Friday, October 14, 2011

Thoughts on Shoes

I've got a thing for Brooks shoes.  Once I bought my first pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTSs, I stopped looking at other shoes—they were that good.  At the marathon expo in 2010, I picked up a different pair of shoes: the Brooks Launch.  (Yes, still Brooks.)  They're a lighter shoe, and I was worried that with less cushioning, they'd be less than ideal on longer runs.  But, after running an 11.6 Mile Half Marathon, a real Half Marathon, and a 10 Mile in them, I don't worry about them at longer distances anymore.  So, I'll be retiring my Adrenalines and not buying another pair.

Yes, I said it: I'm not going to buy Adrenalines again.

I'm going to make the Launch my default training shoe.  By doing this, I now have room in my lineup for another type of shoe.  I want a real racing flat, and I'm tired of getting blisters from my old cross country spikes.  I'm looking at these two shoes at the moment:

Brooks Green Silence.  A semi-traditional racing flat made with eco-friendly materials.  I've heard good things about this shoe, and it just looks cool.

Brooks Pure Connect.  This is a brand new shoe in a brand new line from Brooks.  I first heard about these at the marathon expo 2 weeks ago, and I'll admit that I'm intrigued.  I'm not into the minimalist fad, but I appreciate lightweight shoes for racing.  I haven't really seen any reviews of these shoes, so I'm hesitant to pull the trigger on them.  Maybe I'll swing by Hanson's and try them on.

Any Other Suggestions?  I'm open to other suggestions for racing flats.  They don't have to be Brooks (I promise), so suggest your favorite shoe.  And if you have any info about these Brook Pure shoes, leave that feedback here too.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Maybe This Isn't So Bad

Rochester is a cool place.  The Michigan Rochester, specifically.  Moving from Minnesota was (and still is) hard, and having no good place to run whilst I was living with my folks for those few months just made things worse.  But last month, I moved to Rochester—hoping things would be better.

They are.

I'm living within walking distance of downtown Rochester, which means I can walk to a really cool small-town "main street".  Even better than that are all the great places to run.  Here's a map and the rundown (pun intended):

I'm live near the red star.  (I suppose it is sort of a planned community...)
  1. The blue line is the Macomb-Orchard Trail.  It's a paved trail that goes east about 30 miles from Rochester to Richmond.  It's a great place for bike riding, and I'd like to make it out to Romeo, MI before the year is over.
  2. Following the Macomb-Orchard Trail, one can get to Stony Creek with ease.  Stony Creek (the orange triangle), is a great Metropark with paved trails, hiking trails, a lake, hills, and all kinds of fun things that are free if you enter on foot or by bicycle.
  3. Heading southwest from my apartment along the green line is the Clinton River Trail.  It's a crushed limestone trail that eventually connects all the way out past West Bloomfield (about 30 miles).  If I were to ride my bike to work (which I hope to do), this is the way I would go.
  4. Rochester itself is a great place to run.  Calm, residential streets on a (mostly) grid-like system.
  5. From downtown Rochester, one can connect to the Paint Creek Trail.  This dirt trail heads northwest from town all the way out to Lake Orion (about 10 miles away).  This is my favorite place to run, and the colors along the trail are fantastic right now.
In fact, this past weekend I went on my longest bike ride ever and went to Lake Orion and back.  On my way out, I came across these signs:

Signs Read: "CAUTION: Stay on Trailway, Archery Range"

Uhh, ok.  This is likely the most dangerous place I've ever cycled through.  I risked gaining a few extra holes in my body and continued to Lake Orion.

I expected the trail to put me close to downtown Lake Orion, but it ended in a CVS parking lot.  Befuddled, I turned around and headed back.  I made a quick stop at the Paint Creek Cider Mill, and after a total of 20 miles, I completed my longest ride ever.

Now I just need to find some fun races to do around here!

Friday, October 07, 2011

TC 10 Mile Race Report

Something funny has happened since I moved to Michigan—I've run more races in Minnesota than Michigan.  I love Minnesota, but I guess I need to do something in the Mitten State every so often.

That being said, I journeyed to the Twin Cities for the TC 10 Mile.  A number of firsts happened with this race:

  • My first 10 Mile race.
  • My first time not running the Twin Cities Marathon since I started running again.
  • My first time running a marathon in 10 miles (no, I'm not one of those people who "run a 5k marathon")
After chatting with a person on the plane who was going to run the Twin Cities Marathon for the first time, I arrived in Minnesota and Katie and I grabbed some lunch at our favorite restaurant (the St. Clair Broiler!).  From there, we went to the expo where I may have gone crazy seeing the 20% off sales at the Brooks booth.

The morning of the race, I convinced Katie to wake up much earlier than necessary (she ran the 10 Mile too!), then get to the shuttle to get to the Dome much earlier than necessary.  She was displeased with me until just before the race started (sorry Katie).  We split up to our assigned corrals, I warmed up a bit, and then after a short wait, I was off.

I really had 2 strategies for this race.

  1. Don't Be Stupid.  I haven't been training as much as I should have.  I wasn't going to try for a course record.  Anywhere between 80 and 90 minutes would make me happy.
  2. Race the Marathon.  I had a very successful marathon last year.  There were a few guiding principles of my race strategy that I wanted to adhere to for this race.  These included: no weaving through heavy traffic (just go with the flow the first few miles), easy on the hills until I reach Summit, and go for broke on Summit Avenue.
So, it was going to be the marathon, but I skipped the first 16.2 miles (makes it easy, eh?).  The race started off well, but the course was narrow.  I knew that running tangents would be next to impossible, so I started myself on the right side of the course knowing that the majority of the curves in the first 3 miles were to the right.  I stayed right until I hit the Franklin Bridge.  The uphill to the bridge was slow, but I did that deliberately.

East River Parkway allowed me to pick a steady pace for miles 4 and 5.  The hidden uphill upon entering St. Paul was taken slow, as were the next 2 uphill stretches from Marshall to St. Thomas.

On Summit, I picked it up considerably.  My splits in the first 6 (uphill) miles averaged about 8'40"/mile.  The last 4 miles averaged around 7'40"/mile.  I pushed hard, and crossed the finish line with a negative split of about 4 minutes.

Time: 1:23:04
Overall Place: 1686 / 7549
Male Place: 1109 / 2917
M22-29 Place: 234 / 502

Some observations...

First, I LOVE the 10 Mile distance!  Not only is it the perfect distance where one needs endurance but still must go fast, it makes calculating splits on the fly super easy.  What's my pace?  Just divide by 10!

Second, the atmosphere around the TC 10 Mile is great, but very different than the Marathon.  Not in a bad way, it was just, different.  (But, why were the t-shirts the most obnoxious green in the world?  The airport workers thought I was one of them on my flight home!)

Third, I need to run more.  I've got a number of great running trails around me now (which I'll detail in a blog post), so this should become easier.

Fourth, I love MTEC Results.  Remember the cool "you passed/passed by" stats from the marathon last year?  Here's something similar (but with fewer data points):

Miles 1-5: I was passed by 479 people, and passed 195 people.
Miles 6-10: I was passed by 20 people, but passed 437.

So, a very strong second half.

Katie and I after the race.  She raced a 6-minute 10 Mile PR!

One cool thing was being around for the finish of the marathon.  The last 2 years I was hours behind the winner, so it was really cool to see them come around the corner and head to the finish.  Katie and I hung out around the farm animals 1/2 mile before the end and got to witness this:

Winner of the men's marathon

How cool is that?  We also saw the elite women finish (no photos though), and there was quite a battle for 3rd place.  After this, Katie and I went back to her place, but made a quick detour to Mile 22.5 to cheer for a friend, Tony.  He got a major PR too!

Minnesota, it was a grand weekend.  Let's do it again sometime, ok?
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