The Fox Cities Marathon serves as a stepping stone to CIM in December

September 20, 2010

This weekend was a fun trip to Madison and Appleton, WI. Yes a place near Green Bay can be fun. Asia and I made the trip to run the Fox Cities Marathon. The original purpose of the trip was to use the race as a Boston qualifier for Asia. Since Boston filled up last year in late October or early November we wanted to have her qualifier before registration opened. It was going to a long run but as chance would have it the race fell on the same weekend that Steve planned the first race prep for Team Rogue. The race prep and the marathon deserve some assessment. I’m sure Asia’s post will be much more entertaining.

The prescribed race prep was 3 x 5 miles at marathon goal pace (MGP). I ended up running a modified version of the race prep during the marathon, starting pace work at the 5 mile point in the race. My current MGP for CIM is 6:18 minutes per mile, my average pace for the 14 miles at MGP ended up at 6:14, the different sections were:

  • 5 Miles – 6:21, 6:24, 6:19, 6:12, 6:15 (6:18 average)
  • 3 Miles – 6:16, 6:26, 6:20 (6:20 average)
  • 3 Miles – 6:30, 6:08, 6:02 (6:13 average)
  • 3 Miles – 6:06, 6:13, 6:06 (6:08 average)

The Fox Cities Marathon

This race had a great feel to it. The only marathon I’ve run with a small community feel to it. We drove from Madison to Appleton with Asia’s mom and the expo and packet pick-up was at a community college. We could have really just gone in and out in under 10 minutes. The number of people running the marathon and relay must have been 1000 with more doing the half (which started an hour before the marathon). We got to the start and 10 minutes before the gun at 8:00 could have lined up in the second or third row without any problem. Really pretty cool to not have the craziness of larger marathons. The only downside to the smaller race is if you’re running faster times (3:10 or faster) you may not have a lot of company to run with which can mess with your mind. Of course seeing people break down and walk from mile 20 to 26 can mess with your mind too so maybe fewer people isn’t a bad thing after all.

The goodie bag was a mixed bag. The great things were a GU and stainless steel bottle. The, well not so great was a set of tampons and depends for women.  One of the sponsors of the race was Kimberly Clark so that explains the Kotex and Depends. On the plus side it did mean the toilet paper was Scott brand and other nice soft stuff.

The Good Part of the Goodie Bag

Could Have Left This Out

The race started exactly on time, very cool. Not sure when that has happen in Austin lately. The course was reasonably flat, some rollers etc but an honest course. There were a few turns that were confusing, a quick right where if you weren’t paying attention to the arrows on the ground you’d miss the tunnel that goes under the highway and then one section where you just ran into a park; in general a good course. The weather was great, 50 degrees at the start and 55 at the finish. Oh, and the area was very reasonable to stay in, not crazy expensive like Boston or other big city races. I would gladly recommend this race to people.

The Race Prep

The fastest pace group was for a 3:15 marathon at the race and that’s a 7:25 minute/mile pace so Asia and I decided to start with them. The cooler weather made it difficult to hold back but the pace group was a good check on us. At mile 2 I looked down at the watch and thought, I bet the pace group leader freaks out and tries to make up time … he did, very predictable and ran the group into the ground with a 7:08. It was just funny seeing him react to a mile that was off just a little and over correcting. It’s much easier to observe others doing that then being aware of yourself in a race, as I showed during the race prep.

Going into the race we decided on running our first set of 5 at 5 miles, the second set at 11 and the third at 17. As we started the first set I was very aware that my legs just aren’t used to the faster paces yet. It seemed very forced to move my legs faster. It wasn’t a natural or even motion. I kept felling like the effort was too hard for MGP but as we clicked off the first mile at MGP it was 6:21, my mind was a little taken back. This is only two weeks after the end of our base phase so it’s expected. I don’t think I would have kept the effort going if Asia wasn’t ahead of me and keeping me honest. Our overall pace for this 5 mile set was 6:18 so right on target.

We started the second set well at 6:16 and then during the second mile the race prep went a little off plan. There are so many things I do during a run or race that just happen. Simple things like how to drink water while running at MGP. Well, Asia has been running track or cross-country till now. She’s never had to take water this way before. Well she took some Gatorade and … down the wrong pipe it went and she was choking on it.  Somehow she managed to keep going but the gasping and restricted breathing had an impact. We finished the third mile of the set and she had a cramp she just couldn’t get rid of. I was impressed that she kept going after the choking. We both started walking to make sure she was ok and we decided to make an audible on the race prep and try for another 2 sets of 3 miles to make it 14 for the day and hope the cramp would subside. We’d talked about what to do if one person wasn’t having a good day and the other a bad one before the.

Then the next two sets of 3 miles. Asia upped her effort but getting under 6:20 was just too painful so she did what she could. I’m just really impressed. I know if that was me I would be walking or just doing a death march to the finish, not trying to push as hard as I could. That mental part of the race prep is something that I give a lot of credit to Steve for working into Team Rogue. During race preps he’s teaching us to reach the edge but not cross over it, and if we do to back off and try again. Nothing prepares your for the crappiness your mind inflicts on you during a race except for a race, the race prep is the next best thing.

My legs started to really loosen up and I was feeling a little guilty at not running 3 x 5 miles at MGP and the audible so decided I’d try and run somewhat under 6:18. That ended up being 6:13 and 6:08 for the next two sets of 3 miles. They weren’t forced, just hard effort.

Asia and I ran the rest of the marathon and crossed the finish line together, in a time of 3:02:44 This was her first marathon and first race prep (for her own race) and I think an invaluable experience. It’s a little crazy to think she just ran her first marathon in 3:02 as a workout, at a sub 7 minute per mile pace, qualified for Boston ,and by the way, finished 4th overall female.

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Another shoe to try out is on the list, the Saucony Kinvara

May 16, 2010

After talking with John at Rogue Equipment I’ve decided to give another show a try, and from a totally new brand. It’s the Saucony Kinvara. I haven’t tried them on since they aren’t available yet but John got a pair to try out and described them to me and I think I’ll have to give them a go. He hasn’t done me wrong on show advice yet so I’ll have to give it a go.

Saucony Kinvara

Some of the highlights from John on the Kinvara compared to the Brooks Launch that have been my trainer of choice for over a year:

  • The Kinvara is lighter maybe 1.5 oz lighter than the Launch.
  • It’s a little firmer than the launch. The softness of the Launch has been one challenge with them for me from a responsiveness standpoint so the comparison will be interesting.
  • The upper is made of three layers, which may or may not be something each person likes.
  • It’s relatively flat. In John’s words “A standard training shoe runs 24mm under the heel, 12 mm under the forefoot.  The Launch is lower, 22/11.  The Kinvara is 18/14.  18 is low, for sure, but 14 is really unusual.  So it serves to bring the foot to a natural position.  Or closer to it, anyway.”. Note to self: be careful with the flatness and ease into wearing the shoes to avoid any issues with my my calf and Achilles.

So pretty soon my running shoes will consist of this colorful bunch.

Brooks Launch

Saucony Kinvara

Brooks Green Silence

Nike Lunarracer+ 2


Trying another shoe, the Nike LunarRacer+ 2

April 25, 2010

Yes, I try on many running shoes so enough with the jokes and snickering. Asia had a review of these shoes on her blog. We were talking about them and she convinced me that I should give the Nike LunarRacer+ 2 a try, so I picked up a pair at Rogue yesterday.

Nike LunarRacer +2

I’ll come out with it now. I’ve never liked running in a pair of Nike shoes until today. Blasphemy you say!! It may be but I’ve never liked a pair of Nike running shoes until these. One thing I’ve found very annoying about most Nike running shoes, expect for the Nike Streak which I like to wear around more as a casual shoe, is the cut for the ankle. It just rides way too high. Take a look at the image of the Lunar Trainer below for example and how high the shoe runs in the ankle area. This just made running in these near impossible. The other thing I’ve found annoying is the toe box, it tends to be to tight for my feet. This is a complaint I’ve heard from a few runners.

Nike Lunar Trainer

We’ll the LunarRacer+ 2 takes care of both of these issues and brings some positives of its own. My training shoe of choice recently has been the Brooks Launch and I just raced the Boston Marathon in the Brooks Green Silence. You can find my reviews of those shoes on my blog. Asia wrote a great review on the LunarRacer +2 already so I won’t repeat much of what she’s already pointed out. For me the best things about the shoes are they’re light, have a very natural feel, and are soft and cushioned. They feel very natural to run in and the upper doesn’t really feel like it’s there and doesn’t restrict movement at all. The sole is nice and soft but responsive. It’s also two ounces lighter than the Launch and looks just as “flashy” 🙂

Now the true test is Launch vs. LunarRacer+ 2 … for me it’ll have to be both. I used to alternate my Mizuno Precisions and Brooks Launch a year ago. Now it’ll be the Brooks Launch and the Nike LunarRacer+ 2. The LunarRacer+ 2 is really for neutral runners and I know I have a small amount of pronation in my right foot. I plan to do a little strength work before I run anything over 10 miles run in the LunarRacer+ 2.

To be honest, given my past Nike running shoe experience I didn’t think I’d like this shoe as much as I now do. As for the ultimate winner between the Launch and LunarRacer+ 2, I’ll try out a few more runs over the next two months before I declare a final verdict.


Changing my race shoes from the Brooks Launch for the Boston Marathon

April 11, 2010

I’ve decided to change my race shoes for the Boston Marathon from the Brooks Launch which I ran Portland in. The new shoes are the Green Silence, also from Brooks. They have the same material for the sole as the Launch, are just over 6 oz in weight and feel great to run in.

Brooks Green Silence

I wrote while training for the Portland marathon why I switched to the Brooks Launch from Mizuno Percisions. The Launch are now my trainers. The Green Silence have a very similar feel to the launch from a softness standpoint but are lighter and have even better responsiveness. I’ve tested the Green Silence out on 3 runs now. The first was on the first 6 miles of a 16 mile run a month and a half ago. Then last weekend on a 16 mile run and then today during the Capital 10k where I was running at marathon goal pace. I think they have just the right amount of cushioning for a road race and marathon. When I tried the Musha from Mizuno they weren’t as soft, they kind of felt like my Percisions do after I have 200 miles on them from a “feeling the road every foot strike” standpoint so I don’t think I’ll be racing in them.

I do have one complaint about the Green Silence. The way the laces are done at the top they can really dig in, the good thing is right at the top on the tongue there are these slots you can use to feed the laces back in. I’ve had to do that so the laces stay on the tongue and don’t go off and directly onto my foot. Brooks, please look at that 🙂


Brooks Green Silence Shoe Review

February 10, 2010

Today I got to run in my Brooks Green Silence for the first time and I have to say I like them.

Brooks Green Silence

I had an earlier post where I talked about the Mizuno Musha. The biggest difference for me has been the softness/coushion in the Green Silence over the Musha. I’m used to running in Mizuno’s and they’re not the most giving shoes and Musha are very light so I felt the road quite a bit in them on my 8 mile test run. My 10 mile run in the Green Silence today was better compared to the Musha in this area. The Musha had some more support but I felt fine in the Green Silence. The Green Silence did feel a little loose in the toe box before running but when I did run it felt fine. The other cool thing is the Green Silence has some cool features as far as the recyclables used in making them as well as the bio degradeble insole.

I don’t think I have the stability to train in these but these are starting to look like the front runner as my race shoes for the marathon. They’re very light, responsive and I like the cushioning they provide for my foot strike. Before deciding for sure if I’ll race in them I need to test them out on a faster run and see how they feel compared to the Musha at sub 6:30 min/mile paces.


The Brooks Launch really does rock

November 10, 2009

John reviewed the Brooks Launch recently. Before the Portland marathon I posted that I selected and why (John has a much more succinct review). It’s the first time I’ve opted to run in Brooks, and I wore the Launch for the Portland marathon as well and still have the same positive opinion as when I tried them on at the store.


New Marathon Race Shoes selected … they’re Brooks for the first time

September 6, 2009

This is a complete change for me as far as shoes go. For years, ever since I started running the only shoes I’ve consistently worn are Mizuno’s. I recently tried the Brooks Launch and really like them, so much so that for the first time ever I’ll be running my marathon in a pair of shoes that aren’t Mizuno’s.

Brooks Launch

Brooks Launch

A little on the history behind the change

So why the change. As I wrote earlier I started wearing the Elixir instead of the Precisions after my last injury for just a little more support. After a while I did notice that my toes pinch a little in the Elixir, not too bad but something I need to pay attention to and if everything else isn’t going perfectly it can become annoying.

For a while I was alternating between the Mizuno Elixir, Mizuno Precision and Asics DS Trainers. One issue I started having was with the metatarsal pad on my right foot. I have hpyer flexible shoes and I though the relatively stiffer DS trainers might be better for me … wrong. I started having more issues and went in to see John (the store manager) at Rogue Equipment. The slightly less flexible DS trainers were apparently making me work harder on my push off, I asked him about any other shoes I should try out and he suggested the Brooks Launch.

So what do I like about the launch?

When I put them on and was just standing they just felt different, and different in a great way. I felt like my entire foot was on the ground. The way the weight seemed to distribute was different than any other shoe I’ve worn. The forefoot is also cushioned very well and as I took a few strides in them the stride felt great and very natural. They’ve very light as well. One thing I’ve disliked in the past about brooks has been the cut around the ankle. In other Brooks shoes I tried the show would push up against my heel, another problem that isn’t there in the Launch at all. I’ve now put over a hundred miles on my pair of launch and decided that I’ll use them in my marathon in Portland in 4 weeks … I just got my race pair and will break them in on a couple of runs over the next two weeks and then we’ll see how it goes.

One of the negative things I have heard about the launch is that the cushioning in the heel isn’t very good. Now heel striking isn’t something I really do, and anybody wearing shoes as light as these probably shouldn’t either … unless they’re on a very very easy run/jog. So if you do heel strike you may … ok I could say don’t try these shoes … but whatever shoes you do wear work with your coach or somebody to stop heel striking 🙂


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