Back To Basics.

It has been a long time since I’ve raced – a really long time!

It has been 180 days since I’ve started a race.
It has been 209 days since I’ve finished a race.
It has been 287 days since I’ve done a road race.

Tomorrow is the CNY Springtime 10k. Woo hoo!

To prepare for the race, I’ve given myself a few simple reminders:

1. Work out really hard the day before the race.

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2. Eat lots of fettucine alfredo.

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3. Wear lots of cotton.

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4. Perform a thorough warm-up.

5. Go out fast. Being in front at the beginning is more important than a good finish.

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6. As soon as the finish line is in sight, start to celebrate.

7. Rehydrate after the race.

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8. Ignore other runners and post results to social media as soon as possible.

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Are you racing this weekend?

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La Sportiva Wildcat 2.0 GTX Review

   

These shoes are awesome. The last few winters, I have trained in the Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra 2 GTX. Next winter, I will be using the Wildcat 2.0 GTX – that’s how much I liked this shoe.

The Wildcat 2.0 GTX is extremely comfortable – it has a soft, seamless upper and a decent toebox. I would have preferred it a little bit wider in the toebox, but it was certainly adequate.

  

The shoe has a 12mm drop and the size 10.5/43.5 weighed 15.6 ounces on my scale.

  

I prefer GTX in the winter because it’s a mess here, but the shoe has a hard rubber toecap that is trail-ready any time of year. In addition, there are some decent lugs on the bottom. They are the perfect height for most types of trail (see picture). In addition, the outsole is sticky and has excellent grip.

  

These shoes have the La Sportiva Impact Brake System. This means the lugs on the soles are oriented in opposing slanted directions. According to La Sportiva, this opposition increases braking power by an average of 20% and decreases impact forces by and average of 20%.

 

Pros:

– comfortable
– GTX
– excellent traction
– seamless
Impact Brake System
– design – these shoes are very stylish – trail chic

Cons:

– weight – even for a heavy-duty trail shoe, they’re pretty heavy
– cost

This shoe is available on the La Sportiva site for $155. It is available at Backcountry for $154.95. It is available at REI for $155.

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A Busy Weekend

The News

Stephanie Howe and Alex Varner photo credit: Bryon Powell/iRunFar

Stephanie Howe and Alex Varner
photo credit: Bryon Powell/iRunFar

There were several big events going on over the weekend. Two events really captured my attention. First, the Lake Sonoma 50 was on Saturday. Last year, the race was a thriller that came down to the wire. This year, it was a romp. Alex Varner raced to a course record in 6:09:39 and Stephanie Howe snagged a record of her own in 7:08:23.

*** There was one finisher before Alex, as seen below. However, he missed several checkpoints along the course and was disqualified.

   

Full results of Lake Sonoma are available here.

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Meanwhile, nearly 6,000 miles away, the 24-Hour World Championships were taking place in Turin, Italy. You would think that running in circles (the course included a track and the total loop distance was 1700m) for twenty-four hours would be boring, but the race was marred by an electrical outage and an unrelated fire – no worries, everything was fine.

The American women dominated. They took 1st, 2nd and 4th overall.

  

The team scoring is based on the top three runners from a country – therefore, the American women won the team competition handily.

  

The American men came in 8th, 9th and 41st.

  

They came in 4th in the team competition.

  

The overall female champion, Katalin Nagy, managed about 152 miles in twenty-four hours, while the male champion, Florian Reus, took down about 164 miles.

Robbie Britton, the third place finisher, climbed on the podium and covered up the Nike swooshes on his uniform in protest of them sponsoring repeat drug offender Justin Gatlin. For more on that, click here.

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Race Results

I might be racing this weekend. I’m not sure. I’ve been battling an injury over the last week. I’ll probably decide by Wednesday. It’s been forever since I’ve raced, and I would definitely like to get back out there, especially since the weather has finally improved!

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My Training

My training was going well until Monday when my right quad decided to call it quits on me. I’ve never had a quad strain before (and hopefully I’ll never have one again). I took three days off. Unfortunately, that turned an 80-mile training week into a 40-mile training week. However, now that I’m older and wiser, I knew to rest it. After all, a 40-mile week is still better than numerous 0-mile weeks.

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When is your next race?

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VDOT Running Calculator

  

Howdy! Today’s post is about a nifty app that I was introduced to this morning. It’s called VDOT Running Calculator and it was designed with Jack Daniels. If anyone knows about training and racing, it’s Jack.

I downloaded the app and started with the calculator. I haven’t done a lot of road racing lately, so I punched in a half marathon time from last year. The calculator informed me I had a VDOT of 62.

What is VDOT?

According to the app, VDOT is a score or measure of a race performance. It assesses fitness level, determines proper training paces and an equivalent race performance at a different race distance.

Why Is This Useful?

The calculator informed me that my easy pace is 6:56-7:21/mile, my marathon pace is 6:03/mile, my threshold pace is 5:45/mile, my interval pace is 5:17/mile and my repetition pace is 4:53/mile (the app also includes definitions of these terms).

Not only does the app help you out with training paces, it includes equivalent times for other distances. For example, my half marathon time is equivalent to a 2:38:50 marathon, a 16:33 5k, etc. I think this is extremely useful on the roads, because the calculator does the work in terms of letting you know what pace to start at.

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Some of this info is available in other places on the web. Also, there are other equivalency calculators out there that are slightly different (McMillan has one that I’ve used in the past). With that being said, I think this is a useful tool to have on your phone – and it’s free!

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How do you feel about running “calculators” – helpful or not helpful?

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Still Snowing…

  

I’m sure the suspense has been killing you so here’s an update: as of Easter, it was still snowing. Not a lot. Just enough to be annoying. Rant over.

The News

Over the weekend, Zach Bitter took a shot at the world record for 100 miles (on the track). In case you’re wondering, the world record is 11:28:03 and it is held by Oleg Kharitonov. Zach went through 50 miles in 5:41:40, but he had to call it quits just seven miles later due to quad issues. I guarantee that won’t be his last attempt at the 100-mile record.

The Marathon des Sables is currently underway in the Sahara. Head on over to the site to check out results and a live webcam.

The Lake Sonoma 50 is this Saturday. I consider this the unofficial start to ultra season, as the race is basically a who’s who of ultrarunning. Last year’s race was a thriller, as Zach Miller, Sage Canaday and Rob Krar finished the 50-mile race within two minutes of each other. Check out last year’s race here.

The Boston Marathon is only two weeks away! Nothing can top Meb’s win from last year. What are you looking forward to in this year’s race?

Race Results

I’m racing in just over 10 days – yay! It’s been a long time and I’m looking forward to it!

My Training

I actually feel pretty beat up. I haven’t done anything too crazy, but I’m feeling a bit worn out. I’m going to blame it on the weather and the extremely long winter… and the fact that I turned 35.5 yesterday. My workouts have still been decent quality so I think that is the positive takeaway :)

Also, near the end of my run yesterday, I saw a one-legged duck standing in a giant puddle that was formerly a sidewalk. I think it means something, I’m just not sure what…

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Duke or Wisconsin?

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Salomon Sense Mantra 3 Review

   

I was very excited when Salomon indicated they were making a shoe with a wider toebox. Salomon shoes are awesome but almost all of them run narrow. Also, at least in the United States, they are not available in widths.

With that being said, the Sense Mantra 3 is completely different. The toebox is huge! Not only does the shoe provide extra width in the toebox, there is also lots of room up/down in the toebox.

  

The size 10.5 was 11.1 ounces on my scale. The heel is 20mm and the forefoot is 14mm – a 6mm drop.

I generally wear a 10 or a 10.5 – in this case, I went with the 10.5, and it was the right decision.

The shoe has the classic Salomon lacing system and a nice sole. You wouldn’t take it on the most rugged terrain, but it’s certainly adequate for pavement and gentle trails.

  

I think these shoes are stylish and they were definitely quite comfortable. They might be a little heavy for racing, but they would definitely make a great trainer.

They reminded me a lot of the Inov-8 Race Ultra 290. In fact, many of the specs are pretty similar.

 

Pros:

– wide toebox – finally!
– quality
– stylish design
– quick lace system
– nice sole

Cons:

– weight – a little heavy for racing
– there was a little too much room in the toebox up/down (although this is more of a personal preference)

They are available at Running Warehouse for $120.

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Hills.

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During a few [long] races last year, my quads were shot by the end, and I often found myself walking down some of the steeper hills.

I’m trying to avoid that happening again this year. One thing I’ve done is tweaked my hill workouts. Here’s my new approach:

– Run hard up the hill (about half a mile in distance with 150 feet of vertical – unfortunately, that’s as good as I can do around here)
– Walk for 30 seconds
– Run hard down the hill
– Walk for 30 seconds

This is a change for me. I used to focus only on the uphill. However, heeding the adivce of Ian Sharman and others, I am now focusing on downhills as well. I look forward to Spring when I can get on the trails and take advantage of hills with 300 to 400 foot asecents/descents.

It’s too early to recognize any improvement in my legs/downhill running, but I’m cautiously optimistic!

How do you run your hill workouts?

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