Thursday, June 30, 2011
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Monday, June 27, 2011
Sunday, June 26, 2011
I had one last hurdle to pass with the Luna's. I've run, trained and completed trial races in the Luna's and they simply rock, however, I had to run an actual race in them before I could call them the best footwear I've ever run in, so this morning I ran in a local 5k and finished 2nd overall.
This was, without question, the most difficult 5k course I've run. It was a loop course at elevation and quite hilly (4x800 meter hills). The first loop was on asphalt and the 2nd loop was on dirt. I was in first place for the first 800 meters then a runner who I immediately knew was a collegiate runner passed me and I decided at that point to tuck in behind him and I held the 2nd slot for the remainder of the race. It was clear at the 2 mile mark that I was not going to be able to catch him but I found out he was a former collegiate runner (miler and 800 meter specialist) so I felt good and I beat several other former collegiate runners.
I finished in 19:25 which is far off my PR but this was my best 5k race I've ever run considering the difficulty of the course. The 1st place winner could only muster a 19:01. The 1st place winner told me it was one of the harder 5k courses he has run.
Well, going forward I'm a Luna runner, plain and simple!!! Here's the great part . . . this is the best I've ever felt after a 5k race. I passed the finish line and I had absolutely no pain not even soreness. I took off my Luna's after the race and walked around barefoot until the medal ceremony. . . . I won a bunch of awesome coffee and a $500 gift certificate. All the entry fee money and donations went to support the Kibera Girls Soccery Academy located in Kibera, East Africa's largest slum.
The looks I had from folks looking at my Luna sandals was beyond classic. Before the race started, several folks looked at me like I was an idiot and that just fueled my fire :). One lady said, "really?" and another guy just shook his head . . . by the way I found that guy after the race and said "good race," with a major smile on my face and he just turned around in shame!!! I don't feel good about the encounter but no one should judge another runner and that pissed me off. On the good side, the 4th place finisher was running in Vibram's (very cool dude).
The control I had with the Luna's was unbelievable and the closest I've ever been to barefoot. Last hurdle crossed and now I'm a Luna runner . . . thanks BFT.
Friday, June 24, 2011
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Monday, June 20, 2011
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Friday, June 17, 2011
Half the course is on a narrow concrete sidewalk along busy streets looking at cookie cutter houses. I have several issues with that. First, I try my best to avoid running on concrete (I can deal with asphalt but not concrete). Second, sidewalks are way too narrow for a race course as it's not fun trying to pass runners on a narrow sidewalk and there wasn't much room to jump to the side as the sidewalk was next to a busy street. Lastly, running along-side suburbia is not my idea of inspiring as the scenery sucked and that's a big time negative. Well, that's the bad news.
The good news is the following week there's a 5k ("Kick it for Kenya") that is a benefit event to support the Kibera Girls Soccer Academy in Kibera which is a neighborhood in Nairobi and is the largest sum in Nairobi and the 2nd largest slum in Africa. Can you say "fate" and meant to be. So now I have a major smile on my face because this was meant to be. What a great cause to support and the perfect race to debut in Luna's (I'd go barefoot if I could but I know this course and I would have to slow down big time to run it barefoot).
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Monday, June 13, 2011
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Saturday, June 11, 2011
Friday, June 10, 2011
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
I'm coming up on 1 month since I decided to cease any running in racing shoes or any running shoe that isn't a true minimalist running shoe (rocky mountain trails excluded). I've been running exclusively in Luna's and Ultra's (and barefoot) and there's no going back now as the last and final changes in my form have occurred and I've reverted back to my true barefoot form which I experienced twice before when I went 100% barefoot for 3 months, averaging 40 miles per week of barefoot running.
I have to say the Luna's are awesome and I look forward to increasing my miles in the Luna's and ultimately racing in them. As with the VFFs, of course, I'm back to having people look at me in shock or amazement to run in Luna sandals and I've already had a few folks disrupt my run to ask about the sandals I'm running in but, all in all, it's all good and I'm happy to stop and talk to folks about running. My attitude has changed since I kicked all watches/Garmin's to the curb as I now "run by feel" so I'm not concerned with specific times and splits as I know when I'm running hard, medium or easy, and know I don't mind stopping mid-run for a conversation (that's how it should be and shame on me for running selfishly all those years . . . running should be about sharing). I also know my race paces by feel so I don't need any technology.
While the Ultra and Luna both have about 6mm of sole, they feel quite different when running. The Luna is a firmer sole while the Ultra is softer with a bit more of cushion feel than the Luna. As for barefoot-like experience, I give the Luna a slight edge as the foot strike is a bit more similar to the barefoot feel but I'm thrilled to have both in my rotation. Due to the construction of the Luna, I'm closer to the ground vs. the Ultra and I know that due to the additional work on my calves and Achilles but I've had no issues with pain or injury and I get a great workout in the Luna's. I look forward to increasing my Luna miles and ultimately racing in the Luna's.
The single biggest thing I've noticed yet again is my switch back to my natural forefoot strike vs. mid-foot strike. In running shoes (Nike XC's, Nike Katana's, Inov-8 F-Lite 195's, etc.) and some minimalist shoes (Evo's, Neo's, etc.), I tend to mid-foot strike but when I run barefoot or in minimal footwear like Luna's and Ultra's, I forefoot strike. I can't connect any performance or injury differences between the forefoot vs. mid-foot strike except to say that if I forefoot strike while barefoot, then any shoe that alters my strike to mid-foot is un-naturally altering my gait. That alone is compelling to me.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Sunday, June 5, 2011
Saturday, June 4, 2011
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Terra Plana Ultra – 100+ mile impressions . . .
The first time I picked up a pair of Ultra’s, I thought they were pretty slick but I imagined more of a walking shoe than a running shoe but to my unexpected delight, they are incredible running shoes.
After 2+ weeks and 100+ miles on the Ultra, it’s the “best” running shoe I’ve ever run in as of June 2, 2011. It’s that plain and simple. I’ve done every type workout including easy, tempo and intervals at and below race pace, including roads, and trails and all I can say is the Ultra is awesome. What I’m really pleased about is that Terra Plana addressed the issues I’ve had with the Evo in the design of the Ultra. While I think the Evo is an excellent running shoe, I’ve had blister issues and the weight has been a factor to the point that the weight has impacted by gait, however I’m delighted to say, all that is water under the bridge with the Ultra.
Design & Performance of the Ultra running shoe
At first glance, you look at the Ultra and say “it’s a croc-like shoe,” and that’s a fair initial assessment, however, that’s the only similarity. The Ultra is designed for running and even more so that I ever imagined. As for the design particulars, it has an EVA upper with a removable plug-in sock lining, and it also has a removable plug-in mesh tongue. It utilizes a lock-lacing system and it is very easy to secure a customized fit. With that in mind, please note that for purposes of this review, you can assume I’m reviewing this based on running “without” the sock lining due to how much ground feel I desire (further explanation below), however, I do utilize the plug-in mesh tongue.
Sole. The sole is an EVA dual density product. The overall sole is 6mm which puts it down the middle fairway in terms of the amount of cushion under the foot compared to other minimalist footwear. It’s not clear whether the 6mm is with or without the sock lining but I’m pretty sure it includes the sock lining as only us hard core barefoot/minimalist runners remove insoles. Off the bat, I noticed a major difference in ground feel with or without the sock lining and I elected to run without the sock lining because the sock lining is a bit restrictive for me as it is very form fitting similar to a compression sock (just too tight especially around my toes) and with the Kevlar lining that’s in the sock lining, I just lose too much ground feel. To give you some comparisons, the KSO is 5.5mm, Speed 6.0mm, Bikila 7.0mm, Evo 3mm (6mm with the insole), and the Trek is 8.0mm. However, due to the use of the amphibious EVA sole, the ground feel (without the sock lining) is very similar to the KSO so I give it an “A” for ground feel.
Weight. The Ultra joins a very select and short list of shoes that weigh under 4 oz. (the Evo, for example, is my heaviest running shoe coming in around 10 oz. for a Men’s 44 (US 11), which is more than 3x the weight of the MWU3 and 2x the weight of the Nike Air Zoom Streak XC (Nike XC) which I consider a solid racing shoe for some folks)). The Ultra is so light I literally forget there’s something on my feet at times. It’s just freakishly light, as is the MWU3, however, unlike the MWU3, it’s a true minimalist zero drop shoe.
The Ultra Fit
The Ultra has a wide toe box which is wider than the Evo. Again, this is without the sock lining. My toes had enough room to move, breathe and grip as needed. The Ultra is very flexible as you can bend and flex the Ultra any way you desire.
This is the big question. How long will a shoe designed like the Ultra last? Before I ask that, I look at price and durability together. So, for $90 I conservatively expect the Ultra to last as long as the MWU3 or Nike XC. On the low end, I will be disappointed if I can’t get at least 300 miles on the Ultra and closer to 500 miles will make me one happy camper. After 100 miles, I can clearly see my foot strike pattern and I can see wear and tear around the ball of foot area, however, that alone doesn’t concern me but the issue is whether the EVA sole with hold and for how long.
Only time will tell so look for future reports from me on this key issue but I’m happy that Terra Plana reasonably priced this shoe compared to the $160 Evo which creates sticker shock for many.
High Arch Issue.
This is a specific note for us high arch folks. After 3+ yrs. of barefoot and minimalist running, my high arches have dropped a bit but I still have a defined arch. I raise this because I’ve had issues running in Vibram’s due to my higher arches. I have very sensitive arches and anything that touches, pokes or interferes with my arch is problematic in the long run for me. The Ultra (as with a shoe like the Luna sandal from Barefoot Ted) is perfect for a high arch folks like mine because it allows my arch to function without interference. I can run in Vibram’s but not consistently otherwise I tend to have arch pain which ultimately can turn into plantar fasciitis as the Vibram’s have this unique plastic section in the arch area of the sole (evident in the Speed’s and Bikila’s) and it can cause me issues.
Next to barefoot running, the Ultra is the best footwear I’ve ever placed on my feet. As of 6/2/11, it’s the best footwear I’ve run in and it is on track to surpass my all time favorite KSO, and in fact, I’ve already purchased a 2nd pair.
Kudo’s to Terra Plana
I give a lot of credit to Terra Plana and especially their head designer Asher Clark. Terra Plana is truly committed to producing healthy footwear. This is evident by the investment they’ve made is research and data about how the body functions and moves and it is evident in their shoe design. They aren’t perfect but no shoe company is but they continue to tweak, re-design, modify and create footwear that not only enables the body to move naturally but, more importantly, doesn’t interfere with natural body movement and specifically running form and technique.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011