Month: June 2011

Salomon XR Crossmax Shoe Review

Very first run in my Salomon XR Crossmax

For those of you that are following my training you might know that I only recently picked up trail running recently.  Up until then I was strictly a runner of the black top.  The trails never really worked for me.  But once I was introduced to them I fell in love!  And the best part of starting to run on a new surface meant NEW SHOES!!!!  I went to the local running store that sponsors one my my triathlon teams (yes, I belong to a couple) and tried on couple pairs of trail running shoes.  I was very interested in the Salomons because I knew a couple people who also ran in them.  So I picked up the Salomon XR Crossmax neutrals.  I wrote about these shoes when I first got them because it was the first time I had switched from a stability shoe to a neutral shoe.

Now that I have put about 70 miles on them it is time to write about them.  I run on the trails in Southern California just north of Los Angeles.  As a result the terrain I run on can vary widely from rocks to sand to hard dirt to mud.  The hills can get pretty steep at times as well which can making ascending hard and descending tricky.  So far I have bee very pleased with the shoes.  They have stood up to every surface I have thrown at them.  Since I am new to trail running my ankles are a little weak.  The shoes have provided a nice stable base to keep me from turning my ankles too often (can’t avoid it completely).  The shoes laces took a little time to get used to and to get them adjusted just right.  The shoes “hug” my feet just right by giving me the right space for my front foot but holding snugly to my heel.  They do seem to allow some dirt through but if you want your shoes to breathe and dry out (after a water crossing or six), they can’t be air tight!  To help cut down on the junk that gets in them I use Dirtygirl Gaiters (love them!!).

I am new to this product reviewing stuff so I am sure I missed some of the technical details that make them the great shoes I have found them to be. I am curious to see how well they do after another 100 miles.  I am hoping, because I don’t wear them on the road where I am a heavy heel striker, they will last longer than most of my regular running shoes.

Brand new coming home from the store. No dirt on them yet!

First run with one of their cousins.

Getting ready to hit the trails, Dirtygirl Gaiters and all!

Water crossing (but on a bridge luckily; I hate getting them wet!)

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Competing, Not Just Completing—My Attempt to Get on the Podium

Holding my 2nd place medal from the Love Run 10K, July 5, 2011

Up until now I have always maintained that I just want to “complete not compete” when I race.  Up until recently, that was all I was really capable of.  I was usually somewhere in the middle of the pack when it came to the results of a marathon or a triathlon.  But lately, things have changed.  It started in February when I ran the Lost Dutchman Half Marathon in Apache Junction Arizona.  I had been noticing that my running was get faster.  I went into that race hoping for a 1:52 and after all was said and done (or ran) I finished with a 1:46:26!  But what was most amazing was I was 4th out of over 120 females in my age group.  This race was a turning point for me in which I finally felt like I could compete with those around me.

My next race that showed me that I was still making progress was the Orange County Triathlon.  In this race I placed 4th out of 35 (good enough to qualify for nationals).  I was so close to the podium that I was actually disappointed with my finish until I realized that I had qualified for nationals and realized what a strong run and swim I had had.

See, I got 4th!

So in early June I entered a 10K.  I never run 10Ks.  This may sound snobby but the distance is too short for me.  I am much better at longer races.  But I wanted to place so bad that I was nervous about the race.  Anyway, I gave it all I got.  I did the best I could.  I ran as fast as I could.  I ran so fast at the end that I maxed my HR at 205 bpm!  I got 2nd in my age group, 10th overall female.  You can see the Garmin data from the race here.

Now I have my second 70.3 triathlon, Vineman,  coming up in just under 4 weeks (OMG!!).  I am starting to look at the results from last year to see how I think I might do.  I doubt I will podium there (I have way too much work on the bike to do).  But if I can just keep making progress and make it into the top 20% I would be thrilled.  (You know there will be a race report to follow, so keep a look out.)

Staying out of the bottom 2

“Staying out of the bottom 2”  has become a common phrase thanks to the prevalence of competition style TV shows.  But for me it has taken a new meaning.  While cycling this weekend, and doing a ride that had a few climbs in it, I made a conscious effort to stay out of the bottom 2… gear rings that is.  Whenever I was in a pretty decent climb I kept double checking my back cassette to make sure I wasn’t in my lowest/easiest gears.  We did the same ride last week and I know I bottomed out in my gears.  But yesterday,  I managed to stay out of the bottom two all day!  This is great for my confidence because it shows that I am making progress in the cycling.  Cycling is the most challenging discipline for me and I am pleased to keep making progress!

Elevation profile from ride on 6/18/2011

Click here for complete Garmin data from the ride (I know some of you like the data as much as I do!)

 

KSwiss Blade-Light Run shoe review

New shoes right out of the box

Up until recently I have generally run in Asics running shoes.  I started in the 2100 series like most and then moved up to the Kayanos as I began to run more and more.  But when I joined my Triathlon team one of the perks was sponsorship from KSwiss (which translates to a nice/helpful discount).  I am a heavy heal striker so I can wear through the black sole of a running shoe in 200 miles no problem.  Unfortunately this means I go through shoes pretty quickly.  So having a discount at KSwiss is helpful, very helpful.  I started out in their Konejo II line which is more of a stability shoe (essentially what my Asics were).  Except for a slightly longer breaking in period they gave me no problems; very supportive and comfortable.  But as I am striving to improve my running (which means getting off my heals) I felt it was time to leave the comfort and cush of a stability shoe and move to something lighter weight and more neutral.  So I got the KSwiss Blade-Light Run shoes.

Immediately I noticed a difference n the weight of the shoes.  They were much lighter than what I am used to running in (9.3 oz).  And after the first run in them I knew they were going to move me in the right direction of getting off my heels.  I know this because my claves were pretty sore after the first run.  This is normal if you are running more on your mid to forefoot as opposed to your heals.  Except for the first couple of runs making my calves a little tired, I settled in nicely to the new shoes.  After about 40 miles (I have about 80 on them now) I took out the insoles and put in a more substantial pair (I took them from my other shoes). That gave them just the right amount of spring and they feel great now.  I have always switched out the insoles ever since I first started running.

I am very happy with the shoes.  They breathe well, are very light weight, and seem to be doing the trick with helping me move my foot strike forward.  I can tell this because I haven’t wore the heels down nearly as much as I have on my other shoes.  I am hoping to get at least 250-300 miles out of these shoes (which is big for me).

After 9.5 miles

Celliant Sock Review

I am really enjoying this blogging thing and I was hoping at some point companies would start sending me things to demo for them.  I love running and triathlon gear (probably half the reason I do it!).  So the first company to do so was Celliant.  Here is some information that can be found on Celliant’s website.

“Celliant is a technology that modifies visible and infrared light, recycling them into energy that the body can use more effectively. When Celliant is worn as clothing, or placed near the body (like in a bed liner or a blanket), it redirects this recycled energy back to the body increasing blood flow and blood oxygen levels in the tissue.”

They contacted me thru twitter that they wanted to send me a sample.  A short time later a package showed up with two pairs of socks, some wrist bands, and a gift card (thanks!).  Small problem…the socks were too big for me.  But not to worry, my husband is a big guy (6’5”, size 15 shoes) so they fit him just fine.  Up until now I think I have been folding the same pairs of socks for him for up to 7 years in some cases!  He is happy to wear just plain old socks, nothing special. These higher-tech socks were a departure to what he is used to wearing.

He has recently picked up running (and is giving me a run for my money) and has always cycled on and off.  He has worn the socks for both running and cycling.  He is very happy with them.  He thinks their ability to wick moisture is excellent.  He finds the construction of the socks superior due to the practically invisible seams.  This makes them very comfortable in both running shoes and bike shoes.  He was also very impressed with how refreshed his feet felt when he wore them.  He wasn’t sure he could tell if that was due to increased oxygenation but he really liked the socks.

Overall they were great socks.  Celliant makes fabrics that are used in other products as well.  I bet they would be great in some compression gear.

Trying to run quietly

I have noticed an increase in my speed running over the last 9 months.  I never started running to run fast.  For me it has just been about finishing the race; completing not competing.   I attribute a lot of this speed increase to the bike training I have been doing.  I think the increased leg turnover in cycling has helped make me a faster runner.

But if I really want to get faster (and I do) I have to start doing some structured speed work.  Up until now, the only speed work I have done has been some fartleks while running and some quarter-mile repeats. This morning was my first crack at doing a structured speed workout.  I am training for a half marathon in late August 2011 and a full marathon in October 2011, both of which I have some time goals for.  I am using the FIRST training method which concentrates on doing speed and tempo workouts in addition to long runs.  It also mixes in cross training which works great for me since I am a triathlete.

So how did it go and why do I want to run quietly?  It was hard (that’s what she said)!!! I probably made less than half the intervals at the right pace (except for the rest intervals; there was no pace for them).  This is way out of my normal running routine.  The quiet part has two sides to it.  One, my Garmin beeps at me when I am running too fast (rarely the case) or not running fast enough (usually the case).  I don’t think there was one interval where it didn’t beep at me…a lot! And two, I was breathing so heavy and loud I bet people in their homes could hear me!  I wasn’t wearing headphones so I couldn’t drown myself out. I sounded like it was my first run ever and I was trying to win a marathon!

I know it will get better and it will work…eventually.  But for now I am apologizing in advance to the people of Thousand Oaks California that I will wake up with my heavy breathing and constant beeping.

Click here to see what my workout looked like from the Garmin data.