses foam technology that does a great job and to me, perhaps not to everyone, have a lighter feel. My 890s are some of my favorite mid-support running shoes, the 890v3 are essentially the same rendition on a great model. The 860, 990, and 1080v3 models remain popular choices as well.


New Balance Minimus Trail 20v2
Back when New Balance revived their athletic shoe status with the Minimus brand a few years ago in the cusp of the minimalist running movement, they gained popular traction with runners everywhere and they continue to evolve the Minimus brand with the 10s, 20s, 20v2, and Zeros. Also in the line-up is the Minimus Ionix 3090. For those who want minimal to very little padding, these are the most popular and well received shoes in the minimal category next to five-fingers.

Thursday

Gu vs. e-Gel vs. Clif Shots Gel vs. Hammer Gel

Update: January 2014
I've gone through my supply of e-Gel and as much as it helped with cramping late in runs and nice amount of calories, I decided the artificial coloring and flavoring were big enough factors to stop using them. I seemed to get a sour stomach much quicker during 4+ hour runs. So I've been using Salt Stick Caps and Clif Gels for the most part lately with Xtend BCAA in addition to a mostly veggie diet with high consumption of bananas and chia seed. No cramping and my recovery times have improved as well as the intensity of the recovery process. I just ran a 5k, 10k, 1/2 Marathon, and a Full Marathon on back to back days and only took 2 days to recover and go on a light run. Cheers!

Original Post:
After many cramps I've finally settled that e-Gel and Salt Stick Caps are superior and typically a better value in terms of performance when it comes to cramps. Why? Simply by pure comparison, they both provide more salt and electrolytes per serving than their competitors. While Gu, Hammer Gel, and Clif Shots Gel may assist with performance, e-Gel and Salt Stick Caps can stop cramping in it's tracks by packing the most punch.

Why am I geeking out on gels? It's because cramps got me in the last mile of 3 trail races (18k, 15k, and 11k) in a row. Greatly frustrated, especially since good runs turned into bad ones at the last mile even with Gu, Gatorade, and water. I had even trained well for the races. Discouraged at this point, I started looking into what I could do to avoid another bad day.

After months of experimentation, I now use gels and salt caps in most if not all my runs. I typically use Gu, Hammer Gel , and Clif Shots Gel for daily runs, however when I need heavy support, I turn to e-Gel and Salt Stick Caps, all with water of course. These latter two products are superior in Sodium, Potassium, and Magnesium (Salt Stick) supplementation.  I used to be a non-believer but in conjunction with strengthening, stretching, massages, and using a roller, Sodium, Potassium, and Magnesium are very useful elements when it comes to muscle cramps.

So I know that these products work very well for me after trying just about all tricks, but don't listen to me and simply look at the ingredients and the amount list provided by each product manufacture:


e-Gel vs Gu: 4x more Sodium and 2x more Potassium than Gu


e-Gel vs. Gu Roctane: almost 2x more Sodium and Potassium at 1/2 the price.


Salt Stick Caps ingredients:

Saturday

Evolution Solution - Infinitize/Refinitize Product Shoot

My friend and owner of Evolution-Solution asked me to provide him with some product shots. They make a performance supplement and a recovery/protein supplement mixed with water or any other fluids you prefer. Both look promising!

Infinitize is marketed as premium endurance sports supplement designed for athletes to sustain stable energy and mental focus while preventing cramps and muscle burn during activity in their Berry Chill flavor. It's packed full of BCAAs, Taurine, vitamins, and minerals to keep the body willing during extended workouts.  Want to know more? Here is the supplement breakdown.

Refinitize is their protein recovery supplement which includes whey protein, BioAstin antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and additional amino acids to aid with recovery and muscle development post work out in Chocolate flavor. Want to know more about what's in it? Read here.

Both products can be mixed in water, milk, or any liquid of your preference.
Infinitize - Performance inter activity supplement

Refinitize - Post workout recovery supplement

Monday

Best Sunglasses for Running (Oakley, Tifosi, Optic Nerve)

Tifosi Pave Polarized Fototec Lens
I've seen people run with anything from your cheap gas station to high fashion aviator style sunglasses, so in the end it probably really doesn't matter but a few companies do market their wares to the consumer with an active lifestyle.

There are a number of popular choices when considering sunglasses for running. Let's look at what athletes look for in sun glasses, which is shielding from the sun, rain and elements, while fitting well and looking at your best. They should stay off cheeks and be stable running, jumping, bouncing and even when taking a fall.

Many runners prefer light frames that grip and will endure the elements during the activity. Popular models seem to be sun glasses with the bottom half of the lens exposed. This allows one's vision not to be obstructed by a frame at all, giving them full vision of the ground.

Nike Miler
Polarized lenses eliminate the glare away from wet surfaces, reflective surfaces and snow. Hydrophobic coatings allow moisture to run off the lens without streaks or smears.




Oakley Flak Jacket (LiveStrong edition)
Many runners profess their loyalty to Oakley. I am one of them. The polarized versions of Oakley Half Jacket and the Oakley Flak Jacket are two of the most popular among runners, triathletes, racers, and most everyone exposed to their marketing. The Flak Jacket does have additional benefits as they have a hydrophobic coating which repels moisture and also has a lighter frame.


New Balance (women's)
Also popular are Tifosi Optics which are popular with cyclists, Optic Nerve Sunglasses have gotten a lot of good reviews, then of course the big players Nike Running and New Balance provide some eye wares as well.

Sunglasses are not going to make anyone faster but you can look good and protect your vision getting to the finish using polarized lenses and get a hydrophobic coating kit.



Thursday

2011 Bulldog 25k and 50k Ultras Recap

Preparing for the 50k start
This year's Bulldog goes down as one of the toughest races ever, seriously. On August 27, 2011 the 20th anniversary of the Bulldog 25k and 50k Ultras took place in Calabasas, California on one of the hottest days of the year. The 50k race started off without a hitch at 6:30AM and the 25k at 7:30AM. Many did not finish but I've read that some competitors finished the 50k under the 9-hour cut-off. Congratulations! It was no easy task!

According to mapmyrun.com, the 25k course was over 15.7 miles with 2500ft of accumulated altitude gain, double that for the 50k. On fire roads, through dried out creeks, hopping through smooth boulder out-crops and along engaging single track switchback trails, this course literally has it all. The views along the ridge overlooking Hidden Valley and the Pacific Ocean on the opposite side was a sight to see. Each aid station was well stocked, supported and sight for sore eyes after each segment. The final aid station was located in a shaded grove right next to a creek crossing a couple miles from the end of the course turning out to be a good place to take a dip and hydrate before continuing with the rest of the course. However, before one could finish, they had to get through the deathly hot single track switchbacks where it hit well over 100 degrees before coming out the hills towards the home stretch.

Getting ready for the 25k start
The heat was present in full force as it took it out on participants in numbers, causing many DNFs this year. I brought two 20z running NF bottles but only took one with me which turned out to be much too optimistic. After 2 hours of climbing uphill my left calf started cramping. Looking back, there's a lot of should have's, like I should have brought up both water bottles and spent more time at the aid stations. I had to bear down between aid stations as I ran low on water twice and with mostly exposed trails, it was one of the toughest runs I have ever encountered. It pushed me to my limits.

At one point along the last stretch of the single track switchbacks temperatures hit above the 100s which only increased my resolve to finish the course, as quickly as possible since I had crossed the 3 hour point. I simply couldn't get my body temperature down to continue at pace and early leg cramps had slowed me down already so I tried to enjoy it as much as I could. As I jogged/walked the last couple miles I could hear a number ambulances coming in and two helicopters in the air above me. Through all the heat, dust and 15 miles, I was able to smile as I passed a group of park rangers on horseback sweeping the trails. This Bulldog was well worthy of becoming a major accomplishment.

The 2011 Bulldog has become a conversation piece in the community. The volunteers, ambulances, the helicopters, the sweepers, the rangers and race director supported the event incredibly well. I tell my friends at one point towards the end I thought I was going to be in a really bad spot and had pushed myself harder than I thought I possibly could. I am constantly surprised by how strong and compassionate people can be in the trail running and ultra running community. Looking back at it all, I can't wait to do it again. Everyone who finished worked hard for their medals and those who didn't can still say they did something that most would claim is simply crazy. Next for me is likely the XTerra Trail Run series which start off on October 16th, I'm already itching to run it.

Dave's blog at Wonderful World of Dave also recaps the 2011 Bulldog with more pictures. 

Saturday

Asics Blur 33 vs. Rush 33

Asics Blur 33
The Asics Blur 33 and Rush 33 are available. Finish Line has them in multiple colors and Road Runner Sports is taking orders too. I just happened to go by the local Sports Authority in town and they have two colors of the Blur 33 in stock and one color of the Rush 33.  At the store, I had a chance to try both the Blur 33 and Rush 33.

First, both Asics 33s have minimal to no heel to toe drop. They feel different from typical running shoes where they are supposed to feel natural and free. They are Asics answer to the minimalist running movement, however, they aren't very minimal. The Blur 33 is plush, includes gel cushioned soles and feels similar but not exactly like the Nike Free. In fact, my Kayano 16s feel stiff compared to the softness of the Blur 33s. There is good flex in the forefoot and the tread grips nicely. However, they are not as light as advertised and I am wearing the US9.5 Men's which come close to 11oz each. The shoes are true to size in length and fits a bit snugly around the midfoot with socks but they fit perfectly barefoot. The Blur 33 feel good running and have grown on me with the plush cushioning comfort without any the heel to toe drop. I've also been running in Kayano 16s and New Balance 890s which seem firm after running in the Blur 33s.

Asics Rush 33
The Rush 33, Asics low mileage minimalist shoe is a bit of a surprise and not in a positive way. They are stiffer across the outer sole and has no cushioning. On the ground, impact is not softened, the feel comes through. The Rush 33 are $20-$30 less than the Blur 33, however, the lower cost isn't all positives. It translates in to some attributes that make them seem less. The upper mesh is not very breathable nor does the materials used seem to be as of high quality. The Blur 33 is simply built better, breathable, comfortable, and uses better materials compared to the Rush 33. However if you're looking for a stiff, close to the ground feeling ride, the Rush 33 will deliver. The Rush 33 will make a great gym shoe because they are flat, complimenting a natural stance and help with stability because you can feel the ground through the non-cushioned soles. Two very different shoes in the same Asics minimalist line up but both can serve a purpose and they come in some great colors.

In conclusion, running in the Blur 33 proved they are well cushioned with a very soft, gel feel for those looking for cushioning in a shoe but prefers no heel to toe drop. The Rush 33, the closest to a minimalist shoe that Asics has produced has no cushioning, feels stiff and makes a good gym shoe but it could be improved by using the same light and breathable upper mesh material in its bigger sibling Blur 33s.

Friday

2011 Running Shoes - Asics vs. New Balance

Asics or New Balance? Here's what makes them different and both effective running shoes.
Please note, I post mostly men's shoes but all these shoes are available in women's model's as well.

The Essential Comparisons:
The biggest difference between Asics and New Balance are the Asics Gel sole and the New Balance Abzorbs Foam sole technologies. Asics Gel soles give their shoes a plush gel cushion making them soft in sensation. New Balance Abzorbs Foam also cushions well using a foam technology that is equally as effective but not gel like. Depending on your activity you may find that you like one over the other. I simply find them different and they both do a pretty good job.

Upper materials are also somewhat different between the two manufacturers. Asics typically use soft stretcheable mesh uppers in most of their shoes giving them a snug feeling as the material surrounds the foot. This gives them the snug and comfortable feeling to their shoes that they are known for and that many like. Asics also uses something called Ahar Heel Plugs which supposedly absorb shock from heel strikes and less prone to quick wear.

New Balance tends to use lighter materials in the uppers but just as tough and breathable. Although they don't tout a special heel plug the shoes are just as effective. New Balance shoes tend to feel more like a runner's shoe as they are different from the insulated feeling of most Asics. Also, it seems in most cases that Asics technology and materials in the more advanced Asics running shoes are just a tad heavier compared to New Balance of the similar models.

Fore-foot/Mid-foot support
New Balance 890
Asics DS Sky Speed 2
The latest models of the New Balance 890 and Asics DS Sky Speed 2 are direct competitors in the fore to mid-foot support shoe market. They are good everyday runners with sufficient cushioning. They are two very different shoes but are worth every penny for those looking for fore-foot to mid-foot support.





Minimalists
Asics Blur 33
While Asics running shoes have essentially made small changes in recent years and have been typically following innovations they went all out with the Asics Gel-Blur 33 and Rush 33. Asics has come up with something completely different. They have practically no heel to toe drop so they provide a solid, free feeling, and natural experience. The Blur 33 are quite unique with the softest gel like cushioning I've ever felt. The only thing I can compare them to are the way Nike Free running shoes feel.






New Balance Minimus
New Balance has moved forward with new designs and materials with the New Balance Minimus series, which are purely minimalist shoes with little to no cushioning and closest to the barefoot experience, they are comparable to Merrel Barefoot shoes and Vibram 5 Fingers.

While Asics and New Balance may be your first choices for running shoes keep in mind there are other brands such as Saucony, Brooks, Nike and Reebok.  A shoe that is comfortable and doesn't hurt you during activities is a good shoe but if you're looking for performance I recommend moving away from the heavier, typical shoes to newer, lighter technologies.

For Pavement:  
Asics Kayano 17
From Asics, the popular 2011 Asic Kayano 17 provide a lot of support and Asic DS Sky Speed 2 provide good support for fore-foot/mid-foot runners. These two are favored by many for those wanting a good amount of support and cushioning in a running shoe. Asics also released the Gel-Blur 33 the softest gel cushioning I've ever felt in running shoes which have no heel to toe drop for a free feeling running experience.



New Balance 1226

The New Balance equivalent to the above is the new 2011 New Balance 1226, focusing on good foot support and arch support. The New Balance Abzorbs Foam is somewhat lighter than Asics Gel technology. What gets me excited for New Balance are their newer lines of shoes, the Minimus for minimalists and NB890s for those who are not ready to go minimal but want something close with just as much cushioning but lighter than a typical running shoe.



For Trails:
Montrail Mount Mashocist
For trail runners, Asics makes the Gel-Trail Sensor. More popular are the NB101 from New Balance and the trail version of the Minimus. Many ultra runners also consider Vasque, Montrail, Salomon and The North Face as well as many others. From Montrail, the Mount Masochist is a women's Gear of the Year award winner is proven to be a performance trail running shoe which is also available in a highly water resistant GTX version (gortex). Also check out Salomon, another performance trail running shoe manufacturer well known around the world.

Thursday

Montecito Half Marathon - Challenging and Fun

Kevin Steele Photography
The Montecito-Summerland Half Marathon, 10k and 5k fun run fell on July 16, 2011. There were over 360 participants and sunny weather along with last minute course changes. The course changed from about a 400ft accumulated elevation change to approximately 930ft a couple days before the event. For those who showed up in Summerland on Friday afternoon to pick up their race packets and pasta dinner waited in line for an hour to get their bibs however bout 30% of those who showed up didn't get one. Many runners had driven hours from far of parts of California were instructed to pick them up on the morning of the event. The poor volunteers working the tables took the brunt of some of the complaints. Despite the pre-race preparation issue for some, the event itself was enjoyable and event day was well executed. I'm sure everyone agrees that if this race director can be improve the pre-race organization and hold off on last minute changes, so will the attitude of participants. There's a lot of potential for the race director.

Photos of the event by Kevin Steele Photography

Kevin Steele Photography
During the race, I recognized many of the volunteers along the course from the Santa Barbara Athletic running and triathlon clubs. The weather was beautiful, sunny down below as runners were running in the clouds (literally) as they climbed the 1000 feet up through the Montecito mountains' low clouds where it cooled off at the peak of the out and back course. There were plenty of well stocked aid stations (fruit, pastries, water, electrolyte water, GU and friendly volunteers) to aid runners every few miles along the course. Montecito Police also held traffic at a few busy intersections (Thank you Montecito Police). At the finish, a crowd cheered on runners returning and there was aid waiting as well as an enthusiastic finish line announcer. I ran with an injury but still had a great time, this was a fun half marathon and I was glad the course had changed into a challenging hill climb. As I sat at the Summerland Cafe eating brunch with friends afterwards, we watched the last of the runners trickling in an hour later, finishing the 13.5 mile half marathon course (yes it turned out to be just about a half mile over). Montecito-Summerland Half Marathon turned out to be enjoyable, challenging and fun.

Monday

My 5th, 6th and 7th Running Races... I think I've got a problem

If you've read any of my earlier blogs, then you'll know that earlier this year I ran my very first race. It was a 4 miler and made surprisingly good time of 7:34 per mile. Since then I haven't been able to hit those times again in a 5 mile, 10k and 10 mile race but I'm hooked. I was either in the high 7s/low 8s or as in the 10 mile trail race in the high 8s/low 9s (probably slower due to terrain). I realize it could be a combination of additional distance and that I've stopped my hard core 3 hour work outs that I was doing 4 to 5 days a week. However the point has become moot as I've increased distance, prolonged endurance is now a factor. Running for 1.5 to 2 hours at a time requires hydration and nutrition so I've started to experiment with carrying a water bottle, GU, Clif Bloks and GU Chews. My weekly long runs are now 10 miles in preparation to run a 15k, a half marathon then 25k trail race all between now and August.

Are you a traveling runner or on the west coast this summer? Here are some of events in California.

Central California (near San Francisco)
Headlands 50 and Marathon - Tiburon, California. Sat. July 16, 2011
La Sportiva Table Rock Trail Race 25k - Stinson Beach, California. July 23, 2011

Southern California (near Los Angeles)
Mt. Dissapointment 50k - Mount Wilson, California. Aug. 13, 2011
Bulldog 50k and 25k - Calabasas, California. August 27, 2011

Tuesday

2011 New Balance 890 Review

New Balance 890
I recently started running in a pair of New Balance 890. It's their new middle ground shoe that falls between a traditional heel strike shoe and a minimal shoe. The materials used in the 890 are comfortable and very light. The shoe provides enough cushioning and support for mid-range to long runs and find them great to run in.

By using a new cushioning material called Rev-Lite and stitch-less uppers, New Balance claims the cushioning power is just as strong and 30% lighter than material used in other foam cushioned shoes. These shoes are only 9.7 ounces per shoe (size US9.5 men's). The shoes are also seamless/stitch-less so they fit very comfortably over the top of the foot with no seams or shoe laces felt at all.

The NB890 fills the spot as something new for those who aren't ready to try minimalist shoes such as the New Balance Minimus, Merrel Barefoot or Vibram 5 fingers but looking to for mid/fore foot striking support. These have quickly become my favorite shoes for light, cushioned mid-support daily runners. If Asics is your preference I would highly recommend also checking out the Asics DS Sky Speed 2 equivalent.

Sunday

Luis Escobar's Born To Run Ultras - Los Olivos, California

Guillermo Medina, 1st in 100 Mile
Graced by the presence of the host, Luis Escobar and the Caballo Blanco (Micah True),  it was as if the stories in the book Born To Run by Christopher McDougall came to life before my eyes with its characters. The Caballo Blanco even led the morning with an oath taken by every runner before the run, echoing the story itself, "If I get hurt, lost or die. It's my own "effing" fault!" (He actually said the f-bomb and not effing). The course, two ten mile loops, the second loop with a nice steep hill climb towards the end and some of them mighty steep as the second loop merged back with the first loop along the course.

The morning, afternoon and evening was glorious. Rolling hills, virgin lands no one had ever raced on, brand new paths in the knee high foxtail grass that took runners into the base of picture perfect rolling hills. Around 11PM it became a wet and muddy event as the rain came down (only to clear up by the next day). The steep descent of a hill in the second loop became a slippery water slide as rains and winds came upon us in the middle of the night. However the image of being in the middle of a field, surrounded by rolling hills in the dead of the night, on a path barely beaten down by runners in faded moonlight behind the stormy clouds and chilling wind will always be a warm memory of the Born To Run Ultras event.

My 10 mile run was as enjoyable as could be as I my body drained a GU Roctane for the last few miles cruising past the true endurance runners pacing themselves for the long haul. (Luis Escobar is an established photographer, a character in Born To Run and ultra runner sponsored by Montrail). It was a grass roots ultra affair at its best attracting over 160 runners from around the country when they first only expected 20 people to show up. The other categories were 10 miles, 50k, 100k and 100 miles. My friend Eric Yan finished the 100 mile race achieving his personal best time of 19:59 (that is 19 hours and 59 minutes) finishing 4th. The North Face sponsored Guillermo Medina finished 1st in a blistering 18:58 and it wasn't even one of his best days. He had beaten Lance Armstrong just a few weeks before at the Santa Barbara Endurance Race. The Caballo Blanco (Micah True) even ran the 50k event I believe. Barefoot Ken Bob Saxton was also present promoting his new book on barefoot running.

Eric Yan, 4th in 100 Mile
I was able to pace a 100 mile runner on her 7th 10 mile loop through wind, rain and mud. She was moving along nicely until later that evening when she couldn't hold anything down. The upset stomach and throwing up had begun. I did my best to pace a racer through constant puking, sleep walking and what seemed like dire times in the middle of nature during adverse weather conditions, running ahead then running back just to keep warm as she stopped every few minutes to dry heave her guts out all the while sleep shuffling. She refused to take a gel or anything and when we finally reached the last aid station, set her head down to rest. Some hot food might have helped her recover for the last few miles to end this 7th loop but the race had taken her by this point and there wasn't any hot food at this aid station. She decided to quit the race on her own but sometimes I wonder if I should have pushed her to keep going.

It must be the crazy gene in me looking forward to going 50 miles but I always learn something new about something myself and as humans all the time. I noticed many runners at night had poor lighting and not enough rain/cold resistant outer layers when adverse weather hit. It seems like a good idea to have a good night light, pair of dry, water proof running shoes, gaiters and a rain proof soft shell waiting around just in case. I was shivering like heck when we had to grab a ride in a truck back to camp in my soaked long sleeve wicker shirt and shorts but the runner and I were all smiles as we sipped on our hot soup because these ultra runners are something crazy. Something good crazy.