There’s No Place Like the Finish Line

What better way to tackle an event pegged as the hardest Spartan Sprint ever then by breaking one of the cardinal rules of running: wearing a brand new pair of shoes!

Stupid stupid stupid. I know. Can’t jump into a 5+ mile race with straight-out-of-the-box kicks but I couldn’t help myself. Look how pretty these are:

Jay bought me my very first pair of minimalist trail running shoes. Have I mentioned how much I love that guy?! I wasn’t really sure whether going minimalist would be a good idea for me since I am pretty sure I suffer from a bit of plantar fasciitis. I have had my foot cramp up in the most supportive of shoes. But I supposed that if going for über-support didn’t work, why not try going the complete opposite direction? These particular shoes came highly recommended by about eleventy million obstacle racers so they can’t be that bad, right?

They are the Inov-8 X-Talon 190s. They weigh just about nothing. At 6.7oz, I thought the box was empty when the package arrived. Even when I put them on, I was pretty sure that they must have been a hologram because I felt like I was wearing nothing at all. That is good because I HATE WEARING SHOES. I am a flip-flop girl. Which, now that I think about it, is probably why my feet hurt all the time but whatever. My toes need to be free, gosh darnit! But with a mere 3mm differential, these shoes made me feel like I was still in my flippies.

Anyway, I kissed the beautiful bright red color good-bye and laced them up for the very first time at the foot of the Pennsylvania Spartan Sprint this past weekend. While the MC gave his little ‘We are Spartan’ speech to the plethora of new runners in my wave, I clicked my red heels together three times, just like Glinda said…

…and nothing happened. Well except, maybe my best performance at a Spartan Sprint yet!

I still did 150 burpees- balance posts, spear toss, monkey bars, rope climb, and wall traverse. But on each of these I got closer to completion than every before. The super grip on the shoes helped me hold on to footholds on the wall and the knots in the rope. Yay! The extraordinarily steep and rocky slopes? The treads ate into them like it was flat ground. (My calves, on the other hand, were begging for mercy.) Never in the whole 5.25 miles did lose footing.

I also never had any foot pain whatsoever. Typically, about halfway through a 5k, my feet start bitching at me for getting of the couch. My arches would feel like I’d been standing on broom handles or they’d seize up. My ankles would be rolling all over the place doing their best impression of Twizzlers that had been left in the car during a heat wave. Nothing like that happened. In fact, I was able to keep moving almost non-stop.

On this insane course

These shoes, I believe, were a key factor in improving on my pace/mile by 5 whole minutes over last month’s Tuxedo Sprint. I did change up some other things, including my diet and utilizing all-natural energy goo along the route, so can’t entirely credit the shoes, but I will definitely be using these for the NJ Super Spartan in September.

I will still be using my beloved Adidas Kanadias for other races. They still have a couple of points on the X-Talons. For one, it took 3 races before Kanadias managed to get untied and the Talons came undone a few miles in- I’ll have to look into some new laces, maybe. Second, the gigantor nubs on the bottom made my foot get a wee bit stuck in a narrow corner of the cargo net. I’ve got huge feet, though, so I am pretty used to getting them stuck in places. Also, the sturdier Kanadias were better for running down some of the trails that had larger rocks covering them. Minimalist shoe = maximum feeling of giant rocks under my feet. Ouch. Another thing is that since the outer is so, well, minimal, every twig or rock that poked the side of my foot really poked the side of my foot. Oh well. Can’t ask for perfection.

The Aftermath

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3 thoughts on “There’s No Place Like the Finish Line

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