Monday, August 28, 2017

Goodbye to Two Good Friends

This past weekend I was finally forced to say goodbye to two good friends. One I had known for 10 years and the other only five but boy were those five years packed with good memories!

I am, of course, talking about two of my favorite pairs of running shoes. The one was a pair of Nike XC shoes that I wore to every Winter Wild race I did as well as all trail races half-marathon distance or shorter. The other were my Nike Lunar Racers which I have run in every marathon since 2012 including the five I did in 8 weeks in 2014. That's the problem when you find a perfect pair of shoes. They become discontinued and you are stuck making a tough decision: trade them in for a newer(and often worse) model or wear them long beyond their manufacturers designed life.

These were not just any sneakers.They were durable and light, responsive and comfortable. Never once giving me trouble or as much as a blister. They held strong in good times and bad. Days with rain and others with snow. They bore the brunt of many a trip and fall and far more than the recommended mileage that any one shoe should bare.

And yet, just as recently as two weeks ago, my xc racers held strong when I raced the USNWC's River Jam 10k and the X-Terra Table Rock 15K the same weekend. So I postponed their retirement just a little longer. I decided to wear them to this Saturday's Grand Further 25k. This race outside of Boone, NC was 15 miles up and over(and back up and over again) Grand Father Mountain which happens to be the highest peak in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The course description was one of steep cliffs, highly technical single track trails and fast descents. i.e. the perfect course for my nimble x-c racers.
View from our hotel of Grandfather Mountain
So I decided to race one more time in them. This appeared to be a good idea until about 3 miles into the race when I didn't pick up my foot quite high enough. My toe caught a rock and in doing so, I tore the tip of my sole back. At first it was just a slight annoyance, but over the course of the next mile or so, it went from a slight flapping to a more vigorous one akin to an over-sized albatross attempting to take off from a too short runway.

Shortly after I summited the mountain for the first time, the sole finally had enough and tore off completely. I was left with slipper of a shoe which did nothing to reduce the impact of the sharp rocks and jutting roots on the course. I quickly went from top ten to twenty as my run turned into a jog, which quickly turned into a hobble before finally ending in a walk. I walked the rest of the way to the turn around where I had a great group of volunteers try in vain to duct-tape my sole back on(I had been carrying it that whole time). I left the aid station re-invigorated as I finally could run again. This was short lived as, within a half mile, my sole slipped through the loosening tape and fell off again.

Now with over seven and a half miles left in the race, I ended up hiking/limping the whole way, in the process getting passed by over 50 other racers. And yet despite the disappointment that came with being unable to race and the sad loss of a good friend, I had a wonderful time partially due to how slowly I was going. I was able to interact with all the racers who passed me, really appreciate the beautiful views, and even got to see the wreckage of a 1970's airplane crushed which remains in the woods slightly down from the summit. This is definitely a race I will do again next year. This time with a newer(I won't say better) pair of shoes.

My Lunar Racers were retired in not such a dramatic fashion, but rather done premptively to avoid a similar fate. I was planning on wearing them to pace Kenny when she attempts to qualify for the Boston Marathon at the Erie Marathon early September. Now instead, I will relegate them to trainers.

Until next time,


There should be a sole there.

Grandfather Mtn in the cloud cover

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Life is Too Short to Live By Your Training Plan Alone

Nothing like a fun filled summer vacation to impede my blog writing. I apologize to you few dear readers for the nearly two months of silence. Please rest assured, I was sending you plenty of positive vibes.

I have been luxuriating in my first real summer vacation is my freshman year in college. A parent trip to Newfoundland, a solo trip to Finland, and a family trip to the Outer Banks were just the big trips but loads of fun weekends, a little marriage ceremony, and plenty of sleeping in. All that was missing was any consistent form of running.

But life is too short to live by your training plans. Cast it aside, open your eyes wide, and just get outside!

Sorry, I'm back in school now so getting my Dr Seussian back on.

Anyway, a little time off from anything regimented can be great because I'm returning back to the structure of a work day with a new drive to also rev back up my training. I am sure it will be derailed at some point, but isn't that what life is all about? I'm pretty confident I wouldn't really be living if I never had anything in my life that was worth skipping a few runs for:)

And like my training, I also plan to write a bit more so let's see how this all turns out.

Until next time,