First Run: Salomon Speedcross 3

I took my new trail running shoes — Salomon Speedcross 3 — out for a first run today.  Cold, wet conditions with a fine rain made for good testing.   I ran a combination of road, rocky single track and grassy footpaths on and around Comm Ave while the marathoners were putting on their final touches for Boston.  I ended up running 1 hour 10 minutes, a bit longer than I should have for a new pair of shoes, but they felt good from the start.

Now, for the shoes:  First of all, these things look badass with a stark, dark color scheme and an aggressive “Contagrip” sole.  At first, they felt a little strange on the pavement, but once on the turf and dirt, the soles were awesome and provide sure footing and excellent traction.  They have a tendency to be a little grabby at times, more so than my old trail shoes, so I had to take care for them not to grab and roll. Once I backed off a bit on the more technical sections, they did I what I needed them to do.  Good width and a low heel counter made them feel stable.  The speed lacing system allowed me to dial in the fit quickly and I didn’t have to touch them again.

All in all, I was very pleased with the shoes.  The only downside came from taking a clean, brand new pair of shoes through rain and mud the first time out.  But that’s what they’re for.

Soup’s On

I don’t necessarily like to eat — not all the time at least — but I have to take care to replace what I burn.  When I’m not eating whatever hasn’t been nailed down or locked up, I try to eat healthy foods.  This trough of vegetable soup ( carrots, potatoes, lentils, barley) did the job tonight.  Garnished with lots of pecorino romano, extra virgin olive oil and oyster crackers, it had the right balance of salty, fatty and crunchy.  The soup was preceded by a salad of mixed greens, sprouts, and shredded carrots in a mustard-balsamic vinaigrette.  Because I’m lazy and don’t like having to go back for seconds, I simply poured the soup into the same bowl as the salad.  For reference, that’s a 1.5 liter Pyrex mixing bowl.

The Closet of Pain

I do a lot of core and specific strength work in the off-season and I’ve really come to enjoy it.   I’ve found it makes a big difference, especially for my upper body.  Coming from cycling and running, I had the equivalent upper body physique of an 11-year old girl.  It’s taken a few years to gain power and endurance — and it tends to fade very quickly — but I’ve made good progress.  I do a full strength workout twice a week. When I can’t train with a group, I go to the Closet of Pain. Continue reading

Racing Flats

I replaced my old Asics Banditos with the Gel DS Racer 8.  I started using racing flats a few years ago because I was looking for a bit of an edge and a little bit more speed.  I’m not entirely convinced that the lighter weight or the thinner sole make a material difference.  The reality of it is that I’ll make enough mistakes to cancel out the absolute benefit of the shoes.  But what they do for my head is meaningful.  When I stand at the start line in a pair of these, I’m going to run hard.  I’m going to run fast.  I won’t give myself a choice.  The shoes won’t slow me down or get in the way (especially now that they fit!).  Fewer distractions means a better race.  Continue reading

New Running Shoes

I’m replacing my fleet of running shoes:  distance trainers, trail runners and racing flats.  It turns out that my feet had grown a bit so the size 9 1/2 weren’t working for me anymore.  My toes were getting bruised and blistered, the nails were turning black and falling off.  Shoe shopping revealed one thing:  shoe designers are huffing too much glue.  The colors are completely out of control.  And all the gel-flywire-air-free-ride-powergrids make it hard to figure out what you’re getting.  I’m on my second pair of Nike Free Run +.  There’s just enough to them and no tongue to get in the way.

Continue reading

Flashback: Bill Koch Festival 2012


Back in March, we took our kids up to the Bill Koch Festival. (Bill Koch was the first North American to win an Olympic medal in nordic skiing.) The Festival is a 2-day event that combines fun and games with some pretty serious competitions.  Since November, beginning first with dryland and then moving onto snow, we had been practicing technique and doing fun drills, sprints and relays.  There are two things we want kids to get out of the Bill Koch experience:  1) have fun and 2) learn how to ski.  Anything beyond that is a bonus. Continue reading

Was Lance Armstrong On Drugs?

When people find out I used to be a bike racer, they usually ask, “Was Lance on drugs?”

I was a contemporary of Lance and started racing with him when we were juniors in the 1980’s. I also raced with him in elite races when he was already a Euro pro and world champion and he would come back to the States to slum-it in races like the Fitchburg-Longsjo Classic, Superweek or the Olympic Trials. That was before the cancer and all those Tour de France victories.

Continue reading

The Tank Is Empty


It was still winter for a little while longer at the Sugarloaf Marathon in Maine on Saturday.  Overnight, temperatures had dipped below freezing, meaning the track had  frozen up nicely and would be fast for at least the first half of the race.

My warm-up wasn’t promising.  I still felt out of sorts from the virus I had been dealing with for the past three weeks. I had barely done any training since Bretton Woods and hadn’t been on snow since then.  My heart rate didn’t look good.  The oatmeal from breakfast brimmed at the base of my esophagus.
Continue reading

B.A.A. 5k

The nordic season is not yet complete (yes, I will be doing the Sugarloaf Marathon) but I’ve already signed up for a running race.  I love the B.A.A. races.  Premium organization — and entry fees — but always a good experience.  Since I’ve run through the winter, the thought of doing a 5k isn’t unreasonable, though doing one at race pace might be asking for trouble.  Sometimes discipline is about restraint, but I’m not very good at slowing down.