Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Hoka Huaka Review


I always secretly made fun of people wearing Hokas, but in the back of my mind I wanted to see what they were all about and since Phil over at Seven Hills Running Shop in Seattle had been raving about the Huaka I decided to give them a shot.
With weight of 9.3 oz for a men's size 9,  a 2mm drop and an MSRP of $150 we have the HOKA ONE ONE Huaka.


UPPER

I don't mean to start this review on the wrong foot, but to me the upper is a mess. It is too constricting around the widest part of my foot (the 5th met head) yet somehow feels sloppy throughout the rest. The tongue is long and made of sharp material which jabs into the top of my foot/ankle when wearing low cut socks and only gets remedied when it slides down the side of my foot during a run, which isn't really comfortable either. There is also a plastic eyelet above my first metatarsal head that protrudes on the inside of the shoe causing irritation which left me with a blister on a few runs. And they have speed laces, which I hate; they are uncomfortable and I trust them about as much as I trust cats.
When I put this shoe on for my first run I almost turned around immediately to take them off. Everyone raved about the wide upper, but I have an average foot (D Width) and felt a very tight and almost painful feeling on both feet. The Huaka comes with 2 insoles, one is very thin and the other is slightly thicker and a little more supportive. So when I got home I tried switching to the thinner insole to alleviate the the pressure, but that caused my foot to sink too low causing pressure and irritation around my ankle bone (don't know the medical term for that bone). So I removed the speed laces and put in the regular laces with the thicker insoles, which was the best out of all of the options/combinations. After about 40 miles, the shoes broke in and felt a bit more comfortable and the constricting feeling went away, but I almost gave up on them before that.
My biggest problem with the upper is that I don't think you should have to choose combinations of insoles and laces to get a decent fit; a good shoe should fit well right out of the box.  I really wish I had better things to say about the upper, but keep reading because this shoe does shine in certain areas.



MIDSOLE 

Ah the midsole!!! The ride is phenomenal! They have a stack height of 27mm/25mm for a 2mm offset with Hoka's "Meta Rocker Design". The slight curvature of the midsole, paired with the cushy ride, feels like nothing else I've ever ran in. They make the road feel like trails and the trails feel like pillows. And because of the Meta Rocker design, the transition from foot strike to toe off is flawless.
I was pleasantly surprised with how they performed on technical trails as well. Hoka designs their shoes to let your foot sit low in the platform giving you a stable ride. That, coupled with a wide contact area on the outsole, provides a truly secure feeling on mixed terrain. They also feel like they have tremendous energy return, especially on ascents, which is something I really enjoyed.



OUTSOLE

The outsole has high abrasion rubber contact points on the heel and forefoot where most runners would get the most wear. As mentioned above, it also has a very wide contact area which provides a stable ride. For the trails they feature super shallow multi directional lugs, but I wouldn't really consider them trail worthy. They're useless in the mud and felt no different than any other road shoe I would trail run in. However, the outsole seems durable and is holding up really well after roughly 100 miles.


CONCLUSION

The best aspect of the Huaka is the ride. It is the perfect mix of cush and springiness which feels great on easy days and recovery runs when my legs are feeling a bit tired and beat up. The midsole itself has me really excited to try other Hoka models, like the Clifton. However, the upper on this model didn't mesh well with my foot. There are plenty of rave reviews online and almost all of Team 7 Hills seem to love them, so it's probably just a personal thing, but they just didn't feel right. The other qualm I have is the price. I think $150 for an average shoe is ridiculous, but you're probably rich, so go buy a pair and tell me what you think!


Feel free to follow me on Twitter & Instagram @koreykonga




Sunday, February 22, 2015

Week ending 02/22/15

Monday - 01:00 - 8 miles - Easy/medium Chehalis western trail. Legs felt a bit heavy.

Tuesday - AM - 00:58 - 7.75 miles - Warm. Then 12 X 1/4 Mile in 01:17 each with equal recovery jogs.

               PM - 01:20 - 9.25 miles - 1,800ft EG - North Rim/ Rock Candy Loop.

Wednesday - 01:10 - 9 miles easy.

Thursday - 02:55 - 20 miles - 4,000ft + EG - Long and steady. 11 miles out and back on the Mountain Marathon course and then Rock Candy summit from the TH via North Rim/Rock Candy return. Wet, cold and muddy, but had a solid run with a fast finish.

Friday - AM - 00:30 - 4 miles -  with "pickups".

             PM - 01:01 - 8.5 miles "easy" ran recovery pace too fast.

Saturday - 01:08 - 9 miles easy.

Sunday - 00:40 - 5 miles easy.


Total: 80.5 Miles - 10 hours 39 minutes

I'm feeling pretty fit even though I'm getting a lot less vertical than last year. My turn over feels like it's getting quicker and I feel healthy. One thing I really need to work on is my easy mileage. I always start out with the intention of running 8:30 - 9:00 pace on my easy days, but I end up running faster. I'm hoping to get that in check.


North Rim Trail

Heading up Rock Candy Mtn

Rock Candy Mountain Summit

On the Mountain Marathon course

North Divide Trail

Ellis Cove

The important stuff :)


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Orcas Island 50K Race Report - 2015

This year I figured I'd spare you the "blah blah blah" of the usual race reports I write that almost no one reads and instead make a short seven question Q & A with some of the Team 7 Hills members who ran the Orcas Island 50K.  Enjoy!




1. Name, where you live, when you joined Team 7 Hills.

Phil Kochik, Seattle, day 1 (founder).

2. Have you ran Orcas Island 50K before? How many times?

Once before in 2013.

3. What was the hardest part about the race?

The few miles leading up to power line climb---dreading it.

4. What shoes did you wear and how did they work out?

Merrell All-Out Peak...soon to be released. awesome grip on the mud, wooden bridges, wet rocks, roots, logs. feels great on pavement too.

5. What did you do for nutrition?

Cafe mocha Huma gel, caramel macchiato gu.  Before the race, Pocket Fuel Vanilla Cold Brew Coffee shot and Trail Butter Expedition Espresso.  Yeah, I over did the coffee themed sports nutrition a bit this time...

6.  If you could hot tub time machine back to Saturday morning, would you change your race strategy in anyway? (Gear, pace, nutrition?)

I would have just ran with Adam Hewey the whole time.

7. Will you run Orcas Island 50K next year?

I hope so!



1. Name, where you live, when you joined Team 7 Hills.

Masazumi Fujioka, living in Kirkland WA. I joined the team in 2015.

2. Have you ran Orcas Island 50K before? How many times?

This was my first Orcas.

3. What was the hardest part about the race?

Technical say, Powerline Trail was definitely the hardest part. I was simply slow there, got passed by Nate, but I could do nothing there even though I wanted to follow him. I have learned from my past experience that, at that sort of real steep uphill, a long-leg guy who is just walking is faster than I who is running hard with short legs.
Apart from that, I was having some difficulty in finding my rhythm at the beginning of the race. Virtually I hadn't done any speed training since the last race in December, so it took a while to pick up my pace.

4. What shoes did you wear and how did they work out?

Scott Kinabalu. The first time I used them are at muddy Bellingham Trail Marathon in November 2014, and eventually I won that race. I really like their responsiveness. They work great up to 50k in any trail condition, and I believe they should do the job up to 50 miles.

5. What did you do for nutrition?

My general rule is to take first gel 1h30 after start, then eat a gel each 45min, and there wasn't any big difference this time.
I had two 12 ounces bottles, one was water and another was electrolyte. But consumed less than usual, as I was soaked by rain.
I stopped only once at North Arch aid station (Mile 20.6), there I took some banana and refilled one bottle.

6. If you could hot tub time machine back to Saturday morning, would you change your race strategy in anyway? (Gear, pace, nutrition?)

Actually I needed hot tub! I mean, I was wearing tanktop and arm warmers during the race, but it wasn't enough for me to keep me warm while descending from Mt Constitution, and I had less mobility in my legs for a while. So if hot tub is too big to bring, I would bring light jacket with me.

7. Will you run Orcas Island 50K next year?

Definitely! The mossy trails are really beautiful, and running there is real fun. Above all, I'm able to see a lot of faces there again!
Follow Masazumi on Twitter and Instagram!

Twitter: @masaz71
Instagram: @marseille



 1. Name, where you live, when you joined Team 7 Hills.

Jon Robinson, Seattle, WA. I Joined Team 7 Hills in 2013

 2. Have you ran Orcas Island 50K before? How many times?

This was my 7th consecutive finish.

 3. What was the hardest part about the race?

Waking up at 2:30am to catch the morning ferry.

 4. What shoes did you wear and how did they work out?

La Sportive Wildcat. Did they work out?  I have been running in the Wildcats on and off for about 8 years now and for the first time ever they did not work too well.  It was too muddy/wet.  Once they become submerged in water, pretty much at the start of the race, they became waterlogged and stayed that way for the duration of the race. I felt like I was running with bricks on my feet! I am sure all the mud caked on the shoes made a substantial contribution to that feeling as well.  Though I was likely one of the only folks out there running in the Wildcats, I suspect I was not the only one with this problem.  Perhaps I should consult Phil more often on appropriate shoe attire to match race conditions.

 5. What did you do for nutrition?

Gels.

 6. If you could hot tub time machine back to Saturday morning, would you change your race strategy in anyway? (Gear, pace, nutrition?)

Other than shoe choice?  Show up to the start line fully rested.

 7. Will you run Orcas Island 50K next year?

Yup.



1. Name, where you live, when you joined Team 7 Hills.

Kevin Douglas, Alger, WA. Joined Team 7 Hills in January 2015.

2. Have you ran Orcas Island 50K before? How many times?

Yes, ran it in 2011 and swept the course in 2012. Ran the 25k this year, 2015.

3. What was the hardest part about the race?

Wearing too many clothes at the start.

4. What shoes did you wear and how did they work out for you?

I wore the Pearl Izumi N2. I pulled them brand new right out of the box morning of the race. They worked really well on the dry trail conditions.

5. What did you do for nutrition?

I carried one hand held with 3 gu's. I believe I had 2 gu's and half a bottle of water. At the top of Constitution I had a small cup of coke.

6.  If you could hot tub time machine back to Saturday morning, would you change your race strategy in anyway? (Gear, pace, nutrition?)

The only thing I think I would have changed would be to have worn less clothes at the start. A jacket and gloves were too much.

7. Will you run Orcas Island 50K next year?

I am not sure if I will run the 25k or 50k next year. Have not planned that far in advance yet. You never know.



1. Name, where you live, when you joined Team 7 Hills.

Seth Wolpin, Seattle, WA. I joined TEam 7 Hills in 2015

2. Have you ran Orcas Island 50K before? How many times?

This was my 6th.

3. What was the hardest part about the race?

The large amount of elevation gain and potential for wipe-outs on the muddy downhills

4. What shoes did you wear and how did they work out?

I wore Cascadias. They worked pretty well, but I have never really run trails in anything else (except road shoes sometimes). I need to change that and am looking forward to learning about new shoes from Seven Hills Running Shop.

5. What did you do for nutrition?

I ate some oreos at the aid stations and M&M's.

6. If you could hot tub time machine back to Saturday morning, would you change your race strategy in anyway? (Gear, pace, nutrition?)

I would have stashed that hot tub somewhere along the circuit for a quick refresher. (Or course I would have destroyed it with all of the mud on me). Seriously, I would have hydrated and fueled better. My music was stuck on the setting where it plays the same song over and over and that got pretty annoying fast. And I think I would have carried my trekking poles for the really steep slippery sections. Last, I would have taken more pictures!

7. Will you run Orcas Island 50K next year?

Hopefully. Lucky 7!



1. Name, where you live, when you joined Team 7 Hills.

John Wros, Seattle, WA, new to the team as of the 2014/15 season. 

2. Have you ran Orcas Island 50K before? How many times?

Nope, first time. Would gladly run again.

3. What was the hardest part about the race?

Ha, Adam Hewey appearing out of the woods with 1.5 k to go, so much for an easy finish.

4. What shoes did you wear and how did they work out?

Pearl Izumi Trail M2, has been my go to shoe for 50 k - 100 miles. In this deep mud I could have used a Trail M2 Soft Ground, very slippery.

5. What did you do for nutrition?

Gel every 20 minutes and plain water.

6. If you could hot tub time machine back to Saturday morning, would you change your race strategy in anyway? (Gear, pace, nutrition?)

I would have slept in the bunkhouse the night before, woke up in the back of my car feeling pretty stiff and tired. Next year.

7. Will you run Orcas Island 50K next year?

Would love to.



1. Name, where you live, when you joined Team 7 Hills.

 Adam Hewey, from Seattle, first member of Team 7 Hills (besides Phil).

2. Have you ran Orcas Island 50K before? How many times?

My 7th running of Orcas and as always...

3. What was the hardest part about the race?

...the hardest part is getting out of my sleeping bag and getting to the start line.

4. What shoes did you wear and how did they work out?

I chose Scott Kinabalus as they are a great 50k shoe. Light, grippy and they have lace locks. Nothing was grippy in the mud we saw on Saturday. Paired with Drymax socks, my feet were happy all day.

5. What did you do for nutrition?

My nutrition was exactly thus: two squares of PBJ at first aid station and water, exactly same thing at aid 2, One PBJ square and water at aid 3 only I also added a dixie cup of Coke to my water. Final aid station was...PBJ! With water and two cups of Coke thrown in. I also had 4 GU Electrolyte Replacement caps spread throughout the day. No bonks, no cramps, no blisters.

 6. If you could hot tub time machine back to Saturday morning, would you change your race strategy in anyway? (Gear, pace, nutrition?)

I came in 45 seconds over my goal of 5 hours, if I had it all to do over again I'd not change a thing. Happy with my race.

7. Will you run Orcas Island 50K next year?

(Adam didn't say, but I'm guessing, DUH)


Adam post race



1.Name, where you live, when you joined team 7 hills.

Korey Konga, Lacey, Washington. I've been a member of Team 7 HIlls since 2014, but became one of their sponsored runners in 2015.

2. Have you ran Orcas Island 50K before? How many times?

I ran it in 2011 and 2014.

3. What was the hardest part about the race?

For me the hardest part is the final climb up Mt. Consitution after Power line climb. It's a long sustained climb that should be runnable, but my legs are usually shelled and my hamstrings start cramping without fail.

4. What shoes did you wear and how did they work out?

I wore the New Balance MT101 with my Feetures! Compression socks! I loved that combo! I wore the MT101's in 2011 when I first ran this race. I had a few problems slipping in the thick mud this year, especially up powerline climb, but all in all I was happy with my choice.

5. What did you do for nutrition?

Nine Clifshots, a few swigs of coke and water.

6. If you could hot tub time machine back to Saturday morning, would you change your race strategy in anyway? (Gear, pace, nutrition?)

I might dial the pace back a bit in the beginning to save some energy for that last climb, but overall I was happy with my gear, nutrition and pacing.

7. Will you run Orcas Island 50K next year?

As long as I'm healthy and running I will run this race!





Thanks for reading!
Follow me on Twitter & Instagram @koreykonga


Monday, February 9, 2015

New Balance MT101 Review (2015 re-issue)

The New Balance MT101 was my first legit trail running shoe and I loved it! I ran my first two ultra's in them before they were discontinued. When I caught wind that New Balance had planned on re-issuing the shoe because of it's huge following and numerous requests to put the shoe back in production I was stoked! So I got my hands on a pair and have been racing in them for the last couple of months. Here are my thoughts:
With a weight of 7.5 oz,  a 10mm offset (18mm/8mm)  and a very attractive MSRP of $90, we have the re-issue of the New Balance MT101:




UPPER

The upper on the MT101 is combination of mesh, polyurethane mold and stitched overlays. Nothing super fancy here, but the design really locks your foot down to the platform while still being flexible enough for the natural motion of your foot.  Your toes have room to splay, but the overlays keep your foot from sliding around inside of the shoe too much. It's a great balance. And while the upper isn't "seamless" I've never experienced a hot spot in them.
The laces that come with the shoe are NB's "sausage" type laces which I really like because they don't loosen and don't come untied. It's really frustrating when you're racing and have to stop in the pouring rain with frozen fingers, fumbling to try and tie your laces for 5 minutes after they come untied for no apparent reason. I'm a big fan of sausage laces and I wish all shoes had them.
The shoe also has an EVA collar. NB worked to simplify the collar construction to help reduce moisture absorption and to reduce overall weight. No doubt these shoes are light and while there's nothing you can really do to keep your shoes from being soaked when you're running through puddles and streams and fully submerging your feet for 4+ hours, fortunately these bad boys drain well. 





 MIDSOLE 

No frills or fancy name for the midsole, just soft EVA with a 10mm offset and a TPU rock plate in the forefoot for added protection. The MT101 has great ground feel and responsiveness for bounding up hill and just enough cushion in the heel for pounding long descents without your feet getting bruised. Again, a simple and balanced characteristic of a well designed, no-frills shoe.





 OUTSOLE

The MT101 has a rubber outsole with multi directional lugs for traction and circular cut outs to reduce weight. I think the MT101 performs great on a ton of varied terrain. The two places where I've had trouble in this shoe were Tucson's rock strewn technical trails (too many sharp rocks) and the muddied powerline climb at Orcas Island 50K (lugs weren't deep enough). Other than that, they have been great for me.





 CONCLUSION

I've worn the re-issue of the New Balance MT101 at my last three races: Oregon Coast 50K, Capitol Peak MFA 34 Miler and Orcas Island 50K. In my eyes, the MT101 is one of the best trail shoes ever made. It has the perfect blend of light weight responsiveness and grip without sacrificing cushion and protection. It locks my heel and midfoot down while opening up in the toebox and remaining flexible throughout. With all the "advancements" in the footwear industry, you'd think I would have tried a shoe I like more by now, but I haven't. This shoe is simplisitc, effective and comfortable. When New Balance discontinues this model again, I will be pissed, again.


The Original NB MT101 at Orcas Island 50K 2011

The re-issue of the NB MT101 at Orcas Island 50K 2015


If you want to give the New Balance MT101 a try head over to Seven Hills Running Shop

Feel free to follow me on Twitter: @koreykonga & Instagram: @koreykonga

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Week ending 02/01/2015

Monday - 21mi - 02:32 - Long and fairly fast. Kept an even effort but pace came out to 7:15 average after a warm up and hitting every hill downtown Olympia + Ellis Cove.

Tuesday - 14mi - 01:55 - Easy on the Chehalis Western Trail.

Wednesday - AM - 5mi - 00:43 - Easy on the treadmill.

                     PM - 10mi - 01:22 - Warm. Then 12 X 1/4 Mile hill repeats and 5K effort with 2:00 jogs Cool.

Thursday -    AM - 4mi - 00:35 - Easy on the treadmill.

                     PM - 13+mi & 2Kft EG - 02:05 - Easy/med effort on the Guerilla Running Hillbilly 1/2 course.

Friday - 4mi - 00:35 - Easy on the tradmill. ITB flared up, so I decided to back off and take an easy day.

Saturday - 9mi - 01:08 - Intervals at 6:00/mi pace. Fast enough to get the legs moving, but not fast enough to risk any set backs. Warm. Then .25mi - .50mi - .75mi - 1.0mi - .75mi - .50mi - .25mi at 10MPH with jogs in between. Cool

Sunday - Rest and probably crepes.

Total: 80 miles - 10:05

Thoughts:

I've been incorporating a lot more road mileage into my routine and I've really been enjoying it. I spent the last 3+ years living in mountain towns (Tucson, AZ and Ashland, OR) and didn't get any faster chasing vert. Everyone's body is different and tons of vertical gain definitely works for some people, especially if you're running mountainous races, but for me it didn't seem to work out so well. I don't really mind that I didn't get fast in those mountains because I saw some of the most beautiful views and sunsets you can imagine, but this year I'm ready to kick my training up a notch or at least try something different.
I figure that I will try my hand at increasing my training volume by adding more easy miles on easy terrain and also increase my speed by doing key speed and hill work outs on the roads. I really enjoy the repetitive nature of intervals and measured hill repeats anyways, so I think this is going to work out well for me.
Another reason I want to work on speed and turn over is that 90 to 100% of the races I run are in fact runnable. I mean look at Orcas Island 50K -  8,500 feet of vertical gain!!! But, besides one big climb, it's all runnable. I mean the guys winning this race are dropping a low 04:20 finishing times. They're running.

So that's that. I hope the miles are treating you well!



Chehalis-Western Trail


Waterfront - Downtown Olympia

Rock Candy Mountain Trail - Capitol Forest

Trees on North Rim Trail - Capitol Forest

Don't forget to save time for the people you care about the most


Friday, December 19, 2014

I am not just a runner

If you're reading this then you know that I am a runner. I focus a ton of time, energy and effort into training to compete. But we all know that competing isn't important at all. Trail running is more about the peace and strength we find in the wilderness and the connections we make on the trails. I have such a huge "family" in the trail running community that I am so thankful for. A lot of people aren't that lucky and I really do feel fortunate.
If you know me, even as an acquaintance, then you probably know some of the things I struggle with. If you know me personally then you might even know my demons and you probably know that running saved my life. It changed me. It picked me up from rock bottom and continues to keep me balanced. I am so grateful for that. I am grateful for my legs. I am grateful for the mountains and the forest. I'm grateful for the dark places we sometimes have to push through in order to see the beauty in the world, because without the darkness the sunrise would not be breathtaking. That's why I run.
But it seems like runners self identify with uncomparable passion. I completely understand that, because after all, I am runner. But over the last year I started to realize that running isn't all encompassing. I used to introduce myself as if it were: when people would ask what I do or who I am,  I would say "I'm a runner."  Like "Duh! That's it! That's all that matters!" But I don't feel that way anymore. Not because I don't love running, but because life is full of so many brilliant and beautiful moments. So many little things mean so much to me now.
I love music. All kinds. I love to play guitar. I love to write songs. I love bad poems. I love cookies and the way they smell when they come out of the oven. I love coffee and tea. I love movies. I love pizza! I love to cook. I love to drive with nowhere to go. I love to watch the sunset. I love the way my woman's lips feel against mine and the way she looks at me. I love love and love that my old friends hate that I'm that way.
This list could go on for days. Pages and pages of things you might not care about. And as I get older it just gets bigger. I'm not writing this to down play the importance of anyone's identity, I know how important it is to have an identity that you're proud of, but lets not forget what the world is made of and how beautiful it can be with or without your running shoes.




Friday, October 24, 2014

Running Mount Wrightson

Here is a cool little video my friend Jamil of Aravaipa Running and Run Steep Get High threw together of Catlow, Sion, Jamil, and Myself Ascending Mount Wrightson via Old Baldy Trail and descending via Super Trail. Enjoy!