Altra Shoe Review

Being an Altra Ambassador is pretty sweet.

I Was Excited For the New Kicks.

I Was Excited For the New Kicks.

Since becoming an official Ambassador at the start of 2014, I’ve been able to “meet” a ton of other Altra Aficionados via Facebook and Twitter, and am looking forward to meeting a fellow ambassador in person at the Blue Ridge Marathon at the end of the month.

While my blog history shows that I don’t need an excuse to pronounce my love for this awesome company and their kick-ass shoes, allow me to expound a little bit about the 2 pairs of shoes that I received as part of being in the Ambassador program.

Altras in General

Running in Altras, or any zero-drop shoe for that matter, takes some getting used to. If you’re new to the zero or minimal-drop shoes, progress in them slowly. Altra does a great job of educating you on the best way to make the switch to their shoes from any of the “traditional” running shoes, but I just want to re-emphasize the importance of a gradual transition. I actually changed my running stride/mechanics BEFORE changing shoes, and I still dealt with tight calves for a while after making the switch.

But it has been totally worth it.

Instinct 2.0

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Instinct 2.0

The original Instincts were my first pair of Altras, and they will always hold a special place in my heart.

When I was choosing which shoes to get as an Ambassador, I figured I’d get the newer model of my favorites, and then try a different model with my other.

Let me just tell you, the Instinct 2.0s are not even close to the same shoe as the original.

Now, to be clear, the new model is a great shoe! It just wasn’t at all what I was expecting.

The newer model has a thicker sole and is much more cushioned than its predecessor. The toe box is especially wide (an Altra specialty), and the fit is super comfortable. There is lots of cushion available with this shoe (not just in the sole), while still being surprisingly lightweight.

The Instinct 2.0 would be a great option for your first foray into the Altra catalog. This shoe does a great job of maintaining cushion for us road runners, while still delivering the wide toe box and zero drop that I absolutely love! Click for the men’s or women’s models (women’s equivalent is the intuition).

Provision 1.5

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Provision 1.5

For my second pair of shoes, I decided to give the newer version of the Provision series a shot.

And I’m super glad that I did!

These shoes are, in my opinion at least, more like the original Instincts than the new Instincts are. Right now, the Provisions are my shoe of choice.

The Provision 1.5s have a slightly slimmer stack (sole) than the Instinct 2.0s, and I love that. It’s amazing how much of a difference 3 mm can make!

When ordering the Provision 1.5s, the Altra site suggests ordering a half size bigger than you’d normally wear. Take their advice! I didn’t, and when I got the shoe I was a little bummed. I hate being that guy that has to return something, but luckily these shoes came with a stability wedge that I could remove, and that made enough of a difference. The shoes are still a little snug, but they don’t bother without the wedge in place.

Check out the Provision 1.5s, or the Provisioness 1.5s for the ladies, and don’t be afraid to take the leap and give them a shot. I’m glad I tried the Provisions, because I think I might have found my new favorite model!

Overall Impression

Like I said, both the Provision 1.5s and the Instinct 2.0s are great shoes. While I absolutely prefer the Provisions to the Intincts, I’m actually debating which shoe to wear for the marathon I’m running next weekend.

I’ve done most of my long runs with the Instincts, so logic would say that is the shoe I should wear. But I just love the feel of the Provisions more, and I’m leaning towards wearing them. Odds are, both shoes will make the trip to Virginia with me, and my decision will be made on race day!

If you’re at all interested in trying any of the Altra Zero Drop shoes, but you’ve got a few questions, please reach out to me! If I can’t answer your question, I’m connected to dozens of Altramaniacs, and I’d be happy to ask them on your behalf and share their experience with you.

All I know is that I love these shoes, and I’m so glad I took the chance on them back in 2012. As long as their are Altras available, I know I’ll never wear another shoe again!

Have You Tried Zero Drop Shoes? What Are Your Thoughts?

FTC Disclosure–As an Official Altra Ambassador, I was given two pairs of shoes to wear and review. I was able to choose the shoes that I wanted, and the opinions expressed about each model are entirely my own, and have not been influenced in any way by Altra, its associates, or any one related to the company.

Going Forward

Hey guys.

It’s been a little while. I hope this post finds y’all doing well, and that your 2014 running goals are progressing nicely.

Speaking of which, I need a reboot. Not only am I failing miserably on my 2014 running goals, but my plans for being more active on this website aren’t doing so well either. Remember my post from the beginning of the year? Here are a few of the highlights:

Run 1500 Miles

More Blog Giveaways

More Guest Posts on the Blog

More Foam Rolling/Yoga/Icing

 

About those. I’m 0-4 thus far.

And I’m not even near 1500 mile pace.

No Sense Looking Back

I may not be where I want to be in terms of this blog and growing my site. But looking back and getting upset about it won’t help me to get where I want to be.

So it’s time to look forward. And here are some things I’m seeing.

  • Regular Posts–I miss writing about running and interacting with you guys. So I’m going to commit to posting every Wednesday on here. I’d love to do more, but with how busy I am with DK FitSoltuions right now, I know I can’t commit to more. So for now, every Wednesday I’ll be posting something running related.
  • New Site Layout–I’m thinking about adding some new things here, and I’ll need more control with the layout and the functionality of the website. So sometime this summer, probably June/July, I’ll be switching some things up with the website. I’ll keep you posted as I get closer to an actual switch.
  • Podcasts–Something I’ve been doing lately at DK FitSolutions is podcasting, and I’m loving it! My show, Better Health 101, airs twice a week and I get a chance to encourage folks to take control of their health. Well, I’m having so much fun podcasting that I want to bring on to this site as well. I’m still working the details out in my head, and it will likely be a completely different format from what I’m doing now, but I’m leaning toward a July 1 launch for a running show. I’m thinking about calling it “Diz Runs With…” and interviewing different celebrity/professional runners. Think you might want to listen to something like that?
  • 2014 Mileage–I’m still shooting for 1500 miles, but I’m not going to be stupid about it. After I finish the Blue Ridge Marathon in a few weeks, I won’t have any big races on my calendar. So I’ll try and pick up some miles in May and June, but with a baby due in July, 1500 might be unattainable. I’ll keep you posted.

Well, this is my story and I’m sticking to it.

2014 has (so far) been a really good year, I just haven’t gotten as much done on here as I’d have liked. But I’m going to get back in the saddle, and you’ll be hearing from me again next week.

Good to be back, y’all.

Who Would You Like for Me to Interview on My Podcast?

I’d Love to Hear Some Suggestions!

Carol Marsh Kids 2 Camp 5k 2014

So this past weekend was the 2nd annual Carol Marsh Kids 2 Camp 5k at First UMC here in town. Seeing that my wife not only works at the church, but that a lot of the kids in her program are able to go to summer camp because of the proceeds of this event, I was obviously running this event again this year.

While I still have a serious hatred for 5k racing, I do enjoy this race for the simple fact that it is not around Lake Hollingsworth like just about every other 5k in town.

So since the race is on a different course, and it’s for a good cause, I went ahead and signed up for the race.

When I was picking up our bibs and goodie bags the night before the race, the ladies that organized the race were already congratulating me on winning this year’s race. I tried laughing them off, but they were certain I’d win after placing third last year. One even said that my only real competition was injured, so I was in pretty good shape to win.

What they didn’t know was that my plan for race morning was to get up early, head into town, and knock of 8-10 miles BEFORE running the 5k. Seeing as I’m only about 7 weeks out from the Blue Ridge Marathon, I need a lot more miles than just 3.1 on a Saturday.

Well, after oversleeping by about an hour on Saturday, I decided to forgo the long run opportunity, and just run the race instead. So I grabbed Bailey, and headed to the church. We got there with enough time for her to do her “thing” and me to get about a mile warm up in, and headed to the start line.

As the race started, there were a handful of kids that basically took off in a sprint. I tried to keep Bailey from going crazy with all of the kids, and we just focused on getting off to a good start. Once the kids dropped off, all of about 1/4 mile into the race, we settled into a groove behind the bike that was leading the way.

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Bailey and I Were So Fast, This is The Only Evidence of Our Victory!

After the first mile, things were feeling pretty good, and B had stopped going crazy like she does at the start of every run, so we kept at it. We had done the first mile in 6:28, so I knew we were moving pretty good, I just hoped I didn’t go out to fast and could maintain this pace for the rest of the race.

As we blew past the second mile, I thought for a minute that I might actually have a chance at a new PR. I set a PR in last year’s race, but had blown it out of the water a few times during the Watermelon Races last summer. And since I’d really only been doing marathon training, not 5k training, I didn’t think there would be a chance I could touch my 20:21 in this race. But as we were coming around the corner with less than a 1/4 to go, it was actually possible.

When we got to the finish line, I checked the time. 20:24. Not quite a PR, but a good 30 seconds faster than I thought I would be. I was surprised, since there were no other runners around us for the entire race. Of course, I did have miss thing pulling me!

Last year, finishing 2nd in my age group won me an awesome plate decorated by one of the kids in the Neighborhood Ministries Department at the church. This year, the kids decorated some coffee cups. (Somebody in NM must know me well!)

Photo on 2014-03-12 at 14.36So now, I’m almost looking forward to next year’s race. I mean, I’ve got the plate and the coffee cup. What’s next, silverware? Soup bowl?

I guess I’ll just have to wait and see!

 

Gotta Love a Solid PR!

On Sunday, I ran in the inaugural running of the Celebration Marathon. This race was, in a word, fantastic, and I’d highly recommend that you consider running it next year.

For an inaugural event, the organizers did a tremendous job keeping things together and running smoothly. Were there some things that they might want to do differently next year? No question. But all in all, I didn’t see anything major that you could really complain about regarding this race.

I came closer to running a perfect race than ever before, only missing the mark by .06 miles. I also managed to PR by 21 minutes, so I was pretty stoked with my performance. I really wanted to end up under 4 hours, (official time was 4:08:34) so I could have done better, but a 21 minute PR will have to be good enough.

Photo by The Wife

Photo by The Wife

In my humble opinion, there were a lot more pros than cons with this race. And in truth, I almost had to reach to find any cons.

The Pros

  • Flat–If you are afraid of hills, this race is for you. There weren’t even any “Florida Hills”, aka overpasses, on this course. If you want flat and fast, come to Celebration in 2015.
  • Small Field–I know size is relative (that’s what she said), and for some bigger is better(and she said it again), but if you don’t want to have to dodge other runners for 26.2 miles, this race is for you. Granted the first half of the race is a bit crowded until those running the half split off, there’s nothing like having a little elbow room for the vast majority of the race.
  • Great Expo–Again, this is a bit relative, but I thought the expo was fantastic. I’m not a big expo fan to begin with. I’m more of a get my packet and get out of here kind of guy, but for a race with only 2000 people in it, I was really impressed. While there were fewer venders than at some big races, there were lots of samples to be given out and lots of products to try. And the cool thing about small race expos is that often the big companies shy away, but the small companies come to try and expand their customer base. So it’s cool to see some newer products from some newer companies.
  • Awesome Weather–I know there is no guarantee that the weather will be perfect again next year, but let’s be honest. The likelihood of good weather in Central Florida as opposed to the rest of the country at this time of year (polar vortex, anyone?) is pretty high. I’ll take mid-50s for the race, thank you very much.

The Cons

  • Two Laps–For the full, we basically ran the same loop twice. This isn’t a huge con, but the first lap we ran with those running the half so the course was a bit crowded. For most of it, there wasn’t much of a problem. But there was one stretch of about a mile, where it got really crowded during the first lap.
  • The Post Race Party–All in all, the post race party wasn’t bad. When we finished, we picked up a card to take to a variety of vendor in order to try samples of their food and drinks. The problem was that it wasn’t completely clear where to go to get the card after crossing the finish line, and some vendors ran out of items early. I know the vendors running out of food early isn’t the race organizers fault, but it was still a bit of a downer.

Overall, this was a fantastic race and I’d absolutely consider running it again. The only reason I’m not quite ready to commit to it again for next year is that I need to start running in more states than just Florida. But for the price, and for the fact that late January isn’t the greatest time to run a race in most other parts of the country, I’ll go out on a limb and say that at some point I’ll definitely run this race again.

If you’re thinking about running Celebration in 2015, do it. You won’t be disappointed!

If You Only Do One Thing Today, Run. For Meg.

Ask any runner why they run, and you’ll get a variety of answers.

To feel free. To relieve stress. To feel alive. To have some peace and quiet. To think. To clear my head. To improve my health. To be alone. To be with other runners.

The list goes on and on, but rarely do any of us think that today’s run will be our last.

I’d never heard of Meg Menzies before this week, but I imagine that she ran for many of the reasons above. But when Meg left her house Monday morning for her run, everything seemed normal.

Until things changed.

If you’re not familiar with the story, Meg was hit by a drunk driver that morning and passed away. While her family is dealing with the loss, the running community around the country is holding them close today.

Because today, we are running for Meg.

megsmile-fb.jpg?w=402Keep an eye on twitter today, and I’d bet you’ll see #megsmiles trending for most of the day. Runners across America are uniting and running in honor of a woman who’s life was ended way too premature.

In a way that, if we’re honest, could happen to any one of us.

So run today. Run a mile. Or a marathon.

Just run.

For Meg.

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