Thursday, March 25, 2010

Bel Monte 50 Mile Preview

The Bel Monte 50 Mile is this weekend - a big test of "where I am at" for Massanutten in May. I feel pretty good although Bel Monte can be tough if you are feeling great! Gill and Frannie do a great job with this and all the races they put on. Bel Monte fits perfectly into the training regimen for Massanutten so there is a lot of similarity between the entrants lists. I plan to use the run as a dress rehearsal for the second half of Massanutten so I am going into the race on tired legs. Frankly, I am a little bit beat up but that is okay because I will certainly be "a little bit beat up" halfway through Massanutten. The weather forecast calls for sunny skies with a high in the upper 50s - perfect! Also, reports from the trail indicate that the course is in great shape and all the snow and a good bit of the water has dissipated.

My plan for Bel Monte is pretty simple. Go out easy, eat, drink, run when I feel good , walk when I don't. Hopefully that will translate to a decent time or at least a fun time. The good news is that anything that is "broken" can be fixed in time for Massanutten. I am really looking forward to the run. With the Myrtle Beach marathon getting cancelled last month and the trail conditions in the NC mountains, I am a bit starved for both a hard effort and quality time in the mountains. Bel Monte will absolutely deliver on both. A number of friends are headed to the race also. From Charlotte, Mike Mason and Mo Idlibi are heading up. Don't tell Mason but I have him picked to win the sucker for the second time. Also, fellow Wasatch Speed Goat Mountain Racing teammates Steve and Deb Pero are trekking down from NH for the run. Talk about folks that will love the weather forecast.

Well, that's about it. Look for a report as well as reviews of Greenlayer (make our team uniforms) and Drymax socks in the next week or so.

Monday, March 22, 2010

LaSportiva Wildcat Review

LaSportiva has become one of the most dynamic running-related company's out there in recent years. They provide tremendous support to the trail running community through their Mountain Running site, sponsoring the LaSportiva Mountain Cup as well as providing support to a number of trail races throughout the United States. The company has done a lot in terms of product development to create some of the better trail running shoes out there. I started wearing LaSportiva two years ago with the discontinued "Raceblade", which was a great shoe for me on shorter (>50 mile), less rugged trail runs. Last year I began wearing the Fireblade , which quickly became my "go to" shoe. I liked the mix of good stability for rocky terrain combined with the lighter construction for better draining and less weight. I still really like the Fireblade a lot and continue to wear it. However, one of LaSportiva's newest shoes - the Wildcat has impressed me as well.

The Wildcat is similar to the Fireblade in terms of stability - in fact I think it may be a bit more stable. It also has a very grippy sole, which is great for wet and/or muddy surfaces. One big bonus is the additional cushion that the Wildcat boasts. It is one of the most cushioned trail shoes I have worn. Yet, it actually weighs less (about 1/2 oz. less) than the Fireblade. When comparing the two shoes, the Wildcat has more mesh construction which not only reduces weight but also promotes draining. I have worn the Wildcats in a variety of conditions: from a muddy trail half-marathon (actually wore them out of the box and set a PR!) to very rocky mountainous trails. I even took them for a spin on a 5 mile stretch of asphalt. In the mud, the shoe really gripped well and provided lots of stability on slick descents when others around me were "slip slidin' away". The shoe proves to be very versatile and performs well on all of these surfaces. I have yet to get a blister or even a hot spot in the Wildcats. My longest run to date in them is about 35 miles. However, I will be using them in a rugged 50 mile trail race this weekend. Like all LaSportiva's I have had, they are very well made and have held up very nicely after about 250 miles or so.

The only downside I can find is the sizing. I ordered the same size I usually get with Fireblades (corresponds to a US Men's 12.5) and they are a little snug. I wouldn't use the current pair for a 100 miler since there is less "give" in the toe box. I usually size up 1/2 a size for trail shoes but maybe size up a full size for the Wildcats. Pretty simple solution. Give the Wildcats a try. They are a great shoe from a terrific company. You can buy them at Backcountry at this link.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

YES, I am Alive!!

Just been incredibly busy. Training has been going really well. Have had several nice runs out at Crowder's the last couple of months. The Myrtle Beach Marathon got cancelled due to snow (4 inches at the beach was actually really cool). The amount of snow up near Asheville has made running up there pretty treacherous so Crowder's Mountain has been my playground. Got lots of awesome new gear through the Wasatch Speed Goat Mountain Racing Team that I can't wait to test out. Have a beast of a weekend coming up with a 4 hour training run followed by the Bel Monte Endurance Run (50 Mile) the next day. Weather is getting nicer and Massanutten is only two months away. I have several posts coming on various gear I have been using. More to come in the next week.