Thursday, June 23, 2011

Treading Trodden Trails For A Long, Long, Time (I Hope!)

Well, sometimes things don't go according to plan.

Several months ago, I had a racing experience that, other than injuring my ankle, was one of the most positive experiences ever in my four-and-a-half year running history. The 24 Hours of Moab was a great time for our team, and coming within mere minutes of winning our division was icing on the cake. We were all very excited to do it again, and used our repeat-customer discount with Gemini Adventures to register as an Extreme Team (3-5 member team, since one of our original teammates would be running an ultra the same weekend) for the 24 Hours of Laramie. Despite having traveled all over the continental U.S., Wyoming is one state I've never visited, so I was pretty excited for this new adventure.

Fast forward to June. Well, back up a little. In May, one of our teammates said she'd need to back off the team for, as she put it, needing to keep marital harmony. No problem-I think people should do what they gotta do in that department if it's going to be a major issue. That brought us down to four members. Then, another one of our teammates had been having some foot pain, and actually volunteered to be removed from the team. The rest of us unamimously declared that no, you're a Dirty Girl, and we want you there with us if you think you can walk or easy-run at least one lap for the team. Still, this meant that the remaining three of us would be running a LOT of laps. Even though I'm healthy now, I still have a pretty clear mental image of that last lap in Moab when I was SO tired and relaxed that I put myself out of running normally for a good stretch of time. With only a few of us, I would surely get a LOT more tired out there.

Coming into June, I would regularly joke with Nick, our team "Pimp Daddy" as the sole male runner, and ask if he was healthy, telling him he was not allowed to be sick again as he was in Moab when Jen and I, the mamas on the team, could hear him up coughing all night, and kind of wanted to go over to his tent to check on him much of that time. Up until about a week ago, he was fine. Then came the unbeliavable news, though, that some nasty superbug had stricken, or else the illness he had over the winter just never cleared up. He felt like he would not be able to run at the relay, and for Nick to say that, it means he's on death's doorstep. My running joke with him, as the vagabond, wandering park ranger, skiier, and trail runner is that his lifestyle is too sedentary, and he needs to become more active. I was so bummed for him-when he saw the doctor, though, it was confirmed that he was doing to right thing to pull out of Laramie.

The bad news just kept coming, with another teammate who suspected a knee injury learning that she had a torn meniscus requiring surgery. We would have been dead in the water at this point, but the bit of good news was that marital harmony seemed to have been restored regarding the race with the teammate who pulled out in May. Yay, marital bliss! She came back to the team, leaving us with two healthy members, and a third with a foot issue. At present, it still appears that we're going to Laramie as a 3 woman team, but this is not how we expected it to be. We'll just have to do the best we can, assuming the plug is not pulled in the next 24 hours, and run as much as we can for as long as we can.

In better news-I finally found a pair of trail shoes I love. I ran in Salomons for years, and the fit was good for my foot. That said, I always slipped around a ton on the trails while wearing them, and I think that was part of my confidence problem all along. I never relaxed because I never gripped the trail very well. After some looking around and a failed attempt with some Merrells with Vibram soles that I subsequently returned to REI, I found what appear to be my dream trail shoe.

It's the INOV8 Roclite. These puppies are more minimal than any other trail shoe I have ever used, but they do have a bit of support to them. They are by far the most flexible shoes I've ever worn for runnning, too. When I took them for a test run on the Corkscrew trail Tuesday night, a trail against the Colorado National Monument running from our popular Wildwood trailhead that climbs and winds (like the shape of a corkscrew) steadily, with beautiful, steep dropoffs just off the trail, I was blown away by how grippy the INOV8's were. The flexibility allowed my feet to really "grab" the trail without much effort on my part to stay upright, which in turn allowed me to relax. And that, my friends, is big time for me. Relaxed running is the name of the game on trails.

Speaking of that trail run, the Corkscrew route was one that I had not done before, though I've done other trails from that trailhead. It is going to be a great one to train getting ready for Imogene, though, and I think that next time I'm over there, the plan will be to run all the way up to Liberty Cap (about fifteen more minutes of running up, and ON the Colorado National Monument..scroll down to "Liberty Cap" for the description). Then it's going to be a build to being able to get up and down the thing three times, which should be the equivalent of about 18 miles, just a little longer than the Imogene course. All in all, I'm feeling more confident every day on trails. Having new tools in the arsenal this year, from better shoes to POSE running to new routes, makes me know I'm going to run my best Imogene ever this year.

As a final thought today, I will mention another running friend and blogger who is embarking on a great adventure of exquisite pain and beauty this weekend. Chad Silker over at 100-Mile Warrior will be running the Western States 100 this weekend. When I return from Laramie, I can't wait to find out how he did, and I would encourage anyone reading this to check out his blog as he talks about training, the course, and life leading up to this run. If you want to get inspired to try something new and different with running and sport, that's a great place to start.


William said...

Those shoes look awesome. I have been trail running in the NB Minimus Trail, but would like something comparable in weight with a bit more protection. I do love the NB's, but I end up dodging quite a lot in more technical/rocky/rooty sections. Maybe I'll try these on next time I'm at REI! I love gear reviews! Good luck in your adventure.

Still Wandering said...

Nice job on the shoes! I'll have to check them out sometime. I'm beyond bummed about Laramie. I hope you and Jen can make it happen somehow. It's killing me not to run. Been out for a week now. I just know I can't can't can't get as sick as Moab. Let's shoot for an EDG reunion in Boulder:)

Anonymous said...

Good luck in Laramie! And thanks for posting about the shoe discovery. I've been alternating between better fit (Salomon) and better grip (Brooks)... but maybe I can have both at the same time!

TiredMamaRunning said...

I'm really happy with these shoes, guys. Definitely the best of both worlds, and they do make different models that vary in terms of how minimal they go, i.e. there are some with less support that are practically slippers as far as how thin the sole is, yet they still offer good grip. I've got a friend who picked up a more minimal pair of INOV8's about a year ago after researching shoes specifically designed for trail use, and has been very pleased with them, so that's how they came up on my radar.

Nick, I know, I'm very bummed about your illness, and our team's injuries. I'm on to plan B for my weekend, though. Going to try to make lemonade from lemons.

Slow Turtle said...

I also bought a pair of Rocklites about a month ago. I think that they will be okay for dirt, mud, and sand, but for the really rocky trails that I mostly run they just don't have the forefoot protection that I need: there's not rock plate in the sole and after about 10+ miles I can feel the "stingers" bruising the bottoms of my feet. I'm not complaining about a lack of cushioning -- but the thin pliant and flexible sole lets me feel those sharp rocks.

So, in my case they will be used henceforth primarily as lightweight hiking shoes -- they're awesome for that! They are super comfortable.

I ran a 25K mountain race on Saturday in Solomon XT Wings, and I agree that they just don't have the grip I need on slippery rocks.

Still searching for the perfect shoe for the Ridge Run in August Think I'm going to go with Vasque Mindbender which is really stable, offers a lot more rock protection, is super grippy, yet is still lightweight.

Slow Turtle

Anonymous said...

This post turned me on to the INOV8 Roclite 295's. Which are now my go-to trail shoe. Thanks!