Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Guest Race Report: Outrun 24

Leslie -- on the trail!

You all know how I love a guest race report, especially when I am doing nothing exciting at all. While I have been sitting at open, my friends have been out having fun without me. This time my usual partner in crime Leslie Miyasato was out doing something that I have wanted to do for a long time but never have -- a 24 hour run. I was able to share the experience with her in a limited way through the parkcam at the race site. Luckily, she has agreed to share the experience with all of us. Enjoy!!

I’m back!  As many of you may remember from my GroundhogMarathon report in February, my spring goal race for 2014 is Outrun 24 (http://outrun24.blogspot.com).    Outrun 24 is a timed ultra, perfect for someone as velocity-challenged as me (but also perfect for runners and walkers of all abilities and goals). The idea is to see how many miles you can finish in 24 hours, or before you collapse! Well, Outrun 24 is now history, and I survived to tell about it. My goal was to complete 100K, and I now have a shiny new medal (along with some sore muscles and blisters) to prove I did it. Mission accomplished!!!!   

Outrun 24 is located in Lake MetroParks Chapin Forest Reservation (http://www.lakemetroparks.com/select-park/chapin.shtml), in Kirtland, Ohio. The race course is on a one mile loop.   Before you glaze over and decide you would be bored out of your mind going round and round and round, read on!   

I arrived on Friday afternoon to a steady downpour.   My plan was to camp (free camping right at the race start, how could a camper like me turn that down?), but after setting up my tent and collecting my race packet, my hotel back-up plan won out.    A nice dry bed before my first 100K wasn’t too difficult to talk myself into, especially when it was across the street from Bob Evans.   Lori and I have a favorite pre-race meal that includes yummy stuff like biscuits, mashed potatoes and noodles. [So jealous!!]  Yep, just what I needed, even though Lori wasn’t there to share it with me.      

Fueled, and after a good night’s sleep and I up early and ready to take on my first 100K with about 150 new friends.   Outrun 24 racers are a FUN group, as I learned after months of bantering back and forth on the group’s Facebook page.   I was excited to put faces with names.  I was also curious about the hill I’d be tackling 62 times!    

The race begins at 8:00 a.m on Saturday morning, and ends at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday morning.     This year we were treated to cool temperatures and sunshine.    After Friday’s rain…..we are talking ideal!    
Ditching the jacket as the day warmed up. Always stylish though!!

At 8:00 a.m. we were off.     My first goal was to finish 50K in around 7.5 hours, to allow for plenty of time for my second 50K, aka, uncharted territory for me.     I knew I’d slow down as the miles increased, and wanted to allow plenty of extra time should I slow to a crawl.    Especially with the hill.    It’s not that the hill is that long, or that steep.   It just seems that it’s getting that way each time you go up it.    By the end, my friend Sandy and I were counting how many more times we had to go up it.    3-2-1-happy dance!!!!!    
Sandy and Leslie -- Sorry, no video of the happy dance

It was time to collect our medals and try to get a few hours of sleep.   Lucky me,  I had my frost covered tent!    Not the best place for post race chill and stiff muscles.   Perhaps I should have kept walking.    Hmmmm?????

Now, let’s talk about this round and round thing.   It’s GREAT!     

Friendly People!
Not only do you see the same friendly people over and over again (and be in awe of the top runners as they continually lap you and are still running strong into the night hours), you have an aid station every single mile.     

We are talking a GREAT aid station with friendly volunteers.    There was no need to pack any of my own food for Outrun 24.    I love boiled potatoes, but I also love grilled cheese and pizza.    I had to control myself early in the race, so I didn’t overeat.  Everything anyone would need for an ultra, from food to GU, was there.    

Besides great aid, this trail race has another bonus………flush toilets in a heated building.     No need to dodge poison ivy and wildlife on this course.    I’m now officially spoiled!    Another perk is there is no need for drop bags.    Set up a tent, set up a table, or just toss your gear on the ground.   You’ll pass by every mile.   Perfect for those of us that showed up solo.    Also perfect if you bring your  “crew."  They can just chill in lawn chairs and watch you zip by. This makes Outrun
24 a great family event!    

The kids that came to support mom/dad or grandma/grandpa were having a blast cheering for those racing, as well as running an occasional loop.    Ditto with dogs and spouses/significant others.    I saw happy dogs out for a loop, and a few couples strolling hand-in-hand during the night loops.  
Zack, the race director, with Leslie and Sandy

Outrun 24’s race director, Zack does a fantastic job organizing this race.    He even personally presents each finisher with their medal or belt buckle.    Finisher medals are available for 50K & 100K, and a belt buckle for 100 miles.   There are also overall distance awards and age group awards (I won my age group for an added bonus).    No matter what your distance goal, this is a great race and I highly recommend it.    Think about it for 2015!   I know I am (even though I said “never again” at about mile 50).    

Congratulations to Leslie on her awesome accomplishment!!!  I don't know about you, but I am ready to go for next year!!

Official blister and chafing prevention for Leslie at Outrun 24:

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Is It Time to Replace My Running Shoes?

I have been pretty lax on posting lately because I have been pretty busy with my coaching duties and with my aforementioned "day job."  However, I recently got asked to do a question and answer session for a group I belong to, and I realize that some of the questions would actually make excellent posts for here at the blog.

The first of these was a question about how to know when a running shoe needs replaced.  Here is my answer:

Question: What are the best indicators it may be time to buy new shoes? I did a 5k today and the first time I tried running my knees hurt terribly. When I was jogging  last summer no knee pain. So I am wondering if it may be related to needing new shoes.

Answer:  This is an excellent question. It is possible that it could be time to by new shoes. There are several indicators that your shoes could be worn, and having little aches and pains on an easy run (when there is no other apparent cause), could be one of them. For people who are in tune with their bodies, this is often the first sign.

There are some other ways that you can get a clue. One is to actually look at your shoes. This may sound funny, but most of us don’t really look at our shoes. No, it is not just because we are out for the early morning run before our eyes are all the way open. It is because putting on our shoes is so automatic that we often don’t see them. 

Take a look at your shoes. Ignore for now how dirty and sweaty the upper is. Instead, turn them over and look for wear on the sole. Are the heels or midfoot worn down. For me, I strike on the outside of my foot, and if I turn a shoe over, I can often see clearly that the edge of the shoe is almost gone. Oops!!

Because of where my wear is, I often start turning my ankle because the shoe is so worn, I am falling off of the outside. On the other hand, if your shoes are worn down on the inside, you could be putting more torque on your knees and hips. Also, look at the shoe from the rear. Is it listing off to one side, like the upper is sliding off the midsole? If so, it is probably time to replace the shoe as well, for the aforementioned reason of putting strange torque on the knees and hips.

Another area of the shoe that can break down is the midsole. That is the area between the bottom of the shoe and the part where your foot sits. Over time the cushioning there can become compressed and stop giving you the cushioning you need. Midsoles generally are made from some type of foam material and can wear out from being used for miles and miles, but they can also  wear from being wet (why you aren’t supposed to wash running shoes).  Sun and heat can also break down the foam. If you have been drying your shoes with heat this winter, that could affect things.

The test for this type of wear is to look at the side of the shoe to see if there are lots of lines and wrinkles. If there are, that means the midsole is wearing down. A second test is to push your thumb into the midsole at the middle. Does it bounce back well, or does it stay pretty flat? If it doesn’t seem to rebound, the midsole may be worn out, even if the rest of the shoe is not showing a lot of wear.

However, the best way to know when to replace running shoes is to keep a log of the mileage you have on them. This is an absolute must!!  If you only have one pair of shoes, this is fairly easy. Just write down the day you got them, and then add up your weekly mileage since then. (What???? You aren’t keeping a mileage log??!! Start right now!).  The advice on when to replace shoes varies from 300-600 miles from most sources.

This is a pretty personal thing and also varies by shoes. I find that I start to notice the lack of cushioning (by feel) on my shoes at about 350. I replace on the low end, but I do have one shoe model that I can get many more miles on. I have several pairs of this one shoe, and I am over 500 on two of them and still wear them without a problem (I just don’t use them for my long runs).  On the other end of things is a shoe like the  Kinvara, that I dearly love but which I have to replace usually around 300 because of outsole wear (annoying!!!).

Once you start keeping a log, you will start to get a sense of how long shoes last for you. Then when you start getting that achy feeling, you can check the numbers and decide if the shoe is done or whether it is just one of those days.

A final recommendation to prolong shoe life and to avoid injury is to have more than one pair of shoes and rotate them. The foam in the midsole needs some time to refresh itself, and running in the shoes every day does not give the shoes time to refresh as well. Having two pairs helps with this process. Also, if you have two different models of shoes, you get a slightly different foot strike in each, which helps avoid repetitive motion injuries, especially for marathoners. Of course, keeping the mileage log gets a little trickier here.