2014 Victory for Victims 5k Recap

So how does one follow up a Marathon PR and Boston Qualifier?  How about by running a 5k!?  Doesn’t sound very logical, but that’s exactly what I did and it worked out pretty well for me!

Following the LA Marathon, I recovered quicker than I have after any of the previous 6 marathons I’ve run.  Chalk it up to improved fitness, chalk it up to improved nutrition, you can even chalk it up to running a smart race.  Whatever it is I felt pretty darn good a week out from the race.  I decided to take advantage of that and move forward with doing more running and focusing on speed.  I noticed some unexpected fitness gains.  It was weird to me to feel so strong at shorter distances so soon after the Marathon, though the feedback I received from other experienced runners is, this is not abnormal at all!  In fact, it happens often.

I decided to take advantage of this and shoot for a new 5k PR!  What race would I run?  I decided to return to the “scene of the crime” of the only official 5k I’ve done.  The Victory For Victims race which I ran in 2009 (and won my age group).  At that race I set my official PR of 19:37, though that wasn’t my primary target!

Cats Vitory

Going into this race I had an A goal, B goal and C goal. My A goal was a sub 18 min 5k. My B goal was sub 18:30 (to beat my boot camp 3 mile time), My C goal was simply to PR in the distance (beat 19:37).  The sub 18:00 time had some significance.  First, has to due with my Marine Corps background.  Runners under a certain age who complete the 3 mile run portion of their physical fitness test (PFT) in under 18 minutes are awarded the max allotted points.  Even though, at the age of 34 I would not be held to that same standard, and a 5k is technically .1 miles longer than the 3 mile distance.  The other significance was something I read on the website of The Los Angeles New Years Race.  Male runners who run sub 18 minutes are eligible for “Sub Elite” status.  Though I don’t consider myself “Sub Elite” it would be pretty cool to get that treatment at least for a day!

Anyway, I made it to Lake Balboa / Woodley Park bright and early at 6:30 am to pick up my my bib and t-shirt, and to meet up with some familiar faces (and some new ones).  I met up with Jeff from Runnergy Sherman Oaks who was meeting up with The New Basin Blues Running Club.  I had run with this group a lot in the past, especially on trails!  I caught up with some “long lost” friends and made friends with those I didn’t know so well.  Its definitely a nice way to start a race day morning with some great company!

Pre Race Blues

For a local 5k it was a well organized event and we had plenty to do at the start.  It was an expo set up with vendors, food (Panera Bread supplied pre run Bagel Bites) and swag giveaways (I got a Brooks Mustache Keychain).  The Laker Girls were on hand to motivate the runners before the start, though I don’t remember them leading a full warmup as they did in previous years, but I may have been pre-occupied.  Olympian Raefer Johnson was on hand as an annual staple to this event.  He spoke before the race kicked off and stuck around for the award ceremony post race.

V4V 5k Start Line
At the start of the race everyone was jockeying for position, I told a much older woman to be careful standing right at the start line as some faster runners may try to push her out of the way. When the horn went off I fought a little to get my space and I was off like a bat out of hell. With all of the adrenaline (and a little bit of caffeine) I was flying!  When I looked at my watch I realized it was not a pace I could maintain for the entire 5k and came to my senses a bit to avoid blowing up completely.  I gradually settled down and followed up the 5:35 first mile with a 5:53 second mile. All the while I was competing with a runner named Rene Canizales.  Rene is a New Basin Blues Team Member whom I met before the race. Very nice guy, but who says nice guys ain’t competitive?!  We took turns passing each-other at different parts of the race but neither of us was ever too far behind from the other.  The final mile plus was tough! I felt like I was just hanging on at this point, but I was still giving my all!  This is where my one gripe with the race comes in.  The course, at some critical parts was not very clearly marked, and in the final mile it really made a difference! I nearly missed a vital turn but quickly recovered.  Thankfully there were some volunteers to show the way… at the last second!  I also had to dodge some on-coming runners from the back of the pack.  They were coming while I was going.  The final obstacle was a pedestrian tunnel which dipped down and then back up ending back at the park for a final right turn on the grass to the finish line.  Though I was slightly ahead when we got out of the tunnel, Rene out kicked me from there, and I had no answer!

V4V 5k Finish
My final time was 18:07 with Rene ahead of me at 18:03.  After the race we congratulated each other, I then found out Rene was not even in my age group!  He’s 37 and I’m 34, nonetheless, it was motivation that pushed us both and we were both appreciative of each other for that purpose!  I finished 9th overall and 1st in my Age Group. Rene was 8th overall and 2nd in his age group. It felt great to know that I gave it all I had out there! No doubt the friendly competition helped! I am thrilled with my new PR and still have a sub 18 minute 5k goal within reach!

Results 2 Results 1

Post race festivities were great with hot food from El Torro and Ice Cream cones from Ben and Jerry’s. There were free massages available for runners as well!  The awards ceremony was great as every age group winner were called up by name to receive a medal presented by Raefer Johnson.  For this race there are no finishers medals for all participants, so if you want to leave with “bling”, you have to place in your age group!

Age Division Winners Men

Finally a nice bonus is the race pics which were made available online for free!  No, not the type with the big bold PROOF stamped on it, but a high quality race pic that can even be personalized with your name and finishing time!

Post Race Group

Post Race Thoughts: I guess with the 5k, there isn’t as much to pick apart with such a short race.  I definitely think I could tweak my strategy a bit and run more even splits, but that’s pretty much all I would change.  I wore my New Balance Minimus 20v2 for this race and they performed wonderfully.  I didn’t feel them, or at any point did I think abut them which is great!  This also shows that I was running with good form, since in these shoes you you feel it when your form is not right!  I’m not sure what’s next for me.  I’m eyeing a Fall Marathon but will likely run a 10k, Half Marathon, or both before then!  I hope to keep the PR streak going!

Happy Running!

New Basin Blues CATS Team

 

My running shoe history

Unless you run barefoot, a pair of running shoes is arguably the single most essential item for a runner.  Through the years running shoes change, and often times its difficult to replace a shoe that you loved.  Sometimes its quite the opposite, you cant wait to retire a pair of shoes and replace them with something better!  Sometimes you simply need shoes for different types of runs.

Since I’m tapering for the LA Marathon, I’m trying to stop making myself crazy by obsessing over ever detail of my upcoming race!  I decided to review my running shoe history and track the progression I’ve made since I started running.

Non Running Shoes – Nike AF 1’s / Fila Grant Hills: When I had to train in High School before joining the military, it was probably one of these shoes that were definitely not made for running.  Hey, I didn’t know any better!!!

Nike-Air-Force-1-Black-White-Black Fila Grant Hill Original

Military Running Shoes – New Balance Boot Camp Trainers: Standard issue “go fasters” not sure of the model. I can’t really tell if they made my feet hurt or not, because, lets face it, everything hurt during Boot Camp!

NB Basic Training

Now here are the shoes that I actually purchased willingly for running purposes…

Asics Gel Cumulus VII: I know I purchased lots of different shoes while in the Marine Corps but these are the only ones I can remember aside from the boot camp shoes.  I continued to use these for a little while after I got out of the marines.  I had no idea about how to pick running shoes when I bought these but had heard a lot about the Asics Gel.  I actually loved this shoes and tried hard to find them again after I got out but never did.  Definitely made my feet feel great after many miles of running in them, but the newer model changed so much that it was essentially a totally different shoe!  I’m pretty sure these shoes were promoting heel striking so they’re not something I would wear now!

Asics Gel Cumulus VIIMy Brooks Phase – Brooks Infiniti, Brooks Infiniti 2, Brooks Axiom 3: The first time I stepped foot into a specialty running store it was The Starting Line in Venice.  I wanted another pair like the Asics Gel Cumulus but since they were so old and outdated I had to be recommended something else.  The salesman had me try on at least 6 different pairs of shoes, asking me which one felt the best, while looking at me run down the road in each shoe and telling me that I over-pronate.  He recommended the Brooks Infiniti which were the most expensive at over $120.  I wasn’t sure, but I took his expert advice and bought them.  I ran my first Half Marathon in them (’09 Surf City), and then picked up another pair at the expo which I used to run the ’09 LA Marathon.  The thing about the Brooks Infiniti, though they had great cushioning and pronation control, they were very heavy (about 13+ oz).  I wore the Brooks Infiniti 2 for my next full before picking up the Brooks Axiom in an attempt to go lighter.  Aside from them being lighter, I never really liked the feel or the ride of the Axiom that much. As a result I didn’t run any races in them, but they stayed in my rotation for a little while before I finally retired them for good.

Brooks Infiniti 1 Brooks Infiniti 2 Brooks Axiom

My Mizuno Phase – Wave Elixir 4, Wave Elixir 3, Wave Inspire 4, Wave Ronin 2: I first fell in love with Mizuno Shoes during a fun run at Runnergy in Sherman Oaks.  Mizuno was there for shoe testing and I tried a pair of the Elixir 4’s, I picked them up and started using them for my speedwork around the time I was still running in the Infiniti 2’s.  I loved them so much that I wanted another pair.  I couldn’t find the 4’s but I did find the Elixir 3’s on the discount rack in Roadrunner Sports.  After a little while I loved them more then the 4’s (better fit) and I ran the 2010 LA Marathon in them as well.  I rotated between the 2 during the 2010 Ragnar Relay.  What I loved about the Elixirs were how low to the ground and light they were.  I had never run in a shoe quite like that and I was running faster as a result.  However, the lightness of the shoes took their toll and I needed another pair with more cushion to rotate them out with.  When I picked up the Elixir 3’s I also picked up the Wave Inspire 4’s.  These were supposed to by my “every day trainers” but after 2 runs I realized they weren’t going to work.  They simply hurt my feet and did not find their way to my permanent shoe rotation.  Even though I got them for dirt cheap they were still a waste of money!  I discovered the Wave Ronin 2 the same way I discovered the Elixirs, during a Mizuno Test Run at Runnergy.  These shoes were even lighter and lower the the ground than the Elixir and just looked fast.  For such a low profile shoe, I put a lot of training miles on these puppies!  I ran the 2011 Pasadena Marathon in the Ronin’s and thought for sure they were my secret weapon to qualify for Boston.  Well, 2 things messed that up: a hilly course and improper training!

Mizuno Wave Elixir 4 Mizuno Wave Elixir 3 Mizuno Wave Inspire 4 Mizuno Wave Ronin 2

Nike Pegasus Bowerman 25: I won these shoes in a Nike + contest.  I thought I was going to get the new Nike Lunar Glides (remember those?) but I was sent the Pegasus instead.  I thought these shoes were big and bulky, but they didn’t annoy me like the Wave Inspire so they found a place in my rotation.  I used these shoes for trail runs, in-climate weather runs, and recovery runs when my feet and legs were sore.

Nike Pegasus 25

K Swiss Blade Light Run: Another shoe I discovered during a fun run/test run at Runnergy.  I actually really enjoyed these shoes they were fast yet cushioned and had a smooth ride.  The one gripe at the time was the exposed foam, but now that’s something that is becoming more and more common place in an attempt to make shoes lighter.  The only reason I didn’t run a race in this shoes is because the Ronin’s were much lighter and I thought I could PR in them, though I ran some 20 milers in the Blades and felt great!  These shoes also had an 8 mm heel to toe drop which was the lowest I’ve run in at any point up til then.

K Swiss Blade Light Run

My Saucony Phase – Kinvara 2, Fastwitch 5, Kinvara 3: I started hearing a lot about Saucony shoes, specifically the Kinvaras for a while.  The first time I heard about the Original Kinvara’s I thought they were too “minimal” for me.  Since I started making the transition to lighter more low profile shoes I finally decided to try the Kinvara 2’s when I found them on sale online.  Yes, I purchased these shoes without having tried them on and was pretty certain I was going to love them, and when I got them they didn’t disappoint!  When I first started training in the Kinvaras my Ronin’s and Blades were nearing the end of life, but I was rotating them.  While the Kinvara’s felt great there was a transition to be made to this reduced running shoe.  I was making the transition to running on my midfoot/forefoot and my calves were adjusting in a major way.  Once I was fully adjusted, it was on.  I picked up another pair and wore them for the 2012 Malibu Half Marathon.  I picked up a pair of the Saucony Fastwitch 5 on a whim during a trip to the Saucony Outlet in Camarillo.  I was actually looking for another pair of Kinvaras but they didn’t have my size, so I picked up the Fastwitch instead.  With a 4 mm drop, light weight, and stiffer ride they were great for speed work and tempo runs.  I ran the Rose Bowl Half Marathon in them and they held up pretty well through the mixed terrain.  Even still, I enjoyed running in the Kinvara much more so when the time came for another pair I picked up the Kinvara 3 instead.  I recently ran the Ventura Marathon in them, finishing with my second fastest time.

Sacuony Kinvara 2 Red Sacony Kinvara 2 Saucony Fastwitch 5 Saucony Kinvara 3

Going Minimus – New Balance Minimus M3090v2, New Balance Minimus MR20v2: I almost wasn’t going to “Go Minimus”, I actually was content in “Staying Kinvara”, but I am glad that I have discovered the New Balance Minimus line of shoes!  I have already reviewed both of these shoes in detail on this blog so I won’t go into too much detail.  I received the Minimus M3090v2 as a Christmas gift and the Minimus MR20v2 as a birthday gift 2 weeks later.  A natural progression from the Kinvaras.

New Balance Minimus m3090v2 New Balance MR20V2Brooks Pure Drift: This is my first pair of Brooks since the Axioms and my first pair in their “Pure Project” line.  Early this past week I learned that I won a $100 gift card from Brooks Running.  Since I’m not currently wearing any of their shoes I decided to try something from their Pure line which I have been very intrigued about.  I chose the Pure Drift because it was the lightest and most “minimal” of the choices.  I figure, if it doesn’t work out for longer runs its super light so I can use it for speed.  But if it does work out for longer runs then all the better!  I’ve read some very mixed reviews about this shoe, and while I have yet to run in them they were extremely comfortable and fit perfectly when I tried them on.  It’s also worth noting that I may be the demographic that Brooks was going for when they designed this shoe.  I’m a light weight runner looking to run fast!

Brooks Pure Drift

So now you’ve taken a look at my running shoe history whether you’ve actually read all of this or just looked at the eye candy 😉  Go ahead recommend some shoes for me to try!  Merrell, Altra, Newton, Vibram?  Something else form the brands I’ve mentioned above, or something else all-together?!  I’d love to hear what you think!

Happy Running!

Eddie D

New Balance Minimus Road 20v2 Review

Less than a month ago I got my first pair of New Balance Minimus shoes, the “ionix” 3090v2.  After 75 miles of different runs of varying distances and surfaces including road, trails, and even track, I was sold!  I knew I’d need at least one more pair of shoes for my rotation during my Marathon training, so once again I looked at the New Balance Minimus line.  Next up, the Minimus Road 20v2.

First Impressions – The minimus road 20v2 is not a lot of shoe, the minimal overlays, super low to the ground soles and  4mm drop all scream minimalist running.  The 20v2 handily beats the 3090v2 in the weight category, 5.6 oz!  Yikes!  I must warn that with all minimal and reduced running shoes there is an adjustment period.  Running in such a shoe can put added stress on your feet, calves and achilles  if you’re not used to running in them.  This is because minimalist shoes tend to promote a more forefoot/midfoot strike.  I experienced that transition period with my first pair of Kinvaras and a couple of Newton test runs.

IMG_20140110_125734

A Caution on Minimus Shoes – Though the 20v2 are very different structurally from the 3090v2’s there are similar elements that create the “Minimus” experience.  While these are both very light, flexible, low profile  shoes designed to promote forefoot running, they are also not as much “shoe” as your traditional Neutral Cushioned Trainer.  With both I’d advise a gradual transition if it is your first time moving into this category.  Added stress on the foot, calf and Achilles, is a real thing!  Buying a reduced or minimal shoe will not fix all of your gait problems over night.  The great benefit is combining proper and efficient running principals (Proper body alignment, a balanced mid-foot strike, and avoiding over-striding among others) with shoes that promote this running style.  A heavy shoe with a large padded heel is the complete opposite of what you want to run in if you want to improve your running mechanics and efficiency.

IMG_20140115_213015 IMG_20140115_212943

Fit and Comfort – The toe box on this shoe is very roomy and allows for natural toe splay.  It’s also less round and pointy shaped as other shoes, and more shaped like your actual foot.  I also felt secure in the heel as well.  One thing I’d say about the 20v2’s in particular is they seem to run a bit larger.  I usually buy my running shoes a full size larger than my casual shoes, but in this case a half size larger would have sufficed.  Still, I don’t mind the extra roominess and at no point did I feel that my foot was slipping around.  This is because the actual foot bed is pretty narrow in comparison to other shoes.  Speaking of the foot bed, its extremely minimalist and without a sock liner at all.  It also has a sort of microfiber or suede feel to it which is good if you want to run barefoot in them.

IMG_20140115_212006 IMG_20140115_212032 IMG_20140110_125829

One of the elements of this shoe that helps the foot feel both secure and comfortable is very subtle.  The lacing system used on the 20v2 is just the slightest bit asymmetrical.  I’ve noticed some more aggressive lacing systems and tongue designs with some other Minimus models as well.  This one is a bit less in your face, and although I don’t know quite why such a small thing works well, it just does!  On a related note, the laces themselves, stay tight better than most shoes I’ve used.  Seriously I don’t have to worry about a double knot, when I pull the laces tight, they just feel secure!  Not sure what it is, but they do feel a little more “stretchier” than other laces.

IMG_20140115_213036

Build and Construction – The soles of this shoe is also very different than the “ionix” 3090v2.  The 20v2 uses an ACTEVA™ LITE midsole and Vibram® outsole.  I don’t know the exact stack height (both shoes are 4mm drop.  But the 20v2 gets the runner very low to the ground.  I must admit, when I saw these shoes with my own eyes I thought “What have I gotten myself into?” and “Maybe I’ve bitten off more than I can chew”.  Well, I’ll get to that later, but I assure you that as mimimal as these shoes are, they do provide protection!

IMG_20140110_125858 IMG_20140115_213131

The Material on the upper of this shoe is an interesting choice.  The mesh on the “ionix” 3090v2 feels durable yet very breathable.  The upper on the 20v2 does feel durable, but not so much on the breathable.  I wonder how this will affect me during longer runs and runs in hot weather, but so far it hasn’t been an issue.

IMG_20140110_122042

Running in the Minimus 20v2 – My first run in the Minimus 20v2’s was very similar to my first run in the “ionix” 3090v2.  I ran my local bike path route which allowed me to open up and run fast.  Oh yes, running fast in these shoes is definitely NOT a problem.  As I cautioned, wearing these shoes demands utilizing proper running form.  It was easier to stay on my mid-foot/fore-foot with the super light weight, low profile and flexibility of this shoe.  My foot did not take a pounding as I feared, the Vibram outsole did a great job of protecting me where it mattered!

My second run in the 20v2’s was speedwork on the track!  I immediately thought these shoes would be great for track workouts.  I noticed that the track runs in the 3090v2’s caused some extra wear on the “ionix” outsole.  I hoped the Vibram soles would fare much better.  I had no problem running fast splits in these shoes.  I was able to hug the curves of the track well and open up in the straight away.  Yes, the Vibram soles held up well after a 6×800 track session!

My third run I decided to take advantage of the comfortable foot bed and go sock-less.  I was concerned early on just walking barefoot because there were some spots on the bottom of the lacing that didn’t feel so comfortable and rubbed on my foot a bit.  It wasn’t a big problem during the run but I did notice some marks on that part of my foot after the run.  I also ran some hills during this run, just to mix it up a bit.  Definitely felt good on the uphills though a particular steep downhill felt a bit “out of control” My foot was slipping a little and I couldn’t control my foot landing as well.

IMG_20140117_080219

Final Thoughts –  The New Balance Minimus 20v2 is a great addition to my running rotation.  They promote the more efficient style of running that I’m gravitating to, and are a great shoe for faster workouts, tempo runs, fartleks, and track workouts.  I will likely limit their use to “shorter” runs in this training cycle. I may try to go up to 9 miles in them but that would be the most for now.  I still need to get used to the super low profile and 5.6 oz is the lightest shoes I’ve ever owned or run in.

While there’s a lot to like about this shoe, I wish they had a more breathable upper, and it’s not completely comfortable to run sock-less in due to some minor irritation near the bottom of the lacing system.  Like any shoe this light it remains to be seen how durable they will be for me and how many miles I can get out of them, but I am hoping rotating them and limiting their use will help them last longer.

Happy Running!

**UPDATE** Shoe Review: New Balance Minimus “Ionix” 3090v2

Runners have a special relationship with their shoes.  Running shoes carry runners through many miles of training and races; they are the 1 piece of gear that all most* runners cannot do without.  When a runner finds the perfect pair of shoes its a beautiful thing, likewise the wrong pair of shoes can be disastrous!  For the past couple of years I have run in Saucony Kinvaras (2’s and 3’s) as my primary shoe.  I tried to add the Saucony Fastwitch 5 into my rotation but despite some positives, it didn’t stick.

For a while, I’ve wanted to try a pair of New Balance Minimus shoes, though I never pulled the trigger.  This year for Christmas my parents got me a pair of running shoes (a surprisingly excellent choice of shoe considering they are not runners)  They managed to pick the same shoes I had been considering buying on my own, the New Balance Minimus “Ionix” 3090v2.

First Impressions

When I first laid eyes on the m3090v2’s I have to say I loved the look.  I’m usually function over looks when it comes to shoes but I can appreciate a good looking pair!  The second thing I noticed when I held them in my had was how light they were.  Weighing in at 6.55 oz. based on size 9, these are the lightest shoes I’ve worn yet (beating out the 7.2 oz Mizuno Wave Ronin 2’s)

IMG_20131226_090307 IMG_20131226_090249

More first impressions, The shoes were very comfortable almost felt like putting on a comfortable pair of slippers, especially given that the forefoot is seamless.  The My feet felt snug and comfortable in the shoe, yet the forefoot was a bit wide to allow for toe splay.  My feet also felt very secure in the shoe with the shape of the heel cup really locking my foot in place.

IMG_20131226_090753 IMG_20131226_090324

Another unique part of this shoe was the structure of the sole.  New Balance used a unique pattern for the soles which resembles the structure of a molecule.  This pattern allows for rubber on the critical parts of the sole without the extra weight.  On the negative side I could see this becoming an issue with rocks and pebbles and other debris getting stuck in the sole.

IMG_20131226_090845

First Run

I took the m3090v2’s on a 7 mile run along the local bike path.  Walking around in the shoes before the run gave me a better impression about just how light and comfortable these shoes are.  During my first mile I noticed a few more things.  First, these shoes were absolutely effortless to run in.  Although New Balance recommends a slow transition into these shoes, it was a natural next step from the Saucony Kinvara’s (both 4mm drop shoes).  These are one of the few new pairs of shoes I’ve run in that didn’t require a break in, and I ran a fast (6:30) first mile without really trying.

IMG_20131226_091450

The second observation I made while running in the m3090v2’s for the first time was the flexibility on the shoe.  This definitely led to a more natural and more responsive running experience.  Finally, while the shoe was very light and low to the ground my feet did not take a pounding.  My foot felt no fatigue during or after the run.  It was very easy to run fast in these shoes, but more importantly it was easy to run efficiently as I didn’t have to obsess over my foot landing during the run.

IMG_20131226_104412

Final Thoughts

Although the New Balance Minimus “Ionix” 3090v2’s have all of the ingredients to be a great addition to my running shoe rotation, 1 run is not enough to get a final impression on a running shoe.  At the very least, I know these shoes can hold up well on a Tempo Run!  Tomorrow I will wear these shoes on my group run to see how they feel at a slower more casual pace; I will be back with more impressions and I will continue to update as I increase my mileage on these shoes to see how they hold up!

Happy Holidays and Happy Running!

***Update***

I just completed over 11 miles of running in the m3090v2’s today and I have some more thoughts to share:

Likes: 

These shoes seem to adapt well to different conditions.  Today I ran uphill, downhill, roads, trails, rocks, etc. and had no problems!  Even running at a slower pace on semi tired legs I had no problems.

Dislikes:

One annoying thing I noticed while running in the m3090v2’s was in relation to the tongue of the shoe.  Maybe it was the socks I was wearing, but the tongue did not stay in place very well during my run today, it slid down a bit on one foot, and bunched up a bit on the other foot, adding the slightest bit of discomfort to an otherwise very comfortable shoe.

Second, as I thought the Ionix soles caught some small rocks on the trail and I had to kick them loose, not such a big deal to me though.  I’ll probably use these more as a road shoe anyway, but just thought I’d let you guys know the deal!