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Hoka One One Biondi S2
Have you ever even heard of these shoes before? I didn’t before I met Chet “The Jet” whom was a double Ironman athlete I hosted in my home a few weeks ago. Chet is from Hawaii and he nonchalantly mentioned these shoes as he was telling the tale of his son whom was running across the country. He was even went on to mention that he sent a pair to a point in Alabama where he knew he son could pick them up, and the response, nothing but sure gratitude for the gift. That was the point I had to give them a try.
Hoka One One is not well known here on the east coast, but in the community of ultra runners they have been known since their inception in 2010. Obviously this is a relatively young company which falls under the Deckers Outdoor Corporation umbrella whom also houses brands like UGG, and Teva. With the increased popularity of Ultra and Marathon running, I believe these will take off to even higher levels in the very near future. Why? Well let me tell you.
When I looked at these shoes for the first time, I reacted negatively. The huge sole, was a problem for me, due to my belief in a more of a minimal running form, but I for the readers and for my clients I wanted to give them a try, especially after the rave reviews from Chet and his son. I decided to take them out first for a three-mile run, and then give them a full test drive at the Sarasota Half-Marathon this past Sunday. I was completely overwhelmed at how comfortable and responsive these shoes are. At first glance they look really heavy don’t they? They weigh in at slightly under 10 ounces(9.8), which is the exact weight of my Brooks Pure Flow 2s that I love so much. My Brooks Pure Cadence 2s, I was just sent are actually almost 0.4 ounces heavier. (Just a disclaimer, I weighed these myself, I did not take these stats from the website.)
What also surprised me was the structure looks like a normal running shoe, like any Asics Nimbus, or Brooks Ghost which has a 12mm heel drop. They say looks can be deceiving, and with these shoes they are. They also have the same heel drop as the Brooks Pure Project line as well. The flexibility in the forefoot is probably the only disadvantage of this shoe versus my own running shoes and even that is minimal, and I believe probably after running in them for a little longer even that would become pliable enough to create more flexion.
The sole not only provides superior cushioning upon impact, it also is slightly wider which increased the stability as well. It seriously was like running on a cloud. I always preach good running form, and if you have naturally good form, impact is not usually an issue due to a proper lean, raised knee, and high cadence. I found myself not having to think about my posture and position, because the rocker-ed sole of the shoe did not inhibit, but encouraged a good strike and lean. Just for the fact a few of my clients are still trying to get into the habit of good form, I decided to jump rope, and do some box jumps in order simulate the impact. I barely felt anything, and I had full control of my feet. i really thought I would end up kicking the rope especially doing double-unders, but I had complete control and I barely felt the impact doing the box jumps. I could totally understand why these shoes are so popular with the marathoners and ultra-runners on the other coast. The more people start wearing them here, I believe they will gain popularity pretty quickly.
The retail price of the Hoka One One Biondi S2s are $170.00 which seems even high for a running shoe, but like the Newtons, they have a much higher mileage output. In my research I have found these shoes have been averaging over 700 miles without any degradation of the sole or cushioning. An ultra runner friend of mine said he had 3 pair of these he was switching out, and his current count is at 3048 miles and he has no intention of getting new ones yet. Most running shoes will get up to 350 miles, and my favorite Pure Project line rates there own shoes at 250 miles and cost around $100 retail.
They do take some getting used to. They do feel bigger, but not heavier. I do like that I was 5’11’ with them on, instead of 5’8″ and change. Personally, I do not think I would use them for a half marathon or below. I like the feel of the road a little too much, but you better believe I will be running the Chicago Marathon in them.
I give the Hoka One One Biondi Speed 2s, 4 out 5 Goofs.
Hoka One One has several other versions of shoes, for different fits, and surfaces. More information can be found on their web site.
There are people out there that take everything in stride and just let the world unfold around them, and there are people who have decided there is so much negativity in the world it is much easier to be oblivious to everything. Either way, in my opinion, if it makes you happy, then do it. There are a few people out there, that have a passion for making the world a better place. There are those who find one cause and passionately support it, which is phenomenal, but a rare few people out there are able to spread their power of influence, courage, and passion to every cause, organization and individual in need they can. My friend Ben is one of those people.
Before I tell you about his cool “Run for Cause” fun runs, or the races he has organized and the races coming up, let me tell you about Ben Mena the runner. Ben and I met through friends from my tri-club the A-Train and some friends from the Run Progressive track workouts. I knew of him and knew he was fast, but that didn’t justify what I saw when I first ran with him. I am amazed at people who can run a marathon with 7:30 average per mile pace. This guy hammers through half-marathons in under 6-minute miles and then will turn around and bike for 20 without skipping a beat.
My favorite memory of watching Ben was actually a cycling workout. Ben was coerced into joining us and Pete (Tribute #2) let him borrow his road bike. This bike had pedal cages on it because Ben didn’t have cycling shoes or cleats and this was going to be his first ride. Well, Ben goes out in front with the “A” group and is really strong. We all thought, “OK, we will just hang back here and watch him die out and pick him up at the turnaround.” He reached the turnaround and just kept going and beat us all. First time out! A few weeks later he decides to do a duathlon in Orlando for the first time and he finishes first, overall. Ben’s VO2 max is off the charts. Maybe that is why he continues to help those in need, with a VO2 max that high, his heart is huge.
Ben organizes a monthly fun run in Brandon, Florida that gives to a different charity each month. I have been running in every one since July and I have seen no less than 50 people at any of them. He also is part of a duo with Beth Shaw (Dis-com-BOB-ulated Running), of which they have successfully completed their first race called the Shape Up for Summer 5k and now they have another one coming up called the Corporate 5k in downtown Tampa. The Shape Up for Summer 5k had well over 750 runners which is well over what they expected and as I used the race as a culmination runs for my clientele, let me just say it was one of the best organized 5k runs I had participated in. Beth and Ben did a really amazing job, so if you find a race organized by MenaShaw Races, you can be sure to have a great experience.
With that being said, Ben has another race he has organized and this one has an interesting spin on it while helping out some people that can really use it. I will let him tell you in his own words. Let me introduce, Benjamin Mena.
Benjamin (Ben) Mena
Birthdate: 8/25/83 – Virgo
Place of Birth: Virginia Beach, VA
Place growing up: Charleston SC and Bremerton, WA
High School: Cocoa Beach High
High School sports: Soccer, Cross Country, Track
College: University of Central Florida
College Sports: Cross Country, Track
Other Sports: Ummmm….. nope
I usually describe you as one of the fastest runners in the Tampa Bay area. What started you running?
I used to be the guy that would make fun of the runners and throw stuff at them. (in HS). I thought running was dumb and pointless. So after a win-less soccer season, the soccer girls tried to convince me to run cross country to prep for soccer… I said yeah right, that’s dumb… their response was just run behind us. What teenage guy can say no. after my first year running (JR year) I developed a passion for it and it quasi-took over my life.
JR year was just an introduction to the sport. Our workouts were easy as hell, but the one thing I loved my coach for (she was hot also) she taught us all how to make running fun and enjoyable. My Sr year of high school we had a new coach. She had a background as a professional runner, so she knew her stuff. She helped give me the dream of being a college athlete. At that point, I wasn’t good enough for any college team but I worked my ass off as hard as I could. I had the one gift that every coach wants in their athlete. Burning desire to make it.
The summer before college was pretty crazy. I was working 5 jobs to try to get ready for college (until my car died) then I had to drop my job at Publix [Supermarket]because it was a 20-mile bike ride each way). I would bike to my different jobs, then get home and run and then would be able to start hanging out with friends after 11 pm. During that time I would never miss a run no matter how bad I wanted to have fun.
I still to this day don’t know why coach chose me out of all the other walk-ons.. but I am thankful she did. I ran with my heart and I knew I had more to prove that everyone that came in on scholarships. (I also didn’t have a car… so I got a lot more miles in than most people. Outside all the running I was walking 5-14 miles a day to and from, and around school) By the end of the first season, I was granted an athletic scholarship and the following year I was team captain…
|Ben doing what he does best
What and When was your first 5k time? What and when was your fastest 5k time?
What kind of workouts did you do to get that fast?
You don’t want to know the schedule. But my favorite workout was mile repeats!
What was your average weekly mileage?
60-80 was the average. During the summer we would crank it up for base building. My highest week was 112 and 90% of those miles were done along the Appalachian Trail.
I mentioned above that you hold a monthly fun run named “Run for a Cause” at the Cork & Olive in Brandon. How did that come about?
Just had the idea while at the bar. I love hosting fun events for people… and it came about from there. our first event I was hoping for 10 people… and over 50 ended up showing up.
How many different charities have you hosted?
7 or 8 now
If someone had a cause they would like to have hosted at one of your events what is the best way to contact you? Best is through FaceBook.
The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School has devastated the country. You chose to act quickly and do something about it by hosting this Virtual Run. Can you give the details?
This is a virtual half-marathon and virtual 5K. Since it is virtual, you can complete it anywhere in the world. You can run, walk, swim, bike, anything you like, and you can complete the 13.1 miles or 5K all at once, over the course of a week, or whenever you can. Just complete all miles between now and Jan 31st. This is on the honor system – you do not have to report your miles.
The registration fee for the Half Marathon is $30.
Register Here: http://www.active.com/half-marathon/tampa-fl/sandy-hook-elementary-memorial-half-marathon-and-5k-2013
Event Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/events/186264894845690/
What gave you the Idea?
I am on the board for a few charities, and I was already researching a way to do a virtual 5k. When the devastation occurred, I couldn’t sleep, so I mulled it over for a while and by Sunday I had it up on Active.com and Facebook and 200 people already had agreed to participate. Today on Facebook there are over 1800 that have committed and a little over 250 that have actually signed up on Active.com
It grew a lot faster than I thought. It went viral. I originally thought about a few people here in Tampa to raise around 1000 dollars, but now it is well over that.
|Beth and Ben
Beth and I have been organizing a Tampa Bay Corporate 5K.
This is an event where the runners choose one of the 4 charities that this race will give back too. Every person that registers for the race will get a vote (fill in the blank) for the charity of their choice. The charity with the most votes will receive a portion of the proceeds along with Little Things for Cancer, Cystic Fibrosis (Tampa Chapter), and Operation Helping Hand.
You can get more details on the Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/131275133693630
or on the event website: http://www.tampacorporate5k.com/
|Ben and his fiance Jennifer
|Ben and the Goof
My Thursday turned out to be an extremely awesome day. At work things seem to take a positive step and coaching at Fit2Run last night was enlightening and productive, but the best part was all the cool stuff I received without notice.
I went to Fit2Run last night just to mainly help out with the Half Marathon groups. There are runners that are training for all the races coming up; the Clearwater Holiday Halfathon, the Clearwater Marathon, Disney Distance Weekend and the Princess Half, Gasparilla, Best Damn Race and the Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon. Thursday’s are speedwork days for these runners and Eric planned numerous one minute sprints with one minute rest in between. I have no idea how many we did, but I was tuckered afterward. Of course I can’t help but put in my own two cents as a coach with runners when I notice issues in their form. One runner I spent about fifteen minutes on his form and things changed immediately for him and he was so grateful. That is the best gift I was given, but they just kept coming.
I was leaving for the night when Eric caught me and told me the Brooks representative sent gifts for us. I got a brand new pair of Brooks Green Silence which are incredibly light. I haven’t run in them yet but I am totally looking forward to it. They sure look cool, am I right? I did try them on and they are so comfortable, that I am aching to get a run in them tomorrow. With the Brandon Half Marathon on Sunday I probably won’t do too much but I it is going to be fun.
The gifts didn’t stop there. Eric handed me two more packages from Brooks. This really awesome running jacket and a pair of shorts. James said that he is getting all sorts of compliments on the jackets and the models are not even out yet so he can’t put them in the store yet. What an awesome night. Speed work and then early holiday gifts….what could be better than that?
I will tell you, a package arriving with the new Nikon Coolpix S10 that’s what!
|Taken with my 3 mp camera phone
Pretty sweet right? The camera fits perfectly in that little change pocket in your jeans and can be taken anywhere. I was thinking it would be perfect for this blog. It takes pics from 2-10 megapixels, has a flash, a 5x optical zoom, virtual stabilization, HD video the works. I was so excited as I was playing around with it, unfortunately, I am sad to say, as a Nikon it does not live up to my expectations. I am going to write a full review as a posting later on, but the gist is that the pics are grainy when the light is not optimal.
|Taken with the Nikon Coolpix S10
As you can see, this was in decent light with a flash and my beautiful little Mikali looks grainy. I took a bunch of pics with different settings and this was the best one. *sniff* *sigh*
I have repackaged it up and I am returning it to Amazon. It sucks because the camera is just perfectly convenient. This is the first version of this camera, so it’s obvious I have not learned my lesson on buying the first generation of electronics as of yet.
I have signed up with the ladies to do a picture a day holiday challenge, where I post one photo a day that coincides with a word for that day. If you see anything in the area that makes you think of the daily word let me know, or take the challenge yourself. Just take the pic and post it on Twitter with the hashtag #Holidayaday.
The mailbox provided a gift when I got home today. It will seem pretty cheesy to most people, and by most people I mean almost everyone. Vistaprint offered me a free sample prototype while I was trying to negotiate customized t-shirts for the A-Train. Of course I didn’t need to give them our final design, since I didn’t have one yet, so I gave them something quick, but I thought it was kinda cool. Ready for a laugh? Here ya go.
I thought it was kinda nutty when I was invited to the Sunrise/Sunset Challenge, but I wasn’t sure the impact it would have on me. I looked at the distances of the two races, Top Gun and the Twilight Triathlons, and thought, “What the hell? The two distances do not even add up to an Olympic. How difficult could it be?” What I didn’t count on was the increased effort level?
The plan was hammer the Top Gun and do the Twilight for fun. (I am a poet and didn’t even know it.) Yeah. Right. Considering I have been competing and training for more long course triathlons lately, I really thought I would finally be able to conquer the sprint. My last full sprint was two years ago, when I competed in a few sprints in order to get ready for a marathon my times were less than admirable. To be honest, I was happy with 1:20 at the time. Now, after a few Ironman 70.3s and last year’s full Ironman I really thought I could do a lot better. Figuratively, I actually did, but in my mind it still wasn’t what I wanted, but there were some small achievements.
I picked up an A-Train Tri member, Jaime Breibert, around 5am and headed out to Ft. DeSoto. After the experiencing the pay-to-park line for the Escape from Ft. DeSoto Triathlon, I was pleasantly surprised this event was exempt so there were no delays driving into the park. Nice! Like every other race I have competed or watched at Ft. DeSoto the organization of the event was outstanding. The line for body marking was minimal, the transition area was large enough to accommodate all of the athletes bikes, space for their transition setup and extraneous bags. Walking into transition I spent minimal time setting up my bike, helmet and sunglasses, towel, bike shoes, and running gear including my choice of shoes (this time being my Brooks Pure Cadence), running belt and hat. I wasn’t rushed for time, or inconvenienced by other athletes. It was smooth sailing which is always nice since it eliminates any unwanted stress.
I headed on down to the beach with Nick Zivolich and Jaime where the low pitched but high energy voice was repeating instructions over the speaker system. It was a nice and comfortable environment I have come to love over the past years. The energy of the upcoming race increasingly becoming more and more intense as the time for the first heat was getting closer. I caught up with a bunch of friends and familiar fellow tri community members I have accumulated over the last years. This is absolutely one of my favorite times of the race. I have been really lucky this year as my age group has been assigned early heat times, so the intense anticipation has been minimal. Last year, I was not so lucky, but I understand the race directors strategy of moving the groups around each year to be fair. It will be interesting to find out what they where I will be starting next year. I was in the fifth heat this year only 12 minutes after the first and immediately following Jaime’s heat.
I wished Jaime and Victoria luck and intensely watched them swim out to the first buoy. Just a quick disclaimer. I totally and utterly suck at swimming. For me triathlon is survive the swim and get on the bike where the competition really begins. Not that I haven’t been working at it, but honestly, if for some reason I have to skip a workout, I’ll skip a swim before a bike, run or strength workout, but I digress. The horn finally went off and my personal race had started. I had been analyzing my swim prior to this, and just recently had the epiphany that maybe my pull of my arm through the water was possibly to shallow to allow me any kind of real speed. I usually finish with the heat behind me, and even sometimes with the heat behind that one, but this time following my experiment of dipping my arm deeper and pulling a little harder, (Voila!!) I actually finished in the middle of my heat. As I ran to my bike I noticed silver swim caps in front of me and coming behind me. A huge smile came over my face as I was slipping into my bike shoes and put on my helmet and sunglasses. I really couldn’t believe it. At this point I already felt like a winner.
I ran out of transition, jumped on my bike and headed out to the course I knew so well, due to all of the brick workouts I completed here with my A-Train Triathlon family. My goal; keep my speed above 21 while keeping a cadence under 96. The whole ride was pretty uneventful. The same word came out of my mouth more than anytime in the short period I have been racing. I continually yelled the word “left” as I was passing other athletes on my right, of course it was disconcerting when I heard it coming from my left. The ego boost came when I finished the final roundabout yelling “left” to a male athlete that had passed me at the beginning of my ride. As, I came into transition the only thought was how fast can I get in and out of transition, start the run and whether or not I had pushed a little to hard on the bike. According to my computer I had averaged well above 21, so was that too much?
I pulled on my shoes, grabbed my hat and ran out of transition buckling my race belt with my number attached to the front. I grabbed water on the way, a little disappointed when it turned out to be very warm, but it was wet. As I started trying to increase the cadence I noticed that my legs were very heavy, not a good sign. I kept saying to myself this is fine, just lean from the ankles and let gravity fuel your momentum. As much I told myself to lift my legs and lean a little more, my body refused to submit to what my head was commanding. I continued through the first mile to the fort, and very, very slowly my legs started to loosen a little, and my cadence started to increase. Passing the 1 mile aid station, I noticed a little more energy in my step and my hip flexors obeying my will. Then I turned the corner and I remembered. Crap! The middle mile of this race is on SAND! The lower extremities of my body surprised me as they adapted immediately to their new environment. I guess all those beach runs with Amy Eck had actually done something for me. All of the sudden I found myself enjoying the run. My legs stretched out, by body leaned, my cadence finally reached 180 (I think) and I was flying. Who would’ve thought feeling all that resistance under my feet would actually transform into moving faster? Not me, but after begging my body to obey earlier I was not going to look a gift horse in the mouth, so before my body decided any differently I picked up my pace. Turning on the path back to the asphalt I caught another athlete with a 44 on his calf. Hmm…an athlete in my wave I will place in front of…cool. With that thought completed I noticed another male runner in front of me with the number 41 on his calf. My only thought; “You are mine!” With the finish line in sight and the 3 mile marker on my left, I started to sprint with the finish line getting larger in my view and the runner in front of me coming closer and just a few feet from the timing mat, I caught him and jumped in front. A short term goal accomplished. I was so wiped out I could not immediately put my foot on the stool in order for the volunteer to remove my chip. I had to step over to a section of baracade and keep myself from falling for a quick second. After a half a minute I recovered enough to get my chip removed, grab some water and meet some friends at the end of the finish line assembly. Jaime had just finished and Speedy Nick was there already dried off and drinking some water.
With as exhausted as I was how was I ever going to this again in less than 12 hours?
After greeting some friends and coaches, watching some other friends and athletes come across the finish, I headed out to find some water and Gatorade. I noticed some preliminary results were posted, so I walked over in the hopes mine might just be posted and as luck, good or bad, would have it they were. My first split was the swim, and I was pleasantly surprised 7:53…cool. Less than 2 min per 100m…I’ll take that considering my miserable swimming performances leading to this race. Second split was the bike..26:51 averaging 22.3 MPH…Sweet! I never did that before. Finally, a 26.35..5k run. Well, I have run much faster, but not during a triathlon. 8:33 miles per minute…honestly I thought I did better, but I accepted it. More Bricks, more bricks, more bricks.
Overall, 1:06:36. A personal record(PR) since my last Sprint was 1:19 so you would think I would be happy and at first I was, until I looked at my place; 38th with only 67 athletes in my age group. Not even in the top 50 percent. That dropped me from my high pretty fast. There were still runners on the course so maybe there a few more in my group out there where I can at least be in the top half. As I check the results while I write this, it turns out there were I am ranked 39th out of 84 so I made it, just barely but I did make the top half.
The end of the morning consisted of congratulating friends, socializing and grabbing some breakfast at Lucky Dills in downtown St. Pete. I couldn’t have imagined a better morning.
Next up, the two race day continues.