Chasing 42

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Archive for the tag “Iowa Trail-Running”

Gear Review: Inov-8 Debrisoc 38

My love for trail-running has grown considerably in the last two years, to the point where I’d prefer to be out on the trails for a majority of my weekly miles. Unfortunately, my options are a bit limited in the center of Iowa, so I work with what I have and enjoy the few very nice trails that I can access without hopping in the car for too long. As I’ve spent more and more time running down all variety of single-track, rail-bed, and other outdoor terrains, the need for gaiters has increased considerably. Nothing will stop you in your tracks quicker than a few tiny rocks grinding into your heel or bouncing between your toes. The temptation is to always let them be and hope they’ll work themselves out, but I know from experience that giving them more time to grind up your feet is never smart! This need made the Inov-8 Debrisoc 38 an exciting option, as they combine CoolMax moisture-wicking socks with a built-in gaiter that will fit around any pair of shoes you throw at them. After taking them for a spin a few times, they certainly have their place in my arsenal, but probably won’t become my all-around go-to gaiter choice. Let me provide a few more details, and you can decide for yourself if the DebriSoc is right for you!

Fit

The socks offer a snug fit, without constricting my circulation in any way. The CoolMax means they aren’t going to be the thickest socks, so you probably wouldn’t be slipping them on for a winter run, unless you were planning to wear an additional pair of socks underneath. The padded heal offers some additional comfort, although I’ve noticed that most running socks seem to claim a “padded heel” and I rarely notice any significant differences. They have a flat seam toe join, so you aren’t going to pick up any blisters from the seams rubbing on your toes. This is especially important since your feet may move around a bit more in your shoes when you are out on the trails. They pull on pretty easily, but the added elastic cuff to account for the built-in gaiter means they are a bit harder to get on initially. The gaiter does add some additional snugness around the ankle, but nothing noticeable once you’ve been wearing them for a while.

DebriSoc-1

Function

The gaiter is sewn into the sock around the ankle, so  it works best to flip it up while you are putting the sock itself on. Once you have the sock on, and have put on your shoe, you can adjust the gaiter to find the right fit. The integrated stretch apron can be easily pulled down over the laces, and a small metal hook is looped under one of your laces to hold the apron in place. There is enough stretch in the apron that it seems snug and will stay in place without much worry. On each side of the gaiter portion of the DebriSoc is a velcro loop that you can open and close. You use these loops to attach a custom band around the bottom of the heel, and back up to the other side. This band is basically a heavy rubber band that you can thread through the tread of your shoe so that it works into the heel and doesn’t disrupt the tread itself. The band is heavy enough and should last for a while, and the velcro on the velcro loops keeps the band in place very well. Just don’t misplace this band (although you can order replacements pretty easily). Additional stretch material then gets pulled down over the heel to keep the gaiter in place in the back. My go-to trail-running shoe is the Altra Lone Peak 1.5, which has a built-in velcro patch on the heel for gaiters, and the DebriSocs attack nicely to this velcro area. The elastic seems fairly strong, but I can imagine that you may encounter problems with the gaiter riding up off the heel as they stretch out if you don’t have anything keeping them in place. It would be easy enough to buy some cut-to-size velcro strips to add to the gaiters, however, which would prevent sliding. In terms of their intended purpose, they do an excellent job of keeping out all types of trail debris and I was never left wondering if a rogue rock found its way into my shoe.

DebriSoc-2

Overall, the most appealing feature of the DebriSoc is the convenience of having your gaiters built into the sock. When you are heading out the door for a quick run, or packing for a race, it’s nice to have one less item to find. However, I prefer running in SmartWool socks for shorter runs, and regularly slip on knee-high compression socks for longer runs (even on the trails, where the added coverage is an additional barrier from ticks and other bugs). The socks are functional and will get the job done, but aren’t quite as comfortable and durable as I would like in an everyday sock.

DebriSoc-3

So, the DebriSoc 38 may not be my new go-to gaiter solution, but they do offer an excellent option for a shorter trail run, and are really easy to grab on your way out the door for a run. At around $20, the price is right as well. You probably aren’t going to wear them more than twice without washing them, which no doubt means they will wear out faster, but they are still a nice trail-running tool to have at your disposal!

Fall in Iowa…Short but Sweet!

As I’ve said before, I’ve been looking forward to beautiful, sunny fall days for perfect running conditions. This past week was a rest week for me, so my mileage was lower to give my legs a chance to recovery. This meant I could take things easy over the weekend, with scheduled runs of 14 and 10 miles respectively on Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday’s run entailed a 5AM start in order to meet up with some friends. Early morning runs seem to be the one exception to my early wake-up allergy, and it felt great walking out of the house in the dark to tackle some miles. The first 8 miles were very comfortable, and a great opportunity to chat and catch up while running down the middle of the road (one of the joys of living in a small town in Iowa). We met up with our running group a bit later, and I ended up pushing my pace at that point, but was still feeling really good so I went with it. We got stuck in a brief rainstorm, but nothing too extreme, and the cool rain felt rather refreshing so I wasn’t complaining. I ended up running a bit longer than 14 miles, as I have a tendency to do, and ended up with 16.68 miles, which still got me home by 8AM, which was great! I had plenty of time to eat breakfast, clean up around the house, and settle in to watch the Arsenal vs. Swansea BPL game 🙂

Fall 3

Yesterday, I ended up spontaneously inspired to hit the trails by a friend, and I headed out to a local off-road favorite. I got started a bit later than usual on a Sunday due to the Minnesota Vikings game in London, but it was nice to finally see the Vikes pick up a W! The beautiful epicurean dropped me off at the park, and I headed out onto the trails. Once I passed the grasslands, and ventured into the woods, things got even more interesting. I have run these trails numerous times, and was fairly confident of my directions. However, I must have turned left instead of right at some point, because I ended up on a series of trails I had never seen before, and it was a blast just plowing forward, totally uncertain of where I was or where I was going. I was confident that something would look familiar eventually, so I wasn’t too worried, and the new trails game my brain that amazing endorphin rush that comes with a new route.

Every trail needs a bridge...even if the creek it goes over is bone dry!

Every trail needs a bridge…even if the creek it goes over is bone dry!

The semi-out-and-back route still totaled about 6 miles, and then I headed back towards home for the remainder of the run. As soon as you leave the park, the country road turns south, and you head up a significant hill. That’s when the wind decided to test me! I found myself heading up a half-mile hill into 30 mph winds, and I was gassed by the time I got to the top.  The wind didn’t let up, and the next mile and a half was a slower than average and my knee started to bother me, most likely from adjusting my gate while heading up the hill. I made my way back home via an infrequently traveled country road, and was reminded of the beauty that exists around me in Iowa. The sun was shining, the winds died down, and the air was just cool enough to be refreshing. Looking out over the fields of golden corn, ready for harvest, and listening to nature made for a nice reminder not to forget to slow down and enjoy the ride. Races are important, as is sticking to a training plan, but I run because I love all the little things in between. This weekend was a fantastic reminder of that!

Fall 2

Harvest time in Iowa...

Harvest time in Iowa…

Fall 6

Fields of gold!

Fields of gold!

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