Not Vermont

Get'em while you can!

Get’em while you can!

But it might suit your fancy. While I’m still working on my VT Part II post, I figured I’d fill in the time by mentiong that SKORA is having a massive sale. By massive I mean 40-70% off almost everything. It’s a clearance sale, so sizes might be limited, but there’s a lot of shoes there with a good number of sizes. Also, I bet you didn’t know this, because SKORA uses the same platform for their shoes, they’re essentially unisex. The fit is the same from men’s to women’s, the only difference is the size which is offset by 1.5 sizes. So if you’re a dude in a 9, you could also wear a women’s 10.5. Or if you’re a lady with a size 12 you could jump down to men’s 10.5. There are some gender neutral colorways, so give it a shot.

Reviews:

SKORA Fit

SKORA Core
SKORA Phase

The Forethought: VT100 Part I

In The Beginning

A few months ago I decided to sign up for the VT100. At the time, I hadn’t yet run my first 50 miler but with some running background, I thought it would be a good idea. April came and I ran my first 50. My legs hurt and recovery took a little longer than anticipated, but part of me was still excited for my first go at 100 miles. Soon enough, July 19th came and my first attempt at a 100 was underway.

Of the many things I remember from racing – be it true or not – is that the sleep you get two nights before a race is more important than the night before. I tried, and I think I did a fairly decent job getting in bed early and racking up a decent eight hours or so of sleep. The night before the race was a totally different story for a number of reasons.

Leading In

On Wednesday my father came out to help me put siding on our house. Over the last year we have connected two shed dormers and raised the roof line on our house; the siding was the final step. Consequently, the three days prior to the race were predominately devoted to finishing the house and not preparing for Saturday. All my final packing, planning, making food, got put on hold until Friday night. Friday itself was spent trying to register and finish the siding.

I showed up to registration, got my packet and weighed in – 156.6 pounds and a blood

The tents on Silver Hill.

The tents on Silver Hill.

pressure of 137/78 (whatever that means) – I moseyed over to register my vehicle on foot and was told that I actually needed the vehicle to register it. Oops. I figured knowing the license plate would be good enough. Wrong. Not a big deal, it just meant that I’d get home, and come back to register the car before the 4:00 PM meeting. Unfortunately, what is normally a 10 minute drive was more like 20 with all the local road closures to VT100 traffic – thank you cranky neighbors… So instead of having a few minutes before the meeting and after the siding was completed to get my stuff together, it meant I was going to do it after the meeting, which meant after dinner, which meant after my wife got home, and more than likely meant after the kids got to bed around 8:00PM.

The Strategy

To say that I had no strategy for this race would be a lie, but to say I had any realistic idea about strategy would also be a lie. The previous 50 miler I ran was on similar roads – though no trails – and I managed to run that just under seven hours. I knew that to try and run an equally fast opening 50 would be stupid and that I should go out conservatively, but as to what conservative was, I had little idea. I knew I could run ten-minute miles for the first 50 fairly easily and probably roll through the 100k at the same pace. It sounded manageable; I was sure I would blow up, so the idea in my head was to push that out as close to the end as I could. The problem was that ten-minute miles means an 8:20 50 mile, or a 16:40 100 mile, or in other words, way too fast. Regardless, anything faster than 10:00 was not on my agenda.

One of the big dilemmas I was having concerning building a strategy was the idea of a DNF. I’ve had a couple of DNS’es thanks to over zealous race choices and a bit of a drinking problem, but I’ve never DNF’ed. Dabbling in the ultra world, I’ve come to grips that a DNF will eventually occur, but I’m not ready yet. Running my first 50 I knew I would finish. I was confident in my conditioning and ability to push through, sure 50 miles is far, but it’s not that far, even if I had to walk it in for a 15 hour finish. A hundred miles was a whole different beast. The idea of not finishing was an actual reality, especially if I went out too fast.

In the end, I ended up writing down a number of aid stations on a piece of paper with different arrival times based on pace. Ideally, I would go through the first 50 no faster than 8:20 and just hang on for as long as I could and hope that could get me back to Silver Hill of my own volition.

The Crew

Yes, I affixed a deer skull to the grill of my Man-Van. Just for the race, mind you.

Yes, I affixed a deer skull to the grill of my Man-Van. Just for the race, mind you.

For me, one of the most stressful things about this whole thing was organizing my one person crew. I managed to rope my brother into driving around all day and helping me out. I first planned to meet him at the Stage Road station about 30 miles in. I could estimate a ball park as to when he should plan on being there, and even estimate times for the next two or three handler stations, but after that, I had no clue. It would be a waiting game on his part. A time to kill some forced boredom. Even when I could tell him where to be and when, I had no idea what to tell him to be ready to do. I gave him a laundry basket stocked with things I might need: extra shirt, shoes, sun hat, band-aids, food, drink, even a camera if he should decide to capture a sliver of what I was attempting on some sort of digital film. In the end, I think a couple of drop bags could have replaced my crew as I didn’t use him much at all. And I’m willing to guess drop bags are probably cheaper and come with less guilt.

So It Begins

All my stuff: SKORA Fit, Orange Mud Vest Pack, Generic white shirt, camo bandana, and of course, the mandatory 'poop' bag just in-case (these were provided by the race due to previous participants unrully poo habits...).

All my stuff: SKORA Fit, Orange Mud Vest Pack, Generic white shirt, camo bandana, and of course, the mandatory ‘poop’ bag just in-case (these were provided by the race due to previous participants unrully poo habits…).

I set the alarm on my phone for 2:45AM, enough time to perk a cup of coffee, grab a quick shower and get to West Windsor by 3:30AM. Between the hourly, startled wake-ups searching for the cell phone to reinsure me I hadn’t slept past the 4:00AM start, and the cranky toddler who kept waking up proclaiming to all that she was apparently dieing of thirst, my potential 6 hours of sleep turned into something less.

The drive to the start was less than memorable and I ended up parking in the far lot and walking down Silver Hill in a strung out crowd of strangers, all moving towards the din emanating from the giant white tent below. There were like minded runners, with tired faces, emotions still asleep, chipper crew members  in their street clothes downing their coffee and laughing at inside jokes, and sleeping babies resting on mother’s shoulders, completely unaware of what their parent was about to embark upon.

Despite the headlamp induced, shadowed faces surrounding me, I recognized a few people I knew, and as we congregated 30 yards behind the starting line, the conversation turned to everything but what we were about to do. Eventually the starter began talking and everyone’s focus began to shift.

Part II should follow shortly, while Part III might take a bit longer…

The FITs

FitA couple days before the Fourth of July, I got a nice little package in the mail, sent by the kind folks over at SKORA Running. I knew they were sending me a new pair of kicks, but I didn’t have a tracking number and it came rather quickly, so it was a bit of a surprise to say the least. I also had no idea of the colour.

What I did know was that it was a pair of their newest offering the FIT. I have to admit, the FIT scared me a little bit at first. All the talk around the internet and their website tout it’s padding and cushy ride, a sort of “Introduction to Zero Drop” type shoe. Being used to running barefoot or in the CORE or PHASE with an 8mm stack, the double 16mm stack of the FIT also gave me some fright. To top off my fears the FIT is also a tad bit narrower than the CORE or PHASE and I wasn’t sure how that would fit my flipper like feet.

Padded heel.

Padded heel.

As soon as I get shoes out of the box, I do a full inspection. Sure pictures online are nice, but once you get a shoe in your hand you notice things you’d otherwise miss. The first thing I noticed is the cushion. Not the cushion of the sole, but the cushion in the heel. I wouldn’t really describe it as cushion so much as padding. The padding is what you would find in something of a traditional shoe and it seems to envelop your heel. Your heel is still free to move about, but the padding keeps things sort of loose feeling but tight at the same time. Almost like it doesn’t exist, if that makes any sense. I actually prefer this to the heel of the PHASE and the CORE, a fact that totally caught me off guard. (I was planning on disliking this shoe…).

The next thing I noticed upon inspection was the insole. The insole is huge, a full 6mm, bigger than anything I’ve run in in sometime. To be honest, I haven’t noticed a difference between it and my other shoes, so it gets a pass.

FIT insole on the top, CORE on the bottom.

FIT insole on the top, CORE on the bottom.

As with all my shoes, I took them out of the box, put them on, and wore them around the house for the first couple of days. I do this so I can send shoes back if they don’t fit, but it also allows me to tweak lacing systems to better fit my feet. I always start with the laces super loose and then tighten them down; surprisingly with the FIT, I ended up tightening the laces back to their ‘factory preset’. I’m fairly sure it has to do with the 3d-dot printing being super stretchy and flexible. While the forefoot of the shoe does fit somewhat tight, it stretches and doesn’t cause any problems like a traditional canvas/mesh shoe that doesn’t stretch.

I don't think I really run like that...

I don’t think I really run like that…

At first, I started out planning on just using them for low mileage days pushing the stroller, or just taking it easy. However, that plan has quickly changed and the FIT has become my new go to shoe. Depending on the day I will take the 6mm insole out which leaves the shoe with a 10mm stack, but more often than not, I’m running with the full 16mm. I have yet to notice any significant difference in ground feel or handling when running on roads, track or trails.

When I got my CORE, I fell in love and thought nothing would replace it. Sadly, it’s been pushed to the back of my closet and the FIT is now my go to shoe. I was planning on running the VT100 in the CORE, but  now I’m planning on wearing the FIT. We’ll see if any problems arise, but I kind of doubt it. I doubt the 3d dot will last as long as the leather of the CORE, but that just means I might have to give the FORM a try…

As an addendum, I should mention that while I normally wear a size 10, I wear a 10.5 in the FIT. I could probably get away with a 10, but it would be tight.

You can connect with SKORA on FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram, or on their website. They have a plethora of running related information, and a crackpot customer service team that is beyond helpful.

More Reviews:
SKORA Core
SKORA Phase

Taper, Pacing, and A Crew

With VT100 in just about a week, my taper is in full swing. Typically, I’m not much of  a taperer. My miles aren’t really high enough to warrant a taper for a 5k. Even a 50 mile race, I might take it easy the week before – drop my miles a bit and not do any real long run or speed work – but it wouldn’t be a three week process. I’m not sure if it’s a proper fear of what’s in store, or all the training plans out there that have a taper at the end, but either way, I’ve decided to do a bit of a taper.

I’ve dropped my mileage, cancelled long runs, and opted out of any speedwork. Where as I was putting in a minimum of 50 miles a week before hand, this week will be around 40, and Sunday-Friday the week before will be two mile days.

Because I don’t really implement tapers, I’m not sure how I should be feeling, but I’ve been feeling great. Physically, my legs are starting to feel fresher. The little niggles are dissipating, the sore Achilles isn’t so sore (though this could be due to some other extraneous factors), even my mental outlook is improving. I’m still terrified of what’s to come in a little over a week, but the excitement is brimming.

With the reduced mileage I’ve also been able to think more about the race. Perhaps I should have been doing this long before two weeks out, but I’m learning, I think… Being that this is my first 100, and not having any idea how my legs will handle on the back half, it makes planning anything a bit difficult.

First, there is the pacing. In April I did a 50 miler on much the same terrain as VT100. I went out too fast with some 7:30s and managed to finish with an 8:22 pace. Things slowed down, a lot. I guess that’s to be expected, but I don’t want to drop off too hard. Consequently, I want to go out conservative, but what is that? 10:00 miles sounds pretty damn conservative, but that’s an 8:20 50 and a 16:40 100. That would almost certainly be top-10 and probably top-5. That assumes no slow down, but all the same even sub-17 seems a bit over zealous to say the least. I suppose it’s something that I will figure out n race day, but I will start knowing that I need to keep my miles in the double digits and hopefully, it won’t bite me in the ass too hard.

The other thing I’ve had time to sort of think about is my crew. Initially, I had a crew of three. Two newbies and one veteran who was going to pace me. As things would have it, my veteran had things come up and will be doing his own race the same day as VT. One of my crew will be working in Burlington during the day but will be able to make it back by evening. That leaves my brother as the only crew person I will have. At this point I’m playing with the idea of having a crew. One of the nice things about the VT100 – depending on who you ask – is that there is a plethora of aid stations and places for drop bags. Really the only thing I’d need my crew to do is carry some things I might need, and possibly give me some motivation when I’m wavering. So yes a crew would be nice in that sense, but it also means I need to plan things out for them – things I don’t even know – like when and where to meet them. In the end, it might just be easier to look after myself.

This is essentially a ‘home’ course, if you will. I live two miles from the course and know the last 30 miles quite well. I’m hoping this gives me a bit of a boost should I actually make it to the last 70 miles. But no matter the outcome, I’m really looking forward to the adventure in store.

If you’re in the area and want to volunteer there are a number of opportunities before, during and after the race. Let me know and I can put you in touch with the appropriate people (or you can just go to the VT100 website…).

A Little Self Doubt

I remember as a kid trying to build up the courage to ask a particular girl on a date. It took some time, and when I finally did gather the courage to ask, the nerves were a mess – the dry mouth, the queasy stomach, the heat. The lead up sucked, but the end result was quite pleasant. It ended quite miserably, but did lend to some decent memories. Back in January, when I signed up for the VT100, the nerves were in much the same place. I was varnishing a floor with my alarm set and the sign-up page pulled up on the lap top – no way I’d miss out on registration. It was January so needless to say, the windows were closed; perhaps some of the dizzy, hot flash, giddiness, that I was feeling had more to do with the varnish than actually signing up, but I attribute them to VT.

I already had a training plan in place and knew pretty well how every week or so should look. There were a couple of races, some long runs, and a good handful of recovery days. June was supposed to be my big month. I was looking forward to hitting my first 300 mile month and my first 100 mile week along the way. Unfortunately, as life goes, a small handful of things have come up that are looking to make June just another sub-par month.
This past Tuesday I went out for a long run just over 17 miles – it shouldn’t really be a long run at this point, but it’s the most mileage I’ve done in sometime… It was an early morning run, and it started out quite slow, as normal, but the pace never really picked up. I trudged along, cursing the hills between me and my home. I’ve run these hills countless times before, but they seemed steeper and longer as I puffed up them slowing to something slightly more than a walk as I neared their crests.  It was miserable. These runs happen. We all have off days. Having never run 100 miles before, I assume that by the last 25 miles I will be feeling worse than I do on an ‘off’ day. And it is this that gives me pause. These hills causing such problems are the same hills I would be attempting to climb nearly 90 miles into the VT100 – if I could hardly get over them 15 miles into a run, how can I possibly get over them with 90 miles on the legs (that’s assuming I actually get there)?

The butterflies and excitement of anticipation that I had in January are still there. I’m still looking forward to seeing what I can muster – how far I can push myself, but a new element of fear has been introduced. I am not taking this distance casually; I know it deserves respect and a bit of caution, but the self doubt that was once non-existent has become a fixture when thinking about July 19th.  I know I’ll toe the line, but beyond that it’s something of a mystery. I haven no idea how far I can make it, how long I can hold out and keep moving forward. There will be an end, I just hope it’s a pleasant one.

Checking In With My CORE

Peek-a-Boo

Peek-a-Boo

So, a few weeks ago I got a pair of SKORA Core in the mail and was super excited. Running in the PHASE for a while, I was a little apprehensive to try a new shoe, after all, the PHASE worked, so why change it up? My feet are rather wide – and I think I like wider shoes anyway – so I’m always leery trying a new shoe, that said, the PHASE and the CORE are built on the same platform, and being made of leather the CORE is supposedly ends up being about a half size wider.

The mailman delivered them a day early which was a wonderful surprise – he neglected to come Friday and Saturday before Mother’s Day so my cards were late, again. As I opened the box I was slapped with that wonderful leather smell of a high end boutique. That, too, was quite pleasant. I put them on and walked around the house as any runner with a new pair of shoes who can’t get a run in right away will do. They were comfy. Comfy and roomy.

Typically the first thing I do with a pair of shoes is to unlace the bottom one or two eyelets to let my forefoot expand, with the CORE, I didn’t need to. It held my foot nicely and there wasn’t a lot of tension in the forefoot area.

 

Not quite animal print, but still sexy.

Not quite animal print, but still sexy.

Usually, I also like to wear a shoe for 200 miles or so before I decided to make any decisions, and while I haven’t hit 200 just yet, I have worn them in the rain, on the track, trails, and asphalt, as well as raced in them, so I feel fairly confident I’ve put in enough diverse miles to make a judgement call.

One of the big things with this shoe is that it is made of leather, which means that it is more durable than the mesh upper of the PHASE, but it also means it retains water a bit better, which is not a good thing. Before I got any chance to run in a real rain storm, I took them across some fields just after it rained. There weren’t big puddles, but there was definitely a fair bit of residual water still in the grass. My feet did get wet, and the remained moist a bit longer than they would in the PHASE, but not nearly as long as I expected. It also didn’t seem to add as much weight as I expected. The leather did stay damp through the evening and into the morning while the PHASE would have dried, the moisture didn’t seem to wet the feet at all. Though, the first time, the dye ran and turned my toes a mottled blue color.

The next big thing was getting these guys out on the trail. I’m not a big trail guy – I prefer dirt roads – but I do venture into the woods occasionally. Being that these two shoes are built essentially on the same platform – there is a slightly stiffer piece of rubber under the metatarsals on the CORE – I wasn’t expecting much of a difference on the trails. And, as it would turn out, there wasn’t much of a difference. The leather of the CORE feels (and probably is) a bit more durable than the PHASE and feels a little more protective on the trails, but I assume this is just perceived.

To this point I had fallen in love with my CORE. They are an awesome everyday running shoe, and I’m even contemplating getting a pair for non-running (I never wear shoes…). Then came the real test – a race (or some speed work on the track). On the track they felt good, but maybe a little loose. I worked on tightening them down and it seemed to help some. I then wore them for the Covered Bridges Half Marathon. Again, they felt awesome, but they felt a bit loose. It wasn’t an uncomfortable, unwearable loose, but for quicker events I think I like my shoes to fit a bit snugger – i.e. the PHASE.

Super comfort.

Super comfort.

At first, I thought the PHASE and the CORE wouldn’t have much difference. They’re built on the same platform. I was wrong, the leather upper of the CORE makes for a very comfy and somewhat roomy feel. The CORE also has a stiffer piece of rubber on the sole – I assume this adds some durability as well as protection. Some people mention that the ankle collar on the PHASE can be less than comfortable when new, this is not the case for the CORE. The CORE has a comfy piece of sheep skin around the heel that works well with socks, I can only imagine how comfy it feels sockless.

These shoes have quickly become a favorite for me, and I’m looking forward to getting more in the future. The only problem I’ve found is the tightening aspect. I think because they are made of leather, the last will stretch a little and in the beginning, the stretching is more, meaning you need to tighten the laces from time to time. I’m not sure I would wear them for races shorter than a marathon as the PHASE has those distances covered.

If you have further questions, or want to know more, connect with Skora on FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram, or on their website. They have a plethora of running related information, and a crackpot customer service team that is beyond helpful.

More Reviews:
SKORA Fit
SKORA Phase

Covered Bridges Race Recap

This past Sunday I ran the Covered Bridges Half Marathon. It’s a point to point race with a net elevation loss – which is something when you live some place that calls the rest of the world ‘Flatlanders.’ The first time I ran this I set a massive PR of near seven minutes. It was the first time I realized I could really run fast and in the front of some packs. The following year I bombed, hard; naturally this year I wanted to get back to where I was. The difference this year lied mostly in my training – I hadn’t. I’ve been trying to gear up for the VT100 in July and I

Trying to finish strong.

Trying to finish strong.

haven’t done any real workouts with a half marathon focus. Top that off with a cranky Achilles tendon, and I wasn’t really sure what  was in store for this past Sunday. In my mind, it could have gone either way.

Sunday morning came and my wife and kids piled in the car. I sucked down my cup of coffee and half a bowl of oatmeal in the car. The day before my AT had felt pretty good and I didn’t really notice it, Sunday morning was a different story. It didn’t hurt, but definitely let me know it was there, and was some how anticipating the abuse it would soon receive. My family dropped me off a the start and I wandered over to the check-in. I took my time putting my bib on, and lacing up my SKORA Core. I had 30 minutes before the start of the race, and wasn’t ready to start warming up yet. Eventually 8:00 rolled around and I headed out for my warm-up. Typically, I’m not a big stretcher, but lately I’ve really been working on my hips and calves as it seems to help the AT. I got back to the start line feeling okay, and two minutes later, we were off.

I didn’t really have much strategy for this. Part of me wanted to go out just under 6:00 and warm-up from there, but the other part wanted to stick with the front pack and hang on. Last year the leaders went out around 5:50, but it was much hotter. As it turned out, I sat at the back of the front and ended up going through the first mile in a 5:38 – a little too fast. The front pack consisted of maybe seven runners, a couple I knew were capable of holding that pace. Over the second and third mile a couple guys dropped back and the pace slowed down as we rolled through mile 3 just over 17 minutes. After mile 3, the spectators start to fade, and the race starts to string out. By mile 4 there were 5 of us still running. We came to the 6 mile mark right around 34 minutes and it was hear that the leaders left us. I think they picked it up a bit, and my pace flagged a bit. I kept trucking but my pace dropped a couple of seconds, and by mile 7 I was slowed to a 6:15 (I’m fairly certain mile 6 is short, and 7 is long).

With the two guys in front long gone, 3-5 slugged through the 8 mile mark. Seeing how slow it was, I picked up the pace – probably a bit too much – and dropped another 5:43 with another runner. And then the pace started to yo-yo and the other guy I was with left me behind. I’m not sure if it’s a mental thing at this point in the race, or a true physical inability, but when things get spread out, and I don’t really have anyone in site, I start to slow, then speed up when I realize I’m slowing, then slow down again and the back and forth continues until the end.

Good enough for 3rd.

Good enough for 3rd.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve developed a nasty side stitch whenever I drink Gatorade mid-run. I’ve since turned to HoneyMaxx which causes no problems, I can’t really bring a hydration system with me on a half marathon. Anyway, I’ve learned to just rinse the mouth out with the Gatorade and dump some water on my head. Unfortunately, at mile 10, a bit of Gatorade snuck down the pipe and by mile 11 I was picking up some nasty stitches. It wasn’t enough to totally stop me, but it definitely slowed the pace a bit. I went through mile 10 in 57:30 and finished in a 1:16:26 – it took me near 19 minutes to run the last 5k. I’m not blaming the last 5k on the stitch, but it certainly didn’t help.

I’ve been training in my Core, and this was my first race in them. So far, they’ve been a delight in training. Nice and roomy, exceedingly comfortable. They proved to be just as delightful to race in as well. Though I think I might have to stick with the Phase (what I wore for my 50 miler) for shorter races as they’re just a bit snugger and I appreciate that in a racing flat.

All in all, I’d say things were a success. While I was 5 seconds off my PR, I still managed to pick up 3rd. My wife and I had made a decision that I wouldn’t have to shave my moustache if I won. It was farcical and I was planning on shaving, but my wife has decided to give in on the grounds that I was the first VT’er. She said I can keep it through the VT100 if I can pull out a ‘W’, ha!

I’m An Ambassador

It seems that life is picking up. The slow pace of winter is gone, and it’s time to rush around and enjoy the warmth that summer brings. Or I’ve just put too much on my plate.  Either way, it goes something like this:

Over the last three or four months, I’ve been going through the process to become a SKORA Ambassador. I didn’t have a lot of hopes, but figured what the hell. Lo and behold, I’ve found out that I was accepted. Pretty sweet. Granted it doesn’t mean much for you all. Maybe some free shoe giveaways in the future, but nowt for now.

Tomorrow also marks the first time since November that I will be running a real race, and the last couple of weeks have been sub-par to say the least. I took some easy time, and felt better, but this past week we redid our bathroom and I managed to retweak my Achilles while carrying a bathtub up a ladder into a second story window – not cool. So for two weeks in a row now, my mileage has suffered. I know what you do the week or two before a race doesn’t make or break you, but it definitely plays with confidence. Couple that with tomorrow being my first race for TeamSKORA, and I’m feeling anything but sure about this.

Of course, here is the obligatory race kit picture. The maroon and orange Dead Skunk Racing singlet, and my SKORA Core – which while not as light as my Phase feel like they’ll be a pretty nice shoe to race in – and my bandanas. Typically I’ve gone with the brown, but my brother got the camo for Christmas, and it’s a tough decision…CBHM Kit

Running By Numbers

Running, like any other sport really, is measured by numbers. At first thought, it might seem that our numbers are simple – time and distance. But the reality is, there are a plethora of numbers that come into account for most when we think about our running. We don’t just log our time, but now we have watches that log each split – about every mile or so, we know our pace. Our watches tell us how fast our heart is beating. Not only do we know how far we’ve run by mile, but we can find out down to the thousandth how far we’ve run. We log our days by miles and time, and at the end of the week we have a nice little total. Our totals add up monthly and eventually yearly. And over time we’ll know just how many miles our legs have traveled; we’ll know how many days we’ve run; how much time we’ve spent on our feet traipsing around chasing fantasies and finding solace in ourselves.

For me, adding these numbers up – following my own progress – gives me motivation. I like to be able to look back and see that I’ve hit my weekly mileage  for 10 weeks, 20 weeks, a year. At the start of every week, I lay out a mileage goal of some sort for myself – my little carrot. This year I’ve also laid out some mileage goals for the year and am attempting to run-streak for the year, and maybe beyond. But all these numbers, all these little goals, can muddle the end point. The focus on staying healthy and running fast can get forgotten as I look to accumulate miles and time.

Since February I’ve been running with a bit of nagging Achilles issue – nothing too big, but stiffness in the morning, tenderness to touch, and discomfort to run. It wasn’t a gradual occurence, rather one of those trauma induced injuries you get from running at 4:00AM in single digits without properly warming up. I think a big fear of any athlete is to bugger the Achilles. A bad injury takes months to heal, and it never seems to heal to full strength.

Last week, after yet another early morning longish run and a day standing around corralling fourth graders, it became apparent that my Achilles was, in fact, not happy. It was time to evaluate. It didn’t go away on it’s own as I had wished it might. Nor did it really progress pain-wise. With a half marathon in a little over two weeks and the VT100 a little over two months away, I knew I had to do something.

All those numbers that were so important to me. My mileage goals for the week, the month, the year had to be tossed. My training plan was scratched. It was time to reevaluate and think long term. With my future in mind, and forsaking all the numbers that mean so much to me, I took a week easy. A whole week. It might not seem like much, but for the past seven months I’ve been building up for my first 100 mile race, and with two months to go, I would be logging less weekly mileage than I have in almost a year.

But then I did some realizing. I already knew it, but I needed to remind myself – the miles, the weeks, even the months, they don’t really matter. Sure, if your miles plummet for a long time so will your fitness, but what is seven days, fourteen days? If I had started my week on a Tuesday instead of a Sunday, my weekly mileage would be different, and what would it matter? I had been – and probably will continue again – to focus on the little things, the numbers that matter, but don’t. The numbers that will impact my final goal, but not more than a significant injury.

And so with great discipline, I took a week easy. I ran short four mile or less days. I didn’t fret over the pedestrian pace or the low mileage. I made myself ignore the finishing time on my watch. And while my log book looks a bit disappointing, my Achilles feels much better, and as I come back to real training, I’ve never felt more motivated to get out and hit it hard.

The Day My CORE Arrived

My birthday is mid-June (Flag Day to be exact), so growing up my presents were always spread out – Christmas in December and then six months later, my birthday. As I have gotten older, the excitement around Christmas has changed from focusing on myself to my children; unfortunately, I cannot say the same for my birthday. Instead of transferring excitement, it’s just sort of dissipated.

This year – while it isn’t quite my birthday yet – it seems that I have gotten something of a birthday present that’s given me quite a bit of excitement. The kind folks over at SKORA Running decided to mail me a pair of shoes to review – for free! To make the excitement even

Peek-a-Boo

Peek-a-Boo

greater, I wasn’t entirely sure of the shoes they would be sending my direction. I had suggested and hinted that I would really like to have a go at the CORE, but I have a tendency to lack clarity – ask my wife… While I had a pretty good suspicion that I would be receiving the CORE, I hadn’t a foggy as to the colorway.

They shipped the package and sent me the tracking number. It was FedEx, and I’m not sure if you’ve ever tracked a package shipped by FedEx, but it isn’t nearly as exciting as UPS. UPS is pretty good about sending out updates, not FedEx. All I knew was the package was shipped and, for what seemed like weeks, was stuck somewhere on a truck in the Bermuda Triangle. FedEx put an estimated delivery date of May 15th, so imagine my surprise when I came home from my run this morning and there on my doorstep was a nice little package about the size of a shoebox.

It really was like Christmas. I took the package inside and grabbed the butcher knife as quick as I could to rip into the box. I did my best not to look at the end of the shoebox that tells you the details of the shoe inside, and went straight to flopping the top open and admiring my brand new blue and fluorescent yellow CORE.

I only wear shoes to run, but I couldn’t help putting these guys on for the remainder of the day. I’m not sure what they do over at SKORA, but I’m pretty sure they have Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother on payroll. And while I haven’t had a chance to run in them yet, I have a feeling they will be amazing.

Sexy shoes...

Sexy shoes…