Saturday, February 25, 2012

ConocoPhillips 10K Rodeo Run Race Report

This morning's race was nice and cool, though a bit too windy for my taste. For the first time I parked close to the finish, then took a bus to the start.  In years past I'd parked four miles from the start, then had a lengthy warm-up and cool-down jog.  My thought this year was that I'd keep my legs fresh by parking close and running just one warm-up mile.  Indeed it was nice jogging through downtown before the race while surveying the parade floats, marching bands, horses and livestock which follow us through downtown immediately after the runners pass.

Once the race began I made my unfortunately all too typical error of pushing the pace a bit too hard in the first mile, and as a result was somewhat disappointed by my positive split (7:01 pace in the 1st 5K and a 7:15 in the 2nd half), and an overall time far from my ideally hoped for P.R..

Nevertheless, I consoled myself afterward by realizing that I'd age-group placed in the top 5% by finishing 11th out of 284 runners. Also, I'd made the right shoe selection as my Newton MV2's felt light, fast and responsive.  Finally, it was nice seeing several running friends, and racing through downtown with hoards of enthusiastic spectators cheering loudly!

For my next race I will sign-up for the Bayou Classic 10K, as it supports Houston's wonderful Memorial Park, avoids the bleak, long and hilly Elysian viaduct, and instead runs out of downtown along the far more scenic and flat Memorial Drive.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Newton Motion Stability Trainer Review

Having run in Newton Motion Stability Trainers for three years, I love them.  Prior to these becoming my marathon training and race "go to" shoe, I had run in Brooks Adrenalines, widely described "traditional stability shoes."  Upon switching to the Newton Motions I immediately found their far lighter weight, significantly lower heel-to-toe drop (4 mm vs. 12 mm), and their proprietary Action/Reaction mid-sole technology all contributed to dramatically improve both my race performances and my natural running form.

So, having had success in this shoe (and even having my form professionally analyzed while wearing them) it was with trepidation when I saw that for the spring of 2012 Newton had updated their Motion Performance Trainers.  My first impression upon opening the box and looking at the shoes was... Wow!  Not one to normally post photos on DailyMile, I decided to in this case, and was blown away by the favorable comments.  As with the Newton MV2's, these are not for the timid!

I next tried them on for fit and comfort.  I had always been delighted with the prior Motions' ample toe box, which provided a roomy feel that I found critical when I increased my distance beyond ~18 miles.  Fortunately, the 2012 Motion retains this feature, and are even more comfortable owing to their new contoured sock liner.  Also, new in this release are wide-mesh uppers to facilitate more rapid sweat evaporation and cooling.  Training with a prodigious sweat rate from hot and humid Houston, this ranks in my opinion as the new Motion's greatest enhancement.

I then gave them a good ten mile distance run.  Long enough to provide a bit of the challenge that the Motions are designed for, yet short enough to allow me to concentrate fully on them.  Via running a deliberately mixed surface route, I was able to easily contrast the feel and performance of the shoe on both Memorial Park's soft dirt and gravel trails and on Houston's typical ultra-hard concrete roads.  In both cases the shoe handled and felt great, even more-so once I crossed into double digit mileage territory.

Since I had run in the ultra-lightweight MV2's just the prior day, I was sensitive to differences between these two great Newton shoes.  To be fair I shouldn't even allude to such a comparison, since they are two shoes of completely different intended purposes and race distances.  The 2012 Motions, while 5% lighter than their predecessor, retain the substance and long-lasting performance needed especially when crossing over 20 miles.  This, from my long experience is the distance beyond which most marathon runners begin to see their form deteriorate, and where the mild mid-foot mild stability elements of the Motions are the most beneficial.

As the bottom line of this review, the new 2012 Newton Motions will remain my "go-to" marathon training and racing shoe!