Road tested: Salomon XA Pro 3D XCR

I am becoming the Imelda Marcos of running shoes. To round out my ever-expanding collection, I recently purchased the Salomon XA Pro 3D XCR (is that not the most unmemorable model name you’ve ever seen?). They’re made for trail running (which I would like to do some of soon), but can be worn for street running too. Best of all, they’re waterproof (or claim to be — I’ll know later today) due to the GoreTex liner.

I shopped different models before buying these. I looked at The North Face’s line of trail running shoes, but users rated them as heavy/clunky. Then I looked at Montrail’s line, but kept seeing posts/reviews from people who said the shoes were great except for the fact that they tend to fall apart quickly. The reviews for the Salomon’s were almost universally positive. What did we do before the Internet?

I wore them yesterday on an interesting run: I decided to run to my polling place and vote, then complete my run. Although the voting stop was a mere mile into my run, I’m sure I stank when I got there. But the place was full of giddy Democrats (myself among them), so I don’t think anyone noticed or cared. I hope.

The remainder of the run was a five miler, and the shoes felt very good from the get go. No chafing, pinching, stiffness (although I do have a small blister on the top of one of my smaller toes on the left foot…hmm). They are also surprisingly lightweight. I think they may weigh even less than the New Balance 901s I use for racing. Maybe I’ll try these for my next race.

They are sized slightly large. I normally wear an 8 (well, I do on my right foot. The left foot is a 7.5), but those were too big, so I exchanged them for a 7.5 and they feel great. They are on the narrow side (but, again, not tight), and are longer than my other shoes.

The lacing system in interesting. It’s a single cord loop that you just pull up on (or loosen) to adjust, then slide a stopper in place. The eyelets are well-located…in fact they’re located perfectly for me, as I have a bunion on the left foot that doesn’t get along with certain shoe designs and lacings. For example, I like my Asics Gel Kayano XIIs, but I have to do a custom lacing on the left foot or my bunion screams bloody murder after about six miles.

The drawback to the lacing system is that I won’t be able to attach a timing chip to the shoes using the laces. That’s hardly a showstopper, though. I have about 9,000 safety pins in the car from previous races.

Today is quite rainy and I have a 10 miler planned for the afternoon. Having waterproof shoes completes my rainy day running wardrobe. With my new shoes (and a newly cleaned House), I’ll be running with a spring in my step later on…

Lying on the couch, watching other people run

I never gave a hoot about the ING NYC Marathon until last year, which was just after my first race ever in October. Suddenly, watching other people run for two+ hours was interesting. But I didn’t follow racing then, so had no idea who the people running were.

This year’s different. Our house is abuzz with excitement this morning (or, at least, as abuzz with excitement as a two person household can be at 7:30AM on a Sunday), as we await the start of televised coverage of the 2006 event. There are so many great runners in it this year that’s it’s truly impossible to predict who will win.

Apparently Deena Kastor is plastered across every bus and subway in the city right now. I’m wondering if she gets a USA win (and/or Meb Keflezighi — or Alan Culpepper, or Katie McGregor for that matter) if that will boost interest in (and television coverage) of the bigger marathons. I would loved to lie on the couch and watch the Boston or Chicago marathons, for example. But, alas, I would need couches in those cities to do so.

As for our own, considerably less spectacular efforts…

We took a couple of hours yesterday to drive up to Rockland State Park to check out the course for a 5 mile “turkey trot” we’re doing on Thanksgiving. We just did an easy run around the course so we’d know what to expect.

It’s in the same park where I ran my best 10K time in the spring, although the course is different for the first 1.75 miles — lots of hills, some of them quite long, on local streets, then flattening out when you enter the park and run around a lake. It’s also a huge race, relatively speaking: there were over 1,000 people running it last year.

Given the hills, I don’t think it’ll be my best race. But it should be enough to work off some of the pumpkin bread I plan to make.

We noticed another race on the Westchester Track Club calendar…a 5K/10K race in Hastings on November 19. Might do that one too, as Hastings is quite hilly and a 10K would be a good early hill workout equivalent.

A runner’s fortune

Fortune cookie fortune found on my run this morning:

“Everything is perfect in the universe — even your desire to improve it.”

You find the oddest things when you go out running.

Other things I’ve found while running:

– GU gel (Vanilla)
– Swimming pool pass
– earphone “sock”
– ATM receipt
– $10 bill (unrelated to ATM receipt)