ORN, Saturday: 20.7 miles, R2/W1 (mostly), 3:57:44, 11:30/mile
The long run three weeks ahead of a marathon is intended, among other things, as a final shake down for race day. Yesterday’s long run (intended to be 28 miles) fit that description but not all as I anticipated.
The good news was I did a final, satisfactory test of Salt Stick tablets. I popped one at the top of each hour. They sat just fine on my stomach and I had no cramping, wooziness or tingles in my feet as I do when I start to lose electrolyte balance. They will be quite simple to haul along on race day. I also reaffirmed my geeky practice of labeling Gu packs, mistake-proofing the time to eat each one.
I also had two cool “unexpected” fun parts to the run. The first was an active screech owl prowling one of the woods I run through. Wow, what a sight and sound. The second was seeing fast runners. The NCAA Regional Cross Country championships were going on at 11am Saturday at the Purdue Cross Country course, right next to the trail I run on. The timing was such that women’s teams from Indiana, Miami (OH), Ohio State, Purdue and Wisconsin were warming up on the trail just as I came through. What a contrast…these young, tiny, graceful, fluid college runners next to the big, lumbering 55 year-old slow guy. Ah, but we were all running and that was cool.
But the big news of the run is about shoes.
Nearly two years ago, I came to grips with my floppy, overpronating feet and shifted my shoe to the huge, clunky and very effective Brooks Beast. After moving to that shoe in February, 2007, I’ve had virtually no problems with my knees. I’ve gone through five pairs and just recently received my sixth pair.
And thus the problem.
Pair #6 was the “new model” of the Beast. Same general look but when I first put them on, I knew they were different. The sole was different, the posts were different and in my early short runs in the new shoes I just didn’t feel the same stiffness. The first five pairs worked wonderfully (and hard) to keep my 195 pound frame from inwardly rolling my feet on every step. They kept my IT band lined up and happy.
Saturday’s long run was the first lengthy outing in pair #6. The first ten miles went fine but as I headed out on the (intended) loop around Purdue, I noticed a twinge in my right knee. Will it go away, as it often does after a few run/walk cycles? It didn’t. It gradually got worse. At mile 17, I realized it wasn’t going to get better. So I shortened the course, heading back home. Around mile 19, I throttled the cycle from 2/1 to 1/1 and held that all the way home. But the left knee now hurt and continued to hurt all day. As I write this on Sunday, they feel better, but I won’t know for sure until I head out on Tuesday to run again.
In the short term, I’m OK on shoes through the Memphis Marathon on Dec 6. This due to a nice bit of advice from David Haywood as we sat in a hotel lobby the night before the Rocket City Marathon a year ago. David described for me his method of alternating shoes, always having a higher mileage shoe and a newer pair on hand at all times. I started doing that early this year and, as a result, I have my pair #5 of “good” Beasts which will serve me well through most of December. Luckily, on Sunday afternoon, I did a quick tour of the local sporting goods stores and found ONE PAIR of the old model at one store in my size. And on discount, as they wanted to move them out. So, I’m set through March 2009 or so.
But what to do beyond that?? I’m thinking I need to find out what other really good stability shoes are out there and then get somewhere to give them a good test run. I’m just a long way from a good running store, so “shopping” is a hassle. I recall from my trip to the Naperville Running Company in 2007 there was a pair of Asics that were very close to the Beast. I’ll have to check that out.
And I welcome advice from any of you.
In the overall scheme of things, this is a minor blip. If I was talking to a guy who just lost his job in the recession or was looking down the barrel at foreclosure or had a major health problem, I’d feel pretty sheepish carrying on about the subtleties of shoe design. So take this bit of chatting for what it is…just some thinking out loud to folks who can understand the criticality of shoes for injury prevention. The fact that I can go out and run 20 miles, even in bad shoes, is a huge gift. And it is those simple gifts that sustain us.
Persevere. With or without stability shoes.