Sunday, December 1, 2013

Review: Altra Instinct 1.5

Images of the Instinct 1.5 in this review are from the Altra Website because I was too excited to run in them without first taking pictures.


First let's start with the technical stuff from Altra.


An upgrade from the original award-winning shoe, The Instinct™ is the first shoe to truly marry the form-improving benefits of a minimalist shoe with the comfort, cushioning and support of a traditional running shoe. The Zero Drop™ platform and innovative foot-shaped design work together to help runners maintain proper running technique and reduce joint impact while freeing their toes to help alleviate foot pain. Trust your instincts and experience the world’s first fully cushioned, foot-shaped, Zero Drop™ running shoe.

Technical Stuff

Zero Drop™ Platform

Weight: 8.9 oz

Midsole: 12mm; Dual Layer EVA with A-Bound Top Layer

Outsole: 4.5 mm FootPod Outsole

Cushioning: 12mm; Dual Layer EVA with A-Bound Top Layer

Total Stack Height: 22mm

2 included insoles: 5mm Sculpted and 3mm Strengthen

Upper: Quick Dry Air Mesh

Liner: Full Length Seamless inner lining with Premium Drilex Collar Lining

Asymmetric Lacing

Other Features: Zero Drop™ with Full Cushioning Innovative, Foot-Shaped Design

Male specific fit

Here's what I think:

My first impressions of the shoe were how bulky they felt on my feet. They are far cushier and beefier than any shoe I've worn since my Asics days way back in 2010. I'm happy to say that I never really noticed the weight once I put them on and the cushiness was surprisingly pleasant. They didn't do much to alter my form in any way that I could discern while running. This is pretty much my main criteria for choosing a shoe. When you combine the cush with the super roomy toe box and zero drop, this shoe not only became a go to road running shoe but also my preferred casual shoe. This speaks volumes for how comfortable these shoes are because I generally prefer a sneaker that screams "LOOK AT ME!" and the Altra are not particularly ostentatious. For some that may be a preference and that is great because you'll have a damn comfy road running shoe.

Not the most flamboyant shoe out there but it still looks pretty good.

The sole of the Instinct 1.5 is definitely road oriented and has very little grip. I am even hesitant on white lines when it is wet. I haven't actually experienced a problem with traction yet but I am hyper aware because of the smooth feel of the sole. I am fortunate enough to have my pick of trail shoes in the closet but if you are looking for a multi-terrain cushy zero drop shoe, I'd suggest looking at other shoes in Altra's line. I would not consider this a negative at all as it is very apparent that these are for road use.

I have only two negatives about this shoe.

Laces: The shoe laces really don't like to stay tied. In my experience, you must double knot the lace and pull it as tight as you possibly can in order for them to last through my 6mi run. They are actually quite difficult to untie after this.


Insoles: Altra Instinct 1.5s come with 2 insoles. One is for support with minor heel cupping and a tiny arch. This annoyed the heck out of me so I put in the "Strengthening" insole which is dead flat. During my last long run I realized that the insole was creeping back in the shoe and riding up my heel. I stopped to reposition the insole at about the 6 mile mark and they were shift again when I got home after another 3.5 miles. I tend to claw a bit with my toes so I'm assuming I was dragging them slowly back. I have now removed the insoles and I'm hoping this fixes my issues.


With over 2 months and 200 miles on this pair, I am generally pretty damn happy that I've been able to try this shoe and I would definitely recommend them to someone who wants to make a transition to zero drop but doesn't want to give up their cushy ride. For me personally, I have begun to notice some tightness in my shins and some very slight pain in my right knee. Though this is probably related to heavy training volume, I can't help but wonder if the relative squishyness of the Altra midsole (my prior shoe had 3mm midsole compared to 12mm on the Instincts) is causing me to be a little less solid in my stride. I love running in these shoes but I am planning to transition back to my prior more minimal shoe as an experiment to see if these slight symptoms subside. I will definitely keep running in these shoes but will likely transition my base miles back to Merrell Road Glove 2.0 (review here) for a few weeks to see if there is any change in my shins and knees,

Conclusions: If you are looking for a zero drop shoe with plenty of room in the forefoot and lots of soft cushiness, you can't go wrong with the Altra Instinct 1.5.



Full Disclosure: This pair of Altra Instinct 1.5 was provided by the manufacturer through Miles to Go Sports in Sutton, MA.

A Note on the Store: Miles to Go Sports is great family owned business in central Mass who believe that no matter what your age is you still have "miles to go". Whether your goal is to walk a mile or complete an Ironman Triathlon, their goal to provide their customers with quality footwear, apparel, and nutritional products from new and innovative brands that will give them confidence and make each step, pedal or stroke a pleasure. I'm really excited to be working with such a wonderful local business whose goal to get people moving are so well aligned with my own.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Buttercup's Revolt!

Right before noon, I posted on Facebook that it was "Almost time for this buttercup to suck it up."
We are in the middle of crazy heat here in Massachusetts. At noon in Mansfield today, it was 95+ (probably more in the sun and pavement) and a bazillion % relative humidity. That all combines for a "feel like" temperature of "Oh dear God, every breath I take is igniting my lungs! Good thing the humidity puts the fire out."

At noon today, I set out for a standard lunch run with Scott. Our typical is 6mi at an easy 8:15ish pace.

I present to you my internal monologue from today's run. For this post my "animal survival brain" will be called Buttercup.

Mile 0:

  • Buttercup: Seriously dude? It really hot. Besides, you already dragged us out of bed to swim this morning.
  • Me: Suck it up, Buttercup. We've been running in this stuff all summer. We're used to this.
Mile 2:

  • Buttercup: Come on, man? At least slow down a little.
  • Me: We're fine. Only 4 more miles to go. I'll look for some shady spots.
Mile 4:

  • Buttercup: Oooh, look there's Marathon Sports. Let's go in there and get a drink and cool down.
  • Me: OK. Make it quick. We gotta get back to work.
Mile 4.5:

  • Buttercup: Getting really hot in here. Why the hell did you shave your head yesterday and not wear a hat. The sun is hot. Are you trying to boil me? Slow the hell down and find some shade.
  • Me: Hold on a little longer. Only 1.5 miles to go and we can cool off.
Mile 5:

  • Buttercup: EFF YOU! That's enough. I'm taking the legs and I'm outta here. Find your own damn way home!
I told Scott to keep motoring on and I proceeded to walk, run, try not to puke for the last mile. I haven't had a truly horrible run in a while and I wouldn't call this one truly horrible but it was close.

Pretty sure my eyeballs are still sweating. I was not sad to discover that I am invited to a lunch meeting tomorrow.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Boston Marathon Healing

I ran a great race and I executed my plan. I had a ton of fun whiling away the miles with Marie. I dug deep and absolutely crushed the last miles of the race. I ran my race as I'd planned it. I finished in 4:00:57 which was not my sub 4 goal but, as my wife likes to point out, it was not 4:01:00.

I finished one minute and forty seconds before the explosion. I was at the finish line looking back down the course when I saw the first bomb go off.

I'm incredibly lucky. I thank God it wasn't my time and I wasn't hurt. I thank God my family was not in Boston. I thank God that I got word to them before all the cell communications were shut down. I thank God I did not witness any more of the carnage first hand. I thank God that I was able to come home and hug my family.

I've tried to write this blog post about a dozen times in my head or actually on the computer. The fact is that until now, I couldn't do it. My attempts to write immediately following would leave me basically curled up in the fetal position sobbing. My attempts after that would never get off the ground because I didn't want to relive the day. Even now as I type I can feel beads of sweat forming and my body temp rising. But it is much better than it has been.

In the weeks following the marathon, I saw a wonderful psychiatrist who has worked with me to untangle the events of the day. Dr. Brecher used EMDR or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing to do this untangling. EMDR was the therapy used to treat the first responders at Newtown immediately following the tragic events.

Wikipedia defines EMDR as:
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy developed by Francine Shapiro, which emphasizes disturbing memories as the cause of psychopathology [1][2] and alleviates the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). EMDR is used for individuals who have experienced severe trauma which remains unresolved.[3] According to Shapiro, when a traumatic or distressing experience occurs, it may overwhelm normal cognitive and neurological coping mechanisms. The memory and associated stimuli are inadequately processed, and stored in an isolated memory network.[4] The goal of EMDR therapy is to process these distressing memories, reducing their lingering effects and allowing clients to develop more adaptive coping mechanisms. This is done by having clients recall traumas while following the therapist's hand movement.[5] The use of EMDR was originally developed to treat adults suffering from PTSD, however, it is also used to treat children.[6]

That's a whole lot of words and clinical mumbo-jumbo, but, basically, you focus on a negative thought while watching a light move back and forth across your field of vision. That's it. And it worked incredibly well for me. Within minutes, I was feeling calmer even though I was focusing on very painful images and thoughts. It was emotionally exhausting at first but after 3 sessions, Dr. Brecher was basically able to unwire most of the bad stuff in my brain from that day.

I'm normally very private and I don't like to show my vulnerable side despite what you may believe from my facebook posts. I have a hard time sharing my most intimate feelings even with my closest friends and family but I have seen so many people out there who were or are badly effected by the events of that day that I felt like I needed to open up and tell you that there is hope and there is help.

I am by no means an expert on this therapy but if you are interested or have any questions, please leave a comment or drop me a line through my email. durtyfeets at gmail dot com

Please feel free to share this with anyone who you think may benefit.


Friday, May 10, 2013

Announcing the Durtyfeets Trail Series with MRA Multisport. Subtitled: "I might also be a little Tri-curious."

I am pleased to announce that I have teamed up with a great organization in my area to bring help bring a trail race series to the Blackstone Valley.

MRA Multisport is a grassroots company that specializes in providing personal and small-group coaching, a club of like-minded athletes, and a variety of year-round local endurance events to challenge the novice and seasoned athlete alike.  By providing these 3 opportunities to outdoor enthusiasts of all ages and abilities while partnering with local businesses and organizations, the goal of creating or maintaining a healthy lifestyle and promoting physical fitness can be achieved.

MRA Multisport is owned and operated by Megan and Alex Rogozenski.  Megan is Head Coach for MRA Multisport and Alex is the Race Director and Operations head.  They have put on a couple of really well organized races already this year.  All of their races feature training sessions in the weeks leading up to the event.

In 2012, I joined their MRA Multisport Club which is a USAT Sanctioned Triathlon Club and member of the RaceReach Club Network.  Based in the heart of the Blackstone Valley in New England, the Club is the area’s premire training, racing, and social club for athletes of all abilities and ages.

The underground motto of the club that has been occasionally stated is "Win or Lose, we still booze." You gotta like that.

I have to confess that I didn't join the MRA Club to do a triathlon though I am tri-curious.  I joined so I could try to infect more of our community with a pathological love of our local trails.  I'm happy to say that it worked and the infection is spreading.  That only proves correlation and not causality but I like to think I had something to do with it.

Really stoked to see my foot logo up there.

Note:  The below stuff was lifted more or less directly from the MRA Website (unlike the above stuff, cough cough, wink) and looks a whole lot more polished and usable there.

Newest Trail Running Series in Central MA!!!  3 dates confirmed, with a special “championship” one still planned for a late October/early November weekend.
To keep costs down and not force a t-shirt or other race schwag on anyone, we’ll be offering durtyfeets Trail Series line of apparel for individual sale shortly.  This branded apparel will be sold at around cost and won’t be the cheap items that we all have stock piled in our garage as rags.
2013 durtyfeets Trail Series (click on date below to register)
Thursday evening 6:30pm June 6, 2013 –  7k through a variety of terrain at Wallum Lake in Douglas, MA
Thursday evening 6:30pm July 11, 2013 - 5k of challenging hills at Goat Hill in Uxbridge, MA
Saturday morning 9:00am August 10, 2013 - 10k of sweet trails around Hodges Village Dam in Oxford, MA
Late October/Early November weekend trail race to be announced soon!

Aid Stations:  All races will have at least one on-course water stop and will have traditional post-race food and drink.

Fees: All races are $15 on-line only ($12 for under 15 years old).  Day of registration is $20 ($15 for under 15).

Awards: Top overall male/female of each race will get some sweet 2013 Trail Series Champions clothing at the end of the season. Race day awards presented to top male/female in following divisons: Junior, Open, Master, Senior.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Here's my number. So track me maybe.

On 15 April 2013, I will be presented with a tremendous gift.  I will be running with a gazillion other people from Hopkinton to Boston in the 117th  running of the Boston Marathon.
If you'd like to keep tabs on me, you can do so by tracking me via my bib number.  My number is 23646 and I am starting at the back of the pack in wave 3 corral 6.  I'm shooting for a sub 4 hr finish time.


You can text RUNNER to 345678 to get alerts at 10K, 1/2 marathon, 30K, and Finish.
See you at the finish line!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Taper Madness

The long runs are in the bank and the fitness level is what it is. The only thing to do now is sit and wait for Marathon weekend and pray for decent weather on raceday.
Author displaying a hint of madness while working the mile 7 water stop at the Boston Tune Up 15K.

It's taper time! Taper is a necessary evil but it is evil nonetheless.

Benefits to taper:
  • I get to spend more time with the family.
  • I get to stay in your nice warm bed on Saturday morning instead of lacing up in the dark.
  • I get to rest up and let minor aches and pains heal.
  • I get to spend more time writing blog posts.
  • I get to play the "taper card" and skip a run when the weather is just a little too cold and windy.
And there are a few disadvantages of taper.
  • I get grumpy, edgy, and fidgety. Endorphin withdrawal.
  • The marathon dreams become vivid and sometimes terrifying.
  • My aches and pains actually seem to increase for a little while.
  • I tend to get minor cold/flu symptoms when I take it easy for a few days. I'm not sure if this is real or not but it feels real.
What happens to you when you taper?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Marathon Dreams

As I come up on t-minus 12 days to my first ever road marathon (That would be Boston), I am increasingly anxious. Most of my training (I am really uncomfortable with that word for some reason) has been pretty positive. A few of my longer runs were not so great but I had one or two that were incredibly encouraging. My everyday lunch runs have become increasingly faster to the point that I am continually shocked at my pace when I feel like I'm only pushing at moderate effort.

I'm confident enough in my fitness level that I will try for a sub 4hr finish time but, for some reason, I am terrified of this 4 hr number.

I am not afraid of failure as much as I am afraid that I will push to achieve it and miss out on the experience that is the Boston Marathon. I don't want my finish line photo to be a grimace of pain. I want to be smiling and jumping up and down and surfing on the energy of the crowd. I want to have a great time first and foremost and party the entire way. I want to remember Boston, not as a test of my fitness, but as a wonderful and happy experience.

The long runs are in the bank and the fitness level is what it is. The only thing to do now is sit and wait for Marathon weekend and pray for decent weather on raceday.

- Cheers!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

DIY TRX Straps for more fun at home

I don't belong to a gym. Frankly, I'm just too cheap and I find that I can get just as good a workout at home with functional fitness, yoga, and running.

TRX training has intrigued me though. Some of the ways you can work you muscles look very much like a functional training regimen. It looks pretty fun too.

Back to the cheap thing. $150 for a set of TRX straps???? Seriously?

Nothing a little research, some digging in my basement, $5 in hardware from Home Depot, and my tinkering engineer brain couldn't handle.

May I present to you my home made DIY not pretty durtyfeets straps.

Looks kinda kinky, right?

I had a set of cheapo blue cam buckle straps (tie downs) from JobLot. I had some extra white 1inch webbing and I had the screw gate carabiner at the top of the picture. A trip to Home Depot for the 1in PVC, 2 little aluminum biners, and a screw eye was all I needed.

The cam buckles are at the top attached to the screw gate biner to allow height adjustment. The handles and foot loops are made from the webbing I cut off the cam buckle straps. There are 2 square knots hidden inside the pvc to make the handles from a continuous piece of webbing. I had to fiddle around for about 20 min to get the loop heights correct but that was it.

To attach the whole rig, I installed a 3/8 screw eye into a beam in my basement.

That's it. If you had to buy all the materials, you are probably looking at less than $30.

Works like a charm.

If you want me to get into more detail, let me know.

- Cheers!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Wide Striding on Pi Day

I'm an engineer and a geek and March 14th is Pi Day. You know Pi=3.14 and March 14th = 3.14.

In honor of Pi day, I skipped my rest day for a Pi Day run.

I ran Pi miles (stopped at 3.14 but the stupid Garmin rounded up) and it was a chilly 10*Pi degrees. I ran for 7*Pi minutes at a pace of 2.2*Pi min/mi.

Along the way, I was concentrating on wider strides and engaging my hip abductors and butt. Basically, pushing outward with my hips at the end of my stride. Think speed skating motion. The result was really cool. It was like shifting into overdrive. If you are interested reading more, Check out this article in by Joe Uhan

Going Wide: The Role of Stride Width in Running Injury and Economy

How about you, did you run on Pi day? Have you tried focusing on a wider stride or engaging your hip abductors?

- Cheers!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Review: Merrell Trail Glove 2.0 and Pace Glove 2.0

Trail Glove 2.0 and Pace Glove 2.0

In case you hadn't already noticed, I'm a huge fan of Merrell Barefoot shoes.  I was never really in love with the toes on my VFFs that started me on the barefoot/minimal journey in 2010 so I was immediately excited when I first read Jason Robillard's review of the first Trail Glove (link) and bought them as soon as they were available.  

My journey with the original Trail Glove started in January 2011 and those shoes were everything to me.  They got me through my first half marathon, my first 6hr trail run, and my first 50K Ultra marathon.   I used them on roads and trails. You can read my review of the original here (link).

When Merrell approached me to review the Trail Glove 2.0 and Pace Glove 2.0, I was really excited and a little nervous.  First off, this would be first time I had been able to try a shoe prior to public availability. That was a big deal for me as a blogger.  Second, I was worried that Merrell might have changed what I consider to be a pretty damn fine shoe.

I'm happy to report that Merrell did a wonderful job of updating the Trail Glove and Pace Glove without dramatically changing it.  OK.  I wasn't really in doubt since Merrell's product development team gets it when it comes to minimal shoe design.

Here is what Merrell has to say about their updates with my take following:
A more flexible ride – The trail protect plate (made with ESS) has grooves cut into the
plate. You will find it to be less “slappy” and more flexible, but still offers the minimal protection needed on trail. This design provides a more natural feeling and rolls better with
your foot on varying terrain. 
My Take:  I didn't really notice a difference here but then again, I was happy with the original protection.  That said, more flex is not a bad thing in my book.

Greater freedom of movement – As with all barefoot we continue to utilize a reductive
design philosophy. We focused on a reductive design philosophy. With this approach, we
designed a shoe with less structure (on the upper) that moves more freely with the foot for
an even greater “barefoot” experience. We used all seamless materials for a soft natural feel on the foot.
My Take:  The upper is certainly more minimal.  This is a good thing from a weight perspective and I don't think it will negatively impact the durability at all.  Note:  the Pace Glove 2.0 did not appear to have the new upper.

OMNIFIT lacing – Where the men’s Trail Glove had 4 OMNIFIT lace closures, we
mimicked the women’s for the 2.0 and went to 2. This helps open it up for an easier on-and off, and also allows the foot to splay more. We heard that the bottom 2 closures were putting pressure on the top of the foot and we corrected this for a more natural fit and feel, while still maintaining excellent foot hold on the instep.
My Take:  First off, I love me some OMNIFIT lacing.  This is my favorite feature of the original outside of the obvious minimal features.  Since the bottom closures never bothered me, I was a little worried that this would be a change for the bad.  I'm happy to report that I do not notice a fit difference.  The two top OMNIFIT laces do a fine job of locking your foot into place.
Trail Glove 1.0 (front) and the Trail Glove 2.0 showing the OMNIFIT lacing

What Merrell didn’t do and rationale:
The Arch:
We know you will ask about the arch because it was a heavy topic of
conversation. Working with our advocates and athletes we learned that our arch is providing a great foot hold, and hugs up under the arch, without hindering the natural movement of the foot, so we kept the best selling trail glove fit and feel in the arch area. We feel this platform is right for the activity, as it moves well with the foot, hugs tightly, and allows the wearer to have excellent connection to the trail, and the right amount of grip and protection.
My take:  I was never really bothered by the arch on the original Trail Glove and I was not bothered by it on the Trail Glove 2.0.  After putting a ton of miles on the Road Glove 2, which has a more noticeable arch, I was pleasantly surprised at how invisible the arch on the Trail Glove 2.0 was.

Pace Glove 2.0 Specifics:

@durtyfeets also had the opportunity to review the Pace Glove 2.0 but since I have anything but dainty womanly feet, I enlisted my favorite female shoe tester to give them a workout.  The Pace Glove 2.0 (Women's) is quite similar to the Pace Glove 1.0 in that it already had the two OMNIFIT laces and the upper material does not appear to have changed.

It seems like the only substantial change was to the heel design.  Where the original Pace Glove had an elastic in the heel, the Pace Glove 2.0 employs a more standard solid design with a slightly padded heel collar.  I would expect that this will create a more sockless friendly fit.  Since it is winter in New England, my lovely and talented female shoe tester (a.k.a. my wife, Pam) did not test the shoe without socks.  In general, she was fairly pleased with the Pace Glove 2.0.
Insole on the Pace Glove 2.0 is really cool.  Unfolded laundry and baby doll in the picture are not so cool.

Her one comment was that it seemed like it fit a little larger than the originals.  This may be due to the heel change.  Prospective Pace Glove 2.0 buyers should definitely try them on to get the size correct.

The durtyfeets conclusion:  The Trail Glove 2.0 and Pace Glove 2.0 appear to have been updated mostly to bring the design aesthetic in line with the newer Merrell Barefoot and M-Connect shoes.  All in all, Merrell did a fine job of NOT messing with an already fine shoe.  If you are in the market for a minimal trail shoe, you can't go wrong here.

Trail Glove 2.0 and Pace Glove 2.0 should be available through Merrell and REI in mid March. 


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Parkour looks fun or "My next midlife crisis?"

Despite what my lifestyle and blog might suggest, I HATE exercising.  I don't do exercising for exercise sake.  I only run because I find it fun.  I messed around with at-home crossfit workouts a few time but I never got comfortable enough with it to find it fun.

Parkour looks like FUN!  Jumping over stuff, climbing like a monkey.... WOW.

Parkour (French pronunciation: ​[paʁˈkuʁ]) (abbreviated PK), also called as the "art of displacement",[1]is a training discipline that developed out of military obstacle course training.[2][3][4]
Practitioners aim to move from one place to another, negotiating the obstacles in between. The discipline uses no equipment and is non-competitive. A male practitioner is generally called a "traceur", a female a "traceuse".

Check this guy out...

Now, I have no illusions that I can do that crap.  That is batshit crazy.

This next video, however, really looks achievable and fun.

Enter this blog post to further a new percolating obsession... breaks it down into an easy to digest almost doable package that really intrigues me to the point where I was practicing rolls on my living room floor.  OUCH.

I don't want to do anything insane here.  I just want to run up a wall like I'm the lovechild of spiderman and Jackie Chan.

How about you?  Do you parkour?  Are you starting a midlife crisis too?


Monday, February 25, 2013

Marathon Training and Speedbumps

I'm about 6 weeks out from the Boston Marathon (my first road marathon) and training has been going OK.  I'm not following any set plan since plans completely stress me out when it comes to running.  I'm in this running thing for the experience and I do it because it's fun.  Since I have a good base of fitness already, I have a half assed plan that is designed to remind my legs how to run long and not get me injured prior to race day.

Here's a rough outline of my training plan:

  • Run 4-5 miles at fastish (8-8:30 min/mi) pace approx 4-5 times per week.
  • Run a longer distance on the weekend at least once.
The 4-5 mile runs are easy as I can run at lunch every day for the most part.  8-8:30 pace is conversational for me on the flat roads around work so I can have a good chat with my friend and running buddy, Scott.

The long runs have been going OK too.  Just roll out of bed early and "git r done" during the suck months of winter in New England.  

My first "official" long run was about a month ago. 12 miles at 8:15 pace.  It was cold and snowy that day but the relative ease of that run planted the possibility of a 4hr marathon firmly in my head.  Until then I was thinking 4:15-4:30 and enjoy the scenery.

Last weekend, I astonished myself with 15 miles at sub 8:30 pace on once again snowy roads.  Again the carrot of 4 hour Boston was dangling out there.  I was pretty wrecked afterwards but I assumed I needed to eat and drink more so I put that into the plan for this past Saturday's run.

This past weekend's run started before sunrise but the weather was the warmest and driest of any of my long runs to date (25 deg).  With my food and hydration plan in hand, I headed out to do the same 15 miles.  I was hoping for a similar pace performance.  I would add another 2 miles to the end if I had the time.

The best laid plans......

Starting out, the legs didn't feel as fresh as usual.  I chalked it up to sleep since my kids were stuffy all week.  Solid sleep for dad was not really an option.  To start, 9min/mi was doable but it required concentration not to slow down to a more comfy pace.  I stuck with the eating and drink and generally enjoyed myself until about mile 8 when the wheels started to come off.  My hamstring started to tighten up and screwed up my gait so that my calf tightened up.  

Grinding it out sometime during mile 10 which is a solid stead and steep 1 mile long hill, I started think:  "What the hell would I do if this happened at mile 10 on April 15th?"  All of this plus the day's schedule led me to bail out at 11.75 miles. I still managed a respectable pace of 9:15 but it was a full min/mi slower than my last 12 mi run.

I'm really trying to roll with this minor setback and chalking it up to good days/bad days but I can't help but obsess about that thought during mile 10.  Do I have the heart to put one foot in front of the other in that state?  I know race day will be different but I just really hope I will not have to death march for several of those miles.

Oh well, the marathon train rolls along.  How's your training coming along?


You can follow me @durtyfeets on twitter, like my page on facebook, or follow my blog on blogspot.  Or, you can do all three and that would be even better.  Thanks.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Mix Master Move: The shoe-iest shoe in the minimal Merrell M-Connect line

The Merrell Mix Master Move rests at the top of the spectrum in terms of minimalism for the 2013 Merrell M-Connect shoe line. It is the most traditional of all the running shoes in the line. Unless you are a total shoe geek such as myself, you would mistake it for a normal people's running shoe.

For those who crave the ground feel, but like the idea of a little extra cushioning for longer miles or easing the transition to barefoot, here’s your minimalist running shoe. Built for the road with reflectivity and a lightweight breathable mesh upper, our Mix Master Move features a low profile 4mm heel to toe drop, getting you closer to the ground to experience the benefits of a barefoot stride. Mix Move sticky rubber sole grips hard surfaces.
• Strobel construction
• Textile and Synthetic leather upper
• Low cut upper
• Molded eyelets for secure lacing
• Protective toe cap
• Reflective details for increased visibility in low light
• Breathable mesh lining treated with Aegis®
• EVA removable footbed treated with Aegis® antimicrobial solution

• 4mm Drop / 9mm Cush / 19mm Stack Height
• Merrell Float midsole is 10% thinner and 25% lighter to provide more feel and ground control
• Merrell Air Cushion in the heel absorbs shock and adds stability
• Molded nylon arch shank
• EVA removable footbed
• Vegan Friendly Footwear
• Merrell Mix Move Sole / Sticky Rubber

Men’s Weight: 8oz (1/2 pair)

Mix Master Move makes a pretty darn good trail shoe for just about anything I can throw at them around here. Rail trail and single track are no problem for this shoe. If I'm spending my days on mud or sharp rocks, I'd opt for my Mix Master 2s (Review here) with the more aggressive tread and rock plate. Otherwise, I'll shave a little weight and grab the Moves or my Trail Glove 2.0 (stay tuned for this review!)

Mix Master Moves are a bit too much for me on the road. I appreciate the extra cushion on the long miles but there is something that feels off when I start to get deep into the miles. Almost all of my road miles in the last year have been on either the Road Glove (Review here) or the Road Glove 2.0 (Review here) so I'm used to a shoe that "disappears." My biased barefoot shoe blog reading mind wants to point to the 4mm heel but I can't be sure that this is the issue for me. I have hundreds of trail miles on my Mix Master 2 trail shoes (Review here) and they work great for me on trails. The weight, while light compared to a standard trainer, is also a bit more than I'm accustomed to on roads. I think all of these things are adding up for me and pushing me back to the Road Glove or the Vapor Glove (review coming soon!).
Much of the Merrell M-Connect Line:  (L-R) Vapor Glove, Road Glove 2, Bare Access 2 (not pictured), and Mix Master Move. 

Fashion wise, I love my Crimson colored pair. They really stand out and say look at me. If you know me, you know I'm an attention whore so my love of this colorway should be no surprise. For this reason, I'll probably wear these as much for casual bumming around as I will for trail or road use.

Bottom Line: If you are looking at transitioning from a traditional 12mm heel training towards a lower heel, the Mix Master Move is a good place to start your journey. If you are looking to add a different heel height to your shoe stable to mix up your gait during training, check these out.

Note: These shoes were provided by the manufacturer. Thank you, Merrell!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Pre-blizzard Hijinks

I'm sitting here nice and warm in my house waiting for the power to go out. There are approximately 14 inches of snow on the ground already and the weather peeps are predicting another million inches before the storm blows out tomorrow afternoon. Because of all the hype, everyone either "worked from home" or got out early.
Since we'll have a gazzillion feet of snow on the trails tomorrow and they will not be runnable, I needed to get out this afternoon before the 2-3 in/hr snow started. What I really needed was a special kind of crazy friend to come out and play. Turns out, I have at least 4 other crazy friends who were more than excited to get out there and make some snotsickles. Throw in a GoPro Camera and a flask of some amber liquid and you have a great way to spend the afternoon.

Brilliant! Be safe everybody. Don't hurt your back shoveling.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Road Glove 2.0: A worthy successor to a great minimal shoe

I have been accused of being a Merrell homer by some of my running friends. It is absolutely true. I like to stick with what works for me and Merrell Barefoot shoes have worked for me since Jan 2011.  I love the fact that I can go from Merrell's Trail Glove to a Road Glove 1.0 to a Road Glove 2.0 and not even notice a difference in fit.

I have about 800 miles total on the original Road Glove so it seemed like a safe bet to give the Road Glove 2.0 a try as a shoe for my first Boston Marathon (and first road marathon, for that matter.)

First off, let's get the technical stuff out of the way (Direct from the Merrell website):

This is “where the rubber meets the road”. Our Road Glove’s simplicity frees your sole with its barefoot, road-specific design, connecting your feet with the pavement. Its back to basics with this runner: a 0mm drop midsole enhanced with a protective toe cap, midsole cushion and reflective, washable mesh upper. Durable Vibram® Road Glove sole.
• Barefoot construction
• Mesh and synthetic leather upper
• Low cut upper
• Protective toe cap
• Reflective details for increased visibility in low light
• Mesh lining treated with Aegis® antimicrobial solution
• Wash as needed in cold water, gentle cycle and air dry

• 0mm Drop / 4mm Cush / 9.5mm Stack Height
• Vibram® Road Glove 2 Sole / TC1 Rubber

Men’s Weight: 7oz (1/2 pair)
Jasper is modeling the MixMaster Move (left) and the Road Glove 2.0 (right)
Don't mind the laundry.

The Road Glove 2.0 comes with some really cool improvements over the 1.0.
Road Glove 2.0 with new upper, overlays, and looped eyelets.
Original Road Glove showing the punched eyelets and older overlay
  1. Super light weight and breathable upper material with laminated overlays. The net effect of this for me is that I can get this shoe to snug down better and hold my heel back without feeling overly tight. I received these shoes in mid January just prior to a seriously cold snap in New England and I can tell you that the upper breathes really well and is NOT adequate for winter running when sockless or thin socked. I had no issues once I broke out the smartwools though.
  2. Looped eyelets as opposed to punched. I wasn't quite sure what to make of this change as I had really found the groove in terms of lacing up my old Road Gloves. After a few lacing attempts, I got the new Road Glove 2.0 tight enough to hold my heel back and fit "like a glove" as it were. I'm never looking back. This new lacing style is a great improvement over the old one. It's not the Omni-fit system I love from the Trail Glove but when combined with the overlays mentioned above I can functionally achieve a similar fit that is tight where I want it without crushing my foot in other areas.
  3. Full Vibram outsole built on the awesome Merrell Barefoot last. Because this is the same last as the other Merrell Barefoot shoes, those who are annoyed by the "arch bump" will feel it. It has been my experience that this feeling goes away shortly after starting the run and this shoe was no different. After 30 miles on this shoe, it is no longer apparent. Out of the box, they were far stiffer than my old 600 mile Road Gloves. It felt like I was running on paddles. Duh. It's a new shoe. After about a mile, I almost forgot I was wearing new shoes. The outsole is completely different from the Road Glove 1.0. The Vibram outsole now fully covers the bottom of the shoe which I'm guessing will really add to shoe life. I've done a number of runs now in fresh snow, frozen slush, and generally crappy New England winter conditions and the traction from this sole is nothing short of ASTONISHING. The only time I slipped was on actual ice during a downhill. These crappy conditions also bring me to my one minor gripe with this outsole. It holds road sand like it is going out of style. You can't tell while running ( and this might actually be part of the super traction) but the first time you come into the kitchen, you will know. No amount of wiping your feet will dislodge the sand. I am now required to take these off outside and bang the soles out.
Original Road Glove sole (left) after 600 miles compared to the new shoe.  Yes, these are the same size 12 shoe.
Trapped road sand in the treads.  Traction aid?  Maybe.  Pain in the butt after you track it into the house?  Yup.
To summarize all that above stuff, you are looking at a thin, flexible, zero-drop shoe with a very light and breathable upper. It is made on the same barefoot last (footbed shape) as the Road Glove 1.0 (review here), Trail Glove (review here), and Bare Access 2 so if you those fit you, you should be able to easily jump into these. If you are looking for a minimal road shoe, stop and have a look at these. You won't be disappointed.

See you at the finish line in Boston!


(These shoes were provided by Merrell.)

Monday, January 7, 2013

I am a social running creature

I've been pretty blah about running lately. I haven't had much motivation to get all dressed up to run in the cold at lunch and I really haven't had the time or motivation to log long miles over the Christmas break. Like many, I gained a bit of belly due to too much beer and holiday food. It has been really bumming me out because 2012 was a pretty good year for me. I racked up 1200 miles, did 2 trail marathons, became an ultrarunner with a Pineland 50K finish, and lost 40 lbs and 4 inches off my waist.

Many of my training miles were logged at lunch with my friend, Scott. Scott and I have known each other forever but lost touch and realized through Facebook that we worked in the same office park.

We are pretty typical running partners. You know the kind. You can talk about everything or nothing and it doesn't matter. We've had conversations about our kids, our jobs, and at one point I think I even gave him a tutorial on surgical steels. It's just good to be out there with company. We are pretty well matched in terms of fitness and running speed so on any given day, the one who feels good usually pushes the other without knowing it. I credit these unconscious tempo runs for much of my speed improvement this year.

Scott and I finally hooked up for a run today in what seems like forever which was probably more like a few weeks. It was great. 5 miles went by like nothing and I came back feeling great and looking forward to my next run.

That's when it hit me... I haven't been rudderless due to some overtraining or undermotivation. I've been missing the companionship. I'm a much better runner when I'm with someone else. I'm a social runner.

How about you? Do you like solitude or companionship on your runs?
- Cheers!