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.’

Don’t Call It a Comeback…

After an extremely full race calendar in 2013, I was pretty burnt out on running. Three marathons plus a half marathon in 27 days can do that to a person, no kidding! I was over stressing about the logistics of getting to dozens of packet pickups and then to dozens of starting lines, so I pared my race schedule back a lot to focus on quality performances rather than further straining the screws on my medal rack. This year I crushed my estimated time in the Four Courts Four Miler, ran the Runners Marathon of Reston in March for an age group win, came in first in my age group across both genders at the Big Sur 21 Miler, notched a surprise 11th place in my age group at the Marine Corps Historic Half, and logged a finish at the Marine Corps Marathon. I’ll finish the year out with less than ten total races, but I’m proud of my efforts, especially my most recent run: the JFK 50 Mile Race.

After winning my age group at the Runners Marathon of Reston, on a frigid day complete with sleet, I found that I’d met the A-level qualifying standards for the JFK 50 Mile Race. I’d held third place female for about 21 miles of the RMR and was thinking that actually qualifying for Boston wasn’t out of the question — basically, I was feeling pretty cocky. Cocky enough to dash off a $210 check to the JFK race director (the race is so old school that all entries are done via paper forms) and anxiously await the appearance of my name in the confirmed entrants list.

Fast forward about seven months and reality is hitting me like a ton of bricks. The race starts in view of a cell tower on top of a mountain. We had to run to the top of that mountain, then run back down it again, traversing miles of treacherous rocks and narrow switchbacks. One runner had the misfortune to bash his head badly enough on the rocks to end his race day — he had to be carried out, leaving plenty of blood behind. This was a guy whose name people knew, presumably an experienced ultra runner. I’d never run past 26.2. *Gulp*

Keeping my mental game tight was the most important thing. The human body is indeed fragile, but it can be pushed hard, beyond arbitrary limits we set ourselves. I couldn’t allow myself to get defeated by the staggering number of miles ahead of me, the cold, or the prospect of further pain in my legs/feet/back. I was determined that I was going to finish the race — anything else would be unacceptable — so I put all of my efforts into making it so. And believe me, it took everything I had.

The temperature at the start was a bracing 18 degrees Farenheit. I dressed in two pairs of tights, arm warmers, a long sleeve T shirt, a short sleeve T shirt, and a half-zip pullover. Before the marathon point, I got hot, and had to sit down to take my shoes off and shed one pair of tights. My animal brain said, “Wouldn’t it be better to just sit here? No need to get back up and run any more.” But I got up and kept going. I had to sing “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” all of the way through (and then some) to get myself to the next spectator aid station (a HUGE thank you goes out to my friend Kim who came to the start to get my gear bag, distracted me when I was nervous, took great pictures, supported me at each aid station, and made a hilarious sign for me), but I made it. Around the 30 mile point I hit upon the idea of alternating running and walking each quarter mile. My dad works with a guy who recently swam the English Channel (much tougher than a 50 mile ultra!) and he imparted this tip: break it down into sections, and focus on the next section. There were a lot of quarter mile sections in the remaining 20 or so miles, but I didn’t focus on that. I focused on each individual quarter mile as it came. I’m always up for running a quarter mile! A quarter mile isn’t bad, isn’t that long at all! As much as I wanted to follow the advice, “if it hurts to walk, and it also hurts to run, run,” I knew that the prospect of running another 20 miles was too much to grapple with mentally. A quarter mile was a perfectly digestible chunk: so doable that I found myself grinning, chatting with other runners, and offering words of motivation since I was so comfortable in my knowledge that I’d finish the race. That’s when it really became fun. I kept up the alternating cycle until my Garmin died between miles 48 and 49 and I decided to just walk so as to save a little something for the finish line approach.

I’d thought for sure that I’d cry in despair during the race, or cry with joy at the finish. Neither happened. I smiled throughout the race (not faked for the photos below!) and danced at the finish.

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First spectator aid station, near the half marathon point.

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I don’t know where on the course those were shot, either the ~marathon point or 38 mile aid stations. With few exceptions, the tow path miles all looked the same: boring.

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At the mile 46 aid station I refused to stop or slow down for a photo.

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The hardware

I expect this post will spawn a couple others if only due to this one amazing fact: I finished the JFK 50 Mile Race with no blisters and no chafing. You read that right. Perfect outfit, perfect sock + shoe combination, perfect application of anti-chafe cream. Apparently perfect nutrition/preemptive use of Immodium, too, as I had no GI issues either. I showed up at the race with a full gear bag and took nothing from it on the course — I just gave Kim clothes I no longer wanted to wear. I eschewed my stiff, frozen Clif Shot Bloks and Salted Caramel Gu (the only good flavor, as far as I’m concerned) for eight cream-filled cookies and and a PB&J sandwich. I learned some lessons about the Hoka One One Clifton in the Marine Corps Marathon which I carried over into JFK that helped me tremendously in terms of avoiding discomfort, so I think I can write an informed review. So be on the lookout for more posts, but don’t try to hold me accountable, I might go dark for another six months!

Brooks Cascadia 7 Review

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I’ve done three trail half marathons and I’m a member of a trail running club, but I still consider myself an aspirational trail runner, a wannabe, rather than the genuine article. Trail runners eschew crowds, finisher medals, and race T-shirts in favor of more camaraderie, better scenery, the sounds of nature, and more dynamic terrain. They can roll with the punches: if their race course is marked too long or too short, they don’t whine about it. Their competitive events are marked by good times, good friends, and good food, rather than throbbing music, interminable bag check lines, and corporate sponsors. Trail racing is a low-key good time, and plain old trail running even more so.

Unfortunately for me, I don’t live within running distance of any major trails and I can’t seem to condition myself to drive somewhere in order to run unless I’m racing. I’m too used to lacing up, grabbing a key, and just heading out the door. I also like to run much earlier in the morning than most parks in this area open.

Not only am I unwilling to mess with my routine to make trail running more of a part of my life, but I’m a little bit of a chicken about running alone on trails. My sense of direction is lousy and I can see getting myself into some trouble if I’m not careful. Having that worry is probably enough to ensure that I won’t get myself into trouble, but it still holds me back.

All of this is to say that I’m not some badass jackrabbit trail running beast. So take the following with a big grain of salt:

I really like the Brooks Cascadia 7. I bought this shoe in 2013 when it was already an old model, but the Cascadia is such an enduring classic that you can surely still find it somewhere for a nice discount.

My first run in the Cascadia 7 started out on pavement, like all of my runs do. And I wasn’t overly impressed: it felt solid and reassuringly firm, but the moderately aggressive tread made it feel as if I were running in cleats or golf spikes.

But then as if attracted by a magnet, my feet started pointing me to the only trail I knew of near my house, just a little bit of woods near a nature center, a place I knew of, but had never run in before.

Everything made sense after that first step on soft earth. The lugs dug into the dirt, and the firm midsole, combined with the natural cushion of the ground made the ride feel perfect: firm enough to be fast and nimble (despite its weight), but soft enough to be comfortable.

Three trail half marathons and a recent 21-mile trail and road run later and I still haven’t looked back. This is a sturdy, grippy shoe that’s a strong performer on moderately technical trails. It’s a bit heavy for short distance or speed work and the lugs are perhaps not aggressive enough for certain terrain, but since I’m a mere dabbler in trail running, it’s adequate for me. I’m not in love with its pavement feel or the attendant hard rubber on pavement noise, but it’s not built for pavement. The Cascadia 7 is built to run trails and run them for as long as you can handle.

Likes:

-The upper: sheds mud and dirt like a champ.

-Fit around the ankle: largely keeps out rocks and other trail detritus without gaiters. Also comfortable without being overbuilt or plush. No blisters, no bloody bites taken out of the skin covering my Achilles.

-Tread: moderately aggressive, plenty of grip for soft dirt, maybe too much for frozen dirt.

Dislikes:

None really. If pressed, I might say the weight since it is practically boot-like compared to some of the road trainers I wear, but I mostly find the weight to be reassuring rather than a hindrance. I don’t have more items in the Likes section because this shoe is a workhorse and kind of unremarkable when deconstructed to its component parts, but good in sum.

Overall rating: 8/10

Remember How I Said I Wanted to Run Sub-32:00 for My 4-Mile Race?

Well I ran 28:07, good enough for 78th place overall (out of 1508, I think), 15th overall female, and 6th in my age group. Really surprised myself!

The second to last hill was the toughest part of the race, as I knew it would be. I felt gassed and like I was breathing and breathing and getting no oxygen. But I stayed calm and pushed through. That final mile was my slowest of the race by far, but I lost a lot less time on that hill than I’d feared I would.

For almost the entire race I ran with a guy I didn’t know who looked to be about 55 years old, possibly current or former military. If he got a little behind me on a hill, he’d be sure to catch up; if I got a little behind him on a straightaway I’d increase my speed to match his. When we saw the huge crowd of runners on our way back from the turnaround point, he made a friendly comment about that. We paced each other without discussing it. I didn’t look at my watch until after I’d crossed the finish line, so I didn’t know what kind of pace we were maintaining. I knew it was challenging, but I didn’t know if it was sub-8:00, especially given how rough the fourth-mile hill was.

Well, it turns out that randomly latching into someone who wasn’t all freaky competitive worked out pretty well; I suspect we both helped each other.

I was bowled over by how fast I ran, especially considering how unsure I was that I’d meet my sub-32:00 goal. I dropped nearly 8:00 from my 2013 time of 36:01. Very proud of my effort and very appreciative of my dedication to my 50k training. This really motivates me to get out of bed each morning and hit my workouts hard so they continue to pay dividends.

I’ll sign off with a quote from the US President who I thought was hunkiest when I was a kid, Calvin Coolidge, that I think speaks to the importance of training:

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrehearsed genius is almost a proverb… Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

Taming the Taper Monster, or How 16 Miles Turned into 21 Miles

This week I cut my mileage in half in order to taper for my upcoming (and my first-ever) 50k race. Distance is my game; the first three miles of a run are often a slog for me but I positively float later, so as my mileage has dropped down to about five or less daily miles, and with multiple rest days, my spirits have plummeted as well.

Aching to put some real ache in my muscles, I leapt at the chance to join my trail running club for an informal group run. I aspire to roll-with-the-punches, laid-back, awesome trail runner status, but I’ve only ever run trails in races, never just for the simple joy of it, so I can’t rightly call myself a real trail runner. I can’t even grow a bushy mountain man beard to help my trail cred.

The planned route for this weekend was about six miles. I decided I’d run to and from the start, about five miles each way, to give myself a solid 16 mile workout and get the long run gorilla off my back.

Funny thing about plans when you’re trail running: you can’t depend on them working out.

When I woke up this morning, I felt like crap on a cracker. Yesterday’s BFit workout involved 150 air squats and 100 kettlebell swings that left my quads and lower back feeling like they’d been hit by a train. Walking was a struggle,
let alone running. Looking at the outside temperature, a bracing 28 degrees, didn’t inspire visions of a fun romp outdoors. Somehow, I talked myself into lacing up anyway.

The hilly miles en route to the group run meet up spot were murder on my already torched quads. An incredibly steep downhill descent the length of a city block further stressed my already fatigued braking muscles. The nearly five miles to the meet up location were tough and slow — so slow that I missed the appointed start time despite having left ample slack time based on my usual speed, but luckily the group hadn’t left yet.

The run itself was an adventure: we clambered over large rocks, scuttled beneath a low bridge like gnarled old trolls, and even hopped a fence. Everyone was friendly and smiling. Trail running is all joy. At one point, the run leader told us that we could up the mileage to seven if we took a small detour. More run, more joy, right? After some grumbling about not having brought water, and about having been lied to too many times on trail runs, the group agreed to tack on the extra distance. It wound up being closer to eight, rather than seven miles. We stopped a few times during the run to let stragglers catch up, so although it was by no means a walk in the park, it wasn’t overly challenging.

Nonetheless, when it was through, I knew that my quads were not up to the punishment of reversing the hilly route back. So rather than run about five hilly miles, I opted to run about eight miles on a flat, paved trail.

I’d eaten a Clif Builder’s Bar before I laced up, then a pack of caffeinated Clif Shot Bloks during the wooded trail portion of my run, for a total of less than 500 calories. Those had been burned off miles and miles ago — my stomach growled ferociously on the way back. I was wearing lugged trail shoes on pavement, with socks I’d worn before, but never in those shoes, and big blisters were growing on the balls of my feet. I drank every drop of water in my hydration pack and thirsted for more. The final miles of this run were far from physically comfortable, but I at peace. Not only that, but I was having the time of my life. I was on a long run, and the taper monster was calmed, at least for the time being.

Brooks PureCadence 2 Review

Truly excellent running shoes never go out of style. Color palettes may change and trends may slide up and down the minimalist/maximalist spectrum, but the shoe that works for you will still work for you. Buying last year’s models is a great way to snag premium shoes for cheap. So what if they aren’t the latest and greatest of what’s available?
With this in mind, I offer up the Brooks PureCadence 2 for your consideration. Brooks introduced the PureCadence 3 at the start of 2014, so the PureCadence 2 is on its way out, although it may still be on the wall at your favorite specialty running store, and it’s still widely available online.
Brooks exhorts runners to try the Pure line with the tagline, “Feel more with less.” Somewhat ironically, I consider these shoes to be feature-rich despite the minimalist/reduced running shoe hype.
Features:
-Lightweight: 9.3 oz for men’s size 9
-Low drop: 4 mm drop
-Ideal Heel: undercut heel discourages heel striking
-Nav Band: elasticized band creates a personalized fit
-Stay-tied laces: lumpy lace ends reminiscent of sausages help secure knots — I always double knot my shoes in order to avoid having to stop to re-tie my shoes, so I’m not really in a position to notice any benefit from this feature, but it’s worth identifying
-Split toe: Supposedly this small split at the front of the toe box allows the big toe to flex independently from the other toes. I call bologna here. All I noticed the split toe doing was kicking up rainwater and getting my feet absolutely drenched. Check out my complaints in my mid-testing update about the PureCadence 2.
-Progressive Diagonal Rollbar: a tri-density midsole which controls mild-moderate pronation and smooths transitions. This pronation control is subtle.I can’t recall having been fit for a shoe that was perfect for my specific pronation control needs, so I don’t know what “just right” feels like, but I do know what crazy floppy and out of control feels like (I’m looking at you, Adidas Energy Boost), and this felt controlled and comfortable.
-Burrito style tongue: the tongue is only loose on one side, so it doesn’t squish down into the front shoe when you stick your foot in the shoe. I thought I would hate this, but the tongue is the right size so it doesn’t gap. In fact, it’s so gapless, that I frequently try to move the wrong side of the tongue — the side that’s attached to the rest of the upper. Surprisingly precision fit.
-One piece upper(?): It looks like the upper of the PureCadence 2 is one piece of fabric with some overlays. This gives the shoe a pretty slick look, and I imagine that it saves weight as well.
My Runs in the Brooks PureCadence 2:
-1/3/14 (morning): 4.03 miles, 31:55, 7:55.19/mile average pace, 6:00/mile max pace, Treadmill
-1/3/14 (evening): 4.03 miles, 32:05, 7:57.67/mile average pace, 6:00/mile max pace, Treadmill
-1/6/14: 1.5 miles, 11:38, 7:45.33/mile average pace, 6:53.79/mile max pace, Treadmill
-1/7/14: 4.04 miles, 32:05, 7:56/mile average pace, 6:00/mile max pace, Treadmill
-1/11/14: 10.27 miles, 1:27:30, 8:31/mile average pace, Paved trail and somewhat hilly sidewalks
-1/12/14: 3.13 miles, 26:24.40, 8:26/mile average pace, 6:35/mile max pace, Mostly hilly sidewalks
-1/20/14: 14.14 miles, 2:02:18, 8:39/mile average pace, Paved trail and somewhat hilly sidewalks
-1/21/14: 6.14 miles, 49:04, 7:59.48/mile average pace, 6:00/mile max pace, Treadmill
-1/24/14: 4.14 miles, 32:43, 7:54.14/mile average pace, 6:00/mile max pace, Treadmill
-1/27/14: 4.03 miles, 31:31, 7:49.23/mile average pace, 7:08/mile max pace, Treadmill
-1/28/14: 8.19 miles, 1:03:59, 7:48.74/mile average pace, 6:00/mile max pace, Treadmill
Total: 63.64 miles, 8:41:12.40 time running in the Brooks PureCadence 2
Free Form Thoughts About the PureCadence 2
Sometimes I run for speed, sometimes I run for distance, and sometimes I run for mood — a good run can make the crappiest day melt away. These shoes are a good choice for any of those types of runs. The light weight can go long and go fast, although the lower drop leaves my legs more tired than more traditional running shoes since muscles that aren’t used to working so hard are put through their paces in the PureCadence 2. The more miles I put in these shoes, the better they felt — I think I was beginning to adjust. I completely forgot about my shoes during the 14-mile run.
Despite the rubber pods on the sole, the ride is reasonably smooth, but those pods don’t make for ninja-like footfalls…at times I heard myself slap slap slapping along. Eventually I either got better at running in these shoes, or I figured out how to tune out the slapping noises eventually.
The medium-plush heel cup provides a touch of extra comfort which cradles my heels with a soft fabric hug. I’m excited about the maximalist trend in running shoes. You may never catch me in Hoka One Ones, but I like to feel protected and cushioned in my shoes, especially over the long haul. Other features such as pronation control are arguably more important, but the comfy shoe and the good-looking shoe win the day with me, and probably most runners if they’re being honest, when buying new running shoes. If the looks and the out of box feel don’t excite me, the shoe isn’t coming home since I won’t want to run in it.
My Non-Running Activities in the Brooks PureCadence 2
-Casual wear
-10 hours of driving to a friend’s wedding
-BFit workouts
-Regular gym workouts
The PureCadence 2 is eye-catching, especially the all-over red version that I have. I took off my high heels after my friend’s wedding and donned these bad boys to drive to the hotel and really confused the night manager when I strolled in with my loud, incongruous shoes. These will be great casual shoes when their running life is over since they look great and perform adequately in non-running applications.
By the Numbers
Looks: 10/10
Just awesome. Initially I thought that I wasn’t that into the non-traditional look of these shoes, but when I opened the box and put these on, I fell in love pretty quickly.
Durability: 7/10
The all-fabric toe ripped when I fell during a run. Rocks, crooked sidewalks, and other obstacles will occasionally and naturally get kicked during a run. It’s a shame that the upper can’t stand up to the ordinary rigors of road running. I can’t fault any of the seams or the construction, but the lack of an exterior toe cap (there is a semi-rigid plastic toe cap underneath the fabric) is a significant flaw as far as I’m concerned since tears in the toe area can affect the entire upper because it’s one piece.
Comfort: 8/10
Certainly not the most plush shoe I own, but the interior fabric is soft and cushioned all around. Good comfort, but not great.
Feel: 8/10
I can go fast in these shoes, but I don’t necessarily feel fast in these shoes, if that makes any sense. The lower drop makes me work harder, but I realize that that’s my problem, not the shoe’s problem; were I more into reduced/minimalist running shoes I would be better equipped to run in the PureCadence 2 without difficulty.
Price: 10/10
Jump on these if they sound like your cup of tea and if you can find them — expect to pay less than $70 since retailers will be looking to clear them out in order to make room for the new PureCadence 3.
Overall: 9/10
I surprised myself with how much I liked these shoes — they aren’t perfect, but they are very, very good.

Playing Outside in the Rain

On Wednesday, I discovered that Netflix has every season of “Breaking Bad,” so I started watching that during my daily struggles on the moving belt of misery. Treadmilling already makes me cranky and I was beginning to worry that after running 30+ indoor miles this week due to the Polar Vortex, I was going to turn into Walter White. Time to get outside and do something that’s good for my soul: a run that feels like playing instead of feeling like work.

I woke up to a soggy, mid-40s morning. (Mid-40s is practically tropical compared to the frigid temperatures the DC area endured earlier this week!) Utterly undeterred, I zipped on a lightweight waterproof jacket and headed out without my phone. No music, no Audible books, just me, the outdoors, and the noises of the run.

And it was awesome.

Sure, the sky opened up and I got drenched with cold rain for the final 5+ miles of my 10.27 mile run, but I was outside! I heard my footfalls on asphalt instead of a relentlessly revolving rubber strip. I felt the wind on my face. I could speed up and slow down as I saw fit without pressing any buttons. If I weren’t running, being out in this morning’s lousy weather for as long as I was would have been miserable, but because I was running, it was joyful.