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Wednesday, 12 January 2011

New Shoes and Old PBs

I've recently bought a new pair of running shoes (New Balance 759s).  Over the years I've run in most makes of running shoes but I've returned to New Balance time and again.  My main reasoning for that decision now is that I usually buy via the web and I know that I can trust New Balance sizing...a UK 10, with 2E width fitting is going to feel just right, every time.  New Balance are not cheap but neither are they over-priced, and they have  reasonable longevity. 
I regret that I can't seem to buy the New Balance shoes in the UK that are designed for fore foot running. I did buy some Newton Gravity shoes earlier this year and I loved the feel and weight of them but they were just too expensive at about twice my normal price point. Had they lasted for longer then I may have been persuaded but they have worn quite rapidly.  I am frustrated by what appears to me to be blatant over-pricing given the base cost of producing running shoes.
My other thoughts on running shoes are concerned with ethical manufacturing practices.  I don't buy Nike because of quality issues I've experienced in the past and I support the thinking of Team Sweat ( we can affect the biggest names then others may follow.  I know of no-one in this field who is truly 'squeaky clean' but I have investigated New Balance and they seem to be moving in the right direction in many areas....I would like to see more companies trying to chase down on the thinking of the wilderness sports equipment company, Patagonia  (and in their case I am willing to pay a premium to support their efforts).
Looking back at my diaries again, 1985 was quite a significant year.  After a very long time studying I finally qualified as an Air Engineering Officer and took up my first post with 819 Naval Air Squadron at HMS Gannet based on the north side of Prestwick airfield, near Ayr in Scotland. The great claim to fame of the locality was that it was the one place in the UK that Elvis Presley visited when he was staging through during his military time.
My running diary featured a few highlights in the year too.  In April I ran the Half Marathon at Culdrose, an air station in Cornwall. The route was hilly and demanding so I was pleased to set a pb of 77 mins 58 secs and come in 6th.  In May I ran the 5000m in the Scottish Command Championships...another pb at 17 mins 19 secs but I didn’t place.
In June I ran the New Cumnock Road Race. This covered the unusual distance of 11 miles  but the key statistic in it was that I went through 10 miles in 59 mins 21 secs.  I was delighted to break the 1 hour, 10 mile mark (this was the first time I recorded a sub - 1 hour 10 miler).
Wednesday the 14th of August was significant as it was the first day that I didn’t run in 163 days...I am staggered that Ron Hill has run every day for so many years.  This may have been part of my taper as I approached the Two Bridges Road Race on Saturday the 24th of August.  The legend is that a runner in the Royal Navy visiting Rosyth in his ship set off for a training run down the north side of The Forth until he came to the first bridge at Kincardine, which he crossed and then he returned on the south side to the Forth Road Bridge where he crossed back again to return to the dockyard...the distance was 36 miles.  And, in the way that such things happen, the annual Two Bridges Race was created.  My diary records that about a hundred of us took part that year and that the atmosphere was good.  I set off too fast, covering the marathon distance in 2:55:17 and paid the price over the next 10 miles to finish in 4:29:09.  

My abiding memory is being handed a can of the sponsors lager as I crossed the finish line.  In desperation I drank the lager in one long gulp and then felt violently ill for the next two hours. As I write this I am struck by another memory of that day.  I was running across the Forth Road Bridge and feeling quite ragged; I looked down on the waters of the Firth of Forth and saw a group of sailors in dinghies and I remember the thought that they probably enjoyed their pastimes...I was way past any level of enjoyment on that day.
My recovery was quite strong though, on Sunday the 22nd of September I ran in the Glasgow Marathon and set another pb of 2:47:43 (my clock time, the recorded time was about 34 secs slower).
1985 was a year of many highs but there was a very sharp low point as well.  On Friday the 21st of June one of the squadron helicopters crashed at Tayport; one of the pilots died and another was very seriously injured.  Two other aircrew survived but also sustained significant injury.  Part of my training had been to manage a crash site and conduct the initial on-site investigation.  I had had no idea that I would be using that part of my training so soon.