running is so much freaking fun

…so you’re probably seeing the title of this post, and going through the following thought process:

1. Uh oh, is this sarcas-oh wait, Meghan doesn’t speak that language, it can’t be.

2. Then she’s serious. What a lame title…

3. Blame a runner’s high. Yeah, that sounds about right.

It’s more about how I feel right now regarding running than what this post is actually about. Just roll with it….

I had a sub-par birthday weekend. Oh well. It happens. It included a strangely upsetting case of race envy over the RnR Philly Half, a 37-mile solo bike ride (and a narrow escape from sunset), the onset of fall/cold/S.A.D., and studying. BUT I did get to indulge in a wonderful eleven miler Sunday morning on both roads and trails. What I learned: 7:18 is the new 7:38. What does this mean? Well, I used to finish long runs strong when I was running about 7:37 pace. Now I’ve been finishing up around 7:18 pace, and I feel the exact same, if not better. I feel invincible. Like, bring on Boston. Tomorrow. Now. Let’s do this. I almost contemplated switching my entry in the Philly Half (not to be confused with RnR Philly) to the full, just because I enjoyed that 7:18-7:38 cruise pace so much. I came back down to earth when I realized a.) I’m only up to 11 miles, and I should be up to 17 if I were to do that, and b.) have some patience! My gosh! More on this later. Basically, I felt extremely confident and on top of the world. Running is so much freaking fun like that.

Some sites I passed through on my run.

Some sites (sights? Up for debate…) I passed through on my run.

Fastest yet

Tuesday’s interval workout began in fear, as my right quad/hip flexor which had worried me all week felt very off during my warmup. But, the feeling ended up subsiding a little throughout the workout, which was really relieving to me. The weather was great (tank top + compression socks weather! Practically freezing!), and I managed to click off ten hill loops faster than I’ve ever done at that workout location (it’s basically a 0.4-mile block with an incline for about half of it). I had a strange experience in which my legs didn’t even feel like mine. They were just moving, and I was following suit. I’ll take it.

One of the sharper turns of the hill loop. Almost bang into that short stop sign every time.

One of the sharper turns of the hill loop. Almost bang into that short stop sign every time.

Saucony group run

Thursday night was another group run from the store with Saucony! I should really do a separate post focusing on my review of the Mirage 3, which is the shoe I chose to test-run, but I think I can summarize it pretty well here. First, I did not notice the 4mm heel (versus a higher relative heel). I felt like I didn’t need to change my stride at all. Sometimes, I think this is skewed because I always run with a big group of people on group runs…I would think more about the shoes if I were running alone and not talking, that is. Either way, I didn’t notice much of anything different, which is a good thing. The width was absolutely perfect as well. I would definitely run in this shoe again, and I’m really glad I got to try them on a run of substantial length! I led our sub-group (two reps, three other guys, and me) toward some trails which spit out onto other roads that consisted of a huge downhill and a small uphill, mostly. We were running around 7:30s until the woods, slowed down naturally on the trails, and then booked it once we were on the roads again. I was chasing the pack running around 7:05-7:10 pace, after a 6:47 downhill mile. And actually, I was okay with it. Normally I would be against running so fast on a normal run, but I was chatting and I felt pretty good, so I went with it. If I could…why not? As an aside, new post-run brews: Kona Fire Rock Pale Ale and Troegs HopBack Amber Ale. No pumpkins were refrigerated yet (grr)! Thirsty Thursday Funday Runday: good to have you back.

By the way, the evening began with this…what a great challenge! Definitely made for a few hard laughs pre-run:

Try it before you knock it....

Try it before you knock it….

Shoenerd visit + spontaneous sprinkler run

Today at work I visited a local pharmaceutical company with my coworker for their “Run at Work Day.” Employees were encouraged to walk or run a 0.68-mile, 1.06-mile, or 1.68-mile route during their lunch break. The table next to us featured a raffle for a free healthy lunch for a week at work, and we set up a sampling of our products and offered gait analysis and such. It was a beautiful day, very warm and sunny, and lots of people came out to participate. All was well and good until a guy came up to us intentionally to stir the pot. There was no one else to talk to at the time, so I went along with it, but seriously dude, your defense against your two-year-old Nike Frees as you overpronate down the driveway plus your clearly inept knowledge about strength training given your noticeably muscularly unbalanced and stiff upper body does not make me want to discuss running with you…especially when you  tell me to my face you are “calling BS.” On my opinions. Real cool. And yes, he did drop the Born to Run line <end anti-gym-rat vent session>.

What was my point? Oh, all the people running and walking plus my legs feeling great after yesterday’s run plus the good weather made me want to run again today! I realized I did have clothes with me…I may have worn some of them the day before…but once I was sweating would that really matter (shh…I never do this!)? So, upon my return to actual work, I took a few seconds to convince Steve that running in last night’s running clothes was cool (phew, I wasn’t alone) and that it was a perfect time for an easy four miles. And so we went. It was a fun little midday frolic to Greenway Meadows, through some awesome sprinklers, and on part of a little cut-through trail. Runch = success. 

Greenway Meadows. This photo was actually from a PI workout last month.

Greenway Meadows. This photo was actually from a PI workout last month.

And hence the runner’s high continued, and all of this leaves me with:

fun

 

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Saucony Guide 6 review!

Forgive me for the delayed post, things have been quite busy! And I haven’t even started packing for Hood to Coast…mostly because I’m not home, I’m in Maine. More on that later. For now, my much-awaited review of the Saucony Guide 6….

Last Thursday, we had Saucony at our weekly group run from the store. Saucony is one brand I sell a lot, but have never actually worn through a pair of shoes myself. I have a pair of Cortana’s that were fun to run in, but just a tad small, so I just wear them to work now. Brennan came to the run and we are the same size, so she snagged the single pair of 8.5 Guides. I didn’t want to run in the Ride, and I wanted to do a run of decent length…too risky for the Kinvara with a 5k in two days. The 8 was decidedly too small, and so I set off with the group in my Ravennas, planning on doing a mile or so after in Kinvaras. We ran toward the Institute Woods, at who knows what pace – I forgot my Garmin at home. Just before the entrance to the woods, Brennan had a great idea – we could switch shoes so I could get a chance to run in the Guide too! That’s when you know you’ve got a great running buddy. So, we took off our shoes while testing our balancing skills, and finished with the Guides on my feet and the Ravennas on hers. Success!

I got to wear them on both trails and roads, so it gave me a good idea of how they felt. The verdict:

8.0 mm heel-to-toe difference: I did not notice a difference at all from any other shoe with a 10 or 12 mm drop. So perhaps it’s true that the only person it would hypothetically make a difference in is a runner with chronic Achilles tendinitis….

Cushion: They are softer than the Ravenna and the Rider. Much softer. Even though the Ravennas I switched out of were old, the Guide just has a softer feel – it’s all personal preference though. Some runs I think I would enjoy this, other runs (like workouts), maybe not.

Fit: When we first got in the Guide 6, I thought it was too narrow on the outsides of the forefoot. I have no idea what my feet were doing that day – they are not. They actually look like I tied them tighter than I do other shoes. 

I’m glad Brennan got to try them for a bit too – I ended up selling them to her immediately after! Word on the street trails is she likes them

Moving Comfort sports bra review: Phoebe

My bra window in May…I got a lot of curious looks as I was setting this one up.

To all of the C- and D-cup ladies out there who think us smaller-chested runners don’t have trouble finding a supportive, comfortable sports bra: stop while you’re ahead. Everyone needs support and comfort, and a sports bra that gives both is not easy to find. For years, I wore high-support Champion bras. This involved buying them full-price, since we didn’t sell them at the store, and they didn’t last very long even in rotation with several others. When they got wet they seemed noticeably less supportive, and sometimes the bottom band would stretch out before the rest of the bra. I still tolerate them for runs when they are still relatively new, and they are definitely fine for bike rides and other cross training activities. However, I found myself turning to a different bra for every long run and workout this past year: the Moving Comfort Phoebe A/B bra. Not long after I was given one for working at the Rock ‘n Roll Philly Half expo with Moving Comfort, I found myself wearing it for every long run and speed workout, and purchasing a few more colors. At first I thought it was tight, but then I realized that’s what I liked about it. Any bra that feels the same at mile 17 of a long, sweaty run is a bra for me.

I am actually meeting (drinking?) with a Moving Comfort sales rep tonight at work…so I will have to confirm this for sure later, but I heard a rumor that MC is discontinuing the Phoebe! I’m definitely stocking up before this happens, but I also trust that MC will be replacing it with an even better high-support, A/B style.

Being bloggy (anticipating starting a blog and writing this post actually…in September!)

Ride the Wave: Mizuno Group Run & Rider 16 review

On Thursday night, our Mizuno rep, Riley, paid us a visit for a group run. Similar to our Asics run in January, he had with him dozens of trial shoes in tow. However, Mizuno certainly knows how to start a party! I watched in excitement as a table of snacks, water, beer, giveaway pint glasses and water bottles, and a to-be-raffled backpack unfolded in the store. Nice work, Riley.

I had been looking forward to testing out the Wave Inspire 9, since it feels nice from the few minutes I tried it on at work once. I used to run in the Inspire way back when, in late 2007/early 2008. Now, as you all know, I am a Brooks devotee. I used to be wary about taking a different shoe on a run since I’m so injury-prone and whatnot, and rarely did it when the opportunity presented itself. I’ve since changed my mind and decided to do it, because it really gives me a better idea of how to present the shoe to customers. So, with my luck, there were no Inspires in the bag that were my size, and the sizes around it definitely felt wrong. I tried on the Wave Rider 16 and hopped on the treadmill. I videotaped myself and then analyzed it in slow motion after…and they looked fine! I was surprised, as I thought I would need more stability, but apparently not. Huh. Goes to prove my point that most runners are mildly (or severely) overcorrected if they have never been analyzed running in a neutral shoe! (Haven’t done this? Have no clue what I’m talking about? Go to a good running store, now, and insist on it!)

Thursdays are typically my favorite running day, because I do 7-8 miles wherever the heck I want. I take advantage of my Thursdays. I led the group to Witherspoon Woods – it was the first group run in so long that was light enough to hit up some trails! I felt great, and hardly noticed I wasn’t wearing my Ravennas once we got on the trails. It was an hour of twists and turns and hills, with some interesting talks (did you know that forests can be razed and then grow completely back in just a few hundred years?). I was on such a runner’s high when I returned…cliché, but come on, you know those runs. It’s a real thing. And it’s awesome. So was this stout, to my surprise:

Image

Thoughts on the shoes…most of my expectations before were proven wrong on this run. This is great, because it means I can tell these things to customers from a firsthand experience. Honestly, I want people to come up with and share their own opinions on the shoes, but sometimes you can tell they really want to hear yours, and may even ask.

1. Expectation: narrow forefoot. Reality: even more spacious forefoot than the Ravenna. The stitching placement was perfect, the toe room, height and width, was perfect.

2. Expectation: they are very neutral. Reality: I always thought I needed just a tad of stability, and I was running 100% neutrally in these. I’m not saying it’s stable, it is neutral; but, maybe it is more firm all around (compared to neutral Asics, Nike, etc.).

3. Expectation: Firm ride. Reality: this was definitely true. There was less “bounciness” to the cushion of this shoe than the Ravenna, and many others. I think I like that bounce, but the firmness wasn’t too hard; I could tell there was cushion there.

4. Expectation: hot color. Reality: got that one right too. Loving the coral red.

At the end, I got to keep the shoes! Score! Maybe I’ll rock these Riders on my easy runs this spring.

Speaking of spring, it is finally here! I’m still waiting for the day I can sit outside in a t-shirt and write or read for hours without shivering, though. Jackets are still recommended, I’d say.

Do you run in Mizunos? Thoughts? If you hated the Rider 14 and 15 and swore off the shoe:  listen to me now: TRY THE 16! IT IS SO DIFFERENT AND I THINK YOU WILL FALL BACK IN LOVE WITH IT.

I have like 5 posts to catch up on…going in chronological order here (sooo busy…).

Last pre-race workout + Oiselle shorts review

Tomorrow is RACE DAY! It sounds so foreign to say that, because it doesn’t happen often….

My training over the past week has left me fairly confident in my ability to just run fast and have a good time, in both senses of the word. Last Sunday, I ran about 11.5 miles with fellow Running Company shoe nerds. We met at Summit Running Company at 8 AM…which felt like 7 AM due to DST (which, by the way, am I very glad is in effect). We set off towards the Watchung Reservation and enjoyed some slippery, muddy trails, then ran back to the store. Whenever I run with a group of guys (um…most of my runs), I’m never sure if I’m going to get dropped or not. Fortunately, I did not, but at times I could tell we were definitely moving up the hills. We chatted about work, past and present, for the whole run and it was lots of fun. The fact that we stopped after an hour and a half and that felt like a short run to me was very, very good. I like it. My only complaint is that I destroyed my white compression socks…which I wanted to wear in the race. My black ones were dirty, so I risked staining the white ones with mud. BAD CHOICE. The mud did not come out. Anyway, sock crises aside, we snapped a nice group picture:

RunC

Tuesday was my last PI workout before the half! We ended up doing our 30 minute tempo on an out-and-back, straight (but hilly!) road instead of the planned half-trail pond loop, because of  several inches of rain. I had no one to run with or chase, but I felt strong and it made me excited for Sunday. I don’t have splits, but I ran 31:59 for 4.7 miles of rolling hills. Afterwards, I did 4 x 1/3 mile around six-minute pace. At work last week, I found out that I could get a sweet discount on Oiselle apparel off their website. I have been searching for the perfect compression short for forever. I raced in Lululemon’s Groove Short last summer, even for the triathlon, and that seemed to be perfect. However, it’s not actually meant for running (or biking or swimming…), so the waistband is a little thick, and the inseam is a little longer than I would prefer. Oiselle is known for their top-notch, flattering women’s running apparel, so with my discount code in hand, I ordered the Stride Short. A four-inch inseam sounded ideal, and I am a sucker for reviews – the second I saw a comment claiming that they don’t ride up, I bought it. Luckily, they came in the mail in time for Tuesday’s workout! I tested them out and even before I began the tempo, I was convinced they would be my go-to racing short. Seriously, if you are still racing in Nike Pro shorts and yanking them down at the crotch, please buy these. I promise they will be infinitely better. No adjusting necessary (they were also true to size, fyi).

The stride short! And yes, I wore a tank top for the workout - it was WARM on Tuesday night!

The stride short! And yes, I wore a tank top for the workout – it was WARM on Tuesday night! And yes, I am in the fitting room at work because I spend too much time (and showers) there, you know that.

The ten total miles I accumulated that day didn’t leave me feeling too great Thursday, but the work is done and I am excited to see what I can do tomorrow! I was really nervous at work yesterday, and tried desperately to shake the nerves off. I think I will be fine once I start running tomorrow. Seeing people’s times from the RnR USA half and full today, I know I can accomplish my goal if I stay in it mentally…and if the hills don’t kill me. But let’s not talk about that.

In the meantime, I am staying off Facebook so I don’t see a thousand statuses and pictures involving St. Patrick’s Day, bar crawls, and beer. I am not sabotaging my race after all this training. I will resume celebrations tomorrow evening. Also – SNOW, DON’T YOU DARE STICK!

SHOE REVIEW: Asics Kayano 19

ImageAs I mentioned before, I had a chance to test out the Asics Gel-Kayano 19 last Thursday when our rep, Joe, brought sample pairs to the store for a group run. When reps have brought shoes in the past, I have considered running in them up until 60 seconds before the group leaves for the run. I then promptly decide I’m too scared they will screw me up and leave me injured. An unrealistic outcome, I know, but with my injury history, it’s best to be ten times more cautious than the average runner. I tried on the Kayanos, however, and they did not feel very different from my normal running shoe, the Brooks Ravenna 3, at all. Huh. That rarely happens to me because I am very sensitive to differences between shoes, and I am in love with the Ravenna 3. So, I decided to give them a whirl. I ended up running a hilly 7.5-miler in them. Risky? Maybe. But they felt fine, again, I hardly noticed I wasn’t wearing the Ravenna, They were surprisingly light, with really nice cushioning. The most important thing I learned from this run was that the Kayano is significantly less stable than I thought. For me, this was not a bad thing, because they felt no more or less supportive than the Ravenna. In the future, at work, I will definitely keep this in mind though. I would equate the stability level of the Kayano to the Ravenna, GT-2000, Saucony Guide, and Nike Structure. The forefoot was perfect on my right foot, but I got a little pressure point on the side of my left. So, ideal for straight B-width runners, but maybe a little tight for those with tailor’s bunions or those who prefer a very spacious forefoot. My heel did not slip, which is a big priority for me (I did lace to the last hole as usual though). 

The aftermath: Well, initially I felt fine. However, the day after the run, my anterior tibialis(es?) were very tight and tired. I get this feeling when I walk very fast – planting my heel down causes the front of my shins to tire out and burn, basically. Luckily I don’t run with a big heel strike, so I’ve managed to avoid this feeling on my runs recently. I really felt it from the Kayano though. Weird. Was I heel-striking more? Was I supinating? Did the shoes make my legs work harder than they do in the Ravenna? Overall, I would recommend the shoe. I suppose whenever you change shoes completely, you don’t run exactly the same way. I’m glad I ran in the Kayanos, because the experience will definitely help me at work.