Sunday, February 13, 2011


People who know me know that as far as running is concerned, I would rather spend all day gouging my way along the AT, than spend one hour beating the pavement or the running track. This would be clearly evident also if one were to look in my closet at my running shoe collection. Two pairs of racing flats, two pairs of trainers, and up until Friday seven pairs of trail shoes.

Friday afternoon that number increased to eight pairs of trail shoes as my much anticipated Avi-Stoltz finally arrived. Time to put the shoes to the test. So Saturday morning I decided I would scratch my scheduled ride and instead, take them out for a test run.
Once I opened the box a couple of things were plainly obvious, setting these shoes apart from any other trail shoes I have ever owned. First was the color. The bright orange and shiny blue accents are going to be visible for miles and will ensure that, at least my feet will be visible to even the blindest hunter in Notheast Gergia.

Second was the weight. At only 10 ounces they are almost as light as my racing flats. This is pleasant change from my other trail shoes as most of them are are heavy and have more of a hiking shoe feel to them rather than a running shoe. I also liked the fact that the heel bed although padded and protected, it isn't so high off of the ground that the shoe feels unstable.
Third was the extended heel tab in the back. At first I was worried that it would rub the back of my heel or achilles. This actually ended up being a bonus for a couple of reasons. First it helps when pulling the show over the the heel, secondly I was to find out later that it seemed to grip my heel and eliminate slippage that is common with all shoes when climbing steep ascents.

I did have some trouble initially getting the shoe to open up to get my foot inside. Once I got the laces loosened up and adjusted them to my feet the the fit was perfect! The quick release laces are a nice touch.

Another problem I have with trail shoes is the toe box area. They are usually too narrow for my small, but Barney Rubble shaped feet, which presents a major problem on steep descents as my toes tend to get wedged uncomfortably in the front of the shoe, or they are too wide which causes excess movemet inside the shoe. Avia has seemed to have worked this out perfectly (for my feet at least). They griped my entire foot comfortably and without any excess movement.
As far as performance is concerned the tread seemed to grip well in the hard frozen red Georgia clay. They were a little slippery over rocks however no more than any other running shoe. I accidently ended up in a creek in an unsucessful leap attempt. As I climbed out of the creek the shoe didn't seem to drain exceptionally fast, but it didn't seem to soak up excess water as many shoes do. A great bonus.
In my opinion, one sign of a great shoe is one that you forget you are wearing. This happened after about two miles as my thoughts went away from my feet and to my run. Gone was the usual arch pain, as well as the usual throbbing I get in my toes. All great signs.
All in all I think this is a great shoe. Its even light enough to use as a road shoe. I'm pretty sure that this will become my primary training shoe as most of my runs take place on hard pack fire roads and trails. I think the only improvement that can be made would be the addition of Yankz laces. Next month I'll be spending a week in Yosemite and weather permiting, I'll run the Half Dome Trail in my Avi-Stoltz!
It's also good to mention that the Avia skull logo is probably the coolest logo out there!

Friday, February 4, 2011

January ramblings.....

January is in the books and despite a minor setback (old man back injuries suck) training is progressing well so far. I have gotten back to the pool full force and although I still only move slightly faster than pond water, my swim fitness is returning quickly. Hopefully, with some concentrated effort this year, I can progress from pond water speed to trickling water hose speed. I’m also hoping this year I can make it to one of Carole’s swim clinics in Atlanta and she can turn me into one of those speedy torpedoes in the water. I am still hesitant to throw down a split goal for Knoxville as it appears that although I have swam countless miles over the years, completed many 70.3’s and even a 140.6, I still find surviving a 400m open water swim a major accomplishment. Damn those sea monsters and large man eating fish.

This week I conducted an LT Field test to wire down my training zones. Over the course of that test I came to realize several things:
1. LT Tests suck.
2. Despite how much an LT Test sucks I’m not as out of shape as I thought.
3. The tri shorts I was wearing on the treadmill were so threadbare (apparently from swimming), that my…… man parts were visible …. (Luckily for me, and the rest of the world, it was early, and I was alone in the gym).
4. I need new shorts.

This Sunday is The Red Top Rumble 11.5 Trail Race, which is the first event of 2011 for me. This is a small trail race sponsored by the Georgia Ultra Running and Trail running Society (GUTS). This one is an Atlanta favorite and is limited to only 300 runners and usually sells out within 3 hours. Not an overly technical course however there is several sections with long steep leg blistering climbs and descents. Last year I finished in 1:36. Would like a 1:30 or better this year. I had hoped my new Avi-Stoltz would have arrived in the mail for the race, but alas, no……..

Things I am really excited about this year: 2011 Trakkers Team and sponsors! Especially Avi-stoltz shoes (Avia Shoes in general), Recovery Pump (I need this bad), and the Rev3 Half in Knoxville!

Finally, I’m still looking for a Trakkers Teamate for the Rev3 Adventure Race in April……..Male or Female……. Or both…… registration is free for us……………… any takers out there?.........Hello?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

At the southern terminus of the Appalachian Mountains lies one of the most spectacular parks in the southeast. I am fortunate enough to live only a few miles away from Amicalola Falls State Park, and can usually be found there on most Sunday mornings running one of several of my favorite running routes.
As a matter of fact, the nickname that many of my friends refer to me by, was given to me by one of the park rangers who worked there. One early Sunday morning, several years ago, a friend and I were at the visitors center signing in for a early morning morning trail run when the elderly lady working there as a volunteer asked me if I was that "Falls Runner" guy that the Ranger mentioned, who was always running up and down the stairs like a crazy man. We laughed and said I guess that would be me. The name kinda stuck.

The aptly named Amicalola Falls State Park , is home to a 729 ft cascading waterfall, the tallest east of the Mississippi River. Aptly named as Amicalola is Cherokee for tumbling water. The falls are always incredible but I think they are most beautiful in the winter as the falls can be seen for miles around. The park offers weekly wilderness activities and workshops, has a small visitor with store and small historical and wildlife exhibit, and can support anything from small picnics to corporate conventions. There also is a kick ass restaurant at the top of the falls with breathtaking year round views.

In the North Georgia, Brasstown, and the six fabled Gaps get the majority of the attention of the cycling community. Now I will agree that if you are planning only one trip to ride in North Ga then you shouldn't pass up the opportunity to mash up Brasstown and/or Hogpen. I will say however that although not near as long those, Neels, or Wolfpen Gaps, the climb up the Top of the Falls Road at Amicalola although just slightly over a mile long, gets my legs and lungs burning more than most of the longer famed North Georgia gaps.

Walking or running up the falls is a different type of pain. After a steep approach trail about 1/4 mile long leads to the what some consider the base, the falls are flanked by a staircase of 471 stairs that lead to the top. Running these stairs is another staple training session that I enjoy even though I usually draw strange stares (no pun intended) from others as I huff my way up and down them. These are usually best run early in the morning so crowds can be avoided.
Once at the top you have multiple options as the park has numerous loop trails of various difficulty. My favorite trail within the park is the Len Foote Hike Inn trail. This is a 5 mile trail that leads from the top of the falls to the famed Len Foote Hike Inn. Its a great running trail as it's not too rocky, and the climbs and descents are not steep nor as technical as the surrounding trails. The trail is also well marked and has mileage markers along the way for those without GPS watches. Runners or hikers that make the 5 mile one way trip have the option of continuing on the AT approach trail, or even stopping for a visit to the inn, or perhaps a side trip on one of the loop trails before beginning their return trip back to the falls.

The Inn is a remote and beautifully rustic lodge 5 miles deep within the Chattahoochee National Forest. It's very unique as it allows one to take a hike deep into the Appalachian Mountains, which is the only way to get there, yet stay in a comfortable rustic lodge, complete with heated showers, hot meals, and comfortable warm beds. Its the perfect getaway for those wanting to experience the southern wilderness without actually roughing it. It’s also favorite starting point for AT through hikers making the annual March pilgrimage to Springer Mountain for the 2000 plus mile journey.
If you're like most athletes you spend your training sessions just like me, totally absorbed in the training paying no attention to anything else but your body and the plan. I have also learned that a diversion is healthy and keeps training interesting. My excursions to Amicalola Falls helps me through those long early morning base runs, and I actually embrace the remoteness and solitude of the mountains much more than beating the pavement alone . If you're ever in North Georgia you owe it to yourself to stop by.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Snow Day (s)

Back to work finally! Which for me isn't really that bad anytime of year. Despite the fact that I just basically love my job, I also have the most incredible view within footsteps of my office door (see pic on the left). A picture is worth a thousand words!

It does appear that we're finally thawing out down here in the south! For the last week we've been in the grip of the most severe winter storm in over ten years. Almost the entire northern half of the state has been trapped inside for several days waiting for the deep freeze to thaw. As much as 6" to 8" inches of snow fell in less than 10 hours, only to be topped with sleet and freezing rain. Here at home (in the North Georgia mountains) I measured 10 inches of snow on the top of my car. This is the most snow I have ever seen in Georgia! I realize our brothers from the north are laughing at us and they deal with this on a daily basis in the winter. But for a region that rarely sees 2 inches of snow all winter, Atlanta's 10:2,000,000 ratio of snow removal trucks to residents always seemed to do the job just fine. No so this year. It was however , and nice getting outside for a few runs in the snow. Reminded me of my days living in Alaska.....without the -50 degree temps of course! I also got back on the tri bike for the first time since B2B in November for a few quality trainer rides!

Today I officially registered for Rev 3 Knoxville and South Carolina. Trying to swing Rev 3 Cedar Point as well but not sure work is going to cooperate! Can't wait!!!!!!!

Training (and recovery from the holidays) is progressing nicely and I'm looking forward to the Red Top Rumble 11.5 mile trail race in early Feb. Hopefully the Avi-Stoltz will arrive as I am growing tired of my "Other Shoes"

Below are a couple of winter scenes from one of my runs. I love where I live!