Thursday, May 28, 2015

First Run Impressions Pre Review: Hoka One One Clifton 2, With Some Comparisons to Clifton 1

Ran 7 miles in upcoming Clifton 2 today. The Lunar Tempo may have a big contender for my shoe of the year.  Outstanding update so far!
Clifton 2 Lime, Clifton 1 Lemon

Clifton 2 Lime, Clifton 1 Lemon

0.5 oz heavier than Clifton 1 buys a lot of improvement. A snugger upper due to more and better placed overlays especially in the mid foot around the arch and... a real  tongue of padded mesh behind fairly stiff leather. Clifton 2's  upper is almost trail worthy in its support all around particularly mid foot to heel where there is a tighter foot opening and achilles hold. Flat, wide laces with a touch of stretch replace thinner oval ones comfortably tying the upper sides and tongue together. A robust toe bumper and thicker overlays combined with better heel hold gives more tip of toe overhead space and less slip forward. Overall width of toe box feels the same and thicker overlays upfront may rub some the wrong way, but not me so far. Fit true to size. Same flimsy insole as before...and it seems always in Hokas.

Ride is slightly firmer with a touch more rebound, than even the black sole Clifton 1 whose outsole rubber was firmer than the original colored outsole.  All this is great as when combined with less upper slop the ride is now more directed, reminding me, almost,  of the ground feel of the... Huaka... and of the upper of the Adios Boost 1, my two top shoes of 2014.  Wearing one shoe of each version side by side for 2 miles I noticed the little aches around the ankle and shins in the Clifton 1 I always seem to get but feel no such aches in the Clifton 2, so clearly more stable at the rear of the shoe and I think also not as mushy soft.

There is something different in the rear rocker geometry that with the upper stabilizes and gets me off my heel a bit quicker and with more bounce. I think I know what but am "investigating" further.

Due to demand, availability moved from July 1st to June 1st. $130 MSRP.  As of June 28 showing as in stock and available for both men and women at US Hoka site. Running Warehouse has them available for pre-order men's here. women's here

Here is what Hoka says about the update:
-          Lightly padded tongue.  This has been updated to add a little protection across the top of the foot, and increase overall comfort.
-          Increased forefoot overlays: We have increased the thickness of the forefoot TPU overlays, and repositioned them to give better foothold in the forefoot.
-          Molded heel counter: We have updated the heel counter to give a more precise fit in the heel.
OFFSET: 5 mm
HEEL: 29 mm
WEIGHT (M): 8.3 oz. 
> The industry-leading ride remains unchanged, and the road-focused outsole includes slight updates to the rubber placement to improve durability. 

My 2014 comparison of the Hoka One One Huaka to Clifton 1 here
Full review soon. Patience please!

The Clifton 2 was provided to me at no charge. The opinions herein are entirely my own.

Due to demand, availability moved from July 1st to June 1st. $130 MSRP.  As of June 28 showing as in stock and available for both men and women at US Hoka site.
Running Warehouse has them available for pre-order men's here. women's here-with more colors than currently showing at Hoka One One.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

All Salomon Footwear, including S-Lab, 20% off at Running Warehouse

Salomon Footwear 20% off at Running Warehouse US: 
  Men's here
  Women's here
Sale ends 5/31/15

Running Warehouse has great customer service policies:
  • Free 2 Day Shipping and Return Shipping
  • 90 Days No Sweat Returns
  • $9.95 Overnight Shipping 1-4 Lbs
All your purchases at Running Warehouse via these links support my blog.

25K Trail Race Disaster: Effect of Seasonal Allergies on Running Performance

This Sunday I ran the Pineland Maine Trail Festival 25K on a beautiful course through woods and fields on wide smooth trails magnificently laid out for nordic ski racing, hilly ups and downs!
Last year I ran at a solid 8:46 pace on a damp and humid day after rain overnight. Last Sunday I ran 24 minutes slower on a hot, dry day. I started at the same pace as last year, had equivalent training but after a bit more than an hour started slowing down dramatically.
Still doing OK here...
While I had plenty of energy my legs just stopped wanting to move.
Miles of Freshly Cut Field...and Pollen

So I got to thinking about Boston 2014 ... the exact same weather conditions as this Sunday's race whereas 2015 was raining and cold. In 2014, I ran more than 30 minutes slower at Boston than 2015 with the exact same no legs feeling as at Pineland this year.

The couple of days before each of the disaster races I had congested nose, upper airway and ears. I slept poorly and I usually sleep very well even the night before races, so not race nerves. I have noticed the last few years I am getting more allergy symptoms.Was my performance due to age, or as has been predicted after the long harsh winter by increased pollen in spring, a phenomenon scientists are predicting will be on the rise with global warming?

I definitely conclude pollen or other seasonal allergies affected my race performances. The conditions, including weather and pollen count for both "successful" and disastrous races on the same course with similar training lead me to this conclusion. I took no medication before either race.

So I went to Google and found the following fascinating thread on Let's Run. Many of the posters are elite runners ( sub 29 minute 10K, sub 14 minute 5K) who have seasonal allergies and concluded that the only explanation for catastrophic performance in spring are allergies. Some of the stories are striking in their similarities to each other and to what I expereince. In fact Galen Rupp was just a week ago pulled from a major race as the pollen was high. Many solutions presented and everyone's allergy profile is different but basically for a month or so in spring, in areas where there is a lot of vegetation, many of us have to set reasonable race expectations if the forecast is for high pollen counts and low dew points.  Both of my disaster races were on very high pollen count warm dry days. Both of my decent races on damp, wet days.

What am I going to do? I am trying Flonase a steroid OTC nose spray that helps prevent release of inflammatory substances to the body as well as an OTC antihistamine Zyrtec. Others on the post suggest "pine bark extract. In addition to medications there are several things one can do to prevent pollen from being easily absorbed see this article: time of day for your run, cleaning and changing right away, wearing a hat, etc... I will try all of these but mainly I will re set expectations for performance when the pollen conditions are bad as it seems that while many of these remedies reduce symptoms they don't get at the root problems of the allergy that can cause a decrease in performance.

Have you noticed similar effects of seasonal allergies on your race and training performances? What has worked for you?

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Review: ASICS 33-FA Firmer, Durable, Lighter Weight Trainer

The ASICS 33-FA trainer is an 8.9oz (252gram)  25mm heel/21 mm forefoot lighter trainer in Asics 33- Fx line. $110 MSRP.  The 33-DFA is a lighter version and the 33-M a heavier version. I picked the middle child, the 33-FA, as it fits my preferences more closely for a decently cushioned yet sub 9 oz road trainer. 

Quite frankly it is about time Asics really joined the party of lighter, well cushioned, lower drop, more naturally lasted shoes with seamless uppers and simple mid and outsole construction.
Asics describes the 33-FA as follows:

"Seamless Construction and the oblique-shaped Natural33™ last create a truly  slipper-like fit and feel. New forefoot flex groove geometry and FluidAxis® complement the ultra soft AmpliFoam™ platform for smooth flexibility from heel to toe."

 Do they succeed in joining the party with the 33-FA?  I say, Yes.
  • not quite as light as some of the similar competition I have recently run and reviewed such as the NB Fresh Foam Zante(8.1oz), Saucony Zealot (8.3oz), Nike Lunar Tempo(6.8oz), adidas Boston Boost(8.5oz) and Skechers GoRun Ride 4(7.8oz).  This said the 33-FA has considerably more durable outsole coverage than most of these shoes and while outsole adds weight it can add more miles of use. Links to reviews of all of these can be found at my summary page here.
  • a ride on the firmer side similar to the New Balance Fresh Foam 980, ISO Zealot, Zante and Pearl Izumi N2 but not as overly jarring as I find the Zante and Zealot heels and the N2 and 980 overall as it appears to me that with the FA layers of foam go from softest under the foot to firmest at the outsole in a gradual progression without sharp differences in firmness.
  • a smooth striding road feel from a well cushioned, firm and stable heel with cuts/cavity through to the soft red foam allowing shock to dissipate, then to an easy transition to the mid foot, but unfortunately, due to all the thick outsole rubber at the toe without the deep grooves, a bit of an awkward stiff push off on uphills in particular. 
  • and caveat, as I have not run that many miles in them,  a firm, thick and full ASICS AHAR outsole coverage in 2 densities which should allow all foot strike types to get many miles out of a pair. I believe this kind of full dense rubber along with the firm mid sole is what adds weight. 
Who might like the 33-FA?
  • runners seeking a firm, relatively responsive shoe with a wider toe box
  • runners who tend to have heavy outsole wear in strange places.
  • potentially, mild over pronators seeking to transition to a neutral shoe due to the firm midsole and firm outsole coverage. 
  • heavier fast runners who tend to compress softer midsoles.
The deep cuts go all the way to the softer red midsole. ASICS calls this FluidAxis and describes it as follows:

Anatomically correct deep flex grooves have been aligned to the joints of the foot. This innovative construction enables the shoe to recognize, adapt, and respond to the athlete's exact load and positional change from first impact to toe-off.

I find the FluidAxis approach particularly effective in the heel as despite the firm outsole and midsole shock seems to be well dissipated. The mid foot rides and then flexes nicely with decent snap but the front flex towards the toe is quite stiff, at least so far. The heel outsole material is firmer than the forefoot's. 

The upper is an engineered mesh similar to the Lunar Tempo or adidas Energy ESM. There are no seams. The front overlays are woven in. Towards the mid foot they are welded or glued over.

ASICS 33-FA  Photo: ASICS America
I find the upper roomy and comfortable. The inner lining seems a bit heavier than what usually lines such mesh upper and loose, not tightly as bonded to the outer mesh. Maybe this helps with flexibility but I worry a bit about creasing and blisters in the toe area. I sized up a half size and except for a bit of pressure by the little toe should have sized true to size. 

There is no heel counter but even a bit oversized I do not miss it. My foot is well held but the hold cannot be mistaken for the snug race ready feel of the Zante. It more like the Lunar Tempo but a bit wider and roomier and without the dialed in Flywire of the Nike.

Ride and Recommendations
The 33-FA is a fine light trainer. Not quite as light as some of its competitors, it trades some weight for a firmer, and presumably more durable mid and outsole along with extensive full contact outsole coverage on the road. The front fit is roomy and allows the foot to splay nicely. The ride is firm all over but not harsh with all layers of cushioning feeling as one, very smooth  but it could use a bit more flexibility towards the toes for me. I might recommend the 33-FA for runners who tend to tend to have heavy outsole wear, heel strikers seeking more heel stability, heavier runners who tend to crush midsoles in lighter trainers and those who prefer a firmer ride.

The 33-FA was provided to me free of charge. The opinions herein are entirely my own.

If you would like to try the 33-FA they are available from:
Running Warehouse US- Men's hereWomen's here
Running Warehouse Europe-Men's here 

Running Warehouse has great customer service policies:
  • Free 2 Day Shipping and Return Shipping
  • 90 Days No Sweat Returns
  • $9.95 Overnight Shipping 1-4 Lbs
All your purchases at Running Warehouse via these links support my blog.

I review many shoes and much gear and apparel every year.  At the link here a summary page with links to all my recent reviews.

Thank You Readers!

Thank you very much to readers of my blog. Sometime around 9PM last night my blog passed 500,000 page views.

It's been fun and your interest and questions keep me at it.

What would you like to see more of, less of?