The Inaugural Asheville Marathon at the Biltmore - in Luna Sandals (Venado/original)

The Inaugural Asheville Marathon at the Biltmore - in Luna Sandals (Venado/original)

You're out on a run. Your nose is getting stuffy, so you lean to the side for a quick farmer's blow. It's cold out, but you didn't realize how cold until you go to wipe your nose with the back of your glove to clear off any additional moisture -- only to find that it's already frozen around the edge of your nostril in mere seconds.

Welcome to the inaugural Asheville Marathon, held on the grounds of the beautiful Biltmore estate. "Well," I thought dramatically at around mile 20, "At least I'll die somewhere majestic."

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New Balance NB Minimus Road Review

New Balance NB Minimus Road
New Balance NB Minimus Road

Recently, New Balance sent me a pre-release version of their upcoming New Balance NB Minimus Road. Months ago, when I first saw pictures of the Minimus Road, I thought they had retro look. This was not what I expected a minimalist running shoe to look like, so I was curious to see how they would perform. The pair I received are dark graphite with florescent red accents and different from the colors I had previously seen. After receiving them, I wore them for a couple of days and took them out for a 4.5 mile road run. I have been very pleasantly surprised by their great look, feel and minimalist features that I have detailed in the following initial review.

Read my initial review, see a video overview and lots of pics after the jump.

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Running in Huaraches at the TravelCountry.Com Barefoot Fun Run

Running in Huaraches at the TravelCountry.Com Barefoot Fun Run

Last Saturday, online retailer of Vibram Five Fingers, TravelCountry.com sponsored their first annual Barefoot Fun Run in Altamonte Springs, FL. The proceeds from the event went to the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Orlando, Florida.

James, who runs in huaraches, attended and sent us this report and the pictures above.

I had a wonderful time at the Barefoot Fun Run today at Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs, Florida. The event was kicked off with an informative barefoot running clinic by Michael Sander, author of Barefoot Running. It was a pleasure to run alongside Michael for the first half-mile while he gave me some excellent advice on form.

What a treat it was to see so many (over a hundred) in minimalist shoes or no shoes at all. I ran in my Xero Shoes in my first ever 5k organized run, and I look forward to next year with my wife Tonya joining me -- she is just beginning her barefoot transition.

Thanks for passing this along James. Sounds like it was a fun event. Nice tying on the huaraches!

First Marathon in Vibram Five Fingers KSOs

Chris in his KSOs
Chris at the 22.5 mile mark and after he finished.

After doing no marathon training, Chris recently ran his first marathon in Vibram Five Fingers KSOs and finished with a darn good time. You may remember Chris from when he ran the Baltimore Half Marathon with Bien. Here's what he sent us about running the marathon:

Recently, I ran and completed my first marathon. I only signed up a few weeks before the race in a moment of insanity, but it actually went pretty well. I've done two half marathons and a 10-mile race in the past few years, but I have not done any running specific training in 12 months and I've been doing Crossfit Strength Bias (CFSB) since December 2009. I did a few 5-6 mile runs to prepare for my 10 miler last April, but since then I have only done two 3 mile runs and one 4 mile run, in addition to occasional 400m, 800m, or short sprint work in keeping with the CFSB metcon standards.

Clearly, I had not done any specific training for the marathon whatsoever. I finished in 4:26 which isn't setting any records, but is great for my level of prep. I ran in my VFFs and only took in water and my own coconut water based iskiate recipe on course, as well as two Larabars and some salt packets. Pre and post race food was all paleo as well, except for one scoop of whey in my pre-race shake.

One week later I was pretty much fully recovered. My left hip flexor was quite sore for the first 24 hours, but it's back to normal now. Feet had a couple blisters, but did not hurt after the first couple hours. The only remaining issue is some soreness at the bottom of my left Achilles where it attaches to my heel. I felt that start to get aggravated during some of the final hills but it's almost totally better now. I can tell that my strength is not back 100%, but I was back in the weight room by the following week.

If anyone would like more details on my nutrition strategy or race details please just let me know.

What a great showing! While we certainly warn against anyone trying this, it is an amazing feat. Congratulations, Chris!

Smartwool Classic Vibram FiveFingers Review

Smartwool Classic Vibram FiveFingers Review

A couple months back Birthday Shoes sponsor Travel Country sent me a pair of Vibram FiveFingers Smartwool Classics to test and review. As I've previously blogged, Classic FiveFingers are my favorite everyday toe shoes as they are the most minimal VFFs you can get, and if you remove the bungee strap on the Classic Vibrams the comfort factor goes up exponentially. Indeed, my first pair of Five Fingers (oh so many moons ago!) were generation one Classics (no Vibram logo on top), and my review of them has been read over 233,000 times!

Below I'll talk about where Smartwool FiveFingers Classics stand amongst other models, how they fit, what the deal is with Smartwool, how they perform, detailed photos of what they look like,and whether or not "Smartwool Classics" are right for you.

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Cross Country Runner has Successful Season in Vibram Five Fingers KSO Treks

James in his KSO Treks
James running Cross Country in his Vibram Five Fingers KSO Treks

Dave, a FiveFingers runner who penned This is Not a Fad: You can Run Pain Free, sent us the following story about his son James who runs Cross Country in Vibram Five Fingers KSO Treks:

My son just concluded his junior season of varsity Cross Country for Halls High School in Knoxville, TN. He decided, without fanfare, to run all of the meets in his VFF Treks. He has seen me, along with his brother and his sister-in-law, convert from traditional running shoes to VFFs. James, however, is not a “trend follower”. Just “because other people do it” is more likely to be a reason for him to go the other way, especially where parents are involved! So there was no consultation, no searching of Dan Lieberman’s data for a scientific basis of injury avoidance…all I knew was he showed up for the first meet in his Treks.

James has been a distance runner for his school’s track or CC teams for over 5 years. He has completed one full marathon and is a natural fore/mid-foot runner who previously had worn track spikes in his cross country meets, even while most others wore running shoes. Even so, he had fought through shin splints and sore knees from time to time during past seasons.

For the 2010 varsity CC season, he ran all 8 meets in the season in his VFF Treks, posting a couple of Personal Records (PRs) along the way, and always finishing in the top 5 of his school team. What has been the outcome, you may ask? A County championship, maybe? A first place finish? No, regrettably there is no such happy story towards which to point, or to lay the success at the feet of his VFFs. On the other hand, unlike prior seasons, James had no injury issues all year. For me, this is the most significant outcome and educational point that can be made. Most of us on this site just want to finish, and finish well, when we undertake an event in our VFFs, whether the event is a 5K, 10K, a CrossFit WOD, or even a marathon. We want to be injury free and the fact that he put in as many miles this year virtually injury-free, at least in my opinion, is the biggest success imaginable.

Thanks for sending us your son's story Dave! Glad to hear James had a great year of healthy running and good luck during track season.

New 5K PR in Five Fingers Bikilas

Matt in his Bikilas
Matt running in his Bikilas at the Houston, TX Great Pumpkin Fun Run (5K)

Matt has a nice collection of Vibram Five Fingers that he has been wearing for quite a while. He sent us this note on how they have been working for him:

Just wanted to share a quick story since I finally have a good picture with my VFFs. I wear my KSOs for CrossFit, my Bikilas for running, and my Treks for trail running. I made the switch to VFFs about two years ago and have never looked back. I ran the 2010 Houston Marathon in my KSOs and will be running it again in January in my Bikilas.

October 30th, I signed up for a 5K to see how fast I could finish. I finished in a personal best 22:46. I love running in the Bikilas after years of fighting blisters in regular running shoes, I am still waiting on my first one to appear from my Five Fingers. I have a 25K trail run on November 6th, so the Bikilas will get the weekend off. Keep up the good work on the site.

Matt

Thanks for story and glad to hear you are having such great success with your Five Fingers!

In an interesting "it's a small world" side note, I happened to run in the same 25K trail run that Matt did this past Saturday. In fact, he passed me at about the 4 mile mark. I noticed he was wearing Five Fingers and we talked a little bit about them until I realized I couldn't match his pace. He was running strong but relaxed and had a great forefoot strike stride. This will all be news to Matt, since I never mentioned BirthdayShoes. Ha. Small world.

I ran the 20th Annual Rocky Raccoon 25K Trail Run in my recently reviewed New Balance MT101s. It was my first trail race. Here is the race report that I posted at Daily Mile. For Houston area runners who are interested in trail running, the Hog's Hunt 50k/25k is planned for April. Sam Houston State Park is a beautiful place to run.