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I have been wanting to write about the neat gear and gadgets I have employed while training, but had to wait for the final pieces to arrive.

Last summer, as encouragement to keep running through cold weather, I was given an Under Armour Cold Gear shirt and tights set. I used the set a lot as a base layer from December through February. I always felt warm wearing it and stayed dry, which is important in cold weather running. The only oddity is that it pulled the hair off the back of my calves and around my thighs.

I purchased a Brooks Nightlife jacket and matching pants as an incentive to run outside. The “construction worker” yellow of the jacket stands out, plus the retro-reflective accents made me visible in poor light and against the white landscape of our winter. I was amazed that material that felt like a cotton T-shirt could block so much wind, yet breathe and not give the parachute effect when in a windy situation.¬†With those 2 layers, plus a third polypro when needed, I ran outside everyday in January and February except for scheduled days off and one stormy day where low visibility made it unsafe to run.

That same day, while at Run ‘N Fun in Burnsville, I purchased a Craft balaclava, also a Windstop product. Very nice. I remember that during my first run with it I couldn’t breathe until I adjusted mask down far enough. It protected my face from frostbite on those below zero runs.

I also purchased a Garmin 205 watch when I started my training back in early January. This watch lets me load in custom workouts, then runs through the intervals and keeps track of my performance. Combining time, distance and also pace has sharpened my training a lot. Hill workouts were run on a time basis, but I knew the total distance covered and if I was at the right pace. It is also nice to hit distances right, which makes the elapsed time mean something. Even though I live in a very squared – up area, I wasn’t able to estimate 1 km distances that well.

The final pieces arrived yesterday, with my Newton Sir Isaac S shoes delivered from Road Runner Sports. (These shoes are so new the company didn’t know they were on the way yet.) Newton shoes have 4 external lugs under the balls of your feet. These lugs encourage the runner to land on the midfoot, which is a stride that is closest to barefoot running, and considered more energy efficient than heel striking. Since January I have concentrated on changing my running form, and I wanted these shoes to help maintain my form as I grew tired, both while training and during the race. As of now, I have completed a .8 mile run (I was too excited to wait a day), and now a 3 mile easy run (in a 30 mph crosswind). I feel none of the soreness some associate with the transition to the Newtons, so I may be able to ramp up their usage quickly.

Other than the Pork Power shirts that will be proudly worn during Grandma’s Marathon, I think that covers the fun gear and gadgets that have kept me running the past 5 months. I am amazed that there are only 45 days to race day.

“The man who can drive himself further once the effort gets painful is the man who will win.” ~ Roger Bannister

While growing up, my dad always referenced drops in pig performance to corn planter’s disease (i.e. time spent in tractor as opposed to the detail work that the pigs need.) Well, to an extent I personally suffered from that this past week, also. My hours and miles of training really plummeted this week, as I realized that getting 20 acres planted each hour was a priority over that hour of training. Also, my shoes wore out, and I didn’t have the spare pair ready to go.

Fortunately, corn planting landed on a “recovery” week, in which my body should strengthen itself through a lower level of training. I also eliminated some easy runs, so I just ran on Tuesday (1K intervals) and Thursday (3.5 mile tempo run). I also should have run a 10K race on Saturday, but couldn’t find a really local one and didn’t trust the shoes I was using, so opted for a 10 mile bike ride with Lori instead. Planting of corn wrapped up Friday afternoon, so some pressure is off.

As I mentioned, my shoes wore out last week. After the interval workout, my Achilles felt a little tweaky during the cooldown 1.5 miles. These shoes have about 450 miles on them, which is about how long my running shoes last. I had ordered a pair of Newton Sir Isaac S shoes to replace these near the end of March, but evidently I decided on a very popular type of shoes, since they have been on back order since. With a tender Achilles on my mind, I quickly ordered a pair of Brooks Switch (direct replacements of Brooks Vapor I was running in) and went back to the field. I tried another retired pair of shoes on the tempo run, and while there was no pain during the workout, I felt runner’s knee during the cooldown. Those shoes are staying retired for sure!

To end on positive notes, though, I must mention that the corn planted, much earlier than we have ever done. I don’t feel it was too early, though, because it coincides with our asparagus production. Also, while time will tell for sure, I don’t think too many pig-related things were neglected. I was even able to wash a finishing room and fill it Friday and Saturday, so Monday’s weaning will also be on time. The next three weeks will be peak effort and mileage weeks, so some days will be pretty busy.

Success is a peace of mind that is a direct result of knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.- John Wooden