Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Cascadia 3s Trail Tested

As the year winds down I don't have much to report on other than a new pair of trail running shoes. I've had a love/hate relationship with the Asics shoes that I used for most of the time spent on the trails during 2008. They're sturdy and proved to be successful as I avoided typical ankle injuries all year. The stiffness that helps protect can also be uncomfortable over longer runs, which I was reminded of about half way through the VT50. Was it the shoes or the miles of the ultra race that caused the discomfort? I'm sure both contributed.

A few weeks back I signed up for the StoneCat 50, a 50 mile trail race in Ipswich, MA and decided the Asics would not be joining me on the journey. After much research and probing others who run trails, I decided on Brooks 3s which received glowing independent reviews and was eager to put them to the test. Due to the unfortunate but expected passing of Amie's grandmother, my day would be spent at a memorial service, etc.. instead of beating myself up at the Stone Cat 50.
PS …Keith, Mark, and Scott all ran the race and set PRs. Great work guys!!!

I headed out this morning for an hour of running on the Nipmuck trail in Ashford wearing my new Brooks. The dirt road where I enter the trail is usually without sign of human life, so I was surprised to see someone gearing up for a trip into the woods, camouflaged from head to toe. Is this a hunting zone? I hope I'm not mistaken for deer. With my pace, no chance in that.

This run would be the perfect test for my new Cascadias. I started in the dark, my headlamp lighting the trail in front of me. Consistently directing my light up to search for the next trail blazer to keep on course left dark minefields of rocks, hidden under the recently fallen leaves, to be an unavoidable hurdle and challenge. Time and time again an unexpected foot placement on the side of a hidden rock caused many twists, turns, and close falls. The Brooks were up to the challenge as they provided just enough support to prevent the ankles from rolling and gave incredible comfort at the same time. At one point my toe caught a rock head on and I started to spread my wings getting ready to take flight. I was able to recover just in time and was grateful as the design of the shoe's toe area gave solid protection, cushioning the impact, showing that it was up to taking a solid hit. The soles gave good traction on the face of larger, smooth faced boulders. These were less than ideal conditions for a run, but perfect conditions to test the new shoes. They proved to be rigid enough to take a hit and keep ankles secure, yet flexible enough to be comfortable. I look forward to testing their comfort levels on a long run.