Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Nike Zoom Wildhorse Review

A lot of trail runners seem to have beef with Nike as a company, but after the release of the Wildhorse and Terra Kiger I started seeing these shoes pop up all over the trails and naturally I was intrigued. My first pair of running shoes were the Nike Lunarglide+2 and I loved them, so when they released this trail and ultra shoe that seemingly appealed to a wide range of runners, I had to see for myself what they had created.
*If you would like to skip all the shoe geek talk, feel free to scroll to the bottom for a summary.


UPPER

The upper has 3 layers: The inner sleeve that is connected to the tongue and wraps the foot for a custom feel which Nike calls Dynamic Fit (similar to Salomon's Endofit). The supportive overlays which is actually the mid layer that locks the foot to the platform. And the mesh on the outside. While not seamless, the seams are minimal enough that they cause no irritation. The Wildhorse also features a gusseted tongue, by way of Dynamic Fit, and a minimal synthetic leather toe bumper.
I found the upper to be comfortable, but not quite as breathable as I had hoped for due to the dual mesh. However, the inner sleeve and overlays really wrap and secure the midfoot while the toe box opens up providing plenty of room. The tongue is also padded enough to really cinch the laces down without causing pain in the top of my foot, which is more than I can say for most trail shoes I've worn.
While shoefitr recommended I go with the same size as my PI N1's, I didn't find that to be accurate. The Wildhorse runs a little short in my opinion and while I don't mind a tighter fit in performance trails shoes, I did get some rubbing/irritation on my big toe during my last 20 miler in them. So if you like a little more room up front, I would size up at least 1/2 size. 




MIDSOLE

The midsole on the Wildhorse is a dual density EVA blend of Cushlon and Cushlon ST with a Zoom Air Unit in the heel (I was told by a Nike Rep that the website needs to be updated as these shoes do not feature Phylon in the midsole). Cushlon is Nike's classic long lasting foam with a somewhat high rubber content making it softer and more springy. I'm told that Cushlon ST is a bit denser than regular Cushlon and can be found in more of Nike's low profile shoes. The ST stands for "stability". And "Air Cushion Units" are pressurized air units designed to reduce weight while providing impact protection and energy return, the "Zoom" unit being the most low profile of these. Nike didn't put a rock plate in the Wildhorse assuming that the EVA compound was resilient enough to protect against rock bruising.
The first thing I noticed when I slipped these on was the cushion in the heel. It's superb. The forefoot even feels firm compared to the heel which became more noticeable on longer runs, not so much in a bad way, but I found myself wishing I had a Zoom Air Unit in the forefoot as well (which you can find on the Terra Kiger). As far as the rock plate goes, I landed hard on a few rocks which I could feel through the shoe and I'm a small guy. I would think heavier runners might get some rock bruising on more technical terrain, but for lighter runners it shouldn't be much of an issue.
All in all the ride is cushioned and stable while providing awesome energy return. Never once did the Wildhorse feel flat, regardless of the surface I was on. They even have a surprisingly smooth and bouncy ride on asphalt and cement.



OUTSOLE

The outsole on the Wildhorse is pretty stout for such a low profile shoe. It has aggressive multi directional "Rubber Waffle" lugs on the forefoot and pyramid lugs for great grip in every direction. The heel is also beveled with a crash pad, which felt a little awkward walking around at first, but later proved to be effective on descents by providing great shock absorption and a smooth transition. I found the grip to inspire confidence on all terrain.





 OVERALL THOUGHTS

Nike has been around for a long time and obviously knows how to put comfort and performance underfoot. The Wildhorse is no exception. It is a well thought out, low profile trail shoe with a balanced feel and great traction. It's cushioned, stable and has great energy return suitable for almost any terrain. My only criticism is that it doesn't have a rock plate in the forefoot for added protection, which in my opinion would be a welcome addition in future updates.

Weight: 9.6 ounces  for a men's size 10.

Drop: 4mm differential (23mm Heel/ 19mm Forefoot).

Sizing: Runs small. 

Durability: (will update)

Value: Fair. At $110 They're priced at or slightly below other performance trail shoes in their category.



What are your thoughts on the Wildhorse?

Feel free to follow me on twitter @koreykonga


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Week ending 04/13/14

I haven't posted a training week on here in a while because I've been dealing with some Tendinitis in my shin and some lingering ankle issues from a gnarly roll last year. While this isn't quite where I want to be, I'm getting there! Thanks in part to Adapt Physical Therapy for helping me get back on track.

Monday - Rest

Tuesday - 03:08 - 4,800ft EG - Long. Ostrich Peak out and back, then up Pete's Punisher, down White Rabbit/ Oredson Todd Woods.

Wednesday - 02:00 - 2,600ft EG - Medium. From home towards Ostrich to Connector intersection and back. Meant to go to the peak, but ran out of time (had to work).

Thursday - 00:55, 600ft EG - Recovery. Easy jog around town/Lithia park.

Friday - A.m. - 01:05 - Intervals on the track. Warm then 4X 2,000 meters @ 05:52 pace with 2:30 recovery jogs. Cool. It's been a while and I forgot how much I love a good track work out!

             P.m. - 00:35 - 600ft EG - Easy/Recovery. Oredson Todd Woods/ Mike Uhtoff trail.

Saturday - 01:25 - 1,800ft EG - Oredson Todd, Mike Uhtoff, Queen of Hearts, 2060, Down Bandersnatch through Lithia to the Plaza. Home.

Sunday - 01:21 - 1,700ft EG - Down through town, up through Lithia, Up Jabberwocky, Queen of Hearts, down White Rabbit.


Totals:

Time: 10 hours 30 minutes

Elevation Gain: 12,000 feet



Mt. Mcloughlin as seen  from Ostrich Peak.
Flowers below the Oredson Todd Woods
At the top of park street, below White Rabbit.
Mike Uhtoff trail

Trees blooming




Thursday, March 13, 2014

Pearl Izumi E:Motion Road N2 Review

I haven't worn a road shoe in a quite a while, but as soon as I slipped these on my feet I knew I had to review them. The Pearl Izumi Road N2 (Neutral cushioned/ Level 2 cushioning) weighs in around 9 ounces for a men's size 9 with a 4mm stack height. It's said to be your "one quiver shoe" and here's why:


UPPER
Just like the other shoes I've worn in the eMotion line, the upper is flawless and phenomenal. It features a flexible, breathable, seamless mesh upper with minimal TPU overlays. The upper on the N2 manages to feel slipper like by using bonded seamless technology that ensures a blister and friction free running experience while still securing your foot to the platform.
I found the upper to be both soft and supportive. They also seem to dry relatively quickly. The only complaint I have is that sand and grit enter the shoe easily on the trails, but then again, it isn't a trail shoe.





MIDSOLE

This midsole, as well as all midsoles in the eMotion line, features what Pearl Izumi calls Dynamic Offset technology. Dynamic offset provides a smooth running experience by enabling the heel to toe differential to change constantly from the loading phase to transition (4mm drop at initial contact, 7.5mm drop during transition). Pearl Izumi did this by moving the toe spring from the ball of the foot back to the midfoot. See more here and here. This midsole design makes you feel like you're being propelled forward.
The N2's  midsole is Pearl Izumi's level 2 (of 3) cushioning. It features their 1:1 foam in both the heel and forefoot which provides ample shock absorption and energy return. This is a neutral shoe, so if you feel like you have pronation issues, you may want to consider the Road M2, M3 or H3
I've used these on the both the roads and single track and the transition is flawless. They're cushioned enough for the long haul, but responsive enough for fast running on almost any surface. And even though the Road N2 lacks a rock plate, I found the EVA to be resilient enough to protect against push throughs and rock bruising on the trails.



 OUTSOLE

The outsole is slightly lugged and has blown rubber in the forefoot and carbon rubber in the heel. They obviously performed as you'd imagine on the road, but to my surprise they worked very well on the trail. If I felt inclined to, I could wear these shoes on 90% of the trails that I run here in Ashland. I would be hesitant to wear them on really rocky terrain (because of the lack of a rock plate and toe bumper) and I certainly wouldn't wear them on muddy trails, but for roads and dry groomed single track they are great.




CONCLUSION
I'm very familiar with the trail shoes in the eMotion line, but this is my first experience in a pair of Pearl Izumi road shoes. I put these shoes through the ringer. From a 20 mile mountain run to tempo work to recovery runs and I am thoroughly impressed. Though I wouldn't use them on sloppy or technical trails, they are one of the best road shoes I've worn in a very long time.



What are your thoughts on the Road N2?

Feel free to follow me on twitter @koreykonga


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

ADAPT Physical Therapy Medford


As I mentioned in my previous post, I have been battling on going issues in my right leg that at times would limit my ability to complete workouts or to even get out of my driveway. I finally heeded a friends advice and made an appointment with ADAPT Physical Therapy in Medford. After my first appointment with Aaron Anders I came home feeling confident that sometime in the near future I would run pain free. There was Hope!
Well, I went in for my second appointment today and received some very exciting news: Aaron has offered me a sponsorship on behalf of ADAPT Physical Therapy! I am beyond excited and grateful for this opportunity. I can't express how fortunate I feel to have the support I do. Everything I'm doing in regards to running and the path I've chosen would be so much harder without the support of Pearl Izumi, ADAPT and ClifBar.

Albeit a late start, I am looking forward to a healthy and successful 2014. Thank you Aaron!





Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Overcoming Injury

Before I even started "running" I worked as a valet attendant at a busy casino. We would jog from our valet booth to the parking lot and from the parking lot to our valet booth. During my time as a valet I developed my first running related injuries: a horrible bout of Achilles Tendinits as well as ITBS. The tendinitis resolved itself, while the ITBS lingered and is something I still deal with on occasion.  One day my co worker Dan said "We should run the Capitol City Half Marathon." So we signed up and I started training. Nine months later I ran the Capitol City Half. I hobbled (not for the last time) into the finish in 01:38. It was the most pain I have ever felt.
Since then I've had recurring issues, mainly in my right leg. Rarely debilitating, but always bothersome. I've always taken time off, felt better, started training, got hurt. Over and over again. I went to a Doctor with some Piriformis and Plantar Fasciitis issues after my first year of running and he basically said "You shouldn't run so much." So I haven't been back to a Doctor for running related issues since. I figured injury was just part of the sport. Everyone must be hurt all the time. Turns out that's not the case. No doubt it's a tough sport in which you're bound to have the occasional set back, but constant interruptions in training and normal life due to running related pain and injury isn't normal. Then again neither is running 50 miles through the mountains. Who am I to judge what's normal?
Recently I've had some pain in my medial tibia which has kept me from most of my serious training. I also had a pretty big flare up in my ITB during Orcas Island 50K. So after reading a bunch of Joe Uhan's articles and talking to my friend Becka, I made an appointment with Aaron Anders at ADAPT Physical Thereapy in Medford. Following a series of brief questions he started pulling and pushing on my legs and telling me to try and resist. That's when I started to realize I had little strength in my right side. He had me do a plank and asked if I had ever done a plank before. I said I had and that I don't do too much core work. He said I was going to get real familiar with my core.
Turns out that the right side of my body is rather weak. My right hip and lower back more specifically. And according to Aaron, that lack of strength and mobility has led to the slew of problems in my right leg. Now it's time to address and correct those issues and get back to, or should I say experience for the first time, pain free running. I'm feeling very excited about what the future holds after this is all resolved!
All of that being said, I'm going to pull out of the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile. I was really excited to run this race. I got up at 7:45 the day registration opened and spent 20 minutes trying to register while the website was crashing until I finally got in right before it sold out. Victory! I thought. But I don't feel like I can train hard enough or peak properly to meet my own expectations while I'm focusing on this rehab. After my disastrous blow ups at last years SOB 50 and this years Orcas Isand 50K I think I've learned my lesson about going into a race under trained: just don't do it.
So for now I'm going to focus on the task at hand, which is getting healthy. That way I can really crush the scene and run like an animal come summer. Thanks for reading and thank you for all of your continued support!

Electrodes

The pug may or may not approve


Feel free to follow me on twitter @koreykonga

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Orcas Isand 50K Race Report 2014

It's ok to miss out on a race if you aren't ready. There will be another race when you ARE ready. Save your energy, money and psyche for a better day... Think about what's best for you in the long term.
That was the last piece of advice I got from Ian. But me being me I turned to my wife and said I'm running it. I've been waiting three years to run this race again. I'm not going to miss it. Even if I have to hobble in.

We spent a night in Seattle with some great friends before heading out to Orcas Island 2 days early. We got a great deal on a waterfront cabin. I can't explain how great it felt to be back in Washington. How peaceful it felt to be near the ocean. To breathe the crisp air. To be home.
I woke up two hours early on race day. I sat next to the window staring out into the blackness warming my hands with a hot cup of coffee. I thought about how it would all play out. How I would hang on to the tail of 8 or 9 leaders. How I would make up all my time on the powerline climb and hammer it all the way down to the finish from Mt. constitution. Before I knew it my coffee was cold and darkness had turned to civil twilight.  I stuffed my water bottle with Clifshots and laced up my N1's.

I'm sorry about the good weather, but I can't control everything. James Varner said with a smirk on his face. The pre race briefing came to an end and we all walked to the starting line. My wife gave me a kiss, told me she loved me and that she would see me in a few hours. 


5...4...3...2... ONE!

I decided on the count of ONE that I would abandon my plan and stick with the leaders. But in the back of my head I knew that I wasn't fit enough to maintain that pace over the whole course. Suddenly my shoe came untied. I moved off the trail and knelt down to tie it. I lost sight of Maxwell. Hayden. RyanJodeeHal.

The first climb up Mt. Constitution was long and steady on a paved road with sweeping views of the sound and the surrounding Islands. The kind of breathtaking scenery you usually only see in magazines. Ahead of me was a younger guy who I was sure I'd see later in the race, but as soon as we finished the climb and started to descend I never saw him again (he ended up winning in 04:25. You can see his pre race interview here).

I'm pretty irritated with myself for a lot of reasons in regards to this race, but mainly for staying so negative. It was such a beautiful course. But because of the attitude I chose to have I didn't enjoy it. Not even one step.
I kept arguing with myself.
Just drop.
You can't drop, you have to show your team that you'll at least finish.
Your ultrasignup stats are going to look bad.
Drop.
You hyped yourself up and now you can't perform.
I don't want to do this anymore.
Too bad.
I don't want to race.
Eat a Shotblok.
Try smiling.
Try laughing.
HA! HA! HA!
You have to at least get to the finish to tell Rene'e you're done racing.
I AM done racing!!!

While all of this nonsense was going on in my head the beauty of the island was passing me by. The light sound of the off beat pitter-patter from my broken stride muffled by the vibrant green moss that hung like tangled dreadlocks from the trunks and limbs of massive fir. A mystical forest where strange creatures lurked and curiously watched the passing runners from a distance before timidly returning to their caves and carved out tree trunks where their yellow eyes would dart around in the darkness before disappearing completely. The sound of creeks and waterfalls carelessly rushing through predestined paths over slick green rock towards a vast ocean of uncertainty. The occasional runner glancing over as a I muttered an unsure and awkward hello before slogging off into the depths of the forest like some hopeless broken mountain hermit.


It almost seems superfluous to tell you how the rest of my race went.


The climb up power line (a 2 mile - 2,000ft ascent) felt like I was going backwards. The final climb up Mt. Constitution brought on hamstring cramps that I had never felt before that knocked me on my ass. And the final descent brought a pain in my right leg radiating from my iliotibial band that I hadn't felt since my first half marathon.

The majority of my problems were due to being under trained which was caused by an unfortunate string of events involving a two week flu and a shin/calf injury. I only ran an average of five and half hours per week for two months leading up to the race and most of those runs were not quality work outs. Was it enough to finish the race in a decent time? Yes. Was it enough to meet my own expectations? No.
After reading Edward Lychik's ridiculously inspiring race report  I almost felt silly about the way I reacted, but it's how I felt at the time. I've always been hard on myself which sometimes takes the joy out of simple things. I just have to remember to be grateful for the body I have and to learn from my mistakes. Move forward. No one really cares what you did yesterday.

There were so many great runners out there that had amazing times and finished the race so strong! It was such a hard course (30+ miles with 8,400ft of elevation gain). To even start with the intention of finishing is brave. One of my favorite things to do is to watch people come through the finish line full of joy and pride after their journey. It's an amazing accomplishment.
I feel blessed to be part of such an amazing community of runners and friends. Congratulations to all of you who started and to all who finished! 
Thank you to Rainshadow Running and James Varner who put on beautiful and challenging races throughout the PNW. If you get a chance, I highly recommend running a Rainshadow Running event. They even had live music, beverages and hot food after the race.
Thank you to my beautiful and supportive wife who comes to each and every race and deals with my vast array of ever changing emotions. And thank you to my sponsors Pearl Izumi and ClifBar for the support! I am so grateful to be part of such a great team. 

Needless to say, I am NOT done racing.

See ya out there!


On the ferry with my lady

Team Pearl Izumi Ultra at the start

Heading up powerline with the sound below

Top of Mt. Constitution 

James, the RD, waits for every runner to come through

Finished



Thursday, January 2, 2014

Mike's stADISTIC New Years Day Run

When I got the e-mail from my friend Joe about Mike and Heather Stadnisky's new years day run, I was stoked! Being in the hospitality industry it's often hard to get the same days and times off as everyone else, but this time I got some lovely co workers to cover both of my shifts and I was set!
Two days prior, according to Murphy's Law, I came down with a sore throat, a cough and chills. The morning of the run I started writing a text out to Joe about how I wasn't going to make it because I was too sick, but then I deleted it. I talked myself into feeling better, held my cough, and headed out the front door. In the future if I have a chest cold or a fever I will save myself the trouble and stay home.  I had a blast, but I'm paying the price now.
Mike described this course as "around 26 miles with about a million feet of elevation gain."  I'm not going to go over the specific route we took, but we did take some of the steepest climbs in Ashland including White Rabbit, Rob's and Pete's Punisher. It ended up being around 23 miles with just over 6,000ft of vertical.
The aid station (a car) was awesome. Mike, Heather and Joe had everything under the sun in there. All sorts of gels and fuels, chips, 21 gallons of water. You get the picture.
I had a really amazing time despite being sick. I got to see some new trails I hadn't been on and I got to spend some quality miles with lots of friends, new and old,  including my new Pearl Izumi Ultra teammate Becka Kem. Thanks for an awesome new years day everyone!




Becka and Justin climbing Rob's

Top of Rob's

Top of Rob's

Joe stoked about the climb

Joe on a connector 

N2's everywhere!
Mike cresting the Pete's
Becka and Justin at the top of Pete's