Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Hoka Experiment

     Just as the title implies, I decided to take the plunge and see what all the fuss is about with this brand of shoe with the funny name.  For the last couple of years I have jumped on the Altra shoe bandwagon and was hooked.  I loved the whole premise of the shoes, with the larger foot shaped toe box, zero drop natural foot position and the cushioning options available.  Altra shoes have been a rock star for off road trail runners and has been picking up steam on the road scene, but no where as fast has Hoka One One.  I figured if I was going to jump ship and join the Hoka camp, now would be a good time since I am not officially training for a race for another couple of months.

     Hoka One One is known for its tall soles with a plush ride that can, at times, feel like you are running on a bed of marshmallows in a light weight package.  There are several models to choose from, and after a little research I decided to give the new Clifton 3s a try.  I headed over to one of my local running stores to try them on.  In my research, one of the big complaints about the Clifton 2s was how narrow they felt, but all the 3s reviews were saying they rectified the problem, so I figured I was good to go.  I slipped on the shoes and right away they felt tight, especially on the outside edge of my feet.  I tried going up a half size, which helped, but they still felt more snug then my Altras.  In full disclosure, I have short wide feet and usually require a shoe that come in wide widths, however this was not the case for my Altras.  At the time of this write up I did not see any wide width options from Hoka, but I could have missed it on their website.   I hopped on the treadmill and right away I was hooked!  I loved the feel and the cushioning was so absorbent, it truly felt like I was running on a bed of marshmallows.  With a thirty day money back guarantee I figured they were totally worth the time to put some miles on them.

    After only 20ish miles and one 10k PR I am going to return them.  Why you ask?  Well for me its the fit that concerns me.  I really think it is just a matter of the width of my foot and the lack of width in the shoe, because if this shoe came in a wide version, I would be keeping it.  I was noticing that the top of the toe box would rub the top of my two outer toes with every stride.  With the longest single run of 6.2 miles in these shoes, the rubbing never became an issue, but I am envisioning what will happen when I am out for a 20 mile long run.  I really want to minimize any issues during my marathon training and the potential for blisters or worse can be controlled with the right fitting shoes.  I decided to give my Altras a quick try again, just to be sure I wasn't over reacting, and while there was a slight touch, it was nowhere near as bad as it was with the Hokas.

     So in conclusion, if they offered this shoe in a wide and it fit with no toe box rubbing, I would make the switch, I loved them that much.  I didn't feel like the shoe was to tall, and while the super soft ride felt great, I never felt like I was sacrificing performance.  At the end of the day, you need to be comfortable in your shoes regardless of brand or style.  Even thought things didn't work out with the Clifton 3s, I'll keep my eye on Hoka, and maybe down the road they will accommodate those of us with wide feet, but until then, I'll stick with my Altras.   


Sunday, October 9, 2016

McQueen's 10K race recap

      If you were designing the perfect day for a race, today would be the exact representation of that day.  By the time the race started it was in the high 40's to low 50's, clear skies and virtually no wind at all.  The race was scheduled to start at 9:00am so I made sure I was there about 45 minutes prior to the start so I could get warmed up and check the place out.  McQueen's Orchard has been a staple for the Toledo area for more than 55 years, and plays host to many of fun family events throughout the year.  To be honest I couldn't tell you how many years they have been hosting this event, but it felt like they had been doing this for years.

     Once I got there I walked around and checked out the grounds, which were filled with cars, people and small carnival rides for the kids.  I found several of my fellow Mercy Health Glass City Marathon Ambassadors prepping for the race near the start line.  We got together for a few pictures and to talk about what our goals were for the race.  I finally got to meet Brian, the only other male ambassador this year.  Brian is a firefighter in the Sandusky area and is quite well known because every run he does in full firefighter gear to bring awareness for his fallen brothers and passes out stuffed animals to the young spectators along the course.  He has run almost 60 races including several marathons as well.

     Race time came and we filed into the starting coral to ready for the starting gun to send us on our way.  I was planning on hanging with a local running coach, Chris Peiffer who I hadn't met till today, but we follow each other on Instagram.  He was pacing a few people for this run as they were using it as a training run for another race.  They were going to run a 9:45ish pace, however they were feeling pretty good and made the game day decision to push their pace by about 30 or so seconds.  

     If I had a complaint about this race, the only one would be how small the starting coral was.  We were packed in so tight and for the first few hundred yards there wasn't much room to spread out.  It took me almost a mile and a half before I caught up to Chris and his group, where I just hung out till we hit the last 1.2 miles.  I was feeling really really good and felt like I could push myself harder, so I slowly started to kick it out and pulled away from the group.  I went from a 8:56 pace in mile five to an 8:21 pace for mile six and was able to finish officially with a time of 55:59 @ 9:01 pace.  I knew at the time that I had PRd my 10k time since the last time I ran a 10k I was well over 200 pounds.  Based on my Garmin Connect account, today's race was 12.5 minutes faster than my previous PR.  

     As far as the race course goes, it was a very flat race on country roads and neighborhoods.  I was a little worried when we hit the end of mile three and made a right turn back where we started from.  I was thinking we were going to run the exact same route we just did, however this was only the case for a mile where we turned off the original route and started through some of the nicer neighborhoods in the area.  We made several left and right turns before getting back on the original route for the last half mile to the finish.  At the end we were treated to cold water, fresh picked apples, apple cider, power bars and fresh baked sugar coated cake donuts.  I grabbed a donut, a power bar and an apple to celebrate my new PR.

     All in all, if you are looking for a fun, flat 5k or 10k race in the fall then this race is for you.  If you are one to dress up in your favorite costumes and think, "it would be fun to run dressed like this" then this race is most defiantly for you.  I'll leave you with a few pictures I grabbed off of Dave's Performance Footgear's Facebook page so you can see some of the fun times from the day!