Saturday, April 24, 2010

Vasque Transisitors

about the middle of March i was fortunate enough to win the chance to test a pair of the new Vasque Transistors from the irunfar website. i can sum up the Transistors in three words "kick ass fast kicks." ok, that's actually four words but that's what the shoes do for you: fill your run with more adjectives than you can handle. the following are the questions i answered for a future review on the irunfar site:
  • What were your impressions of the shoe out of the box?
good looking and light. the Transistor is well constructed, comes in racy yellow or grey and red (tested), and has a not-to-aggressive not-to-mild outsole. the size 12 i received is a half size smaller than i normally wear, but the Transistors aren't made in half sizes over 12. the fit was good with seemingly enough room in the toe box even without the extra half size. on especially steep trails though i could feel my toes hitting the end of the right shoe.
  • What you like or dislike about the shoe in use?
OUTSOLE-like it: on my first run, which was actually a hike with my 34lb. 2 year old on my back, i was amazed by the traction the Transistors provided. the trail was 90% covered with spring snow: wet, slick, and hard packed on the trail. at first inspection i thought the tread wasn't burly enough for AK trails but it held to the snow like skins on a ski. i was quite surprised at the lack of slippage as i ascended the steep trail. on future runs it held it's own on frozen crust snow, slush, mud, rocks, roots, and roads. the only conditions i was unable to try it out in was dry trail conditions b/c they don't exist right now in AK. a minor complaint is that the clear plastic 'bubble' (rocknrolla plate?) near the heel filled with water during one run and emitted a squishing sound.

MIDSOLE-love it: what sets this shoe apart from any other shoe i've worn is how it feels when you first step into it. i've tried to describe it to people like this: in every other shoe you are ON the shoe, but with the Transistor you are IN the shoe. i typically throw out the insoles that come with running shoes, but the feel of these shoes is so much different because it was designed to be worn this way. one sits much lower to the ground enabling a 'feel' for what's underfoot. in my experience the midsole didn't offer enough rock protection for overly technical trails. after an 8 mile run on an especially rocky, rooty, and snowy trail my feet were left feeling a bit beat up. i think the stability offered by being able to feel the trail may outweigh the lack of protection over the long haul. if one eased into this type of trail after wearing the shoe for a bit it would probably be ok.

UPPER- like it: quite simply it does it's job. the laces stay tied, the materials seems durable, and the fabric breathes well. the only issue i found was on my first long-ish run during the test a seam in the upper caused a weird blister on my left arch. it only happened that once though and not since so it is a minor issue.
  • What "features" did you like most or least?
i loved the form fitting, built in insole. it worked very well to enhance feel of the trail and seems to be holding up very well. i didn't like whatever was allowing water into the outsole as the squish squish heard while running is annoying. the rock protections seems too light weight for ultra distances on technical trails. i came into this test as a minimalist footwear type runner and found my pre-season condition to be not strong enough to handle the minimal midsole on my gnarliest trail run. on the other hand the shoe felt light and part of the foot. the low stack height was ideal for the midfoot strike encouraged by a minimal shoe.
  • Under what conditions did the Transistor perform especially well, ok, or poorly?
performed well on everything tested on: snow, rocks, roots, mud, slush, road. ok on long, technical trails. have yet to find a poor performance.
  • Any other thoughts!
i have flat feet, a wide toe area, and narrow heels. my right foot is almost a half size longer than the left. the fit accommodated my foot well, but if the upper stretches (which it shouldn't as it is synthetic) i will reach the limit of being able to tighten it up enough around my midfoot. the shoes are good looking, light, and comfy right out of the box. i think the shoes would be best suited to those looking for a minimalist trail racer. it seems great for smoother singletrack and less technical trails for long distances, but at the same time gives one an enhanced feel for running technically over shorter distances. the outsole grips well in most conditions, but i would predict a problem on slick or sticky mud trails.

thanks to Bryon Powell over at irunfar and Vasque for the opportunity.

Friday, April 23, 2010

(re)discovering the joy of biking

in attempts to be fit for racing this summer - meaning not only just being able to complete the race but to not feel so beat up during/after the race - i'm attempting to put some actual structure into my *cough*training. anyhoo, it's going well for week one: taking my vitamins, eating decently, and exercising daily.

yesterday was cross training so i went for a bike ride. now typically i would bust out the minutes on a trail ride as that is what i enjoy, but seeing as how trails are pretty unrideable right now (unless you enjoy deep slush) i hit the road on my cross bike.

usually i don't ride on the road, unless riding the mt bike to or from a trailhead or going to the coffee shop so i didn't really know what to expect. in a word, it was exhilirating. i climbed up Abbott Rd looping past Hilltop Ski Area up and over to O'Malley. it was a tough climb, especially without a small cog, but once i hit the high point it was a rush. i easily topped 40mph on the downhill. cars that passed me were barely going faster than i was. i felt great finishing with the little hills on Birch Rd then connecting back to Elmore to cruise home. in all it was 45 min. or so and 10.65 miles.

as i was riding home i wondered why i haven't done this before? i love trail running, but the speed, rhythm, and mileage of road biking definitely planted itself in my psyche. i'm sure it will be my cross training of choice in future weeks.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

free gear giveaway!!!

hey everyone (imaginary readership)! check out Reuseapalooza over at

lot's of cool stuff being given away and a great resource for ultrarunning.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Rainbow TH

after the last hike i had placed the backpack carrier in the kitchen. both saturday and sunday morning the little man asked me, "dad, can we go on a hike this morning?" as we had several obligations we weren't able to, but yesterday afternoon i took him hiking up the Johnson Trail from the Rainbow TH. the clouds were opening and closing so the weather floundered from somewhat decent/sunny to windy/chilly. it was fun as it's not to steep and there was lots to see.

of course on the drive out the little man pointed out the "big snow mountains" followed by "let's go up there!" as Tiffany commented the first time he said this, "definitely your son." we climbed up the gentle trail looking at the mossy, rock filled stream. of course though the little man wondered aloud, "where is the Rainbow?" i asked what colors he could see around him. we came up with white, brown, green, blue, and the imaginary "red, pink, puhple." it was a rainbow after all!

we saw several trees stripped of bark by local moose. the little man labeled these orange trees. we went as far as the high point from the rainbow side, about 1.15 miles and several hundred feet of elevation. we stood at a blustery, exposed vantage point where we could see across the Turnagain Arm to the Kenai Peninsula and down to the highway below and the passing cars. it was quite windy so we didn't linger long.

on the way up we had seen some large boulders that i promised we would stop at on the way down. the little man enjoyed scrambling around the rocks in the mud and snow. from there he hiked by himself all the way back to the truck (about a half mile) with only one fall. nearer to the TH on the more level sections of trail the little man enjoyed running as fast as his little legs would carry him over the rough ground. judging by the wide grin on his cold reddened rosy face he was having a blast.

as we were hiking with the dogs, several times he queried "where are my doggies?" approaching the truck Jackson ran alongside of him. a great day out and another chance for the little man's love of the outdoors to grow.

date: April 6
mileage: 2.34
time: 1:20

details: R in backpack except last .5 mile; w/ Jax, Mals; Hardrocks; 40˚ wind/sun, mud/snow