Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Natural Running Store

Please hear me out on this, I have a lot to say about this company, and I think that it's important to tell this story.

I have been on the search for better shoes. I have worn the same style Asics Gel Cumulus for several years now and they have served me well. But, I am a believer in natural running. I have personally seen my pace improve when I practice good form and can increase my cadence. I have dabbled with Newton Sir Isaacs with some success but find them a little hard on my feet for longer runs. Anyway, I have been a pretty loyal Road Runner Sports customer for at least a couple of years. I even pay to be a VIP member to save money on my purchases. I bought a pair of Saucony Kinvara's from RRS a little while back and after one very short run in them I knew that they were definitely not the shoe for me. Much too narrow for my wide duck-like feet.

Coach Jeff had been talking about the Altra Instinct zero drop shoes available from the Natural Running Store. I read up on them a little and I like that they spoke of a larger toe box so that your feet can spread out in them rather than having your toes crammed together. So...I pulled the trigger. I went online and was even able to get a little bit of a discount at the time. The Instincts retail for $99, really not out of the ball park for a good pair of shoes. As soon as I registered on their site and placed my order I received a video email from Patton Gleason, the President of Natural Running store, thanking me for my order. You may view the actual video here. You can learn more about Patton here.
You can click on image to see the actual video.

Later that same day, I received another video email from Patton telling me that my shoes were on their way.
It's pretty humorous, I suggest you listen to it here.

My shoes arrived in just a few days and here is what I found....

Inside the box of shoes was an additional pair of inserts, one is labeled support, the other strengthen, there was a tasty sample size LARABAR, and on the lid of the box are some brief notes about the Altra's describing The Technique, The Transition, and The Fit.

The box states that they should feel like you are wearing slippers, I will vouch for that!

Ok, so what, they have a couple of cheesy videos and they shipped my shoes pretty quickly. 

Let me tell you. 

Here, in my opinion is what sets them apart from the competition. There was one more item in my box, it was a hand written thank you note.
Really, a thank you note for buying a pair of shoes!
I was stunned and impressed that John at the Natural Running Store actually took the time to write me a personal thank you note for buying a pair of shoes. Very cool!

But wait...that's not it. The day after my shoes arrived I received a personal email from John asking about my training and goals. 

I have to tell you that because of John and the service that I received from the Natural Running Store, I now know what it truly feels like to be a VIP. The best part, it didn't cost me any extra!

As a side note, I really don't have anything against RRS. They have always been pleasant on the phone, they have a huge selection of running shoes, clothing, and other accessories. But the personal service that I received from the Natural Running Store was second to none and if they start carrying clothing along with their shoes, I will be hard pressed to go anywhere else.

You can learn more about the Altra Instinct here.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Santa Returns!

Friday night was the Jingle Bell Run in Sioux Falls. I was just lucky enough to be in town and find a Santa suit so we could pull off an even better version of our 2009 event.

Thanks to Joseph, we had a great team of reindeer this year! There really is not much to say about this event other than it was great fun running with friends, seeing the excitement in the kids' faces, and hearing their shouts of "Santa!". I got a couple of hugs and verbal Christmas lists from the kids, and we even made the Sioux Falls newspaper again this year.

With my grandson Elliot before the run.

Hangin' out before the run, check out the kids behind me

Santa with the coolest reindeer!

Santa fueling up the sleigh?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Vets Day Trail Race

I had the opportunity to participate in the 4 mile Veterans Day Trail Race in Kansas City this weekend. I LOVE the challenge and variety that trail running and racing offers. Most of my training this year has been with longer more aerobic runs so a 4 mile trail race was quite the challenge for me. I was pretty much redlining most of the run, and after the first 2 miles I did walk some of the hills just to get my heart rate back under control.

It was a new course through the Wyandotte Lake area in Kansas, there were several areas of the trail that were cambered and leaf covered. I was one of the lucky few towards the front that did not take a wrong turn off of the path. As you can see, just by looking at the course here, it would not be difficult to do so.

The course is almost all single track which made it difficult to pass. But, being a fairly low key race, everyone moved when asked. There were no huge hills like Run Toto Run, but there were plenty of little ups and downs to keep a person challenged. Here is a snapshot of the elevation.

I started fairly close to the front because I knew it was going to be difficult to pass once we got into the trees. I let a few people jump out ahead of me knowing that some of them would fall back as we got into the race.

 I was able to pass quite a few people but after mile 3, I was passed back by two of them. I kept right on the tail of one of the guys but just didn't have the strength to pass him back again. He didn't walk any of the hills but I was able to make up my ground on him on the flat and downhill sections. I was hoping that he was going to wear himself out running up the hills. He was pretty tough and was able to stay in front of me. I finished the race in 31:04 and 10th place overall. As you can see by the times here, it looks like pretty much everyone behind me took a wrong turn on the trail.

This was a fun race and also very difficult. I had the pleasure of introducing trail running to a friend from Bethany and also had the opportunity to meet fellow Dailymile badass Sherrie who recently ran 54 miles on 9/11.

It's Tuesday and I am still a little sore from the rocky and uneven terrain but I can't wait to get back out there again!
Attempting to smile for the camera.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


I thought about writing a lot of long winded excuse about how busy I have been at work and haven't had time to run or exercise much. This may be true...but, we are all busy, I am not the only one that works long hours. I just didn't have a plan or a goal in mind.

I changed that. I have a training plan and even a race or two up my sleeve.

It's times like this that remember just how much I need running. I am a much calmer and nicer person when I run. It helps take the edge off. I hit the road at 5am Monday morning. It was just a little 40 minute run, but it made the entire day oh so much better.