Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The First Big VFF Test

I ran my first footrace wearing the VFF's this past Sunday.

It was the 10K portion of the Presidio 10 Race.


The race was a lesson in both what the potential of the VFF is, and the fact I still need more time (and running miles) to get used to these shoes.

Potential: During my fastest segments I was running as fast as I would have in my regular running shoes. The difference was that I felt lighter. Less heavy breathing. Also felt less like I was having to throw my whole body into it.

But I'm still not completely used to running in these things.

I no longer heel strike, which takes a huge load off my knees and hips. But my calves still aren't used to working this kind of distance at higher speeds. My previous runs (with the exception of an interval workout a few days earlier) all had been done at slower speed. Sometime just past the 4 mile mark my right calf started getting very stiff. Just after I got off the Golden Gate Bridge and back into San Francisco, I had to stop and stretch.

The next mile afterwards was a struggle. Normally a downhill at the end of the race would be an opportunity to floor it. In my case, I had to slow down due to the stiffness in my calf. It wasn't until the last half to 3/4 mile, when the course went into the sandy path along the Crissy Field shoreline, that I was able to speed up again. I suspect the sandy surface was easier on my calves.

Still, I can't complain too much. My time was faster than I expected it would be. Throughout the race, even at the very end when my calves were shot, I was passing people with regular running shoes. It was thrilling knowing that me, with my flimsy ass ninja shoes, was able to pass all these other people with thick soled running shoes. Part of me wonders whether or not some of the people I passed looked at me, my feet, and thought "WTF!"

But for now -- I go back to the drawing board. Long slow runs, intervals, and some tempo runs to get used to running at extended periods at higher speeds. Maybe what I need now isn't so much an increase in my max distance but an increase in my weekly miles instead.

See how the next road race goes.

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