Friday, October 26, 2012

In Which I Have Wacky Adventures in Fairfield

Alright, maybe "wacky" is a bit of an overstatement. And...maybe also adventures.

Whatever, bizarre & out-of-the-ordinary stuff happened.

But first let's back up.

I kind of did a bad thing & basically took last week post-Healdsburg completely off. Monday, Tuesday, & Wednesday were scheduled rest days. Thursday I did my easy five miles, which was miserable & sucked. On Friday, I said, "Meh, not feeling it today. I'll just run a little farther on Saturday & Sunday." But it turned out that I was too busy on Saturday & Sunday having the most perfectly seasonal fall days, and the thought of putting on running clothes & getting all sweaty filled me with a deep, dreadful sadness. No; my weekend was filled instead with football, sweaters, boots, cardigans, pretty scarves, cocktails, fancy coffee, symphony, & Italian food. It was beautiful.

Still, a five mile week in the middle (literally, exact middle) of marathon training is a little ooky, so by Sunday night I was making promises to myself to be super-diligent between now & taper about getting the miles in (particularly knowing that I already have some weekends when I most likely won't be able to run). Starting with a few easy miles on Monday.

Aaaaaand here's how great of a start I got off to:

Monday morning, engrossed in prep for work trip to Fairfield: "Er....maybe I can get away for a few miles at lunch."

Monday lunch time, still hopelessly engrossed in prep work: "Maybe I can get out of here earlier & get a run in before karate."

Monday evening, still working (also not at karate): "Since I'm working late tomorrow night, maybe I can get my track workout done in the morning & just go to work a little late."

6:30 am Tuesday morning, after working into the wee hours: "I am soooo not leaving this bed."

It was at that point that I knew I was looking at my 5th day of big fat zero miles. I knew I'd be working until seven & then had to get on the road, which would put me in Fairfield at 9, best case, with just enough time to get checked in, grab something to eat, & get to bed.

I couldn't face a sixth day with no running, so I defiantly threw some running clothes into my duffel, stuffed my Newtons in a plastic bag...

...and promptly left them sitting on the bed. I'll spare you the litany of curses I spewed upon arriving at my hotel & realizing this, but know that it was epic.

So I made a plan. My work stuff finished at four, and after that I cruised up the freeway to the Vacaville Fleet Feet.

Originally the plan was simple. I've recently retired a pair of Adrenalines & my newest pair are getting on in miles, so I figured I'd just grab another pair. The Lovely Miss Elizabeth, however, had other ideas.

Initially I told her that I was in from out of town & had forgotten my shoes so decided to just pick some up, & that my sort of default shoe was the Adrenaline. She asked me if I knew for a fact that I needed the stability, so I recounted my history vis-à-vis shin splints -> the podiatrist -> orthotics -> Adrenalines & how I've been gradually trying to strengthen my feet & lower legs & move into more neutral shoes.

Since that's been a year & a half ago now, she suggested that maybe doing the whole fitting process again wasn't the worst idea anyone ever had. Figuring it couldn't hurt, I shrugged & did some barefoot sitting & standing for her & awaited her assessment.

"You know, you look pretty neutral to me."


Then she measured with the Fancy Tools (= basically height of arch while weight bearing vs. height of arch while non-weight bearing), just to be sure.

"Yep," she nodded. "Textbook neutral."


"I mean we'll put you in shoes & have you run in them a bit & see there's something there, but you actually have a little supination happening, if anything."

This was completely not shocking in any way, which I told her.

I spent the next twenty minutes trying out a few different shoes, none of which I had ever had on my feet before. The first pair Elizabeth & her sidekick watched me run in was the Saucony Kinvara 3. The Kinvara is one of those shoes that I've always heard people rave about but figured I couldn't wear, which was the main reason I ended up buying this shoe. When I jogged back, they were both nodding.

"100% neutral."


"Yep. Textbook."

"Really. Like, neutral, neutral?"

"As in, you do not need a stability shoe because a) there is nothing to correct, and b) you're a forefoot striker, so even if you did overpronate, the stability post never touches the ground anyway and thus does nothing."


"Waste of money. You're Switzerland, girl."

On the one hand, this was *awesome* news, as I have been working towards it for a year and you really can't beat being told by someone who is completely and totally incentivized to sell you pricey stability shoes & inserts telling you that, no, a plain, well-made neutral shoe is all you really need.

"However, it is CUH-RAAAZY the amount you supinate."

Well; I guess you can't win them all.

I really liked the feel of the Kinvaras. They felt snug and responsive, solid yet flexible, and gave me a good feel for the ground. Because of the forefoot strike, though, she suggested something with more cushioning. I was not sure about that idea but figured it couldn't hurt to try a couple of others.

The Mizuno Wave Rider 15's were also incredibly comfortable and nice & solid. They were definitely more shoe, and I could tell I would have no problem running 20+ miles in them, but were still reasonably light. (Update: They're not reasonably light. It's actually a 9 oz shoe so forget that.) The only things I wasn't crazy about was their stiffness & how far off the ground I felt as compared to the Kinvara.

The Brooks Ghost 5 was just not right for me. In addition to also feeling far off the ground, they felt all squishy inside, like sticking your feet into a bowl of oatmeal, except the oatmeal has hard little chunks in it in places that press against your feet in creepy ways.

So in the end, I walked out with these bad boys:

Kinvaras, with ugly hotel bedspread

With ugly hotel lamp

In addition to having a great feel for the ground and looking as if a radioactive zebra died to make them, they are very flexible & have a 4mm heel drop instead of 10-12ish, which I have really come to prefer most of the time.

BOOM. Officially the lightest shoe I own that's not a racing flat.

Also, I think for the first time ever in a running store, someone asked me, "Need any socks?" and in fact yes. Yes, Elizabeth, I DO need socks. I keep losing them to the dryer gnomes & the situation is becoming dire. Two pairs, please.

"You know, you get a $5 coupon if you buy three."

"Then BRING ME THREE, Liz, my good woman. You have pink ones? BRING THE PINK ONES!"

These socks are called Features.

I've run in them twice now & they're extremely comfortable, plus have an extra thick heel part in the back. They are also extremely high tech as the left and right are different and you must always take care to wear them on the correct foot. Otherwise you'll get locusts or something.

So that was wacky adventure #1.

With Phase 1 one of Operation No Sixth Zero Day complete, I headed back to Fairfield and my hotel's exercise room. (Note: This actually does qualify as an adventure because it's been at least six years since I've been on a treadmill.)

On Tuesday I was supposed to do some kind of track something involving sets of three hundreds. I was not crazy about the idea of trying to do speed work on a treadmill, but when I thought through the rest of the week, there really wasn't another good day for it, so I resolved to trying to do what I could on the hotel treadmill, and if speed work was really a no-go, I could always just run some easy miles and at least avoid another big fat goose egg day.

Now, a couple of observations about this treadmill.

  • It just *had* to be among the rickety-est treadmills in existence. I got it up to a nine minute mile or so for some easy warming up (maybe? Its math seemed shall we say 'impressionistic,' so I'm not totally sure), but there was a little too much creaking & squeaking for my comfort level.
  • Its default display was time. You could set it to occasionally show you one other thing (distance in miles, calories burned, or position on a track, which basically looked like a rectangle made out of six toothpicks), but there was no way to change the default.
  • It only counted distance in miles, so trying to run 300s with 100m recovery jogs seemed like more trouble than it was worth to figure out.
  • It displayed speed using completely arbitrary decimals that did not seem to correspond in any way to pace or speed except that bigger numbers generally seemed to mean faster. (Again, you'd think because it shows you elapsed time you could figure out what pace you were running, but I tried this and something was clearly very wrong. I was not running speedy warm-up miles by any means, but there is just no effing way in Hades I was running a 10:00+ mile.)
  • I experimented with how fast I could get it going. At "8.0" it made a high-pitched whining noise that made me a little uncomfortable. Not knowing exactly what would happen, I ratcheted up to "9.0" and for a moment literally thought the thing was going to fly into pieces beneath my feet.

So no. You really could not have paid me enough to run sub-sixes on that thing.

I decided to go with the easy multiple & run some number of quarter miles at "9.0" (really, as fast as I trusted the thing to go) with some reasonable amount of jog recovery in between. I have no objective way of knowing how fast it was, but I did I think maybe eight hard 400s and by the end of that I could definitely feel that I had done some work. All in all I think I ended up running around 7 miles -- 2 warm up, 8 x .25ish with .1-.2ish jog recoveries, & 2 cool down.

The Kinvaras held up beautifully:

Post treadmill speed workout, with ugly hotel carpet. Because really; who doesn't like radioactive zebras?

So yeah. Here's to gittin' 'er done any way you have to. And also to wacky adventures.


  1. Hope those Kinvaras work out for you! (I'm all about low to no drop shoes...)
    I think that treadmills usually display numbers in mph, so 8.0 = 8 mph.

    1. Yeah, it's taken some time, but the more I run in lower drop / more flexible ones, the more I like them. In fact I just realized when I got back that the only traditional-drop shoes I have anymore are the Adrenalines.

      Now that makes total sense about the treadmill. I can't believe I didn't think of mph!