Friday, December 23, 2011

Shoe Season is the Best Season!

Well, my training is really starting to ramp up now that I am dedicated to running a 50K in the spring. I was going to run the Brazen Racing Diablo 50K Adventure in April, but unfortunately that is now out. There is this coaching class through the RRCA that I have been waiting FOREVER for, and it finally is coming to SF. When is it? Of course, the same day as my 50K. So now I am in the market, looking for new 50Ks. I was going to do a PCTR one, as it was perfect timing and seemed like a beautiful course, but I have heard too many negative reviews of them lately to risk my first 50K on.

So, I am going to go for a destination race for my first! I hope I get in... I am planning on doing the Chuckanut on March 31st in Portland, Oregon. Only thing is, registration filled in 2 hours last year, so I have to be on my game to get in! The elevation doesn't seem too terrible, and I think as long as I continue training on Quicksilver/Sanborn, I will have some great training leading up to the race. Here's a map of the course:

Pretty excited about it. Speaking about trail running, I put in almost 30 hours last week on Quicksilver... by Tuesday I was seriously dragging out there on the hills. I think it was mental and physical... I guess I need to not put in 5 trail runs in 7 days. I'll try breaking it up more this week and giving myself some rest days.

In other news, let me tell you HOW EXCITED I am for all the new shoes that have come out lately! I wanted to do a quick review on some of them. Working at a RSD gives me some great opportunities to try out the newest and coolest from vendors. Each post I will focus on a different brand. Today, I am going to focus on Brooks. I am going to review Brooks' Pure line, the new Adrenaline. Coming up, I will review the new offerings from Asics, Nike, New Balance, and Mizuno.

Brooks Pure Project
Womens Brooks pureconnect Running ShoeWomens Brooks pureflow Running ShoeWomens Brooks purecadence Running Shoe
                PureConnect                             PureFlow                                   PureCadence

First, I'll review the road shoes in the line. My first thought when I put on all the shoes on was, wow. This fits like a glove! All of the shoes have a fantastic lacing technology that really holds your forefoot in. The PureConnect is the lightest in the line of the Pure Project, and has a separate toe flex line that allows your big toe to operate independently. Personally, I felt like the shoe was a bit stiff, but that will probably change as you break it in more. The heel is SUPER low, and I felt a little like my heel was going to come out of the shoe, but it didn't as I ran around a little. The Connect is also super narrow at the base, which left me feeling a little like I was balancing on the shoe. I also immediately noticed the high arch when I put the shoe on, so if you have higher arches or like more support in the arch this is the shoe for you. Keep in mind this is a minimal shoe, and you can definitely tell. There was not a lot of cushion in the shoe, which will be great for those training into more minimal shoes.

The PureFlow is another neutral offering from the Pure project, but this shoe does have a more noticeable amount of cushion. The "NavBand" on the shoe is awesome, and definitely keeps the foot secure. This shoe runs a little small as well, so I would recommend trying the shoe on before getting it. Overall, I thought the shoe was a better fit for my foot than the Connect. It felt more stable and had a much less noticeable arch. I can see myself running a longer distance training run in these, while the Connect would be kept for more short workouts. I also thought the Flow was more flexible than the Connect, which is weird since the Connect is supposed to be the more minimal of the shoes.

The PureCadence is the "stability" option in the Pure line. Instead of having a traditional wedge like most stability shoes do, the Cadence has an "internal PDRB" which is a soft density ramp placed in the midsole of the foot, supporting any pronation as you land. They also included a reinforced heel in this shoe which stabilizes the foot as well. The Cadence is my second favorite Pure shoe after the Flow. It again has a lower arch than the Connect and I felt like it had a slightly wider toe box than the other shoes. I also felt like my foot was completely locked in this shoe, with no heel slippage or midfoot sliding.

The final Pure shoe is the PureGrit:

I had to try this one out, as Scott Jurek helped to design the shoe and he is one of my running heroes! I was expecting a lot of this shoe, and I think it is a good shoe for a certain type of terrain. Overall, it felt pretty similar to the rest of the Pure line, which is to be expected. It felt most like the Cadence, which made me happy as that was one of my favorite shoes in the line. Again, it had the same low rise on the heel, which potentially could be good on downhill trails as I don't think it will cut too much into the back of your heel. It is also super lightweight, which might not be good for more technical trails where you will encounter rocks or other impediments. There really wasn't too much between my foot and the ground in this shoe, so if you want to feel the trail this is definitely the shoe for you. The grip wasn't super awesome on it, here is the bottom of the shoe:

I would probably use this mainly for harder packed trails like Rancho or softer trails that don't have any intense downhill or uphill climbs and that don't have much leaf cover or rocks.

The last Brooks shoe I am going to review is the Brooks Adrenaline 12. Full disclosure, the Adrenaline 12 is one of my favorite shoes of all time (coming in second only to the Cumulus), and I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Adrenaline 11. I was super happy that Brooks did not change too much from the 11s to the 12s. Checking out their website, it seems they mainly just changed the upper by adding some more mesh. Brooks continues to use it's DNA cushioning technology and caterpillar crash pad on the outsole. As soon as I put the 12s on, I was like YES! I AM HOME! *cue happy shoe dance* OK, I really like the Adrenaline 12s!

The Adrenaline's have a much truer fit than the Pure line (it seems like the Pure line and the Cascadia's have the same sizing, where they tend to run a bit smaller than your true size). The 12s had a wider fit throughout, and there was an awesome balance between cushioning and stiffness, which is perfect for stability runners. There was definitely more cushion in the heel than the forefoot (as opposed to the Pure line which as pretty much 0 heel cushion, with most of the cushioning in the forefoot). If you are a forefoot runner, you may feel like your heel is a bit weighed down. For me, this has been a slight issue when I begin my runs, but by my 6 I don't notice it anymore, and by mile 13 I am very thankful for my cushy heel. There is also a great rise on the shoe, no annoyances in the heel or ankle area.

So, those are the new Brooks shoes I wanted to test out! If you are planning on moving into the Pure line, make sure you try the shoes out before you purchase them and make sure they are right for you. They have a hugely different feel than what you may traditionally expect from Brooks, but that could be a good thing! I would recommend trying out the Cadence or the Flow before moving into the Flow, and make sure you are familiar with the terrain of the trails you are running before you test out the Grit. The Adrenalines are a tried and true classic as always, and completely lived up to my expectations.

That's it for today, stay tuned for my reviews on other brands coming up! I hope all you readers have a wonderful holiday this weekend, and get in some runs to help burn off all those calories from cookies and cake :)

Happy running!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Big Things, Little Mileage

OK, so it's only been a little while (forever) since I last updated, which attests to the amount I have been running over the past few weeks (not a lot!). Life has been crazy, between getting married, running a marathon, moving to a new place, and having my job changing, I haven't gotten a lot of time to write on here. Well, I finally have a little time, so here goes!

After my marathon, I really needed some downtime. Having a job in the running industry is amazing, but my life got a little over loaded on running in the month or so leading up to Nike. Between running 40+ miles a week and working with running on my mind 40+ hours a week, it was getting to be a LOT of running, whether I was actually running, thinking about running, or working on running stuff for my job. So, I needed some "away" time. Didn't run with my running friends, took a few weeks off from running altogether, and made the conscious goal not to talk about running as much as I usually do on my "off" time (my now husband is probably willing to attest to the fact that I think I failed at this goal). 

Well, my break lasted until last week when I fell in love with running all over again. I guess absence does make the heart grow fonder. Or maybe I just remembered how *awesome* it was to be outside, running with nothing holding you back. No training plans, no commitments, just running. I think I needed that realization. And the views on my trail runs didn't hurt either: 

Quicksilver Park

San Andreas Trail

Yup, trail running is my new obsession. I love it (except for when I fall and almost break myself). Road running is amazing, and it has given me the opportunity to meet some awesome people, but trail runs are just plain old good for your soul. They challenge you, show you where you need to improve, and reward you just when you think you can't go any further. Plus trail shoes are pretty kick ass. 

There are some pretty crazy trail runs in the Bay Area, and I am really excited about exploring more of them. My friend and I made a running pact a few weeks ago. We were both feeling out of sorts about running, and we were run/walk-ing a trail in Rancho San Antonio, and we were both feeling the pain. We decided then and there that we would re run Rancho every so often over the next few months to prove to ourselves that we could do it and that we were improving. A couple weeks later, we ran the PG&E trail (one of the toughest runs I have done) along with our run group, and I am proud to say that my friend and I pulled each other through, and we kicked that trail's butt! Ah, the power of peer pressure and friendly support on a tough run... and hopefully I can report back in a few weeks that we are feeling even stronger on the evil elevation of the PG&E!

I've also gotten back into racing, with two races this past week, the San Jose Turkey Trot and Brazen Racing's Quarry Turkey. I was DEFINITELY not prepared for the Quarry Turkey, and decided to do the half marathon at the spur of the moment. I am SO glad I did! It was a great course, beautiful weather, and Brazen as usual put on a top notch event. Plus it was great to have friends there supporting me!

Me, running like a turkey at the Quarry Turkey Half Marathon!

This was an interesting half marathon to run. It was the longest distance I had run since Nike, and I had a big mental block about running a half marathon again. I decided to run it at the last minute, which I think was for the best since I didn't over stress myself about it. I showed up, didn't even bring any water with me, and came with only a pack of chomps. I told myself at the beginning of the race I wasn't going to push it, and that I would walk through every aid station. Well, I followed my plan, and I honestly think I felt better during this race than any other, even a normal training day. I guess I just needed to chill, not build the mileage up so much in my mind, and not have a competition with myself like I usually do. Usually miles 9-10 are the hardest for me. I always approach those miles feeling totally drained and need to walk for a couple minutes. BUT, I powered through!! I was so proud of myself, and felt like I really accomplished something in this run. I need to stop listening to the negative thoughts in my head while I am running! I didn't finish the race with a PR (or even close to one), but I really hit a personal goal on that mile 9/10 and I felt awesome about it.

So, 5 weeks off apparently was what I needed. I'm ready to get back into the swing of things, run with my run groups again, and start kicking off training for my upcoming 50K on Mt. Diablo (yay?). I guess I needed some time to bounce back, and I am so glad I took it! I was getting burned out on running, and I hated feeling that way. I have a few big runs coming up, including a 16 miler in Quicksilver Park this weekend, which I am terrified of. But I will be running with friends, and I know that I can make it (as long as there is a delicious breakfast waiting for me at the end!!). 

Monday, October 17, 2011

First Marathon = Complete!

What an awesome weekend! I completed my first full marathon in 4:53:54, and I am still feeling the pain the day after! The weather was awesome, and although it was challenging I am so glad I did the NWM for my first.

I headed to SF on Saturday to go to the Nike Women's Marathon Expo, which apparently was the wrong day to go. The line to pick up your packet was huge, but thankfully(?) I was running the full marathon, which meant my line was 80% shorter than the half'ers. The expo was a little disappointing, it was kind of small and cramped and it seemed like there weren't as many vendors there as I thought there would be.

Once I picked up my packet and checked out the expo area, I headed to Niketown next. That was definitely the place to be. There was so much to see there! First thing when you walk in you see this awesome race bib set up with Nike's running theme "I run to be..."

Then you went up the stairs into the main area of Niketown, where I could have easily spent a thousand dollars. However, I am a poor runner, so I only spent $125. I got this sick sweatshirt and bright orange NWM 2011 shirt. Spending $125 also earned me a frame that said "NWM 2011" on it and had the SF Skyline on it. Pretty cool!

I also got to see my name on the running remembrance board!

After we checked out Niketown, we headed back to the hotel where I drank my weight in Gatorade and water in hopes of being hydrated for the run the next day. I have a bad history of being dehydrated on runs. When I was running Ragnar Napa, I went into dehydration chills. I definitely wanted to avoid that this time around, so I drank and I drank until I could drink no more!

The next day brought the big event, the full marathon! There were TONS of people there, it was nuts. You couldn't even move when it got close to the start time because of how packed in everyone was...

When the clock officially started, it still took me 20 minutes to get to the front of the starting line. I was super excited to start running, but apparently others were not. This was definitely my #1 annoyance with the race set up- Nike should have had separate starting times for runners and walkers. Even though there were time corrals, there were still TONS of walkers there who were like "Oh hey, I'm walking the half marathon, that means I start at the 8:00min/mile area, right?" Not only that, but they were walking arm in arm 4 or 5 women wide that meant it was like playing a puzzle game to figure out how to get past all the chained walkers. I don't think I really got past the vast majority of them until mile 3 or 4. Just in time for the hills!

Ohh the hills. They were killer. The first one hit around mile 6, and was a 300 foot climb towards the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a tough one. And they kept coming. Even though it was really tough, honestly the views were spectacular from on top of them. The best was when you came off of the 9 mile hill. The whole ocean was in front of you, it was breathtaking.

Around mile 14 my awesome husband Josh showed up to cheer me on! It was definitely one of the better points of my run.

It was after the half marathoners separated from the marathoners, and it was a really cool feeling to be in a smaller field of runners from mile 11 on. Everyone around me was going through the same thing I was, and it was awesome to know that we had made it this far.

Around mile 17 I got an awesome support present, my running buddy Isaac showed up and ran with me for the final 9. It was great to have someone to run with. This was an interesting point to the race. Most of the runs I do are pretty male-centric, and I think therefore are pretty singular runs where people are running by themselves for the most part. NWM is a totally different story. There were so many women there who were running with friends the entire time, or who were part of TnT and were running with a group of supporters. As a solo runner, this made for a pretty lonely first 17 miles. It was a huge boost to have Isaac with me to the end. 

The hardest part of the run for me was miles 22-25, no question. Even though the first half had the hills and was challenging, my body knew it was coming and was ready for it. Mentally I just started breaking down around mile 22. By mile 24 I felt like just sitting down and crying. I thought reaching 24 would be such a huge relief, and I would be like, HA! Only 2 miles left!! But instead it was like OMG, I still have 2 miles... 

(not feeling too fierce at this point, but I decided to pretend to be anyways)

All I could think to myself was, keep going Meghan, keep going. Don't quit now. And then I saw the sign that saved me... 1/2 mile to cocktails! And I was like, YES. I CAN DO THIS. I looked ahead, I saw the purple "FINISH" line, and I couldn't stop smiling. I COULD do it. I ran the entire last half mile with the goofiest grin on my face. I probably scared a few people, ha!

Then I finally finished! I got my lovely blue box, my 2 bottles of water, and my bagel, and I was a happy(ish) camper!

I was so happy I finished this run. It was definitely the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, but it was such a special moment for me. All my training had paid off. I made it to the finish, and even though I didn't finish even close to my estimated finish time, I was so glad I had finally achieved this huge milestone in my life. Working in a running store, I get to talk to people everyday who are either training for a marathon or recently completed one, and it really got me jonesing to do one. I finally did, and I can finally sympathize and celebrate with those people who come in looking for advice and help. I love it!

Today, I am relaxing, icing, and letting my body get back to normal. But I am happy knowing I finished my first (and definitely not last!) marathon. What a great one it was!

and of course, the bling:

Nike, I may not be running you again, but I am glad I had the opportunity to conquer the course!!

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Tomorrow is the big day. 26.2 through San Francisco. I have gotten lots of sleep and eaten a lot over the past couple of days. I have been seriously stressing out all week, but today all I feel is so much excitement and happiness. My 3 miler this morning felt strong and good, and I know tomorrow I'm just going to have to remember to stay CALM and run SLOW. I have my goal set at 4:15 right now, hopefully I will be able to make that. For me, it will be challenging and I will have to stay on pace the whole time. No going out too fast and dying at the end. I have done that way too many times, and I should learn my lesson!

I am about to head out to the expo now, and I will try not to spend too much money on all the sweet gear Nike will have out there! I'll post pics/race results when I get back on Sunday!

NWM 26.2, here I come.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I strongly dislike tapering.

Ok, so my marathon is on Sunday, which means this week is my taper period. I have read tons of articles about tapering, and about how much of a struggle it is for some runners. I always pooh-pooh-ed those articles, thinking, not me!! I am going to LOVE my taper! I don't have to run crazy amounts of miles, I can sleep in, this is going to be GREAT!

Well, I was wrong.

This week has been awful. And it is only Tuesday. I am cranky, I feel totally unprepared for my marathon, and I am starting to wonder if I shouldn't go out and do a couple 8 milers this week. I am starting to seriously doubt myself and my training, even though I know I shouldn't. Besides that, I have >crazy< nerves about this marathon. I keep trying to calm myself down, but usually I do that with a run, and guess what, a 3 mile run is not going to get rid of these nerves. Oy.

I did 12 on Saturday and felt awesome, and so I started feeling really good about the upcoming week. I did 4 the day after, and felt shitty. And so began my spiral of taper lead unhappiness. Not only do I have periodic panic attacks about my ability to run the marathon (every 10 minutes), I am also craving like, every single food in the world. I am constantly hungry.

Have any of you guys experienced this? Any tips on making it through the rest of the week? I am still 5 days out, hopefully I will still have my sanity by Saturday! I am hoping going to the expo will start clearing up my malaise. Any suggestions/tips would be much appreciated!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Race Review

It's Friday, and that means the weekend is within reach! Each week on Friday, I will review a race or two coming up that weekend, ones coming up the next weekend, and then once coming up a month or so away! So, let's roll!

Muddy Buddy San Jose
This weekend's main event is undoubtedly the Muddy Buddy event in San Jose. This event is put on by the Competitor Network, which has given us such fine races as Rock 'n' Roll San Jose. The race will kick off at 8AM on October 9, 2011 at the Joseph D. Grant Regional Park. What's the deal with this one? You will run/bike 6.3 miles with a buddy through 5 obstacles.

You start out at the start line, one of you on the bike, one of you running, and then you both are off! The biker will bike to the first obstacle, complete it, leave the bike for the runner coming behind them, and then run to the next obstacle and wait for the first runner (now biker) to catch up to them. Bikes are left at a transition point at each obstacle for the buddy who is currently running to pick up and ride to the next transition point.

What is the whole deal with it being muddy? Well, at the end you have to crawl through a mud pit with your buddy in order to complete the race.

Check out the course map for the obstacles. They look pretty awesome. This race is definitely not for the faint of heart. There is no elevation map on the course map, but from the description it looks like it's going to be a hilly one.

Nike Women's Half and Full Marathon
Since I am training for it, I of course have to talk up the Nike Women's half and full marathon occurring in San Francisco next weekend. It will happen on October 16, 2011 at 7AM and will kick off  from Union Square, San Francisco. Best part? The awesome finisher's prize. Usually you get a finisher's medal, but not at this awesome event. Instead, you will get an official Tiffany & Co. necklace handed to you by San Francisco firefighters at the end. Ummm, I call that some major motivation when I start struggling around mile 15.

You may get a shiney new piece of race memorabilia, but they definitely make you work for it. There are some nice hills in this one. Check out mile 6 and 11. That's almost 300 feet of climbing they make you do. Oh, and they make you do it twice! Thank god for the hill workouts I got at Bear Creek and Ragnar. I'm biking the course next week, so I'll let you know how gnarly those hills are in person then.

Firefly 5K and Oktoberfest 5K
In case you weren't one of the lucky to get the lottery in at Nike, there are some other cool races in the Campbell area. I know a few people who are making these races a two-fer, so I will review them together.

Kick off your morning with the Campbell 4th Annual Oktoberfest 5K Run/Walk. The race begins at 9AM at Campbell park. The race route is right along the Los Gatos Creek Trail, which I have run about a million times since I have moved to Campbell. This is going to be a flat, easy one that you can definitely PR on.

Afterwards, there's lots of drinking festivities in honor of the great German Oktoberfest. There will be German beer, food, and music in downtown Campbell.

Don't drink too much though, because later on that night you should hit up the Firefly. The Firefly 5K is a night course kicking off at 7:30PM from Dana Ave. in San Jose. Since it's at night, they throw in some pretty cool, unique race swag including LED lights with reflective material and a glow in the dark participant bracelet. The course looks pretty sane, and is close to where the R'n'R took place. Hopefully those sausages you ate earlier in the day won't hinder your time for this run!

Morgan Hill Marathon & Half
Lastly, but certainly not least, is the Morgan Hill Half and Full. This is going to be one beautiful race. This is a second year race, and I have heard nothing but good things about the first year event put on last year. The race director knows what he is doing, is organized, and it definitely shows. The half and full kick off at the same time on October 23, at 8AM.

The half course looks like a challenge! You will have about a 400 feet elevation climb in the first 6 miles, but once you make it through that first half you are definitely rewarded. An almost 300 feet elevation drop from mile 6 to 7, a roughly flat course until you hit mile 10, and then a small hill leading you to a downhill roll into the finish.

The full course seems to follow about the same pattern. rolling hills always leading ever upward taking you from a starting elevation at about 400 ft to your first major peak at about 600 ft around mile 10. You get rewarded briefly with a small downhill before you climb another 200 ft between miles 14 and 16. The downhill after 16 looks pretty epic. You drop from 700 feet to below 350 in under a mile. Make sure you save your knees though, you still have some rolling hills to deal with for the rest of the course. Overall, looks like a challenging, but very do-able, full course.

Well, that's my race recap for this week. If you are running Muddy Buddy this weekend, let us know how it goes! If you are gearing up for Morgan Hill, Nike, the Firefly, or the Oktoberfest, let us know too! What's your goal time? How long have you been training? Are you planning on making it a double with the morning and night run on the 15th?

Until next time, happy running!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

And so it begins!

Well, this is my first post on my blog! Full disclosure, I work for a local running store and a lot of my running experiences are tied to that. It definitely puts a weird spin on my relationship with the running community, because not only am I an avid runner, I am also a part of the business side of the activity. I am a grassroots marketer, which essentially means I have the best job ever. I get to talk to runners every day, meet local race directors, try out new and interesting stuff all the time, and I get to see the best new running products super early!

So, I found myself asking, and you may be asking as well, What is the purpose of this blog? I find myself in such a cool position, as both a consumer and seller of running EVERYTHING that I wanted to write about it and share it with the world. I will be talking about the experiences I have had as a runner, how it feels to be a woman runner in what feels like a pretty guy-filled world, what new products I have been able to test out, and what cool and exciting new running events are coming up. Hopefully, that will all be interesting to YOU, my reader! If there is anything you want me to talk about that you think I might have some insight on, shoot me an email or leave it in the comments!

So, what am I up to right now? Currently, I am training for my FIRST FULL marathon! Crazy! It will be Nike Women's Marathon, and it is happening in a couple of weeks. Boy, I am getting scared! I have heard tons of horror stories about the hills, the wind, the cold, etc. etc., but I am so excited! Have you run the Nike Women's before? What's the good? What's the bad? Any advice for first time marathoners? I know I could certainly use any and all advice!

Of course, the most important question is, what kind of shoes am I going to be wearing? They are my old standbys, the shoes I have been running in (through many different models) for the past 4 years. They are... the Asics Gel Cumulus! I have found them to be perfect for my long runs. They aren't too heavy, but they still have enough cushioning to protect me against my old nemesis plantar fasciitis (more on that later). They are a bit stiff, but I find I like that much more than a softer shoe. It gives me enough "go" power to not feel like I am slogging through sand. I'll definitely expand on this review a bit more in the future, but I think this is a long enough post for now.

Goal time for this bad boy? I don't have one! It's my first, so my major goal is finishing! Originally, I had a goal time set for sub-4, but after talking to many runners, they all recommended I take it slow on my first so I have a sweet PR to beat my next time out. I think I will take them up on that advice!

I'm off for now, but be sure to stay tuned for funny stories about running, a girl's insight into running products out there, and how my running challenges are going. Hopefully you will be able to relate and add advice for both me and other runners out there!