Sunday, August 31, 2014

Hoka One One Love

I've been asked many questions recently about my Hokas and what I think, so I thought I would write a post about why I run in them and why I love them so much. I made the switch to Hoka a little over a year ago and I must say it was love at first run. I took the leap of faith after reading about them on various blogs, and website reviews. I grew increasingly curious after reading about many positive experiences. Prior to trying Hoka, I had been a pretty loyal Mizuno fan. I liked my Mizunos, but I felt like I was going through them rather quickly. I also had some knee pain and problems in the past. So, I was intrigued by Hoka and what I was reading about runners experiencing fewer injuries and pain while running in them.

After reading the descriptions of each of their shoes on the market at the time, I decided to go with the Bondi for my first pair. The Bondi promised high performance cushioning for road runners. I was excited to give them a try! When they arrived on my doorstep I eagerly ripped them out of the box. They looked like no other shoe I had tried before. The clown shoe of running you may say. But just as you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, I knew I shouldn't judge the Hoka on it's appearance. I laced them up and went out for my first run. Based on their appearance, I couldn't believe how light they felt. They didn't feel oversized at all on my feet. I remember distinctly feeling like I was flying down the road with springs under my feet. I was immediately a huge fan. 

taking my first pair of Hokas to the trails

I still wear the Bondis for all of my longer runs and races. I have worn them through 2 marathons, a number of half marathons, and even a 5k (not the same pair). 

Marathon #1


Half Marathon

they even made the trip with me to South Korea

While I love the Bondis for longer runs, I wanted something a little smaller for shorter runs and speed work. I started using the Kailua Tarmacs, which have lightweight cushioning with a faster ride according the the Hoka website. The Tarmacs are not as softly cushioned as the Bodis, which make them great for shorter, faster runs. I used them on the track, as well as for races shorter than a half marathon, and easy runs. I loved having more than one shoe to switch between that compliment each other very nicely.

Kailua Tarmacs for Ragnar

also great on the trail

as well as the track

One of the newest additions to the Hoka family is the Clifton. After first seeing them at the Hoka booth at the Vermont City Marathon, I couldn't wait for them to be available. They are extremely lightweight, but offer the same amazing cushioning that I've come to know and love about Hoka. The Hoka website says "if you want to take the feeling of running on grass with you to the concrete jungle, look no further than the Clifton." I have to agree with them. I was amazed by how light they are (6.6oz...the Tarmacs are 9oz and the Bondis are 8.8oz). Again, I was in love after the first run.

Falmouth Road Race in Cliftons

Currently, I rotate between the Bondi 3, Kailua Tarmacs, and the Cliftons. Before switching to Hoka, I never used to wear more than one pair of shoes at a time. While I don't believe it's necessary, I do think it has really helped me stay injury free. Every shoe has a purpose. I am now on my third marathon training cycle wearing Hokas and I have never once looked back. I haven't experienced any major injuries since making the switch (knock on wood) and I feel as though I am able to recover from the long runs more quickly than when I was running in Mizuno. While I'm sure Hoka may not be for everyone, I am big fan and think they are worth giving a try if you're at all curious like I was. 

Current Hoka line up from L to R: Bondi 3, Clifton, Kailua Tarmac

I was sent these beautiful new Bondi 3s
from the very generous people at Hoka for no charge.
However, every other pair of Hokas I have owned,
I purchased on my own.
All of my opinions are real and genuine.

Tell me, have you tried Hokas? Which model and what did you think? Any questions for me? 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Falmouth Road Race

This past weekend was incredible. I got to meet some amazing people, spend the weekend with some new, and not as new friends, sit my butt on the beach, and run the Falmouth Road Race. So many great things packed in to a short period of time. I didn't want the weekend to end.

I headed down to the Cape on Saturday morning. Stacey was so gracious and offered to let me stay at her house Saturday night even though she was photographing a wedding in VT and wouldn't be home until after midnight. On my way to the Cape, I made a stop in Falmouth to finally meet in person two very influential people in my life right now, my coaches Stephanie and Ben Bruce. Ben was also running Falmouth as one of the many incredible elite runners (he ended up placing 4th overall and was the 1st American finisher, congrats Ben!). Ben and Steph were staying with a host family in Falmouth and we had planned to meet up while they were in town. Unfortunately I hit some pretty bad Cape traffic on my way, so I didn't get to spend as much time with them as I had hoped. But thankfully we still had some time to chat, drink coffee, and I got to hang with the newest Bruce, Riley.

little Riley is the cutest!! Thank you so so much for having me Steph and Ben! 

After leaving Steph, Ben, and their little cutie pie I made my way over to the beach to find Beth and her friends. After being internet friends for so long it was so great to FINALLY get to meet Beth, who is every bit as fabulous as I had imagined. We sat on the beach for a while and then went back to her friend Allison's house to chat some more. They were planning to have lobstah rolls (or lobster for you outside of New England) for dinner. I decided to head back to Stacey's to make myself a big bowl of gluten free carbs for dinner hoping it would be easier on my stomach.

Beautiful beach on the Cape
Photo credit: Beth 

After probably too much pasta, and a glass of wine, I went to bed early knowing my alarm would be set for 5am. When my alarm went off I got up pretty quickly. I was excited to get this show on the road. Stacey, her husband Gary, and myself were out the door by 6:00. Gary was volunteering at the finish line, so he dropped us off at the busses, which would bring us to the start at Woods Hole.

Stacey and I on bus
Photo credit: Stacey

We got to Woods Hole pretty quickly, which meant we had about 2hrs to kill before the race started. We walked around a little, checked out the starting line, and then settled in a spot by the water to relax, hydrate, and wait.

enjoying the water while we waited

pretending I'm fast

In all honesty, I was pretty thankful for those 2 hrs of waiting around. It gave my stomach just enough time to settle itself before the start of the race. I was pretty nervous things weren't going to go well during the race, but thankfully it turned out ok. Stupid stomach. Anyways! The race started at 9, so around 8:45 I started making my way up to the 8:00 pace flag. My goal was to finish under 56:00 so I lined up right by the front of the 8:00 mark. My local running buddy, Stephanie and I had talked about starting together and had similar goals, but hadn't planned on a place to meet before the race. I hoped if I went right by the 8:00 marker she would show up there too, and she did! She's actually the one who convinced me to enter the lottery for Falmouth a few months ago. I'm so happy I did and that was picked.

Right at 9am the elite runners were off and running. Not long after that it was time for us to go. The sun was warm from the start, which made me a little nervous because of my bad experience in Vermont in May. I told myself I would push as much as I felt comfortable and be sure to stop at all the water stops. The first few miles are rolling hills through winding tree-lined roads. The crowds of people right from the start were incredible. I tried to settle in to pace right around 8 min/mile. My legs quickly started to feel the burn from the hills but I tried not to focus on it and instead focus on what was in front of me. I decided to try to relax on the up hills a little more than I usually do, and let it go on the down hills, which seemed to work out pretty well. 

Around mile three we came out of the woods and ran along the beach (same beach I met Beth at the day before). It was beautiful. However, the sun was beating down and my legs were still burning. There were multiple people standing out by the roads with hoses spraying water. It was around this point that I dumped the first cup of water on my head. I could feel myself getting warm and I didn't want to risk it. The water felt great. From then on out I hit every hose I could see and continued to pour water on my head at every stop. 

It was also around this time that my watch beeped at me as if to say I had completed another mile, but I hadn't (super annoying). After that I was pretty unsure of where I was at. There are mile marks painted on the road, but I as having trouble seeing them. As I approached mile 5, and saw the painting on the road, I thought it was actually mile 6. I pushed on and began looking for the steep hill I knew was near the finish. I kept looking, but I didn't see it. I was confused, and tired, but kept my eyes forward and continued running. Eventually, I saw another pained number on the road....mile 6. Crap. I kept running.

focused on the finish

The crowds, cheering, and support throughout the entire race was incredible. This was even more evident during the last mile. I was so thankful for everyone there that day who kept me pushing forward. I don't remember much about the course at that point, except the large number of people lining the roads. Finally I saw what marked the beginning of the last steep hill that would lead me to the finish. I knew there was a slight downhill on the other side and I was determined to give it all I had left. And then, just before the bottom of the hill my shoe came untied. At that point I couldn't stop to tie it, so I kept going hoping I wouldn't trip and fall on my face. When I got over the top of the hill I spotted the American flag that hangs over the road just before the finish line. I let my legs go and cruised down to the finish. 

this was the flag we ran under on our way to the finish line
Photo credit: Beth

My time ended up being 56:56, which is an average of 8:08/mile, about a minute slower than I was hoping. However, I can honestly say I am very happy with my race. As I said earlier, my legs were tired and burning nearly from the start, but mentally I felt stronger than I have in a while. I fought for every mile and stayed focused on my race. It was a huge step for me mentally this year. So, even though I didn't quite finish where I had wanted to, I consider this race to be a big victory. The Falmouth Road Race itself was probably one of my favorites so far! Everything was very well organized, the course was beautiful, and the support was amazing. I will definitely be entering the lottery again next year!