Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Monday, 05/26/14 Bolder Boulder

2014 Bolder Boulder 10k
8/434 age group (42 y/o)
454/50,000 + depending on the source

This was my 6th consecutive Bolder Boulder and each year after the race, I promise myself that next year, I will commit to some specific training for the event, yet each year in the preceding months, I simply can't deviate from my routine of running mountains.  The thought of leaving the house or the office for a run on streets or flat paths, no matter how beneficial it may be to increase my speed, has absolutely no appeal for me.  It feels incredibly forced and it takes all of my willpower to urge myself to move forward and I almost always pick doing nothing over flats/roads if I can't make it to a hill.  Some years, I'll do a few runs on the flats, even regularly in 2011 and 2012 when I somewhat embraced running with the baby jogger, but I enjoyed that added challenge and frankly, it was that or nothing on some days.  I am just not a runner at heart, for the sake of running I guess.

So, I basically approach the race each year with the acceptance and understanding that I am way out of my wheelhouse and just give it my all on the day with whatever fitness I have from my much slower trail running.

This year I was a bit unsure as to my ability to meet my baseline goals for this event, run faster than my age, break 40, place in my age group.  Anything beyond that would be a bonus, anything worse would be deserved and I certainly would deserve it, having only run 6 miles of flat path this year, struggling to maintain 7:50 pace 3 weeks ago.

I got to the race start with about 45 minutes to warm up, which for me really just means searching for uncrowded places to use the bathroom over and over, then jogging around socializing with friends and acquaintances that I happen upon.

Once in the start coral, I was a little bummed to be in the AA wave after having the honor of being in the A wave last year, but knew deep down I was in the appropriate spot.  Waiting for this race to start each year, I hear what must be the highest concentration of sandbagging on the planet and it is always amusing to me.  "Yeah, I have not been running much", "my knee hurts", "I was up till 1:30 last night", "I have been sick", "I have been at sea level", "I just run Green Mountain every day".  One friend complaining of not running AND having a knee injury ran the course in 32 minutes.  Only in Boulder.

I debated easing my way up to be on the front of the start line for the AA wave, but just settled for a six or seven person deep start position.  Once the race started though, I found this to be a bit of a mistake, as I felt a bit limited by being stuck in a crowd and was running slower than I would have liked.  On the plus side though, I figured it was not all bad, as it prevented me from starting off too fast, which I can be tempted to do on occasion.

I eventually eased into what seemed like a sustainable pace and held my own in the crowd, rarely getting passed and slowly picking people off, passing crowds of runners by just simply running the tangents.  I just can't understand why so many people,  maybe half that I see, swing so wide on the turns and run clear across to the far side of the street.

Around 2 miles in, I spot a short figure ahead.  As I get closer, I see that it is a young girl, hard to tell her age, but she was really small and it took a while to get around her, as she was really moving strong.  I looked her up later and found out that she is 12 years old and was only 11 seconds behind me.  Impressive.

The "big hill" on the course at mile 4 seemed a bit slow, I noticed that my pace dipped to over 7:00 pace and my HR went up to 178, but I was careful not to blow up and with the nice downhill following, I was able to regain my momentum.  Though I was pushing, I never really felt like I was going too hard and the pace seemed quite sustainable.  I have no top end, just one gear really and felt like I could have sustained the pace I was running for at least twice the distance.  As I neared the stadium, I could hear the announcer and I did a quick glance of my watch as I crossed Boulder Creek and was just over 37 minutes.  I went back and forth between thinking I had sub 40 in the bag and thinking I would just miss it.  I hammered it home the best I could on the awkward surface of the stadium with 21 seconds to spare.

Much of my motivation to run this race each year stems from the fact that my company pays our entry fees, but I have come to really enjoy the vibe of this race and the festive atmosphere.  It is amazingly well run and organized, I hope to return for many years to come.

Warming up.

Of the entire AA and A waves (many of whom I caught up to), it was only myself and the guy in white who were NOT wearing tank tops (he is a trail runner too).

Rocking the new Hoka Huakas.  They were awesome!

Clank, clank, clomp.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday, 05/23/14 Hoka Huaka

Just picked up a pair of the soon to be released Hoka Huaka.  Having run in many pairs of Hokas since I became a loyal fan back in 2010 (Mafate, Bondi, Bondi 2, several pairs of Stinson EVO Trail, Rapa Nui 2), I have found the Huaka to be a huge breakthrough for the company.

For starters, the Huaka is notably lighter than all of the previous Hokas, weighing in at sub 9 oz., yet still has plenty of cushion (27mm in the heel and 25mm in the forefoot, probably the most cushion you can get at this low of a weight, at least the best combination I have seen thus far.  The Huaka has a lighter and more pliable upper, yet still holds the foot in place extremely well and is the most comfortable Hoka I have worn by far, feels like a pillowy soft pair of slippers, but with excellent protection and response.

From the best I can tell, this shoe is made to be a road shoe, but it performs quite well for high speed running on the trails with plenty of traction, protection, control and stability for even steeper more technical trails. This shoe feels way more speedy, agile and responsive than previous models and just begs to be pushed hard.

I'll use these for the Bolder Boulder 10k on Monday and they are also my top pick for the Pikes Peak Marathon in August (my only reservation is that my test pair is a half size too small, so I question how they will work for me on a 13 mile descent).  Speaking of fit, these run a little large.  I normally wear size 10 in all of the other Hoka models, but my Huakas are a 9 and fit quite well for day to day use (though given the choice, I would go 9.5 for just a little extra room in the toe).

I'll also be interested to see how they wear over time, as the outsole is already showing a little wear and tear after just 16 hard trail miles (not entirely unexpected though, given that it is a road shoe with a lot of foam).

I think I have heard that these will be released in July, but I don't remember where I heard that, so I am not entirely sure.  Keep an eye out, I highly recommend them!

Those are insoles I robbed from another pair of shoes, as the supplied insoles felt somewhat awkward to me (low in the arch creating a very annoying sharp-ish edge, but putting in a "normal" insole alleviated this issue entirely).

Comparing them with other Hokas, (Huaka, Rapa Nui 2, Bondi 2, Stinson EVO Trail

With the Stinson EVO Trail

Comparing with the Bondi 2

Chasing the Rapa Nui 2

With the Mafate Speed (Allison's shoe)

Women's Huaka

Sage Canaday/Vo2 Max Productions has an excellent video review here: