On Cloudflow.

fullsizeoutput_7f1I welcomed the “On Cloudflow” in rock/orange, size 9.5 into my stable of shoes about 1 week ago (maybe more). I wanted to add in a different profile shoe to switch off with my New Balance Zante V3/4. The “On” website describes the shoe this way, “18 Clouds (EVA foam) independently cushion and propel your every step towards runner’s high.

“Adaptive, engineered mesh (in the upper) uses the latest weave-technology to blend breathability with support, while antimicrobial treatment guarantees a lasting freshness run after run after run.”

“Complimenting the innovative ‘outside’ of the Cloudflow, inside, comfort reigns supreme thanks to a first-layer in-built sock.”

I have to admit that I don’t normally fall into the “Fads” that tend to invade the running shoe design. I tried the Hoka one one, did not like running on pillows and felt my feet were not “feeling the road”. I thought Hoka would be a fad and it turns out I was wrong. The design of the “On” shoe is another design I though would come and go and it seems to have survived. Around since 2014 they seem to have carved themselves a place in the market.

I will keep this simple…I like them.

The Cloudflow are very light at about 7.8 oz, with a 6mm offset (in comparison with my NB Zante which weighs in at 8.6 oz, and shares the 6mm offset.)

Pros:

  • As stated above they are very light and share the 6mm “drop” with the Zante.
  • very comfortable in the forefoot, where the Zante is a bit “stiffer” the Cloudflow seems to move better with the foots natural motion.
  • The upper seems thus far to breathe very well, it has been hotter than normal as of late and I don’t find my feet get “hot” in the Cloudflow.
  • I could easily use the Cloudfow as a racing shoe, with the weight and comfort it would make an excellent racing shoe

 

Before I go into the cons I need to expand a bit on two points I will include in the “bullets”.

The first is that I don’t like how narrow the toe box is. The cloud flow toe box and the Zante are not that different, I do however feel I have more room in the Zante. it could be the difference in the material the upper is made of in each shoe or it could just be that I have run in the Zante far more than the Cloud flow. The toe box is one negative in what is a really good shoe.

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The second is the longevity of the shoe itself. the way the shoe is constructed (the”clouds” that make up the sole. I am not sure how many mile I will be able to get out of them. The Zante starts to break down right around 350 miles. I can easily get 400+ miles out of them if I mix in a new shoe in the rotation at the 350 mark. I just have no idea of how these little “half loops” of EVA foam will wear, and at 140$ (lower on some sites) I expect at least 400+ miles. I can get my Zante for 100$.  A concern and possibly a negative. I guess it remains to be seen.

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Cons:

  • Toe box, kinda narrow.
  • durability of the EVA sole…not sure, expect better than I think…hope so
  • price point, 140$ is not terrible. It is the most I have paid for a running shoe since I started in 2009.

So in closing, I like the Cloudflow, it will be in rotation with the Zante V3/4. As I run in it more and mare it may be the primary in that rotation, for now it is a second shoe. I am terrible at reviewing anything so take this all with a grain of salt. I like what I like and quite often have no reason for that other than “I like it”. Thanks for reading and I hope you give the On Cloudflow a shot!

Run Happy!

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Disney Marathon Weekend 10k & St Pete Beach Classic 5k

 

Disney Marathon Weekend 10k

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I truly enjoy the Disney race experience. Disney knows how to manage crowds and put on a show. This particular race seemed to be a challenge even for the Kingdom of Magic.

It was COLD, maybe not for Montana but for Florida 30 degrees is COLD, with the wind chill probably colder than that. So bundled up in 2 layers, hat and gloves I headed off to Epcot parking area to begin what would be only my second 10k since the hip replacement surgery. To be honest, I was hoping to finish, nothing more. There were stand up heaters to get a little warm but I avoided doing that and just stood in line to see some of the characters, Micky and Pluto are a must!

The races are so well attended now that despite being in smaller corrals, each corral wave starts in about 5 min intervals, it makes the crowds on the course much less. I started really well, felt really good through the first 3 miles (25:44). things came apart at about 4.5 miles when the cardio and the hip seemed to “act up” my breathing was ok, the discomfort in the hip changes my stride which in turn alters my breathing. I would love to say that I finished strong, I did not. Although the route did manage to be a bit longer than 10k (6.39) I finished at a respectable 58:46 (its not the 40: somethings I used to do but hey, I have artificial parts!) which is a solid 20+ min. better than last years Dark side 10k. I think the cold was an asset in keeping the fatigue low and allowing me a longer period of consistent pacing. I am happy with the result and although I still dream of being able to hit the 40:00 10k target again, it is sadly a time and pace that will remain elusive. I will say it again, I should not be running and every race and training run I do knocks time off of the replacements durability, so I do my best to respect it and still do what I love. I know I repeat this same sentiment, it weighs heavy on my mind though.

St Pete Beach Classic 5k

This was a last minute add for me, I wanted at least one more race in January, before Gasparilla 8k in February. It turned out to be even better because my wife decided to join me. This turned out to be one of my better 5k runs, The best part about this run though as being able to run a race with Roxanne. We have not run together in a very long time.

We did not end up running together. I ran my own pace and she did what her plan was, which was to walk a little and run a little. It was so great to see her cross a finish line and to share the experience with her. This race meant very little, in so much as a competition, it was getting to do the run with my wife, a significant part of our relationship has been competing together. playing hockey together, running together, racing together. it was really nice to have that again. We both finished and the medals we very nice for a smaller local race. Yeah us!

IMG_0759As always, thank you loyal reader for sticking with me! Run happy!

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St Pete Run Fest, Say No To Drugs 5k, Closing out 2017.

Well another year comes to an end , cliché I know, but this was a tough year for the Neilson clan. Job changes, Educational challenges and medical issues. Through it all we still had some fun with a vacation to Colorado and some really fun races for this Florida runner. Another February Gasparilla 8k, 2 Disney Races, Dark side 5k and the Wine and Dine 5k.

St Pete Run Fest, “Sunshine City 5K”

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On November 18-19th I was excited to participate in the very first St. Petersburg run Fest. Offering up a half-marathon, half-marathon relay and a 5k, as well as kids races. This would be the first 1/2 marathon in St Pete proper since the women half was cancelled back in 2014. I really think that the downtown St. Pete waterfront has gone through so many upgrades, has become a really vibrant area and a race like this is a nice addition. The Outback Steakhouse sponsored “Sunshine City 5k” was held on November 19th at 10:30am. The registration price is inline with other races in the area, 30$ for “early bird” and 45$ “race day”. With the quality of the swag (Top notch T-Shirt, Commemorative Turvis tumbler) And a beautiful finisher medal.

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Now you throw in a beautiful waterfront route (out and back) and great post race eats you totally get your moneys worth. The only thing I would “change” is the start time. Although its November its also Florida and it can still be pretty hot at 10:30am. Start time temps were around 75 degrees so it was not too bad. I run this route in my normal training so its familiar and I thought that would give me an edge in timing…no such luck. I still finished in my new “sweet spot” 26: something. As tough as it is to say, I am happy with that. I do however recall the days when I was working to break that elusive 20 min mark, (the closest I got was 20:45). This is my new reality and continuing to show respect to my artificial hip…i’m good with it (not really but I figure if I say it enough I might believe it).

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Say No To Drugs 5K

 

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Say no to drugs 5k was next on the list, My only December race. I have done this race every year (other than the years we were in Penang). It is a well run event, the course is very challenging with some significant elevation (for Florida) up and over causeway bridge both on the out and the back. There is also THE BEST pancake breakfast after the race. The shirts and medals are really nice every year but this year was especially nice. I ran really well, in fact my best 5k this year.

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I was much more consistent with my pacing and really felt good throughout the race. I even felt better on the up and overs. Maybe this is good news for my upcoming events. I have the Disney Marathon weekend 10k coming up in early January, as well as a run on St Pete beach. Another Gasparilla 8k in February and I will again battle the “Dark side” in another Disney Star Wars race in April.  I have had a great year, running that is. i have been able to share some weekend morning walks with my beautiful wife and the Neilson’s are hopeful for a great 2018. I than each and every one of you for your continued support. I don’t post as much as when i started this collection of random running adventures. I just hope that when I do you will join me! Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year. See you on the start line in 2018, until then, Run Happy!

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Halloween and a busy November.

 

Holloween Halfathon 5k

So the race season has begun in earnest. With my race calendar full for the month of November I am both excited and a bit nervous as to what this season holds for me. The Florida road race series presented its second challenge for me a few days before Halloween (10/29), with the Halloween halfathon and 5k. This race series is held at Fort Desoto which is a pretty nice place to run. The conditions were not terrific for this race, it was a very windy morning, cooler than it had been. I have not been able to equal my timing from the Disney race back in April and although I am not that far off that pace, I have not been able to equal that speed. The same held true for this race. I was able to run a 26:05 5k which is not terrible but (in my opinion) not worthy of an age group 2nd place, just sayin’. Needless to say I earned an age group second place. I like the Fort Desoto course its a fairly simple out and back course, run along the water but all on paved sidewalk. The wind was rough on the turn but tolerable. I felt good and think I ran a good race. Good times!

 

Disney Wine and Dine 5k

Disney, oh Disney, you do know how to organize a race. I have really enjoyed my past experience with the Disney races and other than the ungodly hour that one must wake to participate, the races are a lot of fun. 3:30am  arrived very unwelcome. This race was run at Disney Animal Kingdom, a park I have never been to. With the new Avatar world having just been opened I was curious to see it, crowd free. Disney had characters waiting for photos, pre race which made the nearly 2 hours before the race start easier to deal with. I had to get my Donald and Goofy on of course.

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The race itself was a blast and with the number of 5k participants the race went off with waves in each time corral. This was a welcome change to the congested start of some previous races. The run through the park was awesome, running through the Avatar world of Pandora was so cool at night, really made you feel like a moment that you were there. My timing was not great but not far off my 25-26 min timing. This was not a chip timed race so I am working off my Garmin. I ran a 27:05 and did not feel that badly during the race but lost some time in stopping for an in race character and then deciding against it. Very fun none the less, with beautiful medals and T-shirts, this was a worthwhile race that I might do again.

Phil Doganiero 5k 

This was an inaugural race put on by someone I consider a friend, I always like to join in on the more local stuff, I feel it supports the local running community. This race is up and over the Memorial Causeway bridge which can actually be a tough course. It is the closest to running hills that one might get here in Florida. With another simple out and back course I did not expect a drastic time change, wanted to continue to stay in that 25-26 min range and with the up and over portion I though I might lose some time. I finished at 26:03 which again is not bead but not stellar either. I feel like I am working towards breaking that 25:00 min mark but I am still a few months may be another year away. No age group placing this time or at least I did not stay to find out, I didn’t think that with a 26 min 5k I would have been in the running for a placement with a much better attended event. Another fun and challenging race that I felt good in. really nice medals and shirts and a beautiful morning for the run.

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With one last race for the month, the St Petersburg run fest 5k next weekend I will round out a pretty good month of racing. With December and January being less busy and the weather offering some cooler days (hopefully) I might just see the sub 25:00 5k by the beginning of 2018. Thank you loyal reader and as always Run Happy!

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Surviving Irma

To begin, my prayers go out to all those affected by Harvey, Irma and Maria, If you are able, please do what you can to assist in the recovery effort. As a Floridian, you get used to spending June -November watching “The Tropics”. At least this Floridian does, we prepare for the possible Category whatever to uproot trees, knock out power, damage the roof and quite possibly the worst of all turn our small 1940’s wood frame home into ultra exclusive waterfront property, when the “storm surge” hits.

To be quite honest I’m sick of it. I drag out the Hurricane shutters, make sure there is an appropriate supply of water (one gallon per person per day, minimum of 3 days), gas up the cars, chainsaw and the generator, collect non-perishables, pack valuables incase of the possible evacuation and we watch. We tune into our local Fox affiliate’s Meteorologist team, In my humble opinion they are the best.

As this massive storm came barreling through the tropics, we watched it. Irma became one of the most powerful atlantic storms on record and had its sights set on the east coast, then on the east coast of Florida, then on the “spine” of the state, with hurricane force winds that stretched 60 miles from its center. Irma then set its sights on the Tampa bay area, for a time it looked to be a category 4 storm as it passed directly over Pinellas County. Roxanne and I had always agreed we would board up and prepare the house as best we could and stay, if it were a category 2 or lower. A category 4 would be devastating and we decided to evacuate as the storm got closer. As large as Irma was everyone would be impacted . Our decision was to head east, to be closer to family and if in fact the storm stayed on its current track and remained at its projected intensity, We might be safer further from the eye. We gathered up our irreplaceable treasures, the birds, the cat and the most important the us and headed east.

Hunkered down in Lakeland Florida, with family, Waiting to see what would happen, expecting the worst and hoping for the best. Irma, who continued to be unpredictable, lost a bit of strength moving from a 4  to a 2 and moved east, placing us, right in the “eye of the storm”. We sheltered in a closet for 2-3 hours while the eye wall passed, eventually being able to try and get some sleep. we woke to find damage to roofs in the neighborhood, trees down, power out. Not a bad outcome, when you look at where we were supposed to be 24 hours ago. We helped clean up a bit, and reached out to our neighbors, who advised us that we still had power and other than some limbs down everything looked ok. We were VERY lucky.

After a tense drive home navigating numerous intersections with no traffic signals (no power…no traffic lights) We returned to out little St Petersburg abode, thankful to have survived Irma. We were able to reach out to friends over the next few days and offer our home (we had power). Floridians tend to be a hearty bunch so most stayed close to home and eventually the power came back, yards got cleaned up and things went back to “normal”. We step back and wait for the next one…oh, hello Maria…

Since the writing of this blog post, Hurricane Maria ravaged areas of the Caribbean that had already sustained damage from Hurricane Irma. The island of Puerto Rico is completely devastated and some areas are completely un-inhabitable. If you can, please donate to any one of the many charities and organizations that are offering aid and support to those affected in Texas, Florida and across the Caribbean. There are many options, The Red Cross is a good starting point.

Look gang, there are times when we need to look past politics and do what we do best as human beings first and Americans, second. We rally during times of tragedy and become our “better selves”. We help, we support, we give, please.

Thanks loyal reader, Run Happy!

 

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Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall 2017

Well there is a great deal to cover. I have not been that active on my social media (working full time tends to keep one busy). My last post covered Gasparilla, since then i have had  2 races, The Florida Halfathon 5k at Ft. Desoto, on March 12 and the Disney World Dark Side Half Marathon 5k on April 21. My last 5k was in October and I ran it in 27:30, so with a few months of decent training on my committed schedule,(4 days a week running no more than 3-4 miles at a 9:00/mile pace and 1 day walking briskly with my beautiful wife.) I thought I might be able to improve on that. The weather from November – April is usually pretty good here in FLA. Its cool and dry so…pretty good…not this year, summer began in March so I did not have as long to benefit from the cooler weather as I expected to, needless to say training has gone well despite the climate change that is absolutely not happening, no matter what scientist may say, I mean all the best research is done by politicians and real estate moguls, everyone knows this (sarcasm by the way).

Florida Halfathon 5k April 21, 2017

Well, I love the races that Florida Road Races puts on, Fort Desoto is a very pretty course to run on, I did the Halloween Halfathon in October 2016, the course was nearly the same. I did not really have a goal time in mind, I just wanted to run a bit faster than i did in October. The race began with what I thought was a pretty small crowd, I thing the 1/2 marathon drew a larger crowd, in the end I think the total number of runners for the 5k was about 450. The morning was cool and dry and a perfect morning to gain some time on my last 5k placing. I ended up pacing with a small group during the last mile or so, just to hold pace and not fall back, that worked out well for me as I tend to get lazy and “feel my legs” a bit more late in races, I need to work on that.

I ended with a finish time of 25:20, which was good (with the light turnout) for 2nd place in my age group. I was pretty happy with a podium finish for a time tat would not usually warrant a podium. Even If I had not gotten an age group placing, i would have been and still am very happy with the result of the race. I cut almost 3 mi off my last 5k finish and really felt good throughout the race. I have already registered for this event as well as 2 other 5k’s with the same organization, the first one in October. I you have an interest in participating in any single race or the 5k series check out. floridaroadraces.

Disney World Dark Side 5k

This was the next on the 2017 agenda and was a race I really enjoyed last year. Im not a huge Star Wars fan, I do enjoy the films and the characters though and I gotta say if Disney does anything well, its big crowds and big events. So its a no brainer they would do a big road race well. This one is through Epcot and although it is in the very early morning on a Friday there are quite a few volunteers and park employees who stand a cheer along the route. There are also Star Wars characters scattered throughout, which is really cool and this year I had to abide tradition and get my Chewbacca picture

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I will try to always re-register for this race it is a lot of fun, The course is well laid out and its kinda cool running through some of the countries and past the big “spaceship Earth ” in Epcot. The medals are really nice, there are tons of porta potties, if thats important to you. There are additional characters at the finish area, including Darth Vader and Boba Fett.

IMG_0255My finish time for this race was not as good as the halfathon 5k, 26:23, so I lost a minute, I have no real reason, maybe a difference in temperature, not really sure. needless to say I was and am still happy with the result, If I stayed at the 25 -26 min mark for a 5k I would be more than ok with that. i recognize that hitting low 20’s or maybe topping a sub 20, will more than likely be impossible, and probably not good for my artificial hip joint.

Good Times! and if you would like to participate in any  of the disney races you can go to rundisney.

Summer is Coming…

Well the long hot days have already begun I think my last two runs (before today) have been at almost 90 degrees and around 60-70 percent humidity.The summer in FLA, is always a tough time to train, I will however have to come up with a way to train that does not involve me trying to run in the middle of the day (heat) or after 6 pm (T-storms). It a solvable problem, and in the scale of 1st world problems its not even on the list. Anyway, a long hot summer approaches, and if i need to i can always hit the treadmill at the gym and get in my miles. With 2 races in October a November Disney race, 2 December races and a bunch at the beginning of 2018, I can only hope to stay vigilant to my training. For anyone left out there, loyal readers, thanks for hanging in there. I would promise more attention to updates, but I would be lying, I will tray and get something posted weekly, that I can abide. Run Happy!

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Gasparilla 2017 8k

The Gasparilla distance classic weekend has been a tradition for me since doing the half marathon (my first) back in 2010. The pre race expo is often not to be missed, and since I still had to pick up my race bib and shirt, Rox and Brenna joined me early Saturday. I knew it would be a bit crowded since the 5 and 15k had taken place that morning, what I did not know is that I would have a chance to meet an idol of mine. Brenna was not happy to wait on what turned out to be a 1 hour line to see MEB! thats right Meb Keflezighi, Olympic silver medalist, NYC marathon winner, and winner of the 2014 Boston Marathon at 38 making him the oldest winner since at least the 1930’s. I have followed Met’s career since his NYC Marathon win in 2009, and have always looked up to his humility and hard work. The fact that I also got to meet Bill Rodgers 3 time Boston Marathon winner, and Bart Yasso, Runners world chief running officer.

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Bart Yasso

 

 

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Bill Rodgers

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MEB!!!

 

Now, onto the run itself. I did the 5k last year and decided to go a bit further and do the 8k this year. My training had consisted of no more than 3 miles per run, as of a few months ago I bumped that up to 4, so I though an 8k (5 miles) should be no problem.

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Start line…Windy!

It was a very windy start, especially as you come towards the finish line. Thankfully at least half the race the wind would be at my back, as this was a simple out and back, down Bayshore. The great thing about this race was that it is just long enough that there were not many walkers so there was no real bottleneck at the start. I was actually able to run from start to finish (which i actually did) .

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The route is pretty basic, Bayshore is really pretty, super expensive homes on one side and Tampa bay on the other. The support crowd had dwindled as the 8k was the las race of the weekend and it did not start till 9:15, however there were still pockets of folks cheering , playing music and generally enjoying what was an amazing Florida day, 60 degrees, bright sunshine, perfect! I had in mind to try and maintain an under 8:30/mile pace, and run the entire race, no stopping, slowing if I needed to but no stops. The first part worked out really well, the second, not so  much, in the last 1.5 miles i did have to stop, but only 2 times. I finished the race strong, and was able to manage a 42:04 time 8:22/mile pace.

This was a really great race and I will plan to do the 8k again next year!

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