Things I’m Using

Vttrailgirl (left) VTrunnermom (right). The ladies are killin’ it.



With my second Umstead 100 attempt three weeks out, I’m thinking gear, training & kit additions. 

Running Your First Ultra by Krissy Moehl has been my go-to training manual. VTrunnermom recommended her customizable plans. While I haven’t reached Moehl’s targeted mileage, I’ve been sticking to the structure of her weekly workouts. Core work days, rest, speed & distance days. Most likely, I’m in a place where I was ready for her specific guidance. I love her writing style & I needed her gentleness. Her love of the sport seems genuine.

As in years’ past, my training weeks continue to be erratic. I strive for consistent high mileage. In reality, I have a big week (think 60+ miles). Followed by a 20-40 mile week. Consistency is a goal this year. So, if I don’t finish Umstead again, I know I only have me to blame. If I want results, I gotta put in the time. No excuses. How bad do I want it? I hear this sentiment echoed in everything I read & listen to on running long. If I want to achieve my goal of finishing a 100, I have to piggyback weeks of higher mileage. 

Hip & quad tightness, when not managed, are my bane. Massage & stretching work great, but aren’t enough. Leg muscle imbalance scared me enough to branch out. Call it what you it want, I’ve incorporated other movement into my routine. Snowshoeing, weight training, walking. CORE WORK. Lots of squats. Lots of planks. I might actually be getting abs. Haha. No. But, I feel stronger.

As-of-late, working with a trainer has been a bright spot. I have the pleasure of meeting with Bill for a few hours once a week. This is a really NEW addition, like a month old. We’ll see if I can benefit from this so soon. Hubby & I sometimes go together. My weak adductors are already thanking him. I continue to see my chiropractor every 4-6 weeks. During my taper, I wanna squeeze in an acupuncture appointment.

After a torrid affair with Hoka, I’m dating Altra. Specifically, the Olympus 2.0 & Lone Peak. I am happily ’embracing the space’. I could write an entire post about this. Maybe I will… I’ll say now, I experienced a steep learning curve switching to the zero-drop platform. Obviously, it’s been worth it, if not frustrating, while training for a 100 miler, but worth it.

Most likely, I’ll do the 1st lap at Umstead in the Lone Peak. Then, switch out the two pairs of Olympus.

Injinji. Always. This is a no-brainier. Every time I try running in regular socks, I regret it. So, I have four favorite pairs of Injinji I rotate. I love the OTC soccer sock for support & warmth. It’ll probably be too hot April 1st in North Carolina for this model, so, maybe a few no shows on race day.

Here’s the paragraph you can skip over if you don’t like TMI. ‘Finally switched to synthetic boxer briefs. Bigggggg sigh of relief. Underwear were a big pain in the tookis. I tried everything under-the-sun. No underwear, fancy running runderwear, compression shorts, you name it. Nothing worked. Everything rode up. On a whim, boom. Well, you get the picture. The little things do matter. Maybe this will help someone out there trying to figure out the same pinch puzzle 😉 
Moving on. For recovery, Moehl, uses First Endurance UltraGen. Maybe it’s a placebo, but I really feel better quicker after a hard effort than before. Cappuccino flavor tastes like a chocolate shake. What could be better than that? I love the flavor & look forward to it at the end of a long run. Soreness between B2B long runs has been minimal.

My long runs are fueled by Tailwind Nutrition. For. Four. Years. Period. It’s my perfect running electrolyte & calorie supplement. So far, I can drink it all day without GI distress. And Lärabars. Maybe a piece of Jerky or fruit leather. And that’s that. For Umstead, I’ll stick to these items. Maybe orange slices, some pizza & ramen. Otherwise, we all know the adage, Nothing new on race day.

After 4 years, my trusty Salomon SLab 5set vest had to be retired. Stretched & molded, I replaced it with the larger 12 set. I most likely won’t need the new pack, unless rain is forecasted. Then, I’ll want to have a rain poncho stashed in it. There were a few hours of rain last year. My $2 poncho saved me. 

Weight wise, I’m down to 171. That’s a total weight loss of 56lbs! Crazy shit. I’m 6 stinking pounds away from my goal. I’m down 9 lbs from last year’s Umstead. (I ate my way through my 1st year of sobriety, gaining around 65 lbs. Sheesh. It’s taken me some time to shed that weight).

Thank you to some long term readers, like Mind Margins, Spotted Images & VTrunnermom for sticking with me.
My staple life stuff: Prayer & working my recovery program, specifically, cleaning up my side of the street. God willing, I’m coming up on nine years of sobriety!!! Without sobriety, I wouldn’t be running, let alone breathing. Life is a gift. And I’m living in it. Aggie dog agrees.

Thanks for running with me,

Astrid

VT100k 2014 Race Report Part I

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Wow.
I ran. I walked. I was mad. I walked some more. My feet hurt. It was really, really late. Somehow, I finished.
Okay, thanks for reading.

What’s up with that?
I’m fighting writing about my 1st 100k cause I’m still dumbstruck. That was one roller coaster ride of feelings. But, two+ weeks seemed long enough to procrastinate. This was twice as far as I’d ever run. Well, run is probably the wrong word. I’ll back up a bit.

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All day Thursday, I was a jittery mess. It was the last day of work before my run-cation. Most of our race stuff was ready to go. Just some last minute items to tidy up. I hadn’t slept a full night in two weeks. By that night, though, I finally slept straight through. Friday, I was up at dawn, packing frozen smoothies and h20 bottles in our drop bags. I ticked off both mine and hubby’s items for the race into the truck.
What about my gaiters? Nah. Skip those. Every time I where them, it rains.
Driving to West Windsor, I practiced savoring every moment. For six long months, I’d been counting down the days. Now, here we were. Unbelievably, I hadn’t combusted before the big day. Maybe I could slow down time to make this last.
We arrived to Silver Hill early in the day. New friends, Krista and Guy and their family, were arriving too. Guy has run the full VT100 five times! Krista has won the 100 mile horse and rider race! Ben was there, too. Fast Ben, from Twin State 50 running his 1st hundred. I met Amy Rusiecki, the new RD. Oh, man. The day was already off to a great start.
Tent City was on the rise, little slashes of reds and blues against our lush summer greens.
Beyond the registration tent sits the old finish line.

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The arch picture I took last year. For this year’s event, It was moved into the woods (unhappy neighbors). I wish I’d gotten a night time image of it. It’s lit up and glorious to cross under. Unfortunately, I could care less about snapping pictures at 3ish Sunday morning. The new finish is just beyond this path.
Our wonderful friend Dr. Rick is the new medical direct for the event. I think he was as excited to be there as we were. As modest as I am, I dragged him around, introducing MY friend to anyone who would listen. Thanks, friends for bearing with my excitement level. Thanks, Dr. Rick for humoring my enthusiasm.
We weighed in. I could have hugged the medical staff for not flagging me as a ‘pretend runner’.
Hubby and I met up with his crew and pacer, Tony and Jeremy. My race folks, we’d catch up with later. The four of us talked ultrarunning. We talked race strategy. I was in heaven. I was with my people.
At the pre race meeting, I cheered and clapped like the newbie I am. I noticed folks fiddling with their phones and reading the newspaper, bored. Really? I was enraptured with everything said. I guess I’m so green it hurts. So be it. I hope I never tire of the gift of the pre race meeting. Seriously. We’re all on vacation. And in paradise. And about to eat an enormous meal with reckless abandon. Calories be damned. What’s so important on a damn phone right now?
At dinner, I ate. And ate. And ate some more. And then I waddled to the truck, thoroughly exhausted from spinning my wheels. My eyes where unfocused from exhaustion. Hubby guided me to bed. I hoped and prayed for some new strength tomorrow. Cause I sure had little to nothing left in the tank now.
Later, at our hosts, Deb and Terry’s house, we tried to unwind and rest. Resting the night before an ultra feels like an exercise in comedy.

you sleeping yet?
no, you?
no.
Pause.
you sleeping?
no. You?
And so on.

I prayed harder and more earnestly than I’ve ever prayed. God, I know I ask for a lot. Can I ask for more? Can you grant me some sleep? Please? And renewed strength. I want to run this race well. Can you stay with me?

Maybe a few hours of sleep, and it was time. It was really time.

Part II soon.

Thanks for running with me,
Astrid

Pineland 50k 2014

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This year’s Memorial Weekend race marks the one year anniversary of my entry into the ultra world!
Remember how nervous I was for this last year? Well, don’t worry if you don’t, cause I do. I was a wreck. I barely slept the night before. I barely slept for the entire week prior. This year, I slept like the professional sleeper I really am. What a difference a year makes.

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Race conditions in 2013 were cold, wet and soupy. Served with a Hungry (Wo)Man side of mud. Weather reports for this year’s fun called for perfect and dry. And dry and glorious it was.
Race morning, me and hubby, the beautiful Joy and divine Sherry were off at 8am with little fuss. We were comfortable and not shivering or soggy. Hubby and Joy took off for a quicker race.

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Sherry (not crop) dusting this farm. I’m so outta here. Wait for me…

Honestly, my race was perfect. I couldn’t have asked for a better day. Having great weather makes for easy racing. Sherry and I talked (I know, doesn’t sound like I’m racing if I’m talking) for 5 straight hours. We ate, we drank, we laughed. The hours flew by. The rolling, non technical terrain requires little attention to footing. So, I focused on keeping my head busy.

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One loop down. 16 miles to go.

What to say? This race was pretty straight forward. And, happily uneventful.
I figured out at the TARC Spring Classic using Tailwind, I don’t have to eat much. I ate a small amount of banana and watermelon at aid stations. Less food means less tummy trouble. Since my stomach wasn’t upset, I felt strong. And my Psoas wasn’t bothering me. Life was good.
Half way through the second loop, I felt good enough to try a little kick. I took off on my own, hoping I didn’t take off too early. I spent the last 8 or so miles around 10-11 minute miles. For me, that’s flying. I kept worrying I was going to poop out. Never happened. Go figure. My God, I even passed a dozen other racers. So, that’s what that feels like. I apologized to all of them.

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Wish my photos were this good.

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I guess I had plenty of Toyota Jump in me at the finish line. Having a crowd at the finish line helps with enthusiasm. Hubby was there to usher me across.
7:32:15.
That’s a freakin’ PR! By 16 minutes. AND I took 1:22:00 off last year’s race.
Hubby and Joy finished in 5:53:00. Nice work, fast people. A girl can dream…

I think I love ultrarunning as much as talking other runners. It was great to see Heather, Fish, Annette, Lise and company. And meeting new friends, like Bill from California was running another 50k the following weekend. And I think the one after that, too. Hey, Heather, please hurry up and heal so we can run together.
Of course, Sherry, you are my angel. Thank you for being my ultrarunning rock. You are a first rate lady and a great running partner. I wish very new ultrarunner could have an experienced Sherry to guide them.
Many thanks to the race director, Erik, and staff. The aid station volunteers are so pumped, their enthusiasm is motivating. They got me in and out quickly. Thank you to all for putting on a first rate festival.

Some things that worked:
Tailwind. Tailwind. Tailwind. Buy some, it’s the bomb, er, the best. I used a scoop per 20 oz bottle o’ water. I had 4 bottles waters mixed with the Mandarin Orange flavor and one of the caffeinated Raspberry the last hour.
A pineapple Spirulina smoothie before and after the race. The world needs more pineapple.
My Salomon Advanced Skin S Lab 5 Set Hydration vest. It’s so comfy, I forget I’m wearing it. It’s worth every penny. It does need a shorter name, I agree.
My Sacro Iliac belt. It looks silly. I need more crap/gear hanging off me like a hole in the head. But, my back doesn’t ache so badly when I use the darn thing. Thank you, Dr. K for taking such great care of me.

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Since Aggie couldn’t race with us, she took care of our comfy bed.

PS 38 days ’til the VT 100k…

Thanks for running with me,
Astrid

TARC Spring Classic 2014

I’m sitting in the car, shivering and staring out at the still falling rain. I’m spent. J finished hours ago and has the car warm. I’m so grateful to be sitting. And dry. I’m tired. And smiling.
I finished.
I crossed the finish line.
I didn’t want to. I wanted to quit after four of five laps.

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The TARC Spring Classic wasn’t a tough race. It’s a fairly straight forward course, with little elevation change. I think the entire course has 1200′ of elevation change. The 50k option is five 10k loops. There’s the single aid station at the start finish area. The trails aren’t technical. They’re mostly double track with some wider sections. There was lots of mud, mostly from a day of runners and rain. Otherwise, a smooth runnable trail. It was so cushy. I felt spoiled.

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Last fall I read Steve Latour’s A Clydesdale’s Tale and Twelve Ultras in Twelve Months and have been excited about a TARC race since. TARC is Trail Animals Running Club out of the Boston, Mass area. Pineland is at the end of May…making the end of April date for the Spring Classic perfect. The Classic is a fat ass style race, meaning no swag, no finishers medal, no pampering. You bring a dish to share. Perfect. 22 dollars perfect.

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J and I travelled to Weston, MA the day before and meet up with some TARCers. Co RD Josh Katzman (nicest RD you’ll ever meet) was there to wrangle us volunteers. This guy just had surgery, has a knee the size of a grapefruit and he’s out marking the course. I get a cold and I’m a puddle in bed for days. Wow. Tough as nails.
I loved seeing the course prior to the race.

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The first two loops I felt amazing. I was running steadily. I chatted with a few folks. But I mostly ran alone. I was at mile 12 by 2:24.
The third loop started to be a little repetitive. Getting passed over and over and over again is frustrating. There are multiple races simultaneously. There’s a 10k, a half and full marathons. I knew I was cranky when the 100th person said ‘good job’ as they passed me and I wanted to tell them to get bent. So glad runners aren’t telepathic.
I changed my muddy Hoka Kailua to my Stinson for lap four, along with a dry jacket. The dry gear helped improve my mood. I ran most of the lap, but planned my DNF towards the end of it. I was getting close to six hours on course. My brain said good enough.
I’m learning to run through hip pain, especially after mile 25 when my legs crap out. I don’t think I’ve had enough time under my belt (a mere year) running long. It’s around that time that my hips flexors tighten up. I can walk. So that’s what I’ve done late in the day two of the three I’ve run.
When my psoas whined the tiniest bit, I felt relieved to have a legitimate excuse for dropping. The pain disappeared. Now what? A little help here God…and God gave me Jenn.
Jenn and I crossed paths at the end of the fourth. She’d fallen earlier in the race and had acute knee pain. We decided to start on the last lap and walk it together. Walk, I can do. So, we walked. We talked, and it kept my mind off my stinkin achin hips. And the constant rain and 40° degrees, now settling into my finger tips. We hopped over mud bogs. We counted down the miles.
And we finished.
7:49:00.
Hubby was 6:13:ish.
Most of everyone was gone at this point. I was NOT DFL. Pretty close. But not last. It would have been okay to finish last. Both race directors, Bob Crowley and Josh (on friggin crutches) were there til the last person crossed the finish line. Who does that? I guess that’s what makes a TARC race so fantastic. Thank you, both for being there. It meant a lot. Truly. Thank you to the volunteers who shivered in the rain and kept us fed.

What worked:
I’m almost exclusively using Tailwind Nutrition as my running fuel. If you have not had the pleasure of using it, please order some. These are the nicest people making an amazing product. It’s dextrose mixed with electrolytes for use in liquids. Just like their slogan says, it’s all you need all day. I drank a bottle’s worth each lap. I had found I’d been over eating on long runs, causing nausea and GI distress. With Tailwind, I’m getting 100 calories per serving, leaving me only 100 more calories to get from other sources. The only solid food I had was a couple of bananas and a few slices of watermelon.
I love my fancy schmancy Salomon hydration pack. I ran the entire winter in it, soft bottles up front, and loving it. I have to figure out how to put the Tailwind powder in it quickly without dumping it everywhere.

Wet iPods don’t play or take pictures very well. Sorry for the lack of course pics. I know now I can run without music.

Taking a hostage works. Thank you, Jenn, for sticking it out with me.

It’s been 10 days since the race. Me and Aggie have been exploring new trails and logging some serious miles. I had my 1st 50 mile week! Now, my body says rest cause my psoas is talking to me again. I haven’t run for two days, and will more than likely take two more days to RICE. Aggie tried to chew on a porcupine sandwich Sunday. She’s been relegated to leashed walks til the prickly lunch meats go deeper into the woods.
She says ‘harrumph’.

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A little less than three weeks til Pineland….and nine til the VT 100…

Thanks for running with me,
Astrid

Spring? Is That You?

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And just like that, winter is done.
Psych! Maybe 3-5 tonight? Ugh. I hope not. Ah, it is still April in Vermont. Any weather is quite possible until July.
Well, the flowers cry Spring. So, I’m going with it.

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Weather, smeather. Let’s talk running. And racing.
I added another ultra to the schedule. And my first race of the season is a mere ten days away!! Ready or not, the TARC Spring Classic 50k is fast approaching. I’ll toe (TLC I can hear you chuckling) the line the 26th of this month for their annual race.Wooooohoooooo!
I’d like to clarify that this may be a race. And I may be pushing myself. But, I fully expect to be DEAD FUCKING LAST for this one (earmuffs). I am slow. I don’t feel 100% ready for this race. I just got back to my long runs 6 weeks ago. Did I mention I’m slow?
But, darn it, I want to do it. I want to meet runners. I want to talk running. I want to eat salted potatoes. And most importantly, I want to run.
So, here goes.
Training has been pretty sweet. Just as my chiropractor predicted, I have been pain free for two weeks. So running has been pretty joyful. My head can wander while I’m on the trails without the constant whine of back and groin pain.
Friday was a 17 miler. At elevation, there is still tons of snow. But, at 650 feet we’re just a happy soggy mess. We hit a high of 78° F Monday. I think the temp Friday was a perfect 54°. It doesn’t get any better than that for running. I crack myself up avoiding puddling in the beginning, only to go stomping through them by the half way mark. Some of the trails were more swamp and river than dirt. >

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I’ll be grateful when the last of the frozen layers are gone. I punched through the trail multiple times, flailing around, looking like I was having a seizure. One leg would be submerged in a foot of water, the other sliding into a split. Meanwhile, my arms were looking for a dog tail to grab hold of. I’m sure Aggie was rolling her eyes at me.
I surprisingly wasn’t sore on Saturday. This is my 1st long run without soreness the next day. My hip flexors are usually pretty tight afterwards. I’m hoping as my overall fitness increases, this won’t be a problem. Any thoughts about how I can spot strengthen my hips flexors?
Hubby and I spent a leisurely last day at Okemo doing pipe runs on hero snow. Note to self: you will look like a big nerd your 1st time using a T bar. And have the bruises to prove it. *how did I avoid using a T bar for 20 years of riding??
Me and Aggie have been running 10 to 15 hours per week. I’m hoping to increase to twice that by mid June in preparation for the VT100K. We’ll see if me and the girl can achieve that goal.
Speaking of my sweet girl, Aggie won’t be coming to Massachusetts with us next week. BUT, I have a week off of work afterward, so maybe she and I can do some recce’ing then. It’s going to be epic! So much exploring to be done.
>

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Please say a prayer for me that I can swallow my pride on race day and be okay with DFL.

Thanks for running with me,
Astrid-o
>

It’s Official

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Well, I’ve committed. It’s official. I signed up for this year’s VT100K. The race is July 19th. I have six months to get my butt in gear. *gulp*
Yup. It seemed like a good idea…while my finger hovered over the register button.
Aggie thinks its a great idea, of course.
I am excited, but apprehensive. 62 miles is twice as far as I’ve run, yet. I can try, right?
Here’s to dreaming big!

Thanks for sharing my big news,
Astrid

Feet Relief

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Warning: Geeky Shoe Review Ahead. Hoka haters should exit left now.

I’ll be the first to admit, I love gear. Paddling, snowboarding, climbing, running. I love all the stuff that comes with the sport. Especially running gear (duh).
More pointedly, I’m nearly obsessed with Hoka One One shoes. Every runner I see with a pair is a new friend I want to meet. I lovely pour over pictures online. I talk to my shoes.
I fell in love when I slipped on my first pair, the Stinson Evo. It was truly flying, as promised. For my second pair, I moved to the Mafate 3, and fell mostly in love. Now, the Kailua Trail have graced my feets.
You know the Michelin Tire ad where the Michelin man falls in love each time a new tire comes down the assembly line? And then seems to fall apart as that tire proceeds on down the line. That’s me. I fall in love easily, then mourn that love’s passing, only to be starry eyed as I see my new prospect approaching. I started running, this time around, in a tired pair of New Balance. When my toes started to show through, I did some poking around (more puns) online. I felt a bit sad to discard my 1st love. Until…I saw THE shoe. I settled on Hoka sheerly on looks alone. Colorful and odd looking. I was in love/crush.
Crush led to a happy love story with Hoka. I put over 500 miles on my first pair, the Stinson Trail Evo. It was a beautiful thing. Since I’m a pokey runner, time on my feet is a better measure of shoe wear. 300 is probably a more appropriate measure. Maybe that’s the average life of Hokas. Not sure. Anyway, I knew around 250 miles on my Mafate that I should find another pair. I thought I’d move back into the Stinson. My Mafate were a little clunky on technical trails. I was experiencing some ankle pain that wouldn’t go away. It wasn’t bad, but I thought I should mix it up. While getting ready to order another pair of Stinson (I’d shop locally, but the closest place to buy a pair is two hours away), I stalled. Maybe lighter is the way to go. And less expense, to boot.
I’ve only run a few times in the Kailua. Like I said earlier, I fall in love easily. They’re awesome. The Kailua is still everything that Hoka is known for, but lighter and peppier.
My favorite part of Hoka is the downhill running experience. The Kailua still offers fun on steep downhills, despite being less padded. I do feel a bit more aggressive in them, versus the Mafate. While running, I can feel the weight difference between the two. Only a paltry 3 ounces, but I guess that makes a big difference in motion. And they sit a full inch closer to the ground, though I don’t feel less cushioned. While running in the Mafate, I often wished they were lighter and smaller. I tripped a bit on technical trails, but ran happily on smoother terrain. I got my wish with the Kailua, without compromising comfort.
I know some of these points may already be obvious to those familiar with Hoka One One. For those not familiar with them, the Kailua might be just the shoe to get into the maximal movement!
So far, the Kailua feels pretty grippy on rocky trail. There’s a variety of terrain here, right out my front door, so I’ll have to keep you updated on the more mountainous stuff. After this post, I’m headed out onto my first run on snowy trails of the season…hopefully it will eat up the white stuff as well.
The shoe looks narrow, but isn’t. I have really wide feet, so I ordered a half size up, with success. If you’ve never worn a pair, they stretch quickly, so I’d take this into consideration when trying them on.
My only gripe with the Kailua is minor. It’s the traditional laces. I’ve been spoiled by Hoka’s speed laces. So I’m doing a little surgery and swapping out the Stinson laces for the slippery and annoying new laces. Hopefully, the Kailua comes out in some more obnoxious colors, too. I’m a big fan of brightly colored kicks.

Here’s the stats for the Kailua Trail:
Heel to toe drop: 5mm
Weight: 9.3 ounces
Rocker: Some
Tread: Multi-directional lugs
Price Tag: $130

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Thanks for running with me,
Astrid