Saturday, May 14, 2011

La Sportiva Crosslite 2.0 - Port Gamble Trails

A few weeks ago my brother and I  did our last run longer than an hour before the Eugene Marathon. We decided to hit the trails in the Port Gamble Trail System. This is my favorite place to run and is only 10 minutes from my house. It was one of those rare days where we both felt awesome and totally prepared for Eugene. We ran 8 effortless miles or so which included dense forest, clearcut areas, mountain views, and single track switchbacks. The time went faster than usual and we both wanted to continue the run...but knew we had better save ourselves for the upcoming marathon.

I was looking forward to putting on my new "mountain running" shoes the La Sportiva Crosslite 2.0. I have to tell you, I wasn't so sure about the shoes as I first slipped them on. They felt really minimal and I am used to heavier shoes for mud, dirt, snow, rocks, etc. It was a comparable feeling to putting on road racing flats for the first time after wearing trainers. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised, as the name is "Crosslite" after all.  You can check out a photo of the shoes at the La Sportiva website link above. (I will add some photos later, the blog is rejecting photos at the moment)

I knew I liked the shoes from the moment we started running on the rocky trail. The first set of single track had the potential for dirt, debris, and mud getting into the shoe, but the shoe uses a flexible fabric that covers up to the top two lacing holes. There is no way anything was getting in and it is made of mesh to allow for breathability. The best part of the shoe is that they are fairly narrow. Most of my trail shoes are boxy which allow for side to side movement. These shoes are truly form fitting and as close to "minimalist" shoes as I have ever worn. The responsive was excellent as I hit tight corners and made cuts around trees, etc.

Like some of the other La Sportiva Mountain Running shoes, the Crosslite has the "impact braking system". This technology absorbs impact, helps during traction, and hold while braking. In other words, flying down dirty, dusty, single track you can be assured that your feet won't rip out of your shoes if you have to stop suddenly for a bear. Also, it means for a lightweight shoe, you will have a comfortable ride! All in all, I was pleasantly surprised and haven't run on the trails without them since they arrived. I am looking forward to trying them in the ice and snow of the Olympic Mountains soon. My understanding is that they are almost as good as Yaktrax without having to strap anything on...I will keep you posted!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Eugene Marathon

About a week and a half ago I ran the Eugene Marathon. Now I sit here typing away with sore knees and a nasty chest cold. I am guessing I would have neither had I not run the race. Was it worth it?! Absolutely! I highly recommend running this pancake flat race in Track Town USA. The scenery was gorgeous, the course is well supported, and the spectators are awesome. They even opened up some of the buildings on the University of Oregon campus for runners to stay warm before the 7:00 a.m. start.

My brother and I were both attempting to break 3:20 and qualify for the Boston Marathon under the last year of the current qualifying standards (check the new standards out here). Leading up to the race we did most of our long runs together (which was very cool to connect and hang with my bro) and followed the FIRST plan. This three quality days a week training plan is perfect for a hectic schedule. Basically it entails one track workout, one tempo workout, and a long run. The idea is to cross train on the off days, but I rarely got much of that in. However, I still ran a personal best in my fifth marathon.

My brother was meticulous in his planning and came prepared with a tape laminated card showing what splits he wanted to run for each mile. He planned on being able to slow down by about five minutes in the second half of the race and still make his goal time. Once the race started, it was clear to me immediately that he was going to start out much faster than I planned. At that point, I decided to run my own pace. As I have experienced in other marathons, all was well until about mile 21. I ran a few slow miles and didn't pick it back up until mile 25. I ended up with a decent final 1.2 miles and ran 3:23 and change. My brother ran a perfect race and ran 3:19! He will be going to Boston without me...however, I still plan on qualifying at some point in the near future.

On a side note, a buddy of ours left Seattle at midnight and met us at the starting line in Eugene just before the start of the race. He also ran Boston 2 weeks earlier. He finished with a PR by 6 minutes and finished in 3:15. Hmmmmmm. I better talk to him about his training plan....obviously he did something right and I am quite sure it wasn't driving all night, drinking mountain dew, and going ninety miles per hour down I-5.

After the race we enjoyed the post-race atmosphere at Hayward Field for a while and then headed north to Portland for the night. We stayed at the Hotel Lucia within easy walking distance of four breweries and the Pearl District. We lucked out with sunshine...and the local (well-deserved) beer was incredible. The hotel was definitely impressive. It had a modern, comfortable feel with friendly staff. One of the best parts of the stay was enjoying many of the 680 David Kennerly photographs on display throughout the hotel. David Kennerly is a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer and Portland, Oregon native. Apparently, Kennerly served as personal photographer to President Gerald R. Ford and his work has appeared in LIFE, TIME, GEORGE and NEWSWEEK magazines. Judging from the people he photographed, he hung out with some amazing people! My brother and I plan on surprising our wives with a trip to Portland soon. The vibe in Portland is fantastic and we will be staying at the Hotel Lucia again.

I have run once since the marathon and hope to get a few miles in this weekend. Trails, trails, and more trails until the legs start feeling better...looking forward to it!