Switching Shoes {A Continuation of the Mizuno Saucony Shoe Story Saga}

So, a while ago I bought and RAVED ABOUT Mizuno Wave Rider 17s.

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I loved them. I PR’d in them. They were my jam. They made my feet happy!

1:54:14 (unofficial) #bestdamnpr @bestdamnrace

And then I started marathon training.

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Not only was I running more, A LOT more, I was running more in higher temps. You don’t have to be a genius to realize that in Florida, in the middle of the summer, that shit gets HOT and it tends to destroy things.

This did not make my shoes happy.

Or my feet.

And, especially, my knees.

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My shoes seemed to start wearing early (with less than under 150 miles). I thought, “eh, I’m sure this is normal.”

I kept running. I kept increasing my mileage.

A few weeks ago I reached a weird breaking point and I started wondering why the runs after my 20-miler felt hard. At first, I chalked it up to training just feeling tough because I was adding more mileage and feeling tired. Except, I actually took a cut week, so that didn’t make sense. Then my knees started hurting. And my feet — oh my poor feet were KILLING me. I would just wake up in the middle of the night with them aching.

Then I remembered to check out the outer soles of my shoes.

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A-ha! Parts of my heel and toe were missing – and there was a lot of mid-section wear as well.

I was sad.

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Then I calculated my mileage (I started wearing my shoes at the end of May — I had JUST hit the 2-month mark and maybe 250, if that). W.T.F???

Maybe I’m spoiled, but I’ve never burned through shoes THAT fast before. I felt like I had been cheated, especially because I really LIKED the shoes. The kicker — I didn’t even RACE in those shoes.

So, I did what every person would do when they are angry at a brand for reducing the quality of their product… I found another one.

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Meet my new shoes — Saucony Ride 7s.

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I did a lot of research on these things. I needed shoes that could carry me through the next 100+ miles of training and 26.2 miles on October 12th (OMG, THE MARATHON IS IN 6 WEEKS).

My verdict, so far, is that they run a little shorter than the Wave Riders – so I have to half-size up. BUT, I don’t feel like an old lady after I run. In fact I had one of my best long runs in MONTHS last weekend.

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They are the weirdest shoes in the best way possible – if that makes any sense. They are cushy, but not too cushy. They are light (around 8.5-9oz), but feel substantial. The outer sole is solid and from all of the 90878291 reviews I read – really hold up. I wear custom orthotics, so I can’t talk about the inner sole – but the one time I ran in them without my inserts, they were comfy and didn’t bother my ankle.

I’m hopeful. Which is a good thing since I just ordered another pair that will (if all goes well) be my Chicago Marathon Shoes, next month.

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Imagine these shoes with a TON of names written on them. Can’t wait!

TL;DR version… the running shoe love story saga continues because companies keep changing designs and quality. Or they just like to piss me off and keep things interesting (verdict is still out).

Will I switch back to Mizunos when I’m running half marathons?? Will I try Brooks again? Will Saucony become MY SHOE? Only time will tell.

Shoe love/hate… Which brand has disappointed you the most?? Which brand did you not expect to love/wear?

Best Damn Race- Orlando {Recap}

Also known as… the race where I PR’d and also flashed some dude my crotch. <–you read that right.

Saturday was the Best Damn Race – Orlando. There was a half, a 10K, a 5K, and a 10k/5K challenge. I ran the half.

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The name had a lot to live up to. Thankfully, it delivered. But, I’m ruining the story and getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the very beginning…

I feel like I signed up for this race forever ago. I wanted to be one the people who only had to pay like $5 to race. I don’t know who these lucky bitches are…but I logged on RIGHT AWAY (I was on maternity leave — it was THAT long ago) and was still more than 100 people out. Woomp woomp.

But that’s okay because I DID convince a few people to run this race with me. Most notably, my good friend Tracy, who had previously stuck with 5Ks and  triathlons — and my my friend Keith who just got back into this running game after running sprints in college. And of course, Paula was in from the start.

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I also know that my local bitches (love you guys), and a few Tampa ladies were all in — so even if it wasn’t the BEST damn race, it was going to be a pretty GOOD damn race.

I’ve learned over the years that in order for it to be a good race, I needed to ensure that I am stressing Paula out as little as possible. This involved leaving the house at 5:45….for a 7:15 race. At the time, I was like “DUDE”, but now that the race is over and there was a {spoiler alert} happy ending for all involved, I fully endorse a ridiculously early wake up.

I pulled myself out of bed at 4:45. It was not easy because for some reason I couldn’t go to sleep until midnight (and there was a 3am wakeup). Once I was up, I was fine. I got dressed, threw on a little makeup (mostly because it includes SPF and I don’t look dead to the world), brewed a cup of coffee, and then snuck in a quick nursing session with E. It was either that or pump – and I’d much rather nurse — and he barely woke up. After BFing, I drank my coffee, collected my thoughts, put all of my crap on me, and hit the road.

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Crap. FYI – look for a review on the handheld soon. Short recap is that I LOVED IT.

I amazed myself (and probably Paula), but actually leaving the house ON TIME. I got my friend Tracy at 6, and was at Paula’s by 6:20. We then headed downtown, parked without issue, and headed over to Lake Eola for the race start. We also hit up Panera on the way for a quick pre-race pee (it’s SO MUCH BETTER using a real bathroom) – and then headed to the start.

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Can you see my pores?

At the race start we met up with a million blogger friends and a few work friends as well. We nervously chatted for about 20 minutes and then lined up with a few minutes to spare.

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Picture stolen from Meghann

Paula and I commented that we had never been that close to the start of a race before (even at the Baldwin Half we were further away!)– and we were in line with the 2:00 hr pace group! It was really the perfect number of people to race with. Not too crowded, but still enough people to feel a little competitive.

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No idea that I’m about to flash a stranger in an hour or so.

So, the race…

I went into this running it for fun. At least 10 people asked me what my goal was, and I seriously didn’t have one. So my standard response was “To have fun.” I wasn’t feeling a PR. Really, I wasn’t. I got a pretty sweet PR in January and didn’t really expect anything better. I hadn’t done more than 6 miles outside since then (and the max I did was 8 on the treadmill), although I have been feeling really strong during my weekly early morning runs. And just… happy. Therefore the goal was to just have a happy run.

As I took off, I spotted Victoria, Meghann, Beka, and Carissa ahead of me. I knew that Victoria and Beka were gunning for a sub 1:55 and that I wasn’t going to be able to keep up, but I figured it would be fun to stick with them for a few miles. It was fun chatting with them – although I was actually pretty amazed that was possible because we were averaging an 8:30 pace. After about 3 miles, I Victoria, Beka, and Meghann pulled ahead – while Carissa and I ran at the same pace for a few more miles. We were both thinking “Why the hell are we running so fast??” There was no answer to that though – it just felt GOOD.

The Best Damn Race course was similar to OUC in some parts (same area, similar cobblestones that I wanted to punch), but not others. Probably the BEST part of the course was running around Lake Underhill at mile 5ish. It was just such a pretty day and the weather could NOT have been better. I swear there were birds sitting on my shoulders chirping — that’s how surreal this run was.

Around Mile 6.5 we started on the out-and-back part of the course. It was through an older, but pretty, residential area. It probably would have been boring and a little tedious (there were a lot of turn arounds – in fact there were something like 40 turns/corners in this race!!) if I didn’t know so many people running – but instead I got to see at least 5 people I knew and mentally high-five them. Mental high-fiving was fun. It was a pretty awesome pick me up – especially because everyone looked so damn happy.

There was one little blip in my run. At Mile 8 I had the urge to pee SO BADLY I couldn’t stand it. The only time I’ve ever had to pee during a race before was when I was pregnant, so this was SO bizarre. I decided that it was either pee myself or go to the porta potty – and when I saw the porta potta at Mile 8.25 I jumped in it (I was thankful there was no line!). Unfortunately, I did not do a great job of locking the door (I SWEAR I LOCKED IT) and while I was mid squat peeing, I dude opened it. Yes, I just wrote that. A DUDE OPEN THE DOOR and got an amazing crotch shot of me, MID PEE. (Are you visualizing this yet?)  I screamed.

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He yelped. I pulled the door shut. I didn’t look him in the face and I’m hoping he was ONLY looking at my face. Then I pulled myself together and got back on course. He wasn’t there when I jumped out (thankfully) and I just kept on running. What else can you do?

I lost about 2 minutes (and ALL of my dignity) in the porta potty, so I had a little catching up to do. I have to say I don’t normally run a sub 9:00 pace at mile 9 and 10 — but for some reason not only did I have no issue hitting that pace, but it felt good.

Around Mile 11, I got a text from Dan that B had gotten a double during his baseball game. I was so proud!! And forever reason it made me simulanteously tear up and speed up. Lol. Around this time I also noticed this dude running close to me. He kept creeping up (but not in an evading way) and then backing off, before he finally sprinted past me at Mile 12. He seemed super fit, so I was kind of impressed with myself for keeping up with him!

I have to say, I really enjoyed the last mile of the race. We ran straight down South Street (which is a slightly downhill stretch that I welcomed with open arms after running up hills on the cobblestone for the last mile) and then turned onto Rosalind and then turned onto Central for the finish. Right before the turn onto Central, I saw a co-worker (who is typically faster than me) and set my sights on catching him. About 400 meters from the finish I caught him and then managed to pass him (turns out he was hurting, so I tried not to rub it in).

And then I crossed the line and saw my time on my Garmin — 1:54:14. NO FREAKING WAY. My official time ended up being 1:54:12. The race was SLIGHTLY short, but eh, who cares. If this had been any other race where I jacked up my Garmin, I would have never known. Also, I would have PR’d even if it was long — so I’m rolling with it!

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I was kind of in a daze when I get my medal! I saw Beth (who was volunteering) and introduced myself (and also smacked her with my medal – sorry!). I was on a such a high, I probably looked and sounded like a delirious fangirl. (She was VERY sweet)

I then found Victoria, Beka, Meghann, and Amanda and heard all about their AMAZING races too! It was like PR after PR rolling in…. Paula, Katy, Tracy — who ran her first in 2:05 (amazing!!), and Keith who ran his at least 10 minutes faster than he anticipated. ALL PRs BABY!! We celebrated with beer — of chips and beer and lots of photos.  

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Then the guy from Mile 11 (turns out his name is Tyler) came up to me and introduced himself. He thanked me for pushing him to keep going. I thanked him as well – you’ve got to love a little friendly competition. This is reason 309438 that I love the running community!

After the drinks and food it was time to ring the PR Bell.

1:54:14 (unofficial) #bestdamnpr @bestdamnrace

It was a sweet, sweet moment!

It was especially sweet because this was  my last half marathon until October (I have a 10K and a 10-miler coming up this month and I’m hoping for MOAR PRs!!). What a DAMN GOOD WAY to end the 2013-2014 half marathon season!

So the verdict? This was THE BEST DAMN RACE.