Tuesday, 20 March 2012

New Balance Minimus Trail - First Impressions

I finally ordered these on Saturday, didn't like the black or the lurid green, so went for the orange, half a size up based on the advice of the customer service people at New Balance as I expect to be wearing socks with them at least some of the time.  Expected delivery 3-5 days, so I was thinking they should be here by Friday.

After ordering them, I promptly forgot what day it was, with a wedding anniversary on Sunday and a day off work yesterday, so I was very surprised to find a package being delivered this morning. 

Then I realised why it was so quick, they'd forgotten to pack the shoes in the box!  The whole package was well under a kilo.  I'm not a lunatic about but I have excess packaging, so I was very pleased to see a simple courier service bag, tamper seal and cardboard box. 

Now for the moment of truth.  Holy crap my eyes!

I know I ordered orange, but I wasn't expecting ORANGE with a capital O.  These things are bright.  Once I'd got past that, the second impression was how light they are, just 4.4 oz each, 123 grammes for those of us who speak European.  That's less than a bag of sweets, a small tin of tuna, put them both together and you've just about got enough for a medium size steak. 

The box had the usual warnings against TMTS going from standard shoes to zero drop.   Once I'd managed to remove all the unnecessary tags and crap, I got to have a decent look at them They are very light, and they easily pass the squishy test as you can see.  What is obvious here is how much though NB has put into these in terms of removing extraneous material from the uppers compared with the earlier MT versions.  This is achieved by having all heat welded material with almost no stitching. It's a slightly odd feeling fabric, smooth and shiny, and the tongue is made from soemthing different, almost a felt-like material, again very lightweight construction.  Put them on and they're almost sheer, you can see your own toes wiggling.  I'm glad I went for the half size up as there's not a lot extra in the length and they're about right widthwise.  Put a thin sock in them and they'll be snug.  To be honest, I'd have probably been better off with half a size up on the Merrell trail glove as well as they are very snug just in bare feet.

Turn them over and you can see again where the feedback from the earlier versions has fed into the evolution of these, with the hard rubber on the spots likely to need it and softer, very squidgy stuff in between.  The firm stuff seems a bit harder than on the trail gloves, but it's hard to tell with just a thumbail test.  The real proof will be in the wearing.

This evening, my foot felt good enough for me to try them out, plan was a short run round the village, stopping if I felt any TOFP. 

They are very easy to put on, feel very comfortable, start off and it's almost like running in carpet slippers.  They are so light they feel like they're not there and running feels effortless.  So effortless in fact that I ended up at 50 minutes and 9km.  Developed a slight blister on the inside of the arch of the left foot, but that I think is due to not lacing them up correctly.  That's an area I'm prone to blister if I'm not careful, and I think I need to pay a bit more attention to lacing these up. 

Turning them over again, the orange hard blobs seem to have done well, but the softer black blobs are showing wear already.  I'm not really interested in those though, with the wear points being much more important. 

One thing that will be interesting to see with these is how well they hold up overall.  The Merrell trail gloves feel very substantial and have held up well, these seem very light in construction by comparison.

I'll give them another test this Sunday on a long run with some off road work as well to see how they work in the rougher stuff.  I can see me now using the huaraches in the dry, on or off road, with both these and the trail gloves available for the wet and rougher ground. 

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Spring is, springing, I guess

It's mid-March, the weather is warming up, a nice high pressure over the UK is going to give us  abalmy weekend.  Time to turn my thoughts to the veggie patch for this year.

So, after the usual Saturday chores of taking Serena to ballet and doing the shopping etc, then lunch, I went out into the garden.

First things first, get the bonsai out of their winter quarters in teh greenhouse.  They all look like they've survived pretty well, and two that I was worried about last year look lilke they've come back strongly after a rest.  I'll try and post some photos during the year.

After that, Serena helped me plant some of the seeds for this year.  I got her helping me at first so she could see where the food came from and hopefully help her over her aversion to new and different food as she can taste them as fresh as they get after having grown them herself. Now I think she actually enjoys helping me.

We planted direct into the ground
  • Jerusalem artichokes
  • parsnips
  • broad beans
  • purple carrots
  • leeks
  • lettuces
  • climbing French beans and
  • swiss chard
In the greenhouse we're propogating round Italian courgettes, tomatoes and chillies.  The courgette seeds are courtesy of an Italian colleague of mine.  I sent her some parsnip seeds as she can't get those in Italy, I asked for the round courgettes in exchange as I can't find them here.

Just the cavolo nero to be sewn in May/June and a few herbs along the way.

Training has also been reasonably good this week.  I've started putting a bit more detail to the plan for the Grim Reaper 70 in July, with March mapped out now, plus a few other post Grimsthorpe races identified.

Last Sunday was a major contrast to today in terms of weather, with rain from 8am, then turning to snow later on.  So instead of my planned long run, I spent 75 minutes on the turbo trainer.  That's my mental limit rather than physical for that piece of torture equipment. 

It was a great session though with an average HR 140, Max 148 and average power output at 220W, which is a good 10-15W better than I've been achieving so far since September.  I think the decision to up the intensity on the shorter workouts and throw in some intervals was a good one so far.

Otherwise this week has been slightly down on volume but up on intensity.

Two 10km runs, nothing remarkable about either
A hot yoga session - great for flexibility, but my HR didn't get above 140.

Two higher intensity sessions, one a 5km timed run for a little monthly league on another forum.
1) 4:07.5 / A 154 / M166 
2) 4:00.1 / A 164 / M168 
3) 4:06.2 / A170 / M173 
4) 3:58.4 / A170 / M173 
5) 3:56.8 / A 174 / M 176
Total 22:09 at 4:02/km
Run in huaraches and socks, not all out as I wasn't quite sure how fast I could go in them.

Tonight, upping the ante on the bike ahead of April's TT season opener.  Tonight went from 2 x 20 minutes to a single 25 minute piece.  About the duration of a ten mile TT for me.

Warm up - 10 minutes at 208W
25 minutes - Average 272W, Max 288, AHR 159, MHR 166
cool down 5 mins at 190W

This was hard, and it was a struggle, but it was meant to be.  As usual it was my musculoskeletal system that suffered more than the CV, with the legs burning from about ten minutes into it.  I need to read up some more on the central governor theory.

Monday, 5 March 2012

That's it, Grim Reaper here I come

Not any reference to my imminent doom, at least I hope not anyway, but I have now booked my place on the start line of the Grim Reaper 70 miler in July.

There were also the options of a 40, new for this year and a 100, down from last year's 105.  I though the 40 wasn't enough of a challenge and the 100 was probably a step too far.  I'm having trouble though booking the HM top follow it.  The ultra starts on the Friday, 24 hours to complete, and then the HM on the Sunday.  Last year three people did the double, and received a very handsome trophy for it.

As of last Friday, I now have 19 weeks to the off, which should be plenty of time to build up a decent level of endurance.  Unlike a shorter race, I'm not planning on hitting the full race distance in training, but I will be looking to stretch myself.  I'm acutely aware that it's all about time on feet, rather than miles or km covered. It should also give me time to work out my nutritional plan.  I've got plenty of experience doing that for 6 hours on a bike, but not for a run of at least 12-14 hours.

The basic plan is to be getting in a good number of sessions up to about an hour or so during the week, with increasingly longer sessions at the weekends, likely to be alternating week to week bike and run to give me time, but try and manage the impact. I started two weeks ago with25km in my huaraches, and last Sunday with 56km on the bike

Didn't manage to follow that up so well this weekend though, with Sunday being hit by some vicious early March weather, where it started raining at 8AM and turned into snow in the early afternoon.  On Thursday it had been over 15 degC. 

Still, I've had a good week's training with just over 5 hours total from Sunday to Saturday made up of

Sunday - That 56km on the bike in 1hr 50, average speed 30.6km/h, just about 19mph which is nice for this early in the season.  AHR 147, MHR 157

Monday was a rest day

Tuesday - 10.29km run, on my local loop, in huaraches in the dying light, with the headlamp for the last 4km or so.  Upping the tempo a bit to 4:57 per km, AHR 147, MHR 160

Wednesday - 10km on the rower, nice and steady, AHR 139, MHR 150

Thursday, back home late and tired from a day trip to London and couldn't be bothered to go to hot yoga, plus my shoulder was playing up a bit.

Friday - another 10.29km on my feet, this time at 4:50 pace, using the first 5km for an online challenge league - I'll put in a reall 5km time this coming week.

Saturday - turbo trainer intervals - the TT season starts soon!  2 x 20 mins, HR cappped to 165.
1) 5' at 204W / AHR 118 - Warm up
2) 20' / Average 269W / AHR 152 / MHR 160
3) 5'AR rec to HR 134 / Ave  202W
4) 20' / ave 267W / AHR 158 / MHR 163
5) CD5' / 178W to 140 HR

This time last year, I was doing these at 250W, but with higher average and max HR.  It's good to see an improvement.

That's it for today dear reader.