Sunday, January 17, 2016

2016 Plans

My tentative race plans will be:
  • Zumbro Midnight 50, April 8, 2016
  • Spring Superior 50K
  • Kettle 100
  • Fall Superior 50
Context is important. My little guy will be a big brother some time in late July. This means running will be effectively shut down once kiddo no. 2 shows up. A couple notes on each race and my plains for them.

Zumbro is there for the overnight training, and the potential to run in adverse conditions. I've raced there twice (2012 and 2015) and dodged the 2013 and 2014 years of nasty weather. We'll see what the weather brings in 2016. 

I also ran this race poorly early on and got hurt half way through last year. This year, the run will be smart and even. I have score to settle with the course, if you will. With ideal conditions and smart running, I think sub-ten hours is doable.

1/31/16 EDIT: I will also be running be running that New Prague Half-Marathon (I know! A race shorter than 50K.) on May 7. It's part of the Kettle-specific training to run fast on dense terrain (asphalt), see below.

Spring Superior 50K, if the lottery gods favor me, will be a final training run for Kettle. I have a long-term goal of running this (and Afton, for that matter) sub-five-hours, but again this race needs to be run smooth and even. My PR here is a 5:19 or so, and I am confident I can best that. EDIT: 1/31/16: The lottery smile upon me, and I will be running this race. 

I have a score to settle with the Kettle 100 as well. This will be my "A" race this year, and I need it to qualify for another round of the lottery for Western States (for the 2017 race). I'm going to train as specifically for this as I can, identifying two portions of the course that kicked my butt last years: the heat; and the hard-and-flat first section that you go over four times. I'll do what heat training that I can, and do some quality workouts on the road to best simulate the conditions of that concrete-stiff surface. The grass running and dirt sections can be trained at Afton and Lebanon, and the single track can be trained at Afton and on the SHT. Goals: 1) Finish; 1.5) Finish with consistent effort and nothing left in the tank; 2) Sub-24; 3) sub-22; 3) Sub-Matt Patten's 2009 6th place 19:35:16. 

Fall Superior 50 miler will be run with whatever is left in the tank. I don't expect a good time, but I do expect a finish. I'm running this and not the 100 because the new kiddo is more important, and if I'm going to run a 100 miler - particularly this one - I need to put everything I have into it. And I can't run do that with a newborn taking priority over everything: sleep, training, etc. Running the 50 also means that my time away from the new one and my wife will be ~30 hours (Friday afternoon to late Saturday evening at the least) instead of something close to double that (Thursday afternoon to Sunday AM). This race will be run on my residual remaining fitness from earlier in the year, and so I don't expect something hard or fast, just a finish please. 

What comes after this 50 miler will likely depend on whether I finished Kettle. If not, I may need to look to Western States qualifiers in October and November. I'd rather avoid that, but I also don't want to miss a year of qualifying. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Altra Superiors 2.0, 2016 model year - initial impressions and comparison

Apparently I missed that Altra was tweaking the Superior 2.0 for model year 2016 to fix the exact problem that plagued both of my original 2.0 pairs. 

Here's the update, per 
  • Altra has made an incremental upper update with height added to the toe box as well as a lengthening of the men's shoes by about a half size. The midfoot and forefoot uppers receive some internal reinforcement to lessen mesh blowouts.
The new versions, model 2.1(?) it could be called, hit my local running store today and I tried on a pair. Photo comparison below. Old are black/green, new is green/blue. 

My 2.0's are size 8.5, my 2.1's are 8.0. The new 8.5's were simply too long and my foot badly slid forward. The width at the balls of my feet was a little tight, but it's very similar to my New Balance MT10v3's that I now run in and have in their prior iterations. I imagine this will relax a bit as I run in them. 

The toe box is indeed slightly higher. This was an issue in version 2.0 with the reinforced toe protector on the upper pushing down and putting pressure on the toenails. 

The upper is indeed reinforced. The upper is stiffer throughout, but particularly in the forefoot. There is a large grid-like middle layer (shown in a pale blue in the upper, most noticeable around the heel) to the main parts of the upper, in what appears to be a three-layer construction. The padding around the heel appears to have lessened, something that was annoying and unnecessary in the 2.0s - it made it harder to tighten the shoe down to get a solid heel lock. 

The lacing is also different, as you can see the 2.0's have six eyelets, all in line with the tongue, where as the 2.1's have five eyelets adjacent to the tongue and one angled down and away (that one you never ever use but is useful when you need to lock your heel down). The laces are too short to effectively use the sixth eyelet on the 2.1's, so if you need those plan on getting some different laces. 

The shape of the heel appears to be narrower, and I am pleased on first impression of my ability to lock my heel in. 

The outsoles are the same, and appears to be the same material. If so, this shoe will be great on everything but hard, even ground and wet rocks. 

More later after I've put in some quality runs with them. 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Confident training week

"Don't get cocky, kid."

---Han, to Luke, Episode IV: A New Hope

'scuse the reference, but Star Wars is on the brain. I spent part of Saturday afternoon taking in Episode VII and was extremely satisfied. I'll see it again, if only to look for more, for lack of a better term, Easter eggs, that I didn't pick up on second viewing. 

I ran a solid 60 miles over eight runs this week and had a good long run at an actual 25 percent of total mileage for the week. The runs were generally slow(er) than normal, as they tend to be in the winter's cold and darkness (floating from 8:30 to 9:00 min/mi, or slower, vs my usual 8:15 +/- 15-or-so seconds. 

Other good parts about this week's mileage. It occurred during a holiday week and I avoided the usual gluttony (I did eat (more?) than my fare share of cookies, etc. I was well rested, for the most part, and the body was not sore at any point. I was tired at the end of the days, but that is usual. Getting up at 5 AM tends to beget going to bed, or wanting to go to bed, around 9 PM. Two more weeks of this volume and then I jump into doing some faster quality workouts, instead of just a long run with strides on my easy days. I just can't get cocky and need to trust in the plan.