@Skorarunning FIT shoe review: Between minimalism and maximalism is just-rightism #FITfriday

It seems to me that running shoes are like a lot of other things we put on our bodies: they’re subject to trends. For instance, I recently discovered that men’s ties have drastically reduced in width this last season. I now have a few in the new “right” size, but a closet full of “too wide” ties – including a few purchased just last year.

It’s true that I discovered “minimalism” in running shoes after reading the 2009 book “Born to Run.” Initially a niche, minimalism widened to a chasm filled by the major shoe companies. Conversely, I’m not sure when maximalism crept into my consciousness – some time early last year I’d say. The max-cushion movement has gone mainstream in the last few months – with the major shoe companies looking to cash in on the latest trend (with some offerings better described as max-marketing than as max-cushioned, I’d say).

Through all this, a few shoe companies have stayed trend-proof and true to their mission. Skora running shoes are one of this small group – as they say, designed by runners, for runners. As a runner, I appreciate that! I didn’t seek out minimal shoes as an end – they were a means to an end: allowing me to run the way my body was designed. To my way of thinking, the new Skora FIT is the best expression of that I’ve run across so far (can’t. resist. pun.).

What do I look for in a shoe?

  1. Zero-drop. Allows for a natural foot strike.
  2. Anatomical. An object that goes on your foot should be foot-shaped.
  3. Roomy toe-box. Your toes should splay as you run. When they can’t move, or worse are pinched together, pain ensues.
  4. A locked-in midfoot and heel. If your foot is moving around in this part of the shoe, hello blisters.
  5. Laces. This is really 4a. I have found a few shoes that worked for me that relied on elasticity and/or Velcro closures (“Aww, he got the Velcros…”), but nothing compares to laces when it comes to customizing your fit.
  6. Goldilocks cushioning. On pavement, I need something. Too little can be torture at 20+ miles. Too much means my foot can’t tell my brain what’s going on down there. Oh, and weight. Light = fast.
  7. Value. There’s a happy medium here. I’ve tried poorly made shoes from other companies that checked some of these boxes that didn’t make it to 100 miles. I’m willing to pay for quality design, materials, and construction when it means I’m going to get more wear out of a shoe.
  8. It should cover your foot. Duh, right? Well, “I don’t always wear shoes, but when I do, ….” Sandals? No, thanks.
  9. It should look cool. I consider myself a function-over-form guy, but I love it when I don’t have to choose. I’ve owned a few pairs of shoes that I would prefer to only run in at night, if you know what I mean.
  10. Gestalt. The whole should be more than the sum of its parts. A shoe that is there, but not there. Om.

If I scored the shoes I’ve run in over the last 5 years in these categories, I’m sure the FIT would have the highest score. Zero-drop? Check. Roomy toe box? Check. The light, stretchy upper really contributes to that:

20140411_075318

That’s my hand. My toes aren’t that flexible. However, they are quite long…

Locked-in midfoot/heel/laces? Check. I love asymmetric lacing. Traditional lacing bugs some folks on the top of their foot – but when you sweep it off to the side it takes pressure off that area. Just lacing these shoes up is a joy. The combination of the stretchy upper and the asymmetric lacing makes it super easy to get a “Goldilocks” fit. If you’ve ever taken off on a run and felt like you laced up too tight or too loose, you know what I’m talking about. That is not going to happen with the FIT:

CAM00044-1

Goldilocks cushioning? Check. I think the FIT is “just right.”  The FIT borrows some of my favorite things from Skora’s other models – one of these being the R01 “platform” (or last, if you prefer) which is like Skora’s BASE and FORM. It combines a rubber outsole with compression molded EVA foam midsole. An extra bit of cushioning is found in the Ortholite insoles. This insole is slightly thicker than those found in Skora’s other offerings. The insole from FORM is on the left in the picture, FIT on the right.

20140411_075522

That FORM insole has roughly the same number of miles on the shoe it lives in - perhaps even less.

Also, the reverse dimpling on the insole is a little more pronounced than other models – I like it – it’s stimulating in a good way when you put the shoe on but not at all intrusive:

20140411_075424

You can actually make them out in the above photo. This next photo, for comparison, is an insole from FORM:

20140411_075450

The reverse dimpling is there – but smaller.

Value? Check. The FIT is probably the best value in Skora’s lineup. My pair have 200+ miles on the odometer already and there are zero durability issues despite virtually all of those miles being on the pavement. As you can see, the high-abrasion rubber on the outsole is holding up really well:

20140411_075244 20140411_075214

I can’t find anything wrong with the material on the upper or any of the seams. I would be shocked if this shoe didn’t push past 1000 miles. Mille Miglia! They should make it in Ferrari red and yellow! The FIT’s price point stays out of the 3 figure range as well.

Cool? Check. If you don’t think the FIT is a cool-looking shoe, I can’t help you. The black 3D-printing on the upper is functional (more support where it’s darker, more flexibility where it’s lighter) and gives the shoe a really unique look:

20140411_075200 20140411_075147

Gestalt? Ja! My perfect shoe is a shoe I’m not thinking about while I’m running in it. It should disappear. Even when I’m on pavement I want to be able to close my eyes and feel like I’m running barefoot. No shoe is that good, but the FIT is just a great combination of all of the qualities I look for in a shoe. I’ve done speedwork in the FIT on a small track without blistering. I’ve taken it on multiple pavement long runs. I went back and looked at my mileage log today. (Umm, I might track mileage on each shoe on a spreadsheet with weekly, monthly and annual mileage totals – message me if you share my sickness and want my excel file). Since receiving the FIT, I’ve run in it 19 times, with just 3 runs in all other shoes. I like it so well I’m planning on running the Boston Marathon in it. It doesn’t hurt that “Orange is the new yellow” at Boston this year! I would probably prefer the lighter PHASE or CORE for a shorter distance like a 5k or 10k, but I think it’s FIT for half and full marathons.

Here’s a few action photos of me and my friend John (not wearing the orange FITs – yet…) running a 10+ mile segment of the One Run For Boston cross-country relay last week:

1457670_417977645004717_1387055078386011627_n 1610012_417977681671380_3332103484058150425_n untitled untitled2

I’m a fan of the FIT. If you’re thinking about trying a pair of Skora shoes, this is the model I’d try first.

 

Check out the FIT – follow the link by clicking on the banner to the right, or:

http://www.Facebook.com/skorarunning

http://www.Twitter.com/skoraRunning

http://www.Instagram.com/SkoraRunning

Will you taper or peak? @HospitalHillRun

What’s in a name? When you’re training for a race, those last few weeks before a race on a training schedule often get the name “taper.” I’m tapering for my spring marathon right now (Ok, it’s Boston. There, I said it. Boston Boston BOSTON!!! Whew. Sorry, I’m extremely excited – it’s my first!).

ORFB2

Here’s a photo of my friend John and I (I’m on the left, unable to resist making eye contact) running a leg of the cross-country fundraising relay “One Run for Boston 2.” Please consider donating to the One Fund for victims of last year’s bombing through this organization. John ran last year’s race and was in the Forum Restaurant with his family when the bombs went off. We’re both running it this year.

Anyhow, tapering conjures up all kinds of images of slacking off, backing down, fidgeting, etc. Yes, it’s literally true to the extent that you need to back off on the mileage. Any training schedule worth its salt will have a peak mileage week several weeks out from a race, followed by one to three weeks of lower mileage. This can be a source of anxiety for anyone who’s been pushing it, feeling good, and is looking forward to the challenge of a race. Multi-month training schedules have cutback weeks all through them to give you a chance to heal. The “taper” is your last chance to heal up before the big day – don’t waste it.

I’ve heard the term “peaking” substituted for the taper a few times. I like it. It conjures up an image of a roller coaster. You’ve been flying along, going up and down hills and you come to the last big up before a downhill push to the finish. You’re going fast but you’re slowing as you near the top of the final big hill. There’s plenty of momentum to take you over the peak. The coaster has already done all the hard work to get to that point. Push too hard and you just might fly off the rails!

Peaking is getting your body to that sweet spot of conditioning where you are ready, but not exhausted. Better undertrained than overtrained, so they say. You’re not going to improve your fitness with a 20 miler the week before your big race. I’ve read that it’s okay to hit your goal pace in your “peaking” weeks – cutting back on mileage doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give good effort.

It’s encouraging and it feels good to be hitting your pace at lower mileage in those last few weeks. I feel ready for Boston – like I’m peaking, not slacking. I’m looking forward to that great race and then transitioning into getting ready for another – Hospital Hill!

Training “On the Edge” @HospitalHillRun @skoraRunning @SkratchLabs

I love running movies. I guess you could say I’m collecting them. There’s something motivational about watching a good one when you’re training or just about to race. It’s hard to find a truly comprehensive list out there. Here’s my list of what I’ve seen:

http://minimallyshoddy.com/2013/05/07/what-to-watch-cinematic-inspiration-during-your-taper/

I recently added “On the Edge” to my “seen it” list thanks to its mention in the recent Runner’s World article about Bruce Dern. A lifelong runner with some serious cred (e.g. 100,000 miles!), Dern brings authenticity to his starring role in this 1986 movie. The movie holds up well despite a goofy 80s synth soundtrack (it’s no Chariots of Fire, I guess Vangelis was busy). “On the Edge” is a runner’s running movie – and because of that authenticity, I’m going to use it to highlight a few training tips I noticed in it that we can all take to heart as we get ready for Hospital Hill!

1. Quit your job and move to some Spartan digs right next to the race course. Kidding! But it’s a good intro to what the movie is about. Dern plays Wes Holman, a 43-year-old (hey, that’s my age!) runner who lost his amateur status decades ago while trying to organize fellow athletes just prior to the U.S. Olympic trials. We meet him as he is scouting his comeback to run the “Cielo Sea Race” – a handicapped trail race which is not-so-loosely based on “The Dipsea Race” - a Northern California event billed as the oldest trail race in America. Not-so-coincidental fact: Dern finished 293rd in the race in 1974 and said he’d never do it again because it was “too dangerous.” The race features a staggered start intended to give runners of all ages and genders the chance to cross the finish line first. Anyhow, Wes moves into an abandoned barge on the docks that floods with the tide. He devotes himself entirely to his training.

2. Know your race course. The real tips begin. Wes returns to the site of this local race 1 year before he intends to race it. He scouts the course, taking notes as the race is going on. We meet him as he watches the lead runner come up “Cardiac Hill.” Wes trains on the course – I think this is really helpful, after all you don’t know if you can make it up the Broadway Hill until you’ve done it! If you train on the terrain you’ll be running on, you’ll be prepared.

3. Follow a training plan. Wes has a plan: he charts his every single run on a poster-board – type of workout, times, etc. That’s Dern – apparently he’s compulsive. You don’t know any runners like that, do you? The takeaway from this tip is that a training plan can help you put in the mileage you’ll need to prepare as well as building speed and endurance with different types of workouts.

4. Incorporate some variety. Wes does different things – he doesn’t just run. He runs up a hill holding a rock over his head (less common cross-training) and does a lot of push ups and sit-ups (more common). I’m not doing any rock-carrying just now, but I do some core strength training almost every day, and more of it on running “off” days.

5. Have the right shoes. Wes is particular about his shoes – he knows what he wants and he special orders it. I am particular too! I run in Skora performance running shoes – designed by runners for runners.

6. Diet. Wes eats. You should too. I can’t recall anything specific about Wes’ diet – he does share a family style meal at his father’s house. My advice is be discriminating about what you put into your body. When I was younger I felt like my body was a furnace that would burn whatever garbage I put into it. The last 5 years or so I’ve really started paying more attention to how my body reacts to different types of food. I like to experiment. And I don’t mean one run on Twinkies, the next on Ho-hos. I’ve been fueling and hydrating with Skratch Labs’ hot Apples & Cinnamon exercise hydration mix lately. I drink about 16 oz. pre-run – it’s nice to raise my core temp instead of lowering it before heading out into the cold. Hopefully I’ll be switching over to the traditional cold sports drink soon! C’mon spring, stick around.

7. Get a coach. Wes reunites with his old coach and – lesson time again – has a hard time submitting to his advice and methods, but ultimately leans on his wisdom. Wes takes to heart a mantra his coach gives him: “soar” the uphills, “burn” the downs. There are lots of ways to find a coach – and it doesn’t have to be one-on-one in person, although it can be. There are coaches in our area who will combine group workouts and individual advice. A coach can also motivate you and advise you remotely (e.g. my Skora friend Kyle Kranz: http://kylekranz.com/). You can self-coach or join a running club, but to really do it right you’ve got to be willing to read a lot and engage in honest self-assessment.

8. Don’t try to push through injuries. Wes uses active recovery - soaking in a tub for instance – to cope with the day-to-day wear and tear of training. He suffers a minor injury during his training and rests it for a few days rather than aggravating it. There’s no one-size-fits-all advice for injuries, but it if hurts – back off. If it still hurts, see a professional.

9. Be motivated by competition. Even in training, Wes has his eye on some competitors in the race - including a frenemy from his past. We can all take some inspiration from the cliché “when you’re not training, someone else is.” I’m not encouraging overtraining, but even if you’re just competing against yourself, a competitive mindset can get you out of bed for one of those pre-dawn sessions we all hate. Maybe it’s just taking inspiration from the elites we see maximizing their potential. There are some true elites in cameo roles in “On the Edge.”

10. Embrace your goal. This is the toughest one to relate to the movie. It seems clear Wes’ goal is to win the Cielo Sea Race – or is it? Perhaps it’s personal redemption. I don’t want to ruin the ending for you! You have to know what your goal is to achieve it. Set one. Finish? Run the whole race? Set a PR? Set a goal and work towards it as you train. There will be sacrifice. The reward or disappointment you reap on race day will directly relate to what you sow in training.

Get out there and “Soar!”

Skora FIT – first look @skoraRunning

The new Skora FIT arrived on my doorstep recently and after a few runs in them I just had to share my enthusiasm for this shoe before posting a full review later.

Since discovering Skoras in the second half of 2013, I’ve been fortunate to run in nearly every model they offer. I feel a bit like a dog when I talk about their shoes – “ooh, CORE! My favorite! – ooh! FORM! My favorite!…” Well, the first 50+ miles in the FIT have me reaching for a more superlatives. The FIT borrows some of my favorite things from their other models – the “last” (platform, sole, pick your term) is like BASE and FORM. The asymmetric lacing is present as well. The two game-changers in the FIT are 1) more cushioning (although you’re not going to mistake them for HOKAs); and 2) a wonderful light, stretchy upper.

Just lacing these shoes up is a joy. The combination of the stretchy upper and the asymmetric lacing makes it super easy to get a “Goldilocks” fit. If you’ve ever taken off on a run and felt like you laced up too tight or too loose, you know what I’m talking about. That is not going to happen with the FIT.

CAM00041 CAM00042 CAM00044-1

Also, the reverse dimpling in the removable insole is a little more pronounced than other models - I like it – it’s stimulating in a good way when you put the shoe on but not at all intrusive.

It was just a perfect day today – 70s when I got home from work, so I stretched and headed out for 8 miles. I don’t stretch much – just active stretching – a few squats…

CAM00071 CAM00070 CAM00069

a few lunges…

CAM00068 CAM00067 CAM00066 CAM00061 CAM00060

oh, and you can’t forget the “useless shoulder stretch before running:” for KK :)

CAM00063

I might not be doing that right, but does it matter?

Before I could take off, a friend wanted to say “take me with you!” I had to substitute a treat. I keep my “me” runs and “Ellie” runs separate. Messes with my gait too much.

CAM00072 CAM00076 CAM00075

Ooh, FIT, my favorite!

The FIT has been a boon to some indoor speedwork I’ve done recently. The constant curves on an 1/8 mile indoor track can lead to friction, but I had zero problems in the FIT in a great 6×300 8 mile session. They felt great – heels locked in, room in the toebox but not slippy. I’ve had them out on 17 and a 20 mile long runs on pavement the last two Saturdays and they’ve pretty much convinced me they’re going to be my Boston Marathon shoe. Just a perfect balance of cushioning and weight.

Check out the FIT:

www.skorarunning.com

www.Facebook.com/skorarunning

www.Twitter.com/skoraRunning

www.Instagram.com/SkoraRunning

“Just” Running

I used to hate running. More precisely, I used to hate “just” running. Now I love “just” running – what changed? Me, the calendar, my perspective, how I run.

I’m really glad to have the opportunity to blog about running and training for the Hospital Hill Run, a great race with great tradition - 41 years worth! Road running giants have raced these same streets that you and I will tread in June, just under 3 months from now.

I used to dread running as a means to an end – it wasn’t the goal - playing soccer, losing weight, those were the goals. Even though I never really completely stopped running, it wasn’t until after I had my first real injury in my late 30s that I appreciated it. After a year without running and with the addition of many pounds, I faced my 40th birthday wondering if I was ever going to be able to run regularly again. I’ve now run multiple half marathons, marathons and even an ultra or two – all on the far side of 40. I’m really looking forward to running the Boston Marathon this April – my first!

I’m living proof that minimalism isn’t just a fad – even if shoe companies try to convince you that “maximalism” is in. I switched to barefoot/forefoot striking a couple of years ago. It’s not for everyone, but the switch put the joy back into my running. I have run in a variety of minimal shoes over the past few years and I’ve settled on a favorite: Skora – a Portland, Oregon based company that asked me to be an ambassador last year. Now I run because I enjoy “just” running – the joy is in the run now that just running is the goal! I finally appreciate it for itself.

This is one of the most inspiring times of the year to recommit to running. It’s been a bleak winter, but as spring explodes around us everywhere in warmth, green, and birdsong, focus on the joy of “just” running!

My top three tips for training:

1) Follow a training plan

2) Train on the course whenever you can – your weekend long run is best

3) Incorporate some exercises to strengthen your core

Happy running!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A Cold Run on the Beach – Psycho Wyco 50K 2014 @skorarunning @skratchlabs

I ran the aptly named Psycho Wyco 50K this weekend at Wyandotte County Lake Park in Kansas City, Kansas. “Aptly named?” I offer this comment from a friend to a picture I posted to Facebook: “You are crazy.” No exclamation point, just a declaration. Hard to argue.

This was my first ultramarathon and my first Psycho Wyco. While I’d previously paced a 26.2+ distance, this was my first timed race entry for an ultra. I probably would have apologized more for calling this 50k an ultra (it is) having not run a 50m or 100m yet, but this was one tough 50k. I had some lofty goals for this race that were crushed by the weather. I can run this 10 mile trail loop in about 1:30 in decent conditions. I ran it in 1:37 in December’s Alternate Chili run, and that was with a slight amount of snow/ice on the ground. For the 50K, that’s three laps. I had aspirations of breaking the 5:00 mark. Spoiler alert: not even close. I was pleased with my overall place, 12th.

We had an ice storm the weekend before the race, followed by close to a foot of snow on the Tuesday before. The temps stayed arctic after that too. Very little melting. Yesterday, a local weatherman observed that we had gone 252 hours since we were last above freezing!

I did my typical low-residue diet the Friday before the race. That is, no fiber. Eggs, meat, carbs (I usually try to avoid refined sugars, but not pre-race), cheese, cream, etc. Worked like a charm. No porta-potty stops! My son had a soccer academy skills clinic on Friday night, and as I was messing around on Twitter during his practice, I saw Dr. Jordan Metzel @drjordanmetzl tweet that he was coming into town for Psycho Wyco with @RWGearGuy (Runner’s World Editor Jeff Dengate) and @JamieMetzl. I let Dr. Metzel know I appreciated his advice (he’s a triathlete and MD who regularly contributes to Runner’s World) and especially his excellent Iron Strength workout. I didn’t get a chance to meet Dr. Metzel at the race, but Jeff and I finished within 30 seconds of each other and traded congratulations at the finish line.

The night before, I re-screwed my Skora Forms (the screw heads were looking a bit worn after heavy use in recent weeks), assembled my gear, and hit the sack. I woke up around six and had some eggs, a double espresso with cream, and about 20 oz of this:

http://www.skratchlabs.com/collections/drinks/products/apple-cinnamon-exercise-hydration-mix-limited-edition-holiday-flavor

Hot hydration? You bet. If it’s hot out, you want a cold sports drink right? It’s delicious – actually flavored with apples and cinnamon!

Then it was off to the race. Great logistics. Close-in parking at start/finish line is limited, so a shuttle runs from a remote lot. It gave me a chance to do some final gearing up. I changed out of my Skora Cores and into my screwed Forms. The Form is my go-to trail shoe. Minimalist with just enough sole to keep you from getting beat to death on the rocks. I also slathered my face and hands with Alba Unpetroleum jelly (I had already covered my feet with it). Temperatures were just under 20F at race start, and only warmed into the mid-20s during the race, so I decided on a light-weight headband, a cold weather compression shirt, lightweight windbreaker running jacket, running tights, shorts, and toe-socks. I went with some glommits on my hands – rag wool – just picked them up the night before. I figured wool would stay warm better if I got them wet from putting a hand down in the snow, and they worked great.

Conditions were daunting as we waded out into the snow in the starting field. I had already mentally prepared myself for a slower and longer day than I had previously hoped for. Justin, a fellow runner I had met at my kids’ school a few months back (I introduced myself after noticing his Boston Marathon jacket) diffused any tension by coming up and saying hi before the start. We ran together for quite a bit of the first lap.

The trail wasn’t as chewed up during the first lap as it was on the second two. To put a finer point on it, the snow never packed. Ok, there was a stretch on a ridge where I thought I heard snow packing under my feet for a few seconds. Since it was so cold, the snow pretty much remained the consistency of sand the whole time. Hence, the title of this post. During the second and third loops, it really looked like sand for long stretches where the dirt had mixed in a bit.  The trail did clear a little bit in some places with all the traffic moving through, but I thought other spots actually become more difficult from getting all churned up.

Here’s a picture fairly soon after the start. I was moving as fast as possible, but I can’t disagree if you think I look like I’m walking (or if I have an “are we there yet” look on my face):

psychowyco2014-1259

The next set of photos come from a really fun part of the trail – the “Triangle” – a single-track section with lots of switchbacks (other parts of the course are on a slightly wider “bridle trail” – btw the horses were smart enough to stay home). I actually enjoyed it the most the first time through when there was more snow:

psychowyco2014-0086

The first loop was also the most fun because there were still so many people running together. Most trail racers are pretty cool about yielding the trail if you want to pass, especially under these conditions. I passed and was passed, all without any hurt feelings.

The first time through, the biggest shock was how difficult it was to get up to the top of Dam Hill and onto the road up to the aid station. I slid back down twice before crawling onto the road. By the way, the course had excellent aid stations throughout – stocked with plenty of necessities and staffed by super-friendly and enthusiastic people, including my friend Darin Schneidewind – who I paced for the last 35 of the OT100 last November! For my part, I pretty much stuck to the sports drink and the gels. The Dam aid station had hot broth the last time through – that was GREAT! I had started asking for “something hot” as I finished the first loop, and people would give me coffee out of their thermos without hesitation. Just great.

Here’s a few shots from the Fester’s Wander section and coming down a big hill. This was probably the most treacherous hill on the course that day, which is why I again look like I am walking. I could see the skid marks of those who had gone before me. And maybe some blood. On the second lap I was running with a guy named Kevin, and we joked that we kept leapfrogging each other. He would fly down the hills and pass me, and I would crank up them and pass him back. So here’s that section:

PsychoWyco2014-2473-XL PsychoWyco2014-2474-XL

Easy does it!

PsychoWyco2014-2477-XL

I didn’t ask the photographer to focus on my Skora Forms, but this is a nice pic of the shoes.

psychowyco2014-1486

Chasing up a hill!

Now for my two favorite pictures. It can be really hard to describe to people the pure joy I feel when running. I’m so thankful that I have the ability to do what I love. These two are worth at least a thousand words each:

PsychoWyco2014-1485-XL PsychoWyco2014-1484-XL

I finished the first loop in 2:00:40.7, hoping as I came through the start/finish line that the course had gotten packed down a bit for the second loop. I didn’t find it to be any easier the second time through, and I couldn’t manage to pick up my pace any, falling off to 2:10:24.4. Perhaps if I had set a fallback goal ahead of time atm6 hours and figured out that pace I might have pushed harder, but as it was I was just enjoying the day as much as possible and not really looking at my watch. I knew I was going to be slower than I hoped. It was tough going, but I wasn’t really able to move quickly and productively enough that I was ever challenging my cardio except on the ups.

Perhaps the most exhilarating moment of the race was coming through the start/finish line at the end of the second lap. There were still a lot of people hanging around at that point waiting for people to come in from the 10 mile and 20 mile distances. I got some nice crowd support once they realized I was headed out for a third and final lap! That lap was pretty lonely, although I did come across a few racers. One guy was chatting with his significant other on a cell phone while keeping up a pretty good pace. Impressive! He described the snow as having the consistency of sugar. Agree. Another, Will, caught me in the last few miles. Making excuses for myself, I had developed one of those mysterious side stitches and just couldn’t knead it out. Will and I ran together for a while, but I knew he had me to the finish. Several of us finished pretty close to each other, and I did manage to gut it out and stay ahead of a few guys on my tail.

Not surprisingly, my last lap was the slowest, at 2:17:45.1. My total time was 6:28:50.2. At least I set the bar low for my first timed 50k ultra! Nowhere to go but up.

I’ll be back. Psycho Wyco was a blast, and I sure don’t like a course to get the better of me. Here’s the finish, with apologies to Ryan Hall:

psychowyco2014-3-311psychowyco2014-3-312psychowyco2014-3-313psychowyco2014-3-314psychowyco2014-3-315psychowyco2014-3-316

Skora Core running shoe review #runreal

I recently realized that the Core is the only shoe in Skora’s lineup that I own and haven’t posted a review on. Ironically, it’s my favorite. [Note to Alanis Morissette: you're probably sick of hearing this, but this is like, actual irony, i.e., a situation that is strange or funny because things happen in a way that seems to be the opposite of what you had expected. To wit: this is a blog where I write about minimal shoes and running in them. You would expect me to write about my favorite ones. The fact that I hadn't yet done so is funny, or at least strange. Not like a traffic jam when you're already late. That's just inconvenient, not funny or even strange.]

I call the Core “the shoe that fits like a glove.” Have you ever put a shoe on and immediately said to yourself: “Self, if I could only have one pair of shoes….”? To put it another way, I wish I could wear this shoe at all times when I need to have a shoe on. I am a distance runner who runs in minimal shoes. I have sampled over a dozen minimalist offerings from various manufacturers and this shoe is by far my favorite. There’s a reason mankind has been making shoes out of leather for thousands of years. Quality leather conforms to the shape of your foot. The shoe is so strikingly well-designed that it’s the only shoe I’ve ever worn where complete strangers will ask me “what kind of shoe is that?” It’s MOMA-worthy.

2014-02-04_14-17-21_622 2014-02-04_14-16-52_875 2014-02-04_14-15-44_734

These, with the neon heel, are this season’s model. I’m still kind of babying them with only casual wear. But that’s because I also have these:

2014-02-04_14-16-11_41 2014-02-04_14-15-53_944

These are my go-to shoes for all kinds of purposes. I wear this shoe while running – road, track, trail; at the gym while cross-training; and casually (like, if the weather isn’t nice enough for the purty ones).

The shoe is light – the leather is not that thick leather on your dad’s white New Balance “cross-trainers” (sorry, Dad). It’s goat leather. Light, but durable. It dries quickly too. The toe-box is roomy, but not cavernous. I have long since purged my closet of all the shoes – running and casual – that are too narrow in the toe box despite being the right size everywhere else. Skora’s anatomical design is refreshing and has eliminated the few foot problems I had as a minimalist runner.

These have about 100 running miles on them. However I don’t keep track of all the other miles they have on them – the gym, walking, hiking. I wish I knew how many “hours” I’ve had them on. I’m going to show you some pictures of the soles, which are holding up great for how many hours I’ve put on them. (The wear on the heel is entirely from casual wear on hard surfaces – virtually nobody heel-strikes when they walk, even barefoot).

2014-02-04_14-16-41_848 2014-02-04_14-16-34_625 2014-02-04_14-14-28_541

I haven’t yet mentioned that all of Skora’s shoes are HIGHLY reflective. Especially the new Phase-X, but they all are. As I said, I’ve sampled a number of minimalist offerings in the last few years, and I was shocked to find that a lot of manufacturers – even the “big” ones, apparently don’t think that minimalist runners ever run in the dark.

As a certain very famous racecar would say, KA-CHOW!

2014-02-04_14-15-27_222

I love the Core.

Find SKORA around the web:
instagram.com/skorarunning
twitter.com/skorarunning
facebook.com/skorarunning
skorarunning.com