September 23, 2009

Get Well

I just returned from a three day trip tonight and learned that two ultra runners, Fidel Diaz and Gina Natera, were lost for three days in the Cleveland National Forest. I know nothing more than what I’ve read in the news and from emails of friends. Apparently the two ran out of water on a long run that started at 5:30 am on Sunday, they got separated, and lost their way under the intense heat. Both runners were found alive today by search and rescue teams and one, Gina Natera, is in critical condition and in intensive care.

Get well, soon, Fidel and Gina.

September 15, 2009

I Went Back to Ohio

Last weekend I was taken by ambulance from the Columbus airport. Medical emergencies are scary, but being transported by ambulance only hastens that fear. As the ambulance rolled out of the airport I heard the siren begin to blare.

Thank goodness this was not your typical ambulance, and I was not suffering from a medical emergency. In fact the last emergency this converted rescue vehicle likely saw was a hang-over induced up-chuck, or maybe a failed satellite TV signal in the closing minutes of an Ohio state football game. Yes, this was a real life, fully functional ambulance converted to a modernized tailgating party wagon. Genius!

This was the kickoff of a weekend in Columbus, OH to see the Ohio State Buckeyes play the USC Trojans. But what do football and ambulances have to do with running? Absolutely nothing. Then let me dispense of the running thing quickly. I ran Coffman High School, which as it turned out was where the Trojan football team practiced before the big game. I ran a 1.5 mile warm up and 1.5 mile warm down, and 1,200 meters on the track including 100 and 200 meter stride outs, designed to help me get a little speed back after spending the last two years training for really long distances.

Even with such a short run, the weekend turned out to be as much an ultra marathon as any race I've ever entered. I don't care what kind of shape your in, because when you arrive seven hours before game time to a tailgate party equipped with kegs of cold Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, cherries soaked in grain alcohol, cigars, and swarms of hardened Buckeye fans anxious to break a six game losing streak, fading down the home stretch is a real risk. I walked into Simon’s tailgate zone like a babe in a lawless saloon. I quickly loosened up with a few games of cornhole, the Midwestern version of horse shoes, a few BPRs, and then watched several college football games on the flat screen TV mounted in the back of Simon’s converted ambulance.

Pulling in the Sandbags

Then there was the game. USC and Ohio State have been battling each other for decades. I remember watching the epic battles between Woody Hays and John McKay as a kid. But this year, while the Trojans had beaten the Buckeyes in their previous 6 match ups, I wasn’t about to get sucked into this pre-game hype. Football is football and when you have a freshman quarterback, two new coordinators, and you’re in a rocking stadium with over 100,000 fans screaming at your team on every snap, anything can happen. So, whether staging for a Katrina size storm or a freaky high tide on Balboa Island, sandbagging has its place. Ok we won, but because we won I need to remind my Buckeye friends that while you have Tressel Ball, we have Carroll Ball. While you consistently beat weaker opponents, we consistently lose to them.

Thanks to all you guys, gals and tennis players for a great weekend and...we'll see you in the Rose Bowl!!!

September 5, 2009

Patagonia Makes Shoes? A Review

A couple of weeks ago I was asked by a rep of Patagonia if I would post a review of Patagonia’s trail running shoe, the Release. Of course I would, was my reply. I’m not one to experiment too broadly with running shoes, since I’m usually disappointed when I do, and I always seem to come back to my Asics 2130 Trails. But the worst that could happen, I figured, is the shoes could suck and simply end up in my shoe junk heap.

When the shoes arrived I immediately put them on my shoe scale. No, they don’t make shoe scales. But they do make food scales that are easily convertible to shoe scales. Regardless, these shoes are a little heavy! Weighing in at just over 14 ounces, they are on the heavy side of shoes I like to run in. But they are not far off from my 2130 Trails (13 oz), Asics Gel Cumulus (12 oz), and are the same weight as my La Sportiva Fireblades. Trial shoes are usually a little heavier than their road brethren because they usually have, among other things, thicker outsoles and midsoles to protect the feet from the elements on trial.

When I laced these up I was pleasantly surprised at how the shoe hugged my feet. The Release looks a little stiff and rigid, but when I put it on it stretched nicely to tie into a perfect fit. Patagonia calls this Dynamic Fit Lacing System and it seems to work well for my foot. I often run a few miles on streets to get to trail and I dread shoes that are too hard, but also those that are too soft. I have now done several runs from 5 to 10 miles in the shoe in varied terrain. My overall impression of the Patagonia Release is quite good. Their traction is excellent, cushioning is just right and stability seems quite good.

Another thing I liked about the shoe is the arch, and where it bends when you push the toe and heel together. One thing I’ve learned as a runner is shoes that bend right in the middle of the arch when you push the toe and heel together really play havoc on the middle section of my plantar fasciitis. Shoes that bend in front of the arch, like these, seem to protect this area for me. I can buy a pair of shoes and if it’s the wrong shoe feel a sharp pain right in the middle of my arch. Shoes with higher arches also help control this.

So, do I recommend the Patagonia Release? For those of you who are looking for a solid, comfortable trail shoe that don’t mind a little heavier shoe for training, this shoe is a good choice. Also, if you are the green sort concerned about the environment, the Release uses recycled material for the midsole. I wouldn’t recommend the shoe for those of you looking for a fast trainer or racing shoe, unless you are doing a technical course and need a little more girth around the toes. In sum, I like the Patagonia Release and I expect to continue using it for my longer training runs.