Monday, January 25, 2010

RJ Review: La Sportiva Wildcat GTX

The day was dark; the charcoal clouds were dropping snow, and the temperature hovered around 33 degrees.  In short, it was not the day for a run in my summer go-to trail shoe - the standard La Sportiva Wildcat - and I paid for it with painfully cold feet that slowed me to a crawl.  The breezy ventilation of the standard Wildcats that helped keep my feet cool and blister-free through August and September racing left an open door to the bone-chilling elements of fall and winter.  It wasn't pretty. 

The good folks at La Sportiva, though, seem to have felt my pain and developed a Gore-Tex version of the shoe, the Wildcat GTX, which I've finally been able to put through the winter paces here in the Rockies.  (Full disclosure: shoes complimentary from La Sportiva).

Overall, the GTXs are a near carbon-copy of the standard Wildcats, and nearly everything I said about the standards in my recent review (here) also apply to the Wildcat GTX.

The biggest difference between the two is comfort in wintry conditions.  Where my toes in the standard Wildcats could go numb running at near 40 degrees, in the GTXs my toes have felt comfortable running in windy single digits and in deep soft snow. 

As expected, the Gore-Tex barrier adds a bit of weight and structure to the shoe.  The forefoot seems to have more volume than in the standards, and the GTXs top the scales at 13.7 ounces, about 1.7 ounces more than its leaner brethren.  It's a decent absolute difference that takes something away from the nimbleness of the shoe, but in relative terms, it's not that significant since a lot of winter running is a slog no matter what a shoe's weight.  In the heat of summer singletrack season, the difference would be much more noticeable.

Overall, though, if you're looking for a solid, responsive trail shoe that can dish it out to winter as well take it, it'd be hard to go wrong with the La Sportiva Wildcat GTX.  As I concluded my December review of the standard version:
"While the Wildcats have a couple drawbacks, they're a standout on nearly all the points that really matter."

More shoe reviews on Run Junkie (shoe reviews).

Monday, January 18, 2010

What Cost Ultrarunning?

For a supposedly ascetic pursuit built of little more than earth, air and motivation, ultrarunning can be a surprisingly expensive sport.  Shoes, gels, drinks, travel, lodging and entrance fees - even for the sponsored - can total into the thousands.  Last season, I spent over $800 on entrance fees alone, and I didn't even race that much.  For the costs beyond that, I prefer to stick to the "ignorance is bliss" approach.

Recent Bandera 100k and Ghost Town 38.5m winner, Nick Clark, however, has no such head-in-the-sand ethos and actually seems to spend nearly as much time logging the fiscal costs of his running as his miles and vertical feet.  If you haven't seen his blog posts on the topic, they're revealing reading, which can really help you find places to whittle down costs.

In his year-end summary post, "2009 Spending/Miles," he calculated that he spent just under $3,000 for the season with just under 3,500 miles of racing and training - a cost per mile of 0.85 cents. Now, $3,000 may seem like a lot, but a quick look at the outlays, and it's clear he runs a very lean program, especially given how much he races.

What this means for my numbers, I care not to guess.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Robbins and Garneau Take 2010 HURT 100 in Record Times

Team Montrail runner, Gary Robbins, took the men's crown at the 2010 HURT 100 in Honolulu, Hawaii in a record time of 20:12, beating Geoff Roes' 2009 record of 20:28.  Tracy Garneau took the women's race (and third overall) also in record time.  Her 24:06 bested Krissy Moehl's 2007 record of 26:15.

It was a big day in paradise for Canada.  Canucks took the top three spots in the women's race, and the top spot in the men's

Top 3 Men
1. Gary Robbins                        20:12
2. Nathan Yanko                       22:30
3. Brett Rivers                           24:40

Top 3 Women
1. Tracy Garneau (3rd oa)    24:06
2. Monica Scholz                      32:02
3. Charlotte Vasarhelyi         32:28

Full results here.

Previous post: HURT 100 - Top Three Through Mile 53

Saturday, January 16, 2010

HURT 100 - Top Three Through Mile 53

Update (1-17-10):  Gary Robbins takes 2010 HURT 100 in a course record time of 20:12.  Thanks for the update, Derrick.  Online live results are still down but check out Gary's Twitter feed.

Midway through the HURT 100 in Honolulu, Hawaii, Gary Robbins and Tracy Garneau lead the men's and women's fields, respectively (race site). Run on a 20 mile technical loop course with approximately 5,000 feet of elevation  per lap, the HURT 100 is an arduous gem on the 100 mile circuit, looked to longingly by those just beginning a long winter of running on ice and snow.

Top 3 Overall Through Mile 53 (Nu'uanu 3)
Gary Robbins (M) 10:00 hrs
Nathan Yanko (M) 10:35 hrs
Tracy Garneau (F) 10:49 hrs

Official ongoing updates.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

One Runner's Photo Log of the 2009 Season

Yes. Yes. Yes. It's time to put to rest the rosy-glasses look at the past season and take 2010 head on. But I had to afford myself one last dispensation with a photo log of my 2009 season. Admittedly, this is more for me than anyone else, but if you look closely, you just might see yourself.

If possible, view it in HQ.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Run Savers: What's Your Best Trick for Getting Out the Door on Low Energy Days?

OK.  You're an ultrarunner.  Your resting heart rate is 35.  A 3,000 foot climb is just a warm up, and you can throw up and pee while you run.  You're hard core.

And, still, there are those times when it's hard to get out the door to get the miles in.  Work has sapped your energy;  the kids have sapped your energy; or it's minus 10 outside and you're just plain sick of running after your third 90 mile week in a row. 

So, what do you do?  What trick of mind, body, or mineral do you use to get yourself out that door?

For me, one of the best tricks seems almost too stupid to mention:  Socks.  If I put on my running socks at the start of the day, even if I don't plan to run until early evening, it seems to prime my motivation and ease me through the work/family/run transition. WrightSocks at 7am have saved many a 6pm run for me.

So, what's saved your runs?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Pocatello 50 Filling Fast

Update (1-4-10):  Race filled around 8:45 am (MST), January 4, 2010

Interested in running the standout and arduous Pocatello 50 this spring (race site)? Well, you better get cracking. Registration opened New Year's Day, and the solo 50 mile category is already over 70 percent full.

The May 29, 2010 event boasts 13,500 feet of climbing, with options to run solo or as part of a 2 or 3 person team. Dave James and Krissy Moehl took top honors (solo category) in last year's inaugural event.

Register at UltraSignUp (fee $75).

Looking for more information?

Run Junkie 60-second race report
Run Junkie 2009 preview
iRunFar race report and 2010 preview
Pocatello 50 official site

(photo courtesy of gnorrander)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Going Ballistic: 300,000 Vertical Feet for 2009

With a strange off-season injury keeping me sidelined from running for much of the late fall and early winter, my hopes of logging 3,000 miles in 2009 fell well short at 2,500.

Still, I didn't let that stop me from taking the New Year's Day tour of my training log. Along with the requisite hindsight answers to musings like "don't know why I was so tired today" (because you ran 120 miles in the previous week, Sherlock), I was pleasantly surprised to see how much climbing I'd done in the past year. Including racing and training, the total came to an almost-round 300,252 feet. The biggest months, of course, were in the heat of the season. March, April, June, July, and September each posted over 30,000 feet. August came to 26,000.

While I'm unsure where this falls on the vert spectrum, from a personal standpoint it's a much bigger number than I really thought it would be. So as I sit here and write, waiting for the all clear to run, I'll rest a little easier sensing that all the hours and miles and vert posted in '09 should give me a bit of a cushion heading in to a late start to 2010.