Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Princess and Her Stinky Shoes.

I have spent the last half of this week "warming the bench".  Midweek I felt an uptick in plantar/Achilles pain and like I was getting the flu so I emailed DD.

"I felt like crap at work last night and tonight I have felt progressively more tired as the evening has gone on.  I have taken two naps already and ingested enough caffeine to power the space shuttle.  It's not helping.  My foot is screaming as well (though the Achilles feels pretty good today).  This feels like one of those moments I could look back on and regret. "

I would call this progress, especially given my history.  I was awarded a couple of days off to which I replied:

"OK. Thanks... Even if I do feel a little like I just got a timeout for bad behavior."

OK, so progress does not imply perfection.  Still, it is better than my usual response: ignore it until it becomes pneumonia (2012) and a torn tendon (2011).  (I also asked him if I needed to "tell the Princess to stuff a sock in it."  He ignored that one.)

In the meantime, I still haven't been able to get Seabiscuit out on the roads and he is so pent-up he is about to pull the barn down around him.  Perhaps that's me projecting but go with it.  At the beginning of the week, we (or more specifically, George at Tri Running Sports- a Felt dealer with a very solid reputation) banished the lop-eared bunny and reinvented the handling by changing the stem and moving the bars into a more normal arrangement (while putting the fit back to what had been working.)  The result was a bike that was immediately more lively, fun to ride, controllable, and by virtue of the other qualities, safer.  I haven't been able to ride outside since so it's kind of killing me.  OK, not kind of... TOTALLY killing me.

They gave their all and will be remembered with honor.

From the looks of it, my foot won this fight.
I also have gone back to the drawing board again for shoes.  I have been running in Saucony Kinvara 2s and Brooks Pure Flows.  These are both great shoes and I got a long streak of injury free days in them.  However, neither one is as good of an experience as it could be and I settled on them as something of a lesser evil but then grew to like them with time.  The Kinvaras are great, once broken in, though if I am struggling with any plantar Achilles issues they only work in a window between broken in and blown out.  They are a shade too stiff early on and can aggravate things but once they wear out, they are too sloppy.  During that window, they are awesome but they are also replaced by a slightly stiffer 3rd generation and given the fact that I struggled with 1 and 2, I am reluctant to give them a real chance.  The issue isn't the money if they don't work, it's the injury I might suffer finding out.

Eat your heart out Cinderella!  I'm all matchy-matchy in my Pure Flows. 

The Pure Flows, while fine... even awesome for long or easy runs... don't give me the confidence during fast work or on trails that I would like.   I don't think this is a flaw in the shoe but rather the result of my personal conformation and style.  I have very long femurs and stubby little calves which means I don't get a lot of ground clearance at the toe.  I have fallen several times and tend to get a little hesitant running in shoes that accentuate this.  Otherwise, this is a nice, springy middle of the road shoe that I intend to keep in the rotation.

Picture was captured at an awkward moment
but stubby calves are apparent here! 

This still leaves me searching for that perfect partner for speed work and racing.  I went to Tri Running Sports in Juno Beach and had a heart to heart with Linda.  I have to tell you that it is nice to know that the person fitting you is an accomplished iron distance athlete.  She gets it.  (She also gets why you absolutely tortured her husband about the front end of your bike.)  She put me in a number of different shoes and let me go for a short run outside in each.  I tried several of the odd brands that had been peaking my curiosity: Hoka One One, Newton, Innov-8.  In the end, I ordered a pair of Newtons.  Only time will tell if I made the right choice but I am considering picking up a pair of Hokas just for work.  It would be a shame to destroy a nice shoe like that but each night when my feet hurt, it seems totally worth it.
Newton Distance: Neutral, lightweight, low drop.

Just a note, the Innov-8s were much too small and she did not have an appropriate size in stock.  I did not order them because I like the Newtons but also do not feel like I have tried them yet.

I am hoping that the Newtons come in soon.  I am curious to see how they handle for an actual workout.  I will be sure to let you know.  ****One comment here... I am a forefoot runner used to a low drop shoe.  The trouble I have with my plantar and Achilles are the result of injuries incurred while in another style of shoe.  I am (in theory) the rare exception to the rule when moving to Newtons.  For most people, this switch can result in heightened load on the plantar and Achilles.  I am making this switch cautiously but with the blessing of the expert DD had me consult.  Sufferers of PF or AT should be extremely careful with a move like this.****

One last thing, if you take your bike to someone whining about the fit and handling, someone who rides the same frame (or similar) is a great choice (especially when that person is tolerant of hysterics and has a cool, understanding wife).  When I put the new bars on the bike, the shop switched the stem to a longer size.  I felt like the handling was adversely affected and since the bike had to be somewhat refitted after the previous weeks escapades, now was the time to address that as well.  I asked for a smaller stem.  When I went in to pick it up, he had gone to a REALLY short stem (70mm).  I kind of freaked.  I had wanted to drop down one size to what I had on there previously.  But it was on, so I buttoned up and gave it a try.  It took about three seconds (the first time I turned it) to fall in love.  The bike handled... AWESOME.  I took it for a ten minute ride up and down a portion of Ocean Blvd between each adjustment and fell in love with that bike all over again.  After we finished, I gushed for a while about the handling and he told me he rode a Felt and had done the same thing to his own bike (with the same results).  <------ Moral of the story.

Too bad I have been either on the trainer or sick ever since.

Must.  Ride.  SOON.



  1. New shoes are always good. Also, if you don't have much else to do, then you can actually do anything.

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