Friday, January 6, 2012
2011 Wrap Up & Gear Review
I trust that everyone had a great holiday season. I say "holiday" because that includes Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Years. Were you able to keep up with your running the last couple of months? I sure did as I logged a bunch of miles to close out 2011. November tallied almost 200 miles and I crushed December, just shy of 250 miles. Included in that is a New Years Eve training run of 50k at Hobbs State Park. How ridiculous is that? 31 miles for a training run? Sweet. The total mileage for the final week was 65. Bam! Better yet, the now 43 year old body is holding up pretty good too. Likely a result of averaging two off days per week and incorporating some core work. Of course all of that running is in preparation for the Rocky Raccoon 50 miler next month.
I have some new gear I wanted to throw out initial opinions on for you. I was stoked to have a chance to pick up a brand new Salomon XA10+3 hydration pack for cheap. Like under $40 cheap. Somebody call the police because that is a steal on a bag that retails for about $90. I have used it a couple of times and it is infinitely better than my Camelbak Lobo. A smart design that feels secure and offers plenty of room for a long unsupported run. It features a 70 oz roll top bladder with neoprene sleeve on the exposed drinking tube. The neoprene sleeve keeps fluids cold in the summer and prevents freezing in the cold. The bite valve is unique, not quite as easy to use as the Camelbak but works just fine. There are a few different open external pockets for storage if needed and plenty of room in an internal compartment that easily expands if desired. One downside is a lack of storage on the front, just the straps up here. The other will likely just take some practice to get used to and that is refilling the bladder. Sliding the clip off the top of the bladder takes a bit more time than the screw top Camelbak. I'm sure with a few more tries it will become second nature.
And to gear up for colder winter weather that (knock on wood) hasn't really hit yet, I picked up a pair of Salomon Exo XR Tights from the iRunFar store as an birthday present to myself. Bryon Powell ran an irresistible Cyber Monday sale so I was able to pick these up at about 40% off regular retail. Designed as a base layer I use them as a stand alone outer layer and they are quite nice. Very comfortable fit wise and good down into the 20 degree range so far. As a bonus these feature the Exo technology weave to provide a decent amount of compression. Now don't mistake these for compression gear. In my humble opinion they are not but there is some there. The cool thing about the compression is that it doesn't feel like compression but I can see it and I know it is there. And if you like you can get these in bright yellow. I dare you.
And I also got my hands on a new jacket from Brooks, the Nightlife Jacket II in vibrant green. Love this jacket. High visibility (day or night), fitted sizing, breathable and lightweight. I have worn this almost exclusively for weeks now and love it for anything below 32 degrees. Wind and water resistant too. And the best part? Thanks to a running buddy that is a member of the Brooks ID Team I also scored this at 40% off retail. It pays to know people sometimes.
And finally I have a pair of Ultra Lite liner gloves from Pearl Izumi at Rush Running. I hate cold hands but don't care for bulky gloves at all. These seemed like a good option for all but the coldest weather around here. Quite thin but block the breeze pretty good, don't hold moisture and have performed well for just about anything over 20 degrees. And cheap too, under $15, so if I lose one it's no big deal. I take these with me whenever I leave the house for a run in cool weather. If I need to remove them they easily fit into a pocket. My two other must haves for this weather are a good hat and arm sleeves. I got a pair in the swag bag at TCM Marathon. Never used any before. Think leg warmers for your arms. These are incredible. They allow me to run sans jacket down to 32 degrees. Just pull the sleeves up. And after the temps start to rise I can simply pull them down halfway or all the way to my wrists to cool down. And they make great booger wipers too if you're not a fan of the snot rocket technique.
In closing, I thought I would post my tentative 2012 race schedule. I put it down in writing last night and this is what it looks like. That's nearly 325 miles of racing distance. Booyah!
Jan 7th Athens Big Fork Trail Marathon (Bring your big boy panties)
Feb 4th Rocky Raccoon 50 Mile Endurance Run (Get some!)
Mar 31st Bentonville Running Festival Half Marathon (Hometown run Rush style)
Apr 21st Ouachita Trail 50 (Why not, killer medal)
May 19th Joplin Memorial Half Marathon (Love for the 417)
June 2nd Hobbs War Eagle Tail Twister 50k (Redemption)
Aug War Eagle Heritage 5k (Sub 21 minute?)
Sep Run For a Child 10k (Another age group medal?)
Sep Winslow Half Marathon (Red dirt road running)
Oct Chili Pepper XC 10k (The baddest 10k XC race in the nation)
Oct Bass Pro Dogwood Canyon 50k (Great event, tough course)
Nov Turkey & Taturs 50k (To finish what I started)