Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Test driving my new shoes

One of the really nice perks of my job is the opportunity to buy gear directly from vendors at a deeply discounted rate. Admittedly, it's a dangerous perk - but one that, given that a good deal of my annual budget goes toward running/outdoorsy gear already, is most appreciated. My Christmas presents to myself this year were some new footwear - the aforementioned Vibram Fivefingers, a few pairs of Injini toe socks to accompany them, and a pair of the new Brooks Cascadia 5's - a trail running shoe partially designed by Seattle's own (and my longtime hero) ultrarunner Scott Jurek.

All the new colors of the Cascadia 5's look fairly hideous online. I finally settled on what I considered to be the least hideous color of all - a scheme that Brooks likes to call "Spicy Wasabi/Cedar/Black/Silver/Pavement"...whatever that means! In the flesh, the shoes look quite different than online - I've gotten everything from "algae" to "pond scum" to "pistachio" from various coworkers I polled. (It's impossible to walk anywhere in these guys without commentary.) Regardless, they're *slightly* less hideous than I thought they'd be, which is a bummer, as it'll tempt me to wear them around in daily life - generally a bad idea if I'm looking to extend their shelf life as a useful, technical shoe for running up and down mountains.

Sitting atop a small peak, overlooking the Cascades

But! I have taken them out for several exciting test runs this week. The first was a fairly spur-of-the-moment, total impulse run up Little Si a couple days ago before I had to go into work for REI's overnight inventory. I threw an apple, a bottle of water, and a rain jacket into a backpack and took off for North Bend, a small town about 30 miles east of Seattle, and notably, home of the infamous "Twin Peaks" show. It took me about an hour to run to the top (hiking/walking about 30% of the uphill, as this was my first real attempt at a technical trail run) and back down again (so much fun on the way down!). The views from the top were nice:

Today, the Cascadias got to come along for a sweet ride. Several friends from work and I went mountain biking in an obscure old logging forest, also about 35 miles outside of Seattle. There were literally thousands of acres of old growth forest, and all still in their full, lush glory, because so many trees in the Northwest are evergreens or moss-covered or whatever else that manages to survive, green and vibrant, all winter long! We stuck mostly to old logging roads - easier than any real technical mountain trails, but still a big, rocky, gravelly, and occasionally hilly mess for which I was infinitely grateful to have the mountain bike Jeff loaned me. We had the entire forest to ourselves for the five or so hours we were out, with some sporadic rain that made the whole day a muddy pit of fun.

Album from the day:


Picture of the day? Jeff rides ahead into the sunlight.

Territorial view.

Sandwich-and-bourbon break!

Waterfall/cascading river/mountains/trees. Yes please!

Muddy legs. Shoes still fluorescently pondscum-like.

Jenica and me, 37 miles later.

Doing this definitely beat going to work. Although hours are way down now that the holidays are over, I'm enjoying every minute of the free time I finally have after a long push through the hard stuff!

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