Friday, June 15, 2012

Coming Out of the Closet

On April 28th I was on a longish run, 20+ miles or so.  I had already ran to the Garden of the Gods and had taken the shortcut trail up to the water tower and had ran up to the Williams Canyon Trailhead and descended to the bottom of the first steep part of Williams when I had decided that I have had enough of fooling myself.  My feet HURT!

Now I didn't have any blisters or anything like that.  I was wearing my MT110's which I truly love as a trail shoe but by the time I was in Williams my feet were hurting so much that I was dodging rocks and roots trying to protect them.  That is my weak spot... I have tender feet and the constant poking and prodding of rocks and stuff poking through the soles of my shoes... well I was sick it of it.  Call it foot fatigue, call it me being a pussy, call it what you want but I was done.

At Rocky Raccoon in February everyone warned me about kicking roots and banging up my toes... really that didn't happen.  What did happen with the roots and stuff was the same old thing that always happens... my feet just got beat up from landing on the roots and stuff.

Same thing at Desert Rats... I ran the first 25 in the MT110's and that was a huge mistake.  My shit hurt at the end of the first lap.  And though I went to a more substantial shoe, my feet were just DONE!

So... after running the Cheyenne Mountain 50K I had an opportunity to sit down and have an honest discussion with John O'Neill about some things and after doing some more research I made a huge life altering decision...

John ordered them for me and on May 8th, I bought a pair of Hoka Stinso Evo Trail Shoes and except for track workouts I have been wearing them religiously since that day.

I love my Hokas.  There I said it... I am now officially out.  I have put 378 miles on them since my first run in them May 8th.  Those are carefully logged miles so my count is accurate. 

At first they were a mix of good and bad... I loved the fit and with the extra material in the upper my feet felt more protected in them than in a lot of shoes.  All of the EVA foam and whatnot?  Well, I wasn't quite sold yet.  They weighed about as much as my La Sportiva Crosslites so the weight was not a factor for me really but god they felt clunky.

And of course on my first run up on the Mesa I freaking rolled my ankle in them.  When that happened I had to be impartial and tell myself that it could have happened in any shoe... That was the only time that happened on a run.

But the first few days of wearing them I began to notice some things... my muscles in my legs hurt a lot more and I guess that was my body adjusting to the shoe but at the same time, my knees, hips, just my entire skeletal system altogether just felt less abused than usual.  After the first week I was liking the shoes enough to dedicate the next month to training in the exclusively and if that worked out I would race in them at the San Juan Solstice.  To me that was a huge statement and commitment seeing how important that race is to me.

As time went on and I ran in them more and more I found that I liked the shoe more and more.  I think that I fell in love with them the first long run down Rampart Range Road... I was flying and not feeling a damned thing under my feet.  The surface of Rampart Range Road is one of my least favorite to run on as it is so compacted and the rocks that are there jut out of the ground everywhere.  Hell, my feet would get sore running UP that damned road and here I was blasting down it and not feeling a thing.

Then I got to be more experimental... having the Hokas is like having your first 4x4... you know, you take it places, drive it through shit, over shit, etc, just to see what it can do.  In the Hokas I would catch myself running over rocks, or roots, or branches, or anything just to see how the shoe handled it.  More often than not I'd just laugh.

I will say that I am glad that I dedicated so much time to running in shoes with a low drop as these do have a 4mm drop.  That made the transition a little easier I believe.

After a bit I noticed something even more strange... during the afternoons when I would be working I would find myself WANTING to go run... I mean I always want to go run but this was different.  I think that at some levels that I can not even quantify or explain, there were parts of me that were enjoying my runs more so than before.   Maybe because those parts were not getting as beat up as before I suppose.  The other thing that I noticed which was magical is that when I would get up in the morning I would not be as sore or creaky in the joints like most mornings.  Or I would do a 30+ mile run and yeah I'd feel tired and sore at the end but just a few hours later my legs would feel like they were ready for more, so the shoes were working great for improving my recovery times it seemed.

The price?  God they are costly but I told Melissa more than once those first few weeks after just about every run that they have been worth every stinking penny.  I probably told her after each run just how much I loved the shoes.  If Hoka were a publicly traded company I'd probably sink a fortune in buying stock.

For at least this model, I don't think they last any longer than any other shoe for the miles... 378 miles and these are fairly trashed.  Well the outsole is trashed.  The midsole and upper is in pretty solid condition.  The lugs are not as large or as deep as on the Mafate's so I don't know how the two would compare in terms of how each model wears over time.
You can see they are a little beat up.
I still have all of the confidence in the world in this shoe and can not wait to race in them next week in the San Juan Solstice.  I don't know if they are going to make me go any faster but I am sure my feet will hurt a hell of a lot less and because of that alone I believe that I will not slow down as much towards the end.

So... a week away from San Juan... my weight is down (142 this afternoon), I am not sick or injured and I have a pair of shoes that I have a ton of confidence in.  I've been getting my miles in, as well as my elevation/hill training.  I haven't been doing as well with the altitude aspect but I will make the best of that as I can during the race.  All of that being said, I am ready for a good time (literally and figuratively) next week in Lake City.

Wearing my Hokas...

1 comment:

  1. Andy, this is very interesting. I bought a pair of 110s after trying on the Hokas. My first impression was moon shoes when I tried them on. I have to admit I've been pretty beat up after runs with the 110s (especially Ring the Peak)and have been contemplating what to get for Leadville. I figured if my feet were that beat up after 50 what are they gonna be like for the 100. I'll have to relook at the Hokas.