Friday, February 8, 2013

Montrail Fluid Flex, It's Flexible!

New from Montrail comes the Fluid Line with the new outlook on footwear of “pure and simple.”

First up, the Fluid Flex. This is Montrail’s first attempt at the lower drop shoe. Sitting on 15mm heel and 11 mm forefoot brings the shoe to a 4mm offset. It is built on Montrail’s Fluid Foam platform and one-piece molded, souped-up EVA. The foam offers a plush ride and is very responsive. The shoe features an asymmetric lace pattern for a mid foot wrap that leaves you feeling secure and comfortable. It weighs in at 7.6 oz for men and 6.1 for women. Weight savings come from Montrail’s micro lugging and the fact that they only put on in the heel and forefoot. 

Try-on factor of the shoe was a little bit of a wow reaction -- mainly because when I previewed the line, this was the last one I thought would fit my wide foot. Do I have a lot of extra room? No, but the mesh in the upper and the asymmetrical lacing make it feel very comfortable. Once I stood up, I was a little more sold on it, and then when I took a lap around the store, I was fully sold. I immediately purchased the shoe and got very excited for the next morning to come.

The first run in this shoe was short, fast and sweet. It was a test for sure, being that there was two inches of snow on the trail. The loop I did consisted of single track, fire road, and paved road, all covered in snow. Coming into winding curves on the single track, I felt safe keeping my speed up. Bombing the rocky downhills that were littered with snow-covered ankle turners and patches of ice, I still felt safe. Even crossing a stream on a snowy log, I was just enjoying myself the entire time.

So Montrail on the trail, DUUHH! The real test was the paved section. It was part ice/part asphalt and still felt great. The foam responds quickly to every foot strike and offers a springy cushion that leaves your feet as happy as your mental state.

To conclude, this shoe is my new favorite and I can’t wait to put some miles on them. In fact, next week I have a 50K that I have a time goal for, and since I could use the weight savings, I have decided to strap these on next week and go for it.

Will these shoes replace what I am wearing now (Mountain Masochist 2)? No, but it is a shoe that should be in your tool box for speed training, fun fast runs or race situations where saving weight could help you out.

The Fluid Flex comes in at $89.99 so like every Montrail shoe, it’s a bargain for what your getting. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

CookRunBeer: Cold Weather Running

CookRunBeer: Cold Weather Running: Cold Weather Running When the weather turns cold, most peoples motivation to run drops off. This is fine if you don’t have a schedule of...

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Cold Weather Running

Cold Weather Running
When the weather turns cold, most peoples motivation to run drops off. This is fine if you don’t have a schedule of races coming up in the spring. For those of us who are planning on racing, this time of cold weather is crucial for our training. While I cant help you get out of bed or off the couch, I can offer some tips on making your eventual run more enjoyable, Whether it be dark and cold, rainy and cold, sunny and cold, you get the point.  Personally I like running in cold weather because of the all the options. When it gets very cold you can just put on more layers and push forward. It gets tricky in very warm weather; there is a point that you may offend other runners when trying to stay cool. Below are the various layers and combinations that can be used for cold weather running.
Base layer- this can be from a top to sock. Base layers are usually thin and made of a wool or moisture wicking micro fiber. Wool is chosen because it is warm and has natural wicking ability. The purpose of the base layer is to draw moisture away from the skin and into the other layers. Having your skin dry is going to keep your core warmer for longer. You can use a thin base layer on your feet, legs, and torso.

Mid layer- depending on the temperature outside and your normal core temperature a mid layer could be all you need. The mid layer is there to hold in the warmth created by your radiating body temperature. As your body heats up and the base layer draws away moisture the mid layer will trap the heat in between the two layers keeping you core warm. Fleece, wool, and sometimes down are used to make mid layer clothing. Wool and micro fiber are the best choices for mid layer because of the wicking properties and the ability to stay insulating when wet. Down loses its insulating properties and becomes heavy when wet.

Outer layer or shell layer- the shell is used for blocking wind and water, depending on the brand and material the shell layer can be completely waterproof down to water resistant. Most running shells are water resistant allowing the companies to offer a breathable jacket that blocks water to a certain degree with out trapping in moisture, which is your worst nightmare in cold situations. You are the warmest when you are dry.
 The accessory category consists of items to keep you warm and/or safe. Included in the category is; Hats, gloves, arm warmers, gloves, socks, reflective vest, blinking lights, gaiters for feet and neck, spikes. These are all personal preference choices and depend on what parts of your body are coldest

Head & Face - is very important for trapping heat where it escapes the most rapidly; heat rises so naturally your head will lose the most heat. Keep your head covered with something micro fiber or wool so that it pulls the moisture away and keeps your head dry. It is also important to choose a hat that dries quickly because a soggy hat can get very cold. Balaclava & neck gaiter- a neck gaiter is a closed ended scarf that slips over your head and protects your neck from cold wind, and a balaclava is essentially a neck gaiter with a hood and face mask, both help to keep the air flowing into your lungs from so cold as well as protecting from cold wind burn.

Hands & Arms - come in many materials and types; wool, micro fiber, cotton, fleece, leather, and I’m sure something else. For our application lets stick with wool, fleece, and micro fiber.  The types of gloves are; mittens, traditional glove, a 2-in-1 (five finger with a mitten shell), and the convertible (a five finger glove that covers the finger to the first knuckle and a flip over mitten). Which glove you choose is a personal preference and depends on how your fingers react to cold. For example, I have very cold hands even in mild temperatures so I prefer the convertible because my hands are warmest when the fingers are touching and covered, as the day heats up I like the option to take my fingers out and let them breath, then be able to put them away when they get cold again (they always do). 

Feet – to keep your feet warm you want to find a sock that is thinner and contains a large percentage of wool. You can also add a sock liner for additional warmth and moisture wicking. The most important aspect of choosing socks is choosing one that has moisture wicking fabric (which is why wool is a good choice, it is naturally wicking)

Safety - made by Yak Traksâ, or MICROspikesâ. These products give you traction in snowy and icy conditions. In the winter you will have those days of running in the dark. To keep safe, there are many forms of reflectivity and lighting to consider.

So even with all that information, I am sure there are a few out there that are too tough for all this technical stuff. Those of you that fail into the tough category will wear shorts, ankle socks and a single layer top, and that’s fine. A Word of warning, don’t be surprised when us properly dressed folks blow past you late in a training run or race, when your energy has been zapped because your internal systems have been wasting energy on trying to keep your body warm

Thursday, September 15, 2011

CookRunBeer: Training Notes: A Rookie Break through

CookRunBeer: Training Notes: A Rookie Break through: Atop Old Rag Mountain in Syria, VA I don't know if you are like me but when I am interested/passionate about something I immerse my se...

Training Notes: A Rookie Break through

Atop Old Rag Mountain in Syria, VA

I don't know if you are like me but when I am interested/passionate about something I immerse my self with reading, watching videos, listening to podcasts or just asking the veterans Questions about how it works, how to get better etc. Since starting this ultra running thing I have followed so many techniques and read so much. The most common thing i've read about training for ultra marathons is that no one technique works for everyone. In a nut shell, you have to try a lot of methods to build your stamina, pain tolerance, endurance, strength and anything else it takes to run longer than most people like to drive. In my reading I found a runner who has a philosophy that keeps coming back to my mind, Geoff Roes. Geoff has become one of my running hero's because of his laid back approach, I dont mean laid back as in lazy or "whatever man" he is no doubt a hard worker, the proof is in all the wins he has bagged over the years. Is Geoff my only hero? No, but when it comes to training I have found that the mind set he has or at least the one he talks about (I've never had a conversation about it with him, let alone met him) fits me perfect.

I have been trying all sorts of methods to get better: speed training, hill work, all trail, all road, 50/50, 70/30 you get the point. My biggest obstacle has been consistency, I would go hard and then get tired or worse, hurt, Until recently. I have been following the "Relentless Forward Progress" training program (this is not a mantra it's a book written by Bryon Powell, a great book at that so check out the link) I love this program, it gives me guidance, a set schedule, and motivation.  However good the program and however much I like it ,  I have been getting tired and  having a days worth of cold symptoms, then it goes and then it comes back. Given the stress I was having of making sure I get the run done no matter what and the cranky pants that comes when I don't get or even don't want to get it done, It was time for a tweak. The problem was that I didn't have a tweak in my holster, I haven't been doing this long enough. Behold a tweet from Geoff Roes. He had an article about consistency, but a different type of consistency than I have been having. This is a long term consistency rather than a, you guessed it,  short term. Rather than focussing on your day or week or even month, focus on your year or life. Think long term, if you push your self every day of every week, week after week then you will break down and then if you keep doing it you will break. I would like to say that this is what I took from the article you can read it yourself and take what you may. Think about running consistently for a year in a sense that, if you're not injured or broken you can take a beak when you get tired and unmotivated then pick it back up when your ready. the most important thing I took or interpreted from this is that you never have to run when you dont want to so therefore all your runs are invigorating and fun. Isn't fun the most important part of running? If you're not making money doing it, why be out on the trail miserable? I run for that child like sense of adventure, where it can take you and the things you can experience. From my own experience you cant run into a bear or a rattle snake running intervals around the track. You certainly cant strip down and jump into a cool natural pool after a run in your neighborhood.

The Pool - The Strip = Spared

For the past two weeks I have switched gears and began running when I felt like it and the thing I noticed is that I am not running less but running more and happier.  I do my long runs in the mountains on the weekend and they are getting easier or less hard (if it's easy you're not doing it right), my weekly runs have not been so regimented if I go out and feel like doing 10 or 12 miles mid week I do it, if I only feel like 3 then thats all I do. Another thing I noticed is that my millage in the past two weeks is higher than it has been and I feel better than I have ever felt. The interim weight I gained living back home has vanished. I am back down to my 50k PR weight. The funny thing about that, is that when I was down in weight and ran my PR I was training the same way but didn't realize it. I was just out there with my buddies Jake and Ben (who I hope will be ready for an even better time at Sylamore next year) just having a good time and if I did not feel like running there was always something else to do. I hope that I can hold on to this felling and have this consistency through out life because every time I lace up my shoes I want that grin of excitement to wash over me and I want to let it fly.... Or not!

Here is a link to Geoff's blog and the article he wrote on consistency Fumbling Towards Endurance

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Running in the mountains

I hope everyone had as good a Labor Day as I did. This year I traded a hot dog and beer coma for hours of trail running and some camping. Was there beer? yes... Was there hot dogs? yes.... The main focus was the trail running. A dinner party brought me to the Shenandoah Valley this weekend and besides making a little money the idea of spending all weekend running around the mountains was a welcome idea.

A day before I left for the Shenandoah I put a post on WVMTR's Facebook page, a call to anyone wanting to run 24 miles out in that area on Sunday. A familiar voice called back, Terrapin 50k race buddy Kenny sent me an email and shortly after that, we had a plan (kind of). All we knew was we were going to run on the Allegheny trail. What we didn't know, is what was in store. The plan was 2 pm at exit 1 on 64, which turned out to be known as Jerry's Run. For those interested in exploring the Allegheny, the southern terminus starts at Jerry's run. Coming from the North you would take I-64 west off of I-81 and take it to exit 1 about 55 miles, from the exit turn right and continue on the gravel road past the sign that reads ".25 miles road ends". From the South, take I-64 east from West Virginia crossing into Virginia at exit 1 take a left and cross the over pass to the gravel road.

At 2:00 or shortly after that, I met Kenny on the side of the road, we parked there because of the strange people parked at the parking area. (I think a good tip for anyone, if there are strange people at a remote parking lot and you plan on being out for hours, park somewhere else and run in to the trail head) We headed out about 2:45, and since it was later in the day we decided to focus more on the time. So off we went for a 2.5 hours out and back. Our first impression was that no one had been out there in a long time. Not much happened to change our impression. The terrain was all but very runnable. A lot of the trail was more of a "connect the blazes" type trail and the amount of wrong turns we took was proof of that. Along with briars and prickers there was enough bear scat to put up a log cabin. I hoped for a sighting but no luck that day. All in all I had a great day, not surprisingly Kenny was great company and a treasure trove of info. Highlight of said info was the new water treating technique that I almost had to use. Summation of the day 15+ miles in 4:48, a very slow pace by normal standards but considering the 7200 feet of gain and loss, poorly managed trail, and wrong turns we had a good time and a good run/hike.

Day 2 put me about 40 miles east on I-64 at Douthat State Park. This was my 2nd visit there and I really love it. I put together a nice 13 mile loop on the fly. I was feeling a little stiff and exhausted, I think due to my deflated air mattress, putting my rib cage right on a tree root, or maybe all the driving, or even the realization that I had not had enough electrolytes. The latter of the reasons was a humorous realization mid way through my run on Monday. On the recomendation of a recent purchase of "Fixing your feet" a book written by John Vonhof, I purchased some lysine and glysine to ease an Achilles strain. The humorous/potentially dangerous part of this is that glysine looks exactly like Endurolytes. The bottle they came in was glass, I dropped it, put it in a baggie and stuck it in my running kit. Two weeks later I found them right before we stepped on the Allegheny. So for that 5 hour run and the 2.5 hour run the following day I was taking glysine, instead of Endurolytes. It doesn't work quite the same, either way I lived and ended up having a good run. If your ever near Douthat check out  The Buckhorn camp ground just out side the park heading toward Clifton Forge. Take care everyone, till next time.  

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fuel For The Soul and The Run

Using foods from your own garden or a farmers market adds and aspect to you recipes that you may not normally use. Most people buy things like carrots and beets and never see the tops or the leaves. What you may not know is that these things pack a lot of flavor and nutrients. The tops or greens can also add a visual appeal to your dishes. In the following recipe I used as much of the vegetable as I could. The vegetables meld together to create a sweet, earthy, rich vegetable dish and the addition of the poached egg add some satiety and richness. I hope you enjoy it a much as my family did.

Warm Vegetable salad
Serves 4

3 carrots with tops
6 small beets with tops
2 sweet onions (i used onions from the garden and used the tops also)
2 cobs of corn
1/2 pound of green beans
2 tbsp unsalted butter
salt and pepper to taste
1 pinch chili flake (optional)
4 eggs
crispy warm bread

Remove tops from the beets, carrots, and onions. Gently wash the tops and thoroughly wash the root part.
Place the beets in a pot of cold water and bring to a boil, boil for 35 to 40 minutes or until fork tender. While the beets cook slice the onions into 1/4 inch slices, strip the corn kernels from the cob using a knife,  wash and cut the green beens into 1 inch pieces, cut the carrots into oblique, and roughly chop the beet greens and a few of the carrot tops. In a heavy pan like a cast iron or a ceramic braising pan (I used a ceramic brasier) heat two tbsp of butter, once the butter bubbles and gets hot add the carrots and onions. Cook the carrots and onions until the onions start to caramelize then add the corn and beans and cook until the beans start to turn vibrant green. Next, add the greens and cook everything until all the vegetables are tender season with chili flake salt and pepper. Once the beets are cooked place them in cold water and peel under water (the skin should come right off) cut each beet into 12 pieces and stir into the other vegetables.

For the poached egg heat a wide pot of water filled up 4 inches, add salt and white vinegar. Add enough vinegar to make the water taste acidic. The water should be at a low simmer, just a few bubbles rising from the bottom. Once the water is heated, gently crack the eggs into the water and let cook for around 4 to 6 minutes. Most importantly the whites should be cooked completely and the yolk warmed through. Eggs are cheap and a tester never hurt anyone.

Spoon about a cup and a half of the vegetables into a bowl and place one poached egg on top of each. serve this with some crispy bread and unsalted butter.