Accidentally Running a Possible PR; First Look at the Kinvara 6 on Feet

This year marked my third running of the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler, the annual “rite of spring” about which I regularly kvetch. Too crowded. Too many big-butt ladies lined up at the front of the faster corrals and walking out of the gate (Please tell me, seriously, what good does it do you to LIE LIKE A RUG on the entry form about your expected finish time???). No sign of the supposed stars of the event, the cherry blossoms.

Well I’m not kvetching this year. Yes, I did see someone cheat and not run all of the way to a turnaround point. Yes, the course was altered due to investigation into a traffic accident. Yes, there were still big-butt ladies where they didn’t belong. But this year, we got the cherry blossoms and that changed everything for the better. I was completely seduced by the delicate, sunlight dappled blooms surrounding the Washington Monument. Look at the picture and tell me that isn’t serene. I would gladly run five lousy Cherry Blossoms to get one as nice as the 2015 race. The loveliness of the day put me in a stellar mood and that too made all the difference.

After running the Hashawha Hills 50k at the end of February and two marathons in March, my legs were kind of dead, so I haven’t been running much. Thus, my expectations for my Cherry Blossom performance were low — I just wanted to beat my boss (otherwise life would cease to be worth living — his heckling isn’t good-natured) and keep my time under 90 minutes. I started out fast, hoping to avoid having to do too much weaving through the crowd (I never thought I would say this about a race, but Cherry Blossom really does need more corrals since the pace disparity within each wave is too much) and when I did one of my regular, “how are you feeling” checks around the two-mile point I realized that I was feeling great and could keep pushing the pace. When I wasn’t hemmed in by too much human traffic, I was practically bounding over the course with big, bouncy, joyful strides. When I’m feeling it, I’m feeling it! I’d promised myself to not check my watch during the race so I’d focus on enjoying it rather than hitting a time goal, so I stuck to that and just ran by feel. I was surprised at the finish that I managed 1:17:50 — slightly better than my previous 10-miler PR, which I ran at Cherry Blossom in 2014. I basically accomplished my new record by accident.

With one caveat: the course may have been short. My GPS watch didn’t read short; I think it even came up long since I had to weave and pass people for the duration of the race. However, the traffic accident I referenced earlier caused a last-minute course change (We may have skipped an entire bridge? I never look at course maps very carefully; one of my friends noted that change to me, saying that the course was likely 0.25-0.5 miles off.) and the time between the mile six and mile seven signs seemed suspiciously short. I’ll wait until I hear something official about the change. Either way, I wasn’t looking to run a PR so I’m not going to get my knickers in a twist if the course was in fact short. I had fun and I’m pleased with my performance and that’s what matters. Also, I think I look pretty majestic in this picture. PROOF shot with scrolling text all over it or it didn’t happen, amirite?

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After the race I went out for Mexican food with a friend and some of her friends. Feast your eyes on the beauty of the breakfast burrito I basically inhaled. It was good as it looked!

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One of the women I was with is local-elite level — she recently ran a marathon in 3:18 and was disappointed by her time. She was so jazzed about running that I found myself getting motivated too. I might look for some summer races or more races for this fall since I’ve only got two left on my entire 2015 calendar.

The husband of another woman who came to breakfast with the group came with his fancy DSLR camera and made the mistake of dressing in a neon yellow jacket…just like the Marathonfoto photogs! Runners were coming up to him and posing, so of course rather than explaining that he wasn’t shooting the race in any official capacity, he just took their pictures. Naturally we gave him blue hell about it. He took a couple pictures with me in them after the finish, so I may be able to post one when they get passed around.

Also of note: I’d pre-ordered the Saucony Kinvara 6 and my pair arrived yesterday.

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Initial impressions without having run in them:

They look sick. Big win for me on the blue/slime green men’s colorway. This is a shallow observation, but I know myself well enough to acknowledge that I won’t run in a shoe if I hate how it looks, even if it’s a great fit for my feet and gait.
Fit is hugely improved over the Kinvara 5 — actually felt lockdown. Hallelujah!
The heel isn’t sloppy. Quick visual comparison revealed that the heel is much narrower in the Kinvara 6 than the Kinvara 5 so heel slippage should be less of an issue.

I missed the fast feel of the Kinvara 3 and 4 in the 5. The construction of the 6’s upper is still more like a regular trainer than a hybrid trainer-racer/light trainer, but it seems to be going back more to its roots. I feel like the Kinvara crowd isn’t hoping to get a tradtional, plush trainer-like upper with the shoe so the move to the beefier tongue and collar between versions 4 and 5 still puzzles me, but 6 seems to have struck a better balance. Once I get some runs in the shoe I’ll have a more informed opinion. I’m keen to do a comparison review of the Kinvara 3, 4, and 5 since I still have each, but that would require a lot of refresher runs in the older iterations. We’ll see!

Paris-athon

After a flurry of posts, I went silent because I was legitimately busy. Busy enough to not be guilted by those shirts that read, “Someone busier than you is running right now.” Last week I flew to and from Paris for work, ran my ninth marathon, AND AND AND…I ate all five bananas in the bunch before any of them went brown. *drops the mic*

*Picks the mic back up* In all seriousness, it was a whirlwind (and I did eat all of the bananas in time). Having never been to Paris before, I determined that I needed to see as much of it as possible on the day that I landed, my one free day before I had to work. So upon landing, I hustled from CDG to my hotel via the RER and metro, dropped off my bags, and instead of enjoying a daylight-consuming nap, I made hay while the sun shone: I walked around the City of Lights for over six hours, covering nearly a half marathon in distance per my Fitbit. The adventure exhausted me further, but I managed to check a number of “must-see” landmarks off of my list, so next time I visit Paris, it can be Anthony Bourdain-style, just eating well, drinking nice wine, and relaxing. My series of Selfies in Front of Notable Parisian Landmarks includes the Eiffel Tower, the pyramids at the Louvre (no time to go in, and it was closed anyhow), Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, the Tuileries, and the Musee d’Orsay. If I’m making a bad face in any of those photos (I’m not going to post them all here), it’s probably because someone is harrassing me about donating to the deaf mutes again. Who thought that in Paris it’d be the locals demanding to know if I spoke English!

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Is that an antenna sprouting out of my head, or is it the entrance arch to the 1889 World’s Fair?

Fortunately, since my trip was so brief, I didn’t get adjusted to Paris time, so I wasn’t jetlagged upon my return. I flew out Monday evening, returned on Thursday afternoon, and made it into the office on Friday no problem.

More importantly, at least as far as this blog is concerned, the trip didn’t affect my race performance. Walking all around Paris helped refresh my legs after the 50k to Rock ‘n Roll Marathon debacle, so although my springs still weren’t 100% springy on Sunday for the Runners Marathon of Reston, I felt much better and managed a time less than 1:00/mile off of my PR. Given that my training got a bit derailed by the icy winter (and I’m not as painfully thin as I was when I ran the PR), I’m quite happy with that result. Since RMR is so very small, my time was still good enough for second place in my age group!

I love that the race is small. The logistics are a dream: I park in the parking lot of the high school where the race starts, and can leave without issue immediately after I’m done. No crowds. No depending on Metro to run enough trains with enough cars to accomodate the increased traffic during what otherwise wouldn’t be peak hours. It’s one of the few races for which I’d actually consider doing race-day packet pickup since it wouldn’t be a madhouse and I wouldn’t be stressing. Water stations are served by an abundance of friendly volunteers. (I’m looking at you, Rock ‘n Roll Marathon.) There are even finishers medals. Just perfection. I hope it never, ever gets big. (Oh darlin’ don’t you ever grow up, don’t you ever grow up, just stay this little…)

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Showing off my finisher bling from the Runners Marathon of Reston.

However, despite it being officially spring, my race day wouldn’t be complete without some weather-related misery, and Sunday certainly delivered. Temperatures hovered in the low 20s all morning, a biting cold that was worse than the six-degree start I experienced at Hashawha. I started cold and stayed cold. At one point I was convinced that the tip of my left middle finger had actually fallen off inside my glove, but I’m crazy enough that I wasn’t concerned enough to stop running. It’s a race and that’s just a flesh wound! As it turns out, I hadn’t lost any digits. It was so cold (How cold was it, Hope???) that at the mile 12 aid station, I spat out the contents of my cup, thinking I’d been handed a cup full of glass. As it turns out, it was a cup of water in which a thin sheet of ice had formed and broken as the cup was passed to me, mixing into the water like so many shards of glass. I’ve had cups frozen into ice cubes, but never frozen to this glass-like state before. It was pretty freaky at the time.

My Adidas Ultra Boosts were my constant companion during the Paris trip, so expect a review of those sometime in April…hopefully. For now, au revoir!

Slow Recovery

Each of my runs in the immediate aftermath of the Hashawha Hills 50k-Rock ‘n Roll DC gauntlet has felt as bad as the worst parts of those races felt. I’ve only gone for a few short jaunts and from the start each has felt like I’m out of gas and have already run 20 miles. Not fun. However, I’m learning an important lesson: I can stack road races like a maniac (though that isn’t a goal of mine anymore), but I can’t run an ultra so close to another long distance race. It’s entirely too draining. Ultras are beasts that must be respected. I can’t slay the dragon without getting burned a little. I’ll get through this slow recovery and be a better person for it, but it’s very frustrating wanting to run long without suffering or short and fast without praying for death and not being able to.

My Nathan Minimist Hydration Vest Stinks

IMG_7099After two ultras and countless training miles over 15 months of service, my Nathan Minimist vest stinks. I mean it, it really reeks. When I strapped it on this morning over clean running clothes, I had to check myself — had I grabbed a jacket out of the hamper? No, that infernal odor is one with the pack, and probably always will be. It’s only distracting during those crucial moments when I’m wearing it indoors as I get ready to leave; the stink is inescapable. Much of the reflective material on the vest is peeling so I’m afraid to wash it and risk losing those nighttime safety features. So, the stink is here to stay. But with a vest this suited to my needs, I’m okay with that.

Pros:

Value. I scooped this vest on Amazon in December of 2013 for $52.02 before tax and it came with its 1.5L hydration bladder. Out of the box the pack is ready to go, unlike some high end models that require the bladder to be purchased separately.

Lightweight. I get all of the features I need (a zipper pouch for the bladder, a zipper key pocket, an open stash pocket, an open stuff pocket, two chest straps, and a velcro pocket) in a thin, lightweight vest. I haven’t yet even so much as considered overnight runs, so I don’t need a full backpack. I can carry what I need (e.g. Clif Shot Bloks, keys, Imodium, and a rain shell) in the vest and save myself the weight of extra layers of fabric — critical during a long run.

Durable. With the exception of the peeling reflective elements, this vest is in fantastic shape. No tears or stretching/warping in the fabric. The velcro still sticks and isn’t fuzz-encrusted, and the zippers operate smoothly.

Comfortable. In addition to not weighing me down over the long haul, the soft shoulder strap material doesn’t chafe. I wouldn’t recommend wearing this vest without a shirt since the chest straps would probably be rough on bare skin, but shirted up, it works great.

Slosh-free. The bladder is fairly quiet normally, but goes into ultimate stealth mode if I turn it upside down and suck the air out until I hit the water before inserting it into the vest. Incessant sloshing is second only to jangling keys in annoyance during solo runs (moaning/huffing and puffing runners during the late miles of a race is the overall most annoying noise while running!), so I’m thrilled that this isn’t an issue with this vest.

Cons:

Fit. It can be tricky to dial the fit in from day to day if I’m dressed differently due to the weather. An improperly adjusted vest is distracting — too tight and it becomes hard to breathe; too loose and it bounces so much that the straw comes loose from its clip and/or strap and starts slapping around.

Straw tastes terrible for the first few months. I mean inhumanly terrible. I don’t turn my nose up at Florida’s funky, swampy tap water when I vacation there, and I found myself having to spit out mouthfuls of water that had spent too long marinating in the chemical-laden plastic of the straw. Just horrid. It’s no longer an issue, but when the pack was new, I started considering buying a replacement bladder.

I couldn’t find the Minimist on the Nathan website, so it may not be available except from specialty retailers, but if you can get your hands on one, it’s a good lightweight option. The 1.5L bladder is too small to go super long without refilling, but I’ve had the good fortune to have access to a route with a water fountain, so that hasn’t been an issue for me. Overall, this hydration vest scores 8/10 for me.

I Specialize in Misery

Four days after the Rock ‘n Roll DC marathon and I’m still feeling snarky. Por ejemplo, actual mean thoughts of mine from race day that are still rattling around in my head:

“Whenever I see someone in a pair of Altras, I have to look up to make sure it’s not Tony Hawk. Those things couldn’t look any more like skate shoes. I don’t care if the model is bounding four feet off the ground in the ads, you can’t convince me that it’s possible to run fast in Altras.”

“Guys, if you’re going to run a race shirtless and you’ve got monochrome black tattoos in all the different quadrants of your chest and back, I’m going to have a really hard time not asking you how your time in Russian prison was.”

The Rock ‘n Roll DC marathon did nothing to dispel my opinion of the Rock ‘n Roll series as the grimiest, most corporate, worst run race series around. Far be it from anyone on the Internet to have an opinion unmolested! But I do so dare. I figure the Rock ‘n Roll DC planning went something like this:

“Hey, DC is a really pretty city. Instead of creating a course that passes by most of the major monuments, let’s run everybody through some ugly parts of Anacostia.”
“Sounds good, but we need to be sure to include lots of pointless out-and-backs and clover loops, people love those. And let’s make it a point-to-point; transportation convenience, especially for out of towners, is overrated.”
“Does five volunteers seem like enough?”
“Ah, four is more like it. You only need four people to pass out water to a crowd of 10,000.”
“Ten thousand? Ha! We’re going to secure a permit for 1,000,000 people so we can be sure to not sell out and make the field as crowded as possible!”
“Muahahaha more money for us!”
“A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.”

Suffice it to say, I’m not running this race again. I mean it this time.

A couple of years ago, I wouldn’t have been caught dead saying what I’m about to say: maybe the tutu wearers have got it right. They’re out there racing for the sheer fun of it. Maybe they put in serious training hours, maybe they didn’t, but either way, they’re not taking race day too seriously. Why race if not for fun? Don’t be that guy wearing a sub-4:00 goal pace pinned to the back of his singlet making a huge deal out of stopping to stretch frequently when he’s half an hour behind where he wanted to be to show that “SOMETHING WENT HORRIBLY WRONG.” Don’t let the clock make you miserable like that poor guy.

I always set three goals when I run races so I’m guaranteed to feel like a winner no matter what happens. Goal 1: Usually a reach time goal. Goal 2: A more realistic time goal. Goal 3: Have fun. This isn’t always my format. For the JFK 50 Mile Run, my goals were as follows: 1. Finish without crying. 2. Finish. 3. Have fun. Happily, I managed all three!

It’s important to truly enjoy training because you can’t control all of the variables on race day, you’ve just got to roll with the punches. If something doesn’t go according to plan, you can’t let that derail your entire experience. Find fun out there somehow.

Saturday’s race was a case in point: it poured down rain the entire time, and the temperature hovered somewhere in the low 40s. Far from ideal conditions — I actually got colder during Rock ‘n Roll USA than I did during the Hashawha Hills 50k because I got drenched. In a text message after the race, one of my friends commented that I “specialize in misery.” That’s pretty spot-on, but it’s a different kind of misery from the unhappy guy who missed his goal time. Rather than beating myself up for not putting up a certain time, my brand of misery lies in the tough race day conditions that I endure. When I sign up for a race, I’m committed to running it, regardless if the forecast includes rain, sleet, or frigid temperatures. As it happens, the nasty race day conditions that make other runners quit or stay in bed, have popped up a number of times for me so I’ve had the opportunity to prove to myself over and over that I’ve got no quit in me. That’s often a miserable experience, but it’s a life-affirming one, and fun in its own way. However, make no mistake: I do not think I’m a badass for running long distances and running them in lousy weather. I’m just a runner, and these experiences, although they demonstrate the depth of my grit and determination, are more humbling than anything else.

Even though I was not a fan of the race (despite getting the aforementioned satisfaction out of it), I’m not above showing off the finisher medal.

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So Here We Are Again

I promised myself after the 2013 Rock ‘n Roll USA Half Marathon that I’d never again run a Rock ‘n Roll race in DC. It’s pretty much the grimiest, most corporate race series around, not to mention too crowded and understaffed.

Fast forward to late 2014. I’ve just finished the JFK 50 Miler (Do I think running a 50 miler makes me special? I’d love to say no, but the distance magnets on the back of my car would probably give me away.) and in a rush of good feeling (RUNNING IS AWESOME, MUST RUN ALL THE RACES!) I signed up for the 2015 Rock ‘n Roll USA Marathon. So here we are again. Below is a frankly pretty lousy snapshot of some of the gear I’ll be wearing or leaving in my car tomorrow. (I don’t think you need to see my underwear, we’re not that close yet, Internet.)

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The waterproof phone arm band setup is pretty unique, as is my preference for Gold Bond Friction Defense over BodyGlide (that stuff is so sticky and so expensive — not everything sold at running specialty stores is better!), so I might post more in-depth about those at some point, but now I just need to hop in bed since I’ve got an early start tomorrow. Oh how I long for low-key races!

Guess Who’s Back

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Would you believe me if I told you one of these was a men’s pair? It’s true. Guess which one.

Shoe of the year right here in the New Balance Fresh Foam Zante, by the way. Probably the best shoe I’ve ever run in, come to think of it, and that’s really saying something given my massive collection. Stop what you’re doing and buy a pair. Full review coming soon. I’m basically crying with joy at having acquired a second and third pair before people catch on and they get scarce. So serious!

In other news, I ran a brutal 50k on February 28, 2015. Ultra running is like fishing in that the stories of adventure and peril get taller just as the fish that got away in anglers’ stories get bigger over time. Well, here’s the race report to check my facts: Hashawha Hills 50k Race Report
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I faced treacherous snow and single digit temperatures en route to earning my coveted finishers mug. 43 of my fellow 96 starters weren’t so determined or so lucky.

I’m really jazzed about running in the mild spring weather, so expect more blog activity in the coming weeks.

Running Doesn’t Suck!

Because I’m such a rebel, this is a little Throwback Friday for you.

I really hate those shirts that say “Running Sucks.” So much so that I have a shirt with the opposite message: “Not Running Sucks.” Sure, there will be times when running feels like it sucks (e.g. when you’ve hit the wall), but even if that moment sucks, in no way does running overall suck. Running keeps us honest, shows us what we’re made of, teaches commitment, brings us joy, helps us stay healthy…I could go on and on. We all probably need a reminder sometimes of why running is awesome. With that in mind, I submit to you this memory from 2013.

2013 was the year I ran approximately 400,000 races. Or 40. Whichever. It was also the year of the bombing that shook the Boston Marathon, and with it, the rest of America. I wanted to do something to show my unwavering support for my sport and my country. Of course (of course!) I had a race the weekend after the attack, so I decided to carry a flag over the entire 10k distance. I plucked my parents’ flag from their porch for a brief test run around the neighborhood. Keeping the chilly pole aloft was a challenge, but the encouraging honks I got from passing cars was enough to keep me going. I had proof of concept. Mission: Run with the Flag was a go.

On race day at the Pike’s Peek 10k (yes, that’s the spelling), I was joined by my friend Kim who had agreed to sacrifice her time to hang with me in case I needed help with the flag. Unsurprisingly, Kim is the same good soul who crewed for me at the JFK 50 Mile Race. I saw several other flags among the field of runners — I wasn’t the only one who had been inspired to show America and the running community’s strong spirit as it grieved. Fellow runners on the course commented about how good it was to see Old Glory, and offered their support. Fueled by adrenaline, the energy of the crowd, and cups of water snagged by the dutiful Kim, I finished the race without ever walking or letting go of the flag in a respectable 58:59. We even managed to zip down the final hill at a 6:30 pace! I’d thought that my arms would be destroyed after carrying the flag for so long, but I banged out 15 full-extension chin-ups to hustle a guy for a T-shirt at the finish festival.

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If your motivation to run is flagging (pun very much intended) — find it again! Running definitely doesn’t suck. It’s amazing what you can do when ignited by genuine passion.

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Also, for those of you cool enough to have recognized my Chive shirt (one of several I own; I’m a dedicated Chivette), KCCO!

Friday Motivation: December 5, 2014

Monday motivation is more alliterative and Mondays truly do suck, but if you’re looking at a long run in the cold this weekend, you might need some Friday motivation.

If you want to get what you’ve never had, you must do things you’ve never done. You have to become someone else. You have to be something else. At any cost. Believe.

Success occurs when your dreams get bigger than your excuses.

Fear of failure is only for those arrogant enough to think that somehow they can achieve success without paying the price.

Don’t let a bad day make you feel like you have a bad life.

You’ve got what it takes, but it will take everything you’ve got.

If you want to change, you have to be willing to be uncomfortable.

We all have great inner power. The power is self-faith. There’s really an attitude to winning. You have to see yourself winning before you win. And you have to be hungry. You have to want to conquer. – Arnold Schwarzenegger

You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.

Giving up your goal because of one setback is like slashing your other three tires because you got a flat.

Be the person your dog thinks you are.

From Coach Lou:

If you’re bored with life — you don’t get up every morning with a burning desire to do things — you don’t have enough goals. – Lou Holtz

Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it. – Lou Holtz

Create a vision that makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning.

A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.

Success is not owned. It’s leased and rent is due every day. – J.J. Watt

For those of you not blessed with Kilian Jornet/Deena Kastor/[substitute your favorite beast of an athlete here] genes:

Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but of playing a poor hand well. – Robert Louis Stevenson

And for those of you carb loading for a big race:

Every pizza is a personal pizza if you try hard and believe in yourself.

I don’t want to look back and think ‘I could’ve eaten that.’

Three Secrets for Success with the Hoka One One Clifton

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Disclaimer: The following is just my opinion based on my experience with the shoe, which includes long training runs, a marathon, and a 50 mile race. Every runner is different. Among dedicated running shoes there is probably no 100% bad shoe, but probably a lot of shoes that aren’t right for you. As much as I love it, the Clifton isn’t even my Cinderella shoe! Before buying any running shoe, I recommend trying it on. The best running specialty stores (You’re shopping at a specialty running store, right? You’d better be.) will let you take it on a short run (on an in-store treadmill, or maybe even outside if it’s a really cool store), so do that too when possible.

1. Use both insoles.
The Clifton comes with two insoles, both of which are super thin and light. One is orange foam, one is white foam. I would guess that the orange foam is Ortholite and the white foam is EVA, but I’m sure you can find out for sure on your own if you’re interested. I probably could research specs and write that sort of review, but I don’t want to portray myself as some sort of footwear expert when I’m not. Yes, I run in almost all of the major brands, often multiple models from each line, but I’m not an actual expert. What I am an expert in, is my individual experience with a shoe. That said, my real point is that using both insoles is the way to go. The midsole of the Clifton is so marshmallowy soft that I felt like I was running through the shoe during the Marine Corps Marathon — all squish, no spring and the shoe felt like it was bottoming out. Adding the orange insole atop the white insole added just enough additional padding and support for me to get through my mostly-trail 50 miler without getting that bottomed out feeling from the shoes.

2. Wear thick socks.
I love Drymax Hyper Thin socks. I don’t love wearing them with the Clifton because I don’t love blisters. Other Hoka fans rave about the great fit of the Clifton’s upper. Are their standards super low, or is my foot super low volume relative to the average Hoka customer? Because I swim in these puppies! I’m not blister-prone, but with thin socks (socks that I wear blissfully without issue in other shoes), I suffer. My solution: thick socks to reduce the amount of sliding around my feet do in these shoes because of their sloppy fit. Extra padding is a nice fringe benefit, too. Sticking with Drymax, I rocked one pair of Drymax Max Cushion Run Mini Crew socks for the entire JFK 50 Mile Race. Anticipating disaster, I brought four pairs of different kinds of socks and didn’t need to change once. I’d always rather have something and not need it (like Immodium, am I right?!) than need it and not have it.

3. Don’t crank the laces down.
Yes, the Clifton has a sloppy fit. But don’t try and correct it by lacing it tightly. Over long distances, blood pools in the feet, causing them to swell. There’s absolutely no padding in the Clifton’s tongue. As soon as swelling sets in, those laces will be digging into your feet. Having endured that during the Marine Corps Marathon, I can tell you that it is extremely uncomfortable over the long haul. The pain lingered: a week later I still felt like my right foot had been stomped by a Sumo wrestler. Leaving the laces a little looser for the JFK 50 Mile Race didn’t cause me any trouble on the downhills (I wasn’t sliding all around within the shoe) and I didn’t feel like there was a lag between when I lifted my foot and when the shoe actually came off the ground — there’s a level of looseness that keeps under-lace soreness at bay while still keeping me adequately locked in.

Following the above tips left me with blister-free feet after my first-ever ultramarathon. Running long is all about the mental game and being able to roll with the punches, but anytime you can dodge a problem by dialing in your gear, why not do it?

Be on the lookout for a full review of the Hoka One One Clifton…eventually!