Monday, June 29, 2009

R&R Seattle - 12 Summits double

I ran the R&R Seattle Marathon on Saturday and 12 Summits, about 34 miles, on Sunday.

Rock and Roll
My plan was to just run how I felt. I didn't know very much about the course. I checked the elevation the morning of the race to see where the hills were. The only roads I knew I would be running on were the I-90 Bridge and Hwy 99 on the new St. Patties Day Dash course.

I was in the first corral, which was fun. I was lined up just 10-15 feet behind the elite runners and I met a fellow ID member "Kevin", I think he finished around 3:02.

The first hour of the race went by really fast. I was chatting with Ryan and Shawna just enjoying a nice run. R&R has me at 21:48 for the 5k and 44:17 for the 10k. That 10k time included a mile split that was around 8 1/2 minutes from going up the hill at mile 5. Other than that I think I was running right at 7 minute miles. They also had a 9 mile split in there (I don't know why) of 1:04:33, seems like it should have been at 15k.
At around 12.5 miles the marathon and 1/2 merged together and it was a serious mistake by the race staff. We merged in with the 1/2 marathon runners that had averaged almost 2 full minutes per mile slower!!! So for about two miles I had to weave and dodge the slower 1/2 marathoners. It wasn't too bad except for the first half mile of it when we were all jammed into one lane. That was a serious mistake by the race staff, but pretty much their only big one, at least that I saw.

I crossed the 1/2 way point with Shawna right at 3:10 pace. I knew I couldn't keep up this pace once the hills came at around 15-16. And right on cue has I started on the last hill (set of hills from 16-20) I ran out of gas. I was passed by 6-7 runners. Some of whom passed me 4 or 5 times. Even as I was running downhill on the bridge nearing the turn around a found myself checking the pace on my watch and thinking something like, “this is downhill, why is it taking so much effort to run 7:10” or whatever pace it was at that moment. And “if this is so hard coming back up is going to kill me”. I had just finished a gel before the bridge and I guess it started to kick in because as the downhill turned to up I started to feel better. Right after the turn around I had a tiny glass of beer from a Laura, a local runner, and that lifted my spirits. It sloshed and foamed around in my stomach for about 1/2 mile but it gave me something to think about other than how I was about to crash and burn from running faster than my fitness level. At 30k I was at 2:15:32 and felling better.

Well I don't know if it was the beer and the bands or just seeing all my fellow runners going the other way cheering me on and telling me how great I looked but I started to feel a lot better. Not faster just better and as if it took just a little less effort to run that same pace. I passed by the 19 mile mark and did some quick (and simple) math. I figured if I ran 8:00 minute miles to the end I'd be right at 3:15, my PR. I guess the clock must have said something close to 2:19, plus 56 minutes. That’s about all the math I can do in my head at 19 miles. That lifted my spirits even higher. I ought to be able to just jog it in and get a PR. SWEET!!!

I kept doing the math at each mile marker, and kept checking my pace on my Suunto. I was running between 7:15 and 7:45 and averaging (I think) about 7:30. Then it was I can run 8's in and get a 3:14, then 3:13 then I stopped checking and just ran. At 24 miles I was at 2:54:16.

I also had in the back of my head that I would be running tomorrow and that was actually more important than a PR today. I ran the last 2.2 miles in exactly 18 minutes which isn't very fast (8:10 pace) but it did include a nice little hill as you climbed back up onto the viaduct. I finished in 3:12:16 an average of 7:20 mile pace. That's 3:11 faster than my last PR which was at Boston this year. I ran 1:35:10/1:37:06, that's a huge 2nd half PR for me. I normally slow way down in the second half of the race.

Jenn picked me after trying to make it through the maze of closed streets. I had a long ice bath a good meal and then we went to the Strawberry festival. I love fresh picked Strawberries. And of course I had to make a smoothie when we got back.

12 Summits
We had 4 runners show up to run this Tiger Mt. classic. Shawn, Tony (Tc), Linda “Lightening Bolt” Barton and I started off at around 6 AM. I felt better than I thought I would. I could go up and down the hills with just a little more effort than normal and the technical trails were no problem. We took it easy and did the first half in 4 hours. My legs felt good for the first 3 ½ hours then they just went dead. We had a nice long 15 minute break at the turn around then headed back up the trail. My pace was slow all the way to Middle Tiger. I guess that’s when lunch kicked in because I was finally able to keep up again.

We stopped for a few minutes to do some covert vigilante trail work on the back and still make the return trip in just over 4:30 hours. I figured closer to 5 hours. It was a good day to be out on the trail. The rain at 6 am had me a little worried but it eventually stopped and warmed up nicely.

I wore my Brooks Launch road shoe and they did great, for a road shoe. I did find the limit for the shoe. They are not good for very steep inclines. I slipped a little going up the Nook-Section Line trail in the morning, but coming down after 31 miles was down right dangerous. Maybe on fresh legs the lack of traction would be ok but I’ll not be testing that theory out.

I also took a few pictures to update my photo map of the trail. There are 2 new intersections from the logging operations. Watch for that in the next couple days.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Shoe Review: Brooks Launch

Update: I just ran the R&R Seattle Marathon in 3:12 (a 3 minute PR) in the Launch. They performed exactly as they did in my last race, the Lake Youngs Ultra, described below.

I put the Brooks "Launch" on Friday night and I didn't want to take them off. This is a very comfortable and soft shoe. I did some heavy lifting, loading up the trailer for the Lake Youngs Ultra. Being the Race Director I had a ton of things to do but tried to get to bed early, make that before midnight.

I was up before 4:00 am loading the perishables and heading to the start (wearing the Launch). I helped my volunteers set up and check in all the runners and at 7:00 we all started running. The race is mostly on dirt and gravel roads that aren't much softer than asphalt. I wore the Brooks Burn 3 last year but I had to switched to a trail shoe after 20 miles because my feet were getting bruised and sore from all the rocks. That didn't happen on Saturday. I ran the whole 29 miles in the Launch and my feet felt great when I finished. No blisters, no bruises, no soreness. I normally have some shin pain after running this race which did not develop this year.

The traction is not as good as the other Brooks road shoes but it's way better than the Brooks ST 4. The fore foot is well cushioned but the heel might have a little too much cushion. When my form broke down from fatigue, I did some severe heel striking and this shoe is not made for that. They transition from Heel to Toe very nicely and if you consider yourself someone that runs on your toes then you will like this shoe.

The shoe is very breathable and light. If you are a neutral runner this shoe will be your new favorite. If you are a severe heel striker I think it will wear out faster than your other shoes because it's so soft. If you pronate a little you may have to work this into your shoe rotation slowly so you can built up your pronation controlling muscles, ankles, knees, IT band, etc. or you could find yourself injured from a muscle imbalance.

I ran a short recovery run in a pair of Glycerin 6 this morning and compared to the Launch they felt heavy, hard, and the heel toe transition wasn't very smooth. If the shoes could talk they would tell you that they feel like the ugly stepsister.

I've been trying to come up with some "Cons" to go with all these "Pros". I'm having a hard time. You might not like the color, they are pretty bright. And I question the durability because they are just so darn soft. That usually means the shoe isn't meant to last.

Bottom line go try on a pair at your local running store and you will know right away if the shoe is for you.

I will be running the Rock & Roll Marathon in 2 weeks in the Launch. I'll post an update on how the shoe preformed.

Here's a little video from Brooks.

Let me know what you think of it by leaving a comment.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Brooks ASR 6 trail shoe review

This shoe is the trail or “All Season” version of the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 9.

That's actually a light grey not white.
They don’t just slap a lugged trail outsole on it, for traction, and call it a trail shoe. They also changed the uppers to better handle the rain, dirt and mud. The upper is made of a tighter weaved material to keep out the mud and there’s some Hydrophobic foam in the tongue and toe that won’t get heavy when wet. The ASR 5 had a different upper pattern from the GTS. Now the ASR 6 has the same pattern in the upper and the same mid-sole as the GTS 9. That means it now has full length BioMoGo and all the other fancy gadgets that make the GTS so smooth and so popular. To me this made the shoe feel a little softer than the ASR 5’s.

Here is a video from Brooks about the new ASR 6.

So what did I think? As with any Brooks shoe I didn’t waste any time breaking them in. I tried them on when they came in the mail, just to make sure they fit OK, and then I was off and running and running.

On Saturday I ran the Blanchard Mt. Ultra which is 33 miles of trails and logging roads. It has a little of everything (except pavement). I normally wear a straight neutral shoe like the Defyance or the Cascadia. This shoe is more controlling than either of those and it felt a bit more controlling than last year’s ASR 5. It doesn’t twist as much as the Cascadia’s on uneven ground or screaming down switchbacks. That can be a good thing if you’re looking for a little more protection on those longer events. They were comfortable all day (5 hours and 44 minutes) with no blisters or hot spots. The shoe had plenty of cushion while running downhill on the logging road but if you kick a rock or root on a technical trail make sure it’s not on the top of your foot because the tighter weave might help keep out water and dirt but it doesn’t do much against roots. I have the bruise on the top of my foot to prove it.

I also ran another 12.5 miles the next day on Tiger Mt. in the ASR 6’s just to make sure I didn’t have any ill affects from the extra pronation control. I’m happy to report that there were no problems with my IT Bands, knees, hips or ankles. If you are a neutral runner feel free to give them a try.

The new improved lug pattern did a good job (better than the ASR 5) on the steep climbs and the steep descents. I didn’t slip once or fall once either day. There was very little mud but I didn’t have any problems there either.

I would definitely recommend this shoe.

You can see the new improved outsole is a little beefier.

ASR 5 and ASR 6

Yes they gave me plenty of protection against the rocky trail sections, even hammering downhill, but I don't step on any large pointy ones.