Monday, March 31, 2014

Salomon SpeedCross Update & Copperheads Are Back

Salomon SpeedCross 3s

Time for an update. If you recall, some months ago, I tweeted and FB'd about a new pair of trail shoes I had purchased. Since I'm pretty much a Mizuno guy, the change to Salomon was a bit of a stretch. Still, though, I thought I should expand my knowledge of trail shoes beyond Brooks Cascadias (ok, IMHO) and Mizuno Wave Ascends (good, also IMHO). 

Now, after having logged a few hundred trail  miles on the soles of the Salomons, I feel somewhat qualified to deliver a verdict. At first use, I liked the shoes, but they felt (to be honest) weird. To stand in a pair for the first time is something akin to standing on a step-ladder that has been placed on a foundation of grade school erasers. I seemed taller. And the rubber cleats on the soles were much more flexible than those on either Mizuno or Brooks. I could stand in one place on a hard surface and sort of twist without lifting the soles - the cleats are that rubbery. And that took some getting used to.

Once I became accustomed to the new feel, however, the SpeedCross 3s quickly became my favorite pair of trail shoes. They are lighter in weight than the other two, fit my feet better than the Cascadias (and fit as well as the Wave Ascends), and are much grippier on a variety of surfaces - particularly dry rock and wet mud/sand. The softer rubber on the soles coupled with deeper-profile cleats is a combination of components that I would not have guessed would work as well in concert as they do. The height, as I mentioned, felt strange at first. The drop from heel to toe also seemed too dramatic initially. But now it feels natural. In this case, familiarity breeds comfort.

While I have only used my Mizunos for trail marathons (Wave Ascends) and gravel ultra marathons (Wave Inspires), I would happily run either in the SpeedCross 3s.  The longest distance I've logged in the Salomons was 17 miles on a relatively smooth sandy trail. Last week, however, I ran in them 5 out of six days on a variety of trails, and found no hot spots, or areas of discomfort.

This past winter the Salomons also served as my go-to snow running shoes. They performed well. The sides also endured many scrapes with hard snow and ice without showing any signs of fatigue in the rubber or wear in the fabric.

Over the past few months, the Salomons have become my favorite pair of trail shoes. They are certainly unlike other trail shoes, and thus require a bit of adjustment time. But the rewards they provide are well worth the price (slightly higher than other shoes I've bought), and the unique feel.

Clinton N.Shore Update:

I have to report that I came across my first copperhead on the Clinton trails yesterday. Even with the cold winter, the snakes are already hanging out and will certainly startle the unsuspecting runner. So pay heed.

Also poison ivy is around. I've already had my first minor encounter.  Just because the leaves aren't around doesn't mean you should grab every random vine.

I'm still looking to be bitten by my first tick of the season. And I haven't stumbled into a pack of oak mites yet either.  I'll let you know when either of those fun events happens.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

I'd Rather Switch (back)

The Verdict? Too Sweet.

I use flavored protein powders occasionally. They're kind of a treat, and a switch from muesli or Grape Nuts-type cereals I usually eat in the morning. After runs, I'm a pretty big believer in hemp protein. I usually have it straight in water. But for breakfast, it doesn't seem to cut it. I usually go for a blend. Sometimes I'll throw a banana or some other fruit in as well.

A few days ago I stopped by Natural Grocers. My plan was to buy the Vega Sport French Vanilla blend. But it was out of stock. So I opted for the powder shown above. Honestly, on paper it looks just as good and costs a lot less. The ingredient profile is excellent. I was relatively stoked (if one can be relatively stoked) to give it a try.

Vega's products, to me, are slightly too sweet. And if I had a complaint in general about protein blends, the candy taste would be it. I normally mix in a bit of straight hemp protein and water just to knock down the sweetness level.  

But MRM's Veggie Elite blend brings sweetness to a whole new level. I would list it, for me, as almost undrinkable. I have used half the amount of powder they recommend, added a lot of water and hemp protein powder, and still find it to be overwhelmingly sweet. I'm kind of at a loss as to how to make this product work for me.

So, I'm thinking that reluctantly I'm going to have to give this products a big thumbs down - even though I am hugely in favor of lower-cost, quality vegan options in the world of protein powders.