Monday, November 14, 2011

Keeping it Interesting...

When we had new motorcycle tires put on the Kawi this summer I asked to keep the worn out rear, I had other plans for it:

As winter nears so does the "off" season, but I'm keeping it interesting. Yesterday I ran five miles with 10 cloverleaf hill repeats thrown in dragging that & it was awesome! Difficult, well yeah. Confuse many a motorist, without a doubt. But the mile at the end when I unclipped the harness to run free I absolutely flew.

Someday this body will cover 40k of elevation change in 35-ish hours. Someday it will drag a loaded sled 135miles thru the snow in sub-zero temps. When that someday comes I'll be ready.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Icicle Toes & Atmosphere...

Getting back into the running rhythm has been slow following Wild Duluth. Between work, family & some big life changes I've had the desire but lacked the free-time to get out for some miles.

This week I promised myself a run, today was that day. Exiting the front door the air was crisp, the grass frosted, the sun sparkling off of glitter dusted leaves. My heart-rate was high, my breathing labored, my toes cold. I felt disappointed that it wasn't the easy fast run I hoped for, then Became by Atmosphere came thru my headphones and I lost myself in the miles.

It's no surprise I overslept.
Put my boots on and climbed out my tent
I didn't see you
Assumed you were sleeping
immediately start a fire 'cause it's freezing

I cant believe we went camping in the cold
I'm in the wilderness standing in some snow
a late start but we can still catch up
you need to wake up
we should eat and then pack up

that's when I noticed your footprints
the snow's fresh and those have been put since
what you already up making the rounds?
so where you at now? you laid back down

the breeze came and it stalled out the flame
while I went to your tent and called out your name
you didn't answer so i opened up the flap
it's just an empty sleeping bag and your backpack

I'm looking at your tracks and you
took a couple laps round the campground and hoofed down the path
I figure you'll return no concern
I'ma hold put and try to make this cold wood burn

The wind is blowing strong
minutes rolling on
It's going on at least a half an hour you've been gone
it ain't right, start the paranoia
I left the campsite to go and search for ya

I read the trail your feet made
each step was deliberately placed
it looks like you know where it leads
but i see nothing but leaflets, frozen trees.

About a 1/4 mile into the course
and another set of tracks appeared next to yours
from the North it came outta the thick woods
and those footprints belonged to a big wolf.

Trying to find service on my cellphone
I felt aight with my knife on my belt though
I hope the wolf is intimidated by you
I wondered if you even knew it was behind you

Stalking ya, maybe watching ya
waiting for the opportunity to hop on top of ya
salivating wanna take you to the stomach
in the cartoons you woulda turned into a drumstick

And it gets about as bad as it goes
'cause I noticed there's a new set of tracks in the snow
I understood
it doesn't look good
your fan club doubled now you've got another wolf

And the odds are in favour of the home team
why'd you walk off all alone? where you going?
it ain't the right time to complain but
it feels like I'm trying to find your remains

Your footprints grew further apart
I knew what that meant and it was hurting my heart
It means you started to run so i did the same
now my breath's looking like a steam engine train

and suddenly your tracks dip off of the path
and so did theirs
so my knife I grabbed
In to the forest expect the worst
adrenaline burst disturbed the nerves

50 yards into the woods and brush
It got so thick that it looked like dusk
The air stood serene, sober
seemed like a good 15 degrees colder

and I'll admit hell yeah I felt fear
the sound of my heartbeat was all I could hear
looking at the snow it was plain and clear
there was a third set of wolf prints where yours disappeared

I cant process I don't follow
It'd be easier to believe that you were swallowed
but no sign of death, no sign of struggle
no signs of blood no signs of trouble

and the wolves never stopped
the tracks kept going and I took off
so I don't know how your story ends
but I know I'll never go into those woods again

It's not that tragic its not a shame
You're not the hunted you're not the aim
You're just another dog with hunger pains
I was so afraid that you'd become the game

I forgot to worry about what you became
You're not hunted you're not the aim
You're just another dog with hunger pains
I was so afraid that you'd become the game

It's not that tragic it's not a shame
You're not the hunted you're not the aim
You're just another dog with hunger pains
I was so afraid that you'd become the game

I forgot to worry about what you became

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Wild Duluth 100k | Race Report 2011

It's been several days now and I'm still not even sure where to begin.

63 rugged miles | over 10,000 feet of climb | 16hrs, 57min, 59sec.


"are you tired?" or "are you sore?" Yes. But what most don't understand is that while this race has left me exhausted in ways, I feel more alive in so many others. And with that comes this overriding realization that it is an absolute privilege to be able do what I do.

Every mile is a gift from God. Some miles are blissful, some miles are brutal. This is the story of mine...

Race morning came early, but I woke calm & ready. It wasn't long before runners were ushered to the starting line, it was invigorating to finally be one of them. There the pre-race meeting went off without a hitch. Many words of caution to mind the leaves on the trail as they're apt to hide roots & rocks. (Something I experienced first hand, but I'll get to that...) then came the reminders to keep an eye out for blue blazes on the trees as well as the extra course markers to be sure you're staying on route. (Something I would find very important later, but I'll get to that...)

Then I was on my way, with about 60 other endurance junkies. The energy was palpable, yet focused on the task at hand. After a short jaunt thru town we were on the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT) and the climbing began.

Miles 1-6 were an interesting mix of trying to stay close enough to the group ahead of me to avoid getting lost in the dark on unfamiliar trail and to remain upbeat when notable twinges in my calves were making a premature appearance during the uphills. I counted the paved roads the trail crossed during this section in hopes that it would give me a better grasp of where I was on the return trip, this served me well & helped me to refocus.

The first few aid stations I was not the best version of myself as I struggled to find my rhythm. Thankfully my stellar crew (Hubby, Maggie & Cory) were still generous enough to put up with my shortness & get me in/out of the stations quickly.

Eventually I let go. Let the pace be whatever it was going to be. Waited for the sun to rise. I had been picturing this sunrise in my mind since I set sights on this race. The view, the stillness of the morning and the cool air on my face erased all of the impatience I had in the climb getting there.

The miles following the sunrise everything come together as I prayed it would earlier. A switch was flipped and my ability was now at harmony with the terrain. Miles 13-20 were some of my bliss where you know that all of the hard training you faced leading up to the event was exactly what you needed. I was doing well.

After I took this photo, I didn't take another. The woods in this area were heavily endowed with leaves and despite my best efforts I caught one of the afore mentioned hidden rocks or roots. In a split second I was down. Knees harshly planted first, bruising both, hands second. I've never been so thankful to be wearing full tights & gloves. More startled then hurt, I stood back up & continued on.

Next up, Ely's Peak... (Header & following images courtesy: Zach Pierce)




On the trip out the 100kers came head-to-head w/ the 50kers here, the perfect boost for this difficult section. I began gaining & passing other racers and then an oncoming 50ker let me know I was currently 3rd for women. So regardless of feeling another issue making itself known and not certain of my placement but excited at the potential, I dominated this peak. One of the more arduous climbs in the race was my strongest/most enjoyable. Wasn't smiling at the top, but I sure was at the base on the other side!


Then the bliss turned to brutal. Leading up to the race I had mentally prepared for my tendinitis to act up again, my quads to fatigue, calves to turn to rocks & hip flexors to wimp out as the miles & elevation added up. Pre-race phantom pains even supported this. But, as with many races the things you expect to be a problem. Aren't.

As I made my way toward the marathon distance a cluster of hemorrhoids had me in an increasing amount of pain and unlike the other problematic spots listed above, there is little your body can do to adapt to relieve pain here. For the next 40 miles I would battle the cowboy boot that was stiff kicking me in the arse every step.

My support crew was invaluable during this time as I struggled to keep going. At this point running the remaining miles seemed overwhelming & at times impossible. Between gravity, bouncing steps, increased heart rate on uphills and jarring downhills I was in a lot of hurt. I also tripped and fell face flat two more times and took a wrong turn losing a mile before reaching the 50k turn-around which only added insult to injury.

As I said before, every mile is a gift. Even the uncomfortable ones. So I began praying not for comfort, but for the strength to continue whether that came in body or mind.

"but those who hope in the Lord will renew their Strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
the will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31

Somewhere in the miles that proceeded I found my fight again & it was like a fire. I could feel I was being prayed for and I could feel my loving Savior answering. Such amazing sights filled my eyes, the perfect company I shared, the right music at the right time. All giving me the hope & assurance that I could do this. Another section of bliss.


As darkness began to fall so did my energy. Due to cold meds that give me dry mouth & so much climbing my hydration through out was solid, but after many hours of racing food became less & less desirable so I started grabbing what I could get down easily instead of what sounded good. My crew was exceptionally helpful in keeping me fueled along the way.

Any concerns I had about night running on such rugged terrain were put to rest when I noticed that the leaf covered trail was easier to define in the dark & any hidden roots/rocks would cast a slight shadow from the headlamplight.

Now in the dark, for the most part completely alone aside from the headlamps in the distance zig-zagging their way up the switchbacks, I ran with my soul. Thinking about everything it took to bring me to this moment and how long I'd been dreaming of that finish line. How even though the cowboy boot was giving me such hell, nothing else hurt.

The last 10 miles were the longest, I remember having to tell myself aloud to run several times when the general fatigue wanted to take hold. But I wasn't done fighting yet. I could see the flicker of headlamps behind me and the ones ahead of me, so I pushed hoping to catch the light ahead and not be caught myself.

At the last aid station I caught Chris, we traded a few encouraging words, he was so much stronger on the uphills that it didn't take him long to the take lead again.

As I neared Duluth I began to count the paved roads I crossed, just as I had on the way out, I was getting close. Once in the city my body ran like it meant everything, the best it could, the fastest it could and then I heard the cheering, the cowbells & the sprint was on. They say if you can sprint at the end of a race you didn't run hard enough during, I say hand me a cowboy boot & then we'll talk.

The day didn't go entirely as planned, but I was blessed with the moments I had been dreaming of and finished with a smile on my face. That's all that matters. :)

Monday, April 4, 2011

The pilfery of pavement...

It took some time, but eventually I got over the jet-lag I had carried back with me from Japan. I adjusted to the cold again. And for the first time in the many months of tendinitis I was starting to see paces in the low 8's on my short-to-mid distance runs and comfortable long runs in the 20+ mile range. Signs of spring began to show themselves and I daydreamed of ultra season. Setting sights solidly on several. Another epic birthday run was in the works, then the snow began to melt and the pavement quickly had it's pilfery.

Harsh pain in my left shin shattered the silence of my sleep before the sun had even risen 18 days ago. While a certain degree of soreness is a common companion, a byproduct of my endeavors, I knew instantly that this was different. As tears rolled down my cheek and onto the pillow case I tried to choke down the disappointment. The light at the end of the tendinitis tunnel had turned dark & cast it's injurious light onto the opposite leg.

Waiting out the potential of a stress fracture, unable to run again until the pain is gone, is a mental feat more than a physical one. Discouragement and disappointment is harder to treat. The desire to be accepting of another bum leg must outweigh that of self pity, knowing that pity starves hope and clouds faith.

Skies cleared on Saturday when Maggie joined me for a speed hike thru the woods and hills of our home terrain. Snow had deterred us from from the trails all winter, but to my reprieve it was hike-able throughout and that made for a beautiful day. Every hill was ours for the taking, whether the trail traversed over it or not, we did.

Last May a strain in my quad threatened my early spring season & I struggled with the same doubts I have now. Instead of focusing on the doubt or failure, I will put my hope in the Lord not wanting to forget His healing work and the stellar race that followed that painful period. It's all just part of it and in the end all worth it for those moments when everything comes together. Often times the fight to the finish starts before even reaching the starting line. That's where I'm at.

One week later...

A week to the day after my husband & I returned home from our travels in Japan, the Tsunami & Earthquake hit.

I still see the faces of the Japanese businessmen, fathers, mothers & children on the train as we made our first leg back to the States and I can't help but wonder how they have faired. My heart has struggled with sorrow. It is such a beautiful country/culture that has suffered so much loss. Seeing image upon image of the devastation is different when you recognize what has collapsed or been swept away. Much is broken down, but all is not lost, so here are a few shots from my time there as an alternative to the frames of destruction...

My hubby w/ our new-born nephew, Ricky.

Temples, trees & tarmac during one of my runs.

Naqua Shirakami. Snowboarding on the side of a Volcano.

Brilliant blue skies over rice fields ready for planting on the edge of town.

You may not know that most of my husband's family lives in northern Japan. While they were still hit with the quake, the town in which they live was only nominally effected. However towns just 15-30miles away were not so fortunate, experiencing extensive damage.

When my in-laws were called to Japan over a handful of years ago it was with the heart's desire to serve the Japanese people in body & spirit. On the wings of this recent disaster the need for this ministry has greatly increased. Our parents are literally out there in the mire helping in the clean-up efforts and their doors remain open to those in need.

For information on what they are doing & how you can help:

Please continue to pray for the people of Japan & those still hurting in Haiti.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Arrowhead135 | A Prospector's Perspective

In the wise words of GI Joe "Knowing is half the battle". After crewing at Lean Horse 100 earlier this year it really sunk in that if I were ever going to run the Arrowhead135 that it would be wise to get a look at what I'd be getting myself into before attempting it. It's one thing to read that the temperatures during the race (without added windchill) can get down to -40F or colder & another thing entirely to experience it firsthand. Racer's food,water,toes,fingers & yes even eyeballs can freeze over the course of 135 miles in those conditions.

Since I knew three of the ultra runners at the race this year Rick Wagar, Bill Bradley & Ben Clark I decided this was the year to volunteer and finally get a view of what really goes on & what it takes to complete an event such as this.

On Sunday afternoon I met up with Rick who would be giving Arrowhead a third attempt. Despite all of his own pre-race preparations he was kind enough to point out and acquaint me with a section of trail I could run prior to my first graveyard shift at Crescent Bar the next day. Then we headed into Int'l Falls for the volunteer & pre-race meetings...

Following a quick run-down of what was required of me at my checkpoint, who I'd be working with & when our relief could be expected I was handed a swag bag. Inside was a race shirt and hat. Undoubtedly a very nice gesture, but more than a little conflicting for someone who is accustomed to earning said gear by participating in and completing an event. The question "Would I have really earned this when it's all over?" lingered. After all I was just there to volunteer. I now know the answer to that. Yes.

The pre-race meeting was a mix of heavy hitters in the ultra/cycling world & the average athlete with a strong mind to match their legs. Not much to add about what happened there, other than to say that the community at endurance races like these is truly phenomenal and the general vibe from those involved with putting on the event was "if you're here we assume you know what the hell you are doing & if you don't then you'd better be prepared to wait a while before help via snowmobile arrives."

The start of the race came bright & early the following morning. I cheered Rick on as he set off on the epic journey to the finish. A cowbell or two rang in the distance, but as I anticipated it was a fairly quiet send-off for the racers given the cold & the type of event that it is.

Eventually I started making my way down to my post stopping for a while at Melgeorge's for a run, dinner & a short chit-chat with the photographer and reporter from the Star Tribune who were covering the race.

The pictures below are a few frames from the trail outside of Melgeorge's. I ended up covering a conservative 6-8 miles. Just enough to hunger for more & little enough to not wear myself out before pulling an all-nighter volunteering.

The trail was absolutely beautiful! Winding turns, rolling hills, flanked by pine & birch. It reminded me of the numerous catwalks up at Lutsen. I'm not sure what I expected out of a snowmobile/multi-use trail in the winter, but this definitely wasn't it. Much much nicer.

I had heard there were shelters for the racers to set up their bivy sacks in for sleeping between the limited checkpoints and I came across one. The 2+ feet of snow atop the roof & 3ft drift at it's opening made it rather uninviting. Note to self: This will look like the Hilton when it's -29F and you've only slept 3hrs in the last 35-40.

I had also heard that snowmobiles can almost silently come up behind you quickly and round the corners without much care for what is on the other side of them. My experience with trails has been horse, mountain bike & hiking where people would feel more concerned for your mental health wearing a florescent vest out in the middle of nowhere than for your safety. So when it came time to pack for the trip I neglected to pack my vest, but thankfully I was able to jimmy rig a pair of blaze orange suspenders (sexy!) that I picked up at Menard's into something adequate. At times I felt a nerdish pride for my craftiness and others like a complete dork wearing blaze orange on a desolate trail in the sticks. That was until four snowmobiles swept past without warning. Note to self: There is no such thing as "too bright" when selecting gear for this one, think My Little Pony.

Crescent Bar (mile 112ish) would be where I would spend the majority of my time volunteering the rest of the trip.

The first night we only saw cyclists come thru. Thick ice adorned eye-lashes, face masks & beards were a common sight. Many of them tried to shed the ice by flaking it off before it melted and soaked into their gear. Moisture is a killer. When outside anything even partially wet that isn't close enough to the skin to be heated will freeze pretty quickly and only make a person colder especially when you're on a bike where wind can penetrate the layers.

Perhaps it was spending most of a day with little sign of another human being out there, the cold or the fatigue, but I was surprised to see that a lot of the racers (cycling and on foot) had some sort of culture shock after entering the bar. Unlike most aid stations where volunteers rush in to help oncoming racers, that wasn't the best idea here and had we done that I'm fairly certain we would have overwhelmed them. In a negative way. So I did my best to maintain distance and only inform them of what was available if they needed it.

Then came the really crummy part of volunteering at a check-point that isn't a designated a sleeping area. Waking exhausted people up after a short nap. It's like taking the plate away from a starving person. You know they want/need more but you can't let them have it. Eventually I got it down to a system though and not a single racer complained which helped a ton.

4 Cokes, 1 Redbull & numerous cyclists later our relief showed up just after dawn. It wasn't until the drive back the hotel that I realized that the head cold my husband had been battling all week was finally starting to attack me. Bad timing. I exchanged a few words with other volunteers before putting myself into a dramamine induced coma to get as much quality sleep as possible before my next graveyard shift.

On to shift #2 I was starting to get excited. The last cyclist was thru and we were going to start seeing the people on foot. Unfortunately the update came thru that Bill & Ben had dropped at Melgeorge's, but pings from Rick's GPS unit kept tracking him closer and closer to Crescent. I just kept praying that he would be able to keep going as the outside temperatures turned even colder to -40F that night.

Some of the runners came in looking pretty rough and we had to keep a close eye on who may have indicators for hypothermia. A lot of them wisely opted to try drying their gear by the fireplace and downing some drink/food before heading out. It was a rare runner that didn't order pizza out of the kitchen during the time I was there. Dean would be proud. :)

The most surprising thing I noticed was that despite the exhaustion, hunger and cold the majority of the people on foot were in better walking shape than a lot of the racers I've seen at shorter ultras out there and they had already covered 112miles by the time they reached us.

Blisters & dehydration were the most common issues I saw. A lot of blisters on the heels. I'm guessing from the many uphills they had to climb prior to the checkpoint. Judging by the amount of people who complained about said hills, they must be brutal.

In the lulls between racers coming in I chatted with the man who I ended up volunteering with that shift, an endurance XC Skiier, prospecting the race as well. He was such a valuable asset to the runners that night, I can't even begin to explain. It was such a relief as the head cold started taking over me. I went thru a ridiculous amount of kleenex in those 13hrs and as much as I wanted to help the racers, the last thing I wanted to do was get them sick too. So I handled the technical side of keeping the snowmobile crews, family & fellow racers informed of where everyone was.

This turned out to be convenient for me as I could keep a close eye on Rick's progress at the same time. In the early dawn hours he reached us. Looking strong. A lot can happen in the last 22 miles or so after Crescent, but I was really confident that he'd make it to the finish. 54hrs & 25minutes after the start he did just that! 3rd time really was the charm.

I thought I would leave the race feeling like someone who had just seen a child being born, needing some time to forget before even thinking of having a child of their own, but I didn't. I now want to do the race more than ever! The difficulty in the journey, my love for winter running & the beauty of the terrain calls to me like Sirens.

But, with that calling comes a lot of questions. When? Is probably the biggest one right now. Tendinitis is one problem, acquiring all of the gear needed is another. There are also essentials I need to learn like how to run fast enough to stay warm, but not so fast that I sweat and end up with damp gear. How to camp out in a bivy sack. How to pee w/o getting too cold, sinking into the 3+ feet of snow at the side of the trail, or accidently hitting my gear.

What I do know is that it will happen when my God wants it to and I'm hopeful that it will be as good of an experience from the trail as it was volunteering. It was a lot of work & wore me out, but I really enjoyed it! :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Greedy little me...

How do you prepare for what you cannot see fully?

"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase." -Martin Luther King, Jr.

All I can see of my 2011 race season are the first few steps, but every step I take reveals more of that staircase so I'll keep on in faith that my God has something grand for me at the top. As the mileage continues to creep up I am reminded of His faithfulness in healing, but I would be remiss not to admit that it has come with it's own set of challenges.

I am greedy. Greedy for miles. Greedy for speed.

There was a time this fall when I would have been happy just to be able to run 6-7 miles again without aggravating the tendinitis & spending the following week in steady pain until it calmed down again. As I approached mile 15 of the 18 mile run I completed this weekend I found myself getting frustrated with the amount fatigue I felt & how slow I was.

I didn't get enough sleep. The sun wasn't even fully risen when I started. Not only was I tired, I was met with a -20F windchill the entire time & the layers of tights + jackets gets heavy. 2 to 3 inches of snow blanketed my footing & that became increasingly difficult to push thru when my feet didn't want to lift very far off the ground. I am still running thru tendinitis and this prevents me from zoning out during the difficult parts of a long run. I have to think about every single step so my form doesn't get sloppy & I end up hurting myself.

Given all of those things OF COURSE I'm going to be tired & consequently, slow. But the Greed still tried to sink my spirit. I refuse to resign myself to that.

With better focus, this is how it really looks. "It was hard to get up, but I got to wake up with the sunrise over my first few miles. The soft morning light made the snow sparkle, it was beautiful. The air was cold but I was perfectly geared & hardly felt it. 2 to 3 inches of snow cushioned my footsteps which is so helpful as I adjust to these long minimalist runs. My tendons are tired, but they do not hurt & this is the highest mileage week I've had in SEVEN months! "

Sometimes the line between a blessing & a curse is merely the glasses thru which you choose to view it.

Because of the tendinitis it may be harder, I may experience more fatigue, I may be slower, but I choose to be thankful. Every mile is a gift & I show my thankfulness by savoring every step up that staircase. God is Good! :)

Monday, January 3, 2011

70mi Later | Soft Star RunAmoc

As of last night it's been 70 miles since I first "laced up" the RunAmocs & thought it was about time I post a few of my thoughts or observations of them now that I have more grounds to so.

First of all I was expecting the transition from Vibram Five Fingers to these to take some time, but it took surprisingly little. I started with 3 miles at a time & was quickly able to progress up to 16. A few minor annoyances in the transition were:
  • How noisy my footfall was! It's far more noticeable when your feet are slapping the ground in them which honestly is a good thing so that you know to correct your form to land more gently.
  • Finding the right amount of tension for the laces. The forefoot of the shoe "seals" to the heel via an elastic and shoe lace system that cups your ankle. I have tendinitis around my achilles & inside of the heel so I was worried this area would be aggravated by that, it wasn't once I found the proper tightness which for me happens to be different for each foot.
  • They don't hug my feet. I've got wide feet so I'm used to structured running shoes hugging my feet & all of my minimalist running up until these has been in the Bikilas which fit literally like a glove. This made the RunAmoc feel like a weird leather bag around my foot. Given that they are basically a running moccasin that's how it's going to feel, but it was hard to get used to at first.
Blistering was an issue in the beginning. What I found is that since the sole-style is so much different than that of the VFFs or a structured running shoe that my toes wanted to try to grip the ground for traction instead of using my whole foot. I thought that Injinji socks would give me the free toes feeling I had enjoyed in the VFFs while still being protected from the elements in the RunAmocs, but they actually accentuated the problem. Switching to Teko or Smartwool socks has helped, the soles have broken in & my toes have learned not to dig for traction.

Is traction an issue? It's winter so I don't have a well rounded opinion here yet as I'm limited to running only on various forms of snow. That said it's not any better or worse in the RunAmocs than other shoes I've tried. Because it is a minimalist shoe you will feel the ground more (ie; feel when it's getting slick earlier) & from there can adjust your pace/gait accordingly.

My primary reasons for purchasing the Soft Star RunAmocs was to keep my feet dryer and warmer. They have done a beautiful job of that. I've run in slush & thru thick drifts of snow and been pleased with their performance in both. However, when running through deep snow there were periods when a fair amount of snow did enter the shoe(s). If it's cold enough the snow will heat up from your foot temp and then freeze solid again around your toes IF you leave the snow inside the shoe. If it's warm enough out this just means warm soggy feet. Either way not ideal, but these shoes are so incredibly easy to pop off & on again that there is no reason not to take a quick stop to empty the snow out. That said, in 70miles in air temps of 30F to -8F my feet have never been cold in them yet.

Now for how they are holding up in the North Country. They were doing admirably until this past Friday when I ran in a blizzard. Roads were horrendous & unplowed with styrofoam textured Volkswagon sized drifts strewn across them. I was force to take a short cut thru a park that had ice glazed snow drifts, they looked friendly like the drifts on the road, but they were not. A few yards in it got difficult. I would take a few steps then abruptly break thru the ice-shelf and down 6" into the fluffy snow below it.

As you can see the jagged ice crystals around the opening where my foot broke thru the ice over & over again really roughed up the toes of the RunAmocs.

The soles show very little wear which was my biggest concern when buying these. The heels show some wear, could be from the ice, but I'm guessing most of it is from the leather slouching a bit and scuffing the ground when I run. All in all, none of these areas of wear have diminished
the shoes performance & at this point I have no doubts that I'll be able to get a lot more miles in them.