Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Brooks Ghost Shoe Review

In six years of running I’ve gone through eighteen pairs of Brooks Burn running shoes, using them both for training and for racing all distances up to and including 29 marathons. The Burn was marketed as a lightweight, neutral trainer for the biomechanically efficient runner who needs cushioning but little more. Then Brooks stopped making them. The brand new Ghost appears to be marketed to the same neutral, biomechanically efficient runners, but that information comes only from the web sites that are selling the shoe.

I can’t find the Ghost on Brooks’ own web site - why on earth wouldn’t Brooks want to give a new product a good kickoff with solid information about it on their own site? That’s very lame. Brooks Ghost size 11 1/2

I bought my new Brooks Ghost shoes from RnJ Sports, where I’ve bought most of my pairs of Burn, Burn 2, and Burn 3 shoes. They are just getting stocked up on the Ghost - I had to phone them to order. Their price is good, and shipment is immediate and free. Their return policy is draconian, however: "All returned merchandise must be 100% new and unused," plus there are restocking fees. They really seem to want you to buy your first pair from someone else with a better return policy. I did check the fit on these carefully before running anywhere in them.

Brooks Ghost Shoe Review

I’ve run in the new Ghost twice now, 6.6 miles on pavement and about 14 miles on a mix of pavement, gravel, sand, and grass. The shoes performed well in both runs. Specifics:

  • Weight: I had read on a running magazine site that the Ghost would be heavier than the Burn, but in my size, 11 ½, they weight exactly the same, 25 ounces for the pair.
  • Size: I had also read that it might be necessary to order a half-size larger than the Burn size, but these seem to have the right amount of toe space.
  • Fit: This is why I stick with Brooks - the Burns fit so well, with almost no blister problems, and there is nothing more important than fit. The fit of the Ghost seems as good as the fit of the Burn, so far.
  • Shape:
    • Toe Box: Recent incarnations of the Burn have had a narrowed toe box. The new Ghost appears to have a wider toe box, but I think that’s an optical effect created by the upper shoe trim, and the toe box is actually about the same as the Burn 3.
    • Sole: The bottom of the Ghost is flatter than the bottom of the Burn, which curves more from the ball of the foot to the heel, and the Ghost lacks the "lateral arch pod." Because of this, the Ghost tends to "slap" a little more on the pavement when I run. I don’t like that but I can deal with it; maybe it will get better as the shoe wears.
    • Toe: The toe curves up more than the Burn. No problem so far.
    • Width: Both are D width and they feel about the same.
  • Tread: Appears to be a little more aggressive than the Burn 3. Nevertheless, when I ran the Ghost on gravel roads and sandy trails the tread did not pick up many rocks. The Burn shoes would occasionally pick up a small pebble and drop it into the other shoe, which has not happened with the Ghost.
  • Color: Blue and white, who cares?
  • Cushioning: I don’t sense much difference between the Burn 3 and the Ghost. I’ve read that the Ghost is supposed to be more responsive (does that mean bouncy?), but it might take a more sophisticated runner to detect that. I still had to do the work. Maybe I’ll try Burn on one foot and Ghost on the other.
  • Manufacture: Both are made in China.

Today’s run: About 14 miles on a mix of trails and roads, mostly in a lovely park not too far from home. Part of the run was with friend Cal - it’s nice to run and chat. I walked up some hills because the right hip flexors were sending signals. Part of the run was on wooded, grass trails - I liked that the best on such a warm and humid morning. I carried water and munched on Clif Shot Bloks.

Monday, July 28:

The idea today was to run six fairly flat miles in the new Brooks Ghost shoes, to try them out. No problems to speak of. 6.6 miles in 1:04:07, pace 9:43. Compared with my old Brooks Burns, the new shoes slap a little more on blacktop surfaces when I run, but that’s about the only significant difference. They’re the same weight and seem to have about the same cushioning. I’m not sophisticated enough to rate them on "ride" but I don’t notice a difference. Soon I’ll try them on a longer run.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Lumberjack Days 10-Mile Race

The Lumberjack Days mostly-downhill 10-mile race is a great summer tradition and the 10-mile PR for many runners including me. It’s possible to have better weather for it than today, but in six years of running the race I haven’t seen better. It’s almost always hot and usually humid. Today was 70 degrees, sunny, low dew point, with very little wind.

I ran without a lot of motivation today, mostly trying not to get hurt, and finished in 1:32:00 for a pace of 9:06, almost five minutes over my worst previous Lumberjack time, and fifteen minutes over my 2006 time which is also my 10-mile PR. Nevertheless, I was third of seven in my 65-69 age group, not so bad. I know that I could have run at least a little faster, because I was able to speed up a bit in the last mile and finish with a sprint and energy left over. Breathing was four footfalls per full breath most of the way, speeding up to three footfalls much of the time after mile seven and especially in the last mile. Three is a race pace, while four is a training pace or marathon race pace.

Splits: 9:08, 17:28 (2 mi), 28:53 (3 mi), 8:20, 9:08, 9:50, 8:12, total 1:31:00, average pace 9:06. Nice run. My sweeties ran the 5k and did their best ever for that race, so we all had a great time at Lumberjack Days once again.

Curry dinner
Tonight's dinner, from the bottom: Organic blue-corn chips, curried lamb, mixed organic vegetables, organic sweet potatoes, onions, organic strawberries.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Rice Street Mile

This is Americana at its best. The one-mile race kicks off the parade, and people of the neighborhood line Rice Street in St Paul with their lawn chairs and blankets, munching on snacks, with the delightful smells of charcoal cooking in the air.

Off we went at the gun, barrelling down the middle of the street as fast as we could for a mile, my own personal goal to NOT finish LAST. I made it in 6:43, finishing 72nd of 76 males, with the last guy more than a minute behind me. Whew. I'd have done better in the women's race! To be fair to me, though, a lot of fast young guys ran the race; the winner finished in 4:13, and 26 men finished under 5:00.

No pains or strains, except I breathed so hard that it irritated my throat, and I coughed a lot and tasted a little blood.

I ran the 2006 Rice Street Mile in 5:54, so this was about 50 seconds slower. In January of this year, before any myeloma treatment, I ran an indoor mile in 6:12, so this was about 30 seconds slower. I'm not unhappy with yesterday's time, though. It'll do for now. But I'm going to find ways to get some of my speed back, despite the dexamethasone. Just wait and see!

BreakfastBreakfast: Gluten-free oatmeal with organic flame raisins and dried cranberries, cantaloupe, blueberries, organic strawberries, mango, walnuts, nonfat organic milk.
DinnerDinner: Wild-caught Pacific sockeye salmon with yogurt and herbs, chard with dried cranberries and pistachios, organic strawberries.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Flat Four

Four miles this morning, flat course, nice hard road surfaces, 65 degrees with a decent dew point. Nice run. Time 35:39, pace 8:55. Breathing was mostly four footfalls per full breath, but sometimes as fast as three, especially toward the end of the run. A "tempo" pace for me these days, it appears. But any pace is better than no pace.

Yesterday I ordered a pair of Brooks Ghost shoes, a brand-new neutral training shoe model. I have burned up 17 pairs of Brooks Burns, and then of course they discontinued that model. The Ghost is not a direct replacement, it’s a couple of ounces heavier I hear, but it’s the next best Brooks model and I have found Brooks shoes to fit exceptionally well. So we’ll test a pair.

Dex Lunch
Dex lunch, meant to be healthful and relatively low carb: Organic chicken, vidalia onions, organic carrots, kiwi, plain water. I probably should have left out the kiwi, but I wanted the color for the picture :-)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Building the Base

Sunday, July 20:

We got a half inch of rain last night (in about five minutes), and I decided to see what would happen to my favorite dirt road along the railroad tracks after a rain. Would it be muddy, or would the rain soak right through the soft sandy soil and leave a decent trail? For sure it wouldn’t be dusty, as it was last week. Answer: It was fine! Shoes did bring home a little wet sand, but that’s the worst of it. I met a train again, and the engineer saluted me with two toots. Love it. Do you suppose he’s actually trying to tell me to get the hell off railroad property? Naw. Anyway I don’t care. I wonder if it’s the same engineer who has saluted before.

Twelve miles, started at 6:00 am (after 5 ½ hours sleep), plenty of wildlife (mostly bunnies and birds), no problems. Slight pain in the left lisfranc joints, which were injured in a snowshoeing faceplant a few years ago, but this is not a problem. Nothing from the achilles tendon, knees, hips, plantar fascia, or muscles. Gosh that’s 33 miles in four days - I’m feeling like the myriad injuries are mostly behing me. Hope hope.

Splits: 9:17, 9:23, 9:22, 8:49, 9:39, 19:38 (2 miles), 9:06, 9:50, 8:35, 11:03, 9:29, total 1:54:10, pace 9:31. Not bad. Breathing was moderate, four footfalls per full breath almost all the way. It’s a masterpiece.

Saturday, July 19:

St Croix Valley Runners, five miles in 44:00, pace 8:48. Nice run with Doug and the rest of the runners, beautiful morning, 73 degrees with a decent dew point. This is good running.

Veggie lunch, mmmm so good
Lunch: Beets, beet greens, zucchini squash, leeks, spring onions, ginger, tomatoes, coconut milk, turmeric, grape seed oil, brown rice. Most ingredients are organic. Topped with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese (not shown).

Friday, July 18, 2008

Twenty-Two Miles

In two runs.

Thursday, July 17, Sweet Sixteen:

Sixteen miles on my favorite road along the tracks. The bad: 74 degrees with a dew point of 69 (warm & humid), rocky dirt trail (soft, hence slow), little wind. The good: It’s my favorite trail despite its failings, it’s FLAT as can be, there are no cars (or people, for that matter), and this morning I saw deer, racoons, foxes, a young pheasant, and innumerable rabbits. As I ran in the pre-dawn semi-darkness the silhouette of a blue heron, or perhaps a great egret, floated by overhead. Such magnificent birds. And of course I was treated to the symphony of wakening birds of all kinds, most of which I can’t even identify by song. By all measures, this was a great run.

The plan was to run SLOW in conditions like this, and that part of the plan certainly succeeded. The hip flexors did not hurt, nor did anything else that I worry about. The lisfranc joints in the right foot bothered a little after mile 12; I probably twisted the foot a little on a rock or something. Water every 2 miles, caffeinated gel at 4 & 12, regular gel at 8. Splits: 10:03, 9:05, 9:07, 11:32, 10:10, 9:42, 10:09, 9:34, 9:52, 10:12, 10:54, 21:33 (2 mi), 10:19, 9:54, 10:10, total 2:42:15, pace 10:08. I’m happy, it's a masterpiece.

Tuesday, July 15, Two-Toot Salute:

A lovely, uneventful run on my favorite rocky dirt road along the railroad tracks. Six miles, 61 degrees, dew point 51. Cool summer running. My legs felt like lead for the first quarter mile (day after dex?) but pretty soon everything was normal. I had felt some pain in the right hip flexors when I got out of bed (!), but that pain didn’t show up at all during the run.

I met a train on the way back, the engineer giving me two short toots as I waved. Love that! Then it thundered past, spewing diesel exhaust, rattling and tooting off into the distance behind me.

Splits: 9:30, 9:11, 9:28, 9:28, 9:30, 8:56, total 56:02, pace 9:20. Good enough for a tricky dirt trail.

Breakfast Post-run breakfast: Irish oatmeal with organic flame raisins and dried cranberries, blueberries, organic strawberries, organic walnuts, organic nectarine, Dove dark chocolate, nonfat organic milk.
Recent lunch: Organic chard with dried cranberries, gluten-free cracker, sardine, cantaloupe. Lunch
Salad/Dinner Recent salad/dinner: Organic romaine lettuce, cucumber, organic nectarine, organic chicken breast, blue cheese, pepper, organic red wine vinegar.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Tour de France Addict

Sunday, July 13:

Why would I be out running at 4:30 in the morning? Because today the Tour de France live coverage began at 6:30. Downside: Sleep deficit, although I did go to bed early the night before. Also, I needed a headlight and reflective vest. Upside: I ran through the sunrise (a nice one, I like that), saw deer three times including (I think) a mule deer which would be unusual in this part of Minnesota, watched an eagle patrol the road and the lake for roadkill and careless fish, saw blue herons and great egrets, and ran on my favorite dirt trail beside the tracks as a train thundered past. 64 degrees with a 15 mph wind, mostly a crosswind, what an invigorating morning! Running doesn’t get a lot better than this.

Splits: 9:27, 9:08, 9:48, 8:33, 9:39, 9:26, 9:05, 10:31, 9:43, 9:45, total 1:35:04, ten miles, pace 9:30 overall. Water at miles 4 & 6, a fountain in the park. Same run as last Thursday, same time. Breathing was mostly four footfalls per full breath, which is a sustainable pace, neither a race pace nor an easy jog. I walked up most hills, and never heard a peep from the grumpy old hip flexors. No pains, all good.

Saturday, July 12:

St Croix Valley Runners, five miles in 44:36, pace 8:55. Very nice run with Doug, Roy, Dave, Candy, Dave (2), and Luke. George was there but was nursing an injury. Excellent, cool weather, humidity dropping as we ran. Part of the route is now under construction - some of the group chanced the mud and ran it anyway, while some of us (me included) took a paved detour that turned out to be about the same distance, as we all met up again a few minutes later.

Oatmeal Post-run oatmeal: Irish oatmeal with organic flame raisins and dried cranberries, organic nectarine, blueberries, cantaloupe, organic grapes, organic walnuts, organic pomegranate juice, organic nonfat milk.
Saturday dinner: Organic chicken breast, organic nectarine, sweet-potato salad including sweet potatos, cucumbers, peas, eggs, onions, celery, yogurt, vinegar. That is such a good salad - ask Sunshine for the recipe. Dinner

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Ten More Miles

Ten more miles this morning in the sunrise, 64 degrees, what a lovely run on roads and trails. Excellent! This completes 33 miles for the week, as I probably won’t run tomorrow and Saturday starts the new week. That was the goal, next week 37 if all goes well.

The right hip flexors did start to squawk a little at about mile 7, but I shifted to a run/walk for a while and they quieted down. Huh. Splits: 9:22, 9:02, 9:29, 8:59, 9:30, 18:29 (2 mi), 11:04, 9:21, 9:40, total 1:34:56, average pace 9:30.

This morning's post-run breakfast: Irish oatmeal with organic flame raisins and dried cranberries, mango, papaya, pineapple, blueberries, organic strawberries, organic walnuts, organic nonfat milk, organic pomegranate juice.Breakfast
SaladWednesday's Salad / Dinner: Organic romaine, cucumber, leftover organic chicken, organic nectarine, Sunshine's homemade guacamole, organic red wine vinegar.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Warm-weather Training

Tuesday, July 8:

I think of the Gateway Trail as flat, because it's an old railroad bed, but in fact it isn’t flat. Most of the time it is sloping gently up or down, and in a few places there actually are short, but substantial hills. I decided to watch the Tour de France first this morning, which didn’t end until eleven, then go run ten miles on the Gateway.

The temp was 79 at noon, with a cloudless sky, but happily our part of the Gateway is nestled among tall shade trees for much of its length. A nice crosswind improved the weather too, and my hat brim never did drip today until I finished the run and started my stretches, an indication that the humidity was much lower today than yesterday. No pains of any kind. Warm-weather training at its best.

A fly flew into my mouth at one point, and of course I quickly spit it out. Then I noticed a neat pile of horse manure right next to me on the adjacent horse trail. I considered the possibilities, nay the probabilities, and rinsed out my mouth a couple of times with water from the bottle I was carrying. Uff-da.

My sweeties were on the Gateway too today, and we crossed paths once. That’s always nice.

Splits: 9:44, 9:03, 9:58, 9:35, 9:29, 8:54, 10:33, 9:20, 9:31, 10:59, total 1:37:04, average pace 9:42, same as yesterday’s 8-miler. That’s actually the right pace for a 4:15 marathon. I wonder how much farther I could go at that pace on a cooler morning. A lot, I think. I’ll be finding out soon; the training schedule has some 20-mile runs in it, plus some long races if my rickety old body holds together.

Monday, July 7:

I had intended to run 8 miles yesterday, but that was the right day to measure a race, so today’s goal was 8 miles at any speed. I chose my favorite dirt trail along the railroad track, which worked just fine. 70 degrees, bright sun, and very humid, so I ran slowly. At about mile six I thought I felt a little something in the right hip flexors, so I switched to a walk/run. The soft trail is a little like running up a slight hill, I think, which might put a little extra strain on the hip flexors.

Splits: 9:20, 9:39, 11:02 (1.2 mi), 9:16, then I lost track of mile marks, but the total was 1:19:43 for 8.2 miles, a pace of 9:43. Plenty good considering that my hat brim started to drip after only three miles, an indication of the humidity. And it’s DEX day, which makes it hard for muscles to absorb glucose, so I’m happy with the time.

Sunday, July 6:

I was going to run eight miles today, but measured the Whiz Bang 10k race for certification instead.

Saturday, July 5:

Saturday morning the St Croix Valley runners were at it again, 7:00 am at Stillwater's Northland Tennis Courts, five miles. Only five runners showed up, the rest in bed because of partying the night before, or running in the Afton Trail Race. I had a nice run with Doug at a pace of 8:33, which was a push for both of us. Lovely morning, fifth straight day of running, no pain!

Friday, the Fourth of July:

Marine on St Croix annual fourth of July 4.1-mile race. A wonderful, traditional downhill race for everyone, strollers too. The weather could hardly have been better - 73 degrees, low humidity, clear skies, no wind to speak of. A beautiful morning, and for that matter all of July 4 was exceptional. I ran the 4.1 miles in 32:10, for a pace of 7:57 according to the official results, 7:51 by my calculation if the race really IS 4.1 miles. I have run that race four minutes faster, but today that was not to be. No pains. Excellent fireworks in Stillwater that night too.

Thursday, July 3:

Just three miles on a fairly flat route, third straight day of running. What a beautiful morning, 56 degrees and sunny, and the route offers quite bit of shade. No pains. Splits 9:16, 8:52, 8:22, total 26:30, average pace 8:50.

Dex reakfast
Monday's breakfast: Gluten-free oatmeal, blueberries, mango, organic nectarine, filberts, walnuts, pecans, Dove dark chocolate, nonfat organic milk.

Dex lunch

Monday's lunch: Canned wild-caught Alaskan sockeye salmon with cottage cheese and dill, papaya, organic peas.

Leftover dinner

Tonight's dinner: Leftover turkey, leftover assorted organic vegetables, organic chard with dried cranberries, chives, and pistachios, cucumber, organic red wine vinegar.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Cool Calendar Program

We recently discovered a nice calendar program called Mozilla Sunbird. If you are interested, here is a post about it.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

No Problem

Flat four-mile course near the house, 35:56, pace 8:59. No pains of any kind. Looks like I’ll just have to run flat routes and take whatever miles that will give me until the hip flexors get strong again. Anyway I’m caught up on mileage for the week; let’s see how tomorrow goes.

Recent dinner
Recent dinner: Turkey curry with organic turkey, organic squash.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Railroad Trail

After experiencing some hip-flexor pain on Sunday, I planned to run up to 10 miles today or until the flexors started to hurt, whichever came first. I’ve previously dealt with hip-flexor pain by NOT running up hills, and even have a couple of flat running routes near the house just for that purpose. The Gateway Trail, within driving distance, is also pretty flat, but my favorite dirt-road trail by the railroad tracks is flattest of all.

So that’s what I did. Drove to a central point, ran 2 ½ miles one way, then back, intending to run 2 ½ miles the other way and back. But after the first five miles I could feel the right hip flexors already, so I ran one more mile and stopped. The pain didn’t get very bad in that last mile, but I think it was best to stop. I’ll try another flat four miles tomorrow and see what happens.

Six miles in 57:04, pace 9:30. Perfect pace, except that this is a dirt trail which takes a little more energy than a blacktop road, so I suppose it was equivalent to 9:00 or so. If I judged by breathing, it was even more work than that. Warm weather, 69 degrees and moderate humidity. A train passed by as I ran - I love that little road.

Recent breakfast: Gluten-free oatmeal with organic flame raisins and dried cranberries, banana, blueberries, organic nectarine, organic pear, mango, organic walnuts.