Arriving in Colorado and the “New” New Shoes

“The right shoes can make all the difference in the world.

Just ask Cinderella and Dorothy!”

Hello fellow bloggers (especially my blog buddies)!

I have been neglectful in my updates recently, so I have A LOT to catch up on.  You may also have noticed that my blog appearance has been changing as I am in the process of a major overhaul and update  Once I get things in order, I am hoping to get back into the habit of blogging more regularly… of course with the Ultra Beast looming it may be a few more weeks before that happens.  Anyway, I wanted to take this time to say how much I have missed my little blogging community and catch everyone up on my exciting adventures in Colorado.

Before heading out to Colorado for the Ascent, I was starting to really stress about the trail shoe situation.  As you already know, I had recently bought a pair of trail shoes that didn’t exactly live up to expectations.  After some serious blisters and several attempts at running in them, I decided to look into other options.  I was in a bit of a panic (with the Ascent just over a week away) when I came across a review from Dirt in Your Skirt on the Inov 8 X Talons.  For those of you unfamiliar with Margaret Schlachter- she is a super star in the world of obstacle racing and her blog is equally both entertaining and informative. She is also one of my many idols in the Spartan Chicked Community!

She described how the Inov 8’s were the perfect combination of minimalist shoe and traction.  As much as I LOVE my Vibrams, they have zero traction and are not great for really rocky terrain (ie. blood blisters).  The Inov 8s, meanwhile, have a sole made from the material used for climbing shoes and deep treads.  So, after a highly disappointing trip to a local retailer (BTW there are only 4 in CT and NONE close by), I ended up calling the Boulder Running Company.  The girl I spoke to on the phone not only knew the shoe I was looking for, but actually used them- a far cry from the crotchety old salesman I dealt with!  She said they had the exact pair I was looking for in my size, and even better: They were ON SALE!!!!! 

I was super excited and stopped at their store immediately when I arrived in Colorado.  The staff was super friendly and the shoes felt great.  They even let me take them for a test run outside.  The treads had such great grip that they felt sticky on the concrete. (hence why I call them my “spiderman shoes”)  The fact that they were bright red was just an added bonus.  They fit so perfectly- it was as if someone had designed them just for me!

The next morning I took them for a short (3 mile) test run and was impressed that I didn’t even feel my blisters.  They were SO COMFORTABLE; I had no issue breaking them in whatsoever.  In fact, I wore them EVERYWHERE in Colorado because they were the only thing I could put on that didn’t bother my blisters.

I love them so much that I may even get another pair of the regular ones for work/everyday use!  I never thought I could find another pair of shoes that would feel as natural to run in as my vibrams.  The other trail shoes I tried had felt so heavy and bulky, but these were light and thin enough that I could easily feel the terrain beneath my feet. I am definitely looking forward to testing them out on the trails near home!

Hiking, It’s Like Heaven but with More Effort

“A key factor is to do training that is fun.”
Bill Toomey

Planking with a weighted pack? Sure, I got that!

I decided to kick my Ultra Beast training up a notch by doing some hiking with a weighted pack.  I love being outside, and anything that adds getting sweaty or dirty (or even better- MUDDY!) is just a bonus.  In other words: hiking + added difficulty= good times.

Getting out on the trail with the pack was actually the first time that I felt like I was actually training for the Ultra Beast.  Caring the extra weight was definitely an added effort in the beginning, but I adjusted pretty quickly.  Once my legs were warmed up, I was ready to go!!!

Instead of going to the trails around my house, we headed over to Sleeping Giant in Hamden (a few towns over) for some more difficult climbs and terrain.  It definitely didn’t disappoint!  Some of the more technical parts were a little tedious with the pack and extra weight, but they were still doable.  My first time out we hiked for about 40 min because I was on a time crunch.  I felt pretty good when we finished and didn’t feel too tired at all.  The second time we went for over two and a half hours and I was DEFINITELY feeling it.  (The pushups and planking during the breaks may have helped…) My shoulders felt life the were being pulling down toward my feet, and my back got pretty sore.  Next time I’ll have to adjust the weight so it stays more centered in the pack to spare my muscles a little.

Overall, I’m looking forward to spending more time out on the trails getting my butt kick by my awesome new day pack!