Sticking with the running theme, here is my latest shoe to the fleet, the Merrell Trail Glove. This is my second pair, that replaced the first, which was in my last shoe post here. To make a long story short:
I bought my last pair of Merrells in California this summer for work, and because I am a minimalist shoe fan. I ran a little in the shoes, and did not like the feel of them compared to my New Balance Minimus, so I decided that I would wear these to work. After only two and a half months, these shoes started to fall apart. In my book that is unacceptable. After an email to Merrell, I had a form to fill out, and once that was in I received an email to send my shoes back to them for a replacement. Awesome. I really like seeing companies step up with their customer service, and really stand by their products. Well done Merrell!
Apart from looks, these shoes are a little different than the last model. The two seam is more reinforced, and the fit is a little more loose. I probably would have bought a smaller size originally, but after running in them a few times already I like the extra room in the toe area. Hopefully these will last a bit longer than the former model.
After a few runs in them, I still do not like the feel all that much. Especially when they are compared to my Minimus trail runners. I haven’t given up on them just yet, but overall I have to say that I am impressed with how the company operates. That definitely keeps me a fan. Thanks Merrell!
Sticking with the current running theme, spent some time at East Fork with a friend running in the rain this evening. Typical fall weather on the menu; rain, overcast, chilly… perfect for a trail run. The original plan was to dust off the Surly and get a nice fall ride in, but since it had rained for most of the day, the New Balance Minimus came out to play instead.
We decided to run the middle section of the MTB trail, which as you can see in the blurry photo it was completely covered in wet leaves, which in turn caused me to bust my ass in a slightly off camber section. After the trail check to my knee, it gave me a moment to slow down and really look around while running, and basically see things off of the trail that I have never seen before. I will say it kinda blew my mind as to what I have been missing with my mountain bike tunnel vision, it was definitely nice to slow down a bit and take it all in.
Just keep running…
For the last year and a half or so, I have really embraced running. Running is something that I have always done from time to time, but for the first time in my life, I have actually enjoyed it. Maybe it’s because I am now in my 30s, and my body is reacting a bit differently than when I was in my 20s. Or it could just be that running is a very inexpensive, and low time commitment way to stay in shape. Don’t get me wrong, I love mountain biking, but it is very nice to just leave from the front door and hit the road or woods for a quick half hour run. That said, here are the shoes that I have been putting to the test…
Vibram Five Fingers KSO
These are the shoes that made me enjoy running again, and made me hate it all the same. I posted a rant about them some time ago (read it here) and after my little toe issue, I took a nice long break from them. After that break, I started to work them back into my running routine, and now I am back to liking them. These shoes really shine for trail running or hiking, but only when it is dry. Wear these shoes when it is muddy, and you will have a trail running session that is similar to ice skating. Since they are so light, they are also a great choice for having around the campsite after a day in hiking boots.
New Balance Minimus
These are my go to shoes now a days. Primarily a trail runner, I find that these shoes are an all around delight for my feet. They feel very similar to the Vibrams, but with a more aggressive tread pattern, that hooks into the ground very well. Wet trail downhill running? Yes please. These shoes connect with the dirt unlike any running shoes that I have worn. I also like running on the pavement with them, but this is not the popular view on this model.
Merrell True Glove
I have been a fan of Merrell’s products for a while now, and when they embraced the minimalist running movement, I was intrigued with their models. I ended up with the True Glove, and after quite a few runs I decided that these were not for me. The feel of them seemed dulled down, as in the rubber seemed too hard, or not as flexible, and they just did not feel right to me. So, I have been wearing these shoes to work, and after two and a half months they look like this:
These shoes have not held up to a little bit of running, and a lot of time at work. The other shoe has completely separated at the toe from the sole. So add shoes that don’t last and bad ground feel, and that equals shoes that I will not buy again.
Saucony Kinvara 2
After my Vibram incident, I went out looking for a more comfy shoe, and I ended up going with the Kinvara 2s. Compared to all of the shoes on this list, they are like running on clouds. Not a true minimalist shoe, but more of a transition shoe. Any time that I feel like pushing the miles all on pavement, these are the shoes that I reach for.
So there you have it, the shoes in my current stable. I have been running quite a bit more here the past few weeks, mostly due to having a slight tailbone issue, and also due to Venturepax having a running challenge on their site. Head on over to accept the challenge to win some Altra running shoe swag!
Just keep running…
Spent a solid two hours after work this evening back at Mission Trails regional park. This is one of my favorite places in the San Diego area, only around 20-25 minutes from the city proper. No excuses for those yuppie surfer types on how far away the mountains are. Yah bruh.
One of my favorite hikes in the park is the climb up to North Fortuna peak. Not the highest mountain in the range, but definitely the most secluded, and one could argue the most difficult. Most folks head over to Cowles mountain, which at 1591′ or so, is the tallest peak in the city. Two facts here: 1. Cowles is pronounced “coals,” and 2. Cowles mountain is higher than 8 different states’ highest points. Amazing right? Thought you might like those.
Anyway, I started my hike at the grasslands parking area, which dropped me into one of my favorite trails, Oak canyon. Rocky does not even begin to describe it. Here is a small taste:
In the rainy season, this canyon is green beyond green, with many different pools and waterfalls that are a pleasure to see. No joke. After this favorite trail, it was on to one of my least favorite parts of the hike, what I like to call the wall.
This climb, going up to the saddle between North and South Fortunas, is like climbing a loose granite gravel service road, that at points decides to go straight up. Not the most technical climb in the world, but quite the workout on your legs. I climbed this road once on my mountain bike a while back. That day was one of the worst of my life.
Once climbing that horrid piece of tilted Earth, you start your final climb to the summit, which is a narrower dusty trail that gets only a quarter or less of the traffic of nearby Cowles mountain. I like Cowles, but being alone on Fortuna is pretty amazing.
At the top, amazing views all around, views down into Mexico, the Pacific, downtown, out east to the Cuyamacas, etc. On a clear day, it is something to see.
After hanging at the summit for a bit, I loaded my camera gear back into my Osprey Talon pack and headed back down the trail. Once back in the canyon, the lights were getting dim, so I alternated hiking with trail running to make it back to the car before dark. Total mileage of around 3 or 4 miles I would guess, and a total of 2 hours hiking time. Such a great hike, and so close to the city. One of my favorites…
Taking a different route than normal, but due to my job sending me west, sans bike, I have been exploring with my shoes. Hiking is a great way to get out and about, but unfortunately it only makes me want to ride a bike even more. You can cover so much more ground on a bicycle than by walking. Anyway…
After my shift at work, I loaded my Osprey Talon pack with my camera and some essentials, and headed down to a relatively familiar nearby Rose canyon to explore a bit. I had ridden this particular canyon around 4 or 5 years ago, but since I was without a bike I laced up my New Balance Minimus shoes and off I went. The canyon is nice and wide, with homes perched on the very top of each side. This is very unusual for this Ohio guy to see houses like this. A rail line runs down the middle, and quite a few trails are sprinkled within the area. I wandered around for about 3 hours or so, and decided to call it a night. Lots of good pictures with my camera, but they will have to wait to be uploaded.
I plan on hiking a few different trails in the area that I used to haunt over the next week, if only I had a travel mountain bike… Now that is a thought.